This is the year penguins will fly.

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Travelling Peru #2 – Ash’s Favourite Park

After the passport mishap, an 11+ hour flight, and an expensive taxi ride (we were too tired and grumpy to find the cheaper ones a little away from the airport) we got to our Hostel in Lima.

We were recommended Pirawana Hostel in the beautiful Miraflores district. Immediately the atmosphere hit us, If you want party, activities and friends this is the hostel to go to. It has a beautiful roof area with sun loungers, table tennis and music, a lovely restaurant with delicious food and different activities every night!

Unfortunately for the first night we completely missed the activity (a ping pong tournament) as we were incredibly jet lagged and went to bed at around 8pm as we couldn’t keep our eyes open! Unfortunately this also meant that we (or at least I) woke up at around 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. In fact now, on our 8th day of holiday, i think i’m only just getting over the jet lag!

Pariwana was also very clean, there seemed to be one woman who was constantly cleaning the rooms and bathrooms leaving everything spotless.

But by far the best thing about the hostel was the park right next door and completely full of cats! We spent a long time sitting watching the cats meander about.

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On the first day in Lima we wandered to the beach and chilled out after our long flight. We found some pretty shells and a sea urchin whilst we watched the waves and people surfing.

 

The next day we made the poor decision of walking 1hr30mins into Lima, with no suncream on. Needless to say we got burnt, we also got lost as I’m terrible with directions. Eventually we found the main Plaza with the presidential palace. As we were very grumpy we decided to stop for food and cocktails before meandering back to the hostel.

We didn’t actually get up to much in Lima, mostly because of how horribly jet lagged we were and unfortunately our schedule seems too full to have another good look around. However we have many more exciting adventures in peru on the way!

Claire


Travelling Peru – A Shaky Start

For the first time in our 5 1/2 year relationship, myself and Ashley are travelling on our own, outside of Europe. This is the first time we’ve been able to afford something so big and we couldn’t be more excited!

Unfortunately this trip didn’t start brilliantly.

Initially we weren’t meant to be on our own. Ashley used to work with a Peruvian and we still all keep in contact. He was meant to be showing us the sights but unfortunately his passport never arrived (wish you were here Jose!).

Then I also had passport troubles.

My mum came to visit me a few days before I left and, whilst doing her motherly thing, noticed that my passport went out of date in May. I replied ‘Yes, and i’m travelling in April, I checked it was in date already.  The well traveled among you might have already noticed the big error here.

Your passport has to be valid for at least 6 months after you travel to Peru.

Why this isn’t a thing you are told when you first book flights etc. I don’t know. But queue a rush to ring the passport office, book an emergency appointment and pay over £100 to be able to get the passport before I traveled. Luckily all went smoothly and I picked up my passport the morning of our flight (good job we’d booked for 8pm!)

I must say, the passport office staff were amazing. They were polite, efficient and were putting up with some horrible members of the public. The lady at the door in particular was being spoken to like she was a child who knew nothing (when she clearly knew the answers to the questions, it just wasn’t the answers the people were wanting), she just grinned and bared the abuse. Serious respect to her.

Anyway, thanks to my mum, we are now sat in Peru and are having the best time. This is truly a beautiful country!

Moral of the story : Check your passport, even if it’s in date!

Claire x


Artist’s Palette up for Auction for charity CRY / Katy Jade Dobson

KATY JADE DOBSON

I am incredibly proud that the palette I used while creating my Phospenes Collection is now available to bid on to raise money for the wonderful charity CRY.

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CRY is a charity based around Cardiac Risk in the Young and supports those affected by sudden cardiac death. Undiagnosed heart conditions take the lives of at least 12 young people everyweek, a number in which this charity is aiming to lower through their fantastic research and prevention efforts. 

I was made aware of the work of CRY through a private commission requested by a family who had lost their child to a cardiac condition.

It should never be the case that a child or anyone should lose their life so suddenly over something that could potentially be diagnosed earlier on, CRY’s incredible efforts towards Young Sudden Cardiac Deaths with their research, raising awareness and prevention efforts in this field…

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The Drawing Bug

It seems like recently I have caught the drawing bug, probably largely helped by a sudden avalanche of sales for my Penguin Valentines Cards! It really has been rather exciting over here at Penguin HQ!

I’ve found that I really do love drawing cute little animals and it seems like i’m getting better and better every time i open up photoshop! I’ve even started recording my drawing process as i think it does help to watch back when i’m not concentrating on drawing, plus i think it could be quite a nice little addition to my youtube cannel that’s been lying dormant for so long! You can watch all my time-lapses here!

