17 January, 2014

Jammy and Jelly Illustrations

A lovely thing happened via Twitter recently. While having a conversation with some lovely Manchester twitter folk about New year resolutions, it was suggested that we ask the talented illustrator Emily from Jammy and Jelly if she would illustrate our resolutions. To give you some context, she had recently put a tweet out asking people to send her their resolutions and in return she would share an illustration of same. A lovely idea, don't you think? I follow a number of illustrators via Bloglovin and I'm always amazed by their talent to produce beautiful and often quirky imagery. I tried my hand at illustration before, but I'm pretty hopeless at it. I guess it takes years of practice to find your particular 'style' of illustration.

I wasn't sure if Jammy and Jelly  had seen the tweet or if she had accepted our resolutions offer so I was excited (and may have squealed a little) when it appeared via her facebook page. As evident by my recent blog posts, you're well aware that my resolutions are centered around health, fitness and career and the beautiful illustration produced by Emily mirrors this perfectly. I laughed out loud looking at myself wearing a headband. Maybe I'll buy one and show it off at my next gym session, however I reckon I'm not quite 'down with the kids' to get away with it. As for the brief case full of 'very important work things' - that resolution is very much ongoing! However, the lovely thing about having this personal illustration is that it really is me and I'm hoping to print it out, frame it and use it as a useful reminder! Thanks to Emily for taking the time to illustrate so many inspiring resolutions and if you fancy seeing some more, you can find her here.

13 January, 2014

The Grateful List #2

 image - via here

Towards the end of 2013, I decided to dwell in the happy moments and spend less time pondering about the less than happy moments. As a result, I introduced to my blog 'The Grateful List'. A sporadical post, popping up every now and again outlining the moments, things or events that have made me grateful or happy as Larry in some small, shape or form.

- A lovely Christmas with an amazing amount of time off work. A whole 17 days. I have friends who work in retail, finish on Christmas Eve and are often back in work on the 26th or 27th of December, so I'm aware of how lucky I am to have wonderful breaks from the 9-5 grind during the festive season.

- Connecting on Twitter. I have loved connecting with new Twitter folk. I might never meet some of these lovely people, but I sure do enjoy the random tweets and chats.

- A low key New Years Eve, spent drinking some cheap cava, eating cheese, chutney and crackers.

- Our apartment has a bath tub! Yay for hot bubble baths!

- Brisk morning walks to work. There has been minimal rain in Manchester since returning after the Christmas break, and brisk, dry walks are a treat.

- Wholesome meals - I've enjoyed cooking healthy colourful meals for myself and the boy and seeing as he's currently commuting to work, getting up at 5:30am, I know he appreciates a hot meal at the end of the day.

- Finding new and brilliant blogs to read. Recently its been Bangsandabun, Gin Fulled BlueStocking  and Mancunian Vintage.

- Planning - I have five groups of friends and family travelling to Manchester between February and May and so I'm scoping things out for them to enjoy.

What are you guys grateful for? Are you enjoying and savoring the little things?

10 January, 2014

Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Healthy Mind

image - via Pinterest

Just before Christmas (does anyone else feel like Christmas was a lifetime ago?) I made this ambitious list of 100 Things to do in 2014. It was inspired by a similar list created by Christine from The Fabulous Times and it really spurred me on to take control of all the ga-zillion of things and bits of pieces in my life that I'd like to change for the better. If you remember, I broke all these mini goals down into categories and one of those important categories was health and in particular, wellbeing.

Many of us are often focused on how we look (and not how we feel!), the end result and whether we fit into a teeny tiny pair of skinny jeans. I am guilty of this. I won't lie. I have often (and to a point, still am) used an item of clothing or an occasion, such as a wedding, as a point of focus. A deadline for achieving my weight loss goal. For the first number of weeks I am the female equivalent of Mr Motivator. I radically turn around my eating habits, sign up for all the fitness classes I can find, say no to bread at every opportunity and inform anyone who will listen, that I, ladies and gentlemen, am on a health kick and that come X (insert relevant date here), you won't recognize me, for I will look gorgeous. Just gorgeous. I can see how gorgeous I will look in my head. Women will be jealous and men will fall at my feet. End of.

However, this tried and tested method, as many of you know and understand too well is not sustainable. Your enthusiasm slowly dries up. It often starts with a niggly feeling. The feeling that perhaps you've taken on too much and you think "maybe I'll just go to the gym three times a week and not five".  A few weeks later your gym-going is reduced to one, maybe two sessions a week and your excitement at tackling healthy recipes containing avocados, almond butter and the likes is dwindling. You're dreaming about buttery toast and you can feel yourself reverting to your old ways and eventually, you do. You might have lost some weight, you might have not, however for a short period you feel like a failure. You haven't reached your goal. The jeans don't fit. You buy a new pair, maybe two 'cas you're on a 'cheer yourself  up mission' and be done with it. So they're a size bigger then you hoped. You have new jeans, be happy girl!

