My Year in Review: 2019, Part 2 of 3 (Career, Health, Family, Life Generally)

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Catherine, Keith and Riley

So much has happened this year since I last published a review post, and sadly not all of it was happy.

Firstly, I’ve decided to now split the year into three parts rather than four, so there’ll be one more year in review post at the end of the year. So this post covers April to August (or to today’s date I guess).

I promise this isn’t a depressing post, but the worst happened this summer. I do have lots of interesting news and things we got up to to share with you as well, but before that…

This is the part that I never wanted to have to share in my year in review posts, despite knowing it would happen one day.

At the end of June we lost our 14-year-old beloved lurcher Riley. To say we’ve had a pretty depressing summer is an understatement – it has affected us deeply and there’s been an overwhelming cloud of sadness over us the past couple of months. I wrote a post all about how I (we) felt about a week after losing him, and although it has got easier and the tears are less frequent, anything can still trigger us and get them flowing again.

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Walking Riley
Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Keith and Riley selfie

(This picture above makes me smile so much… Riley – especially for such an elegant dog – looks so goofy.)

So we’re soldiering on, one day at a time. Both of us sometimes wonder whether we’re being too melodramatic, whether you really should get this upset over the loss of a pet, but from what everyone tells me it seems we’re absolutely the norm. The love that people have for their pets is somewhat overwhelming, judging by the comments I’ve received here and on Instagram.

We’ll never forget him, that’s for sure. He was 100% part of the family. He lived a long life, and despite his health problems in the last 16 months he lived a full and very happy life – and for that we couldn’t be more thankful.

But as I said this post is not all sad, I promise you(!) – we’ve done some great things this summer, and there might even be some fabulous (and happy) news if you stick with me to the end of the post…


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: Career

Normally I start with “life generally”, but I’ve moved that to the end this time. Work-wise I’ve had one of the biggest highlights of my whole blogging career to date…!

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): L'Oreal Olia by Garnier redhead

TV advert

After a full-on video shoot in Prague in March and a few months of waiting, my L’Oréal ad finally came out in June. Advertising Olia by Garnier hair colourant, I’m actually on British television at opportune times, though I always seem to miss it when people tell me it’s been on! Here’s a video of the ad if you’ve not seen it, and here’s an account of behind the scenes on the day.

I’ll admit, it’s my proudest moment as a blogger. Real pinch-me stuff.

UK Blog Awards

After four years in a row entering the UK Blog Awards and winning on the third and fourth times, I thought I’d turn my hand at being a judge in 2019. I judged the fashion category with a fashion stylist and between us we crowned 40+ blogger The Sequinist as the winner – another proud moment for older women (she has since turned 50)!

Unfortunately the UK Blog Awards wrapped up for good this year which is a MASSIVE shame as there are few awards for bloggers that don’t centre around popularity and clicks/votes or give “smaller” bloggers a chance for recognition. The other judges and I were hoping that someone may come along and buy the awards from the current owner, but it seems sponsorship is getting harder and harder to get so it had to fold. A real shame – it feels like the end of an era.


Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): JD Williams photo shoot

Fashion campaigns

Although not as many as I hoped, I’ve worked on a few fashion campaigns this summer (fashion brands are notorious for being very hard to collaborate with when they have so many bloggers who are willing to do a ton of work just for free clothes, sigh).

I worked with super comfy shoe brand Josef Seibel,  a brand I’m hopefully working with again for AW19. Also Land’s End, another brand I’ve been trying to work with for a while now.

And of course there’s my long-term fashion collaborator JD Williams – I’ve featured sponsored posts on my blog and in July I modelled for them for their social content (see above) which was a whole lot of fun. Though the searing temperatures in London that day (the day before the hottest day on record in the UK ever) weren’t so fun… thank goodness for aircon in the studio, though modelling biker jackets on the terrace outside in nearly 40C heat was challenging!


Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Avon event breakfast

Beauty campaigns

I’m really thankful to have worked with quite a few beauty brands this year: beauty brands are always wanting to collaborate with older bloggers which is great news.

In May I attended a stunning breakfast (above) with several other bloggers to celebrate the launch of Avon’s new Vitamin C serum, which I absolutely LOVED – and still use now. I have yet to recreate the Vitamin C-rich cake which we hilariously made in a workshop on the day, though the recipe is sitting in my To-Do pile in the kitchen. We did think it was slightly unfair that one of the other people invited – and who got to make a cake with a couple of the bloggers – was Candice Brown, the 2016 winner of the Great British Bake Off. All I can say is that her cake wasn’t photographed for the promo photos… OURS was! ;-P

I also created campaigns for Astral moisturising cream (unchanged since the 1950s can you believe) and Estée Lauder SPF day creams. If you didn’t see the photo shoot I did for the latter, you really should check it out if you’d like a giggle. Let’s just say I don’t know what possessed me…!