I drew these seahorses as another option for valentines day, but ended up not really liking them enough to put up in my shop. I do think they’re cute but, gosh, are seahorses hard to draw! Maybe i’ll revisit them once i’ve improved a bit more.

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I started to relax into my drawing a bit more and drew this adorable Hippo! This has to be one of my favourite drawings to date! He’s wearing a cute little party hat and singing ‘Hippo Birthday’, because Hippo’s are obviously amazing singers! 😉 I think my shading improved so much on this picture and I just love the hippos character!

You can buy my Hippo Birthday card here!

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Ashley then gave me the idea of drawing a shiny-object-loving magpie stealing a ring for a wedding or engagement card and I thought it was a great idea! I wanted to add a little simple background to this one and love how it turned out although i think i will tweak my shading tomorrow as it isn’t as good as on my Hippo.

You can find my Magpie Thief card here!

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What do you think I should draw next?

I also have some other exciting plans for my youtube so do keep an eye out for more learning, projects and other fun things!

But for now, it’s time to sew!

Claire


Penguin Valentine Cards

Recently, to my surprise, my penguin valentines cards have been flying out of the shop! So much so that I’m having to get a lot more printed up and have decided to release a new design!

Pick up this new cute courting emperor penguin couple valentines card here!

I have many different designs to choose from now so you can choose the perfect one for your partner.

Does your other half make you sing and dance with joy then my ‘Happy Feet’ card is perfect for you!

If your partner is the perfect catch, maybe consider my top seller, the ‘plenty of fish’ card.

I hope you all have a great valentines with lots of pampering!

Claire x


Counting Bow Ties!

So i’ve been wanting to expand my menswear for ages and have finally done it with the arrival of Bow ties to my shop! There is only one up so far but i am planning on adding a lot more soon! (along with some other exciting products!)

This bow tie is pretty funky with it’s numerical pattern, perfect for any maths geek or just anyone who likes something a little fun and quirky!

I even pinned a fancy ball gown on Dot (my dress form is now called Dot due to her polka dot pattern) to match the bow tie, and I really really like it! (Just don’t look at the back)

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I wasn’t sure if I liked it more without the waistband or not.

I really am in love with this and can’t wait to make more, you can find it on my Etsy HERE!

I am also working on improving my ties slightly. Not only that, but I am working on some even more exciting menswear! My waistcoat pattern has been improved and I’m even looking into full suits for both men and women.

It’s all hands on deck here at The Penguin Theory! 😀

Claire x


SEW Excited it’s Christmas!

In all honesty i wasn’t really in the Christmas spirit this year and bought my presents completely last minute, not helped by my mum also not being in the christmas spirit, not even having so much as a christmas tree up in her house!

My sister and I had to buy her a tree, it may be small but at least it’s something!

But eventually i managed to feel festive, partially helped by matching christmas jumpers! Nothing quite says ‘Christmas’ like matching festive jumpers!

I received some lovely presents including (and i am so excited I can’t stop staring at it!) a dress makers form from my mum and her boyfriend! It’s adjustable and polkadot and just amazing!

I also got some fabrics, a gift card for a sewing shop and a rotary cutter! I’ve spent a lot of the day draping and pinning the fabrics I have to it. Now all I can think of doing is going back to London and making dresses!

I had my festive fabrics with me to make my family bow ties. I decided to make a festive outfit for my form! 😀

By the way, the bunting on the form above was made by my 12 year old cousin! I gave her my old sewing machine (along with essential sewing supplies!) last year and she is quick becoming a sewing whiz! I’m very impressed and proud!

The day was rather lovely too. The whole family got together at my grandparents, we played card games, drank wine, opened pressies and ate lots of food!

I’m sure tomorrow will be lots of the same!

I hope you too had a very merry Christmas!

Claire!

First Draping with Fabric from my Sister!


Expanding my Menswear Range

I find my ties are my best sellers and so have been wanting to expand my menswear line for quite a while. However, as usual, life seems to get in the way and i’ve been so busy with the day job that i haven’t had time for The Penguin Theory. However I am now again unemployed, maybe one day i can get something that’s not just temporary, and so have lots of time to sew! I finally got round to making a pattern for a waistcoat.

I chose some lovely stripy fabric, which i’ve already made a tie out of, and made the pattern myself with a bit of help from my boyfriends wardrobe.

 

I made a few mistakes along the way, figuring out how to put it all together was quite a challenge. It was quite amusing though when i put the waist ties in the lining side instead of outside! Whoops!

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I decided against putting buttons on this particular jacket as the pattern needs a little work to hang properly, but I actually think it looks pretty snazzy as an open waistcoat!

