2018 Highlights For Claireabellemakes

I’m feeling all kinds of emotions as I begin to write my yearly review post. 2018 was a bit of a roller coaster and I have had a lot of change in my life! Despite some tricky times, I managed to have a lot of fun so here’s a round up of my 2018 highlights for Claireabellemakes.

I had plans to create some new designs for the shop and gain new stockists. I did a little of both, but life took over at times and sales were down. It was tough at times and I have more to share on this soon as I begin to make decisions for 2019. I had some amazing product photos done by Holly Booth and did some local fairs in Cambridge and Norwich.
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I decided to travel around the UK in 2018 and attended lots of the In Colourful Company meet ups. In April I nipped down to Brighton for some colourful fun and chips on the pier!
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Heart break happened in May after 15 years and if I’m honest I felt so lost and overwhelmed with the thought of starting over. Having lived in Cambridge for 12 years, I knew I wanted to stay here. In July I moved into a house share (still close to the river) and made a new space my own. Our house is a former B&B so it’s huuuge! I’ve gained 8 new housemates who have become great friends and have been just the company I needed to keep me positive.

I went back to full-time work and tried to keep as busy as possible. It’s definitely been a huge transition and so hard at times, but my friends and family have really supported me and I know things will only get easier with time.
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Spring and summer in Cambridge brought lots of local exploring and punting my new housemates along the river.
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On the hottest day in July, I ventured to London for another colour walk. We almost melted but I caught up with pals and didn’t stop smiling all day.
London-In-Colourful-Company-Claireabellemakes I took another trip to Margate for the In Colourful Company x Lucky Dip Club meet up at Dreamland. A day of rollercoasters, laughter, sugar and beach vibes was just what I needed. And the rainbow slide was just as good as I remembered. Dreamland-In-Colourful-Company-Claireabellemakes Freelance projects were exciting this year! I was commissioned by Net-A-Porter to create tons and tons of bicycle streamers for Copenhagen Fashion week, which was such a cool project!

I taught a Bullet Journaling workshop for We Work in London which was so much fun and a great excuse to indulge my stationery obsession. Claireabellemakes-Projects-2018In September, Jo and I took a trip to Glasgow and hung out with Sally and Keith and their gorgeous kitties. We explored all the colourful murals and art, drank gin and jumped on our hotel room beds, and made a quick pit stop in Edinburgh on the way home. It was the perfect weekend!Glasgow-In-Colourful-Company-Claireabellemakes December was a bit of a blur and filled with orders, markets, social events and vet visits. Jo and I held the Cambridge Creatives Christmas Craft Party where we teamed up with Happy Fabric to create Christmas jumpers. It was ACE and so fun to use Jo’s camper Buddy as our bar and to decorate with all the goodies gifted to us from Flying Tiger. A night of chaos, creativity and maybe one too many mulled wines, but such a super way to end the work year! Cambridge-Creatives-Christmas-Party On a personal note, I got my first tattoo this year! This post explains why I chose to get an illustration of my bike Florence, but it felt so good to finally do it after years of wanting to get one! I suspect there will be more on the cards…

We sadly said goodbye to our beautiful fur baby Tammy in December. Tammy had been our cat for almost 14 years and it was devastating to see her so unwell. We spent a good 2 months going back and forth to vets and specialists and she was a trooper throughout surgeries and lots of medication. I know we gave her so much love over the years, so I will hold onto all the happy memories we had with her.

My last moment of 2018 that I want to document is chopping all my hair off! Having grown my thick hair for 2 years, I cut it to donate to the Little Princess Trust so it can be made into wigs for children going through cancer treatments. 13 inches and over 100g of hair later and I feel much lighter! Claireabellemakes-Personal-Changes-2018So it was a mixed year, but one I definitely couldn’t have made it through without my friends and family. I’m looking forward to 2019 with an open mind and have some personal projects lined up that I’m itching to get started with.

Thanks for all your support and Happy New Year!

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Life Lately #17: It’s Been A While

As the title says, it’s been a while! Life has been hectic and ever changing this summer so I’m here with an update on what I’ve been up to.

