Sunday, 1 May 2016

Happy Sunday everyone! If you are in Britain, we still have a day off tomorrow, hourray (and hopefully it is as sunny as today)! I have not been blogging for a while, I just had to get things done for Leo and it takes a lot of my attention and energy - rightly so. I had to write down what happened, in my own words, and it took me a week to get through the statement - and probably another week to get over it. Work has had its ups and downs (actually call it only downs), people don't like hearing about changes (although I would rather think I am going for improvements), I cannot stand a poor status quo - it is never a good combination. You know you are looking for change when you start changing your son's whole weekend routine (so much easier than dealing with my own issues). It is probably another phase of bereavement, we've been embracing the routine, but now it is suffocating us a bit. 

Not getting what I want was April, hopefully May will bring more than just experience. As a result there has been limited crafting around here. I have trying to think of changes. But shhh for now, I need to get my head in the right space for it, and get some time to myself, return to some soothing crochet or knitting, sewing - I probably need a couple of tops (like desperately). It will happen, all in good time. 

I thought I would drop by here, and tell you that all is fine if not a bit hectic. 

Friday Randomly Sharing

Friday, 15 April 2016

I have been travelling again on business - and I cannot wait to be at home for a couple of weeks, it would be a welcomed change. Today was my first full day at home, and I got a chance to make some Raweos with Beckie. And they are delicious (Baby MiH has eaten 3 in one night!)... And now to this week's reading.. a short list ... 

Who is ready for Fashion Revolution?

- The Duchesse of Cambridge's dress through the lens of ethical fashion

- A bit more info about the fashion revolution and #whomademyclothes movement - more here

I am quite excited about sewing. 

- I am wondering how to build a capsule wardrobe that fit with my style - this 10 x 10 challenge seems like a good start. 

- I am quite excited about the new Simple Sew patterns collection

- I love this version of the Morris Blazer - I need a new jacket (but not an overly formal one) so this is quite inspiring. 

And knitting..

- A couple of my friends are pregnant, and I would love to make an Envol blanket this year - also it would be an amazing background for taking pictures...

And 'baking' some treats.. 

- Gluten free raw vegan lemon bar - I love the sharpness of lemon so I cannot wait to try this recipe

- These nearly vegan black beans brownies need tweaking so that I can eat them, I just need to work on it. 

- (I am sorry all in French) but I want ALL these cooking books for vegans (for babies, raw vegans, vegan cheese - that are not cheese). 

And relax. 

- I so want to go to this organic farmland between Mount Liamuiga and the Caribbean Sea, and try one of 84 guesthouses at Belle Mont Farm - this is the eco tourism that speaks to me. 

Which Chakra do you need to work on? I am not surprised about the Chakra that needs my attention, are you?

Follow your passion :: Interview with Carole Poirot ::

Monday, 11 April 2016

Have you ever wondered how it would feel to give up your day job and follow your passion, and make it work. I have been thinking about it a lot (more) lately. It is a combination of lack of motivation at work and feeling that I need more than this to nurture my soul. I am wondering more and more what it would be like to do something with this crafting obsession I have (or elsewhere). To find out more I have decided to interview those who just went for it. 

This month I am talking to a talented stylist and photographer Carole Poirot who blogs at Mademoiselle Poirot. I have been following her blog for a long time, and saw her grow her blog into a real business, and I will even attend one of her workshops in London soon. And I cannot wait. I am really happy she has accepted to take part in my follow your passion series, and it is great to hear about her experience. Also, you may have noted that she has the best name ever - especially if you are as a fan of Hercule as I am.

How did you get involved in styling and photography (and food)? Did it all happen at the same time?

It’s been a very long process. I started to take photos as a teenager and have always “styled” (not that I knew at the time that this is what it was called, we called it “decorating”) room and arranged things again and again. It wasn’t until much later (and after many non-related jobs) that I was able to actually “articulate” what I really wanted to do. That’s when I started my blog and started to share photos etc. Food happened much later from fun in cooking and baking and it just took off from there.

When did you know you were ready to make the switch from 'regular work to make business out of your passion?

