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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Goodbye Ladybird Likes

So this is one of the hardest blog posts I've ever had to write which sounds pretty melodramatic, huh? (That Drama GCSE came in handy for something!) When I began Ladybird Likes almost five years ago I figured I'd be in it for the long haul and I guess at the time I was. And while I will be forever grateful for all the friends, opportunities, and memories it has brought me over the past five years, it is time to say goodbye to Ladybird Likes and begin a new chapter.

It has been a tough decision to make - it's much easier to just keep going along the same path than to stop and change direction, especially when that involves starting over in many ways. I still love Ladybird Likes, but for a while now I have been dreaming of changing direction, rebranding, making new products, developing a new aesthetic, and at first I had hoped to run two businesses side by side, continuing Ladybird Likes whilst also setting up and opening Too Cute To Quit. However in the past few months I've realised that I would be spreading myself too thinly, and that actually the only reason I wanted to keep Ladybird Likes open is because I was scared of letting go. I've lived and breathed all things Ladybird Likes for so long, that letting go felt terrifying, and also slightly like I was somehow failing or 'giving up' even if it was my own decision to close the business.

When I began Ladybird Likes I had a very specific aesthetic in mind for the business - I wanted to focus on my love for vintage, for pretty things, and for nice quotes. Whilst I still love all these things I realise now it doesn't accurately reflect my personal style as a whole, and by restricting myself so much I was finding it difficult to develop new products, to style photographs, and to create social media content that fit with this aesthetic. Since changing the direction I have been bursting with new ideas and feel so inspired, which I am taking as a really positive sign, and I cannot wait to share them with you all!

Whilst it has been a tough call to make, I am starting to realise that this is part of being a business owner - making hard decisions, knowing when to call it quits, whether that is retiring an old product line, or deciding to alter course completely. And that this whole having your own business thing means something truly awesome - you can set your own rules. Okay, maybe other people wouldn't close one business after five years to start over and open a totally new business. But I'm my own boss, I decide what is right for me, and I get to (how cheesy is this) truly follow my heart and trust my gut on this. It feels like the right thing to do, and although I've had a few moments (okay a LOT) of sheer panic, of self-doubt, of waking up at 3am with off the chart anxiety levels. Deep down though, I know this is right, and when I think about my future and of what direction the new business will take me I feel REALLY excited and optimistic. (Sometimes I feel like I might throw up, but that usually passes quickly.)

Ladybird Likes will be closing down officially around the end of January. I am having a closing down sale on my website and my Etsy shop - all stock is at least half price and this really is your last chance to buy. My website will be closing at the end of January, and my social media handles will all be changing to Too Cute To Quit around this time too. My Ladybird Likes email account will still be active after January and I will check it occasionally, but please update your email address books to the new email which is hello(at)toocutetoquit(dot)com. The new website will be launching in February at www.toocutetoquit.com. This blog will remain as an archive (mainly for my own person perusing!) but I will be starting a brand new blog over at my new website so please do keep a lookout for that and follow along when it launches.

Finally I need to say a huge THANK YOU. To absolutely every person who has supported Ladybird Likes along this incredible journey. My mind boggles when I think about it, and I will be forever grateful for every single person who purchased stuff, posted about us on social media, liked or commented on our photos, visited us at events and markets, and generally made this whole experience so much fun. Hopefully lots of you will continue to follow me as Too Cute To Quit - I'd love to share this new chapter with you all because I have a feeling it's going to be an exciting one!

Friday, 22 April 2016

30 Things To Do Before I'm 30

So just in case you couldn't guess from the title of this post, I'm turning 30 soon. VERY soon in fact. August 9th, y'know just in case anyone wants to send me a card or buy me a puppy or whatever. That's like three and a half months away. And so in true Zoe style I figured why not set myself an unrealistic list of goals to reach before that point. And here they are....