I’ll be dressing Ashley up in it shortly for a photoshoot (i’m sure he’ll demand payment in chocolate as it’s pretty cold outside!) and hopefully i will be editing the pattern and making more as well as having some more womens wear ready soon so keep your eyes peeled!

So much pattern cutting! My hand is hurting.

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Super excited to play with this fabric!

‘Till next time

Claire x


A Trip to Whipsnade!

At the beginning of the week my friends from work and I went on a trip to Whipsnade Zoo!

This was the first time i’d ever been to Whipsnade, despite living in Bedfordshire for 4 years whilst at University, and I was super excited to see all the animals!

We started by stopping by for some lemur breakfast. The Lemurs jumped about everywhere and walked along the barriers at the sides of the path, often hitting us with their tails, as they munched away at their food. I didn’t really know a lot about lemurs and so was very excited to learn new things, including the fact that the smallest lemur is the same size as your little finger! How crazy is that?!?

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Afterwards we moved on to the chimps who also happened to be having breakfast! They were so cheeky and mischievous, especially one who kept stealing everyone else’s food. The dominant male got angry at the cheeky chimp for trying to steal food off him which led to a comical display from the cheeky chimp who threw himself on his back like he was playing dead. Sometimes the food would also fall into the moat next to their island and then the chimps showed off their intelligence by picking up sticks to hit the food towards them.

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Then we wandered to see some white rhinos and I learnt why they’re actually called white rhinos! It’s all to do with a misunderstanding on the Africaans use of the word ‘wijde’ which was in reference to this species wide mouth, but it sounded rather like ‘White’ and so the White Rhino got it’s name. The Black Rhino was named to be opposite despite neither being particularly different colours.

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We wandered about looking at the various animals and we’re extremely impressed with all the different enclosures, the paddocks were huge and decorated beautifully too, the illusive wolves had a gorgeous forest, the penguins had probably the best pool view i’ve seen and all the animals had lots of things to keep them busy throughout the day.

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A Mara, one of the free roaming animals in the Zoo.

We saw a brown bear go swimming which was wonderful to see. It bumbled through the forest and I was running along side ready for the perfect shot, my friend was hoping it would go in the water and so we all waited with bated breath. The bear was snuffing the air and definitely took it’s time, but eventually went into the cool waters and I got some adorable photographs of it having a nice soak.

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We also saw the sealion show, they were great at showing just how agile and amazing they are, they told us the difference between sealions and seals, how they train them for the vets and also how we can help them in the wild. It was really interesting as well as being pretty cool to watch.

We also saw the talk at the animal farm where they brought out many different cute, fluffy creatures for us all to stroke including baby rabbits, ferrets and pygmy goats! They even flew an owl around our heads which hovered right in front of our faces! It was so cool!

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We even took a stream train ride through the park! This is feel was rather overpriced for how long the journey was, but it was really rather fun! We not only learnt about the animals we passed but also about the steam engine we were riding. It’s definitely a fun way to go around and see the animals, i’d recommend it at least once, but maybe not more than that.

We carried on walking around seeing all sorts of different animals, but our feet were getting weary and it was nearly closing time so we wandered over to the gift shop. However the gift shop was closed before we even got there! We were not very impressed by that fact, but decided it was probably for the best anyway as we all needed to save money.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon at a friends house playing with her pet snake and eating far too much rubbish.

I had such a fun day, took so many lovely pictures and can’t wait to go again!

Claire x


Teenie Tiny Baby Monkeys!

In my last few weeks (maybe a month) of being at the Zoo there were many new arrivals! Of course I just couldn’t resist in taking pictures of them and I’m even planning on going to Whipsnade tomorrow as I hear there’s loads of babies there too! 

Last thursday I took a special trip to the rain forest exhibit to take pictures of some adorable baby Emperor Tamarins. These were only just over a week old and absolutely TINY! They’re a small enough species of monkey to fit in the palm of your hand anyway, but the babies really are miniscule. 

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There were two born as these tamarins usually do give birth to twins. When they are first born they do not have the distinctive white moustache that Emperor Tamarins are well known for, but that begins growing soon after. 

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After birth the mum gets a nice rest as it is usually the dad that does most of the carrying, just passing them back to mum when they start calling for food. In ZSL London Zoos Rainforest Exhibit the whole family help out with the babysitting duties, including some Golden Lion Headed Tamarins as well! 

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The two babies are already growing quickly and starting to be more aware of their surroundings, I will have to go back soon and document their progress! 

I can’t wait to see the wonders of Whipsnade, nor can I wait to take many photographs! 

Claire x


The Best Summer So Far

Yesterday was my last shift at what is definitely the best job I’ve ever had. I’ve been working as a presenter at ZSL London Zoo over the summer and it’s been the best summer ever.

