Year Of Claire – July Update

July was a bit of a rollercoaster. I had some new experiences, and I had some familiar experiences. Keeping positive for the ‘Year of Claire’ project was a bit tough at times, but I know things could have been a lot worse! So what have I been up to?

I started the month with a fun work trip to Duxford Imperial War Museum to fly over Cambridge in a 1930s Rapide. So random! Flying in a plane that was so vintage was actually a little scary and noisy, but it was awesome to see the city from up high and to look over my office too.

Even though I haven’t been blogging as much as the good old days(!) I was invited to an event at Molton Brown Cambridge to enjoy a little pamper and to catch up with other local bloggers. It was a super event trying out all their fragrances (Rhubarb and Rose was a favourite) and to catch up with Lizzie from Farm Flowers too.

I also had a chance to try out Flit which is a new folding e-bike from a Cambridge start up. They have smashed their Kickstarter already!

July was the month where things came to an end with Jack which I felt super sad about. Seeing as I had shared a little about him here it feels right to mention it briefly. That familiar feeling of a relationship ending has been hard, but we had a lot of great memories and it was a whirlwind 4 months, so I’m grateful for the time I had with him.

Spending time outside has been really therapeutic for me, so I have made the most of Cambridge summer. I didn’t feel like eating much for a while, but the cliche of ice cream during a break up actually really helped.

Keeping as busy as possible has been my strategy this month, so I’ve spent time with family, work mates and friends enjoying drinks, cinema and evenings out. We saw the new Lion King film which I loved, and my work colleagues formed a band and performed at our annual BBQ. I also had lunch at Parker’s Tavern in Cambridge which was delicious, Definitely want to go back again soon!

The heatwave hit and Cambridge was the hottest place in the UK at 38.7 degrees. Of course, that was the day I had planned an after work paddle on the river with some friends! We sweated it out for a few miles up to the riverside pub and enjoyed a storm and some welcome rain at the end.

I spent 2 days in London for a work project visiting furniture showrooms to select pieces for our new office which our company is moving to later this year. Swooning over interiors was really good, although it was pretty exhausting to travel in and have a jam packed schedule. Reminded me that I don’t ever want to go back to commuting like I did almost 10 years ago!

So a mixed bag for the month and a bit of a struggle as ever with the migraines and anxiety. I try my very hardest to enjoy the well days and not dwell or write about the difficult times too much. I also started flat hunting again as I am growing tired of living in a houseshare with 8 other people. It has become quite stressful at times, but I now have some horror stories of places I’ve viewed which keeps me laughing about it.

How we are already into August I do not know! I will be spending more time with friends and doing some house/dog sitting this month so there might be some cute content coming this way.

Year of Claire – June Update

I’m planning to write these Year of Claire updates on a monthly basis going forward – hopefully I’ll have enough to add to each one! Now that summer has officially begun, there were plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy the good weather. Although it’s typically raining outside as I type this….We started the month enjoying Strawberry Fair on a suuuuper hot day. It was the perfect people watching day. We also went back to the Bingo night at Thirsty and Jack won this time!My office had their annual summer party which I had planned along with my colleagues. It was a big event with over 200 people, lots of food and drinks, mini golf, ice cream, music and all the fun.Hannah and I spent a lovely day at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge making flower crowns with Anna from Anna’s Flower Farm. I was kindly gifted the workshop and it couldn’t have been a more perfect weekend activity. A separate post on this coming soon because I just want to share all the flower snaps! The same weekend was Cambridge’s first Pride which we popped to in the afternoon, although we had missed the parade (which was on punts on the river in the pouring rain!).Jack and I were lucky enough to dog sit for Hannah and Ian whilst they went off to a wedding in London one weekend. Leo is a 1 year old cockapoo who is so well behaved! We took him out to the Gog Magog Hills just outside of Cambridge so he could run around in the fields. Conveniently they also had a cheese festival on at their farm shop, so we picked up some tasty cheddar and stopped for a scotch egg too.My friend Jess messaged to say she had some spare tickets to the King’s Men choir at the University, so my housemate and I joined her for this wonderful concert on the river banks of King’s College. The singers performed from punts on the river and the acoustics were just amazing! It felt very Cambridge and a little bit special.June was a bit of a stressful month for my family, as my Grandad was in hospital. I spent some time supporting family and visiting him before he moved into his new care home this week. In contrast, I met Jack’s entire family at his Dad’s birthday party and we also went to watch his Baseball team play a home game in Cambridge.We enjoyed a gifted trip to the Foodies Festival (first one in Cambridge, but they are National events) on the hottest day of the year. We did beer tasting, enjoyed duck wraps and live music, and had a pint on a bus bar!On the final day of June, we cycled out of town to Angelsea Abbey to spend the day with my Mum and her husband. There is so much more to see there since I last went – specifically the inside of the the house and the rose garden.We ended the month (which satisfyingly ended on a Sunday) enjoying a pint at Other Syde in Cambridge; a riverside bar at the Museum of Technology which has so many fun things happening over the summer.Writing all that down made me realise I actually had a really busy month! I tried hard to stay well, but migraines did get the better of me mid-month meaning my spin class and workout schedule was thrown off for a couple of weeks. I’ve learnt to accept I won’t always be well and to just do what I can on the well days. July is already shaping up to be another fun one……until next time!

