What’s a Favicon?

Sassy Tip!

One groovy way to reinforce your brand on your website is with a favicon. “What’s that?” you ask…  It’s a teeny weeny small little graphic of your logo, icon or a letter that represents your brand, and it shows up in the tab at the top of your browser when your website is open, like this... Favicons         On each tab you can see the Xero logo, the TLC logo, the Facebook Logo and Mine! So, if you haven’t got a Favicon, ask your designer to create it for you and then pop it into your website so that it’s easy to recognise and builds your brand even more. WordPress has a widget for favicon. Every little bit helps… that’s how you create consistency.  Have you got any other tips like this to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

How to get more likes on Facebook

Sassy Branding“I know Facebook can be good for business, but I don’t know what to say…” sound familiar? Facebook is all about being social, that’s why it’s called Social Media. There’s no need to be stuffy and boring when you’re sharing information and news on your business page, just be yourself. People want to connect with people, that’s why it’s important to be social, transparent and engaging. Still sound too hard? OK, try these steps… Show your personality: Inject a bit of humour into your posts, be a little bit vulnerable and share some daily experiences. That doesn’t mean telling us what you had for breakfast (unless it was something amazing in an exotic country), but things that make your heart sing. For example, I recently toured Italy with my art tutor and classmates, and we painted every day in the local Italian towns (I had to keep pinching myself – it was AMAZING!!), so I shared some of my musings and photos about that trip. The response was great, for some people it brought back memories, others were inspired to travel and others talked about their desire to paint, or dance or sing… Your vulnerability gives others permission to do the same and share their thoughts and feelings. Share your knowledge: Tell us why you’re the expert in your field. Share stories of encounters with clients, talk about the great outcomes you’ve had and really importantly, tell us how your clients have benefitted from your services or products. Post testimonials. Give us some tips that are relevant to what you offer. For example, I have a ‘Tip of the Day’ and post one sentence that might be useful to someone out there, such as “Use white vinegar to wash windows, it’s cheap, environmentally friendly and works a treat!” If you don't have any tips, jump on to google and find some. Use images: Images are powerful and a great way to engage people. It’s statistically proven that pictures and graphics get more likes and comments than plain text. Personally I like to use both and when I do post images, I mostly use ones I’ve created myself and try to make sure my branding is on it somewhere. So now you’re thinking; “Well it’s alright for you, you’re a designer” – true that. But there’s a groovy little program called picmonkey, it’s free and easy to use to make your own graphics. Go on, give it a try! See that pretty quote up there on the left? I posted that graphic on Facebook the other day and it got more than 50 shares… what a great way to organically promote your business! There are heaps of other ways to engage and connect on Facebook, but try these for starters and see how you go. Oh, and the other thing that’s really important is consistency. Post at least once a day. It’s the same principle as branding, the more you do it, the more people will get to know you, trust you and share your stuff. Mix it up, be creative and have fun! Have you got any other ideas? Share them here... Back to Previous Posts

Crafting a Logo from Art

Many of my clients work within the healing and spiritual arena, and as such, I'm often asked to create a logo that’s a little bit 'left of centre'. You may know that I love to paint with pastel, and so I’ve found a way to merge my love of art and graphic design to create unique brands and logos for my clients. The following logo design is one of those creations. My friend Samantha works as a psychic medium and runs tours to Sacred Sites all over the world (what a life!). My mission was to develop a logo that depicts what Sam does and embrace her specific request for feathers, Stone Henge and her preferred fonts and colours. I’d be fibbing if I said it was easy, but after a lot of talking and spending time with Sam looking at images, trying pictures of this and placement of that, drinking wine and cups of tea, we finally managed to bring her vision to life. We found a photograph of Stone Henge that Sam liked, but we couldn’t find one in the purples and reds that she wanted. So, I painted it! Now she not only has a unique hand crafted logo, she has an original painting to hang on her wall - who knows, one day it might be worth a fortune - move over Picasso! hee hee... Inspired Soul Logo           Once the painting was complete, I purchased a vector stock image of a white feather and re-coloured in Sam's branding shades to suit. Each of the elements we’ve created have spiritual meaning for Sam, she was very specific about what she wanted so her input was essential to make sure she got it. Sam had already settled on the font style for her name, so that part was easy, I just had to re-shape it a little and incorporate it into the design. We’ve aligned the I with the spine of the feather and when we printed the business cards, the font 'Inspired Soul' was done in metallic silver.  It looks pretty spectacular! So, there’s the story of Samantha’s logo development for Inspired Soul Travel. It took a few weeks and a lot of concepts and ideas, many cups of tea and a couple of bottles of wine, but at the end of the day, Sam is very happy with the outcome, it’s exactly what she wanted and it makes her heart sing. It makes my heart sing too, to create something unique and specific that's aligned with my client's vision and brings their brand to life. Thanks for allowing me to share and I hope this has helped to show you some of the process involved in creating a brand... Ciao!    

