Tuesday, 12 September 2017

what my 10 year old taught me about kicking fear to the curb

It was a bright and sunny Sunday morning. With a quick pat of the dogs, the kids piled out the front door and into the car, excited about the prospect of an adventurous morning at the local show.

We eventually found a car park, popped hats onto heads, and walked through the front gates.

We follow the same path each year, wandering through the craft, baking and art exhibitions first, stopping to marvel at the woodcutters, then meander towards the steam engine displays while licking ice creams.

As the morning wears on, we wander through sideshow alley, around the corner to the dodgem cars, and the Ferris Wheel.

I love the Ferris Wheel.

Tucked into a quiet corner with a shady shed standing guard over the line, the Ferris Wheel beckons for all who look at her high flying baskets, tempting them with promises of distant mountains to spy on.

Every year, as I stand in line for my ticket, I ask who is coming with me.

Steve waits with the kids.

Chloe has been up with me.

Douglas has been up with me.

This year, Natalie decided it was her turn.

"How high does it go?" she asks with a nervous giggle

"Do they ever fall down?" her nerves are starting to show.

"How do I get off?" she finally asks.

As we wait in line to hop on the ride, her anxiety is more noticeable.

Like a good big brother, Douglas tells her that the basket stops at the top.

"What if it falls?" she asks again.

"Not that it isn't possible," I said, "but have you ever heard of this one falling down?"

The ride stops, and the guy beckons for us to climb aboard.

The carriage rocks a little, leaving us all unsteady as we sit down.

I pull out my camera once we're seated, like any good scrapbooker would.

I can see the fear on her face, she's squeezing my hand so tightly... but it wasn't until we started moving that I realised we were facing the wrong way.

Snap, snap, snap, goes the camera, and slowly her grip loosens on mine.

"Look, there's dad," I tell her. She slowly leans forward as we pass over his head, and waves madly.

We settle in for the ride, round and round and round we go.

As the ride finishes she runs off to find dad.

"That was so cool," says Douglas

"Can we go again?" asks Natalie.

"Time to find the show bags" says dad, and off we wander.

It wasn't until we were heading to the car that I heard Natalie's excitement.

"I was so scared," she said to Riley, "but it was so cool being up there!"

"Will you go on it again?" he asks her

"I wanna go back and do it right now!" she replies to him.

The buzzing and giggling carried on all the way home, where it occurred to me that my 10 year old daughter had done something I struggled to do myself - she'd overcome her fear of something, and done it, with great results.

How did she manage it?

1 - she didn't overthink the task. Sure, she worried a little bit about what might happen, but when the guy called us forward to climb in the cage, she climbed straight on in.

2 - she accepted that it felt weird at first. Climbing into that slightly wobbly cage can be off putting. But she grabbed my hand to steady herself, and looked all around to get her bearings.

3 - she understood what the task involved. She knew that the task involved getting in the cage, and going around in circles until it stopped. There was no opportunity to change the path of the Ferris Wheel.

4 - she gave herself space to feel. I didn't really come to understand this one until much later, but by allowing herself the space to talk, she was able to deal with the anxiety that had sprung up for her as we waited.

5 - she celebrated her win. By talking about the fun she had, and making plans to do it again next year, Natalie celebrated her successful adventure on the Ferris Wheel.

Even a month later, I still carry these lessons with me as a reminder that if she can do it, I can, too.

linking with Kylie Purtell for IBOT
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Monday, 11 September 2017

Hello Monday

goodbye flu While the cough is still lingering, the flu has finally left the building. It's been an unsubtle reminder to all of us to get our flu shots on time next year!

hello dishwasher After a year without (and dishes washed to teenage standard) we finally bought a new dishwasher yesterday. We've already used it 3 times just on yesterday's lunch and dinner dishes. It's ridiculously exciting how clean the dishes in the cupboard now are!

hello video I have really been surprised how much I enjoy making videos. Starting today, there's a new video challenge starting up, hosted by Niamh Arthur from Light It Up Video Marketing (the video membership I joined earlier this year.) 22 videos in 30 days, with topics provided and lots of hints and tips, I'm excited to get stuck back into making videos regularly. {Affiliate link} If that sounds like something you're interested in, you can join here, and I'll be your cheerleader, too!

