Outside the comfort zone


Who else but Jesus to market bum bags?

I’ve landed a big job and it’s kinda freaking me out. Not that it requires a great amount of graphic design finesse or will take up a huge amount of time to finish – it’s just BIG.

As in billboard big.

And I don’t know why it freaks me out, apart from the fact I’ve never actually done one ‘for real’ before.  Sure, I understand the theory of it:

No more than seven words – check √
One large graphic – check √
Contrasting colours – check √
Clear fonts (preferably sans serif) – check √

I completed the advertising module of my diploma with no problems. To be honest, I quite enjoyed it. I enjoy the psychology of marketing – it’s the commercialism and competitiveness that leaves me cold and guarantees I’d never go into the industry full-time.

However, to actually do a design for a company and have it stuck up at the entrance to town in all its 8 metre x 3 metre glory for the next who knows how long? That’s a totally new experience and one that has me over-thinking.

Usually along the lines of “But what if it sucks?”.

At the same time, I recognise the benefits of stepping out of my comfort zone. Nothing signals great leaps in learning and personal/professional growth than saying “Yeah, sure! No problem!” to a job then walking out the door wondering how the hell you’re going to deliver.

My quoted price for this job doesn’t cover the time I’ve spent researching my old study notes and website how-to’s – nor any analysis of the ultimate message they want to convey, usually done in the wee small hours of the morning whilst trying to get back to sleep! But what the hell. If I’ve undercut myself, it only seems fair since the experience I get is well worth it.

When asked how he managed to achieve so much in his lifetime, Peter Brock was once quoted as saying “I took on more than I could chew, and then chewed like mad!”

I’m chewing like mad, Pete.


The power of Facebook

fb octopus

I know. My talents are wasted.

I seem to be dabbling in a fair bit of web-type work at the moment with a new webpage for an association I work for on contract. We had a proper professional set it up in WordPress so a numpty like me could actually manage it without popping a hernia. The old one was a target for hackers (I have no idea why) and was in Joomla, which, it turns out, I hate with a passion.

I am also developing a new webpage in WordPress (in which tips and tricks from the professional setup I’m working with have come in handy) for an association I do work for the love of the club in particular and the World Game in general (that’s either soccer or football, depending on where you live).

As part of all this digital dabbling, Facebook has to get involved at some point and today has definitely shown me the amazing tentacles of power this social media mega-monster possesses.

Currently, my phone is beeping every few minutes due to the fact it’s logged into Facebook (constantly) and I’m carrying on conversations and swapping quips with: high school friends, most of which I haven’t actually laid eyes on for at least 10 years, if not more; soccer friends, who live just up the road or on the other side of town; people I barely know, only through association with the same club and; old friends from way back who saw a picture my sister in law took and put on a nation-wide weather page and messaged me to ask if she was related.

How’s that for multitasking?

I’m not a regular status updater. I will admit to being partial to Facestalking most of the time. Sometimes, though, I do go through a stage where I want to tell the world what I had for lunch. To be fair, that stage was mainly when we traveled through Japan and Europe and it seemed only reasonable to make everyone I knew sick with jealousy because I was TRAVELING THROUGH JAPAN AND EUROPE AND WOOWEE THAT SHIT IS WORTH SHARING!

Today, I did a not so smart thing. I created a new page for the club, not realising we already had a page (even though I myself had liked it many months ago – told you it wasn’t a smart thing).

We have a Closed Group page that makes it hard for new people to find us and get information and we can’t like other pages such as local sponsors so it was decided to work towards closing it down and using a ‘page’ page to solve our issues. Little did the majority of the committee realise we already had it. Being an ex-Librarian, I should have known to do a search first. D’oh.

Queue momentary chaos.

Facebook – love it or loath it – has an incredible reach. At least people in town are talking about our club this afternoon!

“Finest bread I will provide until their hearts be satisfied.”

sourdough bread
I wish my bread looked like this …

My grandfather Arthur took up the hobby of baking bread in his later years (and, as we found after he died, stockpiling rolls of toilet paper in the back room cupboard but that’s another blog entirely).

His bread was good. So good that, as uni students, my cousin and I would convince him to make us a loaf each when we’d go back to uni from holidays. It made the best toast ever as it was slightly more dense than normal bread and had the distinct flavour of sourdough from the starter he used. We lamented the loss not only of Pa but his bread when he died and it was something so distinctive about him, my Uncle Terry found the lovely quote (and title for this blog) from a hymn and we put it on his gravestone.

My dad Peter also took up the art of baking bread in his later years and he too had a sourdough starter that worked really well.  He gave me one of my own which I used to his recipe with no problem until I went back to full time work and became time poor.  Starters need love and I just didn’t have enough to go around.

Ever since dad died five years ago tomorrow, I’ve been a little obsessed with getting back into baking bread and reflecting on past history, I wonder if it’s a genetic thing.

