Wrapping up 2013

*Shuffles in, embarrassed*

So er, hello little Blog. I didn’t forget you, honest. It’s just been, you know, a busy three months!

As far as neglecting my blog goes, I reckon this has been the longest stint ever! True, it’s been a crazy old end to the year. And in honesty, every time I’ve squeezed in a moment to post, I’ve just not, well, ‘felt’ it. I must have written at least a dozen posts in my head since my last offering back in September, and as ever there are loads of things I want to fill you in about. I’ll have to write up a list of posts I really must post, but I thought that by way of dipping my toe back in the water, I’d do a little round up of the year, as is the done thing…..

2013 started pretty darn well, truth be told. My darling Adam proposed to me in mid January (a great time really, as I always get the post-Christmas blues and this perked me up no end!). Shortly afterwards we went ring shopping (SO much fun!) and chose my amazing vintage diamond engagement ring…..then it was a case of letting everyone know and getting started on the planning!

We weren’t the only ones to get engaged this year, and in fact it’s been a whirlwind of proposals in our friendship groups! Huge congratulations to (in no particular order!) Dave and Charlotte, Ben and Cheryl, Si and Carol, Andy and Sharon,  Michelle of MYCreative, Nova and David, and Claire and Matthew….who I’m exceedingly excited to be Bridesmaid for next August!

Not long after all that, we ventured into the world of dog fostering, welcoming a certain little fawn lurcher to our home. After only three days, we’d found a home for the Incredibly Good Looking Cooper, and I bawled for a week after he went and took my heart with him! It turned out to be true love though after all, as he came back to us just five weeks later and chose us as his forever family!

(Thanks to my lovely future Sister in Law for the photo, and the one below of Digby too!)

Soon we realised that rescuing dogs is in fact rather addictive, and we began to look for a friend for Coops. It took us a while, but after a few false starts, we found our wonderful little Digby! We had to wait a while to welcome him to the family, as he had kennel cough (like Cooper, he’s from Ireland and caught it whilst in the pound over there) and we had to get Coops vaccinated so he wouldn’t get poorly too. Eventually though, Digby too came to his forever home and there we were….a proper little family!

I am just LOVING being a dog owner / Mummy to our two boys! It certainly is hard work, and a real commitment, but they make it so worth my while with all their entertaining and love. They both have very unique personalities (not to mention unique appearances!) and make us laugh out loud daily with their antics. Training is an ongoing process (I don’t know how anyone can be a dog owner and work full time!), but they are getting so settled now which is very rewarding. And I am certainly benefitting from all the extra exercise which is a bonus too!

I love my boys sooooooo much!!!! Big thank yous to GRWE (Cooper) and Heathlands (Digby) for saving our boys and all your hard work!

2013 was pretty good work wise too. I got to work regularly at a brilliant local charity, producing events for them, starting a blog, designing a new website and actually spending a LOT of time designing posters! I’ve continued selling my jewels at the awesome Jolly Brown, my nearest and dearest vintage shop, and hosted a stall at the Hitchin Christmas Lights Switch On which was super fun.

Perhaps most notably I set up my Not on the High Street shop in September, which was the main culprit for my lack of blogging! It was nicely busy from the off actually, and took off much better than my Etsy shop (although I’m still enjoying selling vintage treasures and my artwork on there too), but come Christmas shopping time it just got to be bonkers! Whilst I have a few stock items in there (although these are one offs too) most of my orders were for my custom made map jewellery which I have to make from scratch! Needless to say, with an order an hour coming in at some points, I was quickly swamped with work and had to close the shop for whole weeks at a time to catch up with the demand. Still, it was a privilege to make so many special treasures for people and a big thank you to all of you who ordered from me this year!

We had a lovely little getaway to St Ives in June, our first as a family with Cooper and Digby! It was great to get away for a week, especially as Adam didn’t take off an awful lot of holiday this year. I loved watching the dogs enjoy the beach, and had amazing adventures at The Lost Gardens of Heligan and The Eden Project. We got to meet up with dear friends Charlotte and Dave to boot, who helped up discover a fabulous Free Range farm with farm shop and restaurant, and I think I had chips on every day but one!

Our other little trip was back to Vienna, this time for a wedding! Katie and Peter actually got married halfway between Vienna and Graz, in a truly stunning Schloss (Austrian for CASTLE!!!) and I was honoured to have been invited to what was one of the most sophisticated occasions I’ve been to!

