Saturday, 31 December 2011

Friday, 30 December 2011

{Inspire} Get started...



"A year from now you may wish you had started today"
- Karen Lamb -


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Thursday, 29 December 2011

{Nurture} A moment of repose



After the frantic Christmas shopping, sociable days celebrating with family and friends, and having eaten, drunk and been merry, the next few days will be a moment of repose.  Some calm and quiet to re-charge the batteries .... before the new year celebrations rev up.


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Wednesday, 28 December 2011

{Love} It was a very good year


Trying to find something festive to watch on TV, I was pretty much assaulted with adverts for cut-price sofas, bargain home electricals and enticing ads for that dream holiday.  Yep, it's official, Christmas is over - the world has moved onto the next thing.  In TV world, it's already 2012!

Usually I'd be right there amongst it, writing my goals and resolutions for the new year, always focusing on my next achievement.  But 2011 has simply been a cracker and so I'm reluctant to let it go just yet.

2011 was the year..
... I married Jack. On September 16th at 1pm my life changed.  There are so many special moments to the day (and the week with busy family and friends that led to it) that fill my heart and my memory that I cherish now and always.
... I learned who my true friends are.  It surprised me how enlightening our nuptials were in shining the spotlight on family and friends who really are ones to treasure, highlighting their many wonderful and unique qualities.  Enlightening also in magnifying some things I'd over-looked in people who I thought were close family and friends that, in reality, aren't.  A hard but valuable lesson.
... I made a leap in my career.  I'd always played it safe, liked the security and stability of the status quo in my working life but, deep down, I knew I wanted and needed something different and, without the safety net, I made a leap.  And it worked out. 
... that the fog cleared a little.  I got to know myself a little better and got a much better view of 'me' - what I want from life, what I love, what I want to let go, the life that I want to create for myself and my family.  This blog is just one, small part of that.  
... that each and every day I know that, bad days accepted, I am one very lucky girl.  

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Friday, 23 December 2011

{Friday digest} Links to linger over 23/12/11



T'was (the night before) the night before Christmas... Enjoy a little link selection.


One: I'm dreaming of a White Christmas....
Two: Tried and tested, this lavender hot chocolate is divine
Three: Seeking a little inspiration for my own little creative space in the world
Four: If only I could channel this chic little look...
Five: Festive nail art for Christmas Day


Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas x


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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

{Love} All wrapped up in a red ribbon....


It's about this time of the year that I start to fret.  Gifts are bought, wrapped and sat prettily under the tree waiting to be delivered to friends and family as we travel the length of the country over the festive season.  Yep, it's a little too late to be questioning the gifts I've bought.  


It's not that I've been reckless and opted for thoughtless pressies - quite the opposite.  I love finding just the thing for the wonderful individuals in my life but I always have the fear that maybe I've not hit the mark or, worse, got it totally wrong!  Does anyone else feel like this or am I ready to be classified??


Heck, there's mulled wine, mince pies and festive films aplenty to distract me until the moment of un-wrapping!!  Just remember peeps, I love you - underneath that paper and ribbon is a little piece of my heart so be gentle!!  Fake a smile if you need to!


Merry Christmas all x


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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas: my way or the highway?


I'm Emma, I'm 33 years old and I've never spent a Christmas away from home.  There, I've said it.  My family know how to do Christmas and I love it so I've never wanted to stray far from the nest for this, my most favourite day of the year.  This one, the first as Mrs G, will be a first in another way too - I'll be letting go of the proverbial apron strings and spending the day at my lovely in-laws.


I'm wondering which of our family traditions I can weave into the celebrations:
- Singing Christmas carols a little tiddly at Christmas Eve mass.
- Waking everyone up with the tummy-fluttering "has he been?"...
- Dipping into the Quality Street/Roses/Matchmakers (whatever's nearest) for a pre-breakfast indulgence
- The stocking that, each year, contains the following as standard: clementine, gold coins, socks and a CD (the one pressie chosen by Dad).
- Getting our gladrags on and helping out with Christmas dinner while dancing around to one of the afore-mentioned CDs and trying to avoid getting cooking debris over said gladrags!
- Having that first drink way before lunchtime, unacceptable on any other day but par for the course on Christmas Day
- Getting into new PJs in the evening and cosying up to watch a Christmassy film.


I'm looking forward to sharing a new kind of Christmas - and maybe adding to my traditions swag-bag for my return to the nest next year....


