15 Aug

ShoeTattoos – custom your life

If you are here looking for ShoeDoodles, do not worry – we have just had a little makeover, and hope that you like it.
Shoe Tattoos logo

 

Don’t blend in, stand out! Blaze a trail for others to follow in your new hand painted, custom designed footwear and apparel.  Be sure that nobody else is going to be wearing the same outfit as you, by asking ShoeTattoos to work her magic on your favourite trainers, boots, jacket or bag.  No job is too big or too weird. We like weird, here! But we are rather fond of your furry friends. Pets are good 🙂

We can upcycle your trusty denim jacket or make a pair of leather boots look spectacular.  Have a wedding or special anniversary coming up? Let us save your feet by customising a pair of Converse or Vans to dance the night away in.  Just like to be original? Let the Queen of Shoe Tattoos (awarded by The Royal Connection on October 2017) know your ideas and she will wave her magic brush and make it happen.

Check out what her delighted customers have to say on Facebook and Etsy.Queen of Shoe Tattoos

Want to see what she does? Look upwards and click the Facebook or the Instagram icon, which will whisk you away to her latest projects and inspirations.  Check the Facebook albums, which are categorised for ease of viewing.  A short portfolio is available by clicking the Portfolio tab above.

The FAQ’s above are well worth a read because they contain all the common questions that get asked :p There’s no such thing as a stupid question.

Order directly via Facebook chat, or the order now tab above.  Or order via Etsy, on which platform you can request a custom order or grab one of her one-off hand painted denim jackets.

Keep scrollin’ if you want the Blog…..

22 Jan

#shoutoutrevolution – Phantom Art Drop

Phantom Art Drop is a beautiful project akin to the Random Acts of Kindness movement.  Rather than dropping notes and acts of kindness, Phantom goes a whole leap further and drops her/his beautiful artwork in a public place with an accompanying handwritten note attached.

The project tickles my soul, and as soon as it stops raining so damned much I am going to join in.  Part of my fear of involvement is a fear that someone will trash my hard work, either binning it or otherwise vandalising it.  It takes a brave soul and a leap of faith to transcend this.

The Phantom Artist’s concept is beautiful, spiritual and heart blossoming.

So, I asked a few questions:

Who are you?  I’m a hopeless idealist. An anonymous artist who believes that through art we can learn to care for each other more. Strengthen the bonds of community and recognize the need for kindness without the want of fanfare.

Where can I find you?  I’m found in the Caribbean. I live a life of sand, sea and sun. In a way it influences my art. The people and the island life, it’s all apart of me and who I am.

On the web:

https://www.instagram.com/phantomartdrop/

https://www.facebook.com/fantomuartdrop/

What made you come up with your unique idea?  I can’t attest to the novelty of the idea but the reason behind it stems from the need to truly make a connection with someone. To reach out and provide both solace and inspiration.

How I’ve chosen to do it simply happened as a result of my skill set. Honestly the ‘what’ and ‘how’ could have been anything so long as the ‘why’ was satisfied.

So the art and the handwritten letters were my means of doing that. And that’s really the point. For each to take what they have as a gift or talent and give that freely to another in an effort to touch their life positively.

How can I join in?  I encourage any and everyone to take up this cause for kindness. I think we live in a time where it’s desperately needed. Love has become so conditional. Favor and kindness are typically only served if reciprocated with attention and adulation.

This is why I remain anonymous. It’s not about who does it but rather; simply; that it’s done for its sake and nothing more. So to join, do a kind thing for someone for no other reason than to see them smile. Using whatever God has given you. The Phantom Art Drop project is a notion of selflessness and giving… One that I hope we all can embody in our own way.

Note- creatives try leaving a random gift out in the open for anyone to receive. I promise it’ll give you a fresh perspective on life. 😊

Can you recommend and amazing art book?  Oh wow hmmm, I quite like ‘ The story of art‘ by E. H Gombrich (link a. It outlines how art developed alongside the people it was made for and how it helps shape and transforms civilizations. It forces one to consider just how influential and important art is or can be.

I love the style of the Phantom Artist, what do you think?

02 Jan

#shoutoutrevolution – Kathy Grillo Design

Happy New Year!

