Winter Down South (with a dog)

on Travel  

To celebrate both mine and The Boy’s birthdays this year, we headed down south again – this time with our little puppy Jasper. Here’s a self-indulgent post of food, beaches and puppy.

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The rainy July weather unfortunately isn’t ideal for doing the kind of things we hoped to do with Jasper in tow – hiking, playing at the beach and visiting dog friendly cafes (which tend to only be dog friendly if you sit outside). It did however mean a relaxing long weekend of lounging in the dog-friendly studio apartment we rented via AirBnB (who run Temper Temper Chocolate), napping, reading, drinking wine and eating cheese.

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Staying right next to the beach, we managed to dash out during breaks in rain for quick walks with a deliriously happy Jasper. Even in the cold and wet weather, I’m always struck by how beautiful our bit of the world is. It also made for some pretty dramatic rainbows!

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We only managed one wine tasting stop, at the wonderfully welcoming Stella Bella Wines, the most dog friendly cellar door in the region. The best thing about wine tasting in winter (and at 11am at that…) is actually getting a chance to chat to the staff about the wine rather than just quaffing it. Since it’s possible to get some of the Stella Bella wines in bottleshops in Perth, I made sure to try some of the more special cellar door ones. Everything was impressive, but the Otro Vino was a favourite.

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Whilst the son of our hosts looked after Jasper, we ducked away for a fancy celebratory lunch at Knee Deep Wines. They had a bit of an Asian Fusion thing going on (but in a good way), although admittedly I was glad to have the more Western slow cooked beef with potatoes main, which felt more appropriate for the weather.

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I think we’ll have to bring Jasper again in warmer weather so we can go on longer walks and have more beach time as planned, but it was still a nice way to celebrate turning 31.down south July 2016-33

Adventures in Mexico City

on Travel  

Way back in December, The Boy and I went on a huge amazing trip around Mexico and Texas. I’ve put off posting here due to laziness, but I always look back so fondly on these travel diary posts so better late than never!

It took us days to reach Mexico city – not just because flying there took over a day, but due to extreme weather in Dallas, which was our transit stop. After our flight was cancelled (after several hours of hopeful delays), not once but twice, the third time was lucky and we finally made it to our destination, a few days short of when we hoped to arrive. It was frustrating and exhausting, but considering almost every flight through Dallas was in the same boat, and in the area people were losing their homes or their lives, we came out pretty alright.

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Loved the decor in our little Mexico City apartment!

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Once we (finally) arrived, we were welcomed into our beautiful little AirBnB apartment, decorated with pot plants, quirky prints, a piano and a type case. I like to try and make our first stop after a long journey a nice one, assuming we’ll have to recover from jet lag, but after our 3 day transit in Dallas we were ready to explore. Our host left us with a list of local sights and eateries to try out.

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Fournier Rousseau, great pastries and coffee
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Known for their almond crossaints (which were sold out!)
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Catedral Metropolitana

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The Zocalo, the main square in Mexico City, was festive and bustling with people traveling and celebrating Christmas and the New Year. We visited the cathedral and Templo Mayor – a huge Aztec temple complex from when the city was the Aztec city Tenochtitlan. The Spanish had flattened and built their cathedral over it, and the remaining ruins weren’t excavated until the 70’s.

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Lots of lovely colonial architecture in Mexico city
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Templo Mayor
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Offerings found under Templo Mayor

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One Aztec food in particular seems to remain popular in Mexico City – escamoles, or ant eggs! We had ours at El Cardinal, a traditional restaurant recommended by our host an very popular amongst locals. These are harvested from the giant ants that live amongst the agave plants, and surprisingly taste buttery, nutty and creamy, a bit like ricotta or a creamy risotto. Like almost all meals in Mexico, the dishes were served with housemade salsas of various heat levels, and plenty of steaming hot corn tortillas lovingly wrapped in a tea towel.

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Ant eggs! Tastier than you would think

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Our final stop was breakfast at Lalo, a quirky little cafe with modern and traditional dishes (ant eggs for breakfast anyone?). Our time in Mexico City was much shorter than intended, but we managed to see (and eat) a lot for a quick visit. Our first taste of Mexico confirmed it was exactly what we had hoped!

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Our final breakfast at Lalo

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Head & Heart – June 2016

on Life  

It’s been a while! I think I’ll be writing these Head & Heart posts every few months from now on, to keep things going without that monthly commitment.

