Blog Every Day in May: Morning Ritual

“Tell us about what you do every morning to help you get ready for the day ahead.”

I have two of these, and the morning just doesn’t feel right without both of them.

First thing most mornings, or after a shower and prettying up rather, I head out to walk the dogs. There are lots of stunning places to walk very near us, and the hounds are always really excited to get out. Cooper loves to explore every path, and investigate every little thing, whilst Digby is still on the lead most of the time but still enjoys sniffing his way along. We get to meet lots of lovely people for chats, and lots of other dogs who Coops loves to play with. I adore the fresh air to wake me up, the amazing light early in the morning, and just ambling along without a care in the world.

About half way along our walk though I start to crave my second ritual…the morning coffee. I’ve always loved coffee, but I’ve I’ve only been able to properly enjoy it on a regular basis since I started to work from home. I’m a total coffee snob, and don’t consider a Starbucks or an instant a coffee at all (even though I do enjoy both on occasion….just not when I actually fancy a coffee!). We’ve been using the Aeropress at home for a little over a year now, which meant that we could make really great coffee fairly quickly and easily. I’ve always ground my beans fresh and taken care over the heat of the water (we bought a rather flashy kettle which you can set to heat at different temperatures) and the entire process really…it’s well worth it, honestly!

However, in the last couple of weeks we have bought an amazing new coffee machine, which grinds the beans and makes your desired strength and length of coffee at the touch of a button! It took some tinkering with to start, testing our filtered water, varying the grind, and selecting carefully all the other options….now though all I have to do is switch it on, shove a cup underneath and push a button for an amazing coffee. If I fancy a latte, flat white or cappuccino it has a milk steamer too!

I savour my coffee over breakfast, a reward for getting up and out, and to start the day ready and fresh….if I miss out on either the walk or the coffee I feel grouchy and disinclined!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: What’s in your fridge?

“Describe and/or photograph what is in your fridge right now. Be honest!”

So my fridge contains all the usual things, organic butter, yoghurt and milk; free range eggs; leeks; charlotte carrots; half a butternut squash and some mixers….but rather than share a complete list of all those types of things, I thought I’d write about some of the more ‘special’ things that are in there.

We regularly buy fancy and posh jars of stuff from food festivals, markets and whatnot, and they inevitably hang around in the fridge for ages before we finally get around to finishing them. At the moment we have lots of really yummy jars in the fridge, including but not limited to….

Humbers Homemade Rosemary Jelly….this is made locally to us and you can buy it from local markets as well as delis. It’s lovely to cook sausages in or to serve with lamb!

We found the wonderful Pink’s range of chilli products at the Maltby Street Market whilst we still lived in London, and we just love their Green Chilli Jelly and Smoked Tomato Tapenade. They make great dips or sauces to cook fish with.

There are currently four full jars of Jules & Sharpie jams and jellies in the fridge….we discovered them at the local chilli festival last year and love the Hot Marmalade, Hot Apple & Sage Jelly, Hot Rhubarb & Ginger Jam, and Hot Lime & Green Pepper Jelly. These are lovely along with a cheese board.

Other regulars are Alfez Harissa (which I chuck into tagines and hot sauces) and Thai Taste Green Curry Paste which is a great base for a yummy curry. We also tend to keep in a few nice jams and marmalades, and currently still have a delicious Fig & Walnut Ball homemade by our friend Hannah.

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Compliments

“Tell us about the best compliment you have ever received.”

Although I do truly love a compliment, I’m not all that good at accepting them! I often get shy and try to brush it off with a silliness or joke, and I know lots of my friends get frustrated when I can’t accept their compliments! I do hope they don’t stop giving me compliments though, as they are rather wonderful! People have been kind enough to say lots of nice things about me, but I feel a little big headed in honesty sharing them or listing them.

There is one rather big compliment I am proud to share with you though. It’s not a usual type of compliment, such as ‘your hair looks great’ or ‘you really are very good at shopping’…..but I think it must be the biggest compliment I’ve ever been paid….