It’s been a sociable summer for creative events, but Jo and I decided not to run a Cambridge Creatives photo walk this year. Jo married Will (catch up on her amazing wedding blog series here) and has been rather busy enjoying some adventures, so we decided on a more low key punting and picnic event this time around. It was a lovely relaxed day with lots of familiar faces and we even had a puppy attend! Thanks to Siobhan for these ace photos.
Cambridge Creatives Punting Cambridge Creatives Summer Picnic Claireabellemakes-HelloSunshine The last few months have also been filled with self care and I’ve been attempting to exercise multiple times a week. After my elimination diet for migraines in April, I have been feeling healthy and I think my new fitness regime has really helped. I’m combining the gym with yoga and weekly swims at the Lido. I used to hate swimming but the early morning outdoor experience has really been refreshing and enjoyable!
Jesus Green Lido Cambridge The UK heatwave has meant I’ve spent a ton of time outdoors this summer. One ridiculously hot day was the London In Colourful Company walk and we also met up in Margate for the annual trip to the Dreamland theme park. It was the perfect seaside day out filled with ice cream, roller coasters and fish and chips to end.

In-Colourful-Company-Walks My personal life has been changing a lot too and I have been packing down my studio. I decided to close my shop for August to take some time to move house and adjust to a smaller space. It has been sad and challenging, but I am determined to make everything work.

My life circumstances have also meant that I decided to go back to a day job on a full-time basis. I’m excited to have a secure, regular income again and will be figuring out how to fit the business around that. I did it for 4 years at the beginning, so I am sure I can do it again! I’m lucky to have worked for a great tech company on a part time basis for the last 18 months and will be increasing my hours there and learning lots of new things.
Claireabellemakes Break timeDespite the shop being closed, there have been some lovely customer snaps being shared on social media. I’ve also taken some time to update to more eco-friendly packaging for my products and I am designing lots of new things behind the scenes!Claireabellemakes-pins-necklaces-packaging Moving has meant I have also had a new space to adapt to and decorate! I have enjoyed selecting what prints to put on the walls as well as arranging my house plants and picking cushions and bedding.
Claireabellemakes-New-SpaceDespite having all the changes and lots of fun this summer, I have been doing some freelance work too. The beginning of August marked the start of Copenhagen Fashion Week where 15 of these stunning bicycles were used as part of Net-A-Porter’s campaign. I was commissioned to make the handlebar streamers for the bikes and it’s been amazing to see how everything was styled! You can see lots more images and videos over on the Net-A-Porter Instagram.
Net-A-Porter Bicycles Copenhagen Fashion Week

Photo credit: Dan Roberts StudioTammy-Studio-Cat

It’s now time to continue the studio pack down and give this one a little squishy cuddle. Hope you’re all having a great summer? Tell me what you’ve been up to!

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Amara Interior Blog Awards & Life Update!

Hello! I’m back in the land of blogging! We are still away on our holidays at the moment, but I’ve scheduled some content for the next few days until I am back in person. (My shop will remain on holiday until 15 September).

Having a blog break was really great and helped me to avoid burnout. Life was extremely busy in August, so the break was not quite as relaxing as I had hoped. One thing I achieved was that I did finally sort out the studio and I’ll be sharing some updates to that very soon.

So what’s new around here? I joined Periscope which is quite fun. You can find me there as Claireabellemakes. So far I’ve shared some snippets of life in my studio, a little tour of Cambridge, some events I’ve attended and clips of Tammy.

You may remember that I’ve been nominated for best DIY and Craft blog in the Amara Interior Blog awards. The voting ends on 18 September, so if you’re reading this before then, I would be so grateful for your support! You can vote by clicking the image below.Claireabellemakes-Amara-Interior-Awards-nominee-2015

I’ve also been applying for the Christmas market season (oh no, the “C word”!) so I’m hoping I can announce some dates for you to catch me in person with my makes if you’re here in the UK. I’m really excited to be a vendor at Crafty Fox for the first time in October, so come along on the 10th in Peckham if you’d like to say hello!

Crafty Fox Autumn Markets 2015

I also have a design out in a new book – Crochet Barefoot Sandals. I love being a contributing designer to crochet titles, as I always learn something new each time I write a pattern! The little blue and pink hearts sandal at the top is my pattern.

Crochet Barefoot Sandals

Later this week I’ll be sharing a look at this month’s Lucky Dip Club box that I was involved with, and later this week I’ll share some shots from a food photography workshop I attended recently!

So now you can see why life has not been so quiet. I hope you’ve all had a fantastic summer?

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Happy Birthday Tammy Cat

Yesterday was Tammy’s 11th birthday. We’ve had her for 10 years now and I swear she gets cuter every day.

G has been at home on sabbatical for a year and he sends me pictures throughout the day of Tammy doing cute things. I think I’ll miss that when he returns to work next month! I might have to get a Pet Cube….

So, in honour of my best studio companion ever, here are some cuter than cute photos of Tammy. Sorry if you’re not a cat fan, but hopefully you can appreciate the squishy face.

