Monday, 1 December 2014

Want a unique gift this Christmas...?

If you're tired of looking in the shops at the same old stuff and want an affordable, personalised gift then look no further. I have had so many custom orders lately in my Etsy shop and I know some have been for Christmas gifts.

Perfect for where you live, honeymoon destinations, wedding locations, engagement spots or a mixture of all of the above!

My map cards are easily framed or I am happy to create something in a different size up to A4. I can also offer white or brown card and as many or as few hearts as you like.  I have a range on UK, European and World Maps so please get in touch on here or via Facebook, e-mail or my Etsy shop to discuss what I can make for you. Take a look at just a few of the custom orders I have already done for people in the pictures below.

Last Christmas Shipping Dates:

UK - Friday 19th December
Europe - Monday 8th December
Everywhere Else - Wednesday 3rd December.

How to Save Money on your Christmas presents!

That time of year is upon us once again. The lights are twinkling on the tree, the wine is mulling and there's a chill in the air. But lets face it, it can be an expensive time of year too. I don't see the point of spending hundreds of pounds on presents and getting myself into debt for one day, so over the years I have managed to buy everyone presents on abudget. I'm going to share my top tips for a perfect (not pricey!) Christmas.

1. Plan ahead

This is the first thing that you must do. I start thinking about presents about October time and usually have a list written down of people that I need to buy for. As I think of things or buy things for each person I can jot them down so I don't forget. It also helps to keep track of what you have already bought so you don't keep on buying. It doesn't matter when you make your plan but I would recommend the beginning on December at the latest. 

2. Shop around

I very rarely buy something the first time I see it (unless it's a shop that doesn't stock the same thing regularly) I will remember the price, have a look on a few websites and then decide where is cheapest. I have saved myself a lot of money in the past just by getting it from a different place.

3. Save on your gift wrapping

This is a personal choice but there are lots of creative ways to wrap presents that don't cost a lot. Don't get me wrong, I love the Marks & Spencers paper as much as anyone else but I can't justify £3.50 on one roll of paper which might only wrap a few presents. There are lots of places that offer wrapping paper for £1 and they are just as good quality as some of your expensive brands. The same goes for bows and ribbons....they are exactly the same in Poundland as they are in John Lewis! 

4. Be strict with who you buy for

Everyone has different opinions on where to draw the line so you have to find what works for you and your friends and family. Over the years my friends and I have agreed on just cards or set a limit. Some years we have decided to put the money we would spend on presents on a meal instead as we don't see each other often. I also have agreed with family members who have children that the adults will no longer buy presents for each other and we will focus on the kids. All of this cuts out a lot of those generic presents that are nice but really people don't need and will usually add more calories! 

6. Take advantage of deals

In the run up to Christmas there are lots of deals and offers on which are designed to make us spend more. However, if you think about what you actually need, save your coupons (Or double them up on Tesco's case!) and keep an eye on the end dates of these offers, you can actually save yourself a lot of money. I have saved money on chocolates which I know I would need, I have saved myself 10s of pounds just by ordering things into store to collect rather than home delivery and have even got things for free through clever couponing. Beat the shops at their own game!

5. Get creative

I don't know anyone who doesn't like a thoughtful, handmade gift. This year many of ours have a personal touch which we have put a lot of thought into and we know everyone will love them. If you are crafty check out Pinterest or search my blog for the hashtag 12daysofcraftsmas, which is a series of posts I did last year on simple Christmas crafts. If you are not very arty check out personalised gifts such as photobooks, mugs, calenders or even personalised story books. All of these are far nicer than something bought off the shelf. 

It is possible to do everything on a budget and no-one needs to miss out because of it. You just need to plan, work out what you can afford and stick to it. Then you will enjoy Christmas and won't be starting the new year worrying about paying it back or the credit card bills!

Happy Shopping!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Renegade Craft Fair 2014

It's just over a week since I went to Renegade Craft Fair in London and so far all of the lovely things I've picked up have stayed in their bags because I've been so busy. So on my first weekend off in ages, I thought I would show you what I bought!

It didn't take me long to buy something and one of the first stalls I came to was Woah There Pickel who I had seen online before but I have never gotten round to ordering for some reason. Lucky for me Vicky (Owner and maker of WTP) had the cards I had my eye on in a multipack. Hurrah! If you're not English you probably don't get the significance of these cards but it's a well known phrase and calling someone treacle is a pet name. It's also a famous brand of treacle...clever huh? I also bought a little badge but I can't really show that as it's part of a Christmas present and the person will most likely see my blog from now until Christmas! 

