Life Lately #14: In The Studio & Around Cambridge

If I’m being honest with you, January hasn’t been the one. I’ve lacked inspiration, have felt completely unmotivated and the weather and lack of light has been tough for my wellbeing. Self-care has been a priority and I have been going to the gym and trying to take time for personal projects. I’ve still been creating, but I took a little step back from products and social media to regroup for a while.

I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things, so thought I would share another Life Lately post to document the positive things from the past couple of weeks. I hung the new rainbow lamp in the studio – a great gift from G for Christmas.Rainbow-Neon-Light

I’ve been immersing myself in planners for the start of the year and have decorated my Bullet Journal with stickers from Nikki McWilliams. I’ve also been filming review videos for the Momentum Planner and the beautiful Hello Day Chic Planner. They are both up on my YouTube channel this week which just hit 3000 subscribers too!

Bullet-Journal-BIscuit-StickersIn product news, I have been brainstorming and thinking about new cards for the shop. I definitely want to keep the colourful, positive themes of my existing collections for new designs! This has also got me thinking about my tagline for the shop and blog, but I’m struggling a bit with what to say. If you have any ideas, give me a shout!Card-Collections-Claireabellemakes

Brainstorming for new cards means I get to play with the Scrabble tile box – definitely one of my favourite tasks in the studio!Scrabble-Tiles-In-ProgressHere’s a sneak peek at a new print idea in progress…….Ride-And-Shine-Sneak-Peek

One of my personal goals this year is to read more. I just finished this book which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who enjoys snail mail and postal curios. We are visiting the Postal Museum next month – definitely a topic I geek out about and always have done. I used to collect stamps as a kid.
The-Englishman-Who-Posted-Himself-Book Aside from getting back into the studio, I have been enjoying both London and Cambridge seeking out the rare days of winter sun. Jo and I spent this particular day drinking hot spiced apple outside and putting the world to rights.Kings College Cambridge King-College-Chapel-Cambridge Steak-and-Honour-Burgers And of course there is always time for a little bike spotting.Pashley-Bicycle-Cambridge

I’ll be back again soon with a ticket offer for the Knitting and Stitching Show. It’s a great event to visit if you’re into crafts!

Claireabellemakes-PinterestClaireabellemakes-TwitterClaireabellemakes-FacebookClaireabellemakes-YouTubeClaireabellemakes-InstagramClaireabellemakes-Google+Claireabellemakes-BlogLovin

Claireabellemakes-Signature

Memory Keeping and Celebrating Individuality

In 2017 I decided to record a one second clip of my life every day. The goal was to capture a memory and create a video at the end of the year with all the clips together. At first it was a fun task, trying to find the best part of each day to film and by the end of the year it became a chore and I was starting to feel strange about how repetitive my life appeared to be through this project.

It wasn’t until 31 December 2017 when I created the year long video that I realised how great it was to look back on the year. There were sick days, bike rides, moments that scared me and far too many clips of the cat. Watching the video back gave me a sense of achievement and I realised that no matter how repetitive or ‘boring’ some days seemed, no one else would have a video like it and that it was completely individual.

Since 2018 began, I’ve been reflecting on the previous year (you can read my highlights post here) and thinking about what I’d like to achieve going forward. Naturally we are goal setters in our house and we really enjoy being productive. At least once a week we will have a ‘get shit done’ day where our productive mindsets spur each other on and we chat about personal projects and crack on with all the things we want to achieve.

Not everyone starts the year this way and that’s OK. Lots of people have the January blues and find it hard to get going. It is tax return month after all and like many I leave it til the last minute and procrastinate a bit! Some people like to leave their Christmas decorations up and keep the relaxed festive vibe going for as long as possible. And some people don’t enjoy the ‘new year, new you’ vibe and prefer to celebrate who they already are and focus on that instead.

What is great about life is that we can all chose our own mindset and approach to the new year. Individuality is what makes people interesting. I shared on Instagram stories recently that I had experienced a rather judgy week on social media with lots of people vocalising their opinions on how one should start the new year. My posts received so many responses that many of you felt the same frustrations as me and that you want to do your own thing.

