Looking ahead to 2013

C.S. Lewis Quote | claireabellemakes

A few weeks back, I sat in a tea room with two lovely friends who had jumped head first into the 101 in 1001 goal setting project and felt that it had really changed their lives. It got me thinking about what I have achieved this year and how much I can get out of the last year of my twenties.

I’ve never thought of myself as much of a dreamer and as much as I like to-do lists, I haven’t ever been a big “goal setter”. However, starting the blog and business this year has left me in a rather reflective mood and as I wind down for the Christmas holidays, I am beginning to think about what I want to achieve in 2013. These goals I am about to set will be viewed as New Year’s Resolutions – like the small mid year goals I set when beginning this blog.

I know a lot of people find these type of lists useful and I have seen a fair few “30 before 30 blog posts” in the blogisphere. Although I am nervous about turning 30, rather than put a deadline on my goals, I’d like to think of them as ongoing and begin them in 2013. Some of the goals reflect my business plans, some are new things to learn and some are personal opportunities. Some are silly, but that’s OK.

Here goes:

  • Make a quilt
  • Revise my business plan for my Claireabellemakes
  • Reach 250 sales in my Etsy store
  • Gain at least 3 more wholesale orders
  • Start and finish a full size crochet blanket
  • Improve my health by eating well & exercising
  • Take a car journey without feeling nervous as a passenger
  • Try 5 new foods
  • Knit something in the round
  • Fly in a hot air balloon
  • Read a novel (I currently never have time to do this)
  • Produce 2 new product lines for Claireabellemakes
  • Have at least one date out a month with G

I intend to cross each one off once I feel I have achieved it – watch this space!

Do you have any goals or lists to share?


Image taken by me in Portugal, 2011

A Crafty Cakey Birthday


Last weekend I celebrated my birthday weekend with friends, mostly being calmed that I have one more year until I am 30!

On Saturday we had a friend’s wedding. G was best man and did a fantastic speech. I realised in the (almost) decade we’ve been together, I’d never heard him speak in public. I was one super proud girlfriend. Lots of people at the wedding also commented that they thought he looked like Prince William, so I’ve decided by default I must be as fabulous as Kate Middleton hehe, just kidding!

On Sunday we took the train into London to meet some friends for lunch and do a spot of craft shopping. We were in the midst of the Christmas shopping crowds on Regent Street and I realised it wasn’t a great idea as we were pulling along a mini suitcase and G was carrying his suit. I am completely desensitised to London these days. Funny how Cambridge has changed me!

An absolute must for me was to visit All The Fun of the Fair in Kingly Court, which is a lovely festive courtyard, close to Carnaby Street. It’s one of my favourite shops and they were kind enough to have a birthday present for me when I mentioned I was coming! It’s such a gorgeous, colourful, quirky shop I could have spent hours in there. G let me choose some buttons and ribbon and he even got a little knitted cactus as a pressie for one of his friends (she apparently dressed as a cactus at a costume party once and was known as ‘cactus’ thereafter!).

We had a great chit chat with the owner Buzz and window shopped around the rest of the stores which included a quaint tea room, kooky jewellery stores and a trendy reading lounge full of books.

All The Fun Of The Fair

I couldn’t visit London without a stop off at Laduree Covent Garden. I LOVE MACARONS. Cost a fortune but they were so worth it. G and I had tea and macarons when we arrived home. Only china cups and saucers would do this time.Laduree Macarons

I felt well and truly spoiled by my friends and family. Here are some of the lovely gifts I received. A great set of book ends displaying a teeny weeny fraction of my baking books.

Bake Book Ends

A beautiful wooden sewing box which has been on my Amazon wish list for a while.

Wooden Sewing Box

A collection of ribbons and buttons from G, All the Fun of the Fair and my friends who got married. They also gave me a delicious cake at the wedding, it was so sweet!

Ribbon & Buttons

I had a fantastic weekend, despite battling a migraine the whole time. It was a bit too busy and stressful at times, so I plan to take it fairly easy over the next few weeks, so I can be well enough for my holidays in December.

Having said that, I have so much prep to do for upcoming craft markets, eek!


What kind of crafter are you?

Rather than sharing my few makes this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about crafting and have been in a reflective mood. An experience I had on Wednesday evening got me wondering about what kind of crafter I am.


Let me begin with some background information. You may or may not know, that this year I’ve been struggling with migraines on a whole new level and occasionally anxiety (although this is way better than it used to be). On top of this, I graduated with a masters, started this blog, opened my Etsy store and have been a founding member for a HUGE Women’s Institute (WI) group in my city. Having problems with my health has prompted me to review the last six months and look at what I’ve achieved, what I enjoy and where I want to go. I know I need to work towards wellness.

This week our WI group had a fantastic meeting with 150 members congregating for a style evening including a philosophical talk on the meaning of beauty, a shoe photography session and craft tables to make brooches. All things I was excited about.

However, when I went to participate in the activities the anxiety crept in. The room was crowded, noisy and bustling. It was positive and clearly a sign of a great WI meet, but I felt uncomfortable. I couldn’t block out any background noise to listen to the talk, I didn’t much fancy having a photograph taken and I felt claustrophobic and hemmed in at the craft tables. Nobody contributed to this feeling, this was my issue.

