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.
Ready to go swing dancing – hoping for a lindy hop class to start at uni in the new year 🙂
Burlesque cabaret night – I was stallholding rather than dancing, but it was lovely to be back in corset and frillies!
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 🙂
Luna-kitty is a very modern familiar and disdains brooms in favour of a Dyson – much faster!
Brighton outdoor ice rink with lovely Em
More or less front row seats at the Andalusian Gala evening at Olympia
And earlier in the year, magical light on my morning ‘commute’!
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 🙂
Wanton Fairies, by the incredibly talented Catherine Daniel and Rosie Lee, is one of the very loveliest books I’ve read in a long time.
Do you believe in fairies? Even if you don’t, you’ll find yourself keeping an eye on your garden after reading this. The Wanton Fairies are just that – naughty, risque, real and hilarious, and beautifully captured in delightful words and glorious illustration.
I’m a fairy fanatic, so it was a natural choice for me. It would make the most wonderful Christmas present for anyone with imagination, wonder and who’s never quite stopped believing in fairies. Or anyone who needs a cheeky reminder that they very much do.
It’s an e-book (all the better to take with me on journeys and amble through at impromptu moments, and perked up the old London commute no end) but I’d adore a printed version too. So if any of you know any fairy-friendly publishers, let me know!
Go on – make someone’s day with these irreverent lovelies!
You can find the Wanton Fairies:
At wantonfairies.co.uk, on Twitter, and you can buy the ebooks here. Photos courtesy of Wanton Fairies 😉
Happy fairy spotting!
Lovely Kathryn at the brilliant The Business of Introverts has nominated me for a Liebster blog award, which is rather happy-making 🙂
The idea is that:
1. You choose a few young and evolving blogs that you love and believe in to receive the Liebster Award (which is simply like a stamp of approval from one blog to another)
2. You write a blog post stating that you are nominating them and asking them to answer 10 questions of your choosing (this is that post!)
3. They write a post on their own blog answering the questions and nominating more blogs for the award
I’m passionate about blogs and one of my very favourite things is finding new ones to read… so here goes with my answers to Kathryn’s questions:
1. Why did you decide to start your blog?
I’ve been blogging for just over eight years and I started my very first one to record my life at university, accompanied by two tiny rubber ducks called Freddie and Frankie. It’s a way of keeping track of some of my life – a journal and guidebook all rolled into one!
2. What’s your favourite season and why?
Spring! I love the feeling of newness as we emerge from winter, lush greens all around and the bracing fresh air, with sunshine and a promise of summer to come.
3. What is the last great book you read?
I am in the middle of re-reading for the umpteenth time, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’m on book eight of fourteen and as always, I’m so hooked that the stories and characters are weaving themselves into my dreams. I’m a complete WoT addict, so much so that my 18th birthday present from my parents was a gold ring I’d designed, taking strong inspiration from the series.
4. What 3 things would you take to a desert island?
This is such a tough question! First up, Larry the lamb – I’ve had him since birth and he’d be a great comfort if I was alone on said island. Secondly, a boxed set series of the aforementioned Wheel of Time – they would at least keep me occupied. Thirdly, a never-ending notebook and a pen with everlasting ink (you didn’t say I had to stay realistic!) so I could get my jumble of thoughts and experiences down onto paper.
5. Name 3 people that have inspired you
You don’t make these questions easy, do you Kathryn?! Ok so firstly my parents, for living all over the world before that was a normal thing to do, for starting a business at nearly 60 and for learning and changing with the times and not being set in their ways like so many of their generation. They’ve set me a brilliant example.
Next up, one of my best friends, the genius behind Contrariety Rose – for having the guts to quit her day job and focus on developing her own indie fashion label. She has the most determination and focus of anyone I’ve ever met and I admire her for it every day.
And lastly (though by no means least, and by no means the only other person I admire – this list could go on for aeons), a newer but no less treasured friend, Rachael, who was brave enough to listen to her instincts, move to the other side of the country and start a whole new life over there. I’m proud and in awe all at once!
Oops, haven’t done one of these for ages – but am fizzing with inspiration today, so here goes…
Feeling: inspired, and also like I want to run away to the circus (I have been pinning like mad to my circus board).
