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Year in Review 2023

January 2023

The beginning of the year started off strong with STEM Wana Trust delivering on a STEM roadshow for the North Island with NASA Astronaut Dr. Kate Rubins. Personally, the highlight for me was that I got to work with Janet Van Jenkins (based in South of France) and despite the time difference and challenges with remote working we delivered on an amazing event. Helped largely by having a team on the ground in NZ and having such a high-profile speaker.

January is summer in New Zealand and it’s also the start of cherry season, which always makes me very happy.

February 2023

The STEMFest 2022 team got together for a photoshoot to support our nomination for Event Excellence as part of Western Bay Community Awards. It was great to catch up with PM Murray Clode and Soraya Hebert and have everyone involved in STEMFest in the photo. As you can see we channelled our very best “Power Rangers” pose.

This month was also Chinese Lunar New Year which meant that we celebrated the new year with friends and enjoyed delicious food!

March 2023

At the start of the month, I finally got my ink with Julie at Bohemian Studios. It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be and pretty much everyone noticed straight away and was complimentary. 

In STEM news: winner winner, chicken dinner! We attended the Western Bay Community Awards and won the Event Excellence award for STEMFest 2022. I was tasked with getting on stage with Soraya to accept the award on behalf of the team and the main concern was to ensure that I was coherent on stage and that I didn’t trip up whilst wearing a ridiculous pair of whale shoes.

April 2023

This month Miss Crayons and I went on our big trip back to the UK. The flights were long and punishing with us almost missing our outbound changeover in Hong Kong due to me being tired and not allowing for faffing to get from one terminal to another. We were the last people to board the connecting flight to LHR and had our names called over the speakers. Oh the shame.

It was great to revisit the homeland and Miss C and enjoyed hitting M&S at Heathrow as soon as we got off. We mostly shopped, visited Ba and stayed at Aunty’s in South London. There was also an overnight trip to Peterborough to catch up with Andy and Joff and a night in Cambridge in Christ’s College which gave Miss C a small glimpse of university life. We also organised to meet JVJ and Potato in Cambridge and enjoyed some expensive underwear shopping at Rigby & Peller at Grand Arcade.

We drove back to London with JVJ and there was more shopping, eating (at Borough Market) and ink at Angel. We also caught up with good friends Suz and Tas. Dim sum with the family and topped off with tickets to Phantom of the Opera at Haymarket in the West End.

The trip back to AKL was tough on the body but I made sure we booked into the airport lounge so that we could replenish and recharge our bodies for the long 13+ hour flights.

May 2023

This month was a celebration of 20 years of being Mister and Missus Lush with a fancy family meat dinner at Fife Lane! I also got to go to Christchurch to meet with a group of awesome women for an exciting charitable space based women in space exploration initiative. I enjoyed my visit to CHC and it reminded me of how much I enjoyed the city and how much it reminded me of the UK. Another trip to AKL to attend and speak at World of Drones and Robots at the invitation of Dr. Catherine Ball. Some great conversations and connections were made and even though I was petrified of speaking, I did it and it was relatively pain-free. Who would have thought? Also nice to hang out with Michelle from Kiwibots at the event too.

June 2023

This month was about birthdays, lots of food, cakes, and an abundance of self-gifting.

July 2023

The boy celebrated a birthday this month and there was so talk about Crumble. More to be revealed soon.

August 2023

Overnight trip to AKL with the bestie to attend Electrify Aotearoa at Sky City. What a great event, very inspirational and we both gained some insights and gems as takeaways. I am seriously considering how we can create some similar energy for the NFP sector. We met up with PHP and Maria for dinner the night before at Seoul Nights, which was a lot of fun. The Sky City casino was fascinating to witness and see the type of people who were visiting during the day. Mainly elderly asian couples who probably couldn’t afford to lose money. It didn’t look like a joyful or happy experience which made me sad.

September 2023

This month is all about STEMFest, by the end of August we had issued over 7,500 tickets with expectation that we will ‘sell out’ two weeks before the big day. It’s all about making sure all the preparations and comms are handled and getting the merch ready.

October 2023

STEMFest 2023. Our successes were that we had a large organising team, each with their own tasks. JVJ came from Auckland and helped run the stage show which was amazing to have her help, I could genuinely forget about it knowing that it was in hand. The wind was a major consideration and we had to take down the gazebos on the street as it became unsafe. At one point the stage gazebo went flying over the fence and Elliot and Jim had to shimmy into the gardens to dismantle it. The stage was a hit along with Spot the Robotic from Boston Dymanic/Drone Deploy and other demos from Rebecca and Morgane. The final count was 6.000 (we were anticipating 7,500) all in all it was another successful event, with happy visitors, exhibitors and sponsors. Well done to the team.

