Friday, January 31, 2014

Freebie! Track Your Stats

Last week, Sarah released a new e-book called "How to Double Your Blog Traffic in 90 Days (or less!)". I know its been selling really well - Sarah always offers great advice, and with a title like that, how can it not?! One of the first things mentioned in the book is tracking your statistics, so I did what any self-respecting organisational freak would do and created a spreadsheet. Math is not my strong point, and neither are spreadsheets, so I'm quite proud that this one does what I want!

I'm using it to track the (hopeful) improvements I'm taking on board while I work through Sarah's book. If you're working through the same e-book, feel free to download a copy of the sheet and use it for yourself. If you haven't bought Sarah's book, you can get it here! If you're just interested in tracking some specific stats for your blog and social media, without doubling your traffic, you are most welcome to use the spreadsheet. You can find it here.

Technical information:

  • To use the spreadsheet, click on the link, it will open in Google Drive. Navigate to "File > Make a Copy" and rename the copy to whatever you want. The original file is set to "view only" so you cannot edit it until you save a copy.
  • Don't change any of the numbers to zero. They are at a minimum "1" by default, because, Math.
  • At the end of each month, the sheet will calculate a % change (+ or -) for each stat you are tracking (these are 1st-last of month review figures). I had the calculation happening daily, but the spreadsheet ran about as fast as I do up Breakfast Hill* (it's not very fast - and possibly backwards), so the calculations (and colours, borders and fonts) are kept to a minimum to speed up the spreadsheet performance.
  • The final row at the end of the 3 months will calculate the difference between your starting date numbers and the final stats after 3 months. So you can see an overall change in addition to monthly progress.
  • Don't type anything in the % columns, just type the stats in the relevant date under the heading you are recording.
  • You can delete any of the vertical rows (or ignore them) or change the stat you are recording (you might not want to track Facebook, but email subscribers instead, just change the headings)

*so named because when you run up Breakfast Hill, you lose your breakfast - charming

I'd love to know if you get some use from this, and I'm happy to hear suggestions/feedback on how it works for you. I suppose I should mention that this post is not sponsored, I bought the e-book to support a blogger who I truly respect and admire, and I wanted to share this useful tool I was inspired to create with you guys too :)


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Girl Talk: Skincare

Wow, another day, another new topic up for discussion. I wanted to do a monthly chat on 'girl talk'. The first one up for discussion is the bane of my existence, skincare. Since I was a teenager, I've had problem skin. You can put spots down to hormones, but when they don't go away, and you're no longer a teen, you start to wonder if there's not an underlying problem. (and considering whether some kind of face-covering haircut is actually an option)

When my skin problems started, I visited many doctors, trying to find a solution. I usually got the normal "put this expensive medicated cream on your face, it's part of being young" treatment. After that it was, "try these birth control pills, they'll fix your skin". I saw some improvements here and there, but never any real, lasting solutions. My symptoms included painful acne, sore, red swollen skin and other great side effects like blushing profusely if someone glanced sideways at me (a combination of shyness and overactive capillaries). After years of agony, I happened upon yet another doctor after a particularly painful attack. He took one look at me and said "You have Acne Rosacea. There is no cure." With those words, and some internet pictures later, I was devastated. Right away I went on mild antibiotics to get it under control. I saw a skin specialist and was told that I could control my outbreaks with medication and by avoiding heat - hot food, hot showers, alcohol, spices, exercise, the sun. The advice was to only exercise by swimming and eat only warm, mildly flavoured food, avoid alcohol, especially red wine.

These days, I'm pretty good at knowing what I can and cannot get away with. (I cannot get away with red wine, ever). Here's a list of skincare tips that I've learned over the years - they are specific to my routine, but I'm sure might help some of you out there:
  • Even if your skin is oily, always, always moisturise. Seriously. I don't care how oily it is.
  • Use a non-foaming cleanser (or lightly foaming if you must) Foaming cleansers strip your skin of it's natural defences and agitate it more, especially when you already have a breakout.
  • Don't exfoliate all the time - for the same reason you shouldn't use the foaming cleanser. My skin specialist actually told me to NEVER exfoliate but I cheat once a week or so. Her advice was to use an AHA, but I find a very gentle scrub works for me (I'm stubborn, I know).
  • If you get a breakout, don't bother it! It's tempting to get the gross stuff out of your face (I'm trying to make this as un-gross as possible!), but don't do it. A dab of tea-tree oil on the spot is the best treatment. It kills all the nasties and in a day or two, the spot will be greatly diminished.
  • Wear sunscreen. It's the best way to keep your skin looking healthy as you age, plus it offers protection against skin cancer.
I've tried many products over the years, here are some that I swear by:


1 ◆ Aesop Fabulous Face Cleanser - I'm using this one right now, it's a light foaming formula, but doesn't irritate my sensitive skin.
2 ◆ NCD Concentrated Cleanser - this is a gentle cream cleanser that works well on eye makeup too
3 ◆ This Works Clean Skin Gentle Cleanser - As the name says...


