Bike Spotting In Amsterdam

Back in May, (how is it mid July already?!) G and I ventured to Amsterdam with some friends for a 2 day mini break. The reason for the trip was to surprise the boys with a trip to a computer game music concert, but we decided to add some sight seeing in their too. AKA BIKE SPOTTING IN AMSTERDAM ūüôā

Bikes-and-canals-Amsterdam

Firstly, I love that you can fly to Amsterdam in just 35 minutes from Stansted airport – that’s quicker than getting to London on the train! We flew with Easy Jet and stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Amsterdam Airport. I can’t rate it highly enough (thanks Laura for finding a fab place!). Our room was delayed and we ended up with the entire mini bar for free. The boys were celebrating their birthdays and the staff went above and beyond for our stay. With shuttle buses to the airport for train connections, it was a great find.

Disclaimer – this is a photo heavy post! As we only had hand luggage I didn’t take my DSLR camera. I also couldn’t find my charger for my point and shoot, so this post is a mixture of phone photos and some great ones that Laura and Scott managed to snap on their camera. Laura has recently started her vintage blog/Instagram Lula Prima so do go and check it out!

Amsterdam-Bridges-and-Bikes

We spent a lot of time walking around the beautiful canals taking in the city scenery and spotting bikes. You know true friends when they point out the best bikes for you and wait patiently whilst you take photos. Laura had learnt lots about the construction of all the skinny houses in Amsterdam and told us that people paid tax based on the width of their homes. I think this was once the widest house in the city.

Widest-House-AmsterdamCanals-of-Amsterdam Canal-Houses-AmsterdamTall-Houses-AmsterdamOne of the beautiful things about visiting during May was that the blossom had fallen like a carpet across all of the canal streets. It felt a little magical and when I turned the corner to discover Wisteria too it was the icing on the cake.

Dutch-Bikes-Canals-Amsterdam Wisteria-In-Amsterdam Dutch-Bikes-Amsterdam

We enjoyed pancakes (an absolute must when you are in the city), had hipster coffee shop breaks and found sweet shops full of liquorice and chocolate. We spotted the Cheese Museum, some fantastic shops full of designer maker goods and bike shops on every corner.

The-Pancake-Bakery

Our concert was out at the formerly named Heineken Music Hall which was easily accessible by train. In fact, all of Amsterdam has brilliant public transport with affordable double decker trains (novelty!) and trams galore. We didn’t have time to explore on two wheels, but I definitely would if we went back. I did notice that whilst everyone cycles there, not one person wore a helmet.

Bikespotting-Amsterdam

At my request we wandered through the red light district briefly during one afternoon – I was genuinely just curious as to what it was like. A surreal experience to say the least and one I shall not forget. This was the one area of the city that did smell of pot, but we otherwise didn’t smell it that much.

Claireabellemakes-Tulips-of-Amsterdam Keukenhof-Tulip-Fields-Amsterdam

On our second day in Amsterdam, we took a bus 35 minutes out of the city to Keukenhof¬†tulip fields. I was thrilled to be their during the season (late March – mid May) as I had seen and heard so much about it. It was BEAUTIFUL. The pictures probably¬†can’t capture how vast and colourful it was. It even contained a petting zoo and more types of tulips than I ever knew existed. The bus and entry was about 25 Euros for a combo ticket which I thought was excellent value. You could spend an entire day there just enjoying the blooms and soaking in all the floral delights. Laura sat in a giant wooden clog, we saw a windmill or two and did some tourist shopping too.

Keukenhof-Tulips-2017 Tulips-Keukenhof-Amsterdam Windmills-and-Tulips-Amsterdam Tulip-Fields-AmsterdamWe were in Amsterdam during Rememberance day (occurs every 5 years), so there were lots of free music festivals around the city, which made for a great vibe. I wish we had more time as I really wanted to explore the museums – so I think we will go back next year at some point. I definitely need to stock up on Tony’s Chocolonely which is bloody amazing Dutch chocolate.

Tony's-Chocolonely

We ended our trip with more canal walking and bike spotting before catching the train back to the airport. One of the things I noticed most, is that Dutch people are so happy and friendly! I really enjoyed our brief visit to Holland and would love to explore more.

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I-Amsterdam-Sign

Have you ever been to Amsterdam?

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The Handmade Fair With Pinterest (And a Ticket Offer)

This week I had the pleasure of visiting Pinterest HQ in London to prep for an event I’m going to be part of.

