Monday, 21 April 2014

MacBook For Sale - Goodbye Shiny Thing, Goodbye.

A couple of days ago John finished wiping all of everything from my trusty old MacBook and doing clean installs, technical gubbins and what have you.... and preparing her for selling. *sad face*

She was my right hand man... I've had her for nearly 5 years... I took her with me when we had to escape the house when building work went wrong, I built and maintained my (now defunct) Etsy shop and this (now thriving) blog on her.. For years we didn't have a TV and my MacBook was how we watched DVDs and unmissable TV.

Watching the Last Shuttle Launch - Our Handmade Home
The Last Shuttle Launch

Sorry for getting emotional about a piece of technology.

When she was new she was ever so sleek and fancy - I am only very slightly techy and need something friendly and preferably a little bit shiny for my sleep-deprived-Mummy-brain to cope with.

...but she had been slowing down lately and it is time for us both to move on.

I've fallen out of love with Apple's shiny prettiness in general. The Apple club is a very expensive club to be a member of and my most recent iphone died around a week ago, the same time as I had decided to give up on my old MacBook - there is no way we could even consider replacing both of them with the current apple models. The same money would pay for someone to build us a new chimney and a new patio which we desperately need.

So I'm now on the lookout for a shiny, but reasonably priced, replacement - I'm leaning towards maybe a chromebook, though I'd be quite happy to use something that runs linux - I'm certainly not thinking anything windows (just don't get me started, I am emotionally fragile and likely to rant obsessively)

I need something that I can happily continue to blog and educate on - I'm currently borrowing Small's laptop... a second hand HP chunky monkey (the computer that is, not the daughter) which we had set up for her mainly for playing games and doing Khan Academy. (We stripped Windows Vista from it to put linux on, so now... it works... unlike Windows Vista... I said don't get me started...)

MacBook For Sale on eBay - Our Handmade Home
MacBook For Sale on Ebay

In the meantime - shameless plug - if any of you are looking for a second hand cleaned up MacBook going cheap... pop over to Ebay.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Home-Education - Our Timeline

Timelines are a staple of the Charlotte Mason approach to home schooling, which we loosely follow. (You can read more about our home-education approach here) I did quite a lot of research into timelines until I found a format that would suit us. It has become an ever evolving resource on our kitchen wall.

Charlotte Mason Timeline - Our Handmade Home

Every week we do one session of 'History' and one session of 'Famous Lives' our timeline is our go-to resource for both of these topics.

Famous Lives

This primarily focuses on scientists, inventors, or otherwise notable figures from around the world. I try to balance the genders and we tend to cover more Scots than any other nationality (as is clearly not demonstrated by the above photo... achem)

Our main resource for these studies is a series of books called 'famous people, famous lives' which are short and well written factual books for children.There seems to be hundreds of them so we are unlikely to run out of topics in the near future.

Charlotte Mason History Timeline James Watt
James Watt and the Enlightenment 
Once we finish reading each book we look on the internet for some photos or paintings, we try to have a question and answer type discussion about the person and then I make up about 5 little notes which together we blu tack up to our timeline. This gives an immediate grounding on where in history our famous life sits. We usually study each figure for 2 weeks and we will occasionally revisit people we have already covered if there is a particularly interesting documentary available on BBC iPlayer or if we come across a book of particular interest.


I am using our early years to cover wide sweeping historic topics, giving an overall backdrop to our timeline. Our history studies are primarily based on UK history, with a slant towards Scottish history.

Home education time line
excuse the is the rustic look
We have an amazing book called 'A Street Through Time' Which shows a generic riverside settlement (somewhere in England) and how it has changed through the different eras, from hunter gatherers, through to the modern day. We have plotted the time periods covered in this book on our timeline so whenever we are discussing a time in history we can hop back to the book to get a general idea of how peoples of the British Isles were living around this time.

I really love our timeline it is probably the single most useful resource I have ever made for our home-ed studies and it gets used every day to answer all kinds of questions.

The details of our timeline... should you be interested in making your own... 

Our timeline is very handmade it runs from 400 BCE to 2020 CE It is marked at 5cm intervals. The increments begin at 200 years long, then 100, 50, 20 and finally 10 years (this is based on a timeline in a book we have about the history of art, it seemed as logical way to start as any) It is hand written in sharpie and biro and then put through our little laminator in an impressive 2 metre long strip.
At some point in the future we will have to extend our timeline to pre 400BCE but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Any questions... ask me in the comments below.

Full Disclosure - I've popped in a couple of affiliate links in this post - if you click through and then buy something I get a teeny bit of commission on the purchase - the price you pay is the same but it helps to support this blog and our family - Thankyou

Thursday, 3 April 2014

How much is my vintage sewing machine worth?

I'm frequently contacted by people asking me how much their vintage singer sewing machine is worth.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but old sewing machines are worth very little.

And here's a possible reason why...

Between the 1900s and 1940s sewing machines were made by the thousand, my girl was made in the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank, near Glasgow in 1929. This factory was churning out around 13,000 machines a week - that is 676,000 a year... and that was just one factory, in just one year. Every housewife worth her salt would have had a treadle or hand crank sewing machine in her house.

By the 1980s and 1990s the market would have been flooded with second-hand manual sewing machines (all those salty housewives were shuffling off this mortal coil and make-do-and-mend was no longer common-place) Many people must have thought that Granny's old sewing machine would be worth something one day, so hundreds of families the world over stored the machines in basements, garages and at the back of the hall cupboard because it was a family heirloom, an antique.

Sadly not... there are still hundreds of these machines around, looking for owners. Often the people who want them want a bargain, they want to be thrifty and sew without the cost of electricity. They are not antique collectors and what you have is likely not an antique.

I got my machine for free, as did my sister, a friend paid £30 in a charity shop. I have visitors to my blog who pick them up in garage sales and even in skips (dumpsters)


If your machine is in absolutely tip top condition, the decals are perfect, it has no nicotine stains, the cabinet is pristine, etc. then I would suggest you auction it on eBay. Start it at £100 ($160 USD) and see where it goes. I have seen pristine machines going for around £200 - £300.

Its not all bad news...

You can give your old machine a new lease of life simply by giving it away to a worthy party, there are folks out there desperately looking for an old treadle or hand-crank machine, as long as it works.

So please do consider giving it away. If you don't know anyone who would want it, give it or sell it for a nominal fee (£50 or under seems reasonable to me)

Checkout Freecycle, or Freegle if you want to gift it to someone.
Craigslist, eBay or Gumtree if you want to sell it on for a few pounds.

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