Desire and advertising

A few weeks ago I went along to ‘Your Brain and the Future’, an Ideas at the House event at the Sydney Opera House. Four leading thinkers in neuroscience, philosophy and psychology spoke about how we can shape our future by expanding our imaginations and being creative. This summary is in relation to what Professor Peter Railton discussed on the topic of Desire.

Desire. A glorious word, with beautiful connotations. It rolls off the tongue poetically, exuding sensuousness, craving and longing.

“Desire is about what is absent, but could be present.” – Professor Peter Railton

Us humans, we’re such complex creatures, yet so basic in certain ways. Through evolution we’ve grown and innovated through finding the motivation and means to change things. Professor Railton said that motivation is found in two forms: one is appetite, the second is desire, and that desire is about imagination and affect. We have a wonderful ability to consider possible situations, be aware that we are not in them, imagine what they would be like, and then pursue them.

Professor Railton told us about time he’d spent in Paris some years ago. He said that travelling on the metro all day could have been dark and dreary, but the Parisian metro has “windows” – large advertisements that tower up the walls of the stations. What were these ads about? Desire. Beautiful women, beautiful men, close-ups of creamy coffee, smooth chocolate, shiny watches and the luxurious interiors of alluring vehicles.

Metro advertising

Image credit: The Anti Blog

Advertisements are “photographic representations of what desire is like” and we connect to them when we can imagine ourselves enjoying the product or being close to the perfect and breathtaking subjects in the images.

When our brains receive information that something good is about to come, there’s a spike in dopamine. We make calculations that we’re not even consciously aware of. When given information, our brains are capable of making “finely calibrated predictions of value.” And it feels good.

What’s a lesson to remember about desire? It’s that desire itself has associated learning. If an object or experience doesn’t compare well with the representation, the ability to desire it again in future is endangered. Whether it’s an awful meal at a restaurant, or a watch that breaks after two days, failing to live up to expectations is challenging to overcome.

Talking about desire in an advertising context alone is hollow and negligent, so here’s advice that transcends to all facets of humanly life:

Create things and experiences that are awesome, encourage imagination and evoke desire that’s worth desiring. 

Repeat! 

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Ban bossy? Or how about: ‘don’t be a dick’

You may have seen the #banbossy campaign that’s doing the rounds.

The premise, from the Ban Bossy website is, “When a little boy asserts himself, he’s called a “leader.” Yet when a little girl does the same, she risks being branded “bossy.” Words like bossy send a message: don’t raise your hand or speak up. By middle school, girls are less interested in leading than boys—a trend that continues into adulthood. Together we can encourage girls to lead.”

My very first thought was, “Wooh! Yes! Equality for all!” But then I thought about it further after seeing a tweet this morning that read: ‘Maybe girls should EMBRACE the word bossy, not ban it.’ – via @rightwinggirl08

While I don’t advocate anyone to embrace being what the traditional definition of ‘bossy’ is, there are many perspectives that point to why we shouldn’t be trying to ban the word:

1) Promoting the banning of a word seems a little authoritarian in itself.

2) Bossy men aren’t always regarded as ‘great leaders’. They’re also called ‘dickheads’, ‘arrogant pricks’ and ‘cocky’ and they have to deal with the side-effects of these names, too.

3) An attempt to close the gap that is the great divide between girls and boys isn’t aided with a campaign targeted purely at females, for a topic that is not specific to only one gender.

4) This divide HAS been closing, albeit slowly, but there is much to be said for the men and women who have supported gender equality.

5) There are far, far greater insults than being called “bossy”. Being ignored is one of them.

6) Humans are emotional and competitive. Negative words will always be used, it’s how we handle them that’s key.

7) The tagline ‘I’m not “bossy”, I’m the boss.’ is inherently flawed. It creates a false association between leadership and being bossy. The best leaders are the ones who lead by example, not those who domineer and give orders.

8) ‘Leadership’ is not the only path to success. Being successful means different things to different people.

9) Our younger selves do many things that we look back on with regret, or rather, with a mature perspective, and being “bossy” is sometimes one of them. But it’s a natural way for young humans to assert themselves and their worth within their families, friendship circles and societies. It can be hurtful to be caught out on our behaviour, but it can also be strengthening.

