Here’s my first quarterly review post of the year – with a little of last year thrown in too!
April is now upon us (hurrah! I love me some spring and summer!) and the last quarterly review I did was a whole six months ago in October. Fingers crossed winter is PROPERLY behind us, and as I don’t have Christmas breathing down my neck or trampling all over my best-laid plans this time I’ve managed to stick to the correct date for my first 2019 post in this series.
I really thought not a lot had happened, but as I started writing it turned out more happened than I initially remembered. Believe me, this blogger does not jet around the world and have four holidays a year – we haven’t been away ANYWHERE (not even a weekend away) for 18 months, and even then that was a week down the road in wet and windy Cornwall! Although I did have one trip abroad for work it didn’t involve bikinis, cocktails or yachts… mine was more windowless studio sets, long hours and freezing cold (but lovely) Eastern Europe.
But I’m not complaining in the slightest: I’m really grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and happy with how life has (with maybe one exception) been treating us. Here’s a brief rundown of what I’ve been up to and how life has treated me and my family these past six months…
Disclosure: I have been paid to work on the campaigns I have discussed here but this post is not sponsored in any way by the brands involved (click here for my full disclosure).
My year in review so far: Life
Life has generally been quite quiet. Christmas was a simple but lovely affair with just my parents and the two men in my life (one human, one canine). We haven’t been away anywhere as I mentioned already – the house move in July put a massive strain on us financially (good grief isn’t moving house expensive?!) – but the move was 100% worth it and we adore our newbuild house and the town we now live in.
We’re mostly settled in, despite there being a few decorating jobs to do still. Although we moved to a new build the number of jobs that needed doing was neverending! We still have some pictures to hang, some wallpaper to put up and some boxes of stuff to empty and sell on eBay. I WILL get round to taking photos of our house in time… right now we always seem to have some sort of box emptying or making stuff job going on all over the floor – in the cold weather you have to do these jobs inside so now the warmer weather is approaching maybe the DIY and sorting jobs can be moved into the garden!
My year in review so far: Career
I’ve been working on some really exciting campaigns over the last six months, some of which I can tell you about, some I can only give a teaser about till they go public…
I’m currently in Avon’s new product campaign for the launch of their Perfect Nudes lipstick collection – you’ll see me and some other celebs and bloggers pouting our way through quite a few videos and images each wearing our individual perfect nude lipstick shade. It was a lovely campaign to work on as it was all about diversity and the fact that there is no one “nude” shade. Check out my video below with Strictly’s makeup artist Lisa Armstrong…!
(BTW the lipstick is amazing, I highly recommend it – I wear several of the colours in the range. A matte lipstick that’s really creamy and not at all drying – a total winner! Watch all the influencer videos here)
When I went to Prague a couple of weeks ago I went to work on a Garnier hair colour campaign – that’s as much as I’m allowed to say at the moment! But the final, er, “thing” will be ready in June, so of COURSE I will share it with you then… I can’t tell you how excited I am about it!
The shoot itself was NUTS, which is hardly surprising seeing as mother brand L’Oréal is the biggest beauty brand in the world. There were probably about 100-150 people present if you looked at the whole operation; it was the most intense shoot I’ve ever done, and I was treated like a queen. But I enjoyed Every. Single. Minute. Below is a little peek BTS (behind the scenes):
So far this year my work seems to have all been video filming, and in January I filmed a video for Direct Line insurance (again, when the final result is available I will share it – it’s something very specifically to do with blogging). I had a film crew in my house which was crazy fun – see the chaos in my house in the photo below where they moved all the furniture around, got a shedload of equipment in and worked round Riley, who mostly slept through the whole thing (you can see him chillin’ on his grey bed on the left of the image…!)
They followed me around my home town filming me there too… I think I caused a mini-commotion on such a small Devon high street – they probably saw all of us and thought “Who on earth is that?! I don’t recognise her… what are they filming HER for?!”
