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.


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!


Say no to Comic Sans

From homemade party invitations to a corporate assets and Government signage, people have made the choice to go for Comic Sans for the following reasons:

1. It’s an informal and fun font
2. It’s easy to read and the audience will understand the message better
3. It’s included in my computer fonts package

Image taken from Huffington Post article.

In reality, because a font that looks like a five year old can read and understand, does not mean that it has the same effect on an adult. The font was originally designed for cartoon speech balloons and lemonade stands, not for tributes, shop signage, van decals or resignation letters. It’s about how you want your brand personality to be perceived. When used in any professional context it looks lazy, unprofessional, and lacks seriousness.

It is all about choosing the right tone of voice that matches the way you want your message to be perceived.

There are many free fonts available that still allow you to be informal, fun, easy to read, and appropriate to your audience. For your convenience a small selection is listed below!

Thank you for converting. Happy fonting.

Click on the image to go to Google Fonts.


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.


New year, new planner for 2018

This year I has surpassed* myself with my efficiency. The planner for 2018 has been designed and ready to hit the virtual shelves.

I have gone portrait this year, having designed landscape versions in the past. Miss Crayons is not impressed and voiced her opinion on the matter, but that’s mainly down to it being a change and not the design itself.


In the words of a wise cigar chewing white-haired American, “I love it when a plan comes together”.

If you would like to purchase a planner and be in the cool planning gang, you can currently buy it and get free upgraded P&P within the UK!

Cape Reinga

Coping with the differences in New Zealand as a Brit

Having just returned from a family trip to the land of Hobbits I thought I would write down my thoughts on what I found fabulous and not so fabulous about New Zealand with my Brit hat firmly on.

As a disclaimer, Mister Crayons is a Kiwi so in some ways we are already biased.

We had an amazing time. The children were old enough to enjoy and appreciate the experience and make some of their own memories from the people we met to the places we visited.

Some of our highlights in picture form.

Things that made me love NZ:

  1. Family and friends. Being able to spend time with the antipodean side of the family was wonderful for the mini Crayons. They got to hang out with their cool cousins and new connections have been formed and old friendships have been renewed. It was wonderful to catch up with good friends, the type of friends who you may not have seen for ten years, yet it did not matter one jot. We are grateful to them for their generosity and putting up with us as we travelled the length of the north island – literally.
  2. Reunited with the BFFs. Seeing how well our BFFs have settled into their new life and visiting their new posh house made us all very happy.
  3. The beaches. Beautiful blue/green sea and golden sands, not over-populated and not a windbreaker in sight and not taking ages to get to! Bliss. The children would have been happy to stay on the beach digging trenches and playing chicken with the surf all day long.
  4. Driving. We hired a great touring car, with all the bells and whistles, including beeping bumpers and cameras. I loved it (I miss the reverse parking sensor!). Mister really enjoyed driving around NZ at a slower pace than in the UK (100kms is the limit on open road, which is 60 miles in real money).
  5. Landscape. Breathtaking scenery and twisty winding roads pretty much everywhere you look. Every scene outside of our car window was like a captured photograph. Just wow.
  6. Laid-back lifestyle. Maybe we were in our ‘holiday bubble’ but things just seemed more casual and relaxed and everyone we met was super friendly. Apart from the dude who stole my parking space behind Briscolls on boxing day.

Things that sucked in NZ:

  1. The cost of food and groceries. Everything was generally 20-30% more expensive. I’m pretty sure raspberries were more expensive than gold per gram.
  2. The lack of variety and choice of food. There has been a huge change since I was last back in NZ nine years ago. You can definitely get everything you want, however compared to the UK you just don’t have the wide choice. Go and hug your local Lidl and Aldi and show some appreciation immediately!
  3. The extortionate costs of printed books. Wow, this was a really eye-opener. Hardbacks ranged from NZ$30-40 (£17-22). The same applied to children’s books as well. It made be sad as it was obvious that the high price would mean that only families who have the resources and funds could treat their children, something we totally take for granted. I have since been told that the libraries are amazing, so that is a saving grace.
  4. Insects/mozzie bites. We were all bitten to death by the critters. My ankles and legs took the brunt. I’m surprised we had any blood left to function by the end of our trip.
  5. Hayfever in December. Seriously, WTF. Okay, this is not New Zealand’s fault, but it still sucked as I felt I was suffering two summers’ worth of sneezing and itchy eyes – at Christmas time.
  6. Technically this isn’t ‘in’ NZ, but the flight time to get from UK to NZ is a tough one. We spent well over 30 hours travelling and not being able to get any decent amount of sleep during that whole time, was really tough on the body.
  7. Washi tapes cost $7.95 each *insert weeping emoticon here*.
  8. White goods and electricals very expensive! You’re been warned.
  9. Sucky mobile phone data packages. 700MB per month was the best I was offered. What a load of codswallop.

Tips for next time:

  • Bose noise cancelling headphones. A MUST on the flights. Money well spent for the sake of your sanity.
  • A sleep stopover halfway will make a huge difference. We managed to squeeze in a cheeky city visit to HK on the way back, but the children were so exhausted that they couldn’t really appreciate how magical HK is at night.
  • Don’t book a flight leaving Auckland at 9am. Rookie mistake.
  • Bring a stash of builder’s tea, percy pigs, Heinz tomato ketchup, and A5 perfect bound notebooks!

I think you can tell that we had a wonderful time in NZ and it was really difficult to leave for many reasons. It’s a magical country and we have made some wonderful warm memories that will sustain us while we have to endure the cold British winter.

