September Favourites

I seem to remember missing my August monthly favourites completely and I think this was down to the fact I've taken a much more laid back approach to blogging recently and wasn't pressuring myself too much. September has been an awesome month for trying new things so I feel like I'm back in the game and ready to share with you the thing's that have made me go 'oooh' over the past 4 weeks.

Llama Pjams - Primark
My Pusheen pjams got ruined last month thanks to Aunt Flo (no secrets here) and I wanted to venture off to Primark to replace them as they're some of my most favourite pjam bottoms I've ever had. They didn't have any left which upset me greatly but then I spotted this set which I couldn't resist. This set cost me £10 as opposed to £8 for branded bottoms and anywhere between £5-£8 for a branded top so I think this was a much better deal than buying more from the branded section. The tassels are so cute I just hope they stay on when they go into the wash!


primark

Vegan Liquid Chocolate - Sweet Freedom
A new Aldi has recently opened in my town and on the way back from going out with my Mum, we realised it was in fact their opening day so we went in on the way home. Mum spotted this liquid chocolate from Sweet Freedom and it cost around £2.50 which is much cheaper than some places online that stock it. You can make hot chocolate with it, decorate your puddings with it and I was also adding it to my protein shakes for some extra chocolatey flavour. It's really delicious and comes in a convenient squeezy bottle.


vegan chocolate

Party Rings - Foxes Biscuits
From what I've discovered, Party Rings are one of those 'accidentally vegan' products and I jumped for joy when I found out, especially since I've recently become a fan of Home Bargains where the famous biscuits are 39p a pack! YES. I've been eating them by the bucket load because of this and also have some in my suitcase to take to Paris with me next week. Not even sorry.

Halloween Candle - Home Bargains
As stated in the above, I went into Home Bargains for the first time in about 10 years after hearing people rave about their festive candles when they came out last year. At £2.99, they're well worth a try and I went to go and see what I could get my hands on. I picked up the Halloween candle which smells like an absolute mash up of Swizzels sweets; I can definitely detect the familiar smell of Drumstick Lollies. A week later I went back and luckily they were just putting out the Christmas candles so I grabbed the Gingerbread scented one of those and I'm still amazed at the strength of the scent for such a cheap candle. They're huge too, literally the same size as a Yankee so it's a no brainer really, £2.99 over £20+ for a large candle? I'll grab myself some more I think to stock up on!


halloween candle

Japanese Matcha Tea Mask - The Body Shop
The Body Shop were kind enough to send me a jar of their relatively new Japanese Matcha Tea face mask during September too and after trying their charcoal mask, I knew I was in for another treat. These masks are that bit more special than standard packet masks; they feel really posh being presented in a glass jar, they last ages and honestly I've never had products treat my skin as well as this range does from The Body Shop. I'm dying to try the rest of them!


the body shop mask

Roald Dahl
When I was younger, I would spend hours engrossed in a Roald Dahl book and although I mainly borrowed my books from the library (I loved doing this!) I didn't have my own copies until I was older. I do however still have my old copy of Charlie & the Chocolate factory which must be nearly 20 years old and I remember sitting with this same book on a beach in Kefalonia when I was about 7 or 8. It's in a pretty poor condition but picking the story up after what must be the 100th time and getting lost in the Dahl world once again has been so magical. I also read The Witches and The Twits during September, another two brilliant classics from the Dahl collection.

roald dahl

I feel like there was plenty of variety throughout September so it was definitely a great month to get back into the 'Monthly Favourites' with. I really enjoyed writing this post and reflecting back on all of the great things I found.

Thanks for reading!





When Things Are Quiet

This past month has been super quiet in Pastel Elixir land but I've been trying to keep myself busy which inspired this post. I think I have mentioned before that it can be really easy in the self employment world to get yourself into a bit of a rut some weeks when not much is happening. It can feel like things just aren't working out and the fear of having no money is constantly looming. People have also before asked me if it bothers me so much, why don't I just get another job. Because I'm determined to grow my business. September has been slow and dull for a lot of creators and this could be down to a lot of things, like people returning to school, uni and work after the summer holidays, saving pennies for Christmas or just cutting back after a holiday.


