June Favourites 2016

June has been filled with lovely things and wonderful experiences. I always feel really grateful when I come to write my favourites and Instalife posts, as it gives me a chance to review the month past. Here’s a look at what I’ve been enjoying in June.

I joined some planner groups on Facebook to connect with fellow stationery geeks. There are often giveaways and RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) and I was lucky enough to receive this rainbow fauxdori from Lilac and Dot. It’s my first traveller’s notebook, so I’ll be sure to update you on how I set it up after my inserts have arrived! Key an eye on Natalia’s shop to see these added in the near future – the fabric is all hand dyed and they are expertly sewn! Rainbow-Fauxdori-Travellers-Notebook

Continuing the stationery theme (I’m so predictable), I purchased the planner box from Mrs Brimbles which I absolutely loved! The stationery subscription boxes are themed each month and include Anna’s artwork as well as lovely tapes, pens and charms. They are available as one-off boxes or recurring subs too.Mrs-Brimbles-Planner-Stationery-Box

I’ve really been enjoying the platinum rose Webster’s Pages planner since I moved in. I use it as my day-to-day planner which includes appointments, to dos, finances, health and lists. Each week I’m sharing my pages on Instagram using #Claireabellemakesplanner.Claireabellemakes-Planner-Decoration

Peony season is always a favourite for me at this time of the year! The soft papery petals are so pretty and I’m thrilled to be working with Bloom and Wild to share their letterbox flowers on social media. This bouquet was called The Belle.Peonies

If you’d like to try them out you can get £10 off your first order using this link.Peonies-and-Roses-Bloom-and-Wild

Enamel pins are still a strong favourite of mine and my collection is growing! It feels proper nostalgic to be collecting pins again and there are so many good designs out there.Enamel-Pin-Collection-Claireabellemakes

This month I added the Veronica Dearly pins shown below, as well as the blue Blogtacular one on the left which makes me laugh. I’ve also ordered some biscuit pins from Nikki McWilliams which I can’t wait to share!
Veronica-Dearly-Enamel-Pins

This one isn’t technically a June favourite as I’ve been meaning to share for a while. I made this crochet manatee for a friend’s birthday a while back and it was tough to give him away! When I visited Florida with my friend Vik we actually swam with manatees, so it was a nod to that as well as being a super cute gift.Crochet-Manatee

I don’t know why it took me so long to get a set, but I’ve been loving Travel Scrabble! The tiles are teeny, but they are held in place by raised sections of the board, making it really suitable for playing on the go.

Travel-Scrabble

I always include my favourite experiences of the month in these posts and there have been a ton in June!! Last week G and I had a date night at a retro computer games night which was a lot of fun. We played loads of games that we hadn’t played since the 80s and ended up sending pictures to my sister with “remember this?!” and “OMG James Pond!”

Of course Blogtacular was a massive highlight this month, mostly because I got to hang out with my creative besties.  Some of the swag I picked up is shown below – keep an eye of for the launch of Fred and Bell if you are a planner sticker geek like me!Blogtacular-Swag

Lastly, I was really grateful for a break this month. We managed to catch the sunshine in Southwold and enjoy a few days glamping near the coast. If you haven’t seen my post about the trip, you can catch up here.Pastel-Beach-Huts-Southwold

Thanks for letting me share my favourites today! Tell me what you’ve been loving this month….especially if it is enamel pins I need to add to my collection 😉

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.

Claireabellemakes At Blogtacular 2016 (and how it was different to 2015)

After the UK news of Brexit, I haven’t felt like I wanted to write a cheery or excitable blog post. I feel pretty disappointed with the outcome and had some hope that our country would be less divided, especially as I hadn’t interacted with many people that wanted to leave. My city of Cambridge voted 73% remain and I’m proud of that. I guess only time will tell for what’s to come, but I have shared thoughts on social media if you want to see more of my views.

Blogtacular 2016 Programme

Anyway, back to the real reason for today’s blog post and for a bit of positivity. Last weekend I attended Blogtacular which is the biggest UK conference for bloggers. I was my second time attending and I had SO.MUCH.FUN. As we were on a mini holiday in the days before, I missed the photowalk and pre-event crafting party at West Elm, but got over my FOMO pretty quickly knowing that the day of the conference itself would be packed full of inspiration and creativity.

