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24 December 2012

Liebster Award

What a lovely early Christmas present! I've just been nominated for an award, more specifically the Liebster Award. What is it?

"The Liebster Award is for bloggers with under 300 followers and the rules of the award is that the nominee must link back to whoever awarded them, write 11 random facts about themselves, answer the 11 questions from the award giver, and then nominate another 11 bloggers and make up 11 questions for them to answer. It's a great way for new and undiscovered bloggers to meet new people, get more followers and find some blogs that they want to follow."

The lovely Elise from Elise Dopson nominated me today and having never done anything like this before, I've decided to give it a shot!

Here are my 11 random facts:

1. I broke my leg at the age of five by pretending to be Super Woman
2. I like cheese with chocolate
3. I have sleep apnea
4. I absolutely love the 1985 tv version of Anne of Green Gables and have lost count how many times I've watched it
5. I started walking at 5 months old
6. I'm a complete geek board game player
7. I collects scraps of fabric in jars
8. I like to think I invented the lawn mower dance move (youtube tutorial coming soon *not*)
9. I had an imaginary friend called LeeLee when I was little
10. I only got around to watching Bugsy Malone at the age of 30 (i.e. 2 months ago)
11. I once went to school in my pyjamas because I loved wearing them so much

My questions from Elise are:

1. Summer or winter?

Winter. As a lass born in chilly Derbyshire in the middle of November, I think the winter season must be in my blood! I love all the different shades the sky paints; wrapping up in gorgeous wooly tights and scarves; those crisps bright winter days and above all; and snuggling up on the sofa with a cuppa tea and my knitting. Utter bliss!

2. What is your most favourite thing about blogging?

Meeting other bloggers and building great networks. Since blogging, I've met some incredibly inspiring people and now cannot think what I would do without it!

3. Favourite nail polish?

I'm very lazy when it comes to nail polish. In my younger years I use to wear every colour going but these days if I do crack out the polish, it's either red or dark aubergine.

4. Writing reviews or haul-type posts?

To be honest, I haven't really written either but I would like to do some haul-type posts in the future, especially now that I have just got my first car and plan on going round the vintage fairs (completely Kirstie inspired!).

5. How long does it take you to write a post usually?

Ooh that's a tough question. Can't say I really keep an eye on the clock but then I don't tend to stretch it out too long. Usually I have an idea of what I'm going to write and as I'm travelling to and from work, think of the idea further, how I'll structure it, then get home and write it down asap. The writing part probably takes about 20-30 mins.

6. All-time best mascara?

Ha ha, see question 3, again I'm not a big make-up person. I tend to keep things as simple as possible, using the most reasonably priced make-up I can find [looks at make-up bag as cannot remember what brand was last chosen]...at the moment I'm using a brown/black Max Factor. It seems to do the job!

7. Who is your main blog inspiration?

Another hard question! There are so many bloggers who I find inspiring that I simply couldn't say, hence doing my monthly Blog Gem series in which I interview my favourite bloggers.

8. Favourite candle scent?

I don't tend to have scented candles around the house but if a scented candle salesman were to drop by the house right now and they had any scent I could possibly imagine, then I would choose a pine scented candle...I'm not sure what's inspiring that choice! ;-)

9. Best dupes?

Ok, I had to look up what on earth "dupes" means! Ha ha! If it means the first definition as given here, then I have lots of best buddies most of whom don't blog but are possibly reading this ;-)

10. Reading or watching blogs/vlogs?

I love reading blogs but more recently I've really enjoyed watching vlogs as it's great to see and hear the face behind the blog.

11. What was your favourite blog post to write?

I love writing both my 'Blog Gems' and 'Lunch breaks in the city' series. The former because I love getting to know people and forming bloggy networks. The latter because I'm really getting into photography and I absolutely love thinking of where to go next for this series, then going and being a complete tourist in my own city.

Ok, so now I've answered those great questions from Elise, I'm now going to nominate the following lovely bloggers:

1. Debbie from From the imagination of lady snail
2. James from LA Limey
3. Claire from Claireabellemakes
4. Imogen from Miss Imogen Smith
5. Anna from Miss Beatrix
6. Jenny from Jenny and the Magic Feather
7. Lois from Head in the Clouds
8. Sophie from Onetenzeroseven
9. Jen from Little Birdie
10. Louise from Elsie May and Bertha
11. Sally from Sally Tangle

My questions to you folks are:

1. North or South?
2. Countryside or city?
3. Home or away?
4. If you could have a magical power for one day only, what would it be?
5. Can you make any interesting anagrams with your name?
6. Is the glass half empty or half full?
7. Do you sing in the shower?
8. Favourite colour?
9. Morning person or night owl?
10. Henry's Cat or Pigeon Street?
11. If you could have a dinner party with 5 people of your choice (dead, alive or fictional) who would you choose?