Pusheen mug

Luckily I've developed a sort of routine for myself where I spread my time out across my week so it is benefiting either my shop, blog or YT channel and recently I've been pumping videos out like no tomorrow to keep myself occupied. I've also been painting a lot of Disney pieces; a couple for the house, one to gift to my friend and the others were experiments so I could use some new materials. Then of course there is paperwork and there is always a little something I could be doing whether that's improving my shop photography, adding new listings or thinking about some new designs.


winsor and newton

If I didn't have my blog, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn't be able to pick myself up from the down moments that come with quiet weeks and months and I couldn't recommend starting one enough, especially if you're considering going self employed or starting out with your creative career and sharing your work online. Not only is it a great outlet to share your finished pieces and where to buy it should you want to sell, but you can document new processes, materials hauls, what you've been loving or not loving, review some arty products or even share a bit of everything about your life which is something I really enjoy doing. Sometimes I have more to talk about in the dog section of my blog and it's totally okay to not stick to one topic. There are definitely a few opinions floating around on blogs needing to have a certain niche or stick to one topic but you know what, it's your space and your blog to write about whatever you want. If people like what you do, they'll keep coming back.

If you have a blog, what is it that you love the most about it? If not, have you ever considered starting one?

Thanks for reading!



Japanese Match Tea Face Mask Review - The Body Shop*

A few months back my gob was well and truly smacked when The Body Shop asked me to try out their Charcoal Face Mask and review it on good ol' Instagram. I leaped at the opportunity and this mask has been a staple in my cosmetics cupboard ever since. I've used face masks since my teenage years and can hand on heart say it's one of the best face masks (for my face) that I've ever used. My face feels really fresh, hydrated and smooth when I've had a session with it.


the body shop mask

The Body Shop have been kind enough to once again send me one of their latest masks to try and this time it's the Japanese Matcha Tea mask and again, I jumped at the chance. Especially since The Body Shop are now with new owners and are 100% cruelty free. This mask also happens to be vegan too so bonus!


face mask

Like the charcoal mask, the green tea one comes in a little glass jar which I always think feels super posh especially compared to those 99p packet masks (which are also a fave of mine from Superdrug!) but these ones feel like the ultimate pamper treat. I learnt from the last mask too that applying the gloop with a clean foundation brush is so much easier and cleaner than doing it with your fingers. I believe you can get 'face mask brushes' from The Body Shop but I just use a foundation brush which came in one of those cheap kits and it works really well and is easy to rinse afterwards.


green tea

These masks will set you back £17 which sounds a little pricey but I've had my other jar now since May this year and it's still half full. I use it probably twice a month as I don't overdo it on my sensitive skin so depending on how generous you are and how often, the jars can last you a while. The other benefit to using a brush to apply your mask is the product goes a lot further so I'd definitely recommend trying that trick if you haven't before. They also don't dry up or go funky (speaking from 5 months experience) which I think is reassuring when you're spending a fair wad on a face mask, plus you can recycle your jar afterwards to store bobby pins or earrings for example.


the body shop face mask

Let me know if you've tried any of the masks from this range before and which one I should try next. The Rose one sounds lush!

Thanks for reading,



*This product was sent to me by The Body Shop as part of their #DareToMask campaign on Instagram*


A Fear Of The Dentist

I think most of us have a fear of the dentist. When I was a kid, I remember not really being a fan even though my dentist was a lovely and hilarious indian chap and was always very kind, patient and reassuring. The invasion of personal space and instruments being so close to your face, poking around inside your grill whilst you lay there helpless and vulnerable is a very scary position to find yourself in.

Not gonna lie, I've had my fair share of scary dentist experiences. The first was when I was very young, around 7-8 and I had to have 2 teeth extracted to make room in my mouth for braces. This was a downright nightmare. I remember not feeling much, but the shaking around of my head still haunts me. Then I had around 3-4 years of dentist and orthodontist appointments torturing my life and whilst my orthodontist appointments themselves were usually a breeze and sometimes fun (if the bubblegum flavoured teeth moulds were involved!), the altering of my teeth was agony. I remember not being able to eat when they were tightened, the wires cutting into my gums, the yanking when it came to removing my braces at the final stage and the smell of the place. I have lovely straight teeth now, but getting here was hard work.

