November 2, 2012

Join me in welcoming a new patch trading blog to the community

This post is long overdue, and I really must apologize to the person who asked me to write about their blog here last January for that. At the time we were incredibly busy in the midst of packing and preparing for a big cross country move, and I wasn't spending much time online, let alone writing post for this blog, so I wasn't able to accommodate her request at the time (but said that I would definitely aim to later on).

I always, always try to keep my word though, and thus am happy today to let all of you know about a new Girl Guide related blog on the block. Last January Stephanie Nash, a fellow patch trading and Guiding enthusiast started a blog of her own to document some of her swapping and Guiding related going-ons called Misty's Trading Post.

There are so few of us still actively seeking new (or returning) patch swapping partners online, let alone folks with blogs of their own devoted to the topic, so I really have been very eager to announce Stephanie's here for some time.

I hope you'll join me in extending a warm (slightly belated) welcome to Stephanie and her charming blog, and that you'll all take a moment to stop by, say hello, and perhaps zip an email her way if you're interested in trading.

I appreciate that you contacted me about your blog earlier this year, Stephanie, and really hope that things have been going great on the Guiding and patch trading fronts for you throughout 2012.
It's always a joy to hear from those with Guiding related blogs, and I welcome you to contact me anytime if you'd like me to consider blogging about your site here, too.

Happy start of November, everyone - here's to the hope that it will be a month filled with plenty of wonderful patch swaps for all of us!

September 8, 2012

Fondly remembering the heyday of eBay Girl Guide listings

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You know those moments when something miffs you a bit and you really need to get your mind off of it? Well, I'm having one of those right now regarding an overseas eBay seller and their rather unscrupulous, rude approach to handing the fact that my order (of some craft supplies) did not arrive. I filed a PayPal dispute on the last possible day to do so (so a full 45 days after I paid for my order) and they're basically going postal (no pun intended) on me for doing so, even though I'm 100% within my rights to do so.

Oh well, we'll just see happens there! (This isn't the first problem I've run into with various China/Hong Kong based craft supply sellers, but it will definitely be the last time I order from one of them - the few dollars saved from buying overseas isn't worth the headache!)

On the topic of eBay however, I'm sure I'm not alone in being the only that has noticed the ongoing decline in Canada Girl Guide item listings (I don't monitor GG/GS from other countries very closely, so I can't comment too much on how things have been in this regard with listings from the US, UK, Australia, etc). Five years ago now (wow, where does the time go?!) when I started collecting GG items again (for the first time as an adult) there was often quite an abundance of eBay listings for patches, badges, pins, buttons, uniform pieces, and sundry other Girl Guides of Canada related pieces.

It was well beyond the scope of my budget at the time to bid on (or buy every listing that caught my eye, but it was through eBay (especially during 2007 and 2008) that I built up the bulk of my present day collection. Had it not been for the large number of listings (and I can only guess at how many there were before 2007 - but I suspect perhaps even more then when I began bidding), my collection would be a far cry smaller than it is for sure!

eBay logo graphic, for use of Girl Guides blog

{Official eBay logo via eBay.}

Much as the interest in patch collecting as a whole has dwindled over the years (a point regular readers of this blog have certainly seen my talk about me before), so too has the number of GGC eBay listings.

This isn't surprising to me, as I see the two as going hand-in-hand rather naturally. If there's less of a demand for something, there's likely to be fewer people selling it. The fact that various parts of the country (such as Ontario) have done away with the A/D/D system (and thus are not producing A/D/D crests any more), and also shut down all of the real world Guide shops, certainly didn't help matters either.

Have there been times over the past few years when there was a sudden spike in Girl Guide listings? Absolutely, but - especially from 2010 onward - they are become exceedingly few and far between. At any given moment there is at least a small number of GGC listings (often for Brownie or Guide badges and activity/camp crests), but it's been a good long time since there was much in the way of A/D/D or pin action.

I'm sure that as time goes on, there were will be other listings for these types of items, but I suspect it will be a very rare occurrence indeed when we see a seller listing ten, twenty or more A/D/Ds, hard to find badges, or other highly sought after items during the same week or month.

