Wandering around the Welsh countryside (We’ve moved house!)

Hello!

Apologies for not posting for over a week, Max and I finally moved house on Monday! We’ve been so busy unpacking boxes and spending too much money in Ikea for the last six days, but everything is coming together so nicely now. (I hope to do a “house tour” blog post soon, so keep eyes peeled for that!)

This morning we went out for a walk near our new house, exploring the landscape, saying hello to the sheep, etc. I thought I’d take some photos and bring you guys along!

IMG_5357

Map and tea in hand, we wandered around, scampered up hills and got barked and ran at by the cutest spaniels ever.

IMG_5366IMG_5370IMG_5373

The views looking back were pretty incredible! (Yes, that’s a castle.)

IMG_5369IMG_5379

There were loads of interesting looking plants and flowers, definitely want to paint them!

IMG_5358IMG_5372IMG_5371

And I braved a walk through two sheep fields (turns out they tend to walk away from you).

IMG_5384IMG_5387

Then we reached a cow field and they’re a bit bigger and scarier, plus Max pointed out it was lunchtime (he’s on the ball, that one) so we headed back.

IMG_5395

And then we came home and had some lunch! I forgot to take pictures of that (-10 blogger points) but we had fried avocado, pepper vegan cheese and pesto wraps – do they have a name?

Hope you enjoyed having a look at those photos, like I said I promise lots more house-related posts really soon because we’re pretty much settled in now and it’s GREAT. Let me know if there’s anything specific you want me to talk about.

Laterz,

Amy x

Punky Pins had a seconds sale and I couldn’t resist.

So yeah, I was recently browsing Punky Pins’ website and they had a huuuuuuuuge seconds sale on so who am I to deny myself some beautiful additions to my collection? (Also – supporting independent businesses is a good thing to do, yo).

Firstly, I’ll explain what a seconds sale is – it’s when a seller has surplus slightly flawed products, in this case pins and patches. So, for example the colours might be slightly off, the enamel might be slightly scratched or it might just be slightly flawed in some other way. I will be honest, whenever I’ve bought seconds pins I have almost never noticed they’re flawed. It’s up to the seller to decide what qualifies as a “seconds” pin and usually I think they’re pretty generous.

The first thing to fall into my basket was this banana patch which I thought was very apt since I legit ate 2.5 bananas yesterday morning without even meaning to.

FullSizeRender 13

Then these sewing machine and rad pins jumped into my basket and I will be honest, it was very difficult choosing between the purple rad pin and the one I got. But I’m so happy with them!

I did notice with the sewing machine pin that the purple looked slightly off compared to the pink and I think that’s probably why it was seconds, but honestly I love it so much.

FullSizeRender 14

Then I got this gold anchor pin (was also available in silver) and it looks so detailed and delicate (in design, not construction) that I might put it on something else where it’ll hold its own a bit more.

IMG_5187

I also got my first enamel necklace! I’ve seen these floating about, along with keyrings, but this is the first I’ve owned one, and it’s so cool!

 

IMG_5201 copy.jpg

So that was my haul, hope you enjoyed it! Last time I checked, the seconds sale was still on over at Punky Pins and what I got is only a fraction of the amazing things on there so do go and check them out!

Amy x

Visiting the Art Chapel, Abergavenny

The other day I visited the Art Chapel in Abergavenny for the first time, after hearing so many good things. I’ve been to the associated Art Shop in the town many, many times but the owners recently opened up the Art Chapel as more of an events space with a cafe, keen on showcasing local, fresh  food produce as well as local artists and makers. (It also has the most beautiful stream running in front of it!)

We stopped for a bite to eat and I had the tastiest lentil and chard soup with sourdough (and apple juice – my favourite drink to have out). We sat in the garden area and it was so nice being surrounded by ALL the greenery.

They also had some plants for sale, I think Max and I will be returning once we’ve moved because, don’t know if I’ve told you yet, we’ll have a garden! 😉

IMG_5096

Inside, there were lots of books and art supplies for sale, as well as handmade ceramics, jewellery and artwork.

IMG_5094IMG_5093IMG_5092

I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area! And then go and visit the Art Shop on Cross St, it’s so old and narrow, with really wonky stairs going up to the gallery space – just such a lovely building!

As always, thanks for reading and let me know of any inspiring places you’ve been to recently!

Amy x

August Favourites

I have compiled a list of my favourite things this month, consisting of everything from bowls to paint – hope you enjoy!

