Saturday, 17 September 2016

Hiking Cadair Idris in Snowdonia National Park

I spent the recent Bank holiday weekend camping (how British!) in the mountains with my friend Erika from Tatra Cottage and her partner Joe. We each have a great appreciation of the outdoors and love spending time outside, particularly in a tent! I think I could probably, quite happily live in a tent forever (not saying I want to.. but I could!).

We stayed for two nights at Cwmrhwyddfor Campsite, a name I don't think I'll ever be able to successfully pronounce. It was situated in a perfect location for hiking Cadair, as it was a short walk to the trail start from the campsite entrance, and the views of the mountains from the tent itself were pretty darn majestic.

The site had all your basic needs covered, toilets/washing facilities, flat ground and firewood! (one big bag for a fee of £4). It was my first time camping with an actual campfire and I think the scent of wood smoke followed me around for a few days after (yes, I did shower!), but I absolutely loved it, it felt like 'proper' camping.

On the hike itself, the peak was shrouded in thick fog when we neared, obscuring the ultimate view we had hoped to see from the top; View or not, it still felt good to reach the summit alive. (I am wayy more unfit than I thought). To save ourselves time on the descent back down to ground level we decided to take a wee short-cut down a slightly less travelled path, which quite honestly, to me, looked like a sheer drop from the mountain edge into the mist filled expanse below. 'Me - "We're going down this way!?"

We climbed down between a narrow crag in the mountain side with a drop positioned on our right, which was, probably for the better, hidden by the mist. After sliding ourselves carefully down over dewy grass and between foot and hand holds in the rock, we eventually emerged from the clouds onto the eye-wateringly steep mountainside and began a timid (when I say timid, I mean it was just me, who was slightly freaking out) winding climb down through streams of slate, steep grassy verges and marshy ground. We arrived at the lake side (after many photography stops) and I actually gave a granite boulder a little pat to thank the mountain that I had made it down, intact and the right way up.

It was an awesome experience and nothing had quite prepared me for the climb; I love walking/ambling, and thought hiking Cadair would be a joyous walk in the park (no pun intended), but the humidity, which I'm using as my excuse... and the sheer scale of the mountain made it a real challenge. I am in need of waheyy more practice! I have a new found love for the mountains :)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Enchanting Landscapes 9 - Violet Jungle

A slightly different take on my usual scene for this particular image in the series. Whilst editing my photographs of the Botanical Gardens in Oxford, I became ever so slightly carried away with playing with colours again. I love inverting colours on natural objects and scenes as it creates something so visually unusual but also beautiful. I think perhaps when you change colours you start to become more aware of form and shape, and particularly the many different shades of colour. The majority of foliage in this photograph in its original state was green, and you almost glaze over the vast majority of shades and see it only as green. Turn it purple however, and you notice violets, lilacs, indigo and lavender mixed with shades of cerulean and azure blue.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Wandering in the University of Oxford Botanical Gardens

A few Saturdays ago I spent the day wandering through the Botanical Gardens in Oxford with Mother Sweet :) how it took me so long to visit I'll never know! The arrangements are naturally stunning and the variety of biomes provides you with a huge range of weird and wonderful plants. 

The wildflower meadow was definitely a favourite, I've been researching British wildflowers recently and learning their names; its rewarding when you're out and about and you start recognising them. They're found practically everywhere as the majority are really 'weeds', but once you learn their names you start to notice and appreciate the fact that they're there more :)

I think my visit has brought out the botanical, green-thumbed spirit in me and fully rekindled my love for all things green. I've recently acquired a few Ebay plants (it still amazes me that plants can be posted!) and have started to deck out the house in an array of unusual house plants.

The Spider plant I propagated in a year 9 biology lesson has now been joined by a Pilea Peperomioides (Chinese Money Plant) and a Monstera Deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant). These plants are pretty darn trendy at the moment, and instagram and pinterest are full of them! But the unusual leaves and the relatively easy care they require are enticing; There is just something so grounding and calming about being surrounding by greenery :)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Enchanting Landscapes 8 - Moonscape Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy, Wales. This one didn't need much of an edit as the lagoon is already a pretty magical space. It was formed when a channel was created to link a disused coastal slate quarry with the sea.

