Friday, 17 October 2014

Opinions are like assholes. Linky Lovin' Friday {17th October 2014} // Blogging

It's a funny online world we live in. There are so many things that amuse me. So many things that I read and just shake my head about. I learnt pretty quickly when I used to read The Punch on a daily basis to either stop reading comments sections on blogs run by big-name newspapers and media outlets or just skim one or two. It wasn't worth the feeling of needing to shove something through my eye because of all the stupid.

After so many years online I've discovered that much like in offline life, sometimes it's far better and easier to not say anything at all, rather than start a flame war because some person somewhere will always take things the wrong way. Tone is such an important thing when it comes to communicating with our fellow humans, and it's ridiculously hard to accurately convey tone online. Just another reason why we really need to get on the designing of that sarcasm font pronto. While we're at it we should probably do some work on a satire font and an irony font too!

I admire people who are willing to put it all out there, express opinions that they know are not going to be popular. I am a lot more outspoken and opinionated in my offline life than I am online. Some people may think this is being dishonest or disingenuous. The thing is, I really just have an aversion to drama. I just can't be bothered with it, especially online. It's why I often won't bother wading in to an argument online unless it's something I feel really, really passionate about.

In my offline life I know the people I interact with on a daily or regular basis. They know me. I know what things I can and can't say to some people without them being hurt or offended. It doesn't mean I don't say anything at all, it just means that the way I frame things about a certain topic or issue will be different depending on the person I'm talking to. Because I don't want to cause and deal with drama.

There are people in my offline world who have issues with Muslims and tar them all with the same Islamic State brush. Same goes for asylum seekers. Generally I try to avoid talking about those issues with certain people all together, but when it does come up, I think very carefully about how to word my thoughts and opinions so as to not insult them or get them worked up. I've learned that a discussion works much better if you don't just spew thoughts from your head and get people's backs up. If you're calm, and present your opinion in a rational and respectful way, people are much more inclined to listen and not shut you down.
Yes, I actually did take this photo. Back in 2010, on a hens night. Walking down a street in The Rocks, minding our own business.
When we came across this.  As if I wasn't going to take a photo!

The thing about an opinion is that just like assholes, everybody has one. And when you express an opinion on social media particularly, you need to be prepared to take the heat when people misinterpret the meaning or tone of your opinion. Of course, there are just some people who like a good verbal attack and will have a go no matter what or how you say it, and love to debate the people rather than the point. If you are happy to deal with the drama that expressing an opinion on social media brings then by all means, go straight ahead.

Every time I write something online I always expect someone to take issue with it and prepare for that. Thankfully it hardly ever happens. There have been occasions when I've written posts with very strongly-worded opinions and I know before I even hit publish that some people are not going to agree and will get het up. I also know that even a seemingly innocuous post can get people riled.

I do think sometimes though, in some circumstances, that opinions on some things just don't need to be shared. It's just not worth the time or the energy. For me, I choose the things I do and don't want to fight about, and some things just aren't worth it. Some things are just better left unsaid to certain people for the sake of your own happiness and sanity.

To be honest, I've gotten to a point now while writing this post that I'm not even sure what kind of point I'm even trying to make anymore. This is what happens when you have a tiny seed of a thought and you just start writing.

So, on that confused note, on to my links of choice for the week. Articles and writing that actually have a point, and people who know exactly what they are trying to say!

(And in case anyone was wondering, this hasn't been inspired by anyone or anything, it's just something that has been brewing in the back of my brain for a while, maybe most of the year actually).
I nicked this post from Lara's post (link below), who in turn nicked it from this article
Shame About That Bass by This Charming Mum

...I think All About That Bass is a wasted opportunity to put forward a truly equitable message about being comfortable in your own skin.

Love, love, love this post from Lara. She writes about some of the things that haven't quite hit the mark in the hit song All About that Bass. You can also read my mini-rant in the comments section once you're done reading her well-thought out post.

