Archive | blogging

Fond farewell

I really hate endings however this one has been planned. I am saying a fond farewell to Current Observations, a space that has been my old friend these last 9.5 years. Oh what a ride.

This has been a tough decision for me and since I am by nature a very nostalgic person, most of the time it’s very hard to let go. Now that I have, I am so incredibly excited about my new adventure.

This blog started after reading an article that gave this advice

If you want to know what inspires you, keep a blog

I followed that advice and so in 2007 the Current Observations blog began on blogger and later moved here to WordPress. In that time I:

  • Gave up my job in corporate training to work in a digital agency
  • Honed my front end development skills and got seriously under the hood of WordPress
  • Developed and sold WordPress themes
  • Started a new career in user experience consulting and have never looked back
  • Completed my second degree in Design
  • Watched my two little boys grow into beautiful young men
  • Moved house and renovated

Along the way I found inspiration in unlikely places and this blog really did help me do that.

For now, Current Observations will remain here but you’ll now find me blogging over at

I love blogging too much to give it up completely so I hope you’ll come and join me.

Thanks for all your ongoing support.

Over and out.


April 22, 2017 \ blogging \ 0 comments - be the first


Categories vs tags

Categories vs tags

When working with my design clients, much of what we discuss is about the look and feel, understandable right? So much blogging advice on the web is about the design; the right banner, layout, font and spacing. One thing that seems to be misunderstood is when to use categories and tags. I want to try to explain the differences and how good use of categories and tags may assist in SEO and search. I work almost exclusively in WordPress and categories and tags are a feature of WordPress. Most CMS or blogging platforms handle categories and tags in a similar way, so you won’t be disadvantaged if WordPress is not your tool of choice.

“There is no task so great that it cannot be solved by categorisation. Small groups must join forces, larger masses broken down into component parts.”



A category was explained to me as being like the chapters of a book, but I never found this description very helpful – maybe it’s the books I read. I prefer to think of a category as a broad theme for the content you are writing (a blog post). Look over your blog and you’ll see there are topics and areas of interest that you consistently blog about. These are your categories.

My rule of thumb is one category per blog post and I try to have only 8-10 categories that I consistently use. You might find this difficult at first but your readers will thank you and I’ll explain why in the next paragraph. When I started out (in 2007) I went a bit crazy with categories, I think at last count there are about 26 categories in my previously used list. Most of these I no longer use and I stick to my 8-10 rule for a couple of reasons. One, my blog has become more focused over the years and two, I want to improve my blog navigation and SEO.

So how does this help with SEO and navigation? Categories are another way for your readers to navigate your blog. Selecting a category link under a blog post will direct them to a filtered list of every post in that category, searching for a category on your blog will have a similar result. This is really useful if your readers are interested in everything you have written in a category e.g. Design. A category is also metadata (data about data) which adds a descriptive element to your post content. Metadata is a favourite of search engines as it assists them to understand more about your content and therefore helps with search results.


Tags on the other hand, provide more description to your blog content so use as many as you think necessary to describe the post, just try not to go overboard. In the old days of web this was called keyword stuffing and search engines are not fond of this practice.

Tags will also assist in search and navigation but not to the same extent as categories, unless you are also very restrictive with your tagging. On this blog I like to write about design so I have a design category – makes sense. I have a varied interest in design so I need to be more specific and I might add a tag of ‘web design’ or ‘surface design’ or ‘furniture’ or ‘graphic’ – you get the idea. It is possible that you will use a tag once or twice in the lifetime of your blog and that’s OK. The 8-10 rule doesn’t apply to tags. If I’m sharing the work of someone who inspires me, like in this post,  I tag the post with their name or business name and unless I blog about them again I probably won’t use that tag again. From a navigation perspective this isn’t ideal as following a tag link may only produce one result but from a search perspective it’s still metadata and serves to describe your content.

One suggestion for tags is if you use the same tag then use it consistently and don’t create variations on a theme. For example I tag posts with external links with a tag of ‘links’, if I were to start using ‘web link’, ‘site link’ or ‘external link’ then I start to muddy the waters and my SEO and navigation will suffer. As someone once said – “a point in every direction is the same as no point at all’.

I hope this has helped to demystify categories and tags a little. If you have any questions or have made any discoveries that may help others, leave a comment.

Image by Damian Zaleski via Unsplash – free high resolution stock photos

February 2, 2016 \ blogging \ 0 comments - be the first

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Finding my feet

Feet with striped socks jumping over autumn leaves

Hi friends! I’m back… well sort of. I know you don’t expect me to explain my absence but I thought I would do this first post of the year to explain my silence of late.