I was also lucky enough to be at Dan and Brigitte’s wedding….which they thoughtfully held on my birthday! This was brilliant because I got to open all my gifts a day early and it was like having a big party thrown for me with loads of my favourite people there but not having to do anything myself! That said, I was very pleased to help Dan and Brigitte out with their day….I ‘helped’ out by going along to their wedding tasting (such a chore) and setting up the reception venue for them with all kinds of pretty things. Their ceremony at Trinity House was just lovely, especially with the Tower of London (!!!) as a backdrop! Dan made me weep during his speech….I’ve known him near enough ten years now and I’m so delighted he’s found such a perfect match. Love you guys!

The wedding fun didn’t end there though, as we took a trip up to Scarborough to see Clare and Matt get married too. This was pretty much an extra holiday for us, as they’d actually planned an entire ‘Wild West Wedding Weekend’ at an amazing themed holiday park! I got to sleep in a tipi. A TIPI!!!! Needless to say I found this all incredibly exciting, and it was probably the most unique wedding I’ve ever experienced (which is saying something knowing I must have been to near on two hundred!). Everything was so wonderfully personal, including their touching Humanist ceremony, and we all had great fun on the bouncy castle and sitting around in the sun.

Our own wedding planning has gone fairly well I think. Obviously I’m at an advantage because I’ve planned weddings professionally for several years, but it’ll be all go from the new year on! We sent out our home made Save The Dates at the end of May….we based them on the phrase ‘Pencil Us In’ and I hand drew the design, and we attached pencils to each one that we’d had engraved with our names and the date of the wedding. We’ve booked our ceremony at the gorgeous Greenwich Town Hall, and a wonderful wedding photographer to snap some happy memories. We have our reception booked in two weeks after at our neighbouring British Schools Museum…we have some fun plans for that and have very much enjoyed tastings with our caterer and wine supplier already!

We also had an engagement photo shoot with Sharon, and a wonderful engagement party at our place. It was so great to have the excuse to get so many friends together and raise a glass to celebrate!

2013 has also seen an awful lot of hobbying. I’ve learned new skills and cultivated old ones, and despite enjoying the rather slower pace of things since we moved away from London, it’s been nice to stay relatively busy. I gave Adam a beginners archery course for his birthday, and went along with him in September to learn how to shoot with the brilliant Green Dragon Bowmen at the stunning Knebworth House. I’ve tried archery a couple of times before but I just loved learning about it in more depth over four weekend sessions.

I joined the local Time Bank, which has given me a great opportunity to become part of our new community and meet new people. I’ve done a really wide range of skills exchanges….running errands….sewing alterations….re-upholstering a foot stool….giving a make up lesson…painting a mural….all sorts! I’ve used some of my banked hours on some dog sitting, but mostly I’m saving them to use nearer the wedding! I also helped out at two Time Bank craft events, making lots of fun stuff with dozens of local children. Oh, and there was the small matter of Yarn Bombing a local outdoor scultpure!

I’ve taken up cross stitch again, which I’ve not really done since I was little, and have made several pretty samplers for my studio, as well as one for friends Jo and Elliot (after the birth of their lovely baby boy Teddy!). I got a needle felting kit for my birthday which I’ve not really explored yet, so I’ll be playing around more with that in the new year. Oh and I also got a Bamboo for my birthday, and now I have Photoshop (thank you, Amazon sale!) I will be making good use of that! We did lots of antiquing and market shopping this year too…finding new treasures to fill up our home and getting things stashed away for the wedding to make it all pretty.

It was a truly amazing year for foraging, with a bumper soft fruit crop following the wet spring and hot summer. We both loved taking long walks with the hounds and picking kilo upon kilo of yummy stuff, as well as finding lots in our own garden! We’ve made loads of scrummy things with what we picked, including (but probably not limited to, as I’ve most likely forgotten something!)….sloe gin, sloe port, sloe brandy, sloe vodka and sloe chocolate….damson jam and greengage jam….apple pies and crumbles….blackberry and apple muffins….sandwich pickle….elderberry liqueur….and crab apple jelly. We also made cinnamon and frankincense vodkas as little Christmas gifts for friends.

I’ve also turned my hand to quite a bit of gardening, and with the help of Adam and his Mum we’ve really made a difference to our garden already. We have grand plans for next year with fruits and veggies to grow, but right now I’m just so pleased with the transformation of all the flower beds!

