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26 May 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Adventures & Tea Parties Instagram
How's your week been? Have you got lovely plans for the bank holiday weekend?

I didn't have a chance to write my weekly 'What's on the jukebox, Jo?' post last week because some horrid grown-up stuff had to be dealt with, on a Friday at 5pm as well, how unfair was that?! This week has been another stressful one, meaning I nearly didn't write again BUT the whole point of this Friday post is to look at the good stuff that happened in the week and celebrate the wins. It's oh so easy to let the negative overpower the good things, right? So, this is me saying NO to the negative shizzle and YES to positives! I'm hoping it will make me feel a bit better by the end of it.

Positive thing #1 / I shared the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram prompts and you lot went mad for them! You've showed so much excitement over the challenge that I now have no idea why I thought no one would join in, ha-ha! Thank you all so much, YOU ARE THE BEST!

Positive thing #2 / I wrote and shared blog posts on Colour Seekers, A day in the life of a brand and web designer, and 24 hours in Bristol.

Positive thing #3 / I helped run a Somerset Etsy Meet Up where we looked at product development. We did a bit of a show and tell before giving each other helpful feedback and I honestly found it so inspiring seeing everyone's creations. What an incredible, amazing bunch they are and I now can't wait for the next meet up!

Positive thing #4 / I learnt how to do something in Photoshop...after swearing at it for a bit first ;)

Positive thing #5 / I gave myself a bunch of freshly picked flowers from the garden and went on a glorious walk in the sunshine to celebrate finishing several mammoth jobs. 

Positive thing # 6 / I bought some extremely colourful tights. 

Positive thing # 7 /  I am super excited about seeing my bro, sister in-law and niece tonight!

Ok, now I feel a little bit better and I'm going to increase those positive vibes with 5 songs that give me happy flips in my tummy. I hope they do that for you too.

Sénégal Fast Food by Amadou & Mariam feat. Manu Chao
Master Of My Craft by Parquet Courts
Express Yourself by N.W.A
Let's Talk About It by White Denim
Presents Double Dutch.wmv by Malcolm McLaren

Have a wonderful weekend and hey, if you've had a bit of rubbish week, go and write down 7 good things that happened recently and pin them up on the wall or maybe write them in your bullet journal in bright colours. However you do it, go and be nice to yourself.

Happy Friday everyone!

25 May 2017

24 hours in Bristol

24 hours in Bristol blog post by Adventures & Tea Parties

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing 5 great things you can do if you only have 24 hours in Bristol! Pop on over here for a read, then get yourself to a colour lover's dream of a city!

21 May 2017

A day in the life of a brand & web designer

Woohoo, it's time for another Day in the Life feature and I'm absolutely delighted to be sharing a look see into the world of an incredible brand and web designer. I am currently working with this amazing girl boss on a whole new re-brand for Adventures & Tea Parties and my first ever website (woohoo!), so I have first hand experience of just how flippin' hard working and talented she is, like mega mega hard working and talented! So, if, like me, you'd like to know just how she manages to run her full time business alongside her full time job (seriously!) and discover what her working week is like, read on...

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

Hi there, I’m Cat, the creative force and face behind Twin Pines Creative, a design studio that provides contemporary design for both small creative businesses as well as your home. I launched Twin Pines in May 2015 as a design studio offering branding, but have since expanded to also design and build custom web sites using Squarespace and launched my own paper goods collection in December 2016. You’ll probably think I’m crazy but I do this all alongside my day job as a senior web designer at a clothing retailer. As you can probably tell already, I’m a bit of a workaholic, but I promise I do know how to switch off every now and then!

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

I studied advertising at university where I learnt a lot about people, how they tick and how to inspire them, as well as learning about idea generation and the theory behind graphic design. After a year or so in the advertising industry I knew my heart wasn’t truly in it and knew I needed to make some career changes. I then started paving my way in the design world and started a job working at Boots as a web designer where I was introduced into the world of user experience design and I found my calling. It’s been 7 years since then and although I’ve moved companies and had various different roles since then, I still keep the customer at the heart of everything I do and always aim to not only make sites look beautiful but also so simple and straight forward to use. It was in 2015 after doing a couple of branding jobs for friends and family I decided to actually turn this into a business and use the skills I’d learnt from the day job as well as everything I had taught myself in my quest to help small business owners and live my dream of being truly creative and leading concepts, rather than just following a brand template. 