A few months ago, love of my life Adam, asked me to be his wife, and I was only too excited and delighted to accept. To me this meant that he loves me, wants to spend the rest of his life with me, and is making a commitment towards our relationship. Now I can’t think of a bigger compliment than that! It’s just a big bonus that on top of that I get to plan a splendid wedding (one of my favourite things to do!), have an excuse for a special holiday (loving thinking about honeymoons!) and got given a stunning vintage diamond ring to boot!

So yeah, this compliment stuff is rather grand!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Walk to Work

“Describe or photograph your walk to work. Or journey to work if you use transport. Is it pretty or incredibly dull? Can you find something of interest on your way?”

When I first read today’s prompt I was tempted to walk you through my walk to work in photos or a video or something…until I forgot that it was actually today and when I just came to write it, and hadn’t done any preparations at all! Still, the walk from my bedroom, downstairs and into my home studio wouldn’t make for *that* interesting a post, so I’ve decided to share an old walk to work with you instead!

I lived in London for 12 years in total, from a student living in South East London to my last place right in the City. My last year there was easily the most memorable, probably in part due to living so centrally, and making the most of the Capital (especially during Summer 2012 when there was SO much going on!).

A lot of my fond memories do come from my old walk to work though, as I’d leave our flat at Tower Hill, walk over Tower Bridge and along to Borough. I would sometimes cross over at London Bridge on the way home for a change, and walk through St Dunstans or the Tower of London. Which ever way I walked though, whatever the weather and time of day (I would often finish quite late) there were always sights to see and things to photograph…and so I thought I’d share with you some of my memories of that great walk to work….

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Pampering

“What is your ideal way to pamper yourself and relax?”

I’ve never really been into the traditional pampering stuff. I don’t mind a mud mask every now and then, but I don’t enjoy it enough to do it regularly and I’m not organised enough to do it far enough in advance of a special occasion. I have NEVER been for a facial, not because I have any kind of adversity to them, I’ve just never gotten round to it. And I’m not really into relaxing type massages…I’d much rather get my back cracked by my great osteopath!

If I do want to relax, treat myself and prettify though, there is one thing I’ll always make time for. Painting my nails is something I just love to do…not just getting the nice end result, but actually taking time to decorate them to perfection. I’ve hardly painted them at all recently, just because they get ruined so fast when I’m cutting and gluing all day or out in the garden, but when I had a proper job in a proper office I painted them religiously.

It’s a bit of a ritual I suppose, filing and buffing them, moisturising them and tidying the cuticles…then base coating before starting the real fun of applying colour. I have a huge collection of nail polishes (well in excess of 50 at last count) so it’s always a tricky choice, but I tend to go with the seasons and my moods or fads…I’ve been loving really dark colours of late (a throw back to my gothic youth and a response to the lack of spring weather!) but very often wear ridiculously bright shades, or even ten different colours all together!

I love to coordinate my nails with my outfit, and have even been known to replicate a pattern in detail to match! If I have enough time I very much enjoy using a tiny brush to paint on little pictures and whatnot too! I’m currently after a really good set of neon colours….proper fluoro shades of pink, orange, yellow, green and blue!

My favourite brands are O.P.I, Essie, Nails Inc and good old Barry M….I know lots of people don’t get on with it, but I find the slender brush really great on my tiny nails, and they always have the best colours and are great value too!

I currently have no nail polish on actually, having spent the entire day sticking and sanding and scalpeling, so I thought I’d share some past creations….

Ems x

Wearing my current favourite, Barry M Greenberry (which nicely matched the water tester for the new coffee machine!)

Christmas cheer!

Alternative French Manicure

Crazy brights to match my awesome vintage 60s dress

To match my favourite shoes for my friends’ wedding

Sugary sweet to go with my bubble gum ring

Bunting to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee

Blog Every Day in May: Life’s A Lesson

“What is the single most important lesson you have ever had?”