Image: One

Monday, 19 December 2011

Q&A Inspiration with... Jenny Blake of Life After College




I can still remember the girl in the year above me at school that I looked up to -  "a good all-rounder" I think the teachers called her, and confident and popular to boot.  A role model.  Fast forward twenty years and Jenny Blake is one of my grown-up equivalents.  With proven success in the corporate world at Google, Jenny took a courageous leap onto her own path to, in her words, "live big" and LifeAfterCollege.org is the result.  Speaker, author, coach and yoga teacher - Jenny tells a little more below...


Tell me a little about you/your blog/your mission!


I blog at LifeAfterCollege.org to help others "Wake up, Live Big and Love the Journey" through a mix of my own personal experiences and practical tools and templates. I recently made one of the hardest decisions of my life - I quit my job at Google after five and a half years to build my own business as an author, speaker and life coach. I was terrified that I'd end up in a van down by the river, but I'm thankful to say that so far, 5 months in, I've broken even. Finally, I love dogs, dancing, music, travel, and cupcakes :) 


What is your vision of your best life? 


In my best life I'm waking up every day, going for a run, reading with a nice, warm cup of coffee, taking and/or teaching yoga class, reading more, and doing meaningful work (not busy work, and not stressing over the small stuff). I feel like I'm closer to that vision now more than ever, so I'm really trying to focus on enjoying and expanding every moment, and remembering to express my gratitude for my life. 

Can you tell us about some of the challenges/obstacles/fears you've faced and how you've tackled them?


My biggest obstacles are usually internal, I can be my own worst enemy. For a while it was the thought that I'm not smart/pretty/original enough, then when I would succeed, I'd have fears that it was all going to come crashing down at any moment. I'm a highly sensitive person prone to over-thinking and anxiety, so that's why exercise and yoga are so important for keeping me balanced. 

Have you ever thought you had everything planned, only for life to show you an alternative?


Absolutely! I thought I had landed my dream job when I was working at Google. I bought an apartment, bought a car, and was working in Career Development. And yet, something was missing from my life. I started to feel over-worked and unhappy. Little did I know that those feelings were planting the seeds for me to soon quit my job, rent out my house, and move across the country from San Francisco to New York to pursue the roller-coaster of self-employment. I left the corporate ladder and the "American Dream" I had created behind in order to live a life of freedom and spontaneity. 


Has there been a 'defining moment' that has changed your life/your view of life?  What has been the nudge in the right direction for you?


I had a terrible case of "book block" and even though I had a first draft of my book written in 2008, I couldn't bear to look at it or see it to completion...for SIX months. I felt horrible - like I was watching my dream die on the vine. Then I decided to "act as if" and attend a local Speaker's Association meeting. While there, I met Michael Larsen, the author of the book How to Write a Book Proposal, and he gave me his copy. I realized it was time to get back on the horse and at least TRY to pitch my book idea to literary agents and publishers. That set me on the course I'm on today, where my book eventually was published by Running Press (after 27 rejections from other publishers) in March of this year. I learned that when something is meant to be, spontaneity and opportunity WILL work in your favor, but only if you meet it halfway with your own conscious effort. 

If you were to look back and offer advice to yourself, what 3 pearls of wisdom would you share?


Don't be so hard on yourself, and release judgment of others. 
Express gratitude often. 
Don't sweat the small stuff. 

What book, piece of music, blog, quote or person inspires you the most?


Martha Beck is an author and one of my personal idols.  She wrote the books Finding Your Own North Star and Steering by Starlight, which I recommend to every single person I know! I love quotes too - one of my favorites is "action is the antidote to despair" (Joan Baez). 


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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

{Friday Digest} 16/12/11



I've jumped over the technical-challenges hurdle and here, belatedly, is this week's links to linger over....


One: Extremely excited about the launch of The Everygirl.  Roll on February...
Two: If I was wealthy, I would definitely be a Temperley girl.  I'm coveting the beautiful, midnight blue sparkly dress from the label's anniversary collection.
Three: Loving the gift-wrapping inspiration at Made By Girl
Four: Loving a little leopard found on Erin Ever After
Five:  Lake Jane's gratitude list has me wanting to write my own..
Six:  Hoping I can re-create the chic little top-knot found at this is glamorous for my festive 'do! 
Seven: When beautiful illustration and sumptuous silk collide, these gorgeous scarves from L'Avion are the result


Have a happy weekend x


Image One

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

YOU can be that change....

"Be the change you wish to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi

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{Go Girl Tuesday Tips} Go out on a limb...


The story of a very windy, wintry night, a long day and a 6-hour round trip .... oh and a whole bag of nerves.

