Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Things I'd Tell My Daughter

Dear Chloe

You set off on your big adventure at the end of this week (I'm guessing not many of your friends are moving to the other side of the country to study)

I know, after chatting to you on the weekend, that you're pretty independent. I mean, you always have been, but you've more or less brought yourself up the last few years, and that means that the adults around you failed you, and I'm sorry.

But I can try to make things better moving forward, if you'll let me.

So let me offer some mum-advice as you head off. Make of it what you will, but I hope you at least take the time to hear me out.

Make a home for yourself I know that you're just going into a dorm room, and you're already worrying about what will happen at the end of the year (as am I), but make that space comfortable (not messy), and take the time to decorate it.

Don't binge Having been a first year student, and worked with first year students, I know the culture. Whether it's food or alcohol, or freedom, don't binge on it. Enjoy life responsibly.

Ask for help This is a tough one, Miss Independent. But you won't have all the answers, and someone else will. Whether it's help with an assessment, or grocery money, it really is ok to ask for help.

Capture memories In twenty years time, when you're safely back in Queensland, thawing out, your children will ask you about your time in Tasmania. Take lots of photos. Write things down in a diary. When you visit Salamanca Markets, write about the overwhelming smells, and the crowds of people. These are the things you will want to remember when your mind is failing.

Explore Tying in with that point above, you need to explore the area. Don't get to Tasmania, and spend every waking moment studying, and every sleeping moment sleeping. Make a plan to down books regularly and hop on a bus or go for a walk, and learn about the historical place around you (and visit the penguins. And the chocolate factory. And the cheese places.)

Remember you are loved I know right now it feels hard. But with the space of distance and time you will see that we all did what we thought was best at the time. Turns out we were wrong, but that doesn't mean we love you any less. Please remember that in those quiet moments of introspection.

Enjoy the adventure I have to keep thinking that this experience has an end in sight, otherwise my mumma-heart might break. But I know that I can't keep you close forever, and have to let you do the growing up you need to do. Above all else, enjoy your adventure.

Love you.

linking up with Essentially Jess
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Monday, 8 February 2016

Hello Monday

hello parent information night for the primary school and high school on the same night. I haven't worked out yet if I will actually make it to any of them, or just pretend to forget.

hello school photos at 8pm last night, Douglas announced that today was photo day. A mad scramble (and lots of yelling) occurred, trying to find forms and money and uniforms. The form was found, money was paid, but uniforms are still waiting to be ironed.

hello goodbye Chloe leaves this week. And while it's a huge adventure, setting off to the other end of the country, that doesn't stop my mummaheart from hurting. And worrying. 

hello pancakes tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday. And while we don't do the religious bit, we do do pancakes. I think we might do them for breakfast this year.

hello crafting I have been lacking mojo for weeks, despite making promises to myself that I will craft. So this week, I'm going to spend an hour a day tackling an unfinished project (and I have plenty of those!) Hopefully, just doing without overthinking will get the juices flowing again.

hello Monday, a new start every week.

linking with Alicia, Kirsty and Eva
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Saturday, 6 February 2016

5 tips for filling your editorial calendar (and a review)

Having an editorial calendar for your blog can help keep you on track with your writing and posting, and avoid those "I don't know what to write" days. (although sometimes, nothing can beat those days.)

It's really easy to get bogged down in filling the calendar out, and make it another chore that you avoid each month, but with a plan in mind, you can get it done in no time at all.

month to 2 pages in blog yeah planner
month to 2 pages view in #blogyeah planner
1 - Grab a pen and calendar even if you prefer to keep track with a digital calendar, a pen and paper will help you work out an outline or draft that you can then transfer to your online calendar if that's what you prefer.

weekly plan for repeat activities
weekly plan for repeat activities
2 - fill in the "regulars" If there's a link up you always join in, or a post theme you always write, fill it in now. Having daily themes that fit with your keywords and categories can help fill your calendar quickly, and give you ideas for more posts.

keep track of social media schedule
keep track of your social media schedule
3 - it's ok if you only use keywords I tend to write down post title ideas. They're often changed once I start writing, but I find it a good prompt to get started. But if you don't write post titles first, or you really don't know where that idea will take you, just write down your keywords.

monthly check in and encouraging words from Kate
every month has a check in at the back, and starts off with encouraging words
4 - fill the gaps Once you've got all your regulars written down, fill the gaps. Don't forget to schedule your product reviews, and guest posts!

week to 2 pages view
week to 2 pages view in #blogyeah planner
5 - remember that a plan isn't set in concrete! Make changes if you need to.