Then when I was in my early teens, after all that with the braces, I was trying to hole punch some homework with my stepmum's huge hole puncher which had a safety clip on it. Long story short, the safety clip snapped off and the hole punch sort of sprung up and hit me in the face, chipping away half of one of my main front teeth. That was agony too. Exposed nerves, half a tooth missing. I felt like Quasimodo.

It wasn't until a couple of years later that I went to the dentist to have the front of my tooth replaced with an artificial piece so believe it or not, half of my right front tooth is fake. But to do this, the dentist had to file down a bit of my real tooth to make a nice clean edge and he tried to inject me in the mouth without telling me what he was doing. I have a phobia of needles, another common one I think, but needles make me physically sick, my knees go to jelly and I panic, big time. But here I am willingly going to get tattoos every year. Bizarre isn't it. Anyway he came at me and we ended up falling out, he told me off for pushing him away whilst he had a needle in his hand and we agreed in the end I would endure the pain rather than have a needle in my face. Truth be told, I don't remember it hurting, just a tad uncomfortable.

After this ordeal, I didn't return to the dentist for years. Around about 8 years I want to say. It wasn't until I was with James and we both realised we weren't with a dentist, that we ought to go and get check ups, just in case of an emergency then we'd know we'd be registered with a dentist should we ever need one. We returned every 6 months for check ups and on my check up last December, the dentist told me my teeth were in that good nick that I could come back in 9 months and not 6.

I'd been feeling some sensitivity in one of my lower molars recently and upon inspection there was a tiny hole. Luckily my appointment was a couple of weeks away so I left getting a closer appointment as it wasn't painful and it wasn't sensitive all the time...only when I focussed in on it. Convinced I'd need a filling, I started to get myself in a right state at the thought of being drilled and injected because I've been very lucky with my oral hygiene and have never needed anything doing. But I went to my appointment and it feels like the more I go the more nervous I get, convincing myself something is wrong. My dentist spent a couple of minutes examining me in all of my wide open (ha!) glory and propped me back up again, praising me for having such amazing oral hygiene. She told me I was doing really well with looking after my teeth and the sensitivity was absolutely normal, no cause for concern. She even gave me some toothpaste samples...I'd have preferred a sticker though!

I guess what I've come to learn though is I'd much rather keep up with my appointments because they're beneficial for two huge reasons:

1. If you need anything doing, a routine check will pick up on these things before they get nasty, painful and scarier.
2. If you have a dental emergency, you've got a dentist!

So if you're terrified of going (and believe me I can relate to you 110%, I'd rather go for a smear) push yourself as hard as you can into getting to your appointment or even booking one and get your pearly whites looked at. It only takes a couple of minutes and if you're lucky the dentist might give them a quick polish too!

Thanks for reading,


Beauty & The Beast Painting

I've been meaning to paint a Disney piece for my Disney obsessed best friend for a couple of years...I know I'm so bad with getting my act together. In a bid to kill two birds with one stone, I thought I'd test out a new material and try to improve my acrylic skills, whilst also making a gift for my friend. She loves Beauty and the Beast (a huge fan way before all the hype came along with the new live action) and I thought I'd paint her a portrait of the famous characters.

The material I used was a roll of canvas; basically canvas that hasn't been stretched onto a frame. It comes on a roll so you can choose how big you want your piece to be and I remember it being quite cheap. Perhaps between £1-£2 for a few metres. I hadn't used it before but with it being so cheap, I gave it a go.



This was really fun to do and I thoroughly enjoyed myself spending 3 days working on it. I had a variety of listening materials ranging from Harry Potter audiobooks to ASMR and it was so relaxing. If you've never done some artwork with ASMR on in the background, you're seriously missing out on some quality therapeutic magic. 