I guess you could say I lost my direction, my North Star, my spark, my mojo – call it what you will. I let myself fall into a bit of a funk and it took quite of bit of internal dialogue to bring myself back again. Yes I’m back… well sort of.

I love my blog and blogging, I really do, but it had started to become a chore. Something else on my every expanding ‘to do’ list and I never want it to feel like that. I revisted old posts and saw how I grew in those first years and saw the essence of my intentions when I started blogging. I loved that time. I loved that excitement of sharing my projects, my interests and my challenges.

So this year I’m just going to go with it, blog when I feel I have something blog worthy to share. A remarkable thing happened on the way to this epiphany – I suddenly have a so many things I want to share with you. So I’ll be here at odd times, with no regular posts and just an intention (my word for the year) to check in at least once a week. We’ll see.

Yes I’m back… well sort of.

The photo titled I Love October is copyright to D. Sharon Pruitt and is released under Creative Commons Attribution License

January 19, 2014 \ blogging \ 3 comments


Taking a break

Taking a break

Yes, you read right – I’m going to take a little break from blogging. I don’t think I’ll be gone for long but I just need to step out to catch my breath and clear my head.

Lately I feel I’ve been very caught up by interwebs and people who expound great theories of success based on their own unique experience. At first I began to take heed but lately it’s just made me cynical and I don’t like it when I catch a glimpse of that person in me. I need to take stock and remember why I started blogging in the first place. I need to close out the noise and forge my own path, trust my instincts and get back in touch with what I love.

I have designs I’m working on that I want to finish and I will spend a little more time with my sketchbook and less time at the computer. I will share my works in progress soon.

I’m also working on something for you that melds my day job as a user experience consultant with my love of blogging. When it’s ready of course you’ll be the first to know.

I’ll see you back here soon, until then stay safe. xoxo

November 5, 2013 \ blogging \ 7 comments

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500th Post :: Guest Post by Brandi & Giveaway

I am so incredibly excited today to have my good blogging buddy Brandi from Brandi Girl Blog as guest for my monumentous 500th post. As the girl who could never stick to keeping a diary this is a huge occasion. When thinking about how to celebrate I knew I wanted to ask Brandi. She’s been a great friend, sounding board and sanity check. She’s super talented and is the only other person I know who can talk colour as much as I do. So over to you Brandi…

Flower tree and colour palette

In the vast blogosphere, I don’t always remember where or when I met a blogging friend. There’s just a moment when I stumble across a blog that clicks for me, or a commenting exchange starts happening. And suddenly, three or four years down the road, countless emails have been exchanged, and I realize, hey, I’ve got a friendship going.

That’s the case with me and Libby.

We’ve known of each other for years. We blog in the same circles, share a crazy obsession for color, have taken online classes together, bounce ideas off of each other. But we are literally on opposite sides of the world from each other – she in Australia, me in the United States. There’s no telling if we’ll ever meet, but she’s still someone I consider a close friend.
So, when she asked me to stop by and help her celebrate her 500th blog post, I was totally honored and excited.

And then I got a little freaked out. Post #500 is a lot of pressure, people, I didn’t want to screw up. And then my mind went blank. All of the ideas I had for posts seemed a little “blah”, if you know what I mean. So, instead of talking about color theory or offering blogging tips, let me three reasons I adore Libby.

#1: She loves color

This is important, because I love color. Like, a LOT. Sometimes when I get started talking about color theory or that perfect shade of teal or why Pantone completely missed on their color of the year choice, I can see people’s eyes start glazing over through the computer screen. Lots of people enjoy color, but it’s not often I find people who obsess over it like I do. So, once I do find them, I must make them a part of my color tribe.

And, naturally, I’m a huge fan of the Flickr Three color series Libby does. I love them so much.

#2: She’s super insightful

Being a regular visitor here, you already know how insightful Libby is, right? And I love that about her. I love how she shares tidbits of herself through her blogging, personal things that makes me want to know more (like her screenprinting!).

But I especially love that when I send her a crazy email with another crazy idea I’ve just had, it’s more than her taking time to respond – it’s how she does it.

#3: She’s a super talented graphic designer

As an artist myself, my eye’s drawn to beautiful designs no matter the medium. So, when Libby started up Crimson Pear, I immediately became a fan and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Libby’s use of space and color (of course) is spot on, and her designs so thoughtful.

I’d also love to see her develop her mini zines! (Hint, hint.)

So, thanks to Libby for letting me stop by today. Thanks for letting me in on your 500 post celebration! And thanks for reaching out all those years ago to a girl blogging on the other side of the world.

