The iPad - to buy or not to buy?

I've never really been a huge gadget person.
I resisted the Kindle until I realised I could take a whole bookshelf on holiday with me,
my laptop is still chugging along having somehow survived 
a few years since studentdom all-night essay writing, 
and I only upgrade my phone when I absolutely need to.

But I find myself more and more drawn to the idea of investing in an iPad,
and here's six reasons why...

1. Beautiful accessories.
The first thing any gadget needs once in my possession is a lovely gadget case.
My ipod case, phone cover, kindle case etc have as much thought put into them 
as any dress or pair of shoes I've ever bought. 
The case pictured above is from a beautiful collection 
by Cathy K Designs, available on Etsy

2. For inspiration on the go.
I often have about 5 or 6 notebooks in use at any one time, 
floating around in various handbags, lost in piles of fabric scraps or left at the breakfast table.
The iPad seems like it would be a great way to keep ideas all in one place,
and even start actioning some plans, whilst out and about,
without having to lug a laptop around.

3. Easy blog readability
I'm often logging into blogger via my phone, but on such a tiny screen, 
it's not an enjoyable way of reading,
and it's not very easy to engage with other bloggers. 
I've heard time and time again that both writing and reading blogs 
is perfectly straightforward on an iPad.

4. Apple exclusive publications
I often find myself eyeing up screenshots from publications like Gathered
and feeling like I'm missing out on lots of goodies!

5. Publications that aren't exclusive
Homemaker, Sew Magazine and Making also have iPad versions.
While I do enjoy print versions of magazines,
one of the things marriage has taught me is that men have no appreciation 
for the need to keep hold of every craft magazine you've ever bought!

6. Board games!
Something my husband and I do agree on is Friday nights with a glass of wine and a board game, 
and so many of our favourites (from Small World to Scrabble)  are now available on iPad.
Great for those nights where the dining table is too covered in my sewing gear or his archery gear.

But I need your advice!
Do you use an iPad?
What are the benefits / disadvantages?

Thank you in advance for equipping me with excuses to splash out!


"I can do all things..."

Here's what grew out of my day today, 
between pots of tea, lunch with a friend 
and reading the latest Cecelia Ahern.

(Sorry to have become one of those bloggers who scrawls their name on images 
but I've recently suffered the fact that the downside of image sharing is image stealing!)

I planned to paint the verse on, but chickened out and did a font overlay instead.
I may still paint the words on. 
After all, the real painting looks a little unfinished 
and it would be nice to pop it on the wall without having to get a print of it done!
... Anybody else suffer the sort of painful indecision 
that results in half finished projects scattered around the house?

I've been thinking for a while about working on a set of art 
- both painted and embroidered -  
inspired by my favourite quotes / songs / verses.
It's about time I filled my Folksy store back up.
What do you think?

Have a lovely weekend everyone.


Inspired by... Archery

Sometimes we find inspiration in funny places. 

My husband is (amongst many other geeky things) a keen archer.
His little man-corner of the house is filled with bags of feathers and bits of wood,
our kitchen table is, more often than not, rigged up to be his arrow-making table,
and it only recently struck me that he is actually a much more committed crafter than me.

A little handful of his handmade arrows.

As I've watched him working away mixing glues and picking different colours and shapes and woods and whatever else he's up to, I've found myself feeling a little in love with the whole thing* 
and suddenly drawn to lots of lovely bits of crafting and creativity featuring bow and arrows. 

* plus there is the guilty geek in me who does spend a lot of time playing Zelda games 
/ loves Hunger Games / watches Brave more than is probably acceptable. 

Here's some of my favourite Archery-inspired finds...

These beautiful wooden Bow and Arrow earrings by smalladventure are just too lovely! 
I love the little details, and the rest of the Etsy store is well worth a nosey 
if you're into cutesy outdoorsy prints. 

I love the style of this print from RiverLuna
One day, when we have an actual studio space in our house, 
I might just allow a little archery corner just so I can decorate it accordingly!

