IN CASE YOU MISSED IT! My A1 South African Colouring In Posters are now on sale – visit youbiscuit.com

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Just over 2 weeks ago I revealed my  * Secret Project * and my A1-sized South African Colouring In posters went on sale shortly afterwards… The response to my hard work, and support from people far and wide has been overwhelming – I just want to say a big THANK YOU to you all – wishing you many hours of fun and relaxing colouring in!

FOR THOSE WHO HAVE PURCHASED ALREADY – dont forget about the colouring in competition we’re hosting where you can win R500 by sharing a pic of your completed poster!

FOR THOSE STILL WANTING TO ORDER – drop me an email on hey@youbiscuit.com or visit youbiscuit.com for more info!

IF YOU ARE FEELING LUCKY and would like to win a poster of your own – visit this page on Facebook: Africa, this is why I live here and enter by liking the You Biscuit! Facebook page and sharing the featured competition image (the big one that says GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! ) Good luck!

Don’t forget to share your colouring in progress with us – we love to see your photos and hear your stories! #ColourInSA

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The 1000hearthaikus Project – by Jen Thorpe

I LOVE this! The 1000hearthaikus Project is  instagram-based project by fellow Rhodent and feminist writer Jen Thorpe who aims to write 1000 Haikus by the end of 2015.

For those who don’t know, Haiku is a form of traditional Japanese poetry – each poem is a 17-syllable verse consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables.

Jen writes daily and posts pictures of her Haiku for all to see – I’ve been following for a while and love to see what pops up next in my feed – a few snapshots below – be sure to follow the project for more absolute gems!

Thank you for sharing your beautiful words Jen :)

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{ All pics by Jen Thorpe, borrowed from her dedicated The 1000hearthaikus Project instagram account }

Time To Share My Secret Project!

Those who follow on instagram and FB will have noticed me alluding to it often and, Im happy to announce that I can FINALLY share my #SecretProject with you all!

Hours of work, over many weeks (in between client work, and, real life) have resulted in the creation of an A1 sized colouring in poster – comprising a collage of South African objects, animals, structures, plants, products, icons and symbols – for ALL AGES, and suitable for use with crayons, koki’s (felt tip pens), pencils, paint and more!

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My idea was to offer something that would appeal design-wise to BOTH kids AND adults (yes 18-and-overs, that means you get to colour in too!) and I’ve had so much fun coming up with ideas for it, inspired by South Africa’s beauty and individuality as a country.

Posters will be available for sale @R99 each (ex. postage) from early March (next week, meep!) and will initially be sold directly via a dedicated site (You Biscuit! – coming soon!) Each poster is printed on quality 160gsm matte paper, and packaged in a protective hard-core kraft document tube, suitable for a journey through SA’s postal service ;)

I hope to get some in stores across SA too, but baby steps first, as I only sent them to print yesterday!

Super exciting stuff I tell you :) Thanks to friends and family who have supported me along the way, I appreciate each and every one of you x

Email hey@youbiscuit.com for enquiries / direct orders / wholesale queries and follow YOU BISCUIT! on Facebook for more news, offers and competitions!

A Carefree Mama

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Let me just clarify: there is no such thing as “a carefree mom.”

I realised this yesterday in a somewhat profound moment when I was catching up with some of my fave mommy friends and one of them remarked: “I think what I miss the most [about life pre-kids] is being carefree, because we will never feel that again. No one ever tells you that…” and never a truer word was spoken!

Even when our kids aren’t around us, when we are at work or having some ‘me time’, whatever – we are constantly thinking about them. Worrying about them. Wondering what they are doing. Are they driving the babysitter insane? Did I pack enough nappies? Have they eaten? Have they slept? Are they warm enough? Did I send an extra dummy? Oh crap, I forgot the snacks…. And the ultimate concern, one that we all have at some stage or another: what if something happens to us? Who will look after them? (Another member of the mom pack said she spent an entire weekend – the first full weekend away from her little one – worrying about just that, to the point where she hardly enjoyed herself – sounds familiar, right?!)