I’ve done about 8-10 video shoots now, and it does get easier. It’s still nervewracking though, and it takes a while to warm up a little. But it’s all great experience and the people on these shoots always treat you SO well (you’d think I was bloody Mariah Carey at Garnier, the way they insisted on helping me put on my shoes or lifting my glass of water for me to drink… I’m not kidding)!
In November I went to London and spent a day courtesy of the estate that looks after/owns Belgravia to experience the best of Belgravia (an exclusive London area) and what it has to offer. We had afternoon tea, a blow dry, a manicure and a private consultation at a perfumier. Read the post to find out which bit I loved the most – probably not what you’d expect, it definitely wasn’t what I expected!
In November I was lucky enough to attend the Vuelio (“view-lee-oh”) Awards as a finalist in the fashion category. I didn’t win, but I never expected to in the slightest… when you’re up against basically all of the UK’s top fashion bloggers then you pretty much know what the result will be! But I had a fabulous time with my work wife What Lizzy Loves, I got to wear a vintage, one-shoulder 70s gown and see the tiny-but-beautiful Victoria of In the Frow (and L’Oréal ads) up close as she was sat on our table, so I was happy.
The last couple of months or so I’ve also been busy judging the UK Blog Awards fashion category – something I’m very proud to be doing! – and the finals are on Friday 12th April (a week tomorrow) which is really exciting. The awards are being streamed live online (YouTube I think) so keep an eye on my Instagram stories and Twitter feed for updates from 6pm (London time)!
Work has been steady – not as busy as the previous financial year but that’s because I’ve followed through with my promise to myself to charge more and work less. This does mean my fees are out of the reach of some brands, but where I charge more on other campaigns it makes up for the ones that I turn down/that turn me down on account of not enough budget. It takes guts to turn down paid work, but the last 12 months has been much less stressful than the previous 12. I highly recommend you do the same, being paid what you’re worth is SO important!
So I haven’t worked myself into the ground and I haven’t been crying in a heap on the kitchen floor because of how much work I have to do (it’s happened many times over the years). I’ve even managed to get my working week down to 4 or 4.5 days a week, and that’s a crazy achievement for someone who used to work on her blog 6-7 days (and nights) a week!
However I AM having problems keeping up with admin, so I think it’s time I found myself an agent again after being without one for the best part of two years now. If I want to keep up the work-life balance AND produce more quality, creative work, then I need someone else to do all the negotiating, admin and payment chasing for me. All of that takes so long and I know that my output regularity on social media and the blog are suffering as a result. But after my terrible experience with my first agent I’m very wary of signing up with someone I don’t know, so I’m going to dedicate this year to researching and hopefully finding The One who is the right fit for me.
My year in review so far: Health
Hmm, my health hasn’t been great, but I mean purely from a ‘lethargy and being unfit’ point of view. Despite coming back from the detox retreat all refreshed in October, I managed to put on a stone (14lb/6kg) in the run-up to and over Christmas. The vicious circle has now set in: being too big to fit in anything comfortably other than sweatpants so you lose your mojo. Then your routine suffers. Then you’re too tired to exercise or cook properly. Then you put on weight and it starts all over again.
Before I went to London and Prague I HAD got back into the exercise again, either working out and/or running 4-5 times a week with regular walking (one fast walk early morning by myself and two long, but slow, plods with Riley). I find that exercise and a good diet go hand in hand; if I’m exercising I’m in my good routine, and a good routine means I cook and eat well. I’m definitely an “all or nothing” kinda girl… I just need that trigger to happen one day and I’ll get myself back on track.
I hope to have different news by the next quarterly update!
Finally: I have my next six-monthly MRI scan later this month to check on my cyst. The last scan showed it hadn’t filled back up again and was only fractionally bigger than it was immediately after surgery, so fingers crossed the situation is still the same. Apart from the usual aches and pains typical of my age(!) I haven’t had ANY pain in my leg, so hopefully the cyst isn’t getting bigger and isn’t pressing on that leg nerve anymore.