Every day I was surrounded by incredible animals, I was constantly learning new, amazing things (which often meant getting close to the animals) and genuinely looked forward to work everyday. Sure parts of the job we’re hard work and stressful but it was always well worth it.

I’m going to miss seeing all the animals and people i met everyday and being able to share how awesome nature is with everyone but fingers crossed I can go back next summer!

But now it’s time to find a job over the winter, I have a few possibilities which would actually give me a lot more time to focus on The Penguin Theory, hopefully I can ace the interviews!

I’ve been playing with lots of ideas for new products and lines, but nothing has been finalised. I plan to work hard over the next few weeks to make lots of items for my Etsy shop and also for craft fairs! It’s time to get busy so expect lots more updates shortly! Keep an eye out for some brand new photography of some cute baby animals coming up shortly!

Claire x


Slovenian Birthday and KNK long boarding 2014

On the 27th of last month it was my birthday and for the first time in roughly 3 years (since my trip to China) I wasn’t in the UK! This also happened to be my first real holiday without my mum.  For Ashley it was the first time he’d been out of the UK for nearly 10 years! We went to Slovenia which is an absolutely GORGEOUS country! The scenery was just stunning and the people really friendly.

But it wasn’t all fun and games, there was a reason we went was because of a Longboarding event Ash and some of our friends were attending. KNK Bear guts is a downhill free ride which takes place near Olsinca at the very bottom of Slovenia.

In all honesty I was quite nervous about him riding, it is a very steep and long hill with terrifying drops at the sides of the roads, but Ash is a sensible person and stayed within his comfort zone only having a few falls.

On the first few days of the free ride it poured it down with rain. The skaters from Britain seemed to relish it though, probably because of all the practice they’ve had this winter! The track was super slidey and they had a great time trying to stay on their boards in the slippery conditions.

Luckily, for me and my camera, the conditions soon brightened up and we had some days of brilliantly hot sunshine. Now the skaters practiced more at keeping up their speed and some we’re really rather fast! I found myself in some very dubious positions in pursuit of the perfect shot and more than once had a longboard flying in my direction. If you are watching a high speed event then posts are your best friend! I was saved several times by standing behind something sturdy, and the riders were saved by the hay bails throughout the course!

The girls we’re shredding just as hard as the guys!

On the last day Ashley decided he’d had enough of wearing leathers, much to my disapproval, but promised that he wouldn’t go fast, instead he wanted to have a day of fancy slides rather than speed. He did get one scrape on his hip but seemed to have so much more fun that I’m glad he did it.

Ash in Leathers tried his hand at speed!

But soon enough he discovered he preferred to practice his slides which is a lot easier without leathers!

The event as a whole was really well run and there were only a couple of serious injuries, all the skaters seemed to have a great time, and so did I!

I just wish I could have explored the country more, myself and Ashley are hoping to be able to afford to go next year as well but to go a week early so that we can do just that!

But all too soon it was time to come back to England and, quite honestly, i’m sort of wishing I could go back to Slovenia.

I had an interview at work the first day back as there were two permanent positions up for grabs, unfortunately I didn’t manage to get it but those who did definitely deserve it. Hopefully I can at least work there again next summer, now it’s just a matter of finding a job over winter. My car insurance also came out, taking with it the money I owed for the holiday but at least I could afford it (although only just) and then I had a very bad few days of lots of little things going wrong, such as dropping half a cheese cake on the floor!

New birthday toy!

But it’s ok as I got to open all of my birthday pressies and then to play with them! My mum got me a drawing tablet which I’m so excited about and have already practiced with! It’s going to improve my digital drawings so much!

A simple Lion as it was World Lion day yesterday!

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Because Racoons are cute!

 

I also have so many great ideas for new items to make, and even plan to be revisiting my passion for jewellery soon, plus there’s lots of photoshoots to go on and many more exciting things for The Penguin Theory.

Claire x

 


Computer Troubles

I’m sorry for my quietness as of late, I promise I haven’t been lazy (in fact i’ve been more productive than usual) but my laptop decided enough was enough and stopped working completely.

Unfortunately for me it was the hard drive that had gone and I also had some unsaved work on there which I stupidly forgot to back up. 2 videos nearly completed (1 with animations and everything!) and a couple of photoshoots. All gone. But it’s my fault for not making sure I had extra copies of them, I can’t really blame my laptop as it is 5 years old.

I did go to the Apple store. Their customer service was amazing and the guy who saw me was really nice and friendly. But unfortunately it would  cost about £200 for them to fix my laptop, something I just can’t afford at the moment. I probably had a very peculiar look on my face as then he suggested I refit it myself, showing me which to buy, and how to refit it. Instead of spending over £200 i spent £32!