My take on all of this?

Be human, be genuine, be real.
Show your children how to be compassionate and collaborative to fellow humans.
Be ambitious, be bold, be curious.
Do what you enjoy and you see value in.
Be a leader, if you want to be.
Or not!
Be what you want and respect others for what they want to be.

Just don’t be a dick.

Further reading:
Sheryl Sandberg wrong on ‘bossy’ ban by Peggy Drexler
Don’t ‘ban bossy’, Sheryl Sandberg. Tell us what to do next. by Alexandra Petri
The seven most ridiculous things about the new Ban Bossy campaign by Mollie Hemingway

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Don’t kill empathy with assumptions

Last week I made an assumption.

I was walking through the city at lunch and, feeling frustrated at the foot traffic, humidity and smokers around, I caught myself thinking the worst of a situation.

Three young men were walking ahead of me. Given their backpacks and attire, they appeared to be tourists. Nothing out of the ordinary in Sydney, but one detail got my attention. All three of them were wearing headphones.

Immediately, I jumped to conclusions.
‘Wow, they must be having a great time if they can’t even talk to each other.’
‘How incredibly impersonal to not be engaging with your fellow travellers!’
‘Look at what technology is doing to human interaction these days. Pppfft!’

And then I stopped myself. I realised that these negative thoughts were doing nothing for myself or anybody else. And just as I thought that, another possible option popped into my head.

‘What if they are all simultaneously listening to a walking tour of our beautiful city?’ 

Headphone guys
With this, a whole world of positive thoughts opened up. I imagined the guys downloading a Sydney walking tour app together at breakfast, leaving the hostel to get to the starting point, and hitting ‘play’ at the same time. I imagined them learning about all the great sights in Sydney, and chatting about their day over a beer that evening. I imagined them emailing their families tomorrow and telling them about their awesome day. I didn’t have a clue if any of this was true, but merely imagining it eased the frown in my brow and replaced it with a curious smile instead.

As the saying goes, “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

I have no clue if the guys were best friends since childhood, or if they met that morning. I don’t know with certainty if they were tourists, or foreign exchange students. And I definitely don’t know if they were listening to a walking tour, or to Beyoncé’s new album! I’ll never know the true story about the three guys with headphones, but it doesn’t matter.

When assumptions are made, they can destroy empathy and in turn, stagger enthusiasm and ideas. When we prompt ourselves to consider other options we can open our minds, improve our attitude and encourage creativity.

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Will you buy acai and pomegranate, or will you buy VITALITY?

“Sell the sizzle, not the sausage.”

“Sell the benefits, not the features.”

There was a great post the other day on the Buffer blog titled “People don’t buy products, they buy better versions of themselves.”

And it’s true. People buy stuff that makes them feel better, seem more clever, look more attractive and come across as more generous.

The post on Buffer shows some excellent examples, with one of the most well-known being Steve Jobs’ “1,000 songs in your pocket” vs “1GB storage on your MP3 player”. Nice.

An example of this that I’ve noticed recently is Swisse’s ‘Superfood Powder’ range that came out about six months ago. The products are called: Vitality, Digestion, Cleanse, Beauty, Relax and Immunity. In contrast to the neighbouring products on the supermarket shelves, a busy consumer who wants to be a better / more beautiful / cleaner / more energetic human will quickly see that (through clever naming and design) this line stands out because it immediately promotes the benefits, not the features.

Screenshot from Swisse website

Screenshot from Swisse website

Aside from raising questions as to how a product that lists cane sugar and fructose as two key ingredients can be also marketed as a “Superfood”, the fact remains that to a consumer, a product labelled ‘Relax’ is inherently more enticing than a product that is named after its key ingredients.

Similarly, ‘the benefit’ is why Evernote isn’t just an app that stores things that you might forget. It’s a way to Remember Everything.

It’s also why Campaign Monitor isn’t just an online tool that allows people to manage subscription databases and distribute e-communications to their client base. It’s a service for businesses to Send beautiful email newsletters.

