Procreate - Getting The Freedom Back

Two years ago I was doing the washing up and everything was as standard as ever. Then everything happened so fast, one minute I was getting that little job done and the next I had a two and a half inch shard of glass imbedded in my hand. I knew straight away, aside from the fact I had glass in my hand, that something wasn't right and it had done some serious damage. I went to A&E to have it removed, ended up delirious from gas and air, panic, shock and unfriendly doctors, went to my local walk in twice over the next couple of days because I knew something was wrong and no one believed me. I was then sent back to A&E where another doctor examined me and told me I had bruising around my huge incision and that was that. I demanded another doctor, no one was taking me seriously. I hadn't been able to move my two farthest fingers along since the accident and they were drooped downwards. After another examination and another doctor who was lost for words, I was referred to Derby hand clinic where within 30 seconds of being sat in the referral chair, I was diagnosed with a severed tendon and 20 minutes later I was on the table and under the knife with a local anaesthetic to sew both ends of my tendon back together. I had a lot of resting to do after that and weekly physio appointments all the way over in Derby every single week and at the time I was a dog handler and was told to think about finding another job. That news was nothing compared to being told I would never draw again.

Three months of no work, just rest and plenty of Netflix, tea and biscuits, I had started to use my left hand to practice writing and drawing with. Then when I had 'healed' with my right hand, I attempted to draw again and as an illustrator, it's been one of the most frustrating journey's ever. I've had to build myself up to not being able to hold a pen, to working for 2 minutes at a time, increasing that to 5 minutes and then 10 minutes. I have not been able to draw for longer than 15 minutes at a time since it happened. Filling out forms at appointments is a nightmare, handling money at craft fairs especially when it's cold makes me incredibly clumsy, simple things like carrying the shopping in is now a huge task.

Then not too long ago, I spotted a lot of illustrators and artists drawing on an iPad with this magical looking pencil. Immediately I had to investigate and felt a sinking feeling when I saw just how much an iPad Pro along with an Apple pencil is. I held off, dreaming that one day I might have one of my very own. I saved up hard and then at the end of May after celebrating my old year of self employment, on a whim James and I wandered into Curry's at Fosse Park to just have a look at the iPad, as prior to this I had only seen other people using one and had no idea if it would be for me. I picked up the pencil and started to doodle there and then in the shop and could have cried. The sensitive touch and freedom this pencil seemed to give my hand was unlike any standard drawing pen or pencil I have been using since my accident. It glided along, so smooth and effortless that I couldn't quite believe how technology has come so far. 

I went and got one of the Apple sales reps just to have a chat with and he told me that the latest standard iPad hadn't been out long and that it was the first one other than the iPad Pro to be compatible with the Apple pencil. This meant, that as I didn't mind the size of the standard iPad, I wouldn't have to fork out for the Pro after all. I had in fact saved up enough money and it cost more or less half of what the total cost of the Pro and the pencil would have been. We went home with an iPad and pencil that same day and it has absolutely changed my life. Since I've had the iPad I have done some sort of drawing every single day and due to the way the pencil works and the comfort within my hand, I can draw for an hour straight which for me, is a miracle.

Drawing is something that I never used to be able to get through a day without doing, but after damaging my hand it felt like more of a chore and it was as though I had this huge space in my life that I could no longer fill. It made me feel so depressed to be held back in so many ways when it came to my job and it's been a very slow process getting the strength back. I understand that having an iPad is a complete luxury and I'm lucky to have had the work to be able to save up hard for one, but it really has given me the freedom back that I thought I wouldn't get ever again. I have found myself drawing for hours on end with it and I've taken it everywhere with me; to coffee shops, into bed so I draw whilst watching Netflix, to my Mums when I've gone up there to work for the day. I'm so happy to have discovered the app Procreate and I can't wait to see myself grow and develop with it.

Thanks for reading,

Stampin' Up Card Making Kit*

I'm a huge lover of crafts and will try anything at least once! I used to hand make all of the greeting cards for my shop (they're now professionally printed) but this was simply a matter of attaching a miniature print of my art to some card blanks. Before now I'd never tried to put something extra onto my cards, or create a layered piece using different materials. I'm always so tempted by all of the little gems and details some card designs have but have never really known where to start with making my own.

Stampin' Up have a range of fantastic card making kits for all occasions and what I absolutely love about their packages is you really do get everything you need inside. They're brilliant for beginners, the experienced crafters or those of us who are somewhere in the middle. They contain a decent selection of different bits and pieces to make gorgeous greeting cards and I was kindly sent their 'Notes of Kindness' card kit to review! In this particular set, they include:

x6 stamps
x1 black ink pad
x1 clear stamp block
x20 card blanks & x20 envelopes
die cut stickers & decor pieces
x1 roll of copper coloured twine
x1 sheet of pearl gems
x1 sheet of sticker dimensionals

Plus it's all presented in a wonderful brown, patterned kraft box!

