Hey everyone and Happy May! I hope you've all had an aMAYzing start to the month!
This week I wanted to share with you all one of the most amazing weekends and experiences i've had so far in 2018! But Meg, I thought you said in your last blog post that Walking With Alpacas was the best experience you've had this year so far?! Yes yes I did say that and don't you worry, walking with Alpacas is still very much up there in the ranks but this particular weekend was the best in many other ways.
To give you a little context (for those who may be new to the blog and don't know anything about me), my full time job is a Content Creator at a digital media agency where I run and manage a big travel page on Facebook called 'Love Travel'. Alongside me is my parter-in-crime and co-worker Matt who, as well as doing his main job (videography, photography, content creation and a whole bunch of incredible creative stuff for a food brand) he also runs the Love Travel Instagram page. Together Matt and I make up the 'Love Travel' team and a few weekends ago we were invited to represent #teamlovetravel (this isn't an actual hashtag and I totally made it up on the spot but it does sound legit right?) at a five day long event which was held across both Manchester and London.
So what was the whole event about I hear you ask?
In a nutshell, a selection of local and international travel and lifestyle influencers/bloggers were invited to an amazing weekend event which started in Manchester and finished in London. The event showcased what each of these amazing cities had to offer through a whole variety of incredible activities and experiences (which I will get into in a little bit) as well as the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other creatives and influencers all the while sharing those experiences on social media. Another key aspect of the event was to show people that London isn't the only place you can fly into if you're going to visit the UK (which I think some people don't realise). There are indeed many other cities in the UK, such as Manchester, that you can fly into and it might be worth exploring those other options if you are planning a trip here. As well as that, linking the two cities into this one event showed us that it's incredibly easy to get around the UK by train and we were able to get from Manchester (located in the Northwest of England) to London (located in the South of England) in just over two hours. Now a few days after starting this blog post I realised that sharing all my experiences, thoughts and feelings of the whole weekend is probably going to result in not a blog post, but a mini novel so i'm going to be splitting the blog post into five different days:
Day 1 - #workerbeeweekender | Manchester | Thursday
Day 2 - #workerbeeweekender | Manchester | Friday
Day 3 - #lovelondonweekend | London | Saturday
Day 4 - #lovelondonweekend | London | Sunday
Day 5 - #lovelondonweekend | London | Monday
So make yourself a nice hot drink (and prepare to make a few more), get yourself a big stash of all the delicious snacks and let's delve into the first part of this amazing weekend!
Day 1 - #workerbeeweekender | Manchester | thursday
Ok so we're going to dive straight in, head first into day one of the event (also known as the #workerbeeweekender) which began in Manchester and was organised and hosted by the incredible team @visitmanchester.
Thursday was the first official day of the #workerbeeweekender and it began with an Instawalk held by Tori who is an absolutely wonderful local blogger and Instagrammer (@unfoldtheday). We all met up at a cute little cafe called Proper Tea (@cafeatthecathedral) and after a much needed cuppa, Tori took us on a wander around the city, pointing out some great 'photo-op' spots as well as some of her favourite street art pieces. I got to see a few familiar faces of other local influencers I had met previously but this was also the first chance to meet and get to know a few of the international influencers which was really lovely.
Now for those who don't know (which I think most of you probably will) football is a
VERY. BIG. DEAL.
here in Manchester and the team you choose to support can, depending on the situation, make or break a friendship/relationship (it gets very real and very intense when footie is involved). As a complete football noob who (to be quite honest) isn't interested in the sport whatsoever, for the next activity in my itinerary I decided to go on a 'Manchester City Stadium Tour' as I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to not only go see the stadium (because I definitely wouldn't have otherwise) but I also wanted to try and immerse myself in the whole football culture and maybe just maybe, I might actually see what all the hype is about. Funny story though, and this shows my complete football noob-ness, I had initially signed up for the Manchester City stadium tour but accidentally went with the group who were going on the Manchester United stadium tour - whoops! Anyways, the tour was absolutely incredible and i'm so glad I went because not only were the stadium grounds truly magnificent but we got to learn a bit about the history of the team, how they came to be where they are now and also about the great Alex Ferguson and his huge role in the success of the team under his management. My memory is terrible but I think our guide was called Dave and he was so proud, passionate and enthusiastic about showing us around and was absolutely hilarious too which made the whole tour so enjoyable and I truly left feeling like one day, I could possibly become a football fan.
After the football stadium tour a few of us broke away from the group as our next activity in the itinerary was to visit the Pankhurst Centre & Elizabeth Gaskell's House. Unfortunately I didn't take too many photo's here but for those who may not know anything about the Pankhurst sisters or Elizabeth Gaskell (which I totally had no clue about before this) i'd like to offer my limited but hopefully insightful knowledge about them.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and leader of the suffragette movement who fought for women to get the right to vote in the late 19th and early 20th century. Her house was the birthplace of the suffragette movement but now is a museum as well as a women's community centre (@thepankhurst).
