3 tech solutions to start the New Year right!

January 8, 2016 | Guides, Personal

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I’m a few days late, but – Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas and New Year and are ready to start the year fresh. I certainly am!

Do you have any New Years resolutions? I don’t normally make any, but this year I made a few. Mostly just acknowledging a few things I’ve been wanting to focus on for a while now. They’re not hard and fast resolutions, but just things I’d like to work on and be more conscious about in my everyday life. Nothing groundbreaking here I’m afraid, I think everyone’s probably made these resolutions at some point!

Here’s what they are:

– Get back on track with a budget
– Be more active – choose to get up and move, do something every day.
– Be more organised with dinners and groceries
– Don’t let toxic thoughts rule the mind… be positive :)
– Spend less time looking at my phone – maybe delete Facebook for a while?

Some of these – like looking at my phone less – are things I just have to do. But in order to achieve some of the other things, I’ve turned to good ol’ technology for help. And there are some AMAZING apps and programs and videos out there now. So many.

So I thought I’d share with you my favourite 3 tech solutions that I’ve been using to help me get on board with my resolutions above. Here we go…

NUMBER 1: BUDGET 
Solution: You Need A Budget
Cost: Free 34 day trail, $5/m after that (or $50/yr)


You Need A Budget

You Need A Budget App

This wonderful program makes keeping a budget actually kinda fun. Well, maybe not FUN, but not as dull and boring as most budgets can be. I’m using it every day and it’s working! Once you’ve signed up, you can use the software on your computer, or download the handy-dandy app that will allow you to put in your income/expenses on the fly. Mostly we use it to track how much we’re spending, and being able to enter it on our phones as we go means we’re not guessing later or digging through the bin for receipts.

NUMBER 2: BE MORE ACTIVE (AND POSITIVE!)
Solution: Yoga with Adriene
Cost: FREE!

Yoga with Adriene

Yoga with Adriene

You guys, I really love this chick. Not only is she funny and totally down to earth, she has a very well-stocked youtube channel with every kind of yoga flow you could think of – and it’s all totally free. I’m really not very good at yoga, but Adriene makes you feel capable no matter what level.. which makes me feel less embarrassed (in my own home??) and awkward. Check out the 30 days of yoga with Adriene, or Yoga Camp if you want to start a regular yoga habit, or any of the other videos really, they’re all fab. I’ve been doing yoga camp and so far I’m sticking with it! :)

NUMBER 3: BE MORE ORGANISED 
Solution: Wunderlist
Cost: Free (though you can pay to upgrade)

Wunderlist

Wunderlist

This is one of those genius apps that I’ve been using for a little while now, and couldn’t live without. I’m not using it to it’s full capacity I don’t think, but for what I want, it works like a charm. My husband and I have both installed it and were able to create a shared list (called “Groceries”) that we can both see on our phones. It updates instantly, which means we’re both able to add items that we need as we think of them, and subtract them off the list as we buy them. And because we’re both seeing the same list, it’s super up-to-date, and there’s no confusion. Brilliant!

There we go, my top 3 tech recommendations to start off 2016 :)

What tech have you been using? Would love some more recommendations!

Merry Christmas!

December 24, 2015 | Personal

MerryXmas4

Merry Christmas!

I’m sitting here in Singapore, in front of our brilliantly lit christmas tree with the tropical breeze blowing in, listening to Michael Buble carols and thinking about what an amazing year we’ve had. I just love Christmas, so much. It’s not really the same spending it here instead of at our family homes in Australia, but we’ve got some family visiting and Skype on hand, so it’ll be magical nonetheless. I’m super excited to share our second ever Christmas with Arlo too – who’ll be bombarded with gifts from around the world when he wakes in the morning. The anticipation has me feeling like a little kid along with him :)

So, Merry Christmas to you. I hope you’re all feeling warm and fuzzy about the festive season too… here’s to a fab 2016, wherever you are!

C x

Make Art That Sells – Week 3

November 26, 2015 | Design, Make Art That Sells, Personal

Oops, I’m a little behind in my MATS recaps! Last week was actually week 5, which was the last week of the course.. big sad face. But I won’t jump ahead yet (though if you’re following me on Instagram you’ll have had a peek!).

Week 3 was all about children’s book illustration. Probably not a market I really see myself in I must admit, but worth giving it a go anyway, right! We were first tasked with drawing lost of cats and creating cat characters, before being given the big assignment to either illustrate the cover, or one spread of the story The White Cat.

I had a bit of shaky start to my cat illustrations, trying to work out how a cat really looks.. but then when I made it more human like, I really got into it! I thought it was so fun sketching her facial expressions and trying different shapes and sizes for her features.

Sketching cats! By fellow fellow :)

I eventually settled on the middle-bottom one. I thought she had a nice personality :) Next onto the cover..

The story is about a white cat and a prince, and the prince rides a wooden horse.. it’s a really bazaar story actually, pretty dark and creepy, so I opted to put a lighter, more fun spin on the cover. Why not, it’s for kids after all!

Here’s what I ended up with.. I think there are a few things I’d like to keep working on, but overall I was happy I managed to complete it :)

The White Cat by fellow fellow

There was such a massive variety of designs that were submitted, all so different, and quite a number that really stood out as incredible to me. There’s some serious talent in this class!

