Monday, 19 April 2021


I don't know about you, but for the first half of 2020 I found it IMPOSSIBLE to concentrate on a book. Normally that's one of my favourite go-to hobbies, but I just could not settle, and kept getting distracted after just a few pages. In the end I just had to stop worrying about it, and I eventually lured myself back to reading with a few trashy adventure novels, and finally found the brainspace for it again.

Since then I've been on a roll, and I thought I'd share some of my favourite books I've read lately.

Transcendent Kingdom - Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi's first novel, Homegoing, was one of the best books I read last year, so I was excited to finally get my hands on this! Transcendent Kingdom is a really moving and poignant story of a young neuroscientist who is trying to carve out her career and step into her adult life, while haunted by the grief of losing her brother to addiction, and looking after her mother who is suffering severe depression. I found it very heavy at parts, but it's such a beautiful look at love, family, faith, science and religion. Can't wait to read whatever she does next!

Earthlings - Sayaka Murata

This is an absolutely bonkers book, and I'm not sure how to describe it (and a huge part of the joy is just the wildly surprising journey it takes you on, I don't want to spoil it!). It's dark and twisted, it covers pretty shocking, intense and taboo topics, it's totally unsettling (do not be fooled by that adorable cover), but it also just draws you in, and is a super entertaining coming-of-age story. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but it's a bold, magical, unique novel that uses pretty grim imagery to explore questions of love, family and what it means to be human and be part of a society. 

The Vanishing Half - Brit Bennett (not pictured, read on kindle!)

 I loved this book! It follows the lives of the Vignes sisters - identical twins who grow up in a small, Southern black community and run away at age sixteen. More than a decade later they are living completely different lives - one sister has returned to the town she grew up in, and the other is passing as white, with a white husband who knows nothing about her past. This is a really complex, powerful, beautiful and poignant book, which deserves all of the hype it's been getting.

I've had this book on my shelf for years, and I am so glad I finally got round to picking it up. It took a little while to pull me in, but when it did I was transported to the streets of Barcelona! It's an incredibly immersive and atmospheric tale of a young boy who discovers a mysterious book, hidden in a secret library, the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. He starts an innocent quest to find the author, and gets wrapped up in a plot of mystery, murder, love and revenge. The memory of the book has sat with me, it feels like a wild adventure I went on a few summers ago, or as if I was told the tale by a stranger in a smoky bar, drinking wine on a rainy evening. Just a beautiful experience! 

Monday, 12 April 2021


 If you follow me on my art insta (julietpaint), you'll see I've had a wee flurry of Animal Crossing inspired activity! 

I'm really enjoying finding my feet in instagram's art community (although I am such a tiny fish in a huge pond), but I'm keen to share some of my favourite paintings on this blog too - I always thought of it as my little corner of the internet, and now this little corner is obsessed with drawing!

The trend of drawing Animal Crosssing characters as if they were people, was definitely a big thing in 2020 when Animal Crossing New Horizons came out (I'm just going to assume you know what the game is!), so when I started thinking about this I did wonder if I'd missed my chance... but then I reasoned that yeah, sure, others have done it, but I haven't done it yet!

I've spent most of this year practising portraits, so this felt like a fun step to keep practicing faces and poses, but this time add a bit of creative thinking into the mix, as I tried to capture the spirit of each little animal character.

I tried not to look at what other people had done (I wanted to use my own interpretation, not be influenced by others), but the few Coco-as-a-person drawings I had seen were pretty creepy! In the game she is obviously quite a spooky character, with big black eyes and an empty head... but her personality is pretty chill! I imagined her as more of a hippy girl, with big round sunglasses, and I thought the peace sign was a nice nod to her rabbit ears.

Pango is one of my original villagers, so I felt obliged to paint my girl! She's a peppy character that wants to be a pop star, so I pictured her as a very cool girl, super sure of herself, with bright bold eye make up. 

On each painting I tried to include a little detail that was a specific nod to Animal Crossing or the character, so human Pango is wearing ant earrings (a little nod to AC Pango being an anteater). On reflection, while there's a lot I like about this painting, I think it's the least successful - the pose is a bit too stiff. Wah, sorry Pango! I still think you are cool.

