Friday, 30 December 2011

Week 13 - 365

From the top:  all ready for Father Christmas; the Moo's fancy party glass - apparently squash tastes
much nicer out of a sherry glass!;  introducing her new toys to the wind-up snowmen and Santas which came out of the crackers; more Christmas sparkle; the Moo making her potions from her new kit; chilling out in front of Alvin and the Chipmunks; preparing for more festive fun with relatives.

Hope you've all had a great Christmas.  I love Christmas but have to say I am exhausted and looking forward to a quiet new year. 

Have a good one. :)

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

"Courage is contagious" Brene Brown

It really is.

A huge thank you to all my readers for your support, your encouragement, your creativity and your contagious courage.

Happy Christmas to you all and I'll see you in a few days.  x

Friday, 23 December 2011

Week 12 - 365

From the top:  trip in to London; current smell in our house and very yummy it is too; our interactive nativity - so far purple pony and mini barbie have joined the party; the Moo's latest artwork (expanded version below); air dry clay ornaments; the countdown continues with the advent calendar; off to see Puss in Boots 3D later.

Wise words from the Moo.

Hope you are all having a happy and non-stressful Christmas. :)

Thursday, 22 December 2011

My city

I've lived close to London most of my life and I love it.  I have the usual complaints about pollution and overcrowding and yet I can't imagine not having it on my doorstep.  As I wandered around in the wintry afternoon sun people watching and soaking in the atmosphere, I marvelled anew at it's vibrancy and perfect mix of old and new.

I started off at Somerset House - people watching at its seasonal skating rink and admiring its giant Christmas tree.


After that I crossed the river to my favourite part of London, the South Bank.  I love its proximity to the river, the National Theatre, the London Eye, the view down the river to St Paul's and the City and its bustling Christmas market.

(image processed using Kim Klassen textures)

I've been stuck for inspiration and in the creative doldrums lately but was I was reminded that I have so much just sitting on my doorstep.  Sometimes it's easy to take it for granted and yet here it all is, right in front of me.  All I need to do is pay a bit more attention and look a little closer.

Do you have a place that inspires you?

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Hands Up How To Project - Starting the Journey

Jamie Ridler at Jamie Ridler Studios is hosting a great project called the Hands Up How To Project.  She is inviting everyone to share what they know from great recipes to starting up a blog or creative business.  You can read her vision here.  Here are my best tips and resources from starting my creative journey and blog.

As a bit of background, I've been blogging for about seven months.  To be honest, this time last year I wouldn't even leave comments on other people's blogs.  I just didn't have the confidence.  I'm not sure how I found myself in that position.  I used to have a good career in an industry I loved.  When I had my daughter, I gave it all up to look after her.  That is not a decision I have regretted for one minute.  The time I've spent with her has been the most precious thing and I wouldn't change a single thing.  But in the process of becoming a mother, I lost myself.   It turned out that that self was pretty tied up with my career and once that was gone, I kind of lost my identity.

I don't think my story is particularly unusual.  Many people are redefining themselves as their roles in life change and develop.  And I honestly think it's a great opportunity.  But it can also be daunting and hard to know where to start.    For me, I wanted a place to grow and develop my photography and creative self first and foremost.  My experience as a reader in the blog world was that people are generally kind and supportive and I was encouraged to see that it doesn't necessarily have to be about technical perfection in your chosen field.   Here are the things I found useful as I negotiated my way through finding the confidence to start a blog and the things I think were really useful lessons.  (Please note I do not have any affiliate links to any courses or books recommended here.  They are just the things I have tried that really helped me on my journey thus far and that I would personally recommend).   I really hope that some of these will help you if you are starting on a creative journey and/or starting up a blog.

1.  The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
A truly amazing book.  You do actually have to do the exercises rather than just read them (it took me a while to accept this!) but they are totally worth it.  In my opinion, the morning pages are second to none in unlocking your creativity.

2. Style Statement by Danielle LaPorte
There is a lot of talk about authenticity in blogging and creativity but if you are trying to  find yourself it can be really difficult to identify what your 'authentic' voice is.  This book is really good at starting this process (and is about core values, not just your wardrobe!).

3. Indie Business
This was the first ever ecourse I took and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of blogging and starting up a creative business and some of the practicalities involved.  It has been revamped this year and is in two parts - the first part looks ideal in covering the basics of starting up a creative business and as this is one of my long term goals I personally found this aspect really useful in thinking about my blog.  Details are here.

