Unicorn stationery haul!

If you follow all of my businesses, you’ll notice I’ve been on a bit of an accidental shopping spree recently… oops!

Needing some more stationery (when do you not need more stationery?) for the studio and also to perk up the day job desk, I popped to town and found these beauties the other day:

unicorn stationery haul | carlalouise.com

The folder is immensely glittery and very happymaking, and stands out beautifully on the day job shelf 🙂 I like the reminder to dream big, too.  And it is always time to be a unicorn… though I probably didn’t need any more notebooks…

unicorn stationery haul | carlalouise.com

Talking of notebooks, this A4 hardback beauty has PINK LINED PAGES. I’m not sure when I started liking pink more but this one’s definitely on the favourites list. And again, besides the unicorn imagery, I really like the words.

Unicorn stickies were a silly but necessary purchase – you always need sticky notes & index tabs and they might as well have unicorns on!

unicorn stationery haul | carlalouise.com

All from The Works so didn’t even set me back that much – under a tenner for all four!

What’s your happiest everyday stationery?

A staycation and a surprise decision (well, two)

Excitingly and a little unexpectedly, I think it’s now safe to announce I’m nearing the end of the process of buying my house! SQUEEEEE! I’m delighted not to be moving, and I love this house and the life I’ve built around it, so I’m very happy to be staying.

More on what promises to be the biggest and best creative project of my life so far when all the legalities are completed and it’s actually mine 🙂

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However, this decision indirectly ended up leading to one of the best holidays I’ve had in ages – my staycation! A word introduced to me by an American friend of mine, it describes the time-off-work-but-not-going-away type of holiday rather nicely, I think.

I’d booked the week off thinking I’d head up to the Lake District for a photography holiday, or possibly across to France for a jewellery making holiday (both high on my wishlist at the moment!). But with the hottest week of the year predicted and house completion looming, instead I stayed at home, saw friends, pottered in my garden and started packing boxes up ready for renovating the downstairs part of the house – and I had a wonderful time!

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As any of you who have emailed me recently will know, I’ve barely been near my computer all week – and oh, how wonderful that’s been.

Spending time in my business – making the flurry of custom bracelet orders, packing delights from the shop up for people all over the world, reviewing the first draft of Unfurling Your Wings ready for the beta round in August.

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Spending time on my business – sorting out my filofax, arranging a day to go through my accounts with my VA, rejigging my plans and goals and directions, and brainstorming new things with wonderful likeminded solopreneurs. And trying and failing (again) to implement an editorial calendar. I really do prefer writing and posting when the mood takes me 🙂

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Spending time in my life (which I am trying to do far more often) – having breakfast in the garden (and eating cake for breakfast), drinking Prosecco in a secret garden in London, a burlesque workshop and a festival, playing with costumes, reading three books in a day before I consent to getting out of bed, cups of tea and putting the world to rights with my Gran… all of the things I love but so rarely seem to have time for in my life lately.

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And spending time on my life – reviewing my dreams, directions, goals, and working out how best to move in those directions. Writing, photographing, musing and walking. Playing with my Wild Unknown deck, musing over the meanings of the cards I’ve drawn. And, because I’m the list queen, making checklists so I actually do the things that are important to me each day, week and month.
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The biggest and most concrete realisation of this pottering, journalling, meditating and generally giving myself room to breathe has been that I want to keep this day job as part of my portfolio for much longer than I had initially planned. Yes, I was surprised too.

The grand plan was to do two years and then shift gracefully into working for myself full time.

And then I adopted my beloved kittens, bought a house and maybe most significantly, made real friends through work. And now I find I’m reluctant to leave the place where I see those people each day, where the work is varied and interesting and I have lots of autonomy and flexibility, while still being able to switch off when I leave the office.

Though I still hate the concept of the 9-5 and the insistence of organisations that employees be in a specific place at specific times, rather than assigning work and letting us get on with it whenever and wherever is best for us, I think I’d be very sad to leave this particular day job (or at least, the people in it) behind just yet.

Longer term I definitely still want total control over where and when I work – yet I’m reluctant to plan more specifically than a general direction to move in, because who knows where I will be and what I’ll be doing in a year’s time, never mind in five or ten years?!

