12 articles Articles posted in How To

The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Selling Groups

Facebook selling groupsIn times of austerity, it’s no great surprise that online selling of new and second hand goods becomes more popular than ever. Everyone is looking to make a little more money and the great British public does love a bargain! These days, selling on eBay seems to be less profitable than ever – once listing fees, selling fees, PayPal fees and postage are taken out of whatever you make on an item, it’s almost impossible to make a profit on anything, so more and more sellers are turning to the next best thing – Facebook selling groups.

Enterprising folk are making selling groups, of which there are literally thousands on Facebook, so that people can advertise their goods and save themselves the fees and postage that eBay likes to extract. It can be a tricky world to navigate, so I thought I’d give you a quick beginner’s guide to how to effectively use Facebook selling groups.

1. Join as many groups as you can

To increase the likelihood of selling things, it’s good to join as many groups as you can. They’re usually listed geographically, and the easiest way to find them is to go to the search box at the top of Facebook and type in your town name, followed by ‘selling’. However, if you find your timeline overrun by selling posts, to the extent that you can barely pick out statuses from friends and family, it is possible to ‘unfollow’ the group but remain a member. Simply click on the arrow in the top right hand of any post from the group and click ‘Unfollow’. You’ll be able to visit the group at your leisure without feeling bombarded, but be warned, you may miss out on a bargain if it doesn’t pop up on your timeline!

2. Read the rules

There will often be a pinned post or a link in the sidebar, listing the rules for posting in each particular group. Some groups have no rules and often state that in the group name, but others are closely administered and like you to post in a certain way. Posting outside of these rules is often the quickest way to have your post removed, so save yourself the effort of writing out your post only to have it deleted by brushing up on the rules before you post.

3. Special Interest

It’s often also worth searching for special interest groups, relating to what you want to sell. So far, I’ve come across specific groups for selling baby items, maternity clothes, plus sized clothes, baby slings and wraps, pushchairs and many others besides. Often, these will have a more far-flung member base, so postage might be necessary, or payment via PayPal, but they can also be a great way to sell a slightly more niche item.

4. Etiquette

It’s usually the case, in these groups, that the first person to comment on a selling post gets first refusal. Even if a person asks a question, they should be at the top of the list when it comes to who gets to buy your item and passing people over without giving them a chance to commit to an item is frowned upon. Once someone has committed to buy something, you may notice people commenting after to ask if they can be ‘in line’. this basically means that they want to be in with a chance to buy from you if the first person pulls out. As long as you stay within the timeline of people who’ve expressed an interest, you should be fine.

5. Acronyms

When I first joined these groups, I spent ages wondering why people were signing off their posts with the name “Tia”, when their name was clearly something else. Obviously, I’d missed the fact that TIA means ‘thanks in advance’. You may also see OOS, which means ‘on other sites’ as an indicator that, even if you’re first to comment on the thread you’re watching, someone may have still got in before you on a different page. There are a few of these acronyms knocking about and the best advice I can give is to ask if you don’t know what they mean!

6. Bartering and Payment

Bartering is usually absolutely fine on these pages and many people will actually ask for ‘offers’, rather than explicitly asking a price for an item. Payment is usually cash on collection unless otherwise stated.

7. Safety

This is obviously common sense, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you’re either giving your address to a complete stranger or going somewhere unknown to collect something, so ALWAYS go with another person and never agree to meet someone unless it’s a very public place and you have someone with you. I never buy or sell without my Husband being in the house or car with me and I implore you to follow the same rule.

8. Make sure your goods are salable

Ensure that everything you sell is clean and in good working order, unless otherwise stated. I’m currently selling an oven for spares or repair and it’s CLEARLY stated that it’s in need of a good clean and doesn’t work properly. A lot of the people buying from these sites are doing so because they don’t have a lot of money and are simply looking for things to make their lives better as cheaply as possible, so the least you can do is make sure that things are in the best condition they can be.