4.  Blogging with Moxie by Joelle Reeder and Katherine Scoleri
Great practical blogging advice across the blogging platforms.

5. Blogging for Bliss by Tara Fey
Great tips for beginner bloggers, particularly for crafters, artists and creatives.

6. For the Love of Blogs and The Blog Guidebook have lots of advice and links for setting up your blog and making it look pretty (without spending a fortune).

7. If you enjoy photography there is a fantastic page on Through a Photographer's Eye which lists all the weekly photography link up challenges.  They are open to any level and are a great way to get inspired and meet some like minded people.

And a few personal tips from my experience:
  • Just get started.  Don't wait for the fancy camera, the perfect blog design etc.
  • Do consider your blog name and your audience.  It's your blog and up to you but (and especially if you think you might want to expand to a creative business) make sure content is appropriate for your audience and your name is unique (and then register the .com etc it so it remains unique!)
  • There is an amazing blogging community out there but it does take time to connect and establish a community.  Be prepared for it to take time and don't obsess over your stats page.
  • You can do it, you do have something to say.  You don't have to say it all in post 1.  Give yourself time, space and some kindness.
  • My favourite quote "Comparison is the enemy of creativity".  You are unique.  Celebrate that.  Appreciate and enjoy others work but know that you have your own unique gifts to share. 
  • Find your own rhythm.  I know bloggers who have their posts planned out weeks in advance because that's what works best for them.  I love that idea but for me it works more organically and I just tend to sit and write as the mood takes me.  I am learning to be OK with that!

I hope that someone out there finds some or all of this helpful.   All the submitted posts will be available from 25 December at Jamie Ridler Studio so whatever you are looking for, go and check it out.

If you have a link or tip that worked for you on the start of your journey, please share it in the comments.

Have a happy Christmas and here's to a creative 2012. :)

Monday, 19 December 2011

Happiness Photo #6

Here's the Moo in her ballet outfit.  Her ballet class did a very sweet little Christmas recital last week. She did brilliantly in the first part and then refused to participate in the group dance - although she did join them for the bow at the end (that's my girl!).  The absolute highlight for her (and the others) was the fake snow and they spent a great deal of time throwing it at each other and making snow angels! 

Amazing how much joy a handful or two of fake snow can bring.

Happy Monday. :)


Friday, 16 December 2011

Week 11 - 365

From the top:  cousins; sparkly tree ornaments; snowman face painting from the Christmas fair; Christmas cards; nativity; garden; my creativity slump extends to my baking.  Total fail for today's school cake sale. 

Wishing you all a happy and creative weekend. :)


Believe in the magic of Christmas.

(tiny bit obsessed with Kim Klassen's textures....'lilly' and '...and then some' used here).

Thursday, 15 December 2011


I feel a bit stagnant at the minute.  I'm not sure if it's the Christmas hoopla or the limited daylight hours that's doing it, but I feel a curious mixture of wanting to move forward creatively, and  a sense of complete inertia and uninspiration.

I've read some great articles on this lately, so I know I'm not alone.  Creative Everyday has a series of guest posts on feeling 'wintery' and I especially loved this one and this one

I have come to the conclusion that sitting staring at a blank screen and getting cross with myself is not beneficial to anyone.  So today I got out and did some gardening  - a last ditch attempt to vaguely sort the garden out before the forecast snow arrives.  Even the garden seems to have a sense  of inertia about it.  I did a lot of clearing up but nothing looks very pretty.  I found a few bulbs to plant so there is at least the promise of something new to look forward too. 

It did feel good to be outside with the cold wintery air on my cheeks and my hands in the dirt.  Perhaps I need to take a leaf out of my garden's book (so to speak), settle in for the winter, enjoy the down time and look forward to the new shoots of spring.

And maybe clean my nails and crack open the sparkly Christmas nail varnish!

Anyone else feel like this and how do you get over the winter bleughs?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Every year I wrestle with myself over whether or not I should send Christmas cards.  I know there is an environmental impact, there's the cost, not to mention the 'extra thing' to add to an already overwhelming list.  Yet I always, always come down in favour of sending them.