Reading: Michael Morpurgo’s Why The Whales Came, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus (Pinterest board here) for about the sixth time, and Marianne Cantwell’s Be A Free Range Human.
Eating: Maltesers Teasers bars – I think I’ve singlehandedly eaten the Maltesers factory out of them, they’re amazing!
Planning: Greyhound goodness, new Ducking Fabulous ranges, a circus-themed photoshoot and an attempt at recreating some of the incredible costumes in Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty.
Dreaming of: the circus… can you see a theme developing here?!
Coveting: a carousel horse and a greyhound.
Wishing: the weather would heat up just a little bit more, and that I could help more with other people’s problems.
Working on: Club 20 goals, meditating daily, developing my direction, new stuff for the DF shop.
Celebrating: the power and strength of friendship, having so much energy I feel like I could take over the world and six whole months of freedom from the London lifestyle. And six weeks in my new home and village, both of which I love more by the day.
Grateful for: friends, family, likeminded souls when I’m having a wobble, and continuing being comfortable in and with myself (I shall never take any of those, but especially that last, for granted).
And finally tomorrow I will be: delighted and terrified in equal measure that it’s already May, at my last burlesque class for a couple of months, and flapping about day job deadlines. Meep.
On my to-do list this month? Not sure I want to answer this question – booking fairs, making stock for said fairs, switching bank accounts, scouring ebay for a second hand bike, cycling, swimming, getting my sewing machine serviced, booking the dentist, checking when Poppy is due for a service, organising get togethers with various people, Ink Drops’ first stall, reopening my Etsy shop, continuing with Photo Meditations and trying to post the results sometimes… it’s neverending, but all of it except the dentist makes me happy!
What have you been up to this week? What does next week have in store for you?
Feeling: Either overwhelmed or ridiculously excited… I don’t seem to have a middle setting, and it’s rather exhausting!
[Interview] The Paris Letters – a project that turned into a business
[Article] Why mess can be a good thing
[Book] The Secret Supper Club, Dana Bate
[Blog post] Dance to your own beat, the Be Free Community
Eating: with other people – it’s been lovely! (And the year’s first Cadbury mini eggs. Nom nom nom).
Planning: new lines of jewellery, wholesale options and a website; things to do in the new house (decorating, cooking, creating, entertaining) and some dance routines.
Dreaming of: Not being surrounded by boxes, and being a bit bloody warmer, please – the novelty of winter is well and truly over now. If we’re talking actual dreams, I dreamed of sunglasses the night before last so we can only hope that means spring is on its way.
Coveting: Contrariety Rose’s cherry dress (yup, that’s me in the listing. I wanted to take it home!!)
Wishing: I was better at playing the ukulele and/or guitar, especially after discovering 9 year old Zoe Thomson’s guitar playing.
Working on: New fonts on the site (did you notice how much prettier they are now?) courtesy of Gemma at Jane & Philbert, and deliberately disconnecting more often, courtesy of Diane Leigh and Grace Marshall.
Celebrating: Having been 27 for a whole week today, and the launch of 15 Queen Street tonight.
Grateful for: The first shafts of sunshine, likeminded souls and my apparently innate ability to network and connect with people.
And finally tomorrow I will be: drinking hot chocolate with Rachael, finalising the packing up of the studio, making lists of the contents of the flat and working on all my websites.
On my to-do list?
– Various money-related tasks (paying bills, setting up accounts, budgeting & planning)
– House admin (let people know I’m moving, switch providers, notify of change of address, etc etc etc)
– Try and get some kind of control over my Ducking Fabulous accounts
– everything is there, but nothing is in date order and it’s making me cross
– Book next burlesque course
– Learn a bit more about Google Analytics
– Getting dates in the diary with friends who I’ve been trying and failing to see for months
So quite a good one ahead – and of course ploughing on with the web stuff at the day job. Which I love, but which occasionally makes my pea brain hurt.
The last few weeks in Instagram highlights – L-R tassels in progress, colourful table settings and ballet in the air at work; frosted spider web, delicious mango sorbet, first batch of eBay parcels from my pre-move clear out.
