Manchester Chinatown

manchester chinatown manchester chinatown

So, the other weekend, Martin needed to head over to Manchester Chinatown for some photos for his university project, so I decided to come with him. I won't lie, I am so excited by chinatowns: the smell of roast meats and fried noodles and bakeries full of treats. We explored a little of the rest of the city centre, but most of our time was spent in the 'square' trying to get just the right snaps. I thought I may as well take some snaps too, and I had to share them because it is just the prettiest chinatown ever.

The Manchester Chinatown is actually pretty small, not so much a 'town' as a square with a car park surrounded by various shops, supermarkets and restaurants. However, it's actually the second biggest chinatown in the UK, just behind London. It's super pretty though - all the buildings are old and grand and I love the juxtaposition of the old, traditional buildings and the modern signs and lights that have been put up on them.

They have a huge gate which is stunning. I love a good gate, as anyone who has read my japan series will tell you. The difference between Japanese and Chinese is pretty striking, though. We also absolutely had to head back when it was dark, to get some pictures of the pretty lights and lanterns, and the neon signs lit up.

We grabbed lunch after much indecision, and a bag of goodies from Ho's Bakery to take home with us.

 

manchester chinatown

manchester chinatown

manchester chinatown

manchester chinatown

manchester chinatown

6 Plants Every House-Jungle Should Have

house plants Hi, my name is Annie and I am addicted to plants. I'm sure if you know me in real life/have been to my house/follow me on instagram, you will be aware of this. Currently, I have 3 windowsills available to me. They all have plants on. And I have plants on shelves near windows, and I have pictures of plants on my homewares, and stuck on my walls. But lets be honest, other than, like, a green smoothie addiction, this has got to be the healthiest addiction ever. (Except for my bank account, maybe.) I've talked before about why you should keep plants so I'm not going to spend this post persuading you again. This is for those of you already sold on the wonderfulness of plants, but either need to start collecting, or are like me and need an excuse to get more. So, here's a list of 6 plants every house-jungle should have.

house plants

house plants

house plants 1. Cacti

Cacti are the coolest ever. They need very little maintenance - watering once a week or so and then even less over the winter months. These are great for lazy/forgetful people (like me) because even if you forget to water them for a week they will survive and even if you only water them when you remember they are living that need sustenance, they're still going to make it. Also, cacti are just awesome, you can stupidly adorable little tiny ones, or those awesome huge guys to decorate a corner of your home.

2. Succulents

See: Cacti, but also, succulents have an even fonder place in my heart than Cacti. They look even cooler and come in millions of little weird and wonderful varieties. Succulents seem to grow a little faster than cacti so they are generally a little more rewarding, particularly as they generally have "leaves" of some description. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to see my lovingly cultivated succulent has sprouted a new baby. Speaking of babies, you can also propagate succulents, which means more plant for your money. Hell yeah, greenery.

4. A Rainforest Plant 

My most favourite being the Monstera Deliciosa, or the Swiss Cheese plant. These are great because they need way less light - they're used to being shaded by the huge trees of the rainforest. They even have specially adapted leaves to make sure that the bottom leaves get some light too, awesome. I just keep mine (his name is Chlauss) on a shelf near-ish a window, and he has been happy there. He needs a little more water than succulents (ehh, the clue is kind of in the word RAINforest plant) but the best thing ever is he adds a glorious pop of greenery to my white walls, and one day he will grow to a huge size with big rainforesty leaves and make my house into the true jungle it was always destined to be.

5. Herbs

PLANTS YOU CAN EAT, without the hassle of rearing carrots or lettuce or whatever. Fresh herbs are the absolute best in cooking, and what's the point in having a sachet of wilting basil leaves in your fridge when you can have one on your windowsill working tirelessly to turn sunshine into delicious pasta flavouring. I personally adore Basil, not only because it's great with tomatoes, but because it wilts like crazy. I know that sounds like everything you could possibly not want in a plant, but hear me out. Basil wilts within like, one day of not-watering, but if you water it again, it springs back into life! This is awesome because you don't have to live with the shame of murdering a plant, but it reminds you daily that plants need water to live, and helps you get into a plant-watering habit. Sounds good to me. Mostly, for herbs, I buy one from the supermarket and then re-pot it into a bigger pot, because the ones they come in tend to be a bit crap, leak everywhere, and they don't seem to last very long in their original pots.