This bow and arrows printed fabric is so adorable.
(not that there's anything adorable about archery - it's very manly... sorry honey!) 
You can find loads of other beautiful fabrics in Katherine Codega's Etsy store.
I'm a big fan of "mountains" and "anchors aweigh"

This arrows illustration is right up my street. 
I love the simplicity of Bluestar Ink's pieces. 

These little pins from Miniature Rhino just stole my heart.
I still have a little fabric pin-badge kit that needs something this lovely doing!
Jessica Marquez (shop owner at Miniature Rhino) also recently released the book 
"Stitched Gifts", which I can tell you, is an absolute delight!

This print by Juan Chavarria Jr. has been doing the rounds for a while and I completely adore it. I can be found 9 days out of 10 wearing a little ampersand necklace, so this combination is a winner in my books.

The simplicity of these earrings by Touch the Dutch is stunning.
These with a plain tee and my favourite shorts and I'd be good to go...
...just in case anyone's looking to buy me some earrings. 

OK now we're talking decoration!!
The colours, the geometry, the size combination... 
I could definitely permit this one in the man corner.
This set is available from Austin Made This.

What inspires you by surprise? 
Do you ever look at something in a new light and feel driven?

I feel a blog series coming on...


A Saturday with myself

Ever have one of those weeks where you're so busy 
that the idea of doing nothing sounds like the most exciting concept in the world?

Today was one of those beautiful lazy days where,
by not forcing myself to do anything in particular, 
I let myself do lots of the things I love.

Starting the day with a doodle. 
I woke up in a sunny mood and stuck on a seriously old mix CD, 
including Shining Light by Ash, for those who recognise the lyrics. 

I made myself a promise last year that when it comes to my creative journal, 
I will not tear out pages that aren't perfect, won't rub out lines that fall in the wrong place 
and won't shy away from sharing anything less than beautiful.
I have to say, having read this and this earlier in the week, I think it's great to share imperfection.

When I realised I was cranking out my old CDs at 7.00am on a Saturday morning 
(sorry neighbours - I don't know when exactly I became one of those morning people!)
I decided it was time for a quieter creation.
The last time I went to see my parents, my mum took me along to a little crafters' group she goes to and I learned to macrame... I've been dying to sit down and do some more as I love how it looks 
(and it's ridiculously easy to do the basics!)

...which reminded me, it's been years since I had a play on that bead loom I used to love so much...

This style of bracelet has been in every shop I walk into this Summer and I'm kicking myself for not getting myself on my loom and filling my Folksy shop up while the sun shone. 
There's nothing to stop me dragging the trend into Autumn on my own arm though!

and once I was all jewellery-making-ed out for the day, 
I figured it was time to get my bake on!

My husband has been away all week and it's meant that we've spent his birthday apart. 
Him not really being one for birthday celebrations, 
I decided the least I could do is to whip up a batch of 
Happy (late) Birthday / Welcome Home cupcakes for his return tomorrow!

 I used a simple Primrose Bakery recipe and I have to say, best buttercream icing ever!
Whilst deciding what to do with the excess, I may have eaten it all.

...and with a cupcake (yes I know I said they're for my husband, 
but you have to make sure they taste good before giving any away, right?) 
and a cup of earl grey in hand, I retired to the sofa to call one of my best friends who just got proposed to in Paris and heard the whole beautiful story, followed by a phone call to my mum to discuss my recent failed attempt at learning crochet.

What do you do with a day all to yourself?

Hope everybody is having a lovely weekend!


So it's been a while...

This year has been pretty huge, 
and somewhere in all the excitement, 
I think I left a little part of me behind. 

Any of you who have read my blog over the months (or maybe even years) 
know that I got married on New Year's Eve, 
and a lot of what I blogged about was the upcoming big day. 
When that day was over, and the 10 wonderful days honeymooning in Italy were over, 
I threw myself into making a home, growing a marriage 
and hatched all sorts of little projects and ideas, 
since wedding planning was suddenly no longer taking up all my spare time... 
...and this little corner of the internet kind of took a back seat.

But I realised that the longer I spent away from blogging, 
the less time I devoted to my creative self. 
I suppose that blogging is something that drives me, in a strange way.
Although I create things for my own pleasure, 
sharing what I create gives me that push to pick up the pen / needle / paintbrush.