Post STEMFest we also hosted an official Ada Lovelace Day live-stream of the London show and we got a lovely shout-out by Helen Arney. Ace. I’m keen to do something more substainial for next year.

November 2023

Post STEMFest reporting and finishing off all the necessary things for STEMFest. This month Soraya returned as PM for SWT and working on planning for the Summer Tour as well as getting a handle on funding applications. It’s great to have her back and taking charge of operational activities across all our initiatives.

December 2023

This month the team have been working on finalising the elements for the Summer Tour which will start almost immediately as New Zealand comes back from the Summer break on the 8th January. There have been some team catch ups and parties to attend.

Miss C also passed her learner’s licence and is planning to start driving lessons. Mister got “inked” after many months of talking about it and yeah, it really hurt.

It’s been a really busy, packed, and exciting year, I’ve enjoyed being able to connect with new people at various events outside of Tauranga and stepping out of my comfort zone. New ideas are brewing and need to be fleshed out, but I’m excited for 2024 as there’s a chance to go national with some events and building the Crayons brand a bit more to see where that takes me.

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How to make Vietnamese Bun Cha (Pork Patties)

Some background…

Bun Cha is one of Hanoi’s famous dishes. It’s the Northern equivalent of South Vietnam’s Bun Thit Nuong. The two dishes are very similar in that it is rice noodles with grilled pork, served with a sweet chili dipping sauce and salad with fresh herbs.

In Bun Thit Nuong, the meat, noodles, and salad are all mixed in a bowl together drizzled with the iconic Vietnamese dipping sauce.

In Bun Cha, the meat is separated from the noodles and salad and served in a variation of the dipping sauce which is slightly thicker in consistency.

Anyhoos, this is an authentic hybrid recipe, in so much that it was taught to me by my mum who is proper Vietnamese.

Ingredients (serves 6-ish or 4 Lushes)

Patties

  • 500g ground/minced pork
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 large sprigs of spring onions – finely chopped
  • 1 slice of bread – the bit at the end (chopped into small breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small chili – finely chopped (optional)
  • Handful of fresh mint and coriander – finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 Shallot – finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup minced lemongrass (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground salt and chili flakes (optional)

Salad

  • Assorted fresh salad (iceberg lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, coriander, sliced cucumber)
  • 2 bags rice vermicelli (Jiang Xi rice stick or Bun Giang Tay – normally in a red packaging)

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce
  • 1 carrot thinly sliced into penny coin size – extra points if you can score them to make them into flower petals

The sauce should be sweet, tangy, and salty (and garlicy). Adjust the amount of sugar, fish sauce, or lemon accordingly.

Instructions

  1. To make the pork patties (cha), combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. You can leave it to marinate for 30 minutes (if you can wait).
  2. Roll the ground pork into small patties. Think ping-pong ball, but squished.
  3. Grill the sliced pork and patties over charcoal fire for a more authentic taste. Cheat-version: You can also pan-fry them on a medium-high heat using a griddle pan with a dash of olive oil for around 10 minutes. Make sure to turn and rotate frequently for even cooking. They need to be caramelised and crispy on both sides.
  4. To make the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, combine water and sugar and mixed until dissolved. Add fish sauce, lemon juice, garlic, chili sauce and sliced carrots.
  5. Cook the noodles per package instructions. Normally, it’s fill a large pan with water and bring to the boil. Add the noodles (two square portions will serve 6 people) to the boiling water. Cover and turn off the heat. Leave to steam for 10 minutes. Drain the hot water and run under cold water.
  6. To serve, add layer of noodles followed by the salad and then place the patties on top. Drizzle a generous amount of the sauce over everything.
  7. Enjoy! Don’t forget to take photos and share it with me on social media @whoatemycrayons, because “photo, or it never happened”.
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The first STEMFest in New Zealand

This month marks my family’s two year anniversary in New Zealand. I have to admit that the time has flown by at a ridiculous rate. If you had told me that within the space of two years I would have helped deliver a world class STEM Festival to my newly adopted country AND set up a new registered charity, I would have scoffed at you and then asked what it was you were smoking? Well, it seems the laugh is on me.