Claireabellemakes-at-Pinterest-HQ

I’m thrilled to be joining Kirstie Allsopp’s line up of experts at The Handmade Fair from 15th Р17th September and would love to see you all there! Come along for a weekend of hands-on workshops, live demos and Q&As, unique handmade items and delicious food and drink.

My session about how to use Pinterest as a crafter is on Sunday 17th in the Super Theatre. Kirstie will be asking me for my tips and tricks and how I use the platform to inspire my projects. 

¬†You can see the full timetable for the Sunday here.10746_HANDMADE_FAIR_2017_LOGOThe Handmade Fair is such a great day out – I’ve been every year since it started and always love the shopping village, workshops and food vans. You can see my vlogs on YouTube from 2016 and 2015¬†and some more images below!
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Plus, I‚Äôve got an exclusive offer for you ‚Äď simply quote CLAIRE when booking via the website¬†for 15% ¬†off either Full Experience or Entry + Super Theatre tickets.

Ts and Cs: Booking fees apply. Offer applies to adult Full Experience tickets, Full Experience tickets cost £27 + BF (usually £32 + BF) and Entry + Super Theatre tickets cost £17 (usually £20 +BF). Offer closes 14.09.2017 or when sold out.

CLAIRE offerCan‚Äôt wait to see you all there! Wish me luck…..

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*Photos provided by The Handmade Fair.

New In Store: Planner Pins

If you follow along on social media, you may have already seen the newest Claireabellemakes products – the planner pins! I’m pretty excited about this collection as it is the perfect way for me to express my stationery passion and obsession for planners.

Each pin started from a sketch, which was then digitised and colour matched. The planner binder and heart each have subtle yellow glitter and the Bullet Journal banner is finished with gold edging. SHOP- Planner Pin Launch for blog (1)

If you fancy snapping up a planner pin, you can find them in the shop here.

I have loads more ideas for enamel pins including an expansion of the bicycle collection. In the meantime, you can snap up a bicycle badge in the latest shop update too!

I-Heart-My-Bike-Badge-Large I-Heart-My-Bike-Badge-Metallic Pink-metallic-bike-badge

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The Patio Makeover For Ultimate Relaxation

This post has been sponsored by AXA.

I’m going to start this post with by admitting that I don’t like gardening. It just doesn’t float my boat. Every time my Dad visits, he’s always asking me why I haven’t used the lawn mower he gave me, and checking if I have¬†weeded the patio. After spending Father’s day in Dad’s garden relaxing with him, I realised that he has created the ultimate space for relaxation when he’s not working. He has a hammock, a beautifully painted blue fence, solar lighting¬†and even a shed designed just for his cat with special beds and cosy interiors (now you know where I get my cat crazy from). So even the cats are relaxed in their household.

Succulent-PlanterWhen AXA got in touch to ask me to join in their #GrandShedProject¬†campaign¬†with Grand Designs Live, I realised it was the perfect opportunity to transform¬†this sorry looking patio into a space we can relax in after a hard day’s work. G is pretty stressed with his job lately and I am spending a lot of time on the computer, so I wanted to make the patio a haven for us to take time out in. And by gosh did it need a makeover.¬†Patio-BeforeWe started with a huge amount of weeds (sorry Dad), a second hand table and chairs and a chimnea which hid under a tarp and never saw the light of day. I decided a new dining/seating area was in order and that bold colours were the theme!Patio-Makeover-Dining-Area

The table and chair set was from Homebase and I found these super bright tropical themed cushions in Wilko. I also picked up a cover to keep the dining area dry when not in use. Our trusty old chimnea has had a clean and is getting ready for some BBQs and cosy fire time of an evening. I can’t remember where we got it from, but it’s similar to this one.¬†Outdoor-Table-Decorations-Patio-MakeoverAs we live by the river, bugs are inevitable. I purchased this large citronella candle from Wilko and a pineapple tea light holder from Flying Tiger, to carry on the tropical theme. The pink tray and drinking glasses are also from Tiger.
Garden-Decorations-Paper-GarlandI’m the kind of person who believes that party decorations should be for every day use (have you seen my bike?!), so I added this paper ball garland from Tiger to the external wall for another pop of colour.¬†Waterproof-Garden-Cushions The cushions were just ¬£10 each. They are waterproof and specific for outdoor use. Just gives us a little extra comfort when sitting!¬†Lavender-ShrubI am not a big gardener at all (just about keeping a couple of house plants alive at the moment), but I figured a lavender shrub and some succulents will be enough for now. They will give the patio a bit more greenery and colour and hopefully the lavender will attract some bumble bees too. The plant guy at our local Homebase is so brilliant and always stops to offer me advice about how to care for the plants I buy. I trust him because his actual name is Basil (!) and he sells plants, and he’s been there for years and years. I kept a peace lily alive for almost 5 years because of his advice.Patio-Plants Garden-ChimneaThe chimnea accessories come by way of these easy logs. We love them because all you need to do is light the paper and the wood inside will keep a fire going for a couple of hours. Marshmallow toasting here we come!

