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

Advertisements

Catching up: June

June was a pretty hectic month I guess…. what with birthdays, holidays and a wedding to plan for, I was kept plenty busy! That also means there’s a lot to share though….

June starts rather wonderfully with Adam’s Birthday, and to mark the occasion I attempted to make him a special breakfast of pancakes with maple syrup. Only thing is of course, is that I’m utterly rubbish at making pancakes. I won’t share the picture of my ‘attempt’ with you as it’ll only put you offer your dinner, but here is how they looked when Adam came to the rescue and made his own special birthday breakfast!

20130716-220625.jpg

I guess I made up for that slightly with some cool gifts for Adam and a celebratory dinner at one of our favourite pubs. We were total gluts and chose the huge Rodeo burgers which come with bacon, cheese, onion rings and barbecue sauce all in the bun. There were massive chips and coleslaw on the side too of course.

20130716-220650.jpg

Not long after Adam’s special day, we set off for a week’s holiday in St Ives, Cornwall. It was our first ever holiday with the hounds, and their first time at the seaside! We ate fish and chips on the harbour, watched the dogs race around the beach like crazies, visited the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, and ate an awful lot of cake, scones and saffron buns. It was so nice to have a break though and do some adventuring, especially with the hounds!

20130716-220724.jpg

20130716-220800.jpg

20130716-220848.jpg

20130716-220826.jpg

20130716-220902.jpg

Next up, it was time for MY birthday! We actually celebrated the day before, as we were heading to a wedding on the Saturday, but that just meant I had to wait one less day which was great! My special birthday breakfast was somewhat more of a success, and we yummed up one of my favourites of summer fruits and vanilla yoghurt. My choice of birthday dinner was just a take away curry as we’d not had one in ages!

20130716-220958.jpg

I received LOTS of wonderful gifts, feeling rather spoiled actually….I received some great gardening books, a pretty wind chime, boozes, DVDs and Blu-Rays, some pampering things and my very own Bamboo, which I hope will help me with some of my artwork! I was spoiled with yet more gifts on the Saturday when we made our way into London for our dear friends Dan and Brigitte’s wedding….they said their vows with a stunning backdrop of the Thames and The Tower of London, and then we partied the night away at a lovely little pub in Farringdon. It was so great to see them finally tie the knot, and to catch up with lots of other friends too.

20130716-220939.jpg

Our next adventure took us back to London for the evening…..

20130716-221054.jpg

We used the trip as an excuse to get a bubble tea, as we’ve really missed those since we moved out to the Provinces where we don’t get such things….

20130716-221030.jpg

….and then after that we saw the amazing new show from Derren Brown, which was just as brilliant as we’d hoped! No more details than that though, as we’re sworn to secrecy, but do go and see it if you can!

20130716-221044.jpg

The garden really began to come to life in June too, which was a real pleasure to watch. Our Victorian Tulip Tree blossomed and we were delighted to see its rather tropical looking flowers, and the flower beds around the patio began to bloom too with lots of pretty clashing colours!

20130716-221107.jpg

20130716-221121.jpg

More on the garden when I catch you up on July though…..

Ems x

Blog Every Day in May: Dream Job

“If you could do anything in the world to make a living what would it be?”

Wow. This is quite exciting to think about. I mean, there are so many possibilities!

My first thoughts ran to things like ballerina, zookeeper, pop singer, balloon artist, personal shopper and gallery curator. However, not being any good at these things means that I’d be better to dream about being *able* to do these jobs rather than just dreaming about the job itself though!

So, to something a little more realistic, but still dreamy….

I’ve been professionally producing weddings and other events now for over six years, and I really love it. I get such a thrill from planning all the little details, conveying a personality through a brilliantly fun party, and making people really happy.

 

My favourites have been the most creative and unusual events….a Peter Pan themed wedding….a charity gala where the tables turned into a stage and people like Benedict Cumberbatch, Douglas Hodge, Toby Jones, and Matthew Macfadyen jumped up to perform a specially written play….turning an underground venue into a secret forest, complete with waiting staff dressed as fairies, fauns, ballerina hippos and clockwork frogs….having the Comedy Store Players perform a special improvisation on the stage at Shakespeare’s Globe for someone’s birthday….hiding an Opera singer amongst the guests at a wedding ceremony so that she could surprise the Groom with his favourite aria….

I’ve been super lucky to work on some amazing projects, from brand launches to unique weddings, and at incredible places from the V&A to a private pool house….in some ways you could argue that I already have my dream job in fact!

If I was to further dreamify this already awesome job though, I know what I’d want to do….I’d just go crazy to produce a wedding or party for someone like Katy Perry, Zooey Deschanel or Tilda Swinton. I love to do things differently, to open peoples’ eyes and wow them, and so one of these amazing women as a client (and a pretty good budget to boot!) would be a dream.

I wouldn’t like to say what any of these events might involve….it’s always too much fun having that first meeting and working out how to bring a client’s own ideas to life, and work together to create something truly unique. I know though that ladies like these would make it super fun and incredibly creative!

Ems x

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

A little more about me…..

…. I love rainbows and unicorns and fish & chips and crosswords …..

But other than that, well, I thought I’d share with you a bit more about me, as we’re friends now.

  • You’ll find that I have recently updated my About Page to tell you a little bit more about me, what I get up to and what to expect here on my blog.
  • I’ve also added a Shop Page where you can see some of the things I design and make to sell on my Etsy and Folksy shops, and where to find them.
  • And, I’ve added a Weddings and Events Page, where you can learn a bit more about my other day job as a freelance wedding and events producer.

As part of the development of my little site, I’ll be adding new pages and a few more personal posts too, in the coming months. As ever, do let me know if there’s anything you’d like to read about in particular, and do get in touch….I love comments and emails!

Ems x