Thursday, June 27, 2013

Textiles of all sorts, including socks.

I was the May 2013 artist of the month with gift box subscription service Goodie Goodness.  This is a photo of a whole load of Czech Dog pillows which travelled down to London to be added to the gift boxes.  These dogs actually ended up hitching a ride on the Megabus with a real nice gal who volunteered to take them with her to London so I didn't have to.  There's good people out there!!

Speaking of dog pillows, I mentioned earlier about a new stockist of mine in Manchester.  Here are a few photos of the new cafe and gift shop that I just DIE over the niceness of.  They make good coffee and they sell beautiful things.  Dream shop, yes.

(I borrowed these photos from Manchester's Finest)

Taco kitty is proving quite popular in South Korea and Japan.  These totes are stocked at some cool shops in Asia, in case you're planning a trip to that part of the world! 

SO moving on to other textile-based conversation... a little while back I attended a running conference called Write This Run.  It was marginally geeky but I got over being a geek a long time ago (no use fighting the inevitable) - and after a fabulous day listening to inspiring people talk about running and achieving goals I came away with not only a turbocharged urge to sign the heck up for loads of races and be all awesome and stuff, but a pretty hefty goody bag full of sweet gear.  I got a pair of these balega socks and darn, they saved me!  After the conference I had to leg it to the train station down a very long (long) driveway in the rain, in a pair of leather chelsea boots. With no socks on.  On arrival at the train station boy was I glad when I discovered this lovely pair of socks - they saved my feet from an imminent trip to blistertown.  

As I'm pretty sure the nice folks at balega didn't design these 'pro racer 3 Low Cut' socks with chelsea boots in mind I decided to try them out the next day - with a pair of runners.  And they're nice.  Thinner than a lot of my running socks, they're comfortable and light.  I also like how they're a little higher on the ankle.  I've been on some long runs where my socks have slipped down my ankle and thus caused some major blister issues.  So yeah, all in all these are good socks - and even better for turning up in my bag when I needed them most.  

Well I'm due a short 3 mile run this afternoon, which is roughly the distance to the supermarket where I shall purchase some kale and beans as my other half is out for the evening and I don't get to eat kale and beans for dinner when he's around.  Let's raise our green smoothies and toast to sad, guilty indulgences we delight in when our sane life partners leave us to our own devices. CHEERS! 

Lazy swimmer

Where do the weeks go? Thursday rolls around quicker every week.  I'm so busy packing up orders and eating chocolate covered cashews (these exist, did you know?) and running and swimming that I don't notice time slipping away.

I must say I'm getting lazier as a swimmer!! Still going to Wednesday evening USwim sessions and last night I did over 1000m which sounds like a reasonable amount but it's not that much really.  And as my swim cap was giving me some major jip last night I ended up stopping loads to adjust it and then doing a little breaststroke afterwards.  Oh well.  Because I don't have anything to train for I don't really mind just going along and using it as my time to relax and chill out.  And you know what it's nice.

Damn if only wetsuits were this sexy.  

Pretty pink posters

I did these posters and postcards for Dear Doris, a super little gift shop in Penarth, Wales.  They hold a Vintage Marketplace every month. Go check it out!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy running weekend

HEY GUYS I'm writing this in a tired Tuesday afternoon haze; surrounding me are receipts, packing tape, pillows, half a cup of cold earl grey tea, airmail stickers, various writing implements and upwards of 16 lists of things I need to do.  I'm so glad I have run club this evening because a) I baked some (tasty) dark chocolate brownies this morning and consumed a number of them throughout the day and b) I need to get out of this pit I seem to have created today.

When there's just one of me working 15 different roles to keep this business rolling I swap from one task to another and back again so many times throughout the day.  It works for me, it satisfies my personality and it comes naturally to prioritise as I go.  It just means my workspace is eternally messy.  Don't get me wrong, I can't stand clutter and am more or less pretty clean - and try to start and finish each day with a tidy desk - I just feel like in between I seem to be doing upwards of 6 things at any given time - at least one of which involves bubble wrap.

New BABE tote. Thanks for being a TOTAL BABE and listening to me moan on about my sweet job. 

Anyways I don't know why I'm complaining. I had the weekend off, away from my desk.  Our weekend began on Thursday evening; I went for a nice 4 miler and packed our bags up ready for us to head over to Harrogate after my bearded man came home from work.  We had a wedding to attend on Friday so I got out early Friday morning for an easy 5 miles before showering and making myself presentable for a day of boozing and dancing.

If you're wondering why my runs seem a bit repetitive it's because I'm trying out Hanson's Marathon Method, a different training plan to my previous one - I'm excited to see how it plays out.  The reasoning behind it is you run more often but you only train up to 16 miles as your furthest distance.  Don't get me wrong I had no issues with my long runs last time around I just literally thought I'd try something different.