9. Don’t be afraid to ask

Unless stated otherwise in the rules of the group, many of them also allow ‘WANTED’ posts. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a post asking for a particular item and stating a budget. You just might find the very thing you’re for, and also prompt someone to make some money off of an item that’s just been laying around, taking up space.

10. Delivery not included?

In the vast majority of cases, items are collection only, however on some local groups people do consider delivering an item, perhaps for a couple of quid in petrol money. If you’re buying a large item, however, you will often find a “man with a van” lurking around in the group, who can collect an item and deliver it to you for a fraction of what it would cost to hire a van. Admins of the group often know of a person who does this and it’s always worth an ask.

Are you a fan of Facebook selling groups? Have you grabbed a major bargain or sold something that you never thought you’d shift? I’d love to hear your stories, along with any other tips or tricks that you’ve picked up along the way.

Upcycling Roses Part 2 – Homemade Bath Bombs

Last week I showed you how to make a pretty and more-or-less free centrepiece for a table using recycled rose petals and today I’m going to show you how to make homemade bath bombs using some more of your dried petals. You will need:

150g Bicarbonate of Soda (food grade)

50g Citric Acid

5ml of Rose Essential Oil

Edible Glitter

Pink Food Colouring

Dried rose petals (method for drying in previous post, see link above)

Tools:

Sieve

Kitchen scales

Large mixing bowl

Rubber gloves

Teaspoon

bath bomb mould (we used a rose shaped one)
Hand sprayer full of cold water

1. Begin by chopping your rose petals into smaller pieces with a sharp knife – remember, they’ll need to be able to fit down your drain when you enpty the bath!

2. Measure out the dry ingredients (bicarb, citric acid, glitter) and sieve them into the mixing bowl

3. Add the food colouring a couple of drops at a time. The mixture will start to fix and you need to mix quickly to get the colour through evenly. You could also use powdered colour, which would avoid this altogether

4. Add the rose petals, then the essential oil and mix thoroughly. Some oils have a yellow tinge, depending on the carrier oil, which may alter the colour of the mixture. Try to find a clear oil, or adjust the colour after adding with the food colouring, adding a drop at a time

5. Using a gloved hand, grab a handful of the mixture and spray LIGHTLY with the water in the hand sprayer then push the mixture firmly into the moulds (do not allow too much water as the mixture will start to fizz). The back of a teaspoon is handy for smoothing out the flat side of the bomb once it’s in the mould

6. Once you’ve filled all of your moulds (the amounts above made two of our rose shaped bombs but you can multiply the amounts to make more bombs) leave to set for 30 minutes.

7. Ease the bombs out of the moulds

Voila! You have yourself some homemade bath bombs! I used one of them a couple of nights ago to test it out and I must say, they felt wonderfully luxurious. The rose scent was delightful and I felt a bit special having such a lovely bath, full of rose petals and glitter.

Obviously, you’ll need to be careful with these if you have sensitive skin or are pregnant.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

Upcycling Rose Petals Part One – Simple Table Centrepiece

I love receiving flowers, same as most people, but I always feel a bit sad when they start to die. Roses are my faves (in fact, Sausage’s middle name is even Rose) and they start off so beautiful and full of potential, but whither away to nothing in such a short time. Recently, Sausage insisted on making me buy buying a bunch of flowers for her Dad and she chose pink roses for him. They lasted quite a while, but when the time came to add them to the compost heap, I decided to keep the petals and dry them for later use.

Drying the petals

The drying itself was a simple process, I simply pull the petals off of the stalks, spread the petals out on a microwaveable plate and buzzed then for a minute at a time until they started to feel a bit crispy. I think it took three one-minute sessions in my 800w microwave and then I spread them on an old tea towel laid flat to soak up any excess moisture. I then stuck them in a lock-tight tupperware box until I needed them.