It's my story.  Yesterday's story.  When I saw that the gorgeous Lauren of Aspiring Kennedy and lovely Helena of A Diary of Lovely were hosting a bloggers meet-up, something inside me wanted to RSVP a big, fat yes.  But then, I live about 200 miles from where this little shindig was being held on a cold Monday evening in December and I had work commitments that are non-negotiable.  Oh and the small matter of a fear of social situations where I know no-one.  In short, there was every reason to venture home after a hard day's work to a hot dinner, bath and pyjamas!  And, normally this is the path of least resistance I'd have taken.

The story turns out a little differently.  I put my nerves to one side, stumped up the train fare and made the journey to the capital.  And, boy, am I glad I did.  My panic over having to make small talk was unfounded - I met such a lovely group of like-minded, creative people that topics of conversation flowed like the delicious elderflower juice at the venue.  What on earth had I been worrying about?

What I thought would be too scary, too much effort and too late a night (it was and I LOVE my sleep!) was well worth it.  How many times have I taken the easy route?  Too many.  On this night, I was fuelled by my love of writing and by a little tickle in my tummy that told me three words - go for it!

Friday, 9 December 2011

{Friday digest} Links to linger over this weekend...

One:  It's time to be-deck our home with festive fancies.  I love these jewel colours.....  Sumptuous!
Two: I was house-hunting with hubby recently and I nearly made an on-the-spot offer for a house we viewed on the basis that it had a home bar!  (Luckily he's far more rational!) Maybe putting some of these tools for cocktail wizardry on my Christmas wish-list would be a better option... 
Three: Ooops more stationery!  This time personalised notebooks found via MatchbookMag
Four: First snowfall of the winter had me all a-flutter...  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Five  I love stationery, almost as much as I love One&Other so their round-up of 2012 calendars was a match made in visual-inspiration heaven.  Here goes...
Six: I'd needed a bigger home for starters but I want to get hold of this photo frame and fill it with happy memories....
Seven: I don't ski and I certainly don't have the loose change for this BUT how amazing are these Chanel skis!!


Have a happy weekend x


Image: One

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

{Share} The best things in life are...

And a few of my own:
... Your favourite meal cooked for you by someone else
... Wrapping yourself in a towel that's been toasting on the radiator
... Baking something complicated, whether it turns out or not
... Doing the thing you were scared of
... Gusty winds that take your breath away
... Finding a forgotten fiver in your pocket
... An unexpected invitation
... When it's not your turn to do the dishes!

What are yours?...

Image: One

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

{Go girl} How do you say no?


Christmas time.  The excitement of social gatherings galore.  The pursuit of perfect gifts for your nearest and dearest.  Feeling inspired to at least attempt getting creative in making your own Christmas pudding/mince pies/mulled wine (insert as applicable). Perfecting the appropriate sentiment in dozens of Christmas cards.  Oh, and the art of making your home a cosy, welcoming space to entertain and, given half the chance, relax on those wintry nights. 

Is it just me, though, or does the pace take just a little of the enjoyment out of it? 

Stop. 

What do you WANT to do? 

WHO do you want to share it with? 

Make your choice to spend this oh-so-precious time how YOU want to spend it.  For me...
... finding and decorating a real Christmas tree.  Ahhh, the scent of fir-tree and hot mulled wine, I can smell it now!
... entertaining our fabulous friends this weekend with a little festive shindig.
... family times to celebrate Christmas and bring in the new year.
... a make-my-heart-soar carol concert is definitely on the must-do list.
... plenty of I'm-too-old-for-this traditions (you're never to old to put out a carrot for Rudolph are you?)
... my first Christmas as a wifelet!

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Monday, 5 December 2011

Q&A Inspiration with... Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge





Christmas has come early for me as I have one of my biggest inspirations, Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, here to share for our Q&A Inspiration this week.  A former freelance journalist and contributing editor for House & Garden, New York Home and In Style, Grace started the design blog in 2004.  It now has, she says in her first book Design*Sponge at Home, a daily readership that would fill New York's Madison Square Garden.  While I'm smitten with her enthusiastic, 'have-a-go' attitude that comes across in her writing, I'm in even more admiration of her encouraging, altrusitic spirit.  She's keen to share the platform - Grace has established D*S Biz Ladies, a series of national meet-ups to support budding design enthusiasts, and founded the Design*Sponge Scholarship to assist art and design students in pursuit of their creative endeavours - their best life! 


Tell me a little about you and your blog...

Both my blog and my life (which are pretty intertwined these days) are about trying to live the most fulfilled, creative life possible.

What is your vision of your best life?

A balance between personal and professional- and enjoying both so much that you occasionally lose yourself in either.