Firstly, I can’t commend the organisers enough. Kat, Kelly and her team of volunteers gave us all an amazing welcome and made sure the day ran incredibly smoothly. We were greeted with a delicious breakfast and a spacious venue alleviating my anxiety about crowded spaces the previous year.

Blogtacular 2016

Blogtacular 2015 was about making connections for me. 2016 was about revisiting those connections. Nothing beats seeing your creative pals in real life, nodding along to inspiring talks together and being with people that you can be 100% yourself with. Regardless of where you are in your blogging or creative journey, it’s the place to build each other up without judgement or status attached. Precisely the reason it is my highlight event each year.

Lisa Congdon was a well chosen keynote speaker (Kat nails the speaker list every year!). She talked about imposter syndrome, authenticity and being real and vulnerable in a creative world. I asked the first question of the conference after putting my hand in the air before realising what I had done. Lisa seemed so self aware and wise, I wanted to know if this was something she had uncovered with age or if she had trained herself to reflect so well. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Her talk was an amazing start to the day and her words resonated with every person regardless of which point in their career they were at. I’ve since started a daily journal for my thoughts, after being inspired to self reflect and be kinder to myself.

Blogtacular 2016 Lisa Congdon

The break out time between sessions was spent shopping in the market place, taking on the Mollie Makes two minute styling challenge, crafting and taking snaps with pretty backdrops. We tucked into a delicious lunch, swapped pins and cards with fellow creatives and generally got excited about meeting our blogging heroes and friends. A big thanks to Zoe for making some awesome name badges!

Claireabellemakes-At-Blogtacular-2016

Kate O’Sullivan‘s talk on community brought me back to the heart of blogging and the reasons we all share in the first place (read my thoughts on why we blog here). We do it to make a connection and tell our story. Suffice to say Kate hit the nail on the head for many of us who struggle with the pressures of being real or sometimes negative whilst running a business and taking on sponsored posts and opportunities. This heartfelt session actually gave me chills at one point, after others began to share their difficult experiences and Kate encouraged our story telling from the heart. Community is what makes us feel whole and successful in our journeys and Kate echoed Lisa’s idea that the “route of happiness is connection”.

Blogtacular 2016 A Playful Day The next session I attended was on Pinterest Ads. I was curious to see how the platform are now monetising and what opportunities that might bring for us small business owners and bloggers. It was a lot to absorb in the short time we had, so I feel I could probably do with researching the ads a little more to see if they would be right for Claireabellemakes. One question most of us had, is how the small businesses will get seen amongst the giants using advertising, as their budgets are much bigger and they will be able to win the ‘bid’ system Pinterest offers for ads.

Blogtacular 2016 Pinterest Ads

Queen of film Xanthe Berkeley showed us how to make a mini film using just our phones and the Adobe Clip app. Xanthe encouraged us to just try, even if we weren’t confident film makers and shared that even she had been nervous for her session before it began. You can see a snippet of my efforts embedded in the vlog below.

Blogtacular 2016 Making Films

The closing keynote was from Enid Hwang who was employee number 6 at Pinterest and their Community Manager. Enid shared a talk filled with humour, authenticity and aspiration, as she told stories of Pinterest’s humble beginnings and how the start up faced rejection on many occasions. She reminded us that we should have a process in place for periods of change which resonated with me in a big way. This year I am planning to make some big changes that will impact how the business goes forward and her words of encouragement really helped. I promise I will share more on this with you soon.

Blogtacular 2016 Enid Hwang

Somehow Blogtacular 2016 was way less overwhelming than 2015. Perhaps I was more prepared as I knew what to expect, but I certainly felt more relaxed (apart from my goody bag nerves which I wrote about here). When I think about where I am in my business in comparison to last year, I feel more established, confident and strategic. I know that most of that is because I attended in 2015. It felt like a pivotal moment in my creative career because all those connections I had online were solidified and strengthened. For me, the creative community is what drives my business to grow and having a place where I can foster that and absorb inspiration is so invaluable and one of the best investments I make each year.

Blogtacular 2016 Goody Bag

Everyone I interacted with was so positive and the whole day just felt like one huge Allison Sadler hug (if you’ve experienced one, you will know what I mean). The vibe at Blogtacular is unlike any other event and I’m so happy I get to be part of it.