It’s a tough one to reconcile for so many of us who are fighting the battle to maintain our identity and not to just be “Mom”. And let’s be honest, it is a battle sometimes. It’s hard to meet the demands of little ones and to still make time for ourselves; to nurture our own interests (those beyond mothering) and to make time for our partners too – and then on top of that we are still constantly worrying about everything!

I remember when I was young and single; I heard somewhere that that was probably the stage of life where I would be the richest (financially) that I will ever be: no dependents, fewer expenses, a higher amount of disposal income, only me to be worry about… And at the time it baffled me because I thought I was pretty poor compared to my banker friends in London ;) but this is kind of the same thing…

Even if someone HAD told me way back when, I wouldn’t have ‘got it’, because that’s how life works – we only know these things once we are in the thick of it.

And 99% of the time, we wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m all about embracing things these days, accepting them, trying not to sweat the small stuff – life seems a whole lot closer to carefree when I do…

Lately… (a terribly random post)

Another update-y post. I seem to have lost the mojo to blog about anything else – every time I start to write about something, I think to myself “but who cares about this?” and then stop. I know all bloggers go through it so Im not too worried, but I do wish I could drag myself out of this slump, and soon!

So for now, bear with me and feel free to stop reading now because from here on I will be rambling about a host of random things that have been on my mind and in my heart recently…

1. Having an Accountability Partner (Che talks about it here) for work and other areas of your life is the shizz. Nicola is my girl and I’m so grateful for the influence she’s had on my life in the past year or so. You might have noticed that I mention her quite often on FB and in my posts – because she’s that freaking awesome! She asked me last night when my next blog post was going to be,  and here it is! She is the one responsible for me following through with my You Biscuit idea (sooooooon I promise!) and I just want to say thank you for always pushing me, friend :)

2. “Buddha was not a Buddhist; Jesus was not a Christian. Muhammed was not a Muslim. They were all teachers who taught LOVE. LOVE was their religion.” – seen on Facebook this morning… Religion is a topic I usually try to avoid because I don’t like to get into debates about it, but it’s something I have been thinking about a lot lately and it blows my mind how blindly some people follow what they are told. There is also so much inconsistency and contradiction. I do believe that each person has the right to believe what they want to, and I try not to judge or discriminate (it honestly doesn’t matter to me, I’m not one of those people who will cut you off if we have different ideas) but I also think the world would be a better place if we all just followed the religion of LOVE and body and nature and soul…

3. I’m so tired of seeing fighting on social media. There is ‘having an opinion’ and then there is just plain “asshole”. Don’t be the latter. Sometimes I feel like giving up on social media entirely, but then, FOMO!

4. I love loadshedding. There, I said it! What a great excuse to unplug, read, go for a walk, spend time with the family etc… I know that it has a big impact on a lot of businesses, and agree that it should be better planned and more consistent – but honestly would be so happy if there was no electricity every day from 4-6pm! Whatever your thoughts on it: STOP COMPLAINING. It wont change anything. South Africans love to have a moan about these things but it gets a bit boring people…

5. How do you decide whether or not to have a third child? It is something I think about a lot. Not that it will happen soon if it does happen, I definitely need more of a break/bigger age gap and my work is really taking off at the moment and Im loving it. But, seriously – how do you make that decision? I sometimes feel like I am so blessed to already have two healthy, beautiful baby girls – am I greedy to maybe add another child to the mix? Will we be able to manage financially? And by that I mean, give them all the things we want them to have (good education, comfortable lifestyle etc). I know it’s not only about money, and I never want to look back and regret not having another one ‘because of money’, but it obviously comes into play? Part of me feels like I’m not done yet, like I cant imagine not being pregnant again; but at the same time, do I really want to go through it all again? I love my babies but they dont lie when they say it’s hard work and I feel like things are just starting to get easier (in a way!) The jury is still out…

That’s it me for now, oh so random I know!

