Friday, 19 December 2014

Three Big Changes in 2015 and Signing Off for the Year!

So, my lovelies, it's been a hell of a year. I'll be doing my roundup of everything that's gone on here at Swoon Worthy HQ soon but for now, I just have some big announcements to make in terms of what 2015 will bring.

No, I'm not pregnant (sorry to disappoint) and I'm not getting married (ditto).

However, there are a few big changes coming that I wanted to talk about...

Announcement #1:  I'm leaving AO

First of all, and the most significant to me anyway (maybe not to you) is that I have decided to leave my post as Editor of AO at Home to pursue freelance work. You may recall back in August that I went part time (down to 3 days per week) and that was a sort of 'testing ground' for me to see if I could go fully freelance. Well, I got the taste for it and I loved it. So I figured I might as well start the year as I mean to go on and gave my notice in November - big big step for me! I have been working for other people since I was 16 years old and working full time since I was 17 years old. So to remove that safety net is pretty scary as well as exhilarating.

I have loved working at AO and growing their blog has been an amazing, challenging and satisfying experience. They've decided to take the groundwork of what I did on AO at Home (high quality content and photography, working with a talented mix of bloggers/contributors, etc) but have expanded the content held within to cover things like Family Life and Tech - it's a good move for them and the reasons for this are sound. Over my last month, we launched the new site called AO Life but all the archived content from AO at Home is still there, the contributors for Interiors, Crafts and Food are still all there and those things won't change. What also won't change is I'll still be writing for them in the 'Home Life' section but this time as a freelance contributor (I'll also be on hand as an occasional consultant). So it's all really positive and I'm thrilled to still be involved in a small way.

You may have noticed a new page in my top bar that says 'Hire Me'. This is essentially what I'll be doing to 'pay the bills'. So while I will still take the odd sponsored post here on Swoon Worthy - my standards will remain VERY high. I never accept reviews or posts from companies that I don't feel are a good fit or who I wouldn't want to share with you guys anyway. So you don't have to fear that every other post is going to be a sponsored one now. It's something I have always felt strongly about and that hasn't changed.

I am going to be writing for quite a few different companies now, offering consultancy to businesses looking to start or improve their blogs and I'll continue to share those in my 'Something for the Weekend' posts if you fancy reading along. I'm also going to offer an e-design option to my readers which I will try to keep as reasonably priced as possible. I'm still working on that side of things so stay tuned!

Announcement #2:  Swoon Worthy is getting a brand new look

I always take a break from Swoon Worthy between Christmas and New Years. Everyone is so busy during the holiday season and it's just a nice way to recharge your batteries so this will be my last post between now and 5th January. Behind the scenes, I'm going to FINALLY move my blog over to Wordpress - something I've wanted to do for probably years but have never had the opportunity/confidence/knowledge to do. Well, I'm going to take the plunge during this little break to give my little blog here a new fresh start. Hopefully in January, you'll see a new look for Swoon Worthy that will reflect my aesthetic a little better - something cleaner but still a bit glam too! And make it easier for you guys to find any archived content with a much better design. Wish me luck!

Announcement #3:  I've decided to change my name (back)

Some of you might have noticed that I'm going by 'Kimberly Duran' now instead of 'Kimberly Hughes'.  It's probably a little confusing because you might think Wayne and I got married. We haven't (promise I would have told you if that was the case). I am actually divorced and have been since 2003 (!) and just never bothered to change my name back to my maiden name. Yes, 'Hughes' is my old married name. Well, I've been waiting for my passport to expire so I could do a big change all at once and now that the old passport has, I finally got a Deed Poll officially and legally changing my name back to Duran. So yeah, that's why you'll see both names banded about. In the new year, I will be abandoning 'Hughes' completely and you'll only see 'Duran'. I promise it's still me ;)

So exciting times ahead! I just want to thank you for following along here on Swoon Worthy. I often rant on about how much I appreciate you guys and it's because I really want you to know that I do, so much so that I struggle to put it into words.

So rather than go all gooey on you, I will just wish you and yours a very happy and healthy holiday season (or a wonderful end of year) however you may be enjoying it. I'm going to eat my weight in Turkey and Ferraro Roche and enjoy a couple of weeks' break and I'll see you back here in 2015!

Don't miss a thing!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Shop in the Spotlight: Mia Fleur (plus a discount for Swoon Worthy readers!)

Well, it's my last Shop in the Spotlight post of the year and boy is it a good one. Not just because Mia Fleur is run by three amazing women - mum, Jacqui, and her daughters Hollie and Amelia - but because they are also just nice, creative people with a business I've seen grow from something small and fledgling to a powerhouse of creativity and eccentricity.

After probably a couple of years of knowing Hollie on Twitter, I was privileged to meet both her and Jacqui at the Amara Blog Awards (they too were nominated in the Best Organisation blog so you should really check out their blog after you check out their wares) and they were just good fun, genuinely lovely peeps.

