Monday, 12 September 2016

To have kids or not to have kids - that is the question.

As women we are sold a dream from a young age. We should meet the man of our dreams who will provide for us, have the perfect wedding with our one true love, buy a house and start a family. As I approach my 30s in the next couple of years I can't help but feel that maybe that specific 'dream' isn't all its made out to be. This ideal became prevalent in a time where society was very different to what it is now and for most women at that time, this really would have been the dream. 
Growing up I watched all of the classic Disney Princess movies which reaffirmed this ideal and set the expectation for life, it's only been over the last 5 years or so that I have really started to question societies expectations and ask myself if this life is something I actually want? 

Times have undoubtedly changed and whilst the traditional expectations are certainly not as prominent as they once were - they are still there. As women we are no longer restricted from voting and quarantined to the kitchen as house wives - we now have the freedom to develop our own careers, travel, be a girl boss and choose our own path of happiness. Even with this in mind there is still that unwritten pressure looming over my head that "shouldn't I be starting a family soon?" 

Today we have the option to do both - we can be mothers and hold down a career, whether you're a single parent, in a relationship or any other circumstances. Or if that isn't what you want and you are in a position to do so you can choose to be a stay at home mum and that's ok too. What I'm trying to say is we are now faced with several very plausible options that each come with pro's and cons. We can have it all if we so wish. But at what cost?  

I have never been maternal - ever. I have never wanted children. I've always been told that one day I will just wake up and I will know. That as I get older I will change. As I get closer to 30 and continue to be bombarded with messages about my 'body clock' ticking, this issue has been in my thoughts more so than ever before. Now for the record I don't buy into the whole as soon as you reach 30 you basically wither up and it's a bad idea having kids . Thats a whole different conversation entirely and not one I'm going to go into in this post, but it would be foolish not to mention it and the pressure that it brings to many women.

On paper now would be a great time to start a family, yes I'm not married but I'm in a long term relationship, have a lovely home, stable job, the works. Why then is it the last thing I want right now? I will tell you why. 

I'm so confused. Deeply, deeply confused by the whole thing. Yes I know that being a parent and having children is filled with a love, joy and happiness like no other. I obviously don't know this first hand but I have many friends both online and offline that are mothers and who say this and truly mean it. Their hearts are so full with love for their children and they wouldn't change it for the world. But I don't know what that feels like - and I never will until I have children of my own, so its very hard to relate to this and imagine what it will be like. All I can relate to are my own feelings and thoughts based on my instincts and what I see and hear. 

Almost everything within me says I don't want to have children. Not only that but I am at an age now where many of my friends and family have young families of their own. I watch what they go through and think there is no way I would choose that life for me. I know Mothers who are in relationships, single mothers and parents who are separated but co parenting. I know some stay at home mums, some who work full time, others who work part time. Mums with babies, Mums with older children. I have direct experience of almost the whole spectrum of Motherhood. 
In almost all of these scenarios I regularly see and hear how exhausted these Mother's are. Stressed, tired, busy, rushed off their feet. Juggling looking after children whilst holding down a job and running the house. Cleaning up shit and sick and running around trying desperately to keep it all together. Having schedules for their children's after school clubs and weekend activities. Trying to organise child care, nursery, school and baby sitters months and months in advance. Constantly putting themselves at the bottom of the pecking order, feeling guilty for having any time of their own that doesn't revolve around their children. 
I feel like I need to stress that this is the picture I see from 99% of those scenarios above. Yes I am fully aware that of course it isn't like this for everyone but that isn't why I'm writing this post. I can only go from what I see. Not only do I see this in "real life" but I see it online all the time. Facebook and Twitter being the main area's.  I see so many status updates and tweets that reflect the above. Now don't get me wrong this is by no means criticism of any kind and I want to make that clear. There is absolutely no judgement from me whatsoever and I respect and admire all of the mothers mentioned above with the upmost sincerity.