The landscape does look particularly 'lunar' (apart from the feature of water!) and it actually looks quite similar to the Emerald Lakes in New Zealand (a country I would Love to explore!). The surrounding cliffs, with their raw and exposed edges, capture hints of the fiery sun and they also contrast beautifully with the flat, still surface of the turquoise water.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

New Collection: Beach meets Desert!

 After creating Sweet As Can Be (a w-hopping 2 years ago now!) I feel like I became caught up in the whirlwind of processes involved in running a small business (insurance, tax returns, market stalls, photography, marketing, social media, the list goes on!) not to mention having another full time job. I realised I hadn't actually made time to dive back into the creative process and design new things.
I know that I'm only a small business at the moment, and I don't really have the resources or the exposure to release collections and new designs every few months like the fast paced fashion brands that rule the markets. However I still felt like it was important to at least be designing on a much more regular basis.

After talking to other creatives about how they juggle a business alongside other work commitments and family, I discovered how extremely important it is to set aside time to allow yourself to become fully immersed in the experimental and messy world of creating. You don't have to end each day with a breathtaking piece of art; But just experiment with different mediums that you may not have tried before, like gouache, pastels, sewing. It will help you stay inspired and will help keep you in that positive, creative mindset that will allow you to create your next amazing project.

I'm crazily in love with all things floral, particularly all the British flowers incorporated into my first collection. However this time around, I decided to venture slightly out of my comfort zone with the designs I created for 'Beach meets Desert'.
I've experimented with unusual Photoshop effects to create my new 'Sunrise Abalone' swirl pattern, and re-discovered the world of repeat patterns (uniformity used to scare me when creating patterns!) and created my Cacti on Pink design.
 I wanted to create a collection that ventured towards the coast (particularly seashells and sunrise horizons) but I also wanted to retain a hint of abstract mysticism, that I feel is starting to become my particular style. I also wanted to add in a dose of botanical vibes with the use of cacti, that we now so readily associate with hot summers and desert festivals.

The inspiration. A pastel sunset and the Welsh coastline

Designing this collection felt like quite a big step as it was the first set of patterns I had created whilst having my little shop already up and running, and after having a lapse in pattern creating for a few months, it was interesting to see what I created! 

Creating something is such a unique feeling, it has its scientific benefits (think the calming, stress-relieving colouring books that have popped up everywhere recently!) and it also tells a subtle story about yourself; the memories and stories that have influenced you will wind their way into the work you create, it displays how you visualise the world around you. Pretty neat :) ... anyway, I hope you love what I've created! All new designs can be found on my Etsy!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Floral Head Scarf Photos by Nic Ford Photography

One of the lovely ladies I met at the ASOS Marketplace x Clothes Show live back in 2014 has recently opened her own boutique in Narberth, Pembrokeshire. How awesome is that! #GIRLBOSS Kai Stewart has some serious style, and the designs she creates for her boutique Jaxxon House are incredible, high-end pieces.

The Sweet As Can Be floral scarves can now be found at the Jaxxon House Narberth Boutique too which is super exciting! JH also sells an eclectic mix of vintage, along with pieces from other incredibly talented designers and crafters, so you definitely need to take a peek at her online shop or pop in if you're in the Pembrokeshire area!

Kai recently arranged a photo shoot with UK based photographer Nic Ford and styled some pretty breath taking photographs of the scarves; They look beautiful worn in the hair as boho/hippy head scarves!

Monday, 28 March 2016

A little trip to Pembrokeshire // Wales

I recently took a little holiday over to Pembrokeshire in South Wales with my family. Being in Gloucestershire, we live fairly close to the Welsh border so it's quite easy to take a trip into Wales from time to time. My Grandparents grew up in Wales (making me quarter Welsh!) so it's a place I hold quite dearly in my heart. It's also such a fantastic place for beautifully scenic walks, especially along the coast.