In case you can't read my crappy handwriting here is the list;
- stay in a yurt
- send 100 pieces of snail mail
- learn to play a song on the ukuelele
- blog outfit posts on a regular basis
- visit somewhere new in London
- bake ten new things from my cookbooks
- finally find some comfy sandals
- stay in an airstream trailer
- reach my personal savings goal
- shoot ten rolls of film
- raise money for charity (specifically for the Dog's Trust because that's where we rescued Jasper from)
- finish my epic declutter
- toast marshmallows over a fire
- sew myself a dress (from scratch)
- visit three new places in the UK (I'm thinking Edinburgh, Rye, and somewhere in Cornwall...)
- start (and keep!) a happiness journal
- go geocaching with Liam
- learn to weave
- get a new tattoo
- leave happy notes in public for people to find
- start a patchwork quilt
- go rollerskating
- learn to hand tie a bouquet
- read six new books
- buy a giant inflatable and take it to the pool
- learn to meditate (and do it regularly)
- propagate my succulents
- make myself some candles
- do a letterpress workshop
- smile every day

Okay, so some of these I know I won't fit in before my birthday. But I wanted to put them on the list so that hopefully I will get them done this year at some point. Some things I have already scheduled in - we are going geocaching next week when I visit Liam in Norwich, and I have ordered myself some fabric for my first ever dress sewing venture. And I've already started to propagate my succulents although they haven't sprouted yet.

As I tick things off my list I will blog about them (even if just to prove that I've done them!) Anyone else hitting a milestone birthday this year? Are you making a 'things to do' list beforehand?

East London (part one)

Last weekend my boyfriend (ooer, still feels a bit odd saying that after being single for a year!) came to stay for a couple of days, and we went adventuring in East London on the Saturday. He's from Norwich and hasn't seen much of London, so I'm trying to drag him round some of my favourite areas and places, and top of the list was Shoreditch and the bits surrounding it.

Even though it was a bit of a miserable, drizzly day at times, we still had lots of fun wandering and snapping photos. Oh and stuffing out faces at Pizza East - if you haven't been I highly recommend it. I had a spicy sausage and tenderstem broccoli pizza which was INCREDIBLE (even if I couldn't finish it all - curse you tiny stomach.) The one in Shoreditch even has a vintage photobooth - one of the film ones, not a digital one that looks vintage. It's super cool and it now even takes card payments which, in my opinion, is bloody genius because I normally never have cash/change when I go to a photobooth.

 This is my favourite photo of this guy. He didn't know I was taking it, even though it looks a bit staged! Love the background too...

Mega thanks to this dude for putting up with me stopping to take photos every other step, and for posing for dumb pictures like this one with only minimal persuasion. I think it was the promise of pizza that sealed the deal.

I think this black and white owl street art was my favourite piece we saw because a) I love all things owl and b) I'm currently going through a big monochrome phase.

What are your favourite places to go in London? Do you go to visit a specific shop or cafe or bar, or do you like to wander and get yourselves a bit (okay, a lot) lost? I think I find the best things when I wander aimlessly and don't plan the day out too much, but I do always worry that I've missed out on something awesome!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Photoshoot Behind the Scenes

Last week I spent an extremely fun day faffing around (I mean, working hard) with my ridiculously talented friend Mim, photographing some of her beautiful new creations. You may know Mim from Instagram where she is @madebymim or from some of my previous blog posts where I've written about and posted photos of her gorgeous home. Well, needless to say it was the perfect backdrop for our photoshoot, and I had the best time arranging props and backdrops for the pictures.

Here are a few little behind the scenes photos I snapped while we were getting creative....

 And, just to prove that we did actually do some work and didn't sit and eat cake all day (although it was very tempting - Mim's husband David makes the BEST cakes and this time he had made a chocolate sponge filled with jam and cream that was soooo yummy!)  here's a little preview of some of the photos I shot.