Again this was another stall I was eagerly looking for as I have followed Rachel and her company online for quite some time (in an un-stalkerish way!) There were lots of things I could have bought, namely her hand illustrated 'I love you to the moon and back' plates but I was conscious that I would be carrying it around all day after the fair. So I spotted this little book in her sale section and I just had to have it. It's quite small with a hardcover and the phrase is something I am always trying to do through scrapbooks and photos. So excited to start filling it with photos, notes and tickets to keep my memories safe.

I loved Bel's stall and her prints were just divine! The colours and her style of illustrating are adorable and make me wish I had a child just so I could decorate their room with her wonderful prints. If I was allowed to hang any more pictures in my flat I would have bought one of her big prints for myself but alas I can't so I made do with two little postcards which I doubt I will ever send because they are too nice!

If you have been on my blog before or follow me on Instagram you will know that I like a hell of a lot of Oh Squirrel's pictures and blogged about her stall last year. So it was lovely to a) stock up on lovely things again and b) that Katie remembered who I was. Naww. So above are all of the things I bought minus the little purse I got (It's already in my bag being used and I totally forgot!) I also included the bag it came in and her business card/tag of sorts because they are all just too lovely. As you can see I got some pencils which are for a secret Santa but I am going to struggle to give them away. I also got a list notebook which is a present for a friend so I hope she doesn't see this! Because I bought quite a few little bits, Katie was kind enough to throw in a little lucky dip bag which contained the Thank you and Happy Birthday card, as well as the Crafty So & So badge you can see in the bottom left hand corner. 

It's nice to see independent businesses doing so well for themselves and seeing so many people turn up to a craft fair! I am already planning on going again next year for the third time in a row.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

DIY Tutorial: Halloween Pumpkin Decoration Without Carving!

 It's that time of year again! Costumes are dug out, sweets are stocked up on and Pumpkins are carved. If you're like me though, carving Pumpkins is messy and if I'm honest I would rather not stick my hand in a giant vegetable! However I had a Pumpkin left over from school and it seemed a little sad just sitting there so I decided to decorate it! If you need a last minute decoration or don't like carving either then follow along below! 

What you will need:

1. A Pumpkin
2. Gold paint
3. A paint palette or board
4. Brushes
5. Sharpie or other permanent marker pen

 Pour a small amount of paint onto your palette and start painting from the top outwards. Make sure you cover the stalk completely and then work your way down the sides. I decided to stop half way down but you might want to do the whole thing.

Decide what text you want on the front of your Pumpkin, I have gone with 'Happy Halloween'. Start of by parking lightly in pencil where you want your text to be (It might not show up very well but in good light you will be able to see it!) Then go over it in a basic black line.

I am always jealous of those people who either have beautiful script handwriting or who are good at Typography. But I have learnt a way to cheat! Once you have your basic line you go over it again and basically add bits on to make it thicker. There's no real science here but I recommend looking at a few pictures to show you were you would usually 'thicken' letters up.

All that's left is to colour in all of your lines and shapes until you have solid black lettering.

And there you have it! A simple, no mess, no frills Pumpkin that still has a little bit of shimmer to it! 

Happy Halloween everyone!

London Street Art Tour

I spent this last weekend in London visiting a friend but instead of our usual trip to the the shops in Central and a night out we fancied something different. I had heard of street art tours before but had never had chance to go on one or anyone to go with. So will little persuasion my two friends and I headed to Shoreditch for a tour run by London Street Art. 

This was our lovely tour guide Daphne whose knowledge of street art and graffiti was just amazing. When asked how she knew all of this information about  every artist we came across she replied 'I know them personally'. Can't have a better tour guide than that! In this picture she is pointing to a piece by Dscreet who is originally from Australia and his signature is these owl characters which are quite cartoon like. Unfortunately, someone had added to this with green paint!

 Ben Wilson turns old chewing gun into tiny, intricate murals. Like Daphne said, we have probably walked past tons of these around London and not even seen them! I love how it encourges us to look around more rather than hurrying to the next place and not looking at the world around us.

This piece is by Borondo, a spanish artist now living in Hackney, London. He actually has a copycat who is also working in Hackney who our guide was yet to meet but she didn't blame us for thinking they were all done by the same guy because they are so similar. Borondo's work is very expressionate and what makes it instantly different to all of the other work is that he uses rollers and paint rather than spray cans. I find his work quite emotional and dark which for some reason I really like! I love his work because they are such powerful, unusual images to use in street art and his painting style is incredible.

