Monday 31 July 2023

ISOtunes review

Last week I put together a review video of my ISOtunes ear muffs.  

I'd been meaning to do this for ages as they're something I use everyday. I can't understate how much having some Bluetooth earmuffs has changed my working day. Jobs I used to dread (sanding) are now something I really look forward to as I can listen to books or podcasts, educate myself on subjects and just have my mind doing something positive. 

I did have a pair break early on, but ISOtunes replaced them before the batteries even went flat on the pair I was using. This new pair I've had no issues with. 

I just wish I'd had them earlier, having these makes me want to wear earmuffs! 

Saturday 29 July 2023

Talking About Advertising On The Blog & How I Earn My Living

So I've decided that after 11 years I'm going to add a few Google Adsense adverts on the blog for a while. I'm not sure about the whole thing myself so I will see how it goes and how readers feel. 

Currently I earn my small income in four different ways - 

I make and sell items on Etsy - This started small and steadily increased to become the main way I earn my money. It's great as I can build stuff around being the main childcare for our children and doing the running around after them (of that there is lots) as I can just do hours here and there. The hours add up though and I spend a lot of time making things. 

I write for magazines - I have a few regular magazines I write for, Woodcarving magazine and Woodworking crafts being my staples, plus occasionally in others (like Country Smallholding, Furniture and Cabinet making, Woodturning Magazine). I enjoy this work, it builds my "authority" in the woodworking world (hopefully), but the money isn't great by the time I've built a project and written about it some projects are less than minimum wage, some are better, but depends on the project. It does allow me to be creative and try new things though which I adore. I also love writing and have started filming each project in the hope it adds to my YouTube channel.  

I do talks - I talk mainly for garden clubs, but also WI's, U3A and any other clubs that will have me. I enjoy this work, the pay is okay but it does take a huge chunk of a day. I currently feel like one a week "in the season" (autumn, winter & spring) is enough though. I find myself pretty tired the day after. 

Regular carpentry work - I still do a bit of paying carpentry work. It's good to keep my hand in, and I have a friend in the village with a number of properties that always need something doing to them. If I have spare days then we will often book up time this way. Although as Etsy has increased this has got less and less. 

I'm not the bread winner, and I never set out to be rich, I certainly wouldn't be a carpenter making trays and baskets if I was, but I like my working time to earn me a sensible hourly wage. I want to work hard and set a good example for my children. It's good for them to see me earning a living as a self employed person, relying on sales and diversification, but also good to see their mother earn a regular wage as a teacher and how being on a salary can also mean a lot of extra work. 

If I wanted to earn a better wage I could go back to being a regular carpenter, there's plenty of work out there and the wages are good at the moment. That would mean wrap around care for the children and less support for my wife and it's not something we want to do at the moment. 

The blog has been a big thing in my life for the last 11 years. I'm fairly sure that some of these opportunities above have only come about because of the blog and the associated social media, the woodworking magazines came about after a picture of my carved workbench got sent to the editor from twitter, the talks because of my Facebook page and a local festival, Etsy sales are really driven by social media sites.  

In those 11 years the blog has cost me more than I've earnt directly from it though. I've done a few sponsored posts, and received a few freebies, but other than that nothing really comes in. 

It was in the last week or so that my YouTube channel finally got monetised (it was a long slog to get there) and I know I'm not going to earn much from it. But I see it as part of the "ecosystem" of social media that shows I'm a real person, making items and doing talks. The earnings have been more than I expected. So far about 60p a day. Not a huge amount, but I'll save the money and invest it back into my channel and equipment or music royalty fees (currently £15 a month).

This was about 4 days into turning on the monetisation on YouTube

So while I was messing around with Ads for that, I looked at what my blog was doing. The blog has over 1600 posts on a lot of subjects so has a good number of page views a month. So I've turned on the annoying Ads to see what will happen and whether it will help us pay off some bills, maybe pay for our web hosting and some chicken feed bills. 

Ideally I'd love to find someone that would want to advertise with a product I've used and recommend (Festool if you're listening... Lol), but for now I'll let Google do it's thing. 

If you find it offensive and it puts you off reading my blog then please let me know. I don't want people to stop reading and would prefer to take the hit in money than that. I've built some good friendships through this blog and don't like the idea of cheapening it. 

But as bills rise I keep thinking I need to earn a bit more and only have so many hours in the day! 

If anyone would prefer to sponsor the blog then I'd happily do that instead. I'm still not sure the earning from Adsense are going to be worth it. 

Please let me know your thoughts on the subject. 

Friday 28 July 2023

Instant Pot Pro Plus - Unboxing & First Impressions

I treated myself this week. It's something I've wanted since I saw them come out in America a few years ago. And even more now it has a canning function for pressure canning! 

I purchased the instant pot pro plus. In the hope I'll be able to do more small batch preserving and get a bit smarter about timing tea and cooking times - I slow cook a lot of stuff but I think using a pressure cooker might reduce our power usage. 

I was so excited to get it I decided to do a first look video and film me pressure cooking some water as a test run (exciting stuff I'm sure you'll agree). 

I'm looking forward to having a play with it in the coming weeks and seeing what I can make. I'm hoping I'll be able to double cook some meals and can the extra for days where I'm short on time. It pressurises to 15psi and with the canning function does all the valve stuff for me. 

Do you use an Instant Pot?

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Fermentation Course

 Last weekend I went on a fermentation course. And although I do lots of fermenting it's always great to expand my knowledge even more. 

Most years mum buys a course for us both to attend and this one was "Further fermentation". It was lovely of her to book that as she has no interest in fermented foods, but we'd been to the venue before at Harts Barn Cookery School on a course in 2019 called "forage and Feast" and it was lovely to spend the day together - mum even treated me to lunch at the cafĂ© afterwards.

