Monday, 3 December 2018

Things That Make Me Happy 89

how to ease depression gratitude lists vivatramp. blog

workspaces plastered in things to inspire 
when the sky takes on different gradients
when pitching to clients pays off
southern oak trees 
a tidy house

(image credit: aknedler)

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


Saturday, 24 November 2018

Patreonmas 2018!

It's beginning to look a lot like...Patreonmas?!

Tis the season for giving and this year I'm going all out!

Patrons in the three top tiers on Patreon will all get access to extra exclusive content throughout December as my way of saying thank you. 

Honeybees [£3.50/$5] will have access to three posts a week: Mon, Weds & Sun. Bumblebees [£4.93/$7] will get access to four posts a week: Mon, Weds, Fri & Sun. Queen Bees [£6.33/$9] will get exclusive posts every single day of the week

What sort of content can patrons expect?

I'm still planning my posts, so there's still time to make requests, but you can expect everything from a brand new episode of my brand new low-key 'podcast' to the next edition of the Creative Guide. 

New patrons will, of course, also have access to 7 months of past posts from their chosen tier! From my bookshelf tour videos to the monthly writing exercises, from the audio discussions to the original poetry, you'll have access to a whole host of posts! 

The tiers will give you access to more than just the exclusive extra content too. There's the Instagram community, the weekly promo and positivity thread and more where that came from for you to sink your teeth into!

If you've been meaning to sign up, now could be the perfect time to do just that! If you have any questions, drop me an email or a message on Twitter! 

A small selection of the past Patreon posts have been made public for your perusal. Here's a handy little list of them for you all to read through!

Impostor syndrome: what to do when you feel like a fraud
Being body positive with a chronic condition
Image prompts: how to use them & more! (ft. examples)
How and why you should make Pinterest boards for your creative projects
Things that inspire our fiction writing

We're looking forward to welcoming you to the coven.

Shout out to my existing patrons for their support and everything they bring to the community: Michelle, Ella, Gem, Fern, Sian, Lauren, Lyzi, Amy, Caitlin, Georgia, Lauren, Chelsea and Eileen


Did you catch my post on 100 Christmas Gift Ideas the other day? I've tried to consider a wide selection of people with varying budgets and abilities.  


Saturday, 17 November 2018

100 Christmas Gift Ideas

christmas gift guide vivatramp lifestyle blog debenhams uk

This blog post is part of a Debenhams Christmas Wishlist campaign. 

It's that time of the year again, pals!

It's time to see what set of lights packed up at the end of last year and how you can possibly elevate last year's gourmet festive sandwich filling.

In the spirit of giving, I'm giving you 100 gift ideas to help you on your way. Buckle up and take notes.

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galaxy bedding, ilume candles and golden berry + vanilla candle, all from debenhams.

Cute candles and diffusers always make great gifts, especially for dog owners! • Cosy blankets or new bedding sets for cold evenings in • Go charity shopping and find the perfect unique gift if you're strapped for cash • A plant pot or a hanging planter or a plant for green-fingered pals • A cute weekly pill box! A little out there perhaps but I was given a rainbow Anabox about five years ago and it has helped me to keep on top of my daily meds  Offer your cleaning, tidying and sorting services for the day. This is an easier gift to give if you know the recipient well and know they'd appreciate the gesture. Don't start a flame war with your best friend who hasn't seen their floor since the early 00s •  A shower seat or another useful piece of equipment. Your disabled and chronically ill pals probably have a list of things that would make their lives a lot more comfortable. Ask for their suggestions • Recipient just moved house? A vase could be a good shout! I've been in this house for 11 months now and I still have to borrow my Mum's. Send help...and vases • Is something broken in their home that they may not have the disposable income to fix? Offer to pay for it to be fixed. Family members did this for us when our boiler broke, our cooker packed up, etc, and it was a wonderful gesture 

 A fun party game or board game they can play with family and friends. Board game nights are an excellent cheap night in  Sustainable alternatives to things that they may own and want to replace  They're likely to have all of the essential pieces of dinnerware, unless they've just moved in, so maybe find some cool serving dishes instead? I would suggest not going for seasonal pieces unless they have enough storage space   A tree ornament that fits their colour scheme and vibe • A framed print   Cute mugs are everywhere these days and you can find some excellent ones for under a fiver. Check your local supermarkets • Do they insist on using the big light? Buy them mood lighting. They need to be saved   If they struggle with fatigue, or are incredibly busy, consider buying them a slow cooker. Attach your favourite recipe(s) for a nice touch   If the recipient is a keen gardener, DIY some plant markers. There are loads of different tutorials on the internet, from wooden designs to hand-lettered pebbles. Inexpensive but thoughtful   Get them a gift card for their favourite homeware shop. Easy peasy! • Do they work from home? Get them a pinboard/pegboard/wire rack for them to attach inspo to  Attempt some DIY lettered dinnerware. Head to Pinterest for inspo!  Soft towels and flannels (especially if they're using worn hand-me-downs or are about to move into their first place)  Forgo gifts and both spend the money on buying warm supplies, sleeping bags, etc, for local homeless people. 

stationery gift guide blog vivatramp uk
designworks weekly planner from debenhams.