It wasn't until I finished this painting and took a photo to show my Mum that I realised I really should have primed the canvas rather than go straight in with paint. Mum is my go to for artistic criticism and as I've gotten older, we can exchange criticism without offending each other which is something we both used to struggle with! The thing with canvas is sometimes you get annoying little white spaces that show up when the paint is dry where the paint hasn't quite reached the thousands of tiny gaps in the canvas texture and it can look very clumsy. This is something that happened to this piece unfortunately but without looking up close it wasn't very noticeable.


I'd always intended to give this painting to my best friend so I framed it up nicely for her so it was a proper little gifted treat. The framing process was a little tricky as I went out and got a frame, but once I'd got the frame home and cut the painting down to fit, it looked terrible. I ventured off out to The Range again the next day to get another frame and this new one looked perfect, but it only just fit the painting. It was my fault for cutting the painting down before thinking properly about the choice of frame, but the learning involved with this painting has been so valuable and although it isn't a piece that demonstrates my best work, I have discovered so much in the process:

- prime canvas before painting on it
- don't cut the work down until you've got the right frame
- take artwork with you when picking a frame
- continue to practice with acrylic paints
- keep up with the character drawing skills!

Beauty and the Beast

Thanks for reading!



Dream Destinations: Paris

It's been a few months since I started what I wanted to call my 'Dream Destinations' series and I think I was struggling with picking places to write about, because there's just so many I didn't know where to begin! We didn't think we'd get a holiday this year, after all we did buy a house and ended up having to cancel our wedding anniversary trip to Amsterdam back in March after our boiling broke the same week we moved in. But an opportunity has come up and we were able to book ourselves a new trip and after a bit of thinking, we picked another city to explore. James has done Paris before with his parents, but I've never been to the city itself so we thought this would be the perfect place to visit. I was sneaky though...

Regular visitors to my blog may know how much I adore Disney and have been craving a trip to Disneyland Paris for quite some time after we returned to the parks for Halloween in 2014. I've managed to wangle myself a day trip to Disneyland Paris as part of this holiday and I'm so unbelievably excited to be going back, even if it is just for the day. I'll be making the most of it don't you worry AND it'll be Halloween again! This place is so special and sentimental to me because not only is it where I hold some fond memories of going there as a family during my childhood, it was also mine and James' first holiday together so it'll be lovely to return once again with him.

But back to Paris itself, we have a list of things we'd like to see and do before I drag us off to Disneyland at the end of our week and I'll start with the place we're both most eager to get stuck into.

The Louvre
I've wanted to visit the Louvre ever since I realised it is in fact where the Mona Lisa is housed, along with countless other masterpieces from some of my favourite artists. I'm a huge lover of Da Vinci's work and there is something truly incredible about seeing it in person. Whether I'll be able to take photos inside this building I'm not sure, but to see these paintings with my own eyes will certainly be a few ticks off the bucket list. Even the grounds look spectacular and even if I didn't do anything else in Paris, I'd be happy just seeing the Louvre; that's how much it excites me.

Notre Dame
We love visiting cathedrals, especially when they're plastered in beautiful detailing and represent stunning architecture. I feel Notre Dame is quite an unusual shape too, I may find myself watching The Hunchback of Notre Dame before we visit...it's been a while since I've seen that movie and it would be nice to refresh my thoughts on how Disney portrayed such a magnificent structure.

Palace of Versailles
We're also big history lovers as well as museum explorers so it seems silly to not visit the grand French Palace of Versailles. I'm going to do a little bit of research around the palace before hand so I have a little bit of knowledge around it, but I can't wait to explore the museum and take some awesome photos of this place.

Eiffel Tower
You can't go to Paris and not visit the Eiffel Tower can you? To be honest, this is the landmark that I'm not overly fussed about surprisingly, but since we'll be in Paris it would be rude to not give it a quick visit and take some pictures.

Arc de Triomphe 
I know absolutely nothing about this monument and this is something I can tell I'll really love about visiting Paris; when you come home brimming with new knowledge! It's exactly how I felt when I returned from Rome a couple of years back and I love the feeling of knowing you've learnt something valuable, especially around history.