Celeste, the star-gazing owl, is an Animal Crossing fan favourite, and there's loads of beautiful Celeste art out there! I really like the wistful expression, I think it captures her vibe, and it was easy to include the character's outfit (the big pink bow and argyle top). I added a star earring and necklace inspired by her wing feathers. It took me a while to get her nose right, that is a surprisingly tricky angle to draw!

Finally, it's Merengue! I think this is my favourite painting - the sketch was pretty hard to do (eyes! Mouth! Hand!), but it just feels so friendly and full of life. Definitely a good lesson to pick reference photos that aren't super serious staged shots!

In the game, Merengue is a baking loving rhino that looks a bit like a strawberry shortcake, so it was an easy theme to translate to human Merengue. I kept the colours pink and peppy, added a strawberry hair clip, and drew the fruit on the cupcake in the same style as the cherries in the game. 

This little series was SO FUN to do, I could probably just keep going, but I know it's good for me to mix things up, so I don't get bored. I'm just feeling so lucky I found this hobby! Keeping me sane while lockdown goes on and on. 

Monday, 5 April 2021


Hi! It's been a while since I just chatted on here, so I thought I'd share a wee update on how life is going.

It's weird to think back to this time last year. The reality of lockdown was kicking in, we had a tiny brand new kitten (obviously brilliant, but a big addition to our lives), my partner was about to be furloughed for months, and I was about to go through some of my most stressful days at work (being a fundraiser for an arts charity was pretty stressful in 2020!). 

In comparison, this year, while I'm obviously not loving lockdown life, I feel much more zen about everything. Work is busy and pretty stressful still, but in more of a predictable way, I've settled into working from home (please don't make me go back to an office full time), we've found new routines, and I'm starting to feel a bit more hopeful about the future.

Self portrait, March 2021

A big part of that is that I got my first vaccine in March! I was surprised to be called so early, but it seems that there are some advantages to the various health dramas I've been through over the last two years. I felt surprisingly emotional getting it, then surprisingly horrible for 24 hours of flu-like side effects, but I'm buzzing to be a big step closer to normal. It's not just that I feel safer, but that I'm less likely to pass it onto others - living in the city means that it's been hard to properly distance at all times (try going to big Tesco without people charging past you), so I feel much better that I'm (hopefully) less likely to infect others when I'm just out and about.

Because outdoor adventures were my highlight of 2020, I'm feeling motivated to get fitter so I can venture further afield when we are allowed. I've already talked about my new bike (which is a dream!), but I've been doing Yoga with Adriene videos, and I've started Couch to 5k again! If you've read this blog for a while, you might recall that I have a rollercoaster relationship with running, but this time around I actually feel motivated to do it! I think I'm just so glad for an excuse to get out of the flat for fresh air, and it is so much easier to do it when I can run at lunchtime as I'm at home (trying to get the motivation to run before commuting to work was truly impossible in the past). I'm only on week 2 of Couch to 5k, so we shall see, but I feel good about it, and I am embracing the small moments of goodness these days.

My favourite hobby these days is still painting, I cannot get enough! I recently tried a self portrait, which feels like a big improvement from my last effort (which you can see here). I'm alternating between watercolour paints and digital art and drawing loads of faces these days, it's just so nice to have a satisfying hobby and create things! On my art instagram (julietpaint) I am currently working my way through an A-Z challenge of alphabet portraits (so far I've painted Awkwafina, Billie Eilish, Claire Saffitz, Dana Scully, Emmy Raver, FKA Twigs, Gwen Stefani, Helena Bonham Carter, Idina Menzel, and me - phew!), but next up I actually quite fancy revisiting the paintings I did YEARS ago for my Illustrated Blogger series. I feel like I owe them a nice portrait! 

Other than that, we're using the time to start putting things into motion for our future, and while I'm pretty sceptical that things will just magically go back to normal in the summer, I am excited for lots of things. Can't wait to sit in the sunshine with my pals, to go to the cinema, to wander around a gallery and look at things that aren't on a screen (!), to go to spin class again (a surprising joy in my life), to go camping, and that sweet, sweet moment when we're allowed to go to beer gardens again. It is nice to feel things are a little brighter again. 