In no particular order, I’m going to start off with this bowl from TKMaxx, which I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog post because I eat my breakfast out of it every single day and it just makes me enjoy my mornings a little bit more.

IMG_5055 copy

Next up is this band tee from Oro Swimming Hour and Art is Hard Records, designed by Nicholas Stevenson. I actually picked this up from a recent gig they had in Bristol, not sure if they are available to buy anywhere else but I got a large and it is the comfiest and coolest top ever.

IMG_5071 copy

I also got this zine in the post recently, which was a lovely surprise because I preordered it back in May – glad it arrived before we moved! It’s full of beautifully illustrated articles on mental wellbeing and profits are going to charities and non-profit organisations like Mind, Beat and Sisters Uncut. It really is worth a read – you can purchase a copy here.

IMG_5057 copy

This month has been particularly significant because I’ve gone from brunette to pink! (There is a blog post about that coming!) so I wanted to include the Bleach London Total Bleach kits and Directions White Toner and Carnation Pink dyes in my favourites as they are all amazing products. The reincarnation mask that comes with the Bleach London kits makes my hair feel so soft and healthy even though I’ve bleached it three times over the space of about a month. Would recommend – you can also buy it separately if you don’t need the bleach, which is good!

Deodorant next – I used to use the lavender and vanilla version of Salt of the Earth’s spray deodorant but recently went unscented (in all honesty, it was slightly cheaper) and I love it just as much. It’s so nice having a natural deodorant in a spray form that doesn’t contain any aluminium or other nasty things that are in standard deodorants. It’s easy to use, I find two sprays under each armpit is plenty to get me through the day and a bottle probably lasts a good 8 months.

 

I’ve also been loving Rose Jam body spray from Lush, which I managed to pick up from the new Cardiff Spa store when it opened, but I recently saw them in my local Lush (#TeamWorcester) so I think they’ve probably been rolled out to most stores, in the UK at least. Now, if you’ve read my recent blog post about my everyday Lush faves you’ll know that (Spoiler Alert) Princess Cottongrass is my super duper all-time favourite perfume from Lush. However, I think it’s important to change it up from time to time so you don’t get fed up, and August has just been particularly Rose Jammy for me.

I also treated myself to some new art materials lately. I picked up this Clairefontaine Naturel pad from my local indie art shop and it’s so nice to work on natural colour paper – sometimes white is a bit too bright and intimidating. I find I can use pretty thick layers of gouache on it too without it buckling, which is really nice.

If you follow me on my “work” Instagram you will also know I’ve been loving Winsor and Newton’s gold gouache. It’s amazing. It’s like foiling in liquid form. I got mine from Cass Art and I must admit I’m now a bit tempted by the silver…

Hope that compilation was interesting! As always, you can check out my illustration work via my website, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Thanks for reading!

Amy

Brunette to Pastel Pink

About 4 months ago, I decided I wanted to dye my hair a lovely pastel pink, but sensible me wanted to wait until after I graduated so that I knew my hair would look alright in the awful photos of me that would be on relative’s mantelpieces for years and years.

IMG_4303

Two days later, I was blonde. Just in time for being Swedish for two weeks.

IMG_4705

I (with the help of a friend) used two boxes of Bleach London’s Total Bleach on virgin hair and I was really happy with the results. It did, however, take over two hours to apply!

About three weeks after the first bleaching we bleached it again, avoiding roots this time (figured I might as well do those when they’re about 2-3 months grown out). It took so much less time when avoiding the roots! This took another one and a half boxes of bleach.

IMG_4932

(apologies for the awful bathroom lighting!)

I then toned it with LaRiche Directions’ White Toner…

Just under a week later I tackled the bits that still weren’t quite light enough with the leftover half a box of bleach. (side note – I now have a teeny patch underneath that looks greenish, and I think this may be because I used an opened bottle of developer, so if you can afford to use whole boxes at a time, I would defo recommend it!)

After washing the bleach out with Daddy-O shampoo from Lush (which I would recommend!)  I mixed a tiny blob of Direction’s Carnation Pink with three good squirts of conditioner and thoroughly ran it through my hair and left it on for about 5 minutes.

