Getting Fruity With Orbz!

Ah the word 'vegan'. You can easily make some folk run a mile or make them want to shake you about as if you've gone mad with your lifestyle choices. But imagine, turning up to a Christmas or New Years Eve party with a tub of these in your pocket. Or better yet, if you're hosting a party or simply visiting family over the festive season, popping these into some drinks would instantly make you the cool kid.

Let me introduce you to Orbz, the fruity balls brand who create deliciously flavour popping fun stuff to 'pimp up your cocktail'. I'm way too excited about these. If you've ever had bubble teas, you may be familiar with the similar little squishy balls that burst in your mouth and pop out some tasty fruit juice. They're super fun, come in a variety of fruity flavours AND they're gluten free and vegan. Not only can you swish them into your cocktails for a bit of fun, you can sprinkle some on top of puddings too for a dash of colour and something just that little bit different.

I went ahead and tried the apple Orbz and they were unbelievably tasty and fun to use. All I did was sprinkle some into some soda water for a bit of flavour (as I don't typically have alcohol or cocktail supplies in the house) and this was the perfect little treat. I really loved the apple flavour and I used a wider straw (a reusable one too!) so that every now and then I managed to get hold of an Orbz in my mouth and when they pop it's such a pleasant sensation.

The rest of the flavours I'll be saving to take with me to family's houses during the Christmas period so everyone can get to experience them! They are literally just pure sugar though which is why I don't want to keep them all for myself, but as a little treat for parties I think these things are great and fun for all of the family and friends. An interesting talking point and excellent way to demonstrate that vegan friendly food and drinks aren't exactly boring!

Have you tried Orbz before? Which flavour do you think you'd like the most?

Thanks for reading,

Wreath Making With Baker Ross

It's time for me to face the fact Christmas is on it's way - yes I am one of those people who will fight the urges for as long as possible before accepting that once again things are getting festive up and here and to just embrace it. One of my favourite ways to get into the spirit of things is to get my craft on and since last year I made a wreath for Halloween, it dawned on me that I have never made a Christmas one.

This fit in perfectly with Baker Ross asking me if I fancied getting stuck into a festive project this season and after mooching through their website at their arts and crafts supplies, I had my heart set on their 'Naturals' range. I was crazy impressed with the variety of materials available and they were kind enough to send over a crafty hamper of goodies so I could spend an afternoon wreath making with my little sister. I actually did my own wreath by myself for two reasons; the first being I wanted to have a design ready and available to help inspire an 8 year old with her own wreath and I also wanted to make sure the methods I had in mind would work! The second being I knew a glue gun would probably be needed at some point and being a responsible adult I wanted to be able to give my full attention to my sister when helping her to use it. Fun fact: it hurts SO BAD if you get melted glue on your fingers and I have already learnt the hard way!

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

The reason I chose supplies from the naturals range is really down to the fact that these days with live in such a plastic ridden world, that when it comes to arts and crafts I think it's a great way to get children and adults alike creating, but also being mindful of waste, using natural resources and also connecting to nature a whole lot more. I did choose some funky glitter balls and artifical snow berries as part of my gifted hamper, but since these wreaths are something I will be getting out year after year and getting plenty of use out of, my plastic police sirens lay low for those couple of products. What I did get though, was a selection of dried walnuts, acorns, pinecones, wooden buttons, twine, vine balls, stars, bark shapes, star anise and of course the ratten wreaths. I already had my glue gun and just a tiny disclaimer, I've had this gun and glue sticks for years and have no idea if the glue contains any animal derived ingredients, but for future restocks of the glue sticks I will be trying to source cruelty free versions.

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

I set myself up a little work station at my coffee table and top tip, use some sort of sheet of cardboard to rest your glue gun on to stop any dripping glue from damaging your work surfaces! I started by adding the larger pieces like the vine stars and pinecones first as it's much easier to then build around these pieces with the smaller bits after. Most of the time everything stuck to the rattan wreath with melted glue no problem and I used a little extra glue round the back of the wreath to reinforce some pieces like the walnuts which were quite heavy. I dug out some old strings and ribbons too from a box I keep full of scrap materials and they were perfect for this! I made some bows here and there and the variety of textures worked so well with the rest of the naturals range that by the end I was super pleased with what I'd managed to make!

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

Even after my sister has made her wreath (I suspect she'll use a fair few of the glitter balls!) I'm going to have so much left over from the supplies but I've already decided that the cinnamon sticks and vine stars in particular will be lovely to decorate Christmas presents with this year! The stars have space to tie some sort of festive twine through so you could tie them into your presents or even add them into your Christmas tree for something a bit different.

Baker Ross, DIY Christmas Wreath

Baker Ross are typically aimed at children and it was really lovely to hear over on Instagram that a few of my story viewers had often bought their craft supplies from them for their kids or even school supplies. There is still plenty to choose from if you're an adult crafter though and the naturals range is definitely my favourite! Although I don't have children of my own, my sister loves to create so getting her involved is going to be real good fun, plus any arts and crafts loving child would be incredibly happy with a craft hamper for Christmas - I know I certainly would be! Or if you're a parent or older sibling like I am, it's so lovely just getting kids to be creative and explore the world of crafts a little more. The brand have an enormous range of supplies and materials at very good value for money too; I personally was really amazed at how much was included for the price of each item and if you want to save a few more pennies, ELLIS20 will get you 20% off a £20 spend!