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Elizabeth Gaskell, more commonly referred to as Mrs Gaskell, was an English novelist in the 1800s. What was so fascinating to me about Mrs Gaskell (aside from the incredible life she led) was that she knew and hosted a lot of very notable figures in English history including Charlotte Bronte (she actually wrote Charlotte's biography 'The Life Of Charlotte Bronte') and Charles Dickens! To be very honest with you, I can't really remember all the details of her life but I do remember that whilst we were on the tour of her house and being told about Mrs Gaskell, I was fascinated and amazed! I would definitely recommend going to see the house if you can but also just doing a bit of research on her and reading up about her life (and maybe even reading her novels) would be great too. Also the ladies who volunteered at Elizabeth Gaskell's house were absolutely lovely! (@elizabeth_gaskells_house)
I know what you're thinking... Meg, what on earth is that video of the weird baby thing?! Well if you had some sort of shocked reaction i'm glad because that's exactly what we had when we finished our night off at the 'Robots' exhibition at the Museum Of Science And Industry (@msimanchester)! The night saw all the bloggers, instagrammers, influencers, organisers and everyone involved in the weekend event come together for a welcome evening. There were a few speeches, some delicious nibbles and of course, lots of robots! That baby above is a robot baby which, much to all of our shock and horror, can indeed move its limbs and even blink! The exhibition was part-fascinating and part-absolutely terrifying but overall I had a fantastic time and got to meet and chat with some more lovely influencers as well as some of the organisers.
Phew! Initially when writing this blog post I was going to break it down into two parts, the Manchester part and then the London part, but after all this writing I realised that even if I did that i'd basically be writing two mini-novels.
So everyone, this concludes Day One of the #workerbeeweekender in Manchester!
I hoped you've enjoyed reading this post and do be sure to come back and ready about the other days because we got up to some really cool and fun things and it may inspire you to want to try them out too if you're ever in Manchester or London :) For now I will say that Day Two will be up within a week so keep checking back here or on my social media's for update.
Have a fab Wednesday!
- Meg x
Hey everyone and welcome to a very exciting Monday blog post!
Today I wanted to share with you one of the most wonderful experiences i've had in
2018 so far which was...
walking with Alpacas in the Lake District!
Photo Credit: @mattglpitman
Ok so before we get into the main event of actually walking the Alpacas I feel like a little background and context is needed. For those who don't know, I work at a digital media agency/media house as a 'Content Creator' for a travel brand. Part of my role is about curating and sharing incredible travel content from all around the world. But as well as sharing existing content from other creators we are also delving into the world of creating and producing original content which is incredibly exciting. So one day I was scrolling through Facebook and stumbled upon a video that said you could 'hike with Alpacas' and as soon as I saw the word Alpaca I stopped everything I was doing and watched the video. It was absolutely incredible and showcased the stunning Lake District where, as the titled suggested, you could hike with Alpacas! Safe to say I had a huge smile on my face after watching the video and I just knew that I had to get in contact with the people who ran these Alpaca hikes to see if we could go
film the experience.
Now comes one of the best bits... are you ready? When I found out the name of the business I may have squealed with delight and laughed out loud because it's called
'Alpacaly Ever After'
I know right?!
After some email exchanges with Terry (the founder of 'Alpacaly Ever After') we arranged a day for us to go up and film that worked for everyone and were all set to go!
So a few Saturday's ago me, two of my coworkers and one of their friends set off on a mini road trip to the Lake District. To be honest I had some reservations about the whole day because the weather just wasn't on our side... it was grey, gloomy, pouring with rain and at one point I thought we wouldn't be able to go but we did anyways and boy am I glad we did! The drive there was wonderful as we left the city and drove into the countryside - there were even snow-capped mountains! It was pretty magical. It was about a two-hour drive from Manchester City Centre to Lingholm Estate where the Alpacas were and considering the weather conditions the drive was a pretty smooth one.
When we finally got to meet Terry (the founder) I very clearly remember he greeted us all with a fist bump and I just knew from that moment that this was going to be the best day ever. Introductions were made and we then proceeded on to meet, heard and choose an Alpaca to walk with and be our new BFF for the next hour. I decided to go with a brown Alpaca (pictured above) called 'Johnny One Ball', appropriately named because he only had one ball (go figure). Now the reason Johnny only had one ball was because apparently another male Alpaca bit onto and popped the other one to establish some dominance amongst the heard - poor Johnny! I was quite surprised at first at how small the Alpacas were because in my mind I had pictured that they would be similar in height and size to a Llama but nope! I'm about 5'9 (or 169cm) and i'd say that the tallest out of the three Alpacas was just a bit shorter than I was. Though it was raining and their coats were damp and a little matted, the Alpacas were surprisingly soft which I wasn't expecting at all. Whilst we were choosing and being handed our Alpacas, Terry went through exactly how to properly handle and walk with them. We then set off on our hour long walk around the Lingholm Estate with the Alpacas!