Opt for weekly planners and organisers over diaries (as diaries are usually bound by complex personal preferences)   Pay for a stationery subscription service for them, like Papergang   Buy them a worry journal for all their anxieties   Top up their journalling or art supplies   Are they stuck in hospital or going to be spending lots of time waiting around at appointments? Get some fun activity books. You can get some fancy looking ones these days. I'm talking William Morris prints and everything! I'm partial to a word search myself  Do they use a scrap of paper as a bookmark? Get them a fancy looking one   To do list pads are perfect for people who never seem to know if they're coming or going  Desk tidies might seem like a really dull gift but you can jazz it up a bit by getting some really interesting designs or by re-purposing beautiful tins. I keep lipsticks in an old truffle tin, for example  Do they send a lot of letters? Get them a personalised stamp or, alternatively, you could even get them a wax seal set. Letter sets and personalised notecards also make good gifts - especially when they come with stamps! 

A recipe book - slide some of your own favourite recipes between the pages for a personal touch   There are loads of options for personalised notebooks online. An easy but useful gift   Going on their travels? Gift them a travel journal or a pocket notebook for their musings along the way   Meal plan pads can be lifesavers, especially for those of us that need to stick to a budget   Fancy writing tools that make them look like they have their life together   A cute desk calendar   Washi tape. You can never own enough washi tape   New business owner? Pay for a set of business cards   Hold a gift treasure hunt complete with clues written on tea-stained paper   Seen any nice cards lately? Cut some corners and frame them as mini prints   Make up some colouring kits with a pal to send to local refuges, schools, etc   Get them a Wreck This Journal   Buy a set of notebooks or exercise books and split them between friends. See also: cute slogan pencils. I did that with my bridesmaid boxes and it worked well.

sentimental gift ideas for christmasgift ideas for young women
golden berry + vanilla candle, brass frame and daisy perfume all from debenhams.

Photo frames, either filled with snaps of the two of you together or left empty for them to fill themselves. I quite like filling thin frames with Instax snaps. An easy gift and relatively inexpensive • Start a scrapbook for them to fill in • Got boxes of photos lying around? Compile a photo album • Buy them a bottle of their signature scent or a fragrance that reminds them of a particular place or time  Find some artwork of a place that they adore • Frame a significant letter or note • Get an album that you both love on vinyl • Fill a disposable camera with photographs of people they love. Give them the cash to go and get it developed or present them with the finished photos for their perusal • Are you creative? Create something for them! • Buy them a beautiful edition of their favourite book and be sure to leave an inscription. I have a whole post on gifts for readers so check that out if you're looking for gift inspo for bookworms 

Hold a movie night, complete with tickets, snacks and a bill of their favourite films  • Write a letter for them to open on bad days  •  Compile a book of their creations or best tweets or Instagram photos  •  Frame maps of places that mean a great deal to you  •  Donate to their favourite charities or earmark some time for the two of you to volunteer  •  Buy a piece of jewellery that allows them to hold loved ones near. I bought my Mum a necklace a few years ago with three circles - each one representing one of her children  •  Make a selection of mixed tapes or Spotify playlists for all kinds of different situations. If you're extra, write a note explaining each choice •  Make or buy a decorative print of their favourite lyrics  •  Pick some flowers and give them a bouquet  •  Create a voucher offering your redeemable expertise for a day  •  Are they a business owner? Make a book of their achievements  •  An ornate box for their special jewellery  •  Schedule time throughout the new year to hang out with one another. Save your money for said dates  •  Go for a day out somewhere you've been meaning to go  •  Hold a family home video night. Cover the floor in old photographs and make sure you've got tissues on hand for inevitable tears 

christmas food gift ideas blog uk
borders biscuits from debenhams. cute dog unfortunately not from debenhams.