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My new hard drive is very shiny and pretty and I even fit it in myself, which, by the way, is super easy.

So now my laptop is up and running again, soon I’ll have photoshop installed again too and then maybe I can re-make the videos. I’ve now renamed it the FrankenMac as it’s been brought back to life with odd parts!

In the mean time I have been sewing. I’m in the process of using all these old t-shirts i collected whilst working the pub job to make a picnic blanket. Not much more to do!

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In other news : I snuggled with a baby penguin. It was the cutest, softest and smelliest thing ever!

Obviously I was working hard at the same time, actually I find talking to the keepers is the best way to learn about all the animals. It really is the best job ever, I learn something new (and usually amazing) every single day! I seriously don’t want this summer to end.

Claire x

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The Importance of Understanding your Camera and Sloth Babies!

I’ve always had real trouble with photography in low light situations and always blamed it on my old camera, plus they always say that light is a photographers best friend! But sometimes good lighting is just not possible, especially when not based in a studio.

I recently took my camera to work with me to take pictures of all the cute baby animals we have running around at the moment. I was getting quite frustrated at my camera not being able to cope with the light levels in the perfectly lit room, no matter how much I changed my shutter speed and aperture I just couldn’t get a clear, well lit photograph of the sloth and its baby (see attempts below). But there was an old gentleman, and regular at the zoo, who then told me about ISO.

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Both unfortunately blurry and dark. 

I had heard of ISO but had always thought that it would seriously reduce the quality of my photographs, something which is of course true if you’re not using it properly, as I wasn’t. After hearing his brief explanation I decided to change my settings and finally got some good photographs! I just wish i’d played with it earlier on in the day.

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I did get a couple of good shots on a low ISO

Well since that day I’ve done a bit of research into ISO so I can learn exactly what it is and how to use it.

So what exactly is ISO?

ISO is the speed of the film, not to be confused with frame rate but instead it’s how sensitive the film would be to light. So a Low ISO would correspond to an insensitive film that would require more light to create a good quality image, whereas a High ISO would be a far more sensitive film needing less light for the same image quality. But even though you may need a higher ISO in certain situations, the higher ISO does also create grainier images and so it is best to keep the ISO as low as possible for the shot.

Of course if using a Tripod for a still subject it would be fine to use the lowest ISO possible, but for handheld camera work and moving objects it’s best to experiment to find the perfect balance between brightness and noise in the photograph.

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It really is so important to understand all the workings of your camera, I’ve had mine for nearly 7 years and I’m only just learning how to really get the most out of it! I plan to carry on learning about all aspects of photography and hopefully it will improve my photographs, in fact i think it already is!

But it’s not only understanding your camera, it’s also understanding your subject so I also plan to study the animals i’m wanting to take photographs of as well. There’s not all that much known about sloth babies, as they have about an 80% mortality rate in just the first week of being born, and a lot of that percentage is from the mother dropping them! I believe this is the first sloth baby in our zoo for around 50 years. So not only is the sloth baby proving to be vital research for myself into the animal kingdom, but also for the keepers who are learning new things about how they develop, grow and learn too! It’s all very exciting.

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I plan to take my camera to work again very soon and experiment more with the ISO settings, plus i want to get even more adorable photographs of various animals!

Claire x


Date H – Beach Hike

Ash and I have finally been able to go on the next of our Alphabet Dates. We had such a long hiatus as we completely ran out of money. We do usually try to keep our dates on the cheap side anyway, but we really didn’t have any money spare or much time as I was working  quite long shifts at the time. But now we are back, with better paid jobs, and have lots of dates lined up!

For Date H I wanted to take advantage of the good weather and decided a Hike would be fun and pretty. We both like a good nature walk and pretty scenery and I thought it would be great to get out and about. I knew of a few walking trails along the south coast near Brighton and was originally planning to take us there, but then, with the weather so gorgeous, I thought that a hike along the beach itself would be nice as we could even go for a little swim.

We started a bit further up the coast from Brighton and had a really lovely wander. We had some bread and made little sandwiches for a picnic which we ate close to the sea, staring out at the vast expanse of water.

I’ve always loved the sea. It’s terrifyingly powerful and vast but it always calms me and makes me feel quite peaceful.

We wandered for a few hours and stumbled into a little patch of forest with birds chirping overhead, it was nice to get lost in nature for a while.

But soon our legs were tired and it was time to head home. The walk to the car wasn’t as fun as the walk away and so in hindsight maybe we should have done my original route as it did circle around, but it was still a very nice and relaxing day.

