Sunday, 31 January 2016

My Month in Numbers 2016: January

Numbers you say? Important numbers that defined January?

That's what I'm meant to be documenting here, now, isn't it? [Any one can join me by doing the same, for full details visit the Month in Numbers info page.]

OK then, then there's no two ways about it. I'm going to have to have to be brave, take a deep breath, and include this one aren't I?
This month I turned 40. 

I didn't know if I was going to mention that fact here or not. It's a big number.
  • Emotionally it's a number that sounds like it comes with its own set of judgments; a number that changes things: "I don't want to reach 40 and not have XYZ", "I can't do/be/wear that now I'm 40", "How can you be 40 and not do/be/have XYZ?"
  • Intellectually ... having already lived through reaching other 'big' ages - 18, 21, 30 - I know that the number doesn't change anything, except maybe other people's perceptions of you. Which you can't do anything about anyway. 
So hey, I turned 40. But I don't plan on changing too much any time soon.

If anything, I'm going back to where I started - when people used to say I was a lovely little boy - as the T-shirt I bought to wear as my birthday outfit kind of made clear:
Basically it's the slogan T-shirt equivalent of  the Thomas Merton quote:

  •  "Finally I am coming to the conclusion that my highest ambition is to be what I already I am." 
And that's the attitude with which I'm facing my 40s.

Regarding the rest of the outfit, the heels were new ... a concession to my now very apparent 'adult lady' age. While I tried them on the shop assistant asked if they were OK to which I replied "I'm just trying to work out if I can walk in them." Because that's an important factor in buying something you're going to wear on your feet.

You don't get to be my ripe old age without developing that kind of wisdom.

[Note how, in the bottom right photo, taken a few hours after lunch, I'd kicked off my heels and replaced them with cosy bed socks. Again ... that's the kind of mature wisdom I can live with.]

My birthday cake was intended to serve 12 (I can only assume that meant 12 different people).
The only thing I declared I truly wanted for my birthday was a full size version of my favourite cake from The Olde Young Teahouse: a vanilla 'Gold Bar' cake. And I got one: 
Apparently when James collected it they told him that it would serve 12 - however, because I'm not a party person, there weren't 12 people around to eat it.

And so ... 6 of us had a slice each after a Sunday lunch of my choosing at my parents' [for the record: I chose mince and dumplings. Party. On.]. The following day 1 other slice made its way to someone else ... but that still left James and I to plough through the remaining 5 slices over the rest of the week.

Which we managed. No problem. In fact ... after a respectable gap of 6 or 7 hours post-birthday-lunch, we ate a second slice each at tea time!

A few more birthday stats:
I received 11 cards:
They were lovely [and only 2 mentioned my age, which was lovelier still.]

One of the nice things about opening the envelopes of the handmade cards was guessing - correctly - which friend had made each one before opening up the card; each one revealed the individual style of the creator!

All the numbers ...
Over the Christmas and birthday gift-giving season I must have received at least 7 notebooks and yet ... when I saw this one, on the shelf in TKMaxx, in all it's leathery embossed numerical glory, there was no way I was going home without it:
I'm still deciding how to use it. Making notes on stories for my Month in Numbers would be the obvious one! Or ideas for a book about life-documenting with numbers? Maybe ...

In other book news: I made a pretty good start to my reading year by getting through [almost 6!]books.

  • This includes two books from my 'Lucky Dip' book club list: Primo Levi's The Periodic Table and Speedboat by Renata Adler. [Both from the 70s, both unique in style and structure, both new authors to me.
  • One non-fiction memoir-ish type book How Not to Travel the World by Lauren Juliff, which fits in with my 'research!' category. The 6th, nearly complete book, is Stephen King's part-memoir, part-writing-manual, On Writing.
  • And the last two are classics - yet they are both the first time I'd read anything by either author: Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea and William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.
  • Both of which I found, loaned, read and returned to the university library (on campus) in under 24 hours. The joy of spending my days currently accompanying a student who studies in the library 12 hours a week! 