The weather here in Perth has gotten steadily colder in our version of autumn – probably still warm by others’ standards, but for me it’s boots, jumpers and gloves in the early mornings. It’s hard to believe we’re almost halfway through the year, when its beginning doesn’t feel that long ago. I find it hard to keep motivated in the winter, like my own version of hibernation when not at work. Life moves at a slower pace, but it still keeps moving.

Thinking

Side hustle. In rebooting my teresawatts.com website (more on that in a bit), I’ve had to think about where I want it to go. At the moment I want to really focus on workshops, whilst also building up a portfolio of commercial or branding lettering work. My plan is to let it grow slow, invest time in creating awesome content and hope to eventually snag some awesome clients. It’s something I’ve considered for a long time (I’ve mentioned it in plenty of H&H posts previously), but now I feel like the groundwork is complete and I know where I’m headed.

Side Project magazine. Sadly we didn’t quite make our Pozible crowdfunding target, and for that reason have decided to take a break from producing the magazine. On one hand it feels like the end of an era, but on the other hand we’ve managed to make 5 amazing issues and learn a ton along the way. This also means that the team now has time to spend on other things we’ve always wanted to do, like workshops and stationery! This isn’t the end of Side Project as a whole – stay tuned for more details soon.

Doing

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Puppy training! Puppies are such time-consuming little creatures aren’t they? Jasper has now grown big enough to peek his nose over the dining table, so training him to have some manners is more vital than ever. We start each day with a sunrise walk, training and breakfast, then more play and training in the evenings after work. He quivers with excitement at the prospect of food or the sight of another person, since most of his experiences with people are them adoring him. In between all the running around and mischief-making, he’s content to chill with us on the couch. He’s sweet and frustrating and hilarious, and even though he’s taken up most of my spare time these days he has brought so much to our lives.

Workshop. Last weekend I ran a brush lettering basics workshop with Eeny Empire, and things went beautifully! My 10 students learned basic strokes and a simple brush alphabet in a 3 hour workshop, bolstered by tea and Timtams. Teaching something that I know and am passionate about is such a joy; I can’t wait to do more! I have a super exciting two day workshop with Beau Est Mien coming up if you’re interested in learning brush lettering, then turning your artwork into screen prints.

Small errands and admin stuff. Without producing a magazine on my plate, I’ve somehow managed to blast through my list of admin tasks which had been hanging around forever. I now spend Monday evenings (and sometimes lunchtimes) for these mundane but necessary tasks, as well as answering emails and filing paper that builds up. I feel so much more free without those tasks haunting my to-do lists from month to month.

Making

Teresa Watts website. I started writing copy and designing this website last year, and was making slow, halting progress. Then I heard about the relaunch of May 1st Reboot, “an international relaunch of websites and portfolios by designers, developers & makers”. After a lot of hurried coding and rationalising what the minimum I needed to launch with, I managed to (just) make the deadline and get the new and improved website up! I still have a list of nice-but-not-essential things to fix up and improve on, but having a hard deadline was the push I needed to not let it stew for another several months. I had to leave out most of the front-end development bells and whistles, but I’m pretty proud of the design and copywriting which I spent a long time on. Future plans include frequent blog posts and a newsletter!

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Workshop worksheets. With only a short amount of time to teach the basics of brush lettering, I thought it would be best to hand out worksheets showing basic strokes, alphabet and punctuation. These took a fair bit of prep work, coming up with a simplified alphabet suitable for complete beginners and arranging it all for them to copy, but the results were so worth it. You can look forward to receiving these if you attend any of my other workshops this year.

Reading

I’ve made the switch from Readability to Pocket, and set up all my articles to be read later to live there (see my tips for reading articles later over here). I miss the estimated reading times, but otherwise the experience is pretty similar, if better integrated. Here’s a few of my favourite articles lately:

The Busy Person’s Lies – when you break down the time spent on things, it might not seem so bad after all.

The Face Everything Technique – how to face things instead of avoiding them (easier said than done).

Why It’s Okay If Your Passion Isn’t Your Full Time Thing Right Now – for all of you with side-hustles out there – it’s okay, maybe even better?

How to Order Wine at a Restaurant – I like how accessible this guide makes the art of ordering wine! some great tips.

Excited

Letters from Teresa. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and have finally decided to try doing a monthly newsletter! It will be for teresawatts.com rather than here, and will be about lettering, calligraphy, creativity and branding, along with workshop announcements and other exciting things. You can subscribe over here if you like.

More writing. Now that I’ve finished coding my other website and have (sort of) gotten the hang of being a puppy parent, I’m hoping to do much more writing. I’ve lost my morning writing time to walks with Jasper, but with some planning I think I can squeeze in a bit of writing each week. I’m looking forward to improving those skills over the rest of the year!


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