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!




Rose & Vanilla Macarons


This post has been sponsored by SelfPackaging.


It’s been a while since my last baking post so today I wanted to share twist on my original macaron recipe with the help of the guys at SelfPackaging. Keep reading for a Rose and Vanilla Macaron recipe and to see some super cute packaging ideas. These macarons make great thank you gifts or wedding favours and with a bit of practice, they are not too difficult to make, I promise!

Ingredients (makes 16):

  • 75g Ground Almonds
  • 115g Icing Sugar
  • 2 x Egg White (aged are best)
  • 50g Caster Sugar
  • 3 tbsp Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1/4 tsp rose water
  • Pink food colouring
  • Vanilla icing – I used this ready made one
  • Baking sheet

Begin by sifting the ground almonds and icing sugar into a bowl. I whizzed them in the food processor to get a fine mix.

Whisk the egg whites until holding soft peaks. Some argue that aged egg whites are not necessary, but I find that it does make a difference to the texture of the macaron and the feet. (You should aim to separate the egg whites and store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days before baking.)

Gradually add the caster sugar, vanilla paste and rose water continuing to whisk until the meringue is glossy and stiff.

The next step is to fold in the almond and icing sugar mixture in 3 portions until throughly blended. Cut and fold until the consistency is shiny and thick. At this point you can also add a small amount of food colouring and fold in.


Pipe onto your baking sheet in 32 rounds using a plain nozzle (these will be sandwiched to make 16 total).

I use a nifty silicone mat with baking paper on so I have a guide when piping. I’d highly recommend them (this one is from Squires Kitchen).


The next step is important as it ensures the macarons are even and without air bubbles. Tap the baking tray firmly onto your work surface a couple of times.

The macarons must now be left to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. This will allow them to form a ‘shell’.

Preheat your oven to 160 degrees Celsius (325 Fahrenheit / Gas Mark 3).  I baked my macarons for 6 minutes in a fan oven. Leave the macarons to cool for 10 minutes before peeling off the baking tray.

Assemble the macarons by sandwiching each one with the vanilla buttercream.

Rose-and-Vanilla-Macarons Next up, it’s time to box up your macarons! SelfPackaging have some great single macaron boxes that are easy to assemble and come flat packed for delivery.
Self-Packaging-Macaron Boxes The food protection sleeve keeps the macarons in place for gifting and they are easy to fold and secure with the tab, just as the box sleeve does too. Macaron-Boxes-Self-Packaging The ribbon and tags were a great excuse to practice my brush lettering to give the boxes a final finish. Rose-and-Vanilla-Macaron Now I’m going to confess that macarons never last long in my house! However, they usually have a shelf life of 2-3 days if you store the individual boxes in an air tight container. Self-Packaging-Macaron Boxes-ClaireabellemakesNow, who is ready for a macaron party?!
Macaron-Recipe-ClaireabellemakesA big thanks to SelfPackaging for sponsoring today’s post and keeping the blog side of my business going. I loved having an excuse to bake and share their boxes – now I’m thinking about all the handmade gifts I want to make so I can try out the rest of what they have on offer. Be sure to check them out and let me know if you have any ideas on what I can make next!



Tourist In Cambridge #10 – Wisteria Hysteria

It’s time for another post in the long running series – Tourist in Cambridge. This week the weather has been glorious in between storms, so I got out on my bicycle Florence to get in on the wisteria hysteria!

It’s a picture heavy post today, but I couldn’t help myself. Cambridge in the sunshine is just too good.Wisteria-Covered-Houses Cambridge-Wisteria-Spotting Cambridge-Houses-With-Wisteria I think due to the long winter we had, the wisteria season has been much shorter and also less ‘full’. I tend to visit the same spots each year and there definitely wasn’t as much in bloom. Sidney-Sussex-College-Cambridge Christs-College-Cambridge Cottages-and-Bicycles-Cambridge Wisteria-Doorways-Cambridge I couldn’t help doing a little bike spotting too – especially as this one was wisteria coloured!Lilac-Bike-Spotting-Cambridge We visited this wisteria covered cottage for the Cambridge Creatives Photowalk last April and it looked so different! It’s much greener this year and definitely has less flowers. Bicycles-and-Wisteria-Cambridge Florence-Bicycle Spring-Time-In-Cambridge The meadows are also looking super pretty with lots of buttercups among the cows. The long evenings have been so nice, perfect weather for riverside walks and hanging out in the hammock.Buttercup-Meadows-Cambridge Bicycles-and-Meadows-CambridgeThis summer I’m planning to use this book to explore more of the city and to see if I can find some more gems I haven’t discovered yet! Even after 12 years here, I love playing tourist. Especially when it involves ice cream 🙂




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The Nomad Factory Traveler’s Notebook Review

It’s time for another stationery review! Over the last year, I’ve seen traveler’s notebooks become a huge trend in the planner community. From classic leather midori notebooks, to handmade fabric TNs, there are so many to choose from.

Today I’m sharing a Traveler’s Notebook from new indie stationery brand The Nomad FactoryTN-Reviews-Gold-Paper-Clips These guys take their packaging seriously. It’s simple, eco and classic. The notebooks are handmade from full-grain leather which is sourced from Yorkshire.

Travellers Notebook review The-Nomad-Factory-Notebook-Packaging The accessories are right up my street – metallics and cute tins for all the clips!
Nomad-Factory-Notebook-Review Travellers Notebook review-The-Nomad-FactoryYou can click on my review video to hear my thoughts and to look at the strings in detail! I’d love to hear your thoughts and if you have ever tried a traveler’s notebook? I am going to be using mine for creative journaling and memory keeping. Let me know if you’d like to see my progress!



The Nomad Factory gifted me these products. As always with reviews, all opinions are my own.