Have you gone on a walk recently? Did you see anything interesting?


Letting Out Our Inner Rebels

As I said in my last post, it was myself and Ashley’s 3 year anniversary!

On the day itself we didn’t do much although I had made plans for when we had more time. Unfortunately the last couple of weeks have been a bit hectic, that and getting used to actually having a proper routine for the first time in 2 years had me very sleepy with my body being a little confused (hence the lack of updates i’m afraid). But eventually we had a day where we were free to actually celebrate!

As a surprise for him I took him to a graffiti workshop. He sometimes seems to think he’s a bit of a ‘bad boy’ with his love of drum and base and gangster movies, but he is really a big nerd so I thought it might be fun to embrace his inner rebel.

The workshop was near portobello road in the Westbank Gallery and was lots of fun. We learnt about different tags, styles and effects then created our own tag before being let lose with the paint.

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It looks so easy on paper...

We both somehow managed to create something that looked like our images, but wow is it difficult! I’ve always admired the more elaborate graffiti as I never assumed it was easy, and they really can be a work of art, but I never thought it would be quite that difficult! Our instructor made it seem so easy, moving the can in elegant arcs and making it do precisely what he wanted it to. When we tried the can seemed to have a mind of it’s own. As we practiced more we started to get the hang of it and Ash seemed to gain some fans in the two lovely middle aged ladies next to us who admired his, actually quite precise, can control.

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Eventually we both managed to create something that almost resembled what we’d had down on paper and we quite pleased with ourselves.

It was a great workshop and the instructor was very helpful, I would definitely recommend it. Ash said he really enjoyed it too so i’d say the present was a success!

We spent the rest of the day wandering around portobello road and trying to resist buying things before buying some cider and sitting in park soaking up the sun and meeting some friends for more drinks.

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My gift from Ashley was a tablet! I bought myself a case and keyboard for it as well so now it’s like a mini portable laptop. It’s going to be so useful for updating all my social media where ever I may be , and on the commute to work, which should hopefully mean a lot more updates!

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I still can’t believe we’ve been together for 3 years, it’s gone so quickly and we’re still as loved up as ever. As soppy as it sounds, I really couldn’t imagine life without him.

I’ve got lots of new posts on the way for you over the next week or so. Alphabet dating is finally coming back with date H, new youtube projects, more sewing and drawings. It’s going to be a lot of fun. 🙂

Claire x


Anniversary Giveaway!

Myself and Ashley have been together 3 years today!….or tomorrow. You see we don’t really know when we got together as I agreed somewhere around midnight so we tend to celebrate over two days! However we’re not doing much today as we have very little money and so just spent a long relaxing morning and afternoon together and both have work tomorrow. I have bought him vouchers for a graffiti art lesson though, although we can’t book it for a few weeks as we’re too busy!

Still, it’s been really nice to spend some time snuggled up together thinking ‘how on earth have we put up with each other for 3 years!’. Of course we’ve had our ups and downs like every couple, but since we’ve both finally got new, well paid and enjoyable jobs things have been really good and we’re as loved up as ever!

To celebrate our anniversary i’ve decided to give away one of my Penguin cards to one lucky winner, so they can share their love with someone special.

I am actually giving away an extra large card, a size not available in my shop, featuring the adorable picasso and lots of fish (above)! This was my most popular card design over valentines and so is sure to be the perfect way to make someone feel a little special.

To enter to go over to my facebook and then like and share my competition image here.

You have the rest of today and tomorrow (the length of our anniversary) to enter!

Good Luck!

Claire x


Cute Penguin Nails Tutorial

Ever wanted to have adorable penguins on your finger tips? Well want no more as I help you paint your own adorable penguins on your nails!

My first penguin tutorial to celebrate this months ‘May There Be Penguins’ celebrations shows you how to turn your nails into your own adorable penguin colony.

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Paint your nails with me right here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkFDQW_QxdU

Keep your eye out for more tutorials (with better video quality) later on in the month as I keep on celebrating the wonderful world of penguins!

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Also, join me on facebook for even more penguin fun, games and even competitions!

And don’t forget to enter my latest competition which closes at midnight tonight (gmt). Find it here on my facebook page

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Who will be Crowned the Queen of May?

The Penguins Are Here! For the whole month of May here at The Penguin Theory we are celebrating all things Penguin with our month long event : May there be penguins!

To kick it all off and to celebrate the first of May and the Mayday bank holiday I am giving away this gorgeous, handmade, flower crown to one lucky winner! 

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May day traditionally involves Morris Dancing, May poles and crowning one lady the Queen of May, so I am giving away one gorgeous ‘Queen of May’ flower crown to one lucky winner, but there’s a catch. You can’t enter for yourself. Instead I want you to nominate someone to be crowned ‘Queen of May’.