Monday, 29 March 2021


One of the highlights of last year was the time I actually got to go outside - I live in a flat without a garden, so the first lockdown felt particularly hard - I longed for outdoor space of my own, and I've never appreciated fresh air more! When I look back at last year my best days were definitely the ones where I made an effort to get out and go exploring.

For the last 7 years (!) I've owned a Dutch-style bike (this one!). It looked very beautiful, but it was very heavy and only had 7 gears which meant I was pretty limited whenever I wanted to cycle up hills. Living in the city, it's too risky to leave my bike locked up outside at night, which means whenever I want to use it, I have to carry my bike up and down three floors of stairs - not fun!

I've been swithering for a while, but as the weather has got nicer I decided it was time to finally bite the bullet and buy a proper bike - so say hello to my new steed, a Raleigh Pioneer Grand Tour!

My beaut new bike parked outside lovely Filmhouse Cinema

I hadn't planned to buy a bike online, but I went to a couple of bike shops (which are actually open, even in lockdown) and both had barely any bikes left in stock - apparently there's been a massive demand for them since last year, and manufacturers are struggling to keep up! I knew I wanted to buy a good bike (which meant spending a bit of money), so I really wanted to make sure I wasn't settling for whatever was left in stock, and I took time to find the right bike for me.

I've always like Raleighs, I've had them before and the brand has a great rep for making high-quality bikes. I knew I wanted something light (to make lugging it up stairs a little easier), that I wanted something with a low bar (I'm pretty short and I want to be able to cycle in a skirt if I want to!), and importantly, something with lots of gears to make it easier to get around Edinburgh's hills. My last bike had been beautiful but impractical, so I was trying to look past aesthetics, but obviously I'm a sucker for a nicely designed bike. 

I also needed a bike that was good for both city cycling and country adventures - so decided that a hybrid bike was the way to go.

Looking like a happy potato

I spent AGES looking through all the options, watching videos, reading reviews, and obsessing over the difference between a 14kg bike and a 15kg bike. It was also tricky trying to work out what frame size I wanted - it would have been nice to be able to try some bikes out, but I just had to make do with sizing guides online.

In the end I took the plunge and bought the Pioneer Grand Tour in Low Step. It pretty much ticked all my boxes: it's got a light aluminum frame; 24 gears; big grippy tyres that are happy on pavements and country paths; and it came with mudguards, a pannier rack and a bell, so I didn't have to pay extra for those. It was £525, which feels quite expensive to me and was definitely the top of my budget, but I know I'll get years of use out of it (and we don't have a car, so it really is my main mode of transport these days!).

The bike is an absolute DREAM. I was worried that I'd get carried away imagining how much better this was than my old bike - like, how much difference can a few extra kgs and gears make? Turns out, it's LOADS. The gears are a life-changer! Hills are so much easier, I'm much faster, and I feel so much more confident cycling in traffic. The bike doesn't have suspension, but the seat is fitted with mega springs, so it's much comfier going over cobbles or uneven ground. It looks great too!

Now the weather's improving, I've been able to go out for a few rides already, and I love it. Such a great decision to buy! I'm really looking forward to going farther afield on warm sunny days - bring on the summer! 

Monday, 22 March 2021


As you might have spotted I am a big Star Trek fan, so I am over the moon to get to be part of Women Make Trek - an amazing fan art celebration of the women in Trek!

Women Make Trek was born from a love of Star Trek, art and design, and the incredible artists who have been collectively making Star Trek art for over 55 years.

The exhibition is packed with beautiful portraits of Star Trek women - from the iconic female stars (look at these beautiful portraits of JanewayUhara and Dr Crusher), to characters who may have had smaller roles, but still made a huge impact on screen (like these beaut portraits of Keiko O'BrienEzri Dax and L'rell).

Each artwork is accompanied with a story of what the character and/or actor means to the artist, so you really get a sense of how much these cool, strong, inspiring space women have impacted people's lives. That's really the ethos of Star Trek, and why I like it so much. It's about adventure and exploration, sure, but it's also about celebrating the diversity in the universe, and using our differences to build a better future. I grew up watching and loving it, but even now as an adult I'm learning things from re-watching it that are helping me be a better boss, pal and all-round person. That's pretty high praise, isn't it? I just love it!

Tilly - painted by me!