I'm absolutely smitten with Mim's new art dolls - the mermaid and the land girl are both so beautiful and detailed. From land girl's teeny knitted jumper and perfectly coiffed needle felted hair, to the individually stitched star sequins on the mermaid doll, they aren't toys, they really are pieces of art. It's obvious how much love and attention Mim puts into each one. If you'd like to nab one of your own then head over to her Etsy shop and follow her on Instagram to stay up to date on when new dolls will be available.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Propagating Succulents (part one)

It seems as though every time I go on Instagram or read blogs these days there are beautiful photos of succulents and plants everywhere. Don't get me wrong, I have my fair share of succulents taking up every inch of my windowsills. But I'm greedy, and I want more. Specifically, I want the teeny baby succulents that look so cute together. And I know that the best way to get them is to propagate some of my 'grown up' plants, but I kept putting it off because, honestly, I was a bit scared. I can watch the most gory horror films without batting an eyelid but faced with the idea of plucking leaves off my plant babies and I'm just like NOPE.

Well, this is the year of facing up to my fears and just getting stuff done. So today, after weeks of reading a zillion articles on how best to propagate healthy succulents, I finally took the plunge. If you're unsure what propagating is, it's basically taking parts off of your current succulents and cacti, allowing them to grow new roots and leaves, until they basically grow as a new baby plant which you can repot! Pretty awesome huh?

 I decided to only propagate my plants that were getting leggy (which is where they have grown a long stem with spaced out leaves) or that had lots of pups growing off them. Any which didn't fit in either of these categories I just left as they were for now, but I may try and propagate them if my current ones turn out well!

My leggy plants (which I had about five of) I cut the long stalk off leaving a short stump in the soil. I'm keeping the stump too to see if it sprouts and grows because apparently it should! Then I removed the spaced out leaves from the stalk - to do this I gently wiggled and twisted them until they sort of popped off. You basically want to remove the whole leaf cleanly, not snapping it or leaving any part of the leaf attached to the stalk. Then I placed the leaves in rows on a tray covered in a layer of cacti soil (which you can see in the photos above.) Apparently there are trays designed specifically for this, but I just used some old metal shallow baking trays which work well. They will only be getting a very light spray of water, so drainage isn't an issue.

Once I removed the spaced out leaves I was left with a very long stalk with a little rosette at the end. I cut off this rosette leaving about an inch of stalk attached, and placed this with the leaves, making sure to keep the cut end of the stalk facing away from the soil. This is to allow it to callous and harden properly.

The leaves and rosettes need to be left to callous and harden at the cut point for a few days before you give them any water. If you water them now you risk them not growing any roots. Every site I looked at says not to water them with a watering can, but rather to use a spray bottle to lightly dampen them and the soil every 3-4 days or so (some say slightly more often, some say slightly less often, but I'm going with the average of 3-4 days!) So Monday I shall give them their first drink and see how they get on! All my little babies are near the sunniest windows in the house on their trays - there are lots of warnings about not letting them get too much sun as they can burn, but I think this would only really be an issue in the UK during the summer, but I will be keeping a close eye on them.

I'm so excited to see how they turn out - I am notorious for killing plants, but most of my succulents are doing pretty well (let's ignore the ten or so I've had to chuck out because they died a horrible death.) Fingers crossed these little guys do their thing and I can fulfill my dreams of growing a succulent army. I'll update you in a few weeks (which is how long before these should start sprouting roots and new growth) with how they're getting on. In the meantime if anyone has any tips or tricks they'd like to share then please do!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Clay Club Easter Treats

Last Wednesday was my last ever Clay Club (hosted by the amazing Charlotte Mei) and so I wanted to take along some sort of sweet treats. I ended up not having time to do any proper baking so I thought that the proximity to Easter was the perfect excuse to whip up a batch of chocolate nests. As a kid I always loved Easter time purely because I'd get to eat these! I made mine with crushed up shredded wheat as I feel it gives the most authentically bird nest texture to the cakes. Plus mini eggs because who doesn't love mini eggs?!

