Inspired by Portraits

I'm obsessing at the moment over beautiful portraits.
Nothing inspires me quite so much as a soft simplistic sketch with a gorgeous splash of colour.

Here's just a few pieces I've found myself in love with recently... 

Is it just me who wants to grab my sketchbook and start doodling at the sight of these?

Seeing gorgeous art really inspires me to draw more often and develop my style.
How about you?


Getting back into sketching

I've always loved art, but I find it a funny thing.
Some of the world's most celebrated artists nowadays can barely draw,
while sites like Etsy are full of incredibly talented people who you've never heard of. 

The trick, of course, is to stand out from the crowd. 
To have a thang.

At the start of this year, I decided to keep an art / sketch / written journal, 
to track what is probably the most exciting and busy year of my life. 

I set myself a rule to not get rid of any "mistakes" in my journal. 
Something that makes it difficult to share pieces in which I can see the clear flaws, 
but that also forces me to appreciate the beauty of something raw.

As well as documenting the incredible journey that 2012 has turned out to be, 
I feel that it has helped me to reconnect with parts of me that I'd forgotten about. 
When I was a teenager, I used to stay awake all hours of the night just sketching and sketching.
And over the years, I just kind of forgot to do it.  

I've always loved trying out new things, 
dabbling in whatever the latest craze is,
but give me a biro and a sketch pad...
that's my thang.

And even if it never makes me famous,
if my scribbles never make it onto a mug or a mouse mat,
it keeps me true to myself.


A New Look Nikki Joy

Not long ago, I found myself as a "plus 1" at a swanky London fashion type launch party, 
and it astonished me how many people there are out there who, 
when asked what they do, will introduce themselves as bloggers.

It got me thinking though and ultimately led me to resolve to take my blog more seriously, to be proud of it and turn it into something that I'm excited to share with people.

Having resolved this, the first step was to enlist some help...
Kristen from KV's confessions popped into my mind in a flash.
Not only does she always have a gorgeous blog, but she's fun and honest and so real in her posts that I just knew it would be a great process to work with her.

Next, I spent a Saturday afternoon cruising around for colour pallets I liked.
Here are some that inspired me... 

This image from Design Seeds grabbed my attention in a flash. 
I loved it for the rich greys and tones of blue and green

These kimonos by Abraxas Rex via Simple Things are beautiful 
in their combination of warm greys and the pops of bright colours. 
I was totally inspired by the watercolour effect of these images as well.

The pinks and purples of this gorgeous print by Susan O'Connor at Pretty Petal Studio captured my heart and I knew these colours had to feature in my new layout. 

From there, Kristen was so good at making sure every last detail was exactly to my liking.
Right down to the watercolour effect header, inspired by my favourite piece of artwork 
and the "tea stain" accent on the top menu links, 
to pay homage to my undying love for a good old fashioned cuppa.

She even helped me to make difficult bits easy. 
Am I the only one who finds it near impossible to write a decent "about me" section?

You can read about her design process on her blog here.

Thanks Kristen!

I hope you all love the new look as much as I do?


6 things to make with Faux Fur

I don't know about the rest of the world, 
but in East Yorkshire, England, 
the warm weather has waved a fond farewell.

Thankfully, I'm a total Autumn lover.
I love walking through crunchy leaves, warming up over bowls of homemade roast vegetable soup and sitting in coffee shops until after dark drinking caramel hot chocolate.
Most of all though, I love cold weather dressing - bobble hats, chunky knit scarves, cute mittens, thick colourful tights... Who needs the sunshine?

In my recent attempts to clear out before moving house this winter, 
I came across some leftover faux fur from some projects I was working on last time the frost was here, and it got me all excited for cold weather crafting 
and in a flash I was at my laptop searching for some ideas.

So here's six things to make with faux fur...
(including some great tutorials!)

(Tutorial from Love Maegan)

I always find it best to start with a simple project when using an unfamiliar medium - and fur can be really fussy to work with. 
Thankfully the first time I gave it a go, I was staying at my mum's, who taught me all about nap and pile... and then got the duct tape out!