hello 8 Riley is 8 today. I've been busily baking cupcakes to take to school this afternoon, and his requested cheesecake for after dinner at the pub tonight.

hello routines Being sick for so many weeks has thrown out any routines that I had started to set myself up for. I woke up one day to Douglas doing housework, and the kids have lived on frozen meals for the last couple of weekends. While the cough still lingers (and Steve is home for the next couple of days) it's time to start planning and doing and setting those routines up again.

hello blog maintenance Quite randomly last week, I decided to start writing out a list of all the tags I have ever used on posts here, and the number of posts linked to each tag. It was an eye opening list of over 450 words that mostly had less than 2 posts each against them, but it has spurred me on to get stuck into the maintenance list that I've been writing for most of this year. Updating photos, deleting crappy posts, and finally updating my about page!

hello Monday, a new start every week.
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Wednesday, 30 August 2017

How to make memories with Banana Bread

Hands down,  chocolate wins in our house every time. And, despite beings slightly over bananas, even this recipe has everyone from the biggest to the smallest coming back for another piece.

The best recipe blog posts are those that weave a story into the recipe, the why and wherefore of a recipe's life cycle in a household. The magic of seeing what and how other people eat and make is part of the allure of recipe blogs. To know that food ultimately comes down to bringing people together over a cup of tea and a piece of cake.

This recipe has no such origins of elegance. A free magazine from the supermarket, a glut of bananas in the fridge, and a desire to bake anything that wasn't a recipe I knew by heart. Perhaps that's how the best recipe memories are born.

1 cup brown sugar
1 ¾ cup self raising flour
¼ cup cocoa
½ cup chocolate chips
½ cup milk
2tsp white vinegar
150g butter, melted
2 eggs
2 bananas, mashed

* add vinegar to milk, allow to sit 10 minutes before use
* place flour, cocoa and sugar into bowl, whisk
* add choc chips to bowl, stir gently
* combine milk, eggs, banana, butter, and add to flour mix
* stir gently 
* pour into lined loaf pan
* bake 180°C 50-60min
* allow to completely cool before frosting

* mix 125g softened butter with electric beater until pale
* add 1 ½ cups icing sugar until combined
* add 1Tbs milk and 100g cooled melted white chocolate, combine
* spread frosting over cake

Perfect for supper, or a treat for lunch boxes.

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Tuesday, 22 August 2017

How to stick with blogging for 10 years

The computer monitor precariously balanced on phone books was covered in dust again, but with an unexpectedly long nap from the not-quite 6 month old non-sleeping baby girl, the internet had become an escape from the juggle of life. Facebook was still a month away from introducing itself to me, so hours lost in chat forums was the norm. On this particular day, the discussion was about blogs.

"Is it easy to set up?" said one participant.

"Sure," I said "I've done it before"

"So what do you use it for?" asked another member.

"I'm going to share my scrapbook layouts" responds a third person.

"Wow," said I, "that's a great way to use it!"

And the rest, they say, is out there for the world to see for forever.

From sharing scrapbook pages, to collecting memories, and imparting knowledge, this space has become part of the framework of my life. I can't imagine a time when it wasn't  important to my days (even when I'm lost in the spiral of self-doubt, trying to find a path back to writing is important) Content may change, but reading and writing is always important (who would have thought I'd love creating videos so much? Certainly not me!)

1 - Blogging is a long-term game

Sure, there's people on Pinterest who will tell you they made four figures their first month, but if you look closely at their break down, it's never quite true. (As Melanie Miller points out, there's a big difference between $1000 and $9999)

2 - It doesn't matter what other people think

I was listening to a podcast when I suddenly heard a comment that I knew was directed at me. The host said "brand identity doesn't just mean your text is purple." (There's a whole story about how I knew it was me they were talking about, but that's for maybe one day.) But my point is that if you like something, whether it's purple text, or writing about frogs, stick with it, because if you're not passionate about it, it isn't going to stick for you.

3 - Write what you know (or want to know)

There's some truth in the idea that you should write about what you know. But it's even more fun to write about what you learn as you grow. (This post from Megan Blandford explains more.)