With all this in mind I can't think of anything I'd rather not do than all of the above. Life isn't always easy - children or no children, but I don't want to sign up for that. It would be foolish to think that life can ever be the same again after having children and to put it bluntly, right now I'm not sure if that is a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Some would say I'm selfish and read this post whilst shaking their heads and I totally respect that, however I'm writing this post for two reasons. 
1. Because I know in my heart of hearts that there are several other women out there in a similar position to me feeling the exact same pressures as I am.
2. Because I don't feel that this is talked about enough and by writing this down it somehow helps me work through these thoughts and feelings I am having. 

I really think that the small part of me that thinks I should have children is driven by external expectations and what if's rather than me actually wanting to be a mother. The fear of regretting my decision is also a big driver. So I have this very small part of me (10%) that thinks I should think about starting a family over the next few years or whenever I'm ready. Then I have the rest of me (90%) that couldn't think of anything I would rather not do. 

Who knows what the future holds, I guess only time will tell, but I can tell you one thing for certain. If I ever do decide to have children it will not be driven by external expectations and pressures telling me that I should be a Mother. 

I would really welcome your thoughts on this either in the comments or over on Twitter.

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Easy No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

I've always loved strawberry cheesecake. This recipe is so simple and so delicious its the perfect dessert even though Summer is almost over. I took this to a friends picnic recently and everybody absolutely loved it.

I used my food processor to make the whole thing - it makes it so quick and easy!

You will need
300g Digestives
200g Butter (melted)
600g of Soft Cheese (e.g 3 tubs of Philadelphia)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
Punnet of Strawberries hulled (about 400g)
75g Caster sugar
300ml Double cream
Extra strawberries and babies breath to decorate


  • Line the bottom of a springform tin with baking parchment
  • Blitz the digestives in your food processor until they become crumbs. Add the melted butter and combine in the processor. Cover the bottom of the tin with the mixture and press down with the back of a spoon to make it an even layer. Put it in the fridge to cool whilst preparing the filling
  • Rinse any last little crumbs out of the food processor then blitz the sugars and strawberries into a puree
  • Add in the cream cheese and vanilla extract and blend until smooth
  • Mix in your double cream and blend until your mixture becomes thick
  • Pour the delicious mixture over your base and smooth over the top with the back of a spoon
  • Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge to set overnight
  • Decorate the cake with fresh strawberries and babies breath to create a really pretty finish
If you are taking this to a picnic or to a friends house you can leave it in the tin until its ready to serve so it keeps its shape. Cut yourself a nice big slice and enjoy!

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Sunday, 31 July 2016

Minimalism - 5 Simple Tips

Minimalism is a lifestyle focussed on having more with less. There are many different types of minimalism and its all about finding how it works for you in your life. There is no set rule book that says you should only own a certain amount of items or dress entirely in monochrome. For me it looks like concentrating on the things that add value to my life and letting go of the rest. I also like the minimalist aesthetic in my home (you can read more about my minimalism journey and what minimalism means to me in this blogpost). I have found many benefits to this approach and I wanted to share 5 simple tips with those of you who may be interested in dipping your toes into the minimalist water so to speak. 


You've heard it once you've heard it a thousand times but you're about to hear it again. Taking care of your mental wellbeing is so important. Having a mental declutter and taking time to clear your head will not only make you a healthier and happier person but will also give you better mental clarity to make informed, rational decisions in all areas of life. We apply a minimalist approach to our mental health by putting it quite simply - letting that shit go. By adopting the same attitude we use to review our material possessions and deciding only to keep what serves you and has value and then letting go of the rest. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to incorporate meditation into your day. Taking just 5 minutes per day to declutter your mind will do wonders for you. I would highly recommend downloading the free Rituals app and taking advantage of the fantastic guided meditations available within the app. 


