Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The pleasure of food

I never understood "foodies" and their boundless enthusiasm for food. Still don't. Sure, I enjoy food and I get as much pleasure out of eating peanut butter out of the jar as the next person. But I don't go into paroxyms of delight over fancy restaurants and their menus of food I've never heard of. I don't fangirl on chefs (except tv ones).

But cooking... ah cooking is different. I didn't get some people's passion for cooking until I got older. The only subject I didn't do well in at high school was Home Economics. In fact, if my friend didn't save my meringue or jam every time I probably would have failed.

Fast forward to the last few years, to when I've become a homemaker. At first, cooking was a chore. Then it was occasionally diverting. Then I discovered tv cooks and actually got interested in recipes and cooking. I totally missed the beginning of the Jamie Oliver bandwagon (remember The Naked Chef? I was all PFFFT WHATEVS at the time) but now I'm firmly on it. Nigella is a bit of an idol. Hugh from River Cottage inspires me.

This week, I've been having a shit time at work. Well, let's be honest, it's been a stressful month. Monday night I came home and made a Nigella recipe I've never done before (Pea and Pancetta from Nigellissima). Tuesday night I challenged myself to do a Jamie 15 Min Meal for the first time (Grilled Steak, ratatouille and saffron rice).

And heck if I didn't enjoy it. Get pleasure out of it. The creation of the food felt joyous. The eating part was good too. It was a great stress-buster.

Tonight was a bit of a fail because I came home and had a drink then didn't feel like cooking. But maybe two awesome meals is enough for this week.

Oh and I'm totally saving my pennies for Save with Jamie. Why? It combines two things I'm passionate about at the moment - frugality and lessening food waste! 

Do you love cooking? Baking? Why? Tell me I want to know.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Problogger Training Event Takeaways

Today is a week since I attended Problogger Training Event on the Gold Coast. I was admittedly nervous for my first blogging conference but it ended up being non-painful; and happily, also personally valuable.

I invested in my ticket price waaaaay back at the beginning of the year. Why? I'm still not even sure. I asked my hubby if I could spend 250 of our hard-earned clams because "it's something I'm interested in". He agreed, because he's a good guy.

Yes, in the back of my brain I'm a little interested in the fact that people earn an income from blogging. And I was excited to meet people from the internet who have become friends. It was also fun to see "big" bloggers in the flesh. 

But the best part was the learning. I was a little sponge, soaking it all up. I realised I totally miss uni. Not the exams, but the finding out of interesting things. I am interested in blogging, therefore a whole conference of speakers addressing blogging issues was totally cool to me!

And the best part was managing to sort through and solidify some of my writing goals. I've always written online - way back to my Livejournal days at uni- but the content has changed a lot. I used to be all about sharing my online life - cool fandom stuff, fan fiction and such. Now I write about my offline doings - what I call "real life". 

Problogger has helped me to identify some of the reasons I blog and also point me towards some goals that click with me. It's funny, I went expecting to be excited about the technical side of blogging: google analytics, cross-platform marketing, ebooks. Instead I was intrigued by the emotional aspect of what I do - telling a story, helping readers find solutions, writing for good.

My favourite sessions:
Sure, I'm hardly a n00b at this game but I couldn't pass up the chance to see Pip's session. I have admired her work for so long, and she is just so infectiously enthusiastic about STUFF. She talked about the rewards of building a community of engaged readers, which I loved. She advocates using your blog for good and being a good blog citizen by reading and commenting on others' posts. I learned from her that sincerity is should be at the heart of everything you do. I also liked that she uses the word "amplification" instead of marketing. 

I cannot believe I had never heard of Bernadette. Her marketing philosophy - focused on people, not product placement, was so refreshing. She told me that every click on my blog was a person looking for something, and never to forget that each of them is giving me the gift of their precious time. Think about trying to answer their problems or make a difference in their lives. Look at what people are reading most on your blog, not how many. Relevance is the key. The main message though was that people like things for how they make them feel (not what they actually are) - when you apply this to blogging, you can try to build a lovely community of folk who care about the same stuff. 

I was excited about this session because I've been thinking for so long about how to incorporate more acts of social good into my life. These guys talked about digital volunteerism and how charities are often not social-media savvy and most would welcome any blogger outreach. They talked about using a blog's influence to spread word or causes and raise profiles of campaigns. I also heard  about Blog Action Day, an annual event I'm keen to learn more about. 

In short, my brain is now buzzing with ideas. I want to write all the things. And I hope you all will help me!

Have you ever been to a blog conference? What did you learn? Did I meet you at PBEvent and I'm not following you on social media? Let me know!

PS - Meanwhile, how much exposure did QT Gold Coast get from this event? Trendy hotel, savvy PR folks.

--> Linking up with Slapdash Mama for The Lounge.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Behind the eightball

I woke up this morning, stumbled into the kitchen, took one look at the mess and started making pancakes. 

Chores in my household are a bit behind at present - life has gotten in the way the past week or so. 

In between building the new shed, having a houseguest, a family emergency (impromptu trip to the farm) and two days of Problogger Training Event, I guess we have an excuse. 