I'm only doing the beginner's programme but there's charts which help you calculate pace for your goals and when the tempo sessions come into play in a couple of weeks time I should be feeling some of the changes in this training plan versus what I'm used to.  So, where I would usually run Tues Thurs Sat and Sun I'm running Tues Thurs Fri Sat Sun and starting week after next Monday gets up in the mix as well.

Friday morning in Nike // Saturday afternoon in my new Hot Tuna shorts  // Oklahoma Benefit Tank arrived!

My weekend runs were nice, was glad to get out on Saturday - I guess after finding a beautiful wedding dress on Saturday morning (!) any inkling of a hangover seemed to disappear and I couldn't help but enjoy my run.  And Sunday was also a good one - I've forgotten which routes are which distance since my last training cycle so I accidentally went further than planned.

Anyways I'm off now to try out some new kit.  Well, after I tidy up this massive pile of aprons I just labelled up (they're back in stock now, get your paws on one before they sell out!)

(Another new tote - well, it was new until I sold out of it.)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The highlight of this post is the bagel

Last week I did such a good job of being a girl.  Went to look at pretty white dresses and I bought something! Yep, a new tank top and some jazzy running shorts.  Go me, right?

(My Nike T shirt from the Nike store in Paris. A gift for running the marathon from my other half! It got me up some hills on Tuesday night.)

Juneathon is still happening, you know.  On Saturday I got 3 miles in on the way to the grocery store and on Sunday I took my jazzy new kit and my bearded man out for 4 miles along the canal.  He's very good at casually pointing out interesting birds, dogs and so forth - because he knows I won't see them right away and thus we'll have to stop.  So smart/lazy.

Monday was just a stretch day/did I take the day off? I'm not sure.  Pretty sure I ate a bagel filled with yoghurt, though (try it.)  Last night at run club we did some efforts and some hills.  It was a nice session.  I always feel so lucky to be able to train down by the canal and the water park. It's super nice and green this time of year.

Now I'm going to do some Nike Training Club as this hayfever is making me ever so sleepy and if I don't increase my heartrate somehow I think I may fall asleep standing up.  Well I'll either do Nike Training Club or watch Breaking Bad. YOU KNOW WHICH ONE YOU'D CHOOSE don't lie.

By the way, if your mind is still on the bagel/yoghurt combination don't worry, mine is too.  This is how it goes: Toast bagel (I like to use the raisin ones. You're meant to actually use english muffins for this but I had bagels. Muffins actually work much better, especially the spiced fruit ones they sell in Sainsburys.) and while bagel is toasting mix in a bowl: yoghurt (blueberry is my fave) seeds of any sort or nuts.  Slice up some canned pear (or any fruit really but I like canned pear) and after buttering (don't have to) bagel, lay sliced fruit and blob yoghurt filling on top. Sprinkle cinnamon or honey. Cover with top of bagel and eat like a sandwich.  Watch out cuz it really is a messy thing to eat. You'll get yoghurt all up on your business. Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Counting my blessings

I'm lucky that I get to draw dogs for my job.

I'm lucky that I sell little handmade bearded men all over the freaking world.  The bearded men don't do anything bar make people smile and keep them company but folks like them and buy them and share them with their friends.  How awesome is that?

(Hey Clive. )

I'm lucky that I can live in a little bubble where Unicorns exist wholeheartedly.  

I'm lucky my fiance doesn't get mad at me when I stand on our table to photograph cards,  

or when I fill up the spare room with pillows and bags of red licorice and play a single track over and over and over and over again while I'm sewing said pillows. 

I'm lucky that I'm going to have 5 bridesmaids at our wedding and they are GOLDEN. (some special bridesbitches gifts I got for my ladies.  Inside are handmade lucky charms from a super lady in San Francisco.)

I'm lucky that people ask me to draw awesome shit, like vampires and green smoothies and grumpy-ass cats.  

And that I can make special gifts for our friends that are personal and nice.  

I'm just generally pretty lucky that I do something that I love every day.  

So lucky. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Real Girls Wear Runners

HI FRIENDS! I'm frantically packing up orders this morning so that I can get to the post office and still catch the sunshine for a short run afterwards.  My 'I Run Hills' tote bags are back in stock and I've already sold out of the new army green colour:

So it's all packing tape and airmail stickers at Nicola HQ this Saturday morning.

Hope you're enjoying JUNE so far and getting some sunshine and running and tacos and beers into your days.  After a whole day of wedding dress shopping yesterday (I know, can you believe I had any energy left?) me and my pal went for a 3 mile jog/wedding dress run-through session last night.

