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Jewellery stories: heart brooch

While moving and doing all the associated clearing out, I realised that lots of pieces of my jewellery have stories of their own. Some short and sweet, some more involved… I’d like to have a record of them and I thought they’d be quite nice to occasionally feature on the blog 🙂

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This heart brooch is a familiar sight on lapels, collars and sometimes bags. It came to me as part of the very first Curiosity Box swap I did, back in October 2011. Nicola from Yallop Skin Care was my anonymous swap partner – it was a lovely project to be part of, and this was my favourite thing from my box!

From where I stand… by accident

Looking through my archives, it would appear one of my favourite things to take photos of is… my feet. In a non-kinky manner – just because they’re always with me and they show where I’ve been, I suppose. (I blame Susannah Conway…)

(and apologies if you get this twice – I have been fighting with technology this evening!)

Here are a few, from May and June this year.

Getting reacquainted with the dance studio (mirrored, eek!)

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Often barefoot, like here at Beth Chatto gardens…

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Loving my underskirt and mismatched nail polish at a fair –SAM_0557

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a weekend of blogging, connecting and ideas

Just a speedy one as it’s somehow half past eleven on a Sunday night as I type, and I have work tomorrow – eeek! More on all of this when it’s less late…

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Sneaky snap of my glorious neon pink Cybher satchel from the Leather Satchel Company 🙂

Short version: Saturday: Cybher, fabulous people, fizzing with ideas, squeee. Sunday: amazing brunch, the visual feast that is the Beth Chatto gardens and a blissful sunshine-filled afternoon with Mum & Dad, using the bbq for the first time.

Long version:

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Snapshot moments

Bluebell at the fish and chip shop Bluebell outside the award winning fish and chip shop in my village, on one of the few sunny evenings we’ve had.

Dad painting shedDad giving my shed a coat of creosote – it looks so much better now!

duck visiting london

Because no trip anywhere is complete without a Ducking Fabulous duck, and a really cheesy grin from yours truly…

Hyde Park break

Living the self-employed dream with Annastasia, the other half of Ink Drops – tea in Hyde Park after a trade show in the morning and a meeting in Green Park, accompanied by cupcakes

shoes in progress

Peeling leather off shoes is surprisingly enjoyable – these ones were finally knackered and unsuitable for continued wear (they did pretty well, they were a 21st birthday present from an ex). I’m now in the process of taking off the straps and reworking the heels with words cut from Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy. (a copy that would otherwise have been pulped, and was already beyond repair. This way, it continues to live…).

It would appear you really can take the girl out of the library, but not the library out of the girl…

New typewriter!

When I was invited by the lovely Cheryl to bring Ink Drops to the Make Me Joyful Letter Writing Salon, I delightedly accepted and promised to bring two typewriters.

It wasn’t until a week or so before the event that I realised I only had one that worked properly. Cue a mercy call to the staff of the university where I work (at least half of them are as quirky as me) and lo and behold, one of them needed to get rid of his as he was moving house.

So this lovely little Adler Tippa has come to live with me! Typewriter at the bus stop

It needs a proper service, as there’s some rust and accumulated dust, and the shift key is sticking – but the ribbon still works, it still types, and it was lovely to see people using it at the salon last night.

And I couldn’t resist this quick snap when I took it apart for a speedy clean – don’t you think it could be a steampunk typewriter quite happily?!

steampunk typewriter

Baking is apparently in my genes

 

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than about five minutes, you’ll notice I bake intermittently, but often. (As I live alone, I don’t dare have a regular baking day or I’d eat all the results practically before they came out of the oven.)

Last weekend, my parents were over helping me to build (ok, ok, Dad was building) a shelter for my soon-to-arrive barbecue, and during a coffee break, Mum casually dropped into conversation that my great-grandfather and great-grandmother ran a bakery of their own from the 1920s to the 1950s.

Why this particular morsel of information has never come up before, I don’t know – but it would appear that Fred’s Bakery was the family business until it was sold sometime in the fifties.

This, to me, provides a perfect explanation for why I bake when I’m sad, and why my baking usually turns out relatively well; why it’s perfectly normal for me to have memorised several recipes which I can bake at a moment’s notice, even in a kitchen I’ve never used before; and why I’m so fiercely determined to work for myself – my family have had their own businesses for nearly a hundred years!

Isn’t history glorious?