I'd fallen in love with the Faulkner by the time I reached the second page... 
I must have read and re-read the section which begins "Jewel, fifteen feet behind me ..."  at least 3 or 4 times in a row ... to let the imagery sink in:
Just perfect. Tells you everything you need to know about the two characters. It's all their ... from the very start.

[There are links to the books mentioned on the Pinterest board I'm using to save my 2016 reading list. Recommendations are always welcome.]

And while we're on the subject of the classics ...

We sat in cinema seats J1 - J5 to watch an encore performance of the Branagh Theatre's production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale
This is the view in the cinema during the interval - of the theatre during the interval - where you can hear the hubbub of the crowd ...
The clock in the top left is a countdown so you know when you need to take your seat for part 2. 

It starred Kenneth Branagh and Judy Dench, plus other, not quite household names such as 'him out of that new Jekyll & Hyde series that I only watched one of then gave up on' and 'him out of Lark Rise to Candleford, with the curly hair'.

If you fancy catching it and - it's Keneth Branagh for goodness sake, why wouldn't you?? you can catch an encore of the encore screenings in some cinemas on Tuesday 9th February. You can find all the details here.

And, in another instance of culture worth leaving the house for ...

3 hours after submitting my 3rd yearly tax return ... I took myself out to a public lecture given by artist Alice Fox
I didn't know if I'd get there, what with all the heart-stopping, blood-pressure raising, accounts-submitting happening in the morning; so the moment I finished and printed out my proof of submission I was packed up and off ... headed to something I'm far more comfortable with: taking notes in a lecture about art!

Unusually for me though, this wasn't for work, so I wasn't taking notes for someone else, I was doing it for me. I think some call it an 'artist's date' [isn't it a Julia Cameron thing? where you take yourself out to an inspiring place?]. And  I already knew of - and admired - Alice's work and really wanted to hear her talk about her work. So I went. [If you love the idea of working with nature, found items, rust, paper and more ... then absolutely do check out her work. She has a website and you can get a quick 'in' to her style through her @alicefoxartist Instagram page here.]

Strangely, she talked about having self-published several books of her work ... which tied in nicely to another event I took myself along to in January, one hosted by an  appropriately numbery themed company ...

I attended a workshop by 6E, an indie-publishing company, called From Notebook - to Published Book.
Because ... clearly book publishing is on  my mind this year!

This was the stationery I picked to take with me: a 'Best Seller' notebook [one of those 7 new ones I mentioned earlier] and a 'Be Yourself' pencil. I reckoned it was a pretty good combination of attitudes with which to face the unknown with ... 
And finally ... as the format of this final photo might suggest ...

I've been sharing a lot of everyday nonsense on Instagram this month. 29 nonsenses in fact.

I used to think that Instagram wasn't going to be the place for me. I like imagery ... but I love words. I love Twitter.  But then the more I got into Instagram ... the more I realised that rather than use it to share perfect images, I could simply use a quick photo to help me tell tiny tales. And now I'm hooked doing just that.  

If you feel the same, and you want to use IG to document your #monthinnumbers ... then I'd love it if you'd help me build a numbery themed tiny tale telling community over there. For now - let's just use that as the hashtag ... and I'll get to thinking how we can expand! 


So, fare thee well January: you've stolen 39 from me and replaced it with a daunting 4 and 0. 

I know you didn't mean to scare me, and you tried your best to distract me by sending in cake and gifts and thoughts of book publishing. But FYI: while the cake and gifts did the trick ... the thoughts on book publishing? Well they're just as scary as the whole being 40 thing! 

Or maybe that's how you intended it? 

Hello February, can you hear me? Take note from January .... if you've got something you need me to face up to ... can you throw in some cake along with it? Just to help me along? And maybe some burgundy leather boots too? Because ... alongside seeing my name on a book cover, I've got an appetite for a pair of those right now too. 

Wishing you an equally fair February ahead.

Feel free to reuse my plea to February for your own ends, substituting 'cake' and 'boots' with whatever gets you through.


p.s: Responses to this post via comments, shares, retweets and shoving it  under your friend's nose to read because you think they'll like it, are all most gratefully accepted! 

