It's Friday...

posted on: Friday, 27 July 2012

A week of working; harder than I have for a while as a project has gathered full pace. There is something I like about being in a live project-mode; it's all about milestones and the critical path, these things make me sense forward motion and forward motion is good.

My children have been in a summer camp all week, kayaking most days on a lake and generally doing what kids should do in the summer. The weather has obliged with glorious sunny days, like that I remember of my childhood when it felt like in summer we had proper summer weather.

There is a little countdown in my head to when we will go away on holiday. The prospect of having no obligations for a few weeks is my waking thought most days. I do wonder how I got so over-committed?!

Of course tonight is all about the Olympic ceremony; patriotic pride is high and I am intrigued to see what my country-men have come up with to represent all things British.

Otherwise a weekend of minutiae; hopefully the beach, seeing friends, maximising time...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this image...via oceanic island

via oceanic island

...beautiful beautiful Marilyn...

via country living

via stuff i like

 Have a wonderful weekend - thank goodness it's Friday!

Country life...

posted on: Wednesday, 25 July 2012

I keep reading articles in Sunday papers about 'country life', specifically about moving out of the city and into the country. Now I have been a country girl all my life; for me the city has always been a place I have visited and never lived in. As a child a day trip to London meant the National Gallery or Harrods, taking in the bustle and then returning home watching the buildings fade into fields as the train sped along.

via bippity boppity boo
I find these articles of country life slightly amusing, as they describe village life and 'the country wardrobe' always alluding to ways there can be a 'nod to fashion' in amongst practical mud-strewn clothes. Now I am fully ensconced in my country life. My farmhouse is surrounded by fields, I curse the summer traffic when city dwellers descend and hit the beach. The puppy is more used to walking off the lead than on. My children can tell the difference between hawthorn and cow parsley. Likewise flint stone and chalk. I watch the weather all the time; it has a direct bearing on life in a way I can only presume it doesn't in the city. I have a stereotype of city life that it means being inside more - is that true? I buy vegetables in season and frequent farm stores. I wear wellies most days. Cut roses from my garden adorn table-tops and shelves in my house. Up until the flood, I drove and dare I say needed a 4x4 (oh how I miss my car - will it ever be fixed??!)

via vanessa arbuthnott
I do wonder though, what is this country life? Am I missing out? Does my reluctance to try the city version of life mean I am not brave? Sometimes it feels like the country life is all too easy and the lure of city life its exuberance and energy? Not that the opportunity to reverse things is presenting itself but it's something just to wonder about, isn't it?!

via bippity boppity boo

The blogging journey, inspiration and a million hits...

posted on: Friday, 20 July 2012

It's funny, I go through stages of thinking a lot about this blog and what it all means. When I started writing it a few years back I had no idea where it would lead. I knew I liked to write, I felt I had stuff to say about my world and I loved the pretty pictures that proliferated the web. Curating those pictures has now become a calming routine for me; like devising my own stamp of prettiness. And as for followers, I have those who have been around since the first post (in fact Simone, whose blog inspired me in the first place, left my first ever comment; bizarre). Followers come and go, sometimes I look and see that a fair few have dropped away and I wonder why? Then others join and I figure: it's a movable feast.

There are followers who don't comment and commenters who don't follow. There are friends. I have made genuine friends. Those who I now text on a weekly basis, who I have met in real life, who I think about and worry about when their times are hard. Those whose stories have become my stories when I relay them to others. 

I have seen bloggers take their blogs to the next step; they make it their day job. To enter the fray of industries that are new to them and to try their hand. I read this blog post yesterday from British Beauty Blogger about some of the hardships of beauty blogging and can see real parallels with blog friends of mine who have entered the world of fashion and wedding planning respectively. It can be hard but at the same time, there is so much good in it. Amanda from The Online Stylist is like a breath of fresh air in the world of blogging. She does not write a word that is not true; she is honest and positive and I have such admiration for her excitement at where she has found herself in life.

