Etsy Artists

I love Etsy. For those of you who don’t know what Etsy is, it is an online handmade marketplace which showcases artists, craftspeople and designers in a beautifully simple and elegantly designed way. I’ve bought a few things from Etsy, but I also use it as inspiration for updating the house, my wardrobe, for presents and for just about everything. A few that have caught my eye of late:

The cocodeparis Physics Giraffe – I bought this print for my bedroom wall and just love his quizzical face and whimsical jumper.

The ObviousState Constellation – it’s gorgeous and while it doesn’t fit my house at the moment, I’m looking forward to when I have a house it does fit in.

Lachlobijoux’s Band Ring – such a simple idea and incredibly well priced. It comes from Italy which I think adds a little piece of styling to an outfit. It’s in my cart an oh oops – just bought it!

…and Fireworks at the State Fair by observationfullnfelt – it makes me feel happy that people capture these moments that define our growing up years.

How about you? Do you have any favorites I should follow?

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Doing It Again

I’ve done a lot of schooling in my time – I went through the regular primary and secondary, took a year off during which time I did a visual design course, then went back to hotel management school, completed that and converted it to a Bachelor of Business. I worked for a few years, then did post graduate certificate and diploma in International politics, completed a short story writing course and a genre writing course. I’m in the middle of a couple of MOOC’s (Model Thinking and The Camera Never Lies) with three more lined up over the next few months. I’m a huge reader of everything (and anything) plus I listen to my body weight in podcasts each week (TED Radio Hour, This American Life, Joy the Baker, Planet Money). I don’t keep up with current events because knowing what has hapened rarely explains why it’s happened which is where my interest lies.

So why do I tell you this? Well, I was thinking…. what if I could do my education over again? What would I do?

Let’s start with the basics – hotel management school was a waste of three years and thousands of dollars. I’d replace that with an engineering degree, or anything that actually used my brain as well as created value. Engineers still travel, they still have lots of fun and what’s more, they end up building things that make people’s lives better. Win win, I say.

I’d still do visual design, but I’d probably do a couple of years worth and add in photography and make that ongoing. I’d still do the writing courses, only I’d possibly specialise in food writing, or perhaps biography writing. Maybe I’d combine the two and make my own genre – biography through the culture of personal food choices. Gwyneth Paltrow would be an ideal subject!

I’d still do post graduate study, and I enjoyed politics, but I might switch it out for law or something else with general appeal. Go broader with my maturity.

I don’t regret what I’ve done, nor what I will distill, but I do wish I had more knowledge!

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Lip Factory June 2013 Box

I haven’t posted about my monthly sample boxes in a while, mostly because there are so many great reviews out there on what’s in them, that I felt mine would always be too little, too late. I stopped Lust Have It a couple of months back too as I felt that the products, although touted in a much publicized revamp, felt a little “end-of-line” for me. They never seemed to suit my skin type or my tones and the customer service is, at best, woeful.

So I’m down to two – BellaBox (love it) and Lip Factory.

The Lip Factory box is continually impressive. It’s purely makeup, so I don’t have too many problems with matching to my skin type or end up with 10 different hair masks or body scrubs at the end of a couple of months. This month was amazing…

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  1. Manic Panic Creature of the Night mascara. It looks a little dry at first, but brushes on to create quite the dramatic eye.
  2. Manic Panic High Voltage lipgloss in mid pink colour. This lip gloss has a built in LED light in the lid so that if you are applying in a dark place, you can see what you are doing. Genius or marketing ploy? Either way, the gloss is gorgeous and not tacky at all.
  3. Essence Volumising Lash Powder. I haven’t used this yet and am unsure quite how to go about using it, but looking forward to seeing if it does volumise or just colour my lashes so I know where I’ve missed putting on mascara! (although come to think of it, more of any kind of mascara would also be volumising)
  4. Lakur nail polish in a nude stain. I’ve been wearing this on my nails for a week or more now and it’s given my nails a really healthy colour and shine. very impressed.
  5. Mineral Eyez shimmer powder in “Caribbean Sea”. I’m not a huge eyeshadow wearer, but am trying to force myself in to it. I might use this on top of the almost-exact-same-colour Maybelline Eye Tattoo cream eyeshadow I have yet to use from one of my Priceline haul days.
  6. 29 Cosmetics Lipstick in Berry Stain. Such a gorgeous deep wine colour with no bleeds! It’s quite dark and dramatic, so I used it with the gloss to lighten it up a bit and felt more comfortable.
  7. Befine Exfoliating cleanser sample sachet – to add to my sample sachets… I now have a huge jar of them in my bathroom. I’m sure one day I’ll use some if not all of them. Maybe.

