My Year in Review: 2019, the First Quarter (and the end of 2018)

Family photo: Catherine, Keith and Riley the lurcher | Not Dressed As Lamb

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…

Avon

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)

Garnier

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):

Behind the scenes at the Garnier Olia shoot, 2019 | Not Dressed As Lamb

Direct Line

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?!”

Film crew in my house | Not Dressed As Lamb

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)!

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Belgravia

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!

Prêt-à-Portea: Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley | Not Dressed As Lamb

Blogging awards

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 Vuelio Awards November 2018 | Not Dressed As Lamb

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-life balance

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.

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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.

 

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A post shared by Riley the Lurcher (@riley_thelurcher) on

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…!

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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!

 

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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.

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25 Comments

  1. October 9, 2019 / 10:42 am

    This was a good read. I feel I am catching up a bit after being absent from your blog for many posts. Sometimes I read them though but do not comment. And now I am down the rabbit hole, clicking on links all the time. I am now going to read Belgravia (what a lovely area by the way).
    Greetje

  2. Wendy
    May 9, 2019 / 12:42 pm

    What an amazing shot with the videoshoot! Looks so exciting 🙂

  3. April 9, 2019 / 4:05 pm

    So glad to hear Riley is still doing well. With Caleb, my gauge for his quality of life was also eating and walking. At 15 he still loved his food, so we proceeded on, even as he was slowing down So Much. Then one morning he didn’t eat. He just looked at his food, gave the top a lick, then slumped down and I knew that was it. I spent the morning frantically looking for someone to come RIGHT NOW as I couldn’t bear for him to be uncomfortable or in pain, or without his greatest love – food. Fortunately I got someone (our regular vet was away that weekend and her back-up was over-scheduled and couldn’t get there) to come and…do the thing right in the living room on his bed…and that was that. That was almost a year ago now and I remember it like it was yesterday. But my point was, you’ll know when it’s time. He’ll let you know. And til then, just keep loving him and keeping him comfortable and happy.

    {{hugs}}

    Bettye

    • Catherine
      Author
      April 25, 2019 / 11:39 am

      Thank you so much Bettye. I’m sorted of prepared, but then I’m really not… I know he will let us know. Right now the eating and the walking are the two most important things to him and I’m glad to say he seems really happy x

  4. April 9, 2019 / 12:56 pm

    You’re accomplishing so much! It’s good news that you are charging more for your services and not running yourself into the ground. Best of luck to your husband’s new venture, a bit scary and exciting!

  5. April 9, 2019 / 10:31 am

    Lovely to hear your update Catherine, and I’m so happy about Riley 🙂 What an interesting year you’ve had so far! I hope we get to hear your business plans, it sounds exciting.
    Helen x

  6. Tracy Patil
    April 6, 2019 / 8:48 pm

    Loved the update…Riley is amazing, so happy that you get to spend more time with him!! You sound like you’ve had a fantastic year, so many exciting things happening for you X

  7. April 6, 2019 / 3:43 pm

    Wow, you have had a lot of exciting stuff going on, and well done for sticking to your guns. Your new home sounds lovely – and a good decision made by you both to move. I’m looking forward to seeing what you have been up to and had to keep shtum about!
    Riley looks the sweetest natured companion.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Alison
    xx

  8. April 5, 2019 / 7:44 pm

    Looks like you have had a great year so far. Thanks for hosting and I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.

  9. April 5, 2019 / 11:07 am

    Catherine, you have had a quite a lot going on despite it being somewhat quiet as you say! Congratulations on all of your exciting campaigns! And yes, moving house is ridiculously expensive! But I am so glad that you are in a place that you love. Looking forward to seeing the next steps for you and your blog!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

  10. April 5, 2019 / 5:21 am

    You have such an interesting life, Catherine, and it’s so fun to read about your professional life. I also love to hear about Riley and am so happy he is doing well. He is loved, and he knows it. My 16 year old Cairn Terrier is waning and it’s tough to watch, but he is still a happy sweet dog and we, too, are taking every day as it comes.

    xx Darlene

  11. April 5, 2019 / 2:49 am

    You have a lovely cosy-looking lounge, a beautiful furbaby, don’t they just steal our hearts? And, funny thing is, I’ve just started using Garnier hairdye rather than going to a salon.

  12. Karen
    April 4, 2019 / 10:22 pm

    Thank you for such a great catch up.
    Hope your results come back okay from your scan, they are quite naughty these cysts……I found out by chance I have two decent sized ones & a sludgy gallbladder ….waiting for my MRI results with intrepidation.
    We just moved 3 weeks ago into a fairly newishly built house & I know exactly what you mean about lots of things to be done even though there is no major refurbishment going on !
    I totally empathise about the weight scenario, I seem to be living in soft top trousers & dresses too much.
    Good luck with your new venture, exciting times ahead !!!…. look forward to reading more x

    • catherine
      Author
      April 4, 2019 / 10:50 pm

      Yes I think mine is a wannabe naughty cyst Karen! I hope you have clear results from your scan, fingers crossed for you – and thank you x

  13. April 4, 2019 / 8:22 pm

    When you put it together that’s bloody busy! Thanks for sharing all your interesting days. Thank you for linking. Jacqui Mummabstylish

  14. April 4, 2019 / 7:45 pm

    Sounds like you’ve had a busy year so far, and that’s amazing that you’ve been able to work on so many brand partnerships—that’s my dream! I love how you phrased your husband’s “redundancy” (we call them layoffs in the US, which just sounds sad), and I can’t wait to see what new business you launch—congrats!
    Cheryl Shops | http://www.cherylshops.net

  15. April 4, 2019 / 7:10 pm

    What a lovely personal post. A lot of things are happening in your life now. Very exciting. Enjoy every minute of it!

  16. Ann Gibert
    April 4, 2019 / 6:51 pm

    I can totally relate to the moving house limbo. We just did the same thing three weeks ago, and if feels like EVERYTHING is SOMEWHERE but not where we expect it to be. Another trip to the local home improvement store today and hopefully by tomorrow we’ll have window treatments up. Our dog and our three cats are happy, so that’s a start.Ann

  17. jodie filogomo
    April 4, 2019 / 6:26 pm

    I always love catching up this way, Catherine.
    I know exactly what you mean about having my husband home. It’s the best thing ever!!
    XOOX
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

  18. April 4, 2019 / 6:09 pm

    You are such a hard working Woman Catherine, a proper entrepreneur! You really deserve every success you’re now enjoying my darling girl xx

  19. April 4, 2019 / 5:31 pm

    What a busy year so far and a very interesting human story post again from you Catherine

    Anna from Muttonstyle

  20. April 4, 2019 / 4:27 pm

    Don’t leave us hanging about the business! I can’t wait to hear what you have planned. A good year so far Catherine. I’m a huge fan of Victoria too. I would have sat at the table unable to stare! xx

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