Because wedding dresses are confusing and the pricetags make you question your reasoning skills I was glad to come home to a nice shower, a curry and a read of this really ace article on the Guardian website about running blogs, which lists the top ten running blogs to read - We Do Run Run being number 10 on the list!  It's good to have some real-life shit to bring you back from Planet Silk & Lace.

Enjoy your Saturday and stay here on planet earth, it's much better.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Running hills and drinking jo

Just as a sidenote I keep getting loads of requests for this tote, I should have a bunch back in stock tomorrow! woooooo hooo.  Follow on twitter or instagram or sign up to my newsletter if you want to be notified of their imminent return!

Speaking of running hills I ran some hills on Tuesday, after 4 x .9mile efforts around Chorlton Water Park and 6 x 30 second sprints.  10 hills, to be exact.  An 8 mile run earned a tasty steak dinner - and that superbly satisfying tired leg feeling when I got into bed that night. Worth it!

Yesterday was swimming night, at Salford Quays - did 2 x 750m laps and really tried to stop myself being lazy - if I'm not careful I take too many quick 'breastroke breaks' - trying to find a balance between going to swimming to just enjoy it but avoiding falling into a 'I'll just take another breastroke break and relaxxx' pattern.  Lazy girl!

This morning I just did a short 3 mile run back from town.  It started raining and I put my foot on the gas and felt great - a 23.30 5k ain't bad for me, for a Thursday morning!  (mind you, two cups of tea and a strong coffee might have played a small part in those energy levels being off the scales.)

In other news, last week I packed up some cards and pillows to take into a new stockist in Manchester; an amaaaazing new cafe called Fig & Sparrow.  You can purchase my dog pillows and lots of my dog cards too.  And while you're there don't forget to sample their top quality coffee!

O yea, lastly - two new runners up on We Do Run Run blog. Checkemout.  If you wanna be all up on there, gimme a shout! Always looking for runners to feature.

Make your guests do yoga

A quick Juneathon catchup.  Sunday was totally a sweaty Sunday.  My bestie was staying and as Rich was playing golf we got to drink smoothies and fresh juice, do some yoga and things even got really wild and we did a NTC workout in my front room.  We're so cool, sometimes I can't believe quite how insanely cool we are.

As if that wasn't enough fun (seriously though, people will stop coming to stay at our house soon) we went on a 4 mile run down the canal and up to Chorlton Water Park to find some hills.  It was actually (if you like running and hills and aren't normal) really fun.

On Monday I did loads and loads of stretching while watching Breaking Bad.  This counts because my hamstrings are super tight at the moment and I'm almost through series 3 and gahhh my favourite character is Gus don't you agree?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Special new offer!

I'm going to start doing custom couple portraits in my etsy shop.  However, I need a couple of examples to show in the product listing.  So, I am offering custom couple portraits at 50% off as an introductory offer, for the first five four customers ONE LAST LUCKY CUSTOMER sorry these are all gone now, in exchange for you letting me use your pretty drawing as an example in my online shop.  This special price of £25 will be available first come first served, and after that the price will go up to £50.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Ups and downs but mostly ups.

Yeah Yeah Yeah I'm late again on this blogging thing, whatever.

A month or so ago I made up this cootie cat tank top.  I also have a cream coloured one available too.  I thought it might be good for running in.  If you're interested it's available through my etsy shop.

So on Friday I started feeling down in the afternoon and in effort to try and make it all better I started an NTC workout but it didn't work and there were tears and turns out I needed some beer, tortilla chips and fish tacos - they work much better it seems - alongside seeing some good pals my worries faded away into nothing.

I made up for my 10 minutes-worth of Friday exercise on Saturday morning though.  My run club buddies met up at Parkrun for a team effort and the competition really got my ass into gear.  Two of the male runners who I'd class as my kind of pace - one of them was in front of me the whole time so I was trying to catch up with him - and the other was behind me the whole way around.  The guy behind me is usually faster than me so when he caught me at 4k I thought, I'm not having this! So I didn't let him get past and smoked him on the last kilometer.  I bagged a pb, shaving 25 seconds off my previous time, but was mostly just super super chuffed to have beaten Mark.  And the nicest thing about it was that he was chuffed for me! Ahh. Don't you just love runners?

From Parkrun I got my butt to Salford Quays for a dip, just did 800m as it was towards the end of the morning swim time - but it was perfect. Super sunny and lovely.

Brekkie to go // New 5k PB! // Salford Swim

Saturday turned out to continue with awesomeness. Trying on wedding dresses, eating bagels and cake and being in the sunshine.  Happy happy.

Saturday Caturday. Meow

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Taco cat, running, eggs. All good things.

