Wow, I can't believe 2015 is nearly over already! It went by in a flash! I guess that's how life goes when you are juggling a toddler, a career and trying to sell and buy a house! Anyway, as always, I like to reflect on the past year, even if it is just for me, as it helps me to appreciate everything that has happened and not worry so much that I'm not getting enough done.
The year started off with lots of book related news - of course the announcement that my very first book would be publishing in October, but also some other projects I'd worked on, including Shed Decor which I sourced all the photography for.
Ruby turned 6 months in January so I finally felt she was old enough for me to leave her (with dad!) while I went to Paris to do some shoots for the book. I was shooting with one of the fabulous photographers who worked on my book - Simon Upton - and we shot two shops: Adeline Klam and Le Rocketship as well as their homes, I absolutely loved working on the shoots, and was a bit sad I missed out on the rest. Both shopowners were SO lovely, and I felt so inspired just hanging out with them for the day. The first pic below is Adeline's home and the next shot is Benoit's home of Le Rocketship.
Above two images, photo credit: Simon Upton/Jacqui Small Publishing
It was pretty much full steam ahead with the book for the first six months of the year, but I still had to fit in other work around it including my craft blog posts for ao.com/life. In February I did a fun Valentines post with five handmade card ideas which you can check out here for next Valentines day!
In March, we finally got round to decorating the last room in the house that needed it - the bathroom. It was probably the only room that was fine when we moved in, and we easily could have left it, but after getting a new boiler installed it needed redecorating as the walls had got damaged plus we had built a new cupboard around the boiler. I'm so glad we did in the end as it is a much nicer space now. You can read the full post and see more pics here.
And of course we celebrated Easter by dressing Ruby up and eating lots of chocolate and mini eggs!
In April I was featured in Prima Makes magazine which is always nice! And I took Ruby to my parents in N. Ireland, while hubby painted our floor white. What a great decision that was, it made such a difference to our dining area and hallway.
photo credit: Cathy Pyle
This time of year is definitely my favourite. You start coming out of hibernation after winter, it's warmer, the flowers are blooming and I just generally feel more motivated. We finished off our kitchen renovation with the kitchen island worktop, which was a long and arduous battle. You can see how we did the DIY worktop here and also the full kitchen makeover tour.
I also took a little trip over to Nice in May to celebrate 30 years of friendship with my best friend. We stayed in the amazing Negresco hotel on the promenade, drinking cocktails, laughing, chatting and shopping. It was a much needed holiday and I realised how good it is for the soul to spend quality time with someone who has been in your life since you were 4 years old, but don't get to see that often. Of course, even on holiday I've always got my eyes peeled for lovely shops, and this one called Cabane caught my eye in the old town area of Nice...
In June, our home was featured on Apartment Therapy which was a bit of a 'pinch me' moment! Photographer Cathy Pyle came and shot the pictures which were really fantastic, and it's such a nice 'souvenir' to have of our home as we are selling it and moving on, but we will always be able to look back on these gorgeous images.
Photo credit: Cathy Pyle
Blogtacular happened in June and it's always a really fun, inspiring day, where you get to hang out with like minded people and get motivated to get to work on your blog. Afterwards I shared what I think the benefits of attending a bloggers conference are.
I finally got round to printing and displaying some of our wedding photos, exactly two years after we got married! Why does it always take us so long to do these things?! I'm so pleased I did as I love looking at them regularly and remembering what a great day it was.
It's the time of year for weddings of course and I attended two in July. First one in London of a dear friend, and the second in Spain, when I was bridesmaid for my now sister in law. How stunning is this bouquet at the London wedding?!
And in Spain, the pink and orange colour theme was stunning...
In between the two weddings, we celebrated Ruby's first birthday, with a circus themed party at home. It's as much a celebration of making it through your first year as parents I think! It was such a lovely day though, and it's really unbelievable to look back and see the speed of change and development in your little human's first year of life. It's pretty incredible.
August saw another trip to N.Ireland, and another wedding, when Ruby stole the show in this super cute little number...