My hope is that social media doesn’t become the place where we are told how to begin our year or live our best life. Not everyone has the confidence or self esteem to brush these kinds of things off. One person responded that they were worried about sharing their 2018 goals blog post for fear of judgement about goal setting  or ‘resolutions’.  (For the record they are planning to publish the post as it feels right for them). Another said she was leaving her Christmas decorations up for a while despite judgement and my response was ‘good for you’.

So the first week of January has been a strange one on social media. My plan is to be kind and to celebrate individuality. I have set goals for 2018 and I am pleased about that. If you haven’t and you are not going to – so be it! We are all different. However you choose to start the year, I hope it is happy and you make some good memories along the way.

I’ll be taking a break from the 1 Second Everyday app this year and starting a creative memory keeping journal. If you’re interested I’ll share some of it along the way.

How do you like to start your year?

Claireabellemakes-PinterestClaireabellemakes-TwitterClaireabellemakes-FacebookClaireabellemakes-YouTubeClaireabellemakes-InstagramClaireabellemakes-Google+Claireabellemakes-BlogLovin

Claireabellemakes-Signature

5 Planners To Keep You Organised In 2018

If you’ve been a follower for a while, you know I can’t talk about the new year without talking about planners! This year, I wanted to share some fantastic planner picks with you as well as links to more in depth reviews in case you are still searching for the one!

5 Planner Picks for 2018

  1. The Imperfect Life Planner

It’s not often you come across someone who has your nodding along like the Churchill dog because you just love what they have to say! Stationery queen Kerry Lyons created The Imperfect Life planner from a Kickstarter campaign to allow us to make mistakes and embrace them.
The Imperfect Life Planner Social Check out my full review of the planner on YouTube here:

2. kikki.K Ring Bound Planners

I love using ring bound planners for my development and this spotty kikki.K copper zip planner is great for holding all my training notes for business courses. Ring bound gives me the opportunity to switch pages in and out and create divided sections for different topics.
kikki.K-Zipped-Foil-PlannerThe kikki.K planners always come in such pretty designs and they change up their collections regularly. At the time of writing, I believe this planner was in the January sale and how can one resist metallics and stickers?!kikki.K-Planner-Stickers

3. Hello Day 

I started working with Hello Day Planners last year to promote their beautiful collections and I’m thrilled to share the new collections for 2018. If sleek designs and dreamy monochrome is your bag – these planners are for you. Each one is spiral bound and available in a minimal layout or with more detailed pages.
Palma IG Hexx IG Tate IGThis year Hello Day have added stationery items to their offering including classy pencils, gold scissors and hexagonal gold pens. Luxury stationery at its finest!
pencils

Watch my detailed review of the Hello Day Planners here:

4. Travelers Notebook (TN)

One of the biggest trends in the planner community right now, the Travelers Notebook allows you to hold a collection of notebooks together with elastics or ‘strings’. You can buy diary inserts, dotted pages, you name it. Even DIY your own inserts!

This fabric version was from a shop called Lilac and Dot on Etsy, but the seller isn’t making TN’s anymore. However, just a simple search for TN’s on Etsy will bring up so many beautiful fabric and leather versions.

I’ll be using a TN in 2018 for creative journalling. More on this in another post soon!

Rainbow-Fauxdori-Travellers-Notebook

5. Bullet Journaling

And finally the wonderful Bullet Journal! I can honestly say that I found planner peace in 2017 as I stayed with Bullet Journaling all year! Previously I was something of a fickle planner, switching up my rings and pages every few months. Using my BuJo kept me on track with more realistic to do lists and I was the most productive and in control I had ever been!

I highly recommend the A5 Leuchtturm Dotted Notebooks as the perfect Bullet Journal – it has a contents page and fantastic paper quality.

Getting creative with my BuJo was fun too and it even inspired the pin design for my planner pins collection.

Pens-for-Bullet-Journaling

You can watch my most viewed Bullet Journaling video here:

And even though I said I’d share 5 planners, I’m sneaking a 6th planner here just in case disc-bound is your thing! The Busy Days Planner is a great option for decorative planners who also enjoy space for journaling. Watch my video review here:

I’d love to hear your planner choice for 2018 – or maybe you are a scraps of paper/write notes on an old envelope person….no judgement here!