The house you see behind us in the picture above (Lingholm Estate) was actually Beatrix Potter's summer home and all around the estate there are spots which are either featured in her books or inspired them.
During the whole walk Terry was so enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of Alpacas and was so open and willing to answer any and all questions we had - and I had a ton! It was lovely to see someone so passionate about educating others on Alpacas but also about the caring and wellbeing of them too. As well as offering these walks to the public, 'Alpacaly Ever After' are also starting to work more with charities and the local council to help, for example, troubled teens or those with disabilities (and others too) by going on these Alpaca walks with them which I thought was absolutely amazing.
At the end of our walk with the Alpacas we also got to meet Terry's wonderful wife Emma who, as well as working on the 'Alpacaly Ever After' business, also writes and illustrates children's books! And as well as that Terry and Emma also sell Alpaca wool (sheared from their own Alpacas) which is some of the softest wool I have honestly ever felt before - it's gorgeous! After meeting Emma we then hopped in the car and drove to a different paddock where the female Alpacas were held and got to see some wee little baby Alpacas and take part in feeding time.
The whole day and the whole experience was just the absolute best and i'm so thankful to Terry, Emma and the Alpacas for letting us come and have this experience with them. If you're ever in the UK i'd highly, highly recommend that you book an Alpaca walk and have the experience because it's definitely one I will forever remember!
Check out their website and social links to find out more:
I really hope you've enjoyed reading this blog post and that it put a smile on your face! Hope you all have an amazing weekend and i'll catch you next week.
- Meg x
Hey everyone and happy Sunday!
Firstly I need to apologise for not putting up a blog post last week... I had so many things I wanted to write about but couldn't pick one and then time ticked on a BAM, suddenly here we are, a week later! Sometimes that's the way life goes and instead of fretting over it I just have to take a deep breath, tell myself i'll do better this week, make a nice cuppa coffee and move on.
Talking of coffee... (great segway eh?) I wanted this week to be all about the coffee I use for my coffee paintings! If you don't know or haven't been following a long with my creative adventures over the past few years, I paint with coffee! It's one of my favourite mediums to paint with and recently i've been really getting back into it and trying to push myself to paint new things, try different techniques and really work on my coffee paintings skills. Here are some of my most recent coffee painting portraits of animals which are also available to buy from Etsy shop if you fancy ^_^
Over the past few years i've dabbled with different types of coffee from instant to french press as well as different brands of coffee. The brand that I always come back to though and the one that i've been using exclusively these past few months is the one and only
Beanies Flavour Co.
Beanies Flavour Co offers an array of different choices of coffee depending on your preferences such as their Premium Roast Ground Coffee, Decaf range, or my personal favourite -
their Flavour Instant Coffee range!
I think we all need to take a moment to admire and take in all the glory that is this incredible selection of coffees above. In exchange for doing a little coffee painting video for the
Beanies Instagram Account I was very kindly sent this amazing 'My Beanies Stash' box of 9 different flavoured coffees and let me tell you, they taste incredible! As well as tasting incredible they smell heavenly and are fantastic to paint with! So far i've mainly been using the Caramel flavoured coffee to paint with which means my room constantly smells like a coffee shop and I am so not mad about that! If you fancy painting with coffee yourself of even want to try a new brand of coffee I honestly could not recommend Beanies Flavour Co more! Also to those out there who aren't fans of instant coffee, I guarantee you that this is one of the best instant coffee's out there and please don't discredit it before you try it because it's delicious!
And there it is everyone! My ultimate go-to coffee for all my coffee painting needs :) I hope you enjoyed reading and if you do end up trying some of the coffee from Beanies i'd be very interested to read your thoughts and feedback in the comment section below.
Hope you all have had a great weekend so far and here's to a brilliant week ahead of us!
- Meg x
P.S Also as a little added bonus, I made this animation video a few years back showing how I paint with coffee and it is still how I approach my painting today so have fun watching!
Hey everyone and happy Wednesday!
So I know my usual posting day used to be Sunday but to be honest over the past few weeks my blog has been a bit all over the place... I've had a load of ideas but I haven't been able to decide on any of them so thought I would hold off writing a blog post til I felt 100% into and passionate about the topic I was writing about and that brings us here!
Quite a while back (I think it was on a Wednesday as well) I got up, made my brekkie and as I was getting myself ready for the day I suddenly felt super inspired to share a food post on my Instagram. So I got my lunch for the day ready, made my smoothie, set up a little 'photoshoot', did a bit of editing and posted the photo below as my positive of the day. The whole process really inspired me to want to share more food-related things because I love cooking and am very passionate about overall health and wellbeing.