6.Bamboo

Ahh, glorious bamboo, the one you are tempted by every time you look in IKEA's plant section because it's so twisty and dreamy and awesome. Well, correct, it is awesome. I have never actually bought a bamboo plant, I just keep inheriting them. Two were gifts from my mum once she realised I had inherited her plant obsession, and the other I rescued from the dark depths of Martin's light-less former bedroom, and I haven't had the heart to return it. Bamboo doesn't even need to be planted. I have one sitting in soil, one sitting in a slice of sponge and another perched on some rocks inside a vase. All I do is fill up their containers if they are looking low, and leave them be. They sit in my bathroom in the window because I figure they are from Asia and so probably could do with the humidity. This is a great way to add some plant life to the bathroom, particularly as bamboo is such a bright, fresh green, and it keeps things looking lovely and clean.

 

So, now I have revealed how lame-ly excited I can get about plants. Let me know what you think, and if you would add any others to this list! (and also, please comment if you also love plants so that I don't feel like such a weirdo)

My Natural Hair Care Regime

natural hair care

A little while ago I started getting really fed up with my hair. I have naturally wavy, and very frizzy hair. It is not curly enough for the frizz to blend in, a tend to simply have very knotty, very dry hair. I was fed up with the fact that it took so long to do anything to it, and only looked good after hours of styling. So recently, I decided to try out some natural hair care. I am kind of obsessed with cavemen - when making diet, fitness and general body care decisions, I try to reduce it down to the simplest form, as close to what makes sense for cavemen. Obviously I still take paracetamol, cook my meat and eat wheat, but I don't get a lot of the faff around veganism, crossfit and clarifying, pore minimising cleansing wash. I want simple. Basically, I am super lazy.

Previously, I was washing my hair, then blow-drying it straight, in an attempt to make anything acceptable out of my bleached, split ended, naturally dry hair. After chatting to a few friends about it, I decided to take a more natural approach. Again, I'm not rinsing my hair with beer and conditioning with olive oil (as I mentioned before - I'm lazy) but I've been doing it for a little while now and have been a lot happier with my hair, so I thought I would share my natural hair care routine.

natural hair care

Shampoo and Conditioner: I  have heard a lot about sulfates and parabens in shampoos and conditioners and decided to skip them, as I just feel like they are an unnecessary addition, and are believed to contribute to drying out my hair. I have tried out a few 'sulfate free' shampoos, and I have settled with Kind Natured, mostly because they smell nice, make my hair clean and are easily available at Boots (like I said -I'm lazy - and forgetful, nothing you have to order over the internet is going to work out for me.) Bonus of these guys is that they don't test on animals, which is something I also try to avoid as much as possible. The best thing about this part of my natural hair care plan has been hair that comes out of the shower drier, and is much less 'heavy' which, as a result, dries faster.

Coconut Oil: I feel like a great big Pinterest Cliche right now, and I want to establish that I am not one of those people who thinks coconut oil can heal all ails and do everything. I literally just use it for this. I'd like to say I do a mask every sunday, but lets be honest - I have mentioned it enough times - I'm lazy as hell. And busy. I do a coconut oil mask whenever I get the chance, but I do wish I did it more because it makes my hair  much smoother and more manageable. I comb it through with my fingers, tie it up in a big coconutty, slimy bun and then do some work or write some blog posts whilst I let it sink in. Then I wash it out with hot water and some shampoo, and condition again, because, apparently, half a tub of coconut oil is not moisture enough for my sahara hair.

Air Drying: I know this is what everyone hates to hear but it does make so much of a difference. I do still blow dry it when time is tight, but I do my best to let it air dry as much as possible. I brush it once, very gently, when wet, and then ideally leave it alone to dry completely. I know that most do not let their hair air dry because they don't like the way it looks, but I can say that my hair now air dries so much better because I have learned to curb the frizz. That said, sometimes I just want sleek, uniform waves, so I take to the curling wand, but moreover, I can get out of bed, brush my hair, fluff it up at the roots a bit, and get on with my day.

