Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Project Life Tuesday: July 23rd-30th (Olympics heavy!)

The Mom Creative


Linking up with Jessica, as ever.  Continuing with the free and easy summer layouts - lots of pictures, plenty of fun :)  This week has been fun and busy and chilled - a little work, a little reading, lots of time with the kits, catching up with friends, and a lovely day at the Olympics on Saturday with Matthew.  Enjoy the photos, a real mishmash of a lovely week!

 One of the handball matches we attended on Saturday was Denmark vs. Sweden.  The Danish fans were *such* good value.  I loved these ladies wee flags!

I also loved discovering that Leyton has a proper bakers.  Bought Matthew and I these patriotic cupcakes, made out to look like '99' ice creams, replete with flake!
 
 The kittens are getting braver and braver (indeed, Fry was all for 'helping' me to blog earlier!).  Here they are inspecting Matthew's shoes.

 Lots of buses from all over the UK are using the Olympic lanes.

Poppet after a cosy mid-afternoon nap.
 
Leela has a habit of looking very solemn and pensive.....right before she does something loopy!
 
Denmark and Sweden high-fiving ahead of their handball match.  Handball is such a fun sport to watch!
 
Love this sweet girl :-)
 
Regents Park in the sunshine.
 
Loving the summery weather after all the rain (alas, on Sunday the rain returned!).
 
Modern art in the Olympic Park.
 
3D shades in one of the displays.
 
Facebook adverts called me old this week :(

So I finally remembered to install an ad blocker :)
 
Matthew enjoying a drink in the Olympic Park.  We're double parked as the people behind the bar inadvertently gave us the wrong drinks the first time, so we wound up with freebies!
 
Orbit - we can see the top of this sculpture from our bedroom window :-)
 
Love London in the sunshine!
 
 Pretty Eileen.  We had a lovely lunch together at The Hill, watched chickflicks and got all caught up on Friday.

I love when my hair behaves.
 
Denmark win!
 
The Olympic stadium!  We were unable to get tickets for any events in here, but we will get a chance to visit when we go to see the Paralympic athletics in September.  Excited!

So that was my week....looking forward to seeing everyone elses!  Are you all enjoying the Olympics so far?  What has been your highlight?

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Monday, July 30, 2012

I Love Your Blog, part 1: Pink Julep!

I love blogging.  I love keeping up with peoples lives and reading their interesting posts.  I love discovering new voices. I'm lucky enough to read lots of blogs written by witty, clever, funny, talented people. From the blogs I read I gain expertise, laughter, and connection, and I love all that reading blogs and writing my own blog brings to my life.

With this in mind, I've decided to do a series of posts highlighting some of the blogs I most enjoy, cunningly entitled 'I Love Your Blog'! Im going to be interviewing a bunch of folk whose writing I enjoy and getting their take on why they blog, what they blog about, who they love to read, and lots of other things!  I'm looking forward to sharing some of my favourites with you, and am hoping to feature all my regular reads, and some recent discoveries too.  And of course, if you have someone you'd like to see an interview with, do let me know in the comments - I'm always up for finding new reads!

First in this series is Pink Julep, the blog of my friend Ashley.  I met Ashley last fall through the Junior League, and in between all the meetings and volunteering, we bonded over blogging, and I've been reading her fun, interesting blog ever since.  She was kind enough to do an email interview with me over the weekend.

Folks, meet Ashley: 



1. How long have you been blogging?

A little over 3 1/2 years. I started my first blog in November of 2008, which was meant to be for my family and friends to keep up-to-date with the preparations for my wedding. Since most of them weren't embracing the internet at that time, it wasn't at all as helpful as I thought it would be, so I closed it down about 4 weeks later when I decided I'd rather write something I was more interested in. That was the beginning of Pink Julep, which was born in the Dunkin Donuts on Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands on December 6, 2008.

2.  What do you blog about?  Do you have a specific goal with your blog (i.e. reviewing products, using it as a ministry, promoting a business), or is it more a record of your life?

Pink Julep is a trend-inspired lifestyle blog that focuses more specifically on fashion, beauty, entertainment and general lifestyle - it's about living a well-rounded, stylish life regardless of who you are, where you're from or how much money you have. This lifestyle concept is heavily influenced by my love of fashion - I don't think style and glamour are found only in your wardrobe, but in what you eat, watch, listen to, see and do. Having lived in Kentucky, Miami, New York, the Cayman Islands and now London, my tastes, experiences and influences are varied so I try to position Pink Julep as a reference that bridges the gap between the US and Europe. With the constant growth of international shipping and the ever-growing amount of retailers expanding abroad, it's now possible to have the best of both worlds! There's no longer the need for Brits to fly to New York for J. Crew or Victoria's Secret and Americans now have Dorothy Perkins, Zara and Topshop at their fingertips as well!