FUN FACT: My first ever dive into social media was a Facebook page I created years ago called 'Megs Food Creations' where I would share my meals, smoothies, baked goods and loads of recipes (i'm not active on it now it but it's still up there if you want to have a browse).
With all this in mind I thought it would be fun to share a handful of staple meals that I make on a regular basis which are delicious, super quick and easy to make as well as being pretty cheap.
meal 1: roasted veggies
This meal is pretty self-explanatory but what I usually do is chop up a whole bunch of my favourite veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, aubergine (eggplant), courgette (zucchini), mushrooms, broccoli, brussel sprouts, onion and garlic and put those onto a large baking tray. I drizzle some good quality olive oil over everything and then comes the exciting bit - spices! My go-to spice mix at the moment is ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, pepper and then if i'm feeling a bit spicy i'll add some chilli flakes. Toss all the veggies together so they are evenly coated in the oil and spices and then pop that in the oven at 180°C-200°C for between 20-40 minutes depending on how small you chopped your veggies and how cooked you like them. I then store these in some tupperware containers and either add them to a salad mix or have them as an addition to a meal.
Meal 2: Cabbage, CHICKPEAS + Rice Salad
I know I know, this one sounds weird but I threw this salad together last weekend when I was food-prepping and it turned out delicious! (this is the salad in the first picture) In a big bowl I added some thinly sliced purple cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, brown rice and chickpeas. I then made a dressing out of tahini, lemon juice, salt, pepper and ground cumin and added that to the bowl and mixed everything together. The flavours are simple it's really fresh and a great addition to any meal! I've been having this salad with roasted butternut squash and sweet potato for my lunch all this week and it's been fab.
Meal 3: LENTILS
This meal is great if you're new to cooking and are looking for something simple, warm and nutritious. The type of lentils I use differs depending on what I have at the time so it could be canned green lentils, dry red lentils, dry yellow lentils, it all depends on you, your preference or what you have at the time. To start I dice an onion and some garlic and let that saute in a pan with some olive oil for a few minutes. To that I then add some diced carrots and mix it all together for a minute or so before adding the lentils. Pour in your lentils and then add in some spices which for me is usually cumin, turmeric, salt and pepper. I mix that around a little, pour in some veggie stock and let it simmer til the lentils are cooked and you are left with a thicker consistently. This can be enjoyed alone or my preference is adding it to some rice or quinoa with a bit of broccoli on the side.
Meal 4: Black Bean Stew
Definitely one of my favourites when i'm feeling like something really warm, comforting and wholesome. Chop up some carrots, aubergine (eggplant), courgette (zucchini), onion and garlic and start by sautéing the garlic and onions for a few minutes. Then add in the veggies and again saute for a further couple of minute. If your black beans come in a can make sure to rinse and drain them and then add to the pot. Spice time! I like adding paprika, cayenne, chilli flakes, cumin, turmeric, dried basil, salt and pepper to my mix. Mix all that up and then add in some canned tomatoes as well as some veggie stock. Simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated, the veggies are cooked and your left with a ragout-type consistency. Again this can be enjoyed alone or with some type of carb like past, rice or quinoa.
One thing you may notice is that I haven't included any specific measurements in any of the recipes and that's simply because I don't use measurements when I cook. I tend to just eyeball things, chuck a bunch of stuff in the pot, taste as I go a long and hope for the best! I hope this somewhat inspires you to want to cook and make some wholesome, healthy and delicious plant-based meals for yourself and if you have any of your own recipes to share please feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post and if you've made it this far leave a comment below with the hashtag #foodpositivity. Have an amazing weekend ahead everyone!
- Meg x
Hey everyone and happy first Sunday of March!
I have to say that though February is the shortest month of the year, it actually went by pretty slowly for me - anyone else feel the same? Overall February was an ok month for me, had some ups and of course some downs but I think overall I would have liked to have achieved more of the goals I initially set myself for the month. But the great thing is that I know exactly why I didn't achieve those goals, what my distractions were and hopefully that knowledge will help me accomplish all that I set out to in March!
Anyways, today we're not talking about goals, achieving or anything of that sorts... we're doing a first impression! I've done quite a few first impressions on my Youtube Channel in the past but this is my first time doing one on a blog so it's a day full of firsts! If you've been reading my blogs for the past few weeks you may remember that I did a post on a package that I got sent by a lovely brand called Hahnemühle and in that package they had included a set of sketching pencils (which I totally was not expecting but was a wonderful surprise!).
