BOOKS 2013: THE FINISHED AND THE TRIED TO FINISH

Books that I have finished this year, will come after a number. Books I started reading, but didn’t finish, will come after a symbol (8, #, ?, !, etc.). My goal for this year is to have finished 31 books by Dec. 31st, 2014. My goal last year was 52. I think I finished… 18? So 31 it is!

BOOKS 2013

0.5 Margaret Beaufort: Mother of the Tudor Dynasty by Elizabeth Norton. I read the first half of this book in 2012 which is why I numbered it 0.5. Felt guilty giving it a whole number.

Margaret Beaufort is a very interesting person and it was nice to read a book where she was the main subject. The writing was decent and at times it felt like I got a glimpse of Margaret’s personality. For such a short book, there were way too many quotes and passages and paragraphs and pages from original source material. I understand that it is important, even nice, to see someone’s thoughts in their own words, but it shouldn’t take up half of the pages in someone else’s book. I couldn’t tell if it made the author and/or editor come off as lazy, too zealous, rushed or all of the above and possibly more. It also made it confusing as to what type of book this is supposed to be. I don’t know what the intended audience is supposed to be.

I just started reading Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses by Sarah Gristwood. Margaret is one of the seven or so women that this book is about. I don’t normally read two similar books back to back like this, but I’m curious. Maybe it’s something I’ll start doing more often or never again.

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Agnes’ Newsletter Feature #1: Patricia of Beau’s Bits and Bobs

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Before I begin, Patricia’s words from the About section of her shop.

Hi Everyone!

My name is Patricia. I am a mother of a 2 children – a toddler and one who was born just before Christmas last year 🙂 I grew up in Sydney Australia and moved to the UK over 7 years ago..meant to stay only for a year, but got married and had kids..so the rest is history 😉

I started making friendship bracelets when I was in high school many years ago. It is my favourite pattern and available on line – zig zag diamond bracelet. I made this friendship bracelet a lot in all sorts of colours, giving them to my friends and loved ones as gifts.

I also recently placed knitted items online. I hope to place more items soon.

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The treasury I made of Patricia’s shop, BeausBitsAndBobs:  http://www.etsy.com/treasury/MTIwNjI0NjB8MjcyMzE0OTgxNA/agnes-newsletter-feature-1-beaus-bits

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Agnes’ Newsletter Feature #1: Patricia of Beau’s Bits and Bobs

 

Me, Ms. Agnes: How did you find out about Etsy?
Patricia: I found out about Etsy while surfing the internet as I wanted to start selling things, but I didn’t know where! It is much easier than setting up your own website – and this way you get to meet the lots of wonderful people on Etsy! People have been supportive when I mention I have a shop on Etsy. They want to know the URL and check out my shop, which is fantastic.

 
Ms. Agnes: How did you come up with the name for your shop?                 Patricia: Beau’s bits and Bobs … Beau’s because it’s part of my surname, Bits and Bobs because I wanted my shop to have a bit of everything. And the whole shop name has a nice ring to it, I think. Hence Beau’s Bits and Bobs was born.

 

 Ms. Agnes: Give me a photo to post of an item that you think really represents your shop?

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Patricia: I have primarily Friendship bracelets in my shop, so I would say this represents my shop at the moment. Until I expand onto bigger things!

Ms. Agnes: Which item currently listed in your shop, is your favorite?

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Patricia: I like the baby scarves. It’s winter in Sydney at the moment and my youngest (8 months old) has a tinier version of this! It’s so adorable! My oldest has one a bit bigger in the same color. It’s so cute when they go out wearing matching scarves!

Ms. Agnes: What are your favorite colors to work with? Favorite material?
Patricia: Blue is my favorite color, but recently I have been doing some things in black and white, and I quite like it. Embroidery cotton is my favorite for material!

Ms.Agnes: Do you do custom orders? If so, which one was your favorite?
Patricia:
 Yep! I have done a few now. Every one of them has been a favorite! I enjoy what I do, so I don’t mind doing extra, special work. I welcome custom orders!

Ms. Agnes: How long were you a buyer on Etsy before you became a seller?                     Patricia: I was actually a seller first, then a buyer! I must say, my first Etsy purchase was a great experience experience and I have shopped more on Etsy since then. My first purchase was from Chaya at PearlsPlusLLC I bought a lovely pink pearl necklace. Chaya was very friendly and patient with me. It was also the first time I had ever used paypal and I had issues as paypal just changed the rules and my payment was an echeque or something like that. Anyways it was a learning experience and Chaya was very helpful and explained a lot of things to me. Chaya made my first etsy experience a great one!

