Although I didn’t really make any new years resolutions this year, there were definitely things I wanted to work on and improve over the next year. One of those things was to make a bit more time to myself, to do things I enjoy, look after myself and relax more. These included buying new sheets and pillows for my bed to make it extra comfy and cosy, taking more long baths with a cuppa and a good book and being creative with simple things like colouring and sketching.

Illustration School - Lets Draw Plants and Small Creatures Sachiko UmotoOne thing I’ve made the effort to do, is to go to bed an hour early where possible and put on an audio book and getting out my colouring books and sketchbook. Although January was a very busy month for me and I certainly didn’t manage to do this every day, when I did I definitely felt better for it.

Illustration School Little Miss SunflowerI recently picked up a lovely book, with step by step guides to drawing cute little plant characters and flowers. The Illustration school series is a lovely set of adorable books, each showing you how to draw different sketches. So far this year I have whiled away quite a few hours copying all the cute little pictures.

Illustration School SunflowerI love that you can try different poses and expressions on the little characters and once you’ve worked your way through the book you can put all the ideas together and create your own pictures or even make your own characters. The possibilities are endless and I’ve really enjoyed having an easy creative outlet at the end of busy days.

Illustration School Sunflower PictureI’d love to share some more of the things I’ve been doing in my down time this year. So look out for some more posts about things I do to relax. What do you to when you take time out for yourself?

This book is available to buy on Amazon.

Usually at Christmas I like to make as many gifts and cards as possible. As the big days has crept up on me a bit this year the only crafty thing I’ve done so far is to make these pretty marbled gifts tags.

diy-marble-gift-tagsI bought this marbling kit from Hobbycraft absolutely ages ago, and had never got round to using it. Having seen some marbled crackers recently, I loved the idea of using the effect as part of a Christmas theme so I decided to give it a go.

marbling-kit-2To make these you will need; white card, string, scissors, a marbling kit, some thing round or bauble shaped – I used cookie cutters.

marblingMy kit came with a small tray and several different colours of oil based ink. I used different colours to create my my marble and used a cocktail stick to swirl the ink into patterns.

hobbycraft-marbling-kitI cut my card into small squares and places them onto the ink.

marbled-paperThey take a while to dry, so lay them out on some newspaper for a few hours.

marbled-cardI love that each piece of card came out differently. I had experimented with different amounts of ink and swirling different patterns in each one. I really like how unique they all are.

bauble-cookie-cutterI pressed my cookie cutter onto the backs on the card to leave an indentation, this was quicker than drawing round something and didn’t leave any pencil marks.

marbled-bauble-tagsI then cut them all out into bauble shapes.

marble-gifts-tags-on-stringI poked a hole in the top of each one and added a piece of string.

marbled-gift-tagsI am so happy with how these came out and marbling was so fun and a really relaxing thing to do. I’d definitely like to pick up some more inks and try some other crafts using this technique. Have you ever tried marbling?

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I love going to blogger and press events, where I get to try new things. I’ve been to a few recently which have involved crafting and I’ve enjoyed them all so much. A couple of moths ago I went to one hosted by Hochanda, a new art and craft channel. At the event we got to try four different activities. I only managed to get a few quick snaps of my creations on my phone. I thought I’d share them with you, to show what can be made in a quick session.

Hochanda Press dayThe event was held at the Ham Yard Hotel in London, which has the most fabulous decor and is one of my favourite venues for events in London. How awesome are the huge vintage movie posters!

Hochanda Press day WatercolourThe first thing I tried was water colour painting, something I’ve not tried in a really long time. My finished piece was far from perfect, but I really enjoyed giving it a try anyway. We were talked through each step of creating our picture and with a little work, I definitely think it’s something I could improve at. This mini workshop was hosted by The Society for all Artists, who encourage everyone to try to art no matter what their ability and sell a great range of art and painting supplies.

Hochanda Press Day Clarity StampNext I tried some paper craft with Clarity Stamp. You use a special tool to create beautiful embossed designs that you can use to create pictures and cards. This was so much fun and we got to take a little kit home, so I can make a few more things. I really like how my piece came out.

Hochanda Press day Die Cutting MachineI’ve never tried die cutting before, so it was great to have a quick lesson with Sizzix but I was amazed how quickly I was able to make this cute felt brooch. This has to be one of the most satisfying crafts I’ve ever tried and one day I love to invest in my own die cutting machine so I could make jewellery and appliqués to accessorise my clothes.

Hochanda Press Day Glitter ArtLastly I made a beautiful glitter picture with Imagination Crafts. To make these you use a stencil and a special glittery paint. This is so easy, quick and fun that anyone could do it. I’d love to make christmas cards using this technique one day.

It was great sampling some some of the craft supplies which are available through Hochanda. The channel is really fun to watch for lots of crafty inspiration and demonstrations. You can watch live on their website or on the following channels… SKY 663 Freeview 39 FreeSat 817 You can also buy your craft supplies online via the Hochanda website.

