Pretty Random Things going global

WARNING: Some shameless self promotion coming up!

Some of you might know that six months ago I started a small business with a good friend of mine. We called ourselves Pretty Random Things (this relates to the stuff we make, not to ourselves 😃) and currently we mainly focus on making jewellery. It is has been great fun and we are very pleased that we have almost broken even!

But there is one thing that hasn’t worked well and that has been very disappointing, our online shops. We have and Etsy shop and a Folksy shop (Folksy is pretty much the UK equivalent of Etsy) and because our insurance didn’t cover selling to the US, we have only been selling in the UK and Europe.

Well, I say selling, we really haven’t been selling at all. Apart from a couple of sales when we first launched we haven’t sold anything for months through our little online shops.

But, we have now sorted our insurance and we can sell to whoever and wherever we want – yay!

Now, don’t worry, I am not going to ask you to buy something from us, but I would very much appreciate it if you could have a peak in both our shops and tell me what you think about the products, the price etc. any feedback is welcome, the more honest the better!

These are the links to our shops:

Click here to check out our Etsy shop

Click here to check out our Folksy shop

Also, if you would like to like (😃) our facebook page, well that would be rather awesome:

Facebook!

I would love to hear what you think!

Als ik kon toveren……

Elisabeth told her daddy the other day that she wished she had a magic wand. When he asked what she would magic with it, she said the following:

“I would magic another daddy, so when you go to work I still have a daddy to play with. And I would magic that Jacob could walk and play with me.”

Bless her, playing with mummy is clearly no longer sufficient 😞. And she loves her brother to bits but his inability to play with her frustrates her on a daily basis. He doesn’t sit still when she wants to cuddle him and the rest of the time he crawls all over her game. Poor little lamb.

Tomorrow is Elisabeth’s first Christmas Production. She is performing in “The Bossy King” at school (pre-school that is). They all get to dress up like angels and have been rehearsing the songs for months. She is very excited and I can’t wait to see it!

Now, I better get back to wrapping some presents, it will be the 25th before you know it. Happy Christmas everyone!

Most of it good

I can’t believe it has been two months since I last posted, well actually I can believe it, I don’t seem to get around to doing anything at the moment. Jacob is at that stage where he wants to crawl all day and touch everything he is not meant to. He will stand up holding onto whatever is closest and then forget he can’t walk and topple over. Bless him. It is fun and time consuming but I am lucky that I get to see every minute of it. For another two weeks at least, then it will be back to work for two days a week. I don’t like leaving my babies for the day but I am looking forward to going back to work and having a day without changing nappies and maybe going to the toilet on my own without someone walking in and wanting something 😃. A lunch break sounds rather heavenly as well to be honest. Oh yes, and using my brain again, assuming it is still there in working order.

Elisabeth has been going to school for over two months now and she loves it! She adores her teachers and loves writing her name. I was doubtful about the school at first (and I still have worries about “the audience” if you catch my drift) but they have done great so far. And as long as Elisabeth is happy there I am happy too. I love picking her up from school in the afternoon, all parents queue up in the hallway (this is England after all, they love a good queue over here!) and the children come out one by one. They are not allowed to run in the classroom and Elisabeth is very strict when it comes to rules like that, so she walks, but you can see how difficult she finds it not to run towards me and she has this funny “I’m not running honest” walk 😃. If the weather is good we go for a scooter ride before we go home to give us all some fresh air. Jacob hates going in the buggy but he loves watching Elisabeth scootering at breakneck speed.

Jacob is doing very well, he loves his food but struggles to eat enough to keep him going. So he wakes up early. Today it was 4.30, normally it is about 5. I don’t particularly enjoy this but I vividly remember many nights with Elisabeth when she didn’t get to sleep until 4.30 so I am not complaining. Unless he is ill or teething (or both like a couple of weeks ago poor little lamb) he will sleep all night and only wakes up every now and then if he can’t find his dummy. He goes to sleep easily as well, last night he was asleep before I even zipped up his sleeping bag. All in all he sleeps really well, but I do look forward to getting up a bit later, ah well, who needs sleep anyway.

