April 28, 2019

Monthly favourites — March 2019

Reading time: 6 minutes

Here’s what we got stuck into in March: what we listened to, watched, read and learned. Our monthly favourites, if you will!

A duotoned dark purple and beige version of the Apple heart emoji, in front of a light blue striped background
🎞️A TED talk on our ‘personal story’Murder MountainThe Disappearance of Madeleine McCann
🎧Maggie RogersJoe RoganBest Coast
📖The Design of Everyday ThingsApples Under My BedDrive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
📱Portrait modeVinegar (for cleaning)Flo
20 minute workoutsCounting with my breathThe Artist’s Way
🎒BufferKnitting socksWorm Farms

🎞️ Watching

How your personal narrative limits your future (TED talk)

Andrew Peek is a tech entrepreneur who wants us to stop holding our ‘personal story’ too tightly, in favour of a more malleable idea of ourselves which can evolve over time. I found it to be a thought-provoking 15 minute watch.
— Jess

Stories force us into these either/or choices… but the idea of me isn’t built on an either/or, it’s built on “and”.

Andrew Peek

Murder Mountain (Netflix original)

I stumbled across this series on Netflix one rainy weekend in March. The series documents Humboldt County, California and how the growing of illegal and legal marijuana plays a big part in the town and it’s perception by others. It was interesting to hear from growers who have progressed from growing illegally to legally due to the legalisation of marijuana in California.
— Aimee

The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann (Netflix original)

I’m a sucker for a crime drama. Aren’t we all? What I’ve found most interesting about this series is how my own opinions about whodunnit flip flop constantly. I cannot make up my mind, and I guess that’s why this case continues to fascinate us
— Lil


🎧 Listening to

Maggie Rogers

I first came across Maggie Rogers through her live video for “Alaska” — the first half is Maggie Rogers being rad (honestly it’s in my top 10 songs of all time), and the second half is Pharrell Williams explaining the benefits of multidisciplinary design to the production of music, using a Reese’s peanut butter cup analogy.

Her EP Now that the light is fading became one of my go-to albums when I needed music that felt like a warm hug, that was also uplifting. Her new album Heard it in a past life includes a couple of those tracks and all the same vibes. Yes yes yes yes yes.
— Jess

Travis Barker (Joe Rogan podcast episode)

I’ve been finding gems on Joe Rogan’s podcast for years, and this episode with Travis Barker (of Blink 182 fame) was one of those. I learnt a lot about him that I hadn’t realised: he’s vegan, a workaholic, proud father and a perfectionist. He touched on how the plane crash changed the course of his life, and revealed that he’s never flown since. All those European tours? Yep, he sails on the Queen Mary.
— Aimee

Crazy for You, Best Coast (album)

I am not often one for nostalgia, but a throwback playlist was played in the office recently and it prompted me to revisit an old favourite. Personally, I think this one stands up.
— Lil


📖 Reading

The Design of Everyday Things (Book)

Don Norman is a cognitive scientist whose book explains how good design takes people’s actual needs and psychology into account. It was originally published in 1988 as The Psychology of Everyday Things before being republished in 2002 as The Design of Everyday Things, with additions and adjustments to bring it up to date with modern times, and technology.

It’s an insightful read for anyone (designer or otherwise!), with tangible examples that bring his concepts to life and connect them to the reader’s world. I will never look at the ‘Push/Pull’ signs on a door in the same way again.
— Jess

A yellow book cover for "The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman" showing a red teapot with its handle and spout on the same side (so the pouring hand would be burnt by the hot tea as it's poured)

Two of the most important characteristics of good design are discoverability and understanding. Discoverability: Is it possible to even figure out what actions are possible and where and how to perform them? Understanding: What does it all mean? How is the product supposed to be used? What do all the different controls and settings mean?

Donald A. Norman

Apples Under my Bed (Blog)

I’ve been an avid reader of Heidi Sze’s Apples Under My Bed blog for years. I’ve been revisiting her recipes lately, as I tend to gravitate towards them as it starts to get colder. What I love about her recipes is that I’ve always got most ingredients on hand, or can easily substitute. Some favourites are curried quinoa with chickpeas and Tuna, chilli and lemon pasta.
— Aimee

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk (Book)

Olga Tokarczuk is a veritable superstar in Poland, gaining international attention in 2018 when she won the Man Booker for the English translation of her novel Flights. The win led to this novel finally being translated too. It’s an utterly fascinating read – as somehow witty and charming too – making me wonder how many other untranslated gems are out there
— Lil


📱 Using

Portrait mode on the iPhone X

Apple has me wrapped around their little finger, so as my iPhone 6 started to need charging in the middle of the workday, I took the excuse to upgrade. I spent altogether too long on the Apple website trying to understand the difference between an iPhone XR (“ten R”) and iPhone XS (“ten S”), before landing on the XS for its superior camera, which has not disappointed! I’m taking portrait photos of everyone I see, especially my cat.
— Jess

Photo of a balinese cat with his tail curled to the front on a hardwood floor
A purr-fect portrait…

Photo of a balinese cat with his tail curled to the front on a hardwood floor, looking almost cut-out of a striking black background
…and one in studio mode!

