Inspired by Jodi, I have made the resolution to take a portrait of my daughter Alira each week throughout this year. Visit her at Che and Fidel and perhaps you’ll be inspired too.

34 of 52 via A Designer Life

The 52 Project: “A portrait of our children, once a week, every week in 2013″

This week, I tripped and stumbled on the photography front. My big camera was out of reach, or out of battery. My second-biggest camera was out of memory, I was out of energy.

Three trips to IKEA later (don’t ask…) and big ambitions this week to child-proof the living room in anticipation of the months to come left me with very little sparkle to do much else.

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. This statement was true for me this week, and iPhone camera it was. I will try again harder next week.

Once again, two portraits to share with you.

/ daytime. Afternoon quiet time resting on my tummy, those long lashes, and those perfected formed cheek contours that are just so kissable, bathed in back light.

/ night. Exhausted, after a big day out at the farmers market, she falls asleep without a peep on her Daddy’s shoulder. This never happens.

These are the little things I want to remember.



Inspired by Jodi, I have made the resolution to take a portrait of my daughter Alira each week throughout this year. Visit her at Che and Fidel and perhaps you’ll be inspired too.

Alira 32 of 52 via A Designer Life

The 52 Project: “A portrait of our children, once a week, every week in 2013″

Once again this week, I couldn’t decide which photo to post of Alira, so I left it at two.

/ the first, a little blurry, but the only snapshot that captures the look of joy and delight she gives me that is oh so fleeting.

/ after more than a few photos, she is definitely over this session, and prefers to pretend I am not there, turning away to suck her hand.


The 52 Project: 32/52

I have decided to join Jodi from Che and Fidel on the 52 Project. Life goes so quickly with a little one in the house, and I want to remember these days. I want to be in the moment, make still the moment, and savour the memory in years to come. I discovered Jodi’s blog at about the time of my little one’s birth, and was deeply inspired by the weekly images. Alas, it has taken me three and a half months to get around to this post. Yes, I have taken thousands of images, many of them very pretty, on whichever device was nearest to hand, usually little camera and phone camera. But now, I am unearthing and dusting off the big camera again, after a year or so of hibernation throughout my pregnancy. It is time to be intentional with my image-making again.

Alira 33 of 52 via A Designer Life

The 52 Project: “A portrait of our children, once a week, every week in 2013”

I couldn’t decide which photo to post of Alira, so settled on two of my favourites from this session. I wanted to capture her wearing an incredible knitted jumper handmade by the very talented mother of one of our amazing friends – and sent as a gift in the mail all the way from Czech.

/ she eyes me suspiciously from the safety of her bassinet as I peep at her with my big camera through the cane handles.

/ those beautiful hands. Elegant, delicate long fingers (she’s going to be a Javanese dancer one day, I am sure) and sharp little nails that just grow and grow and grow.


(PS. This week I am loving this image of pure joy).

Awesome Products : Half sized dinnerware that makes you eat less

HALVED Dinnerware via A Designer Life

Three designers in Jakarta, Indonesia, have teamed up to create HALVED, a cheeky dinnerware set aimed at wannabe dieters. Ironically, the team had the idea for their design over dinner, in their words “We love our food. But we’re constantly being told that to stay healthy, we should be cutting down on our portions… So we thought, why not just half the plate?”

While this dieting technique is not certified by experts or nutritionists, it certainly is a conversation starter! And hopefully, it might help you to shed those extra pounds, if not through smaller portions, than certainly through awareness of portion control.

Images via Kickstarter.

Awesome Products : The most amazing convertible furniture. Ever.

Resource Furniture Convertible Sofa to Bunk Bed - AWESOME! #product_design

Images via Clei UK

I just watched the most mind-blowing videos about a company called Resource Furniture who design convertible furniture that offer ground-breaking space-saving solutions for those of us who live in smaller spaces. One such design is the unassuming sofa that you see above that, seemingly like magic, converts to a bunk bed in just two seconds! Genius!

I have a real passion for convertible products, having designed both a convertible foam sofa bed and a folding motorcycle helmet myself.

See both the Resource Furniture films (made by Core77) below:

Now… How cool is that?!


Baby Bump to Baby

Baby Bump to Baby via A Designer Life

Still can’t believe I went from baby bump to real-life baby.