I truly love what I do and love spending every day creating and designing and although weekdays are spent mostly at the day job, I usually work on Twin Pines in the evenings and at least one day over the weekend. Every now and then I also take time off in the week from the day job to work on Twin Pines to keep on top of everything.

I’m incredibly lucky to have a dedicated office space in the home I share with my husband, Darren, and 2 year old black Labrador, Ellie. If I’m working in the evening you can more often than not find me curled up on the sofa with both of them, laptop in hand. 

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

During the week I’m a pretty early riser after years of commuting over an hour to work so am usually up by 5.30/6am everyday but now I only live down the road from the day job I use this time to either have a slow morning, chat to the husband, have a decent breakfast or take the dog for a walk. If I’m at the day job I’ll usually be there around 8.30 but if I’m working on Twin Pines I’ll be in the office around 8am after the husband heads to work. My favourite weekday breakfast is scrambled egg on toast and usually involves fresh eggs from a local farm (mmm, now I’m feeling hungry again) with orange juice. I’m not really a fan of hot drinks so tend to stick with water or squash throughout the day and then treat myself at lunch with some cola to give me an energy boost when I’m usually at my most productive (creatively speaking that is).

I tend to start my day with some of the less creative work, planning and scheduling social posts, catching up on emails, going through my accounts and confirming my tasks for the day using my project management tool, Asana, as I’m usually pretty productive at this time of day but my creative juices just don’t flow until later in the day. I not only use Asana to manage specific projects with clients, I also use it to track a snapshot of everything Twin Pines related, whether that be enquiries from potential new clients, updating my Etsy site, ordering supplies or designing new products. 

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

I like to have a late-ish lunch around 1pm and if I’m in the zone, I’ll usually sort something quick so I don’t loose the momentum but if I’m struggling I’ll take a bit of time out to cook something like a jacket potato or pasta and have a play with the dog and recharge.

The afternoon, as I like to think of it, is when then magic happens. I’m always my most productive in the afternoon and early evening so always leave my design projects and client work until then. It really is my favourite time of the day. Most of the time I have films on in the background while I work and more often than not, watch at least 4 or 5 a day! If I find myself being distracted because the movie is just too good I then open up Spotify and listen to music. My current favourite right now has got to be The Smashing Pumpkins, Belle and Sebastian and Radiohead. I’m having a bit of an Alternative 90s phase right now! If I’m not working on client work, I can usually be found photographing my products or imagery for my site/social media as the light in my kitchen is best in the afternoon. 

I try to stop working or at least take a break around 6 as that’s not only when the husband gets home from work but is also dinner time for the littlest member of the Ings household and we can’t have her waiting for her dinner, otherwise there’s hell to pay (I’m talking about the dog by the way, not me!).

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

Because I have a day job and quite a heavy workload with Twin Pines I usually find I need to continue working in the evenings but always make sure I take time out to chat with the husband, play with the dog and have a decent meal.

Work wise I tend to continue working on what I’ve been working on during the afternoon which can be anything from finishing off wireframes for a site, building a website itself or finalising branding concepts. I then finish off the day with an email session, catching up with any new emails from the afternoon as well as sending out work to clients to review or giving them an update on their project. I’ll also spend a little bit of time in the evening packing the days online orders ready for the husband to take to the post office in the morning. Last but not least I then review my to do list and workflow, which is all tracked in Asana, so then at any point I can take a look at all my projects and know exactly what I need to do the next time I’m working on Twin Pines. I literally couldn’t function without Asana as it’s well known amongst my nearest and dearest that I have a memory like a sieve! 

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

As I’ve already mentioned I tend to spend at least one full day each weekend working on Twin Pines but always try to take a day off (or at least most of the day anyway) to spend time with my husband, the dog, friends and family, or continue working on the renovations of our home. It’s actually one of my aims this year to go on some more day trips and adventures so I can truly switch off from work. Next up is a day trip to London to see the Hockney exhibition. I’m also obsessed with movies, which if you’re a die hard fan of Back to the Future you’ll already know that by my business name. So, I can often be found at home on the sofa or in the cinema watching, lots and lots of movies.

