… and I won’t subject you to any more of my enthusiastic but distinctly off-key singing!
It’s been a beautiful Christmas, one of the best I can remember. After a 2.30am wakeup call from Clover kitty with a shiny fish she really wanted me to have, for the first time ever, Mum & Dad and I had Christmas day to ourselves, and they came to me – the first time I’ve hosted! Naturally, we went to one of my favourite pubs in the village for actual lunch rather than risk my cooking… but we had our traditional breakfast at mine, and it was so lovely.
Being here really brought the house together – knowing I was hosting made me do all the last minute things I would otherwise have let slide for ages. And oh, how lovely it was to wake up and snuggle with kitties and not have to rush across the county to get anywhere! I think all three of us needed a break, and the relaxing day it ended up being. And lunch out was perfect – atmosphere while also enabling proper conversation.
I’m not religious, but I do love the ceremony of Christmas, and the opportunity to dress up and feast with family – it always feels special and a little bit decadent. Something about it calls to my pagan side, too – banishing the darkness with fairy lights and spending time and breaking bread with our nearest and dearest. This year’s dress was a dark blue chiffon with little silver and white bauble beads sewn all over the bodice – very me, very pretty, and very accommodating of Christmas dinner with an elasticated back!!
Boxing Day was spent over at my aunt & uncle’s with large numbers of my extended family, which was also perfect – though I think for the first time I’m slipping into the adult group rather than naturally into the kids. There are a few of my cousins at weird kidult transition ages – 15, 17, 20… and I managed to freak out one of my older ones by announcing my joint 30th & housewarming party in February. He still thinks I’m about 8, so it was something of a surprise to him that I’m nearly 30…
Unsurprisingly, despite the 15 degree weather, I didn’t pack my mermaid tail for the celebrations, and so sadly missed an opportunity to swim in it on Boxing Day, but there’s the whole of 2016 to mermaid to my heart’s content. That’s definitely a real verb, too…
Now, after all the celebrations, I’m curled up on my beautiful patchwork sofa, under my Secret Pillow blanket, one of my glorious Christmas presents from Caroline. Each Secret Pillow helps to empower women in India, who go through a series of workshops to improve their skills, make and sell the Secret Pillows, and develop a sustainable business to support themselves and their families. I’d not heard of it till I unwrapped mine on Christmas Day, but it’s one of my favourite presents – I love it!
In between munching Christmas chocolate, and feeling a bit like I’ve been hit by a freight train (that’ll be the quantities of Dad’s amazing mulled cider I’ve consumed in the past 48 hours, then), I’ve started the process of rejigging all my websites again. Here’s how everything currently stands:
Carla Watkins Photographer is getting a proper front page, a way to get emails and updates, and once I’ve sorted out my photos and a couple of test shoots, it’ll have a gallery and an actual page where you can engage my services, you know, like a proper photography business! (#getoutofmyownway seems an appropriate hashtag here…) I’ll shortly be setting up a friendly group for solopreneurs to share the rollercoaster of self employment, too. If you’re a solopreneur or portfolio careerist who fancies connecting with likeminded peeps, and you don’t mind the occasional f bomb, get yourself on this list!
I’m ridonkulously excited to work with more likeminded people, and also to geek out on the blog about all the business related goodness I’ve been absorbing and waffling about for years. Yay!
Alongside that, Unfurling Your Wings is getting a mini overhaul, with some tweaks to the course and a launch of the course & kit later in 2016. I’m adding boudoir and portrait sessions to the offerings over there, and I’m also planning some experience days – fancy a day at mermaid school, or running away to the circus? Watch this space…
Something I’ve noticed over the last few months (and it’s no coincidence that all this clarity and action follows having a beautiful new, uncluttered space at home) is how much I miss blogging for its own sake. All my sites have a business slant to them, which is gorgeous and exactly as it should be, but I miss having somewhere that’s essentially my online living room.
The shop here, while full of gorgeous things, doesn’t feel right to have here any more. So most of my remaining stock will wander over to my new venture The Unicornery over the next few months, and this will revert back to its original purpose as a lifestyle blog, and record of my life and interests and multipod tendencies.
I never did get round to the planned sale, due to a severe lack of laptop (hilariously, as a result of the dead laptop, we had a count up of our technology. Once Mum’s new laptop arrives, we will have three decent laptops and one old spare, one desktop, four tablets, three printers, four cameras and five phones between three of us in two houses. Getting a tiny bit ridiculous, no?!). Anyway, sale – perhaps I’ll have one to celebrate the opening of the Unicornery!