I got to see some great shows this year….again including but not limited to: Derren Brown (Infamous) in the West End, Mark Knopfler at the Royal Albert Hall, Final Symphony at the Barbican (music from Final Fantasy), Singing in the Rain at the Royal Albert Hall (the remastered film was shown on a huge screen accompanied by a live orhestra!), Danny Elfman’s music from Tim Burton films at the Royal Albert Hall (with incredible performances from Danny Elfman himself!), The English National Ballet’s Nutcracker at the Coliseum, The National Theatre’s Frankenstein and The RSC’s Richard II both at our lovely local cinema, a special screening of Hot Fuzz with a pre-film Q&A with Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (again at our local cinema which was used in the filming of World’s End…I got to answer a question too!).  Oh, and a bunch of us dressed up to go and see The Great Gatsby at Wilton’s Music Hall too, and we even got dragged up on stage to learn the Charleston!

All in all, it’s been a pretty amazing year. We’ve had our highs and lows, as you do, but I feel very blessed indeed.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings us….it promises to be better yet!

Hope you all have a fabulous New Years Eve, whatever you’re up to, and I’ll see you next year!

Ems x

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Blog Every Day in May: Five Fave Blogs

“Share the blog love! Tell us about five blogs you love and why?”

So if you read the question, it doesn’t say this has to be my actual five favourite blogs…it’s just five blogs I love. Which makes this much easier, as I hate committing to ranked favourites! Anyway, here are five blogs I really love (in no particular order), and why…..

MY:Creative

I met the very talented Michelle at a bloggers’ photography event last year, and have kept in touch via instagram mainly since. Michelle is one of those people it’s quite hard to want to like, because she’s such an amazing photographer, great crafter and brilliant cook, but because she’s also so very sweet and her blog is amazing, I can’t help but love her. Michelle writes about London life, photography, loving Italy and gelato (amongst other foods an recipes!), and has recently started making ace videos with her also-very-talented fiance.

Incurably Curious

I came across this blog when I was looking to change the name of my blog…mine used to be Pretty Pretentious, but I became worried that people didn’t get the tongue-in-cheek bit, and I needed a more friendly name that I could also use for my business too. Anyway, I loved the idea of calling my blog Incurably Curious, and when I googled the name to check, I found that a blog with that name already existed, and what’s more it (then) used the same theme as mine and its owner’s name is Emily too! I naturally got in touch and have been following the blog ever since….it’s a wonderfully honest, non-faddy beauty and women’s lifestyle site, described by Emily as ‘about style with substance, beauty without bullshit and original content based on a personal manifesto of individuality’. Favourite posts include Seven Reasons to Love Your Micro BoobsDon’t Trash the Gash and Flying Tips for the Truly Clueless. Oh, and her blog now features gorgeous illustrations by her talented friend Carla Juniper.

Ooh Mrs James

I also met the lovely Jackie at the same bloggers event that I met Michelle, and being a fellow wedding and vintage enthusiast, it’s no wonder I fell for her blog. It’s full of wonderful wedding inspiration, excellent suppliers and her very own collection of vintage wedding dresses which she sells there too. In fact, now that I’m planning my own wedding, it’s becoming a most useful directory of all things weddingy and creative, so I’m only likely to get yet more hooked!

The Cake Hunter

This was a recommendation made to me, I *think* by Siany over at Domestic Sluttery (sorry if I’m giving credit incorrectly!). I’m not usually that massively into pure-food blogs because I tend to make up recipes myself based on what I fancy or have in the larder, or I do a quick search for ideas online and go from there. And in all honesty, I’ve never actually *made* anything from Sophie’s awesome blog, but it’s more than enough to drool over her incredible recipes, swoon over her brilliant ideas and stare in awe at her incredible food photography and styling. Sophie gets bonus points too, as she also lives in my home town of Stoke on Trent!

Olive and Harry

This is a very new blog to me, found through this very project in fact! But I do adore it, reading about Tracy’s idyllic lifestyle up in Yorkshire on her beautiful rescue farm. I love that the blog is dedicated to her Grandparents Olive and Harry (who worked in an ice cream factory!) and the rescue charity Tracy runs with her other half is just wonderful….they are passionate about animal welfare, produce fleece, eggs and vegetables, encourage the use of British rare breeds, and provide education to children about farming and where their food comes from. There is also a lovely Olive and Harry Etsy shop, which raises money for the charity too!