In reflecting on the remarkable things that have happened to me personally and professionally, I have come to the conclusion that it’s been a combination of pure luck, good timing, and being fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with an exceptional group of individuals, all of whom where total strangers to me two years ago and who now I couldn’t imagine being without.

These amazing group of people not only shared my vision, but they embraced it and helped to reshaped it into their own so that it became a collaboration in every sense of the word. I am so much richer for having these awesome humans in my life: Amanda, Marie, Mike, Debs, Kurt and Steven (AWOL from the photo).

The remarkable success of STEMFest has been down to the fact that our vision of an inclusive, joyous, and inspirational event would absolutely capture the imagination of the public and community. We truly believed that “if we build it, they will come”. And they did come — all 3,500 of them. We asked them to bring their curiosity and an open mind and they came away being truly inspired and wanting more!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us, encouraged us, hustled for us, and made us push that little bit harder, because, hey — just look at what we did together!

I’m really excited for the future, for what is in store for “Tia the designer”, “Tia the STEM organiser and advocate”, and “Tia the hoarder of stationery” — so watch this space!

Ka Pai Hoki Koe!

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One year on…our transition from Brit to Kiwi

The other day Miss Crayons asked me what the date was. She pointed it out that our one year anniversary in New Zealand was coming up. So, today on the 18th of November 2018, one year on from when we landed on these fair shores, I thought I would attempt a one year summary.

So, I have to admit that the year went way too quickly, so quickly that I almost missed it. I still recall waving our container off as it drove down Postland Road with all our worldly belongings. I also remember being in transit in Hong Kong and then arriving in Auckland and being greeted by the Crowthers and half of the Birchalls.

I also recall that the ‘just two weeks’ bunking down at the Crowthers turned into almost four months. I think it’s taken them all this time to get over the trauma of such a concentrated amount of Lush in one short period. We have managed to maintain our friendship, well that’s what I read in the court restraint documentation.

In our year, we have managed to buy a house, two cars, lots of fish (since died) and four Guinea piggies (not dead). I’ve finally stop whinging about the price of cucumbers, but still referring to currency as pounds.

The children have settled into school, but not without some blips along the way, with Miss Crayons starting college (high school) in the new year and growing up way too quickly. The boy turns out is a talented long distance runner and won a prize and a place on the podium at a coastal fun run the other weekend. So I can see weekends of taking him to running events and people asking me why I don’t run – insert much snort laughing here. The Mister still works for the US company so his hours are erratic, but his commute is only down a flight of stairs so he shouldn’t grumble, but obviously he still does.

I have managed to integrate myself into the tech scene here, there’s no DPiP, but I have found a tribe who felt sorry enough for me to let me join them. So now I am part of a ‘scene’. I have my own office (complete with bunting and party lights) and I get to share it with the BFF, so work life it not too shoddy at all. Still working with some of my fav UK clients but looking to branch out into the local scene in the new year. No knee-touching networking events though, I’m still allergic to those sort of things.

I have decided to bring STEMFest to NZ and managed to convince (bully) some people into helping me organise it. Which means breaking out of the comfort zone, talking to lots of different people and committing to more sleepless nights and voluntary stress levels. You’d think I would have learnt my lesson, but clearly I am not that bright.

The other day I climbed the Mount, so I leave with with this parting photo of my ugly mug on top of a mountain! #LifeIsNotTooShoddy

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Let’s organise a STEM Festival!

When I first came up with the idea for a STEM festival in 2016, I hoped, but never imagined that we would inspire so many people to action to make an event of this scale a reality. With the support of the wonderful Joff, Andy, and new recruit Liz, we have managed to pull off the second festival and made it even bigger and better than before!

We knew that if we could organise a quality, independent, and inclusive event the people of Peterborough would want to attend.

This was proven this year when we released the first 200 early-bird tickets by email and they were sold out within hours! We doubled the number of tickets available for 2017 and we were thrilled when they were all taken up, all 1100 tickets. At the initial count, we welcomed around 750 people through the doors in 2017, even on a wet cloudy day this was a great achievement.

You won’t be surprised to hear that the ‘Make some Slime’ table was the most popular. We had over 300 slime makers during the day. Phew.

750 people through the door
300 blobs of slime made
70 Aldi bananas consumed
50 Workshops and activities
30 Volunteers
26 Exhibitors
4 Exhausted Organisers!