'London. you beast' was painted by  Faith47  in 2013 and is on a building that is currently being knocked down! I spotted this piece from far away so I was excited to get closer and see the full piece. I love religious iconography, don't ask me why, I have always loved murals, biblical images and stained glass windows despite not being religious myself. I don't know what it is about them that I find so powerful, perhaps even more so nowadays where religion is often a contraversial topic and is being discussed and refuted more than ever. I also love the limited palet which she uses and the scale of the piece. From what I have seen of her work since the tour all of her work is large scale like this, featuring religious individuals and swans.

This piece is attached to the same building as Faith47's piece but on the other side. I thought this was the whole piece and someone had cleverly used a space that is soon to be gone but it actually used to be a complete face with hair that covered the whole wall. I think I like it more as it is now though, it seems very opportunistic despite the fact I think it was a  more planned piece. The artist is Melbourne based RONE who has travelled all over the world creating these freehand, larger than life seductive and glamorous women.

 Dan Kitchener is a  Professional mural artist, Illustrator, painter and animator who was born in Essex but now lives and works in London. Sometimes when I see a piece of art, I can't stop staring at it. This is what happened with this piece. I looked at it close up, from down the road, over the road and then close up again. I couldn't quite get my head around the fact that it is painted by hand and how realistic it looks while remaining stylised. The short of it is I'm a little bit obsessed!

This is a close up of a piece by Conor Harrington,  an Irish born street artist who blurs the line between graffiti and fine art. Like Borondo's work, I find the pieces quite dark and eery. This just means I love it though! After doing a little bit of research I have noticed that a lot of his work depicts old military figures or battle scenes and his style of painting where he lets the paint drip slightly looks like these people are almost fading away or in motion. This gives them a ghostly effect which I really like and it made me stop while walking past to look closer.

 Do you ever come across a piece of art that you just can't get your head around? Well this is one of those! Created by Alexandre Farto otherwise known as Vhils, this portrait was created by chipping away and destroying the surface of the wall to reveal whats underneath. Our guide Daphne, told us that he pioneered this technique and even uses small explosives to get rid of larger parts of the wall, not the easiest thing to use when you are probably creating the piece illegally! What I like is that apparently all of his portraits are of people he has met in the past so you won't see pop icons or famous people getting even more fame. He creates incredible, strinking portraits of people who we will never know and I love that he elevates anonymous faces rather than generic figures from popular culture.

 Last but not least and that wasn't on the tour is this Steve ESPO Powers piece created in 2010 as part of his 'Love Letters' project. He moved to New York from West Philadelphia where he became a well known grafitti artist. However, in 2000 he gave up to become a full time studio artist. In Powers' own words this project was "A Love Letter meant for one but with meaning for all." He has created 50 rooftop murals in his hometown of West Philadelphia about the complexities and rewards of relationships. He has also created murals around the world like this one in London. It's probably the most photographed and instagrammed piece of street art in Shoreditch but I made it my mission to go and see it! I am a sucker for typography and romaticising life. I hope his work reminds people to sometimes look at the world through rose tinted eyes and remember that not everything is so bad after all.

If you are still with me at this point then I am very pleased you've got to the end of this mammoth blog post! I tried to be selective about the artists I included but I just found it too hard! I cannot recommend the tour enough to people who have an interest in street art or if you are looking for something alternative to do in London rather than the usual sights! If you are interested head over to their website to book yourself onto a tour!

As for the artists, I felt inspired and overwhelmed by the talent I saw. The time, effort and lengths that grafitti and street artists go to to create masterpieces which will only exist for a matter of time is incredible. They make us think, they make us smile and sometimes they might even make us sad but I would love to see more artwork on the walls to remind us all that creativity is still alive at a time in the world where control and oppression seems like the only option for many.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Whats on my bookshelf?

In the last few years I have become very fond of Pantone which is a universal colour system set up by Lawrence Herbert to eliminate colour variation in printing and graphic design.  I already have the postcard collection, notebook and storage tin so I was really pleased to find that they had a children's book too!

This may seem like a strange purchase as I don't have children of my own but I couldn't help myself (plus I got it for the bargain price of £2.90 from Amazon marketplace!) I have little nieces, work in a school and one day will have children of my own but most of all I just think it's a great concept to help children learn that there are different shades to a colour.