Somebody send some inspo my way and I will love you forever ;)

x

February, say whaaaat?! (A little catch up)

Still trying to get my head around the fact that it’s ALREADY FEBRUARY 2015! How did that even happen?! So far I am averaging ONE blog post a month this year. Not ayoba…

The past month has been a whirlwind – probably due to the fact that I began the New Year with a nanny-free-fortnight and was literally in a child-chaos-haze for the first two weeks of Jan. Fikile (Wonder Nanny) returned (hallelujah!) and Addi went off to school (hallelujah, again!) and things have slowly started returning to ‘normal’…

I’ve been working with so many cool clients – Rondavel as usual, Tanya from Rattle & Mum and Tous Les Jours to name a few – and have some fabulous projects lined up for the next month or so too, so all is good in the work hood!

I’ve signed up for Run/Walk for Life which I will be starting on Wednesday – time to work at my running goal again – but this time, I will be doing it VERY slowly and hopefully injury-free…

I’ve kind of closed shop with Baby Bird Basics for the time being – if I’m honest, it takes up too much time and sewing bibs can become a bit monotonous (there are too many copycats around these days anyway!), so have moved on to focusing on a NEW and even MORE EXCITING little side project of mine called You Biscuit! And I can’t wait to share it with you all! It promises lots of fun, creativity and South African flava ;)

We welcomed Twinkie (pictured below) to the family recently – she’s a mixed breed special that we adopted from 4 Paws and A Tale Rescue - can’t event begin to describe the joy she has brought to our family, and to her new bestie Lily especially. They frolick around the garden ALL DAY and pass out together on their beds in the lounge at night, so sweet… Adopting was the best thing we ever did – please consider it if you are in the market for a pet!

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I won a Facebook competition at the end of last year – a very genrous voucher from The Ugly Ducking – and I went up to Rosetta to choose my prize recently, and this beautiful rocking chair now lives in Julia’s room and matches her patchy wooden floor perfectly ;)

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I know there’s been talk of a blog competition happening here soon – it is coming, I promise – can’t wait to share all the exciting goodies up for grabs :)

Hopefully now that I have broken the ice with this long overdue post, my blogging mojo will return ;)

Happy week everyone x

 

 

 

 

My favourite photo from 2014

Happy 2015 everyone! Finally getting round to my first blog post for the year – the silly season is now behind us and I can try to get back into a normal routine on the blogging, work and home front (well, as close to normal as possible while Addi is still on school holidays and our nanny is on leave for two weeks!)

At the beginning of every new year, I pick my favourite photo from the previous year to share and remember – the plan is to one day is to have a wall where I can have them all printed and framed, and now that we have moved into our forever home, I can actually start working on that :)

I have to admit that I’ve found it super hard to pick this year’s image – with the previous years’ pics, I knew immediately which one I wanted to showcase but really struggled this time round AND I’m feeling a bit self-indulgent about it because I’ve decided on using a photo of MEEEEEEEE!

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Earlier in the year I had to take some professional portrait style shots of myself to use in a publication and this was one of the photos I ended up with but didn’t use because, lets be honest, it doesn’t exactly scream friendly or approachable ;) I took it in the lounge of my old home with some help from Monsieur Self-Timer and Madame Tripod, and a dash of good lighting. I like how it came out though, the contrast and clarity and oddly even the expression on my face and how nothing is perfect. It is also representative of a transformational period of the year where I’d lost a bit of baby weight and was just starting to get back on the wagon, post-baby.

Some things have changed since I took this photo – mostly physically – I have put on some of that weight I lost (crap – not letting it get to me though because this year I AM going to get back on top of it all) and also my hair, which is now back to blonde (hallelujah!) but there have also been mental and emotional changes since then, and I feel like Im really on the road to self discovery.

My mind has been opened to the likes of meditation, self actualisation, reiki and just believing in myself and making my dreams happen. To quote my dear Colleen from Midlands House of Healing, I need to stop sitting on the fence, thinking the “should have / could have / would have” ‘s and just get on with things.