Claireabellemakes-PinterestClaireabellemakes-TwitterClaireabellemakes-FacebookClaireabellemakes-YouTubeClaireabellemakes-InstagramClaireabellemakes-Google+Claireabellemakes-BlogLovin

Claireabellemakes-Signature

*I work with Kerry Lyons Co and Hello Day on an affiliate basis. This post contains links to outside sites, including paid affiliates.

2017 Highlights for Claireabellemakes

After finally waking from my Christmas food coma, I thought it was about time I wrote my yearly review post! I’m not sure if you guys enjoy these kind of posts, but I love writing them to look back on my productivity and positive moments. After creating a new product every month in 2016, my 2017 goals were to find more balance across my business and to focus on wholesale for the shop. Here we go!

2017 in Review Claireabellemakes

January 

The year often starts slowly as I spend time on my tax return and stock inventory. I also take time to review the year past and set goals. Even so, I also opened a shop with the new marketplace Look Lane and took some time out for a watercolour class with Emma Block – thanks to Jo for the great gift!

Claireabellemakes on Look Lane

February

In February I launched the Glitter pins in 6 new colours and they were featured in  local magazine, Cambridge Edition. I worked on some freelance Crochet commissions behind the scenes.

New-Glitter-Heart-Pin-Colours

March

This was the month the blog hit 1 million views!! I also took part in the March Meet The Maker challenge on Instagram and continued work on my freelance crochet patterns. I hosted another Craft party in Cambridge for a private booking.

Cambridge-Craft-Parties-Novi

In March I also started a new part-time job working as a receptionist in a Cambridge technology company. I absolutely love it and really enjoy getting out of the studio to work with others each week.

April

In April I decided to retire Cambridge Craft Parties to focus on the shop, so hosted my final one for a fantastic group of girls. Jo and I hosted another Cambridge Creatives Photowalk and a TON of people came! I also went on an Olympus Camera photowalk and sold at Norwich Makers Market for the first time.

Cambridge-Creatives-Photowalk-Spring

May

G and I visited Amsterdam in May and I got to see the beautiful tulips and bicycles! This was the month I finalised the planner pin designs after much sketching and designing. I continued with freelance DIY projects until this month.

Bikes-and-canals-Amsterdam

June

The planner pins finally launched and I sold my glitter heart pins on the merch stall at Blogtacular. Attending Blogtacular for the 3rd year was awesome for catching up with my creative pals.

Planner-Pin-Collection-Square

July

In July I worked with Axa to share a patio makeover on the blog. This marked the start of many evenings spent in our hammock! I also visited Pinterest HQ in London and launched my new card collections in the shop.

Claireabellemakes-at-Pinterest-HQ

August

I got busy in the kitchen in August to make an apple cake for Pink Lady on the blog. I sold at the Cambridge Made Etsy Fair, went on a fun trip to Dreamland Margate and saw my party hat DIY published in Caboodle Magazine. I also spent the day with Viktorija and Jo exploring Cambridge on our bikes. It was such a fun month!

Caboodle Magazine Party Hat DIY

September

In September I visited Etsy HQ to meet the team and was selected to become an Etsy Educator. I worked on wholesale orders and sent the planner pins to my first international stockist; Washi Gang in Australia. I also sent an order to a Tea themed cafe in Dubai!

Etsy Educators_group image 2

Jo and I hosted the Autumn Cambridge Creatives Photowalk where we worked with Cambridge Satchel Company again and set off confetti canons.

Cambridge-Creatives-Photowalk-Autumn-2017 Cambridge-Creatives-Photowalk-Organisers

I was thrilled to get crafty on stage with Kirstie Allsopp at the Handmade Fair for Pinterest  too – A great month for business achievements and productivity. Pretty tiring though!

Pinterest-Talk-At-the-Handmade-Fair

October

I worked with Wicked The Musical to run a children’s craft workshop in October and loved every minute! Reloved magazine featured me on their Blog Watch pages and I held my Etsy Educators class in Cambridge to help new sellers get started. I worked with Crown and Glory to add my glitter heart pins to their monthly subscription boxes and took on new stockist Sew Me Sunshine for the SEW necklaces.