Vinegar – for cleaning (product)

A bit random, but I’ve been using vinegar a lot more lately to clean my house. Either diluted with water, mixed with bi-carb or tea tree oil. It’s been great cleaning the bathroom, mirrors and other surfaces. I remember when I was growing up my Mum used to always have a solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and used it on almost everything. I’m not sure when I forgot about this, but after trying to reduce the amount of chemicals I use I’ve reverted back to this trusty cleaning method.
— Aimee

Flo (app)

I was introduced to this period tracking app by none other than Aimee’s faves back in January. I find it very helpful, and have only thus far input the start and end dates for one period. Looking forward to seeing what else I can track, particularly with regard to symptoms like cramps and even migraines.
— Lil


➿ Practicing

20 minute workouts

I used to go to the gym without a plan and just see which machines were available or faff about on a mat, but a friend of mine put me onto a super simple workout routine which has rocked my world! …or at least my gym habits.

It goes like this:

  1. Pick 6 exercises (I try for an even split between arms, legs and core)
  2. Write them on a board (or piece of paper) in front of you
  3. Start a timer and do each exercise in turn: 45 seconds on / 15 second rest (so one round takes 6 minutes)
  4. Once you’ve completed all 6 exercises, take a minute to rest
  5. Repeat for two more rounds!

And there you have it: a simple exercise circuit which has you in and out of the gym in 20(ish) minutes. You can play around with the format as you like — 30 seconds on / 30 seconds off, or limit to two rounds. I just find having some kind of structure really useful.
— Jess

An infographic for "The 7-Minute Workout (That Science Says Actually Works!)" which explains that you should "Perform as many reps as possible of the following exercises in order for 30 seconds each. Rest for 5 seconds between exercises. The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times if desired." with illustrations of 12 different exercises below, including Jumping Jack, Wall Sit, Push-up, Crunch, Step-Up, Squat, Triceps Dip, Plank, High Knees, Lunge, Push-up with rotation and Side Plank.
Some exercise ideas from Greatist

Counting with my breath

I’ve been having a bit of trouble sleeping lately. I have no issue falling asleep, but I’ll often wake during the night and have trouble falling back to sleep. I’ve started breathing deeply and counting my breaths when I’m in this situation. So far, it’s helped and I’ve fallen asleep mid-count (though, sometimes it’s multiples of 100). I’m still working on resolving why I keep waking up, but for now, this is helping me get back to sleep.
— Aimee

The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron (book)

Despite this book being popular for many years, I only heard of it recently. It was recommended to me, and I picked up a copy not really knowing what to expect. A twelve week course of exercises and self examination seemed unwieldy, but I found myself enjoying my first week far more that I anticipated. I’ll keep you posted on my transformation to an Artist™
— Lil


🎒 Learning

How to use Buffer for social media

If you’ve ever wondered how some companies manage to share with such delicate regularity on their social media accounts, their secret is probably Buffer or Hootsuite: both services allow you to ‘queue’ posts to be sent at a particular time of day, or on a specific schedule (which can also be tailored per service, if you want to be super fancy). This allows you to, for example, spend an hour on a Sunday morning lining up posts for the whole week.
— Jess

Screenshot of the Buffer 'posting schedule' screen, which shows each day of the week with three times listed below it.
Our Facebook posting schedule in Buffer

Ps. We’re trying to be very choosey about how often or how much we post to our social media accounts, so if you have any feedback or thoughts on the topic, please let us know!

Knitting socks

My knitting experience has never progressed beyond a plain scarf. I’ve never followed a pattern, or tried anything beyond 1 row of knit, 1 row of purl. I set myself the task to knit socks/booties one weekend and searched for a youtube tutorial. I needed video guidance, as I didn’t think I’d be able to follow written instructions. I found this one, and can proudly say I have successfully knitted a pair! Bonus win: I now understand how patterns are written!
— Aimee

About worm farms

Last month I was learning about compost, and seemingly the theme has continued. After some research and contemplation, I settled on a Bokashi Bin for my home compost. It technically ferments food scraps, producing a ‘tea’ that can be used for fertiliser. The scraps themselves condense considerably, and can be buried or taken to a community compost system (which, given our tiny single flowerbed, it what I will be doing). However, I was recently able to assist someone else in putting a worm farm together! It was such a joy to see the little wormies – any team worm farm out there? Would you recommend for a small yard?
— Lil

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Producing Paradise

Three ladies of digital producer ilk: Jess Allison, Aimee Cowie and Lilith Palmer.

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