Running your own business is incredibly hard work, which most people who do a 9-5 job just don’t understand. As I mention to most of my design clients, when you run a small business, you have to don so many hats. You have to not only do the part you love and why you started your business in the first place, but you’re also a social media manager, production manager, merchandiser, postman, accountant, amongst many, many other things. All while doing this largely on your own with no one else to chat to or bounce ideas off. 

Day in the life with Twin Pines by Adventures & Tea Parties

My biggest piece of advice is to surround yourself with lots of like minded people, as when I met the Hustle group last year organised by Rox Webster at StudioNL I truly learnt how valuable it can be to have a support network who can not only help you on a practical level but also on an emotional level. These guys keep me sane and always give me the reality check I need when I’m such a workaholic and perfectionist. All that being said it’s one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever had and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love working with small creative businesses and helping them on their journey by giving them a brand or website that they love and are proud of. I’m looking forward to growing Twin Pines and helping even more creative business both with design work but also in workshops and 1-2-1 sessions and a blog series.

Thank you so much, Cat, it's been truly wonderful hearing about your branding and web designing world. Keep up the incredible work!

I hope you've all enjoyed finding out what a day in the life of brand and web designer is like and don't forget to check out Cat's website, shop and social media links below. And you can catch up on more 'Day in the life' features here. Thanks for reading folks!


18 May 2017

Colour Seekers

Colour Seekers by Adventures & Tea Parties

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog today I've shared a post on colour seekers, which focuses on how to look for colour, finding colour inspiration, colour theory and a wonderful new colour group! Click to here to read the post in full and whilst I'm on the topic of colour, have you checked out my Instagram colour theme challenge, which starts on the 1st June? I'm so excited to start it!

17 May 2017

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge daily prompts

Thanks so much to everyone who has been sharing this challenge and showing so much enthusiasm for it already, I can't wait to get started on it now! 

As promised, here are the daily prompts, so that you can plan ahead or totally wing it, whichever is your preferred approach. I've also created a pdf planner, which you can download here and print out to make notes on.

The challenge begins on the 1st June and is open to absolutely everyone. You can either join me for the whole colour adventure or dip in and out; the main thing is to have fun discovering and appreciating colour.

When sharing your photos on Instagram simply add the hashtag #ColourMyEveryDay so that everyone taking part can see your beautiful photos and how you're interpreting the prompts and discovering colour. At the end of every day I will be sharing my four favourite photos, so don't forget to follow me on Instagram, so that you can see these too.

Some other lovely coloured themed hashtags you could also include throughout the challenge are these, which I've grouped together so that you can simply copy and paste them into your Instagram post. And don't forget, there are the American spellings of 'color' to use too, so lots of possibilities for sharing your photos!

#colorcolourlovers #colourpop #colourpopme #colourhunters #colourseekers #colourmehappy #colourlove #colourlover #colorcolourhunters #colorcolourseekers #colorcolour  #colorcolourmagic #colorcolourlove #acolorstory #myunicornlife #pursuepretty #incolourfulcompany #abmcolorfullife

I'm really looking forward to getting started and I hope you are too. Can't wait to see all your snaps!

14 May 2017

Blog Gem - Simple & Season

Yay, it's time for a Blog Gem interview! For those of you who are new to my blog, this series takes a look at the person behind the blog, what inspires them to blog, where they blog, the story behind their blog and some fun questions too. This month I'm over the moon that the blogger I'm sharing is the incredible lady behind Simple and Season. Kayte writes such a beautiful lifestyle blog all about simple living, with the most stunning photos! She also has some incredible tips on marketing, social media and photo styling. So, without further ado, lets dive on in to the interview....

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

Hello there, can you tell all of the Adventures & Tea Parties' readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m Kayte (pronounced Kate – the ‘y’ is silet). A relative blogging newbie, I’ve been writing about fitting simple living into a busy modern lifestyle since September 2016. I always dreamed of living in an old farmhouse with an orchard full of chickens, and a daily grind of baking scones, reading novels and taking long, languorous baths. I started Simple & Season as a way to inject a little bit of slowness into my fast-paced professional life.