The beautiful Denton Check Duck Egg Throw is from Laura Ashley. It’s huge and so cosy, perfect for cooler evenings when we want to stay in the garden.Easy-logs-and-blanket-for-fire

My favourite part of the entire patio makeover is this epic hammock! Ever since I spent the afternoon in my Dad’s garden hammock, I knew it was something we needed for our well being – I felt SO chilled just laying¬†in it. This one can hold two people up to 450lbs. I fear that no evening will ever be productive again and that I might fall asleep on my lunch break if I use it then.

Hammock-in-sun

Hammock-and-Stand-for-gardenI decided to add some solar lights to the adjacent wall to create a cosy and relaxed vibe for this side of the patio.

Solar-string-Lights-for-garden

Patio-AfterPatio makeover costs (for those of you interested!)

Hammock Р£116.99 (Amazon)

Solar Lighting Р£14.99 (Amazon)

Throw – already owned but it’s on sale for ¬£36 (Laura Ashley)

Bistro Table & Chair set Р£49.99 (Homebase)

Table & Chair cover Р£24.99 (Homebase)

Easy Logs Р£6.82 (Homebase)

Succulent Planter Р£14.99 (Homebase in store)

Lavender Shrub Р£12.49 (Homebase in store)

Waterproof Cushions Р£20 (Wilko)

Citronella Candle Р£2.50 (Wilko)

Pineapple Candle Holder Р£3 (Flying Tiger in store)

Pink Tray Р£2 (Flying Tiger in store)

Paper Garland Р£3 (Flying Tiger in store)

TOTAL  COST FOR NEWLY PURCHASED ITEMS Р£271.76

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*Thank you to AXA for sponsoring this post.
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DIY Candles With Evermore London

Lately, I have been doing the odd craft project just for fun. When you run a creative business, it can often be hard to find time to make just for you. So when Evermore London got in touch with me about their candle making kits, I knew they would be a great rainy day craft to try out.

If you’ve never tried candle making, just know that it’s super easy to do! The kits from Evermore make it so simple to learn how to make beautiful candles in no time at all. Each kit is packaged in a gorgeous white box, with all the items you need.
Evermore-Candle-KitsEach candle making kit contains enough to make two soy wax candles. You can pick two fragrances from the following list to make them scented:

  • Sandalwood
  • Lavender
  • Gardenia
  • Coconut
  • Lemongrass

I found the fragrance to be quite subtle. My favourite was definitely the coconut, but the lavender was perfect to burn in the evenings before bed time.
Fragrance-Oils-Candle-Making

The kit has a little booklet to show you how to make the candles – it’s as easy as melting the soy wax and testing the temperature before adding the fragrance oil. I bought a pyrex jug¬†which I use specifically for making candles and it gets used loads!¬†¬†Evermore recommend an aluminium jug – but I reckon both work well!Candle-Making-KitThere were two decent sized tins to make the candles in and even labels to customise your tin with.¬†DIY-Soy-Wax-Candles Making-soy-candles-with-EvermoreGlue dots are the best thing for keeping your candle wicks in place, as well as some skewers and strings for when your wax is setting.¬†In-progress-Evermore-Candle-MakingI love how quick candle making is. It’s especially nice to make them alongside other long term projects that I’m working on (first quilt coming soon!). The burn time on these candles was really lengthy and I will definitely use the tins again.
DIY-Soy-Candles-EvermoreThe kits make a really great gift for someone wanting to learn how to make soy candles or I reckon they are a great treat if you want an easy make for a Sunday afternoon craft session. Evermore also sell ready made candles with some amazing scents and even have a wedding collection for favours. Evermore-London-Candle-Workshop

A big thanks to Sarah at Evermore who sent the kit to me for review purposes. I was so pleased to have a chance to work with them after discovering their candles at Renegade a couple of years ago.

Have you found any great craft kits lately? I’d love to hear!

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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.