Create a kit for the perfect night in full of all the crisps and dips  •  Afternoon tea is a hassle. Create a lowkey home version  •  Moved somewhere new? Put together a little box of local delights for your family and friends to enjoy  •  A block of chocolate for them to eat for breakfast one morning over the festive period...  •  Design a hamper devoted to the art form that is the festive leftovers sandwich  •  A tub of chai latte powder for yummy drinks throughout the year  •  A bottle of their favourite tipple  •  Fill their freezer with your signature dishes  •  Donate food to a local food bank on their behalf  •  Create the ultimate snack box for picky tea evenings  •  Make a homemade voucher that's redeemable for a meal out one evening  • 

Buy their big shop for them  •  Invite them to a dinner party where they get to choose the menu  •  Sign them up to a meal delivery service  •  Put together a recipe jar. All you need is card to write the recipe on, a jar to store the dry ingredients and some string  •  Make a preserve or an accompaniment for festive eating  •  Grow your own? Box up some of your produce  •  Make some infused oil, sugar or salt  •  Pop a batch of your go-to sweet treats in a novelty biscuit jar. We have a Chewbacca jar and we love it  •  Fill their cupboards with some essentials that they can make quick and easy meals from  •  Brew some homemade booze  •  Go to a food market together and pay for them to bring some treats home •  Make some easy 'chocolate bark' using their favourite chocs  •  Plan a pizza making night (complete with menus and invites if you're feeling extra)  •  Hold a festive afternoon complete with Christmas films, all the snacks and hot drinks a la Lyzi and I   

christmas gift guide blog uk


And there you have it! 100 gift ideas to help inspire you. 

I tried to cater for a mix of financial, physical and mental constraints because everyone deserves to bathe in a restorative moment over the festive period. 

Have you got any excellent gift ideas stored away in your brain? Spill! I want to hear them.

This blog post is part of a Debenhams Christmas Wishlist campaign. All ideas, however, are my own. Photographed items (mostly) from Debenhams. Except the dog...



Monday, 5 November 2018

Things That Make Me Happy 88

how to be happy blog post

sorting through the recycling, weirdly enough?! 
scooping up the crispy bits of fries left at the bottom of the bag  
when I realise that something is easier than I thought it'd be
being wrapped up warm but still feeling the sea air hit my face 

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Six Months of Patreon (ft. brand new rewards!)

It has been six months since I launched my Patreon page and it has been one of the best things I've ever done and I once spent a whole summer eating lasagne sandwiches for lunch.

I most definitely underestimated just how much the experience would change me not only as a creator but as a person. If you don't mind, I'd like to sit down and reflect upon that for a little while before introducing some new rewards and shouting out my existing patrons.

4 Reasons Why I've Loved Patreon (so far)

1. It has encouraged me to be more creative. 
I'm utilizing my skills and passions on a daily basis and, as such, I'm building upon them day-by-day. I'm writing more than I have done in a long time and I'm permanently inspired to create even bigger and better things because I have such a tight-knit group of people to share my work with.

My brain is always thinking of new things to share and new exercises to try. It's incredibly rewarding to then see other members of the community experimenting with said exercises and feeling confident enough to share their takes with everyone else too.

2. It has boosted my mental health and productivity levels.
There's something so life-affirming in being able to use your skills on a daily basis and I definitely feel a lot more pepped up about my passions as a result.

A lot of my existing patrons joined the community because they were looking to put the creative wheels in motion in a judgement-free environment and I'm incredibly proud that we've managed to nurture and uphold that welcoming and encouraging vibe for the last six months.

3. It has given me the opportunity to build a community of like-minded and supportive individuals.
In the early days, blogging was all about sharing your experiences as honestly and openly as possible and I feel like that's something that this new community promotes and encapsulates for me.

It has been so nice to engage with people that I otherwise wouldn't have. I love checking in with discussions to find people making interesting points that would've never crossed my mind, whether we're chatting about our current book club read or giving one another advice about something. I also love that we all have a space that is all about encouragement and being chill.

4. It means I can better support my chronically ill self.
As someone with a chronic illness, I love that my Patreon community (along with my copywriting and blogging business) allows me to better support myself.

I often feel like I have more to prove because of my illness, and the way society views disability, and I feel like sharing my work in this way with others has been hugely beneficial so far. At the same time, I feel like it's also a space that benefits every single person that immerses themselves in it. Win win! 

Public Posts (so far)

Patreon posts, for the most part, are private and only shared with the applicable tiers. I have, however, made a couple of them public over the past few months.

Here are the links to said public posts so you can get a teeny window into some of the things we have discussed. 

creative bloggers creative writing blog rewards for writers on patreon

A brand new $2 tier and a new reward?! 

As you may know, I'm now offering a Beehive tier which, for just $2/£1.54 a month, gets you access to my private Instagram account, the bi-monthly favourites post and the weekly Feel Good Friday promo thread where you can share your links/creations/good news. Ideal for people that want a slice of the action but perhaps don't want access to a whole host of exclusive content.

I've also introduced a lo-fi monthly 'podcast'/discussion of sorts for both Bumblebees ($7/£4.93) and Queen Bees ($9/£6.33) where I'll discuss all manner of things once a month. I'm currently working on the contents and format of it but I imagine it'll end up feeling like a chat with a pal! God knows I love to chat. 

You can, of course, find more information about each tier and what they involve over on my Patreon page.

Check out my existing patrons! 

I'm extremely grateful for every single one of my patrons for not only the support that they've shown me but for all the times where they've shared their thoughts, their work and their support with one another too.

