Goodbye

Hi Friends,

It’s been a while, I’m sorry! Please don’t judge me, it’s been a busy few weeks and I promise you, I have been working.

There are just so many exciting things happening at the moment. The biggest of which is that I can officially and proudly announce that I am working on a fantastic new style blog. I’m starting from the beginning and am in the midsts of style sheets, font experimentation, CSS and web host excitement. I CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW YOU all that’s coming together now… but you’ll have to wait another month or so for that, sorry.

Secondly – BIG NEWS ALERT – I am writing. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be that sort of creative again. If you follow me on twitter you may have heard news about a #TopSecretProject between the very talented Elina Lukas and I? We’re working very hard on something spectacular for you, so there’s one more reason to watch this space…

On which note, all this leads us to the bad news. Normality And Me is coming to the end of its happy time to make room for these projects. I’m sorry, I truly have had an absolute ball writing it, have learned so much, made friends and am so happy that it has led me to new and exciting things. Everything has its day and this is it for Normality And Me. I’ll look back with fond memories, I hope you will too!

But don’t PANIC! You will still find me tweeting, instagramming and pinning away at the usual places in the mean time. Rest assured when new projects are ready you’ll be the first to know.

All my huge thanks for reading, Normality And Me would never had been the same without you lovely readers. I just hope I’ve pleased you enough that we can still be friends! Don’t be a stranger.

Emily xx

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Sanity Saturday

Hey folks! Have you had a good week? I’m praying for the weather men to be right this weekend and doing a little sun dance!

I’ve had another one of those up and down weeks where I’m never quite sure if I’m remaining in the world of sanity or not. In nannying land we’re building up to the summer holidays – uber-excitement and many activities planned – and in blogging land I am bogged down with html tutorials, SEO research and new projects a-plenty. And then there’s the social life… sorry, I meant complete lack of social life that mainly includes  collapsing in front of a DVD box set with chocolate and wine every evening. Obviously.

So in true Sanity Saturday style, here is what’s been keeping me sane this week:

  • MORE WINNING! – Yes friends, this time I have won a pair of Goldsign jeans courtesy of a Liberty London Girl giveaway. I am in the throes of styling my first pair of bootleg jeans for years, what fun!
  • EBAY – Oh my! If you could all see the state of my wardrobe, and don’t pretend yours is any better! I am in the midst of a very cathartic wardrobe sort-out… watch this space for a few items going on ebay this weekend. I’ll keep you updated over on twitter.
  • MAD MEN – We’re just finishing season 2. Don’t tell me what happens, me and the other half are frantically viewing as much as we can to catch up with the television series. Though, I’m not sure if all this 1950’s chauvinistic nostalgia is doing our relationship any good? Normality Fail.
  • MOROCCANOIL – Aside from it being the best and ONLY thing able to tame my frizzy barnet it smells so good I want to slather it all over myself and eat on my dinner. Mmmmm, Aargan oil!
  • WINE – I may have consumed large quantities this week… I blame all that drinking in MadMen giving me ideas.

Have a wonderful week everyone. What’s keeping you sane while you go about your life? I’d love to know :)

Image from IFB Pinterest Board ‘Wise Words’

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Resort 2013 and a bit of LFW excitement!

Ah, fashion! You always know just what to produce to cheer me up. After all that serious thinking about my career I thought I needed a bit of fashion pep with an afternoons foraging through the Resort 2013 collections. Totally normal behaviour for a fashion blogger on a wintry July afternoon… well, I may as well give up on this summer malarkey and get excited about next year!

With the London Fashion Week events schedule now on show I thought I’d see who I’m really looking forward to this September. So here are my top four picks.

Burberry Prorsum, you make me want to go to work

Resort 2013 collection

Burberry’s Autumn Winter 2012 collection was spectacular enough if you ask me, it got me looking forward to the colder months at any rate, but the recent Resort 2012 collection is just as special. Working in an office just wouldn’t seem as daunting perhaps if I had this wardrobe to choose from everyday?

Rag & Bone, get in my wardrobe

Resort 2013 collection

So great to see Rag & Bone across the pond here in London to celebrate opening it’s first European flagship store. New York has hogged you long enough! I could just wear these great staples everyday.

Moschino Cheap And Chic, let’s play together

Resort 2013 collection

A favourite of mine when casually surfing Net-A-Porter in a one day I will be able to afford you kind of way. I’m usually against any collection that can be described as ‘fun’ due to the fact that I am not 5, but this Resort collection is fun and absolutely wearable at the same time.

