HOW is it August already? And coming up for the end of August at that! I don’t have time for a full update, but I did want to just hop in and record what I’m up to for the summer of 2022… which is nearly over already. Time. It’s oozy and weird.
It’s been manic as always in the Watkins household, and these two little bundles of fluff turned 9 (NINE!!!) in June. They’ve been keeping me entertained through all the madness and are the lights of my life. They seem to be getting a bit friendlier with each other as they get older, too, which is really nice to see.
Right now, I have a massive skip outside my house and am merrily flinging the detritus of the last few years into it at all hours – stuff I’ve cleared out then shoved in a bag in a cupboard, stuff I don’t need any more, stuff I really should have got rid of when I moved back in after the renovations, and a frankly embarrassing amount of recycling because my shed has got a bit out of hand. Out of sight, out of mind would be apt here and it nearly smothered me when I last tried to put it out for normal recycling day.
(Don’t worry, my skip company recycle as long as it’s in the clear bags!)
I’m hoping it’ll help me clear my head and get back on top of things post pandemic.
I realised quite early on in the process that one of the reasons I never make any progress when tidying up (ADHD aside, there’s a whole set of posts about that which are currently set to private but which I might release at some stage), is that I only ever tackle the surface mess.
So I move stuff around, but I’ve never actually sorted out my cupboards, drawers, various storage solutions to make my life easier from the inside out!
Since discovering this I’ve had to try very hard not to just spend hours watching all the life hacks on social media, but I have:
Transferred all my hanging clothes onto flocked/velvet hangers – they stay on and more fit in the cupboard and I am no longer frustrated by finding half my wardrobe on the floor every time I open it
Invested in decent stacking washing baskets that are the right size for me to comfortably carry against my hip and support with one arm. Tiny things matter and this makes my laundry safer, easier, and therefore much more likely to happen.
See also previously investing in two decent, correctly sized, flexible and handled laundry bins for my bedroom, so I can bring them down my narrow stairs without risking death or a broken limb.
Collected all my pens, pencils, holepunches, scissors, staplers and other office stationery type things into one big box, with the intention of sorting them out so there is a set in every room that needs one.
Reorganised and labelled my colour coded in tray tower on my desk
Added a bamboo riser to my desk so I can put my keyboard, mouse and number pad away and actually use my desk for writing
Sorted out the two massive boxes of books in my room – there’s a small boxful to get rid of and the others all fit in my existing bookshelves, except the precious ones which will get new shelves in my room in due course
Defrosted the bloody freezer which has been the source of more tears than are reasonable over an electrical appliance over the past couple of years. It took a massive chunk of today but I am SO PLEASED it’s done.
Installed fly screens on conservatory and office doors so I can have air but no flies. Have had to pin up the bottom so the cats can get in and out (little divas!) but this still reduces the overall annoyance of flies, moths and small birds so I’m happy.
Ordered and installed new lightbulbs for the various ones round my house which weren’t working
Ordered three smart plugs so I can finally attempt to put my ceiling fairy lights up in the living room
Collected all my filing in one place so I can tackle that after I’ve sorted out the house
Taken the old, broken blinds down in the conservatory and ditched them, and replaced them with new double sided pretty ones (actually did that earlier in the year and they have been a GODSEND in the hot weather – but only got round to getting the old ones out of my garden & shed when the skip arrived last week)
And a load of other stuff which escapes me right now. But life is feeling more organised and less stressful already.
Things which I still plan to do this summer:
Replace the cat palace (it’s a cat tree but Clovie is so regal we renamed it) because it’s old and I can’t get it properly clean and it’s done a sterling job in its time
Get the bureau working as a proper part of the living room, not just a general dumping ground for stuff as I go past
Fairy lights in the living room, conservatory, my room, spare room and garden
Loads of art framed & up – even the small postcard sized ones, I’m going for full maximalist effect
Get all the weeds out and put sand back into the brick section of my patio
Fully clear the shed and get rid of all the crap in the back while I still have the skip
Actually do all my filing and get it all in date order again
Sort out Alexa/Echo with routines to help me as much as possible with admin and stuff
And some business stuff which can wait for another post!