Tammy-Sad-Persian-Cat Tammy-Claireabellemakes-Persian-CatTammy-Persian-Cat Persian-Cat-Claireabellemakes Tammy-Persian-CatPersian-Cat-Claireabellemakes Sleepy-Persian-Cat TammyHappy Birthday Fluffy Cat!!

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Migraine Awareness Week 2015 – My Story

As it is migraine awareness week in the USA, I have been inspired to share a little about my condition. Usually it’s craft and positivity around here, so I hope you wont mind if I share a serious subject today. There will also be a little humour I promise.

I believe that in the UK, migraine is the least funded of all neurological conditions, yet 10% of the population suffer. This is more than diabetes, asthma and epilepsy sufferers combined. There are a number of resources I regularly use for information and management of my condition, so I will share these at the end of this post.

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This is what I look like an hour or so before a migraine comes on – oblivious but you can see my left eye is starting to drop ever so slightly!

Fellow migraine sufferer Gemma wrote this post which has inspired me to share my experience with migraine, so here are 30 questions to spread some awareness.

1) My diagnosis: Migraine without aura

2) Migraine attack frequency: around 2-3 a week.

3) I was diagnosed: around my teenage years, but I didn’t get specialist help until I was 28.

4) My comorbid conditions include: fatigue, IBS, anxiety.

5) I take: Triptans, daily preventative drugs, Naproxen and nausea meds (walking pharmacy!)

6) My first migraine attack: was many years ago as a young teen but I don’t remember it specifically.

7) My most disabling symptoms are: searing head pain, asphasia (loss of speech) and dizziness.

8) Strangest migraine symptoms: speech issues – it is crazy and embarassing if it happens when you are meeting people for the first time or if you’re at the checkout in the supermarket. I’ve also had hemi-plegic attacks which appear via stroke like symptoms – SUPER scary.

9) Biggest migraine triggers are: stress, neck pain, dehydration, lack of routine (holidays and travelling are the worst!).

10) I know a migraine is coming on when: I feel sick, yawn lots and my neck hurts.

11) The most frustrating part about having a migraine attack is: it halts your daily activities so much.

12) During a migraine attack, I worry most about: my to do list getting longer whilst I rest.

13) When I think about migraine between attacks, I think: It sucks so much but I have so much to be positive about.

14) When I tell someone I have migraine, the response is usually: sympathetic followed by ‘have you tried xyz’.

15) When someone tells me they have migraine, I think: you poor person I hope they find us a cure soon!

16) When I see commercials about migraine treatments, I think: anything is worth a try.

17) My best coping tools are: my migra-cap, hugs from G and fish finger sandwiches.

18) I find comfort in: cat cuddles (she lays on my head) and crochet – it’s a great distraction.

19) I get angry when people say: ‘you should do this, my friend did it and it worked’ – everyone is different.

20) I like it when people say: ‘how are you/been thinking of you’.

21) Something kind someone can do for me during a migraine attack is: leave flowers on my doorstep (a friend has done this for me and it was amazing), bring me a coca-cola and some fish fingers, give me a hug.

22) The best thing(s) a doctor has ever said to me about migraine is: ‘there is a menu of medicine to try, let’s work our way through them and you can review’ ha!

23) The hardest thing to accept about having migraine is: there is no cure and may not be one in my lifetime (although I still hope).

24) Migraine has taught me: to be productive and make the most of my well days.

25) The quotation, motto, mantra, or scripture that gets me through an attack is: It will pass, just hang in there. And if it doesn’t, G will take you to the emergency doctor and take photos of you looking like shit on the mini chairs in the waiting room.

26) If I could go back to the early days of my diagnosis, I would tell myself: migraine will be in your life forever, but you will not let it defeat you – stay happy.

27) The people who support me most are: G, my Mum (she suffers too), My Dad, My sister and my friends. Also, my migraine twitter buddies and fellow spoonies – you know who you are.

28) The thing I most wish people understood about migraine is: it is debilitating and so much more than just a headache.

29) Migraine and Headache Awareness Month is important to me because: it brings suffers together.

30) One more thing I’d like to say about life with migraine is: although it is a big part of my life, it doesn’t define me. If you know someone with migraine, talk to them about it.

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That visit to the emergency doctor when I tried to remain positive – see my left eye for an indication of pain! Excuse my outfit and hair, it was not my priority at that moment 🙂

I hope that was interesting for some of you! If you have read to the end, I’ve done my job of raising awareness of migraine. Here are the resources I use regularly.

National Migraine Centre – where I sought help

The Migraine Trust – Great for resources and advocacy / advice

Migraine Buddy App – How I track my attacks

Migraine Action – A supportive charity for sufferers / great events

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