So as mentioned, I’m highly impressed once again with the range and quality of these products and I like that they are brands I don’t seem to find in Australia. The boxes are well packaged and the range thoughtfully put together. I also like the brightness of the colours mixed with nudes – it feels just the right amount of crazy and sane.

Winter Reads

I am a massive devourer of books – if it weren’t for my wonderful library, I’d be destitute and having to hide my compulsion from my husband (he of the newspaper and golf magazines). So since the chilly fingers of winter are starting to grab the back of my neck, it’s the right time of year so start thinking cozy, which to me means what will complement my cup of tea and bed socks? I have a reading list which includes some old favorites and some new experiences. My reading style is to give a book the fall asleep test – if I fall asleep three nights in a row without caring where I’m up to, I stop reading, but if it holds me awake or if I remember exactly where I am in the story, I keep going. Here’s hoping!

Hot on the heels of his first in the series (Wool), Hugh Howey’s new book promises to re-insert me in to the amazing underground world of the future and prequel the gripping and all encompassing first book. I like a series that shifts backwards because you are already familiar with the characters, so it’s the story that takes front seat. I’m also fascinated to know how this all began – was it a cataclysmic event that put people under the ground? Why hasn’t there been an uprising for all the silos?
This book tracks the journey of Paul Farmer as he brings medical help to those who need them most in Haiti. I came across this book from a TeD talk and am looking forward to being inspired. I also have a lot of family in the medical business, my father may be taking on a post in East Timor in the new year, so I want to get a feel for the altruism and sacrifice involved.
I love a book that tries to give a version of an answer to a big question – what if we could do it all over again? And again? This book follows the lives of Ursula Todd through the 20th century and how she deals with being born over and over in to different lives. Will she use her powers for good or self interest?
Anne Tyler is always a lock for an indulgent read, her prose is spot on and her stories, while sometimes a bit singular, are full of rich predictable narrative so easy to follow and a joy to come home to. The story begins with the main character Dorothy coming back to life after her death in an accident, written from the point of view of Aaron, the grieving husband. Only it seems nobody else has noticed anything strange – is it just him or is this a miracle?
The prodigal son returns! And so does Jodi Piccoult! Always a page turner and a heart squeezer, Jodi’s latest is going to be another in depth look at a family in crisis, this time with the absent father on life support, the estranged son returning home to say goodbye and the daughter who isn’t ready to let it all go.
I’m a huge fan and user of kiva.org so am looking forward to a story behind the loans – the people who are on the receiving end of my (and others) microfinance $25 loans. Told through the eyes of Bob, I’m hoping it’s as funny and heartfelt as his other work.
So that’s what I’m looking forward to curling up with – how about you? Any suggestions?
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Garnier – Olia Hair Colour

I was also lucky enough to be on the Olia trial team and received the PR box for this product which was a huge glossy package which deconstructed what it would be like on a shelf. Right off the bat, it was impressive! (See video for more on that)

The colouring system itself is very similar to any other home colour – add the colour to the developer creme, shake and apply. The little twists that I liked was the hole in the box to hold the bottle to stop spilling and the applicator bottle itself has a really long nozzle so you can get right in to the roots.

No ammonia removes the horrid normal colouring smell with a lot of the others. It’s ultra nourishing and there is no tingling or itching while it’s being applied and it sticks without drips, so I could keep doing things while it was colouring.