Hmm, and having promised myself an early night and a proper sleep routine, it’s now nearly 1am. Oops. That whole being-an-owl and hating mornings thing is definitely a big motivator behind the drive for full time self employment!
I hope you’ve all had a glorious Christmas, if that’s what you celebrate, and I’ll be back in the new year (or possibly even before, if I get organised).
With love, unicorns and narwhals,
The lovely people at Country Baskets sent me a box of craft ingredients and a challenge – make a Christmas decoration using at least four of them. I’m up against other bloggers and they will judge the competition this week. Eeek!
My box contained florist’s wire, satin ribbon, a frosted (faux) mistletoe spray, a wonderful garland of fluffy white pom poms, silver (faux) poinsettia with wired stems, silver bells on a chain, a pack of cream coloured wire balls and a pack of heart shaped baubles.
I had a wonderful time unpacking them and the cats had a wonderful time exploring the box and the packaging. (Thank you for the unexpected bonus gift of a cat-sized box, Country Baskets!)
But what to make?
Due to the EU VAT fiasco that is still raging, I haven’t had a lot of time for crafting, and I wasn’t sure what would best fit the challenge in the tiny pockets of time I had available. Then I remembered that a few years back I used some similar wire, plus tinsel and baubles to make an evergreen wreath. Those pom poms were crying out to be hung on my front door, so I set to work.
It is nearly impossible to craft when you have inquisitive cats who are firmly convinced they’re helping…
But eventually I had a finished wreath – and I’m chuffed with the mistletoe in the middle, as real mistletoe is poisonous to cats so I won’t have it in the house. Here it is:
And here it is adorning my front door, just in time for Christmas brunches and drinks!
*Courtesy of Country Baskets – I wasn’t paid for this post but I did receive a free box of products to use in my decoration.
January 6th saw the very first of our annual craft swaps (though I’m not sure we can wait a whole year for the next one) – organised by Mimi, the idea was that all nine of us would make enough of whatever we chose for each participant to go home with one. It ended up in January by accident, but we think we’ll keep it there as it’s so lovely to have something to look forward to after Christmas!
The edible things were long gone before I had a chance to photograph them, teehee – wonderful alcohol-infused vegan chocs from Annastasia at Midorigreen, and yummy chocolate fridge cake from Helen. The button magnets (genius!!) from Mimi also escaped my photo shoot as they’re adorning my filing cabinet/noticeboard in the studio!
My contribution? Kilner jars decoupaged with pin up ladies (Elvgren paintings, as he’s my favourite pin up artist) and filled with cutters, a tiny pot of ginger, my favourite gingerbread recipe and glitter. Of course 🙂
It was a wonderful afternoon, full of tea and giggles and happiness, and we all went home sparkling with the joy of friendship and sharing things we’d made… a rare achievement for a grey day in January, I don’t usually sparkle much straight after Christmas!
I loved seeing how everyone interpreted “make something” differently – we had no duplicates, and I was amazed all over again at the talent within this group of women I’m so proud to be part of!
I can’t for the life of me find the PDF of the gingerbread recipe – will put it up if I locate it!
I’m still rushing around in a tearing hurry (but oh, such a good feeling to be hurrying for myself!) so here are some snippets of things that have made me happy over the last week or two…
Ink Drops orders – I cannot wait to see reactions from the first batch of boxes, which ship on 14 December;
Treats – I went to Waitrose and accidentally came home with two tubs of Haagen Dazs ice cream (they were on special, it would have been rude not to) and the utterly gorgeous Montezuma’s mint chocolate… it’s expensive, but worth it 🙂
Being given the go-ahead to join student dance classes from January, as both a dancer and a photographer. I’ll be dancing in ballet and hopefully working up to pointe class, which will inform a couple of burlesque routines I am plotting and choreographing. The photography is a project I’ve wanted to start for ages, but have never had access to dancers en masse before now… so I’m very excited!
The arrival of my new dishwasher… it’s been here a little less than 48 hours and has already changed my life… I have no idea how I survived without one for so long!
Adding to my homeware and finally having a theme – turquoise and purple seems to be across my kitchen and living room/dining area, while blue and vivid pink dominate my bedroom, and black and white in the bathroom. I can live with that – they all reflect different bits of me. Here is a teal tablecloth, which will definitely get embellished and altered, and some cheap but pretty purple tea towels. Currently being ignored in favour of my Christmas ones!
