Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012: The Good, The Bad and The Unplanned


I hope you had a magical Christmas time and Santa got you lots of great toys! He was very good to me with lovely perfumes and blingy things. My favourites! How does he know eh?!

I'm just emerging from a few days of completely re-charging my glitter, which means I really, actually, truly did nothing! It was bliddy marvelous. It's so rare I take a few days to do nothing and I really got into the swing of it. And I've just realised that in planning my 2013 diary I forgot to schedule time off - I'm going to correct that right this second....

Right, that's time off booked into next years diary. Now, to look back on 2012!

The Good

I've got all sorts of good from this year!

Here are just a few of my personal favourites:

Speaking at Birmingham Girl Geeks launch event about social media and the 4am Project. Thanks for inviting me ladies! If you are a Girl and a bit of a Geek and you are in, or can get to Birmingham, keep an eye out for their up-coming events. 

Celebrating my best friend's 40th Birthday at a haunted cottage in the middle of nowhere in Wales. I still shudder at the ghostly goings on! It was a real country break with just the sound of birds and the neighbours mooing (they were cows, not humans!). I loved the open fire, but not the cobwebs. Part of me would just love to go back there again, and the other part says 'noooooo, it's just toooo scary!'.

Partying with Bugsy Malone at Fat Sam's Grand Slam. Fat Sam knows how to throw a party! I met Bugsy and he let me hold his splurge gun! What a gentleman. He's from NYC so I had a soft spot for him.

Having an Italian adventure in Milan! I had the chance to explore this beautiful city with it's stunning architecture, designer shops, art and of course the stylish people and not forgetting it has the most fabulous graveyard ever! Honestly.

The A.May.Zing month of May! 10 days of working and living in London. I had such an adventure and so many things fell into place. It was just the place I should have been that month. Now it's given me a taste for London and I've been back a few times since and plans to return very soon!

Being recruited by Brave New Ventures I had no idea what I was getting into or letting myself in for when I was approached by BNV. What a mysterious organisation. I'm still not quite sure what happened! 

Enjoying a Great British Seaside Holiday with my fab Mum We toured seaside towns down south and had one sunny day during the week. Hey, you can't go to the beach and not get rained on the the UK. Sandy sandwiches are a must. It's tradition! Thanks for a fab holiday Mum! 

Taking the 4am Project event to Nottingham and having 40 amazing photographers turn up despite the torrential rain! I still have to blog about this event, but it was a great challenge to take the project to a new city and make it happen and also team up with the Lakeside Arts Centre and their Saturday Night Sunday Morning exhibition. I'm very grateful to all the photographers who came along and took part in the 4am Project photography challenge given the challenging weather! 

Working with the talk about local team! Not just good, but great! However, now it's time to say a fond farewell to the team and take part in new adventures in 2013, which I'll announce shortly. If you ever get a chance to work with any of the tal team, do! If you have an interest in how to use social media from a grass root up perspective, keep an eye on the great work they do in empowering people and communities. It's been a pleasure working with everyone and I'll look forward to the TAL13 conference next year!  

The Bad

This could also go in The Unplanned category, but it was it was more 'bad' than 'unplanned' (not that I planned it!) so it's going here.

Being ill and spending a week in hospital. That was pretty bad. The 'good' is that I am better now. Hurrah!

It took a month out of the year all in all and I resent it for that. And it knocked my confidence in how my body works and also what I could and couldn't eat until I ended up eating the blandest diet ever. Thankfully, I am better and I know I can eat whatever I like again. So, another, Hurrah!

The 'good' for you is that I'm pretty bored of talking about it now, so this'll be the last you hear about it. Unless 1. I get ill again or 2. I feel like I want some sympathy haha.

The Unplanned

I didn't plan 2012 quite well enough. Which in some parts worked out well (Amazing Month Of May and for the Being Ill parts), but that was only by accident. Let me explain.

Earlier in the year I applied for a Clore Fellowship. Naturally I was pretty excited about this, but I also had a feeling that my chances of securing a place would be fairly slim. However, if you don't try for things, you stand no chance at all. What with the time commitment involved in the Fellowship if I had of been successful, and even though I felt my chances were a little slim, I kept the second half of the year free of commitments. In April I got the news that I didn't get a place. I was looking at the rest of the year without as much of a plan as I would ordinarily have liked.

It all worked out in the end and I was able to get back on track with planning but I really think I should have had more of a back up plan. The power of a back up plan should not be underestimated!


I will give 2012 a score of 7/10.

2013, I have very high expectations of you! We are aiming for 10/10!

Thank you to everyone who has brought their positivity to the year! 

I wish you all the happiness in the world and every success for 2013! 

Let's grab it and go out and make our own luck! :) 

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to you!

I hope you have a fabulous time whatever you do and whoever you are with!

Love of festive love and kisses

Karen xxx

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Speaking about my photography career and the 4am Project

At Fotofilia Photography Studio
Last month I gave two talks about my photography career and the 4am Project at Fotofilia Photography Studio. 