Still can’t believe that a little over 3 months ago my life changed in a big way. In a blur of sleepless nights, staring into beautiful big brown eyes, midnight wakening, nursing in the early morning, newborn cuddles, chubby baby snuggles in the big bed, first smiles and giggles, and my selfish heart bursting with  unconditional love for a little creature that emerged from a mere little seed one year ago – here I am on the other side. A little sleepy and dazed, but definitely happy, and very wide eyed on this journey of discovery that is motherhood.

One day, I would love to print these two photos as and hang them as a diptych in my little girl’s room. In the meantime, I might put on another load of washing, and catch up on some sleep!

The inspiration for this photo compilation came from this post on Oh You Pretty Things.

15 things to do while commuting on public transport

Bored on your commute? Here are 15 things to do while commuting on public transport that will make your journey go quick!

Bored on your commute? Here’s a great list of things to do while commuting on public transport. I’ve been catching buses and trains as a commuter for as long as I’ve been working, and while I know it can be a luxury to have your own transportation, and of course the trip sometimes takes longer when you travel on public transport, the fact is that it’s easy to get a LOT done when you are not having to worry about driving and traffic conditions. It’s a far less stressful way to travel, and not to mention that it is SO much cheaper to live without a car.

So what can you do with all this “free” time – so that you feel more productive and that the time is not wasted? I have divided my list into two sections, depending on whether you are “technology equipped” ie. have a smart phone or tablet with a fast connection, or whether you prefer to enjoy the rare time to be disconnected from the internet for a little while.


1. Practice meditating, letting go of thought and judgement and being still. Enjoy the journey and breathe. You’ll feel great upon arrival at your destination.

2. Eat a nutritious breakfast/snack/meal that you prepared for the journey. For those who are too busy to eat a good meal during the day, the time on the train can be used to make sure you eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables/salad per day or 3 serves of fruit. Nuts are also a great portable snack.

3. Read an industry trade journal, and impress your colleagues with news of the latest trends & technologies during the day.

4. Read a good old-fashioned book – fiction or non-fiction – make a dent in that long reading list! One of my favourite things to read is a quarterly “mook” (halfway between a magazine and a book) called Dumbo Feather, full of interviews with inspiring people doing unique and fascinating things with their lives.

5. Plan your day/evening/week. Choose the 3 most important things that you wish to achieve in the day, and commit to it!

6. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. The evening journey is best for this – unless your friend/relative is an early bird, too!

7. Practice sketching. All it takes is a sketchbook and a pen which is not too much extra to carry – contrary to popular belief, sketching while in motion is a fast-track training ground to develop your skills and achieve a super-steady hand! Even if you think you can’t draw, with daily practice you will very soon find that you can.

8. Have a nap! I have difficulty with this one but envy those who do, as getting enough sleep is one of the major challenges in our modern society and if can get as much as possible, your body and mind will thank you for it in the long-term.

9. Make a list of things you are grateful for. This list could be about something or someone specific eg. “Mondays”, “my job”, “my partner” or it could be about life in general. Give thanks for everything on your list at least ten times.

10. Enjoy the view! Try to notice something new.


1. Write a blog post. Believe it or not, I wrote this one in the space of two trips! (With a quick tidy up of the formatting at home before posting).

2. Make online purchases. Are there items on your wishlist that you never get around to ordering, or do you want to avoid the crowds at the mall? Order online during your transit time – and await delivery at your leisure.

3. Do your banking. Pay your bills, pay your rent, but most importantly, pay “yourself” – and watch that savings account grow!

4. Catch up on your RSS feeds. Have them categorised into theme and topic area so you can always read your favourites first.

5. Spend some of the limited time in travel to nurture your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn networks, so you don’t have to disrupt your active life with it later, prioritising enjoying real-life interactions and relationships in the moment.

x Jess

Today I am grateful for…

Today I Am Grateful For List via A Designer Life

I’ve been reading some other blogs lately, and one theme that keeps coming up is being grateful, giving thanks for the simple things, giving up on the bad habit of complaining, and not taking your blessing for granted. In light of this, today I thought about a list of things that I am truly grateful for! According to some beliefs, there is a universal law that basically states that “abundance comes to those who are already abundant”. So I think it is good practice to think about and feel and share the existing abundance in my life, so that more rushes in.

So, today I am grateful for:

1. Hot water, either running from the tap, or in a bucket! Yesterday the pilot light on the gas heating went out, so we had no hot water for a shower this morning… brrr… chilly. So we bathed Indonesia-style, boiling the kettle and pouring it in a bucket, diluting with cold water from the tap, and using the smallest saucepan we could find in the kitchen cupboard to pour water over ourselves! Oh yes, I am grateful for hot water.