The sketching pencil set is called: 6 Artist Sketching Pencils
The set comes in your usual hinged tin and contains 6 quality graphite pencils of different grades. You get a H, B, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B. I've done a little swatch below so you can see the different grades - H being the lightest and 8B being the darkest. Now, I haven't used graphite properly in years and I mean YEARS so I was incredibly rusty but decided to do a little sketch of a sphere to see how the pencils performed.
The sketch took about 20-30 minutes in total and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!
I used a blending tool to try and achieve a smoother gradient (which I kind of achieved but I know I could definitely work on that a bit more) and then also used an eraser for the highlights. The graphite blended out nicely and the pencils were true to their grade so overall it was a really enjoyable experience and it also inspired me to want to do more graphite drawings!
Hope you enjoyed this quick little first impression and let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations of arty mediums that you love and think I should try out as i'm always on the hunt to try new things.
Have an amazing weekend everyone and a fab week ahead!
- Meg x
Hey everyone and Happy Beautiful Sunny Sunday!
I'm currently sat in a coffee shop on one of the side benches, sipping a decaf coconut milk latte, staring out the window and admiring the crystal clear blue sky we have been blessed with today! For those of you who don't live in the UK, we are known to not have the best weather so i'm very adamant on getting outside and fully appreciating the sun whenever it does decide to grace us with its presence.
Today's blog post was inspired by a podcast I listened to yesterday called
'The Boom Boom Performance Podcast'(what a name eh?)
The podcast 'is a show created to help people fully understand what it takes to master the mind and the body.' In this particular episode, Cody (the host) and his guest Craig Ballantyne were discussing becoming more productive, efficient and successful. One of the main takeaways I got from this podcast was the fact that in order to achieve the goals we set ourselves, we have to plan well, be diligent and hold ourselves accountable. We have to take a look at what we are doing now, what we want to be doing and pick them apart, eliminating the things/habits which are distracting us or stopping us from achieving, and implementing things/habits which will help us get to where we want to be.
One exercise that they discussed was to write down your ideal daily routine if everything went exactly to plan and you achieved everything you set out to achieve. Then write down your current daily routine and compare the two. What's different? What's stopping you from reaching your fullest potential that you would be in your ideal daily routine? What areas are you finding difficult and the biggest thing for me personally is, what is distracting you?
With that in mind I thought that I would share what my ideal daily routine would look like and then after highlight some key areas where I personally feel I can improve as well as distractions I can try and eliminate to help me achieve and perform to the best of my ability.
5:30am - 5:45am: Wake up + drink water + make bed + get ready for the gym
5:45am - 6:00am: Walk to the gym
6:00am - 7:00am: Training
7:00am - 7:15am: Walk home from the gym
7:15am - 8:00am: Shower and get ready for the day
8:00am - 8:30am: Breakfast
8:30am - 9:00am: Check emails + check social media
9:00am - 10:30am: Work
10:30am - 10:45am: Stretch + walk around
10:45am - 12:00pm: Work
12:00pm - 1:00pm: Lunch + take a walk
1:00pm - 3:30pm: Work
3:30pm - 4:00pm: Snack + stretch + walk around
4:00pm - 5:30pm: Work
5:30pm - 6:00pm: Check emails + check social media
6:00pm - 7:00pm: Dinner + take a walk
7:00pm - 8:30pm: Leisure + entertainment
8:30pm - 9:00pm: Journalling + planning next day
9:00pm - 10:00pm: Read
It's interesting because I hadn't pre-planned what I was going to write for the routine and looking at it now this would totally be my ideal day! I haven't specified the type of work as I think it would change depending on the day and also keep in mind that this routine would be if I were a self-employed artist/creator (which is my absolute ideal dream/goal). Having said that though I could totally apply this to my current routine because the timings pretty much all work out the same but instead of having the leisure time in the evening, i'd swap that with more focus on my artwork and creative endeavours.
Now that i've got that written down, it's time to pick apart and think about what i'm currently doing which is stopping me from getting to that ideal daily routine. And to be honest I know exactly what's stopping me - distractions! Two of the main distractions I have is watching YouTube videos and checking my social media. You may be thinking that watching YouTube videos is a strange one but when i'm doing things (such as painting, drawing and creating) I like having something to watch or having something on in the background and usually these are YouTube videos. It may not sound like a big distraction but I think I end up watching more of the video than actually doing my work and as well as that, I find myself spending too much time trying to find other videos to watch and that time could be spent actually working.
Checking my social media is another bad habit I have and though a minute or two here and there may not seem so bad, over the course of the day it can add up and be quite significant! My main social media platform of choice at the moment is Instagram and I do spend a lot of time flicking through the feed as well as peoples stories and again, it may not seem like a lot of time but if you think about it, it actually is!