 

Chicken, tarragon & nutmeg pie, with added sweetcorn*

Getting better at this cooking from scratch thing - but don't think I'll ever make a pastry chef!

Ingredients:

Leftover roast chicken from one accidental “chuck it and chance it” lunch (approx 1/2 chicken, but you can adapt to your own preferences)

Most of a pot of Elmlea single – you can use actual single cream, I just didn’t have any

Salt & pepper

a glug of olive oil

A random amount of sweetcorn – I like lots in mine, so it was at least equal to the chicken, but is up to you

Pastry, preferably readymade as it’s quicker. I use shortcrust, but this also works well as individual small pies with puff pastry lids

A couple of tablespoons of dried tarragon, or, much preferable, a decent handful of fresh, chopped

Two teaspoons of nutmeg

1 cup of cider. or wine. or apple juice if you’d prefer no alcohol

Method

Pull all the chicken off the carcass and shred into small pieces. If using raw chicken, chop into small pieces.

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and add the chicken. Cook till no longer pink in the middle (if using raw pierces) or heated through (if using cooked chicken)

Pour in the cream, closely followed by the cider or apple juice.

Add the tarragon, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste, and stir well.

Chuck in the sweetcorn, and when it’s all heated through, take off the heat and spoon into pie dish(es). I completely forgot to blind bake the bottom of the pie and it actually turned out ok!

Add the pastry lid and any decorations – I’m going with “rustic charm” rather than “slightly wonky heart”… you can brush with beaten egg or milk, whichever is closest, for a shine.

Bake for half an hour or so at 180 degrees ish – till it’s all nicely golden brown.

When it’s finished, serve with chips or mash, and peas… or just on its own as a rather lovely work lunch.

*my apologies for the single photo – it was all eaten before I had a chance to photograph a slice!!

How to make a fabulously odd-coloured cake

Put on your Rocky and Balls apron… (a housewarming present from Hannah – isn’t it fabulous?!)

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Mix cake as normal (175g of everything, 3 eggs, chuck in some baking powder and vanilla essence. Never fails). Stir in proper gel colouring and marvel at the vivid hues. cake (4) cake (6) cake (5)

Attempt to layer different colours into cake tins without throwing at each other, the table or the giant rubber duck which was trying to be involved.cake (3) cake (7) cake (8)

Bake for 15-20 minutes,turn out and let cool. cake (9)

Ice with white buttercream, honeycomb pieces and as much edible glitter as you fancy. Marvel again at the pretty colours – and enjoy! cake (1)

The colouring I’m using by Wilton, and now I’ve finally got my hands on some, I’ll never go back to liquid colouring! This would also be great for icing as it won’t dilute the icing to get a richer colour.

Can see these being great fun at Halloween… or for a patriotic cake!

Stepping into the Night Circus

A weekend of pure magic is over… and I’m looking back and sighing with happiness at every moment of it.

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On Friday, The Night Circus arrived at Tea and Sympathy, my favourite place in Colchester. The dress code was black and white and circus-appropriate, with a red accent for the reveurs – those who had read the book. (And if you’ve read it, you’ll know why!) For those that haven’t had the pleasure, the theme was around the book The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.

My red accents were my sequined shoes, scarlet lipstick and a peek of a red bra… 🙂

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I don’t think I’ve ever felt more thoroughly myself, though my outfit wasn’t entirely appropriate for the multi storey car park where we put the cars when we arrived… lol. But I’ve always been fascinated by the circus – my burlesque name is a tribute to my obsession with Enid Blyton’s circus stories!

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I arrived with Gabby and Chris, after the quickest house tour in the history of the world, and we wandered in a haze of happiness through the shop, up and down the tiny, twisting staircase, to hidden rooms, magic and wonder at every turn…

There were fire dancers, burlesque from Miss Fanny Darling, magicians, fortune tellers and some cocktails, which I’m told were lethal… I declined to sample them, as I quite fancied getting home without getting arrested!

Here’s Gabby and Chris, looking like they belong with the Cirque…

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Miss Fanny Darling as the Raven…

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And the incredible fire dancing duo (I have plans for a skirt just like that one… I LOVE IT!)