All of the above has happened to me and having spoken with friends / family, the same can be said for them too. It's easy to get caught up in the momentum of making New Years resolutions and I'm a sucker for change. I love the fresh start of a new year, reflecting on the past and trying to make amends with everything that didn't go so well the previous year. Except every year, and I mean every year the old chestnut of 'weight loss and fitness' appears. Every single year I berate myself about not reaching weight loss goals and honestly, I've been doing this since I was 18. That's 13 years of self hate and self loathing. That's a long time giving out to yourself and my time can and should be spent better.

I've had a think about all of this weight loss / fitness / wellbeing / looking 'just gorgeous' malarky and really, for me personally, it breaks down to a couple of issues:

Firstly, I have and always have been, an emotional eater and so have lots of members of my family. Bad day at work, lets eat. Celebrating, lets eat. Your boss hates you, lets eat some more and throw some cream on top of that sad emotion people. Lets eat so much that you lose all sense of when you're full and sometimes forget how much you've actually eaten in a day. 

Secondly, I'm lazy. Really, I am. I'm happiest when I'm comfy on the couch with a blanket and a full fridge in close proximity. Working out does not come easy to me. Don't get me wrong, 15 minutes into a gym class, I'm delighted I'm there, feel all sorts of awesome, update my status afterwards on Facebook and always, always get a better nights sleep because of it. But that act of getting your gym gear together and fat butt of the couch and making the trek to the gym, just doesn't rock my fitness boat.

Given the two dilemmas above, how does an emotional lazy eater move forward in a more positive direction? How do I take control of the situation. and get going? Like all good problems, you need to look at it from another angle. Instead of focusing on a goal weight or size, I now chose to focus on how I feel and to be more conscious in the way that I eat. And, of course it goes without saying that I have chosen to cook better, healthier and more colourful food choices. A trip to the gym a few times the week is the added bonus on top of the healthy eating. It's a session chosen to make me feel better, to work off a hard day or the January blues. I chose to attend not because I want to shift some flab, but because I want to feel better physically, emotionally and mentally, and you know what? So far, it's working for me. 

I've enjoyed cooking and researching amazing recipes so much over the last week that I've begun to document those meals and process behind creating them. I've enjoyed eating them and not felt so deprived that I reach for that packet of custard cremes. Over the course of the year, I'm going to start sharing these meals and recipes with you and if you follow me on instagram, you'll have noticed my recent buzz around capturing snippets of my food preparation / eating already. If you're on the long term health kick wagon like myself, do share your thoughts below. I've already found a supportive group of people on Twitter, so feel free to join our random conversations and hopefully, together we'll start and end 2014 on a healthy high!

05 January, 2014

Getting to know you: Manchester local bloggers #2

Getting to know you is a series where by you have the opportunity to discover some great bloggers. With my move to Manchester, I reached out via the world wide web to ask if any local Manchester bloggers would be interested in sharing a little about themselves, and hey presto, I found a few lovely volunteers. The second participant is Rachael who blogs over at we3three. Rachael prefers to remain as anonymous as possible online (which I totally understand and respect) and as such, there is limited imagery to this post.

Below she shares her reasons behind starting a blog and also shares some top tips and advice! Having read through numerous posts on her blog, I particularly love these posts.

- A guide to making some delish chutney
- Silent Sunday posts containing some beautiful imagery
- Some amazing crafty projects suitable for children, such as this one!

Hi, I'm Rachael, just turned 30 and mum to my little boy who is 3. I've been married for 5 years (together for 12) to my first ever love. I work part time but I see my real 'job' as being the best mummy I can be.

I started blogging as I've always liked documenting things, even more so now I'm a mummy. I like the idea that my blog is like a diary that I can look back on in years to come. I blog about the everyday things me and our boy do, especially our crafty projects. I also like to use my blog to raise awareness of good local causes such as the food banks and lil' bundles. I've been blogging since June 2013 and I love it. I find it really therapeutic to write and I really like that I'm creating a little place of memories.

My blog came about after a while of thinking I'd like to start one but worrying I'd have nothing to write about. Several people said they'd love to read my blog so I bit the bullet! I do often wonder if my blog is boring but I'm ultimately writing for me so I'm not overly concerned if it is!

I think bloggers should blog about things that interest them and / or have a relevance to them. I see lots of blog posts that appear to be just jumping on the 'popular theme of the day' bandwagon which I find a little bit staged if I'm honest and not for me. If a topic really strikes you, fair enough, but don't just write about something randon just because it's topical. I like posts with lots of pictures and limited text so I write like that too. I don't want to read massive chunks of text so I never write lots and lots of text either. Never write something you wouldn't read. Stay true to yourself and don't become a persona for the sake of becoming a 'renowned blogger' or for a popular post. Also, keep it classy with regards to paid opportunities :)

Some Lovely Links

Thanks for sharing Rachael, and if you fancy contributing as a local Manchester (or even UK!) blogger, don't hesitate to contact me and leave a comment below.