 Keeping with the Easter theme I also whipped up some little Easter cards that doubled up as gifts - I bought these as an SVG file from Etsy to cut on my Silhouette, but they also come as a PDF so you can hand cut them too. I used some mid-weight pastel coloured cardstock that I had lying around from a workshop a while back. They turned out even cuter in real life - each little card Easter character is holding a mini Kinder egg (have you guys tried these mini Kinders? They are so good but so addictive!) but you could use any wrapped egg or wrapped Easter sweets.

I'll be sharing some more handmade Easter treats over the next few days too - although Easter is the holiday I always struggle with the most, I've been making good use of my Pinterest board and have managed to squeeze in some Easter themed crochet too!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Kitsch Crochet Edged Circles

A while ago I wanted to practice adding crochet edging, but I didn't have any crochet projects that needed an edging added. So rather than spending hours crocheting up something to potentially ruin with my edging practice, I printed some fun pictures onto thick cardstock, cut them out, and then got practicing! I used mercerised cotton (I bought mine from eBay in a range of colours) and a small hook (I think I used a 2mm for these.) There are loads of tutorials for adding edging online - you basically start with a blanket stitch to give yourself something to crochet into, and then you can change up the number and type of stitches you use to give different edging effects.

These cute little circles are currently hung up in my studio as a garland, and I made some to use as gift tags too. My next project is to use iron on transfers and felt to recreate them in fabric form to turn into brooches! Trust me, once you've tried crochet edging you will want to add it to EVERYTHING - I'm currently adding edging to all my pillowcases for my bed (which, admittedly, is taking a very long time, but it will be worth it!)

Knitting and Stitching Show Haul

Every year I see the Knitting and Stitching show advertised, and tell myself I will take the morning off and go and visit, and every year work gets busy, or I forget about it and realise too late that it has been and gone! Well this year my friend Daisy from Make Thrift London had a stand, so it was the perfect excuse to go and visit and have a wander round. I didn't really take any photos while I was there as, due to my inability to read times, I ended up with just an hour and a half to run around and see as much as possible. Oh, and I lost my phone too, which resulted in lots of frantic hunting for the lost and found! But instead here are photos of some of the bits I purchased...

Daisy was selling some rather useful sewing kit essentials in the most amazing colours - practical but fun, my favourite combination. I'm always losing tape measures so thought these would be useful, and I just adore the vintage look of those chalk pencils at the top!

You can never have too much ribbon and trim right?! I use my stash for everything from finishing off sewing projects, to prettying up gifts, to pinning on my inspiration boards, so I'm always looking for cute new ribbon to add to my already overflowing box! But how could I resist that pastel rainbow ric rac style trim?

Right, so can we just talk about how much CUTE fabric I saw at the show?! It was seriously difficult to reign myself in, and I tried to just stick to buying fat quarters of fabrics I liked, as most of my current projects are very small. Plus it meant I could get a larger range of prints and colour than if I had bought a metre of them! I think my favourites are the yellow fox print, and the fruits and flamingoes print. The fox print came in half metre lengths, so I have enough to hopefully make myself a little bag eeep!

Oh, and I'm not particularly mad on bunnies, but I could not resist these pink and blue bunny print cottons. I loved the vibrant colours and the teeny rabbits printed all over. I'm thinking they'll make cute cushions when paired with another fabric.

And last but not least I got these gorgeous thicker fabrics that are a sort of heavier linen type material with beautiful prints. I haven't decided on a use for these yet, but I think at least one of them will become a tote bag (they were sold by the half metre too so I have plenty to play with) as the stronger fabric lends itself to making something that will get a lot of use.

Did anyone else visit the Knitting and Stitching Show? If you didn't but are a fan of beautiful fabrics/haberdashery/yarns then I highly recommend it! Whilst I love the convenience of shopping online it was really nice to go and look at fabrics in person before buying them.