So the biggest result of my staycation (brain-cation?!) is that now my short and mid-term plans involve growing my businesses in a slightly different way, so they’re entirely flexible, and then when I reach the point where it’s financially possible, I can shift the balance.

Part time instead of full time at the day job, and at least half of my time spent on my own ventures and projects. I can see the balance I want very clearly…

Likeminded people, and a beautiful campus, and a flexible but challenging job. Structure, and an office to go into when I need or want to, and watercooler moments with lovely colleagues.

A thriving business which helps women step into their own power and live the lives they’ve dreamed of. Another thriving business which connects stationery lovers and their longing for a simpler, slower, more organised life (and just happens to supply beautiful stationery as well).

And plenty of time for new projects and classes, for making and experimenting and reading and learning new skills. For spending with my friends and family. For entertaining in the house and garden of my dreams, and for relaxing there in my own personal sanctuary. For movement to be built into my life and for stillness and quiet to be as present as noise and being busy.

Not at all what I expected or planned when I quit London for a portfolio career – but intriguingly, it feels exactly right for where I am and what I want right now.

Who knew?

With love and unicorns,

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A trip to the Old Kingdom: win a copy of Clariel, by Garth Nix!

The Old Kingdom. A series I adore, but a series I’ve not revisited in some time. When Hot Key Books got in touch to ask if I’d like to review the prequel to the trilogy, Clariel, and host a giveaway, I jumped at the chance!

Set 600 years before Sabriel, the book follows the story of Clariel as she deals with upheaval, magic and the ultimate consequences of the choices she makes…

It was a revelation to find such a young but tough heroine – and one who systematically rebuffed all romantic advances, even when she was happy to remain friends with them. I think every other fantasy book I’ve read, both YA and adult and those, like the Old Kingdom, which transcend both genres, the protagonist has found themselves in a romantic relationship by the end of the book.

We also get a bit more of Mogget’s backstory, which was particularly nice after having re-read Sabriel, Lirael and Abhorsen in preparation for Clariel’s arrival through my letter box.

The magic system (a borrowed phrase, but one that describes it well) in the Old Kingdom has always fascinated me – the difference between the Kingdom and Ancelstierre, two worlds and the meeting in the middle, and the Great Charter versus Free Magic – and those, like the Abhorsens, who wield both. I found myself doodling Charter marks on my hand with silver Sharpie while I was reading…

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I loved the twist in Clariel’s tale – and the author’s note which, after reading, made me go back and read the whole book over again with the new insight it gave.

If you’re familiar with the Old Kingdom, you’ll love this. If you’re not, but you like adventure, fantasy, triumph against adversity (though not necessarily in the way you expect…), then give it a go – you won’t be disappointed.

Buy your own copy here (Amazon).

Visit Garth Nix’s own site. 

And don’t forget to enter below to win your own copy of Clariel!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I received a copy of the book from the publishers to review for this post, and another to give away.  All opinions remain entirely my own.

Postbox: Blackbird in the Rowan Tree

I believe wholeheartedly in being able to manifest experiences and my life’s direction, but have always been a bit dubious about being able to manifest physical things I want into my life.

Happily, I have been proved wrong. Back in February, I was browsing the glorious Slightly Triangle gallery (mixed media art and illustration by the very talented Chloe Redfern) and found myself irresistibly drawn to her blackbird print.

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I wrote it on my wishlist at the front of my daybook, made a note to check her shop when I returned from holiday, and didn’t think any more about it.

Then, last week, I had a text from Chloe to say she’d put something in the post for me, but had forgotten to write a note with it, so please don’t be too surprised. (Though we met online over a decade ago, we have delighted in offline communication for our entire friendship and often send each other random presents, not necessarily anywhere near our birthdays).

And when the parcel arrived… it was the original Blackbird in the Rowan Tree piece, signed on the back and now taking pride of place on my mantelpiece.

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Isn’t he gorgeous?

I couldn’t have been more excited if I’d tried… and it was the most glorious surprise after a complicated and pesty week. And proof that sometimes the things you want most really do come to you – if you’re clear about what they are.