Minimalism: I threw out more than 20,000 items by Brooke McAlary

And on top of that was the stuff we already owned. It was suffocating. Years of accumulation. Wardrobes overflowing with clothes I never wore. Years of hard fought credit card debt. A double garage so crammed with crap that no car had ever been in it. Boxes of which I knew not the contents. None of it was worth it.

This post was shared by a few bloggers and facebook friends and I really loved it. It struck a chord with me. For the last couple of weeks I've been feeling overwhelmed by everything that I've got going on and all the "stuff" in this house. I realised the other day that part of what makes me stressed, and puts me in a bad mood, is being surrounded by crap all the time and the stress of having to clean and tidy it all. There are some days when I just want to put 99% of the stuff in this house on the front lawn and let the people and the council pick-up have at it.

I need to get rid of so much of this stuff and this article made me realise why.

Recovering from blogger burnout. Losing myself in shaping my blog by Carly Findlay

It's silly isn't it? Feeling the most pressure from ourselves.

I love Carly's blog. She always writes such good stuff and makes me think about things in ways I maybe hadn't before. The comment that Carly received on her blog that she talks about in this post is gold, and goes to the very essence of personal blogging and why many people are drawn to it, both as writers and readers, in the first place. Which leads me to the next link...
Image nicked from the article linked directly below
Why personal blogs can never really survive monetisation by Jennine Jacob

Your life will become your job.

Carly referred to this article in her post and I found it very interesting and it rings true in more ways than one, even for those who aren't fashion bloggers exactly, but whose blogs revolve primarily around themselves and their life. An interesting read.

49 Brilliant Uses for your smartphone's camera

And finally, this is a fun little article to end this week's Linky Lovin' Friday on. The comments on this post are just as good as the article itself. Many of these I do already, but some of it had me shaking my head and thinking "How do people come up with this stuff?!"

So, what do you think? Do you think some things and opinions are just better left alone and unsaid? Have you read anything fabulous this week that you think I should check out?
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

1, 2, 3, 4. Hi-5! Lunch at Darling Harbour // Life // PR

Yesterday the girls and I were lucky enough to be invited to meet the members of Hi-5 and have a private screening of the first episode of their 15th television series. Yeah, 15 years! Doesn't that make you feel old! I still remember performing at Schools Spectaculars with Nathan Foley, one of the original Hi-5 members and running in to others through friends in my first few years out of high school. So let's just pretend I never mentioned the whole 15 years thing, shall we!

The meet & greet & screening was held in Pyrmont and I think the girls were really impressed by a couple of things. The fruit platter. And the giant screen. They seemed rather uninterested in our boring old standard size TV and bananas when we got home at any rate! Punky also told me she loved the popcorn while we were watching the show! She did say she enjoyed the show too, so that's something at least.

After the event we walked down to Darling Harbour, as I promised Punky that we could go and have a look at the water once it was all done. I can't tell you how many times she proclaimed "It's so bootiful, Mummy!" about the water. It was one of those moments that really struck me. It was sprinkling and the sky was grey and dull. The water was also a very dull shade of green and full of floating debris from the recent storms and wind. And yet the minute she laid eyes on it she couldn't stop talking about how beautiful it was. If that's not a lesson in looking at the world through the eyes of a child and appreciation then I don't know what is!

Zee was most impressed by the seagulls (or ducks as Punky called them!) and set about trying to catch one in her fat little fingers. For some reason though she just couldn't quite get them and I'm not sure who was more relieved, the birds or me! There were a few tricky moments when I had to make a choice between racing after Zee or heading towards Punky. It certainly is a real balancing act when you have more than one walking child! I don't know how people with more do it without leads!

After the water admiring and seagull chasing we made a quick pitstop in the baby change room for fresh nappies and a much needed 5 minute break. For me, not the kids. They were quite content to play with the toy thing on the wall which was more than fine by me after all of the toddler chasing. Once their fascination with the toy thing was over we headed out to the Harbourside food court for some lunch.