Happy things include 15 Queen Street and discovering the amazing creatives in my area | planning and prepping for a collaborative photoshoot with Contrariety Rose | development of Ink Drops Boxes | various happy-making side projects | fabulous Free Range Humans (the people and the book) | finding a new home | Hotel Chocolat caramel hot chocolate | bumping into Poppy’s old owner on a roundabout in a snowstorm | resurrecting the Ducks on Tour and finding original Frankie and Freddie pictures
And I have Thursday and Friday off work for the shoot 🙂
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 🙂
I’ve had such a mad few weeks, I haven’t done a Happy Thursdays post for AGES. However I have been keeping my eyes open for small things that make me smile during the long and sometimes relentless weeks. Here are a few:
Perfect cupcakes before the Hurly Burly show, with Wendy. Gorgeous Sunday – cake, burlesque and one of my best friends, what more could a girl want?!
A truly spectacular moment on the way to the pub after rollerskating with Caroline, and planning our cabaret performances, her website, her new house and my future. It was glorious, and felt like a proper summer evening.
Lunch at the Folly with Lou. Full review coming soon (possibly on Project Pin Up) but I loved that they gave us our bill in a seed packet. It was fabulously quirky, suited us down to the ground AND there was a fashion shoot going on at the same time we were there.
Spotting an old but rather beautiful Maserati outside my parents’ new house. Sadly not theirs.
Deckchairs and screens provided in the middle of the City for workers to watch the Olympics and Paralympics on. Lovely, no?
There are more, but I’ll leave you with those for now. I am off to get some sleep, finish recovering from this horrible virus I’ve had, and hope with all my heart that Poppy sails through her service and MOT tomorrow – it makes me unreasonably nervous!
Bit of a mish mash, wordy, linky post, as I’m having one of the busiest weeks ever and am running around like an entire flock of headless chickens. And then some. So here goes, stuff that has made me happy this week…
– Discovering all over again that I actually have the best friends a girl could ever possibly wish for. I am very, very lucky.
– Fluffy white bread for the first time in ages and Ben’s cookies from a colleague at work
– Emily coming round and cooking for me – this was the most luxurious thing ever, quite aside from the loveliness of seeing her
– Exciting snippets of other people’s news – new chapters all over the shop
– That feeling you get when opening a brand new document in InDesign and knowing you can create almost anything you want
– Planning outfits, shoes and accessories for the boudoir shoot next weekend
– Discovering a Bauhaus exhibition, which we hope to go to tomorrow, to assist the lovely Lou with her research for an application she’s doing
– Business course with Startup Saturday tomorrow, WordPress course on Wednesday for work and plans for my future
– Making lists and feeling a bit more in control of my workload, finances and life
– Plans for blogger meetups with Annastasia, a PPU store (more of that later) and expansion of Ducking Fabulous (more of that later too), among other things
– Unexpected commissions – and selling a necklace to my director, which was a very weird but very nice feeling! Unfortunately I neglected to photograph it, but will recreate it for the shop soon 🙂
– Val telling me that she saw an advert for a burlesque show and immediately thought of me, “just like when I see horses and ducks”. It’s becoming a part of me in a way I never expected, but I love it!
– Reading proper chick lit again – I’ve read nothing but non fiction for a couple of months and it was very good to lose myself in a couple of Fiona Gibson’s novels (go and read them if you haven’t already, they’re funny, poignant and I identify with the characters so much – even the ones I’m not yet!)
– Planning the 100 day challenge, or a version of it, to get a bit of stability back into my finances (thanks to Sophia at Tattooed Tealady for the inspiration)
– Boutique Baking and Jamie’s Great Britain– I am so looking forward to choosing things to make and bake from these books
– Deciding, after last Sunday’s #bbloggers chat, that my blog is a place for me to indulge my many passions and hobbies and loves – it might get more readers if it was more focused, but I prefer it to be a true reflection of my character and personality – chaotic but lovely!
Tomorrow I’m with Lou in London, planning for the future, and Sunday hopefully collecting my new bike (squeee) so more posts to come!