Glitterati Box

November

November was spent preparing for the Christmas market season! I also uploaded more planner videos on my YouTube channel and worked with the Sofa & Chair Co and Boots for sponsored content on the blog.

The Cambridge Creatives group visited Escape and Create for a sewing day and mostly just ate cake and chatted about our projects!

The Glitter Wheelie Festive Bikes Decorations were launched in 8 different colours in the Etsy shop (currently on sale until 7 January).

Wheelie-Festive-Bike-Glitter-Decoration

December

I was thrilled to see the bicycle decorations featured in stop-motion queen Xanthe’s video for Etsy and loved having this full page feature in Velvet Magazine. I took part in Etsy Made Local markets in both Cambridge and Norwich and worked with John Lewis to share decorating ideas on the blog. Jo and I hosted a Cambridge Creatives Christmas meet up at a Wintergarten and I sent out loads of sparkly orders to customers.

Flocked-Eucalyptus-Wreath-Embellished

G also surprised me with a 2 day trip to Arras in France where we ate lots of cheese and explored the Christmas markets. It was at a crazy busy time of year, but it was great to take some forced time out and feel festive!

Arras-France-Claireabellemakes

PHEW! What a year. I definitely feel like I had a better balance between part-time work, freelance and business work across the year and I was able to be more selective about the projects I worked on. I loved meeting people at Etsy and Pinterest and seeing all my creative pals work with Kirstie too for her Christmas TV show in December.

This week I usually sit down and figure out all my goals for 2018. I know that I want to work on getting more stockists so if you know any cool shops that my work would fit in, do let me know! I also want to finally finally finally launch a new website and of course keep creating new products and fun content here for you.

Thanks for all your support in 2017! What was your highlight of the year?

Claireabellemakes-PinterestClaireabellemakes-TwitterClaireabellemakes-FacebookClaireabellemakes-YouTubeClaireabellemakes-InstagramClaireabellemakes-Google+Claireabellemakes-BlogLovin

Claireabellemakes-Signature

Christmas Wreaths With John Lewis

It’s been a festive few days here with lots of Christmas markets and meet ups with friends. We decorated the house last week and I added a new Christmas wreath to the door, thanks to John Lewis!

They challenged me to customise a wreath with items from their online Christmas shop so I chose this beautiful snowy eucalyptus wreath.Flocked-Eucalyptus-Wreath-John-LewisAs the wreath was so beautiful, I only wanted to add a couple of touches to customise it and kept it very simple! I picked some red berry cluster decorations and ribbon to give it a pop of colour.

Festive-Berry-Decorations Using wire, I wrapped the stems of the berry decorations around the eucalyptus branches of the wreath.DIY-Wreath-ProjectsThen I simply tied a ribbon on the bottom of the wreath and left long tails for a bit of a statement.Wreath-Ideas-John-Lewis

So as I said a simple change, but one that makes quite a statement.
Flocked-Eucalyptus-Wreath-EmbellishedI also added some Christmas Fragrance Oil to give it a nice scent for when we come home or when the postie visits!Christmas-Fragrance-OIl

As well as some John Lewis decorations, we have added handmade Christmas  tree decorations from Hello Sunshine, Mooglears and Stuff, Kim Haskins and Designosaur.Handmade-Christmas-Decorations I better crack on with my Christmas shopping this week – can’t wait to use this santa and llama gift wrap. Look at his pom pom hat!

John-Lewis-Gift-Wrap

Thanks for letting me share some of my Christmas decor today. Next year G wants to go nuts with tinsel and all the colours, so I’m looking forward to seeing his take on Christmas decor!

Are you hanging a wreath this year?

Claireabellemakes-PinterestClaireabellemakes-TwitterClaireabellemakes-FacebookClaireabellemakes-YouTubeClaireabellemakes-InstagramClaireabellemakes-Google+Claireabellemakes-BlogLovin

Claireabellemakes-Signature

*John Lewis gifted the items from their Christmas shop for the purposes of this blog post. As always, opinions are my own.