Friday, 22 January 2016

My Own 'Personal Advent'. Or 'How to turn any birthday into a Christmas'

"You're going to miss not having a present to open tomorrow aren't you?" 

That's what someone asked me on my birthday earlier this month. 

And they weren't wrong; I would miss it. 

Not because I'm spoilt [although you'll soon see that I have been!] and feel entitled to a constant flow of presents or else why bother getting up each day? 

But because rather than simply receiving a gift on my actual birthday this year, in the weeks running up to it, I'd got used to opening a gift each and every day. 

For 40 days. 

[A set of 40 days -and nights - which also coincided with the run up to Christmas all of which made for a strange Lenten/Advent style gift-giving mash-up extravaganza . Which kind of implies I think I'm the baby Jesus. Which, for the record, I don't.]  

And so allow me to redress the giving/receiving balance by sharing with you the hows and wherefores of the idea so that you can treat someone else to their own private Advent ...

The idea for this pre-birthday gifting started a couple of years ago, as my sister's 40th birthday grew nearer [old faithfuls here might remember the superhero/Dr.Who/dress-up/photo-booth party she had for it?] and I wanted to do something nice, something special, something memorable to mark the occasion ... and 'my own private Advent' was born.

[Well, the idea wasbirn then ... the name just came to me about an hour ago as I started writing this post. But hey ... branding takes time].

Once I'd had the idea my parents and I had secret talks and, between us, we bought and wrapped 40 individual gifts then surprised her with them 40 days before her birthday complete with instructions on what to do. She then got to spend the next 7 weeks opening a present a day! 

And ... because my family is soooooo nice ... last year they secretly plotted, planned and wrapped ... and did exactly the same for me!  

And here's how you can do the same. [Not for me.  That would be excessive.  And slightly worrying, although, I'm sure you mean well.]

No, what I mean is ...

Here's how you can treat someone to their own personal 'Advent':

  • The idea is to create anticipation for an upcoming birthday by letting them open one gift each day in the run up to their special day. Like an Advent calendar. 
  • You can do this for any birthday ... it needn't be a 'big' one.
  • Do you want to do this on your own? If so,go for it, you autonomous devil you! You'll get all the glory once the surprise is revealed! 
  • However, if you'd prefer to spread both the effort and cost of finding and buying/making all the gifts ... then reach out to the friends and family of the recipient too. 
  • If you've planned everything else in advance [which will be easy once you've read through all my tips today] people are bound to be more than happy to join in with such a fun, unique and creative activity. 

First decide on how many days you want this run-up to last:
  • Will you make the number of days match the age of the recipient [eg. 40 days for a 40th birthday].
  • OR ... will you pick 24 days - like a 'proper' Advent.
  • TIP: the latter will come in handy for birthdays with particularly low or high numbers!! Too few days will fail to create any impact ... while finding 99 presents for Great Aunt Mary to open in the run up to her centenary may leave you out of pocket!!  

Once you've decided on how many days / how many presents is best for you:

  • Use a calendar to count backwards from the day of the birthday. 
  • Don't count the birthday itself! 
  • On the actual day you'll probably want to give them a different kind of gift, a regular gift, a 'proper' one - like how in your Advent calendar there's a bigger chocolate on the 25th of December!
  • Write down the date the Advent will begin! [Trust me ... you'll count, count and re-count, check and double check at least a dozen times during this stage!]
  • Allot yourself enough time prior to that date to browse for gifts and then to sort, wrap, and tag them all. [Allow yourself at least a few weeks for this!]. 

I'll come back to the kinds of gifts you could include in a moment but first, let's look at ...


For some reason I have no photos of how I wrapped and tagged my sister's gifts a few years back and so ... all the ideas and examples here are courtesy of my sister's creativity. [I should have worked out she was up to something when she asked me about which adhesive was best to use with paper!!].