Should’ve could’ve would’ve

Grammar GripeI’ve got a grammar gripe! I’m one of those peeps who get a bit “hot under the collar” about grammatical and spelling errors; Social Media, particularly Facebook, has made these blunders even more apparent, it’s amazing how many people can’t spell! Do you say “I should of” or “I could of” or “I would of”? If you do, stop it! I know that here in our great land of Oz (slang for Australia), we abbreviate a lot of words by joining them together, so it’s easy to hear things as they sound and then assume it’s right. Abbreviated its “I should’ve” or “I could’ve” or “I would’ve”. Sounds like ‘of’ doesn’t it? But ‘ve is short for ‘have’. So, here’s what it should be: Replace the word ‘of’ with ‘have’. So “I should have” or “I could have” or “I would have”. Ah, that’s so much better now… Leave me a comment and tell me your grammar gripe.  

Eat, Paint, Love Italy

Cornelia PastelAs I sit here on a homeward bound plane, next to my sister and darling friend, Sally, I can't find the words to tell you how amazing our first trip to Italy has been. As we flew out of Rome this morning I was overwhelmed with sadness and had a bit of a cry. It could be menopause, exhaustion, or the fact that I'm feeling so fat after eating my way through Italy (probably all of the above), but the real truth is I truly am broken hearted that this trip is complete, it's been months in the making, a year of saving, hours of planning, dozens of conversations and anticipation. Now it's over and we're going home with a heart full of magic moments that I wish I could bottle and open at whim to taste, feel and embrace again. I've fallen in love; with Italy, with travel and with art. The final week of our month away was spent in Cinque Terre. Oh my! What a beautiful part of Italy it is. Perched upon the rocky north-west coast are five old towns, and we visited each one over the week, where we painted the buildings, the ocean vistas, the boats and the streets. This photo is one of my paintings from Cornelia. The energy in Cinque Terre is alive with colour, light and life! I could just about live there!! It's full of tourists and shops, cafes, hotels and villas. We laughed, walked, talked, drank and ate. Mama Mia! So much eating, it seemed each meal just merged into the next, the food is divine, we indulged (and bulged) in gelato, tea, cappuccino, lemon cello, wine, pizza, mussels, squid, pastries, bruschetta, tomatoes, pastas and breads all week! It's lucky we walked and climbed dozens of stairs every day, and one afternoon four of us rode bicycles along the beach rode into Monterosso - otherwise I'd be as big as a house! So as our holiday comes to an end, we head home to settle into life again and pick up where we left off. I aspire to create more travel and visit the rest of the world, but most of all, to live in the moment, drink in the blessings and don't sweat the small stuff. I hope you've enjoyed my posts, whether they've inspired you to travel to Italy, brought back happy memories of your own adventures or encouraged you to eat more, it's all good. For me they are the contents of a precious bottle of feelings, thoughts, tastes and plans for more... How blessed I am, to have spent the last couple of weeks on an art tour, painting Italy, with women who enrich my life and expand my peripheral vision beyond the horizon of life as I knew it. Much love and gratitude to my Sorella , Sally, for being with me all the way. Salute!

Painting in Liguria – Such a gift!