Although this is kind of a city break and we wanted to have something a little more relaxing this time around, the location of our hotel is perfect to just hop onto a shuttle to the Disney Parks and village or a train to a shopping centre and the city. It looks so relaxing and idyllic, with a spa, pool, gym, and gorgeous surroundings to chill in after a day of exploring Paris.

It's been that long since we've properly been away like this that I haven't blogged about it or filmed any memories so this is something else I'm super excited to document, being able to look back properly in the form of blog posts and videos. It's going to be awesome and very well deserved after such a busy year of working hard.

Thanks for reading,



Autumn Fair 2017

This past weekend was the annual Autumn Fair at the NEC in Birmingham and it had been a couple of years since I last went, usually because of rota commitments but self employment has allowed me to manage my own time and I couldn't think of a better way to spend my Monday! I went with my good friend Anna and a new friend Isobel, both designers and crafty ladies so together we ventured off in search of inspiration.

The Autumn Fair isn't somewhere the public can go to buy things; it's a trade show and more of a place for buyers to go and view new and upcoming products, collections and meet face to face with the brand. For someone like me, it's a brilliant place to go to see what's trending right now within the gifts, stationery and home ware industries and if you're a creative, you can get a free ticket to the event. It's also one of the best places to be to meet new people and do some market research. 

Unfortunately there were a few strict no camera policies lurking around but I tried my best to capture some beautiful new products and asked some of the brands directly if they'd mind. I met up with Sass and Belle and had a much needed Slush Puppy with them, wondered around their new collection and spotted some old favourites (it's one of my favourite online gift shops!) and I also discovered some new brands which I fell completely in love with.


unicorn gift

bombay duck

candypop

unicorn gifts

cloud nine

rattycatcat

I met the gorgeous Libby from Rattycatcat, who specialises in lino print goods and has an awesome range of handprinted cards, notebooks, scrapbooks and other stationery bits and pieces. The fabulous Prima Makeup which I will have an entire post dedicated to next time with a first impressions and unboxing after they very kindly gifted me one of their glitter palettes which I am super excited about, along with brands like Cloud Nine, Candypop and House of Disaster. Annoying as it is that you're unable to actually buy something if it takes your fancy (minimum order and bulk buys only) it really is one of the best places to discover new brands, connect with them and leave feeling really refreshed, inspired and motivated, so definitely bare these kinds of events in mind if you're feeling a bit flat and out of the loop in the design world!



Thanks for reading!



Why Did I Want To Be An Illustrator?

From such a young age, nothing interested me more than drawing. Looking back in my pre-school and year reception sketchbooks, my doodle's weren't half bad and even at the age of 4, it was something I just couldn't stop doing. Blank pieces of paper were destined to have a cute drawing on them.

Unfortunately I was never taught as a child that art could be something to be taken seriously and be a potential career choice. Arts and crafts were my favourite lessons at school but at no point do I remember my teachers or parents telling me that I could for real, do art as a full time job. My Dad mentioned a couple of times that people would pay me for my work, but that was about the extent of my creative encouragements. That makes my parents sound like idiots and they're really not, I just don't think at the time and we're talking 15-20 years ago now, that art was something other people could understand you building a life with.


An old piece from my sketch books

Aside from art, my other biggest passion has always been animals and I decided I would try to become a vet. I studied hard and always did my homework, was taking animal science books out of the library whilst my friends were issuing out Tracey Beaker and Goosebumps and I had this clear vision of one day becoming a vet and helping animals as much as I could. That all changed when I got to the upper school, so from the age of around 14/15 I had a huge surge of disbelief that I would ever get there. I didn't feel I was clever enough to get the grades, or that I would get into uni and spend 7 years of my life there studying animal science and medicines. I completely gave up on that dream. My Dad in particular was devastated because throughout my younger years it was always what I wanted to do. I never fluttered between ideas, it was always to be a vet. 

I spent the next few years channeling every ounce of my energy into my artwork. I used to stay up late and work well into the night, spring out of bed the next morning and carry on. My art lessons were my favourite and gave me a small reason to like school and I came out with an A grade art GCSE. I was thrilled to bits as were my parents and I never hesitated with starting Sixth Form after the summer and taking on three art based subjects. I chose fine art, graphics and photography. Initially I had chosen textiles to go alongside these, but my tutor advised me against this as taking on more than one art subject was considered to be a bit mad let alone four, but we settled on three after I assured him the coursework wouldn't swamp me.