3.  What is your favourite thing about blogging?

Everything! I love the community both on and off-line, sharing what inspires me with other like-minded people, the creative process and all the learning involved. I never dreamed that when I started a blog in 2008 because some of my friends were doing it that I was paving the way to a career as a social media & creative content consultant or that I would become part of an active, always growing, constantly changing community of people who are great at what they do and love the same things that I do! Having moved to London not knowing a soul, social media has been a great way to meet people and make friends.

4.  What is your least favourite thing about blogging?

Ooh, that's a hard question. I love blogging and social media in general, but I suppose that the ever-present disapproval of bloggers might be the one thing that's a little annoying. So many people still have this idea that people who blog about fashion are narcissistic and vapid. Obviously not all blogs and bloggers are created equal - a blog is as good as the effort you put into it and in some cases, people are just truly gifted with content and presentation. Whether a blogger is professional or just writes as a hobby, it's a perfectly respectable way to pass the time and self-publishing at any level should be respected. There's a lot of time, effort and research that can go into even the most basic of blogs - they don't write themselves and setting up a blog on a platform for the first time is an achievement in itself. I think it would be nice for people to realise that regardless of what's published on a blog, it's a personal expression that requires a lot of hard work and people who spend their time blogging should be commended, if only just for making the effort.

5.  Do you have any favourite posts on your blog – pieces you’re really proud of, which document something special, or which seemed to strike a chord with your readers?

I had this idea that I would do a post on DIY friendship bracelets recently and I was shocked and excited when it was featured on Cosmopolitan's website in the Lifestyle Blogs Hot Topics List. It was one of few posts where I set myself a project and actually had to make something with my hands - the friendship bracelets turned out super cute so there was some satisfaction in sharing the experience with others.



6.  Whose blogs do you love?  I’m always looking for recommendations :)

I love so many, but some of my favourites are American blogs I've been reading since I first started writing Pink Julep or shortly after particularly Summer is a VerbPretty in Pink Megan and The Love List. In terms of street style type blogs, I love Atlantic PacificClassy Girls Wear Pearls and The Blonde Salad. And of course there are some amazing London blogs I love to read as well, particularly Fashion Foie GrasAlex LovesReally Ree and Fashion Knows No Limits. There are far too many to name, but if I'm in a hurry, these are the ones I check regardless...

7.  Has your blog changed as you've become a full-time blogger? 


It has - it's like a whole new blog! Making the decision to blog full-time is a hard one and it shouldn't be taken lightly. Having more time to focus on a blog basically translates into having more time to see what's wrong with it and pick it apart, but it's all changed for the better! The design on my blog before was starting to look dated and didn't fit anymore - the direction of content has changed so it was time for a new look. Just like a person dresses differently as they grow up, I redesigned Pink Julep myself to give it a more grown-up look. I've also been able to concentrate more on a cohesive strategy, post content more frequently and actually accept invitations - all things I couldn't do with a full-time job. Additionally, I now have time to be present on more social platforms. You can now find PinkJulep on FacebookTwitterTumblrPinterestPoseWIWTInstagramSpotifyLyst,  
Bloglovin and Goodreads. There is exclusive content on each platform in addition to Pink Julep, which is basically the mothership.

8.  Which brands do you feel are doing the most to engage with customers online?

Statistically speaking, major car brands like Audi are the best at engagement, however of the brands I follow on Facebook and Twitter, it's the small-to-midsize fashion brands that seem to be engaging most with their communities. ASOS, Astley Clarke, Hobbs, Nelly.com, Kendra Scott and Baublebar (the latter 2 are in the US) come to mind - they're all doing a great job of not only engaging with the community, but also posting engaging content. Similarly, newer social media platforms such as Pose and WIWT are also doing a great job. I think social media plans are improving all the time as more and more brands realise how important it is.
9.  What ambitions do you have for your blog, moving forward?
It's hard to say - everything changes so fast in the technology world. I guess at the moment, I'm really focused on growth and constantly improving the quality of content and presentation. I'm always working on ways to update Pink Julep and exciting new projects to try to keep things fresh and fun. With growth comes opportunity so I'm kind of taking it as it comes at the moment. Someone said to me a few weeks ago, "If a door opens, walk through it, but don't waste your time knocking on closed doors." That really stuck with me, so I'm trying to stay open in terms of goals for the blog.
10.  What tips do you have for bloggers growing and nurturing their blogs?
Content is key so make sure your content is relevant and engaging. Think about who your target audience is and how you're going to best reach them and work with that. If you're trying to grow your blog, make sure you're present on other social platforms where your target audience is active. For example, if you're a book blogger, you should definitely be on Goodreads. If you're a fashion blogger, there are tons of platforms dedicated exclusively to fashion like Lookbook.nu, Pose, Trendabl, Chictopia and WIWT. It's a good idea to accept invitations for guest blogging and invite people to feature on yours. Remember it's not enough to write your own blog - you need to engage with other people on their blogs too, so comment, reply to comments and get involved in the conversation. If you're stuck, there are loads of resources online with advice, news and articles about how to grow as a blogger. I'm partial to IFB - Independent Fashion Bloggers. Even if you're not a fashion blogger, a lot of their resources will still apply.