What’s the last product or service you purchased? Do you remember why it spoke to you?

Listen to your consumers, present them with benefits, and make sure your product is great enough to keep its promise. 

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Making your own goals and 7 other things about being a grown up

Recently I had one of those birthdays that makes you question, “Am I finally a grown up now?” The clichéd answer: Yes and no. Upon reflection, I don’t believe anyone ever wakes up and says, “Ah yes, I finally feel like what I expected a grown up feels like.” What I do believe is that we get better at being people, and understanding how our own and others’ weird, confusing but wonderful minds work.

Here are eight things about being a grown up that I’ve discovered in the last few years:

1) You’ve never been more in tune with your body, yet are somehow detached from it. You notice the effects that big nights and bad food have on you. You workout, scrutinise labels and invest in quality. Yet, when you’ve been a bit lax, any extra bulge is an alien, an impostor. It’s not even part of you. “WTF is that and HOW did it get there?!” You ask yourself in the mirror, pointing and pinching at unwanted bits. When you’re young, you shy away from them. When you grow up, you confront the issue and squat, plank and green smoothie it away.

Image from here

2) You don’t care what others think of you. Yes, we’re human and intrinsically we need to feel valued and loved, but speaking your mind and being bold is only a sign of strength. You know all those super embarrassing things your parents used to say and do? Yep, you now do them, and then some. You hold your own and know that your words and actions can and will make a difference. When you’re young, you chant in a choir. When you grow up, you’re the lead singer.

3) You get sillier. I realised this one a while ago, but worth mentioning again. GROWN UPS ARE SUPER SILLY. When you’re young, you’re blinded by all the grown up stuff like cufflinks and big words. When you grow up, you see through all that. Grown ups are often much sillier than kids, but as long as we’re honest and kind, it’s all good!

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 5.08.43 PM

4) You make all your own goals. Because of historical and societal ‘norms’, most of us had an idea of what we imagined our lives to be like at certain milestone ages. Not being at those ideals yet being happy without them means we realise how fast time does go by and how our priorities change over the years. Our precious moments are not to be wasted and our goals are to be OUR OWN, not somebody else’s. When you’re young, you want to be normal. When you grow up, you realise that nobody is.

5) You don’t feel ready to be a parent, but you’re ready. Many of your friends are successfully proving that procreation is both a financially and emotionally viable experience. The prospect, although often terrifying, is now one that you know you’ll be able to handle in the future. However, the logistics of childbirth will never cease to concern you.

Why are human babies’ heads so big?! (Human, left. Kangaroo, right) 

6) Any patience you had left with people continues diminishing at a rapid rate. Maybe this one is me being naive, but I never understood in my early 20s when friends told me that they had to end a friendship. Now I know better. People change, and you just don’t have time for people who don’t make positive contributions to the friendship bank account.

7) Everything is about sex. Not in an overt way, but subtly, in the background, like the hum of an airplane. You might not be in a situation that calls for sexual connotations, but yep, there in the background are all the puns, innuendos, cupcake boobs and penis-shaped zucchinis. And it’s all very hilarious. When you’re young, you quietly giggle. When you grow up, you gain a teenage brother who sits on your shoulder and turns mild situations into impossibly lewd ones.

Zuch-peeny

8) You know that nobody has all the answers, but momentum only comes from just doing things. Sometimes you’ll be right, sometimes you’ll be wrong, but both are better than not being anything. When you’re young, you spend too much time worrying about correct processes and the ‘right way’ to do things. When you grow up, you know that paths to destinations are always different and there is no ‘right way’. You just have to keep on moving.

What’s defined ‘growing up’ for you? 

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Port Stephens: Two days, 8 things

In early November my friend Lana and I drove to Port Stephens to spend the weekend. It’s about two and a half hours from Sydney although on a Friday afternoon it took us almost two hours just to get OUT of Sydney. Mental note….leave at midday next time!