Ms. Agnes: How many days old was your shop before you got your first purchase?
Patricia: Days… well I can tell you by months roughly? I opened in September 2011 and had my first purchase just before I was due to give birth in December! So roughly three months. It wasn’t until earlier this year that I started promoting more for my shop – joining teams, participating in BNSs and BNRs, setting up a Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest and just recently a Wanelo. 

www.twitter.com/beausbitsandbob  (no “s” as it didnt fit!!)
 
Ms. Agnes: What countries are most of your buyers from?
Patricia: Mainly the USA. 
 
Ms. Agnes: What’s your proudest Etsy moment?
Patricia: Selling my first friendship bracelet. Funnily enough, I sold it to someone in Australia. I was really excited! It was after midnight at the time in the UK when I saw the email. I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited!
 
Ms. Agnes: Tell us a story about a great customer!
Patricia: Customers that have really liked what I do, and have ordered more of the same things they bought before. I go ahead and make whatever they want, specially for them!
 
Ms. Agnes: Tell us a bad customer story, without identifying details.
Patricia: Well I am relatively new to the Etsy world, so not at the moment, knock on wood! I haven’t had any bad customer experiences. If I had to mention something, I would have to say one particular buyer never contacted me back after their purchase. Every other person has contacted me after their purchase in one form or another! I didn’t even know if that person ever received their order!
 
Ms. Agnes: Did you make any big mistakes concerning your shop when you first joined etsy, or even more recently? What were they?
Patricia:  I can’t think of big mistakes I have done at the moment. I am a newish shop and have a small amount of items listed in my shop at the moment. Let’s hope I don’t make any big mistakes! Well, I did ask something in a forum – but it was very minor. It relates to one of your other questions – the bad experience one, where the customer did not leave feedback or contact me about getting their package. I actually went onto a forum and asked people what would they do if they didn’t hear from a customer. I guess because my first sale, I received such great feedback and the buyer was so lovely! So this was the other extreme where I heard nada. The common advice on the forum was to not follow up with the customer whether they received the product or not, because they can turn around and say they never received it! The first couple of sales, I actually emailed the customers afterwards to see whether they received the goods. Since the recommendation, I don’t convo people after mailing stuff.
 
Ms. Agnes: Did you ever convo the person who left no feedback? What happened?
Patricia: Yep, I did convo them. I just never received a response. I convo’d I think… twice? That’s when I went to the Help Forum and asked. Then I got some great Etsy advice! I suppose normally I am quite friendly and will answer people regardless, so it’s a bit off-putting when someone doesn’t respond. And I wanted to make sure they received their goods!
 
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SECOND PART OF INTERVIEW
 
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Patricia:
 
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to Australia when I was young so I grew up in Australia. I work in the Telecommunications industry and seven years ago I transferred from our Sydney office to the UK one.  Everyone I’ve met has wondered why I moved from Sydney to the UK – they thought I was crazy! I only meant to stay in the UK for a year, but then I met my man, married him, bought a house, had kids…so the rest is history!
 
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In April my hubby took a job in Japan. We thought it would be a great experience and decided to all move there while I was on Maternity Leave and while my eldest had not started school yet. Japan is a wonderful country. I totally enjoyed living there! I do want to go back, we’ll see what happens.
 
My daughters and I came to Sydney in July. We were going to come later in the year, but hubby’s job accelerated everything. He is still in Japan, enjoying the nice hot weather! Australia has always been my home. I grew up here, my family is here. When my hubby and I got married, we had our wedding celebrations in both Aussie and the UK… and yes, in case you were wondering, I got to wear my wedding dress twice! I must admit, even having lived abroad for seven years, I’m still more familiar with Australia, Sydney really, than the UK. I guess even with the break in between, I have lived here longer!
 
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Lately with the Olympics happening, I’ve been missing the UK. I think it’s the whole atmosphere and excitement. Not being there and halfway across the world in a different time zone! Over the years I had made many friends in the UK and my daughter too made little friends there, that we had to leave behind these past few months, which is sad – but I suppose little kids her age take things in their stride!
 
I’m not sure what will happen after our trip to Sydney – whether we will continue to reside in the UK or move to OZ or even move to Japan. But whatever we decide, it will be a great adventure!
 
Ms. Agnes: What is your dream job?
Patricia: My dream job would be to live on the beach, maybe on an island resort enjoying the sun and sea, haha. Ok, that’s not really a job is it? Maybe own a hotel by the beach so that I can also chillax there enjoying  the sunshine and making sure everyone was having a good time as well… serving up pina coladas! Haha. Be my own boss so I can work my own hours and do as I please.

