Thursday, March 27, 2014

Online vs Real Life Friends

I've been on the Internet for a few years now. Let's just say it's been more than a decade! And I realized something yesterday - I still have trouble referring to my "internet friends" in real-life conversations.  I was talking about a recipe someone tweeted, but couldn't quite bring myself to say to my boss that I'd seen it on twitter, so I said I saw it in a magazine. Why? All I know is that I was afraid of a funny look, because I suspect that their online life extends to a bit of Facebook and the rest of the web is a dangerous and mysterious place to them. 

In previous years too, if I was chatting with someone and knew some tidbit of gossip about a current issue from livejournal (back in the day), I'd say that I heard it "somewhere". I wouldn't have said "my Internet friend who lives in America told me".

Then last year, I saw a tweet from a guy that said "Just so you know, I refer to all you twitter friends as just 'friends' when I talk about you. It's just easier." Oh my goodness. Lightbulb! 

So now I try and do that. In conversation, YOU - dear person I know from online - are my friend who made an interesting recipe last night, or saw the movie I want to see, or went to a cool place that I want to go to too. 

The great thing is knowing people from online is fast losing ita stigma. Ten years ago if you said you were meeting up with someone you met on the Internet, you'd be warned about axe murderers. Now, going to an Instagram meetup or tweetup is not unusual!

Do you call your internet friends your friends? Or do you still hesitate?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Be good at stuff

I had a workmate once who made the most awesome cob loaf dip.  You know the one. The one so full of deliciousness you gained a kilo looking at it.

The problem with being good at something is you get a reputation for it. And people keep asking you to do that thing. So every time we had a morning tea, workmates would ask her to make it. And because the ingredients cost so much, she began to feel really pressured into making it all the time at her own personal expense - just because everyone wanted to shovel it into their mouths on their way back from the photocopier. In the end she stopped making it.

She got almost TOO good at something. People wanted more of it. That became problematic, so she didn't want to do it any more. What's the moral? Never let on you're good at something. No, wait, that sounds wrong. I think it is: use your talent, share it as you will, but don't let people dictate what you do with it.

Like the old saying goes, the reward for good work is usually more work. And that's ace, whether you're an artist or cake decorator or accountant. But everyone needs to draw their own line as to how much of a good thing is enough. Don't risk burnout simply because people are demanding it of you.

What are you good at? Do you find yourself doing too much of it?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Getting Myself Together

Lately I've identified that a lot of my stress both at home and at work come from feeling so many things are OUT OF MY CONTROL. I feel lost and helpless sometimes.

At work, I have been trying to start each day with a plan, because focusing on executing said plan does actually help to get stuff done. It also helps me realise that some stuff IS not able to be controlled or influenced by me, and thus I need to just let it go.

Which leads me to my next problem - home-related stress. I need to Get It Together, gurl.

I'm not sure when I started watching Filofax decoration vids on YouTube, but somehow I discovered this whole personal organiser subculture and kind of fell into it. I became convinced that somehow, a physical, paper, hard copy organiser would help me gain some control of my domestic life, where other digital options had failed. Yes, I've tried Evernote. I do use my iPhone calendar, but only because I have a memory like a sieve.

So, I ordered one of the cheaper Filofaxes, the Domino. In pink. Hey, it was half price and it's pretty. So now I'm waiting for it to arrive, and planning how I'm going to decorate it (of course).

I'll let you know if it changes my life.

Meanwhile, here is my fave Filofax YouTuber's channel, mits t. I like her stuff.

Are you, or WERE you, a personal organiser fan?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

In praise of the humble onion

"Go chop an onion."

If I had a dollar for every time these words came out of my mouth!

Tonight I was in the study catching up on my blog reading, when the smell of next door's dinner wafted in on the evening breeze. On cue, hubby appeared, whining he was hungry. Distracted, I told him if he wanted dinner, he could get it started by chopping an onion. 

And it struck me - how often does my cooking start this way? Most of the time! Almost every one of the recipes I have on regular rotation - spag bog, burritoes, meat and veg, pasta, curries, even pizza - all usually begin with me trying to find a clean chopping board, knife and spare onion. 

These wonderful and versitile vegetables are, in my opinion, very underrated. So handy for just about everything you can think of making in the kitchen from soup to gravy. And all my favourite French recipes always begin with that fabulous process of sauteeing an onion in butter with garlic. Ah, that aroma!

And so, tonight as I pluck my last big brown onion from its string bag, I give thanks to the humble onion that contributes so much to my kitchen. 

What's your favourite thing to do with onions?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sarah's Kitchen: Twice baked sweet potato

I don't think I even ate a sweet potato until I was an adult. Ours was a plain potato kind of household growing up. But now I love a good bit of roasted kumera.

I was reading blogs a few weeks ago and stumbled across this recipe for "Slice-Baked Potatoes" on The Pioneer Woman's blog.

As it was Sunday night, I was bored and had a hulking great huge sweet potato sitting on my bench, I thought I'd adapt it a bit. So in between watching some British murder mystery, I did the following.