Nevertheless, I have no plans to give up my nearly daily eBay keyword searches for Girl Guide items, and am sure that every now and then a new listing for an item I don't already have (and would love to add to my collection) will pop up - and I want to ensure I toss my bid into the ring, so to speak, bright and early when it does! Smile

July 17, 2012

A few handy tips for packing and moving your Girl Guide collection


Cheerful July greetings, everyone! Can you believe that we're nearly a month into summer? While the weather this year has often been anything but ideal (think rain, rain and scads more rain!), we have been getting a few roasty-toasty days as of late, so hopefully when all is said and done, the Okanagan will bestow a beautiful summer on us this year.

Not too much is shaking on the patch front, as finding new swap partners continues to be elusive at times (though I did just do one small trade a few days ago). I've noticed that on eBay, too, for the most part GGC listings continue to be down, with one encountering far less A/D/Ds, proficiency badges, pins, and the like then we used to see a few years ago. I suspect that this is a trend that, by and large, is here to stay, but nevertheless, I remain diligent in my frequent eBay searches, and as always welcome your emails about swapping patches.

Having recently moved across the vastness that is Canada, hopping from Ontario back to my home province of B.C., I thought I'd take moment in the early morning hours here today and share some quick tips to keep in mind regarding how to pack up your Girl Guide/Girl Scout collection when moving.

First things first, ensure that you're collection is securely sealed in plastic bags and/or containers. Technically metal or any waterproof material would work, too, but plastic zip-lock bags are relatively inexpensive and weigh considerably less than metal boxes. You can sort/divide up your collection however you like, or if you keep everything swirled together, just place it into plastic bags/containers, squeezing out the air if applicable and checking that there are no holes in the plastic. This step is taken to ensure that, in the event that in the course of your move, the moving box or boxes with your collection in it got wet, you're far more likely to have your patches (et al) come out unscathed.

Ok, technically, there's a step you could take before you put your collection into plastic bags, and that would be to catalog it if you haven't already done so, or update your catalog if needed. You could do this with in Excel or Word document, on paper, or simply by taking photographs. This is important in case, goodness forbid, something (theft, fire damage, etc) was to occur to your collection during transportation (if you need to make an insurance claim with your movers or insurance company, the more documentation of your missing/damaged possessions you have, the better).

Girl Guides of Canada Guide writing a list, GGC clip art 
(Image via the GGC's clip art collection.)


On that note, while individual patches, badges, and the like are not usually overly valuable from a monetary standpoint (excluding certain very old and/or very hard to find ones, especially those prior to the 1930s), your collection as a whole may very well be worth thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, so for that reason alone, you may want to look into purchasing insurance for your move (most reputable moving companies will offer you this service right from the get-go). Remember, as Guides, we're always keen on being well prepared! :)

When packing your Girl Guide/Girl Scout items into boxes (after you're put them in plastic), be sure to pad the bottom, top and sides of the box a little with paper (plain newsprint, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, etc) to help cushion the contents in case the box takes a tumble or has heavier boxes stacked on top of it.

If any of the items in your collection are especially delicate or even remotely fragile, you'll definitely want to wrap them individually before placing them into a larger bag/container with other items. Bubble wrap, newsprint, tissue paper, and fabric scraps/rags can all be used for this purpose.

Try not to over-pack your boxes in terms of weight, and be sure to securely close them with sturdy packing tape. Always place something between the contents of your box and the cardboard top flaps (such as a layer of bubble wrap), so that when the box is cut open, there's less risk that the knife blade will accidentally slice into your patches themselves (just imagine how gut wrenching it would be to have that happen!).

Clearly label the content of your boxes on the top and at at least one side (along with your name and, if know, the desired room in your new house where the boxes will be going) with permanent marker (such as Sharpies). If for any reason you can't write on the boxes themselves, use a large label or piece of masking tape and write the same information on that instead before attaching it to your boxes.

Once you've arrived at your new home and have unloaded all of the boxes from the truck, van, etc, if possible, take a few moments to ensure that you see that your Girl Guide/Girl Scout boxes have arrived safely and that none of them are missing. If anything appears to be missing or damaged, you'll want to file an insurance claim (assuming you got insurance before hand) immediately.

Hopefully though, such will not be the case and you'll soon be able to unpack your wonderful collection once more. If it's going to be a little while before that's possible however, definitely make sure that you do not leave your Girl Guide/Girl boxes anywhere with a high risk of water damage (either from flooding or weather), fire, or extreme weather conditions (severe humidity, for example, can quickly wreck havoc on fabric and paper items). A clean, dry, well ventilated storage room, basement, or bedroom would likely be a good spot to house your boxes until you're ready to unpack them.