4 - Perfection is overrated

There's an overwhelming number of people in Facebook groups caught up in names, and design, and planning the content, and the Pinterest templates, and on and on.

For God Sake, just start!

Yep, it's harder to do all that stuff once you start writing, but if you don't write, you have no need for all the other stuff.

5 - Stock photos are boring

The internet is built on images, so it stands to reason that images are a vital part of writing a blog post. They should support and enhance the story that you're telling with your words. But finding the right stock photo can be hard work. Using your own images is always unique, even if you have to stage your own flatlays or take photos of flowers.

6 - Have a purpose that isn't "make money"

Every man and his dog will tell you that remembering your why will help you put one foot in front of the other, but despite my many years of reading and writing, I didn't truly get this until just recently. "Making money" helps pay the bills, but it doesn't inspire passion, or loyalty in tough times. But writing to remember your story, telling your story so someone else doesn't have the same experience, making mistakes so your kids don't have to, that's a great purpose.

 7 - You will find friends in unexpected places

Blogging is a popularity game. Making money comes down to traffic, and who you know. But when you comment often enough on someone's posts, eventually friendships develop.

8 - Sometimes you will hate everything you write

We are our own worst critics. Whether you are trying to grow your audience, or write a sponsored post, or just capture memories for the future, sometimes you will hate the words you've written. That's ok, but don't let it take over your thoughts. Just remember, it's a bad day, not a bad life. Close the editor for today, and try again tomorrow.

9 - Read your archives occasionally

We all start somewhere, and we were all terrible at it. Going through your archives shows how far you've come, how much you've changed, and how much you've yet to learn. Those posts are gold, so go read them again.

10 - Ignore everything I've said

If you remember your purpose, write because you love it, and you're in it for the long haul, blogging can be absolutely anything you want it to be. Write because you don't have anything to say, include affiliate links in every post, listen to all the experts; do what you want, how you want to, just get on and do it!

You can read past blog birthday posts here - nine, eight, seven, six, five, three *

*  I've been celebrating on the wrong day for the last four years!

How long have you been blogging for? What don't you know?

Linking up with Kylie Purtell for IBOT
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Monday, 21 August 2017

Hello Monday

hello growth My word for the year has been kicking my butt lately... as I move through understanding what it means for me, and how I can be successful, I've had so.much.doubt. It's why I haven't written much over the last few months, because once upon a time I had a voice in my head that said I shouldn't. That voice seems to be gone now (although I expect I might hear from it again if I let it in), so it's onwards from here.

hello blog birthday Tomorrow, this space turns ten. That's rather hugely awesome in the blogging world, because so many people stop writing as life gets in the way. And I'm rather surprised that I've made it this far, because in the past I have rarely stuck with things, but I have always loved the act of writing, and learning and sharing.

hello goal setting I've been doing a lot of research into goal setting recently, because I really want to figure out why I struggled so much with actually reaching my goals. The answer is quite simple, but really surprising and unexpected. [But that's a post for another day] As the end of the month approaches, I've got a plan to put into place for the next quarter.

hello newsletter I've actually been consistently sending my newsletter every week for the last couple of months, and enjoying the process. I've also been consciously opening and reading other people's newsletters, to see what they do that makes me want to read them. My favourites so far? Sarah from Yes and Yes; Melissa from Suger Coat It; Shell from The Funnelry; Ruth from Living Well Spending Less and EBA. [You can get on my list over here]

hello affirmations Affirmations are new to my world. I started with "It's my time, and I'm ready for the next step" (from Denise DT, still my favourite) and have gathered a list of abundance and money mindset affirmations that have really supported my growth. Choosing one each week to focus on has helped me reframe the voice in my head, which has to be a good thing, right?!

hello Monday, a new start every week

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Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Your blog is not a business

If you've been around blogging, or digital marketing, for even half the time I have, you're bound to have heard someone mutter these words.

Your blog is not a business.

And if you're still muddling through like me, you muttered "yes, I'm serious about it!" just like I did, and kept following the same path you were on, without really getting anywhere.

But if we're being honest here, neither of us is getting anywhere fast. We're floundering and flapping about, and feel like we're drowning in ideas and to dos, and, and, and.