With love and unicorns,

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Creating A Magical Life – the Dream Board

It’s no secret that I’m a great believer in talismans – visual or physical (or both) representations of what means the most to you.

Things you’re aiming or hoping or striving for; things you want to be reminded of; dreams you’re chasing; anything you want to keep in mind.

three-talismans | carlalouise.com

And I’m also a convert to the power of manifesting – or making what you want happen. The concept has undergone a bit of a transformation, from something totally away with the fairies to something more concrete and tangible, and I believe much more socially acceptable than it was a few years ago. (It’s possible I just hang out with very open, likeminded people, but either way I don’t much care what people think – it works for me!)

I’m the biggest fan of magic going, but actually I’m not convinced manifesting is particularly ethereally magical. I think it’s a more practical magic – if you get clear on what you want and remind yourself of this regularly, then you’re much more likely to notice opportunities to make it happen – opportunities that may otherwise have passed you by.

Gratitude and goals lists are already part of my daily routine – usually the last thing I do at night before I put the lights off and snuggle up with a cat on my head (yes, really – Luna-kitty refuses to sleep on the bed unless she’s on my head, purring loudly into my ear. It’s a surprisingly nice way to fall asleep). These tend to be more immediate – things from the day I’m thankful for, things I hope to achieve in the next few days/weeks/months. I have a list for each year too, though I’ve not yet shared that here.

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So when I saw Leonie’s suggestion in her 2015 Shining Year workbook to create a dream board for the year ahead, I jumped on it – a wonderful combination of talisman and manifesting list!

I covered an old noticeboard in pretty fabric, and found a teacup to store my pins. Then I dug out my scrapbooking stash, some precious objects, my 2015 intentions list and my Pinterest boards and proceeded to create a visual representation of the things that mean most to me and the things I intend, hope for, wish for and plan for in the coming year.

Some highlights:

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At the top is my Hogswatch 2014 medal – as one of the outstanding highlights of 2014, and with the passing of Terry Pratchett while I was away in Texas, Hogswatch 2015 in Wincanton is the one event I will be at by hook or by crook this year.

On the other side is a Night Circus inspired embroidery my gorgeous friend Gabby made for me – to remind me to keep my imagination, my dreams and my eclectic style going and not succumb to normality.

Then there are the other pins – ranging from reminders to inspiring quotes to business goals to personal aspirations, skills I want to acquire and experiences I want to have, things that inspire me and beautiful things I’d love to have in my life (velvet cloak, anyone?).

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I add to it constantly, and tick things off as I achieve them too. It lives in my living room, at the heart of my house – and it’s one of the best ways I’ve ever had of keeping track of multiple intentions.

Big thanks to Leonie – I’m already excited to see how it’ll look by the end of the year!

Do you have a dream board? Would love to see…!

Postbox: handmade postcards

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I wanted to share these fabulous postcards which arrived through my door recently from the very talented Chloe at Slightly Triangle.

Wanting to write me a note and actually put it in the post (we have an ongoing snail mail correspondence but we are both notorious for starting letters and not posting them till weeks later, or months in my case), she decided to use some of her paintings as postcards instead of waiting to get to the shops.

They made me smile just as much as what she’d written – and I’m very tempted to make my own for the return note!

With love and unicorns,

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Choosing a talisman

After last week’s sneak peek of the talisman jewellery I’m currently making, I thought I’d share the locket that’s my own current favourite talisman, and how I came to choose it.

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From, and featuring an image by, one of my very favourite artists, Nicola Taylor, it shows her self portrait titled “Listen to the Colour of your Dreams”.

How to choose yours

A talisman should be a wearable reminder of something – a way to keep your dreams or wishes, hopes or beliefs, close to you. It should also be something that makes your heart sing – whether in colour, or style, or some kind of indefinable quality you can’t quite put your finger on.

Things to think about:

  • the colours that speak to your soul
  • words that have always meant something to you, whether in your mother tongue or another language
  • objects or animals (or both) you are drawn to
  • things people automatically associate you with
  • your dreams, aspirations and hopes – what could represent them?

(more…)

Sneak peek: best ever cat toys

Or so my kitties think!