This is not so much a lesson, as a sort of a massive learning experience! After wracking my brains trying to think of some kind of a lesson that I can both remember and think fondly of, this seemed like the most appropriate thing to share!

We (my younger brother and I) were very lucky as children as Mum worked part time so that she could pick us up from school each day. In the summer holidays though, apart from when we were actually on holiday, we’d be dropped off at my Nanna Doris’ house to spend the day there. We loved spending the summer holidays with her, especially as she’d take us on her errands around town, and because there was lots to explore where she lived!

When the weather was fine we’d be outside on adventures….making rancid perfume from berries and plants we’d found, or playing games with other local kids. But when the weather meant we had to stay indoors, it was time for the big cupboard of stuff to be opened!

Basically, Nanna D would keep a cupboard stocked up with all sorts of fun stuff for us to make things with….she’d collect empty cotton reels, bits of cardboard, left over bits of yarn and tin cans etc. so that we could make whatever we wanted. Firstly it meant that we didn’t have to cart a whole load of toys there with us every day, but it also meant that we could never get bored, as we’d spend time making something, get fed up of it, then make something else!

I remember wanting a skateboard as I’d seen some other kids with one, so I made one myself from cardboard, garden canes and cotton reels! Given, it wasn’t sturdy enough for me to stand on, but it was perfect for my doll Sarah to be strapped onto and send gliding down the nearest hill! I also remember well building our own little post office…a cardboard kiosk with signage (obvs) and all that goes in a Post Office! We made our own stamps, envelopes, paying in books and all sorts…Nanna D even played along as a very obliging customer!

Apart from teaching us to entertain ourselves, and that we didn’t need lots of expensive toys to keep us happy, this was all a great lesson in being resourceful. As a result, I’m a natural hoarder, but can turn my hand to most things, and can work out how to fix a problem in a jiffy.  I pride myself on being exceptionally resourceful, and I am sure I owe it to that wonderful summer holiday cupboard of stuff at Nanna D’s!

I wish I could share a photo of some of my creations, but alas digital photography wasn’t even heard of then! Still, I have wonderful memories of those times and the things I made.

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Collecting

“Are you a collector? Maybe a bit of a hoarder? Tell us about something you like to collect. Or if you favour minimalism, perhaps tell us why?”

How apt that this topic should fall on a Sunday….day of car booting!

We are very lucky to have a great market near us, and on a Sunday it is taken over by a weekly car boot sale. We love to snoop around there, as well as the other local markets and car boots. It’s a great place for me to pick up vintage finds, bits and bobs for our home, and chat to some really interesting and knowledgeable people about their stuff.

Now I’ve never really considered myself a collector….although I did have a wonderful stamp collection as a child, all nicely catalogued in a special file!….but I suppose I do have a tendency to want to buy up certain types of things.

I have recently gone through a phase of snapping up Hornsea Fauna, as I love the cutesy little woodland creatures, and the vases look darling filled with a few blooms. I do have a few of them listed on my Etsy vintage shop, so I do intend to sell them….but they look ever so pretty in my guest bedroom in the mean time!

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I have quite the collection now of Victorian bell cloches too. I asked Adam for one a few Christmasses ago and he found a lovely one online for me, only to spy another even more impressive one (a stunning and huge original one!) on Hitchin Market a little while later….so once I’d been given two, it only seemed natural to keep getting more! I have six now, in varying styles and sizes, and I fill them with all sorts of things, from a Victorian china doll, to a plastic pixie figurine I’ve had since a child.

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I suppose though that if I do have a proper collection of anything, it’s the bits and bobs that I find whilst out and about. When we lived in London I would pick up all kinds of stuff, such as lego figures, bottle caps and random bits of plastic or metal. I even went mud-larking a couple of times and managed to find clay pipes, old pieces of glass and lots of lovely bits of slate. Now that we’re all countryside-ified though, I tend to collect up things like empty bird eggs, feathers, pretty pebbles and other random bits of nature. There is also my favourite bit of the car boot sale….the 50p box….where I find old keys, ballroom dancing medals and tin soldiers….all priceless treasure to my mind!