4 ◆ Philosophy Hope In A Jar - It has a slightly strange texture, but it is non-greasy and works great
5 ◆ Perricone MD Cold Plasma - If only I had smellavision right now. This is the best moisturiser I've ever used. The first time I put it on, I wanted to tear my face off, it smells SO bad. That said, if I was a rich girl, I'd use it all the time. You get used to the smell and it's amazing for your skin (it's super fishy)
6 ◆ St.Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastic Facial Moisturiser - super affordable, I've just started using it and it is going well so far. I've had a few breakouts, but I think they are food related (thanks Christmas)


7 ◆ Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel - The packet says 'daily' but I use these once a week (or less because I'm forgetful). They leave your skin feeling fresh and smooth (they're a little burn-y at first, which always concerns me, but I haven't had any reactions to them at all)
8 ◆ Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant - Again, not a daily use item. But it's the gentlest of all of these exfoliants. It's a very fine powder that you can mix into your cleanser when you wash your face.
9 ◆ Aesop Purifying Facial Exfoliant Paste - I like this stuff, but I think my dermatologist would weep. It's fairly gritty, so again, use it sparingly. I like the texture and smell, too.


10 ◆ Tea Tree Oil - Get the 100% pure variety, forget all the strange lotions and creams. This stuff will dry your skin out, so target spots directly with a q-tip. Also, broken skin + tea tree oil = ouch! It's potent and can be painful, so water it down a little before applying and try to avoid any broken skin.

I'd love to know about your skincare challenges and solutions. After years of never knowing if I would wake up with a swollen, bumpy bright red face, I feel much more in control of my skin. If you think you might have Acne Rosacea, see your skin specialist for a proper consultation and treatment, it made the world of difference to me.

If you have any specific topics that you would like to "Girl Talk" about, feel free to leave suggestions in the comments, or email me.


*Any comments left via mobile devices will need to be manually added by me, as Intense Debate is no longer compatible with the mobile templates on blogger. I am in the process of switching my commenting system to a new provider so please be patient. Your comments will still be published. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creative Workspace Inspiration

inspiring office space from Design Love Fest

Welcome to my new series "Work Your Way". It's all about inspiring each other and sharing knowledge to help us all work better and smarter. Since I started working from home, I've been thinking of ways to optimize my workspace. It's been a little haphazard as I've been based all over the place, from various offices to my own desk. I'm now on a 2 month contract working from home, so it's about time I organised my workspace properly! I've been peeping at some beautiful creative spaces online and dreaming about what I can concoct at home.

The most important things about you home workspace are:

  • Comfort - making sure you have a proper chair that won't send you to the chiropractor every few weeks! I'm even considering setting up a standing desk. It's the way of the future
  • Light - I'm a night owl so I am not great at this one. But making sure you have adequate light for the task at hand. While natural light is ideal, adequate soft lighting is also good.
  • Space - Ideally I need a spot for my laptop, extra monitor (a must for animation! The laptop screen is way too small), Wacom tablet and a notepad. It's important to have all of your everyday tools at hand, easily accesible but not cluttering up your space.
  • Storage - I'm sure like most of you, I do way too many things. Even for a single job I might need to draw and scan storyboards, characters or lettering. I might need to set up a little photo studio, cut out paper, fabric, and many more things! To keep my workspace pared down to the everyday essentials, I need a good storage system for extra stationary, fabric and other supplies. Easily accessible, but tidy and out of the way when not in use.
  • Inspiration - staring at a white wall will probably squash any creative ideas you might have had. Create an inspiration board, where you can pin anything you collect for inspiration, photos, magazine clippings and business cards. Sometimes the greatest ideas sprout from an unexpected glimpse at your collection of tidbits.
Here's some more beautiful working environments for you to enjoy. I'd love to know your tips on having a successful space to work from, six months in and I'm starting to know what I want (and need!)

