Early autumn wanderings

I've enjoyed a couple of lovely outings with my camera recently to capture the last glimmer of summer and the new beginnings of autumn. I love this time of year - maybe it's because I'm an autumn baby - or maybe it's all that beautiful colour and gorgeous light....and the best is yet to come :)

I took a Blythe along with me to the Oxford Botanic Garden in mid-September, and met up with the lovely Ruby Red for some leisurely wanderings and a jolly good catch-up. I find a friend helps to fortify my courage with taking Blythe photos in public :) We were surprised to see so much lovely colour and carpets of beautiful cyclamens and what looked to me like crocuses. A thoroughly lovely day!

And last weekend Al and I ventured out to the fabulous Batsford Arboretum in Moreton-on-the-Marsh. It's such a beautiful place - we've visited often and it looks different every time. There was a surprising amount of autumn colour for this time of year - I love spotting the bursts of red amongst the green. And adore how magical everything looks when a sunbeam bursts through the cloud. I took bambi along with me for a little photoshoot. She took a few tumbles and is a little bit worse for wear, but I loved photographing her "out in the wild", so I guess a few tumbles go with the territory!

We also had fun taking a few portraits of each other - I needed a new pic for my blog and Al wanted to play with his new 56mm f1.2 lens for the Fuji XT1. It really does produce some dreamy results. And the Arboretum provides a lovely backdrop. I've played around with a few textures too to soften things a little. All photos of me taken by my lovely husband and post-processed by me.

I always find walking through so much greenery and space so calming and restorative - I can highly recommend it as a way to unwind and refresh.

I've updated my Red Bubble Shop with my latest photos. If there's a particular image you would like to see that's not in Red Bubble, please let me know ( and I will happily add it for you.

In need of a colour fix

So it's raining again. And it's grey. And windy. I know I am immensely lucky and very grateful not to have been affected by the floods and other damage caused by this horrid weather - and my heart goes out to those who have - but it still leaves me rather down in the dumps. Until spring arrives, you can usually find me ransacking the house for happy, colourful, pretty things to photograph to cheer myself up. I start to get twitchy if my photostream sits unchanged for too long. So I thought what better time to take some new Blythe shots and give my Red Bubble shop a little refresh...

First up is my Snowflake Sonata doll, customised by Minnalove. I made a little bedding set out of some vintage fabric scraps leftover from making my cushions. I absolutely adore these prints and couldn't bear to see any go to waste. They really are so happy and cheerful, don't you think? Just the thing for this time of year!

Next up is my Tarts and Tea Blythe doll, modelling my favourite ever Blythe dress, made by Lounging Linda (I snapped this up at Blythecon New York). I think it was made for her!! The chaise longue is actually a jewellery box - but it is the perfect size for Blythe :) My Simply Guava also makes an appearance, wearing a gorgeous dress made by Jaszmade, also snapped up at BCNY.

For a bit of variety and another splash of colour, I picked up some macarons from a local cafe. Biggest bonus being the nomming after the photoshoot!

All of the images above, and more, are available from my Red Bubble shop as postcards, greeting cards and prints in a variety of formats.

I ordered a batch of postcards recently and was really pleased with the quality - I've got them propped up around the house to cheer me up :)

Merry Christmas!

Just popping in to wish you all a most wonderful and very happy and relaxing Christmas break! I hope you all get to put your feet up at some point and recharge those batteries.

Thank you most sincerely for all your visits and lovely comments throughout the year - they are all very much appreciated. I have thoroughly enjoyed my blogging year (and it's not over yet!) and am looking forward to even more in 2014. So it's a Happy Christmas and ta ta for now from me and the bambis and those pesky dwarves ;) xxx

The times they are a changin'

Change is most definitely in the air. As we drift into October the leaves are starting to turn and fall, the nights are drawing in and there is a definite chill in the air in the mornings and evenings - I love this time of year!

Soft landing
Autumn pinks

And for me this year, things are changing in a big way. I've just left my job of 9+ years as the Head of the Systems & Information Management team in Research Services at the University of Oxford. It's been a wonderful place to work and I've been privileged to work with many fantastic people that I respect and admire. But I've been battling with chronic fatigue for the last few years and am thoroughly fed up with feeling achey and exhausted all the time and barely able to drag myself through the working week....

So I decided I needed a big change and a chance to rest and recuperate and focus on my health. I'm taking a career break for 6 months or so to give myself the time I need to recover. And a chance to think about what's next. I'd love to do something creative, ideally with my photography....perhaps some freelance work - who knows - the possibilities at this blissful stage are endless :)

If you go down to the woods today….
Every shade of autumn in one tree

I'm planning to spend my time doing lots of lovely creative, crafty things. I want to learn to knit and sew properly, and hopefully crochet too. I am so looking forward to being able to potter about at my own pace, instead of rushing from meeting to meeting....

I have been slowly amassing a little stash of vintage fabrics and I am so looking forward to getting stuck in and making things....I have booked myself into a sewing course for November and will be making a tote bag and a make-up bag as part of the course...and then I hope to get to work on some cushion covers...and maybe an owl if I'm feeling adventurous.

