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@: At Sign or Ampersat?

@ symbol, ampersat, ampersand, concrete gems

The other day I was talking to a friend about Gemma’s development of a concrete “&” and “@”. I pronounced these as “ampersand” and “at sign”. My friend said that “@” should be called “ampersat”. This was a new word to me and so when I got home I did a bit of research.

My dad had taught me about ampersand and so I knew it was not a new word. The symbol dates back to Roman times. The word ampersand (according to Wikipedia) is a mix of English and Latin and according to the Guardian

  • Until as recently as the early 1900s, “&” was considered a letter of the alphabet and was listed after Z in 27th position. To avoid confusion with the word “and”, anyone reciting the alphabet would add “per se” (“by itself”) to its name. Therefore the alphabet ended “X, Y, Z and per se &”. This final “and per se and” eventually ran together, and the “ampersand” was born.

The @ used to be used when talking about things like prices, such as 6 tickets @ £1 each, and dates back to the Middle Ages. In the 1970’s as the World Wide Web was developing it was introduced as a way of presenting email addresses username@domain. It is now in universal use. Now I remember that happening and how much easier it came to access my email box. At the time I was studying Computer Science and went on to work in the area, and I never heard anyone use the word ampersat. Wikipedia suggests that ampersat is a modern suggestion from the 1990s. So I guess i will continue to pronounce @ as “at” or “at sign”.

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Too early for Christmas?

There’s a lot of debate in the crafting world around when the best time is to start advertising and selling Christmas products, and I don’t think there’s a right answer.

Concrete Christmas star

I had a sale of a Christmas decoration in February, and that couldn’t be much further from the next one.

Generally though, I don’t think people start buying Christmas stuff until after a specific date, such as Halloween or a birthday. For me, is after my birthday in October. However there are, increasingly more it seems, people who like to get organised and start stocking up throughout the year.

So what’s the best way to capture these sales but equally not annoying the people who don’t want to think about Christmas until at least the autumn.

From my limited experience, I think the products should be available from July/August time but posting about them should come slowly. Maybe test the waters in August, but don’t go full on Christmas in every social media post until October.

That said I know of some who have already been making Christmas orders, so who knows really. Let me know what you think!

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Things are changing

I wanted to let you all know that there are a few changes which may affect how you view this blog and I wanted to make sure you had plenty of time to adjust.

Gem’s Concrete Gems has a brand new name, a new logo and soon, a new website.

I am becoming Concrete Gems, a more succinct name, but retaining the same ring and analogy to my name.

From 20th August, you will no longer be able to access gemsconcretegems.co.uk. Instead I will be at concretegems.co.uk where you will find not only a blog, but also my beautiful new shop. It will be changing as I get to grips with it all, so please bear with me.

To ensure you don’t miss out on anything, please do sign up to my mailing list, where you will be privy to special offers as well as the most up to date news.eepurl.com/dK3ccc

Social media links may also be changing so please keep an eye out for that too.

Apologies for any hassle this may cause, but I hope you’ll agree that this is exciting development for Concrete Gems.

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Concrete Steps

A couple of weeks ago we were in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and we walked the Ingleton Waterfall Trail. Visiting a series of waterfalls (including Snow Falls in the picture) involves a lot of up and down. In some places there was an easy gradient in others we had to scramble over rocks. We stopped at one point for an ice-cream and the lady told us they had to carry their stock in rucksacks along the path to the cabin. When I saw these concrete steps I was relieved I didn’t have to scramble down the hillside, but I wondered how they got the concrete to the site, and how they managed to make such blocks in the middle of nowhere.

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Hello world!

I’ve heard that you can’t truly build a successful business on Etsy alone, and I believe it may well be true. Etsy is great, it has lots of traffic, great support and a very user friendly platform. I know their fees are often off-putting, however I do not find them to be too much of an issue, when you think about all of the work they put into advertising and bringing in buyers. However, it is still their site! It doesn’t belong to me and they could shut me down if they wanted to. So after much thought, research, trial and error, etc. etc. here we are. Welcome to my new site!

I hope you will find the site user friendly and nice to look at. I am still going to continue the blog, and Grandma’s corner will also continue. But now, you will also be able to shop Concrete Gems from right here. I hope you like it. Please let me know how you get on, leave a comment or a review, and please contact me if you have any problems or want to order something specific.

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Just a Review

I started following the “Just a Card” campaign when I saw Gemma mention it. The campaign aims to get people to support small independent business such as Gem’s Concrete Gems, and to realise that every little purchase makes a difference.

The other night we were talking at our crochet group about the various businesses people are involved in. The conversation went like this:

“I saw X, she and her friend went on one of your courses and they loved it.”