Art in LiguriaLiguriaWe are a group of eight women aged between 45 and 60ish who share a passion for art and a desire to experience travel, adventure and the flavours of Italy.  The common thread between us all is Carolyn, art tutor to most of us, sister to one and friend to all. Carolyn is guiding us as we explore and expand our art through the colours, sights, tastes and sounds of Italy. How blessed we are!
We've been here at Casa Villa Talla for six days now. After two weeks of traveling together in France and Italy, with no more than three nights in one place at a time, Sally and I were grateful to finally arrive somewhere, unpack and settle in for a week. It was even a thrill to do some washing - hooray, clean clothes!
It is so beautiful here... We are nestled high up in the Italian Alps, just an hour away from France, you can almost touch the French mountains from the top of our hill. All around us are wild flowers and herbs, apricot and olive trees, roses and chrysanthemums. We have pretty Italian bedrooms with pure wool blankets, creaky old-fashioned beds, woven floor mats, carefully framed art and old fashioned chairs. Each bedroom is themed, ours is Thyme. Our verandah looks out to the west, over the mountains and towns. The views are stunning and you can see one of the local towns, Dolceacqua from here. Our hosts, Marina and Roger, are the loveliest gentle couple and they can't do enough for us.
We arrived on Sunday afternoon and enjoyed our first home-cooked dinner here. Fresh beans from the garden, salad of the sweetest cherrie tomatoes I've ever tasted, bruschetta to die for and a dessert of gelato and sorbet. We slept well that night.
Monday we stayed at the Villa all day and got out the pastels for our first painting session. Everywhere you look there is something to admire and paint, pots of flowers, sculptures, pretty fences, views that go on forever, stone steps and climbing ivy on carefully built walls and gardens. It was a restful day of chatting, painting, relaxing and generally getting into the groove, catching up with those we already know and getting to know those that we don't yet.
Every day we've enjoyed a home made breakfast of fresh bread, jams made from the fruits of the garden (fig, plum and berry), fresh fruit and pots of delicious tea.
This week we've visited three local villages and painted in the streets, had tourists take photos of us painting and admiring our work (one man even offered to buy my pastel... who knew THAT could ever happen)! We've painted Monet's Bridge (amazing!), explored the cobbled streets and admired the old buildings and walkways - Italy is such a beautiful country. We've been chatting to locals and doing our best to understand the language, it's amazing how quickly we've learnt a few phrases and the power of sign language and gestures. The Italians love us Aussies!
Today we were treated to a private tour of Villa Mariani at Bordighera. This is an old Villa where Monet stayed for about three months and painted some of his famous scenes in this area, and was the home of Pompeo Mariani, a famous Italian artist. We viewed his original art studio and toured his home, then we spent a couple of hours painting in the garden, just as Monet did! How privileged we are!
So far the tour has been amazing. Life-time friendships have been formed in a few short days and its been a joy to connect with other Iike-minded women and delight in the tastes and flavours of Italy through our art, life, and laughter. I don't think I've laughed this much in years. The wifi here at the Villa is only accessible in the lounge, so we gather there in the afternoons and evenings (unless we're out for dinner) and spend all our time emailing and on Facebook on iPhones and iPads - its so funny as we all post and tag each other online while chatting and laughing together in this cosy Italian lounge room - drinking tea or lemon cello (depending on the time of day), laughing, commenting on each other's photos of the day and sharing. It's great!
We have a little more than a week to go on the art tour and will move on to Cinque Terre in two days. Every day is a new day of new tastes, art, experiences, fun and adventures. What a blessed life and much gratitude to Carolyn for weaving the threads and making it a reality.

