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

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 ;)

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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!)

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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)

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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

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Big You Biscuit! News


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…


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.

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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!

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Kelloggs Infographic - Social Media
* sponsored post

My visit to Angels’ Care Centre in Howick as Part of the Kellogg’s Breakfast for Better Days Campaign

I’m partnering with Kellogg’s to spread the world about their Breakfast for Better Days Initiative – anyone trying to improve the lives of children who go to school on an empty stomach (that’s one in five children in South Africa!) get’s my vote.

I’m so grateful that this opportunity led me to an organisation in the village of Howick who are also striving to change the lives of children who really need the help.

Angels’ Care Centre is a school, crisis centre and feeding scheme operator all rolled into one – I can’t begin to describe some of the stories that principal Yvette shared with me, but the organisation are doing such amazing work with the local community and I’m so humbled to have been welcomed into their fold with open arms.

Part of my role in the Kellogg’s BFBD campaign required that I undertake an act of kindness that would help to give someone the right start to their day, and bringing a yummy breakfast treat to the kids at Angels Care one Friday morning seemed to be the perfect idea – I’m not very good at the whole video vibe but this clip and the pics to follow will give you a glimpse of the kiddies enjoying their muffins, fruit, yoghurt and juice:

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Tomorrow I’m off to Durban to join the Kellogg’s team and dietitian Kelly Francis at Amatikwe Primary School for a nutrition talk and fun foodie workshop with the kids – so exciting!

Kellogg’s  nominates YOU to reach out in any way you can– dropping off breakfast at a nearby shelter, or your local old age home – film your act of kindness, and share on twitter with the hashtags #WorldFoodDay, #KellogsBFBD and #PowerofBreakfast , encouraging others to do the same.

Kelloggs Infographic - Social Media

Julia turns 2: my baby is not a baby anymore… (and she started SCHOOL today!)

On the 25th September, my sweet baby Jules turned two. It has been another year with this little cherub, filled with warmth, affection and smiles.

I love both my girls so much but they are also so incredibly different that I can’t compare the love I have for each. As I have always maintained, Jules is the heart-melter, and much like her daddy she is always chilled and content to go with the flow…

We didn’t have a party this year (I do ‘first birthdays‘ and then I don’t really do parties until they are old enough to ‘get it’ – Addi turns 4 next year, we may consider having one for her then but will see…) but we spoilt Jules at home with cake and pressies (again, a minimalist approach when it comes to gifts) and I think she had a good day. Being the child that she is, every day is a good one if she is surrounded by her faves: me, dad and Addi of course, plus ‘Keelay’ (Fikile, her beloved nanny) and Kee-och (Enoch, the gardener)…

It really has been a year of physical growth for Jules – she finally learned to walk (at 17 months!), her love for dancing has only increased , and her vocab improves daily. Her hair is so long and is changing colour from a soft blonde to a dark mousey brown (much like mine was when I was young)… Her legs are lengthening and I keep startling myself when I put her in clothes that Addi was wearing only a short while ago!

But probably more exciting  than turning a whole year older was STARTING SCHOOL today!

It’s been a long wait  – in all honesty, we could have started her last term, she was totally ready – dropping big sis off every morning means that she has become familiar with the school and her little friends (we visited her classroom-to-be most mornings on the way back to the car…)

This morning meant that Jules got to carry her own lunch baggie through the school gates, put her own bag in her little locker, and join her friends and teacher in her new class (legit Duckling now, not just sometimes-visitor!)

We left her playing happily at the puzzle table, she didn’t even know that we had gone…

Part of me feels a tiny bit sad that she is growing up so quickly, but part of me also knows she is going to have the biggest jol EVER at school (the rest of me is just vokken stoked that school hols are over – Fikile was off sick the ENTIRE holiday so juggling kids, housework and actual work was NOT fun…)

A few pics below to mark the changes over the year gone by… I’m so proud of this child.

Don’t grow up to too fast now my little one <3

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This morning before school:


One from her teacher this morning:


Let’s just talk about this Love Box, okay?

This is not the first time I have mentioned The Counter on this blog – I wrote about my goal to sample one of their famous brownies (while I was still living in London) HERE; and I featured it again HERE after I had my first taste of their wares during a trip to Jozi last year…

What I want to share with you today is more of a PSA about the subscription box service they launched recently, because you need this in your life. I think I ordered within the first ten minutes of their announcement a week or two ago, and my surprise-filled box arrived today.

It’s called a Love Box for a reason: so much passion and care has been poured into each handmade product inside, you can tell from the minute you rip it out of the courier bag that every detail has been carefully considered.

Obviously the yummeh contents of each box are the heroes (obviously) – but for me, it’s also about the beautiful packaging and design, and how it all comes together (I’ve talked about experiencing  a brand before and these guys are nailing it!)

Without further ado, feast your eyes on these, and read more about the logistics and how to order here: http://thecounter.co.za/love-box/




Rain Event @ Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) Durban

On Saturday gone by, I missioned down the highway to join some other local bloggers at the 2015 Rain KZN Bloggers Event being held at the Edu Centre at CROW in Durbs.