Can you tell us about some of the challenges/obstacles/fears you've faced and how you've tackled them?
My biggest challenge is knowing when to take a break. I struggle with it a lot and find the best cure is to surround yourself with people you trust who remind you (and force you) to stop every now and then to appreciate what you have and what you do.

Have you ever thought you had everything planned, only for life to show you an alternative?
Yes, never more so than in 2011. It's been a difficult year for me, but it's been an exercise in embracing life's ups and downs and really, truly remembering it's a journey and not something you have "figured out" right away.

Has there been a 'defining moment' that has changed your life/your view of life?  What has been the nudge in the right direction for you?

My defining moments are usually negatives that turn into positives- moments where I regret a decision I made or see something happen that I never want to have happen for me. I find I best define myself and my life by knowing what I DON'T want more than what I do.


If you were to look back and offer advice to yourself, what 3 pearls of wisdom would you share?
Take a break. One day your optometrist will tell you that you have the eyes of a 60 year old. You can still stop that.

Time is more valuable than money. Don't worry about paying bills- worry about enjoying what you have around you now.
Invest in your friends. They are your family away from home and worth every second of time, energy and love you have.

What book, piece of music, blog, quote or person inspires you the most?
I go back and forth between inspirations, but this quote has been special for me lately (it was originally written to me in a middle school note):


"Barn's burnt down- Now I can see the moon." -Masahide.


It's a good reminder to me that sometimes things that seem terrible can reveal something even better or more beautiful.

Image: One

Friday, 2 December 2011

{Friday digest} Links to linger over this weekend


{One} It's acceptable to talk about Christmas now, right?  So, first up is sharing this fab idea for mini wreath Chrismas cards.  I want to get crafty!!
{Two} Well really it's way too chilly now to be talking about ice-cream but these beautiful images from Pure Photography made my mouth water for some of the cold stuff.  Plus I adore the vintage spoons....
{Three} I can't decide whether I want to hibernate in this home (cabin?) shared by SF Girl or get out into the fresh snow in the backdrop
{Four} I should maybe rename this Friday post Cocktail Hour as I somehow always manage to sneak a delicious cocktail recipe in here.  This week is no different with a rosemary lime creation from Joy The Baker
{Five} It's that time to put on the old razzle dazzle and I'm fancying this floaty cocktail dress for the festivities
{Six} Old time love
{Seven} For those that like to capture life through a lens, here's a few ideas for your Christmas wishlist...

Image: One

Thursday, 1 December 2011

{Love} What are your classic Christmas movies??






Ahhhhh, December - it's the most wonderful time of the year!  The excitement of giving colourfully-wrapped gifts, family get-togethers to look forward to, glitzy knees-up's with friends, sing-a-longs to the classic crooners, people being that little bit more generous with others and grateful for their lot.  It really is the season to be jolly!  And as a die-hard romantic, the most loved-up, feel-good films are the Christmassy-kind so, now we're officially in Christmas month,  I don't need an excuse to dust off my old favourites:

Santa Claus: The Movie: This is one I HAVE to watch with my sister and brother's each year (if not together, then in synchronicity at our opposite ends of the country!).  I still remember being taken to the cinema to watch this and, to me, this is 90-minutes of Christmas magic.  "Can you say yo?".

White Christmas: You've got to love a bit of Christmas schmaltz.  I can get lost in the fashion, giggle at the give-away film sets, yearn for a little of the old-time romance and, the best part, belting out the classic of White Christmas with Bing et al. 

Love Actually: With an opening scene that suggests "love is all around", I'm hooked.  I adore the different flavours of love in this film - the love at first sight between the Prime Minster and "his Natalie", the unrequited love between Juliet and Mark (who could fail to swoon at the "to me, you are perfect" storyboard), the assuredness of little Sam over his American sweetheart and, my favourite, the sweet, silent love between Jamie and Aurelia.  Gets me every time!

The Holiday:  Maybe not the classic Christmas film.  It isn't the festive feel that appeals - it's watching the friendship unfold between Iris Simpkins and veteran film producer Arthur Abbott as she awakens from being the "best friend" into a "leading lady".  Each time I watch it, I'm just waiting for the line: "I think what I've got is something slightly resembling .... GUMPTION!" 

It's a Wonderful Life: The ultimate Christmas film.  I adore the romance of this black and white classic - "George lassos the moon".  I'm with George, feeling every rock-bottom low and the euphoric high.  It's impossible not to want to be surrounded by your family for the festivities watching this. 

Snuggle up with some mulled wine and one of these classics and I promise you you'll soon be feeling merry and bright.

.... x

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