Lunch usually isn't all that exciting with toddlers, they eat the same thing wherever you go (sandwiches or "chippies nuggies"!) but I got one of the best lunches I've had in a while. It was honey-roasted pulled pork on a roll with cucumber, lettuce, pickled carrot, spanish onion, chilli and some kind of creamy sweet-chilli sauce thing and it was divine. I've told Dave we have to take the girls in to the city again soon just so he can taste it's porkalicious goodness for himself!

We just love a good porking!

With lunch done we grabbed Mumma a well-deserved coffee and trecked back to the car, where I was unceremoniously bought back down to earth by the stinkiest Zee I've encountered for a while and an awkward front-seat nappy change which I am still feeling in my back. Thankfully after that we were good to go, and my ploy to take the long (toll-free) way home worked and both girls zonked it for the hour-plus drive home.

Punky is now plastered in Hi-5 temporary tattoos that she got in her super-cool Hi-5 backpack, with plans to take the remaining tattoos to Granny's this afternoon and 'pretty' her up! I must thank you Hi-5 PR people for the awesome bags. You have totally saved me having to buy the girls new backpacks at the start of next year.


Once again I survived a pretty big outing with both kids by myself, and every time it happens I feel a little less of a fraud. For so long I've avoided doing much with the girls by myself because I worry about how I will handle it, but each time I do it becomes that little bit easier. I also realise just how much fun it can be hanging out with these two little souls who really are the biggest hams I've ever met in my life. They make my life what it is.

How long did it take you to get the nerve to go on big solo trips with your kid/kids? And if you have more than two, do you have any of them on a lead?!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. The girls were invited by the Hi-5 PR company and there was absolutely no obligation to blog about it, although I'm sure they'll be happy that I did, lol! Either way, I have not been paid for this post and all opinions are my own. As always.

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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Three Bloggers and a Camera // Life // Photography

Once again the weekend has come and gone in a flash and I find myself sitting in front of my computer, late Monday night, editing. Editing, editing, editing. You see, I took a lot of photos on the weekend. Which if you know me in the slightest, is nothing new, but this time they weren't photos of my own kids and family. They were photos of other people's kids and families.

Now before you start thinking I've gone all weirdo voyeur on you, let me explain. Back in August I made a very big decision. I decided to take a leap of faith, go out on a limb, throw all caution to the wind. I put the call out for anyone that was interested to have a little faith in me and book me to take their family photos for them.

The idea being, that I'll get some more work to fill my portfolio with, but I'll also gain so really, super valuable experience & knowledge. Well let me tell you, I got both of those in spades. Not only that, but I also had a lot of fun to boot! It's definitely made me realise that this is what I really want to do.

Yes I love design, and I will continue to learn and dabble as time allows, but the last few weeks I've really realised that photography is where my heart and true passion lies. I knew at the beginning of the year that 2014 was going to be a game changer. I just had this feeling that it was going to be the year I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up and that I would finally be able to take steps to make that happen.

From doing these two shoots over the weekend (with the fabulous Ann from Help!! I'm Stuck and Emma over at Five Degrees of Chaos) I can see clearly now the things that I'm doing ok at and the things I need to work on. My photographs  and technique are nowhere near perfect yet and I thank both Ann and Emma for being patient with me while I got my settings right and madly scouted for the best spots to snap.

Over the next week I'll be editing and sorting all of the images, getting them print ready and winging their way to their new homes. With Ann and Emma's permission I'll show you some of my best and favourite shots next week, once I've had a chance to sort through them all finish the final edits. I've picked a couple to include here, just to give you a little taste and teaser of how the weekend went.

I've set up a super basic website for my photography over on Wordpress, if you're interested you can have a little squiz over here at As time goes on I'll add more to it and create more mini-portfolios of my work. For now there's just the bare bones but I hope to have it looking a little slicker and fuller as time goes on and I hone my Wordpress skills! It's definitely a learning curve after using Blogger for the past 5 and a bit years!

I've also set up a facebook page, where I'll also post previews of the work I've been doing and the photos I've been taking. I'm hoping to go to Tafe next year and study for my Certificate IV in Photo Imaging, so I'm sure I'll have lots to share from that as well!