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Work-life balance

I can honestly say I think I now have this under control – I may not be earning as much as I could be due to the number of campaigns I turn down, but CRIKEY my work-life balance is a whole lot better than it used to be. Sure, I still have very busy periods (where I’m ploughing furiously through all the content I have to produce and publish) interspersed with much quieter periods, but I don’t work anything like the long hours I used to. Spending time with family, plenty of downtime and looking after myself is so much more important to me than earning all the money there is, and Keith and I live a happy, comfortable (and compared to some, modest) life. We have to save up to buy things. We go on holiday only every few years. I like it that way.

Back to blogging though, and I still turn down a huge number of work offers – most of them are pretty crappy to be honest. I also turn down a huge number of gifts (I have enough beauty products and clothes/shoes etc. to last me a lifetime). This summer I made a promise that I wouldn’t accept anything that comes in ridiculous amounts of bubble wrap, unrecyclable Jiffy bags or other heinous packaging. I also decided that before attending events or campaigns with other bloggers that I’d ensure that there was a diverse mix of people attending.

So far it’s worked nicely, despite a cosmetics company promising me they’d send me something in recyclable packaging. I had to suggest what to send it in as they couldn’t think of what to use… I said how about a cardboard envelope or similar, they still sent it in a plastic bubble bag. I was NOT impressed.


My year in review so far: Health

Thankfully this area has improved enormously… I feel healthier and fitter than I have in a long time. Last week I touched on the subject of my weight and how that affected my self-esteem and caused a bad case of imposter syndrome at the L’Oréal shoot in March, but my health and fitness are good right now, and only getting better.

In June I went to the Slimmeria detox retreat* again (I went for the first time in September 2018) and unfortunately due to the routine we had with looking after a very old doggy (much like looking after a newborn baby, he needed to go out every 1-2 hours and couldn’t sleep alone so we were exhausted) I gained a whole lot more weight than I could ever have imagined. None of my regular clothes fit, none of the bigger clothes I bought last year fit, and I went to the retreat in June nearly 20lbs heavier than what I was when I came back the first time.

Thank goodness I went again because not only is the north Devon coast – namely Ilfracombe – a gorgeous part of the country, but I went with almost the same group that I went with in September (yes, we organised it to go together!), and I’ve gained a wonderful group of friends to boot.

*Disclosure: I receive a press discount when booking.

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Slimmeria detox retreat walk in Ilfracombe
Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Slimmeria, detox retreat

When I got back from Slimmeria in June I had about two weeks of really keeping up the regime (exercise and healthy eating) before we lost Riley. Although I did carry on as best I could afterwards (to honour his memory we said we’d get our health back), I did find myself eating more than I should. I love G&Ts and summer desserts, and long sunny days and barbeques are perfect for that.

It turns out that although I hadn’t really been trying (I still did my long walks in the morning), I lost more weight than I thought, and I’m sure this is down to stress and the grief from losing a pet. But once I bit the bullet a couple of weeks ago and weighed myself (expecting to be heavier, I was actually lighter), it gave me the encouragement to keep going and improve my fitness levels further.

I’ll be going to Slimmeria again this Sunday, so expect lots more stunning photos of the north Devon coastline and vegan meals on my Instagram stories. Again, I’m going at the same time as some of the same group from last year, and I absolutely cannot wait. Of course I miss Keith (and the boy when we had him), but it’s something that I do for myself and I feel so revived and alive when I’m there – as well as when I’m back home.

The first two times I think I was still learning about how to incorporate the regime into my life and keep it up; the fact that I’m into the regime long before even going this time is a testament to how it’s taught me to rethink my daily routine and habits (good and bad). Hopefully by Christmas my fitness and energy levels will be sky high: I’m planning a blog post later this year for how I did it, and how I kept it up… I’m assuming that I WILL keep it up this time (not hoping, I KNOW I will)!


My year in review so far: Family

In the last review post I mentioned that Keith had taken voluntary redundancy; after three months he found himself a new job, and a really good one at that. A better company, better salary, practically no commuting time (his workplace is in our actual town)… it worked out really well and I’m so pleased for him. He had a total of three months off between jobs, and in hindsight it’s wonderful that he got to spend so much time with Riley in his final days.