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I’ll leave you with the video of the fire dancers – a little taste of the most magical evening I’ve had in a long, long time!  With thanks to Tea and Sympathy for making dreams reality 🙂

My life is no longer packed in boxes | Week in photos

Oh, it’s been a whirlwind of a week. (I wonder how often I start a blog post with that?) I’ve finally moved, I’m in, the keys have been handed back to the old flat’s agents and my new house feels like home already!

Here are the fabulous daffodils (I ADORE daffs) that Mum and Dad brought me to celebrate moving in. I feel I should point out that the curtains will be changed shortly, and I really should have been buying them flowers – couldn’t have done this move without them!

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And my very first visitors this weekend…

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Here are some (probably blurry) photos from the move – am hoping Mum took some of the chaos of boxes, as I completely forgot in the excitement!

Last morning waking up in my old flat

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This week I am mostly… (14 February)

Some photos from this last week:

 

Feeling ~ Loved and lucky! I have been deluged by Valentines this year, all from friends. Some were sweet, some made me snort out loud and I love them even more for it. It’s a good reminder that all love is precious and should be celebrated, not just romantic love 🙂 Two posts from fellow single blogger friends I particularly loved: Bamboozle Beauty: Valentine’s Day and Adventures After Hours: A ‘singles’ guide to surviving Valentines.

Reading ~ having just finished the last book of the Wheel of Time, a book I’ve awaited for a good twelve years, I’m all cried out and emotionally spent and am sticking to non fiction for the foreseeable future. Currently, Bill Bryson’s Made In America. (For WoT fans – it was bloody brilliant and well worth the wait, but a very emotional ride.)

The end of the Wheel of Time | duckingfabulous.com A Memory of Light | duckingfabulous.com

Eating ~ my own bodyweight in Maltesers and Bitsa Wispa. And some very nice cheese from the land of milk and bunny (I am so eay to market to…)

Planning ~ my move, the new house, housewarming parties by the dozen

Dreaming of ~ sunshine and warmth. I am thoroughly fed up with the bitter cold outside!

Coveting ~ a ticket to the Free Range Festival, silk flowers for my new house, some Moo cards for announcing the move, a teal digital radio for my new kitchen and this proper airbed

Wishing ~ moving day would get here faster, and that I was more decisive so I could choose from the photos from our shoot last week!

Working on ~ money strategies and mindfulness, and taking my own advice

Celebrating ~ the last week of being 26 – it’s my birthday next Thursday!

Grateful for ~ people who care about me, worry for me, and a magical Mum who created a presentable flat from a book and craft warehouse in the space of just one evening!

And finally tomorrow I will be ~ heading over to Mimi’s after work to meet with her and lovely Annastasia to work on some secret plans!

On my to-do list this month?
* Get packed
*Aforementioned secret plans
*Turn 27
* Paint my nails
* Reply to emails and letters
* Post various things to various people, some of which are painfully overdue
* Use up as much of my freezer contents as possible
*Decorate a bra with Show Pony at 15 Queen Street

What are you up to this week? What’s on your to do list?

Moving on out…

I have been absent! But with good reason – if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or my other blogs (Teasets to Typewriters and Etc Collective), you’ll know I was unexpectedly served notice on my beloved flat and am now in the process of moving.

Dolls moving house, via Photopin | duckingfabulous.com photo credit: Valeri-DBF via photopin cc

It’s… an experience! After the initial shock and sadness of being ordered to leave somewhere that’s been home for two and a half years, and the first place of my own, I’m actually quite excited.

Last Saturday the snow spoiled my plans – Rob was due to visit, I was going to London to meet the fabulous Miss Joyful, and I was intending puppy cuddles and maybe riding on Sunday afternoon. Snow put paid to all of this, so I had a lazy, snuggly kind of a day and read two books cover to cover. On checking my post at lunchtime, I found my notice to vacate, which didn’t improve my mood!  In a most un-Carla fashion, I threw myself into action and by the end of Saturday had booked five viewings and had a much better idea of what I was going to do next.

By this Saturday, I’d viewed a decent number of places and fallen in love with a house in Wivenhoe. Today, I’m dropping my reference paperwork off with the estate agents, and this evening I shall continue packing.

I’ll be sad to leave, but I’m hugely excited about the new house – it has a garden, a conservatory and a spiral staircase, space for my studio and it’s fifteen minutes’ walk from work. The village is utterly gorgeous – I’ll have to do a tour when I get there. No photos yet as it wasn’t listed online… it’s a wait and see one!

I’ll try and keep up the blogging during the move!