So when Hollie contacted me about working together, I jumped at the chance to share Mia Fleur with you all. And I'm also jumping at the chance to talk about the gorgeous little glam brass desk lamp she sent to me for review.

Now, it will ultimately go in my new office (won't it look amazing on a desk?) when that's done but I really couldn't wait to share it with you so for now, it's residing in my living room.

I adore the fluid shape which is adjustable at both the neck and the base and the combination of black gloss and brass is just right up my street.

I can't wait to use it in the new office - I really think it'll fit so beautifully in with my plans but for now, being able to admire it whilst sat on the sofa is not a bad compromise.

But of course, that's not all I have for you today. Mia Fleur have been generous to share a special discount with you all which you can claim at the end of this post! And not only that, I've done a little window shopping for you too so you can see some of my favourite pieces in the shop.

There are some wonderfully eclectic pieces - I've got my eye on those gold parrot bookends for the office too and I am in love with the geometric tea cups - I'm not sure I've ever seen anything like them and the little gold handles add such a feminine touch.  I've also wanted a set of Moscow Mule copper mugs for ages now! Definitely on my bar cart's wish list.

Anyway, enough chatting, it's time to window shop....

As promised, Mia Fleur have been generous enough to offer 
15% off for Swoon Worthy readers - just quote SWOON15 at checkout!
Be quick - it expires on 14th January!*

So, what do you think of Mia Fleur? Are you as enamoured as I am with their quirky selection? Any favourites? I'd love to hear what you think!

Don't miss a thing!

*Offer now extended! Offer may only be used once per person and not in conjunction with any other offer.  Excludes delivery and any items in the sale.   Expires 14.01.15

Please note, I received my lamp free from Mia Fleur for my review but as always, all words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that allow me to bring you new content here on Swoon Worthy. That said, I only work with companies I really like and think you'll like too!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! You are so very sparkle-y!

So the Christmas tree is up and the living room has been blinged out a bit so I thought I'd share that with you today.

I stuck with the same colour scheme as in the dining room with golds and whites although on the tree, a little bit of silver made it on there as well - I do really like the look of mixed metallics and the flocked tree really lent itself well to that combination.

I'm proud of myself that I spent so little to decorate this year. The string of cotton ball lights were free from Cable & Cotton in exchange for a styling post I wrote for their own blog (so this isn't a sponsored post or anything, I just wanted to let you know where I got them from). I have to say, I love how they glow along with the rest of the tree and they matched my colour scheme so well.

Now I've taken like a million photos so I will apologise for the image-heaviness of this post but I have to say I freaking love my tree (I loved it last year too - it's clearly the flocking that just gives it a bit of vava-voom).

Oh and Meisha was helping me take photos - she's pretty useless as an assistant to be honest, knocking down baubles and chasing them across the floor. But when your assistant this cute, somehow the hassle is worth it.

As you can see, I used my little vintage coffee table turned side table and split the small tables to flank the tree on both sides. I used the blue & white vases that were on my mantle with a few inexpensive carnations to add a little bit of colour. The little fir trees that look like mini Christmas trees were picked up at my local Tesco for a mere £3.

On my coffee table, I filled my little Anthropologie hedgehog with mini glass baubles that I've had for a few years and a bowl filled with gold baubles and pinecones.

(I just love images with bokeh, don't you?? Had to be done.)

My sofa got a little bling-y as well. I just used cushions I already had but kept with the gold-white-touch of pink theme. I realised afterwards that all the cushions are from H&M Home.

I don't think I've done a "traditional" (ie., red/green) Christmas scheme in years. I think if I decorated with more neutrals, I might be tempted to work it in but with the colours in my home, a non-traditional colour scheme just works better with the stuff I already have (and let's be honest, I'm not the most 'traditional' person regardless). The bonus of this means I can still use my normal d├ęcor in different ways, making Christmas decorating a little less expensive! Bonus.

Moving on... on my TV cabinet, I just used a very old magnolia garland that I've had for eons and a couple of tealights.

And my radiator cover got a new garland (£15 at B&Q) upon which I strung baubles in gold and white and my lovely vintage brass elephant resides over it all quite nicely.

But the room really comes into it's own at night so I had to take some shots once the sun went down as well.

I love how the mirrored cabinet reflects the tree - little things like that make me very very happy.

Can I just say again how happy I am that I got a flocked tree last year? Worth every penny!

So that's my living room for Christmas! Yes, I would have loved to have done a million DIYs to fill my tree and my home but I'm not sure what it is about this time of year but it's been crazy busy (for you too, right?) and as usual, I left everything to the last minute. So, what you see is pretty much the extent of my Christmas decorating this year!

Do some years you go more OTT than others?

Don't miss a thing!

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