I am SO excited for the year ahead. I have awesome work lined up and some fabulous home and personal projects on the go. I have a good feeling about it and I foresee great things, not only for myself but for people around me.

BRING IT, 2015 – you are mine!

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

Au Revoir 2014, See You In The New Year

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It is true that I have been neglectful of my blog lately, I wont deny that – all the usual excuses apply – you know, LIFE. So I’m taking a little (more formal) break and will be back in the New Year with a clearer head, a litte more enthusiasm and hopefully soon, a new look!

For now – a quick note to say goodbye to 2014 – what a fabulous year it has been <3

Moved house, grew my freelancing business, grew my family (by one times great dane) and made many special memories with my beautiful baby girls and my dear hubby.

Thanks to all of my supporters for the love, catch you on the flipside and wishing you all a safe and happy festive season x

{ image by: Florian Klauer }

Homegrown Creatives: Meet The Wonderland Collective

What a pleasure it is to introduce some more special Rhodes kids to you all – I had the privilege of studying with Lexi and Graeme, and can honestly say that they both take the notions of  determination and daring to dream to a new levels! So impressed with their achievements and very excited for them about the new adventure they are about to embark on soon ;) Much love to you guys…

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Who are you and what do you do / make / sell?
We’re Wonderland Collective – a creative studio based in Cape Town, housed in the Woodstock Exchange. We a full service ideas studio. Clients come to us with their business or product ideas and we decipher what is the best route for implementation. This can take shape in several formats – websites, apps, custom illustrations, spacial experiences, pop-up shops – the list goes on.

To keep our creativity alive we also make and sell our own products. Recently we have designed and produced limited edition framed prints, fabrics and skateboard decks.

Did you always know that you were headed in this direction – how did you get where you are today?
We’ve always dreamed of having a creative studio, so this is a culmination of the dreams and effort towards realising them. We started out doing freelance work and as the level of client increased, we started growing organically by hiring our first designer, moving in and out of an office, moving into our main bedroom at home and then moving back into an office and growing to 7 full time staff. We finally feel like we have the right collection of creative, inspired, driven people in Wonderland!

What makes your work / products / services unique?
We like to put a lot of heart and soul into our work. We talk and collaborate a lot within our studio and outside of it – so we’re influenced by a lot of amazing things. We’re also getting a lot more experience as we go and this is ploughed into our future work. 

Where do you look for inspiration?
Travel. We love exploring and visiting new spots in the world. We don’t even realise how inspired we are when we travel – we just see the influences in the work we deliver. We’re a visual bunch of people so Pinterest, Behance and general design blogs really help us along our way. We also take our entire studio to Design Indaba every year. It’s an amazing conference which tops us up on inspiration every year.

Who are your creative idols?
Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Tretchikoff, Louise Fili, Steven Heller, Dean Poole – the list could go on.

Where do you like to hang out – what are your favorite spots in your town/city/country?
Well, we work in Woodstock and it’s currently bustling with creative energy. Our current favourite places are the Tap House (Devils Peak Brewery), The Kitchen, Beerhouse, Blue Bird Garage Market (Muizenberg) and C’est La Vie in Kalk Bay.

Given the opportunity, where would you like to travel/explore?
We travel overseas 1-2 times per year. Lately we’ve been doing European cities like Rome, London and the Cote D’Azure. We get inspired by all of these places and then use that inspiration in our work. Before that we were hooked on Asia: Vietnam, Thailand, Bali. Soon we’re going to do South America: Chile, Argentina, Brazil etc.

How does a typical day for you play out?
We feed our dogs at 3am, go back to sleep. Get up, make a ton of coffee, haul our ass to work and get cracking with the studio. We have a ton of meetings – some of them new business, others are current project related, we might have a Wonderland “giving back” event where we do ground work CSI or another meeting in town. We will discuss our own products, laugh a lot, tease each other, play table tennis and drink champagne.