Segways and sofa beds in Nice

Nice PromenadeNice 15 June 2013
Is Nice nice? Yes and no. The tourist areas are lovely, the Promenade is beautiful, a wide open paved strip that runs for a few kilometres along the ocean edge, the water is the deepest azure blue and looks beautiful. No surf here, it's calm and deep. There are lots of places to sit, you can rent a day bed and lie under an umbrella for a day. That's where I am as I write this. Generally I'm not a sun bunny, so although sitting or lying here is lovely and very French provincial, I don't think I'll last long, the lily white legs are turning pink at an alarming rate, even with sunscreen on! It's fun though, to watch the the holiday makers basking in the sun. Sally's been watching a group of English ladies all taking photos of each other so she couldn't help herself, and had to go over and offer to take a group photo for them. She's so thoughtful, and I'm loving sharing this amazing trip with her.
We arrived in Nice at night, to find that our hotel is a couple of streets behind the Promenade. We got the key to our room, lugged all our furniture (otherwise called luggage) to the sixth floor, and walked in to a lovely room with a table and a sofa, small kitchen and bathroom... Where are the beds? There were no beds!  Obviously the sofa was a fold out bed and there's  no way we were sleeping on a sofa bed! I love it when Sally gets assertive... So back down stairs with the luggage and after a quick chat with the receptionist, we got a new room with two beds on the third floor. That's better.
Our first venture out to find a meal was disappointing, as we had to walk through back streets to find somewhere decent at 10pm, it was dark and very smelly with quite a few shady characters around. Back streets in the cities we've visited often have an overwhelming smell of urine, it's enough to make you stop breathing. I'm not sure if it's the stray cats that are in every alley or the homeless humans. Maybe both. One of the other things we've really noticed in Europe is that there don't seem to be any smoking restrictions, people smoke everywhere, in cafes, bars, shops and on the beach. We found a little pizza trattoria and had a quick meal then headed back to the hotel pronto.
The next day we saw more of Nice and decided that is was quite nice in parts, though its my least favourite city so far. The beaches are all stone, amazing to see people lying on stones sunbaking and relaxing. How spoilt we are in Australia!
My shade on this day bed is getting smaller....
No one seems to know how far a kilometre is here. Yesterday we asked for directions to the Segway hire place and were told to turn right and walk about 15 minutes. So we did that and still no sign of it. We stopped and asked again and were told to keep walking about 1 km, did that, no sign, asked again, told to walk 2km. Did that, still no sign, found an information place and realised we'd been heading in the wrong direction. Ten kilometers, lunch, a cup of tea and three hours later we found it at last! The Segway ride was the best fun! We got to see quite a bit of Nice on the Segways, in between dodging other tourists, cars and shops, which was a bit frightening at times - for them and us! We laughed a lot and shared our tour with two Norwegian boys, they were sweet, but keen to go fast and be rebels. One hour went way too fast, but at least we got out bearings and managed to walk back to the old town for twilight and see some amazing buskers and street entertainment. In our search for the old town we decided to get on a tram and see where it took us. We ended up in the outskirts of the city, it looked very poor and run-down, so we stayed on the tram and got back to town asap, what a relief!
It's been nice to slow down a bit in Nice. The last two weeks have been full on, we've done so much and seen so many amazing sights that it's starting to blur a bit, which is the reason I'm writing this blog, so I don't forget and also to share our adventures and be able to re-live the magic.
Tomorrow we meet up with seven other women and start our art tour in Liguria and Cinque Terre. That will be a whole new experience, to paint in Italy under the guidance of my art teacher Carolyn Sheather. I don't know if I'll create any masterpieces, but I really don't mind, it's going to be an amazing experience! But for now I have to get out of this burning sun... Au revoir!

Venice – city of canals

VeniceVenice  10 - 12 June 2013 At the moment I'm sitting in a plane. Sally and I  left Venice this morning and are now flying to Nice, France, feeling a little weary and thinking back over the last 13 days. We've done so much and been to so many places it all seems surreal. No wonder we're exhausted! Judging by the number of photos we've taken, I think Venice is the prettiest city we've seen so far. I now have loads of fodder for future painting projects. We arrived at the train station and cleverly made our way to the ticket station where we got a 36 hour boat pass, jumped on a boat to San Marco and then managed to find a porter to carry our very heavy luggage to the hotel. We impressed ourselves at how easy it was! Venice is amazing, there are no cars and everything is transported by boat or trolley, it was fascinating to watch pulley cables hoisting furniture and stock up to the tops of buildings. Transport is very labour intensive , from the gondolier drivers, to water taxis to porters with trolleys. The place is literally teeming with tourists and there are market stalls everywhere. It's the busiest place I've ever seen and full of high energy. Most of the market stalls sell souvenir hats, t- shirts and the usual stuff and it's all pretty much the same. The Grand Canal is lined with artists painting beautiful Venetian scenes. And then there are the shops... OMG, the city is full of shops, from cheap junk to Louis Vuitton and Gucci. And cafes and restaurants on every corner with half a dozen waiters in each one all beckoning you to come inside. When we asked what there was to do in Venice, the answer was simple. Get lost! And you can't help but get lost, it's a maze of streets, canals and bridges. And so pretty! So we spent two days wandering, shopping (again - as if we hadn't done enough of that in Florence), eating and admiring the buildings, the cute little door ways, window planters, cobble stoned alleyways, and the magnificence of the whole structure of Venice. We ventured to Murano Island to see the glass blowing and made good use of our boat pass. I have never walked so much as I have on this trip and we both badly need a pedi! Our hotel was very central to San Marco Square and Sally is a good navigator, she managed to get us back there every time. Breakfast was good too and consisted of yet more pastries, croissants and yoghurt. You'd think all this walking would keep us slim, but oh no! One thing we have noticed is that there are very few vegetables on the Italian menus, other than tomato and roasted egg plant, most of the choices involve pasta or dough. Not great when you're gluten free, although I've only felt a bit off a couple of times, so for the most part, I seem to be able to eat most choices. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad. We spoke to a couple of locals and they said that life in Venice is hard, you have to walk everywhere, carry everything yourself, such as groceries and supplies and the place is full of tourists. It's freezing in winter and from what we saw, there are very few green grassed areas. I think I'd miss our open spaces and not being able to walk out my front door without needing a boat to cross the road. How lucky we are to live in Australia. Venice is a beautiful place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there, she treated us well and the weather was perfect. So au revoir Venice.... Hello Nice!