Funny how life turns out sometimes, isn’t it? It seemed so worrying at the time for him to not have a job, yet it was the best thing that could have happened.

Also, someone in my family celebrated their 90th birthday…

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): My father, 1950s

My dad turned 90 this spring, and of course we had a family party to celebrate. Here he is in his pre-moustachio’d days – my mum laughs at this picture but I think he looks amazing! Men were always so smart in those days (I think this is the early 1950s).

Earlier this year I also touched on the subject of receiving some bad news where another family member was concerned. I’m pleased to say they’re doing well and fingers crossed we’re hoping for a good outcome. Thank you for all the love where that was concerned, and for being understanding when I had to take a complete break from blogging for a bit.

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My year in review so far: Life generally

So apart from things where my career, health and loved ones are concerned, that leaves life generally – these are some of the things I got up to:

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Christian Dior at the V&A Museum, London

Christian Dior at the V&A Museum

Oh my, WHAT an exhibition…! Totally living up to the hype, this was just the MOST incredible, breathtaking exhibition ever. Room after room after room of stunning outfits and displays, I never wanted it to end. It has now sadly ended its run at the V&A, but if it ever tours and is on somewhere near you, BOOK TICKETS IMMEDIATELY. I could have happily gone round it 10 times, it was that good. The most perfect example of how fashion is art, no question.


Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): The Chemical Brothers at the Eden Project, Cornwall

The Chemical Brothers at the Eden Project

Another incredible show, but a very different one to Dior! Having been a massive fan of electronic dance in the 80s and 90s (and still now, truth be told), a chance to see the Chemical Brothers was an opportunity not to be missed. The Eden Project in Cornwall is only 90 minutes from us so we tend to see a concert there every other year – they hold the ‘Eden Sessions’ every summer with a one-night concert from each act. I’ll take Eden over Glastonbury ANY day – no mud, proper toilets, incredible food, and a two-day pass to the Eden Project thrown in with your concert ticket.

The Chemical Brothers were UNBELIEVABLY good live. Took me right back to my clubbing days in the mid 90s. It was, unfortunately, a bittersweet event; it was the very next day after we lost Riley. We’d booked the tickets months beforehand, and it looked like we were just going to have to not go as he was so unwell. We had to call the vet sooner than we thought (we couldn’t let him go on any longer), and then we wondered whether we really should go to Eden. On my mum’s advice we DID go, however, as we thought a couple of days away from home would do us good (I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting at home in an empty house and crying).

It turns out it was the best tonic we could have given ourselves – an evening of noisy, banging music and then a day of tranquil gardens and tropical biomes. We needed it.

Other stuff…

Apart from that we loved watching the Women’s World Cup in July… the women players could sure teach the men a thing or two about sportsmanship (sportswomanship?). But it was an incredible tournament and I’m so glad women’s sport is becoming more popular and more visible.

My birthday was in July and for my birthday/blogiversary post (they fall on the same day) I created six Not Dressed As Lamb alter egos had I been a different person starting a blog. Still me but different, if that makes sense: basically just an excuse to have a play with FaceApp, not just the ageing one! If you didn’t see it, you MUST check out the male me. I’m ashamed to say I weirded myself out by actually fancying myself as a bloke.

And finally: if you’ve stuck around till the end for the happy news I mentioned:

Not Dressed As Lamb, My Year in Review (Part 2 of 3): Do walking

Now I don’t want to jinx this, but we potentially have a new member of the family joining us at the end of the month… it’s just not set in stone yet. Yes, we started the doggy adoption process a couple of weeks ago and of course we fell in love with someone (see her bum while we walked her at the rescue centre, above)! I won’t say more than that, but as I’m away at the retreat for a week and Keith’s at work and then he’s joining me for a few days in north Devon, we can’t reserve her till we’re back.

We’ve been to see her twice now just to make sure she’s the one – she is! – but we have to accept that someone else may adopt her in the meantime. So it would be lovely if she WAS adopted for her sake, but of course WE want to be her doggy parents. So please, keep your fingers crossed that she holds on till the 23rd of September for us.

We have felt a massive hole since losing Riley, and it goes without saying that we’ll never forget him. But we feel we’re ready to give our love to and share our home with another beautiful ball of fur. Or in this girl’s case, a streamlined ball of velvet…!

Fingers, toes and everything else crossed.