2. Sunshine and blue skies! What a gorgeous day today!

3. Fresh sheets to snuggle into.

4. A husband to warm my cold feet on.

5. Being lucky enough to live in a place that is easy to clean.

6. Having a good camera repair-shop not so far away from my house, so I can go and get my poor dSLR lens fixed.

7. High ceilings with room to breathe.

8. A breeze that blew all the clouds away.

9. Lots of beautiful clothes to choose from to wear today, and all this week.

10. Owning a washing machine – some women don’t have that luxury.

11. Freedom of expression.

12. My wonderful laptop.

13. My dearest extended family & gorgeous friends.

14. An exciting week planned ahead, with guest talks, events, catch ups, and *gasp!*… vintage shopping!

15. The rest of Sunday afternoon & evening to enjoy.


50 Ideas for a Rainy Day

Bored out of your brains on a rainy day? Here's a great list of fun, productive and useful things to keep you happy when it rains!

Bored out of your brains on a rainy day? Here’s a list of fun, productive and useful things you can do to keep you happy when it rains! I’ve compiled 50 ideas for a rainy day that will make the time pass.

Since the weather has been overcast and rainy more often then not lately, I have found myself getting a little down and moody. I suspect this is from the lack of direct sunshine – nothing beats basking in the warmth of the sun on any day, especially on the weekend. On a sunny day, I eagerly await the magic glow of golden hour in the afternoon. So when the weather is drizzly and the sky is dreary, and I’m feeling sad, I have to have a toolbox of tricks to pick me up again. So here is a list I have brainstormed (hehe… brain-storm! Sorry, couldn’t help myself…) in no particular order.


So here goes the breakdown:

1. Pick up a pretty umbrella and pop on some bright gum boots, be defiant, go outside and splash in the puddles! Take a brisk walk – it’s 100% ok to go out and get a little bit damp.

2. Make a big pot of healthy soup to warm the soul. You could put in chicken legs, leeks, parsley, lentils, turnip, celery, carrot, spring onions, and all sorts of yummy earthy vegetables.

3. Get out the sewing machine and mend some of your clothes so that you have something gorgeous and “new” to wear when the sun comes out again.

4. Put on some loud dancing music, clear a space, and shake that booty wildly around the living room.

5. Polish your shoes so that they will sparkle when you wear them out next.

6. Watch Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly on YouTube – I promise it will at least make you smile.

7. Fold some origami from beautiful, colourful paper. Nothing beats making paper cranes. A beautiful animation can be seen here. You can then string them together to make a hanging mobile, or a garland.

8. Listen to Anda Union Mongolian throat singing. Even if you find it the strangest music you’ve ever heard, at least you’ve discovered something new! The Mongolian people live in some of the harshest environments on Earth, if they can make incredible music like this under those weather conditions, then surely you can survive a rainy weekend! This woman has a mesmerising voice, too.

9. Learn how to play Somewhere over the Rainbow on the ukelele. Guaranteed to lift the spirits, a good tutorial can be found here.

10. Have a date at the movies with a loved one or some special friends & lose yourself in the story. Last night I saw The Artist with some girlfriends – so refreshing to see something in black and white without dialogue, the perfect antidote to modern-day sensory overload.

11. Put on an apron, become a domestic goddess, and bake some muffins! I wouldn’t mind trying to bake these Apple, Rum and Raisin goodies.

12. Embrace the opportunity to sleep and have extra cuddle time with someone special – even if that’s just you!

13. Get out the vacuum and suck up a storm, because you wouldn’t want to waste a sunny day doing vacuuming, now would you?

14. Make yourself comfy on the couch, propped up with a pile of cushions, and bury your nose in a good book from your ever-increasing reading pile (make a decent dent in the pile, and then you can buy more books!)

15. If you don’t have a good book that you want to read, visit the local library and curl up in a chair there for the afternoon. Often they will have a variety of the latest issue magazines to read, too.

16. Find a cozy local cafe and sip hot chocolate and soy chai latte’s with a lovely friend.

17. Plan your next vacation – where would you like to go? Preferably somewhere hot and sunny, with a pool surrounded by lush gardens… hmmm… How about Indonesia?