I was still working in my day job whilst at the same time working freelance. I wanted at least a little stability, so waited until I literally couldn’t do it all anymore, that’s when (in 2014) I made the jump into becoming a freelancer.

Have you always known you were going to be a props stylist and interiors photographer?

Deep down I think I did, but didn’t really have the courage to pursue it properly and it took me a long time to start taking what I’m doing a little more serious and pursue it in a professional manner without feeling like a total fraud.

When did you start taking bookings to style props and take pictures for clients?

Oh… I think around 4 or 5 years ago? It started with blogging assignments (for companies’ blogs) and companies asking to use some of my photos and grew into “proper” bookings from there.

What is your brand style - what sort of photography are you interested in?

I think my brand style is very much my personal style. Quite natural, mostly “de-saturated”, feminine without being overly girly, a little classic and somewhere between French and British. I hope I don’t sound totally confused.

Did you follow other photographer before finding your style?

I don’t think I’ve followed photographers as such, but I always knew when I saw a photograph that just made me go “wow”. In that sense, whatever makes me go “wow” is what I’m trying to create. Having said that, Steve McCurry is probably the one photographer I admire the most. His style, his subjects, the colours and light, he’s just an incredible talent.

What are the best locations for your style of photography?

Locations with natural light, natural elements like wood, textures like bricks or rough plaster and white, lots of white – though not the glossy kind.

How do you run the business side of Carole Poirot? Do you have external help (at this stage)?

I wish I did have external help, I’d probably be much better at answering emails and interview questions in a timely manner. But no, I don’t have any help at the moment. It’s all me and from setting appointments, prop sourcing, styling, shooting, post processing, to liaising with clients, writing blog posts, posting on social media and all that goes with it, it’s all my own doing. Apologies to anybody waiting for an email reply.

What are the challenges of running a business on your own?

Time. Always time. And the fact that I rarely get to bounce ideas around with someone else or voice all those self-doubts. I have to rely on myself for motivation and to pull myself up when I feel low and like I’m not doing a good enough job.

Do you have an aim in mind - number of clients, appearances in magazines (specific or general?), maybe a deal for a book? or just a monthly salary?

I’ve never been super goal focused, I’m (unfortunately) more of a dreamer. If I had a dream (ahem, goal) it’d be to have my work featured in Elle Decoration and work on a big campaign for the likes of H&M or House Doctor. Other than that, I’m actually pretty grateful for where I am right now as I don’t think it’s a given to start from scratch at middle age and manage to make it work. I don’t think it is, anyway.

What would your advice be to people who want to become photographer? Self-employed?

Train your eye. You can learn all the technical stuff, but training your eye to really see (does that make sense?) takes time and doesn’t come easy to everybody. Don’t call yourself a photographer because you take some shots for your blog, people won’t take you seriously (yes, it’s a conversation I’ve had with many photographers). As for self-employment? It’s not for everybody. If you need the (emotional) security of a monthly wage then you will need to be honest about it because the weeks when there’s no money coming in can be tough and emotionally draining.

What do you do to make your workplace an enriching and inspiring place to be?
Well, currently (until we get the office sorted) my workplace is our dining table, so I can always look at my books on the shelves. That’s pretty much as inspiring as it currently gets.
What sort of things are inspiring your right now? Where do you typically look for inspiration?

What inspires me constantly changes. A month ago I would have said Instagram is inspiring, now I’m finding myself getting a little bored with it as so much of it is the same and not about creativity but about chasing ‘likes’ and posting pictures that will generate those rather than creative or original content. That doesn’t mean that I’m necessarily any better at posting anything more creative… Right now the changing season inspires me (sunshine in London, yes!), the fact that I got rid of most of my wardrobe has given me a new kind of outlook, having found a studio space to hold workshops inspires me to share knowledge, the prospect of a little traveling, and of course there are always books and magazines. Oh, and Pinterest.

When do you feel the most creative? How do you further your photography skills?

I generally feel the most creative when I don’t “have” to be, when I have some spare time. Not helpful when deadlines are looming! To further my photography skills, I basically keep my mind open to constant learning whether that’s from other photographers, YouTube (yes, it can be a great source!) or photography forums. I’m completely self-taught and will annoy other photographers with endless questions, though that has become less over time.