Then my friend Rhiannon a wedding planner from heaven, whose blog Hey Gorgeous has evolved over time as it complements her business. It literally makes me want to be 15 years younger, to live in Michigan and to be getting wed, just so I could have her 'do' my wedding.

Or Natasha, lawyer-come-photographer with the most to-die-for Internet love story under her belt. Or Sophie, whose pure enthusiasm for life is so infectious it makes me smile every time I read her posts. Or Tania, who writes like I think; but with more beautiful prose than my brain could ever conjure.

All of these real examples of real women whose blogs have inspired me. 

And so to my little blog. 

This week it reached a million hits! 
Like that moment in the film 'The Social Network' where the facebook gets its millionth member. Just when Mark Zuckerberg realises that even that hasn't made him happy, that he has still betrayed his friend and probably should have thought twice about partnering with that guy from Napster. Anyway I digress...

The point is - here's to a million hits on 'Lou, Boos and Shoes'! Here's to the million people who stopped by. Here is to the beauty business L'Apothecary that was borne out of this blog.  Here's to what comes next...

Well done us.

Things of beauty...

posted on: Monday, 16 July 2012

Woooahh...emotional overload! These past weeks have been swollen with sentimentality. The lead-up to the end of my childrens' school term was potent with heavy-hearted thoughts of how their childhood is seeping away. I was acutely aware that it was one of those times that I will look back on and wonder why I got quite so sad, given that life is meant to work this way. We are all meant to move on, start fresh, better ourselves, take the challenge.

And so here we are; 'tis done and already I am feeling more steady as the summer holidays stretch out ahead of us. I am going to use the time to mull some stuff over. Then later in August, when on holiday with our good buddies, I am going to use the sun lounger time to de-brief, unload, get rid of all of these worries that have been chasing me. Ready to start September with a clean slate. That's the plan anyway!

I guess the lesson is that life does this; forces change so that we will react. No matter how many of my years advance (mantra: I am still not 40, I am still not 40!) I am surprised by my lack of skills in handling change. You'd think I'd be better at it by now.

This week is decompression time; sleeping in and late lunches. Countryside walks. We might even brave the beach in all its rainy, windy glory. I will try not to curse the British weather every day, although to call it a preoccupation would be an understatement.

Lovely L'Apothecary continues a pace; it really is like watching a child grow. We have to take a planning hiatus over the summer but come Autumn, we will be ready to focus on the next stage. It's all about packaging and retail and brand essence!! Here we come...

Ohh Olivia P...via online stylist

...books are all...

via one wed

looks so enticing....but only if it stops every now and then....via dust jacket attic

via cabbages and roses

...oh, I so want to holiday in somewhere like Nantucket...

via cape cod collegiate

via dust jacket attic

via canelle et vanille

I will be dropping in when I can...
take the very best care!
Lou xxx

Summer envy...

posted on: Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I feel as if I am being slowly driven mad by the rain and murk; like some sort of aversion therapy but with no known objective! I know I hate rain, why must it be proven to me again and again every day? I am suffering from summer envy. I feel am being deprived of all of those lovely summer things; impromptu beach barbecues, eating outside, feeling warm. Wearing cotton, or linen or (shock!) only one layer!

photograph by olivia rae james
It means that everything is resting on the time we have away in August. My husband is already warning me that I am placing a disproportionate importance on it, such that post-holiday blues will surely result. Post-holiday blues are the peril of the Brit; we have so little access to proper summer holidays that returning to face imminent Autumn is just too much! For a slice of summer beauty I like to go to this blog with the most wonderful photographs by Olivia Rae James.

So, I must look to the bright side. Things to consider:

A renewed focus on health - my health - the kid's health; the need to eat good stuff made from real ingredients. Wholesome and nurturing fruit and vegetables. Even the juicer has made an appearance.

photograph by olivia rae james

The weekend I spent looking after my blonde-haired, blue-eyed nephew went well; he seemed to like it!