I was a little nervous to get started in all honesty because it feels like there is so much included in your kit that you just have no idea where to start. Luckily, within the box you get a leaflet with some examples on and brief explanations on how to use the contents. I especially love that you don't need any glue for making your cards using this kit; some of the card pieces have a sticky backing and with the pieces that don't you can use the little spongey stickers to adhere them to create some dimension within your design. Then there are some adorable little pearl gem stickers, the gorgeous copper coloured twine and I think this shade is the perfect contrast against the rest of the pastel tones within this kit. It's also got a floral theme throughout so I'm guessing my friend Lisa's Notebook would adore this card making kit more than anyone!

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to put some cards together and it was totally mess free, plus the generous sized box everything comes in means it's quick and easy to put everything away for another time once you're finished. With 20 card blanks and envelopes to get through, these are sure to keep me stocked up for a while and I can't wait to create some more as soon as I have a minute for some chill time! Something else which I think is really awesome about the brand is they have a refills option, so rather than buy the whole full price kit again if you use everything up, you can just buy the kit again minus the stamps at a reduced price.

I love to give out cards for any occasion but one particular thing I do love thankyou cards for is my Patrons, who receive hand written letters and thankyou's each month from me for supporting my illustration work. Patreon is a way for people to get a little more involved with the development of my small business so I love to give back as much as I can. These cards would be perfect for my monthly reward parcels so I'll definitely be sending some of my creations to them! Plus what makes a greeting card even more special is when you've made it yourself with lots of love.

What do you guys think to greeting cards and would you ever try a kit like this?

Thanks for reading!

*This kit was sent to me to review on my blog. All opinions are my own.

Being A Vegan - Am I Healthy?*

One thing is for certain, since choosing the vegan diet and lifestyle just over a year ago I've never felt better. I have more energy, my skin and hair are in a better condition, I have a much healthier relationship with food and I've had countless comments from family members and friends telling me I seem to 'look' better off for eating a plant based diet.

There are three main reasons why people choose to go vegan; the environment, the health benefits and of course the animals. My big one was always the animals and even 14 months down the line, the animals are still the number one reason why I choose to maintain my vegan choices. But little did I know the major impact the meat and dairy industries have on the environment and also, my health.

Something I noticed when I switched to a vegan diet is how my skin seemed to detox itself and my face started to come up in a fair few spots. There was one point where I thought that they just wouldn't stop appearing and I found myself researching skin 'issues' when switching to a plant based diet. Turns out, it was more than likely that my skin was flushing out any dairy that was in my body and the common advice I found was to wait it out and within a couple of months it should clear up and sure enough, it did. I also noticed that after eating I no longer felt bloated or sick, which was a pretty standard sensation I felt after eating my meals before being a vegan. It led me to wondering whether I had in fact had any mild allergies to dairy or intolerance's.

A huge percentage of visitors to my blog are located in America *a big wave across the pond to you all!* and luckily for you there is in fact the leading lab testing service HealthLabs who are available to carry out a variety of tests in one of their 4,500 laboratories across The States. If you did have concerns around the vegan diet and whether it could be for you, they can carry out some tests to see if you are allergic to anything meat or dairy related using the skin prick method, which I can also confirm doesn't hurt as I had some allergy tests done using this method a couple of years back for some flare ups I was having. This is a great option if you're currently exploring the vegan diet and may be interested in the benefits, or whether you suspect you may actually have some allergies to certain animal based foods. HealthLabs also have a test for deficiencies as after all, the vegan diet can have some common deficiencies such as Vitamin D or B12.

Their tests start at $149 and I also have a delicious 25% off all of their vegan testing services for you using code ELLIS25 should you wish you go ahead and get yourself tested. Their conveniently located labs means you also don't have to wait for a doctors appointment and you can receive your results within 1-3 working days! Pretty speedy! Although they're currently only available over in the US, I'm hoping they expand over to the UK because the tests could be extremely useful for people who may be thinking about going vegan since they can provide so much valuable information around your health.

Before choosing to live the vegan life I never would have thought that it went beyond being kind to the animals. I didn't realise that people may choose a plant based diet to improve their health; my husband's number one reason for being a vegan is the health benefits and we sure do feel so much better for it. That's not to say however that you just switch your meats to tofu and be done with it. If you're choosing plant based, you need to make sure this is going to be a positive change for your body and that you're not missing out on any of the essential vitamins. Having said that, it's also not just about gorging on the green stuff either! I'm a huge sucker for baking and all the naughty foods and there are SO many products that are accidentally vegan and millions of recipes for making the most amazing cakes. It all about balance after all!

Do let me know if you're a vegan of even if you've ever thought about changing up your diet to include more plants! Also...let me know where you are in the world!

Thanks for reading!

This post is sponsored by HealthLabs*

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