Holla 2016 – you are going to be everything!

2016-CleverBirdBanter

Day four in, and I still CANNOT BELIEVE that a whole year passed so quickly and that we are now in 2016!

My diet is going swimmingly (just ate Chuckles and Milo cereal for brekkie) and I’m feeling so relaxed and happy after a few days break here and there… Just feeling so grateful and content right now – even though some things aren’t as perfect as I’d like them – I have good health, a wonderful hubby, my two beautiful girls and a world of opportunities around me – POSITIVE VIBES 2016, whoop whoop!

Some follow on questions from my previous 2015-round-up post to get the ball rolling for the year and to summon the goodness into my sphere:

What do you want the overarching theme for your 2016 to be?
BALANCE – especially between work and home life (I think I say this every year, still striving towards it clearly!)

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2016?
My family of course – but both hubby and I would like to make more effort to socialise more often – we hardly ever get out for various reasons (too much work, too tired etc) but when we do we enjoy ourselves and unwind so much so I really think we need to just do it!

What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?
Errrrrrything! But really, I do love to learn new things all the time, to improve on my design skills and the service I offer is always a top priority too.

Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?
Working at night and on weekends – it has to stop. Burnout aside, it means I spend less time recharging and/or hanging out with my peeps which makes me sad :(

What do you want to achieve career-wise?
I want to continue to grow my design career, and I have a few other business ideas up my sleeve that I would like to focus on and get moving with early in 2016 (just need to find/MAKE the time to work on them!)

How do you want to remember the year 2016 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?
The year I made my first Million? ;)

What is your number one goal for 2016?
As cliched as it sounds, my number one goal is to be more healthy and as mentioned above, create more balance in my everyday life.

My other random goals:

  • get back into Run/Walk For Life vibes and sign up for another event soon
  • blog and website makeover
  • work on my gentler, more present parenting vibes – less yelling, more understanding
  • keep my office tidy for more than a few minutes ;)
  • plan a proper family holiday/break (so needed!)
  • more hands-on DIY and creating, less computer time!
  • save more money, spend less!

What is everyone else doing in 2016 that will make it a year to remember, would love to hear your plans?!

Advertisements

My favourite photo from 2015

Time for my end of year traditional ‘favourite photo of the year’ post – this was an easy choice, I just love this photo of Addi taken at home in our garden one sunny afternoon…

“Come lie wis me, Mommy!”

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 4.09.59 PM
The picture of childhood – dirty face, happiness radiating from her face even though her eyes are closed, and completely oblivious to the worlds problems… All as it should be

Ps. If you’re interested, here are my favourite photos from previous years:
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014

2015: The Year That Was

I know we aren’t quite at the end of 2015 yet, but I feel like we are close enough for me to justify a round-up post like this ;) I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to answering questions/filling in forms, I just love it! So here we go, a few bits about the year that was…

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 3.53.10 PM
If you had to describe your 2015 in 3 words, what would they be?
Busy (even though this is a word I am trying to stop using so much!) Creative, and Exciting

What new things did you discover about yourself?
That I can do anything I put my mind to, as cliched as it sounds; and that I can juggle more than I ever thought I could!

What single achievement are you most proud of?
That I spotted an emerging trend (adult colouring in) and then started, successfully grew and sold a business (You Biscuit!) in the space of less than a year!

What was the best news you received?
Probably news of the acceptance of a really big quote by one of my American clients; but also all the positive feedback I received on my You Biscuit! posters

What was your favourite place that you visited in 2015?
Easy – my recent trip to Cape Town was the best, cant wait to visit again next year!

Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?
Another easy one, my homegirl Nicola Tweed – ever supportive and inspiring.

Which new skills did you learn?
I cant narrow it down to a skill per se, but I guess the most important thing I’ve learnt overall/in terms of business, is to keep assessing, refining and improving things constantly.

What, or who, are you most thankful for?
Always – my husband Murray, and my beautiful girls Addison and Julia

What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2015?
Not to worry about money, clients or work – it will always come

What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?
Changing my attitude towards doing work for free/underpricing – valuing myself and my skills more; once this changed, the type of clients I attracted began to change too and I am now blessed to be in the position (most of the time) to actually choose who I want to work with

What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?
As work-driven as I may appear, my kids are number one – I always feel special when someone compliments my mom skillz ;) I also loved to hear how people were enjoying my colouring poster, loved to get feedback from happy customers.