How’s life been for you this summer? Tell me in the comments!

Catherine signature

EDIT 13/09/2019: She’s ours!! We had the home inspection and they rang straight away to say they’d happily reserve her for us until we’re back from North Devon… we’re so happy!! Watch this space!

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  1. 9 October 2019 / 11:02 am

    I am so pleased to read that Keith got such a good job and so near. That will improve both your lives a lot. More time to spend with each other and a happier husband.
    I am going to search your blog now to see whether you got the dog. We are very pleased with our new dog Watson although he came too soon after lovely Charlie died. It took us a great deal of adjusting and stop comparing as Watson is the total opposite of Charlie who went about quietly, also at a young age. Watson is like a ball on fire. But everything is good now, we love him.

  2. 27 September 2019 / 10:49 am

    wow, you are a very busy lady! Only women can multi-task that way! You have accomplished so much.
    I am very sorry to hear about Riley. It’s very sad to lose a pet who is part of the family.
    I love you blog, thanks for sharing it with us!


    • Catherine
      30 September 2019 / 3:28 pm

      Thank you so much Sonia, both for the compliments and for the love with regards to Riley. We now have our beautiful new girl at home and she’s settling in wonderfully!

    • Catherine
      30 September 2019 / 3:29 pm

      She was, Mireille, and she’s now home with us! She’s absolutely gorgeous!!

  3. 16 September 2019 / 11:38 am

    What a busy summer! Mine went by incredibly fast, in fact – I’m still not ready to see the back of it just yet 🙁
    Fortunately it looks like the local weather is on the same page, and we have a month or two left of warm days 🙂
    Joi |

    • Catherine
      30 September 2019 / 3:29 pm

      Oh I hope you still have some warmth days, Joi – pouring with rain here!!

  4. Karen
    15 September 2019 / 5:25 pm

    Fingers and paws crossed for you, but I am a great believer of what will be will be !
    Look forward to hearing if she becomes your new fur child.
    Hope you have a lovely time away in Devon x

    • Catherine
      30 September 2019 / 3:30 pm

      Thanks Karen, we kept our fingers crossed and she’s now home with us!! Couldn’t be happier! x

  5. 15 September 2019 / 3:38 pm

    What a busy time – it’s not until you look back and see what you’ve done, do you realise just how busy you’ve been! Are you looking forward to a more relaxed pace, or is life going to be just as busy for you? Happy Sunday Catherine. x
    Do stop by and share on the #linkup Hun.. Jacqui Mummabstylish

    • Catherine
      30 September 2019 / 3:30 pm

      You’re absolutely right, Jacqui – I thought we hadn’t really done that much but it seems we had!! Thank you xx

  6. 13 September 2019 / 9:13 pm

    Fingers crossed for you and your new potential family member. I’m sure you will always love and cherish Riley, but speaking from experience, there’s nothing like getting a new pet to open up your heart again. 🙂
    Cheryl Shops |

    • Catherine
      30 September 2019 / 3:31 pm

      Thank you Cheryl – that’s absolutely what’s happened… it turns out she’s a great mender for a broken heart <3 xx

  7. 13 September 2019 / 2:13 am

    What an inspiring post! Thanks for sharing.

    xo, Joling

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:19 pm

      My pleasure Joling, thank you x

  8. 13 September 2019 / 1:55 am

    What a busy time you have had! The good and bad. Definately a tough time with Riley. We can all relate i’m sure.
    Thank you for sharing all with us. Your photographs for the ad are fabulous!
    Alison xx

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:20 pm

      It has been a tough time Alison, but we’ll have a new pup soon to love (can’t wait)! Thank you xx

  9. 13 September 2019 / 12:59 am

    What a year! But the one thing I must comment on. YOU ARE NOT BEING MELODRAMATIC about the loss of your dog. Seriously. My beloved Ruby passed six years ago and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I still cry over her and miss her terribly. So go on now. You have that right to mourn as long as you want! XOXOXO

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:21 pm

      Oh bless you Cathe, thank you… people are so understanding and wonderful when it comes to pets – what would we do without them?! It’s still very painful but we’re sure it’ll help the healing process to have a new gorgeous girl to love x

  10. 12 September 2019 / 11:49 pm

    Since I lost my beloved Cairn Terrier this spring, I understand about your feeling of loss. We recently adopted a little Norwich Terrier/French Bulldog combo and she is the sweetest thing ever! No dog can replace the dogs we’ve loved so much, can they, but it feels so good to rescue these little guys who give and share our love. Best wishes on that! On the career front, you continue to blow many of us away! It’s impressive, to say the least, and I like that you are discriminating in your choices of who to work with.