18. Do your washing, so your clothes will be lovely and fresh for the following week, and hang them up on racks inside, so the house smells fragrant and clean. For added fragrance, burn a delicious scented candle or some incense.

19. Pick a favourite DVD and have a film day/night at home. Popcorn and chocolate: Optional but desirable!

20. Go shopping in your own wardrobe – dig out clothes you haven’t worn in a while, try them on, make new combinations, be your own ‘stylist’ and take photos of yourself! Have a lot of fun, experiencing the abundance of everything that you own!

21. Use the opportunity to go through your belongings, and make a box to give away items to charity which are no longer useful for you. Clothes that don’t fit anymore, accessories that you never wear, books you will never read again, knick knacks and dust collectors, unwanted gifts, anything that is in excess. Make the rain an excuse to wash away that excess, for a fresh start.

22. If you are feeling low and unappreciative, try to count to 1000 in your head and imagine that every number is actually a dollar that is going into your bank account. At this stage, I can only reach 300 without getting distracted by something else, but I’ll keep persisting. This is also a good remedy for insomnia and helping to fall asleep – because nobody sees the relevance of counting sheep anymore in this modern age, but I gurantee that everyone loves to count their money, even if it is imaginary (initially)! Thanks to Jessica Mullen for this meditative tip.

23. Catch up with the news on some of your favourite websites and blogs.

24. Give a local friend or a family member a phone call, renew the spark of contact with somebody who you haven’t spoken with in ages.

25. Get onto Skype and contact a friend who lives overseas – they’ll appreciate the love from home especially if they are living far, far away from home.

26. Write a list of things you are thankful for, not just big ticket things, but list everything that comes to mind, including the most simple of pleasures. This will re-frame your perspective from feeling sad & sorry to being grateful for and not taking for granted the wonderful things in your life. Be thankful for the rainy day!

27. Dust off the sketch book, check that the Artline 2.0 works, sharpen the pencils, and get sketching. Your creative bones will thank you for the exercise!

28. Put on a Yoga DVD or use a phone app and do a guided yoga session on your own floor. Don’t forget to breathe!

29. Make some colour charts on a blank wall, to add a bit of pizazz to your day and forget about the grey. Thanks to Eat Sleep Cuddle for the idea.

30. Hustle some friends together and huddle together in someone else’s house, laughing and chatting.

31. Make a big, warm pot of tea. How about chai, sencha green with roasted rice, lemon and ginger, or peppermint and liquorice?

32. If it’s still morning, make a big pot of fragrant organic fair trade coffee. My favourite is Oxfam fair World Blend, it is intoxicatingly delicious and feels good, too.

33. Fix something that is broken. Maybe you need to replace a blown lightbulb, re-string a necklace, glue on a broken piece of something that’s been waiting several months for a bit of TLC?

34. Sit down on the computer and edit some photos that have been sitting on your computer/phone/memory card. Make a story-board from a collection of the most expressive photos, and arrange to have them printed, make them into a Blurb book, or post them up to Facebook or Flickr.

35. Clean out the fridge and the pantry. Throw away any old food that is no longer good to eat, and give the shelves and cupboards a good wipe out. Find the orphan ingredients (Seaweed sheets? Half a bag of polenta? Sesame seeds? Random can of baked beans near the use by date? An old bag of limes?) and concoct a special dish (or three!) to use them up. Write a list and go grocery shopping, sticking to the list. Embrace the freshness of home-cooked goodness from a creative kitchen goddess – you!

36. Rearrange your finances. Sign up for a savings account and make a budget for the next month or year. What to you want to acheive financially in the coming year? Importantly, choose a realistic goal amount, commit to a date, and have a purpose, for example, “By August 2012, I will have saved $15,000 towards a first home deposit.” Focus on your intention.

37. Write a journal entry, putting all your feelings down on paper, then let them go. Now move on to the next thing.

38. Plan your week. Think of the big things you would like to achieve during the coming week that relate to the most important things in your life (eg. Family, Career, Personal Development, Health, Social Life, Spiritual Life etc). Now, schedule time to do these things, spread out over the 7 days, so you can realistically meet your goals by the end of the week. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve everything, of course that’s ok, too. As long as the most important three tasks get done each day, then you should regard it as a success, and the rest is just a bonus! We all have the tendency to overestimate our available time and the span of our energy.