Have you ever made your own wreath before?

Thanks for reading!

*These arts and crafts supplies were gifted to me by Baker Ross in exchange for a review on my blog.

Small Business Gift Guide

As a small business owner I can confirm that it's true; we all do a happy dance when someone chooses to support our work. I read recently somewhere that every time you make a purchase, you're deciding what kind of world you want to live in and this really hit home for me. Ever since going self employed and taking my illustration work full time, I've appreciated more than ever the support of shopping small and independent as well as how precious every single order is. Because of that, I also love to support my fellow indie businesses and love to share them with you too for gift ideas or treats for yourself. I thought I did a good job last year with gifts and supporting small business but this year I've taken it to a whole new level and found even more amazing creatives to support.

The Punky Bunny
I ordered myself an adorable vegan themed print from Emma over at The Punky Bunny and I was SO blown away by the quality. Emma is a small biz chum of mine and a fellow vegan, a passion which is channeled through Emma's work along with a care for the environment and making things as eco friendly as possible. The print was made with a thick recycled card with the most vibrant, solid colours with the little grains of the card's texture still showing through which I adore. I even ended up ordering some of the card for my own shop I loved it that much. Emma boxes everything up using recycled wrapping and packaging too! Very recently Emma also released these adorable key rings and pins into the wild and I just had to get myself one.

Lily in Space
Lily is another of my online pals who I have met through the small business world and I recently backed her Kickstarter for wooden pins featuring her adorable 'through the seasons' woodland critters. Lily has an enormous love for animals, especially those who live in the woods and the badgers...don't show Lily any badgers or she will quite literally loose her mind. Lily is also a physicist hence the awesome name for her small business and the badgers in astronaut attire! Never have I known anyone with so many badger themed mugs and jumpers but I think it's an adorable obsession to have.

Sugar & Sloth
I'm a regular over at Sugar and Sloth but it wasn't until this month that I decided to treat myself to the Pin Party subscription box as a little birthday treat to myself. Basically, each month for £9, you get quite literally a little party in a box and a brand new enamel pin amongst other treats. Each month has a different theme and the pins aren't available to buy separately unless you're lucky enough to buy any left over boxes Anita might have from that month. This makes them really special and exciting, plus a subscription service is a great gift idea especially for the person who seems to have everything or the crazy pin collectors. The price also includes delivery! 

Scent Circus
A few weeks back, Scent Circus and I did a little product swap and I received a selection of wonderful wax melts from them to try as I'm a massive addict when it comes to making my home smell fresh as a daisy. This one was my favourite and it's the 'So Horny' melt which if you don't find funny, who even are you? It really tickled me and everything from this store has a really cheeky yet sweet vibe about it and I can't wait to go back for more. The prices are very reasonable too and there are even little gift pouches you can buy as extras to make your gifts that tad more special. My order came beautifully wrapped with tissue paper and confetti in a letter box friendly sized parcel box - ready and waiting to give as a prezzie!

Ann-Mari Reigstad
Ann-Mari is one of my new online small business friends from the beautiful country of Norway and she creates stunning pieces of what I believe to be mainly watercolour art. She truly is such a talented illustrator and was kind enough to send me some samples of her work which was super thoughtful and my goodness, I am SO in love with her style especially her cheeky little animals! This little emu guy is getting framed for my studio wall because I find him so funny. I'm always collecting gorgeous greeting cards to frame so if you have someone who's walls are full yet they still love to collect art, greeting cards are a fab alternative due to their little size and they're great for adding a bit of variety to a display.

These stores are just a few of my current favourites right now and I love to support them where I can! I also enjoy discovering new ones too so if you have any favourites or regular places you love to buy from, feel free to throw them my way!

Thanks for reading,

The Vegan Kind Selection Box Review*

If you have a vegan in the family or if you have a plant based chum for that matter, I can imagine it might feel a little challenging at times when thinking of gift ideas. Look no further my friends because here I bring to you this year's Selection Box by The Vegan Kind. I'm a huge chocolate lover and this box, let me tell you, I wasn't sharing with anyone except the husband and even then I monitored his allowance.

the vegan kind, vegan selection box, vegan chocolate, vegan gift

I love honeycomb (it's that delicious substance found in the centre of Crunchie bars) and every time someone sees me eating it they screach 'HASN'T THAT GOT HONEY IN IT?!'. No no, it's totally vegan friendly and when it's got a coating of chocolate it's even more yummy. This box alone would make a perfect little stocking filler or a cheeky prezzie for any other time of year. I loved it and my only disappointment was I ran out of the stuff! But I ate it all so, what can I expect? Definitely my fave from the entire box!