And that brings me to Tilly! You can see my story of why I love Tilly here. I still can't quite believe that my little portrait is sitting alongside so many amazing artworks, but it's been so lovely to be part of it, and get to connect with so many cool fans. 

Alongside their amazing art showcase, Women Make Trek are doing a couple of great things: they are fundraising for Breast Cancer Research, and they are collecting letters for Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) to spread a bit more love in the universe!

Monday, 15 March 2021


Our menagerie has expanded! Say hello to Beanie, our Sphynx kitten.

I didn't think I'd ever get to  be a cat owner again, as my boyfriend is very allergic to cats... but one day we started talking about hairless cats - maybe they wouldn't be so bad - which led to visiting Sphynx cats to see if he'd be okay - which led to reserving a tiny black and white kitten (because it is impossible to "just visit" kittens, without falling in love!).

So in December 2019, we paid a deposit to reserve our new Sphynx, who we would collect three months later when she was 16 weeks old. Back then, we had no idea what the next few months would hold and so alongside all the pandemic anxiety, I was also super stressed about whether we'd actually be allowed to go and get her! But we got her just in time, and it meant there was at least one upside of lockdown - we had loads of time to bond with our lovely new kitten.

It's coming up to a year (!) since we got her and she is just the perfect girl, I am utterly obsessed. I've never met a cat so friendly and brave - there is zero aloofness in this kitten! She's like a little cat-dog cross, she's super social, she loves people and other animals, she wants to be cuddled all of the time (they call Sphynx velcro lap cats and it is totally true!) and she is never phased by anything!

We have fully embraced insane Sphynx owner life, so we do treat Beanie like a mini dog. Last summer she hung out with us in the park on sunny days (she was the very best girl, saying hi to loads of surprised dogs and little kids), we went to the Highlands and even took her on holiday with us! She calmly slept through a 5 hour drive, walked on her lead on a big ramble through the forest, and even visited Urquhart Castle - much to the lols of the other tourists there.

Being hairless means she NEVER SHEDS, which is honestly a delight, and makes me wonder if I could ever go back to a moulting pet. No more endless lint rollers! 

I've always wanted a dog, but couldn't really justify it because of flat-living-life, but honestly I think Beanie perfectly fits my pet-loving heart - she's just amazing!

Owning a Sphynx is a little more high-maintenance than other cats. Firstly, she was pretty pricey - we had to save up for a long time, but it felt worth it as she was the only kind of cat that wouldn't trigger allergies (worth noting that there's no guarantee you won't react to a Sphynx if you are allergic to other cats, but it worked out for us). 

They aren't completely hairless - she's covered in a peachy fuzz which means she's super soft to touch, but she does need fairly regular baths as she gets a bit grimey! Luckily, because she's an angel, she is incredibly chill about bathtime, so it's actually pretty sweet when she gets her bubble bath. You also have to clean their ears pretty regularly (those big ol' ears get grimey too) - I just use cotton buds and coconut oil. 

Sphynx have a slightly higher body temperature than other cats (which is great in the winter, but in hot days it can feel like you have a sentient hot water bottle stalking you), but they do get cold easily which means on colder days she has to wear little jumpers to keep her cosy. 

We also feed Beanie a pretty varied diet of wet and dry cat food and raw meat - a high quality diet helps maintain the oils in her skin. 

Pints in the park with Beanie

I just could not recommend a Sphynx more, they are such brilliant creatures and she has brought so much love and joy to our lives!

If you'd like to see more of Beanie, I made her an instagram (of course I did), and you can follow along here: sphynxbeanie

Monday, 8 March 2021


Three years ago I cut all my hair off and it was great! I did it on a bit of a whim (I'd lingered too long in long bob territory, and I was bored), and I didn't regret it for a second, although I was a little concerned about what a faff it would be when I fancied long hair again. 

Everyone is pretty universally agreed that growing a pixie cut out is The Worst... but I'm here today to tell you that the internet is wrong, it's totally easy, you should definitely chop your hair!

2018 vs 2021

Here's how I went from short short short to shoulder length hair (yes, lockdown helped). Hope you're ready to see loads of photos of my face! 

If you are just looking for my main tip, it's this: go to the hairdresser loads! More than you usually would! It might seem counter-productive, especially if you are trying to grow your hair out, but it means you'll navigate the choppy world of regrowth with dignity (and minimum kirby grips).