“I wish they would write a review.”

Followed by a collective sigh, as everyone knew of people who love their products and services but don’t post positive reviews.

I came home and posted reviews on recent Etsy purchases that I had liked but never got round to writing. I would have posted reviews on NuMonday purchases but they don’t seem to have a review mechanism…

However I have a caveat to my recommendation to post a review. If the service or product you get from a small business is not what you would expect don’t immediately post a negative review, contact the supplier and explain why you are unhappy and maybe suggest how they could improve. I bought something that was a long time coming and what was delivered wasn’t quite what I ordered; when I contacted the supplier it turned out she was a young mum, on jury service for something lengthy, and she had sent my order out in a hurry when distracted. A negative review would do no good in this case, jury service only lasts a short time and hopefully her experience with me was a prompt to be careful in checking orders.

So when you buy something from an independent business take the time to give them a 5 star review. If they are not up to scratch don’t post a negative review unless they are dreadful and you feel strongly that fellow buyers need warning off.

If you have bought from Gem’s Concrete Gems, please consider leaving a review on Etsy or Facebook.

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Gifts for Teachers

There is an expression “Apple for the Teacher” and I assume in the olden days if you wanted to ingratiate yourself to the teacher your would give him or her an apple. When I was at school we didn’t have an apple tree nor did it ever cross my mind to take a gift for my teacher. When our children were at school it wasn’t routine to give gifts to teachers, although at some point one of them would announce they would like to give something to Miss X, this was usually the evening before the end of term and we would have to hunt around for a suitable something.

Since then it has become routine to give gifts to teachers at Christmas and the end of the school year. My daughter is a teacher and I know she has no expectation of gifts, and I have used surplus chocolates/biscuits from her to bribe my postgraduate students to meetings.

If you are thinking of getting your children’s teachers gifts here are a few things to think about:

  1. Fresh flowers are lovely, but it is best to present them early, they can brighten the classroom or their home, and you are not risking them going off if the teacher is going away as soon as term ends.
  2. Hand made is lovely, but have you and your children got time to do what you have in mind?
  3. How would you feel if you discovered he/she had re-gifted your present?
  4. Each of your children may have more than one teacher and teaching assistant.

If you’re looking for point number 2 and want something handmade, have a look at Gemma’s online shop.

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Father’s Day

Earlier in the year I wrote about Mothering Sunday, so I thought that I should write about Father’s Day. My father always called it Dad’s Day, and the celebration wasn’t mentioned in church, so I assumed it was a less established celebration – perhaps conjured up by my dad! However having looked at the Internet I discovered that there are varying days dedicated to Fathers around the world, and that one of them dates back to the Middle Ages.

In the UK we celebrate Father’s Day on the 3rd Sunday in June, and actually we imported the idea from the US, where it was established in the early 20th century. When in the 1930s Australia adopted the idea of Father’s Day they chose the first Sunday in September, as this was away from other special days. While some northern countries, including Norway and Finland, chose the second Sunday in November.

First celebrated in 1919 former USSR countries celebrate Defender of the Fatherland Day, this is also known as Men’s Day, but also includes male and female members of the armed services. Russia celebrate this on 23rd February, while other countries celebrate it on varying dates.

The Catholic Church mark Saint Joseph’s Day on 19th March, and have used this day to celebrate fathers since the Middle Ages. A number of Catholic countries now celebrate Father’s Day on this date.

Concrete Dad letters for Father’s Day

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Hunt the Jumper

Hope you had a good Easter break. Did you get to participate in a Easter Egg Hunt. My grandchildren did. They had an Easter egg hunt at the holiday house we rented, then they joined in one at a National Trust property we visited, and I am fairly certain they would have had one at their own homes, and probably with their other grandparents.

Last Thursday Mr 4 years old and his little brother Mr 1 were spending the day with us. Their daddy bought them at 7.00 am, after a leisurely breakfast I was getting ready for a trip out and I couldn’t find Mr 1’s jumper, I hunted through the bag they had bought and found a grey jumper, I thought I had just mis-remembered what he had on.

The next day i get a message asking if we had Mr 1’s jumper. We hunted high and low and couldn’t find the jumper – although we did establish it had dinosaurs on – not the one from the bag.

We then get a message that Mr 4 says it is in the “darkness” and that they were playing “hide and seek jumpers”. The “darkness” is the bit under the stairs, in their own house it is very dark, in ours it is a smaller space and there was no jumper there. We then started searching again and Grandad found the jumper tucked under the seat of the ride on Mickey Mouse car.

I think maybe they had too much time hunting eggs!

BTW I also discovered they had used Mummy’s concrete creations as building blocks.