Decide if you will give the recipient their gifts all in one go ... or one each day:
  • Not going to see the recipient every day from now until their birthday? Trust them not to open them all in one go? Then give them all the gifts in one go.
  • Not only will this be logistically easier ... I know from experience that it's lovely to have a pile of gifts waiting for you every morning! And I honestly didn't even take a sneak peek once! Not once!!  
  • However ... if you don't trust them - if they're a terrible gift-prodder, poker and peeker] or they're a child whose head will explode if they're required to have that much self-control - then maybe just hand them out one-a-day!
Good reasons to tag each gift:
  • Do you want to give the gifts in a particular order? Perhaps you'll want split a set / collection of gifts to give over several days. Something they can piece together / enjoy the full set on the final day.
  • Perhaps you prefer randomness in which case you won't need any careful tagging, but if not ...
  • To help both the gift-givers and the receiver keep track of which gift to open on which day and - more importantly - who sent that day's treasure - you'll want to tag each parcel. 
My sister printed off a countdown for each day then mounted each one on double-sided patterned paper:
On the reverse of each was written who the gift-of-the-day was from, then each was fixed to the parcels with a strip of double-sided tape. 

Help the gift-receiver keep track of the days with a count down:
  • Having the parcels labeled so clear really helped me work out which one to open next:
  • And the focal point my sister created - like an Advent Calendar - really helped me see how close my birthday was getting.
  • Decorate a board to which the gift-recipient can clip that day's gift tag which displays how many days remain!

Now we're all organised let's move on to the important bit ...


Well ... obviously, the specifics will depend entirely on your recipient's preferences and your pocket! However ... having been both a gift-er and a gift-ee I am in a position to offer some general suggestions ... 
  • Don't confuse the ideas of 'a little daily treat that shows you care' with 'a future heirloom' ... these don't need to be 100% long-lasting treasures. 
  • The whole activity of a personal Advent is a grand enough gesture ... each individual item needn't be the recipient's next treasured possession! 
  • Choose both practical and frivolous gifts. Frivolous because: birthday! Practical because: you're giving someone a lot of new stuff. Some of it might as well be good for something!
  • Visit £1 /$1 shops [but don't get carried away, even though it's cheap ... remember how many items you need to buy in total. The costs soon mount up].
  • Buy sweets, or anything less than £1, to intersperse with other gifts. These can be just as meaningful as big-ticket items! 
Let me illustrate using the gifts my parents and sister carefully curated for my personal Advent! 

eg: One of the fabulous badges from my sister plus mints. Because I always have travel sweets with me.

  • If you're crafty and creative you could include a handmade gift or two too.  

eg: My Dad made me this adorable chubby wooden bird!
Some of my other daily gifts the photo above include a mix of useful winter treats ... and essentials ... like additional zebras:

  • sweets, chocolate, another badge;
  • rubber stamps, coloured pencils and a colouring book;
  • hand cream and thermal trouser socks; 
  • and a Nanoblock zebra!

And in the photo below: 
  • gloves, cosy socks, lip balm and nail files; 
  • some crafty embellishments, more rubber stamps and another badge;

Plus this adorable little guy:
And some beautiful earrings:
The following week's gifts included ...

  • more crafty supplies, some sticky labels and another badge;
  • plus more socks, exfoliating gloves and another cute creature [this time a fox]:

While the final week featured: 
  • More sweets and chocolate and face cleansing wipes [perhaps I needed the latter to get rid of traces of the former?]
  • Gift vouchers to spend in my favourite restaurant;
  • A framed illustration.
  • A vintage Ladybird book:
  • A vintage left-handed pen nib [because it's tough being a leftie in a right-handed world!!]

All in all a wonderful haul of treasures, don't you think? [I told you they spoiled me!!] And, amid them all were a few examples in there of great, personalised, gifts which cost nothing!!!