Years ago, back in 2010 to be precise, Steve and I bought a truck. He had been offered a job opportunity, but needed his own truck to make it work, so we took the plunge and started our own business.

The truck was an asset of the business.

When we'd been married less than a year, we bought our first house together.

The house is an asset of our marriage.

You can see where this is going, right?!

Your blog is an asset of your business.

But let's dive just a little bit deeper than that. Have you ever wondered what a business actually is?

Google defines business as
1) A person's regular occupation, profession or trade.

2) A commercial activity.
We're interested in the second definition - a commercial activity. Selling things.

So what are you selling? 

Using the previous truck example, the asset of the business is used to generate the income.

Makes sense, right?

But what about the blogging asset? What can you sell with that one?

That's easy! Blogging actually comes with two assets.

You can sell your location [advertising, sponsored posts] or your skills [freelance, product]

But why do the experts keep saying "your blog is not a business" if we've got something to sell?

Because we're not using it!

We're not out there, chasing advertisers (or applying for AdWords or whatever your jam is), and we're not chasing freelancing gigs or creating products, either. [This is as much a reminder for me as it is you, because I don't do any of these things either.]

Mind blown!

So what steps can you take to move from blog to business?

Change your thinking! 

I know, it sounds simple [believe me, I understand how hard it is, I am full of self-doubt, remember] but understanding that you do have something to sell, and that people do want to buy it, is the first step in clarifying what your business is, and how to achieve your goals.

Work out your products. 

Are you happy having sidebar adverts, or do you hate they way they look? Can you stay organised and on deadline, or do you drop the ball [like me]? Is your product affiliate links, or an ebook? What do you want to sell?

Create a plan.

If you're going to sell affiliate links, how are you going to find them? How will you market them to your readers? You need a plan for the content you'll use those links in, and how you'll market them. If an ebook is more your style, what will it be on? You need a plan to write it, market it, sell it. If writing for others is more your style, you need a plan for finding clients, and staying on track with the work. And don't forget to include how you'll stay organised with home, too.

Start selling.

Don't overthink it, don't make it harder than it already is, just start selling whatever the product is that you noted in the steps above.

Now, this is in no way to say that blogging for business is easy, but with a mindset tweak, looking at your blog as an asset of your business can make it easier to put in the hard work of making money.

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Monday, 31 July 2017

August 2017 Bullet Journal Set Up

I've been using the bullet journal system for four years now, but it's only been this year, as I've consciously written notes and ideas and tracked appointments that I've used it on a daily basis. And it's only through use that I've been able to find a weekly set up that works for me.
I use a composition notebook for my journal. It's a B6 size (approx. 7"x9.5" or 19cm x 24.5cm) I buy them from Officeworks at the start of each school year (and have a rather large stash of them tucked away.) B6 wasn't a common size when I first started 4 years ago, but there's a large range of hard cover notebooks in that size these days, although I still prefer to find some unused scrapbook paper (I've been known to cover with fabric as well) to decorate inside and out.
I'm starting a whole new book for August, so there's a couple of things that aren't quite the same as if the months followed one after another. Normally, the left side of this page will have the previous month's summary of events, and goals for the following month. On the right, I'll usually put a quote that inspires me, related to my word for the year (this year's word is GROWTH.)
I use a printable month calendar that I created a couple of years ago. In the column on the left, I make note of future dates that I need to remember, then fill out the calendar as it's needed. I've also tried using this for noting things I'm grateful for each day, and keeping track of each week's menu plan, but found it was becoming cluttered and difficult to read, as well as doubling up things I didn't really need in my bujo.
On the left is the monthly review that is usually opposite the quote page. These are my goals for each month for myself (usually the personal projects I'd like to work on), family (things like "kids cook one meal each week" or "family card night", etc.) and big blog priorities ("number of posts written" or "update old posts" etc.)

On the right I identify one smaller goal (or perhaps this could be an action step towards the monthly goal), usually from my blog list, and break it down using these questions. (Questions adapted from Marissa Roberts' money goal questions)

I've been using this layout for my daily & weekly pages since February after seeing it shared in a bullet journal group on Facebook and missing a couple of January appointments. I put any appointments for the week along the left hand side, then each day I write a to-do list (or sometimes when it feels like I've done nothing, I write a ta-da list.)