An old piece from my Sixth Form sketch books

Sixth Form was two of the best years of my life and I enjoyed literally every minute. It's also where I met James! Some days of course were stressful, especially project deadlines and such but overall, there was no where else I would have rather been. I spent my entire days in the art department, had my lunch there, socialised with the other art students and made some cracking friends. Again, I was working super hard every day and night, never getting tired because I was having the time of my life. Through my work I discovered I was interested in graphics more than art, so I plugged time into learning about graphic design, using computers with my art and exploring a whole new world. I loved design and it gave me energy. Exams came and with my three art subjects, I tackled 45 hours worth of exam time, 15 hours for each subject. Then out popped three A Level grades, two A's for graphics and photography and one B for fine art. I cried with happiness and couldn't believe it. Even more so when I got accepted into what is considered to be one of the best art and design university's in the country. The first in my family to go to university, everyone made such a big deal out of it.


My bay at uni which held 10 students (I'm at the back!)

During the summer, I carried on working on my own little projects, determined to improve my skills before starting uni. I have an entire post about my experience at uni here, but to cut a long one short, uni nearly destroyed me. It wasn't what I was expecting and within just a couple of months I wanted to leave. I didn't feel like I was being taught anything, I didn't make the 'life long' friends you're practically promised with the university package, it was a cold and lonely environment that slowly started eating away at me mentally. I chose to study graphic design further and feel this was a huge mistake. By the end of the year, I had made my mind up that I wasn't coming back after the summer. In a depressed rage, I burnt most of the work I'd done at uni because I couldn't bare to look at it. I only have a couple of drawings and painting's from my time there that I kept.


One of the only pieces of artwork I have from uni

I returned to my ridiculously shitty weekend job at a children's theme park, asked them for full time hours and stayed there another year before walking out after realising my self worth and ventured back into the animal world. This is the job I left back in May this year, but in the beginning it rebuilt me, gave me confidence and I was as you can imagine, living the dream working with dogs all day. After 5 years and moving from contractor to permanent member of staff, things evolved at my workplace and I fell out of love with it. Whilst I was working part time as a contractor with the animals, I was introduced to a lady who lived up the road from my Mum's house who owned a tea room. Her name was Anna and she had seen my work from a friend of the family and asked to meet me. I was absolutely bricking myself, but collected together some of my work and went to meet her. It was an instant connection and we have been friends ever since. During this time we have been on many outings together, exploring, charity shop hauling and since Anna is a graphic designer herself as well as Tea Lady, she took me on many adventures to design conventions to meet other artists and creators. I started my own business after realising that all this time, my heart truly lay with the silly little doodles I had done all my life and my Etsy shop was born. I finally understood that there was a name for this kind of work and it was 'illustration'. I also started to fall in love with makeup and would spend many of my days off creating character looks and getting covered in spirit gum and scar putty.


My Hades makeup look

The thing with art, is there is no wrong way to do it. And with illustration, there are so many different styles that there is and always will be room for more people to join the industry. Two years into having a side business that I was doing with every spare second I got from my animal job, I was developing further, mostly self taught with the help of YouTube tutorials and books but I eventually built it up so I could make a liveable amount of money from it, and I left the corporate world behind this year. I don't regret spending five years of my life working with animals one bit, because there were days where I was doing a lot of vet nursing type work and I loved it. I loved the puppies, the relationships I built with my dogs and I miss the old feeling I got in the early days where I was deeply in love with my role. I loved learning about dogs and their behaviours, their medical requirements, how to recognise good and bad health in an animal, along with what to do in an emergency. This is all extremely valuable knowledge and experience to me, after all I homed Custard and Vespa and it gives me great relief that I would know how to handle pretty much anything that is thrown at us.