However, come June that dream will become a little more of a reality. I am moving to a little town in Snowdonia, North Wales, and will be working as a freelancer and coach – providing wholesome marketing for soulful creatives. So maybe there won’t be an orchard, but there will be mountains and I can’t pretend that there won’t be any afternoon baths… ;)

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

Where do you blog? What is that space like?
At the moment I blog from the sofa, usually propped on cushions and wrapped in blankets like the Princess and the Pea. Our little terrace is very small and we don’t have a table, so it’s lap working only, usually with our Jack Russell, Baggins, trying to get on my lap too.

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

If you had to take only one tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
It’s got to be something with a large blade, hasn’t it? Something that can cut firewood, whittle spears and prepare food. Perhaps not the most imaginative answer, but definitely a practical one.

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

How do you get inspired to blog? 
Inspiration never comes when I sit down to plan out that season’s content. In fact, I almost never write any of the post ideas I plan in advance. Inspiration usually comes from conversations I have with online friends, daydreams I have on dog walks or things I struggle with in my life that I think my readers might struggle with too.

I also have a seasonal theme on the blog that I try to loosely hang content around – Spring, for example, is ‘New’. I don’t stick to it too rigidly, but it gives me a starting point when faced with a blank page.

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog?
My first tip would be to write what you’d want to read. Before I started Simple & Season I dabbled with another blog for a month or so, but I felt strangled by it. I was writing the content I thought “bloggers” were supposed to write, but it wasn’t even the sort of thing I would read. I was bored to tears writing the stuff, so no wonder I didn’t keep it up! That was my one rule when I started Simple & Season, that my content would be focused on being enjoyable to the reader, not just me writing about what I’d done. It’s also made it more enjoyable for me.

Secondly, I’d urge you not to wait until everything’s perfect. Blogging is such a steep learning curve, but you don’t improve unless you’re actually doing it. I look back at my earlier photos and can’t believe I ever published them online! But I do keep them up just as a record of the huge growth journey I’ve been on. But the point is, if I’d waited until I had the perfect post, I still wouldn’t have published anything else. You learn by doing, so you just have to take a deep breath and jump in.

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

Is there a story behind the name, 'Simple and Season'?
When I first started the blog I was very inspired by lifestyle blogs with ‘something and something’ names: Me & Orla, Lobster & Swan, Seeds & Stitches. This naming trope is, I think, one that is common within the creative/simple community, so I wanted to emulate my role models as well as attract the right audience with the name.

I chose ‘simple’ and ‘season’ because, well, they’re pretty self-explanatory! The blog was about living simply and seasonally, unfortunately for ‘seasonal’ it had too many syllables so I had to drop the ‘-al’. Even though now my content is changing to include more about marketing a soulful business and social media, the name still works, which is a relief! It does go to show that a blog can take on a life of its own and the name needs to allow for that.

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would you choose?
This is a really difficult question for me, I’ve spent days thinking about it! I am intensely introverted (on my last Myers Briggs test I was 95% introvert), so tend not to really like situations where I’m surrounded by people I don’t know. But I realise this is just hypothetical and I probably shouldn’t take it so seriously!

I like to surround myself with witty, sassy women who aren’t afraid to belly laugh or stuff their faces with French fries.

The first seat would have to go to Sarah Ferguson (@sarah_louise_ferg on Instagram). She’s been my Insta bestie for the last six months, since my sub-100 follower days, and she’s been such an inspiration to my styling and Instagram growth. She lives up in Scotland, so a hypothetical dinner party might be our only chance to meet.

I’d invite Grace Dent because she seems like my kinda girl, witty, sharp and a total foodie. Whenever I’m London I love to read her restaurant reviews in the Evening Standard magazine; she writes like she’s already your hilarious best friend.

Seats three and four would go to Sara Tasker and Siobhan Watts. Both talented photographers and writers whose blogs I’ve followed since before I started mine. Both their personalities shine through everything they do and I know they’d add excellent conversation to the party.

Lastly, I’d bring along 1960s-era Doris Lessing. I read The Golden Notebook at university and found it such an eye-opening and engaging feminist parable – I think I might need to read it again at a later stag of life to fully understand it. I imagine Doris at that age being full of fire and ideas to really shake up the conversation and make us think.