There seems to be a correlation at the moment between minimalism and veganism. The two seem to go hand in hand and whilst I think vegans are awesome I want to stress that to apply a minimalist approach to your diet does not mean you have to be vegan. A lot of minimalists are concerned with the environmental impacts of mass consumerism and consumption and this is one of the many reasons several minimalists choose to adopt a vegan diet. I would say you should eat however you want and however makes you happy - absolutely no-one has the right to tell you how you should or shouldn't be eating. That being said if you were looking to apply a little bit of minimalism to the foods you are consuming maybe look to reduce the amount of processed foods you are including in your diet - this not only helps the environment but is better for your health too. The same applies to exercise, find what works for you and stick with that for a while. You may have to try several different activities before you find a few that you really enjoy, just be mindful not to spread yourself too thinly and be doing 16 classes a week with 4 runs and 3 yoga sessions crammed in ;) 


One of my favourite quotes is "Outer order contributes to inner calm". I heard this on Gretchen Ruben's podcast and it has stayed with me ever since. It really is true that having an clean orderly environment has a positive impact on your wellbeing and energy.
Although this is an obvious one maybe you could look at a few small ways of simplifying your space. You know how the saying goes tidy home = tidy mind. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Condo is a great place to start but if not just have a look around the space you spend the most time in an identify any clutter spots - kitchen counters and underneath the coffee table are two common areas where "stuff" just starts gathering. Do you really need all of that stuff on your work top or can the salt and pepper, olive oil and numerous other items live in the cupboard? The chances are these areas will take around 5 minutes to clear and although it is so simple it is extremely satisfying and effective. 


However you hustle to pay the bills each month a little mindfulness in the work department goes a long way. You can start applying minimalism to your work life by making a conscious effort to stop determining your self worth by the amount of tasks you get ticked off your to do list each day. Be realistic with your daily to do list and approach each task one at once. I can't tell you how many times I have started doing something at work only to get distracted by an email, then start working through my inbox, then start doing something else to then go back to the original task and be thinking "what am I doing?" Minimalism is all about having more with less in all areas of life. There is no reason why this can't be applied to productivity too. 


I could talk about minimalism and money until the cows come home as this is an area of personal struggle and development for me. Taking care of your money and investing in your financial freedom is one of the most important things you can do for yourself (in my opinion) Not having to live from payday to payday is something within all of our reach if we learn to take control of our finances. One key thing you can do to apply minimalism to your money is to create a budget and stick to it. There are tons of free budget templates available online that will empower you to see exactly what you have coming in and going out each month. By doing this exercise you can then start to identify areas where you are wasting money that would be much better off in the bank. Now don't get me wrong I absolutely think you should treat yo'self with your hard earned cash but when those treats aren't really of value to you and just end up being donated to charity or sat unloved in a cupboard or wardrobe you have to think did I really need that? I'm not saying you can't have a blow out or spend your money however the hell you want but what I am saying is that if you want to apply minimalism to your wallet try and be a little more mindful around your purchases. 

I hope you find some of these tips useful - let me know in the comments if you have any minimalism tips.

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Mauds House Skipton

Last week I finally visited Mauds House - a beautiful lifestyle shop that has just opened in Skipton. If you love beautiful homewares and stationary you will absolutely love this shop. Everything is so beautifully curated by the owner Hattie who has a real eye for contemporary design and carefully selects pieces from Denmark and the Netherlands.

I'd been desperate to visit since the shop opened. As soon as I heard about it I knew it would be totally up my street. When I visited Amsterdam one of the main things I loved about it was all of the little independent shops and Mauds House definitely has the same vibe. What I also love about the shop is that it showcases lots of UK illustrators and designers and has an amazing collection of prints and cards.

I have a wish list as long as my arm but managed to pick up some really gorgeous pieces on my visit. I picked up this gorgeous little glass jar which is perfect for my paperclips as well as a water bottle with a similar design. I love the black detail with the gold hardware and its really affordable too.

Glass Jar, Water Bottle, Go Get Em Tiger Card, Socks, Pen

I've recently done up my spare room/office (more coming on that soon) but I cannot wait for Pay Day so I can order this gorgeous Rug and this Big Cat Print which will look fab on my new gallery wall. I also REALLY want one of these gorgeous pink vases. How sweet would it look with some peonies in it?

If you're ever over this neck of the woods be sure to pay a visit to Skipton and check out Mauds House. Whilst your at it swing by Filmore and Union for lunch and order the Filmore Special Sharing board - you won't regret it. If you're not going to be near Skipton anytime soon you'll be pleased to know that you can also order from Mauds House online - link here.