What better time to start on new voyages than the beginning of January.  Last was fairly traumatic (see previous posts) and when I have had life difficulties in the past I’ve always found that instead of getting angry and bitter, if I do random acts of kindness, I get back to the positives much more quickly.

Kathy Grillo is an a artist that I’ve been following on Instagram for a few months now and she dedicates her valuable time to supporting other artists.  I loved this idea so have just joined her #shoutout revolution and will dedicate blog posts here to finding out a bit more about some of the artists that I follow and giving them a little shoutout of my own, right here

So, who is Kathy?

Kathy Hartwig Grillo is a digital artist and illustrator from Michigan specializing  in custom pet portraits.  Working from several photos she paints portraits with attention to detail.

She is very active in the social media art community and can be found on several platforms sharing her Art and doing Live Art Broadcasts

Where can I find her?

Www.facebook.com/kathygrillodesign
Www.twitter.com/kathygrilloart.
Www.instagram.com/kathygrillodesign.
https://www.pscp.tv/kathygrilloart/follow
https://www.youtube.com/user/msryllo


I asked her what gave her the idea to help and encourage other artists?

Recently returning to creating after a 20 year hiatus I have discovered the amazing social media community. Social media is a game changer for creative people as it gives us a platform to share our Art with the world.  As much as I do share and put myself and my art in front of the people I do remember how scary it was when I first decided to do so.

Maybe it is because I am a mother that I found myself naturally reaching out to support those that were bravely showing that creative side.  I quickly learned you get what you give and welcomed answering questions and giving tips, passing along things I have learned along the way.

Then I started getting the solicitations from places offering followers and features for the small price of……..  These companies taking advantage of people who just want to gain an audience and have exposure really ticked me off. So I decided last year to dedicate myself to sharing and feature one artist every day of the year on Instagram. This has naturally  flowed over to other social  media and I have been blessed with some amazing friendships, opportunities like this, and connections around the world.”

It costs me nothing more than a few minutes a day to share wonderful art that will hopefully encourage that artist and also introduce others to the art that is being made.

Finally, can you recommend an amazing art book?

I am reading one right now that is neat.  I just bought it at the Museum book sale.  It’s all about artists, musicians and writers when they were young and just starting out.

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 Here is a selection of her amazing art:

03 Dec

Working tax credits – challenging the “commercial” test.

In early January, HMRC had requested a set of very specific information from me – accounts, receipts, that kind of thing and I had sent them exactly what they asked for.  At the end of January, I went to check my bank balance one day, expecting to see my working tax credits and…nothing.  No working tax, and no child tax credits. I rang the office, expecting for there to have been an error of some kind, only to be told that I had failed their tests and that they would be taking my child tax credits – the money meant for my son – to repay the alleged debt that I owed them.

Devastated, I asked for further information but they could only tell me that the decision-maker’s word was final.  No advice, no word of where I had gone wrong, nothing.

Back in 2015, the rules changed for self-employed people claiming working tax credits and anyone that didn’t meet the new criteria would no longer be eligible.  I thought nothing of it, after all I worked regular hours, was profitable, and my business had a future.  Someone, somewhere, had decided otherwise, and nobody could tell me why.

Ten months later, I have won my appeal against their decision in a tribunal.  It has been tough, stressful, I have used food banks and borrowed money for bills, my son has gone without clubs and classes but we have won, just in time for Christmas.

I could not have done it without some key information, which is what I am going to share with you now, for if this abrupt removal of your lifeline happens to you.  It is cruel and inhumane what they are doing to us self employed people and if you are a) in a creative business and b) universal credit is coming to your area, you are at risk.

To avoid all of this, to exempt yourself from the profitability and commerciality test: 

  • Register as a limited company.  As  company director you will be an employee not a self employed person so the new punitive rules no longer apply.  Be aware though: as a company director, your name and address will be available to the public.  This is a risky move for some people.  Do your research. Be safe.

Prior to your tax credits being stopped:

  • If they ask you for a set of information, receipts etc., know that you are being assessed.
  • Send what they ask for, plus: a business plan for the financial year in question, future financial forecasts for the year in question, flyers, business cards and a comprehensive explanation of your business.  They need to be reassured that you have four weeks’ work in the future to do.
  • Send photocopies only, because I hear they lose a LOT of information that is sent to them.
  • Send it all by special delivery, so that they cannot deny receiving it.  This will all cost quite a bit of money, but trust me, it is worth it.  Losing your documents is a common occurrence.