It's exciting times ahead and I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited. I feel like this could really be the start of something special, and I can't wait to see what happens in the coming year!

What's your passion? Have you ever pursued a dream?
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Friday, 10 October 2014

Linky Lovin' Friday {10th October 2014} // Blogging

Happy Friyay, as one of my favourite people, Vicki, likes to say! It's been a bit of a crazy week since I last sat down to write a Linky Lovin' post. Dave and I had another lucky kid-free night last Saturday when we went to my girlfriend's engagement party. Let's just say we got sooooo happy that we had to check out of our hotel and go the 2 minutes to Mum's house to crash on her lounge for a few hours before we could go to my sister's and see the girls. 

We had so many 'lemonades' that I didn't want to risk driving with any kind of residual blood alcohol and to be honest, with the whole not getting back to the hotel room until almost 3am, and then losing an hour automatically thanks to daylight saving, I was working on about 4 hours sleep and it just was not a good idea to get behind the wheel!

The rest of the week has been quite lovely thanks to the aforementioned start of daylight saving, and the fact that the girls are now sleeping past 5:30am again. Have I mentioned before how much I love daylight saving?

Even massively hungover he is still so good with
the girls, so much better than me!
The only downside to the week has been having to take the car to the mechanic unexpectedly when the indicator decided to go berserk and not turn off, accompanied by some lovely wisps of white smoke that started coming out of the steering wheel. I also had to walk the 3kms home from the mechanic with Zee in the tiny umbrella stroller because our other car only has one anchor point and it's wreaked havoc on my foot and flared my plantar fasciitis again.

The good news is that it was all easily fixed and we can pick up the car this afternoon. I'm not quite sure how much the bill is going to be, but as long as it's under $400 I'll be happy. Anything more and we may as well just get a new bloody car! I can't wait till we have met our savings target and can go car shopping next August!

But anyway, enough about me, what about you? Have you had a great week or a not so good one? I don't know about you but I have read so much good stuff lately that it was really hard to put this post together without including about 15 links. So I've broken it down and saved some for next week's post as I have a lot of work coming up and I know I won't get to read as much as usual. So, without further ado, here's your linky lovin for the weekend...

Beards and Burqas by Zippy Zappy Life
Or we could get back to being Australian and respect individual choices, even if they make us uncomfortable. We are supposed to have moved on from victimising groups that make us uncomfortable. Australians you have been the leading voice for minority groups. Don’t let fear rule your heart, it is exactly what terrorism aims for.
Yep, the whole burqa debate is a political hot potato but I love that Jules has gone there and what she says on the issue. Personally I agree with her, but she spells it out so much better and succinctly than I could ever hope to.
Improving your photography by taking fewer photographs by Rachel Devine
When I first noticed that I was taking way too many digital photos than I ever needed with film, I dedicated a small memory card to use for a personal photo experiment and over the course of a few days, I had taken seventy two frames. My exercise in mindful photography was born. I call it the "Two Roll Rule" after the thirty six exposure rolls of film I used to use when I started my photography business in 1995.
This is not your usual how-to photography article. It goes beyond that and talks about being really mindful of the photos you are taking and taking less, not more, to learn and improve your skills. It's a fantastic idea, and one I'd actually been thinking about. This article was share by Zoey Martin in the Shake Creative Challenge group and it fit really well with another article I read recently, by Zoey herself, about slowing down your photo taking. Both posts are well worth the read if you have even a passing interest in taking better photographs.

Image nicked from Vanessa's post, link below...
The Real Digital Detox by 26 Years and Counting
A digital detox isn’t about seeing the friends in your phone as wrong. I don’t actually think that most people are that addicted to their phone and notifications that it impacts the other parts of their lives. I think the problem needs re-framing. It’s about ensuring habits and people are sustainable and are the type of influence that you want in your life.
Vanessa expresses exactly how I feel about social media and it's 'troublesome impact' on our lives. I'm a firm believer that we should be our own masters of social media and if it's the other way around for you then you need to take steps to change that. It's also not that hard to remove much (but obviously not all) of the negative stuff that goes on in SM-land by exercising our right to click the unfriend, block or unfollow buttons.


