Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Back From Outer Space {Hello to anyone still reading!}

It has been so long since I have written and published a blog post that I've almost forgotten how it works!  A couple of months ago I had the lightbulb moment I'd been waiting for; I woke up and I missed blogging, missed writing, missed photographing beautiful objects, and missed interacting with online friends who shared their own interests through their portions of the internet.  With this little ache settled in the pit of my belly the only thing to do was to start a fresh notebook (old habits) specifically for ways to revive my blog.  Out poured idea after idea, pages and pages of things I'd like to share.  Kettle boiled and bucket-sized mug of tea brewed, I then opened up my Macbook (I say mine . . . I may have purloined my Mums. Good thing she loves me) went straight to Bloglovin' and spent a couple of hours reading.  It became clear to me quickly that I had been out of the loop for a very, very long time.

Prior to this I hadn't posted since September 2013 and everything seemed to have moved on exponentially since then.  Seeking a little help to get back up to speed I scrolled through some of the recommended reads - quite a few of which seemed crammed with tips on how to blog - and came away feeling completely disillusioned.  The professional blog designs, analytics packages, migration to self hosting, brand collaborations, heavy posting schedule, and social media commitment deemed necessary by each 'how to' in order to blog intimidated the life out of me!  My tea had reached stone-cold status by the time I decided that this brave new blog-world was probably out of my reach; I didn't have time to post daily, the spare cash for a professional blog/web design or the know-how around promoting my blog on social media.  So I gulped my cold tea (grim!) and busied myself making a mess in the kitchen to put the entire thing out of my mind. 

Only I couldn't get the niggle to go away.  Deciding not to make the same mistake twice I skipped anything remotely 'how to blog' in title and instead revisited my old favourites.  Some pages, like mine, were now dormant but others were still going strong and it felt lovely to dip back into the worlds of their respective authors.  Many were still posting along similar lines and others had branched out into new areas and visiting each was so nice - I know 'nice' is such an overused word, and often means underwhelming, but in this case it really was . . . 'nice'.  Pleasant, amusing, heartwarming, inspirational.  I'm not sure how much of a community feel there still is in the blogging world currently, I suppose that is something I will only find out with time but I hope there is still a sense of amity and collaboration.  So now I guess I'm waving 'hello'!  How are you all?!  It has been quite a hiatus here on Beautiful Clutter, so much in life has changed over the past two years and with the coming months it is set to change more.  I've missed you!  I had thought about starting afresh with a completely new blog, but instead I've decided that perhaps I'll let Beautiful Clutter grow and change to reflect how my life has moved on.  So for the moment I'm afraid it's the same old layout, same old style of photography and a potentially sporadic posting schedule; I hope if you're still out there reading that you won't mind that too much!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Optimism and Vintage Seeking

It struck me recently that vintage fanciers are relentless optimists; each charity shop could conceal a pristine and worthy treasure, every flea market is rife with possibility and jumble sales are chaotic games of chance. We have all flicked our way through overcrowded racks of suspect garments or rifled determinedly in a box marked ‘50p’ just in case a treasure waits patiently unseen at the end of the trail. On coming up empty from a hunt we shrug our shoulders and reason that there have to be fruitless days in the name of balance and reason that we’ll have better luck next time out.

Treasure seeking is such a heady mix of possibility and stories that it is hard to resist - every find has had a life of it’s own before it comes to you and there lies so much of the appeal for me – endless promise.  The most mundane of objects could tell some of the most compelling histories; of themselves and of the hands they have passed through on their journey. Magpie tendencies can be troublesome - no matter how much space is on offer there are yet more curiosities to fill it with. Lately I have been slightly stricter with myself in what I buy; I’m a pushover and want to give a home to every orphaned teacup or woebegone book I see and can’t bear to think of them stuck on a shelf lonely and unloved, but that way hoarding lies! The funny thing is that less is more – a smidgeon of self-control is a beautiful thing – because now every treasure I decide to make my own feels more special for having passed the stringent ‘If I walk away from this will I regret it?’ test. I’m headed to Birmingham next week to one of my favourite hunting grounds for pretty old junk and I know I’ll relish every moment of the chase, I just hope that whatever I find will fit into my suitcase! 

Made.com just created a slightly tongue-in-cheek TV advert about how the makers of their furniture find the designs absolutely irresistible, they asked me to share it - and what I find irresistible - with my readers. If you've been dropping by Beautiful Clutter for a while you'll know I'm an incorrigible book fondler and page sniffer so the video struck a real chord with me, let me know what you think!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Amazon Giveaway

I hereby pledge to only steal lyrics from Right Said Fred this once; I'm deeply dippy (oh yes) about books. Secondhand lovelies especially with their comfortingly dusty aroma, sweet inscriptions and forgotten bookmarks yet a little parcel of brand new books is just as bewitching - they are crisp and unread with their own enticing scent - being the first to turn their pages feels brilliant to me.