I’ve done more fairs, and enjoyed every moment of them – in the time i took out, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy meeting people. Also had a wonderful coincidence at the Leigh fair, bumping into three lovely ladies (a mum and her two daughters) who Lou and I had met in Spitalfields in the summer, while trying on clothes in Collectif. They popped up at the fair and it was a fabulous moment! Here’s me with my stall (and my hastily-altered dress… it’s strapless, and it was FREEZING, quite literally, on Saturday… so a lace top was added!)
Lovely, lovely evenings with my parents – particularly in this run up to Christmas, they and I have been decorating new places and new trees and sharing decorations and it’s AMAZING. I love that they live so close, and my Christmas spirit is very much present and correct this year!
Putting the world to rights with friends – in person, on the phone and over Skype, it’s all rather soul-nourishing. Inspiration is all over the place and I think 2013 may be the best year yet!
On a more profound note, two people have, without any prompting at all, told me I’m brave this week, and a dear friend said I appreciated and savoured life more than anyone else she knew, and that I “do the things everyone else just talks about”. If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a month, you’ll know that’s in no way always been the case, and that comment has stayed with me all week – alternately making me want to shriek in triumph, and cry with happiness. Glorious.
I’ve also noticed, and I don’t think this is particularly worthy of its own post, that lots of bloggers I follow have been wondering whether to continue, fretting about their readers or lack thereof, and worrying about what they post if it’s less than their best writing (because this is apparently what ‘real’ or ‘big’ bloggers recommend). Here seems as good a place as any for me to gently but unwaveringly reaffirm that Ducking Fabulous is my little home on the web. I am beyond delighted to have you, lovely readers, along for the ride, but as you have probably gathered, there is no particular focus, and there is more waffle than well-thought-out, profound writing. I make no apologies for this, as I believe blogging should be something you do because you enjoy it, and you do for you… if you stop writing what you truly want to write, your blog loses its soul. Readers usually follow because they liked what you were already writing, or at least that’s why I follow the blogs that I do.
I’m not offended when people unfollow me, whether it’s here, on Twitter or anywhere else – I assume it’s because whoever it is is no longer interested in what I’m saying. And that’s fine. Conversely, I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED whenever WordPress, Twitter or Pinterest tells me I have a new follower, because the chances are their blog, feed or boards will be something I also want to read or follow. And that, for me, is by far the beauty and biggest strength of the social web – finding likeminded people you’d never have known before the internet existed.
All photographs are my own – the one of me was taken by the fabulous Val, who was a brilliant Ducking Fabulous ambassador on Saturday! Don’t forget to have a quick nose at the shop, or pop into Tea & Sympathy (Colchester) or Make Do & Mend (Chelmsford), both of whom are currently stocking DF jewellery. I’ll be at the Vintage and Makers Market on Saturday 8th December in Chelmsford
town city centre, and last order dates for Christmas are 8 December for the EU and 16 December for the UK – my official rest-of-world last order date has passed, though I will still do my best to get things to you in time for Christmas 🙂
With stock in the ever-fabulous Tea & Sympathy in Colchester, soon to be in the gorgeous Make, Do and Mend in Chelmsford, supplying goodies for a friend’s daughter’s pop up college shop and four fairs starting Wednesday evening, it has been a little manic here at Ducking Fabulous HQ for the last couple of weeks.
Some of my printed domino necklaces in progress – I’m very excited about this batch!
I’ve also been working hard on Ink Drops Boxes with Annastasia from Midorigreen, which has been lovely, and punctuated by hilarious Skype chats involving unintentional Lucozade highs. If you love all things handwritten, pop over and see the site and our blog, and if you’re struggling for presents, why not have a look at the shop – a surprise box of beautiful stationery might be the answer!
Christmas preparations are also starting – this weekend I will be at the Betty Blue Eyes vintage and handmade fair in Leigh-on-Sea (and visiting two lovely friends who live in the area at the same time) on Saturday, and at Mum & Dad’s sorting out Christmas trees and decorations on Sunday… they have bought a new tree for their new, higher-ceilinged abode, and I get the old one, which will fit beautifully into my flat… somewhere. I’m excited for sorting through decorations, most of ours have stories – will try and post about some of them nearer the time.
Right now I am mostly revelling in the incredible feeling of being surrounded by likeminded people and full of inspiration… it’s a feeling like no other!