Simple and Season blog gem interview Adventures and Tea Parties

And finally...if you had to choose one song to represent 'Simple & Season', what would it be and why? 
I was dreading this question! I’m quite weird in that I don’t listen to music (cue shocked gasps). When I was at uni I couldn’t study with it on and I just got out of the habit of listening to it, so I do tend to work and sit in silence! Music just isn’t a part of my life. To me, Simple & Season is more the sound of birdsong, a page turning, of a pot bubbling on the stove and footsteps in a silent wood. And, of course, of fingers tapping keys.

Thank you so much, Kayte. It's been an absolute pleasure hearing all about your blogging world and what inspires you to blog. I think your advice for anyone thinking of writing a blog, to just start, is spot on. There is no time like the present and you do truly learn as you go along; many other bloggers would definitely agree with you about that. Thanks again Kayte and do keep up the wonderful blogging!

I hope you've all enjoyed reading about Kayte's inspiring blogging world and are heading over to Simple & Season right now to read more! And for those of you that want to discover more inspiring bloggers, you can catch up on all my Blog Gem interviews here.

Thanks for reading!

12 May 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Phew, is it Friday already? Where on earth did the week go?! Did you have a good one? What plans do you have this weekend?

This week was all about playing catch up on work and sleep for me as some rubbish stuff happened last week but things are a bit better now, thank goodness. Also, lovely stuff happened but it all got buried rather, so I'm going to focus on what those positive things were and round up with some happy tunes to end the working week on.

Positive thing #1 / A rather lovely customer sent me a review in the form of a beautiful photo of a personalised 2nd wedding anniversary traditional cotton themed gift she bought for her hubby. You can see the gorgeous pic here!

Positive thing #2 / My 'little treat myself' goody arrived from helloDODO. I got myself this and I LOVE IT! 

Positive thing #3 / On Wednesday I launched the #ColourMyEveryDay Instagram challenge and my word, I did not expect such a positive reaction to it! My phone did not stop beeping all day...and it still hasn't! I honestly thought just a few people would respond but your amazing interaction, comments and sharing of the challenge completely blew me away. Thank you so much!

Positive thing #4 / My latest design sample came back from the laser printers and I'm soooooo excited to share it with you! Make sure you're following me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to be the first to hear AND the special launch party to go with it, woohoo! 

Positive thing #5 / Met some wonderful creative folk at the Made in Somerset Artisan Market and bought some flipping delicious cheese, which only just made it home with me because I just wanted to sink my teeth into it, ha-ha!

Now for five positive tunes to get this Friday evening started! 

All night disco party by Brakes
I'm so excited by The Pointer Sisters
Gimme All Your Lovin' by ZZ Top
Jackson 5 ABC [The Reflex Re√ision] 
Don't Stop Me Now by Queen

Turn these up and have a dance people and have yourself a marvellous weekend!

11 May 2017

Gardening jobs for May

Adventures & Tea Parties Gardening jobs for May

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm sharing my latest monthly gardening post, which has tips on gardening jobs for May. Pop on over here, then get your wellies on and head outside for some green exercise! 

10 May 2017

#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge

I've recently been hinting at a little project I've been working on and I can now reveal it, ta-da! Starting on the 1st June, I will be hosting an Instagram challenge to help you discover and appreciate colour every day. There will be daily prompts, which I'll be sharing here and on Instagram next week.
#ColourMyEveryDay Instagram Challenge by Adventures & Tea Parties
If you don't already know, I'm a huge fan of colour and love seeking it out to share on my Instagram grid. I also like the challenge of finding a colour that I might not usually be drawn towards to really make me look at and discover it in the most unusual of places. 

A few months back I was looking to take part in a colour inspired month long Instagram challenge but could I find one? No, I couldn't and then, a little seed formed in my head, why don't I create one! So, there you have it, I've created my first ever Instagram challenge and I'm so excited about it! 

If you're a fan of colour or know someone who is, feel free to share the above pic far and wide using the hashtag #ColourMyEveryDay. I'll be sharing a list of daily prompts next week, so make sure you're following me on Instagram to keep in the loop.

Chat soon my fellow colour seekers!

9 May 2017

Customer feedback

Adventures & Tea Parties personalised handkerchief

The lovely Amy from Lola's Little Palace shared this beautiful photo of her super special Adventures & Tea Parties' personalised handkerchief, which she bought for her hubby to celebrate their 2nd wedding anniversary with a traditional cotton themed gift. Isn't it just the prettiest photo!