Thanks so much to Elise for nominating me, I've really enjoyed taking part!

Happy Christmas everyone!
Jo x

21 December 2012

Lunch breaks in the city - Old Street, part 2

Part 2 of yesterday's Lunch breaks in the city series saw me go around the corner to this! Absolutely incredible!

I absolutely love this image of a floating head. It's beautiful.

Not sure why there's so much mystical, fantastical street art images around Curtain Road but there are and well, they're pretty damn cool!

I love how the street art continues on to the pavement....

The next few images blew me away...I love, love, love the colour combinations in the Broken Fingaz art below...

I wonder if this is by the person who did the bird in my very first Lunch breaks in the city post?

Eye spy with my little eye a flying pig! 

No, I didn't fall over as I was taking this shot, just playing around with angles. Do you think it works?

This image on the side of a building is for Anti Slavery International charity. Pretty incredible!

I love how the lamp post is part of the art work too...

Just as Camera and I were heading back to work, we stumbled upon this funky guy...Don't you just love him!

Hope you like this week's Lunch break in the city. I have one more London lunch break to share with you all before this blog series takes on Leicester and the surrounding counties for lunch and weekend breaks.

Happy Christmas everyone. Hope you all have a lovely, relaxing time. 

20 December 2012

Lunch breaks in the city - Old Street, part 1

 On this particular lunch break (one of my last few in London), I headed up to Curtain Road in the Shoreditch area of town. Shoreditch is a particularly trendy part of town, full of "shoes and haircuts" but there are plenty of interesting stories behind the etymology of the name 'Shoreditch'. An incredible one being the possibility of the name originally being 'Shore's Ditch' after Edward IV's mistress, Jane Shore, supposedly being buried or dying in a ditch in the area. I'm a total geek when it comes to etymology. I find it endlessly fascinating.

Anyway, here are some snaps...

Camera and I were practicing some reflective shots...

I wonder what Jane and Edward would think about the street art of Curtain Road...

 The mystical art work of Scrutton Street....

I love the idea that the 'storage solution' could possibly be found in the evil waves of hell below!

Enter if you dare!

There was so much street art, that Camera and I went a little snappy happy, so stay tuned for part 2 of Old Street to be posted up tomorrow.

6 December 2012

Blog Gem - Miss Imogen Smith

Hello one and all! It's my favourite time of the month - Blog Gem time, yay! This month I'm super duper chuffed to be introducing a beautiful blog called Miss Imogen Smith. I was first drawn to this blog by the gorgeous illustrations, which this talented lady creates and from then on I've been hooked! So, would you like to know a bit more about this creative lady? So would I! Hello there, who be the face behind the blog?

Well as I'm sure you already know, my name is Imogen, I'm 20 years old and am studying Graphic and Media design at university. I currently live in Shropshire and commute 40 minutes every day to my university! Like a lot of bloggers, I love being crafty and will almost always be doing something creative when I'm at home. Whether it is sewing, knitting or drawing- I love it! I also run the self named blog, Miss Imogen Smith where I write about my crafty adventures alongside my illustrations, and a little bit of lifestyle thrown in for good measure. I love going out for long walks with my dogs, as I live in some beautiful countryside. I also go horse riding and own a cheeky little pony called Benji, who I've owned since I was 10. I come from a horsey family, my mum has been horse riding ever since she was a little girl and she owns a lovely horse called Tom, I also share a little Shetland called Blossom, who we rescued when she was abandoned on the hills. 

What's your creative space/studio like? 
Most of my creative work and blogging happens at my desk in my room, which sits in the corner with my computer on one side (which I use for editing and blogging), and my laptop sits on the other. I have a very limited space to work in which means I have to be extremely organized and space conscious, everything has a place! On top of my desk you'll find a collection of magazines for inspiration, my tv and I always have a scented candle lit- at the moment it's Cinna-Vanilla! Underneath my desk sits a bedside chest where I keep paints, glue, stamps, pens and pencils in one drawer, and sketchbooks and other papery goods in the other! Under the other half of my desk sits my new craft box, made by my grandpa! It has a lift down lid with all sorts of different coloured beads and sewing pieces in the top section, and then in the bottom drawer I keep more glue, ink, paper cutter and lots of other random crafty things!!  