Comment in the comment section or on my facebook page with the name of your nominee and why you think they should be crowned the ‘Queen of May’! 

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This can be anyone, family or friends, boy or girl, for any reason. Maybe they helped you, maybe they’ve been through a lot and need some pampering, or maybe they’re just an extremely happy person who always brings a smile to your face!

You have until the end of the May Day bank holiday (Monday 5th May, 12pm gmt) to nominate your Queen and I will announce the winner on Tuesday 6th May.

Good Luck!

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365 Challenge : 17th – 23rd March

Sorry, I wrote this post a week ago and completely forgot to post it! I’m so silly sometimes. 

It’s Monday again and time for the weekly update! Here’s last week in pictures, sorry they’re mainly phone but it was all a bit hectic with well over 40hrs at the pub in the first 4 days followed by starting my new job at London Zoo! I also have the most horrendous cold (perfect timing for the new job) and had barely any energy.

Monday saw me tucking into the most amazing toastie ever. Steak, cheese and deliciousness! Yum! (and yes I like my steak rare!)

On tuesday I noticed this gorgeous creature towering above people outside the local garden centre. I just had to snap a picture to send to a close friend who loves gorillas!

Wednesday had a cool looking sky at sunset. I seem to notice the sky a lot more often these days as it looks so pretty through our windows!

Thursday I was nominated for these Cancer awareness #nomakeup selfies. I never wear make up anyway recently as I’m always at work (it would just sweat off in the kitchen) or too tired from work so I went all out with a kitchen hair net and carrot cake!

On Friday I started my new (although temporary *sob*) job as a presenter at the zoo. I was mainly sorting out all my paper work, given all the things I needed to learn and watched some of the presenters show me how it was done. Little did I know I’d be taking on the role of Giraffe feeding the very next day, and getting licked all over the face in the process.

On saturday I shadowed another presenter for the whole day and got to have a few more interactions with all the animals. It was so much fun! I love these Emperor Tamarins with their awesome moustaches. I can’t wait to have a day to visit with my DSLR! I hope to take some really awesome photographs which could help me raise money for ZSL.

Today I noticed this gorgeous plants (I think they’re grape hyacinths) growing in our window boxes. It’s a shame, but I will be completely replacing the soil in these soon. Maybe I can try and save these plants.


‘Action Expresses Priorities’ – and why people who get bored are not my thing.

I think we all have points in our lives where we feel deflated, we can’t seem to find to motivation to do anything as nothing good will come of it. If you’re currently going through one of these phases then you should read this blog post by a very talented artist. Get yourself out there. See the world and all it has to offer. Life is just too short to let it, and the things you want to achieve, go to waste.

ACT on your priorities.

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‘Action expresses priorities.’

-Gandhi

 

On a busy week, I can clock up around 70 hours painting. Especially recently, with so many commissions as well as ideas I just can’t for the life of me hold off, I have to timetable my work and stick to it, and it pays off every time. 

I do this because I love painting, I am passionate about making good quality work. I am also business savvy and love organisation, lists and generally being busy. Proudly, one thing I never, ever am is bored.

A friend of mine sent me an article, there was a long passage written by Richard Dawkins called, ‘To live at all is miracle enough’ (which I urge you to google) which puts into perspective greatly just how miraculous the universe is, how even just existing right now through such slim circumstance is such an underrated and unappreciated…

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Wild Job, Wild Nails

I’ve finally got myself a new job (although only temporarily) and am now working at London Zoo! I’ve only had a few shifts but it’s amazing. Everyone is so friendly and happy, plus I get to be around animals all day long and really spread the word about conservation and protecting the animals we have in the world today! It really is a dream come true!

It’s been in the news recently that the Female Sumatran Tiger has had 3 cubs, I haven’t managed to catch a glimpse of them yet, but hopefully soon I can,  you can follow their progress on London Zoos facebook page and their youtube.

To celebrate the new job, where I’m allowed nail polish, my nails can actually grow, and the arrival of the new cubs I decided to paint my nails!

Tiger Themed of course!

They came out so well! I’m super proud of myself. Last time I went to London zoo as a customer (for zoo lates which is awesome by the way) I also painted my nails ‘big cat’ themed with these leopard nails.

 

Unfortunately I still work at the pub on thursdays and I’m only at the Zoo for the summer (fingers crossed they take me back next year!) but i’m so so happy with my new job and just know I’m going to love every minute of it!