We stayed in a small barn conversion cottage, set within a tranquil little valley in Pembroke. It was very much 'off the beaten track' so phone signal was just not happening, and the wifi was fairly non-existent! I really could have moved in and lived there though (apart from perhaps the lack of wifi!), it was such a cosy and stylish little place and the views of the valley, even in March, were so idyllic. I was only staying for three days, but managed to fit in a fair amount of walks and trips to some beautiful places! 

St. Govan's Bay
Inside St. Govan's Chapel
On the first day we visited St. Govan's chapel, nestled between the cliffs of a small rocky bay which also happens to be owned by the MOD. The bay is partly included within a military firing range, which I must admit, is slightly un-nerving when you hear the sound of explosions echoing in the distance!

Next, we drove along the coast to Stackpole and the famous Bosherston Lily Ponds, although the lilies were unfortunately not blooming as March is far too cold for them! A beautiful little stream trickles out from the ponds and winds its way down to the ocean on Broad Haven beach. Here Leo & Lola played in the sand and sea to their hearts content and I did a little beach combing!

Lola & Leo (look at his face!) taking a breather on Broad Haven beach

Wish I had bought this! It had such quaint little descriptions 

Soo many amazing vintage coats
On the second day we drove to the lovely little town of Narberth and explored a few of the boutiques and flower shops, we found one particularly amazing antique shop which we could have spent the day in! It was filled with corridors and hidden rooms of trinkets and objects from Welsh history, and I think the shop was actually, formerly an old quirky townhouse.

After lunch at a little cafe, we drove North-West to the tiny village of Abereiddy, and walked up to the Blue Lagoon, which a friend had recommended seeing. The lagoon was formed when a disused slate quarry was opened up to the sea and water flooded in to create this magically blue pool.

The Blue Lagoon just casually living up to its name

The bay adjoining the Blue Lagoon is particularly well known in the geology/paleontology world as it is apparently the perfect place to find a type of fossil called Graptolites. Naturally, we found one within about 5 minutes of being on the beach! It's just so incredible to think that these tiny animals are over 300 million years old.

Graptolite fossils in two slate halves
This was lit every night in the cottage without fail!
On the final day we walked over the headland from Stackpole Quay to Barafundle bay. It was one of the most blustery walks I think I've ever been on (Leo was not amused). But the view across the bay was worth it, even on a grey day, the sand glowed and the water was a deep turquoise blue. My Grandparents used to spend a lot of time here :)

We then moved along the coast for one final walk along Freshwater West (where Dobby is buried!) I spent a bit of time roaming around the rock pools and collected a few dog whelk shells in the pouring rain!

An insanely blustery walk over the headland to Barafundle bay (but worth it for this view!)

Found a cute little book on the Fairies of Winter & Spring!

Even without sunshine, the coast can be a very beautiful and inspiring place. It was nice to explore these places without the huge crowds of summer, as long as you don't mind braving the cold, I would definitely recommend visiting out of season! Walking along the shore of a huge sandy bay without a soul in sight is very humbling. Pembrokeshire is such a serene place that seems locked in a permanent state of dreamy seaside days out and enchanting countryside and woodland walks.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Taking product photos for Etsy

I spent Saturday morning taking new photographs of a few of my existing creations for the Etsy shop! I really wanted the new collection I'm designing (so exciting!!) to tie in with my previous work, so decided to hint at the theme of my new designs within these photos! I've included a few of the objects that inspired it, including shells, crystals & plants :)

I'm not too sure if you can tell, but I Love white space. Like a lot. So I've used a white background for the photos! I feel it helps to balance the bright colours of my designs really well and also I'm just a huge fan of minimalism! I think it also really helps to draw the viewers attention straight to the focal point, your designs. It's uncluttered, clean, fresh and honest :)