The result:

Almost a week later I dyed it pink properly, mixing Carnation Pink with conditioner to dilute it…

 

I absolutely love it! It’s just got a hint of pink in it and it’s exactly what I wanted! Also the pot of pink dye I got will last ages because I only used a tiny bit. I ended up mixing a butterbean-sized blob of dye with two good squirts of conditioner three times – so about a third of a bottle of Superdrug’s Raspberry and Macadamia conditioner (which is vegan and cruelty free and I got mine on offer for 95p! I think they retail for £1.99 but often have offers on). I would recommend using a white conditioner if you’re going to dilute dye just so you can see what colour it’s going to be a bit better, but I just had that raspberry one and I wasn’t too precious about the colour being too intense because I knew it’d wash out – and dyeing your hair crazy colours is all about experimentation, right?

Hope you find this post interesting/useful – let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading

Amy x

Ps. as always, you can find more of my illustration work (like the cover illustration one this post) on my website, Instagram and Twitter!

My Everyday Lush Products

I used to work for Lush, and therefore have owned/tried a LOT of their products. I thought I’d share with you the ones I still use on a super regular basis.

IMG_5012

First up, hair care:

IMG_5018

Since going blonde, I’ve been using Daddy-O and it is the most beautiful smelling shampoo that always gets my hair feeling clean afterwards. I used to use the Sugar Daddy-O solid conditioner before I went blonde and I do think the range works well on any hair colour. Now I’m using Jungle solid conditioner because it just gives my hair a bit more moisture and still smells amazing. And another firm favourite that I’ve been using for years and years is No Drought dry shampoo, it lasts so long and does a good job. If they bring back Mr Sandman dusting powder at Christmas though, I’d recommend trying that as a dry shampoo because who doesn’t want twilight-scented hair with a bit of sparkle in it?

IMG_5019

For showering, I always switch between my many tiny bottles of shower gel, currently reaching for Prince Charming, Plum Rain and, always a fave, Rose Jam. This one is only available at Christmas time or in the Rosie gift. It smells like a gorgeous sweet rose scent with a bit of lemon in there too. It shares its scent with Rose Jam bubbleroon, Rose Bombshell bath bomb, Pearl massage bar, Jason and the Argan Oil shampoo bar, Ro’s Argan body conditioner and Ro’s Argan gourmet soap.

For shaving, I use Twilight shower gel, because it’s got a really thin consistency but feels SO moisturising, I don’t know how they do it. Again, it’s only available at Christmas time (or at least, it was last year) and in the Relax gift. It shares its scent with Twilight bath bomb, Twilight perfume/body spray, Mr Sandman dusting powder and Sleepy body lotion.

IMG_5021

All time favourite perfume is such a toughie. It used to be Kerbside Violet, but is definitely now Princess Cottongrass, I just love it so much. It’s the perfect introvert scent IMO, smells like a wintery forest, it’s the BEST. It shares its scent with the Oxford Street exclusive bath bomb, Guardians of the Forest, and Princess dusting powder which occasionally shows up on the Lush Kitchen.

img_5023.jpg

Toothpaste is always Miles of Smiles. Toothy tabs are just an amazing invention and you should all go and try them right now. I like this flavour because it’s super minty and doesn’t make your sink go grey (we’re looking at you, Boom!).

And whenever I wear eyeliner, I always go for Independent, it’s a really nice formula and colour. Sometimes if I’m not feeling so brave, I’ll go for Quietly Motivated, which is a gorgeous brown shade.

IMG_5025.JPG

 

For hand cream, I love Love and Light. It smells AMAZING. It’s full of neroli, so makes you feel instantly happy, and the formula is really nice and moisturising without feeling greasy.

Hope that was interesting! Let me know your everyday Lush products (or other vegan and cruelty-free favourites).

Amy

 

Our moving story…

We’re about to move into our first house!

First, a little bit of backstory. Max (my boyfriend) got himself a flat around the same time we got together, in December 2014. We met at art school, and at the time I was commuting two hours a day from my parents’ house and back, so I started staying with him until June 2015 when I was officially added to the tenancy and had officially moved away from home, from Wales to England.

So, come May 2017, we were both about to hand in work for our final deadlines, and wanted to start looking to live somewhere new. We were set on Bristol, because the illustration scene there is amazing, without it being London. Because neither of us are quite ready for London.

We started looking into different areas of Bristol and decided we wanted to and could probably afford to live in Clifton/Redland area. We kept looking, with the intentions of moving in August, as we had our degree show in June, New Designers at the beginning of July, Graduation and then a two-week trip to Sweden at the end of July, into August.