What cool things did you create this year?
Lots of things, because, full-time creative – but I reckon creating my own inspiring work space in the form of a dedicated home office is probably high up on the list

Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?
Yes! I commissioned a painting which Im really excited about – I am going to pick it up soon but have seen photos and Im just thrilled with how it looks!

How did your overall outlook on life evolve?
I have learnt (decided) not to waste time/energy on people who do not bring positivity and joy into my life – this has been a big realisation for me this year because I have experienced the empowering vibes of positivity and the law of attraction.

What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?
My sister, telling me all her favourite Afrikaans swear word combinations that she likes to make use of during bouts of road rage (runs in the fam!)

What purchase turned out to be the best decision ever?
A small Macbook Pro to function as my secondary computer (iMac my main one) and allow for flexibilty in terms of where I work (sometimes you just need to escape your desk, even if you have a fabulous workspace!)

What did you think about more than anything else?
Work, lol! Luckily I love what I do :)

What topics did you most enjoy learning about?
Probably learning more about WordPress websites and design – I completed the design of my first two proper WordPress sites this year (with the help of a local developer while Nicola, my go to, is on Maternity leave) and I’m so chuffed with how they came out (see Warlaby Beef and Vine)

What one thing would you do differently and why?
I would definitely try to balance my work and personal life a bit more – less working on weekends and at night… I know most freelancers/work from home types struggle with this and it’s going to take ongoing work to get to where I’d like to be…

Screen Shot 2015-12-20 at 3.55.07 PM

(list of questions adapted from this 2014 blog post on Into Mind)

Christmas Wish List + Gift Ideas for All

Last week’s thoughts and feelings are still fresh in my mind, but I’m bringing some festive Cheer to this next post by sharing some of the things on my Christmas wish list, which I hope in turn will inspire some fab gift ideas if you are still looking for a prezzie for someone special…

xmas-wishlist1. The Happiness Is… 2016 Calendar by talented Durban illustrator Fathima Kathrada
2. Cactus Print Swimming Cozzie – by Liza Clifford3. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon from Exclusive Books online
4. Palm Leaf Cushion from Superbalist
5. Wooden Clonette Mermaid sculptures from Noush
6. Clear Frame Rectangular Sunnies from Woolworths
7. Yellow Gold Weave earings from the new Shashe collection by Dear Rae
8. A set of Copic Markers – available from PNA stores and other select retailers
9. Ndebele Hut tin with Handmade Assorted Cookies from Woolies
10. How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone (kiff exchange rate at the moment means that Santa probably wont be bringing this to me LOL!)
11. Round Watermelon Fringed towel from Cotton On
12. Motex Labeler from Love Letters Stationery
13. White Delicious Monster Leaf vase from Mr Price Home
14. Eiffel Tower shaped scissors from Typo
15. Gold Big Beetle ring by Anna Rosholt
16. Dapper Sandals in Nude from Saint & Summer
17. Cleopatra By Night necklace by Anna Rosholt

Happy shopping!

Follow up thoughts on yesterday’s blog post…

Today I am feeling brighter, more positive, and I’m trying my hardest to summon the hope for our country’s future that seemed to evade me yesterday…

Sharing my thoughts, as negative and desperate as they seemed, turned out to be the exact thing I needed to do to help lift the cloud a little… People left interesting comments on my posts (thank you Ange especially for your beautiful words) old friends reached out to send messages of love and encouragement, local friends helped me to feel like I was not alone in my thoughts;  and just witnessing how people have been banding together online to organise petitions and marches, etc – even just talking about it is a good sign – showing their love, hope and support for SA is inspiring.

One post that someone shared on Facebook really got the tears flowing – I don’t know Jason but I’m grateful for his words at this time and I hope he won’t mind me sharing them here too. I think they hit home especially because he speaks of his daughter and I can obviously relate having two girls of my own, who I only want to keep safe and wish the very best for obviously:

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 9.55.33 AM

I am hoping, wishing and praying that South Africa’s story will have the happy ending it’s people need to hear. It has to. I have to keep faith that it will.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m still kak scared and worried. Realistically though – unless things get really bad – it is unlikely we will actually leave SA. It would be a HUGE mission and cost, and it would be completely heartbreaking despite its appeals. I really don’t judge anyone who has left or wants to leave at all though…

But for now – for us – we stay.