1 // Remodelista ◆ 2 // source unknown
(please let me know if you have the source)

1 // Style Files ◆ 2 // source unknown
(please let me know if you have the source) 


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Happy Australia Day - Good Stuff From Australia

You all know about lamingtons, right? I keep seeing articles on Australia Day: Lamingtons. Fair enough, we haven't produced a whole lot of amazing baked delights since Pavlova was torn from our clutches by New Zealand. Isn't it enough that you have Peter Jackson? No? Fine. Just as long as you keep Russell Crowe. He's all yours.

I decided in honour of Australia Day I'd share some of my favourite Australian films and music. In true Australian fashion, since Australia Day fell on a Sunday, we made Monday the public holiday so we wouldn't miss out on a long weekend. So today is just a continuation. (click film images for more info)

You thought the spiders and snakes were dangerous. How about the rocks?
A group of schoolgirls set out on St. Valentines day, 1900, on a school trip to study the rock formation known as Hanging Rock. From the haunting notes of the opening music, and a quote from Edgar Allen Poe, you know that this movie will carry you away to a strange place. If you want to know how the novel originally ended, read it here. It's amazingly different from how the movie ends.

This is what happens if you try to leave.
The story of an English school teacher who finds himself in the outback mining town of Bandanyabba. Despite his best efforts to return to Sydney, he finds himself trapped amidst the desolation and desperation of the outback, in an alcohol fuelled spiral of self-destruction. Originally thought lost, it has been lovingly restored for your viewing pleasure.

It's a Western, Australian style. Not for the faint-hearted.
Written by Nick Cave (see below) and directed by John Hillcoat (director of Ghosts... of the Civil Dead and The Road), this is an Australian take on the Western genre. Set in 1880's outback Australia, we see the typical Western themes of revenge and justice played out with a shocking brutality, but beautifully written, acted and directed.

The Birthday Party image via: Metrolyrics/LastFM
Back when Nick had tonnes of hair and more yelling inside his lungs.
The Birthday Party are still one of my all-time favourite bands. Raw, unflinching and angry at nothing. While Nick Cave gets all the credit, his co-writers in this era Mick Harvey and Roland Howard deserve equal praise and are sadly often overshadowed by Nick's flamboyance. Regardless, they epitomise the post-punk era.

SPK Performance image via: Douban
Australia's very own industrial band. Noisy. Good.
SPK were born in Sydney in the late 1970's. Our very own post-punk/experimental/electronic pioneers.   Early SPK is discordant and dark, like all of the best Australian art.

Gareth Liddiard (The Drones frontman) image via: C (my fiancé)
Music not from the early 80's. Best Australian accent in modern rock music, great lyrics, energetic live performance.
I've written of my love for The Drones before. The first time I saw them, at the Annandale Hotel, I summed them up as a bunch of rock posers. I hated them. But then I listened to their albums and their lyrics, and I admit I was totally wrong. Maybe I was in a bad mood. Gareth is one of the best songwriters out there today. If you like tantrum-throwing-anger-and-despair, these guys might just be the right band to sing karaoke to. The guitar will make you dance angry dances.

Primitive Calculators image via: Backyard Opera
They didn't make it in the 80's because they were working class, not because they weren't awesome.
It's back to the late 70's/early 80's again. Primitive Calculators were mates with Nick Cave in the Melbourne punk scene, but unfortunately came from a different background to the major players and never quite fit in. I was so excited to be at their revival gig in 2009, they were still as angry as ever. I spotted some vinyl of theirs in San Francisco, so I knew they had a fan base, but I'm so glad they are finally receiving some recognition. More noisy, angry Australian rock, probably most famous for the track "Pumping Ugly Muscle" which was featured in the film "Dogs In Space", starring Michael Hutchence.

So while people around Australia gorge on sausages and beer (seriously, that is all I can smell), join me on thinking back on some of Australia's prouder moments.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Found #84

Such a sweet little explorer - a lovely photo of a kitty in Japan by [Mori]. Her photographs really capture the feeling of Japan.
Found via Frankie: Flickr

I've featured the Daily Dishonesty before, but I had to share this one when I came across it while working today (I swear I was working!) Lauren Hom reads my mind sometimes. 2014 has been full of this particular dishonesty and I really must get some better sleep happening soon!