Not Wash it Every Day: I have never been an every day washer, mostly because growing up I never had the kind of family that was obsessed with daily baths/showers. I think it's a waste. But more than that, the thought of washing and drying my hair every single day makes me actually feel a bit nauseaous at the amount of time spent with damp hair. I feel like this is probably one of the reasons I am seriously put off the gym/running/cycling. However, as I know a lot of people do wash their hair daily, or very regularly, I thought it was worth mentioning as something I do differently.

Cut It Myself: Probably a controversial one, but it helps a lot that my hair is very thick, and wavy. I follow this awesome video and cut it with a sharp pair of scissors, just in a simple straight line across the bottom. I like my thick hair, and the frizz levels are always made worse with layers, highlights, etc. I might treat myself to a proper haircut when it has reached my desired length, but for now I am focussing on regularly chopping off split ends.

So, that's it! Other than that, I may occasionally use some smoothing creme or some hairspray for flyaways, but on the whole, a natural hair care regime has made my life easier, and my hair nicer. What do you think? Are you inspired to try natural?

Roslin: New Years in the Scottish Countryside

roslin edinburgh So over the New Year, Martin and I took a trip to Roslin, near Edinburgh to spend a few days in a Landmark Trust property - Collegehill House - with my family and have a restful New Years Eve. We stayed in a small village called Roslin, known for the Rosslyn Chapel of Da Vinci Code fame. I took some pictures whilst we were there, although we didn't get up to a huge amount - it was very relaxed. Collegehill house sits directly next to the entrance to the Chapel, we could see it from our bedroom. We were down a little lane with a lot of privacy, but mainly because the Chapel was mostly closed for the holiday. On busier weeks, we were told you get a lot of people milling around and taking photos.

roslin edinburgh

On New years eve we headed into Edinburgh in the day, but were too scared to head into any shops because it was so  busy. We got a nice look at the pretty buildings and headed to a pub for drinks, but I got a nice impression of the city and I really want to go back again when it's a bit quieter. We didn't have tickets for Hogmanay - and we didn't fancy fighting the crowds for the luxury of peeing in a port-a-loo at 12am, so we headed back to our little house  to celebrate. We subjected ourselves to a few rounds of Trivial Pursuit and headed out into the garden - the countdown in Edinburgh on our phones - and looked at the stars in the stunningly clear sky as we brought in the new year. It was pretty magical, and we spent a few minutes just looking at orion's belt and marvelling at how bright they were. We had a brief chorus or two of Auld Lang Syne out in the darkness and clinked our prosecco, and then headed back into the warm to drink a little more, chat a little more, and then headed off to bed.

roslin edinburgh

The rest of the week was spent walking in the glen, visiting the chapel and lots of jigsaw puzzles.

roslin edinburgh

roslin edinburgh

Here's what you could see of the chapel from the garden of collegehill house. Pretty awesome.

roslin edinburgh

I'd like to say I spent all my free time drawing, but I didn't. I did  small amount that was work, but it was old, rainy and muddy, and I spent more time recuperating and relaxing and not feeling guilty. It was nice. Now I'm back and ready to get back to drawing. I hope you had great New Years.

 

roslin edinburgh

roslin edinburgh

How to Stay Organised

how to stay organised

Some of my friends and family will probably have clicked on the title of this post with a mix of incredulity and amusement. If you know me well, you will probably know that I have never really been an organised person - I have the best of intentions, a love of organising boxes, dividers, diaries, calendars and to-do lists, but I still have a brain like a sieve.

But this is why I think I am actually a useful person to tell you how to stay organised. Starting up a business and coming into my third year of uni, having any semblance of organisation has been vital. So, I thought I would share my tips for how to stay organised.

Get a Diary: I use this one that I got from Paperways after a recommendation from Sophie. I love it because the week is laid out over a double page, like a timetable, so that each day has it's own dedicated row, and each row is split into colums (creating handy little boxes) this is insanely helpful to me because I can separate each day into various 'blocks' of things I have to do that day. I also keep the second 'column' for blog, so I always know at a glance what is coming up next on the blog.