The Year Of Claire – Mid Year Update

It’s been a minute since I sat down to write a blog post. In fact, it’s almost 3 months! After closing the shop at the end of March, I took some time out to switch off from business life and to focus on the Year of Claire.

2019 has been a great year so far. I’ve been taking time for new hobbies and challenges and generally having a lot of fun.  Here’s a recap of the first 5 months.

January

I announced my shop closure and began making plans to sell off stock. It was a scary announcement to make after 7 years!

I got promoted in my day job, started elevator notes and went for loads of lunchtime walks, 14 in total. I did yoga every single day at home, 12 hours across the month. I also knitted a scarf – first creative project in a long while that was just for me.

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February

I sent out over 100 glitter heart pins in February, which confirmed they were a best seller. What a cheery product to mark the end of all my orders!

I also started paddle boarding lessons which was a challenge in the winter weather, but it was so satisfying to get the hang of it.

My insomnia was getting me down so I did a sleep therapy course, started reading before bedtime and finished a book.

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March

At the beginning of the month I went on a fun first date at a local bar where we ended up playing unplanned Bingo. I won the Jackpot and it’s been going well ever since…..

I signed up for a Fun Colour Rush run and began training using the Couch to 5K running app. I carried on reading to finish another book and also taught a crochet class at a local haberdashery.

March was pretty busy because it was also the month I closed my shop! I packed up tons of pink boxes and received some lovely messages from customers. It was definitely bittersweet, but it felt right and the start of a new chapter.

Closing Down Claireabellemakes

A few days after the shop closed, I went on holiday to Amsterdam with Jo and some of my housemates. We stayed in an amazing Air bnb near Vondelpark and explored for 4 days. I love visiting Amsterdam in the Spring time and even more so with people who love food and drink as much as I do.  I slept so well and had a ton of fun.

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April

I reignited my love for spin classes in April and cycled a lot of ‘static’ miles. I also tried out a tandem bike with Jack which had me cry laughing. I carried on with the 5K running training and we went to the driving range.

I went to my first ever football match (Cambridge United), watched Jack play Baseball in the sun and visited family over Easter weekend.

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May

May was more time with family as my sister came to visit with her family and we went punting on the river.

I took 5 days off work and did more paddle boarding, once for Jo’s birthday and then again in a bigger social group which I was nervous about! We had a great time and the weather was just perfect to paddle up to Grantchester.

My workmates and I went to the Beer Festival and I may have had a sore head the next day…..

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Jack and I went to the outdoor cinema hosted by Enchanted Cinema (gifted visit) and I tried not to cry watching A Star Is Born.

Jo and I hosted an In Colourful Company colour walk in Cambridge and also completed our 5K Fun Colour Rush run in about 30 minutes.

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So life is a little different now! Working 9-5 and having my evenings and weekend again has been SO GOOD.  I had definitely forgotten what it was like to have time just for myself and to explore new hobbies without feeling guilty that I should be spending time on the business.

I have had some tricky days with migraine, insomnia and anxiety so it hasn’t all been cheery.  Sometimes I forget that I can’t do everything and I need a reminder to pace myself from time to time.

This time has also allowed me think about where I want to take my blog going forward. I plan to use this space as a personal journal to share more Year Of Claire posts and all the things I’m interested in. If there is anything you’d like to hear about, just shout! I’m always open to ideas and to hear what you want to see from my relaunched blog.

 

 

 

 

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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