With a day all to yourself (no meetings, distractions, to-do-lists) and an unlimited budget, what would you get up to?
We would probably do a hell of a lot of our own product R&D. We love going to new places, seeing new techniques and talking to new suppliers. We’d also finish our pending new website design. Hopefully this will launch in the tail end of 2014.

If you could have any other profession, what would it be?
Probably run an island style bar somewhere in Asia.

Where can we stalk you?
Website: www.wonderlandworks.co.za (new site coming soon)
Twitter:@wonderlandsa

What does your workspace / studio look like?
We’re based in The Woodstock Exchange in Woodstock so the overall building look is quite trendy but still has an industrial feel. Our studio is bright and colourful. We love having a creative home where we can design and play in our own space. We usually bring one of our dogs or Gizmo our parrot into the office. We love having a good vibe in our space.

What work are you most proud of to date?
We have been very lucky to work with a number of NGO’s on some of the projects they needed help with, but one of the projects we absolutely adored working on this year, was the conceptualisation and execution of The Bacon Pop Up Bar in Franschhoek, the real life home for Bacon of The Month Club. From designing the overall look and feel (and where our creativity really got to push the boundaries in terms of pop-up shops) to seeing it come to life, and now the great response we’ve had from food and design critics and the general public – The Bacon Bar will go down as our favourite from 2014!
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The Reality Of Being A Work From Home Mom

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Disclaimer before I begin – this post serves to point out the facts and fictions involved in being a Work From Home Mom from my own point of view. I’m not here to say that being a WFHM is harder/better/worse/more ‘anything’ than being any other type of Working or Non-Working Mom (each scenario has it’s own challenges and rewards) but I’d like to share with people the realities of juggling kids, and work, AT HOME on a day to day basis…

As most of you know, I’m a mom to two littlies, and I’m also a graphic designer (amongst other things!). With a (welcomed) increasing workload, I’ve really been struggling to juggle these two aspects of my life lately and have been ‘writing’ this post in my head for weeks now…

I need to work, for two reasons: a) I need to contribute financially to the payment of bills and expenses (which have sky rocketed since we moved into this big old house with lots of maintenance and things breaking etc, on top of higher general expenses), and b) I need to be creative.

Being just a Mom isn’t enough for me.

For all of you who just gasped and spluttered at those words, what I mean is that I (me, personally) need to have a creative outlet and to be independent IN ORDER TO BE A BETTER MOM.

Non-working, non-juggling, non-busy Andrea is a crappy mother. She is grumpy, resentful and depressive. I know this because I experienced it just after my return to SA from London and I look back now and see just how unhappy I was when I had nothing to do.

It may sound crazy to some, but it works for me and my family – and that’s another thing I’m big on, different strokes for different folks – us moms need to stop judging the choices of fellow moms, not cool peeps…

The thing is, people often think that being and mom and working from home is like ‘Living The Dream’, and while it certainly does have it’s perks, it also has negatives that you probably don’t really think about until you actually experience it for yourself. Here’s the low down on some of my realities:

Being at home with the kids – a negative you say? In a way, yes. Sure, it’s great to be able to spend a bit more time during the day with them, to pick them up from school, catch those passing milestones in action, kiss a sore finger better and monitor feeding, pooping, tv-time etc. This is a major draw card for us moms who want to be ever present in our little peoples lives and don’t want to miss a thing! As darling as they may be though, they are also huge distractions. It’s very hard (unless they are asleep) to get a large chunk of work done in one go, and even though they love the nanny, they KNOW you are there and they will persist in trying to be in your space and in vying your attention… That cool toy ‘puter that mom’s always playing on? They want to play on it too!