Baking bread takes time, patience and skill. The biggest issue I have is patience. I’ve never been a particularly patient person. If I wanted something, I went out and got it. And if I couldn’t get it? I lost interest or declared it wasn’t for me and moved on to something else.

You could say I was a bit of a quitter. I quit Girl Guides because I couldn’t go to the muster. I quit gymnastics because I had to get up early to go to classes (and the teacher was mean, slapping hands, legs or any other part that wasn’t doing what it should. I was 10 and didn’t have a strong desire to be a gymnast. Or to be slapped.).

I quit tennis. Playing the flute. Tae Kwon Do. University. Anything that got too hard, I found an excuse to walk away from.

I seriously panicked at about 5 months pregnant with my first child when it dawned on me that labor was something that was going to be difficult, painful, messy and out of my control.

And … I couldn’t just quit and walk away.

Long story short – I survived. She was gorgeous. And after her arrival, I started seeing projects through to their finish.

Getting back to my Year of Baking Bread … so far, it’s going pretty average.

I’ve made three loaves to date and each one has definitely resembled a doorstop.  The upside is that the loaf lasts a loonnngg time, even with young adult males in the house. One slice is enough to keep them happy for a while.

The downside is that it’s not doing what it should, goddammit, and I am not sure why and my patience is wearing thin.

New Year, New Goals

pencil watercolourIn all aspects, 2014 was a pretty spectacular year for me. The NIH and I made it official with a twilight ceremony at the soccer fields on what was possibly THE hottest day in recent history. It was a sweaty afternoon but a lovely one just the same. We also traveled extensively overseas, seeing the sights I’d only read about and drooled over in movies and TV shows. Career-wise, work picked up and a few projects really pushed me to better my graphic design skills. My studies took a bit of a hit, thanks to the two months away and a complete overhaul of their online study site but I only have three modules left and will be pretty chuffed with myself when I finish them off by June.

So, with so much done last year I do wonder how on earth I can top it in 2015 and recently sat down to make some realistic goals. I separated them into the subject areas of Drawing; Relaxation; Health; Personal Growth; Writing; Household and Food and came up with a list I think I can actually manage.


I bought myself an A5 visual diary and pledge to draw, paint, doodle or otherwise scribe in it every day. It doesn’t have to be Michelangelo level or an entire new piece every time but it does have to make me work on my illustration skills. There’s no getting around it, people. I’m a sucky illustrator and I’ll never get any better if I don’t practice. The picture above is something I worked on over two days using new watercolour pencils. It didn’t take long and was kinda nice to do for an hour in the morning with a coffee by my side.


Recent health has been shoddy at best and downright piss-poor at worst (namely ending up in hospital attached to an IV cocktail of antibiotics). It’s nothing I really could have avoided but it has very much made me aware of the preciousness of my health. So, as part of a routine to take care of the physical I will have one massage a month. Doesn’t sound hard, I know, but I am really not the ‘massage’ kind of person. Once upon a time the idea of stripping down and a stranger touching my body in a non-sexual way would have made my skin crawl. “How could a massage be considered a treat?” I wondered. Now that stage has passed, I need to get into the habit of doing something that is not only relaxing but quite necessary for good health.


I’m a fairly active person but the last few years have seen a real struggle with weight, despite trying every 12 week program there is. Unfortunately, if your hormones are shot and your body is out of whack, no amount of ‘diet’ or exercise will help and it becomes a real study in frustration. Fortunately, I’m onto a program with the naturopath and have completely cut sugar from my diet and results are starting to appear. This year, I want to be a little more gentle with my body. I don’t feel that cardio really helps me and it certainly doesn’t make a difference on the scales. Instead, I want to be stronger and calmer. The local gym does “Body Balance”, a Les Mills program combination of yoga, tai chi and pilates, and I really enjoy the classes. More of that, please.


This is one I will most definitely struggle with – criticism. Criticism of myself and of others. I will make a concerted effort to keep my trap shut and turn my thoughts and words from negative nellies into positive pollies. I will look for the good in every situation, person and deed. I will let go of past hurts and grudges and move on with love and acceptance. My NIH may have snorted derisively at this one …


Blog once a week. That’s the goal. And if I stick to the rest of my goals, I should have at least one semi-interesting thing to write about.


Clutter and mess annoy me no end. And instead of grumbling about others being messy or hoarders (which I can’t anyway since I have pledged to stop criticising and start being positive), I will have a mini-cleanup of places other than the usual each week until the house resembles something more like Better Homes and Gardens and less than Hoarders USA.


My dad had a fantastic sourdough starter and made the most awesomely fragrant bread. Since he died, I’ve struggled to get a starter happening but this year is my Year of Baking Bread. This year I am going to master the starter and the art of making authentic sourdough bread that tastes fantastic and in no way resembles a doorstop. I have downloaded ‘Sourdough 101’ from the Sourdough Baker and I am going to do it over and over and over again until I get it right. How hard could it be?

So there you go – seven totally doable goals for 2015. And now I can tick a blog for Week One off the list …