2018 – the wellness year

on Food, Home, Life, Make, Pregnancy, Travel  

What a year! 2018 was big and exciting but also intentionally less hustle, more calm for me. I entered the year with some doubts in my heart, but ended it with more confidence and a lot of joy.

The word or theme I went into the year with was “wellness”, and I fell back to that when questioning choices and deciding how to spend my time and energy. I wasn’t sure how taking a more gentle approach to my work and side quests would affect my productivity, but I think that focus allowed me to say no to less important things and pour more into bigger projects. It also saw me get healthier (in a way that works for me) just generally be more chill.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Life & Wellness

I spent the first half of the year really focusing on wellness – physical and mental – as a priority. I began the year at the heaviest I’d ever been, but rather than solely losing weight I wanted to find a lifestyle that I can feel good about in the long term, starting from things I actually enjoy and going from there. I started rucking (walking/hiking with a weighted backpack), did hip hop dance classes (I was terrible but it was so much fun), tried out a few different yoga studios, and did more frequent reformer Pilates classes. I paid more attention to what I was eating and how it made me feel. I stopped planning too many side projects or forcing myself to work on something, and just rolled with what I felt interested in. I tried to remind myself that it’s okay to still be learning at work, and to stop questioning people’s genuine praise.

By the middle of the year I was feeling better than I had in a while, and as cliche as it might sound I think that’s why I was able to get pregnant – I was well and ready.

I spent the second half of the year pregnant, along with a surprising number of close friends, all due within a few months of each other. Pregnancy kind of forces you to focus on wellness, because your body is constantly changing to adapt to the life growing inside you, and the changes are not always enjoyable or predictable! I found it important to keep checking in with myself and responding to how I was feeling (mostly tired or thirsty), and it was easier to not feel selfish because it’s for the good of the baby!

Exploring

We somehow won tickets to the Australian Open, and despite only having a weekend free and not exactly being huge tennis fans we decided to go to Melbourne for it. I can confirm I’m too old for the Perth to Melbourne redeye flight – I was taking micro sleeps between sets, and Jeff fell asleep during The Book of Mormon the next day. But silly and extravagant as 36 hours in Melbourne was, we had an awesome time and really did manage to pack a lot in!

Leaning in to forms of exercise that I actually like, we did quite a few walks around Perth, Albany and the Margaret River region this year. Getting our dog Jasper a tiny backpack to carry his water bowl was one of the best decisions of the year (it was $5 and never fails to get a smile from people passing by). I’d never been as far along the bottom of WA as Denmark before – despite the winter weather when we were down there, the beaches were stunning and worth a return visit.

Photos from our travels in 2018 - the Aus Open, Margaret River, and walks around Perth

Eating

This was the year that Jeff got into barbecuing and smoking food, so there’s been a lot of delicious meats in our diets. It actually got a bit too much for me in early pregnancy, and I’ve now struck a balance between some smoked meats and more plant-based meals. I haven’t had food cravings as such (unless you count giving in more frequently to my general desire for ice cream), but have found myself eating a lot more fruit than I do usually.

Other food highlights of 2018 include the Winter Feast dinner party continuing, Wills Domain, Wildflower, and a whole lot of ice cream.

Making

I slowed down on the lettering a bit last year, but dabbled more in ceramics. A lot of my experiments came out awful, and I’m pretty sure I wasted more clay in failed throwing than the last time I attempted it, but I like to think this is all due to trying to push my skills further. I’ve had to take a break from pottery since it’s rough on my back even when not pregnant, but can’t wait to get back into it when I’m ready!

I did manage to run a few workshops before going on ‘maternity leave’ for a while, attended a couple of lettering workshops myself, and did some interesting lettering for the #HOMwork challenges.

A proud moment for me was finally opening an online store with my own products, including my first ever enamel pin! It did far better than I could have hoped, and I’m still considering what my next pin will be. Investing in physical products is expensive and risky, especially with relatively low quantities, so I’m glad this gamble paid off. It’s also really nice having people notice my pin and talk about how it’s a good reminder to have a little empathy. I was feeling a bit in over my head at work when I designed it, but clearly I’m not the only one!

Photos of stuff I made in 2018

Working

I was struggling to find my feet in a new role and company towards the end of 2017, and the first half of 2018 continued to be tough. But things have improved thanks to my excellent teams and slowly gaining experience and confidence in user experience design. I still have bouts of imposter syndrome and worry a little about taking most of 2019 off to have a baby, but overall things are pretty good.

I also got the opportunity to go to excellent conferences like Perth Web Accessibility Camp and Design Research in Melbourne, and gave my first ever conference talk at DDD Perth. I’d had the ideas for “Sketching & How to Win at Pictionary” for some time, and it was fun sharing the intersection between my art, UX design, sketchnotes and journaling.

Photos of work things I did in 2018

2019 is going to have some huge changes for me, but thanks to a restful (but still very fruitful) 2018, I’m feeling as ready as I can be. I hope you have a good one!

