Posted on November 29, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay7 Comments »

Nonono.  Worry not!  OH hasn’t gone mad and started throwing his weight around.  The rolling pin has not (yet) been put to an alternative and more violent use.  I’m merely talking about those poor caged hens.

Don’t worry – I won’t discuss the real horrors or show you any really gut-wrenching pictures, and I’m not going to preach, because I do actually want you to keep reading!  But I feel strongly about this issue, and having spent a few hours today reading more about the hens, I’m feeling rather stronger.

I thought long and hard about whether to show you a picture at all, but I’m going to do it because it’s something every single person who eats battery produced chicken should see.  So if you buy ‘farm fresh eggs’ (yes, they DO come from caged hens living in appalling conditions) or ‘ordinary’ chicken at the supermarket – or even if you eat chicken in restaurants without checking on its source – please know that this is what the chickens look like.

And many of them are in worse condition than that.  Lily (and Scrags, in the picture at the top) are two of the lucky ones, freed from their servitude at the end of their useful lives as a battery chicken and nursed back to health by The Little Hen Rescue.  Here’s Lily after she recovered and grew her feathers back

Better, huh?

Yes, there IS a Europe wide initiative to end the caging of hens in such cruel conditions, and although the new regulations are far from ideal from the hens’ point of view, it will at least end the worst of the inhumanity and suffering.  But many countries are dragging their heels and asking for compromises or flat out refusing to comply, or to comply in time, so January 2012 is not actually going to be the end of it and those wonderful campaigners still have a lot of work to do.

Again, don’t worry – I’m not going to pester you to join a campaign or a protest or whatever (although you certainly could help, if you were so inclined, by contacting the Chicken Out! campaign and writing an email or two to the right MPs).  What I am going to ask you to consider is helping in an altogether more pink and fluffy way. You don’t even have to look a hen in the eye – and I can tell you that I’m not going to, because I’m allergic to the darn things!  I’m starting to cough just thinking about all those feathers!

So, what do I want you to do?

Well.  Can you use a pair of scissors, and sew just a little?  Because those dedicated hen rescuers release thousands of battery hens on a regular basis and they are in pretty poor condition – the hens, not the rescuers, although from what I’ve read this morning about chicken poo-encrusted clothing …  anyway.  Winter is coming, and those newly freed girlies have precious few feathers and they need fleecy jumpers!

There. I bet you’re smiling now, aren’t you?  I know I am!  If you want to smile some more, take a look at these little ladies! You’ll have to scroll down, but please do – I just love the last picture!

And here is the virtually no-sew pattern. It just needs a little velcro attached to  make it into a smart chicken suit to keep a bald hen warm on a cold winter day.

The Heart and Soil blog, where I first read the stories about the bald hens, tells you that you can make either knitted or sewn (fleece) jumpers, but Jo from The Little Hen Rescue tells me that the knitted ones aren’t as useful since the hens can get their feet caught in them so they can only be used underneath the fleece ones for extra warmth. The fleece ones are not only easy-peasy to make, not needing any neatening – or even seams – but are lightweight and more comfortable for the hens.

Anyway, you can go here to read more about the newly-released hens’ adventures.   Most of the stories there are fun to read and tell stories of the hens’ adjustment to relative freedom day by day, but there is a post on page 2 which you might not want to read if you have a sensitive soul.  You’ll soon see which one it is.

And well done for making it through the post!  It’s an uncomfortable subject, I know.

By the way, if you should happen to be thinking about getting a few hens to provide eggs for you and your family, please do consider adopting an ‘ex-batt’. Each time a farm closes, thousands need homes, or they end up … I don’t know where. Probably in dog food or a pie on the chiller shelf of a cheap supermarket.


* You can donate your fleece jumpers to The Little Hen Rescue, or to any battery hen charity which takes in ex-battery chickens to rehabilitate.


Posted on November 26, 2011 in Conversations, Hounds, The Home Front by Jay15 Comments »

I’m told that in America, people have been able to see all our sites, even if we can’t, so forgive me if you’ve been looking and finding nothing new.  Anyway, it’s back for now and I’m just getting a quick post in before the site goes down again, as (by the record of our server during the last ten days) it surely will.

We will be moving all of our sites to a new home, since we’ve now had more than enough of this appalling lack of good service from a host who used to be really good, efficient and reliable, and this of course means that we will be missing for a while during the move too.  But for now, I thought a lighthearted, fun post might be nice.

So here you are – a little photo story of What I Did The Other Day.

When I have a new tag collar to put up in my Etsy shop, I photograph it hanging on my resin greyhound to show people what it’s supposed to look like when it’s worn. Of course, the statuette is considerably smaller than a real greyhound, but at least you can get a general idea.