Simple but pretty table centrepiece

The first thing I decided to use my dried petals for was a pretty table centrepiece, based on an idea I saw at Christmastime on Pinterest but never got around to making. You’ll need:

Dried rose petals

Small bundt cake tin

Boiled water

Tealights

Pretty saucer or bowl

1. Fill the bundt cake tin with the dried rose petals. At this point, you can also add a few drops of rose essential oil if you want to, but mine hadn’t arrived yet, so I didn’t.

2. Pour boiling water on top of the petals

3. Use a spoon or other pokey thing to press the petals down so that they are all submerged below the water and laying flat

4. Place directly into the freezer (it’s a good idea to put a piece of cardboard between the shelf and the tin as it may freeze together and be a total pain to try and extract

5. Once it’s frozen and you’re ready to use the centrepiece, remove it from the freezer and run the outside of the tin under a lukewarm tap to release the ice

6. Place it upside down on your saucer or bowl (it’s a good idea to measure how much water the saucer will take as it may overflow as the centrepiece starts to defrost if you don’t use something big enough). Something vintage and floral would probably look lovely

7. Place your tealight into the dimple in the bottom of the ice and light

8. The ice will probably outlast your tealights, so you may need to replace the candle a couple of times, but as the ice melts, providing you use a plate or bowl that is deep enough, you end up with a candle floating on beautiful rose petals and rose tinted water.

This photo doesn’t really do it justice as it was quite late and taken under the light above my hob, but the water and petals looked a lot prettier in reality!

I think this would make a lovely (and pretty much free) table decoration for a romantic meal for two. You can replace the flower petals with seasonal things like berries or seashells for different occasions too and experiment with scents and colours.

Just a tip – boiling the water first is quite important as it makes the ice clearer when it freezes, allowing you to see what’s inside. As an additional bonus that I wasn’t expecting, the boiling water took some of the pink colour from the petals and make the ice a beautiful pale rose pink colour. The photo below is my first attempt, made without boiling water and it did not work at all!

Part two to follow – come back to see how I get along with making my own rose-scented bath bombs!

Edible Sparklers

We’re not much ones for Bonfire Night in the Mum’s the Word house; as dog owners, it tends to just upset the whole household and we find it hard to enjoy.

One thing we can enjoy though is Bonfire Night food and these edible sparklers are super simple to make and super fun to get the kids involved in. You’ll need:

Cadbury’s fingers (we used the milk chocolate ones)

 

 

Edible cake sprinkles

 

 

A cup of boiling water

 

 

 

 

Dip the tip of a choccy finger into the hot water for about 5 seconds

 

 

 

 

 

Dip the melted end into the sprinkles, which you’ll need to spread onto a saucer

 

 

 

 

 

Leave to set for a while before nomming in large quantities, preferably with a nice cup of tea.

Banana, Blueberry and Walnut Cake (It’s Healthy, Honest!)

I start my new job tomorrow so I wanted to do something nice with Sausage  today, but while we were getting ready to go out, the sky went black and didn’t fill me with much of a desire to go out and get tiddled on, so I suggested we do some baking instead. The trouble is, I’m trying to lose weight, so I had to find something vaguely healthy for us to make. My friend Kerry (And Then All I Thought About Was You) mentioned that the Slimming World banana cake recipe was nice and low-fat, so I found it online and decided to experiment by adding a few things. It also uses sweetener rather than sugar which, as a diabetic, makes it perfect for me. Here’s the recipe:

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Get Crafty – A Royal Crown

Sausage has a great imagination, so when she asked me this morning to have a Royal Tea Party with her, I thought it only fitting that she have a proper crown to complete her outfit. I gathered up various bits from around the house and I’m pretty chuffed with what I came up with, so with the Queen’s Jubilee coming up I thought it’s quite good to share our little project.