Now that you're settled into your new home, have fun unpacking and rearranging (if needed) your patches. If you didn't do so prior to moving, consider using unpacking as a great time to create a catalog of everything in your collection. Doing so is an immensely handy way to quickly see at a glance just what you do, and do not have, so that you don't end up with any unintentional duplicates.

If you have other tips or stories pertaining to moving your Girl Guide/Girl Scout collection, I'd love to hear them, and hope that anyone facing an upcoming move has a pleasant, hassle-free experience.

May 8, 2012

Touching base from beautiful British Columbia

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly three months since I last posted here, but as many of you may recall from my previous entry, earlier this year my husband and I made the decision to uproot our lives and move across the country from the urban wilds of Toronto to the fabulously sun-kissed, sage green hills of the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.

To say that these past few months have been a three ring circus of activity would be an understatement. There were sleepless nights, days that were a whirl of stress, seemingly endless rolls of packing tape, renos, many shopping trips, oodles of decor decisions, and scads of unpacking (still have a bit of that to do, though most has been tackled at this point), but I wouldn't have traded a moment of it for anything.

I'm elated to be back in my home town of Penticton, and hope that as things continue to return to a more normal pace of life in the coming months, I’m be able to post here about once a month again.

Though some of my Girl Guide and Girl Scout collectibles, patches, badges, and pins are still packed away, as always I encourage you to contact me at any time if you'd like discuss trading.

So from my lovely new home on the most serenely peaceful street one could ever hope for (our house is across a small two lane street from a bubbling creek), I'm sending happy wishes out to all of you, dear friends, for a May and remainder of spring that abound with sunny days, great patch swaps, and tons of end of the Guiding year fun!

January 20, 2012

Preparing for a big move

Many times - likely more than I could begin to recall - throughout my life, the skills and lessons I learned during my years in Guiding have served me well and helped make a wide range of situations easier to navigate.

Few circumstances drill home this point better than when I'm getting ready for to move houses, which I'm very pleased to share with all of you, my husband and I will be doing at the end of this coming February.

After nearly six years of living in Ontario, following a great deal of thought, planning, and consideration, we recently decided that the best step for us at this point in our lives (for a number of important reasons) would be leave Toronto and move to my home province of British Columbia.

Though I grew up (and enjoyed all of my Guiding years) in B.C., this will be the first time that my European born and raised husband will get to call Canada's most westerly province his own.

As anyone who's ever prepared for a cross country move (in which you pack up all your belongings) knows, there's a significant amount of work involved with such a major life change. From detailed checklists to weeks of packing, finding a new home, organizing transportation, and following a budget, a long distance move like this requires careful preparation and well coordinated efforts on everybody's parts.

At times like this I think back to days spent planning for Girl Guide camps, several of which involved weeks or even months (as in the case of SOAR 1998) to prepare for. Then as now, there was planning, budgeting, task division, and plenty of packing involved. And of course, you have to be as prepared as possible for the unexpected - one of the cornerstones of the Guiding philosophy for sure.

When we arrive in B.C. we'll have about 7 to 14 days between then and when the moving company delivers our belongings, so for a little while (though we'll be graciously hosted by some of my relatives) we'll be channelling a campout vibe by living out of our suitcases (in a nod to camping packsacks) and adapting to a different environment than the one we're used to.

Fortunately we see this move as a positive one and we’re both extremely excited about it - as well as  for the many prospects the future holds in store for us in British Columbia.

As there's only about a month left until our moving day, this is likely the last post I'll be sharing here for the next few weeks. Once we're settled into our new home and have the internet set up (sometime in March), I'll be sure to let you know how things are going.

During this time, though you can always email me with your patch trading and other Girl Guide/Girl Scout related queries, please be aware that I may not respond to you as quickly as usual and that I won't be able to send out any patch swaps (as my all of patches have already been packed up for the move).

I appreciate your understanding about this and hope you'll join in my excitement regarding this exciting new chapter in my life.

Until we chat again, Guiding and Scouting friends, may you all have a wonderful rest of the winter – and lots of terrific patch swaps!