This is what happens when you try to photograph new tag collars with greyhounds in the house.

Hmm.  Yep, that’s my boy.  Ranger.  He seems to be trying to say something.  Something like:

“I think this is my best side!  Can I have the collar now?”

Me:  “Well, no, Ranger, you can’t.  I’ve got to take pictures so I can put it up online and sell it.  And for that I need a model who won’t .. ”

Ranger: “But I’m beautiful!  Look!  Oh … what’s this you have here?”

Me:  “It’s a camera, Ranger, and no you can’t eat it.”

Ranger:  “Hmmph.  Well, it doesn’t smell too good anyway.  I bet it doesn’t taste like chicken.  Hey – are you sure I can’t help you with the collars?  That olive green would look SUPER on me – and I can pose just as well as that stupid model.

… I know how!  You stand up straight, head turned a little, ears at half-mast, eyes wide … see?”


“I’m ready for my close-up now, Mr De Mille!  Or .. wait!  Perhaps a little more to the left?  Direct me!”

Me:  “Yes, Ranger, I’m sure you could do a great job of modelling the collars – and yes, it’s true they’d look fab on you, but my customers probably don’t want their new doggy necklace to arrive already adorned with dog hair.  It looks bad, you know?”

Whereupon my Black Dog gave a derisive snort and lay down so he could keep an eye on things, and I got the job done.

This is the result.

Now that I think about it, perhaps it does seem as if it’s missing something without an elderly black ‘puppy’ in the frame.

But whatever that resin dog is missing, it certainly isn’t his dangly bits!    I mean, well, really.  Funny how you don’t notice things like this until they’re staring at you from a photograph.  I might have to crop that picture for Etsy or run foul of the ‘adult content’ guidelines!

Lucky I don’t have any for this blog, huh?

Click here for more Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hoppers!


Gosh, this is all I seem to get around to these day!  Some of you will have noticed that The Depp Effect has been MIA these last few days.  Our server had a problem, it seems.  We have a total of five sites with them and down they all went.  This was one of the last to resurface.  But here we are – back in action!  Yay.

This is a tad late, since I usually do Retail Therapy on Sundays, but since I’d started to put it together, I thought I’d carry on, because I know you are all waiting with bated breath to see what I’m going to come up with this time.

And … it’s kitchenware and dining!

*Pause for applause*

Well, I look at it this way:  we all have to eat, therefore it’s a pretty safe subject for a gift, but I’ve tried to find you some unusual and interesting ones.  So, first, another little guessing game:

Do you know what these are?  These are table napkins – and not in some hard-to-do fancy fold, either, these are made in a half-circle shape so this clever-looking display for your table is incredibly easy to do.  AND what’s more, they probably stay on your lap better, being kind of apron shaped.  Get them from The Scrap Basket at only £5.90 per pair!

Also from The Scrap Basket are these really cunning mats.

Cunning, because this placemat allows you to choose from four different patterns, depending on how you fold it.  Spill something during a meal?  Just fold over a ‘leaf’ of the mat and Bob’s your uncle.  I have never seen anything like this, I don’t know about you?  And they’re only £5.24 each.

Of course, you’ll need something to stand your drinks on –

And if you buy the larger ones you can stand hot dishes on them too.  Provence Presents has these handy and very well insulated cork box mats in three sizes, and the 25 x25 cm size should be plenty big enough for serving dishes or saucepans.  Listed at only £8 each, so you can’t go wrong!

After dinner we usually have a cup of tea.  I’m very traditional and always drink my tea with milk, but many people like lemon instead and I have found this wonderful little bird shaped lemon squeezer for you!

If you follow the link and look at the other pictures, you will see that all you do is slip a slice of lemon into the bird’s back and squeeze the juice straight into your cup, neatly, and without any pips getting in!  Very, very sweet, and very clever.  You can buy this little gadget from The Fox’s Glove for a mere £5.21.  She also has tea tidy dishes for those pesky used tea bags – also well under £10.

Of course, when you’ve finished that wonderful Christmas meal, there’s always the washing up, isn’t there?  Nothing festive about that, but there could be! Apron Queen has these rather fun gloves to help you

Who said rubber gloves couldn’t be elegant?  Aren’t they worth £8.50?  They’d certainly raise a smile in this house!

And finally, for something a little more ‘gifty’, here’s a really unusual and very beautiful idea.

Aren’t they pretty?  Vintage spoons, beautifully presented – and you get to choose the wording.  Do you fancy a Christmas message, or perhaps you’d like to personalise them in a different way.  Whatever you want, Goozeberry Hill will do it for you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my little shopping trip around Etsy this week.  Remember that the prices quoted do not include postage, but I’ve tried not to include any with outrageous shipping costs.


Who wants to go shopping?