I’m afraid there might not be many crafty updates for a little while as I have a lot of scripts to learn (I am one of the presenters for the animal talks) and all my spare time is spent reading lines. But do not fear! I have loads of projects in mind, both sewn and photographed. Until then I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite pictures from the zoo so far!

I treated myself to a cool keyring for getting the job.

Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches are so much cooler than most people think.

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Two of my colleagues demonstrating one of the talks. Yes I get to feed giraffes by hand.

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A Sloth out for a morning stroll.


Clicking with the Subject

“the most important thing is not clicking the shutter, it is clicking with the subject”

                                                                                                               -Alfred Eisenstaedt

This quote has really struck a cord with me recently and made me analyse the way I take photographs. I noticed that a lot of the time I tend to hold my finger down on the multi-shot feature and just take continuous photographs, especially when shooting fast moving people or objects, but this is most definitely not the best practice.

Alfred Eisenstaedt is thought by many to be the father of photojournalism and one of the greatest photographers of all time. He was the master of candid photography and usually only carried around one camera.

This image of children imitating a drum major really shows his skill in really capturing the moment, perfectly showing it to it’s full potential.

Drum Major, Ann Arbor by Eisenstaedt.

I decided that I need to step up my game and really start working with the subject I see through my lens, as Eisenstaedt suggests, and I got the perfect chance to try this out a few weeks ago at Cantelowes skatepark in Camden.

Ashley and a few friends chose a wonderfully sunny day to go there and skate, i’m not comfortable with bowls and know that it gets busy there so  I decided to try out my camera instead.

At the beginning I was only taking simple shot like this one successfully.

To begin with I followed the skaters around the bowl with my camera but, although my pictures weren’t bad, couldn’t seem to get any impressive shots. The sunshine wasn’t helping as the stark contrast between the over exposed sunlight and dark shadows in the bowl made it really hard to find the right exposure levels.

After a while I started to watch the skaters more closely and understand their movements and where I could get the best shots of each individual skater. Luckily I’ve skated with and watched Ash and Milan a lot and found it really easy to predict their movements making for plenty of good photographs but, as much as I love to shoot them both, I really wanted pictures of everyone there.

Milan with some sweet moves

Ashley received some good lessons from Newtons Shred. This was the first time he dropped in successfully!

I even managed to capture the celebrations afterwards and a rare smile! Well done Ash!

I noticed there were certain areas of the bowl where every skater would get high or try something interesting and so decided these would be the best areas to train my camera on. I also noticed that certain skaters, particularly the more experienced ones, were practicing certain moves over and over so that they could perfect them. This was exactly the information I needed to really improve my photographs!

I trained my camera on these sections, depending on the skater, which meant I could set my shutter speed and focus ready for the subject to make their appearance into frame.

It took a bit of practice to really get the timings but eventually I managed to get some shots that I’m really proud of, not only that but all the shots I was taking started being useable rather than having a lot that i would never use.

I’m really proud of myself for the improvements i’ve made from just one day, and not just me, Ash learnt to drop in too with help from a good friend from Newtons Shred. A very successful day!

I am trying to be a lot more aware of my surroundings from now on, and not just when I have my camera on me. I really think that learning to recognise memorable moments will help improve my photography immensely.

I think there is a lot to learn from other photographers, both old and current, and so plan to do lots of research into others, particularly other nature photographers. I’ll be sharing my research with you all in future blog posts, probably once a month, and use their influences in my own photoshoots. I think it could make for some very interesting results!

You can see the rest of the photographs for this shoot right here on my facebook!

Claire x


365 Project : 10th – 16th March

On Monday 10th I took a picture of this plant to send to my sister. She bought me it to say congratulations for getting my new job. I was so surprised that it was still alive I had to share it with her! (I’m terrible with plants)

On the 11th the plant was still alive. I decided to take a few closer shots as it was so pretty.

On the 12th I finally ate this chocolate lion. I’ve had it far too long and decided it was just too pretty to eat! I’m sure it tasted better when I first bought it.

On 13th I decided it was time for a haircut, but all the hairdressers around are either out of my budget or I don’t like the look of (i’m a little picky sometimes). So i decided to try cutting myself, i cut Ash’s hair all the time and we need to save money so i thought I may as well try. It’s not perfect but not too bad for a first try! Hopefully I can afford for a professional to do it next time.

On the 14th I ate some of this rice pudding i’d made. It’s so easy and makes delicious little snacks in these pots! I think this will have to be a regular thing.

On the 15th the sky looked awesome.

On the 16th I finally uploaded some skate photographs onto my facebook page. I will be writing a blog post (if I ever get a day off work) but until then you can find them here.

Next week will be very exciting with my new job starting, but i’m also working 6 days out of 7 and several 12hr shifts. ouch!

Claire x