26 January 2013

Good Evening, Snails!!

Not much is going on these days... It is even colder than before, the pond has frozen and it keeps snowing perfect hexagonal snowflakes that reflect the light of street lamps in the evenings. I prefer to spend my evenings at home, where I take care of my pets and plants and try to do a bit of reading (preferably frequently interrupted by episodes of How I Met Your Mother, The Simpsons and short bits of Pride and Prejudice).

I snapped these photos last night, when my biggest snail Jedi was just "getting up" from his all day long nap to enjoy a piece of crunchy lettuce and later interrupted my good night's sleep with his crunching :)

Jedi. He is not my oldest, but he is the biggest of all the snails that I have.
Scientifically, he is named Archachatina marginata cf. suturalis. His head
really is blue/grey as it appears in this photo.
I find that each of my snails has a specific way of resting during the day
and a special time when they come out to have a meal in the evening.

20 January 2013

Stars are back!!



 
 
Friendship bracelets have come back into my shop a few days ago - now it's time for Christmas decorations! Some prices have changed, some have not.







I like making beaded decorations, because they are finished quite quicky. Making one star takes one hour at most, while friendship bracelets can take three or four times that much, depending on the pattern. At the moment, I am doing many things, results of which will be seen in a few months' time and that is not very motivating. Therefore, I am happy to do something that produces almost immediate and touchable results. And it also reminds me that knot to knot, bead to bead, I can get everything done in baby steps.

To see all of my decorations, visit the Christmas section of my Etsy shop.
And remember, shipping is for free until 20th February! : )
 

17 January 2013

There's One Proud Teacher in Prague Today

My eleven years old pupil whom I teach English as a second language once a week had a test on Tuesday and he got the best mark. It made me incredibly happy and proud. I have taught him for about a year now and watched him change his attitude and behaviour during our lessons. Gradually, I had a feeling like he was getting better, but now we have it quantified : ) It is not my success only, but I am greatly satisfied with his progress and with myself as a teacher too.

I find that, in many ways, teaching is similar to gardening. Only instead of watching the plants grow, you are watching the ideas sprout, attitudes shape and the mind of your student develop. And while in in the garden you can sit back and watch it grow and do its own thing, I find that in teaching, you have to be aware of what you are doing all the time, which is sometimes very exhausting.

New Prices on Friendship Bracelets

I can proudly announce that all of my friendship bracelets are back in my Etsy shop, newly priced and still with free shipping (until 20th February).

Example of a pattern that I created myself
There has been a lot  said about the art of pricing and the forums are full of experienced "experts" giving pricing advice to us all, but I think it takes a lot of time to develop a pricing system that would be efficient. For the last six years, I priced my items as I thought fit at the moment of listing, but now I finally developed a system (or at least I hope so!!)
Friendship bracelet made of thin threads

Friendship bracelet in which eight pieces of variegated
embroidery thread have been used

 













I have priced my bracelets according to these criteria:
  • number of threads used - the more threads, the wider the bracelet is and it takes more time to finish
  • thickness of thread - each of the threads that I use is made up from six thin pieces. I usually use them as they come, but there are a few bracelets that are made of halved threads. thinner thread means more knots, which means more time has to be spent on one bracelet
  • variegated threads - these are more expensive than one-coloured threads, therefore depending on the length used, the price goes up
  • pattern - logically, simple patterns are finished sooner than the more difficult ones. I have divided the patterns that I use into five categories, each priced differently.
  • origin of the pattern - I designed some of my own patterns, very few so far, but as they are my very own ideas, I charged a bit extra for them.
  • listing and renewing fees - I currently have two shops. The main one is English and is on Etsy.com, the other one is Czech on Fler.cz. These two websites have very different conditions for selling goods - Etsy charges for listing, Fler does not, but they take more money from you when you sell something. So the prices are set to give me the same profit and the fees are added to the price, therefore they might differ from each other slightly. 

15 January 2013

Dreaming about Gardens . . .

My Etsy treasury called Gardening Dreams
 
I really like gardening and it is no secret that having a garden (preferably attached to a house that I own as well) and growing my own food is one of the biggest dreams that I have. When I was a kid, me and my brother each had a little piece of ground at our Hungarian Grandparents's cottage where we grew whatever we liked - we had peas, corn, a few tomato plants and beans. Our Czech/Slovak Grandparents let us grow stuff too. My brother even grew wheat for his hamsters (he had quite a few of them in succession). Daily, I think about what could be done and what could be grown and how it could be used. Fruits and vegetables for us, sunflowers for the birds, lettuce for the snails. Sowing, planting, working hard and then sitting back in the shade of the trees with a nice drink in hand,  watching nature perform its little big miracles as everything grows, turning the rain and the soil into wonderful plants and completely changing the look of the place around you.
So as a part of daydreaming, I created this treasury on Etsy (link to it is under the pictrue).
 

13 January 2013

UK Flashbacks - Eating out in Guilford

It has been a few weeks since I returned from my last trip to England, but it is only now that I am starting to feel the real symptoms of abstinence. I miss my man, I miss speaking English and mostly, I miss the feeling of being on holiday, going out for cups of tea and coffee, sightseeing and doing silly stuff.

During my stay, we visited one of the West Cornwall Pasty restaurants in Guilford and had a large Cornish Pasty each, with a pot of lovely Earl Grey tea to go with it. It was extremely delicious, so I really want to share. It was the first time that I went to West Cornwall Pasty, but if I ever have to pick a place to have lunch and WCP is near, I know exactly what it is going to be!