September 2018 / October 2018
February 2019 / April 2019

After I first got it cut I started going to my hairdresser approximately every 8 weeks, to get it reshaped and to top up the colour (I'm naturally ginger, but as you'll see, I like to just bounce around different red tones). The whole point of getting it cut short was to keep it short, and as I'd never had haircut below my chin before I was excited to try out all sorts of crops and bobs along the way.

I'd say probably most of the year (Feb - September) I kept it pretty close to the original pixie length, then in October I started to think about growing a bit more hair for winter (short hair is cold!), which meant letting the sides grow in a little for a 60ish bob. This round bob was maybe a little bit awkward (little round cheeks and little round hair combine), so I think this was possibly the trickiest stage... but really, it was totally fine.

At the time I joked about having Princess Diana hair, but looking back I really like my Feb 2019 hair! My hair is pretty thick and feels like it grows quite fast, so I definitely was saved by regular haircuts which kept it neat and in shape - if I'd just let it do it's own thing, I imagine it would be pretty terrible, but this stage was plain sailing! I kept it roughly around this length for the rest of the year.

May 2019 / July 2019
October 2019 / December 2019

Loved my summer 2019 hair! At this point I felt like I'd got through the worst of post-pixie life (which again, WAS FINE), so now I was just making my way through various bobs, mixing up the colour, sometimes wearing it straight, sometimes letting it naturally go a little wavy.

In December 2019 I figured it was time to start aiming for the long-side again, although after a couple of years of minimum styling, I was not super thrilled about having to spend ages drying my hair again.

February 2020 / May 2020
July 2020 / September 2020

Then 2020! I started the year off with a slick sharp cherry red bob, ready with loads of plans of how I could do cool dip-dyes and vibrant shades so I wouldn't be bored getting it past shoulder-length, and then lockdown kicked in. I've been working from home all year so I have properly embraced my natural wavy hair, I actually like the pale ginger it's faded to (is it my natural colour? Who knows) and it's had peace to just keep on growing, and is pretty happily past my shoulders again.

Was growing out a pixie cut much easier than I thought it would be? Yes! Is my hairdresser a superstar? Yes! (She's Linden at Dean Jones in Edinburgh, and I would highly recommend her!). Would I cut my hair all off again? Yes! But maaaaybe not when we are in total lockdown.

Monday, 1 March 2021


As well as working on my painting skills, I have been trying my hand at digital drawing and it is SO MUCH FUN! I'm lucky enough to get to borrow my boyfriend's iPad Pro which has Procreate on it, a very cool digital illustration app.

When I first started drawing digitally I was RUBBISH, and seriously overwhelmed by all of the available brushes and tools. You draw onto the ipad with an apple pencil, and it has a screen cover which feels like you are drawing on paper, but it's still pretty intimidating if you don't know what you are doing. Thanks to lockdown, I've had lots of time to practice though, and while I've still got a long way to go, I'm pretty happy with where I'm going!

The beauty of digital drawing is the magical delete button. If you do something wrong, or it doesn't quite look right, just delete it! And you can copy and paste, resize, use fancy texture brushes, whatever you like! 

I've found because I've been working on using traditional media (watercolours and gouache paintings) as well as digital drawings, progress I've made in one area has really benefitted others. I've practiced anatomy and capturing likeness in my paintings, which makes faces look better in my procreate paintings. I've experimented and stopped being afraid of making mistakes digitally, which means I can take what works and apply it the next time I paint something. It's been such an amazing learning tool!

Another fun feature of procreate is that you can see a timelapsed recording of your art - which is very helpful if you, like me, are making it up as you go along, and then can watch it back to see what did/didn't work! You can see a timelapse of my Valentine drawing on insta here.

I'm a big fan of bright and bold colours and characters, so I draw a lot of cool girls, but it still feels like such a novelty to produce something that actually looks like a person. I have been trying to wean myself just off painting pinterest models (this video made me think about the references I'm using), although it is easy to get suckered in by the beautiful styling! 

I think my next challenge is trying to get more confident in digital techniques (up until now I've used the same approach, whether it's paint or on screen), and work towards finding that ever elusive 'style'.