Ms. Agnes: What hobbies do you have outside of Etsy?
Patricia: Singing songs like Leona Lewis, Whitney, Celine Dion (‘I will always love you…haha), writing, reading, chillaxing, and seeing sights in new countries. 
 
Ms. Agnes: What kind of music do you like?
Patricia: I like R&B and pop. I don’t like Heavy Metal.
 
Ms. Agnes: Favorite TV Shows?
Patricia: TV Shows are mainly US based ones – NCIS, Glee, The Mentalist, Criminal Minds, Cougar Town, Modern Family etc.

Ms. Agnes: What’s your favorite movie? Actor? Actress?
Patricia: Favorite movie of all time is the ‘Sound of Music’. I have loved this since I was young and have watched it a zillion times. I used to love Tom Cruise when I was younger… at the moment I just like any actor that looks HOT! Haha.
Ms. Agnes: If you could spend the day with a dead, historical figure you have never met and in no way related to you, who and what would you do for the day?
Patricia: James Dean on the day he died – I’d go driving with him and tell him to slow down before he gets to Dead Mans Curve.

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Review #1 of Bath Items by Mrs. Agnes and Mr. Agnes

I’m apologizing in advance for my ridiculously long sentences and poor grammar!!!!! Since this is a blog, I won’t be going over most, if not all, blog posts with multiple rewrites, drafts, spell and grammar checks. Though if you see an error and it’s really bothering you and/or you want to tell me, please let me know! I will not be offended and I will fix it if I can. I’m always open to criticism, critiques and grammar/spelling/fact corrections!

I met Jacqueline of Tubbilicious through a BNS Team we are both members of (I met Shelley of ZENfulworld, whose bath stuff my husband and I will also be doing reviews of, the same way. Review #2 will be of one of her bath bombs). It wasn’t that long ago that I met Jacqueline, but I have already bought quite a decent amount of bath stuff from her. This last order was a bit different from my usual orders from Tubbilicious, in that I bought the bath bombs and minis in pairs(Jacqueline also included a special and extremely thoughtful surprise gift. She made me a special bath bomb in honor of my going on my Honeymoon. I didn’t get to use it on my Honeymoon, so I am saving it for a day when I need a really big pick-me-up, something to help me smile and relax and remember that there are thoughtful, wonderful people in the world out there) so I have two of each scent/type. My husband also loves to take baths so I came up with the idea of us both reviewing the same bath bombs. I thought it would be fun as I can’t remember the last time I came across a review for a bath item that came from a man. I will be doing the same with the bath bombs I most recently got from Shelley of ZENfulworld, as I also ordered two of each from her.

Sorry for the horrible photos, but this was all rather spur of the moment. For the next review I hopefully won’t have already ruined the packaging before I take the photo!

Tubbilicious' Mediterranean Garden Spa Bath Bomb

Tubbilicious’ Mediterranean Garden Spa Bath Bomb

I decided that our first review would be of the Mediterranean Garden Spa Bath Bombs. It’s a scent I have ordered before (which is why I got multiple this time!) so I already knew that it was something I liked (I’m not cheating if I make the rules and I say I’m not cheating! …Right?). My husband had never used it before.

On to the review!

Husband’s Review First (He likes to take his baths right before dinner. I like to take mine right before I go to bed.)

This is paraphrasing what my husband said, as unfortunately while he was in the bath, telling me what he thought, I spent most of that time trying to find a pen that worked. I have to write everything down. My memory is awful. So I had him tell me what he thought again, which he did, but rather quickly! So I could only write down key words and phrases. So while I’m writing this review as him, and I did not make anything up or adding any good things and taking away bad things, he didn’t say it to me exactly like this.

‘It dissolves easily and doesn’t leave any uncomfortable grains on the bottom. It has a light and pleasant scent with a talc undercurrent/note that I really liked (which is funny because I really dislike, possibly hate, the smell of talcum powder and to me, this scent doesn’t have even a slight note of it at all. If any of you readers out there try it, I’d really, really, really like to know if you think it does or doesn’t. Thank you!). It’s generous with the oils in a good way. I found it really soothing.’

I didn’t hear him complaining about any bad or uncomfortable residue left on his skin after the bath, which is also a good thing (he’s generally not one to suffer in silence). In the past with some bath bombs, after the bath, he has then had to rinse off the oils because he didn’t like they felt when he got out of the bath. I really do mean rinse off. He’d get out of the bath, decide he didn’t like how it felt, and step into the shower.

When ever I try out a new recipe, or find a new show online for us to watch during dinner or a new bath item, I always ask him, “Is it a keeper?”, meaning should I save the recipe to make again some day, will we watch another episode of the show, should I order more of that particular bath item, etc. He said, “It’s a keeper!”. Well it would be if it weren’t dissolved and down the drain. So a… keeper-on-buying?