How do you know which pictures will resonate with people/with clients?

I generally have a chat with my clients beforehand to figure out what it is they’re looking for. I also ask which images from my website spoke most to them. That usually gives me a pretty good idea which pictures will resonate with them. As for “my” (i.e. blog etc.) pictures, they have to first and foremost resonate with myself, if somebody else then happens to also like them it’s a bonus.
If you had the time to find creativity in some other activities, which would it be?

I’d love to paint and draw again. It’s been a long time since I had a blank canvas and some oil paints in front of me and I do miss it a little.
I can see that there is a strong styling community - especially on IG now - how important is it for you?

It’s nice that this community is there, but at the end of the day it’s social media and not to be confused with face-to-face communities, friendships and people we personally know and interact with. On the other hand, I have met some fantastic people through these online communities which I would never have met otherwise, so in that sense I’m grateful for and it is important to me for the contacts outside of it. I think I’m getting into a muddle now…

Friday Randomly Sharing

Friday, 8 April 2016

This week has been full of ups and downs here. I have been travelling quite a bit for work and also at weekends and it is clearly taking a toll - and I am getting emotional. Leo has been gone for 6 months this week, and these milestones remind me too painfully of how much I miss my baby. 

To make me feel better (and distract myself) I signed up for the Makelight beginner photography course. We had to make a visualisation board for our style/branding - mine is hereAnd it has been enlightening, now it is about to learn the skills to make it happen. I also started a new crochet project - I'd forgotten how much I loved crochet. Why did I stop? 

In other news this week... 

I will soon be sewing... 

- A free summer pattern from Liesl + Co - a linen caftan. So easy to make (it is written that it takes an hour!) and so easy to wear. 

- Lu's first pattern is released and it so clever - a really cool needle case (to get my sewing mojo back). 

- I love Rae's luna pants inspiration board - looks so comfy! The pattern is available here

- I really like the new Stockholm blouse by Atelier Scammit (free pattern)- especially this version.

- Kate had a great post about being a pattern and fabric hoarder - I am a pattern hoarder, but not a fabric or yarn (maybe patterns take less space?). I need to work on it, the Kondo method has not yet been applied here...  

- I love this simple tutorial on making half square triangles for quilting. I love the effect of HST, and I am hoping to show some off soon.

- I love this styling of 'winter culottes'. 

I might however go off track with other crafty projects.. 

Sashiko 101 - this is it, I will try Sashiko and stop drooling over pictures of it. 

- I have been wanting to try weaving for a bit of time, and this free pattern from Purl Soho might my latest weaving crush. 

whilst eating.. 

A gluten free spring roll recipe - actually forget about the spring rolls and go straight to the spicy peanut sauce. 

- When you have hardly any time to cook (like every night at the moment) but fancy something different - this 15 minute Pad Thai recipe could be for you (and definitely for me). 

- Glowing spiced lentil soup - I cannot wait to try this recipe

And I will definitely look after myself... 

- In Ellen's words - Less hate and more love.

The sleep revolution is coming - according to Arianna Huffington. I love this quote: 'We take better care of our smartphones than we do ourselves.'

- with some brilliant things to do in April. 

- The newly opened Generator hotel in Amsterdam - for the next time we go to the Netherlands. 

- I have just come across the 'creating your own path' podcast - yep, a bit late, loads to catch up. You might like it too. 

Knitted covers for paddles - so useless and looking so cool that it makes me happy!

Dressing for our shape (a simpler way)

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Happy Tuesday everyone! Today I have asked Kate of Fabrickated to help me out a bit. I know that dressing for my shape will help me to use my crafting time wisely (and might save me some money from buying patterns or fabric that won't work on me). Also as I have a minimalist wardrobe (and ethical garments are usually more expensive), each piece needs to attract me (or bring me joy in Kondo speak) and usually that means fit me or even better enhance my shape! 

She made it simple for me (and you) and I will definitely apply some of the principles to my wardrobe and my next purchase. I hope it helps you too! Over to Kate...

Knowing how to dress to make the best of your raw material can be very empowering as you begin to understand your best and most flattering looks. It also saves a lot of time, stress and money trying to make something work that may never really come together. If you know what works you can create a small but useable wardrobe where everything suits you and goes with the other items..