I know it’s now Monday, but I was so enthused when I wrote this post, and having been to Startup Saturday I’m even more determined, so I thought I’d share it anyway. I promise the next post will be relevant. Or at least up to date 🙂
Wow, how is it already Thursday?!
Feel like I need more than a week’s round up… I had last week off following the Jubilee, with the intention of spring cleaning. Instead I passed the week in a delightful blur of family, friends and making, with so much inspiration along the way!
I spent time alone and with people, at home and out exploring and with family and friends old and new. I made plans and dreamed, created and experimented, and felt my drive and ambition return – they took a hike a while ago and I was left somewhat floundering.
I was inspired, delighted, busy, saddened, gloriously happy and newly determined – and that was a snippet of how I feel my life should and could be. Will be, if i can only work out a few small details like financing it. Changes shall be afoot!
So what did I get up to?
Did quite a lot of helping parents to move house – and we managed to have a bbq!
Dyed my pointe shoes, did some sewing, finished first burlesque routine… and laughed a lot with friends. Had brunch with two fab people I don’t see often enough, and wrote letters to some I see even less often! Carbooted (on a Wednesday, which felt delightfully quirky) and came home with a sewing machine and two vases.
Had a whole day in London with Lou and talked and ate and talked and ate – and made friends with the lovely couple who run Lily and Lush / Fairy Gothmother in Spitalfields.
Then Friday I met Louise Craftyguider and the fabulous and very well behaved craftyguidelets (I wonder, if I have children will they be ducklets or ducklings?!) for a gorgeous pizza express lunch and borrowing of badge machine. It was so nice to meet in person after lots of tweeting!
My Gran turned 83 so we did lots of eating to celebrate, mostly of cake.
Miraculously, the bridesmaid dress still fits. May have to get some Spanx to go underneath, but at the moment it looks just fine 🙂
I spent a fabulous Saturday shopping and lunching with my mum, then decadent afternoon cocktails and food with Annastasia and Dan – so inspiring! Blogging workshops, crafting, a fair at which we hope to share a stall, burlesque and just the general goodness of life… Wonderful. Must do that more often.
Sunday I did attempt to go to Pulse London to look at expanding what the DF shop offers, but unfortunately the trains broke so I went home again.
And now I’ve done almost a whole week at work, spent the first two days in a state of emotional exhaustion and now the sun has come out I feel like a different person. Also started a new burlesque routine last night which is fast, fun and has the added benefit of an.old friend joining us 🙂
So let’s see where these days have led me, and how I can change my life to match my dreams 🙂
My to-do list is growing endlessly. I have a hilarious selection of tasks on it (ranging from ‘buy feathers’ to ‘washing up’ – the glam life of me, hey?!). Every time I cross something off it, I add three or four more things.
However, in the meantime, things that have made me smile in the past few weeks:
Earmuffs that are also headphones. These have transformed my cold early mornings! (and yes, I realise I’m really slow on the uptake)
Discovering the CycletoWork scheme and choosing this gorgeous machine to get to work (well, to the station) and back on – now waiting for admin to go through.
An Alice in Wonderland bike ride through London, which I am desperate to try and go on. A little more here.
These glorious saddle bags for bicycles (can you see a new obsession developing here?!) based around saddles. Yep, horse saddles 😀
The concept of a coffee and cake bike ride in London – will be keeping my eyes open for the next one! (Might even start a Colchester version…)
My first Etsy sale to a stranger. Appropriately, it was ducks!
Dressing up as a parrot and celebrating a special birthday, and meeting some fabulous people in the process.
Burlesque class! I love, love, love it – the people, the dancing, the dressing up. It’s a fabulous excuse to see several of my friends on a weekly basis, but even more than that I’d forgotten how much I missed dancing.
Dreaming I had mastered backwards skating and spins. I shall test this theory at the weekend.
Finding out that the company my Mum works for built the fans that power the life size Stonehenge shaped bouncy castle that is touring the country.
And also, continued weight loss. I’m still not enjoying it, and I still don’t feel any different, but I’m wearing a skirt today which hasn’t fitted for months, and the scales indicate I might fit into the dress by July – result!
All images link back to original sources.