Port Stephens serves a range of travellers – from the family group, to the corporate group, to lovers. Lana and I don’t fit any of those categories so I’ll add another: laughing, happy girlfriends. Here’s a rundown of what we got up to:

1) Parasailing
At first glance, parasailing seems like an extreme sport. In reality, it is quite the opposite. Yes, you’re held up quite high in the sky by a giant piece of fabric and a few ropes, but the feeling up there is surprisingly serene. It’s quiet and the views are spectacular. We went with Port Stephens Watersports.

Coming in to land

Lana getting dunked!

2) Dining
Merretts Restaurant at The Anchorage is off the hook. It is here that I tasted one of the most exquisitely presented and delicious dishes in my life: Confit duck Kromeski, Jerusalem artichoke veloute, parsley gel and apple smoke. This restaurant is reason alone to make the trip. The flavours had Lana and I in shock. Lana even texted her Mum to share the moment.

Another delicious meal was at Catch Restaurant at Shoal Bay Resort & Spa where I had the seared scallops with pear, chorizo and roquette salad. Divine! Greg from the resort showed us around the housing and accommodation site beforehand and we were pretty much ready to give him an offer and move into one of the apartments. Oh, to wake up to those views every day….

3) The beer
We had lunch at Murray’s Brewery on the Sunday and the food was not only tasty, but very well presented. We also tasted a few beers, including an annual Halloween Spiced Pumpkin one.

4) The clouds
I’m a little obsessed with clouds, and Port Stephens did not disappoint my infatuation. The wilderness of a brewing storm against the water made for many beautiful pictures.

5) Dolphin watching
On Saturday we went on an afternoon dolphin cruise with Tamboi Queen Cruises to explore the bay and hope for a sighting. We were lucky and found a small pod who were playing together right in front of us.  Most humans love dolphins but Lana’s adoration is next level – she was in heaven. 

6) Sailing
We had a tour of a stunning luxury yacht, ‘Champagne on Ice’. In addition to fully customisable private events, Blue Water Sailing host luxury cruises, team building events and corporate sailing. Donna told us that some groups don’t even go sailing, they just sit on the yacht, eat lobster and drink champagne. Don’t mind if I do!

7) The friendly locals
Throughout our short visit we encountered many lovely people who made us feel at home. One of them was Angela from Aqua Blu Bistro and Bar. We had lunch and a glass of wine here on the Saturday between parasailing and dolphin watching. Aqua Blu is located right next the marina where all these activities depart from.

8) Sand-boarding
I was more nervous about sand-boarding than parasailing, but the scariest moment of the entire trip was when the 4WD we were travelling in went down a sand slope that felt almost vertical. Yes, Lana and I both screamed at this roller-coaster experience!

Yep, those are the track marks from our 4WD rollercoaster!

It’s remarkable how other-worldly this land seems

We went sand-boarding with Port Stephens 4WD who first gave us a little tour of the sand dune area, told us how some of the sand is sent to Hawaii and showed us the remains of whale bones. Then, it was time to sand-board. And yes, I’ll be doing that again!

I was a guest of Port Stephens Tourism and stayed at The Anchorage Port Stephens

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List: Favourite food blogs

Finally got around to putting all my favourite ‘go-to’ food blogs in one place. The list below is predominantly health-focused, but there are a few naughty treats in there, too. Enjoy!

Whole Food, Real Food
The Stonesoup
Notable recipe: Paleo Brownies

Sprouted Kitchen
Notable recipe: Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes

My Wholefood Life
Notable recipe: Chocolate & Chia Seed Pudding 

Eating Beauty
Notable recipe: Zucchini Pasta with Pepita Pesto and Garlicky Tomatoes

Kris Carr – Crazy Sexy Wellness
Notable recipe: Epic Raw Citrus Cake

My New Roots
Notable recipe: Enoki, Broccoli and Kimchi, two ways

Lola Berry
Notable recipe: Green Tea Soba Noodles + Tempeh

Chocolate & Zucchini
Notable recipe: Red Quinoa Salad with Red Peppers and Pine Nuts

The Healthy Chef
Notable recipe: Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin, Zucchini and Basil Pesto

Petit Kitchen
Notable recipe: Banana Breakfast Cookies

Deliciously Ella
Notable recipe: Nutritious Nutella

Homegrown Kitchen
Notable recipe: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