Yes, it’s time again for me to show a selection of cheapo gifts which are nice, hand-made items and really worth having.  So what am I doing this week?  Apart from keeping you off the High Street, that is?

Well, I’m feeling particularly disorganised.  I had something planned for next weekend, and I just got an email reminding me of something else I promised to do months ago.  I should have put it on the calendar, but I didn’t, and now I shall have to cancel my fun plans to do something a whole lot less exciting.

See, I was going to visit my good friend Heathrow Jen to do a craft fair with her, but I’ve just been reminded that I said I would do a tin rattler for the greyhounds.  Now I am happy to do greyhound stuff, but usually I can take my dog with me and usually there are other people to talk to, and this one will be on my own, in a location where dogs aren’t allowed.  Boo hiss.  Why couldn’t it have been a different weekend?  And on Friday we’ll be interring my mother’s ashes so I could have done with something fun to do during the next couple of days.

Oh well.

So, how about we look at ways to get organised during our shopping trip this week?   I know I need to!

Are you ready?  Good. Let’s start with this little gadget to help you keep track of .. well. You tell me!

Yep, it’s a handbag hook – or ‘purse hook’ if you live across The Pond.  One of those really clever little things that you hook on the edge of your restaurant table and it’ll keep your bag off the floor and within reach.  Since you have to be very close to unhook your bag, and the weight keeps it quite remarkably attached to the table, it’s a great way to keep safe while eating out.  This one just scrapes in to the ‘under ten pounds’ slot at £9.57, but I have a bag hook myself, and I can highly recommend them.  Go take a look at LaDIDa, she has some wonderful, unique designs that you just won’t find on the High Street.

Another great idea, and one which also recycles stuff, is this.

Have you ever cracked a favourite mug?  You can’t use it, but you can’t bring yourself to throw it out.  Maybe it has sentimental value, or maybe you’re just a hoarder, but either way, you can’t use it for hot drinks anymore, so you can’t leave it on the mug tree. What to do?  Well, how about buying one of these nifty little mug organisers for £7.66 from Etsy seller LexiBri so you can turn it into a sewing tidy!

There are other ideas for them, too, if you browse the shop. I won’t spoil it for you – go and see!

Now, here’s a thing I’d never have thought of – not only a pincushion you can wear on your finger or thumb, but one with a little secret – and it’s less than £4!

Is that neat, or what?  A little bit of steel wool securely sewn inside the pincushion and each time you stick a pin in, it gets sharpened and polished!  Creations by Kim Mills is the name of the shop and this link will take you straight to the item listing!   It’s no good for those of you in England or Europe, of course, but she also does those wonderful old-style rag rugs, and some really cute lampshades from recycled fabrics, scrapbook style.

Anyway … remember we were keeping the kids amused last week? I found something else!

And since it’s under £9, so how could I resist adding this little organiser to the mix?  What child wouldn’t enjoy parking his or her toy cars into their little slots to take out with them?  One of mine used to sleep with his favourite car at one time, and I’m sure he’d have loved this.  Might have been a tad more comfortable to lie on, too!  If only My Happy Hobbies had been selling them back in the day … but since I am (as the Americans say) as old as dirt, she probably wasn’t even born yet.

And talking of cars, this looks useful:

Annette from Once Upon A Rainbow sells these neat little ‘car pockets’ which clip onto the air vent.  Nice and handy for dropping wrappers and car park tickets into, or for mobile phones – providing you don’t have the heating on full blast, of course!

My car has just been in for a lot of work, and ended up coming home with a complete valet job as well. So I’m trying to keep the poor thing clean and tidy now.  I’m sure I need a couple of these to pop my bits and pieces into.  They’re just over £5 each, so they’re perfect for the stocking.

While we’re in the car, here’s another organiser.

This one could be useful for teens too:  iPod, mobile phone, e-book reader .. you know the sort of thing.  This one is just the pattern though, so you – or your teen – can have fun making it.  This is on sale for just under a fiver from Blissful Patterns – who has a truckload of great PDFs for you clever crafters, including this nifty grocery bag pattern.

And finally, something to make you think.  And to make the guys think, too, no doubt.

Can you guess what it is?  No?  It’s a bra pocket!  Yes, it really is.  It’s a little flat pouch to make it easier to stash things in your bra, ladies!  You know you want to!  Pop on over to StressBeGON and get yourself one, and you can get a couple to give as bra stocking fillers (oh, hahaha!) while you’re at it.  Imagine – a ‘make-em-laugh’ Christmas morning fun gift which is actually useful as well – and at only £2.87 each, you’ll be laughing too.

And on that note I’ll leave you for this week.  Go on and browse through those lovely shops, and maybe pick something up as a stocking filler.  I know it’s only November, but you know what they say –

Tempus fugit!