I was also delighted to have Suw Charman-Anderson, founder of Ada Lovelace Day and inspiration for STEMFest attend for the day and meet some of our visitors. It was due to attending an ALD Live! event in London in 2015 that I came back to Peterborough totally buzzing with the (crazy) idea of organising our own little indie event. I talked to Andy and Joff, totally expecting (and perhaps hoping) that they would pooh-pooh the idea, but they got behind it and the rest, as they say, is history!

It was so lovely to be able to (proudly) show her all the amazing exhibits, play a duck challenge game and meet some of the friends and supporters who have helped us make the event a reality.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to our DPiP friends and supporters who continue to offer their time and expertise for free. Without their support we couldn’t have made this festival happen.

Did you know…

It is worth mentioning that DPiP and STEMFest is run entirely by volunteers. We work on these projects and events for free and in between our day jobs (you know, the ones that are required to pay the mortgage and feed the family). It’s a credit to the team that we have achieved so much in such a short space of time, and that there’s no intention of slowing down!

As I write this post, it is tinged with pride and sadness as I know this will most likely be the last time I am involved with STEMFest. I will be moving onto pastures new — pastures located 11,387 miles away to be exact. I am confident that I leave the STEMFest ship in the very capable hands of Joff, Andy, and Liz. Big plans for STEMFest 2018 are already underway, so brace yourselves Peterborough 🙂

I organised a STEM Festival and all I got for it was this T-shirt.[/caption]

Goodbye and thank you for the memories, stay curious and awesome my friends!

Signing off for the last time as a STEMFest co-organiser,

Tia Lush
Founder of Peterborough STEM Festival
Co-organiser of Digital People in Peterborough (DPiP) and hoarder of too many brush pens.

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Charity shop treasure

I found this gorgeous dinky little watch at a charity shop in Southampton at the weekend.

I love how small and delicate it is, so much so that I ignored the fact that it probably didn’t work and would need servicing or repair.

So now my smugness is dampened by the fact that I will probably have to spend more to fix it than it actually cost to buy.

Insert #Fail here.

UPDATE – 6 SEPT 2016

Turns out a wind-up watch requires — winding. Genius!

Bat shit crazy about you valentine's day card

Geeky and nerdy Valentine’s cards with a difference

This year I have designed some cards featuring my best selling floral (doodle) design as well as some quirky (and I hope) funny valentine’s cards.

You don’t have to be sloppy and all loved up to show your affection for someone. Sometimes, it’s fun and good to be brutal.

Most designs can be personalised with a name or phrase to make that little bit unique.

ORDER ONLINE

Bat shit crazy about you valentine's day card

Cute and a little bit nerdy valentine's day card

dorkface valentine's card

love u html valentine's card

you're a weirdo valentine's card

ORDER ONLINE

Awesome Notebook Journals BOGOFF

New year BOGOFF offer

To celebrate the new rebrand at Crayons HQ, I am offering a Buy One, Get One Free offer on the best selling ‘Be Awesome’ notebook journals.

These little A6 recycled notebooks come personalised and make a perfect gift the people in your life who love stationery, planning and making lists. They are also perfect for self-gifting.

So why not treat yourself and a friend?

Awesome Notebook Journals BOGOFF

Who Ate My Crayons Logos

New year, new re-brand

I am forever ranting on about how important it is to keep innovating and changing in terms of your branding and logo (see this page if you need a reminder about the process). So, in an attempt to practice what I preach, Crayons HQ has had a bit of a new year spring clean and re-vamp.

The new company name will be called ‘Who Ate My Cakes’
— just kidding, maybe.

Your logo is the first impression that you make on the public. It is the face of your business. Just as your own face can express your personality and provide insight into your unique characteristics, so can a well designed logo.


I’ve had my previous logo when I set up the company back in 2007 (I know, I don’t look young enough — right?) *ahem*. It had a slight tweak back in 2010 when I added a tiny little detail to the ‘O’. Since then it has been a case of not having the time to sit down and think about what I wanted and also a case of ‘well, if it isn’t broken, why fix it?’.

Towards the end of last year I have been working on quite a few branding projects for clients and that spurred me on to thinking about making changes to my own logo. As a typeface snob, you can imagine how difficult it has been for me to choose the ‘right’ font. I have always yearned for a retro vibe so I knew I wanted something curly and fun, but I also love the strong letterpress style and so in the end I opted for both!

You will see that new logo is a complete change to the formal structured logo of the past and while it is scary to make such a leap, it is also very exciting and liberating. The new logo represents not just a change in colours, but it also represents what I hope is my style and design ethos. Serious, with a splash of fun.

Now all I have to do is design matching stationery!

Who Ate My Crayons Logos