Willow, you’re new and I think we could be friends

Resort 2013 collection

Completely new designer for me, I first heard of Willow just a few days ago from LFW news. I think this could be the start of something and if this Resort collection is anything to go by I am totally stoked (They’re Australian so that’s a bad joke by the way) to see what they have to bring to LFW.

So bring on London Fashion Week! I can promise you lot that I’ll be seeing more of it this September, well, as much as an intern ever gets to soak in anyway :) I can’t wait.

Normality Win.

images courtesy of Style.com

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6 Career Lessons, learned the hard way…

Blogging can be a really rewarding, creative and social business. The same can be said about being a nanny. You could say that I am one very lucky girl to be able to work in two industries where my skills can be shared happily with others. Of course, the two industries don’t always, as you might imagine, blend together too easily. Kids and fashion, hmmmmm? But there’s always a good reason as to why anyone ends up doing what they do, and there are usually even better reasons for people changing what they do too.

I’ve been accessing what it is that I want to do recently and more importantly how to do it best. I think we all need a little time to step back and analyse our work, time, friends and family now and again, whatever our industry or lifestyle choices. Sometimes something as simple as writing a list of what you want is all it takes to realise what you need to do or what path is best to take. It’s pretty much what I’ve been doing over the last few months. I’ve used the words ‘do’ and ‘doing’ a lot in this post so far, I’m beginning to sound weird, abnormal, even… but really, isn’t that what life is all about? What you do with it.

So to help you in finding your dream career, bettering the one you have, or perhaps, if you’re just starting out, give you a fair warning of what not to do, here’s my life lessons for your career, learned over ten very tremulous years!…

Career Lessons

It started with a fairly disillusioned and cynical young adult wanting to do something creative with her life. The rebel inside her led to a lack of respect for formal education, she shunned a great course offer at University and went out into the world. That led to the beginning of my working life being in a photography studio, sounds great right? No, it wasn’t.

  • Career Lesson One: Working in a creative industry isn’t always creative. Being a photographer/digital art-worker/salesperson in a large corporate franchise of family photographers was not the burgeoning creative hub I had hoped.

As a stop-gap job whilst I was deciding what to do with my life I became a nanny.

  • Career Lesson Two: If you find yourself in your stop-gap job for three years it is no longer a stop-gap. I loved the first family I worked for as a nanny, they were good to me, I earned decent enough money, found an unexpected talent in childcare and so it was all too easy to rest on my laurels for those three years.

So I entered the office workforce for the first time. Sure it was as an Admin Assistant but without a degree you work your way up the ladder, right?

  • Career Lesson Three: Choose your workplace wisely, not all employers have such high hopes as you do for yourself. Unfortunately, though I had found a great role in corporate events I had found it with a small and struggling company with no room to grow. I reached my boredom limits very quickly, was given many challenging extra tasks at which I excelled and was told there was no room for promotion or remuneration for my efforts. I was belligerent, they were indifferent. Sadly, we parted on bad terms.

Stressed, unemployed and newly disillusioned by the world of work (not to mention realistically concerned about having no references to show) I returned to the safe, warm and cosy world of childcare.

  • Career Lesson Four: If it didn’t work the first time, perhaps there was a good reason. Again, I found a wonderful family that were good to me, made great relationships with super kids, was good at my job and was making reasonably good money. The only problem was that slowly and surely that feeling of ‘under achieving’ and not using my brain to it’s full potential crept in. 

Sensibly, and still nervous about returning to an office environment I chose this time to boost my skills before changing my comfortable job.

  • Career Lesson Four: Sometimes your mother really does know best (and your father and brother too) I plumped for taking the first adult learning course that looked interesting. Creative Writing. I loved it. It was my brother who suggested I start a blog, he also put me onto my first ever paid writing gig, for an online fashion magazine. It was my mother and father who had pushed me into enrolling in that degree several years ago – it was Marketing and Communications – I started to realise that might have come in quite handy actually.

So, I’m beginning to realise the path I want to take now. It lies in writing, it lies in fashion and lifestyle and it lies in a much more professional environment than nannying can offer.

  • Career Lesson Five: You know more than you think you know. Perhaps those previous career ‘mistakes’ have prepared you better than you thought. I continue the blog, I find that skills in photography and digital artwork come in very handy. That ‘boring’ job in corporate events has actually given me great IT and web skills, I’m great when it comes to organising anything and I have all the general office skills required for the big wide career world. Looking after children (and dealing with their parents) has even given me all the communications skills I could ever want for too.