So I decided it was time to get back into the "blogosphere"! 
(does anyone else find that word totally cringey?)

So for now, I thought I'd just share a few pages from my personal creative journal this year...

...if you wondering why I sound quite so mega motivated in some of these pages,
as I said, it's been a pretty huge year so far!

How is everyone??


Make a Difference

I've been up to something that I want to share with you guys.

The last time I cut my hair short (and by short, I mean a long bob) was over 5 years ago, 
just as I left home for University.
Ever since, I've been growing it out, especially once I got engaged 
and went through the standard "brides have long hair!!" stage.

This coming Thursday, I will be donating at least 8 inches of my hair to the Little Princess Trust
who make real hair wigs to girls and boys who have had to go through chemotherapy. 

I'm also raising money for Victim Support, 
a charity who provide a massive spectrum of help in different ways 
for people who have found themselves victim of crime. 
This includes emotional and practical suppprt for those who have been raped or abused, 
burgled or intimidated and those who have suffered loss through homocide.
These people and many others would benefit from a donation to the charity.  

Now I know I haven't met 99% of the people who read this blog, 
but I get the impression you're a good bunch.
And if I could be so bold, 
I would be so touched if you could reach into your pocket and support these two awesome causes.

You can give here...

Thank you so much.


Wedding Wednesdays - A Splash of Colour

The one and only downside to being married is not getting to plan a wedding.

What's that?? One of my most favourite friends just got engaged?
How very convenient!

So now that my jewel toned vintage-inspired classic winter wedding is confined to memories and photographs... I now have the pleasure of helping to plan for a beautiful Summer wedding full of fun and games and most brilliantly... an as-yet undefined palette of bold and bright colours!

So what's been filling my secret Pinterest board this week?

Ah it feels good to be spending my spare time flicking through wedding magazines again!


Setting Creative Goals

At the end of each year, I'm typically in the practice of sitting down for an hour or two
with a pot of tea and setting myself some goals for the year ahead.
I find it a really useful practice to reflect on what I've achieved over the past 12 months and to realise how my priorities have shifted as I look ahead to the next 12 and decide where I'm headed next.

The end of 2012, however, was massively consumed by last minute wedding prep
and I didn't allow myself the brain space for any goal setting beyond "Get Married".

So more than a month into 2013,
I figure it's about time to set some goals.

I've always been guilty of being a bit of a creative dabbler...
I play guitar, I sew, I draw, I bake, I sing, I paint, I write.
But sometimes I feel a little like a "jack of all trades, master of none" type.
Sometimes I find myself stockpiling ideas and never putting them into action.
And sometimes I make the classic mistake of comparing myself to the many talented women out there and letting myself feel deflated.
Is it just me?

So... My first goal of 2013 is
to develop my creative self.

And here's how I intend to do it...

1. Commit more time to being creative

It's all very well knowing that I love to sew,
but when I leave it for a number of weeks between sessions at the sewing machine,
I can often feel like I'm never improving my skills.
I resolve to put time aside for creative projects.

2. Allow myself to be inspired

Nothing inspires me like music.
Particularly music with lyrics that speak right into my heart.
The above page of my art journal was inspired by a Jason Mraz song that had been buzzing around in my head for weeks during a time when it just felt like those three words summed everything up just right.
So when I'm convinced that I'm running dry and I have no ideas,
I resolve to put on my favourite music, take a walk in my favourite places, read a new book, until I'm inspired.

3. Follow through on all those bookmarks, Pins and scribbles

Hands up who has a "Crafts to Try" board on Pinterest?
Keep that hand in the air if you have ever actually completed any of the crafty projects you've pinned.
Now please tell me I'm not the only one!
I am somebody who ends a week with a handbag full of little things I've scribbled down on bits of paper, a bedroom covered in pretty pictures I've chopped out of magazines and a head full of thoughts buzzing around with no real plan with action.
I resolve to turn my ideas into action.