Thanks so much for taking the time to do this, Ashley!  Looking forward to sharing another blogger with you all soon.
 


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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pinterest: Dream Home

As well as my '38' board, where I collect ideas for our current home, I also have a 'Dream Home' board - the perfect place to collect ideas for any future home we may have :-).  Some of these would work in our current home (once we have the time and the budget); others are for a grown up, family home; still more are pie in the sky dreams for a castle somewhere (but still, very pretty!).

This is such a cute built in!  I'm a huge fan of the expedit series from Ikea (affordable, clean and adaptable), and I love how its been used here!


This room is adorable!  I would love a spare room to look just like this.

Source: houzz.com via Claire on Pinterest

I love this ottoman!  It's a little too matchy-matchy with our current sofas to try something similar, but I do adore it!

Source: corentin.be via Claire on Pinterest

A cat library!  I love this, but also find my cats make any shelves their playground anyway!


Oh, that bath!  Also, I guess it's becoming ever more apparent that I like blue quite a lot....

Source: bhg.com via Claire on Pinterest

Blue and brown is one of my favourite combinations.  Relaxing, comfy, calm and cool.


Patchwork blinds?  So clever! 

What sort of things would you do in your dream home?


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Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

Linking up with the lovely Lisa-Jo once more, for five minutes of writing, words on the page, saying what's in your heart.  No editing.  No worrying.

GO.

Beyond.

What's next.

What's coming.

As a Christian I can and do see the beyond in two ways.  The earthly beyond.  And the other beyond.

Both are unknowable, but known, in a small way.  Glimpses of what's to come.

Whenever someone asks me a question about the future, about the beyond, I'm taking a bit of a gamble.  In this life of rush, rush, rush, five-year-plans, and ambition, we can plan all we like, but life can surprise us in big, wild, unusual ways.  God can surprise us in big, wild, unusual ways.

When someone asks me a question about the future, I can only give a vague answer.  At this stage of life people are always asking me questions (Are you going to get married?  Are you going to be a Head?  Are you going to have kids?), but the best I can do is guess.  And trust.

Trust in the One who holds all my plans.  The One who knows my beyond. 

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

What an amazing gift!


STOP.
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Show Us Your Life: Pictures

Linking up with Kelly once again, for another SUYL!  I love having a good-natured nosey around the many homes that link up! This week the theme is 'show us how you display pictures', so I went round and snapped lots of pictures of the photographs and pieces of artwork we have on display :-).  I wasn't sure if 'pictures' meant photos or art, so I've done both.

As we're still fairly new to this homeowning lark, we're still deciding where things should go and what artwork and photos we want to include, and I'm currently saving up for some prints, canvases and decals.  In the meantime, I just love including lots of photos of the people we love in the home that we love.

 Pictures of my siblings on the landing shelf.  I must get a nice pic of Nick and Elly to put here too!

 Pictures on the table in our bay window downstairs.  Plus the super-cute 'Home' easel that Ems made for us!

 Our cityscape canvas in the sitting room.

 Pictures atop the shelves.

 Picture of us in the dining room (aka the kitty lair!).  This was our first New Years together!

 Photos of friends on the fridge.

 The Winnie the Pooh print on our bedroom door.

 Bedside table photo.

 If Matthew wanted to add to the artwork, it's in touches like this!  The boy loves his History Channel shows :)
 A framed print in Matthew's study.

 Lots of pictures and art in my study.  I think later this summer I might manage to get some of it up on the walls! 

 Pictures and art next to my computer.

So looking forward to seeing how everyone else displays pictures - I just know I'll pick up a tonne of inspiration!

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