I start to think about where I actually want to be. It’s simple, I write a list. I want to work with like-minded people, I want to work in fashion and/or women’s lifestyle, I want a job that is challenging in a workplace I can progress, I want to work somewhere I can best use the skills I have acquired.

  • Career Lesson Six: Make a plan, do the plan, revise the plan, do the revised plan. Slow and steady wins the race. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have it all planned out. And when you are also realistic. Don’t expect it all to just work out, make it work out. Don’t expect it all to happen at once, you have to earn it.

I am still nannying. Juggling trying to be a stylish fashion blogger and a childcarer can be interesting at times, but hey, there are MANY mums working in the fashion business that do it just fine. I just have an array of very stylish flat, comfortable shoes, easy. Nannying is a great job to do while concentrating on other things. I work the hours that suit me so I can blog, write and learn as much as possible.  I earn decent money to support me until such time that I feel I have learned enough and gained enough experience to apply for a job in my dream career.

I hope this little guide of mine helps you. That’s why I have written it. Because sometimes you just need someone to say, “I’ve been there, I’ve made the mistakes, here’s what I’ve learned”. And over the ten years since my first foray into the world of work I think I’ve learned quite a lot… the hard way!

And whatever it is you want, go for it!

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5 Things I’d Buy Instead Of That Mulberry Handbag

I think when it comes to designer handbags most girls that I know fall into one of two categories; got one or want one. Unfortunately, for me, I feel I am due to be in the want one camp for a few years longer.

Perhaps it’s that classic 2.55, a Bayswater (my personal favourite), a Birkin or perhaps you’re more of a statement gal and are lusting after a sparkly Anya Hindmarch, modern Proenza Schouler or a cute Chloe number? Whatever your style, I bet you know what it would be or what it would look like… I say this safe in the knowledge that if you read my blog regularly you have similar feelings towards that elusive perfect handbag to me.

Mulberry Bayswater, Chanel 2.55, Hermes Birkin

Chloe, Anya Hindmarch, Proenze Schouler

But for me, a black Mulberry Bayswater in snake effect, will unfortunately always come further down the list than a few other things. Bar winning the lottery, a spectacularly unprecedented book deal for the novel that’s in my head or all my family dying mysteriously in a fire and cashing in on immense insurance pay-outs I will not have a thousand pounds to spare any time soon. However, when I look back over the past ten years of my life I have spent large sums of money on the odd occasion. They are the things that will probably always, in my life’s priority list anyway, beat the beautiful Bayswater.

  • Computers – My first computer bought ten years ago as a cash splashing teenager after saving from my first real job. Then my MacBook serving me well the last few years
  • Cameras – My Fujifilm may not be a fancy DSLR, but it performs like one and set me back a bob or two as well
  • Holidays – There have been a few in the last ten years, I can safely say I have enjoyed them all more than I would a handbag. Never underestimate the importance of great memories
  • My Bicycle – Ok, maybe a Pashley isn’t a necessity but the joy I have got from it in a few short months has been immense, not to mention it being great for my health… and it will last as long as a Bayswater too.
  • Furniture – Whether it’s my sumptuous M&S sofa I bought two years ago (and currently sitting sadly in storage) or the haul of antique charity shop finds we acquired for our flat, making a home will trump handbags any time.

See, us fashion obsessives aren’t always completely blinkered when it comes to real life. But that doesn’t mean a Mulberry classic doesn’t firmly stay at number six on my must own list. It will happen. One day. For now, I’ll concentrate on getting enough money to move back out of my folks house, but don’t forget me Mulberry. I’ll be back.

Normality win.

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Pinterest, You Let Me Down!… Normality Pins Old School Style

Happy Friday all! I hope you are all sufficiently geared up for the tennis? We have been practicing our “come on Tim!” shouts all morning in support of Andy Murray… It’s a British tradition that is just not worth changing for the sake of a name, right?

In other news I often spend my Sundays what I call working, but could also be described as pootling about the internet pinning things and reading much-loved blogs. Not so for the past two weekends my friends, my love affair with Pinterest has officially soured, after receiving the message:

“Wow!  That’s a lot of pins!  We love your enthusiasm, but you’ve hit one of the blocks we have in place to combat spam.  Please try again later.  <a href=’https://pinterest.zendesk.com/entries/21350812-why-am-i-blocked-from-commenting-or-performing-other-actions-on-pinterest’&gt;Learn more about this block and our Pin Etiquette. (pl5)”

I thought I’d leave it 24hrs to prove I wasn’t a spammer and try again. No luck. And another 24hrs. No luck. So I sent a friendly email asking if they could unblock me because as they can see, I am not a spammer. I received an auto-response email telling me why I was blocked with no helpful information as to how to unblock myself. Thanks Pinterest. I obviously have emailed them back and very politely pointed out that their email was of no help and could they please unblock me now… It took three further days before I was unblocked.