Wow. This is my idea of a perfect oasis inside a city - tonnes of trees! This street is Brazil looks so enchanting, especially with the contrast of skyscrapers all around.

These beauties are 50% off right now. But there's a catch. You need to be a size 43! Any lovely ladies with grand feet out there? If not, there's plenty of other lovely shoes in this Etsy store.

I stumbled across this shirt on Anthropolgie this week, I'm always a sucker for a good striped shirt. This one is a little dressier that the usual jersey tops, I like it!

image via: Decor8
If you're like me and don't know where to begin with getting some plants in your house, this post is an excellent starting point! 22 Hard To Kill Houseplants. The title says it all, really. After cross-referencing what plants are safe for cats, I have a little shopping list, and hopefully some inside greenery soon!

Another post I found useful, again on the topic of interiors, was Design*Sponge's online black book on white paints. A good resource for any of you redecorating right now.

Do you have any exciting plans this weekend? Mine is blissfully free. I imagine some reading, coffee drinking, sleep-ins (see image above -ha!) and brunches might be in order. And some movies! I've got a Picnic At Hanging Rock DVD begging me to watch it, along with some old Stephen King (Stand By Me) and new (Under The Dome). Yep. Being a Couch Potato sounds like a good plan.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meet My January Sponsors

It's time to get to know my sidebar advertisers a little better. If you haven't clicked on their ads yet, check them out below, they're a lovely and talented group. This month I have asked each of these ladies to share what they have planned for 2014. If you like the sound of them, be sure to visit their blogs and shops, I know they'd be happy to welcome you.

Sketchy Notions is a small one-woman shop run by Chelsea Ward in sunny Southern California. All of our unique paper goods, postcards and more feature original watercolor illustrations and sketches straight out of Chelsea's sketchbooks while travelling across Europe. 
❝I have an ambitious (and daunting) list of goals for my business and personally for 2014. At the top of my list: self publish my first children's book! I'm determined to make it happen this year!❞
my favourite product // "I love you so" Valentines Day card (hand painted and lettered!)

Amy Grace is a petite blog about life and the joys that come with it! I'm twenty and a lover of all things beauty! Come join my little world full of makeup rambles, life adventures and a junkies stash of cookbooks ♥
❝2014 is a big year for me! I'm leaving my family home {finally!!} and moving to Sydney. My plan is to go back to school; well uni actually, to do a teaching degree. So hopefully I'll be able to do something a little more meaningful with my life :)❞
my favourite post // hey, 2014

Hunting Bears is a blog about art, craft and living a creative, adventurous life! It's a place for me to document my experiments in printmaking and design, and to share what inspires me - the pursuit of adventure, the exploration of the unknown and an appreciation of the world around us.   I'd love to see you there! 
❝I've learned to not plan my life too far in advance, so I'm fairly open to whatever new opportunities come my way this year.  My big goal is to build my fledgling art and craft business, and to study  printmaking and other crafts in order to fine-tune my skills. ❞
my favourite post // Make Your Own Hand-Printed Picnic Blanket

My little corner of the internet is all about embracing the simple pleasures in life and making the normal girl in all of us feel extraordinary and accomplished. Come on over because there's food to eat, things to make and stuff to learn! 
 ❝What delightful timing! I'll tell anyone who is willing to listen that this is my "Year Of Reading". To kick it off I just started a new series on the blog called Books-N-Tea to celebrate my love of stories and that delightful, little ritual we call, tea.❞
my favourite post // Giving Yourself Permission To Stop (and Start)

hello! my name is victoria, im a wife and (mostly) stay at home mom living in los angeles, ca. poverty luxe is my blog where i like to write about crafts, clothes, cooking, and our little familys adventures as we learn to love living the broke life. i also have an etsy shop of the same name where i sell the skirts, dresses, and hair bows i make out of vintage and recycled fabrics.  

❝this year is all about sharpening my sewing skills and learning all i can about running a small business so that someday soon i can quit my day job and work from home!❞
my favourite post // Spiral Lace Slouch Hat (free pattern)

Shadylane Blog is full of inspiration and real-life ways to celebrate the everyday. In my experience it is so true that even though every day may not be good, there is something good in every day, and I try to capture, preserve and share those small moments that add up to a beautiful life.  
❝I have chose "Thrive" as my One Little Word for 2014. So much of what is happening in my life right now feel beyond my control, but instead of just surviving it, I hope to thrive in spite of it all. I want my marriage to thrive, my health to thrive, my creativity to thrive and I hope to chronicle it all on my blog...making it thrive too. :) ❞
my favourite post // Life With Gibson - Year One

Thanks to my lovely January sponsor team! If you'd like to advertise in February, I'd love to have you, just head over to my ad page or email me with any questions you might have.