There's something so special in getting to know people who believe in me and my abilities 100% and I definitely don't take that for granted. I'm always thinking of new ways to give back to everyone in the community and I don't think that enthusiasm will die down anytime soon!

Please go and check out each and every one of my patrons. They're all of them literally is.

Lauren, Lauren A, Michelle, Gem, Ella, Lyzi, Sian, Amy, Fern, Caitlin, G and Kait.

Join us! 

We're always looking out for new people to join our coven cult community. If you're looking to join a community full of passionate individuals that like to discuss everything from books to creative projects to life in general, you've found us. I don't have to know you personally. You don't have to consider yourself creative or well-read or anything in between. Everyone is welcome!

There's a range of tiers for you to try out offering various levels of exclusive content and other cool stuff (£1.54 a month, £3.50 a month, £4.93 a month and £6.33 a month) so there's something for most people to sink their teeth into.

There's also a nice selection of testimonials on my Patreon page just in case you aren't sure what you're letting yourself in for. We're just under 20% away from a whole week of exclusive content for all patrons so that's something to look forward to and work towards!


If you can't or don't want to join the community, I'll still be posting here as I have done for the past 8 years. Don't you worry!

I'll be back at the start of next week, in fact, for a special Books Are My Bag related haul. Keep your eyes peeled for that!


Monday, 8 October 2018

Things That Make Me Happy 87

how to feel more gratitude blog post

waking up to find poppy snuggled into me 
being cooked for  
the fact that i'm beginning to realise my potential after years of doubting myself 
randomly dropping myself into google maps and exploring the place i've landed...

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


Saturday, 22 September 2018

autumn & winter manifesto 2018

This autumn and winter, I will:

up my biz game (need help with words?)
and my patreon game (join us?)

keep up with my admin  
and file my first tax return 

head to devon for a family adventure 
and share a blog post about it 

make some new comforting meals
get better at insta stories 

buy some prints for the stairs
read lots in my spare time 

visit stourhead
use up at least one disposable camera

keep up with my exercise routine 
uphold mine and lyzi's festive tradition 

buy stuff for chai lattes 
take poppy to the woods

buy a plant for the plant holder 
start working my way through my list of pubs/restaurants to visit 

write an epic quiz for boxing day 
take more instax snaps to frame 

try and find some more balance in my life 
buy an outfit that fits because I am running out of clothes 

What's on your list? 

Scroll through all my other lists over the years if you'd like to.


Saturday, 8 September 2018

Independent Bookshop: Book Barn International, Somerset

book barn international hallatrow book blog vivatramp

Book Barn International, a bookish haunt that I'm particularly fond of, held a kilo sale over the bank holiday weekend where you could fill a box with secondhand books for just £2.

As a strong believer in the idea that you can never own too many books, I decided to drag my family along for a browse via Cheddar Gorge.

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We arrived, after spending 300 years behind lycra-adorned cyclists, to find part of the car park and entrance to the warehouse full of crate-upon-crate of secondhand books. Cookbooks, spine-cracked novels, non-fiction books on everything from cricket to yoga.

I set myself to work looking through the crates, mostly distracted by amazing old book covers. I find it extremely easy to get all sentimental about secondhand books and the lives they've lead so let's just skip ahead to some photos of busy bookshelves.

books vivatrampbook barn international hallatrow book bloggers in the ukvivatramp book blog uk

After donating a bag of books at the front desk, I headed for all of the indoor shelves. If you've never heard of the Book Barn, it's essentially a big warehouse full of secondhand books that are mostly all £1 each. It's easy to spend a couple of hours wandering the maze of shelves in search of your next read.

There's also a cafe, a rug shop, a warehouse out the back filled with slightly pricier books, and a rare and antiquarian book section for good measure. The latter goes by the name of the Darwin Room and, as you can see, I spent a few minutes browsing before heading back to the car. 

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I usually find a few books that take my fancy, as shown in previous book hauls, but I couldn't find anything that caught my eye on this occasion so I remarkably headed home with an empty bag. Next stop: the fish and chip shop.

We sat up on the Mendips eating fish and chips in the car whilst active families cycled by. We wound down the windows and jokingly offered chips to every pour soul that made their way to the top of the road. We had the right idea if you ask me.

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Stomachs suitably full, we headed home to pick blackberries from my garden like we're in the Famous Five or something.

Blackberries sent on their way with my sister, so that she could make smoothies for the week, it was time to sit down with a book and the first hot chocolate of the season. Bliss.

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That was enough excitement for at least a week.

Have you been on any adventures recently? Been buying any secondhand books? Spill.

Check out my previous adventures if you haven't already done so.

P.S Have you downloaded the creative prompts guide yet?

P. P. S We've just started our Vivatramp Book Club read for September-October over on my Patreon page. Join us?

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