The Mindful Foodie
Notable recipe: Adzuki Bean and Brown Rice Bowl with Carrot Tahini Dressing

Julia and Libby
Notable recipe: Chocolate Espresso Truffles

Path to Wellness – Melissa Ambrosini
Notable recipe: Rhubarb and Berry Crumble

Foodbabe
Notable recipe: Anti-inflammatory Smoothie

Supercharged Food
Notable recipe: Maharajah Indian Stuffed Peppers

Wholehearted Eats
Notable recipe: Caramel Chocolate Bars

Wild Health Food
Notable recipe: Almond Banana Cake

Paleo
Civilized Caveman Cooking
Notable recipe: Apple Cinnamon Scones

The Merrymaker Sisters
Notable recipes: Paleo Chocolate Brownies

The Paleo Network
Notable recipe: Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Balanced Bites
Notable recipe: Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Paleo Jess
Notable recipe: Chicken Bone Broth

Paleo OMG
Notable recipe: Shredded Pork over Caramalised Mashed Plantains

What Would John Mack Eat?
Notable recipe: Breakfast of Champs

Gluten-Free
The Gluten Free Scallywag
Notable recipe: Afternoon Apricot & Almond Tea Slice

Elena’s Pantry
Notable recipe: Chipotle Orange Chicken

My Darling Lemon Thyme (also vegetarian)
Notable recipe: Red Cabbage Slaw with Sesame and Feta

GF and Me
Notable recipe: Rustic Apple Tarts

Raw Food
Better Raw
Notable recipes: Pesto Courgette Noodles and Red Velvet and Caramel Cream Icing

This Rawsome Vegan Life
Notable recipe: Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Cups

Golubka (mostly raw)

Ascension Kitchen
Notable recipe: Raw Chocolate Caramel Slice

Rawified
Notable recipe: Raw Oreos

Raw on $10 a Day (Or Less)

We Like It Raw

The Raw Project

Inphyusion
Notable recipe: Kettled Kale Chips

The Best of Raw Food
Notable recipe: Cucumber Sandwich

The Wellness Warrior
Notable recipes: A few raw desserts

Vegetarian
Veggie Wedgie
Notable recipe: Sour Kick Quinoa

Quiche-A-Week 
Notable recipe: Carrot Ginger Dressing

Vegie Head
Notable recipe: Potato and Sauerkraut Pierogi

Salad Pride
Notable recipe: Roasted Aubergine, Roasted Butternut Squash and Peas

Meat Free Mondays
Notable recipe: Beetroot Gnocchi with Smoked Almond Pesto

Vegan
The Vegan Food Diary
Notable recipes: Chocoloco Soft Serve (raw) and Creamy Straciatella Coconut Chia Pudding with Grated Raw Chocolate

Christine Salus
Notable recipe: Vegan Caramel Apples

Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes
Notable recipe: Crispy Matsutake Spring Rolls

Food for Food Allergies
Eating 4 Balance
Notable recipes: Grain-Free Apple Crumbly Bread

Sugar-Free
Sarah Wilson & I Quit Sugar
– Notable recipes: Mushroom, Walnut Quinoa with Fried Egg and Watercress Salad and Grainless, Sugar-free Breakfast Ideas

Food / Drink Delivery Blogs
Eat Fit Food
Notable recipe: Gluten Free Chia and Goji Bircher Muesli with Coconut Yoghurt and Passionfruit

Skinny Limits
Notable recipe: Raw Chocolate Cake Recipe

Protein
The Fit Baldman
Notable recipe: Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Pancakes

Protein Pow
Notable recipe: A Fig, Goats Cheese and Prosciutto Sweet Potato Pizza

Fitocracy
Notable recipe: Vegan Banana Protein Cookie

Other Blogs
My Food Challenge
Notable recipe: Avocado and Chocolate Mousse (the healthy way)