Blogtacular 2016 Allison Sadler

I think the biggest take away of the day for me was Lisa Congdon’s quote for dealing with work overwhelm – “If the answer isn’t HELL YES, say No”. I also learnt that you shouldn’t share donuts from the garage shop with your friends on the train ride there as they will most likely be rock solid and completely gross.

I’ll leave you with my vlog of the day – a few minutes captured the fun we had!

See you next year!

Blogtacular 2016 Group Shot

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*All images in this post are courtesty of Will Ireland for Mollie Makes.

Glamping In Southwold

Last week G and I ventured to the Suffolk coast for a quiet getaway to go glamping near Southwold. In just a two hour drive, we had countryside and peace and quiet to really switch off and enjoy the start of British summer.

This post is mostly a journal for me, so I can remind myself that it is good to take time out and that I don’t need to go far away to relax. There are a ton of pictures for me to share today, but I hope you will enjoy my online postcard from the seaside! We ignored our phones for most of the trip and I completely forgot my make up bag so it was really liberating in more ways than one.

Our campsite offered these wooden glamping pods for just £60 a night including a double bed, bunk beds, shower and toilet, toaster, microwave and kettle. It was really quiet and had a nature trail to wander around too.

Glamping-Pods-Southwold

The lovely folk from Go Outdoors had sent us some camping items to try out and we made use of this wonderful picnic set which came in a back pack with a cool bag zip compartment.Backpack-Picnic-Set

They also sent us a disposable BBQ and this folding stool, so we got to work making an alfresco meal on the first evening.Camping-BBQ

The campsite had a great shop with lots of goodies and also colouring books!Animals-Colouring-Book

I took my knitting and G his current read to enjoy in the sunshine outside our pod.Knitting-and-Reading

I realised recently that I didn’t have Travel Scrabble! We had a couple of games in the sunshine of an evening. Travel-ScrabbleThe campsite was around a 10 minute drive from the pretty seaside town of Southwold which gave us a patriotic welcome to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. There were tons of lovely little shops, bakeries and vintage havens to explore.Southwold-High-Street

We found a handmade market down a passage way where I also spotted some bikes (of course!).Bicycles-In-Southwold

The weather was AMAZING for the UK! After a quick rain shower on our arrival at the campsite, this seaside town offered us glorious sunshine for the rest of the trip. You’d think the cottage below was somewhere in the Med from this photo!English-Cottages-Suffolk Fish-Shop-Southwold Southwold-LighthouseThis old fashioned sweet shop on the high street was a great find, selling rock and fudge galore. Continue to the back of the shop and you will find a hidden tea room full of crocheted blankets and cake. I had fish and chips and cream soda for around £9 and it was delicious.  Sweet-Shop-and-Tea-Rooms-Southwold

Cheese shop and bikes. Enough said.Nutters-Cheese-Shop-Southwold

Of course we ventured to the beach to explore the sandy coastline and beach hut views. The cliff top has a lovely costal path which is lined with wild flowers. I always smile when I see a Poppy as it was my Nan’s name. It almost feels as though she is saying hello each time I see one. Southwold-Beach-Front-SuffolkThe beach huts were full of colour and smiles, with families enjoying the good weather. In the UK we have to make the most of it as our summer’s are never that  consistent. Coloured-Beach-Huts Glamping-At-The-Beach-Southwold Mint-Beach-Hut Striped-Beach-Huts-Suffolk-CoastI couldn’t resist kicking off my sandals and running onto the beach. When I was a kid I hated the sand in my toes and used to wear wellingtons boots on the beach.Pastel-Beach-Huts-Southwold

Southwold Pier really impressed me even though it is quite small! We ended up having coffees and a picnic on the pier as the weather was so glorious.Southwold-Beach-Suffolk

As you enter the pier, you find the sweet shop and classic arcades to enjoy.
Arcades-Southwold-PierRetro-Sweets-CartI am still thinking about how I can get one of these slimming pier mirrors in my house….Mirrors-On-Southwold-Pier-Claireabellemakes Southwold-Beach-Viewed-From-The-PierThe pier boasted a wonderful tea room, a restaurant, sweet shops, gift shops, arcades and an amazing gallery of ‘handmade’ arcade machines that were completely weird and wonderful. Take a look here to see what I mean!