New Zealand

2017 Wall Planner A2 Personalised

New year, new planner

For the past four years I have been producing and designing my own personalised wall planners. This was partly due to the fact that I couldn’t find anything that was pretty enough for my wall (yes, I am a design snob) and that I enjoyed the challenge of producing something like that, but I think that it was mainly because Mrs PinkMilk asked me to make one. I tend to do as I am told where she is concerned. It’s just easier that way.

Regardless of how it all came about, it’s been really fun working on these designs and through the years people have been buying them and enjoying them, which gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

Over the years there have been quite a few test samples where I have tried to find the right printer to outsource my large format printing to. You would be surprised at the variations you get based on the papers and inks used. Some samples were poorly cropped or had a rubbish saturation of colours and others where the paper weight wasn’t to my liking — yes, it turns out I am THAT picky. However, after much experimentation, I have finally found a printer that I am happy with and I’ve managed to keep the costs down. So everybody’s a winner!

I love being able to plan ahead and being able to see all the (many) school dates, playdates and holidays at a quick glance makes my life so much easier. But, then I am a total control freak, so I would say that.

I get the feeling that 2017 is going to be an important and busy year for Crayons HQ and I look forward to making lots of exciting plans and pretending to be in control by writing down things with pretty coloured pens (because it makes me happy).

So, allow me to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and healthy new year and may it bring you everything you have planned for.

If you would like to purchase a planner and be in the cool planning gang, you can currently buy it and get free P&P!

Peterboorugh STEM Festival 2016

How to organise a STEM festival and still remain sane

As a self proclaimed veteran (having organised one STEM festival for Peterborough), I thought it might be helpful to impart some useful tips to anyone looking to embark upon the same insane journey.

Before I start, I’d like to point out that this is not in any kind of logical order. It’s almost as if I am sat perched on the sofa with thoughts spilling out of my (cake deprived) mind. Maybe.

Here goes:

1. Choose co-organisers on your team who are generous, like-minded and level-headed. You’ll probably need to call on their ability and dedication to put up bunting and event decoration with you at 10pm the night before the big day.
2. Make sure one of your co-organisers is good with words. He’ll need these skills so that he can reply to the emails that make you want to curse like a fish-wife.
3. Surround yourself with awesome people who know what they are doing so that you inadvertently bask in the glow of their achievements and talent.
4. Recruit a team of dedicated and wonderful volunteers, supply them with a complicated spreadsheet so that it looks like you have put some thought into their roles and then step back and let them do their jobs on the day.
5. Use your influence on your school mum friends to get them to help you spread the word to their networks and then nag them into booking tickets on the pretense that they are ‘testing’ the booking system for you. Repeat this several times.
6. Use all your skills at begging for freebies and calling on people’s generous nature, because you will have zero budget to work with.
7. Wait for your friends to offer to help with a small task and then somehow escalate their role until they end up managing the front registration desk on the day.
8. Don’t organise another major digital event four days after the festival day because you’ll end up feeling knackered.
9. Be sure you are married to a supportive partner who is unfazed by your crazy schemes (this one should probably be the first thing on this list).
10. If anyone asks you when you will be organising the next STEM festival, don’t start sobbing and rocking on our heels, it makes people feel uncomfortable.

So, those are my top tips. Unfortunately, they don’t guarantee any success for organising a STEM festival, but I can guarantee that it will be a once in a lifetime experience, and you will make some amazing friends along the way.

Peterborough STEM Festival 2016


One friend to rule them all…

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m rubbish at blogging frequently. I am more of a ‘micro-blogger’ (aka twitter) kind of girl.

But the last couple of weeks I have been on an emotional rollercoaster. A real case of Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to feeling happy and excited one moment and weepy and sad the next. What has caused this? My bestie of 10-11 (ish) years has taken the family and is moving back to the motherland that is New Zealand. I know that this is an amazing opportunity and wonderful new adventure, but still – how rude.

It seems like the other day that they told me they had decided to leave and then all of a sudden the house was sold and the packing company arrived to put everything into a big wooden crate to be shipped to the other side of the world. Literally.

csamfojwaaaeqywWe’ve been able to spend the final two weekends together, to say our goodbyes, having lots of tearful hugs, exchanging lovely gifts (see my awesome print above) and buying of new matchy-matchy bling. I had a great idea that it would be cool to get the kids to help me make a music video for them during their final goodbye BBQ with their closest friends and colleagues. I didn’t really think it through, as I ended up doing most of the work myself (the children found it more interesting to play minecraft – the swines).

It was rather bittersweet to go through all the home video clips and photos (there was a lot, having two budding photographers on the scene) of our families together, at parties, on joint family holidays and just generally messing around (like all families do). Our children have grown up together from those chubby baby photos to the toothless grins to the early school days and many many joint birthday parties. How time flies when you spend it with the people you love.

It was very emotional to look back and see all the lovely memories we have made together as two families and I did experience a few moments of ‘oh no, this will be the last time we…’ feelings, but I also know that new memories will be made and shared and while it won’t be as frequently as we would like, time and distance will not change how precious they will be.

20160916_184846I was remarking to the Mister that we were rather lucky to find people who ‘get us’. What were the chances that we would all become besties, adults AND children alike. We seriously lucked out on that front. Aye?

I’m not one for song lyrics, but having recently fallen in love with the musical WICKED (yeah – I’m always late to the party), this really sums up how I feel about Mrs PinkMilk.

[warning: gushing cheese alert!]

So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…

So, while A is sipping cheap airport hotel wine and N is attempting to gross me out with his man-boobs photo and the girls are treating me to fish-lips selfies, on the night before they leave Blighty, I want to say… thank you for the memories, beautiful Crowthers. It’s been EPIC.