101 Recipes
Notable recipe: Ginger Coconut Milk Soup

Oh Bite It!
Notable recipe: Cherry Cheesecake Bites

Simply Recipes
Notable recipe: Slow Cooked Mexican Pulled Pork

Rachel Schultz
Notable recipe: Fried Honey Bananas

Little Bird Organics
Notable recipe: Cacao Super Smoothie with a Clustery Twist

Dinner with Julie
Notable recipe: Roasted Sweet Potato Gingerbread

Conscious Choice
Notable recipe: Almond Mylk

Craving Chronicles
Notable recipes: Chocolate Espresso Tart (Gluten-free, Dairy-free)

Food52
Notable recipe: Avocado Chocolate Mousse

The Cultureist
Notable recipe: 10 Cleansing Smoothies

Reclaiming Provincial
Notable recipe: Homemade Nutella

Gourmet Traveller
Notable recipes: Slow cooking recipes

Taste and Tell Blog
Notable recipe: Double Stuffed Butternut Squash

The Greatist
Notable recipes: Healthy Egg Recipes

From Buenos Aires to Paris
Notable recipes: Osso Buco, Orange Gremolata, Carrot / Citrus Puree

Mindfood
Notable recipe: Five Spice Crispy Roast Chicken with Roasted Sweet Potato

David Bitton
Notable recipe: Mushroom and Vanilla Capuccino Soup

Integrative Nutrition

Authority Nutrition
Notable recipes: 101 Low-Carb Recipes

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Motivation: The Good, the Bad, and the BEST

Knowing what drives us and others makes us better communicators, better marketers, better friends, lovers, parents, teachers. Understanding motivation makes us better at life.

There are a few categories to motivators. I like to call them:

  • Good Shit
  • Bad Shit
  • The Best Shit

People have historically used Good Shit, such as rewards and recognition, to motivate others. “You’ll win this”/”You’ll gain that”. Great, it’s always nice to feel valued and win cool stuff.

People have also used Bad Shit, such as punishment and fear, to motivate others. “You’ll fail”/”You’ll be fired”/”You’ll look like a dick/”You’ll get a massive fine”/”I will kill you”. Not so great, but has its place and is a significant player in social control.

The motivators in The Best Shit, however, are factors that make us really want to do things. Excitement, purpose, the desire to be great and the thirst for more. The need to make a difference, to learn, to share amazing things and to be happy.

Motivation

Think of the things you enjoy the least, and you’ll notice that the motivating factors fall under Good Shit or Bad Shit. On the other hand, the stuff you love doing the most will be stuff that excites you and makes you feel a sense of purpose. The Best Shit.

For example, what motivates many people to do exercise? Good Shit like the benefits of being stronger and leaner, but also some Bad Shit like the fear of gaining weight. Those people might stick to their exercise plan for a while, but ones who are motivated by The Best Shit will have the extra drive. The desire to be great and the excitement and happiness that feeling physically good brings are far more powerful and long-lasting motivators.

If you’re doing stuff that you’re not feeling very motivated to do, question it! Sometimes we do things out of habit and forget that motivators change over time. Keep evolving, do things that you’re passionate about, especially the things that take up the bulk of your life.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” – Steve Jobs

To instil passion and drive in other people, don’t scare them. Don’t dangle a few average carrots. Don’t give a few days of long-service leave after 10 years. Give people excitement! Give them a sense of purpose! Be a player in their desire to be great and join them on their quest for more.

BRING THE BEST SHIT OUT!

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Top 10: GIF resources, obstacle racing, home-cooked food and more

I’ve been doing a bunch of ‘Top 5’ posts recently to practice more gratitude and appreciation of cool/exciting/nice things. I’ve not posted in July so I’ve now acquired TEN awesome things that I want to share.

1) GIF Search and Reaction GIFs
Are you looking for that perfect GIF to express yourself? Check out the Giphy search site and the Reaction GIFs site for ideas!
Happy Dance
GIF taken from Reaction GIFs

2) The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
Just an all-round, excellent post by Leo Babauta. He gives the example of running in a park, and comparing yourself to another, obviously better, runner. BUT, when we compare ourselves to others, we don’t have all the information, so making comparisons is useless.

3) Sunrise clouds
If you aren’t a fan of clouds and you don’t follow me on Instagram, consider yourself lucky. Coz I adore ’em.
Sunrise clouds

4) Warrior Dash & Urbanathlon
If a year ago you’d told me that in a year I’d be doing things like the Warrior Dash or running for 12kms without stopping, I would have said, “YES, DAMMIT I WILL BE!”