I’d also really like to start my digital decluttering, sorting out my digital photos and screenshots and stuff, and kicking off my photo albums and scrapbooks plan, although that’s a very long term thing so I’ll see how I go once the main sorting is done.
Things which will probably wait till the spring:
Restoring my bar
Painting/oiling my decking
Putting all my garden plates & ornaments up on the fence
Cleaning the BBQ properly
Art framed & up on the big wall up the stairs that I can’t safely reach even with a ladder
Cleaning gutters & soffits and painting them (god, the stuff you spend money on when you’re an adult)
Painting my garage doors
Painting my dresser, desk, sideboard, mirror and fireplace
Painting the wall behind the bureau
Sorting out the loft
Pulling out my desk and cleaning behind it properly – after the experience with the massive spider in the ceiling corner the other day, I’m just leaving well alone
I have failed to wild swim or take my beloved Malaika boat out at all this year, but I have managed to do some really lovely things:
A halfway day with Claire and the doglet she was looking after
A day in Lavenham with Emma & Esther and my rainbow dress, where I found some antique treasures (a steampunk peacock, a seafaring wooden box, a magpie puppet and a beautiful book about hares)
And loads more I can’t recall off the top of my head.
Right now, I am off to bed so I can be up bright & early tomorrow to head out to the Adnams brewery and the Southwold seafront with Mum, for what would have been Dad’s 78th birthday – and then back to the sorting when I get home.
(and tentatively hoping I might have my blogging mojo sneakily returning because this is the first spontaneous post I’ve written in ages!)
Each year I have a little list of things I’d like to do that year in my blog sidebar.
Although 2017-19 haven’t been the most prolific for my personal blog, this was this year’s list and…
~ Draigcon and/or Wizardry School – done, Bothwell School of Witchcraft in April and August
~ Steampunk events – done, at the Museum of Power
~ experiment with film cameras – not this year
~ walk more – yep
~ explore Colchester – yes, although not as I expected – mostly through networking and 121s and finding new places in town!
~ beach time – yes
~ kitty portraits – yes and Philly is painting them too
~ western riding – nope
~ spa days – don’t think I’ve been on an actual spa day this year, but did spend a day at Lifehouse for my first headshot day
~ kayaking – nope
~ learn to make bath bombs – nope
~ recreate Lush’s Angel’s Delight soap fragrance – haha I had forgotten I wanted to do this, hasn’t happened yet
~ slow reading club – nope but this year have mastered my balance of writing & reading, I think, and am reading without guilt
~ craft gatherings – not really, but made some friends through making which is just as lovely, and had a couple of gatherings at mine which made my heart happy (including 2020 planning!)
~ work in sterling silver – YES! Completed the BENCH Space beginners course and am booked onto the improvers in January – made two rings, the leaping hare necklace of my dreams and some earrings, and cannot wait to learn more.
~ build a catio – nope, but still on the list
~ handwritten letters – yes, and would like to write more this coming year
~ photobook of the house project – no, but very much still on my list along with photobooks for Poppy, Dad, and the kittens
~ print my own photos – for open studios and marketing yes, for my wall no
~ explore – I am unsure exactly what I meant by this but I have been all over the country for work and pleasure this year, so counting it as a yes!
At some stage I will be writing up my 2019 review and my decade review – the days speed past so fast that I can’t actually keep up!
As you’ll know if you’re a regular visitor, or a friend (or both!), I read a lot. Blogs, books, magazines, cereal packets – if I’m not creating, I’m always reading, and always digesting information, and yet this stood out.
Deeper, not wider
The general concept is to go deeper, not wider. So making more of what you already have, revisiting half-finished or abandoned projects, trying not to buy more and do more and acquire more.