If I’m honest, I’m actually finding it very difficult not to compare my work to everyone else’s! There are so many wonderful illustrators that sometimes I can’t help but feel a bit overwhelmed.. BUT I’m also really proud of myself for getting through each task as it comes and creating great work even if I’m initially stumped by the idea. I’m proving to myself that I can do it, and that’s worth a lot I reckon :)

Read about week 1 and week 2 here.

IKEA Project 5: The Veggie Ball cook-off

November 9, 2015 | Recipe, Sponsored

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with IKEA, however all ideas, opinions, and thoughts are my own. 

So just when I thought all my Ikea posts were done, I got asked to participate in an extra surprise challenge – a cook-off!

Ikea recently added a new item to their menu (and shop) in the form of some yummy veggie balls, so we were tasked with creating our own recipe using the balls. Really, anything that involves food is fine by me. So before I knew it a big bag of frozen veggie balls were being couriered to my door, just in time to throw them in the oven for Arlo’s dinner (he approves by the way!).

But that’s not going to be my recipe. I wanted to create something I was excited to eat! So I chose to make a delicious lamb curry with veggie skewers :) YUM.

Lamb curry with veggie skewers

I first tasted this curry at a friend’s place and have since made it a couple of times at home. It’s always pretty yum, but the addition of the veggie balls gives it a really nice taste and texture. You can choose to eat them straight off the skewer, or take them off and dunk them into the curry sauce.. either way is good :)

Lamb curry with veggie skewers

So here’s the recipe.. it’s been adapted from this one here. I’ve changed a few little things, as well as halved the recipe as there was only 2 of us eating it.

Lamb Curry with Veggie Skewers

IKEA Vegetable Balls (4-8 per person)
Skewers
Vegetable oil
400g lamb cubes
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 green chilli, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tbs ground tumeric
3/4 tbs garam masala
3/4 tbs ground cumin
1/2 tbs chilli powder
1/2 tbs plain flour
3 tomatoes, chopped
200mL coconut milk
300mL chicken stock
A handfull of baby spinach leaves
1/2 pomegranate, seeded
Plain yoghurt
Coriander
Cooked rice to serve

* Tip – prepare and measure out the ingredients before starting, it’ll make it easier as you go.
* I used this cast-iron casserole pot instead of a saucepan, but if you’ve only got a saucepan that’s fine – just simmer it on the stove for an hour instead of putting it in the oven like I mention below.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.

2. Heat a cast-iron casserole pot (or large saucepan) over high heat and add one tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the lamb and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the lamb is golden-brown all over. Remove and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat and add another tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the onions, garlic, chillies and ginger and fry for 2-3 minutes, until golden and softened.

4. Add the turmeric, garam masala, cumin and chilli powder and fry, stirring well, for one minute. Then add the flour and cook for a further minute.

5. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.

6. Add the lamb and enough chicken stock to just cover the lamb. Stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any of the good bits that are stuck there.

7. Once the curry has come to a simmer, put the lid on and carefully transfer it to the oven to cook for 1 hour, or until the lamb is tender and cooked through. If you’re doing this in a saucepan, just put the lid on and simmer for 1 hour.

8. When there’s 15 minutes remaining in the cooking time, put the veggie balls on a tray and into the oven.

9. Once the balls are cooked, take them out and thread onto skewers, being careful because they’ll be hot to handle.

10. Skim off any excess fat from the surface of the curry, then add the spinach. Stir until the spinach has wilted.

11. Serve the curry in bowls with steamed rice. Garnish with yoghurt, coriander and pomegranate, and of course your veggie skewers. Dig in!

Lamb curry with veggie skewersLamb curry with veggie skewers

Thanks so much to the lovely team at Ikea! It’s been so much fun, and I’ve loved testing out the new veggie balls :)

Hope you’ll give this recipe a go too, it’s totally worth it!! x

Lamb curry with veggie skewers

Make Art That Sells – Week 2

November 2, 2015 | Design, Drawn, Make Art That Sells, Personal

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Phew, week 2 of Make Art That Sells was a doozy! In a good way, of course ;-)

This week was all about the Home Decor market, and we were tasked with using Staffordshire Pottery as our drawing inspiration. If you don’t know what Staffordshire Pottery is (like I didn’t), do a google search and you’ll find some of the weirdest, scariest, and definitely not-to-my-taste ceramic figurines. Huh, crap. How was I meant to get inspired by a subject matter I didn’t find very attractive?!

Luckily I don’t think I was alone in feeling this way – it seems like a lot of the people in my class were also struggling with it a little bit which made me feel reassured! Nevertheless I managed to get over myself and find some time while Arlo napped to try sketching a few of these funny figurines without being too self conscious of the outcome (kinda tough for me!). The idea is to experiement after all. And whaddayaknow – I actually started to enjoy it. So then I moved onto watercolour and it only got better! Wha. Amazing – and the funny thing is, because Staffordshire pottery is already kinda quirky, I found that the less precise my illustrations were the better, and the fat watercolour strokes seemed to just fit right in.

claire dalgliesh MATS PartA

Yay! So now that I had some icons to work with, next up was to tackle the main assignment for this week, which was to create a set of 4 ceramic plates using our Staffordshire illustrations. By now I was really loving the assignment, so had fun putting the plates together :)

Here’s my final piece.

CLAIRE_DALGLIESH_SECRETGARDEN

So despite the slightly unsettling start to this week, I’m really happy with where it ended up! :) And looking at our class Flickr group I’m blown away by just how varied our work is. All 200 (or so) of us got the same brief, and no one’s work is even close to similar, it’s kind of amazing!

This week we’re onto Children’s picture books… bring it!