You’ll need:

  • A cereal box or other thin-ish cardboard
  • Crepe paper (yellow for the crown and some coloured bits for the jewels)
  • Glue stick
  • Stapler or strong tape

Method:

 

 

1. Cut a strip of cardboard long enough to go all the way around your child’s head. We cut out two pieces and stapled then together at each end to make the right size.

 

 

2. Cover your cardboard in yellow crepe paper (or gold paper, you can use whatever you have. I guess tin foil would work too). If you use crepe paper, I recommend folding it over a couple of times and gluing on a few layers as singles layers are a bit see-through and flimsy.

 

 

3. Cut triangles out of one edge to give the nice spiky edge that all self respecting royal crowns should have.

 

4. Embellish your crown with whatever you have, be it rhinestones, coloured paper, glitter, pen or crayons, or like we have with screwed up balls of different colour crepe paper. I quite like the scrunchy 3D effect this gives and I even made a special crepe paper flower for the front of the crown by cutting out squares of crepe paper and gluing them together in alternate layers.

So there you have it, four easy steps to a beautiful royal crown, made with stuff that most of us have kicking about the house. We’d LOVE to see yours too, if you have a go at making one, just don’t upstage ours, yeah?! (Oh, and our Royal Tea Party was lovely, with real tea in a proper tea pot and everything!)

 

Coughs, Colds and Easter Cupcakes

As I had a few days holiday owing to me, I decided to use them while Sausage was on her Easter break from nursery and because of my shift pattern, it’s worked out that I have a total of 17 days off. Which would have been great and we had a ton of plans, but Sausage and I have both had a horrible cough and cold since about 24 hours after our holiday started.

We’re both starting to feel a bit better now so yesterday we decided to get on with the Easter cupcakes that we’ve been planning for weeks (seriously, I bought the daisy fondant cutters weeks ago in anticipation of a fortnight of craft!). Anyway, here’s a few pictures of our creations. You can find the full recipe and method over at Flying Start Parenting. The icing just wouldn’t go green enough, but I was still pleased with the overall effect!

Help Us to Help You – iPhone Users Wanted!

Some of you may or may not know that Husband is a tech journo, writing mostly about mobile technology and one of his current series of features is to write user guides for iOS5 or anything Apple related, like THIS one here about how to add a custom ringtone to your device.

This is your chance to get your questions answered – if there’s anything you want to know about using your Apple device or if there’s a burning question you want to ask, leave me a comment below and we’ll try to get your answer published, then tweet you the link to the article.

Thanks in advance for your input!

EDIT: I’ve just been informed that it’s NOT just Apple, but questions about any devices, so if you’re an Android user, WP7 user or anything else besides and have a question, let me know!

UPDATED: How to Make a Blog Badge and Code Grab Box

I know there are a fair few of these tutorials kicking around on other blogs, but after Not Just a Mummy’s  post asking for help, I thought I’d show you how I make mine. All you need is a picture or design you want to use, a Photobucket account and your PC’s notepad. If you don’t have a Photobucket account, go and get one now!

1. First things first, open notepad and copy and past this in:

<a href=”PASTE YOUR PAGE URL IN HERE”_blank”>
<img src=”PASTE YOUR IMAGE CODE IN HERE” /></a>

go to the page of your blog that you want the button to point to, copy the URL from the address bar and paste it onto Notepad where it says PASTE YOUR PAGE URL IN HERE, ensuring you keep the speech marks either side.

2. Upload the photo you want to use to Photobucket (I’m using the badge for my new fortnightly fiction meme <—- cheeky plug) Once it’s uploaded, click View Album.

3. Find the picture you want in your Photobucket album and hover over it with your mouse so that the code options appear. You want IMG code, so click on it once and it’ll copy it for you automatically. Go onto your notepad file and paste the image code directly over where it says PASTE YOUR IMAGE CODE IN HERE. Once you’ve pasted it, go in and remove the highlighted bits below:

You want to delete the square brackets and everything within, making sure you don’t delete anything else around them.