Monday, 22 February 2021


I am a pretty lazy baker these days, but I had to share this recipe for my new favourite cake! This is a beautifully light and soft sponge (which was decorated for my SnowRunner-loving boyfriend, construction vehicle decoration is optional!). I actually doubled the recipe below to make a mega cake, so scale up if you want a cake with height!

Heads up - this recipe involves leaving the cake to rest overnight before decorating/eating, so if you are looking for a cake to bake today, you will have to skip this step. 

You will need:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour
  • 40ml milk
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 60ml water
  • 30g sugar

  • 300ml fresh whipping cream
  • 20g sugar

Start by preheating your oven to 170°C and grease and line a 7 inch cake tin.

Separate the egg yolk and egg whites (it's actually easiest to do this with your hands!).  Place the egg whites in a large clean bowl and then, using an electric mixer on medium speed, gradually add the sugar into the bowl. Beat the egg whites and sugar together until stiff peaks form.

Still using the mixer, add the egg yolks into the egg white and sugar mixture. 

Then, using a big spatula, gently fold the sifted flour through this mixture until it is all mixed in. Be careful not to over-mix at this point, you want to keep all of that lovely air in the batter! 

Take a small bowl, and mix the milk and melted butter together. Now, take a small amount of the egg white mixture and stir it into the milk and melted butter. Mixing a bit of the batter with milk and butter stops the dairy from deflating the batter - the mission is to keep your sponge as airy as possible! Then add the milk/butter/batter to the rest of the egg white mixture and stir until its all mixed in.

Pour the cake batter into your cake tin, and bake for 35-40 minutes (you'll know it's ready when a skewer or sharp knife comes out of the cake clean). Resist the urge to open your oven when it is baking!

Once the cake's done, drop the cake tin onto your kitchen counter (this breaks the steam bubbles inside the cake and means your cooled cake will have a better structure). Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely. When it's cool, wrap in clingfilm and leave at room temperature overnight - this makes for a tastier cake!

The next day,  slice the cake in half (I chose to double the recipe and used two separate cake pans so I skipped this step). Mix the water and sugar to make a syrup, and brush this onto the two cut sides of sponge. 

Whip the cream and sugar until it's nice and fluffy, then decorate your cake. In the middle I layered cream, then sliced strawberries, then more cream, and I piped cream on top. Enjoy!

Monday, 15 February 2021


This blog has been many things, over the years. It's weird to look back at old posts (my first post was TEN YEARS AGO!) and see a snapshot of baby Juliet, and try to equate that with where I am today. I'm definitely less comfortable about sharing all my woes (I keep my over-sharing in person, these days) and I've (obviously) grown up pretty considerably in the last decade, but otherwise I feel pretty similar. I'm just making my way through the world, trying to have a nice time! 

One thing that has stayed pretty consistent over the years is my enthusiasm for making art... although my ability has been pretty inconsistent! It has been the real light of my lockdown though, and as I have nothing else to chat about, I thought I'd start sharing my drawings here too (but you can also follow me on instagram if you'd like!).

I've been painting pretty much every week of the pandemic, and I've worked really hard to learn new skills and get better. One of the ways I've measured how I'm improving is to return to old pieces and re-paint them, so I thought it would be fun to show off two of the portraits I had previously blogged about here: 2018 Creative Goals

One of the biggest differences I've made is learning how to actually draw a human skull - I am finally getting a better grasp of anatomy and it is really, really helping. Before I used to try and sketch based on the picture in front of me, now I sketch out shapes to map out what the skull and jaw look like, and how the features fall into position. 

I've also started painting on a bigger scale (one of the joys in having a hobby I talk about a lot, means my Birthday and Christmas presents were filled with incredible art things!), so now I have a proper table easel to use and lovely watercolour paper, so I have more space to fit in details, and a much better canvas to work from.

2020 vs 2016

And here's how I'm improving! I painted the left portrait last summer, so I already feel like I've grown since then. I've still not exactly cracked how to paint hair (although I am SO much better than past Juliet who avoided it completely), but it's been so rewarding - especially during the pandemic - to feel like I've got a creative outlet and I'm achieving something. I think I would have seriously struggled over the last 12 months if I hadn't found art again.