The more we looked, the more we realised that we wouldn’t be able to get much for our money in Bristol itself, compared to towns just outside. We started to fall in love with Clevedon – on the Severn estuary, with sea views and only 20 minute drive into Bristol. And so much cheaper.

The time came, between New Designers and Sweden, that we could start viewing places. We found what looked like our dream flat, arranged a viewing for it for a couple of days time, and chose a couple of alright-looking places to go and see as well since we were driving an hour and a half each way anyway.

The three alright-looking places were first up, and all seemed very bleh in real life too, we were a bit disappointed but got to spend the day in Clevedon because our other viewing wasn’t until late afternoon. It is a beautiful town, would definitely recommend a visit if you can.

We had a look at our dream flat, and it was beautiful. Beautiful views, beautiful floors, beautiful everything. We loved it. The estate agent who showed us around said he had another viewing booked after us and if we wanted it we needed to go to their office in Portishead (15 min drive) ASAP and put our names down. So we did. But we didn’t think to bring passports and bank statements with us so we were told to bring them the next day. So we did. 3 hour round trip so they could photocopy our passports and bank statements. And, as soon as we got home – we got a phone call saying the other people who viewed it also showed an interest and the landlord picked them over us. Three. Hour. Drive.

So then we sulked for a bit and went off to Sweden, during which Max convinced me that moving to Wales might be a good move for us. I was previously adamant that I didn’t want to live where I grew up or anywhere to close to it. I wanted to live somewhere new and exciting. But we looked at some properties and there was such a massive difference in price, for example the two-bed top floor flat we looked at in Clevedon was £750/month. In Monmouthshire, there were quite a few houses in the £550-£650/month range that came with gardens and driveways and all sorts of good things.

And, wise as he is, he said that he’d rather live in a nice house somewhere not so cool than an alright flat somewhere cool. And I agree.

I mean, there’s still beautiful scenery in Wales.

We started arranging viewings while we were in Sweden and the first one (well, two) to come around were these semi-detached cottages that were stuck together and both happened to be up for rent at the same time. They were properly in the middle of nowhere, in a hamlet three miles from the nearest town. But they were so nice, it was hard to choose which one we like more but we chose one and applied for it. We were supposed to hear back the next day.

We didn’t.

In the meantime, another viewing came up for another cottage and we weren’t sure whether to go or not since we’d applied for somewhere else, and we started panicking about being offered the other house before we’d seen this one because this one might be nicer, and we’d already applied for the other one but what if this one was nicer, but also the other one was in the middle of nowhere, and was that going to work for us etc. But we did go and look at it and I’m glad we did because it wasn’t for us and it confirmed to me that I would definitely be happy if we got the other one.

So four days after we viewed the first cottages, we got an email from the estate agents saying the landlady had some questions regarding us being self-employed. (Oh yeah, another thing I should point out is that being a self-employed recent graduate is a nightmare for convincing people you can pay rent. Get a real job, don’t be an illustrator. … I’m kidding. Maybe?)

We answered the questions, and heard back the next day – she was willing to offer us a six-month initial tenancy if we paid that six-months rent up front. Woohoo!

It is now almost two weeks since we first viewed the house and we have completed referencing forms and handed in our months notice at the flat we’re currently in. We’ve packed around half our stuff and are very excited about having a house together (with a garden!) Hopefully referencing goes ok, and Max isn’t some kind of bankrupt ex-pirate with a criminal record and he just hasn’t told me.

I’ll just finish this post off with a list of things I’m excited about now:

  • Seeing the house again now that we know we’re going to be living in it.
  • Needing a laundry basket because we have a garden to dry clothes outside.
  • Having more space for house plants.
  • Having a separate studio room to make sure our work/life balance is good.
  • Getting a fridge freezer where the freezer section can hold more than three peas and a chip.
  • Having cupboards! Cupboards for clean bedsheets and towels! Oh, the joy.
  • Being able to eat at a table.
  • Having more space for nice rugs.
  • CHRISTMAS IN OUR NEW HOUSE.

 

And if you are in a similar situation, or just want to take something from this blog post so you know you haven’t just wasted ten minutes of your life, I think it’s to remember that, cue cliche, everything does happen for a reason. It really does.

Thanks for reading, will update you on the move when it happens! Eeep!

Amy

 

(cover illustration – www.amyvale.com@amyevale)