You only have to be a good parent half the time by Sarah Macdonald
The idea of a ‘circle of security’ has come out of attachment theory.  The theory states that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver. Such a caregiver becomes a safe base from which to explore the world and research with families has found even the most sensitive caregivers only get it right 50% of the time.  It’s known that secure children exhibit increased empathy, greater self-esteem, better relationships with parents and peers, enhanced school readiness, and an increased capacity to handle emotions more effectively when compared with children who are not secure.
This is a really interesting article about parenting and being emotionally available to your children. It's not talking about discipline, or doing stuff for them, or helping them learn, it's simply being there for your child, making sure they feel safe and secure with you. I highly recommend having a read of this.


What Indian parents say but what they really mean by Sanch Living Life

When I went back to pull a quote from this funny post I couldn't get the blog up for some reason, but I am still going to include it in the hopes that by the time this post goes live things will be back to normal and you will be able to read it. These sayings are not exclusive to Indian parents and I think everyone will be able to relate to some of these and get a little giggle.

So that's it from me this week. Hit me up with links of your own in the comments and let me know what's caught your eye the last few days. And have a fabulous weekend!

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Thursday, 9 October 2014

What are we going to watch on TV? // Entertainment // Sponsored

This is a sponsored post for Seebo MAXX and Digital Parents Collective.

Even with a subscription TV service Dave and I still find ourselves asking this question. What are we going to watch tonight? Despite all of the extra channels that paid TV gives us, there still never seems to be anything on, when we want it to be on. Which is why I was super excited to be invited to hear about a new product a couple of weeks ago, one that will revolutionise the way many people watch TV.

Sitting in a gorgeous apartment in Sydney's Woolloomooloo with a bunch of equally gorgeous bloggers, we chowed down on scrummy finger foods and bubbly and settled in to hear all about this new product, the Seebo Maxx. As the storm clouds rolled in from the west, we were entertained and amazed by everything that this little box of electronics can do.

The Seebo Maxx is an all in one set-top box, media streamer and hybrid media player.

What is that in English I hear you ask?

Well. It's a little doovalackey that can play all your free-to-air TV stations, connect to the internet and stream TV from anywhere in the world, as well as play all of your music and other media stored in devices around your home.

There was three things that I really liked about the Seebo Maxx...

1. No ongoing subscription fees or contracts. 

You buy the Seebo Maxx, plug it in, and have no more to pay. It's not locked to any one company or service. If it's available to stream on the internet, then you can watch it on your TV via this device. The way things are going these days, most of the content that you access via your expensive subscription television service is going to be able to be streamed directly from the content-creator via the internet, meaning you won't have lock-in contracts or massive fees to pay purely to watch one or two shows or sports.

2. The price and manufacture.

The Seebo Maxx is ridiculously priced at just $599. Yes I know that seems like a lot of money. But it is considerably less than what a lot of people already pay for their subscription television if you break it down on a monthly basis. Not to mention the fact that the Seebo Maxx has been completely conceived, developed and manufactured right here in Australia. The people behind the Seebo Maxx know what it is that Australians want and need when it comes to all things TV, and they are keeping many an Aussie in a job by manufacturing their product here.

3. They support charity.

Every Seebo Maxx unit sold via their online store from launch (end of October) until December 6th 2014 will see a $50 donation go direct to the charity Save our Sons and support them in their battle to find a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

If you'd like to find out more about the Seebo Maxx you can check out their web page here, or follow them over on Facebook or Twitter. I've also included a little video at the bottom that explains better than I could about what exactly it is that the Seebo Maxx does.

I am hoping to get my hands on one of these bad boys to road test at some stage in the near future and I will most definitely report back with what I think of it and how well it stands up with my at-times dodgy internet connection! If it impresses me as much in my own home as it did at the presentation, then we will most definitely be getting one for our home, just as soon as the NRL gets their arses in to gear and starts streaming all the non-Channel Nine games online!