David Rann who owns Fotofilia ask me to come along and give two 90 minute talks to his two photographic societies; The Club and F2. 

I spoke about how I turned my passion into a career, and how the 4am Project began and captured the imaginations of photographers around the world.

Fotofilia 4am Project Walk
With a global 4am Project date coming up soon David got some hardy photography souls together and headed out into the rain drenched streets of Birmingham! Check out his blog post about the morning and his DSLR photographs. Thanks for organising the walk and for inviting me along to speak to your photo societies David!

Have a look at everything that is happening at Fotofilia. Not only is there a fabulous photo studio for hire (at a great price), there are classes and lessons and courses. David arranges exhibitions as well as running the photographic societies.

What David said about my talks:

“Karen has now delivered two presentations to the photographic societies we run here at Fotofilia. I had wanted to bring Karen along to speak for some time, having heard many great things about the 4am Project and admiring the innovative concept. 

On both occasions, the presentations were fun, informative and inspirational - (anything that can encourage our members to consider getting up at 4am to take pictures must be recommended). The presentations were well paced and friendly, with any questions being handled honestly and concisely"

If you would like to hire me to talk photography, 4am Project, communities or social media, then give me a shout! 

Say hello on twitter @karenstrunks

Friday, 14 December 2012

Iconic London 2012

On the 12th of the 12th of the 12th I went along to the launch of the London Instagramers photography exhibition Iconic London 2012 which is a retrospective of London this year.

The exhibition is on at the Truman Brewery until 16th December so go along this weekend! There are 100's of amazing images of London to be seen and be inspired by. You can get a sneak peek of some of the photographs and the photographers behind them over on the iLondon site.

Whilst you are there, strike a pose in the instamgram photo booth! 

Zoe and I - so shy! ;) 

Thanks for a great night! I'm full of instagram inspiration now. 

You can find me on instagram here and like ALL my photos ;) 

I wanted to make sure I had a memorable day as well as night on 12th December 2012 so I took myself on a photo walk around the city. It was a very chilly day, but I wrapped up and got out there and had a lot of photo fun along the way! Of course I couldn't let a day like 121212 go by without documenting it, so I've recorded it on Storify

It was a fantastic day and night in the Big Smoke. Thanks to everyone who was part of it! :) 

Say hello on twitter: @karenstrunks

Monday, 3 December 2012

Becoming a tourist in the city where I live

They say the best way to see the city that you live in is to pretend that you are a tourist and that you are seeing things for the first time. Do you have to travel far to have new experiences?

My friend Elizabeth lives in Cardiff and she told me she was visiting the city where I live, Birmingham. As soon as she mentioned this to me I got so excited and offered to show her around. Rather trustingly Elizabeth put herself completely in my hands for the day and went along with the whole thing!

I love organising and making plans and setting schedules and times and very soon a precision timed tour of Birmingham was on a spread sheet waiting to be executed.

But what do they say about the best laid plans.....? I only went and lost my printed timetable on the morning itself. Minutes before Elizabeth stepped off the train I realised that somewhere between having the day's schedule in my hand hot off the printer and travelling to New Street Station that this vital ingredient of the day had gone missing. But all was not lost - hurrah! I have a good memory so I was able to piece together my plans for the day. Yay.

I made google map of the route we took which is about 4.5 miles.

View Larger Map

I had to give some thought into what parts of the city to show Elizabeth and the tour would be a bit biased towards where I know, and what I like, but I did try to bear my friends likes and dislikes in mind too!

I've @storify'd the day of course!  You can see everywhere we went and what we saw along the way.

Thank you to Elizabeth for a wicked day and to my friends Marty and Sas who I haven't seen for far too long, but we got a chance to catch up on Saturday night over a traditional Birmingham dish, the Balti! Whoop!!! :)

The #BrumTourist Two! 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Experiments with nail art - part 2 plus bonus hair bling!


It's like coming back to a familiar place after being away from it for a while. November has been an extremely busy month and I hope to tell you all about it when I get the chance to catch my breath! It's been an amazing month and one of the most packed of the year.

But for now may I present you with my latest attempts at nail art (my latest favourite hobby), and I've put some bonus bling at the end of the post because it's just too sparkly to not blog about! Mmmmm sparkles.....

I think I called this one Star Crossed Night or something. It's really easy to do. Just paint your back ground colour. When the base layer is dry, put on randomly placed nail striping tape, and paint over with your glitter nail polish!

I think this is one of my favourites! This is from a couple of months ago when my nails were actually growing for the first time in year (due to a stay in hospital). They are a lovely length. I've used my favourite colour (OPI Big Apple Red), added some bling and painted just one nail with glorious glitter!

Leopard print. Red. Sparkles. Bling. YES! :D 

My Lovely Mum gave me these beautiful glass hearts which I will treasure forever. They also happened to match my nails perfectly. I should be a nail/finger/glass heart model! 


Blood tipped nails..... C'mon, they are scary right?

This was my first attempt at gradient nails, if you can't tell.