This year I did pretty well and got them out early (or early for me anyway!).  And I'm so glad I did.  From a quick greetings in an annual card I reconnected with an old friend who I'd almost lost contact with and learnt that she has just had a baby - we are getting together in the new year.  For family who live too far for us to visit often it is an opportunity to send our news and photographs of the Moo.  It is a chance to let those who have had a difficult year know that we are thinking of them, a chance to share our highlights and celebrations and to reconnect with friends.

And as much as I love sending them, I love receiving them too.   I think cards will always be a big part of our Christmas tradition.

What about you?  Do you send cards at this time of year?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Happiness photo #5

Our Christmas tree is up!  We always have a  real tree and we are very much of the 'more is more' school of thought when it comes to decorations.  No theme, everything goes on the tree, colours mixed, tinsel, lights the lot.   

The faint smell of Christmas tree, gingerbread and cinnamon remind me it's the festive season every time I come into my kitchen and sitting room.  Best of all though is the Moo's delight in it all.  She spends hours every day arranging and rearranging the decorations.  The first thing she said to me this morning was "mummy, can I have breakfast next to the Christmas tree".   Seeing the season through a five year old's eyes really is a reminder of the magic of Christmas.

Wishing you a festive and happy Monday. :)

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Like many husbands, mine works long hours with a fair bit of travel.  Spending any time at all together as a family can be a challenge.  Time where we really relax and connect is a precious gift.

Here's one of my favourite shots of my husband and the Moo from the summer.  I'm looking forward to many Christmas 2011 versions of this.

(image processed using Kim Klassen's 'phoebe' texture)

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Linking in with Mortal Muses daily holiday prompts 10-23 December - go and check it out and let's share some holiday magic. :)

Friday, 9 December 2011

Week 10 - 365

Another week.....

From the top:  a cookie decoration made on Friday; crumbs...those mince pies were good!; Monday saw a broken computer....fortunately hubbie managed to revive it for me; I have posted my Christmas cards!!; the Moo has taken to practising her swimming in the bath, complete with goggles (or 'gobbles' as she refers to them); Herman has been a bit neglected but we are back on track; we are putting up our decorations this weekend but a fibre optic tree has made it into the Moo's playroom a little early.

Hope you've all had a great week.  Our Christmas festivities notch up a level this weekend with family visits and Christmas decorating. 

Happy weekend. :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Texture Tuesday this week is on the theme of celebration. 

Nothing says celebration to me more that cakes and fireworks!

I processed this using three of Kim's textures - 'pumpkin grunge', 'and then some' and 'look up'.  I've had such fun with playing with textures, they really do add a new dimension.

And a heads up - Kim is having a 12 day of textures starting 12 December where she will be giving away a free texture every day.   Follow the link and have some fun. :)

Thank you, Kim.


Monday, 5 December 2011

Happiness photo #4

A photo from Friday.

The first mince pies of the Christmas season.

Some of my girl friends came round on Friday evening and we made Christmas cookie decorations.  It was lovely, we baked the cookies,  chatted, sipped mulled wine and ate mince pies.  My kitchen smelled divine.  It was so relaxed and lovely to feel the warmth of the wine, oven and friendship.  Such a great way to start the festive season.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Week 9 - 365

From the top:  toadstools in the garden; gingerbread house construction; continuing my play with selfies; Herman the friendship batter - we look after him for 10 days after which we divide up the dough, pass on to 3 friends and keep the last part for us to add ingredients and bake a cake.  It's a German tradition and we've never done it before, but Herman is very welcome this year!; mud swamp smoothies on the Moo's day off; despite it being December, my roses are still trying to flower; mince pies for my girlfriends who are coming round tonight to bake Christmas cookie decorations.

Hope you've all had a great week.  I can't believe it's December already and Christmas is round the corner, so much still to do! 

Enjoy the weekend. :)

Thursday, 1 December 2011

All the sweeter

The Moo was home from school yesterday due to the public sector strikes.  This term is so long it was actually a welcome mid-week break and all the sweeter for feeling slightly illicit. 

The day started very leisurely, coffee for me, tv for her, both in our pjs.

We did some hama beads and read a magazine.

And her highlight of the day was making a mud swamp smoothie from her Shrek book.

Sickly sweet, but she loved it.  Here's the recipe for anyone who would like it:

I hope you all have an ice-cream scoob or you may struggle! 

A perfect mid-week treat. Hope you had a sweet day. :)
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