Now, the downside of living by myself is that it’s nearly impossible to play with my kitties and photograph them leaping through the air at the same time.

However, here’s a quick sneak peek of the cat toys that arrived in the post on Give A Girl A Unicorn Day:

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I was particularly taken with the Las Vegas Show Gulls!

The butterfly is from the same people that make Da Bird and the Cat Catcher, which I have to say are my cats’ favourite things (so much so that they’ve managed to break both – there’s a lot of gaffer tape used in this household) and early tests have proved that they find the butterfly equally captivating. And anyone would be entertained by the sight of me running around the house and garden like a lunatic, waving a pink butterfly around and hotly pursued by two excited kittens at high speed.

My poor neighbours.

The last of the bunch is a mat with a rustly insert, and a clever twist – you unzip the side, pour in some catnip and re-zip the side.

Luna and Clover have never taken the slightest bit of notice of any of the catnip toys I’d bought them before – I assume they were too young. But when I took this downstairs, they were definitely more enthusiastic about it… and are now crashed out on the landing, snoozing.

It’s exhausting, this playing thing!

Keep an eye on Instagram and Twitter, and their own Silly Kittens blog, for more pics of them using their new playthings!

My first jewellery class

Yep, my first! Though I made and sold jewellery for a few years, I’d never actually taken a formal class – or even an informal class. I was totally self-taught from the internet, books and occasionally squeaking at lovely fellow makers who would show me how to get past anything I was having a wobble with.

So I was delighted when my friend Emma suggested we go to a beginners’ jewellery class at Deborah Beads in Fingringhoe, just up the road from me.

After coaxing the kittens in from outside a little earlier than normal, we set off up the winding countryside roads to where Debbie’s shop is. It was dark by the time we got there so I didn’t get any pics of the outside, but oh, indoors was like being let loose in a sweet shop!

LOOK AT ALL THE SHINY BEADS…

There were just four of us plus our teacher Diane, which made for a really friendly, relaxed evening where we could all ask questions and get individual help when we needed it.

I found that I knew some of the techniques but not others, and it was actually lovely to sit and create and know I didn’t have to get it listed in my Etsy shop the following day, as so often when I’ve been making jewellery before. (Not that I hated it – just it was good to be away from the pressure).

And much to our surprise, we came away with five different pieces of jewellery… two necklaces, two bracelets and a pair of earrings.

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I was so inspired that I proceeded to get my own long-neglected beading supplies (I’ve always been more of a stamper) out of the drawer they live in and sort them out while on Skype to Anna on Monday (that doesn’t count as multi-tasking – our Skypes are always so epic that both of us do useful stuff while we’re chatting), and then found myself inspired to create two more bracelets and a rather experimental necklace. Which I actually think turned out to be the best of the bunch!

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Certainly some of my favourite pieces I’ve ever made for myself.

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We’re looking forward to going back for the next level workshop – cluster jewellery. And I’m delighted I’ve rediscovered my jewellery mojo – and this time, I’m not feeling any urge to turn it into a business!

 

Last months of 2013 in photos

In no particular order – regular posting will resume on at least one of my sites in the new year!

“The best cookies in the world” according to Pinterest – one of my only Pinterest makes to date. Rob and I made one batch to eat, I made a second for my girls’ murder mystery party, and Clover-kitty successfully trashed the last batch –  I found myself picking dough out of her fur while having hysterical giggles.

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Ready to go swing dancing – hoping for a lindy hop class to start at uni in the new year 🙂

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Burlesque cabaret night – I was stallholding rather than dancing, but it was lovely to be back in corset and frillies!

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Mum and Dad’s 40th anniversary party at their house – it was really lovely to have everyone over and celebrate what seems to me a massive achievement 🙂

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Luna-kitty is a very modern familiar and disdains brooms in favour of a Dyson – much faster!
 

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Brighton outdoor ice rink with lovely Em

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More or less front row seats at the Andalusian Gala evening at Olympia SAM_1828

And earlier in the year, magical light on my morning ‘commute’!

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And last but not least, the reason I’ve not been blogging much – my beloved kitties. They’ve been with me three weeks today and I cannot believe how quickly they’ve become the centre of my little world 🙂

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