So those are my main two distractions that I know I need to work on and so my goal for this upcoming week is to find an alternative to watching YouTube videos whilst I work and then scheduling specific times for me to check my social media. Another thing I know I need to work on is holding myself accountable and actually sticking to my goals. I tend to get really side-tracked and start new projects without completing ones I have already started and at the end of the week feel like I haven't achieved anything because I have a bunch of half-finished projects but none of which are complete. I know I need to get better at that too so that will be a focus of this next week as well.
I absolutely love reading and hearing about what other peoples routines are, how they plan their days and what they do so if you fancy leaving your current routine down below that would be wonderful! It can either be your current routine or your ideal daily routine - or both!
Here's to a week ahead with less distractions and more productivity!
Have an amazing day and week everyone :)
- Meg x
Hey guys and hope you are all having an amazing Sunday!
Today's blog post is extra exciting because I was actually planning on writing about something completely different but the wonderful mailman presented a beautiful box to me this morning and I just had to share what was inside with you!
Recently I got contacted by an amazing brand called Hahnemühle who are a paper manufacturing company in Germany. They create a whole range of incredible papers to suit any and all types of art from watercolour to sketching, journalling, brush lettering and so much more. I was first introduced to the brand last year in New Zealand when I was in an art shop on the hunt for a new sketchbook. Whilst browsing I found their 'Sketch & Note' range which I was totally drawn to because of their beautiful bright colours. I bought them, tried them and instantly fell in love, so much so that I completed both sketchbooks in about a month and proceeded to buy about 6 more...
Yep, i'm totally obsessed!
As I mentioned, I got contacted by Hahnemühle who asked if I wanted to be a part of their 'Bloggers Lounge' where UK Bloggers sign up and get to try out some goodies from Hahnemühle a few times a year. Of course I jumped at the chance, picked out some products I wanted to try and this is the goodie bag that they sent over!
First of all I feel like we need a few moments to just appreciate the packaging...
When I opened up the box I may have squealed with excitement at how beautifully the package was put together. You've got the vibrant red bag filled with the products inside which are immaculately wrapped in red paper and sealed with a branded sticker. As well as that, they included a sticker, a surprise pack of graphite pencils, some sample papers wrapped in twine (everything is better when wrapped in twine) and to finish it all off, a hand written card!
Safe to say I had a huge smile on my face even before seeing the products.
So what did I get? Let's have a look!
To start off we have the 3 main products that I chose. I decided I wanted to try some journals and books because I haven't really been using any recently and thought this could be a great incentive for me to start doodling more and experimenting with different ideas and mediums.
Now I was totally not expecting anything more but got sent a few extra goodies including this set of 6 Artist Sketching Pencils which I am really keen to try as I haven't drawn with graphite in absolutely ages!
Remember the twine I was talking about? This is the beautifully wrapped-in-twine bundle of sample papers which includes a 'Bristol Introductory Kit' and a 'Hand Lettering Introductory Kit'.
Safe to say I am extremely excited to try out all of these products and will of course report back to you all with how I got on and even some example artwork and sketches - yep that sounds like a plan!
Hope you all enjoyed seeing some of the goodies that Hahnemühle sent over and a big thank you to Meg from Hahnemühle for making this happen :)
Have an amazing rest of your weekend and week ahead!
- Meg x
Hey everyone! Happy Sunday and welcome to another blog post!
For today I wanted to do a bit of an open reflection of the week that's just gone by and share some of my thoughts and feelings of how it went, my goals for the week, what I achieved, what I could have done better etc. - a journal entry I guess you could say?
So the week started off a little unsteady as I had a doctors appointment first thing on Monday (don't worry, everything is absolutely fine) and had a test done which was very uncomfortable and surprisingly painful. Though it was over very quickly and the nurse was lovely, I left feeling quite drained and tired and it didn't set me up well for the day.
Note-to-future-self: Make doctors appointments in the afternoon/evening.
By Tuesday I was feeling much better and even woke up early to get to the gym by 6:30am and smashed out a HIIT workout before I got ready to go to work. Though I don't always get to the gym in the mornings I do have to say that working out 'before your day starts' feels incredible because not only do you get your body moving but you also feel a sense of achievement which then sets you up amazingly for the rest of the day. I definitely want to try and make more of an effort to go to the gym before work and make it become a regular habit.
My main goals this past week (not work-related) were to:
- focus on sticking to my workout schedule
- complete 2 coffee paintings
- complete one mandala design
- complete one blog post
- complete some illustrations for Local Wolves
- create and upload a Youtube video
As of now (Saturday) I have managed to tick off three out of five of those tasks with just the Local Wolves illustrations and Youtube video left to complete - a solid effort i'd say! I've definitely learned to be more realistic when setting myself goals for the week as I talked about in my 'Getting Things Done + Achieving Small Goals' blog post. This week I definitely practiced that and even achieved more than what I initially set out to do.