I love seeing photos of your Adventures & Tea Parties' purchases, so do drop me a line with your pic and I'll feature it on the blog!

8 May 2017

Five minutes with hello DODO

Over on the Simple Stylish Makes blog I'm chatting with the fab duo behind hello DODO, who have the most fun, happy, colourful shop EVER. I want to buy ALL THE THINGS! Click here to read the interview, which shares what they love about designing and what they do when they're not creating awesome designs like this Gull Power patch!

30 April 2017

A day in the life of an animal photographer

Yay, it's time for another 'Day in the life' post where I share what an average day at work is like in a job that people are less familiar with. And this month I am so flipping excited to share a day in the life of one incredible, talented and inspiring girl boss, Debra Bardowicks. Debra and I have known each other since university and honestly, I'm not surprised she became one of the first pet photographers, who travels all over the world taking the most incredible photos. She's not only a very dear and wonderful friend (who I wished I lived nearer to) but someone who I greatly admire and who motivates me with her hard working attitude and confidence travelling all around the world on her own. So, this feature is a very special one to me and I hope you think so too. Read on to find out what a day in the life of animal photographer, Debra Bardowicks, is like.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

Hello, I’m Debra Bardowicks and I am an animal photographer based in Frankfurt, Germany. I feel very fortunate to have a job which I really enjoy, combining my passion for photography with my love of animals. 

I have been a freelance photographer for 10 years now. I hadn’t actually planned on becoming an animal photographer, just somehow working with animals. I studied Biology with a focus on Animal Behaviour and Environmental Science. I took photography courses at school but never actually thought of this as a job option. While completing my BSc I came across a Masters course in Biological Photography and Imaging at the University of Nottingham, which sounded perfect. It did turn out to be a lot of fun and taught me a all kinds of things, ranging from basic video production to more detailed photography skills and various design programs. After graduating I didn’t find a "visual" job straight away, so took on a job as a researcher for different publications at a big publishing house. 

When my contract ended I came up with the idea of being an animal photographer full time. I knew that wildlife photography was a very difficult area to get into, which would involve a certain amount of luck as well as finances to build up my portfolio. As I have always had dogs and am a horse person as well, I decided to move into the area of pet photography. As this was in 2006 and professional digital cameras were not really that great yet, pet photography was a rare occupation and I was lucky to be one of the first, at least in Germany, where I was living at the time. 

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

In the years since I have built up my reputation and spend quite a lot of time working abroad, working for various publications as well as advertising and private clients. When people think of a pet photographer, they usually think of taking fairly classic photos of people and their pets. While I do this sometimes, I am lucky to have a range of clients, making my jobs very varied.

I have so far worked in about 40 countries and with all kinds of animals, ranging from snakes and scorpions to elephants and apes and of course lots and lots of lovely dogs and horses. I also volunteer for animal charities on a regular basis and have just come back from Russia, where I worked on a reportage for a dog magazine, as well as volunteering for a dog rescue in order to help them find good homes for all the dogs looking for homes. So, writing what a typical day in my life is like is a little difficult. Really there are two types of more or less typical days. One type would be at home and one would be travelling.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

When I am at home and not out on a photo shoot my day starts with a nice long walk with my two dogs, otherwise they would never let me get any work done. Then I will check my emails and reply to any enquiries about photo shoots and maybe do some research regarding topics for reportages . There is generally always editing to do too, either post production for photo shoots done in the studio or selecting photos for publication. Then it’s out with the doggies again and in the afternoon generally more computer work or preparation for travel or the next day's shoot.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

When I am travelling the day quite often starts off with an early start to get the best light, so I will either drive or walk to wherever I am taking the photos and meeting the people and animals I will be photographing. Depending on the type of shoot we are doing I will either just follow along and document what is happening or I will actually direct the shoot and ask people to do certain things. As it could be a portrait of a certain dog breed, or a reportage about an animal charity, or a shoot to advertise a product, all the details will of course vary widely. 

I could have woken up in a hammock, or a tent, or a beautiful hotel and could be wearing outdoor clothes and hiking all day, or something more smart and have a driver. That is really one of the things I love about my job, it never gets boring and as well as meeting lots of different animals I get to meet people from all walks of life and we always have something in common and generally have a lot of fun. I consider many of my clients and models friends. The only disadvantage to the travelling is leaving my dogs at home, but luckily they are truly spoilt when I am away, so I don’t really need to feel bad. And they’re always happy to welcome me back.