My year in review so far: Loved ones
Many of you were kind enough to send me lots of lovely messages when I explained I’d be taking a break of about 12 days from the blog because of some family news (I couldn’t do double work before going to Prague to schedule posts while I was away in the frame of mind I was in). It’s something I’m keeping to myself for now for privacy reasons, but we’re all hopeful for a positive outcome.
As for my mini family, Riley is still with us a whole year after his tumour diagnosis. I would NEVER for one minute think we’d still have him for another 12 months, and although he’s very wobbly on his long legs and he gets up once or twice in the night to wee, he’s still loving life. He wolfs down two big meals a day, loves his treats, and is desperate to walk twice a day. Each walk is 40 or more minutes of slow plodding and lots of sniffing, but all the time he’s eating all his food and wanting to walk we know he’s good.
View this post on Instagram
Many dog breeds don’t have a life expectancy of anything like 14 years, so to have Riley at that age even without the tumour would be a blessing. We live day by day where he’s concerned and enjoy every single minute we have with him. My heart bursts just thinking about how much I love that doggy… Keith is just as much in love with him as I am!
Our other major news is that Keith is now officially unemployed, but in a good way: he took voluntary redundancy from his job of 16 years in February. It all happened so quickly from offer to acceptance to last working day that we barely had time to process the information… he left a month ago and I think only NOW is it beginning to sink in that he no longer works at his old job!
With the redundancy package he received it means we’re comfortable for a few months and we should be able to put some money aside to start the new business venture we have been banging on about FOREVER. It’s lovely having a “house husband”(!) and he has a thousand jobs to do, but I know he wants to get on and get himself sorted job-wise (we’re in the throes of job hunting every day at the moment). I love having Keith at home, and I know he’s loving spending more time with Riley and myself, but I know deep down both of us want to sort out what is happening in our lives ultimately rather than continue with the limbo-land we’re currently in (and I know how/what my routine will be going forward).
The new business venture will, at least, get more attention than it would have done had he continued to work at the old place. It was a wise decision to move on, however, especially as he’d been there 16 years and really needed a new challenge.
As we both like to say – if you don’t take a risk you’ll never know what might have been…! Hopefully by the next quarterly update I’ll be able to share with you what this new venture is all about…
HOW HAS LIFE TREATED YOU SO FAR THIS YEAR? TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS…!
So all that’s left to say is – I’ve shared my thoughts/stories/tuppence-worth this week, now it’s time to share yours… LET’S GET THIS [LINK UP] PARTY STARTED!
✷ ✷ ✷ ✷ ✷
Thank you for joining the #ShareAllLinkUp! Designed to allow you to share anything you like on ANY topic, it goes live every Thursday at around 3pm UK time and will stay open for a week. You can share blog posts or Instagram posts, old posts or new posts, and link up as many as you like.
PLEASE be kind and leave a link somewhere on your post, and share your post using the hashtag #ShareAllLinkUp 🙂
Click here to receive an email with a reminder to link up to the #ShareAllLinkUp as soon as it’s live!
NEW STYLE LINK UP INFO (INLINKZ HAVE HAD A FACELIFT)
Inlinkz have had an update and changed the look of link ups a little. (Not my choice, but the old look has now been retired so all hosts have been forced into it.) There is ONE major thing that you need to know, and it’s in light of the GDPR data collection stuff:
The first time – and ONLY time – you link up to a new-style Inlinkz link party (this is a one-time thing on ANY blog, not for each blog you visit), you will need to register using either a Facebook or Google account (or Inlinkz account if you host link ups yourself). Once you’ve done this you can continue to link up as before on any Inlinkz link up on any blog, no further registration required.
A bit of a pain, but GDPR makes us do these things…!
Also: they’re working on increasing the number of characters allowed in the caption they told me. So apologies for the caption being a bit restrictive at the moment, hopefully it’ll change soon! Let me know if you have any problems at all.