And there’s my little roundup….I do hope you’ll check them out and look forward to finding some new blogs myself!

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: 5 Lines

“Introduce yourself or sum yourself up in just 5 lines. Include a photograph that you are proud of.”

My name is Emily, and I’m a blogging, crafting, thrifting treasure hunter and events producer living in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.

I’m a little bit into everything, and to say my taste is eclectic would be a serious understatement…..I like to think I can see beauty in everything.

I can’t think of any music that I don’t like, there is certainly no food that I won’t eat (with the exception of Marmite which isn’t really a food), and I just don’t believe that any colours clash.

My greatest loves are my wonderful fiance Adam, my darling lurcher Special Agent Doggie Cooper, weddings, blowing bubbles, the TV Tower in Berlin, blue skies and stationery.

I hate having photos taken of me, but I love to take photos of pretty much anything else…. especially road works, buildings that other people think are ugly, and enchanted places where fairies probably live.

CNV00007

Our secret garden, St Dunstans in the East, near to where we used to live in London. Taken with my Diana analogue camera with 120mm colour negative slide film.

New Year Resolutions….or rather another ‘to do’ list

Last year I decided to keep it simple, and opted for just one New Year Resolution. I decided that I would visit EVERY room at the British Museum by the end of the year. And I failed miserably.

It seemed like a really good challenge at the time, but as usual, things conspired against me. And so I’m thinking that this year, I’ll make a few *actually* simple resolutions, so that I can at least stand a chance of ticking off one of them!…..

  1. Get organised! This year has been a brilliant adventure of discovery, and a wonderful chance to try out new ideas, but I really must settle down now and decide what I’m going to do with my time moving forward! Whilst I know it’s not in my nature to focus on one thing for very long, I do need to try harder not to get so distracted!
  2. Keep better accounts! As I build up my brand and sell more, I really must keep better track of what I’m spending and making. I know that it’ll make rather depressing reading as I’m currently making a loss, but it still needs doing!
  3. Plan ahead! I’ve pretty much decided to concentrate on my art work, rather than the jewellery making from now on, and so I really need to set up a diary of upcoming events such as Valentine’s, so that I can make things in plenty of time to sell them when they’re trending…..I must start working on those Valentines cards this week!
  4. Get listed as a wedding planner in all the local and London directories. I’m hoping to take on a few couples for this year and next, whether it be just to find a venue, run things on the day, or as a complete wedding planning service. I need to get myself out there though and will be offering free consultations to help get people started!
  5. Set up a new shop on Etsy! I’m planning to have another shop on Etsy, called ‘Under A Glass Star’ to sell all the antique, vintage and retro treasures I’ve been buying up. I have enough now to fill up a shop nicely, and a good range of things, so there’s no excuse! I also want to get onto Not On The High Street with my art work if I can!
  6. Improve my photography skills! I know I *keep* saying this, but I really must improve the photos I take for this site, as well as for my Etsy and Folksy shops. I’m looking into little studio lighting kits now to help me out, and will get lots of practice when I set up my vintage Etsy shop.
  7. Ask for permission from our landlords to get a dog! Our tenancy agreement states that permission may not be unreasonably withheld when it comes to getting pets, and we really want to start fostering dogs soon, so we must write to them to ask!
  8. Get back to exercising more! The rubbish weather has gotten me out of the habit of my daily walk, but getting a dog should change that! I really want to look into local yoga classes to, and maybe even some dancing classes for Adam and I!
  9. Finish those bally patchwork blankets! I’ve been meaning to make them for ages, and although I’ve made *some* progress this year, I am still yet to finish either the knitted one (which will be formed of little squares knitted in left over bits of yarn), or the actual patchwork one (which I am putting together with lots of oddments of fabric I have about the place).
  10. Get my blog hosted! I really want to be able to take up some of the sponsorship and advertising opportunities I’ve been offered, but I have to self host my blog to do that….I’m terrified of the process as I have to back up all the content before switching it and I can just see me losing it all, but I have to bite the bullet some time!

Are you making any New Year resolutions? Did you make any last year? How did you get on?!

Ems x

The end of the year as we know it….. 2012 in review

With Christmas over, I’m feeling rather blue and sulky. I can’t believe it’s been and gone again already….why must it go so fast?!