I can’t guarantee this will, help, but that is the kind of thing they look for.

If you wake up one morning and have no cash, if they have stopped your money:

  • Ring and ask for a “mandatory reconsideration”.  You need to send them anything that you think might add to your case.  Tell them you can’t feed your kids and they need to start paying you your child tax credits back.
  • Citizens Advice can help at this stage.
  • IMPORTANT (because this takes a long time to come) put in a Freedom of Information Request asap. This is VITAL, they will not tell you the exact reason that your claim has been terminated, you will have to scour the information here and find out for yourself.  Within it is a score sheet. This will tell you more.  You won’t get this in time for your Mandatory Reconsideration, but you will do in time for your appeal.

If they turn down your Mandatory Reconsideration:

  • Citizen’s advice cannot help you here, they are not qualified enough.  If you are lucky and live in the right place, see if you can find a Law Centre.  If like me you don’t have the right postcode to get “free” help, you have two options: pay for a solicitor, or, do it yourself.  As I had no cash for a solicitor, I took the latter.
  • Begin your appeal straight away.  Revenue Benefits has loads of information about how to do this.
  • TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE. You have a tiny window of time to appeal in and chances are any letters they send you will be dated several weeks before you receive them, so you have to work fast.  Don’t worry, you will have plenty of time to prepare your case – between three months to a year before your case is heard in the Tribunal court.
  • Use this time to go through your FOI with a fine tooth comb to find out how they have marked you down on their score sheet and find evidence to disprove their (what are likely to be) assumptions.
  • Back this up with evidence that you’ve been working hard in the meantime.
  • Keep a time-sheet, make sure your accounts are kept up to date etc, because when they call you to court, you’ll have maybe two weeks notice.
  • Make a formal complaint.  For me, this confirmed what I had discovered via the FOI, that they had marked me down for information that they hadn’t actually asked for! if you’d like an email address, ask me.
  • Check case law.
  • Try to find someone to go with you.  This availability varies drastically area to area, so you’ll have to do your own research here.
  • Don’t give up.

 

03 Aug

Easy ways to enhance your footwear

ShoeDoodles can paint your shoes any which way you’d like.  But have you thought about replacing your bog standard laces with something a bit more feminine?

These Doc Martins looked pretty good once I had finished them.Pop art poppy shoesBut once Satinribbon shoelaces added the final touches, they looked spectacular.

poppy shoes with satin shoelacesI’ve added such laces to several of my projects now and I particularly love the dual colour ones.

Double satin laces on mehndi converseWhen I first saw the laces I was concerned about snagging and wear and tear but I can honestly say that they still all look as good as new.

I really appreciate every sale I get and it helps to make our lives so much easier, as well as the joy I feel when I create something beautiful. Satin ribbon shoelaces is one of my valued customers – we met when I bought some laces from her and she is so helpful.

If you have bought from me and would like me to feature your business, get in touch.

Here are a few more pictures to inspire your lace choices:

 

29 Jul

That time Mummy nearly got arrested

It was a nice sunny day.  We had met with some friends to play at Riversley Park in Nuneaton, a place that I had taken my son to when he was just a toddler, for the first time, and had always had a great time at.  I take my dog with me most places that I go and prior to the 1st July 2017, dogs were allowed in the sandy play area of this park.  I was standing under a tree supervising my son to the edge of the play area.  My beautiful well-behaved dog was on a lead and resting peacefully.  I had just had to intervene in some over zealous play where kids were getting hurt and wanted to stay nearby to stop it happening again.

All of a sudden, an unpleasant young man with some kind of clippy thing on his collars marched up to me and said he was from the council. He told me I was committing a criminal offence being in the park with my dog. I replied I wasn’t aware of this, I’ve been going to the park since my son was very young and people always take their dogs in there. I asked him to show me the sign. He did, but it was a small sign, low down and wrapped around a post near an entrance that I had not used (evidenced by my fitness tracker).  The sign was unclear, and I told him so. I wear varifocal glasses and even if I had used that entrance, the sign was low down and in my fuzzy area of vision.