Debra Bardowicks Animal Photography

Thank you so much, Debra, it's been truly wonderful hearing about your animal photography world. Keep up the incredible work!

I hope you've all enjoyed finding out what a day in the life of an animal photographer is like and don't forget to check out Debra's work on her website and follow along on Facebook too. If you'd like to catch up on more 'Day in the life' features, you can read them all here. Thanks for reading folks!

28 April 2017

What's on the jukebox, Jo?

Hey, how's your week been? Did positive stuff happen? What were your highlights?

It's been a mixed old bag here at Adventures & Tea Parties HQ. There were frustrating parts and really exciting, jaw dropping parts. Reckon I'll just acknowledge the annoying parts, pop them in the bin and focus on the good stuff. Actually, I can't mention the jaw dropping stuff yet but the other highlights were...

/ Finished knitting my mustard yellow chunky bobble hat....just in time for summer, ha-ha!

/ My sample designs came back from the laser cutters and that's what the photo above is! Well, it's a sneak peek really because I've decided to tweak the design as it wasn't quite right. I'm now "patiently" waiting for the amended samples before I can move on to the next part of the design process.

/ I made progress on my 16/17 tax return. Yes, that's rather boring news but it's a relief to be nearing the finishing line with it. Working on it I reminded myself I'm definitely the type of person who when starting a job, likes to blitz through and finish it. If I chip away at a job slowly it irritates me to hell. I just want it done, so that I can start on the next task!

/ On Wednesday I went to the monthly Somerset Etsy Team meet up, which was so good! We did shop critiques i.e. gave a fresh pair of eyes to everyone's shop, which is such a useful exercise. I came away feeling so inspired by everyone. It's such a wonderful bunch of creative people! 

/ Got to hang out with two very adorable border terriers, one of which caused much hilarity with his jumping in the pond antics. He didn't amuse his lovely owner but I couldn't help but laugh!

/ Shared my latest Blog Gem interview with a fab creative blogger. Check it out here.

And as ever, throughout every week music is always a positive feature. These particular songs stood out, so go grab your Friday feeling shoes, pop them on and have a dance around the kitchen!

Tiger Rag by Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Boom Boom by John Lee Hooker
Percolatin' Blues by Smoking Time Jazz Club
When I get Low I get by Ella Fitzgerald
Got My Mojo Workin' by Muddy Waters

Happy weekend everyone, hope you have a fun one!

23 April 2017

Blog Gem - Holchester

Yay, it's time to meet another awesome blogger! This month I have the great pleasure of sharing a blogger with you who I'm a big fan of. Not only is her blog an absolute joy to read but she has the most fabulous shop, sews beautiful things and always makes me smile with her photos on Instagram. So, without further ado, lets dive on into the interview!

Hello there, can you tell all of the Adventures & Tea Parties' readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m Rachel, a mum of one, and I’ve been in Bicester, near Oxford, for 5 years now. I’ve always been creative, my degrees in Art History and Art Gallery and Museum Studies led to a career in HR (total accident) but I left that behind me when I had my daughter, Thea. I started by business in November 2015, Handmade by Holchester, and alongside that I’ve now got the blog and my newest venture Holchester Designs. I also run Create! Craft Kits and a monthly local craft night, Make and Meet, with my fab friend and collaborator Emma from Em Makes and Bakes.

I’m a have-a-go-at-anything crafter, but a common theme is fabric and that’s what my blog and business have honed in on. 

Where do you blog? 
I’m very lucky that I’ve got a whole room to myself in our house where I do all my writing, sewing and most other things. It also means I’ve got somewhere to keep projects away from little hands.  It’s got 3 doors and no window of its own, which isn’t great for #wip photography but I can spread out around the house when I need to, so it’s not a problem. The thing I love the most is my inspiration wall. I put up the string and pegs as I couldn’t afford enough cork to cover it all like I wanted, and I just love how much I can change things up with it. And as I’m based at home that means I’ve got the kitchen, with the kettle and the nespresso machine on hand too. 