If you had to take only one of your crafts to a desert island, what would it be and why? 
The logical side of me would say to take something useful, such as knitting, the needles would be a great tool and I could quite happily knit myself something to wear and keep me warm at night. But personally I would take an endless supply of paper and my pencils and fineliners, to draw anything and everything in sight, I'd be able to send out plenty of messages in bottles! 

How do you work and get inspired? 
Anything and everything inspires me, whether it's ripping out pages from a magazine, looking through books or even just sitting quietly when a thought pops into my head! I also love looking at other blogs, especially photo inspiration posts as I think "I could use that in an illustration!" However, what makes me the happiest is drawing little animals, for example bunnies drinking from teacups wearing wooly jumpers! Beatrix Potter is an obvious inspiration there.

What top tips would you give to any novice bloggers and/or those thinking of selling their designs/crafts? 
I haven't been blogging for very long myself, since May 2012 I think! But I would give the advice I give to myself. Write about whatever you love and what makes you happy. It doesn't matter how many followers you have or how many comments, if you write your blog for yourself, then your passion will be obvious, and people will like and respect that! As for the shop, I would probably advise something similar, sell something that you're passionate about, and if it's handmade, something that you're willing to part with!! I find that last part quite hard, because I get rather attached to my drawings and creations! 

Is there a story behind the name 'Miss Imogen Smith'?
My blog is obviously self named, I started out with the intention of simply posting my illustrations to see if I would get any feedback from it. But then at the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to eventually branch out into other topics such as craft and lifestyle. Having a self named blog means no boundaries or limitations! Using the title 'Miss' also reminded me of sending and receiving letters, so you could say I'm writing letters to all my followers through the blog! 

If you could be given an award for your designs by any person/fictional character (dead or alive), who would it be?
My answer is exactly the same as Anna from Miss Beatrix, - Beatrix Potter. Her stories were read to me when I was a little girl and I grew up admiring her illustrations. But then in my mid teens I happened to pick up one of her biographies from the local library, it wasn't until that point, that I realized what an amazing person Beatrix Potter was. Not only were her drawings beautiful, but she was such a strong and independent woman. I instantly connected with her way of thinking and admired her determination to overcome her family's expectations and strive against the myth that women couldn't support themselves.

And finally...book & tea or film & wine?
I think this is an easy question! Although I love films, I would have to choose tea and a book. Green and Jasmine tea to be precise :) 

Thank you so much Imogen! I absolutely loved Beatrix Potter as a child and you've now got me all intrigued and wanting to read more about her. In fact, if I could pluck that very book out of the picture above, I would snuggle up on the sofa with some tea and devour it! Your Grandpa sure is one talented man, what a beautiful creation and lovely creative space. That's fantastic advice about writing a blog and selling designs, which make you happy. I couldn't agree with you more! Thanks again Imogen!

I hope you've all enjoyed this month's Blog Gem. Stay tuned for more and until then, enjoy the festive season!

All of the images and interview answers are the copyright of Imogen at Miss Imogen Smith. Please do not use without seeking permission first. Thank you.

3 December 2012

Love over gold...

I don't really know where to start with this blog post. I've considered not writing anything at all but then I reminded myself that this blog is about me, my life, my loves and losts. Not everything in life is rosy and sometimes it helps to write about the bad times, as well as the good.

On Thursday 15th November my Dad suddenly passed away. He was 63, had just got through prostrate cancer and without any warning died of a heart attack. The shock is immense. The emotions and feelings are long, hard and utterly draining. I am so numb that I feel like I'm walking around in a dream, watching myself.

An old school friend wisely told me that grief is very personal and that in this surreal time you feel like a sad, sad alien. She's right and reading those words of hers is helpful in reminding myself that I'm not going mad.

I know it will take time, so I'm going to remind myself, my family and my Dad's close friends, of these wise words when we have particularly low moments.

I have some happier blog posts to post up soon, however, it would feel rather odd, after what has happened, not to acknowledge it in some way. I guess writing this post is cathartic and will help in moving on.

Life certainly is trying at times but it's also rather short, so all I can really say if you're reading this is...go and grab life, give it a tap on the shoulder, turn it around, shake it up, then smile, laugh and run with it.

Jo x


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