He was demanding my name and address to issue me with a fine.  I asked what law I had broken and what the fine was, both questions that he did not know the answer to.   I refused to give my name to a stranger and asked to see his ID with his name on it. He refused and eventually showed me it, with his name and the company he worked for covered up. By this time I felt there was something not right so I started videoing him.

I continued to refuse to give my details to a stranger. He claimed to be from Nuneaton and Bedworth Council but was not in a uniform and he would not show me ID. Council employees are obliged to do both.

So he called for a colleague. I explained my situation as a vulnerable adult and continued to refuse to give them my name. The second guy showed me an exercise book from the council which he claimed was his ID and read me what he claimed to be a street caution and told me he would call the police. I said fine, I will give my name to a uniformed officer but not to a stranger with no ID who was going to keep my details very unsafely in a notebook. I waited for half an hour, the police didn’t turn up, it was dinner time and I needed to get my son home so we just left.  The older man followed me back to the car and my son photographed him in the car park as we drove away.

Watch the video. I have edited out members of the public and my son.

The older man claims that most people in the park are probably vulnerable adults – in which case he should not be approaching any of them. Guidelines are that they should not give fines to vulnerable adults.  He openly laughs when I tell him I am a victim of domestic abuse and stalking.

He lied about how they did not carry ID – I had already seen the first mans ID, although key details were concealed. 

Nuneaton and Bedworth council have very clear guidelines to how their staff must treat customers. See the “style of service” section here.

I was so traumatised by this event that I spoke to my safety team the next day.  They were extremely concerned and told me that I absolutely had done the right thing by videoing and refusing to give my personal protected details to a  stranger.  They called the council on my behalf and the council were unaware of the dog exclusion order in the park.  They also stated that the men were NOT employed by the council  as they had claimed and that council employees always wore uniforms and carried ID.  They advised me to call the police.

By this time, given my history, I was extremely distressed.  The police investigated for me and came back to me with a crime number.

These men are employed by a firm called NSL.  They have no more right than you or me to approach people and demand their personal sensitive details.  They have no right to detain anyone and the caution that they read is a scare tactic.  They are low paid jumped up parking attendants trained in intimidation tactics.

You are NOT obliged to give your personal details to anyone.  A quick google search reveals that they are NOT allowed to use the DVLA database to look up your details unless you are littering, dog fouling or flyposting.

My son and I have taken days to recover from this alarming incident and I am posting it here to educate you, and to let people of Nuneaton a) be aware of the new dog exclusion zone and b) about the scare tactics that NSL ON BEHALF OF NUNEATON AND BEDWORTH COUNCIL are employing.

I have friends in Nuneaton, NONE of whom were aware that dogs no longer are allowed in the sandy area.  The friend I met up with goes there daily with her children and says that people bring their pets in there all the time.  The local newspapers have not informed residents of the exclusion.

Bully number two told me that the information is available “on the website”.  It is not.  The website provide a PDF form which must be downloaded to find out that the exclusion order was put in place from the 1st July 2017.  I would not have been able to find this out if a) I didn’t have the internet at home, b) be computer literate and c) know how  to open PDF files.  Many people do not have this privilege.

Do you check the website of the park you visit prior to every visit? No, I didn’t think so. The front page of the council’s website says NOTHING about it, nor any parks information.

Are you happy that un-uniformed men WITH NO ID are patrolling a children’s play area? Is this not a child protection issue?

If you are outraged by this incident, please share this.  You can contact Nuneaton and Bedworth Council here, or on twitter or on facebook.

I am calling on Nuneaton and Bedworth Council to:

  • To install clear and noticeable signs in areas where dogs are newly excluded.
  • The private companies employed to give the fines out need to be uniformed and carry ID, which they are willing to show.
  • That personal data is collected and stored in a secure encrypted manner. Data protection does not protect victims of domestic violence, where personal details are known to the perpetrators.
  • That employees of Nuneaton and Bedworth Council and anyone contracted to work for them  are mandated to treat members of the public in the style of service that is promised to us within the document “Customer service and complaints policy” here.
  • That a first warning be given before any fines are levied.