By mid-week I things were going really good both work-wise and personally BUT I do have to say that one big change I want to make for this week is to reduce the amount of takeaway coffee's I buy. I've been really aware of how expensive it can get and for the past few weeks I have limited it to one maybe two a week but this week I think I had a total of 4 which doesn't sound like a lot but it really does add up! That's going to be a focus that I want to carry over to next week - no more takeaway coffees! Now don't get me wrong, I LOVE coffee, not for it's caffeine but I genuinely enjoy the taste and the whole feeling of enjoying a hot capuccinno with a sprinkle of cinnamon and chocolate on top - YUM! But recently i've realised that my body doesn't really respond well to it and so over the past few weeks i've been seeing how my body responds with coffee and without and I definitely feel much better when I don't have it as often. Sad times I know but i'm not going to eliminate it all round. I'm thinking it could become a weekly indulgence of sorts and that way i'll really savour it instead of chugging it down. Long gone are the days when i'd have 2-3 cups a day! But hey, if it's better for my health then that's what needs to be done! Also by this time in the week I felt like I was on track with my goals and that was really motivating me to keep up and get them all done.
Friday came round and it was such a wonderful day for so many reasons. Firstly, I got 2 shoutouts at work for reaching a huge milestone and also for being active on one of our work groups which felt really good and I felt really proud. After work I had convinced myself not to go to the gym but at the last moment I changed my mind and told myself at least to go for a short 3km jog/run. Well. that 3km turned into a full on 5km in about 26 minutes which is my fastest time! I was listening to this awesome album called 'Pop Goes Punk' and was totally in the zone, running at around 10-10.4 km/h which I had never done before! It's crazy what you can achieve when you change your mindset and get 'in the zone'. This just goes to show that sometimes, pushing yourself to do the things you don't want to do can actually end up in you achieving more than you thought you ever could :)
Overall i've had a fantastic week full of lots of accomplishments both personally and professionally and goals achieved. Yes there were some down moments/days but you know what? That's part of life and I feel like without those down days we wouldn't fully appreciate the good times in our life. I feel like this has been a bit of a scatty blog post but i'm going to post it anyways because the more you do something, the better you will get at it and so this is just a stepping stone on the path of my blogging journey.
Hope you have all had a fantastic weekend and here's to a fantastic week ahead!
- Meg x
Hey everyone I hope you are having a wonderful Wednesday!
I'm veering slightly off of my usual Sunday blog post schedule because i've decided i'm going to go with the flow for a little bit. As i've only recently picked up blogging again i'm going to test the waters which means trying out posts on different days and different times, changing up the number of blog posts I put up a week and seeing what works best for both me and you. I've also decided that as well as documenting my life and experiences through these blog posts, I want to be able to provide you with some (hopefully) valuable information that you can take with you on your own journey whatever that may be.
With that said, today I will be sharing my Top 3 Favourite Fineliners For 2018 (so far) that are tried and tested and I absolutely love. Before diving into what the fineliners are and why I love them so much I do want to point out that I have tried A LOT of fineliners over the years.
Fun Fact: Fineliners were one of the first main mediums that I used about 6 years ago when art was starting to become a real passion of mine.
Here are some of my early sketchbook drawings using my first pack of fineliners
(also, apologies for the very poor photo quality, this was back when I only had the camera from my Blackberry)
Faber Castell Pitt Artist Pens 2013 - 2014
As you can see from my early work above I didn't do very much detailed work and it was mostly monochromatic portraits working with harsh shadows and highlights. As the years have gone on I have definitely experimented a lot with different styles, techniques and things to draw. In the past year or so I have been getting more into drawing mandalas, geometric shapes, tattoo-styled designs, patterns and really exploring the world of ink and fineliners. Here are a few of my most recent pieces using a range of different fineliners:
When it comes to fineliners, there are a few key features I look for:
- How pigmented the ink is
- Is it water-resistant?
- Variety in thickness of the tip
- Smoothness of drawing
The three favourite fineliners i'm about to talk about have all been tried and tested and I have used them for at least a couple of months (2 of them i've been using for over a year and a half now!) so I feel like I have a really good understanding of how they perform and therefore feel confident in recommending them to you.