If you have little ones who are just learning about colour, children who love art or just love colour yourself I urge you to get this book! It's bright, it's got thick card pages so it's toddler proof and it's probably the coolest children's colour book I have seen in a long time! It's a piece of graphic design for children, what more do you want in a book?

Monday, 15 September 2014

The things you really need to know about University...!

This week 6 years ago, I was packing up all of my stuff to go to University. It was the first time I would move away from home and have to survive on my own. Armed with a box of cleaning supplies, enough tins to last a lifetime and the vision that my life was going to turn into skins (does anyone else remember that? The first series of course, it went down hill after that) I headed to Sheffield. Needless to say I learnt a lot over the 4 years and I want to share some of that wisdom (foolishness?) with you.

1. Making friends is easy

Everyone seems to worry about this. I only had a brief moment where I considered that I might live with people who would be cooler than me and I would be the loner. So when I actually got there I realised that no-one else had any friends either! You also get two chances to make a good group of friends, your housemates and your course friends. Everyones a winner.

2. Fancy dress is a big deal.

When else can you paint all of your skin a solid colour or go out in clothes that would make your mother tell you that you forgot your skirt? University is where! I have spent days, weeks even planning costumes for some fancy dress themes. Some of my personal favourite include painting myself white to become mini mouse, fame (see above. Yes I went out in a leotard), cave girls, burglars, mimes, golfers and cat in the hat. Oh and me and a few friends once did Lady Gaga in her different videos. You get the idea, it's a serious thing.

3. Hangovers become so normal it's like an actual illness

You go out a lot at university so naturally you get a lot of hangovers. The funny thing is that everyone is hungover so much that it starts to become like a genuine illness. You sit pondering with your friends "Do I really deserve this level of hell?" and they give you sympathy for it like it's not your fault (even though we all know it totally is)

4. You can do it on a budget

I have seen people live on £20 a week and people who have 2 overdrafts and don't know why. It's simple, work out how much you have left after you have paid your rent and bills and then how far that money needs to stretch. Admittedly, loans don't always cover things in expensive parts of the country but there are always jobs. It might just mean that you have to put that Topshop dress back on the hanger and walk away.

5. Any excuse to throw a huge party

"Hey did you know it's national dot day today? No? Me neither but I definitely think we should celebrate by having a party tonight."

I have never before celebrated Halloween on the same scale as a  national holiday and you would think that come St Patrick's day we were all born and bred in Ireland. However, I love that everything and anything is just another reason to party!

 6. You actually have to go to University to do well

I don't mean just be at university. You actually have to go. I know it's ridiculous isn't it? Thinking you have to go to lectures and do lots of work to do well? Who would have thought. In all honesty, it won't happen if you spend everyday watching friends re-runs. You're there for a reason.

7. You will have at least one housemate from hell

Everyone has had a food thief, a non cleaner, smoker or just plain idiot living with them at some point, usually in your first year when you don't have a choice. You can protest all you want but these people just don't care so you either have to crumble or just ignore them and their pile of 20 dishes in the sink.

8. Friends at different universities = more places to party

My best friend and I considered going to the same city but at 2 different universities. Boy are we glad we didn't! We both got to visit each other and make twice as many friends and have lots of variety for fun weekends out. In fact, I now consider her friends to be good friends and look forward to the annual reunion on her birthday.

 9. You make friends for life

The first two girls I ever lived with and met on the first day are still in my life today. I went to one of their weddings last year and consider the other to be one of my best friends. As for my course friends, we are planning a reunion as I type. You change so much at university and find out who you really are. If you are lucky enough to find friends like I have then you are very lucky indeed. I couldn't have done it without them and I know they will always be in my life.

10. At the end of it you feel pretty darn proud

It really annoys me when people de-value degrees now. "Everyone has one" or " It hasn't helped you get a job though has it?" So?! Since graduating I have spent far too long listening to little comments from people who have never been to university criticize it and undermine your degree. Well I am bloody proud of my First Class Degree with honours! It's a huge achievement and one you should be proud of. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

If you are going to university for the first time or your final year, Good Luck! Make the most of it and remember amongst all the fun you have to do a little bit of work (only sometimes!)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Back to School Wishlist

It's my last day before I return for another school year and I still get the same longing for new things to start my year! Nowadays I don't have to wear a uniform and chose the latest sports backpack in the hope that this is the year I become cool. Instead I love lunchbags, stationary and things that will be useful. I can't emphasise that enough. But they can be pretty too right?