Just for a year. Just to see how it feels. It might become habit, or a way of life, or it might not.
At least, that’s what I took from it. And it was like a siren song to me, at this weird crossroads between my old life and (another) new life. I’m living my freelance, self employed dreams, and I have more freedom than I’ve ever had, and it is everything I dreamed of.
But it’s still early days, and while the businesses are doing ok, they’re not yet seriously established. In my book, that comes around the 5-7 year mark of the same business, and though I’ve had businesses and side hustles for nearly nine years, of course my hallmark is changing things up, even while the themes stay the same.
And under everything, still, is the utter despair of grief, and not really knowing what life looks like without Dad in it. It’ll be two years in March and I still don’t really know how to get my head around the loss of him.
Frustration with the culture of MORE
I’ve also been getting increasingly frustrated with social media, and the comparisonitis and more more MORE culture. The concept that you can only be happy if you buy certain stuff, do certain stuff and look a certain way. I know it’s changing, slowly and in corners of both the internet and real life, but it is exhausting.
Avon, of all places, body shamed cellulite in a recent advert, and frankly it felt like the last straw. I also spent a couple of weeks at Mum’s, with the cats, over Christmas, and as she has a TV and I don’t, I luxuriated in the novelty of watching TV while curled up with antibiotics, throat lozenges and a very obliging Luna & Clover.
Oh my god. The ADVERTS. They are constant, and loud (I swear the volume goes up of its own accord during ad breaks, to follow you to the loo or kitchen or whatever). For someone who has lived without a TV for more than four years, rarely goes to the cinema, doesn’t read newspapers except in dire emergencies and gave up typical women’s magazines a long time ago, the adverts are overwhelming.
What depth looks like to me
Depth. As a multipod my life is wiiiiide – I cover a lot of ground, love a lot of things and keep a lot of plates spinning. It’s how I thrive best.
Recently I’ve been feeling very contented with my quartet of businesses, plus dance and this blog. The combination finally feels right to me, and for the first time in a long time, I’m not feeling the pull to create a whole new venture. Instead I’m creating within my existing ventures and it feels bloody brilliant.
But a quick ten minutes with my journal and a cuppa (oh, who am I kidding, a Pepsi Max) yielded this list of things I could explore further this year:
Photography for clients – exploring new ways I can use my branding & web knowledge to create stunning shots for business owners & bloggers, year round, and helping women feel amazing about themselves in both their personal & their professional lives.
Photography for joy – fantasy/fine art work, landscapes & exploring, my existing personal projects, documenting the people close to me.
Studio lighting & flatlays (I’m in the process of launching a stock library and would love to develop this further – pop over to studio19stock.com for details). Having Studio 19 is a dream come true, but I haven’t really experimented with different lighting setups much – just used what I’m comfortable with to get amazing shots for my lovely clients. Experimentation is definitely on the cards!
Time with friends & family – whatsapp is a wonderful invention, but I found myself feeling very disconnected during December (not unusual over the madness of the festive period, plus I had whooping cough so felt generally wretched), so I want to spend more time in person or at least on Skype, with my full attention on my loved ones and vice versa.
Tarot, oracle & witchery – I’ve done some readings for myself and for friends recently which have been spot on, and having used the cards for a long time to prompt my inner thoughts & journalling, I’m getting to know them much better. I want to explore this side of my spirituality and I have about a million books connected to the subject!
Marking the seasons – sort of connected to the witchery really, I always say this is something I’d like to do, and then the seasons race past and I find it’s winter solstice again and I’ve failed to notice or mark the passing of the year.
Cooking from recipe books (and possibly freezer diving!) – I have a whole bookcase full of recipe books and a massive folder of ones I’ve found, not to mention my Pinterest board – so this year I would love to explore these in more depth and see if I can find some new favourites.
Sorting and printing photos – both physical and digital.
Journalling, my five year diary and my gratitude diary – they’re frequent habits but not daily yet. and my five year diary which started on my 25th birthday and finished the day before I turned 30 is a treasured possession, so having another one would be lovely.