1. SAKURA PIGMA MICRON PEN
There's a reason you see these pens featured everywhere because they truly are absolutely fantastic! Having seen all my favourite artists on Instagram use them and also after reading the rave reviews I bought my first pack over a year ago and still use quite a few of the pens today - talk about long lasting! As well as these pens being amazing to use they are also incredibly affordable ranging in price from about £8.50 - £15 for a pack of 6 (depending where you buy them from). These pens truly transformed my ink drawings and I feel that once I started using them I created some of my best work such as these designs below:
2. STAedtler pigment liner
A few months after I bought the Sakura Pigma Micron pens and when I felt like I was really in the groove with my ink drawings I decided I wanted to try out some new pens so I bought a pack of the Staedtler Pigment Liners. Now keep in mind that I had been absolutely spoilt with the Sakura Pigma Microns and they provided some tough competition but the Staedtler Pigment Liners did not disappoint! I would say the only main difference between the two is that the Staedtler Pigment Liners are a little bit more rough to draw with but really the difference is very minimal. The Staedtler Pigment liners retail for around £15 just like the Sakura ones and again, i'm still using some of them today so they last a very long time! Here are some example drawings using the Staedtler Pigment Liners:
3. Derwent Graphik Line Maker Set
So the Derwent Graphic Line Maker Set is my most recent find and i've only been using this set for the past month and a half but so far I am thoroughly enjoying them. I find that the pigmentation is excellent and actually drawing with the pens is a very enjoyable experience overall. The only gripe I have with these pens is that they aren't water-resistant which I found out the hard way where I tried to add a wash of watercolour over my line art and the black ink started to bleed everywhere! That was my mistake though as I didn't think to test it out beforehand. These pens retail for around £15 for a pack of 6 so pretty much the same as the previous two. Here are some recent drawings I did using the Derwent Graphic Line Maker Set:
And there you have it!
My 'Top 3 Favourite Fineliners For 2018' (so far).
I hope that you have found this post informative and that it may help you if you're on the hunt for a good pack of fineliners whether you've tried them before or maybe you're just starting out. I'm always on the lookout for new fineliners and ink pens (and pretty much any kind of art/stationary supply) so if you have any favourites or suggestions please feel free to share them with me everyone reading in the comment section below! Have a fantastic week ahead and i'll see you in my next blog post :)
- Meg x
Hello everyone and happy Sunday!
For this post I wanted to reflect on this past week as I feel like I have learned so much in terms of focus, setting realistic goals, achieving those realistic goals and holding myself accountable to the the goals I set myself.
For the past few weeks I have actually been actively using my beautiful 2018 planner that I got for my birthday and have been consistently making notes, check lists, to-do lists - the lot! I feel like planners are those things that we get really excited about, start up with the intention to use them throughout the year but then a few weeks or months down the line you use them less and less til eventually they are no longer part of your daily routine. Well, I am trying to make a conscious effort not to let that happen because I find that using a planner keeps me accountable for making sure that I have my life somewhat together. In the past I have used various different methods of planning, some of which have been incredibly elaborate and beautiful to look at but time-consuming and unsustainable. Over trial and error I have found that simplicity and minimalism is what works best for me and is the most sustainable and that is what my current planner offers me. Knowing what does and doesn't work for you can majorly affect the outcome of the goals that you plan for and set out to achieve.
So what do I do in my planner that helps me achieve my goals for the week?
Sundays are the days when I like to plan my week ahead so I get my planner out, put on a chilled playlist, get my pen and start planning! The first thing I write down is my workout schedule, what days I train and what days I rest, and what types of workouts I want to do on the days I train. Once those are established I then write out any important appointments or events that are happening that week. I then move over to my list of goals for the week. I've come to the point now where I realise that I always try and set myself way too many goals and never get round to achieving them by the end of the week and then feel like a bit of a failure. Learning from those experiences I now condense my list into only a handful of the top things I want to complete and achieve for that week. This gives me the opportunity to actually complete all of those things therefore at the end of the week I feel inspired and motivated to set and achieve more goals for the week ahead.
As well as writing out my goals, I also write out a list of things I want to improve/work on for that week. For example last week one of my major focuses was to reduce the amount of time spent mindlessly scrolling through social media and instead use that time to work on my goals. And you know what? I got so much more done than I thought I would because though it may only seem like a few minutes of scrolling here and there, over the course of the day that builds up and you probably end up spending the most part of an hour (or more) on social media. But being conscious of your time and making that small change could in turn give you an extra hour a day to work on your goals! Sounds great doesn't it? Well it is!
I am a big multi-tasker and seem to always have several projects on the go all at once but noticed that I was never really finishing any of them. I would put in an hour on one project and then move on to the next, put another hour there and move onto the next but nothing was getting done. I thought I was great at multi-tasking when in actual fact it was hindering my progress and I was actually being counterproductive. With that very sad realisation I decided this week to try out sticking to one project at a time and only moving on to the next project when I had completed the first one. And guess what? I have actually completed all the projects I had set myself for the week! Woo hoo!
All in all it has been a great week for achieving goals and through trial and error I have found a system that works for me at the moment which is fantastic. Find what works best for you by trying lots and lots of different methods and constantly reflect on how you can change and tweak certain things to help you actually stick to and achieve the goals you set yourself.
What are some tips, tricks and/or methods that you use to help achieve your goals? Share them in the comments as i'd love to know!
Have a lovely rest of your weekend and amazing week ahead everyone!
- Meg x