It’s an incredible feeling to achieve goals that once seemed unattainable or scary. I was nervous putting myself up for a 5km trawl through mud and obstacles, but it was fine. I was nervous about 12kms and 10 obstacles through the city, but with some focus, training and team support, I can tick it off the list.

Shoes after Warrior Dash
There are many others to add to the ‘to-do’ list, including:

Or check out the Obstacle Racers calendar for a list of upcoming events.

5) Quinoa porridge
Quinoa Porridge
This is a bit of a treat breakfast, but healthy enough to not be too naughty! Perfect for Winter and tastes like it should be sinful. I make mine in coconut milk and a bit of water, by bringing the quinoa to the boil then simmering gently. I add raw cacao and some honey and serve with banana and cinnamon. Variations: cooking in almond milk, serving with berries. Delicious.

6) Rarotonga
In early June I visited Rarotonga for the third time. The first time was in November 2008, the second time was November last year, and this time was for a dear friend’s 30th with a great bunch of friends.
Rarotonga is in my Top 5 favourite places in the world. Check out my November post to get a better idea of why this is.
Rarotonga

7) There are so many paradises, you just have to pick one
I really enjoyed this lovely little post by Paola Parsons. Beautiful in its simplicity, it address the fact that life is never perfect, and often things can be in a state of disarray. But amongst the chaos, there is calm.

Paradise and happiness are what we make it. I choose my current paradise, it’s quite nice.

8) Sydney home-cooked food companies
I’ve already harped on about Hungry Mondays, but they’re not the only ones providing delicious, home-cooked goodness to Sydneysiders. Check out Arthur Street Kitchen and The Soup Stone for more!

Honourable mention: Auckland’s Jess’ Underground Kitchen
The Soup Stone
Harriet from The Soup Stone

9) The Ricky Gervais Guide to a Successful Career
Ricky Gervais – funny, opinionated and now, career advisor (not that he knows it!). In this post by Louise Fletcher we’re alerted to Ricky’s career/life tips, including:

  • Be true to yourself in order to achieve great work
  • You can’t please everyone, so please the right people
  • Worrying about how you’re perceived doesn’t get you anywhere, but worrying about how much value you add does

Check out the post for the full article.

10) Mark Grist on Girls Who Read
A man who speaks admirably about girls who read. In prose. #saynomore

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How to add hand-drawn elements to your site using Pixlr.com

Sometimes it’s nice to add a personal touch, for example your own handwriting, to your website or other digital media, such as photos. There’s a great instruction post on Skillcrush that guides you how to do this on Photoshop, but even if you don’t have Photoshop, it’s easy with the free web-based Pixlr.com:

1. Draw or write a message on a blank piece of paper

2. Take a photo and download it/email it to yourself

3. Go to Pixlr.com, open Pixlr Editor Advanced, go to File, and open the image. You can resize it under ‘Image’ and ‘Image size…’

4. Go to ‘Layer’ and select ‘New layer’


5. In the ‘Layers’ toolbox on the right, unlock the original layer (double-click on the lock symbol) and then select that layer by holding your mouse over it, clicking and dragging it up so that moves up in the layers toolbox. It’s now placed above the new layer

6. Use the Wand tool (third from the top in ‘Tools’) to select the white area


7. Delete the white area by hitting ‘Delete’ on your keyboard (or go to ‘Edit’ and select ‘Cut’)
8. The white area will now be checkered grey and white, which means it’s transparent. Keep doing this until all the white areas have been removed. You might need to use the ‘Eraser’ tool to get rid of any extra bits

9. Save as a .png file and voila!

You now have a hand-drawn element that you can incorporate into your website design! Check out the Skillcrush post to see examples of how they’ve done this. You can still see some dots where the white hasn’t been completely removed, so I would spend more time on fixing that up. But here’s my (almost) final .png image that I can now use:

Hello there

A cool idea is to incorporate hand-written components onto images, or use elements in your website background.

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