Thanks Brandi, and now I’m blushing. In celebration of my 500th post I have a 1 month subscription to Brandi’s Palette Club to give away. If you like the palette picture at the top (I got that one in my subscription), then you’re going to love the surprise package in the mail.

The fine print… the winner is the first person randomly drawn next Tuesday 23rd of October. Feel free to enter as many times as you like… I just love comments. Feel free to tell your friends… I just love comments. Don’t forget to leave your email so I can contact you if you are the winner. Good luck!!

To enter you need to do one or all of the following:

  • Leave a comment on this post.
  • Tweet about the give-away using the Tweet button below (make sure the twitter handle @current_obs is included)
  • Sign up to my new Find Your Inner Geek newsletter (it’s in the sidebar)

October 16, 2012 \ blogging \ 7 comments

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Thinking about :: making connections

Two handcover books, one red and one black flying in a meadow

When I started blogging (almost 5 years ago) I spent a lot of my time in awe of seasoned bloggers; all their followers, the volume of comments on each post and even their posting schedule of 2, 3 or 4 a day. The question for me was how did they do it but it never once occurred to me to ask. Weird right? I held these people up on some kind of pedestal, when in fact they were also just forging their way in a relatively new space. Then something happened – I wrote a post about the work of someone I held in great esteem and I sent her a message to share it with her and she sent me back a beautiful and encouraging reply. I made the connection and it has since inspired me in a couple of ways. Firstly people are generally willing to answer if you ask – try it sometime. Secondly and even more importantly I have a lot to offer.

I made two friends this week – how often do you say that as an adult? I reached out to them and asked them for guidance and offered help in return and they both agreed. It was a knowledge exchange barter. Each connection is quite different but they are mutually beneficial and I’m so happy for taking the plunge and making a suggestion and being rewarded for doing so. I have no doubt that I will be better for it and I am sure that I can benefit them both in some way.

When you sit alone and toil away at your creations or blog it’s quite easy to second guess yourself so that’s why I think these connections are so important. They allow you to learn and grow and empower others. Creating (and even blogging) is not a one way street, it is a dialogue that can only happen through making connections. How have you connected with someone lately? I would love to hear about your experiences.

P.S. The image via flickr is 26-05-10 II The Weight Of All Those Willing Words by Bethan Phillips

June 11, 2012 \ blogging \ 11 comments

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Web tip :: my fav 5 wordpress plugins

Cog with WordPress logo on it

My love of WordPress began a few years ago and one of the things that makes it stand out is the community and the seemingly endless number of plugins that enhance the core functionality. When working on projects I will often go in search of a plugin if I have an immediate need that requires a quick solution. Chances are there’s a plugin that can help me. I have installed, tested, embraced and sometimes abandoned too many to count but there are some that I always install in a new project. When compiling my top 5 I discovered that each of them are what I would call behind the scenes plugins, those that keep the cogs turning.

1. Akismet – Let’s face it spam is annoying and prolific on our blogs. Enter Akismet the spam buster. It’s gone from being a free plugin to a paid but it is so very good at capturing spam. I used to use Mollom, which is equally as effective but unfortunately Mollom didn’t put as much energy into their WordPress plugin as they did into their enterprise systems. So if spam is a thorn in your side you can’t go past Akismet.
2. All in one SEO pack – if you don’t use a theme that takes care of SEO for you, for example a Genesis theme, then you really need to consider adding an SEO plugin. I have been using this one for years and it’s so easy to use and effective. You can add SEO information to individual posts, pages and your entire blog or site.
3. Login Lockdown – as someone who has had their blog hacked this has been an added level of security for my blog and sites I develop. It monitors failed login attempts by IP addresses and locks out attempts from that address or range for 1 hour if more than 3 failed attempts happen within 5 minutes. Nothing is perfect but it can safeguard your blog against brute force password discovery.
4. Captcha – This little plugin is my second safe guard against spam. Everyone knows captcha as that series of letters and/or numbers that are designed to prove you are not a machine. These types of captchas have their issues when it comes to accessibility and a lot of people find them frustrating. This plugin simply asks the user to solve a super simple maths equation like 3 + 9 = ? . I have installed this on my comments and even my login screen. It can beat robots and still be usable.
5. WP-DBManager – This has been my lifesaver for backing up, restoring and generally keeping my database in working order. You can schedule backups to happen at regular intervals and it will even email you a copy of your backup.

What are your favourite plugins?

February 25, 2012 \ blogging \ 2 comments

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A Stylish Blogger Award!

Oh my goodness – what a surprise. My beautiful friend Jess from Brown Paper Bunny has nominated me for a Stylish Blogger Award. I am beyond flattered.