Bean and Pod, the vegan kind, vegan honeycomb, vegan chocolate

This little demon was something that I was looking forward to from the moment I saw it as praline's were always my go to in big boxes of chocolates. James didn't seem too fussed, that is until he got his mouth around it. I cut it in half (he thinks it was half, I definitely had the bigger 'half') and his face completely lit up as prior to vegan life he was a huge fan of Ferrero Rocher and this is the ultimate dupe. The vegan gods have answered our prayers and landed this bar of complete and utter delight into our laps and it was one of the most incredible chocolates I've ever tasted, truly. I'll be getting more of these in for sure plus the brand have two other flavours to try! Rude not to.

vegan praline, the vegan kind, vegan chocolate, rhythm 108

Taking a guess, I think after the praline these were James' favourite treat from the selection box. They are pretty much vegan Smarties, except they seem to have a subtle minty flavour to them which depending on your tastes, you may love or hate. But we loved them and not only are they a perfect little bag for sharing in front of a film, they'd be brilliant for decorating cakes and ice creams, not forgetting those little buttons on gingerbread men!

vegan smarties, vegan chocolate, the vegan kind,

This is one hell of a chunk of rocky road, the portion is an incredible slab and I sure as hell couldn't manage it alone. I 'halved' it again and it was delish, the orange kick worked surprisingly well and yes it's complete with marshmallows! If I were to be picky, I'd say it wasn't the best rocky road I've ever tried as I prefer a little more of a biscuit within the cake whereas this felt like pure stodge. Maybe I'm more of a Tiffin kinda girl but it didn't spoil the cake bar at all, it was really tasty just a little sickly so if I had one again I'd definitely quarter it.

vegan rocky road, vegan cake, the vegan kind, mummy meagz

Another amazing little stocking filler and posh treat, these truffle bites are incredibly rich and full of flavour, so I found myself only needing one to feel like I'd had my chocolate fix. I'm not usually the biggest fan of peanut butter but these had just the right amount inside for them to be really enjoyable and I loved the saltiness, similar to that of salted caramel. Beautiful packaging too, amirite?

Montezuma's chocolate, vegan truffles, vegan chocolate, the vegan kind

These were cute, very different and tasty, but not my favourite. That didn't stop us from devouring a bag and they were still an incredible treat, it's just other bits from this box hit the spot more. I love Shreddies too or Malt Wheats if you're a buyer of the cheaper version of the famous cereals and these were exactly that, covered in a deliciously generous coating of salted caramel chocolate. Also the bag is beyond adorable.

vegan sweets, the vegan kind, peakz, vegan salted caramel

I believe I've had these little fudge cubes before so I saved these til last, but I enjoyed them so much and can't wait to get another bag in for Christmas time. They go great with a hot drink too and the fudge really does melt in the mouth and give a pleasant little salty kick.

Fabulous Free From Factory, free from fudge, vegan fudge, dairy free fudge, The Vegan Kind

I loved all of these sweet treats like crazy but the only thing I will say, is it works out slightly cheaper to buy all of the bits separately on The Vegan Kind website than all together in the box. Granted there's a Christmas gift box as part of this package, the products come wrapped in a sheet of tissue paper and a sticker too so depending on your preference there, will determine how you decide to purchase. This size selection box costs £17.99 plus delivery, where as the products all came to £16.90 and you'd have to still pay delivery on top of that if you bought it all on it's own. You do get  a little candy cane included but they are cheap as chips so I didn't include that in the total pricing, but I highly doubt one candy cane costs £1.09.

Overall though, it's a great gift idea for the crazy vegan in your life and due to how the boxes are presented, you could just give it as it is without any wrapping. That's always a bonus, especially if you're wanting to cut down on your Christmas waste and watch your carbon footprint!

Have you tried any of these gems before?

Thanks for reading,

Inktober 2018

This year I took on Inktober, an annual art challenge throughout the month of October (original concept by Jake Parker) where creatives from all over the world push themselves to create a new piece of art every single day. I tried this last year and failed miserably after day 2 (in my defence I was on holiday and despite taking drawing stuff with me, it just wasn't happening!) and I remember trying it the year before but not getting very far either. However, 2018 was the year that I totally smashed 31 days of drawing and I thought I'd share some of my favourite entries in a short blog post.

The main thing I discovered about myself during this challenge was that I've been 100% converted to digital art and feel so addicted to drawing animals now. I really miss not having something to focus on drawing each and every day however I have enjoyed the past couple of days not having that pressure to complete something which has been nice. I've been catching up on some other things but can't wait to sit down this evening to create another new Christmas design!

This handsome chap was my absolute favourite piece from the entire month and I've been a busy bee turning him into Christmas cards which has been really fun and I love that I'm able to use these designs in the shop and not just for Inktober. I did notice that some of the prompts that I was dreading were actually the ones I enjoyed the most and I've popped them below so you can see.
The prompt list I stuck to was by @adelaydeart over on Instagram but you can choose any of the thousands of prompt lists created by other artists or there's nothing stopping you from creating your own which is something I might do next year! I really enjoyed the challenge and feel so motivated to draw a hell of a lot more and experiment with even more animals!

Thanks for reading,

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