I may have chosen the wrong colour (Golden Brown) as it didn’t seem to change as the bottle suggested. No-one has noticed the colour of my hair, although I have had a lot of comments on the condition of my hair so in that way it’s a win. I think that I’ll chose two or three shades lighter next time and hope to see a real difference.

In the end, I have had more vibrant colour, but I’ve never had such a conditioning result from a home hair colouring system. It’s easy to use, beautifully packaged and very clean to apply. Choose the right colour and you’ll be glad you did!

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Neutrogena Naturals – Purifying Facial Cleanser

I’ve been using the Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Facial Cleanser for about 10 days now (morning and night) but it’s been so drying to my skin that I’ll have to stop. It’s unfortunate, because there are a lot of positives about this product.

The packaging is gorgeous – I was excited to get the Naturals range for it’s pure beauty in the shower – the pump is a little stiff, but eases up after a while.

The smell is heavenly – I think it must be the willow bark (although I’m not sure what willow bark smells like so it could just be the fragrance ingredient) that is so refreshing.

The number of ingredients – often cleansers have up to 20 ingredients, a lot of which are unpronounceable, but this has only 12, of which 10 are naturally derived (and one is water) and all are pronounceable in easy english – a big plus to know what’s going on my face.

The gel formulation was easy to use and it spread to cover what it needed to cover using only a small amount of product. It wasn’t too “chunky” so didn’t need extra water to lather.

However, with all of these good points, the one point that matters to me over all others is how it’s made my skin feel and for that, this product has unfortunately failed. I don’t have problem skin at all, I’m pretty middle-of-the-road, but I think this may work better for very oily skin or perhaps used in hotter weather where the moisture of the air can compensate.

Thanks beautyheaven for the trial, but it’s too drying to buy for myself.

The Anti-Advice

Is it just me, or did becoming a mother come with about 500 pieces of conflicting advice on every topic imaginable – sleeping, feeding, education, childcare, working, not working, brain development, foods, allergies, formula, breastfeeding, toilets, nappies, bedding, clothing, toys, drinking, eating, holding, settling, rolling, crawling… and I seemed to be saddled with all this from multiple channels about 10 minutes after announcing I was pregnant! It’s no wonder that us mothers feel overwhelmed from the start and afraid of so many things.

So to all the future or currently wondering mothers out there – here is the anti-advice I wish I had received when contemplating motherhood with all it’s quirks.

1. Calm Down – It’s not likely to be anything life threatening. Your baby will be quiet and active at different times of the day than a regular person until their own rhythms come together, this doesn’t mean that they have a problem. They may pick up a cold, a cough, a slight temperature or a strange habit as they explore their surroundings, but none of this is usually cause for a visit to the doctors office where they are likely to pick up more germs. Your baby needs you to be the calm person in the room and ignore the overactive imagination of your mother in law / well meaning friend / fellow mother.

2. Ignore The Hormones – You will be amazed what the first few weeks of motherhood hormones make you do. All of a sudden, you are completely overcome with love and protective instincts and you will try to do it all and be all to this little creature. You need to let other people in (especially your partner) so that they understand from the moment you get home that this whole journey is a partnership. Start as you mean to go on and don’t try to do it all – let your partner / mother / friend do the night feed, the nappy change, the calming down. It’s important that your baby be comfortable in more than one environment.

3. Your Baby Is You – There is a lot of generic advice out there on what babies should be doing at what point and when to introduce something to them and what is appropriate and “normal”. Your baby is not “normal” – s/he is incredibly special because s/he is you and is wired just like you are. Try and tap in to that and find the right solution, not fit them in to what the book / site / person says should be occurring.

4. Failure Comes From Expectations – Don’t put firm expectations on what your baby will and won’t do because they aren’t able to work with you. They can take their cues from you, but they are not able to know that they are meant to be asleep at 715pm at the latest, so expecting them to do this will make you feel like a failure. Keep expectations to a minimum and work on getting slow and steady wins rather than a baby who performs.

5. Your Mother Did What Was Best – And just like everything else in life, what is best in one generation doesn’t necessarily fit what’s best now. Your mother / mother-in-law / friendly aunt will have wonderful advice on how they did things, but you are now in charge so don’t let them take over and re-create your childhood. Let your life lessons influence your child from the moment they are born.