Letter writing – I’m doing lots of this with Ink Drops (we have declared 2019 the Year of the Real Letter) and I’ve also found a new penpal through a Facebook group I’m part of.
Jewellery making – this is something I revisit every January to make my Wear Your Word bracelet, and I’d love to hone my skills & learn some new ones instead of taking up a whole new hobby.
Scrapbooking/vision boarding – apart from my yearly vision board, I cannot tell you how many half-started, unfinished scrapbooks are kicking around my office!
Roller skating – joyful movement is hugely important to me, and dusting off my skates has never yet failed to bring me happiness.
Cross stitch – I’m still battling with a very small cross stitch I bought eight years ago whe I left the library. It would feel SO GOOD to finish it, frame it and hang it up!
Ebaying, decluttering & the Queen Sweep.
Diving into my course library – I have bought (and done) so many courses over the years, I’d love to revisit some instead of buying new ones.
Unread books & rereading books – and this afternoon I paid off my library fine so I can use the library instead of buying books.
Finish decorating my house – this is of course time & money dependent, but I can certainly do bits and pieces, like putting up the art which has been propped against the fireplace for almost three years.
Burlesque & line dance – going deeper means learning and remembering and possibly performing.
Blogging – here I am!
BBQs – Dad would approve so much!
Self portraits, costumes & prop making – all of which make my heart sing, but I never seem to have time for. I will, however, be going to Bothwell School of Witchcraft as crew this year, so am hopeful this will bring together those long-suppressed bits of creativity.
For ten minutes, I thought that was quite an impressive list, and I have definitely missed some stuff. Aside from all the things I do (and it’s always been a long list), I’ve always been fond of the make do & mend concept, and will be actively looking to repair rather than replace things which break or go wrong.
Plus of course trying to buy less – I’m still allowing myself to buy what I need, but will try to keep tabs on my impulse purchases, and anything which uses too much single-use plastic. (Mermaid at heart, see!)
So I hereby declare 2019 my Depth Year.
Fancy joining me? Already done one? Leave me a comment or drop me an email, I’d love to hear your experiences & tips!
You know when you read something, and it triggers you to look up something else, and then you find a video about it, and then you’re off, down the internet rabbit hole, finding knowledge you didn’t know you were missing, and discovering endless wonders?
Well, today that happened to me. With the ridiculousness that is GDPR I have been keeping a closer than usual eye on my inbox, and what caught me today was Giffords Circus.
From their new video:
to discovering that Nell who owns it has written a book, actually more than one book, which are obviously now at the top of my wishlist – how could I and my showgirl alter ego Lotta possibly resist resist a book subtitled “The secret life of a circus girl”?!
Then another book, by Clover Stroud, was suggested, and I was so intrigued by the similarities that I searched to see if I could find the connection. It turns out they are sisters, and their other sister is Emma Bridgewater. Yes, that Emma Bridgewater.
From there I found myself reading an unexpected article about loss and running a business, and I have approximately eight more tabs open that I am excited to read! I can also feel my long-held love for the circus coming to the surface… I suspect a new obsession is coming…
Today’s lunchtime sojourn down the rabbit hole was a glorious and thought-inducing one. I wonder what will be next?
I can’t get my head around the fact that it’s October. October!
With the falling of the leaves and the crispness of the mornings, it couldn’t really be any other month – but I was still surprised to see leaves on the ground when I walked into work the other day.
So what does the start of autumn look like in my world?
Mixing up my routine
I have been craving routine (I know, who knew that was something I’d ever want?) but mainly at home. At the day job, my routine is set in stone and needed a shakeup.
So taking inspiration from my first ever online course (a Free Range Humans one), I am parking in a different place, taking a different route and making sure I have lunch with different people every day.
I’ve also been taking the laptop out and about to work in some of the cafes, bars & student areas when I can, and have organised coworking sessions with colleagues for stuff we’re collaborating on.