When we got home, I was greeted by the latest issue of Mollie Makes which featured our home! It was really lovely to be featured as their home tour, after writing about so many of them for the magazine. Such an honour, and again a lovely memento to have of our time living here. It was also featured on Made.com/unboxed this month! Our house has been getting around! ;-)
To finish off the month of August, I went up to Milton Keynes to take part in a styling collaboration with Argos. It was such a fun job and day, and made me really want to do more styling work. I styled a child's bedroom, which you can find out more about here.
September's highlight had to be my trip to Munich. I'd been nominated for a blog award by Callwey, a German book publisher, and they had invited us to a day and evening of blogger activities and an award ceremony. I didn't win anything, but it didn't matter as it was such a FAB weekend, and they had published a book to go with it, which includes some of my photographs and is really really lovely. You can read more about the trip here and here - the second pic below was from a styling event we attended at a shop i featured in my book - Room to Dream - such a lovely shop if you are ever in Munich!
In September I also started the publicity in the run up to the publication of my book. I put together a special issue of 91 Magazine which was a little preview of what is inside the book. You can still view this if you have not got the book yet and would like a sneaky peek... view the preview here.
We finished off September with a little break from all the busyness with a week in Spain. It was lovely to get away and see some sun and blue sky, although I''m not sure 'relaxing' is how I'd describe a holiday with a toddler in tow! Ruby loved running around on the beach and eating her lunch outside, so it's worth it for those little moments.
In October, I turned 34 (blimey, mid thirties!) and I celebrated with breakfast out with the hubby, and a whizz around the Decorative Living Fair in Chelsea. I didn't buy anything though, as we are now in that weird state of flux where we are selling our house so there is no point buying anything new until we have moved... (much to my disappointment!)
October was of course also the highly anticipated month of my book release! Obviously a huge highlight of my career! It really is a funny feeling to see your book that you worked on for months and months on the shelves in Waterstones and other lovely shops! I've really enjoyed seeing people's snaps on Instagram too, either when they've spotted it in a shop or taking pics of their own copy. Just hashtag #theshopkeepershome if you've got any you'd like to add.
I also attended the Amara Interior Blog Awards ceremony, at which I was up for an award for this blog! I was in the interior magazine blog category, which on reflection perhaps wasn't quite the right slot for me, as this blog is a bit more a personal account of my love for interiors than an accompanying blog for 91 Magazine. I didn't win, but it was a really fabulous evening, and I enjoy those occasional chances to get out and chat with lots of other inspiring creative people.
Following these high points in my life, it was followed by a very difficult time for our family. I haven't mentioned it on here so far, but as this is a round up of my year (good and bad) I thought I would now. Sadly at the end of October my husband's father passed away not long after being given a diagnosis of liver cancer. It was a huge shock, as only a few weeks before we'd all been out in the pub together for lunch, and there was no hint to what was just around the corner. He was truly a wonderful man, who brought up my husband and his brother (as a single dad for a time) to be respectful, caring, hardworking men and I am thankful for the last 13 years I got to call him my father-in-law. He will be sadly missed from our family, but we have vowed to always tell Ruby about how great her grandpa was. This pic was taken at our wedding in 2013. x
Photo by Jemma Watts / Pearl Pictures
I wasn't sure whether to go ahead with the planned book launch event at the start of November, but as a family we decided that we would as my father-in-law was so proud of what I'd achieved with the book. It was a lovely evening with my close friends, my publishers and fellow bloggers and work colleagues.
Photo by Siobhan Watts
And then it was December already! The last few weeks have been spent getting ready for Christmas and preparing for 2016. I'm mainly preparing for a new job that I am taking on in January which I will tell you all about when i start! And working on plans for relaunching 91 Magazine! It's been a year since I published it, and I was so unsure how to move forward with it, but I'm finally excited about it again, as I have got a deputy editor joining me who again I will reveal in the new year, and also I'm hoping to get some other creative people on board to help me out. If you are interested, you can see more about the available roles here. There is going to be a brand new look, website and logo and lots of new features inside, but I will of course keep you updated on all of that as it happens!
I'm taking a little break now until the new year, so I want to wish you a very merry Christmas and lots of joy in the new year! Thanks as always for your support and stopping by to read my ramblings, I'm looking forward to a creative and inspiring 2016! You can follow me on Instagram for little snippets from the holidays of course!
All images by Caroline Rowland / Patchwork Harmony unless otherwise stated.