It's the last Friday of 2016 and I for one am glad to see the back of it - I know I am not alone.
My Friday Favourites are fortnightly now which means my next post will be next week but in the spirit of a new 365 days, I thought I'd do what we're all trying to do; to find some light in 2016 and share my Friday Favourites of the year.
1. My Blog.
I mean it had to be right? Twenty Something Meltdown (the blog formally known as Gwennan Rees Illustration on Wordpress, yes that's a Prince reference in tribute to this year) was born on Squarespace on January 25th and yes I will be having a birthday celebration for it. It's the best venture, business and social I have taken up in 2016 and I hope it will only get bigger and better in 2017.
2. Etsy Selling.
My Etsy shop is a labour of love and a little way of making a bit of extra cash selling my illustrations. It's not the cheapest, I appreciate that but everything is priced with the cost of how much it takes to produce in mind but it means whilst my sales are lower, my funds aren't too shabby. I've had a steady stream of sales in 2016 but in Valentines/Mother's Day last year I sold out of a lot and made 100 quid veryyyyy quickly and it really felt like I achieved something.
3. Wrexham Road Trips.
I made it up to Wrexham to relive university days with some of my best chums 3 times this year in January, May and October and it's one of my absolute favourite things to do. Since I learnt to drive and got my car I can go up at my leisure and spend a few days with my best gals (including you Jonny) and do a lot of shopping and eating.
You can read about my last road trip which included the zoo over here.
4. The Conwy Collective.
Way back at the ass end of 2015 I worked with graphic designer Ben Seas on The Conwy Collective which is a map of local businesses on the North Wales coast. In 2016 it went live and we also worked on a couple of other things including a poster map that you can buy.
5. My Studio.
Way back in February I finally got a studio space after leaving university the previous May. I snaffled my brother's room and painted it all white and grey and shoved all my business stuff in there and I've been working from the spare room of my parents house ever since. I love it, it's super cold and I have an oil filled radiator next to my desk for the Winter months but it's mine, it's personal and it gives me some space to actually run a business from.
Catch my room tour here.
I can't even deal with how early Easter was this year and how late it's going to be in 2017 but that's another story for another day. This year I had some good days week on week from Valentines to Mother's Day to a sleepover with my niece to 6 Nations to Joss' birthday and it all culminated in Easter. Every Easter we have a big family roast and easter egg hunt at Joss' house and this year me and him stocked up on enough goodies to last us probably the rest of 2016.
7. Bullet Journaling.
If you made it out the other end of 2016 without hearing of the bullet journal trend I don't know what planet you've been living on but I commend you. For me, my bujo is one of the best things to take forward into the new year. It suits me down the ground, I love mine, I love nosing at other people's, I love searching Pinterest for inspo and it's also conventiently become my most popular blog content too.
8. My Anniversary.
May 7th is mine and Joss' anniversary and this year was our 6th of being together. We went for a date day in Cardiff which is RARE due to his job and spent some time together chatting and catching up. I also wrote a post about being together for a long time that had a really good reception on the old blog which you can read over here.
As most people would, I spent some of this year shopping. Ok a considerable amount. But I didn't spend a considerable amount so that's ok right? Working for myself means disposable income is not a luxury I manage to find very often so bargains and savings are my buzz words and this year I got some baes. Top of the list though was these sandals, unworn from Ebay which cost me a mere £4.99, about 35 quid less than the ones I was actually eyeing up in Topshop.
10. Derby Weekend Away.
At the end of May this year my brother's then girlfriend was taking part in a beauty contest in Derby and me, my Dad and my brother went up for the weekend for a jolly and to bring her back. There is something about going away, even just to a town in the UK to a Premier Inn and this one was no exception. From mishaps like roadworks and getting lost and having to unexpectedly share a room with my brother we had SUCH a good 24 hours shopping and watching films and eating LOTS and I am all about that road trip life.
11. First Birthday.
After our weekend in Derby my niece turned one and we celebrated with her in style. We had a big party at her other grandparents house filled with her aunties, grandparents, great aunties and uncles and second cousins and she was worn flat out. I'm not going to mention her again in this list because it could basically be a post on 50 reasons why she's the best thing in my life everyday of 2016. Her first birthday was fabulous and she's fabulous and my heart melts when she (screams) GENNYYYYY when she wants me.
In June I set myself some goals for my blog for the last 6 months of the year and I smashed them 2 weeks in..... I wanted to get 100K pageviews on my blog by December and tomorrow I'm likely to finish the year on just over 220K. It never fails to baffle me how quickly this blog exploded onto the scene and started getting noticed and getting lots of love and to hit my goals for the end of the year just halfway through was incredible. Oh and whilst we're talking goals, Wales' performance in the Euros round about this time wasn't half shabby either. Soz England.
13. Holidays For Days.
Doesn't it seem a long time ago that I went on holiday? In July this year me and my boyfriend couldn't afford to go away so we tagged along with my parents when they went to the Hampshire/Sussex and we managed to get the heat wave. Remember when it was like 33 degrees and we were all complaining it was too hot? That was my summer hols. It was one of the prettiest places I have ever been and we had suchhhh a nice fortnight.