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Saturday, 11 June 2016

A Beginners Guide to Modern Calligraphy: The Basics

There is no denying that calligraphy is making a comeback. I'm seeing more and more people try it out and I think its great! I think calligraphy became a bit of a lost art for a while but it's certainly having its moment right now. All you have to do is browse through #calligraphy on instagram and you will see thousands of amazing images and videos of people practicing hand lettering. 

I wanted to pull together a little post to help those of you who want to give this a go yourself. I'm going to share all of my favourite resources with you to get you going. First thing's first there are a couple of different styles of calligraphy and these produce very different effects. We're going to start with modern calligraphy but I am also going to share a post all about brush lettering, and finally iPad lettering. Modern Calligraphy is done with a nib and ink, brush lettering is done with a brush pen or a paint brush. Both methods have some similarities but produce different results. If you have tried calligraphy before and struggled it may be worth trying brush lettering and vice versa.


First thing's first when you are just starting out please don't feel the need to spend lots of money of expensive kit. All you need is a nib, a penholder, some ink and some paper. You don't need to buy any books or paper as thanks to the wonderful thing that is the internet there's tons of resources available online. 

Different things work for different people so you will have to go through a process of trial and error until you find the right nib/ink/paper combo that works for you. I am still going through this process myself but I would recommend trying the following starter pack:

Graph paper is your new best friend if you can't find the Rhodia dot pad. This kind of paper helps you with the height and spacing of your letters - something that is really tricky to master at first.

My favourite shops to order my supplies from are Amazon and Scribblers. 


Look I'm going to be honest with you - at first your lettering is probably going to look a little naff. Calligraphy does take practice and this is something you must accept. I had grand ideas that I could just pick up a nib and ink and be off but it doesn't work like that. Learning how to form the letters and join them takes time but one thing I will say is that you will be amazed at how quickly you make progress even with just a little bit of practice. Keep it fun and don't stress about it - a little goes a long way! 

Thankfully there are tons of free resources available online to help you. I would highly recommend the free worksheets that you can print and download from The Postman's Knock. You can print these off and practice tracing over the letters. This is the best way to practice in my opinion as it teaches you how to form the letters. 

Lindsey also has a fantastic in depth post about how to hold you pen, load the nib into the penholder, clean your nibs etc etc. The links to all of the free worksheet downloads are in the same blogpost so I would really encourage you to check it out. Lindsey has covered all of the bases in in her post so rather than me repeating them all here please go and read her post here.

The key to calligraphy is to apply pressure on the downward strokes and remove this pressure on the upward strokes. This gives you the effect of thicker down strokes and thinner up strokes. Play around with different styles of lettering and eventually you will find your own style and it will become natural.

One of the best words you can practice when first starting out is minimum. Theres lots of up and down stokes in quick succession which will really help you when first starting out. Watch this video below and you will see what I mean


Every day I screenshot quotes, prints, and lettering styles I love. Its really quite addictive. The main thing I do though is watch calligraphy videos on instagram - if you really want to learn this is hands down the best tip I can give you and it is undoubtedly the thing that has helped me improve the most. Watching the way people write calligraphy shows you how they form the words, join the letters and understand the spacing of the letters. I spent weeks and weeks copying these videos until I could do the same. I would replay them over and over and over again until it finally clicked and now I'm one of those people uploading these videos to instagram. Browse these hashtags on instagram and prepare to get lost on there for hours #brushlettering #calligraphy

Some of my favourite lettering accounts on instagram are


Finally if you really want to buy some books on this Nib & Ink is a beautiful book as is, Creative Lettering and Beyond and also Modern Calligraphy. I would highly recommend though that you browse Pinterest first as there are TONS of free resources and printables available online (like these  these and these) that you can use. I taught myself and didn't buy any books, I used Youtube videos, free online resources I found on The Postman's Knock, and I watched a lot of instagram videos. 

I am hoping to make some worksheets for you to download too and to use in my calligraphy workshops so watch this space!