Part of me feels like I kind of took the long way around as I spent more time working full time than I would have spent at university; I would have had a degree by the age of 23, but no doubt struggling with where to find work, a hefty amount of debt and still having no idea what to do with my life. I wouldn't have been able to save for a house, I probably wouldn't have reconnected with James after we both left school and I wouldn't have my dogs. Thing's would be a lot different!

Illustration has become my life, I collect children's books containing illustrations that inspire me, I love to create and I adore meeting other illustrators through social media and supporting what they do. In my spare time, I'm still self teaching more of the Adobe programmes and trying new techniques with materials. Of course, the 'silly little doodles' have evolved too and I try to learn something new everyday, but I'm happy. So so happy and extremely lucky to understand what I want out of life career wise. This is it.

Thanks for reading,


Fellow Creative Favourites

I think it's safe to say, Twitter in particular hasn't been the nicest of environments recently, which is a shame because it's the place where I have made new friends, some of which I talk to on a daily basis and at the right time, it's such a positive and supportive place to go for any topics. If there hasn't been a witch hunt going on, people are getting far too heated with their opinions, forming groups and sides, bullying, saying things they don't mean in the moment...

Enough. I wanted to spread some kind words and introduce you to some of my favourite creatives who I have seen working super hard recently and deserve some loving.

I discovered Catherine on Instagram and have since found her wherever I can, because her work sends me to such a happy, smiley place that I just cannot stop scouting out her latest work. I'm jumping up and down waiting for her Etsy store to reopen so I can grab some prezzies for Christmas and cannot wait! Katnipp Illustrations has everything from mugs to stationery, prints, pins, personalised portraits...I'm in love! Especially with this adorable unicorn mug, pastel colours are my life!


Mark is the first friend I made in the creative blog world and has helped me out so many times when my brain hasn't been able to work something out, usually camera and technology troubles! His work is super clean looking and I love his style, especially the pink lion illustration! Anything cute and cuddly looking instantly wins me over every time.


3. A Tiny Mew
Tore is definitely your lady to go to for tattoo style illustrations and I'm always in awe at how smooth her work looks. Digital art is something I have never tried so I feel really intrigued by how it's done and how flawless Tore's work is...I definitely need to grab myself a piece of her work one of these days. This Moon Stick piece looks so glittery and magical, I almost feel lost in another universe when I've spent a couple of minutes gazing at it.



4. My Fair Pixel
Kelly is the owner of My Fair Pixel which I've always thought it such a cute name and her shop is the ultimate place for witchy style pieces, potions, crystals, even pet portraits! She has a very definite oldy worldy vibe going on, especially with her insect and skull illustrations but also produces pieces that are bursting with colour, like this hilariously quoted crystal ball!



5. Sweet Allure
Disney lovers, get your botties over to Tarnya's shop because you're bound to find your favourite character in watercolour form, oozing with fun, colour and at super reasonable prices. Recently I've seen Tarnya pumping out a massive variety of characters but don't worry if yours isn't there - Tarnya is open to commissions! How handsome does Jack look? I have a feeling he'll be appearing more as Halloween approaches...



6. Lace & Whimsy
Kathy's work inspires me so much and if you're a fan of anything magical, woodland, pastel and pretty, you're going to love her too! Kathy is based in the U.S. but her prices along with shipping is brilliant; some shops overseas I have seen have completely put me off buying when they want £10 for shipping a print across the Atlantic, but Kathy's shop is incredible value for money and you don't pay silly prices to get a piece of her work over here. Her sticker sheets are my favourite, especially this fair ground themed collection - carousel horses are one of my favourites things in the world!



With things like Christmas coming up, supporting small independent artists is a lot more special at this time of year and I've been making a list of Etsy shop's that I'll definitely be buying some prezzies from. Maybe you could frame a piece of work for someone special, or make a stationery bundle, a relaxation box? Get creative too, could you make something awesome for your loved ones? I literally try and encourage everyone I know to buy from small businesses because it really does mean the world to the owners. With things like handmade chocolates, soaps, candles, melts, accessories, clothes, homewares, artwork and so much more, you're 100% guaranteed to find something unique to give as a gift this Christmas.

Thanks for reading!



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