A strawberry "cheong" 

I was really chuffed when she booked it as I saw it was being lead by Rob Gould, someone I had followed on Facebook for a good number of years. Thinking about it, it might have been his blog that got me to try fermenting wild garlic for the first time. 

Monday 24 July 2023

Eldest's Last Day At Primary School

 Oh what an emotional week it's been! 

Our first born has finished primary school. Feels like such a big step. And I know many of you have followed this blog since she was a baby and have seen the milestones in our lives, it feels right to sahre this one as well. 

I'm a soppy fool and had a few emotional wobbles this week. My daughter on the other hand is as stoic as ever! To be fair she just seems excited about what is to come and is looking forward to secondary school. 

Saturday 22 July 2023

Canning Cherries -Raw Pack Water Bath Method

 We got lucky again this year and went over to our friends farm to pick some of their lovely cherries! I make us all pick with the intention of preserving as many as we can! 

So this week has been busy, along with our eldest leaving school I've been trying not to waste any of this amazing fruit. 

Monday 17 July 2023

Makita 18v Nibbler Review

When I buy a new tool I always research it extensively, normally looking for reviews online and some YouTube reviews. 

When I looked at buying a nibbler for cutting the mesh on my baskets and trugs, I couldn't really find a review on it so decided that if I did buy it then it would be worth adding mine out there. 

If you don't want to watch the video, it's a good tool but very niche and won't be useful to everyone. Creates a fair bit of waste swarf, but also doesn't produce sparks. Quite heavy as well and doesn't turn that sharply, but does cut some really nice curves. 

I also think "nibbler" is the funniest name for a tool ever! 

Anyone else own a nibbler?

Friday 14 July 2023

2nd Diabetes Appointment For Daughter

 So this week, along with everything else we had our second appointment for my daughter's type one diabetes. These are just running check up, where they keep an eye on progress and answer any questions we might have. 

We also got told that the sensor she uses is changing this week (after we were initially told we had to stay on the Libre 2 due to funding a few months ago). So she is now on a libre 3 which means that when she goes low in the night the alarm will wake me up as well on my phone, so a bit of piece of mind there. 

Never sure how long these appointments last the other two children were with friends for my wife to pick up after work (they love going there and some friends we really treat like family). When we came out of hospital it was gone 6 and we decided we should maybe grab some food in Hereford.

My daughters eyes lit up and she suggested Beefy Boys - a really good burger restaurant. When we got there we were told there was a wait for a table, I suggested we went elsewhere, but one look at my daughter told me we were going to wait!!

It was worth it. The food is always brilliant from there and great service from the staff, even with our dietary requirements. We're getting so much better at guessing carbs in a meal, and my daughter just injected herself right there in the restaurant, which makes me happy that she can take it in her stride like that. 

A lovely Daddy - Daughter date, unplanned but all the more special for it. She really is great company as well. 

It's nice when we can pull some positives out of the crap that is diabetes. 

Monday 10 July 2023

ShireJam 2023 - Scouts

 Oh wow! What a weekend!

Shirejam returned again after a 4 year break. It's a huge scout camp with all the scout groups from Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire attending, about 4500 scouts plus lots of adult helpers and leaders to make things run smoothly. 

Our troop didn't have so many attending this time, I think last time we totalled about 80, but this time we were more like 30 from our section, and our beavers didn't camp over, just some of the cubs and scouts. 

Eldest and Middlest at the opening ceremony 

Time moves on, last time it was just me and our eldest attending camp all weekend when she was a beaver. We currently have one in scouts, one in cubs and one in beavers! Although the girls come and help us every week run beavers, so do a lot of scouting when you add it up.

Tuesday 4 July 2023

How To Make A Berry Harvester/Scoop

I decided to have a bit of a mess about making some interesting projects. One was a berry harvester or scoop, something I'd wanted to try for a long time. 

It was a really fun project to make, and I used an old door for the timber. What was more impressive was how well it works! I'm never getting spiked by gooseberries again! 

Watch the video below to see how I made it and to see the scoop in action. 

When I shared this on social media I was surprised by the reaction, a few people even asked e if I'd consider making them to sell, so it might be a future project - watch this space! 

Sunday 2 July 2023

Reading Pods In Hereford Cathedral

 A few years back I got a really interesting commission through Hereford Cathedral. 

It was with their education department and they wanted some reading pods to be taken from school to school and for them to reflect the cloisters. I'm fairly sure I've shared them on here before. It was a great job, I had to design and pitch for the work, and have an interview - 

The interview was funny as they kept talking about how was I going to ensure "my team" was going to going to get it completed on time. I had to stop them and say that "my team" was me, and I get stuff done because I've been self employed for 18 out of 22 years and that's the only way to keep getting work. 

I also fed the lady interviewing me fuchsia berries as we walked around the grounds! Afterwards she remarked that she trusted a stranger to feed her some random berry out of an ornamental garden! 

I got the job, started the project, then covid hit. We communicated lots and decided that it was best to shelve it for a while (I was homeschooling the kids) and I finished it shortly after the first lockdown. Because of all the rule changes it never ended up going school to school like it was supposed to. 

So it was a pleasant surprise when we popped into the cathedral the other day and they were there, set up for children to use. 

It was a brilliant project to work on and great to see them in use a few years later. Inlaying the walnut tree into the birch ply was a tricky job! So it's nice that it's all still looking great. Does look like a few of the magnetic leaves are missing though! Always a risk, but I did give them spares! They were going to have cushions but because of covid and cleaning we opted away from that in the end. 

Because of this project I also ended up making a dolls house for them as well as a carved box for an escape room they were creating. A lovely group of people to work for and work that came at just the right time. 

Let me know what you think - would you have curled up in there to read a book when you were a child?
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