IDEAS FOR FREE (and free-ish) GIFTS! 
The eagle-eyed among you might have been straining to see what the 'The Lost Boys' and 'Our Songs' printouts where in two of the photos above [notice how I didn't call you nosey? Mainly because I'd have done the exact same thing]. Well, let me stop you straining [it's not good for your eyes or ... 'other' areas] and show you what they were:

  • A token to indulge in a movie night at a future date:

  • And a compilation of songs that mean something to me and my big sis! 

Both brilliant, personal, gifts that cost little or nothing [apart from the wine and popcorn I've been promised!]

Other freebie ideas include:

  • tokens / IOUs the recipient can cash-in for things like baby-sitting, car cleaning, ironing etc.
  • Gift vouchers for a home-cooked meal.
  • Tokens for a day out together or an 'experience'. These needn't cost anything [or not a lot] eg. a walk along the beach, watching the sunset view from a favourite hill top, picking wild fruit, visiting a museum/gallery with  free entry.
  • Set free all those memories that live in your camera/phone/Facebook by printing out some photos that mean something. 


Here a few ways you can help the lucky recipient can extend the 'personal Advent' experience even further: 
  • When you bestow the surprise gifts upon them - tell them about how I set up my own little 'gift-opening station'! 
  • I propped up my countdown board on a chest of drawers in my bedroom, wrapped some fairy lights around the picture frame behind it, and made sure to switch on the lights for each day's 'opening ceremony'!! 
  • You can share this link with them [to this post] to give them an idea of what you mean.

Having somewhere as focal point for the gift-receiving [like a Christmas tree I guess] really helped make opening each gift feel like an occasion and helped to stop me getting complacent! 

To be fair - after nearly 7 weeks of daily treats - complacency was always a possibility. Especially when you consider that there was even one of my #personalAdvent gifts to open on Christmas day; meaning that on Christmas morning I'd opened a present before I'd even opened any presents!! 

And if your gift recipient likes to share experiences via social media ...
  • taking and sharing a photo of each day's gift would be a fun way to keep the 'specialness' growing [especially when comments from others can help the recipient appreciate their good fortune!] 
  • If they choose to go for that option then do let them know they can use the hash tag #personalAdvent to share it with me - and to help them keep track of all their posts/photos too. 
Similarly ... 
  • If you set up a #personalAdvent for someone and you share it on your own blog or social media ... let me know! 
  • Find me on Instagram @withjulieKirk
  • And on Twitter @notesonpaper ... as I'd love to see how the idea gets taken on by others!

And so ... that's how you can treat someone to their own personal 'Advent'! 

  • Any thoughts? Questions? Plans brewing?
  • Let me know in a comment 
  • Or on social media. Using the hashtag #personalAdvent. Obvs.

Monday, 11 January 2016

2015: A Year in Bad Portraits

It's that time of year again.

Time for my - now annual - January detox. 

Not the kind of detox that encourages you to make smoothies from unholy combinations of fruit and veg, nor the kind that gets you interrogating your affection for each and every item in your home/wardrobe before you throw it all in a bin bag ... no ... 

This detox (which you're welcome to join in with, but which experience tells me you probably won't) is one that purges the system of any build up of self importance.  ... and tends to entertain people at the same time. [A combination which is pretty much my business plan for the next 10 years]. 

To illustrate ... these are some of the best photos taken of me during 2015; photos I've used as profile pictures or generally shared across social media:
Notice how they're all carefully posed and well lit. Notice how I'm wearing make-up and having a good hair day. Notice how I look like I have a good rapport with the photographer*.

[*I do. They're all selfies]. 

Well, this post, this detox, is the antidote to all that careful image curation.
  • It's a 'factory reset' for my ego;
  • a release valve for my contrary nature that says "You know those photos you've avoided showing anyone all year? Yeah those. You should share them you know? All together. In one post. For laughs."; 
  • In fact it's another Year in Bad Portraits ... 

[You can find previous delights here from 2014 and 2013 and here is the article I wrote for Marie Claire all about the project.]

For some reason I can't find any Bad Portraits for the first 2 months of 2015; not that I'm bragging. 