So when Appliances Online asked whether I would like an Amazon voucher to give away to a lucky reader I was very enthusiastic! My Amazon wish lists (for I have several) are constantly growing and I know so many of you are just as fiendish about reading as I am, to be in with a chance of winning £40 in Amazon vouchers you can enter below! The giveaway is open to international readers and you have two weeks to enter, best of luck!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Secret Histories

Photographs can be such a personal thing, each time I come away from my local antiques centre with a couple of old pictures I feel as though I've been let in on a secret somehow - that wherever the subjects ended up I hold a moment of their history in my hands. Curiosity means I tend to start decoding before I even get them home; how old does she look? What clues do her clothes give to the decade? What does her expression say about her? 

There is only so much to decipher by looking, the rest is a mystery, and that is where the beauty lies for me. I've always had an overactive imagination so I let it loose and see where it takes me; sometimes I'll invent elaborate family trees and a rich backstory other times a little summary of important points to note - prefers lemon curd to jam, likes to leave a trail of breadcrumbs for the ducks with the crust of her sandwich. Posed portraits are lovely to look at and I own quite a few but the exciting finds are images captured by accident. Rebecca caught my eye - the outtakes especially - her expressions make me think there is plenty going on beneath the surface and infinite possibilities as to her story. I found Grace, Katherine and Rebecca in the same box and I'd like to imagine they know one another - even if the decades don't quite match up!

It could be the Downton Abbey fan in me but images of life below stairs are some of my favourites, there is so much to surmise in the picture of the girls grouped around the table having tea and the coat hung on the back of the door feels spectre like - very ghost-at-the-feast. I'd love to know what you think the story is behind that scene!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Notebook Hoarding

The opening page of a fresh notebook is a heady mix of new stationery aroma and possibilities, I get caught up in the ceremony of putting pen to paper and setting the tone for any scribbles to follow, so much so that there are several notebooks in my stash yet to receive a maiden scrawl. I’m waiting for a worthy and perfect thought or idea to strike, you see.  The longer I wait, the bigger the expectation grows until eventually I feel as though even Shakespeare would be hard pushed to do justice in kicking off proceedings and therein lies the trap.  It is around this time that I’ll start crooning over other notebooks while out and about: cover fondling, page sniffing (I’ve become accustomed to the peculiar looks this earns me), flicking through pages and testing their weight in my hand.  After a suitable period of procrastination I’ll inevitably find myself lured into a stationers by necessity – paperclips, glue or pens are the main culprits – and instead be seduced by the siren song of notebook adventure.  When it comes to notebooks I am powerless against the rush, all self control exits stage left.
That isn’t to say I have dozens of them lying empty around my house, the great thing about being a notebook hoarder is that once you have a couple of newer editions the older crop start to look more accessible and before I know it I’m halfway through the ornate purple number with the cream lined pages and heavy magnetic clasp.  Gifted notebooks upset the cycle completely, instead of the need to be worthy of the first page I tend to write in them almost immediately with whatever is on my mind that day – these turn into journals or inspiration books, full of daily-life stuff and pictures torn from magazines of whatever makes my heart flutter.  Regardless of the rest there is always one constant slow-burner, a notebook with an added degree of special to me that I want to take my time filling and keep for life, this one was a gift from Tristan a few years ago and is all heavy marble-edged paper with a beautiful deep red leather binding. The smell is out of this world.
I once knew a person who had a dozen identical notebooks, one per year, filled at the rate of a page per day and shelved together when completed, from an interior design standpoint it looked good, but somehow it made me sad.  For me, part of the joy in having a little library of notebooks at my fingertips is the way I can grab whichever takes my fancy when I’m struck with inspiration while I can’t sleep at night, and the unpredictable journey each notebook takes – I’ll write pages upon pages of thoughts or stories - then my next entry could be weeks later about a recipe I’m experimenting with.  There’s a certain kind of magic about the rainbow of spines in a varied stack of notebooks too – all different sizes and textures and each with their own story to tell, which never turns out to be quite the plot you think it will at the beginning.  I like to pick and mix – some of mine are pastel and pretty, some are fabric covered and tactile whereas others wouldn’t look out of place in the Hogwarts library. 
Whatever your taste there will always be a notebook that fits and sometimes, the very special ones, find you.