My issue with diaries used to be that I forgot to use them and look at them, but since life has got so busy, I completely depend on it. All it really took was some initial motivation to write everything down in there and now I use it without having to think. I have found it really helpful to see this 'weekly overview' and be able to keep everything in one place, and been insanely useful in helping me stay organised.

To Do Lists: I designed my own To Do list pad which is generally what I use to keep track of things I need to get done! I usually use it in conjunction with my little diary - if I can see that I have three blog posts to write next week in my diary, I can easily add that to my to-do list, and well, nothing beats the satisfaction of ticking them off once I have. Even before I had to be organised, I have had a strong love affair with To-Do lists.

A Goals Book: I find this really useful when setting business goals and whilst I don't look at it every day, it is useful to have something physical to refer to, and is also another means ticking some satisfying little boxes once you've reached them. I am all for that moment of satisfaction, I think it really helps us concrete that feeling of accomplishment and makes us want to reach even further.

Google Keep: I think it's probably becoming clear that I am a great lover of writing stuff down on paper, but I also love Google's 'Keep' app. It is essentially like a free Evernote type application that you can get with all Google products, and is basically like a big scrolling feed of tick-off-able to-do lists or notes pages, and I use these for constantly accessible things like 'blog post ideas' 'shopping list' and other things that I won't remember if I wait until I'm near a piece of paper.

It's a pretty simple list of things, but that's why it works for me. I only really have to remember to put a maximum of two things in my bag, and it's only one of two places to refer to. What methods do you use to stay organised, and what are your best tips?

Personal Goals for 2016

personal goals

Earlier this week I talked about setting business goals but I also wanted to share with you my personal goals for 2016. I do definitely believe that we should always set goals and to make changes now instead of putting it off until the new year, but there is nothing like a fresh start to inspire a few new goals. I don't have a 'goals book' like I do for my business goals, but I am thinking of writing them down somewhere visible, and blogging about it is always a great way to hold yourself accountable.

I'm super aware of the fact that I'm going to be finishing uni in 5 months, and hopefully, moving in with Martin. I have a lot I want to achieve by this time next year, that mostly revolves around that. There are, though, a few simple ones in there just for me.

Read More Books:  Specifically: Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon, Sketchbooks by Richard Brereton;   How to Be an Illustrator by Darrel Rees and loads of others that are creeping around on my amazon wishlist.

Learn to Drive: So I don't have to go through the uniquely horrific experience of dragging all my christmas gifts home on the train ever ever again.

Pay off my overdraft: exciting. For this I will obviously need a job of some variety, which I guess is a goal in itself.

Do a Major Organise of my Whole Life: Once I've finished uni and settled, I need to do a serious sort through of literally everything I own and considerably condense down what I have.

Some are slightly terrifying (like the overdraft and, well, the job) and some, like the reading, I am much more excited to reach. heh! What are your personal goals for this year?

personal goals

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

have yourself a merry little christmas

Hey people! Today is just a little, sentimental one. I hope, for the most of you, you are looking forward to a night of films and Baileys, or getting ready for some festive gathering, or - hopefully not - rushing out to buy the last of your gifts. I wanted to wish you a lovely holiday, filled with loveliness that comes with the time of year. I know it's a cliche but I love the little things - employers let employees wear Christmas jumpers to work and occasionally you see people who are better off for the Christmas cheer. I know that the holidays can be stressful, and I'm learning that you can do everything you can to be festive, and still have things that are out of your control. But I also feel like things are what you make of them.

I wanted to remind you (I'm good at reminding these days) that it’s okay if your day isn’t earth shatteringly perfect.

I don’t want to blame it all on the internet and the commercialism of Christmas and milennials, because I hate that and think it’s dumb, but I do definitely think it’s easier than ever to feel bad about yourself.

Christmas can be a time that facilitates people prioritising what they want over what you want, so it’s okay to be a bit selfish sometimes.

It doesn’t have to be about making everyone else happy except yourself. It doesn’t have to be about conforming to the rules of ‘how Christmas day should go’.