And it’s not just the festive season that flashed by….it’s been a super busy year, and has flown by as a result! I’ve experienced, accomplished and learned lots this year, and all-in-all it’s been a bally good one! So here’s a little round up of what happened in my 2012……

  • Well I gave up my job for one! Having been working in weddings and events for six years, I decided to take a break for a while in order to spend more time being creative and to work freelance. It was a bit scary but has been such great fun!
  • With more time on my hands I have settled down to work on lots of the crafting projects I’d wanted to do for ages, and have set up my own online shops, hosted stalls at craft markets, and begun stocking my things in local shops. The feedback has been so wonderful and I’m looking forward to developing my little brand more in the new year!
  • Now that I can work from home mostly, and Adam can too, we decided to move out of London this Autumn to wonderful Hitchin in Hertfordshire. I’ve loved everything about our move….our amazing new house, my own studio, and being away from the craziness of central London! I still miss lots about London, but it’s so close that I feel I have the best of both worlds!
  • I’ve become rather obsessed with thrifting, nail polish, the colour yellow, bubble tea, making soup, gin, and properly brewed coffee. I’ve also taken on new hobbies in the shape of lino printing and cross stitch!
  • I’ve taken part in a disposable camera swap, an analogue photography workshop, been to press events, curated a fashion display, met fellow bloggers, and been ‘spotted’ by a reader….my life is nothing if not varied these days, which is exactly how I like it!
  • We enjoyed an incredible summer in London, with the Jubilee, the Olympics and the London 2012 Festivals. It was the perfect summer to really embrace living in London, and I have so many wonderful memories of fun times had!
  • I’ve explored secret supper clubs, pop up bars and restaurants, lots of theatre, a summer camp, amazing exhibitions, a floating market and a chilli festival…..it certainly was a year to get out and enjoy things!
  • I attended the weddings of several dear friends, and contributed in small ways to some of them too. As a self confessed wedding-obsessive I have, of course, delighted in seeing my loved ones tie the knot….and can’t wait for the next round of nuptials next year!
  • We started Christmas early with a holiday to the super-festive Vienna. I totally fell in love with the city and its stunning Christmas Markets…..I can’t wait to go back!
  • We hosted our very first Christmas together here in our new home, with great success. The house looks super with all its Christmas decorations, and I have loved all the cooking and hosting!
  • I enrolled in Weight Watchers, and have lost over a stone since July. In fact, just before Christmas I was less than a pound away from my target weight…..although I am a few pounds away again after all the festive gluttony! It’s been great to live somewhere we can take lovely lunch time and early evening strolls, so that I can stay fit without having to head to the gym or go on a crash diet!
  • There’s also the small matter of my turning 30! I celebrated very well (and for weeks on end!) with a brilliant picnic, breakfast at the Wolseley, and a Fashionista afternoon tea at the Berkley….amongst other adventures! Being 30 has been pretty cool actually!
  • The most obvious thing is my blog right here though! I’ve started posting much more regularly this year, held my first give-away and written my first guest posts, as well as having people guest post here for the first time too. It’s been such a great adventure and I’m looking forward to developing my site in the new year!

I hope you all had a splendid 2012, and have an even better 2013!

Ems x

Loving Joules….. country colour and super cute hounds

My love affair with Joules began on my first trip to its home in Market Harborough. The gorgeous little market town is just lovely to wander about, and not least the darling Joules Yard where one can find the quaint eatery as well as the first ever Joules store.

The brand has been brightening up the country wardrobe for over thirty years now, with founder Tom Joule designing country clobber for colourful country folk. When I first visited I was delighted to find such a charmingly hidden treasure trove of tweeds, polo shirts and ditsy florals…. and now I can even buy them in the new (ish) Covent Garden store (although I have to confess I’m a little miffed that it’s no longer ‘my secret’).

And it was with great delight that I recieved the Joules mail order catalogue for Spring this year….. although it’s not just the clothes I’m fawning over! Almost half of the beautifully put together photos includes a super cute dog or two….. they are not just selling gorgeous clothing but the lifestyle to match!

Here are a few snaps of my favourite pages…..

And it’s certainly the lifestyle I’d love….although whilst I wait for that much anticipated time when we can get a dog, I’ll have to make do with wearing my much loved Tuppence tweed handbag and super comfy K Mirain flats around town.

Ems x

PS. If you’re quick, you can catch Joules’ March Madness offers….. today they are giving you an extra 10% off all Outlet items! Simply use the code OUTLET10 here…..they have the wonderful cashmere blend pheasant jumper I’ve been mooning over too!

Happy shopping!