First, I laid out all my ingredients and took a photo, as food bloggers are supposed to do.

Then, I skipped the bit with the bacon, not having any. I sliced the sweet potato into chunks about 2cm wide, then baked in a hot oven. 190 degrees for about half an hour. Then I scooped out the soft insides with an ice-cream scoop. I decided I didn't want to make holes all the way through, but as you can see, not everything went as planned.

I mixed the sweet potato innards in a bowl with the cheese, sour cream, salt and pepper. I added only a tiny bit of milk in the end because I didn't want it too soggy. I didn't use an electric mixer for this, just a potato masher! Then I spooned the combined mixture into my little sweet potato rounds.

 And added some more cheese...

 Then baked the whole lot again for about 10 mins. This is how they turned out.

They got the thumbs up from hubby, and also from me. The only thing I would say is that they are a bit fussy to make, in that you can't make them, whack them in the oven and walk away. I think the whole recipe took me over an hour start to finish!

Ever done this recipe? Any tips on how to cut down on prep time?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Vlog: Trolls, internet bullies and internet conversation

Latest vlog in which I talk about the way we now define trolls, internet bullies and ask how we can all talk to each other in a more constructive manner online.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I Love the Library

It never ceases to amaze me that as a tax-paying member of the public, I can walk into my local library and they let me take stuff home. Cool stuff. Not just books either! How trusting!

Lately, due to lack of funds, I've stopped buying myself my usual treat of magazines. I am also, as you may know, partial to the occasional cookbook. And guess what? I've recently realised I can get both these things from the library!

I know, duh. Should have known this already, and I guess I kind of vaguely did, but I was always so busy fluttering around looking at books, I never really thought about the other great items libraries will lend you.

I now get mags, cookbooks, CDs AND books and enjoy them for a whole MONTH. At my leisure. For free.

And what is great to see, every time I'm at my local library, there are heaps of people there. It is not a quiet place where the librarian shushs you when you talk.

Nope, it's a loud place. The chatter of families as they choose their young ones books together. Teenagers lounge about discussing manga and the latest John Green book. The click of keyboards never stops as people browse the catalogue, or the internet.

I just love it.

Do you go to the library? Do you get the maximum amount of items?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

E for Effort

On Friday night, as I sat in the passenger seat of my car, husband driving beside me, I turned to him and asked "Do you think I should make more of an effort?".

It was one of those random thoughts, the ones that strike you in the middle of doing something and are usually a good sign your brain is trying to tell you something.

He glanced at me, and without missing a beat, said "No". Bless him, he always says I look good, even when the Hair Frizz Level is at 10.

I looked down at myself, considering that I had chosen to go to the pizza shop wearing my pajamas with no bra. "I do think that I do, sometimes".

How did I come to this? The me of 10 years ago would have been HORRIFIED at even the thought of leaving the house in sleepwear, let alone without some brestical support. But now, I don't think twice about wearing my dressing gown in the McDonald's Drive-Thru (emergency McFlurry runs only) or my PJs to the 7-11. I do draw the line at getting out though. I make hubby go in.

I have never been one of those high maintenance women. I remarked this to my partner who immediately started singing Toby Keith's "High Maintenance Woman (Don't Want No Maintenance Man)". It's true though. I just find the upkeep of being a woman, though nice to do sometimes (eg. for my wedding day) to be too exhausting to contemplate in everyday life.

I see other women going for their monthly hairdressing appointments, nail salon visits, having manis and pedis, waxing, blow-outs, skin treatments, facials and the like and not only do I wonder at the amount of money it all costs, I just can't see myself as wanting to devote that much time to my body.

I'm struck by the sudden self-sabotaging thought that this, perhaps, is why I sometimes step out of the house looking like a sack of potatoes tied in the middle.

"You're married, you've let yourself go..." jokes hubby, with sly side-eye to see if he's pushed the right button of indignation. I refuse to rise to the bait.

"Perhaps I have. But then again, I was never really that much of a Glamazon to start with, my love."

Do you spend Jersey Shore-like amounts of time doing these beauty maintenance things? Does it make you happy or annoyed?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sarah Suggests: The Good Stuff

There's a lot of crap on YouTube. But there's a lot of good stuff too. Which is why I'm recommending The Good Stuff.

What is it? It's basically a bunch of guys that like to make videos about things. Interesting things, cool things, scary things, amazing things. Each playlist has a theme, such as Time, Recycling or the Senses. It also doesn't hurt that one of the members is one of my favourite YouTubers, WheezyWaiter!

Watch the below to see what they're all about.

And here are two of my fave vids they've done - one about what it's like to be blind, the other about a Halloween Haunted House.

They also need financial support, so you can do so on their Subbable page, if you like their stuff!

Sarah Suggests is an ongoing serious in which I will highlight stuff I think is cool. It might be a book, a movie, a tv show, a magazine, podcast, song - whatever!


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