So if you don’t find yourself crowded around the table with 8000 of your closest family members, chuckling over cracker jokes, receiving heartwarming advice-to-live-by from family members, transitioning seamlessly from breakfast to Christmas Lunch to Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, ending up tucked up in your beds fast asleep, that’s okay. Really, it’s just another day of the year.

My Christmas Wrapping this year

christmas wrapping Hey everyone! How is it going? I can't believe it is almost Christmas. Mine will be a quiet one this year, without my siblings, but as wrapping gifts is one of my favourite things, and I had designed some of my own wrapping paper this year, I thought I would share what my giftwrapping will look like this year. I used my own custom wrapping paper, some olive green ribbon and my own printable christmas gift tags. I am constantly torn between the super dreamy, highly patterned festive paper with a big bow, versus the super-minimal 'parcel paper wrapped with only some white twine and a chic little label' look. I feel like I may have found something of a middle ground here.

 

I love the look of those pinterest-y giftwrap pictures that have sprigs of pine and mistletoe and other festive greenery placed in them, but in the spirit of keeping things not squelchy and mouldy, I found some pretty berry sprig decorations in habitat, made of wire, which I split up into their singular 'sprigs' and stuck them under the bows. I really love how they look and I'm pretty proud of them this year!

I also generally go to the effort of putting some of the weirder shaped gifts into a gift box as I hate crinkly wrapping paper, so this way I pretty much ensure that I can get some nice, crisp corners on everything, and have my gifts look picture perfect.

How are you wrapping yours this year?

My Favourite Podcasts For Creatives

Hi Everyone! So today I thought I would just share my favourite podcasts that I like to listen to, mostly when working, to fill the silence when I'm super concentrating. I love Podcasts for this as I am one of those almost-too-busy, terrified-of-wasted-time types. I get that kick of feeling like I am killing two birds with one stone - Illustrating or brainstorming or planning or whatever it is that I'm doing, whilst absorbing information at the same time. Hell yeah for multitasking.

After the Jump - A cool radio show recorded into Podcasts by the talented lady behind Design*Sponge interviewing creatives about their journeys. Super fascinating and a great way to discover inspiring creatives outside of your niche.

Make It Happen - A podcast run by the fantastic Jen Carrington for Creative business owners. Full of inspiration and amazing advice.

Sleepy Teatime - Ok, maybe don't listen to this one whilst working! But this cute podcast by Femsplain founder Amber is designed to help you relax or maybe even drift off to sleep. Perfect when your head is spinning with ideas.

 

My Minimal Jewellery Collection

minimal jewellery

Recently I've had a bit of a change of direction style-wise. It mostly happened when I went to Japan and realised that 90% of all people there (including the grandmas) were cooler than me. I was inspired by the loose, comfortable and more minimal style that people had going on, and I had a bit of a mission of eradicating all my tight and uncomfortable clothing when I got home! I also began to latch on to minimal jewellery.

I've never been much of a jewellery-wearer & when I did buy jewellery it was flashy and novelty. However, now I'm hooked on clean, simple jewellery that you don't have to worry about - it goes with everything. The best thing is when I can forget about it for a few days but not have it strangling me in the night.

Just before I wrote this post, Happiness Boutique contacted me asking if I would like some earrings to review. I said yes, seeing as the email was so well-timed.

I had a browse and saw that a lot of their jewellery was costume-y, but there were a few simpler pieces that I liked. The designs are bigger than I anticipated, particularly the leaf-shaped ones, so I might save them for dressier occasions. However, I love the wishbone ones which I think are still simple enough for everyday wear. They came in really lovely packaging though, and I'm glad to have a small drawstring bag to keep them safe.

Necklaces minimal jewellery

Left: Oh My Clumsy Heart Middle: Gift from my sister, don't know! Right: Oh My Clumsy Heart

Rings minimal jewellery

Left: Gift from Martin, not sure where from! Middle: Twisting Silver Right: Amelia Hales

Earrings:

Left & Middle: c/o Happiness Boutique Right: Twisting Silver

 

I' surprised by how much silver I have - I always thought I was a gold kind of girl.

I'm really looking forward to building up my collection a little more, particularly with handmade and/or independent places. Let me know your favourites in the comments, and check out the links for the talented individuals who made them.