It has been nice to have a little bit of time “on my own” every day when Elisabeth is at school. Because Jacob goes down for his nap when we get back from dropping her off I get an hour, or sometimes two, to do some chores, sometimes make some jewellery and more important to have a bit of peace and quiet without the constant demands of two kiddos.

A few weeks ago my husband’s nanna passed away, she was 82 and had spent her last few months in hospital with a broke leg so even though it was very sad, there was a sense of relief that she was no longer suffering and was finally reunited with her beloved Bill who passed away 7 or 8 years ago and who she missed desperately. My husband told Elisabeth what had happened to great nanna and she dealt with it very well. She and Jacob stayed with me when everyone went to the funeral as my husband didn’t want them to come and I didn’t want to leave them with anyone else, but we all went to meet everyone at the pub afterwards for sandwiches and Elisabeth had a great time meeting all the family from Wales. Hope you rest in peace nanna.

So lots going on in Newman Towers, most of it good 😃

Lana von Strudel

<Elisabeth names everything. Her scooter is called Thomas because he is blue like Thomas the Tank Engine. Her bicycle is called Rudolph because when she came into the living room on Christmas morning her wrapped up bike did look like a reindeer. Our car is called Azun which she picked up from Dora the Explorer and there are many more things that have names. 

Next week Elisabeth is going to pre-school every afternoon, so we have been making the most from our afternoons together. we enjoy sitting in our dining room where Elisabeth can draw and I do some sewing or make some jewellery, she loves watching me when I make "pretty things". The other day I was making wire wrapped rings and she pointed at my wooden mandrel and said: "Let's give that a name mummy. Let's call it….let's call it Lana von Strudel." I was rather speechless to be honest. I later found out that this Lana von Strudel is a character in a Bob the Builder film she has been watching, so it is not quite as random as I initially thought but still it made me laugh, and my ring mandrel will forever be called Lana von Strudel.

Elisabeth is quite worried about going to pre-school, she is worried because she won't see Jenny (her childminder) anymore, she is worried because "there might be scary children there mummy!" But the thing that she most often mentions is that she is worried because "I just want to be with you all the time mummy." Poor little lamb. I know she will be fine and it will be good for us both to spend a little time apart, as we have been seeing a lot of each other with me being on maternity leave, but I can't help wanting to pick her up in my arms and never letting her go.

Jacob will miss her too, he loves nothing more than watching her. He is doing very well my little giant baby. He is absolutely massive, so much so that I am starting to worry about my back! His nappy suits are size 12-18 months and he is not even 8 months old yet. He eats enormous amounts and still wants 4 bottles a day – although 2 of them are now a lot smaller than before. He is sleeping less and less during the day, he now has 2 naps of about an hour and after a month of bad night time sleeping he is slowly getting back to sleeping through the night again. He is a very relaxed baby – as long as his food comes often, quickly and in big amounts – and has a great sense of humour. If I do something that he finds funny, he often laughs so much that he gives himself hiccups, which then will make him laugh even more.

Elisabeth has her moments when she just doesn't want him around, she struggles with having to share my attention with Jacob and an ever increasing amount of washing. Sometimes when I cuddle her in her bed when she can't sleep she quietly tells me that she doesn't want a baby in the house anymore, but other days she tells she wants another baby – unlikely!

I have really enjoyed watching Elisabeth become more independent over the last month. The first time I heard her go to the toilet on her own without asking for my help was really strange. The second time she used so much toilet paper she seriously blocked the toilet. It is great to know that if she needs the toilet whilst she is at pre-school she is capable of going on her own. Today we were on our way upstairs to clean her teeth when Jacob started crying so I popped back down to see him and said to Elisabeth that I would be up in a minute, when I got back upstairs she was in the bathroom cleaning her teeth! And when I tried to help her she got in a right strop telling me that she doesn't need help because she is so much bigger now :-)

So, I would be lying if I said I wasn't worried about next week, but I think she is going to do great and she will love it.