EDIT: I just noticed I spelt calligraphy wrong in my photo - typical. I'd be lying if I said it didn't happen all the time! :) 

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Saturday, 21 May 2016

Kelanjo Designs Etsy Shop

"From tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow"

My etsy shop is now up and running (link here). I have worked so hard on this and I'm so unbelievably proud of myself for doing this. What started 18 months ago as me dusting off my calligraphy pen and brushing up on my lettering skills has developed into something rather wonderful resulting in me starting a little side line and opening an etsy shop. 

If you follow me on snapchat (username kellycpeel) you will have seen me pondering doing this for months, talking about my hopes and dreams but feeling too scared to do anything about it. I had so much self doubt whether I was good enough to do this but after a lot of hard work and dedication here we are. 

There was so much more involved than I anticipated, researching printers, different types of papers, designing my logo, learning photoshop, figuring out how to sell on etsy. I work full time in a demanding office job and I've been working on my shop on my lunch break, after work and weekends. But the hard work is now done and I'm really happy to be sharing this new adventure with you all. 

There are 5 prints in the shop at the moment with an option for a custom print. Now that the shop is all sorted I will have lots more time to get back to doing the part I love the most and that is creating the prints. When I am doing my calligraphy and hand lettering time stands still. One Saturday I had breakfast then sat working on hand lettered prints all day without eating, drinking anything until 7pm. I didn't even realise the time until I noticed it was getting dark. 

I would absolutely love it if you could head over to my little shop and have a look around and give me any feedback or idea's for prints that you would like to see. If you could also share my tweets I would be eternally grateful. 

Who knows where this will lead - I'm already so proud of myself for what I've achieved so far and I have such big dreams. Over the coming months I will be adding hand lettered wedding envelopes to the shop as well as designing hand lettered blog logos and whatever I earn from selling my prints will be reinvested so I can start holding modern calligraphy workshops.

If you believe it you can achieve it and I hope you all have the courage to follow your dreams.

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Five Things

1. I just can't get enough of fresh flowers at the moment. White tulips and pretty pink hyacinths are really doing it for me. They completely transform a room and make for a mean instagram post too. I buy mine at Aldi and they last really well and are very affordable. 
2. If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat you will know that I am going to be launching an etsy shop selling my hand lettered prints. I am so excited about this and I will let you know as soon as it's up and running. I will also be doing custom orders as well as wedding envelopes and much more but I will be starting small and adding more items as I go along. I started this journey almost 18 months ago practicing my faux calligraphy, then learning brush lettering and finally learning how to do my quotes digitally on my iPad Pro. You can look back to my post a the beginning of last year here and look at what my lettering was like when I first started. It just shows what a little perseverance and practice can do if you really want to do something. I'm still working out the logistics of running my etsy shop but I'm hoping to have it open ASAP so watch this space.
3. I'm trying to get a bit healthier as we move into May. After our gym flooded in the Boxing Day Floods I haven't had access to a gym and regular exercise has well and truly gone out of the window. I also haven't been making the best food choices and I've been snacking on all the wrong things. I've been lacking in energy, having headaches and just feeling in a bit of a slump so I've joined a huge health centre just along the road from where we live and I'm booked in for a "Health MOT" this evening. Pray for me. 

4. I am well and truly on board with Netflix these days. If you havent already watched Reign YOU NEED TO. Its like French Court meets Gossip Girl and I've been obsessed for months. I recently started watching another series called Once Upon a Time which is all about Fairytale characters in the real world - I've only watched a couple of episodes and it seems ok so far but nothing amazing. Also for any Game of Thrones fans who are up to date and saw the first episode on Monday night - I'm just going to leave this link here *insert side eye emoji* 

5. Last but not least I am completely in love with the new parrot range at Paperchase. Think big palm leaves, bright colours and lots of birds. Its so gorgeous and I want it all. I had a £5 voucher on my "Treat Me" card (Paperchase's loyalty card which is totally free and you get lots of discounts and vouchers on your birthday) so I used it to get this dreamy pencil case. Its so fun I just love it! They also have a leather palm print pencil case that would also double up as a cute little make up bag too - roll on payday. 
I hope you have a great bank holiday weekend whatever you get up to :) 

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