The branding for the pier was really spot on – as a business owner I was impressed haha! We of course came away with some sweets as souvenirs.Sweets-from-Southwold-Pier

On our third and final day in the town, we ventured across some local footpaths towards the Southwold Harbour. Walks-Near-Southwold

The walk took us a few miles across flat lands and even a golf course. We met lots of couples out for a wander with their dogs, and spotted some wild rabbits, a  Heron and even a grass snake on our walks.
Southwold-HarbourWe debated what these flowers were – a pink daisy perhaps? Neither of us are  knowledgeable about plants or flowers so perhaps you can enlighten us.Wild-Flowers-SuffolkOf course no trip to the seaside is complete without an ice cream cone and flake. We sat on the beach front enjoying these and took in as much fresh air as we could before returning home to the city. Ice-Cream-at-the-BeachThanks for letting me share our mini break today!

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*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.

Motivational Prints For Blogtacular

Wowzers what a fortnight I’ve had! I’ve been working crazy hours to get some big projects done and one of them I have been bursting at the seams to share!

This weekend I attended Blogtacular which is a blogging conference for creatives. It’s definitely my highlight event of the year, giving me a chance to get inspired and catch up with my favourite creative pals too. I’ll be sharing more about the day itself soon, but I was thrilled to be accepted for the Blogtacular goody bags this year as they are always packed full of amazing things!!

Blogtacular-goody-bag-1

Image courtesy of Blogtacular

I decided to share some new print designs for the Blogtacular attendees as well as the Makers Gonna Make print. All 330 prints were packed in one evening whilst listening to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Those of you who are also fans of the film will hopefully get the reference in the print below!

Crushed It Print Square

Seeing people unpack their goody bags and share online has been so great. I was really nervous about the reaction to the prints, as a lot of my peers were in attendance, including people I look up to! I could hardly focus on the final keynote talk at the conference, as I knew shortly after the goody bags would be revealed.

The goody bag design itself was a collab between design geniuses Hello Dodo and Designosaur and I know I’ll be using it lots over the summer!

Blogtacular-goody-bag-design

Image courtesy of Blogtacular’s Instagram

I also decided to release the prints in the shop in case you weren’t a Blogtacular attendee and you like the look of them!
Blogging Before Jogging

I’m so grateful for this opportunity to reach creatives that might not have known about my work already. It feels really good to connect with new people and share my motivational prints (although this one wont help you get motivated to exercise haha!).

If you’re interesting in seeing all the goody bag reveals and conference fun online, take a look at the Blogtacular hashtag on Instagram, it’s full of colour and excitement!

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Life Update and Digital Detox

Lately I’ve been desperately trying to keep my head above water juggling lots of freelance work and keeping up with my business goals. The day job has been a little stressful of late and I have felt stretched in many ways.

I’m grateful that things have been so busy. Busy feels like progress and an opportunity to learn. I’ve started some new ventures and I feel excited. So what have I been doing?

I began work as Social Media Manager for We Make Collective which many of you will know I am already a DIY contributor for. I now write regularly for Homedit and Simple Stylish Makes which I enjoy very much. I have also started working with Jenny Hyde on her content studio to provide designer-makers with high quality product images, descriptions, tags/search terms and even product upload to various platforms. This is all in addition to running this blog, making wholesale orders and releasing new products for my shop on a monthly basis.
Spring-Tulips-Cambridge

I’m still learning to take time off. Sometimes I feel that time off is time wasted for working towards my big dreams. But I know downtime is imperative for me to maintain my health and wellbeing and that I need to relax to give my brain a break.

So what’s my digital detox plan? Well, right now I’m glamping on the Suffolk coast with G and I’ve promised to switch off social media for a few of days. This blog post and some social media has been scheduled and we are probably playing travel Scrabble, taking walks along the (rainy) beach and finishing off some knitting projects. Enjoying each others company and having some head space. G has been so incredibly patient with me and my hectic work schedule that I want to switch off and live in the moment with him if only for a few days.

When I return I’ll be attending Blogtacular for the second time and I can’t wait. I feel like I have so many awesome creative people to catch up with! I hope to vlog the day so will be sharing my experience soon.

I hope you enjoyed my little update today!

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