Yeah, I really did go there. I’ll try to spare you all and keep that kind of thing to a minimum… Maybe. If I can help myself. So… probably not. At all. I’m sorry!

Now It Is My Turn!

Tubbilicious' Mediterranean Garden Spa Bath Bomb on the ledge of my bathtub, along with some other bath items.

As I mentioned before, I have used a bath bomb in this scent before and really liked it, hence why I bought it again in multiple regular sized bath bombs and mini bath bombs. In the past, I actually ordered two of Jacqueline’s Build-Your-Own-Bath-Bombs in the Mediterranean Garden Spa scent. I bought one for myself and one for my mother who is ill. Her’s had a nifty little ‘Get Well’ note that came out of it when it dissolved and mine had a little flower bead (DOUBLE CHECK WITH JACQUELINE). It was really cool as i’ve never had a bath bomb that did something like that before!

I actually reviewed this bath bomb/took this bath a couple of days ago, so don’t be confused by the following, which is in the present tense. On to my review!

Filling up the tub with Tubbilicious' Mediterranean Garden Spa Bath Bomb

Tubbilicious' Mediterranen Garden Spa Bath Bomb in my tub

‘Tonight as I was soaking in the tub with Jackie’s Mediterranean Garden Spa Bath Bomb and reading (both my husband and I are tub readers. One of the reasons why bath items are so important to us, as we both take long baths which can be really trying on your skin!) my book du jour, The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America by Hugh Thomas (which I’m thoroughly enjoying, though the list of names, birth places, places owned, titles, relatives, etc., can get a little bible-esque at times, though to be fair, I have yet to see the word begat. Yet.). Why am I telling you something so specific and non-bath bomb related as to the title of the book I’m reading? Because I will also be writing book reviews in this blog. Not Etsy related, but I love books so any blog of mine, regardless of theme, is going to have something to do with books!

To me the scent is medium in strength and very earthy. I don’t know if it’s because I’m reading about Conquistadors in the Americas, most definitely not related at all to the Mediterranean, but the scent to me doesn’t evoke the Mediterranean, or what I would imagine a Mediterranean scent to be, as I have sadly never been there. I can’t exactly pin point what the scent evokes to me or makes me imagine, but again, that could be because of the book.

The bath bomb is earthy with a hint of flowers, which names are currently escaping me, though I can recognize for sure at least one of the scents. The bath bomb has made the water velvety in texture. very luxurious. I could stay in this for hours.

(Time has passed since I was in the tub.)

I’ve been out of the bath for… an hour? And I can still smell the bath bomb on my hands, which feel smooth, a rare occurrence for me. I have extremely dry skin on my hands that sometimes cracks and bleeds, it’s that bad. It’s a very comfortable scent (no talc under notes, my husband is mad I tell you!). I’m glad I got the bath bomb again. I will definitely be buying even more Mediterranean Garden Spa bath bombs in the future. Please forgive my awkward wording as it is now 2:30am. I am now going to try to go to sleep. Hopefully it will be easy as I do feel thoroughly relaxed now after that bath!’

End of Review.

I’m sorry I couldn’t post the review the actual day/night that my husband and I took the baths with the bath bomb! I’ve been super duper busy and am very new to Word Press and trying to figure everything out.

Coming up in future posts, the Agnes’ Newsletter’s first ever feature/spotlight/article, which will be about Etsy Shop Beau’s Bits and Bobs owner, the very sweet and patient Patricia. Mrs. Agnes and Mr. Agnes reviews of bath items from ZENfulworld and Tubbilicious. Bits of historical and personal information about some of the vintage postcards and stamps I will be listing in my shop. Treasuries (I hope I can figure out the Etsy WordPress widget stuff, maybe one of you could help? Pretty pweaze? *bats eyelashes furiously*). From now on, I will be posting about everything I buy on Etsy, whether it’s just a picture, a sentence, a picture and a sentence or a pages long review. Book, movie, theater, restaurant, museum, music and TV show reviews. My own recipes and my adventures in the kitchen (did she or did she not, burn her apartment down today?). Random musings. Photos. Etc.

Comments, critiques, corrections, questions and requests always welcome!

The End.

(P.S. I mean it, do you think Jackie’ Mediterranean Garden Spa has talc notes in it? Who is right, me or my husband? I must know!!!!!)

First Post!

I’ve decided to start posting reviews, and sometime just pictures or non-review posts, of things I buy on Etsy here.  I will still also be doing what I originally intended this blog to be for, my random musings on postcards and history, and things pertaining to my new endeavor, Agnes’ Newsletter.