Other things that have made me happy this week…
A rainbow on my way to work | Househunting | Tentative plans to borrow a greyhound | Dinner and Christmas decoration making at Mimi’s | A fabulous night with family for my aunt’s 40th birthday | puppy cuddles | the Free Range Festival | a festive Saturday in London with some of my uni girls | chocolate muffins | stories of my parents’ lives and travels before I arrived | starting on the overhaul of this site | getting my boudoir shoot photographs back | tassel making workshop and learning to twirl – the best Thursday evening I’ve had for ages! | Contrariety Rose’s mini-boutique in Creative Crafts in Reading | roof-down driving on a Tuesday evening | impromptu dinner and giggles with my parents | fairy lights | stocking up on Lush’s amazing seasonal soap | treating myself to a couple of books I’ve wanted for a while | MAC’s lip primer
So an all round fabulous couple of weeks! I am trying very hard to resume regular, twice a week posting – watch this space 🙂
Good grief, December, where have you vanished to?!
Here is me, trying to be festive (I was more than a little bit tipsy at this point)…
I am powering through all the leftover bits and pieces at the day job, in the hope I can leave early – we went for a lovely team pub lunch, but no one else has come back yet so I’m all on my lonesome. On the plus side, I intend to leave the moment I’ve wrapped up all the loose ends!
Then home to finish this handsome chap for my Gran, pack, and curl up with wine and a DVD, and my laptop.
Happy Christmas Eve Eve!!
Quite how it’s got to be 13 December without my noticing and making a massive song and dance about Christmas, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s the weather. Yep, we’ll blame the unseasonal lack of snow, ice and general cold misery that usually characterises December in England.
However, it does mean it’s almost Christmas. Now I am usually a Christmas fanatic – I love it! I love the build up, the songs, the decorations, the food, the preparation, the licence to wear glitter during the day, the ridiculous novelty earrings – the lot!
This year, a lot of this seems to have passed me by – I’ve been so busy with all the things I do that I’d barely noticed it was December! I have managed to put up my wreath, thought I’ve not yet had time to make another one and post a tutorial; I have decorated my little Christmas tree but haven’t put many of the rest of my decorations up yet; and I’ve been to two Christmas dinners and one Christmas party. So I’m not doing too badly, but I need to up my dose of the Christmas spirit!
So, some things (not all Christmas related!) to do before the 25th:
Put up the rest of my decorations ~ Decide what to wear ~ Buy token gifts ~ Send out email greetings ~ Make donation to Macmillan (in lieu of presents and cards this year, as we lost my godfather to cancer in July) ~ Go to a carol service ~ Go on the charity SantaLash pub crawl round London ~ organise Julia’s hen weekend ~ research sewing machines ~ research tablets and contracts ~ make some more Christmas jewellery/jewellery to wear at Christmas ~ go skating on one of London’s many outdoor rinks.
Then a few days of peace, and then it’s New Year!
I’m heading up to Nottingham for New Year, which I’m really excited about, especially as I haven’t celebrated it for about three years now. While the rest of the world (or so it seems) parties, I usually curl up with a blanket, wine, a really good book and a large tub of Haagen Dazs. Not bad, but I can’t wait for this one! I will be taking a notebook on the train (I’d prefer to drive but it depends on the weather) to make resolutions and plans for 2012. I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to see some fireworks – I ADORE fireworks even when it’s freezing cold outside!
What are your plans for Christmas? New Year’s Eve? New Year’s Day? I hope that whatever you’re doing, whoever you’re with and however you celebrate, you have a glorious few days 🙂
All images link back to their original source.
I know, I know, it’s only November, but I have SO much going on in December, I have to start my Christmas decorations early or I won’t get any up! I also spend the actual Christmas period at my parents’, so I like to enjoy as much of the Christmas spirit at home as possible before I go 🙂
I spent quite a lot of time last weekend, in between searching for presents and party dresses, trying to find a wreath. This, from BHS, was about the closest I found to what I was looking for, but I very much wanted some pink and purple in mine, to match the colour scheme (pffft – the attempted colour scheme, that should be) in my flat!
There were also a few of this type around:
None of them took my fancy, so when Anna and I were out on Thursday, I bought a pack of baubles from Asda and some contrasting snowflake tinsel from the 99p shop (oh yes, super high end, that’s me!). Got home, dug out the florist’s wire I bought two years ago (I knew it’d come in handy one day!) and over a few dvds and lots of chatting, I made this (please excuse the cheesy pic of me):
I’m really quite proud! :D