If you had to take only one tool to a desert island, what would you choose and why?
Sketchbook and pencil/coloured pens. I realise I’m pushing the ‘one tool’ a bit, but they would keep me happy, help me record my thoughts and all the really pretty things I’d see on the island too.  I’m presuming the island already has a kettle……?

How do you get inspired to blog? 
I’m lucky that my blog and business are intertwined, so often one can inspire the other.  Also doing something totally different, like cooking or playing with Thea, usually helps make space for a random thought to spark something else. What actually first made me want to blog is that I felt I had things I wanted to say and share, which weren’t really my husband’s thing and, even though he was very supportive and did listen, I needed an outlet.  Although, my blog now is very different from my first (new-motherhood and using creativity to get my head round it all!) but that sense of wanting to share something that I find exciting is still at the heart of it all. 

What top tips would you give to anyone starting a blog?
Just start and never think that no-one’s reading. Some posts will do better than others and it might feel like the growth is slow but it’ll be found. Also, know what you might want to get from it. With my first blog, which I only had for a short time, the act of writing helped me massively so, regardless of the readership, I was still benefitting. My intentions for Holchester.com are different now but without starting I wouldn’t have got anything from it. 
Is there a story behind the name, 'Holchester'?
Yes, it’s actually quite simple. My parents are a massive inspiration and source of encouragement and I wanted to acknowledge that. The ‘Hol’ comes from Holt, which is my mother’s Maiden name (mine is Heatherington, which was trickier to fit in) and the ‘chester’ comes from my surname, Winchester. I knew I wanted something personal and I was just playing around with sounds and when I said it I immediately liked it. It felt  unique without being unpronounceable! 

If you could go to a Blog Award dinner with any 5 people (dead or alive, real or fictional) who would you choose? 
This is such a tough one. My first nomination would have to be Em Makes and Bakes. She’s my crafty partner in crime, a fellow blogger and a really good friend so she’d have to come along for the adventure and the laughs! 

Kat Molesworth from Blogtacular would be on the list too. Not only would we make sure the music for the after-party was great, but I find her such an inspiration as a self-employed blogging businesswoman and mum.  I went to my first Blogtacular last year and I’m off again in June as I’ve found the community so supportive, helpful, motivating and incredibly knowledgeable too.  

Third on my list would be Es Devlin who’s a theatre and set designer and has worked on wonderful theatre productions, as well as big arena pop-shows (think Beyonce, Kanye and U2). I recently saw a documentary about her (Ep. 3 of Abstract on Netflix) and I am just totally in awe. Her work is so imaginative and immersive and, as well as personally being fascinated by theatre design, I think the way she has built her practice and brand could teach me a lot. 

Next is Marie Perkins, AKA Bowie Style, who runs the blog Print & Pattern. I absolutely love surface pattern design and Marie’s work and her blog are great inspiration and encouragement to someone who’s just about got their confidence together to try and get into that industry.  

And finally, I’d invite Henri Matisse and if he’d like to bring Picasso with him too that would be even better! It might seem like a left-field choice but as a student I was always drawn to his use of colour, especially his Cut-outs, I just find them so mesmerising and powerful.  I could sit in galleries, preferably in Paris, looking at them for hours and I think the stories they could share would be awesome. 

And finally, if you had to choose one song to represent 'Holchester', what would it be and why? 

I absolutely love my music and 99% of time it’s on when I’m working/making. But I’ve also got very eclectic taste so I wasn’t sure what some of my favourites might say about me.

In the end I’ve gone for, ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’ by the Arctic Monkeys. I’m not sure it 100% represents everything Holchester but it’s a great track with happy memories, a good beat to encourage dancing and it references the wonderful year that was 1984, the year I was born.  My favourite memory is bouncing up and down and spinning round and round in my wedding dress at our reception to it like a total loon and it’s that sense of fun, energy and carefree attitude that I like to think it stands for! And at the very least, it will give people a funny mental-image and raise a smile, even if it’s at my expense, ha! 

Thank you so much, Rachel! It's been fascinating hearing all about your creative world and your future plans too - surface pattern design, woohoo! Best of luck with it and thanks so much for being a fabulous Blog Gem interviewee!

I hope you've all enjoyed reading about Rachel's wonderful creative and blogging world and are heading over to Holchester right now to read more! And for those of you that want to discover more inspiring bloggers, you can catch up on all my Blog Gem interviews here.


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