You probably already know that certain shapes really don’t look good on you – say a waisted 1950s type dress, or slim leg trousers, a baggy jumper or a calf length skirt. Sometimes we criticise ourselves and blame our shape – if only my bust was bigger/smaller, if I was slimmer/taller/shorter, I could carry off this look. We sometimes feel pressure to comply with a fashion trend whatever it looks like on us. But actually we are born – men and women – with different underlying body shapes. Regardless of if we are under- or over-weight we will share a number of common features with other people who are in the same group as us. So forget the apples, pears and bananas, the X, Y and 0, the endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph. The differences are fairly simple and can be seen in the underlying skeletal structure. My drawings are rudimentary I know but I hope you can see what I mean.

For women there are two distinct body shapes, and an in-between one.

The shaped figure (green)

If you are shaped you will have a defined waist and hips which are full – even if you are slim. If you put on weight it will stick to your thighs, hips and bottom. With your nice waist you will look good in an A line or fuller skirt.

The straight figure (blue)

If on the other hand your figure is straight you will have slim hips, not much of a waist and relatively wide shoulders. You will tend to put weight on in the upper body and waist. You probably look best in trousers.

The semi-straight figure (pink)

is a bit more curved than the straight figure but has some of the elements of both. The waist is not very well defined but you can certainly see an indentation from the back.

The essential advice is that if you body is shaped wear clothes that emphasis the waist and have curved lines and softer shapes. The angular, straight body is best in straighter shapes that don’t emphasise the waist but show off your streamlined shape eg trousers and straight, shift type dresses. The in-between figure can borrow from both types and will probably mix it up a bit.

Simple? Well not exactly because there are other issues that come into play such as

· Your proportions (eg the length of your legs compared to your torso)

· Your overall size and scale (large, medium or small)

· Any specific figure issues (eg long neck, short arms etc) you may wish to emphasise or conceal

· Face shape

· Colouring (more on this here)

Proportion is important especially in terms of discovering how close the proportions of your body are to the “ideal”, if the ideal is a body that is evenly balanced (ie top and bottom half are the same length). If your legs are longer than average you may want to wear lower cut trousers, or a contrasting belt, and your top out. If your legs are shorter than average it may make sense to have a high waisted dress, and choose to wear say black tights and black shoes for an elongating look. Knowing how your body differs from standard types is useful for dressmakers as commercial patterns assume a specific relationship of hip/waist and bust, assume your neck will be in a specific proportion to your shoulder, that your knee will be at a specific distance from the ground etc. Knowing how you differ will mean it is a lot easier to make alterations to fit you.

Let’s take scale. Whether you are petite or six foot tall you need to dress in proportion. So small women should wear smaller patterns and stripes. A larger woman will not look great in a tiny Liberty print but may rock a Marimekko print.

In terms of overall size relative weight is important, but not half as important as many of us think. If you want to look longer and thinner a dark, head to toe look will create the optical illusion. A light coloured outfit with contrasting, horizontal lines will make you look bigger.

Dressing well for your shape, and choosing colours and fabrics that flatter you, will mean that you look like you are wearing your clothes, not the other way around. We want people to see us, the real me, rather than stare at our clothes or feel they don’t “work with” who we are. So if you wear clothes that don’t suit you, or fail to harmonise and enhance your natural beauty, it is possible that you will come across an inauthentic.

There are lots of other issues a good style advisor will look at – such as the shape of your face, the best hair styles, your colouring and making the most of your best features.

Thank you so much Kate for this overview and make it simpler for me to understand! 

Friday Randomly Sharing (on Saturday .. again)

Saturday, 2 April 2016

It is a bit of a long post - there is probably a bit for everyone here. I think I will run this series every week now. I seem to read more and more from blogs and online magazines, but still want to keep the list readable. 
On another note, the winner of the Nessa pattern is... no 1 Eulalia.. Congratulation!

Now onto the reading..

To sew or not to sew? 

- I am sure you all have seen the new Tessuti pattern - the Demi pant - and I am not sure. They look SO comfy, but the ballooning effect on each leg, hmm.