How do you like to watch TV? Do you have a pay-TV service or another TV streaming device such as Apple TV or Chrome Cast? What's one thing you wish your TV could do that it doesn't currently?

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Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Dirt Days // Photography

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Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Reading Writes {Chapter Two} Best & Worst Endings // Reading

And they all lived happily ever after.

Could an ending be anymore cliche? Probably not. But sometimes, that kind of ending can just work. Other times it's a giant cop-out from a writer too lazy or too confused to be able to present us with anything better. Sure, the way an author starts a book can be pretty crucial. But for me, it's the ending that makes or breaks it. The same is true of any story, no matter the medium.

I hate nothing more than a book, movie or TV show to have a shit ending. It leaves me feeling ripped off. Conned. It tarnishes the rest of the experience, even if up until the end it had been a really good experience and story. Now to be honest, there aren't a lot of books where I hated the ending. In fact, it's usually TV shows or movies where I get to the end and have that ripped off feeling.

In fact, I couldn't really tell you many book endings that I hated because if I hated them they have faded from my memory. I'm pretty sure I've completely blocked them out, such was my anger and disappointment! TV shows, though, that's another story.

I wasn't too impressed with the ending of How I Met Your Mother. It was ok, and I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Despite the fact that the entire last season covers basically one day in their lives, and I liked the fact that you got flash forwards of Ted with the Mother, I didn't like the ending. It just felt too easy. And so obvious. I picked it at least 10 episodes before it happened.
Final sentence from one of my favourite books

Lost was another disappointment, although again, I so knew it was coming. It was exactly what I said it would be. But still annoying. Seinfeld and Mad About You both sucked as well. Friends was actually ok. It's just that they could have done anything and I still would not have been happy because it was my favourite show and I never wanted it to end!

The ending of Stargate Atlantis was really shit. It wouldn't have been so bad if the Atlantis movies that they had planned at the time actually happened. But since they didn't, the ending just sucks even more, there were so many things they needed to address.

What did I love the endings of? Alias. If you go online and google Alias ending there is heaps written by fans and critics of the show about it's ending and how much people didn't like it. I for one thought it was brilliant. Especially what happened to Sydney's arch nemesis, Sloan. He couldn't have come to a better end!

I also loved the ending of The Office (US) and the 30 Rock ending wasn't too bad either.

In terms of book endings that I loved, my favourite has to be, of course, the Harry Potter series. Seriously, the last 5 chapters of the last book are pretty much the best 5 chapters of any book I've ever read. That's why I was so pissed off with the ending of the last movie, it was ridiculously shit-house, losing all the awe and amazingness of the final confrontation that the book had.

I also didn't mind the ending of the third Hunger Games books. I think there is real pressure on an author to nail an ending when it comes to a trilogy or a series, even more so than a TV show or movie. Readers invest so much more time in their books and to get a shitty ending after spending what can sometimes amount to hundreds of hours spent reading their words is a real big fuck you on the part of an author.

Having said that though, there is the simple fact that not everyone is going to be happy with the ending that a writer presents us with. We are social creatures, us humans, and as such we become seriously attached to the people in the stories we read or watch. Everyone has their own ideas about how a book, series, TV show or movie should end, and there are always going to be those that don't like what they are presented with.

However if an author treats their characters, and thus their readers with respect, then I think even an ending that people aren't so happy with, people will still see the value in it. It won't taint the rest of the work that has gone before.

I have high hopes for the final book in the Wool trilogy, as well as whatever the final book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series ends up being. Although to be honest with you, I am highly suspicious of just how George R. R. Martin plans on finishing that series and from what I've read about him, I wouldn't be surprised to get a big "Fuck You" ending from him!

So tell me, what endings have you loved, what endings have you loathed?

P. S. Just wanted to say a super big thank you to everyone who linked up with me last month. It was so great to read all your posts and have your support, and I hope to see you all linking up again this month. You guys rock!

P. P. S. Next month I'll be writing about favourite books so get your lists ready!

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