Most importantly, 
the Taco Kitty Canvas Tote is now reduced to just £9 as it's being discontinued.  Get your freaking paws on one before it's too late.

That out of the way, my Juneathon efforts as follows:

Tuesday was run club and boy was it run club.  We did a 30 minute continuous fast paced loop near Chorlton Water Park that consists of some mean hills and some horrendous gradual inclines.  I'll just say there were two new starters (we have a 'new starter' almost every week) and they snuck off halfway through! Then we followed with 10 x hill reps and 6 x 30 second efforts with 30 second recovery.

Wednesday (yesterday) I basically did my (4 miles worth of) errands on my bike again.  I wasn't wearing lycra and I wasn't really sweating but I also wasn't being subjected to open sores and ear dandruff on a 143 Stagecoach so Wednesday's activity was ultimately a success in my opinion.

Also, O to the M to the G on the scrambled egg sandwich situation.

And this morning started with a 3.7 mile run - nice start to the day.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with Breaking Bad and some sweet & sour chicken.

PS: those of you who asked about running tote bags, they should be available to order again next week. Thanks so much for your nice feedback on the bags, super stoked that they went down well!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A bike ride and a cat

Right so I'm a few days behind on my blog but things got busy!

On Monday I did my errands on my bicycle.  If you're wearing a dress, does cycling 4 miles count as anything? Probably not, but it's a mode of transport where I don't have to breathe strangers farts so I support it.

I also spent a part of my afternoon packing loads of orders as well as stuffing and sewing up a custom cat pillow which is going to live in Dubai.  Meet the grumpy Molly B.

 And here she is hanging with the other guys.
Custom pet pillows can be ordered through my etsy shop or just drop me a message through the form on my website!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sunday Funday

It's a good thing that I'm starting marathon training on Thursday because otherwise my marathon fuelling and non-marathon distances are in danger of putting some serious weight on this bod!

A very lazy (yet at a good pace, I must say) 3 mile run to Tesco began my Sunday, after a large bowl of muesli  + peanut butter.  I returned home with a backbreaking consignment of groceries and continued to spritz the kitchen in a post-exercise rampage.  Activities included Fridge Management and Store Cupboard Rationalisation which lead to making a lentil dahl with all the bags of beans I had in the cupboard and a buckwheat granola with all the random seeds and shit I found.  I also mopped the kitchen floor, rinsed my wetsuit, (ahem, from Saturday's swim. Oopsies.) baking soda'd my engagement ring, bleached the bin and took out all the recycling.  It was probably the most productive Sunday in the history of Sundays, ever.

Grocery lifting is good for bingo wings // Getting my jars in order

Buckwheat Granola from OhSheGlows blog // Green Monster for breakfast on Monday morning - YUM

Saturday, June 1, 2013

There will be sweat. (and dogs. and unicorns.)

So I've decided to take part in Juneathon, a whole month of doing exercise each day and bragging about it each day via social media.  If you've a tendency to get outraged at people bragging about mileage, sweat, etc please close your ears for approximately 30 days.  I'm sorry in advance.  I'm hoping, however, that my constant onslaught of exciting running anecdotes might possibly encourage a few of you to get involved.  You know you want to.

Anyways in an effort to keep things not entirely sweaty, I'll ensure to show you a few drawings of cats and dogs and probably a good amount of unicorns as well.  See?

(Some special badges I was asked to create a little while back, for a special lady.)

You want more? This is from my Prague sketchbook.  Recognise this chap?

So onto lesser dog-related topics, I started my June 1st with a trip to Salford Quays for a swim with my pal.  We got down there about 9am and it was pretty windy although the sun was determined to push its way through the clouds.  We've been twice before already this year and both times they only had the smaller course marked out, which is just 400m.  It was a nice surprise to see they'd marked out the 750m course and although I felt a little intimidated and just did one 400m lap to start, once I got settled I decided to go for the longer lap the second time round, and was glad I did!

I've had a love/hate relationship with swimming all my life, it's usually hate until I'm in the water for quite some time and then I remember why I like it.  My friend who I go swimming with is as much into swimming as I am into running and is training for a 5k swim next weekend - whereas I really take pleasure in the fact I'm not training for anything - and just enjoy it.  There's something about the rhythm and the space and the quiet and being away from any physical things - most specifically with open water more so than in a busy, loud pool - it's calming and really wonderful.

Anyways after 1150m I got out, dried off and changed into my running kit and finished off with a lovely 5k run around the Quays and Media City while my pal swam a bit more.  The sun kept squeezing through the clouds and there was a general waft of bacon from the USwim food tent.  A great start to the weekend and a month of activities, do you agree?