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As a blogger, I get to go to lots of interesting events and try lots of new things, I feel so lucky to make the most of all the opportunities, which come my way. My favourite events are always the ones where I get to do something fun or be creative. A few weeks ago I was invited to an afternoon of crafts and art activities with Viking, the stationary supplier. The event was held in a lovely venue in London and was such a fun relaxing afternoon, I wish I could do it all again!

Viking Arty Party VenueWe were treated to lots of lovely cakes and drinks and got to try a selection of different craft activities. They had brought three lovely crafting experts to teach us different crafts, none of which I had really tried properly before.

First up was block printing with Tea and Crafting. We were provided with everything we needed to create a printed magazine file. This was a really simple and easy activity, which I would love to do again and again, with lots of different designs.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing TableWe had to design and cut out our own stamp to print with and everyone came up with some really fab designs. I decided to do a simple flower and print my design with orange paint.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing Close UpIt took a little while to get the hang of getting the right amount of paint for best results, but it was a really fun activity and it was great to chat with all the other bloggers while we worked on our masterpieces.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing Flower PatternThis is definitely an activity I’d like to try at home with the kids, and I’d also like to give it a go with fabric paints to design a mid-century style print to turn into a dress.

Viking Arty Party Block Printing Magazine FileI was really happy with how my finished piece came out. I have given it to Jessica for her bedroom, to organise some of her things.

Viking Arty Party Block Printed Magazine FilesEveryone else’s designs looked amazing too, especially the flamingo print!

IMG_7511-232Next we tried calligraphy, I’ve not done this since I was at school, so I was pretty much a complete beginner. This class was hosted by L’aise, who provide calligraphy workshops all over London.

Viking Arty Party Calligraphy AlphabetThis is definitely one of the most relaxing crafts I’ve ever tried. For the whole 45 minute session, we were all completely engrossed. It will definitely take lots of practise to get the hang of it, but I’m willing to persevere.

IMG_7507-230We got to take home our quills and ink, as well as some practise paper, so I’m going to keep practising until I’ve perfected it.

Viking Arty Party Catherine CalligraphyI’d love to be good enough to write my name like this!

IMG_7450-185Lastly we had a go at Mindful Origami with MindFOLDness. I’ve tried origami a few times, and it’s always something I’ve wanted to get good at.

Viking Arty Party Oragami TableI’m a big fan of colouring for mindfulness and as a form of relaxation and meditation. Mindful origami runs along the same lines and can be a great way to escape the world and have some quiet time to think and create.

Viking Arty Party Mindful Origami BouquetI loved the demonstration and really enjoyed having a go at making my own origami stalk. I’ll definitely persevere and try to have some quiet time to fold and reflect in the future.

Viking Arty Party Origami StalkWe talked about thinking about a person you care about while folding and then passing the finished piece on to them. I think this is such a nice idea and I’d like to make some mindful origami for the kids and my friends and family.

I really enjoyed the whole event and I’m looking forward to using some of the Viking bits from my goodie bag. Including some great pens from Sharpie and mugs to decorate with them.

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I get to do some really great things through blogging and one of the most fun things I’ve done in a while was an up cycling workshop hosted by gumtree and Max McMurdo. You may have seen Max on programmes such as Kistie’s Fill Your Home for Free, which I loved.

Christmas is a great time to think about up-cycling and repurposing. We are so bombarded with useless gifts and throw-away items at this time of year and our over-consumption is something we should all be thinking about. At the workshop we talked about making beautiful unique gifts that are both cheap and greener to make.

Gumtree had noticed more and more people buying items through the site to customise and re-purpose. Inspired by this they have been encouraging people to use old materials to make new things. At the event we dismantled an old pine wardrobe which had been bought on the site for just £20.

I was amazed how much good quality wood was on one piece of furniture, all of which could be used to make something new. I used a shelf from inside the wardrobe to make my project.

Not all second hand furniture is created equal and although I’m against ruining beautiful old furniture I’m all for repurposing ugly items that have no value. Using the repurposed wood was dramatically cheaper than buying it new and it’s definitely something I will be doing again.

With a few simple tools, I managed to transform my old bit of wood into an amazing star light, all in under 2 hours. I enjoyed it so much that I’ll definitely be doing it again.

I actually needed very few tools, just a hand saw, a drill, a router and a sander all of which can be bought reasonably cheaply or borrowed. The star was finished with some coloured wax and a set of light which cost around £7.

Gumtree Upcycle Workshop
After admiring our handy work we enjoyed some mince pies and mulled wine by the Christmas tree. If you’re stuck for ideas for unique and thoughtful Christmas presents, why not try making something yourself. There is so much you can make with a little wood and you can get as creative as you like.

Thank you so much to Max and his team and all the lovely people at Gumtree for a really fun afternoon, I felt so inspired by the workshop and can’t wait to make more.

You can find lots of ideas on the Gumtree Upcycling Hub. So why not join the #UpcycleRevolution and held reduce our countries waste while having fun and saving money.