4. Hey presto! This should be your completed code, I suggest pasting it into a widget and briefly publishing it to check that it’s worked.

If anyone has any questions or needs any help, just let me know, I’m more than happy to.

 

UPDATE!

If you want to add a badge in your sidebar with a box for others to be able to grab your code (like my Closer to Nature one in the sidebar ——>) use the following code, obviously replacing the image URL and page URL with your info:

 

<a href=”PAGE URL HERE”><img src=”IMAGE URL HERE” border=”0″ alt=”NAME OF BADGE HERE” /></a><br />
<textarea cols=”20″ rows=”10″><a href=”PAGE URL HERE” target=”_blank”><img src=”IMAGE URL HERE” border=”0″ alt=”NAME OF BADGE HERE” /></a></textarea>

 

This should give you the perfect button and grab box to place in a sidebar 🙂

5 Things I’ve Learned Since Becoming an Adult.

There are certain facts that you just don’t know until you reach adulthood/move out of your parents house/have kids. I was pretty much wrapped in cotton wool until I was 21 (that’s not a complaint Mum, just an observation) and these facts just did not enter my consciousness until I made the decision to propel myself into the big wide world.

Just in case anyone is reading this who is new to the ‘grown-up’ thing, or just wants to brush up on some harsh realities, here are five of the most important things I’ve learned.

1. Any rubbish bags you buy with the words ‘large’ or ‘heavy duty’ printed on them will inevitably actually be the same size as a leprechaun’s scrotum and in fact have the same strength qualities of wet rice paper. I thought this was confined to the ones I bought from the Pound shop or the ever so slightly cheaper 99p shop, but it happens everywhere.

2. Some men seem to think that MILFs (if you don’t know; look it up but keep your Google Safe Search on!) are this exotic breed of experienced older women, and while I won’t debate that many women regain their pre-baby body, the vast majority end up with nipples that point towards the floor, a stomach like a road map and either a whacking great scar across their pubic line or a chuff like a Wizard’s sleeve from squeezing human beings out. Then there’s the sick in the hair, sleep deprivation and cracked nipples (or so I’m told). Sorry lads, that’s just the cold, hard truth.

The Fantasy
The Reality

3. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brilliant cook who can make things from scratch. You may be the master of the meringue, the queen of the macaroon, your talents know no bounds. But I guarantee the first time you boil an egg for yourself, you’ll have to look up on Google how to do it and I bet, even then, it won’t come out perfect. The best advice I can give you? Buy one of these:

The Tefal Toast n Egg. Genius.

4. People will ALWAYS surprise you. Unless you’ve spent every waking moment of your life with someone, there will always be information about a person which will knock your socks off. The other day, my boss was telling us a story about how, a couple of years ago, she and a female friend booked a cheap package deal to a Greek island that turned out to be horrible due to a rotten hotel and largely rubbish beaches. One day, they stumbled upon a nudist beach which was the nicest sun spot on the island and spent the next ten days returning to play beach tennis, stark-bollock naked, with a group of young ladies. Just so you know, my boss is 67 and an accountant.

(I won’t be illustrating this point with a picture, as above. I wouldn’t want to scar you for life)

5. If you’re the type to have kids, you’ll no doubt have a set of ideals that you’ll formulate once expecting, or maybe even before. Once your little bundle of joy is born, largely, these ideas will be torn up and thrown out of the window. I’ve lost count of the amount of parents-to-be who insist they’re anti-dummy, anti-bottle, anti-TV, anti-everything-that’s-not-organic, Gina Ford worshippers who, within weeks of bringing the baby home have given up on their hard-and-fast rules and are helicoptering their arses off with a dummy in one hand, a bottle in the other and a Baby Einsteins DVD on repeat for 8 hours a day. Don’t beat yourself up. It’s called COPING.

So, there are my pearls of wisdom for a Sunday morning. They may not be profound, but they may save you a lot of time and effort and what could be better than that? YOU’RE WELCOME.