This neckwarmer / snood / whatever they'll get called this year is so simple and cute and would look great with any outfit. 

Personally I'm thinking perfect for chilly bike rides. All the warmth, none of the "death by long scarf caught in wheel spokes"

(Tutorial from Colette Patterns)

I made this sweet collar for my best friend last Christmas and I must say, I was really happy with how it turned out.

The tutorial is so easy to follow and the peter pan collar trend is still all over Etsy, so I'm happy to bring this one out again.

One tip though from experience - I used a sateen type fabric for the lining last time, which I won't be doing again because this type of collar can be prone to travel. Next time I'll use a lining with less sheen, because nobody likes to spend all their time adjusting their outfit. 

(Tutorial from Cotton & Curls)

So I'm a total sucker for bobble hats...
I'm also a massive fan of looking at something in a shop and saying "I could make that!"

Thank you Lizzie from C&C!

This is just about the simplest DIY out there, but such a great idea. I think it looks adorable.
Now to go and spend all my money on slightly boring woolly hats to spruce up with pom poms.

(Tutorial from Adventures in Dressmaking)

Last year, Suzannah was inspired by the fur trend and came up with this lovely tutorial for turning a plain sweater vest into a beautiful winter weather staple.

You can see her outfit post linked at the bottom of the tutorial for a sweet idea on how to wear faux fur casually.

This is a slightly more complex tutorial than some of the others, but the results look totally worth it.

Maybe I'll work my way up to this one after a day or too of pom poms!

(Tutorial from DIY network)

Ignore the granny-cardi pink-and-brown combo shown in the image and see the potential.

This tutorial looks mega easy, and I imagine that in a delicate cream coloured fur (of which I just happen to have a big old bag ready for some winter wedding DIY goodness... ) this could look really beautiful.

(Tutorial from Cotton & Curls)

I'm well aware that "five faux fur projects" would have made a much better blog post title... everybody loves a bit of alliteration - but I simply couldn't resist this one...

Another awesome tutorial from C&C... because let's be honest, she's a superhero when it comes to DIYs!

I don't know if I'd be brave enough to rock this much faux fur but I think it looks great on the right person

And it does look toasty warm in that thing!

Supposedly this project only took her 20 minutes too, so you could have one by the time you reach the bottom of that cup of tea you're drinking!

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the sewing machine!!
...via the kettle.


Taking time to be.

In amongst working full time at a newspaper, working as a counsellor,
planning a wedding, learning to drive and all the other things that life throws at us all,
sometimes it's easy to forget to take a break.

So today, I resolved to do just that.

One of my most die hard habits is to write a to do list for every weekend 
of all the jobs that must be completed by Monday.
But this weekend, I wrote myself a list of things I fancied doing,
to be completed, or not, at my leisure.

I thought I'd also take the time to learn to use my camera a little better.

Any good chill out day needs to involve some good food...

An hour in the garden with my rabbits reading a good book 
and soaking up the last of the Summer sunshine...

And some time spent with Roxy, my 6 stringed love, 
playing and singing all my favourite songs...

I've also been working on some exciting changes coming up soon 
which I'm really looking forward to sharing!

What is it that you do to relax and spend time with yourself?

I hope you're having a lovely weekend too.


Wedding Wednesdays - Let Them Eat Cake

This week's big wedding decision centered around my one of my favourite topics...

When it comes to wedding cake, there's so many options out there,
it can actually be a little overwhelming.

Do you go for 3 tiers of traditional iced fruit cake or for something modern and quirky?
How much cake is actually going to get eaten after your three courses of gourmet food?
Are you really obliged to provide guests with a hilarious portrayal of you collaring your new husband all crafted out of sugar?

We decided early on that the whole wedding was to be a traditional kind of a wedding. We didn't want to be kooky for the sake of being kooky. 
But equally, it soon became obvious that neither did we want to do anything because that's what you're supposed to do at a wedding. On the most important day of our lives, surely then it's most important to be genuine. 