I refer to you to the fab Nuthin' But A Nail Thing blog for an awesome tutorial. Though I would say I don't think wetting the sponge worked for me. It kinda flaked and got stuck to my nails. Which was ok on this occasion for Halloween nails because a bit of texture added to the look. I'm sure the ghosts appreciated the effort I made when I went on my ghost hunting walk!

When you apply the polish with a sponge be prepared and allow time to clean up your nails afterwards!

This is my second attempt at gradient nails. I used a dry sponge this time. Plus I used more than one sponge - maybe about 4. As soon as one sponge got too 'clunky' with polish, I just used a fresh one. I also cut my sponges into smaller pieces, just to make them go a bit further, and so I'm not quite so wasteful. 

TIP: I paint my nails on Sunday night. It's a nice little chill out routine before the week ahead. Anyway, after my nails are dry (and I run my nails under cold water to make them set quicker), I rub hand cream (Nivea) around my nails and off I go to bed. The next morning when I have my shower, I gently use a nail scrub and the excess nail polish peels away. 

Of course you can just go around the nail with a cotton wool bud dipped in nail polish remover too! I guess my method is a bit lower maintenance. 

I got a bit carried away with my nail dotters for this one! 

I bought some bottles of glitter and decided to go for red/silver/blue combination. I did my base coat (as always), then whilst the red coat was wet I sprinkled over  the glitter. It looks better in real life than in the photograph; it's more eye catching in the light.

 And finally...... gold and red gradient. Before and after!

I promised you some hair bling. I see a theme here; sparkles, leopard print and red! I'm a bit annoyed with myself at the moment as I seem to have lost the red hair band already. 

Red blingy butterfly. I haven't worn this yet.  

This one is so sweet! I got it from a lovely vintage shop in Nottingham called Hopkins. I could have spent hours in there!

I think I was attracted to this hair decoration as I have a real-sized hat just like this! 

And my BFF surprised me when this gorgeous ring arrived in the post this week. I LOVE IT! Thank you Best Friend Forever In The Whole Wide World! 

Was that enough sparkles for one blog post? I hope so! 

Anyway, it hasn't been all work all the time this month. I'm about to dash out for a cocktail evening at a new venue in the city centre. If it's any good, I'll let you know! :) 

Say hello on twitter: @karenstrunks

Sunday, 4 November 2012

No.1 Traveller opens at Birmingham Airport

Last Monday afternoon made my way to Birmingham Airport with my passport in hand.

Some of the destinations I could have jetted off to...

I made my way to the the rendezvous point and handed over my passport, but I wasn't about to board a plane,  I was going to the opening of Birmingham Airport's sparkling brand new  No.1 Traveller lounge which promises travellers an up-scale pre-flight experience. 

I couldn't wait! 

Owly Images

At the entrance to the lounge guests are greeted with a wall of Rosemary.

Owly Images

Here's a panoramic view of just one part of the lounge. Behind me was the dining area and to my left a very well stocked bar.

This lounge is the largest within Birmingham Airport. The windows look out over the run way so you can chill out and watch the airport action as you wait for your flight.

And there is a mezzanine level too! One of the things I tend to naturally check out is the easy access to power supply and you will never be short of somewhere to charge your phone or laptop. They have power points on the walls, by the chairs, on the floor. Great planning there!

Want to get into work mode or have a meeting. Step into the office space! And if you want a more private area to have a meeting there is actually a meeting room you can use as well. 

  Owly Images

Part of the the dining area. Complimentary food and drink are included in the price of entry into the lounge. 

For example, at breakfast you can chose from a range of pastries, cereals, fruit salad and granola. 

At lunchtime there is salads and soups, bread, cheese, cakes, and fruit, and served all day are sausage or bacon rolls, poached egg pot and Welsh rarebit. I tried the fresh fruit salad and it was the freshest and nicest I have ever tasted, and I saw the bacon roll and poached egg pot being served and they looked amazing. 

And not forgetting that there are complimentary drinks too! Take your pick - tea, coffee, juices, soft drinks, beer, wine and spirits! 

Set your laptop up and you are good to go with fast, free wifi included too. 

The bowler hats again, just because...they are bowler hat lamps!

Councillor Ken Hawkins, the Mayor of Solihull attended the official opening. The new lounge has created 20 new jobs for the area. 

It's not often a girl gets a chance to don this much bling, and Ken was kind enough to obliged. Just for a minute though!

It's hard to say what my favourite thing about the new lounge is. It's been so well designed. 

Would I go book into the lounge next time I catching a flight? Yes! In fact, what I think I might well do is arrive even earlier to the airport so I can enjoy spending longer in there - it's really that nice! 

The lounge is open to anyone. All you do is book the lounge online for £22.50 or pay £27.50 on the door. Note the dress code. I think it provides really good value for money too. If you are waiting at the airport you could easily spend the cost of entry to the lounge on food, drinks and magazines/papers etc. I'd say check into the lounge and really relax whilst you are waiting to jet off. The trouble is, you might get too comfy and miss your plane! :) 

No.1 Traveller website and twitter
Birmingham Airport website and twitter 

Say hello on twitter @karenstrunks

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