Fabulous Florence

FlorenceFlorence (Firenze)
After standing in a queue for two hours to validate our train ticket, we finally boarded the express to Florence. We were delighted to find ourselves in a first class carriage (thanks Zoe!). The trip went fast and we dozed on and off.
Arriving in Florence, we were greeted at the train station with street sellers trying to sell us umbrellas as, for the first time this trip, it happened to be raining. They were so persistant! It got to be extremely annoying, although there was one funny moment when Sally was trying to ask if she could get a small brolly in the polka dot pattern of the large sample - it was quite hilarious (you had to be there).
Our hotel was not far from the station, thank goodness, we were a bit fed up with carrying all our luggage ( often referred to as furniture). I don't know how back- packers do it, it's back-aching work!
Our hotel was lovely, and luckily it had a lift. Our room was on the first floor, so struggled to get ourselves and our bags into the lift (they are really small here in Europe, barely big enough for two people), pressed the button and found ourselves on Level -1, the doors opened and we were greeted with a room full of toilet paper, spanners, cardboard, buckets, glue guns and an array of other miscellaneous paraphanelia. We looked at each and other burst into hysterics, it was so funny. After that Sally kept joking that she needed to go to the tool room to make a Pinocchio. We laughed a lot in Florence.
In two days we did a lot of walking. We'd been told that the leather and jewellery shopping here are the best, so we were on a mission to find some bargains. We ended up buying cheap umbrellas after all! As soon as we had umbrellas the street sellers left us alone.
Florence is a beautiful city, full of gorgeous old buildings, sculptures and old streets to wander in. And of course, many many shops and market stalls. I have to admit we didn't spend much time in churches and museums, we just enjoyed walking around and admiring the architecture. There were some great buskers and it was a bit cold, so we got to try out the many scarves we bought. We did a good amount of shopping, the handbags and scarves... oh the colours and patterns! There were checks, florals and plains in cashmere, cotton, silk and pashmina, just beautiful, all professed to be made in Italy, but who knows! It was fun to admire and barter. I'd like to visit Florence again one day.
We got the red tourist bus and managed to see a bit of the outskirts of the city, unfortunately it rained heavily then so we didn't get off to explore, but instead found our way to the Ponte Vecchio bridge where we admired some beautiful jewellery and bought ourselves a matching memento necklace each. We were definitely out of our league here, as most of the jewellery was very expensive white and yellow gold and it wasn't until you asked for it that anything in sterling silver was offered. We asked!
We met some lovely people in Florence, the market stall guy with a name that sounded like Buble, he was very charming and wanted to meet for dinner (we didn't), Fabio was lovely on reception in the hotel and told us of a wine bar that had free tapas and wifi where we had a photo on the owner's vespa, and an old Italian chef Mario, who sang to us from the kitchen as he cooked our lunch.
The hotel breakfasts have been lovely, but our croissants around our waists are getting bigger as breakfasts consist of pastries, ham, cheeses and more pastries. Too delicious, and hard to resist, so it'll be salad and soup when we get home next month! And the gelato.. Omg! The weirdest one was Riso, or rice flavoured, and my favourite blend is lemon and strawberry.
Note to self STOP eating pastries and gelato. Just stop it!
Florence was fun! And then off to Venice....