I wanted to craft. There was crochet, sewing and plenty of fabric to play with. Usually this would be my idea of heaven, but all I could do was occupy the most open space possible and talk to one or two people at a time. When I got home I thought about why I felt this way. I looked in the mirror and I was pale and white as a sheet. I wondered if my new migraine meds had made me irritable through broken sleep.

I didn’t need to come to a conclusion there and then. But, I did wonder if I’m just a solo crafter. Maybe I just don’t work well in large busy groups all crafting at once. I prefer small calm groups with quiet space. I guess there is nothing wrong with that; I’m just a more peaceful maker and perhaps a bit of a control freak. The need for space was a strong feeling.

Every now and again I host a craft evening with friends at my house. I love these evenings as we share skills, supplies and catch up. So it’s not like I hate crafting with others! Last night I made plenty. I sat quietly at home by myself with my jewellery supplies and built my craft fair and Etsy store stock.

I haven’t written this blog post for sympathy, but purely to share my thoughts and reflect. I’m still on my creative journey and may never be able to define what kind of crafter I am, but for me it is important to at least think about it and challenge myself from time to time.

What kind of crafter are you?



I am sharing this post on  Handmade Monday. Come and see what others have been up to.

Switching off: Our Staycation

When G and I realised our work/leave schedules would never align for summer holidays this year, we decided on a staycation over a long weekend. Not our usual beachy holiday somewhere hot in Europe, but a mini-break to Center Parcs.

Having been before with family, we knew what to expect and which activities would cost, so planned carefully. We haven’t owned a car for 6 years in a bid to be green and save money, so we hired from our local company (not the big giants) and set off on Friday morning in what can only be described as a toy car. All part of the fun!

Road Trip on claireabellemakes

Naturally we needed sweets for the journey. Road trips are a total novelty for us now and we are guaranteed to have a few shouty moments when I send G the wrong way multiple times! He is very good at being nice to me when this happens, even though I do it on most journeys.

We only went 40 minutes up the road and even though it wasn’t far, we were determined to make it feel like a holiday. We were so lucky with the weather, 30 degrees every day!!

I decided that this break from work would also be a break from the online world. I put the Etsy shop on holiday and switched off my phone from calls, texts, email and twitter. My lovely guest bloggers made sure there was still some activity here. I only listened to one voicemail as I knew it was from a family member about some hospital test results (all ok).

I was glad to be offline. I think G was beginning to believe I had become surgically attached to my smart phone.  I thought I’d hate missing out on tweets and blogs, but I’m really glad I took the time to switch off. Especially as he has limited time due to a busy work schedule.

Here are some snaps from our mini-break. I did take my SLR, but as we were out and about quite a bit, I relied on my phone camera instead.

staycation by claireabellemakesA lakeside picnic on arrival and forest bike rides (I missed my sit-up-and-beg bicycle!)

staycation by claireabellemakesGolf (I am getting better!) and a day at the beach – super hot weather.

staycation by claireabellemakesPeaceful forest scenes and woodland lodges.

I didn’t capture one part on film as we were in the spa. Being brought lemon sherbets whilst relaxing on a water bed on a balcony overlooking a Zen garden was bliss. As was being brought fresh strawberries whilst in a jacuzzi. Spoiled! We also participated in an ‘Austrian Spa Experience’ which involved different essences and having ice thrown on you. Bit odd!

staycation by claireabellemakes

Lovely breakfast in a revolving restaurant. Excuse the early morning pic. I don’t wear make up on holiday.

staycation by claireabellemakes

The most delicious breakfast ever.

staycation by claireabellemakes

The lakeside views from the revolving restaurant & from the outside.

staycation by claireabellemakes

Outside the hotel was this amazing peacock. Inside the hotel we powered our way through a couple of seasons of 30 Rock.

staycation by claireabellemakes

I took some crochet with me & returned home to this lovely book from a giveaway by Lola Loves Craft!

We will definitely take a ‘staycation’ again. We feel totally refreshed after 4 days!

Have you taken a great holiday in the UK?

claireabelle x

In My Bag

Here are the items I carry around in my beloved Cambridge Satchel bag…..

  • Bespoke phone case (Cath Kidston fabric)
  • Eye gel. I seriously need this stuff for the dreaded dark circles.
  • Watermelon tic tacs. These things taste amazing.
  • Personalised notebook. I have about 4 different notebooks on the go at once as well as the Evernote app, which always gets neglected for handwritten lists.
  • Natural lipbalm. A friend sent me this handmade lip balm from Canada and I loved it so much I ordered about 10 more. This one is dulce latte flavour mmm.
  • Bobbypin by Mummybirdpretties kindly sent to me in a set from Claire, a fellow Cambridge maker.
  • Mini Sharpie.  I love a Sharpie.
  • Cath Kidston bike seat cover. This is a must in the UK where it never stops raining & I only get around on my dutch bike.
  • Crochet Practice. My next crochet course is Granny Squares so I always try to get a bit of practice in when I can.

There were also loose coins, random notes about my prescription, work notebooks, anti-bac hand gel and other equally boring things!

What do you carry in your bag?

Claire x