Each week I also draw up this page to writing out my daily review. Now, I'll be honest, almost every week only has 2/3 days filled out, and every one says "do better at filling this review out." I haven't found the time of day to fill it out yet, so I'm always forgetting.

I track the books I read each month, and the books I want to read, in the back pages of my journals, but for every other collection I just write it out where it occurs in my week. I've just added this "when did you last..." this month, because I was always forgetting when the dogs were wormed, or when Steve and Douglas need phone recharges. At the moment, that's the extent of the list.

I usually write an affirmation at the top of my goals page, then write it on the weekly/daily pages, so I'm reminded each time I see it. Being a new book, I'm creating a new collection to draw from, as well as adding some favourites from my previous collection.

Here's another example of a collection/task list. I use a cheap set of felt pens I bought from school late last year (that the kids aren't allowed to touch), and a regular ball point pen (because my favourite Sharpie fineliners ghost through the lighter paper) for writing.

Every Sunday night, once the kids are in bed, I take a couple of hours to set this up, and ponder the things I'd like to get done during the following week. Sometimes I get those things done, and sometimes I discover that something else is more important, or needs to be done first. But with it all written out, I can leave my brain free to keep track of other things.

Do you use a diary or journal?
Has it helped you feel less frazzled?

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Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Low Cost Self Care Ideas

I spotted a list over at Fat Mum Slim a while ago, with ideas for a self-date [or me-time] Now I'm all about taking time and doing things for myself at the moment, but my heart sank as I read the list - over half of the ideas involved spending money! Our budget is tight right now, and while I'd love nothing more than to head off to the movies, I just can't afford it. So I challenged myself to come up with at least ten activities that didn't involve spending any more money than usual.*

Visit a store and dream big Who doesn't get inspired by tackling a big project? Taking yourself off to the hardware store, or furniture shop, or even Kmart with a challenge in mind like pulling up the carpets can open you up to new ideas and challenges.

Watch a different genre on TV Binge-watching is the new black. But we often fall into the habits of watching the same style of shows again and again [I love my English murder mysteries!] But taking a chance to watch say an action movie could open you up to a whole new experience.

Shop your wardrobe We all have clothes that we wear over and over again, firm favourites in the wardrobe. But sometimes there's a piece tucked away in the back that we just weren't sure about, so we hid it. Dig it out, and find a new favourite outfit to wear!

Bake something new I love baking muffins. They're quick, simple, and yum. But just recently I've started baking cakes. They take a little bit more time to produce, but the yum factor is still there [and it feels as if they last just a little bit longer!]

Make something I am a scrapbooker who doesn't scrap, a sewer who loves her sewing machine but rarely uses it. But when I do take the time to create something I can feel myself relaxing, calming down, inspiring myself.

Read an old book in the sun Avid readers are bound to have shelves upon shelves of books. Books that have been read once, then tucked away, or discarded if they didn't fulfil their potential. Taking the time to go back and read something older gives space to books that may have been passed over for something shinier, or allow an old favourite to resurface in our minds. And sunshine is best for blowing off the dust.

Learn something new I am a perennial learner. Google was made for my random brain wanderings, but it isn't often that I take the time to learn everything I can about a subject. Pick something you've struggled with, and check out YouTube for free videos, or a platform like SkillShare.

DIY pedicure or facial Taking the time to soak your feet and do your nails really is a luxury in our fast paced world, but it can be so much fun! [And if it's really impossible to get rid of the family, teach the kids to paint your nails!]

Walk a different route Sometimes I walk the dogs in the same direction every time. It's easy for them, they just go, we know where all the barking dogs are, we know how long it takes. But it gets monotonous, for me and for them. Just in the small block that we walk, there's over ten different combinations we could take to mix it up for all of us. And it's always an exciting night for the dogs, because they never quite know which way I'm going to lead them next.

Be a tourist in your town Is there a popular spot you haven't been to for a long time? Or some place you've never been before? Set a date, and go check it out.

How do you take time for yourself, without spending too much money?

linking with Kylie Purtell for #ibot
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