But the greatest anti-advice of all?

Stop listening so much and have fun with the mothering thing. Babies are not only resilient and strong, but hysterical and endlessly fascinating. Don’t lose the wonder to panic and if you feel yourself doing this, talk to someone – share the burden of worry and let other people help you. A fully rounded child needs interaction and guidance from a lot of people in order for them to be independent and thoughtful adults.

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It’s Me. Deal.

Sarah Redmond Avatar

I hereby give notice of my intention to provide myself with work that I feel has meaning.

This does not mean that I will necessarily change my job, but I need to craft my position so that I can do more of things which provide value to people and less of things which hamper a person’s ability to provide meaning to their own jobs.

In essence, I will not

  • participate in bureaucratic pencil pushing nonsense because someone higher up than me thinks it’s a good idea
  • make things more confusing for someone rather than go the extra step to give them enough information to make it simple.
  • take on more work than I can be expected to keep track of
  • agree to timelines which are unrealistic
  • apologise for non-delivery on areas out of my control
  • complain about the 10% of my job which will always be nonsense because that’s what any office workers job is.

but I absolutely will

  • put my hand up for work in my area of interest
  • refuse work which may move me upward in the chain if it doesn’t fit with what I see as an area which also grows me personally
  • calmly and confidently keep my boundaries and insist that others respect them
  • direct anger at the person who made the decision, not the person who is delivering the decision contents.
  • insist on being trained for work before I’m expected to do it.
  • insist on being developed for my next role, even if a vacancy isn’t available.

I’m happy to move on if things don’t fit. I’m not afraid of taking on challenges and I’m completely unafraid of speaking truth to “power”. I can choose what my life contains and do not suffer fools lightly, but will give everyone a fair chance to gain my respect. I adore intelligence and will unashamedly ignore the stupid suggestion – there are such things as stupid questions, comments and decisions. In the same breath, I extol the virtues of frivolity and am perfectly happy sitting in this often hypocritical seat.

And this is my pledge – I am getting too old to play the game, so I’m changing the rules.

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Finding The Balance

This post first appeared on the Mouths of Mums website

For anyone who isn’t reading about Marissa Mayer, she recently became the new CEO of Yahoo and had a baby, all in the same few months. Her decision to come back to work and not allow “working from home” by Yahoo employees has caused a lot of debate over the right balance and women’s choices in returning to work.

I’ve had a lot of struggles coming late to the parenting game. By the time I became a mother, I was well on the way to a promising technology career, just said “I Do” to my best friend and we had both talked about, but not decided on, children in our future. I was planning a wedding, we had bought and started renovating our first home and life was finally feeling a bit closer to complete.

And then came Grace. As any mother is likely to tell you, the addition of a tiny baby filled me with more capacity for love and strange emotions than I thought possible while simultaneously draining me of every ounce of energy I had and giving me reserves of strength I feared I would never possess. Becoming a mother immediately made me want to apologise to my mother for everything I had ever done and cry about the innumerable possibilities that would face our baby girl in her life.

A few months later, being at home with Grace started to feel a bit restrictive. I loved our time together, but the inability to get things “done” and cross them off my daily list started frustrating me, so I thought I should go back to work and thankfully, I could do this from home. I started out one day a week, then two, then I wanted to get out of the house, so I looked at childcare options. We live in a country area, so getting one day, then two days childcare each week was no problem and while I wrestled feelings of motherly guilt every day I dropped her off, I knew she was safe, well fed, well loved and stimulated because of the particular childcare centre we had chosen.

There were judgements made of me when I went back to work, both within and external to the family, but I started to feel like I was more… me. The things that frustrated me at home (a feeling of never ticking things off a list and of not “contributing” in a fiscal sense) started to quiet. But I couldn’t get the balance right. Working part time is a strange thing – you always get saddled with a full time load and you never quite feel like you are seen as a full partner to the business, but since I was still the primary parent, I never quite felt like I was doing that job well either.