02 January, 2014

Blogging Kit 101

As mentioned yesterday in my New Years Day post, you may have noticed in recent weeks, I've upped my blogging game. I've purchased a new template, updated the name to The Lucky Rainbow from Lucky Rainbow Designs, interacted with more bloggers and met some too! I've worked at creating better content as well as providing bright, shiny and original images too. All of this needs planning and as a self confessed stationary nut, (I have the pinterest boards to prove it!) I am loyal and possibly a slave to my notebooks which help me plan all the fun blogging posts I want to post and share with you.

As I balance a full time job with blogging and all the other fun stuff I try to get done in life, I find that I have to jot down (alot) ideas that I get for blog posts as and when the moment strikes. There are times when I have no ideas and days when I have a trillion. For the days when inspiration is flowing, I turn to my blogging kit and notebook / stationary collection in order to capture these little outbursts and as I am trying to bring my A-game to the blogging world, I've upped my blogging kit too. (Hey, any chance to visit Paperchase right?)

I don't necessarily carry this entire kit with me, but you can be guaranteed that on any given day, I'll have a notebook or my diary with me and for those of you blogging or interested in blogging, this is hopefully of interest to you and perhaps a few of my organisational ideas might inspire you.

First up, I start every year with a new diary. I have found it difficult to find the kind of diary to fulfill my blogging needs and while browsing through the range on offer from Paperchase and WH Smith, there isn't anything that screams 'blogging diary'. I don't quite think it exists. I found wellbeing diaries, gardening diaries and even ones for cooking and collecting receipes, but for blogging...nada! Perhaps there's any opportunity for me to create / design one. Paperchase if you're reading....lets collaborate.

This year, I purchased a 2014 A5 diary from Paperchase at a cost of £10. It's covered in a pretty bird pattern fabric and  is really good quality. It's also small enough to throw into any sized bag and take it on the go with me. It has two days to a page and when you open it up, you can see four days at a glance. This is important to me, as it literally helps me plan ahead. There are also a few sections called 'notes' which I plan on using for mini brainstorming or idea capturing sessions.

Recently I've also taken to using my iPhone and my very new (thanks to the boy) iPad mini for capturing images, keeping up with blog posting, blog reading and social media, as well as using a free app called Planner Plus for jotting down appointments. It reminds me about tasks and lists I've created when I fail to look at my diary. Plus, I feel super organised using it!

I also use a range of cute washi tapes. I've collected loads over the years and use it to section off pages in my diary or to simply make something more important or stand out more. I store it all, along with some bright highlighters in my rainbow pencil case. On my visit to Paperchase, I bought these quaint post it stickers on sale for £3.50. A mini bargain I was happy to snap up.

All this combined with a sprinkle of will and determination will aid in The Lucky Rainbow blogging space becoming more creative, more relevant and of course fun too! I'd love for you to share some images of your blogging kit or if you feel motivated to create your own, do let me know. Also, if anyone is interested in creating a blogging kit stationary exchange, that could be fun too? International participants most welcome.

01 January, 2014

Welcome 2014!

A big Happy New Year to each and everyone of you. I hope you had a lovely Christmas filled with family time, present giving and receiving, great food and lots of relaxation. I'm back from my ten day stint in Ireland and had a wonderful time catching up with friends and family and I definitely weigh a few more pounds, but I'm okay with that. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? Eating one mince pie too many?

I thought about doing a blogger recap for 2013 and I've enjoyed reading the recaps put out there by many bloggers but on reflection I realised that I wasn't the best of bloggers in 2013. With the move to the UK and a job hunt taking up a chunk of time from June to September, things went downhill in terms of output. However, with the new move brought new, exciting blog posts and the opportunity to meet some great and talented Manchester bloggers. More of that in 2014 please!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a fabulous and exciting 2014 and to thank all those readers new and old who stop by to read posts and take the time to write a comment or two. I really appreciate them and I hope 2014 will bring alot more positive interactions with you all. I now have more time to dedicate to this lovely space and the move to Manchester has certainly inspired me to write bigger and better posts. Like other bloggers, I have lots of ideas and plans which I hope to put into action and I've bought a shiny new 2014 diary to get me organised. 

You many have also noticed a slight name change from Lucky Rainbow Designs to The Lucky Rainbow. I initially started this blog to connect with crafty bloggers and to share the things I made. However, over the years I've developed an interest in sharing and writing a range of content with you and my blog following tastes also reflect this. Over the coming year, I'll not only share the odd crafty project but also a range of lifestyle posts, recipes, reviews and more. I may lose some followers along the way because of this but I may also gain some more as a result. Either way, I hope to provide posts which are of interest to each and every one of you lovely folk and if you are new to the blog, then do let me know - Always excited to chat to new followers and get to know you all a little better.

In the meantime, you can also catch me at my usual social media haunts of Twitter and Instagram. Swing by, say hello and stay a while

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