As I attempted to wash up the mountain of dirty dishes, I shared a bit of a lightbulb moment with my hubby; that instead of focusing on the things that haven't been done, I should take stock of what HAS been achieved. 

Our massive dream shed is over halfway up. We were blessed that my mum was not injured badly in her accident. And I spent two days just learning about blogging, which was a great investment in myself. So what if the washing wasn't done?

What have you achieved this week?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Problogger Event Prep

So. Problogger Training Event.

MAN, it has come up quickly. It only seems like a few weeks ago I was buying my ticket.

This will be my first blogging conference, and I am not ashamed to admit I’m more than a little nervous. Mainly because I’m not great at meeting new people and social situations are a challenge.

So, in order to confront my fears and make sure that I do get the most out of the 2 days of talks I’m going back and reviewing the reasons I wanted to go in the first place.

- I wanted to learn more about blogging! Easy!
- This year’s event is on the Gold Coast, so I can feasibly go. Previous events in Sydney or Melbourne were just not even in the realm of financial possibility.
- To hear some of my favourite bloggers speak

And some things I shouldn’t worry about:

- What I’m wearing; because I’m not a fashion blogger and should not really care about being judged on appearance anyways
- Making friends with everybody; because this is unrealistic
- Not having a laptop or iPad; because I shouldn’t feel inferior for not having gadgets
- My phone battery running out; because there’s nothing I can do to stop that happening!

Things to take:

- Notebook & pen (I’m old school)
- Iphone for tweeting and instagram, with backup battery pack
- Cardigan for air conditioned conference rooms
- Snacks (just in case)
- A positive attitude

Wish me luck!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cheer up at the office

If you're like me and have a desk job, sometimes the Cubicle Life (not to be confused with Thug Lyfe) can make you feel like you're living in a Dilbert comic.

It can kind of grind you down, as anyone who has seen Office Space will agree. So here's my tips on making your day at the office more bearable.

- Make your desk nice. Studies show that adding personal items can make it a nicer environment to work in. Duh, right? I'm always suspicious of anyone who doesn't have personal items on their desk. Weirdos. I have sarcastic calenders, a photo of me and my husband, hand cream and a stress ball. Do you have a favourite colour? Decorate with that. It'll cheer you up more than a "Hang in there!" kitten poster.


- Plants. If you're allowed, get one for your desk. They're great. I don't recommend fish though - they tend to die and give everyone a sad.

- Drink your favourite drinks. If you love coffee, take in your favourite brand. If you're a tea-drinker, brew your best leaves in a little teapot for one. Or if that's too odd (though I've seen people do this everywhere I've worked), buy beautiful boutique tea bags and drink a cup every day. I like to have mine in the morning, so I'm sipping it as I open my email. Makes the day more bearable.

- Take awesome food for lunch. Seriously, having yummy food to look forward to in the middle of the day can be a great way to boost your mood. Nothing kills my happy like realising it's 15mins until lunch, but then remembering I only have 2 minute noodles. If you can afford to buy lunch, perhaps restrict yourself to one great one per week. Go for a walk in your lunch break to find cool places to get food. This has the bonus of getting you out of the office. Which segways nicely to my next point...

- Get out of the office if you can. I fail at this one. But before I knew my workmates and gossiped my way through every break in the lunchroom, I used to go for walks around the city blocks near my office. Fresh air does the brain good, plus you get the blood pumping after hours of static sitting at your desk.

- Cool stationery is cool. Though perhaps this is just me. I am fussy about pens but there is so much cool papergoods out there just begging to be used. If you're like me and frequently splurge on KikkiK stuff that you never use, take it into the office! Everyone loves a pretty post-it. Yes even the grumpy old guy in accounts.

[source: kikki k]

So what do you do to cheer yourself up at work?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sunday Summary

This week I've been...

Loving - the warmer weather! It's spring, this makes my heart so happy.

Listening - to new singles from a range of artists: Daft Punk, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry. I like it all.

Reading - a Young Adult novel The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. I really liked this, and am happy to discover it's a series. It's set in modern London with a Jack the Ripper copycat on the loose. Next up is Shadows of the Nile by Kate Furnivall. It's a 30s-set mystery where the heroine searches for her lost brother in Egypt. And you probably know I'm a sucker for anything from that period.

Watching - Ripper Street. This show, like the book I've been reading, also has a Jack the Ripper theme, leading me to have a bit of an obsession with it lately. I love this show because a) Victorian London b) Matthew McFadyn's dialogue c) it's got Bron from Game of Thrones.


Anticipating - the return of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries this Friday.  So happy this show got a second season. And Kerry Greenwood has a new Miss Phryne novel out later this year, joy!

Diverted by - the election. I'll be very interested in the polls on election night. I have been much more interested in our policital process this time around, and have actually taken notice of policies and personalities. This is in sharp contrast to previous elections where I have mostly tried to ignore all the hoopla. I wonder if this is a symptom of getting older?

Worrying - about putting up our big shed next weekend. I keep thinking something disastrous will happen.

Doing - housework, all day. consistency is the key to keeping up with it, as any person will tell you, and I've let it slip lately.

How was your week? Read any good books lately? Or recommend me something to watch? Ever built a shed?


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