    Thanks for sharing.
    xx Darlene

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:22 pm

      Oh that’s so lovely to hear, Darlene – we can’t wait to give this lovely girl a loving home! And thank you, the job is a lot of work but I do love doing it x

  11. Michelle Springer
    12 September 2019 / 10:24 pm

    I will keep all fingers, toes, and paws crossed for you and your possible new furry family member! I know how hard it is to lose a furry friend- it’s been two years since Simon (my ginger kitty) crossed the Bridge, and I still miss him like crazy. I do know, however, once I’m in a better living situation, I’m going to adopt a new kitty. There are so many furry ones who need a home out there, and we are honoring our loved ones by helping another out.
    I’m glad that everything else is going well, and I promise that I will read the blog more often! 🙂

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:23 pm

      Thank you for keeping everything crossed, Michelle – it worked! She’ll be ours on the 24th when we pick her up, it’s official!!
      I’m so glad to hear you’ll also get a new kitty, even just knowing we’ll have our new girl soon has made us happy. It feels good to know that she’ll soon be in a loving home rather than waiting for her forever parents in the kennels 🙁 xx

  12. Mary Katherine
    12 September 2019 / 8:50 pm

    I love these reviews, Catherine. I think you set the standard for blogging, and I admire you very much. I know that I and the rest of your readers grieved Riley with you, as most of have been there and know that pain all too well. Your potential new girl looks lovely, so fingers crossed. But if it’s not her, there are so many others who need your love and will fill your hearts and your home. Such great news about Keith’s job, and your career successes this year are an inspiration as well. I look forward to reading all about your latest retreat, and image you rested, nourished, toned and glowing with health.

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:24 pm

      Such kind words as always, Mary Katherine – thank you my darling! Good news is that the rescue centre reserved her after all following the home inspection (I think we impressed them)! We’re so happy xx

  13. 12 September 2019 / 8:16 pm

    Good and sad it’s all the circle of life? Love your reviews!
    How handsome is your Dad !!!

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:25 pm

      Thanks Ashley my lovely – and yes he was rather dashing, I agree…!!!

    • 12 September 2019 / 8:05 pm

      Great newsy post Catherine. Good luck with the doggy adventure!

      • Catherine
        13 September 2019 / 8:26 pm

        Thank you so much Gail – she’ll be ours for sure, it’s official!! woop woop x

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:26 pm

      Thanks Julie – it has been very tough, but happier times are certainly on their way with our new girl who’s been confirmed as ours on the 24th when we get to pick her up 🙂 x

  14. 12 September 2019 / 6:42 pm

    Oh Catherine. What a busy few months you’ve had. There have been ups and downs for sure but how exciting is the potential new arrival!!!!! Brava on the brilliant campaigns you’ve worked on and brava on those you didn’t. Here’s to a very happy final third of the year. Love ya xxxx

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:27 pm

      Thanks so much lovely Liz – how exciting about our new arrival! We can’t wait!! x

  15. 12 September 2019 / 6:31 pm

    A fantastic year. Interesting about the Avon Vit C.

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:27 pm

      Thank you Anna – yes The Vitamin C serum is lush, it smells soooooooo good too #drool

  16. jodie filogomo
    12 September 2019 / 6:24 pm

    What a great way to look back on this part of the year. And I’m glad you’re considering another fur baby. They really do add so much to our lives.

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:28 pm

      Thank you Jodie – not just considering now I’m happy to report: it’s official, she’ll be ours! x

  17. 12 September 2019 / 4:38 pm

    It is always so nice to catch up on all the happenings in the lives of blogger friends. You have definitely had one heck of year filled with lots of ups and downs. Thank you for sharing all of it with us.


    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:28 pm

      Aww thanks Shelbee, glad you like these posts x

  18. 12 September 2019 / 3:39 pm

    I’m so sorry about your sweet Riley. I can only imagine how difficult this must be…he’s been in many of your posts look elegant so the goofy shot is extra sweet. Congratulations on all the career achievements. Those do sound marvelous though I’m not surprised. You work hard, have great style (and hair and skin!) and inspire many. Thank you for a fun “anything” link up.

    • Catherine
      13 September 2019 / 8:29 pm

      Aww thank you Chrissy… yes that photo is so funny, he looks so dopey 😉
      And thank you for the lovely compliments, you’re a star! x

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