Flexibility vs structure - I love being able to pop to the shops, go into town to do admin, and plan my work/meetings around my own commitments / my children’s schedules – no clearing it with HR or worrying about what other co-workers think etc, it’s awesome to be so independent… But it can also be soooooo frustrating when you have a lot to do and your kid is being a pain, won’t get dressed, you’re running late for school, you have to run an errand for your hubby etc – and all you want to do is work, and everything is conspiring against you actually being at your desk and in front of your computer… If only you had some peace and quiet in an office environment with set working hours, then you’d be able to get everything done, right? I have this thought often and it really is a challenge to strike a balance.

Working at night – this seems to be a given for WFHM’s. As much as I try to maintain reasonable hours, I’m often up til 1am trying to get stuff done. I have surrendered to the fact that I never seem to get on top of my to do list. Fortunately I am most productive in the mornings and later at night, but it still doesn’t make staying up late easy when you are mom-tired on top of work-tired and you have deadlines to reach.

Lack of respect from others – this is probably my biggest gripe – I don’t even think my own family realises how much work I do and how difficult it can sometimes be to try and build on your career while being a mom to two little ones. People often think that I don’t really work at all, or that what I do is maybe for fun ‘because she doesn’t really need to work’. Um, reality check, as explained above, I actually DO need to work and my time and skills are valuable – like Aretha, all I’m askin’ is for a little respect!

Lack of respect for my time – another big issue I have, probably more of a personal one as opposed to a general issue for WFHM’s but I’m rolling with it anyway – people don’t get that MY TIME IS PRECIOUS. When I am not working, I am focusing on my loved ones, or doing something else around the house that needs to be done. When I’m not doing that, I am working. Please don’t drop by unannounced – mostly because I will probably still be in my pajamas, but also because I might be will be busy with something/someone… Please don’t assume that I will be happy to drop everything and meet up with you at the drop of a hat because you think I am ‘just at home all day’… Please don’t get cross with me if I don’t answer your texts/emails/phone calls immediately – I’m either beavering away furiously at the computer, or knee-deep in a shit nappy. Please don’t assume that I am chillaxing because I’ve just published a blog post – chances are I wrote it at 1am last night and it was merely scheduled to publish when it did. And lastly, please don’t expect ‘freebies’ from me unless I offer them myself: my time = money too, just like yours. If you respect me and what I do, you wont expect me to work for free (again, unless I want to or offer.)

Lonely, a la Akon – yup, one of the harder parts of being a WFHM is not being surrounded by like-minded colleagues all striving towards the same goal, helping to motivate you etc. Depending on what you do, social interaction can be limited when working from home, that’s why its so important to find others who inspire, support and motivate you in a different way (I would be lost with my gurrrrls Keri and Nicola) Kids are cool but you can’t really hash out your work frustrations, or bounce your quoting woes off of them.

And last of all, theres the guilt – on top of general Mom Guilt (we all know it’s a thing), WFHM Guilt is thick because you are always around, but not quite present. You are constantly telling your little one that you are busy, or that you just need to do this one thing. You wish you could leave work at work, but when you work from home, you can never really escape it. Again, the elusive balance is hard to strike but I really try to give my kids the time they deserve. I dont always manage it, but I try to fit it all in as best I can. All we can really do is give it our best shot, and to not beat ourselves up too much (this goes for ALL moms, not just WFHM’s!)

My aim with this post, I guess, is to rally some more support and respect for WFHM’s especially, because I think we are sometimes in the grey area of some of them Stay At Home Mom vs Working Mom debates. I may have painted a darker picture of how it all is but honestly, I DO love it and feel privileged to have chosen a profession that allows me to run my business from home.

For me, right now, I’m okay with how things are working out. I wont lie, I do often wish I could escape it all and just work in an office, but in reality I would probably be more unhappy in that situation if it were the case. I definitely don’t dig those late nights and would love it if people actually appreciated my time/work more, but like I said in the beginning of this post – the version of me with lots of projects on the go is generally a happier Andrea, and I’m happy to sacrifice some sleep, and push through the next few years before the kids are at school full time, to achieve my dream.

Like many things in life, it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

That’s all I have to say for now, would love to hear thoughts from other WFHM’s out there?

 { picture by Volkan Olmez }