So perhaps I’m not so much a collector as a hoarder and obsessive purchaser! Well, I do call myself a professional treasure hunter, and I think that’s fairly accurate!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Book Love

“Tell us about your favourite book. Or maybe give us a top 5 of the books that changed your life.”

I love to read. Most of the time. I tend to go through phases where I’m addicted to a book and read text after text….but at other times (like now!) I just lose interest! And whilst I could still tell you all about some of my favourite books I have read (Orlando by Virgina Woolf….all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books….the Dexter books by Jeff LIndsey…..and most of PD James) because I’m having a bit of an ‘off’ period at the moment, I thought I’d be better placed to rave about a different kind of book…..

The book shelves in my little studio are crammed with colourful and creative books, and the biggest collection of all is that of my fashion books. I am just crazy about them. The glossy covers, the amazing photography, and of course the wonderful subjects! I’m definitely a style over substance girl, so browsing through these to give me inspiration is a favourite thing to do for me.

Here are some of my favourites….

Radical Fashion by Claire Wilcox

I used to use this a lot when I was at college (studying for my Degree in Theatre Design, a big part of which was Costume Design) so I just had to buy it when I no longer had access to the library! It’s really inspiring though, and full of, well, *radical* fashion.

Dior: 60 Years of Style by Farid Chenoune and Laziz Hamani

This was a very generous gift one Christmas and I really cherish this book. It’s absolutely HUGE and won’t fit on even the massive Victorian bookshelves we have in the house….it’s a true coffee table book (heck, you could even use it *as* a coffee table!) and it offers an enthralling history of one of my favourite design houses.

Put on Your Pearls Girls by Lulu Guinness

How pretty is that cover? SO damn pretty! And what’s more, this is actually a POP-UP BOOK!!! It doesn’t get much more charming than this….named after one of Lulu’s favourite expressions, the book is made up of all the darling little phrases she uses in her accessories. I love it!

Manolo Blahnik Drawings by Anna Wintour and Andre Leon Talley

I want a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes more than most things….they are just so wonderfully fun and exciting and glamourous. But as that’s not on the cards, I do make do rather well with this book. Blahnik’s designs are very much like theatrical costume drawings, and his style, colours and drama put me in mind of the wonderful Inigo Jones. I love this book so much I have two copies…one coffee table size and one mini version for the studio!

Merry by Koji Mizutani and Paul Smith

On the cover wrap of my copy of this book is a quote from Paul Smith: “The energy of the street makes me happy”….and this book certainly does make me happy! A super-bright collection of hundreds of incredibly smiley and fashion forward Japanese girls, this book is an inspiration, a mood lifter and just plain brill.

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Travel Dreams

“If you could go anywhere in the world right now where would it be?”

Right now? Somewhere it’s not raining and where I don’t need thermal socks on!

But really, I do have lots of travel dreams. And in honesty, most of them are probably just that, dreams. I’m afraid I’m not very proactive when it comes to travelling….I’ve never prioritised it, found much time for it, nor saved the funds for it. My fiance, Adam, has by contrast travalled lots, and I look on his amazing travel photos in awe! I think it’s fair to say that if he’d not met me, he would probably still be going off on fun long trips, so I probably should plan on some travelling with him in the future, lest he resents me for spoiling his adventures!

I have a bit of a list of places I’d like to go to, and it’s constantly growing! Here are my top picks though….

Canada

Adam is always saying we should move to Vancouver, and I suppose as it usually makes the top three places to live in the world, it must have quite a lot going for it! I do love the look of the landscapes there, the idea of good clean living, skiing and all the niceness!

State of Washington

Now don’t judge me….it’s probably fairly acceptable to love Twin Peaks as obsessively as I do, but I can’t say I’m proud of how much I love the Twilight films! Still, that part of America has a real charm for me, and I’d love to go to the towns where these were filmed…and it would be an easy trip from Vancouver!