- Rachel's off the shoulder top is so on trend. I wished there was a pattern for it (Rachel?)!

- All that vintage sewing inspiration - how beautiful are all these patterns?

- How to draft a swing tee tutorial - it makes it look SO easy!

This tutorial to stop your machine swallowing your fabric - yes, finally! (so it is not just me and my poor skills, whoohoo!)

Behind the price of fashion 

- Here are the maths behind a £5.99 Lidl pair of jeans - and it is not magic

- There has been a lot of discussion in the UK about the gender pay gap last week - but there is even more a pink tax applied to even women's clothes (read for the same unisex clothes women pay more).

Is social media really killing our inner self? I am not sure, I can understand but I am sure other people have found like me benefits from building a community of like-minded people and sharing projects. I do wonder what the world of Baby MiH will be like though ..

- In my dreams, I will look and wear all of this collection  and this collection - all of it - beautiful and ethical. Who said ethical fashion should be boring?

Knitting/Crocheting away

- I pinned exactly the same pictures (oh Pinterest!) when I wanted to knit Baby MiH a Gansey inspired jumper (yep, never happened) - but this could be a sign that I revisit it.

- A Granny square shrug - or the perfect way to use all these left over yarns I have..

whilst eating away...

- You have to check this recipe for an alternative (and surprising) Easter egg - a cake in a eggshell - really you have to check it, I cannot actually explain it properly.

- I am not exactly the best dinner date planner - especially when it involves one little man - but I should try harder (and use these tips), maybe even when it is just for the 3 of us.

-  When we go on holiday near the beach, we usually collect cockles fresh from the beach (hours of entertainment) - and here is the perfect recipe Baby MiH would love (without the wine) - cockles + peas, a winner.

- Eat your rainbow - love this recipe (remove the bee pollen for a vegan version)

Gluten free, vegan tortilla nachos - looks amazing, and finally an idea for the chickpea flour that has been sitting in my cupboard for a while now.

- A great vegan and gluten free recipe - Soba Noodles + chickpeas & spinach with tahini miso sauce. 

... and looking at pictures (I am a multi-tasker, don't you know?)

- These pictures - you want them to move, can imagine them moving, and be like arrrghhhh!

- My brother and my parents are going to Japan this year (separately I might add, I am the only one embracing going on hols with my parents for free babysitting) - I am sending them there.

To nurture my inner peace...

- Look out for the IKEA Viktigt collection -designed by Ingegerd Råman. You may get a better idea of the collection here

- Twelve reasons why minimalism may be the answer to anxiety (see point 10 the concept of “only purposeful or meaningful”)

- I love the French brand A.P.C. and seeing Jean Touitou’s Parisian home, I am not surprised. 

- 90s kids bedrooms - the 90s have lot to answer for (and did nothing to my inner peace)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Happy Friday everyone! It is finally the weekend. We drove to France this afternoon, already been to the dentist (I know we go to a French dentist, but it is only because it does not hurt and I am not prepared to try others) - and found out that Baby MiH has some sort of issue with his jaws, totally fixable with a bit of time. We are actually pleased we found out that because it might be the cause of his dribbling, snoring (not cute baby snoring) and speaking with a lisp. All of these were not major (except for the snoring in my face during the night) but we were wondernig what to do. So what an evening! So glad we might have an easy solution - if Baby MiH plays ball of course. 

March has come and gone, and honestly I am not sure where it has gone. I am hoping to really slow down in April and enjoy the longer days, a bit more sunshine, and focus a bit more on the blog. The changes to Instagram meant that I have been spending less time on IG, I was quite disappointed to be honest. It is probably a good thing if that means more time to crafting and blogging. How do you feel about these changes? 

Also last month I started getting in touch with bloggers I would like to know more about. There should be more features this month, from Mademoiselle Poirot and Kate.I am also meeting Beckie from Embrace the Cake who maks the most delicious raw cakes. I cannot wait to have her in my kitchen and get 'baking'. 

There will be sewing, I can guarantee it, more knitting (I already have a finished beanie hat - so at least one finished item this month), maybe more natural dyeing, and cooking. 

I am feeling quite exciting about April, how do you feel about April?

*I took this picture over the weekend at Chenies Manor