 

 

25 Jun

On being vegan

People ALWAYS say (amongst other things)”but don’t you miss [xyz animal based product]”.  I have to admit that prior to the full swing to Veganism, I was worried that I would miss cheese, and a nice portion of fish and chips.  Ice cream, cream, I thought that I’d miss them too but as I age I find that my body is less tolerant anyway to fatty foods, particularly dairy based, so no, i do not miss eating pure artery-clogging animal fat.  My health and the planet are way more important.

I first went  vegan twenty-plus years ago and back then it *was* hard – all nut cutlets and expensive specialised health food shops.  Now, you can buy vegan ice cream for about two pound fifty in Aldi and cheap fruit, nuts and seeds there and in Lidl.  Frys and Linda Macartney do amazing reasonably priced stir  fry strips which go far as long as you are modest with the servings and combine them with ample veg.

But then there’s the cheese thing. That was a major thing to give up for me – after all what is more comforting than a nice cheesy baked potato or some macaroni cheese? For lush melty cheese-alike and for a slice in sandwich or melted in a toastie pocket I got for Violife. It’s more expensive than dairy cheese but any cheese is not great for the health so it’s a reminder to eat less of it..

For a home made recipe that is great with everything from nachos to macaroni cheese, I use this recipe, from Veggie on a Penny.  Nobody can believe it’s mostly made from carrots and potatoes! The bonus of vegan cheese is that it lasts a lot longer than dairy cheese in the fridge.

But a nice chippy tea is hard to beat right? The Avant-garde vegan made my tastebuds beam with happiness (if that is even possible…probably not!) with his vegan fish and chips recipe. The fish is made from tofu and noori and is every bit – if not more – melt in the mouth than battered cod. With the added bonus of not destroying the oceans and hurting sentient beings.

Being vegan is not hard these days. Eating out is not withing my meagre budget so is not an issue but I am told that restaurants and chain pubs offer an ok selection these days.

So, what are you waiting for? Give up animal products for your health, the animals and the planet.  Make this next month Veganuly and take an exciting leap into new cuisine.

 

23 Apr

DresdecO – apparel meets art

If you’ve not already heard of the outstanding indie brand DresdecO you really need to go and have a look. I adore the Lady DresdecO lines, in particular the Couture Shoe Illustration lines.

So it was an honour to collaborate with this great illustrator and innovator and find that his tag line where Apparel meets Art was a perfect fit with my own customised wearable art.

ShoeDoodles only wears what she can be active in, her life and art compliment and reflect each other.  DresdecO promotes movement and the fusion of art and life.

Find DresdecO on facebook, instagram & twitter.

12 Apr

We all love EWE – the breathtaking wedding show

Whoever invented the name Eclectic Wedding Extravaganza is a marketing genius.  Killer name, and it turned out to be an even more spectacular event than I could have imagined.  Over two days my pile of cards and flyers (don’t get me started on the non arrival of my fliers from the printers!) got seriously depleted and I basked in the love of the amazing people visiting my stall.

I was bricking it a little, being a newcomer to the business and a first timer at the wedding fair game.  I’d also had three weeks notice, to invent a reasonable looking stall layout and add some wedding-related shoes to take along.  I needn’t have worried beause the organisers – despite looking a bit over worked – had planned the show with such extreme awesomeness that from my point of view everything ran like clockwork.

Every single exhibitor was amazing, kind, friendly and sold the most incredible stuff you have ever seen! You’d be doing yourself a great favour if you had a look at any category from the show ( exhibitor list here) that you’re interested in – every single product that I saw was original, perfect and insanely desirable.

Every visitor was happy and chatty and I overheard some amazing comments about how EWE is the only wedding show worth going to, and how it is absolutely the best in the whole of the universe since the beginning of time. Or words to that effect.

My most perfect and massive thanks go to Jo, Sassy and Yasmin.  You inspirational, creative and vibrant trio have lifted me from my doldrums and given me hope that I can make ShoeDoodles work for me and Malachi.  I felt so at home amongst the other people there, I was not the only wierdo with funny coloured hair intent on pursuing her dream to make the world a more colourful place.  I’ve got a little tear coming up now.  Sniffle.  Anyway, ladies, you know, thank you. I feel all sheep-ish now *laughing emoticon with tears*.

Here’s some of the great pictures that Jay Emme took of my little part of the spectacular Eclectic Wedding Extragavanza and a selection of Wedding Shoe ideas.

UPDATE: check out the official EWE blog piece here .