A bit of a month….

July has been a bit of a month at Newman Towers, some pretty exciting stuff has happened but unfortunately some nasty things as well.

At the start of the month my long life writer’s dream came true, I had an article accepted for publication and was going to get paid for it! It was only the second time I had ever submitted anything so I was pretty chuffed it was accepted. What makes it even more special is that the article is about my grandmother and how and why she, during the second world war, saved a young Jewish girl by hiding her in her attic. It will be published next May when it is 70 years ago that Holland was liberated. I can’t wait to see this extremely special story in print WITH MY NAME UNDER IT!

A bit later that day I was swiftly brought back down to earth. I was putting some washing on in the kitchen downstairs when I heard Elisabeth fall down the stairs, the noise was so loud that I actually cried out. The awful moment running up the stairs not knowing what I will find is not something I will soon forget. When I picked her up she was bleeding out of her nose so I gave her a cuddle and gently laid her on the floor explaining that I was just making sure she was ok. I quickly looked for any more blood and asked her where it hurt. She had a bump on her head and a sore nose, but nothing too bad. Luckily our stairs are split in two so she can only fall about 6 steps and she fell on carpet, otherwise it could have been a lot worse. For about an hour after that all she wanted to know was lay in my arms and eventually she dozed off for a bit. Luckily Jacob slept through the whole ordeal. We popped down to the Doctor later that day for a quick check and were told that she was fine. Big sigh of relief!

A week later a close friend and I officially registered our small business partnership Pretty Random Things. We have been talking about starting a small business selling handmade (by us) jewellery for ages and we decided to just do it. So far we have sold mainly to friends, family and colleagues but soon we will launch our Folksy page (this is the UK equivalent of Etsy). It is a lot of work, but very exciting. Today we opened our business bank account and in the process sold two rings to the lady opening the account for us :-)

Unfortunately the excitement over the start of our business venture was soon overshadowed by another fall. In the middle of the night my husband and I woke up to a very loud bang which sounded like Elisabeth falling out of her bed. We both jumped up and started running towards the bedroom door. My husband slipped and fell onto the edge of our bed which is very very sharp. He was laying down and didn’t get up, for a split second I wasn’t sure what to do or who to go to. First I ran downstairs to check on Elisabeth who was fast asleep in her bed, we still have no idea what the bang was that woke us up. I quickly went back upstairs to find Gareth in the exact same spot as where I left him. He was clearly in a lot of pain but finally made it back into bed. The next morning we took him to A and E where they told him he cracked a rib. This is now over 3 weeks ago and he still can’t cope without painkillers. It has been a hard few weeks for everyone and I really hope he gets better soon.

In between all this Jacob was 6 months old on the day flight MH17 was shot down and all those poor souls died.

So I think it is safe to say that it has been a bit of a month. Here is to an uneventful August.

I just don’t know what to say…

Living in a different country from where you grew up is without a doubt difficult at times. No matter how hard you try, you will miss birthdays, weddings, parties, summer bbq’s and afternoons of endless cups of tea with your sister or best friend. No matter how big or small the occasion, it’s hard.

It is most difficult though when something bad happens. When disaster strikes either your family, friends or your fellow countrymen it is extremely hard to not be around.

The airplane disaster from last Thursday is without a doubt the worst thing that happened to my home country since I left it. Flight MH17 was shot from the air and there were no survivors, 193 of the victims were Dutch. Reading about parents who waved bye bye to their children never to see them again makes me so sad it is hard to keep back my tears. The words: “The death count has risen by 3 because 3 babies didn’t have their own seats” saddens me to the core and make me cry every time I think about them.

The stories about how the site has not yet been secured, how the bodies have been man handled and how the victims possessions have been looted are infuriating. The thought of children’s and babies bodies being out there, being treated in this awful disrespectful way is leaving me speechless and tearful. Not being able to mourn with my fellow Dutchies has never been harder.

Please spare a thought for the victims and their families.