Rather than gliding through January and February looking fabulously photogenic, it's far more likely that it was winter and I probably didn't go any where worth taking photos. Or, if I did it was probably just too dark to make me out in the shot. And so my Year in Bad Portraits begins in earnest in March.

March 2015:
Taken on a weekend away with friends, during an inexplicable game of catch, this pose is called:

"I'm really not the sporty type but I'm hiding it well ... aren't I?"

April 2015:
If you've seen my previous Bad Portrait post, from 2014 and 2013, you'll know that James likes to grab, how shall I put it - candid - shots of me while I'm eating. This pose is called: 

"You're doing that thing again aren't you?"
He does this mainly because he knows that arguing with him about taking a photo of me with my mouthful would involve me talking with my mouthful ... which will inevitably lead to a 'better' shot.

That kind of  'better' shot usually involves the pose ...

'Is the food just going in or is it just about to come out? You decide' 

May 2015:
May leads us into a special month for Bad Portraits starting with the one that I used as my logo for this year. 

This was meant to be a quick shot of my hair, from above, that I could use on social media as a quick "Ooh, look, I'm dyeing my hair 'Darkest Intense Violet' status update. It was never intended to say: 

"There is no escape. I will come for you while you sleep".
It's only appropriate that I look evil here as both it, and the next Bad Portrait, both capture the weird pigmentation on my forehead that I refer to as my 'Dark Mark'*. 

* For the uninitiated [where have you been all Harry Potter's life?] Lord Voldemort brands his followers with the Dark Mark which burns and throbs to alert them to his return.

Can you see it, above my left eye? How about in this photo, which I'm titling:

"No one in this house has any recollection whatsoever as to why this photo was taken or who took it. Especially as #NoMakeUpSelfies are so 2014"
Yup. That's me. Straight from the shower; with neither a trace of make-up or self-awareness to preserve my dignity.

For the record: my Dark Mark seems to have faded in recent months. Either because it [a] darkens in sunlight and I've been good at using my SPF cream OR ... [b] I'm just not so Slytherin these days. 

Moving on ... although we're still in May [and we're still debating whether or not the food's going in .... or coming out ...]
Trust me. It's going in. I don't mess around with a Robineau passion fruit, lime, and coconut tart.

You can catch up on the picnic we had on the Grimpen Mire* in this post from last year. *Kind of.
This Bad Portrait, from James's birthday, was followed swiftly upon by this next one from our May anniversary. 

You know how it is ... you think you're taking a selfie which captures your feelings after 20+ years together ... when what you're actually getting is: 

"Stunned couple who've just survived a natural disaster":
Which, in itself, is not a terrible definition of a long term relationship ...

Let's stay in May and, while we're on the subject of relationships ...

Having James as my own personal paparazzo can have its advantages. For one thing, it means I often have a good supply of photos of myself that I can use to illustrate blog posts. So, yes, sometimes he takes really useful, memory-preserving shots of me ... but equally ...

... he might also sneak up while I'm in the vulnerable position of blow-drying my mountain of hair and capture a whole collection of Bad Portraits like this one... 
which I'm calling ...

"I bet this never happens to Beyonce"
"Or this!!!" Because, as a bonus, as if the Cousin Itt-like Bad Portrait of me isn't enough, here's the added extra of a glimpse of our undies drying on a radiator in the background:
Bad Portrait
I'm not saying the two are connected but, come to think of it, it was only a few weeks after this that I decided to have my hair chopped off for summer ... as illustrated by the next set of  charming portraits.

July: [another bumper month for Bad Portraits which tend to increase with the temperature and the likelihood of me going out].

What does this photo say to you? "I'm on holiday"? "I have new, carefree, hair"? "I'm having a lovely lunch in a favourite cafe"? OR ...

"I always knew the angels and/or Mothership would come for me eventually"? 
Insert that five note thingy from Close Encounters of the Third Kind here.

And here we go again with the foodie portraits ...
And this one sees the return of a favourite pose from my 2013 round-up ...