Tibet

Just because of Twin Peaks (again).

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New Zealand

It may be because the climate appeals to me more than Australia, or the incredible landscapes I see in the films (Adam is forever pointing out, saying ‘I’ve been there, it’s in New Zealand’ when we watch things). It seems like an amazing way of life here too, and Adam speaks very fondly of the people there and how kind they were to him.

Peru

Ever since I first saw photos of Machu Pichu, I’ve wanted to go there. I would LOVE to walk the Inca Trail, and in fact as Adam does too we are quite likely to do so together!

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Jordan

Some of my favourite photos from Adam’s travels were taken in Jordan, at Petra. I just adore the ancient architecture, and would be so excited to discover it one very early morning, imagining myself as one of those intrepid explorers who really did discover it after centuries!

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Japan

This is my favourite country I’ve never been to! I know I’d love all the kitschness, the food, the cherry blossom season, the architecture (in all its varying forms!), the history and the efficiency! Adam has been but would happily return…and I’m fairly sure we’ll have to go before too long!

As well as these destinations, I would just LOVE LOVE LOVE to go on a few road trips / super-deluxe tours! I’m crazy about the idea of a road trip for months and months to really explore all of North America (there is so much I want to see there….New York, San Francisco, the deep south, Niagra, Grand Canyon….), and it’d have to be in a huge classic American Car or with an Airstream! I also adore the idea of an incredibly luxurious trip all over Italy…I’ve loved everywhere I’ve been to in that country (Rome, Florence, Sienna and Pisa) and would jump at the chance to explore more cities there, as well as the coast and the countryside. I think another great travel project would be to see all the original Wonders of The World…I know they don’t all still exist (or possibly some of them never did!) but to find the closest thing to each would be amazing. I’d also love to visit all the ‘new’ seven wonders, although I’m not sure I completely agree with all of the list!

If I won the lottery today though (the big bucks, obviously, not a tenner) I think I’d have to go wild and plan a round the world trip to see all of the James Bond film and book locations….I’m a bit of a James Bond nut and some of the places I’ve read about in the books and seen in the films just seem like the most exciting places on Earth! And with the big bucks lottery prize, I’d travel with Valextra luggage, sail about on yachts with hot crew, get jetted about in helicopters, stay in all the finest hotels, take photos on a vintage analogue Leica, and drink Champagne on my private balcony for breakfast. Just like James Bond.

Well, the title WAS Travel *Dreams*!

Ems x

PS. Thanks to Adam for the photos!

Blog Every Day in May: Favourite Social Media Channel

“Are you a Twitter-lover? Or maybe you can’t get enough of Pinterest? Do you need to share every meal on Instagram? Do you waste away the hours watching Youtube? Or Facebook is your comfort zone? Tell us about your favourite social media channel and why.”

 

It’s pretty fair to say that I’m a bit of a Social Media junky. I’m by no means a real addict, and I know that some people spend a lot longer on it, and much more effectively in most cases too. But I no longer go even a day without checking my accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest, WordPress, Flickr and Instagram. I love this informal way to stay in touch with friends and up to date with various goings on….it’s all so bite-sized and convenient!

I wouldn’t be without Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, but my favourite channel has got to be Instagram. It’s probably because it’s visual and I don’t have to read anything (I’m a pretty pictures person more than a long words person!), and it’s a super fast way of keeping up to date with people and getting inspiration.

I go through phases with it…I sometimes just spend time looking at other peoples’ pictures and not really posting any of my own….but other times I share incessantly! I like to edit my pictures in an editing app before I upload them onto Instagram, and so I don’t often use the in-built filters on it any more. But I do usually tick the boxes to copy the image to Facebook and Twitter…so a lot of the time my photos dominate my stream in those places too!

Oddly enough, Instagram is the channel I’ve found I most keep up with people through….I’ve gotten back in touch with long lost friends through it, and developed friendships with people I’ve only met once (or not even at all!). I guess it’s because of a mutual love for all things pretty, fun and random!

Ems x