Us Midlands bloggers don’t get to attend cool events very often and I’ve had to turn down invites in the past (a la no one to babysit!) so I took the opportunity to have a kiddy-free adventure on hubby’s weekend off, and had an awesome time catching up with/meeting everyone despite the mizzy weather.

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Everyone in and around KZN has heard of CROW and the amazing rehabilitation work they do by helping injured/abandoned animals and birds back into the wild, so it was awesome to hear first hand from CROW Director, Claire, all about how they actually pull it all off. New-found respect for people who work with animals!

The Rain team (Yusuf, Ryan and Juani) were amazing hosts and we kicked off by creating our own body scrub mixes – I probably could have been a bit more adventurous with mine (a simple vanilla and rooibos concoction) but in the future I will be more than happy to leave it to the experts ;-)

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.30.11 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.30.19 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.22.31 PMAn incredible (vegetarian) lunch was laid out for us and a Rain video presentation showed how ingredients are sourced nd harvested, and local communities empowered through their relationships with the company.

We were also privy to a sneak peek at the upcoming seasonal products which will be in store soon, as well as a demo of the stunning new fragrances being released by Rain soon – Leaf, Twig and Nectar.

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A a designer, it’s all about the packaging for me though – kudos to Rain on that front, and for really creating a feel for who they are through their branding and marketing.

I’ve been watching their growth from the sidelines for a while now (their increasing online presence, as well as physical beautifully-designed stores in SA and abroad) and what a pleasure it was to sample some of their beautiful products and hear more about their ethos at this lovely event – thank you for having me :)

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INSPIRED! Hello Ambassador Follow Up Post

Let’s just say that I was so inspired by our little trip up to Jozi for Hello Ambassador earlier this month, that I haven’t done anything but work since then!

Okay, not completely true, but I have been playing catch up in a big way and have so many exciting projects on the go, I really haven’t given my poor old blog the attention it deserves…

So here we go, some of the highlights of my experience at #HA2015:

ONE. For me personally, top three speakers included: Robert Brozin (Nandos CEO-Founder), Pepe Marais (Joe Public Partner/CCO ), and William Struwig (Publicis Machine CD) – their talks were just incredibly inspiring – I left feeling like I want to do more, be more, create more – and that the possibility of having it all is actually real… I did at times feel a bit sad that I didn’t belong to a bigcityfuckoff corporate creative organisation and that I’m just kind of on my own here in the sticks, BUT there were still so many things they talked about that are interchangeable with freelance life and the path that I’m on that I know I can still make my dreams a reality.

TWO. Pepe made me cry by showing some of these incredible ads created by Joe Public:

THREE. Seeing Lauren Beukes (South African Novelist +More ) = ultimate fangirl moment achieved – just love her books and  was amazing  to understand a bit more about her research methods, and even just to see how she thinks and communicates…

FOUR. 3D Printing is INSANE people – thank you to Rick Treweek for the little workshop/intro into 3D printing and for helping me to understand how it actually all works, and amazingly, how accessible it is already…

FIVE. Meeting Steven and Telri from Paper Snap was an unexpected bonus of the event – what lovely people, whose beautiful illustration/design and screenprinting work I have been admiring from afar for a while now

SIX. Nicola and I had our portraits sketched in mere minutes (very awkward where-should-I-look-now minutes, but end result  well worth it!) by the talented Morne Venter Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 12.47.31 PMSEVEN. Just in general – seeing/talking to/listening to/being exposed to all different kinds of creative people and their crafts – great way to feel inspired and creatively refueled!

My partner in crime, also wrote a great post about some of the lessons we learnt from various speakers – a must read: http://www.nicolatweed.co.za/lessons-learnt-from-hello-ambassador-2015/ (thank you for coming with me on this adventure to the Big Smoke x )

And for those still wondering, I didn’t win the Awards for my You Biscuit! poster entry, but I came a close second and really chuffed and grateful for all the support received <3

To end off, some badly lit pics, but you get the idea!

Hello Ambassador Awards 2015 – please vote for YOU BISCUIT! if you think it deserves to win :)

Next week I’m off on a road trip with Nicola Tweed to attend the Hello Ambassador Creative Festival in Jozi – a  2-day conference featuring talks by industry experts from a variety of creative disciplines + workshops and a creativity and innovation expo.

C.A.N.N.O.T. W.A.I.T to immerse myself in some fresh creative vibes and take a break from Midlands life, as lovely as it is! Will definitely be sharing more pics and a blog post after the event, but the purpose of this blog post is to share the news that I’ve entered my You Biscuit! poster into the Hello Ambassador design competition and I’m in the running to win an award along with 6 other fantastic finalists!

It’s the first time I’ve ever taken part in an awards ceremony, there is no prize except for the title but I would be thrilled to win either way – so if you think my efforts with You Biscuit! deserve a vote, PLEASE CLICK HERE and type my name into the box at the bottom of the page – it only takes two secs, I promise :)

Will keep you all updated – to those who have already voted, thank you – honoured to receive so much ongoing support from everyone with my You Biscuit! project, very heart warming <3