1. Recycled Pencil Case - £5.99 from Nigel's Eco Store.
My class last year had a local recycling group come and talk to them and there were all sorts of things made out of recycled containers and plastic. I would love this to add to the bag I already have!

2. 'Create everyday' journal - £6.99 from Fox and Star
I am very arty and am always encouraging children to be creative so I saw this and loved it. It's not just a blank journal either there are squared, coloured and illustrated pages.

3. 'Sardines Tin' Notebook - £8.00 from Paperchase
I am obsessed with Paperchase notebooks as they are always the nicest and this one is just a little bit different. You can't have too many notebooks, especially small ones like this that will just pop in your handbag. Sometimes though I think they are too nice to write in....

4. Recycled shopper bag - £2.95 from dotcomgiftshop
If you haven't guessed already I'm a little bit obsessed with maps so this print is just lovely but you end up carrying lots of things around when working in a school so am always in need of a bag. Not only is it a bargain but it can fold away into your handbag ready for when it's needed.

5. Washi Tape - £5.50 from Fox and Star
Ok so if we're being honest this isn't an essential but it's just so cool! The range of washi tape on the Fox and Star website is amazing but this caught my eye as it's also got lots facts and info on it about the solar system. Again, probably far too nice for school!

6. Backpack - £25.00 from Paperchase
Another essential but this time for school trips! I love the print and the shape of the bag as it looks like it will sit nice and flat against your back. It's a little pricey but then again you know what you are getting from Paperchase.

7. Novelty Post-its - £2.25 - -Ebay
I love post-its and they come in so handy for marking things, making notes to myself or labelling something quickly. You could just have plain ones from any old shop but why when you could have novelty ones?! They go down a treat with the little 'uns.

If you have already gone back to school as a student or teacher I hope you are enjoying it and don't have the summer blues! If like me you go back this week....good luck!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Goodbye Summer...Hello September!

Well it's the 1st of September which means it's officially the end of summer and for many of us, back to school! As much as I loved my summer holidays as a child I secretly loved going back to school. When 6 weeks felt like forever, there was nothing better than seeing all your pals again and sporting the latest Clarks school shoes.

Now however my summer has flown by and I've been so busy enjoying it that I haven't done my usual monthly round-up of photos. So instead I'm merging all of my summer days into one post and I promise to be good from now on! :)

1. Starting the summer off with a lovely family wedding.
2. Celebrating my parents 60th at York Races.
3.  Winning bets on the horses!
4. 24th Birthday celebrations with my favourites
5. The end of a fabulous school year
6. Gran Canaria was amazing!
7. Holiday cocktails.
8. Not wanting to leave the sun, sea and sand :(
9. Finally having time to read and becoming obsessed with Dan Brown.
10. Lots of family time <3
11.  Loving my project life cards for my scrapbooks.
12. More products in my Etsy shop!
13. Free photo prints means more scrapbooking!
14. Can't resist a trip to the seaside
15. Sledmere House...who doesn't love a stately home?
16. The most perfect gardens. Can I live here?

Monday, 18 August 2014

Paperchase Haul

Whenever Paperchase has a sale on I use it as my excuse to stock up while saving money. They had a summer sale on a couple of weeks ago and I'm going to show you what I got!

Washi Tape set was £8.00 Sale £3.50
Memo Block was £5.00 sale £3.50
I am always thinking and planning ahead when it comes to Birthdays and Christmas because lets face it, it's all very expensive. So whenever I see something I buy it and put it in what I call, my present box. Got this little tube themed memo block as a present for some friends who have just moved in together in London. 

Water Bottle - was £6.00 sale £3.00!
I kept saying to myself that I needed to get a proper water bottle rather than buying throw away bottles all of the time so I saw this and loved it. The look of it is great and it keeps your water surprisingly cool. Downfalls are the screw lid which can be a pain to get on, especially quickly! 

Stationary set sale £3.50
This little set was bought for a special little lady who will be starting school in September! I know it's not the norm for' first day of school' presents but I thought it was too cute not to get. I know that it's something I would have loved as a child!

 Both of these scrapbooks were over half price from what I an remember. They are usually at least £10 each so I always buy a few even if I'm not sure what I'm going to be using them for yet! The top one has white pages and I've had my eye on it for a while because it's just so beautiful. The bottom on is simpler and has brown craft pages which I love too. I find that this size and square shape is perfect for scrapbooking. I have tried other shapes and makes but it's just not the same!

I hope you liked my haul, I got all of this for under £32 including free postage. Hurrah!