As my friends are quite used to hearing me say when faced with such moronic behavior: What a Douche! YES PINTEREST I THINK YOU ARE A DOUCHE. 

Howeveron the upside I have discovered this fantastic, new-fangled thing that can easily replace my Pinterest activities – if not share my pins quite so easily – and it’s called A Scrapbook! Ooooooh, Ahhhhh! What is this new and strange trickery? I hear you ask. Well, the idea is that instead of pinning internet images and personal photographs online, you get one of those paper book things and cut and stick images into it, with actual, tangible glue and scissors and paper and the like. Wow! I’m hooked!

No really. Not only does this mean that I can be good and recycle ALL the magazines I own by just cutting out the inspirational stuff, I can also do a novel thing and print photographs to stick in and collate my various tickets, invites and gumpf about where I’ve been and who I’ve seen as well. A sort of visual diary of what I’ve done and what I aspire to all in the same – and rather prettily organised – space.

I hope you like my scrapbook?! Does anyone else do this too? It’s so satisfying and a great way to get away from the computer for a bit.

And for those of you panicking, don’t worry, my Pinterest account shall continue as normal. I just like them a little less now.

Normality ???

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Favourite Fashion Five #4, Ruth Walker

Welcome to the fourth edition to this little series about the amazing talent that Winchester, my home town, has nurtured into high-flying success stories of fashion. Please give it up for Ruth Walker… not only is she one of the most dedicated workers I’ve ever met and an amazingly talented wardrobe mistress, she is also one of my closest friends. Lucky me! Here’s my interview with her conducted for Winchester Fashion Week:

Wardrobe Mistress Name: Ruth Walker

Work: Freelance Wardrobe Mistress

Connection to Winchester: Grew up in Winchester

Bio: Ruth studied Fashion with Marketing at East London and found her first graduate position in a distribution company. After a year or so she realised that her real passion was in costume and decided to retrain. After taking a Costume for Stage and Screen course at St Martins Ruth became freelance and began doing dressing for the theatre. Now Ruth works as a freelance Wardrobe Mistress and has worked with prestigious companies such as The Royal Shakespeare Company and Opera North. This summer Ruth will be working at The Holland Park Opera’s after previous successful seasons with them.

As someone who has grown up in Winchester, how do you think it has influenced your personal style?

Winchester creates an atmosphere which allows you to experiment with all kinds of styles, you can be casual, smart, retro, dressed to the 9’s, wherever you go there will be a mix of styles and a very chilled atmosphere.

You’re shopping on Winchester high street, what are you wearing?

Comfortable shoes! I always spend hours wondering round, there are so many good shops, which stock good basics and ‘on trend’ must haves, which saves you from having to sort through masses of rails. I also make sure I have an easy outfit for the changing rooms, jeans and T-shirt or dress and legging something which isn’t going to drive you crazy taking off and putting back on again.

As someone who studied fashion but now works in costume what advice would you give a young student now who’s not sure which way to turn?

Make sure you utilise all your skills, you’d be amazed what skills can be transferred from one industry to another, and don’t forget skills you have from part–time work, summer jobs, and charity work; like handling cash, working with the public, even filing, these jobs all show you can handle a task and understand attention to detail.

Winchester Fashion Week’s 2012 theme is Best of British and in a costume career you often deal with all sorts of traditional dress. How important is it to have a good understanding of the history of fashion as a fashion or costume student now?

It’s vital! You’d be amazed at the mistakes that are made even on large-scale TV and film production. The biggest problem is that many performers will have no idea how restrictive period costume can be and will try to move as they would in jeans and T-shirt, so it’s not just making sure the look is right it’s working with the cast to make sure they can fulfil their roles on stage without destroying the costume or fainting.

Who is your favourite British designer and high street brand?

My favourite designer would be Vivienne Westwood, her collections are very dramatic, she takes inspiration for the past and recreate with a modern twist. I also admire her work ethos, she’s worked her way from a small shop too an international super designer. Oasis would have to be my favourite high street brand I know I’m always going to find something which will suit my shape, that’s what fashion is all about, work out what styles work with what you’ve been given and always keep adding, try new colours, accessories, shoes, hair, make up, have fun! That’s what fashion should be about.

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