Review of the #blogyeah planner
$29.95 available here

I had been eyeing off the #blogyeah planner from Secret Bloggers Business for weeks before I finally bought it when it went on sale at the end of December.

The biggest frustration I had before purchasing was that there were no reviews around blogland! I really like to be able to make informed decisions, even when purchasing digital products, so hopefully next year when someone is trying to decide whether to purchase, my review can help them.

I have to say, my favourite feature of the planner is the faint lines in each box of the weekly view. When I first downloaded the planner and had a look on screen, I was wondering how successful I would actually be at using the planner, because my handwriting without lines becomes a caterpillar scrawl! I've printed the planner out on 120gsm paper, so it's thicker than normal, and just popped up to Officeworks to bind it.

The digital download also comes with a workbook for getting your goals and ideas for the year down on paper (but I forgot to photograph it.) It's set out in the same design and colour scheme as the planner, and it will all print easily on A4 paper, or 8.5x11.

I'm not sure that I would purchase this product again. For a digital product, it is quite expensive. But the key to using a planner is writing in it, so I guess this planner is one up on all the other ones I've purchased over the years. I'll reserve decision until the new planner comes out later in the year. Meanwhile, I can enjoy my full editorial calendar!

Do you use a planner? 
Do you have a full editorial calendar? 
Do you stick to your plans?
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Friday, 5 February 2016

Classic Blueberry Muffins

Growing up in a small country town in the 80's in Australia wasn't very exciting. Food was usually meat and potatoes, or a sausage in bread, and the usual treats from the bakery or canteen were a snot block [vanilla slice], or a donut.

So when we moved to the city, and shops sold these things called muffins, it seemed like a whole new world had opened up (not to mention the fish and chip shop down the road from mum and dad's office - we spent a fortune there every day after school!)

Anyway, back to muffins. I've always been a lover of chocolate. Vanilla just seems dull to me, but chocolate is exciting, and can be consumed so many different ways.

But blueberries changed my world.

Fruit. In a cake. And it wasn't apple pie.

From then on, whenever I could choose a muffin, I chose blueberry.

The taste of the fresh vanilla cake. The little pop as you bite into the blueberry.

And it goes perfectly with a hot cup of tea.

But baking them at home has always been a dismal failure. Until recently.

Budget restraints, and something that just tastes a bit too "off" has seen me searching out muffin recipes to bake from scratch.

And I think I have absolutely nailed these blueberry muffins.

Give them a try, tell me if you think I've nailed it.

2 & 1/2 cup self raising flour (or all purpose/plain flour, and add 1Tbs baking powder)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen, fresh will work, too)

* combine flour and sugar in bowl
* add egg, oil, milk, vanilla, mix gently
* fold in blueberries
* spoon into greased or lined muffin trays
* bake 180°C for 20min, or golden brown on top

best eaten warm, can be frozen.

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Thursday, 4 February 2016

He means the world to me

I have a complicated relationship with Douglas. Always have had.

He isn't mine by birth, but he is mine by life.

And as much as he thinks I hate him, yesterday it became just a little bit realer than it ever has been just how much he means to me.

There's been some idiots prank calling schools across Australia in the last couple of days with threats of bombs hidden on the premises.

And yesterday, Douglas' school was threatened.

The first I heard about it was when a local community page I run was contacted by someone sharing a news report that a "local school had been evacuated"

I contacted a friend of mine at Nat and Riley's school, and discovered it wasn't their school. And then I got another message on my community page that the news report had identified the wrong school!

At that point, my heart was in my throat. Douglas had no credit on his phone, Steve had taken my car out for the morning, and Sophie had just fallen asleep.

And there was no word from the school!

So I waited and watched social media closely, and shared my angst with my family.

About lunchtime I got a brief text message from the school - bomb threat, police have cleared school, students returning to class.

And that was it!

Douglas didn't even mention it until after dinner last night. His only comment? "We had to evacuate today, when is it going to happen to [Nat and Riley's] school?"

Hopefully it won't!

But it served as a reminder for me, that as complicated as our relationship is; as angry as he makes me, and I make him; if we lost him, our family would be missing a vital ingredient.

[sshh, don't tell him...]

What event reminded you of your vital ingredient?

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