So here’s how it works firstly  I need to honour Jess. She and I used to work together (at a law firm) and luckily for me we’ve remained friends. You really must go on over and visit her beautiful blog. You’ll be surprised to learn she only started drawing a year ago – her work is beautiful. Secondly I need to tell you 7 things about myself that you may not know. So here goes in no particular order:

  • I once suggested a name for a race horse that was submitted and selected by the Australian Racing Board – the name was Chinoiserie.
  • I have a penchant for coffee cup motives and my particular favourite is the Sun Java logo.
  • I am not a night person. Feel free to get me up at 5:00 in the morning but don’t ask me to stay awake beyond 9:30pm.
  • I have twice been to Newfoundland Canada and I would live there in a heartbeat.
  • I cried the first time I saw Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
  • I went to high school in Japan for a year and lived in a house for 3 months that was attached to a Buddhist temple as my ‘Dad’ was a Buddhist priest. He taught me how to meditate.
  • Both my boys were born in February but one in winter and the other in summer.

And now I have the added pleasure of sharing with your my nominations for the Stylish Blogger Award… drumroll please

When I first ‘met’ (we did a blogging course together) the brains behind Notabilia, I’m pretty sure she didn’t even have a blog. She’s a New Yorker that now lives in Singapore and writes about art, food and the life of an expat.

I have long been a follower of Brandi from brandi girl. She’s a woman after my own heart with her colour posts, her eye for detail, her beautiful jewellery and her infectious personality. When I’m in need of colour inspiration I know I’ll find it here.

Katrina from Ma Joie Press is a letterpress master whose blog is a mixture of her work and home. It’s also one of my favourite blog designs. I got to work with her last year when she created invites for my Dad’s 80th and it was such a great experience.

I was first introduced to Eat Live Shop when I coded the redesign of this gorgeous blog. Renee has so much energy and I love that she just says it like it is. She’s got such great taste and I love how she arranges her posts.

February 13, 2011 \ blogging \ 5 comments


eCourses, Blogging Buddies and Chocolate

Look what arrived in my mailbox yesterday all the way from Amsterdam. So how is it that Dutch chocolate made it’s way to me? I’m glad you asked. I’ve had the pleasure over the last 7 weeks of taking part in the Blogging Your Way eCourse delivered by Holly Becker of Decor8 fame and Leslie from A Creative Mint. They managed to create a community of like minded individuals who have been so supportive and I’ve made some lovely friends. By way of saying thanks I offered my services of the web nerd variety and suggested that if anyone had a nagging technical question then feel free to ask and I would try my best to answer. I received a lot of great questions and I’m happy to say I managed to answer them all and make a few people very happy along the way (which is always nice). One such person is the delightful owner of Fat Fat Sheep (great name right?) who was so happy that she felt compelled to send me a present by way of thanks. Actually she pointed out that the S & T are for Super Thanks. I feel very special. Now I better go hide them from the cyclist who’s a chocolate fiend.

October 20, 2010 \ blogging \ 2 comments

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M is for Market :: alphabet walk blog hop

EPIC Markets Canberra

This is my contribution to Piper’s alphabet hop. In case you’re wondering Piper, from One Sydney Road has put together an alphabet hop and today is my turn as the proud owner of the letter M. The idea is you take your letter and go and photograph things that show your interpretation of that letter. When you’re done reading go and check out the other contenders for today, letters K, L, N and O. A special mention for my fellow M bloggers – Magpie and Muttonfly, The Maddie Chronicles and Deros.

For my letter I went with M is for Markets. These photos are from the EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra) Farmer’s Market. I visit these practically every week with my good and sometimes bad (she travels a lot) market buddy. To say I love going is an understatement. How could you not love a location that lets you buy local wines, organic chocolate and vegetables that have travelled 10km from the farm to your table? It’s the highlight of my Saturday and I could never go back to buying fruit, vegetables, bread, wine or even meat anywhere else. The best part is that this is a real farmers market and most of the market sellers travel to Canberra every Friday evening or in the wee hours of Saturday morning to setup shop for the morning. The official start time is 8:00 but I usually arrive around 6:45 and by 11:00am it’s all over for another week.

My market buddy and I are the devoted attendees that brave the elements and most especially the Canberra winter. These photos were taken 2 weeks ago and I think the temperature sat at -1 (Celsius) the whole morning. Is it worth it? Definitely.

{P.S. Getting this published on the right day in two time zones was an interesting challenge… thanks Piper for letting me take part}


July 14, 2010 \ blogging \ 15 comments

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