(The only trouble with it was that they did not have a toilet, or so they told me. With selling big pots of tea, I am not sure it is a good solution).

I know that many people say that the British cannot cook and I honestly do not know where these myths come from. I have a thing for certain British foods (pasties and pies for example) and then dislike others (such as Scotch broth and pork pies - bleh!), but to say that a whole nation cannot cook is a horrible overstatement.

11 January 2013

Smashed and Ground - Using Eggshells and Keeping Land Snails


I have prepared a special treat for my snailies this time - inspired by Girl on Bike and her post about using egg shells in the garden and also inspired by this book, I found my own way of dealing with used eggshells. The snails need a source of calcium for their shell to grow and be strong. I used to buy cuttlefish bones, but with the rate at which they consume these yummies, it did cost a bit of money now and then. So I started giving them ground eggshells that have been baked in the oven or microwaved for a while (to get rid of possible parasites) and mixing it into their food.


When the winter days are gloomy and dark and the atmosphere is bored and sleepy and unhappy, I tend to spend a few happy moments taking care of my pet snails (I have talked about them before). It is really satisfactory to see them burrying their little faces into the mix of apple-flavoured baby food mixed with ground eggshells.



Snails are nice to look at, interesting to get to know and as I also saw before, are quite inspiring and educational in the classroom for kids and adults of all ages. They are not furry, so are quite ideal for people with allergies. They are also really easy to keep and can survive for quite a long period of time without food or water, in their shells - perfect for people who are out of home a lot.

Only one in five snails managed to refuse this delicious mix
and went to have a slice of cucumber instead.
However, due to their invasive nature, giant African land snails are not allowed in certain countries (such as the US), but there are still many other smaller snail species available.

Some interesting links for you:

Giant African Land Snails (Achatina spp.) as Pets
Giant African Land Snail caresheet

09 January 2013

Above the Clouds


I saw this wonderful above-clouds sunset during my flight from London to Prague this Saturday. And it totally made my day, and that really is something, as the day also included being sick in the aircraft lavatory.

I am not a New Year's resolution fan, but here I can make a little exception and saz, with total confidence, that I will never EVER again combine M&S prawn and mayonaise sandwich with a cappuccino and then fly.

This one I am going to keep, I just know it.
I know many people fly in the world every single day and they do not show off their photos, in fact most of them do not tak photos during their flights at all, but the world up there never ceases to fascinate me. I remember flying there and back when I was studying abroad and I have seen the other side of clouds during sunrise, sunset and at night,  in every possible colour and still I cannot help but reach for the camera. Most of the times, I wonder whether people in the past imagined what it must look like above the clouds and whether what they imagined was in any way close to the reality we get to see when we fly. And also, I feel incredibly privileged that I get to see this myself.

Also, I found out that the time spent on the plane is ideal for writing letters to friends. I only have to get a better writing pad, because my one carries quite serious signs of frequent use. It isn't an item to be visible by public eye, really :)
 
 









 

07 January 2013

Happy New Year!


Dear, followers, readers, bloggers --- dear friends!!

I did not write for some time, because I welcomed the new year in a far-away land of green hills, frequent rains, rabbits hopping in the fields, foxes casually walking in the streets, birds screaming at 2 a.m., morning mists, mossy lawns, mince pies, cups of tea, hobbits and "Keep Calm" posters.

Let us all have a great year 2013 and let's live a better life than before!
 

For me, 2013 will be a great one, as I am going to finally finish university and find a job and finally stand up on my own feet. Wish me luck, recycle and always find time for a good cup of tea and rest
;-)

xXx  Silly Sheep

Winter Visit to the Cottage - Footsteps in the Snow


Compared to our autumn visit to the cottage, which was bright, sunny and lovely, this post-Christmas one was dark, cold and slightly snowy. I was not the least bit excited when we had to stop there on our way to our Hungarian Grandma, however, there were many animal tracks in the garden to occupy my mind for the amount of time that was necessary to spend there. While I am completely positive that the first tracks were made by a cat, the following tracks got me slightly confused and I identified them as squirrel later on. However, if there's any track-reading expert amongst you, I will be happy if you correct me. (I am sorry that the pictures are so dark, but in that weather, they were really the best I could do with my camera)

I never really liked being out during winter (except for a brief period of my life when I enjoyed skiing), but this puts a whole new perspective to winter time. Now I keep wondering whether making a plaster cast of animal footprint in the show is very different to making casts of prints in the soil.



Most likely a cat

Probably squirrel
 
 

My Stars

This Christmas, my beaded star decorations made it to our table. I also made some origami stars that I learned to fold at the Advent origami workshop out of wrapping paper leftovers from last Christmas and my mother grew so fond of them that she put them on the Christmas tree.

 
My beaded decoration also made it to my Grandma's Christmas tree, however, when we looked for it, we couldn't find it. Either she is old and forgetful and doesn't really remember where she puts stuff or it was stolen - and no matter how much it would flatter me that my work is being stolen, I'd rather see the star on the tree where it belongs.

06 January 2013

Pre-Christmas Baking

Most of the traditional baking is done by my mother in Slovakia and every year I come to a finished thing. However, the Christmas spirit creeped upon me too this year and I started baking simple little yummies myself.



I am pleased to say that my first mince pies went well.



Trying to be creative with what I have - mince pies in silicone muffin cups,
ready to go in the oven


Finished mince pies
I also tried cutting out star shapes out of press-shaped pastry ( that I bought in a supermarket ) like before, except for changing the order in which I made the pattern and the shape – pattern first, then cutting out. Pressing pattern onto the star would totally ruin it. It was great fun.


 
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