A summer (!) ball coming up on Friday with a vintage theme; I'm thinking 1940s elegant.

Attempting to get through this last week of school without getting too sentimental about moving on.

Seeing the good in change. A friend tried to convince's a good and necessary thing!

photograph by olivia rae james

Three weeks in the sun IS coming my way...thank goodness. Everything leads to that time!

Everyone, without exception, likes the L'Apothecary 'British Blend'; it was my wild-card entry to the product range, but it has turned out to be a little star!

photograph by olivia rae james

Sussex days...

posted on: Friday, 6 July 2012

The sun came out for an afternoon so I found my garden transformed; flowers stood straight and were not bedraggled by wind and rain! A few images here of my views; field and washing line, lavender and poppy.

The very thing I always hope to embrace but actually shirk from is surrounding me at the moment - life is all change! I'm trying very hard to just go with it, but every ounce of my being is pushing against this march of time. We approach the last week of school next week, still embroiled in school plays and leaving events, peppered with expectant visits to the new schools which will become part of our lives come September.

As for L'Apothecary, we are testing out new, natural active ingredients for our oils, developing an enhanced product range and delving into the world of bath oils. I must say that testing these new formulations is one of the parts of this burgeoning business that I love the best. We are also working on branding; this conceptual essence that seems to be the elixir of life for beauty products.
What does my brand say about me? 

I look at these images and wonder what they say about Lou? Natural, home-loving, sentimental and simple spring to mind...

...lavender love seat...

...wild poppies and old brick...

...courgette cultivation in the field... and stripes...

...please shut the gate...

...the puppy was one year old last week...

...batches of L'Apothecary oil loveliness...

...windy beach days... days ending...

...orders to send...

...climbing roses...

Roll on...

posted on: Sunday, 1 July 2012

A week of missing the signs. I confess I have succumbed to a sucker punch; I recently wrote this and in self-satisfaction remarked how I had learned that my response to stress is to slow down, take stock. Yet a few short weeks pass and I find myself positively swimming in stress, angst and worry, in fact aching with it (the pain is back). And instead of recognising the unwelcome visitor and sending him away, I invited him in. Foolish girl that I am.

So here we are...I have let everything build up and I feel this simmering frustration that I have allowed myself to get here again. This is a deja vu summer. Hmmm, do we really live and learn?

I conclude that this school term is always the busiest, and this year it is on steroids as I prepare for both of my children to leave their current school. Laden with poignancy as if their very childhood will come to an abrupt end on July 13th, I have to stop and remind myself that, of course, it won't. And in amongst that, the small matter of a corporate job and a new business to run. No wonder really. When the routine of the school term ceases, I can hardly imagine the free-fall of the holidays. No school run, no events, no assemblies, no plays, no sports fixtures. I recognise that I am assigning disproportionate importance to things, allowing sentimentality and emotion to blur the real picture.

via pink o'clock
I find though, that during times of sentimentality and angst, the ones that come to my rescue are in fact the school mums. They are a breed in their own right; wise, caring, vital women who soothe and provoke action at the same time. They are the equivalent of a warm bath followed by a cold shower, they leave me with a feeling of newness when they swoop in and fix the problem. There is something so comforting in knowing they have my back!

And so I re-group again. Regular readers: do you spot a theme? Get busy, get stressed, slow down; lather, rinse, repeat!

I do wonder sometimes, now this blog is matched with L'Apothecary, whether I should still pour my heart out, or whether I should be full of beauty and business insight; writing of the wonder of entrepreneurism? I conclude, the blog existed long before the business and it must be written with truth and integrity. So this is the truth. For me, as I step through these coming weeks, it will be sleep, good food, coffee with the school mums, cuddles with the Boos, reading books and deep breaths that will get me through to the summer holidays. Roll on, roll on... ;-)

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