#ZumaMUSTFall

 

 

Feeling uneasy…

I don’t normally write about this stuff. I don’t normally share thoughts on politics and allow negatives forces to affect my vibe, but I am feeling uneasy…

Sitting here at my desk, trying to summon the will to work… I’m sure it’s a combination of sleep deprivation, feeling grotty (thanks hayfever!) and personal factors making me feel a bit down; but this news about Zuma firing Nene, and the potential fallback from this action (blatantly revealing that he is only looking out for Number One) is TOTALLY stressing me out.

We moved back to SA three years ago and for the first time since then, (it kills me to admit!) I am genuinely wondering if we made the right decision… I’m not saying this one epic act is the be all and end all, it’s an accumulation of recent events that is starting to sway me…

I’ve always  stood up for our choice to come home, been the one with who is positive about SA. The one who tries to focus on the good and to see the beauty of our imperfect nation… But when are we actually going to turn a corner?!

I can’t help it, but my thoughts flee to the worst possible scenarios. What if shit hits the fan and we literally have to leave all our possessions and run? What if civil war breaks out? We all watched from our armchairs while Zimbabwe crumbled a few years back, we know how that scenario turns out. Yes, things are a bit better there now but I’m still not convinced I want to go through all of that…

How do you stay positive when these political revelations happens? How do you not think about cashing it all in and leaving if you have the means? We have British passports and a very small amount of money off shore – it’s not entirely off the table at this stage although it would be incredibly hard. I never actually thought I would say that, but there you go…

Am I being dramatic?

I just don’t know how I feel right now. Today, there is no positive spirit left in me. Maybe it will return, I genuinely hope so – but right now: dwindling…

m_131128mg.jpgZapiro

(image cred: by LEGEND cartoonist Zapiro)

 

Ever commissioned an artist to paint something for you? Here are some tips :)

cleverbirdbanter-how-to-commission-art
I recently commissioned my first piece of art – something I have wanted to do since forever and I’m so excited to see the outcome!

The artist I have chosen to work with is WP van Heerden – the husband of my dear friend Colleen at Midlands House of Healing who is no stranger to my blog / social media feeds :)

WP’s Shattered Views series (exploring the inequalities of SA in subtle mockery) is currently on exhibition at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg  – I went to the opening a few weeks ago, and it was wonderful to immerse myself in some art vibes, something I haven’t done properly, and have missed, since London days! WP’s lesser-known work using a palette knife and thick textured paint style is the vibe I really like and is what he will be working with for my piece.

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.10.55 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 9.11.29 AMWP-van-heerdenI saw WP last week to talk through my ‘brief’ and he commented on how nice it was that I came so prepared, which got me thinking about similar the vibes between working with a designer and working with an artist are – and the crux of it all is: communication.

I am by no means claiming to be an expert, but here are a few tips:

  1. Pick the right person – choose someone whose work and style resonates with you, someone you gel with and fee comfortable talking to
  2. Provide visual references but relate them back to the artists style – there is no point in trying to make a Picasso produce a Monet, see point 1.
  3. Don’t be too prescriptive – you probably have an idea of what you’d like, but leave some room for interpretation and creativity (eg. I’ve asked WP to produce something that includes flowers/plants, I provided a couple of ideas related to the kind of flora I like, but that’s where I’ve left it)
  4. Sharing an idea of preferred colour palettes can be helpful – I gave WP a page filled with examples of the kinds of colours I liked + a list of colours I don’t like: see point 5.
  5. Don’t be scared to say what you DON’T want – alongside what you do like, this can help an artist to interpret your taste.
  6. Budget – be upfront about what you are willing to pay / what you can afford – in my case, I gave WP a budget and based on his rates, he suggested a canvas size for me which I was more than happy with.
  7. Timing – where possible, have a loose/flexible time frame, or at the very least, give the artist as much notice as possible if you need the work done for a specific occasion (as a gift etc)

Edited to add: discuss payment preferences with your artist but it is good practice to at least pay an agreed deposit upfront.

These are really just the basics – there are some great resources online with some further info (this is quite a good, in depth one) and obviously each artist has his own protocol and way of working so good to chat about all the details upfront and make sure you are both on the same page :)

Look forward to sharing WP’s masterpiece once it’s complete!

This Cape Town trip was MUCH better than the last one!