2019 Bullet Journalling

on Design  

Wow, so it’s 2019! 2018 was quite a big year for me in some ways (like being pregnant), in others quieter (like having less energy to do things due to being pregnant). Although I let the Bullet Journalling habit slip a bit towards the end of the year, I’ve decided to keep going with it into the next year and (hopefully) after having this baby!

If you haven’t come across it before, here’s a bit more about it:

The Bullet Journal is a customizable and forgiving organization system. It can be your to-do list, sketchbook, notebook, and diary, but most likely, it will be all of the above. It will teach you to do more with less.

I’ve been using one since 2016, which I’ve written about over here. People using this system modify it to suit their needs, whether it’s adding fantastically beautiful and detailed illustrations, colours and spreads, or simplifying it further by dropping some of the default stuff.

The way that I use mine has evolved over time, and definitely falls more on the simple and lazy side of things. I’ve tried a few times (including the past week) to get a bit fancier and a bit more finessed, but I’ve once again come to the conclusion that that isn’t really my thing. My spreads sometimes include a bit of calligraphy or lettering, and the odd sketch, wireframe or mind map, but they don’t have anywhere near the polish of the ones I see on the popular #bujo Instagram feeds that I admire.

But I’ve decided I’m okay with this – my journal is a space for rapidly logging and drafting events, ideas, plans and reflections. The ‘final product’ that comes out of this tends to be done elsewhere, drawn on the iPad or painted on more appropriate paper; coded into a website or fleshed out into a talk. For me at least, a focus on polish would hinder the freedom and spontaneity of this capturing and drafting stage.

One thing I have decided to spend a little time on is labelling the journal cover and spine using gold foil. It’s taken me a bit of trial and error to get to this point, but for a once per year effort I’m loving the effect.

Are you using a bullet journal or other analog system this year? I’d love to hear about it!

Adventures in South West WA (with a dog)

on Food, Travel  

So we went on this trip to Denmark and Albany in June last year, and this post has been sitting in my drafts pretty much since then. Seemed a shame to waste it, so here it is, better late than never!

This time I wanted to share some of the great dog-friendly places we visited, in case you’re thinking of taking your pup to South West WA.

Stay

Unless you’re camping, AirBnB is usually the safest bet for finding pet-friendly accommodation. Our one this time also had a lovely fireplace, perfect for the chilly winter weather.

However, what it didn’t have was a good place to leave our dog alone in a secure yard for a bit whilst going to non dog friendly places, like nice restaurants or national parks. Jasper is usually pretty happy to nap if we leave him to his own devices, especially after a good walk, so this is something we try to look for in dog friendly accommodation now.

Eats & Drinks

As usual, most places with outdoor seating are cool with well-behaved dogs sitting with you and have a water bowl available. It’s not ideal when the weather is crap, but we were lucky to get some beautiful weather in between two storms!

The Williams WoolshedWilliams
There’s only so many places to stop for lunch along the 4-5 hour drive between Perth and Albany, and this seems to be a popular one. They have a large lawn outdoor area and pretty decent pies – just be aware that on a long weekend the queue to order gets pretty long!

Willoughby Park & Boston Brewing Co.Denmark
This Denmark winery/brewery has pub restaurant and a huge lawn area with picnic style seating. I didn’t try the beer, but dropped by the cellar door to see what wines would go with my prawn and chorizo pizza, going with a crisp Riesling. A whole bottle, because they said I could take the rest home with me so why not?

Three Anchors – Albany
Convenient spot for lunch after a walk on Middleton Beach, as it’s right there! The share platter has a nice bit of everything.

Oranje Tractor – Albany
I don’t usually get to do much wine tasting when travelling with Jasper, as usually cellar doors are indoors and not so keen on letting dogs inside. Oranje Tractor has a beautiful outdoor garden where you can do tastings, but they were also nice enough to let us sit inside by the fireplace and let Jasper play with their cellar dog, Merlot. The tasting flight includes natural and organic wines, paired with cheese and other local produce, some coming from their own organic orchard. It was lovely to visit somewhere smaller and less commercial, where someone sits with you for a chat about wine instead of pouring and hurrying off to the next customer. I’d love to come for one of their pizza nights if we head back that way in summer.

Limeburners – Albany
We couldn’t not visit Western Australia’s first Single Malt Whisky distillery! Each taste has a fee, but is a generous 15ml pour of excellent whisky (or gin, if that’s more your thing). We came away with a bottle to add to the collection.

Walks

Dogs aren’t allowed in national parks, which sometimes means it’s slim pickings! We found some pretty decent spots though.

Monkey Rock – Denmark
After a short but steep climb, you’re rewarded with a rock formation (which does not in any way resemble a monkey) with gorgeous views out to the coastline. Worth it!

Lights Beach – Denmark
This is the most beautiful dog-friendly beach I’ve ever visited! The sand is fine and white, the ocean relatively warm (although too choppy for swimming), and interesting rock formations to explore. It was also relatively quiet, with just a few other people with dogs around – a nice calm spot for a walk.

Middleton Beach & Ellen Cove Boardwalk Albany

This was a nice easy walk on boardwalks along the coast, although the best bits are early in the walk.

I really wanted to hike Bluff Knoll on this trip, but being in a national park it wasn’t going to be a dog-friendly expedition. Next time!