Here's another instance of 'the anxious guinea pig': 
Then, after eating that lavender scone [at Yorkshire Lavender] a photo happened in which not only is there some charming 'bunching' going on around my groin area ... but I also look wonderfully wonky;
  • like someone very drunk trying very hard to walk in a straight line;
  • like someone battling a head wind;
  • like someone walking an invisible dog...
[Which, funnily enough is just how I like my dogs].

August 2015:
After painstakingly planning my wardrobe for a 3 day London trip in August I intended to carefully photograph each outfit to document them here on my blog. Which I never did. Partly because I was just to busy enjoying the break to bother getting good shots of my clothes and partly because there were no really good photos of me wearing them [remember: you're not allowed to call me vain while I'm sharing my Bad Portraits with you]. 

The first attempt to get a decent shot pretty much set the tone for the remaining efforts, because surely the only reaction I'd have got from this shot would be ... 

"Who cares about how you styled that vintage shirt ... when exactly was it that you turned into a cat / alien?"
Here's a closer look:
Probably just a trick of the camera; my eyes must have moved before the aperture closed leaving my pupils looking like this. Probably. [Or maybe that's just what happens to me when I go to London ...].

Something that was definitely due to being in the metropolis was this next pose, titled:

"Look, I've been travelling all day, and now it's less than 24 hours to Hamlet [first mention in 2016!] and I'm in an expensive restaurant overlooking the Thames hoping dearly that I don't look out of place. This is me looking relaxed. OK?" 
Cut to 24 hours later where there were my ...

"You mean I'm in the same building as Benedict Cumberbatch?" poses:
Is it just me or can you hear my shoulders tensing, jaw clenching and teeth grinding from where you are? 

November 2015:
This was the month I reinstated the 'tortoise face' pose:
The first instance of tortoise-face occurred at the end of 2013's Bad Portraits ... and it's a good  [by which I mean bad] one.

And we're now almost up-to-date ... but I can't leave without sharing some festive Bad Portraits ...

December 2015:
I'm calling this one:
"Well this won't be next year's Christmas card."
With the sub-title: "Nope, not drunk".

And finally ... I really, really, wanted to get a nice photo of my Christmas day outfit. I can't tell you how much I adored wearing my big swishy 50s style skirt and truly hoped the photos would capture how good I felt.

And yet ...

... while I was feeling all Christian Dior 'New Look' chic ... it turns out I looked more like I'd just spotted something strange underneath a nearby car:

But hey ... there are always other days, other skirts, and plenty more room on the memory card for more portraits!  

Even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. 

Because from that manure some of the best stories and memories sprout! 


Want to share a photo of your own? Great! But I'll warn you now ... it'll probably be just you and me!
I've extended the same invitation for the last two years now ... and nobody's taken me up on it ... yet. 

And I get it. Not everyone is as misguided as me, or keen to do anything to make others laugh, and - naturally - not everyone saves their bad photos. Trust me, I too would be hovering over that Delete button if I hadn't created the Bad Portrait project for myself; now all bad shots are 'material' for my yearly round-up!

But, if by some chance you do join me in sharing a bad portrait ... 

#BadPortraits: THE RULES 
(yes, there are rules.)

  • Only share a photo of yourself
  • Goodness knows I have some ropey shots of friends and family from 2015 .... but it's not my place to share them. 
  • However ... just because you're free to share any photo of yourself, it doesn't mean you should. 
  • Only share photos of yourself that you can freely laugh at. 
  • This is a project all about being in on and sharing the joke; setting yourself free from the pressures to present an idealised lifestyle. 
  • It is not in any way meant to encourage 'shaming' in any form. 
  • Go gently on yourself - if the photo of yourself doesn't make you giggle ... don't share it. 
Don't want to share a photo? [I don't blame you] ... 

Join the #BadPortraits discussion instead.

Maybe you just want to chat about the project? Maybe you're thinking about joining in this year and want some tips?  Whatever it is I'm all ears [and awkward poses] and here's how you can get in touch:
You can visit my earlier Bad Portraits by clicking the images below, as for me ... I'm off to practice some new poses for 2016 in the mirror. 
Julie :-)