I am in full on Christmas mode here! The tree went up in our house yesterday and we have been shopping as intentionally as we can for gifts and decorations.
Today I’m thrilled to share that I have teamed up with Boots for a Secret Santa project! Keep reading and you can find out more about the £100 Gift Giveaway and who else is involved in this festive campaign.
Firstly, a few thoughts about gift giving. I don’t know about you, but I love a consumable gift or an experience – we have an abundance of ‘stuff’ in our house that I struggle to find homes for!
Saying that, I am planning to buy lots of unique gifts from markets such as Etsy Made Local and Renegade for my friends, and have also been searching for gift sets and food items from the high street for neighbours and the postie. They all deserve a gift over the festive season and I feel strongly about supporting small businesses and high street shops to keep both going! You know me, I’ll probably get making for some handmade gifts too and I am joining in a few Secret Santa groups in the online community. Mostly just for fun and because it fulfills my obsession with sending mail and creating special packages.
As part of the Boots Secret Santa project, 10 bloggers are selecting gifts for one another. I got to choose a mystery gift for the lovely Chloe from the Christmas gifts for her section on the Boots site. We are all sharing on Instagram using #BootsSecretSanta so you can see what gifts we end up with!
I mentioned a giveaway didn’t I? The lovely folk at Boots are also giving us all mystery gifts to share with our readers – worth £100! All you need to do is enter using the widget below and check out my Instagram posts to see what I receive.
As most of my work revolves around the creative business community, I’m often discovering new makers and companies and almost always adding to my wish list in the process! After watching this video about the British craftsmanship behind The Sofa and Chair Company, I was sold on their beautiful furniture pieces and luxury style for homes.
There’s something about watching makers at work in that video that captures me. Seeing each person’s role in the process of making a chair was pretty cool. It’s the behind the scenes stuff that I love when it comes to following creative companies online – proof that all the hard work we put into social media and promoting ourselves really does help to bring attention to brands. That and CUTE DOGS on your Instagrams!
I’m working with The Sofa and Chair Company today to bring you wish list of their luxury items that caught my eye. This season I’m still loving metallic tones around my home, but also lusting after velvet fabrics, sheepskin rugs and all the plants. And I’m never going to get bored of grey and blush pink!
I’d love to visit the West London workshop to see the makers in action, especially after learning that it only takes 6 weeks for bespoke items to go from concept to completion and delivery! Maybe I need to sign myself up for an upholstery class in the new year.
What are your luxury interior picks? Anything cosy for this season that I should be checking out?
*This was a sponsored collaboration with The Sofa and Chair Company. As usual, all opinions are my own. All images in the post are owned by The Sofa and Chair Company.
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 🙂
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!
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.
One 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
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.
Wow April was full of colour! I usually start my monthly favourites post by sharing the best experience of the month. April was filled with some craft parties (possibly the final ones!) and the Cambridge Creatives Photowalk. Both amazing opportunities to connect with creative people!
The photo walk was overwhelming in an amazing way. I felt on a high for a week after and so so grateful that people believed in our event again. I’ll write a separate post soon, in the meantime, enjoy this wisteria shot as a taster….
I decided to wear pink for the photowalk (we all dressed colourfully) and purchased a new phone case just for the occasion. Just a bit of fun!
Planning the walk with Jo was just brilliant. A couple of weeks ago she gifted me this adorable illustration which I need to frame. I love it. You can order your own custom ‘sunshine’ on Jo’s website.
This month I was thrilled to be included in Caboodle magazine again for their Spring/Summer edition. I had some fun with a Christmas present this month – Scrabble cookie cutters! What shall I spell out next?
I chatted to Imogen Owen on the photo walk who has just released her Modern Calligraphy Workshop book. It’s BEAUTIFUL with practical tips for lettering with a nib, as well as brush and chalk lettering skills. I took one of Immie’s classes last year and loved it. As most of you know by now, this year I’m enjoying bullet journalling and have been testing out some different pens for doodling and note taking. Uniball contacted me to share their new sparkling gel ink rollerball pens with you. I was not disappointed – they are the sparkliest gel pens I’ve come across yet!
I have also discovered some awesome new pen storage, but I’m planning on making a separate video for my You Tube channel about it, so stay tuned. Since I quit my full-time job last year, I’ve been trying to spend less money. It was pretty tricky at a car boot this weekend when I saw a mint green typewriter for £15 let me tell you! However, I managed to resist and have been enjoying swaps with fellow creatives as a way to mix up my pin and patch collections without spending money.
This little haul is from a Lucky Dip Club swap event I participated in on Facebook. It was so much fun. Keep an eye on their website for a relaunch of the Lucky Dip Club boxes soon!
Oh and the patches I got have been ironed or stitched onto something which I’m planning to share soon 🙂
Some new pins this month include Ip Dip Designs (got these for a few pounds in the seconds sale!), Corazon Pom Pom and Elhorno who has just released his first pin. I couldn’t resist taking a snap of the pins I wore for the photowalk too, all designed by makers in the East of England! (Hello Sunshine, Daphne Rosa, HAH).
And the final thing I was completely blown away with this month was a kind gift from Doodle Bug and Co. Lou used to live in Cambridge and said she has enjoyed following my Instagram for a little reminder of ‘home’. I can’t believe how beautiful this embroidery of Florence is. Just finding a frame for it now, but I was so touched.
So lots of lovely things to appreciate this month as well as time with friends and family and some sofa/TV sessions when I’ve been poorly. As always, I have Jimmy Fallon on repeat, but I’ve also been watching Girl Boss on Netflix. What do you guys think? I’m unsure so far – her business story just seems so cut throat and not how our creative community really works, so it’s hard to relate. Maybe things were different 10 years ago and more competitive/less supportive?!
What have you been loving in April?
*Some pages on this site may contain links to outside sites, including paid affiliates. Read more about my disclosure policy here.
HOW THE FLIP IS IT APRIL ALREADY?! March was a fun but transitional month for me, as some projects came to an end and I started working on new things. One thing I loved participating in throughout the month was the March Meet The Maker challenge on Instagram. We posted one photo a day based on the prompts set by Joanne Hawker.
It was a great challenge to share more of my story for Claireabellemakes and some of the posts were personal as well as a bit of fun. Looking at all the posts on the tag was really fun too – the creative community on Instagram is brilliant.
Towards the end of the month I realised that this blog passed 1 MILLION VIEWS. Kind of blown away by that and still thinking how to say thank you to you all! I’m thinking of doing a giveaway so stay tuned and give me a shout if you have any ideas.
Thanks to all of you for following along with my Instagram posts, it’s still my favourite platform to get creative with 🙂