When I returned to work full time, we put Grace in childcare four days per week and her grandparents looked after her on the fifth day. My days are long, especially when I do the childcare drop off and pick up and my husband is away, but I feel like I have myself back again. I can contribute to my chosen field, I have ensured that Grace has the best and most stimulating care I can give her and she has the ability to socialise with children her own age and developmental time frame. She has room leaders not only dedicated to her care, but trained in providing a framework within which she learns and grows. She has generational contact with the grandparents and our weekends are magical because they are so special.

But most of all, I feel now that I am providing her with a strong, confident and solid female role model. I don’t put myself last in our family, I have time to myself when I need it and we are all getting the daily stimulation we need. I won’t lie and say it’s easy, it’s a constant logistical battle, but one that I’m slowly realising works for us.

What we have done is not for everyone, and I think that the general argument about a woman’s return to the workforce needs to appreciate a number of different viewpoints, mostly valuing any choice a woman makes that allows her to be a person that makes her confident and feel worthy.

I understand, but don’t agree with not allowing telecommuting – for my mind, it offers women options, while allowing them to bridge the responsibilities of home with those of the office. Taking away options and choice means limiting a woman’s potential once they have children.

 

For the working and non-working mothers out there, how have you found your balance? Have you found that family or societal judgment has framed your actions?

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Little Things?

The little things don’t feel little anymore. I’ve managed to catch a “little” cold, something that 15 years ago I could have willed away through stubbornness. It’s been three days now and it feels like it is settling in for a long vacation in my muscles. It got me to thinking what else is showing my age.

Getting up from the floor – having toddler around means there is a constant up and down of playing on the floor to climbing on the kitchen bench or up to the top bunk, then down again, possibly within the same five minutes. I’ve noticed that I try and talk her in to staying at the same altitude just so that I don’t have to figure out how to get up again. I can’t get up without the aid of something (even if it’s just the floor) whereas I used to be able to get up without using my hands at all, just push up through my feet (I totally remember doing this because it was a big thing in my group of friends and yes, I realise this meant we needed to find something else to occupy our time)

On a related note – I’ve got to lose weight.

Going Out at Night Doesn’t Even Sound Good in Theory Any More – It used to be that making plans and organising nights to catch up or party were awesome, even if the biggest of crazy nights never quite lived up to the hype, we still did it all. Now the thought of the planning stage terrifies and defeats me. How did I used to do it? My nights began at 11pm whereas now, that counts as a crazy late night if I’m not  falling asleep on the couch and drooling on my arm. Just knowing that I have dinner plans makes me automatically think of excuses of why I have to leave early – I hope this phase ends soon

On a related note – kids are the best excuse ever.

I don’t own clothes I can’t wear to work except “lounge” attire – I have a pretty decent work wardrobe – I’ve curated a few cute dresses that can be worn in hot or cold weather with a few changes in cardigans, jackets, stockings and shoes and I’m rocking the block colour. But when I go shopping for anything that isn’t work clothing, I end up buying yoga pants and soft cotton t-shirts. I bought a pair of jeans after my husband forced me because I didn’t want to go jeans shopping but which are now considered “dressy” non-work attire. An time I now go out at night with friends, I wear work clothes because I don’t have a choice. I keep forgetting that I have a life outside work, sleep and being a mother. Lucky my friends are forgiving!

On a related note – must buy more support undergarments

I’m totally buying in to the anti-aging propaganda – Now, I’m not one who honestly thinks that a few slaps of expensive cream will make me look ten again, but there are certain products that  am convinced make me look better – Alpha-H for one, anything L’Occitane for two and mascara – oh mascara, you are always there for me to make me look wake and together with myself. I’m subscribed to a bunch of boxes to see if there are products worth investing in, but so far I just seem to think 90% of them are all the same – a moisturiser is a moisturiser is a moisturiser, it just depends on it’s emulsification level as to how it feels immediately and in the short term.

So things that got no thought at all for my first 35 years of life are all of a sudden becoming issues. I hope there’s no further decline, but of course, I do know how unlikely that is.

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