So far, so good.
Burlesquing in public
It has been a LONG time since I’ve danced out – probably not since Hogswatch, actually… so I was chuffed to bits to have the chance to dance out with fabulous friends Lynsey, Annastasia and Jenna in September. Photos courtesy of Lynsey’s other half Mike!
(Edit a couple of days later – I knew I was tired – I did the Fling in July this year! But though it was gorgeous, that’s probably a good example of exactly how much my brain is fuzzing things at the moment…)
It was a greyhound show, and I did come home wanting greyhounds again. But I think Luna & Clover would eat them…
Mermaiding. All the mermaiding.
September was the month I finally got my pod! Sam organised a Clacton meetup, and four of the twelve mermaids there were me and my gorgeous models/friends/burlesquers – Jenna, Lynsey & Fran were mermaiding for the first time before modelling for me, and we all loved it so much that we want to do it again, regularly 😀
Here’s a shot of all of us:
And here’s the Colchester pod:
And here’s a really quick edit of some of the video footage of the girls’ first swim!
And then it was time for our mermaid shoot at the start of this month. We had the Loft studio for three hours, and it was basically playtime – mermaid tails, crowns, corsets and sparkly lingerie galore.
We spent the night before at Fran’s house, decorating shells & tiaras, and it was so utterly lovely I can’t even tell you 🙂
AND THEN THE SHOOT.
These girls. They are naturals in a tail and apparently also naturals as models too – some people totally freak out in a studio environment but they were PERFECT.
I’ve not finished the edit yet, but here is a teaser:
and a whole load more stuff I can’t remember because I’m tired.
I still miss Dad a ridiculous amount, I’m still prone to crying at the drop of a hat, and Mum & I still have an insane amount of admin to do.
But keeping busy isn’t a bad thing, and doing things that make me feel like me is a good thing, and a random side effect that I had not anticipated is that for several weeks now, my anxiety has been much, much lower. I’ve had some dips & attacks, but it has been SO nice to feel a bit more like myself and not be living with constant irrational fear all the time.
So there’s my autumn. I’ll try and post proper roundups of each thing on the relevant blogs:
Oh, and with all this multipod goodness going on, I started a podcast about being one, especially being one in business. But I can’t share it yet, only one episode and it recorded quite quietly. It’s coming, though!
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:
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…
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!
All from The Works so didn’t even set me back that much – under a tenner for all four!
It’s moved to Hylands now (same site as V festival), grown hugely and developed into a proper festival you can camp at, not just a one day extravaganza.
This year I performed with the Burlesque Jems, and was also their photographer for the day, capturing their performances and a few sneaky portraits too.
I made a last-minute mermaid bra so I could mermaid-burlesque (merlesque?!) and it was just a wonderful day – the most myself I’ve felt since before Dad went into hospital. It was amazing to merge two of my alter egos (Lotta Fiero and Kerenza Sapphire), brilliant to be back on stage, scary but eventually great to be out and about with my camera, and wonderfully indulgent to leave my worries and sadness behind and throw myself into festival life for a few hours.
Also, what better example of a multipod in action than photographing and performing all on the same day?
I had forgotten how much of a workout dancing and photography are though – my Sunday has been exceptionally gentle!
Some time ago, the wonderful Laura Sparling created a limited edition run of custom cat lampwork beads – you could choose all the options and they would look, more or less, like your cats.
LOOK AT THEM…. they even have the right colour eyes!!
Obviously I thought this was the best thing ever, and proceeded to buy lampwork portraits of Luna and Clover.
And then I bought a house and everything went to hell in a handcart for eighteen months while I rebuilt it.
This morning, I had a pet portrait shoot booked that sadly had to be rescheduled due to miserable weather, so instead I decided to have a mini artist date – and turn these cats into earrings! (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type…)
It wasn’t a complicated make – extra ingredients were sterling silver ear wires and 3mm jump rings. I removed the lobster clasps from the cats and added the extra jump ring and the wire – the extra ring makes them hang the right way more easily.