There's only 24 hours left to enter the ModCloth $75 gift voucher giveaway, if you haven't entered yet, just click the banner below. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Instagram Inspirations - White Edition

Image Map

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6

Since I launched the Instagram Challenge, there's been a bunch of emails and comments from people saying they'd love to take part but cannot find the right 'thing' to photograph. Here's some inspiration from some of my favourite Instagram accounts. While not all of us can be amazing photographers or find beautiful landscapes to photograph every day, here's some everyday items and creative ways to shoot them :)

If you'd like to join in, simply shoot the colour theme of January, which is {white}. Tag your photo with #kittyandbuckcolor and you're done! I'll choose some favourites at the end of each month and share them here. I've noticed some private accounts have tagged their photos but I can't see them! If you'd like to share them with me and you're private, just leave me a comment with your account (here or in Instagram) and I'll follow you.

The main purpose of the challenge is to practice your photography, and hopefully see some things around you that you'd not normally notice. It's the beauty of looking for something specific in everyday surroundings and finding something special ❤


Monday, January 20, 2014

Blog Update {complete}

Sorry about the mess around here, I'm just updating the layout. Things will be back to normal (albeit shiny and new) shortly!

Hello! I've finally, finally finished working on my new design! I hope you like it - I know things look a little different around here, so take a second to look around and get familiar. The main changes are:

          ◆ New categories - I've tidied up my tags and created a much easier system of navigating them,       so take a look and hopefully you might discover something new! I've included "Regular Features" and I tagged all of my USA Road Trip photos so you can now check out if I've been to your town ;)

          ◆ New sharing function on each post - There's a new 'share' button which allows you to share any post on (just about) any social network. There's also a "Pin It" button on each post

          ◆ Daily Reads - You can see some of my favourite blogs listed in the sidebar (and please, check them out!). I have more on a separate page, which will be updated regularly.

          ◆ Right down the bottom, I've added a blog footer with links to favourite posts

I'm still working on one or two more features, including an update to my design shop and a few more bits and pieces. If you notice anything that's not working properly for you, or have some feedback, I'd love to know, just leave a comment below, or email me.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Found #83

Éléonore Bridge + camera = ❤

Tumbleweeds Handcraft posted the work of Maude White on their Instagram this week. I'm pretty blown away by the level of detail in Maude's beautiful paper cutting.

Chelsea from Sketchy Notions has just released some beautiful Valentines Cards. You can get them separately or as a pack, in case you want to hedge your bets ;)

Hiroko Kubota embroiders these cats on her son's shirts! You might have already seen these floating around the internet, but in case you haven't, I had to share. The amount of work that goes into each one is insane, but so worth it (I think, though I'm not the one with blistered fingers) I love how the cats are peeping out of pockets and plackets!
via: Colossal

A little more Valentines love for you - in the shape of a pretty red outfit.
via ModCloth: {dress} | {shoes} | {necklace}

image via: Old Brand New
This one is a timely reminder that life is precious and while you may have a grand list of resolutions and goals for 2014, not to forget the little things, those bits and pieces that constitute living, the simple pleasures and meaningful gestures. A heartfelt post on Old Brand New.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Desktop Wallpaper Freebie

high-res | standard | iPad | iPhone5 | iPhone 3-4
(free for personal use only - not for distribution or sale without written permission from Kitty & Buck.)

Last time I created a desktop wallpaper, I thought I'd make it a monthly thing. I was all gung-ho to design a desktop each month, I even made this one, but I couldn't really finish it. It's still not perfect by any means, but when I saw Kate's email with this Leonard Cohen quote, I figured it matched nicely and got over myself. Enjoy life's little imperfections, I say. If this wallpaper floats your boat, feel free to download it and apply it to your desktop, or wallpaper your phone or iPad with it. I made a secret promise to myself to design a freebie each month this year. Guess it's not so secret anymore! Wish me luck.

I also just had a moment thinking that "freebie" might be a terribly Australian slang kind of term like "sunnies" (thanks for reminding me Andrea) and g'day (nobody actually says that). Is "freebie" normal, or totally Australian and I should stop using bad slang?


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