14. Guest Bloggers.
One of the reasons I had such a good time away was my break from blogging and social media. I still Instagrammed don't get me wrong but I didn't really do much on Twitter and I took the time away from my blog and it was refreshing, it gave me the itch to get back to it when I got back. But what made it the best of all was knowing my blog was in safe hands with my guest bloggers who were uhhhmazing and fabulous to work with and did a brilliant job of keeping my blog going whilst I was away. I legit can't thank them enough.
15. Bloggers Blog Awards.
By some crazy turn of events I got a few nominations for the Bloggers Blog Awards and whilst I didn't make the shortlist, the sheer idea of someone thinking I was worthy enough to vote for was amazing. It made my heart do little happy dances and genuinely the biggest of thanks to the people who did nominate me. Also major major props to the Bloggers Blog Awards, it looked like an amazing event and I loved seeing everyone's blogs about it after!
16. My Bizz.
Last summer saw the first birthday of my business, my time as a freelance illustrator and the end to my time as a recent graduate and I was so proud. Being self employed is a lot of hard work and it's nice to take some time out to celebrate the achievements and give myself a big old pat on the back for hitting the one year mark. I also secured some cracking jobs after this from commissions and portraits to a big un designing the menus for a pub at Chester Racecourse. Long may the success continue into the new year!
17. Pink Hair Don't Care.
I just don't feel quite like me if I don't have pink hair. I dyed it first in October 2014 and by the time it got to my graduation the following year it was a faded peach colour. For the majority of 2016 I didn't do anything about it, I left it be but then during a V IMPORTANT #bloggerpitp discussion where Hannah was telling us how she wanted to dye her hair blue, I made the decision to get the pink back in my life. I have no been pink again since August and at present it's faded to a kinda dusky pink which I adore. It's the life I have chosen.
18. The 100 Day Project.
For the majority of the summer I was taking part in the 100 Day project, a creative Instagram challenge where you document something for....yuh you guessed it, 100 days. Whilst an illustration challenge might've made more sense for me, I wanted to do something photography based so I did #100daysofstepping during which I documented where I was for each day and it made suuuuuch a cute collage by the end of it. Definitely partaking in this again next year!
19. Blog Event.
Undoubtedly the maddest thing I did this year was to organise the first bloggers event I'd ever been to let alone co ordinated with a group of gals I hadn't met. On August 20th we hosted a bloggers picnic in Hyde Park and it was sooooo good. The weather held out, it was manic and a bit crazy but it was such a good day and our guests were amazing. I still dream of the spread let alone how good my Insta theme was in the weeks following it!
20. Out & About.
I am the first to admit that whilst I live that farm life, I have never been a fan of the outdoors particularly. I don't mean working outdoors, I mean just enjoying a nice walk somewhere or something. But this year, due to having a one year old to entertain a lot I have found myself out and about and actually enjoying what I have around me. Enjoying the scenery and the places we go and oh mumma my Intsa grid has benefitted from it. Now more than ever I am very aware of what an hour walking outside will do to clear my head and for my general wellbeing.
The idea that less than a year in brands want to work with me is still a bit mad to me but hey ho, gal can't complain. This year has given me the opportunity to work with some fab brands and the insight and confidence to know when I am being approached by a less than good one. You can read the collabs I did with Yorkshire Linen & London Graphic Centre in the Autumn here and also the uhhhhmazing night out I took some of my family on at Escape Rooms Cardiff. But a special mention has to be made for Talking Tables who not only helped us out massively for our bloggers event, we've now worked together a number of times and they never fail to surprise me. They're amazing to work with and set the benchmark pretty high for all blogger/brand collabs. Baes.
22. Bath Markets.
I went on a gals weekend to Bath in November with my Mum, her bestie and her daughter and we had the most hectic but glorious time. Bath itself was crazy and we had the longest day but we spent the Sunday at National Trust Village Lacock and it was the cutest place I have ever been. It was so wonderful to spend a weekend away without a care in the world and my Instagram grid was banging for weeks afterward.
23. Christmas 2016.
I'm not going to waffle on too much about Christmas here cos it'll feature heavily in next week's Friday Favourites but as my favourite time of year, you can bet your life savings it was one of my favourite things of the year.
24. The Squad With No Name.
I wanted to leave this one till last for a very special reason - cos they are the best. Right up there as one of, it not THE best thing about 2016 was making friends with my blogging squad. Sarah, Mel, Hannah, Nina, Effi and I had been chatting on Twitter for ages when Sarah added us all to a Twitter chat and suggested we organise our first bloggers event. Ya'll know by now how successful #bloggerpitp was but the biggest success was my friendship with these babes. Frequently our planning of the picnic would be interjected with gossip and humour and filth and bloody hell they make me laugh. I frequently forget I haven't actually met Nina or Effi because they couldn't make the picnic itself but as soon as I stepped out of the train station doors to see the others waiting for me it was like I'd just seen them last week. Since the picnic we've moved to Whatsapp, a conversation that includes a lot of photos of Nigel Thornberry and homemade GIFs and they're my blogging squad. The inside jokes I don't remember how they started, the support they give and the questions they answer when it comes to blogging. The fun we have, the secrets we know, the gossip we share, we've moved way past a few bloggers who chat on Twitter. Hopefully we'll get together in the new year and praying we manage to book a weekend away somewhere anddddd organise another event. Bloody love the bones off them.
And that's it! 2016 is basically over, one more blog post left and we're done.