And here are the finished earrings:
Plus of course the close up at the top.
It was lovely to make something for me – and even lovelier to now be able to take my idiot felines with me wherever I go!
I’ve written before about having a jar to track how much you actually get done even while you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.
My jars have come out of storage (finally!) and this year I’ve decided to use them as happy jars.
Partly because I now have my bullet journal for everyday tracking, but mostly because there is enough shit going on that reminders of the happy are always very welcome <3
So here are my two for home (the big one lives on the bureau in my living room, the smaller on my studio desk):
I’ve found a new home for the straws!
There’s a smaller version on my day job desk, and the plan is to empty all three at the end of each month, and record the happy things either in a journal or on the blog. I’m hoping it will work as well as my gratitude journal has in previous years, to boost my mood and recognise the good things regardless of what crap is going on around me.
Have you ever had a happy jar, or a collection of happy things?
Having recently rediscovered artist dates (I’m actually reading the Artist’s Way now, along with twofriends, and it is so far both wonderful and a bit uncomfortable), and with the studio now finished enough to work in, I’ve been collecting ideas of what I can do with precious alone time.
There’s lots on there from the general list of things I want to do in 2017, but the one that caught my eye this afternoon when I returned home from spending Sunday with my parents was UNICORN BARK.
Chocolate bark is quite an American thing, I think, but chocolate is chocolate whichever side of the ocean you’re on, and when you can make it swirly, sparkly and pastel coloured, I’m definitely in.
It’s also easy and quick, which given everything I should be doing other than making chocolate, is a good thing!
Good quality white chocolate (I used Menier, and made a mini 100g bar of bark for this first run)
Food colouring in the colours of your choice (I went for purple, pink and blue. Online opinion says you should have oil based candy colouring. I couldn’t find this in a hurry, so went for Dr Oetker gel colours which worked fine!)
Greaseproof/waxed paper (I used foil/parchment which I believe was from Aldi)
Hundreds and thousands, glitter, sparkly sugar bits (all optional – mine were bronze sugar pieces from Waitrose which I had lurking in my cupboard)
Line a shallow container with your waxed paper.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a pan of water on the hob. If you’re using the microwave, do it in 15 or 20 second bursts, or you’ll do what I did with the first bar, burn the bottom and end up with inedible crispy chunks in your chocolate. And wasted chocolate is practically a crime!
When smooth and stirrable, split between three or more bowls – one for each colour.
Working fairly quickly, mix your food colouring into each bowl. I used about five drops of the gel colour to get this strength, which I’d say is strong pastel – you can adjust as you fancy.
Dollop the coloured chocolate randomly into the waxed paper tray, swirl around a bit with a fork.
Sprinkle with your choice of toppings, then leave to cool (not in the fridge as this can do weird things to the chocolate’s finish).
When it’s properly cool, break into pieces.
And voila… unicorn bark!
Pssst! Looking for gorgeous brand images of your own creative work? Come and visit me over at my business & branding photography site and let’s make gorgeous images from your creative goodness!
I'm Carla, a quirky thirtysomething with a penchant for unicorns and glitter. I believe in magic and make-believe, and the gorgeous rebellion of making your life absolutely your own. And I'm a proud multipod!
Proud to be both girly and geeky, when I’m not writing, photographing or daydreaming, you can find me dancing burlesque, riding my bicycle Bluebell, growing herbs and collecting typewriters.
Things I want to do in 2020. Partly from my Daydreams To Do list and also from my general goals for the year.
~ Steampunk events
~ experiment with film cameras
~ walk more
~ explore Colchester
~ beach time
~ kitty portraits
~ western riding
~ spa days
~ learn to make bath bombs
~ recreate Lush's Angel's Delight soap fragrance
~ work in sterling silver
~ build a catio
~ handwritten letters
~ photobook of the house project, the cats, Poppy & Dad
~ print my own photos