Many of you remember The Last Cape Town Trip and how (NOT) fun it was… This time, it was a thousand fold better – mostly because I left the kids and hubby at home, and there was lots more wine involved, shhhhhh ;)

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.16.58 PM
Popped South for a long weekend to visit my sis and to see her new home. Coincidentally, my trip was around the time I was signing over my business (You Biscuit!) and so we managed a quick outing to Stellies where I autographed the contract, purchased some wine from Rustenberg Wines, and met up with my dear friend Keri from We Are The Wildflowers for some lunch before hitting Babylonstoren for some wine tasting and garden viewing (more of the former!)

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.16.21 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.16.11 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.15.48 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.15.37 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.15.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.15.08 PM
Was also lucky enough to have a quick visit with Mandy from Pregnant in Cape Town, and her cherub Charly who is pretty much Cuteness Level: Overload!

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.18.34 PM(pic stolen from Mandy)

We also took a lovely drive up Signal Hill and along Chapmans Peak on a sunny day; ate Mexican at Fat Cactus; drank cocktails at Banana Jam, trawled Watershed at the V&A… Did LOTS of shopping (helloooo H&M!) and visited the stunning Constantia Gift Fair (best market I have been to in a while, so bored of the usual snore-fests that all sell the same stuff)

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.17.17 PM  Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.14.59 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.13.45 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.14.05 PM
It was practically perfection in a weekend – can’t wait to go back – big thanks to little sis for chauffeuring me around, and to Cape Town herself for being a positively fabulous hostess x

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.14.26 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.13.18 PM

Big You Biscuit! News

12196274_890078731041681_9133911099862668028_n

Some of you have already heard the exciting news – I recently sold my sideline business, You Biscuit! to a wonderful husband and wife team (Jenna & Peter Barlow) from Stellenbosch, who I KNOW will new breath life into it and build the brand and product offering across SA!

My freelance design work has really taken off this year and I have been struggling lately to give YB! the focus it deserves – instead of allowing it to fizzle out as I’ve done with businesses in the past, I threw the idea of selling the business out onto Facebook, and the Universe did her thang!

It all happened quite quickly and I was able to sign over in person last weekend while I was visiting my sister in the Cape!

I know Peter and Jenna from University days and am thrilled and proud to hand YB! over to them – with their expert writing and design skills, they are more than capable of continuing what I have started – can’t wait to see what they get up to and to cheer them on from the sidelines and to potentially help on a creative level in the future.

It’s been such an awesome journey and I thank EVERYONE for their support (please continue to show You Biscuit! the love, even in my absence!)

I feel like a mama bird whose fledgling has flown the nest – but don’t worry, am already sitting on a few new eggs ;-) and hoping to also spend some time focusing on my design work processes and on myself, my family and my house in the new year.

Bring on the festive season and two weeks “leave” (LOL – whatever!) in January!

Ps. check out the Ask Ashe and You Biscuit! Facebook pages, you might spot a sweet little deal there…

12241549_1044772472220984_7559093930684074800_n

Kellogg’s Breakfast for Better Days Foodie Workshop & Nutrition Talk at Amatikwe Primary, Inanda

Yesterday I drove down the hill to Durbs to meet Vuyokazi, a representative from Kellogg’s, and Kelly Francis, local dietician, at Amatikwe Junior Primary School in Inanda, where Kelly conducted a nutrition talk with the local parents, and I hosted a fun foodie workshop with the learners…

All of this was part of the Kellogg’s Breakfast for Better Days (BFBD) initiative, aligned with World Food Day (TODAY! 16 October!) and I had so much fun shopping  for and preparing for the workshop, but more importantly, fun with the learners who took part.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.38.23 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.38.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.38.05 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.37.59 PM
Kelly’s talk was centered around balancing the diets of our children in affordable, creative and easy ways, and I’m sure many of the parents took away some informative tips and info from the session.

Through the BFBD initiative, Kellogg’s is committed to providing 5 million breakfasts to learners across the country annually.

According to the South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey1 (2013), nearly one in five South African children are not eating breakfast before going to school. The initiative aims to help address this statistic and is also part of a global initiative by the Kellogg Company and its foundation, the Kellogg’s Corporate Citizenship fund that has pledged to provide one billion servings of breakfast and snacks to children and families who need it most, around the world by 2016.

As mentioned in my previous blog post, another facet of the campaign is to encourage South Africans in general to support members of the local community who could use a helping hand – drop off some breakfast treats at a local old age home, treat a car guard to some health snack or drop some yummy treats off at your nearest shelter – there is SO MUCH we can do as individuals to make a difference!

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 4.37.47 PM

Kelloggs Infographic - Social Media
* sponsored post