39. On the contrary, you could throw away the plans, and just do something completely spontaneous! Perhaps something that you have never even done before. If you are in an Australian capital city, Live Guide is a good way to check out what’s on, right now. I also like What’s On in Sydney… that is, if you are in Sydney. Concrete Playground is simply awesome for finding out what’s on in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Auckland. Embrace the chaos and serendipity of the moment.

40. Sort through your computer files and tidy things up, declutter, put items in folders, delete bad photos, clear out downloads that are no longer relevant, get rid of obsolete documents. Put everything into meaningful folders, and back up your computer so that your files are nice and safe. Tidy up your iTunes playlists, maybe burn some of your CDs onto your computer that you haven’t gotten around to digitising yet.

41. Embrace rainy day photography. Get out there with a raincoat, and a plastic bag, and take photos of the countryside or the city. The city can be especially beautiful in the rain – everything is soft and subdued and yet, shiny. The surface of the road is shimmery and reflective and acts as a mirror to the yellow headlights and the red and green traffic lights… The rain offers great possibilities for creative compositions and unexpected reportage.

42. Use humour to beat the rainy-day blues. Go to see a stand up comedy show, rent/borrow a hilarious film, or fluff around for half an hour on a humourous website with the sole intention to laugh so much that your eyelids turn inside out!

43. Give yourself a facial. Pamper yourself completely, in the comfort of your own home. You know the deal – face scrub, face steam, face mask (complete with green shrek-effect and cucumbers for the eyes)! There, feel better?

44. Invent something. Invent a fairytale, or a mythical monster, or a new time-saving contraption, or re-design a household appliance to make it better. What would you change? How would you modify it? How would you make it better or easier to use? How would you design it if was for grandma, or a young child, or custom-made for your spouse? Use colourful markers, draw flow charts and crazy sketches to describe your new invention – even if you think you can’t draw, just do it! You’ll be surprised at your own creativity. Then, make your invention real! How? Use anything you have lying around the house, including pipe-cleaners, sticky tape, rubber bands, toilet roll tubes, cardboard and fabric scraps. Basically anything that can help you to bring your idea into 3D reality will do! Take photos during the process and celebrate your invention when you have finished by sharing the idea with somebody who will appreciate it.

45. Rearrange the furniture in your house. Shake things up a bit and refresh your surroundings to refresh your mind. They say a change is as good as a holiday, right?

46. Explore an Art Gallery or a Museum to expand your horizons, your knowledge and your cultural awareness, all while comfortably indoors! Galleries and museums are usually not expensive compared to going out for a movie, and sometimes, entry is even free.

47. Soften your skin while showering… All you need are ordinary oats, by putting a handful into a square of scrap cotton fabric, and tying with a rubber band, moisten, and rubbing it all over your body, like a loofah. Make it fragrant by splashing with a few drops of lavender oil before bathing.

48. Host a high tea party at home. Put on a happy frock, tie a ribbon in your hair, paint on some bright red lippy, splash on some perfume, wear your favourite heels, and all-importantly, have cupcakes, teacups and saucers (and martini glasses?!) at the ready. Make it an all-girl event and pledge to learning knitting or crochet together on a rainy afternoon (Craft-ernoon?). Or make it a bit interesting by inviting the guys as well as the girls (on one condition – they must come as “Mad Hatters”!)

49. Go to be early and catch up on some sleep. Having a full, decent night’s sleep is totally under-rated as a mood lifter. And then, who knows, you might wake up tomorrow morning and it’ll be sunny! Just ask Annie.

50. Look out for the rainbow when the sun breaks through the clouds! It’ll be worth the wait.

There you have it! 50 ideas for a rainy day! Congratulations for making it to the end.

Jess x

I’ve also made a list you can pin! See below:

50 IDEAS for a rainy day list

Welcome to my Third Blog


Welcome to A Designer Life [dot] net. Why name my blog as such? Well, I am a designer. And this is a snapshot of my life, a “lifestream” if you wish.

However, I believe that anyone can have a designer life. I believe that we all have the ability to create & cultivate a wonderful world and experience the kind of life that we want and to make beautiful and useful things for ourselves and others – this is not only for me, or anyone else called a “designer”.

This is my third blog. My first blog was about living as an exchange student in Indonesia – an experience that changed my life. My second blog was about Design for Empowerment – a powerful personal philosophy that colours, inspires and motivates my work as a designer. I hope that this third blog will be a little bit of everything, a side project for me, that opens the world up to some little slices of delight for the writer/photographer/designer and gentle reader alike.

May you enjoy.