4. Learn a new skill
As much as I probably have my fingers in quite enough pies,
I don't think you can beat the feeling of learning how to do something new.
Following blogs like One Sheepish Girl has left me with a real want to learn to knit or to crochet,
so I think that may become the new addition to my toolkit.
I'm also considering finally learning to play the ukulele I was bought when I was 18!
I resolve to do something exciting and new.

5. Don't be afraid of ruining a blank canvas

This is by far the biggest challenge for me.
I have a horrible habit of becoming temporarily paralysed just before I cut into a beautiful piece of fabric, in case I ruin it... or just before I put brush to paper to start a painting, because what if I ruin a page and then have to tear it out or stick something over it, and after all, what a waste of paint!
The thing that has helped me best overcome this so far was to set myself one simple rule for my 2012 journal... to not correct. If a line went in the wrong place, if I smudged something or wasn't entirely happy with the way it looked... tough. It was all part of the process.
And that helped me begin to love every detail.
I resolve to make a mess.

How about you?
What helps you to feel more inspired?
How do you develop your creativity day-to-day?

And where do I find a good learn to crochet book??


Wedding Wednesday - Our Big Day

On New Year's Eve, my (still love using this word at every opportunity...) husband and I finally tied the knot.

After a 3 year engagement, consisting largely of hoarding anything lacey and sparkly and spending far too much time on Pinterest, we said our vows and danced the night away.

We don't yet have the official photos through, but I figured I couldn't wait until then to share some of my favourite parts of the day.

As I lived with one of my bridesmaids up until the wedding, we decided it would be nice to get ready in our house so we had all our home comforts there with us.

Our lovely flower girl is Samm's little sister, who stayed this calm for about the first hour of the day before consuming way too much sugar and eventually changing into a onesie for the evening... I love that girl's style!

The ceremony was held in the Church we attend.

It was a beautiful feeling to walk up the aisle of a building that I feel completely at home in to make promises to my husband in front of my church family as well as all my other loved ones. 
Being New Year, it was already beautifully decorated and a group of our friends pulled together to play music for us.

After the service, we had arranged for tea and coffee to be served inside while we braved the cold to go outside for photos.
However, as we got to the doors of the church, we were warned it was raining fairly badly...

... which turned into a beautiful go-with-the-flow moment of being able to snap a few quick classic-posed wedding pictures inside before being brought a cuppa and spending my time having hugs and laughing with my friends instead of getting numb cheeks from holding a smile for too long.

My fur shrug was a gift from my ever so wonderful mum... who also spent the day before the wedding with needle and thread detaching  my cathedral length veil from it's comb and stitching it onto a different comb that I'd fallen in love with from Etsy...I think she'll forgive me one day!!

As Samm is Scottish and I'm English, I chose a bouquet which combined thistles and cream avalanche roses, with eucalyptus to complement the men's button holes.

After everyone had sipped up their tea, we headed to the reception, and feasted on Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Roast Beef and an Assiette of Winter Desserts (which it transpires, means various sweet lumps of chocolate and cream!! That's one happy bride!) 

The speeches were a perfect combination of laughter and happy tears, as well as the brilliant decision of making the new father-in-law the toastmaster, which he essentially used to make three of his own speeches designed to embarrass his son... all utterly priceless!

And to keep the children happy, I put together some fun little activity books for them, with colouring in pictures, a word search and little games to keep them occupied.

One of my favourite moments of the day was being told by one of the little girls "The boy in here looks like Samm... he even has a dotty hairy face and a skirt on!!"

I'll share this easy little project more fully as well as some of the other DIY elements more another time... because I'm not ok with letting Wedding Wednesdays be over just because the wedding is!

The evening was spent dancing with all my closest girl friends, (after having our first dance song replaced with Gangnam Style without our knowledge!) tucking into a hog roast and enjoying the feeling of really really being married.  


Mrs Nikki Joy

I apologise for how quiet it's been around here lately...
On New Year's Eve, it was finally my wedding day,
so as I'm sure you can imagine, things have been pretty hectic.

I'll be jetting off on honeymoon in just a couple of days, 
after which I have so many pictures and wedding details and stories to share.

For now though, here's one tiny sneaky peek of some DIY details for our day...

Happy New Year everyone!