So for the cake, we need something traditional enough... 
but still to our actual taste.
Which means no cheesy cake topper, no satin ribbon and (sorry dad) no fruit cake.

This cake from Cake Ink appealed to me right away. 
I love the delicate lace texture of the icing, and the warm subtle peach tone. 
The roses on top are a perfect substitute for a regular cake topper. Delicious even to look at!

Being a winter wedding, I quite like the idea of using pine cones as decorations, and this would be a great way to tie a theme together.

See this post for a great idea for a simple elegant pine cone garland.

I love the rustic messy icing style on this cake and the light dusting of icing sugar on top to make it look like snow. 

Perfect for a cosy homely look.

Just add mulled wine and a roaring open fire and you're done.

found via Fab You Bliss 
(check this post out - such a gorgeous wedding)

Not only do I love the colour of the roses on this cake (probably too late to change the colour scheme of my wedding now with only 3 and a half months to go...)
but I am absolutely barmy for the amazing texture of the icing!

The quilted layers are absolutely adorable and the lace layers are so elegant. It's a perfect combination in my opinion. 

So I've noticed about myself by this point that I'm just a little bit mad on texture more than anything else about cake.

So... my final choice of wedding cake you ask..?

Three tiers of ivory iced cake... 
Traditional? Check.

Completely covered in the most beautiful textured roses.
Beautiful? Check.

Fulfilling a childhood dream of getting married and rejecting the fruit cake in favour of a cake that, despite looking classic, is in fact filled with chocolate sponge and chocolate ganache?

Hello dream cake.


Glamming up my new toy...

I'm not really one for technology.
I upgrade my phone when I need to and don't normally get excited over it, I chose my laptop by pointing at the pretty red one and asking my dad for reassurance that it would do the things I'd need it to do and I'm not actually sure what an ipad does.

However, my latest upgrade has excited me,
because for the first time since my tween-age years
(when the Nokia 3310 was the only phone to have!)
I can change my phone's little outfit!

I know, I know, all you iphone-ers out there are totally over this by now, but humour me.
Or more helpfully, enjoy the cuteness of these and give me your opinion...

Which one do I want?!
Or maybe I should just get all of them,
so that I can change it to suit my mood!

Am I the only one who gets a little too excited to cute-ify everyday objects?
Some of my favourite accessories are total non-necessities
like my passport case and my ticket holder...
It just seems sad not to dress them up!


Liberty Love

This week, I spent a few days down in London seeing my best friend Olivia.
Whilst meandering around on Regent Street, enjoying a classically British rainy day, clutching our Starbucks takeaway cups, I spotted a building I just knew I had to visit. 

Liberty London  is one of those places I've had on my "must visit" lists for years. Who doesn't love their infamous colourful fabrics and beautiful stationery? 
What I was not ready for is the sheer size of this place inside!

From the moment you step foot inside, greeted by a sea of luxurious silk scarves and jewellery, you know you're going to leave with a lighter purse than you entered with.
There's six floors of goodies to keep your eyes bulging, but my radar was pointing straight to the top floors, where the infamous Liberty fabric collections are kept. 

Being in the process of downsizing and clearing out ready for moving into the marital home, I knew I wouldn't be a popular lady if I returned home with arms full of fabric. 

However, I may start telling my girlfriends on the sly that they can buy me fat quarters of these beauties instead of the classic kitchenware type wedding gifts!

As if wall upon wall of gorgeous fabric wasn't enough to tempt me, the stationery section in lines with papers bearing all the same designs in every colour of the rainbow.

Not one to leave without at least a couple of little treasures,
I treated myself to a little handful of washi tape to have a play with.
 I loved these polka dot style ones...
And just because I can never resist a splash of tartan...
 Time to hit Pinterest and finally pay some attention to all the great washi tape inspiration out there!

And because my other half has been away for a couple of months now,
I just had to buy him a little something too.
He's a massive bicycle lover and also constantly attached to a book of some sort, 
so I figure he'll love these little guys...

What are your favourite places to shop?
I always love discovering new gems, 
whether it's huge infamous places like this 
or sweet little independent haberdasheries.