My vintage fabric stash
Destined to be some Blythe scarves and maybe some hats...

I will be able to surround myself with beautiful happy colours in my home. My owl shelf of happiness makes me smile every time I walk into my bedroom. It's had a very special recent addition - the new owl on the far right was custom made for me by the wonderful Modflowers in a pink and aqua colourway, especially to co-ordinate with my owl shelf :)

I'm over the moon with him - isn't he gorgeous? You can read about the making of him on Modflower's lovely blog.

My owl shelf of happiness
My fabulous owl from @modflowers

I'm also really looking forward to doing some more Blythe customisation and photography. I've got lots more faces to matte....These shelves of colour in my craft room just make me smile, even on gloomy days...

My happy shelf #1
Work in progress….
Zahra approves of the new chair

I'm planning to do lots more photography too - I've got lots of ideas for a new line in greeting cards and small prints....I've been hunting out bambis like my avatar over the last few months and will finally have the time to photograph them :)

Vintage teal & yellow: a delicious combo
Finally managed to find a bambi like my avatar :)
Bambis are multiplying!

So, exciting times ahead! But first, I'm off on a special trip to the USA, including a visit to Blythecon New York to celebrate my (gulp) 40th birthday later this month! So my blog will be quiet for a little while. But no doubt I will be posting like a mad woman on Instagram, so you can follow along with me there :) Tara for now! Z xx

Friday Favourites ~ Vintage market treasures

Happy Friday one and all! Something a little different today. I thought I would share some of my favourite vintage finds over the last several months via some mosaics of my Instagram snaps....

The first mosaic below shows some of the treasure I have found at the vintage market in Oxford. It is held every Thursday in Gloucester Green and is fabulous! I work nearby and try to manage a quick dash round in my lunch hour most weeks. You will find a wide range of different sellers with everything from china to coins to clothes to books to art.... If you live near Oxford, do go and have a browse! Read more about it at

The second mosaic below shows other vintage finds I have sourced from lots of places, including these fabulous shops:

Enjoy browsing and treasure hunting and have a fabulous weekend! x

Friday Favourites ~ Recent Etsy loveliness

It's been a while since I've done a Friday Favourites post and I've missed it! I thought I'd simply share some of the recent loveliness I've discovered on Etsy - I could spend hours browsing around - so very many lovely things! I hope you enjoy this selection - what's your favourite? I'm torn - I love it all!

Friday favourites ~ Recent Etsy loveliness

In search of pretty things

I long for the weather to get better, and the flowers to start blooming.... I miss not being able to get out and about with my camera. So I ransacked the house instead, in search of pretty things to photograph to brighten up my photostream.

I suddenly had a brain wave and dug out my satin wedding shoes - they've seen better days, but they're still really pretty. And I ventured to the shops to get some fresh flowers to add some interest. I popped a vintage crystal decanter and some Royal Albert china into the mix - and voila!

I've layered these shots with a vintage linen texture from Florabella - I rather like the effect - but love the pure and simple versions as well.

My wedding shoes
Vintage rose pink

Next up was the white vintage cup and saucer I thrifted last weekend - I just love it's pretty scalloped edges. I tried some simple white on white shots first of all, but ended up going for some vintage bambis. Everyone loves bambi, right? And of course some vintage textures for extra authenticity :)

Mother and daughter
Vintage bambi

And last, but not least, some more vintage Royal Albert china with some pretty Lizzyanthus flowers in a complemntary shade - and of course, bambi!

Vintage purple
Vintage Lizzy

Confession time

So, do you ever buy things because they are pretty and you want to photograph them? I must confess, ahem, to have done this on occasion.... I feel far less guilty, though, when said pretty photogenic items are edible. And even less guilty when they have been bought for guests :)

I reckon pastel coloured macaroons are up there with cup cakes in the pretty photogenic stakes. The ones below were from Rick's Cafe on the Cowley Road and I can confirm they are every bit as delicious as they look - and gluten-free too :) Happy Thursday everyone!

Om nom nom
Balancing act
Pretty pastel noms *2*
Pretty pastel noms *1*

2012: the year of collections

First there were owls (well there have been owls for quite a number of years to be fair). Then along came Blythe, thanks to a new year visit to the fabulous home of Candy Pop - I was mesmerised by these beautiful dolls that were such fun to photograph....

Then at some point I started amassing a collection of beautiful vintage china (oh and a few cats and dogs), fuelled by regular visits to the Oxford Thursday Vintage Market (right on the doorstep of where I work!), oh and crocheted granny chic blankets, and vintage fabric (2013 is going to be all about making fabulous things with the fabric!)....

And last but not least, a deer collection appears to be developing :) Once again, I blame the lovely Candy Pop, who has the most amazing vintage deer collection - and they are just so photogenic, don't you think?

Maybe I'll feature some of the other collections in future posts - but this one is all about the deer :)

Festive deer :)