Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts on Blogging

When I first started blogging, I did it to record all the little moments with my family, to document our house renovations, to share some recipes, crap on about my garden, but mainly just to amuse myself. I like writing. It never occurred to me that other people would actually read anything I would write, and newsflash - not that many do! I love and appreciate every single one of my readers, but this little blog is small fry to lots of other blogs, blogs that have lots of readers and impressive stats. I don't at all begrudge anyone their success; on the contrary, I am genuinely happy for anyone to achieve success in something they love. If I was ever that successful, I hope those people would be happy for me.

Before I became a blogger, I studied and worked in the field of marketing. I wasn't a big mover and shaker, but I loved it - I love the way marketing strategies work, I love the thought and creativity that goes into different segments of advertising. I love the psychology of it, the cleverness. I don't think this makes me a capitalist running dog, it just means I have an appreciation for a field that I devoted a decent part of my life to.

It's no surprise that I like working with brands. Yes, that B word! Not all brands, just the products that interest me and that fit in with my life and the stuff I blog about. I like being a small, tiny part of their marketing strategy. I love that I get to sample products and tell you what I think. I like blogging about stuff that rocks my world - if it didn't rock my world I couldn't be passionate about it, so what would be the point of writing anything? I love being able to offer giveaways to my lovely readers, because I am always thrilled to receive a giveaway myself.

I've heard alot about 'not selling your blog for a packet of biscuits' and it has occurred to me that recently, I might be considered to have done just that (Hello Orgran!). It never occurred to me that I was selling my blog, or my credibility, or just selling out - I was just very happy to rave about a product that I loved, and offer another reader the opportunity to try it as well. I still am very happy about it. Not conciously 'developing my brand', rather blogging about my own likes and dislikes (hello Nokia N9) among other stuff, on my own blog, in my own way.

With a marketing background, I certainly do see the value that bloggers have to brands. I see that the depth of the market reach that a blogger may have might be very lucrative to the people thinking up the marketing strategy. I see that the value of this can be converted to money, and that money is the actual bottom line where most brands are concerned. I don't think it is the bottom line where most bloggers are concerned.

I did not start blogging to make money, and money is certainly not my driving reason for continuing to blog, but I have no problem accepting money for my part in a marketing strategy. And check back to the first paragraph - I am not a super blogger! So I do not earn the super dollars. One day I might, and if that day ever comes I hope that it is still not the main reason I blog. And in all honesty, I do not think it is the main reason anyone blogs.

Please, tell me your thoughts on this. I would love to hear them.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

The winner of the $150 House voucher, thanks to Elastoplast and Soup, is....

Images from Sheri's blog.
Sheri cracked me up with this tale of ingenuity;

'Would you believe the last time I needed a band aid didn't involve bloodshed at all? In fact, I was out and about at an event and was having a bit of a bra wardrobe malfunction. Normally I carry useful bibs and bobs like safety pins in my handbag however I was using a different handbag to match my outfit and had nothing. After asking around a few ladies the best I could come up with was a band aid. After disappearing into the toilets and some strategic sticking later, I emerged with said bra malfunction remedied with JUST ONE BAND AID. And it held those puppies up all day AND night! Now THAT'S what I call tough!'

Sheri please email me your details and the voucher and two packets of Elastoplast plasters bra malfunction repair kits will be on their way to you in no time.

Thanks to everyone whe entered, and special thanks to Elastoplast and Soup.

Elastoplast faces further Chaos Challenges.

Elastoplast & Soup sent me a super large plaster, to test it's waterproofness. I took it along to the wino mother's group with all great intentions - I was going to 'borrow' someones phone, wrap it up in the giant plaster, and throw it in the bay! I'm not going to say I chickened out, but an opportunity didn't present itself, so it didn't happen. We looked at some Elastoplast samples and talked about times we've really needed plasters to be waterproof, but then just got distracted and before you knew it, the sun had gone down.

I started thinking of new uses for the giant plaster. Here I am sizing up Mr BC's back for waxing.

 Or perhaps his face? He's started growing a beard. So gross.

Finally, I had it - I would test it's waterproofness by wrapping up Mr Shiny Red Macca's toy in a face washer, then wrapping it in the plaster. You can tell if the facewasher is wet because it will change colour - no, not Hypercolour, it will just go darker!

This is the closest thing to a pool we have. Although if you could shrink yourself to swim in it you might have an encounter with a Swamp Creature, look how overgrown that pond weed is! Who is in charge of cleaning this? Oh, me. Well then....

Just tossing the parcel didn't seem like much of a test, it just sits on all that pond weed.

So, I hosed it.

And when I unwrapped it, look! Dry as a bone! Except that corner where I didn't wrap it properly.

Mr Shiny Red Macca's toy survives to be on Swamp Creature alert.

Giveaway - Elastoplast and Soup have a $150 House voucher for one lucky winner to spend on the kitchen ware of their dreams! To enter, please leave me a comment telling me about the last time you needed a bandaid - the comment that makes me laugh the most will win.

Australian residents only (sorry).

Winner to be announced 27th May 2011 - YES TODAY!  I will draw the winner at midnight tonight!

One entry per post please - hint: There are TWO Elastoplast posts that you can comment on, meaning you can have TWO entries to this competition!

Chaos Notes - May 2012

I know, the month isn't finished yet - which is just as well because I have so much more to do. It's been a busy busy month and at times I have felt like my feet haven't touched the ground all day. Lucky I have this blog to record all the moments...

First things first! I have a winner to announce - the winner of the Baby Mum Mums is Ames - yay Ames! Please email your address and your baby will be nomming on num nums asap.

 You still have time to enter the Elastoplast competition for a $150 House voucher. I will be drawing the winner later tonight but first I have one more waterproof test to put this plaster through. This test may involve my husbands mobile phone..ALSO!! Please make sure you leave a valid email address with your entry, not Mr no-reply at blogger.

Bloggers Lunch at Waga Mamas. Crap service, but really yummy food and awesome company. L-R Talia (and her new cherub) Zoe, Leanne, Melissa, Rachel and her cherub. My cherub was off at the park with Zoe's cherub.  Hopefully being cherub like.

Tina Gray posted a recipe for her 'once in a blue moon' chicken made with cola, and one of her commenters turned out to be an absolute troll, righteous with indignation that this recipe was absolutely not suitable for children, or anyone. Which is all a load of crap, really. So I thought I would post a picture of Monkey Boy having a very nutritious breakfast.

It has been so cold lately, and most of the country replies to my face book whinging with stuff like 'Oh, you don't know cold - it is 4 degrees here!' And I think how mean, my barnacles are freezing off. And then I go to my garden and pick some tomatoes and think, hmm, maybe they are right. Maybe.

El Grande shop. Which almost broke my back carrying it up the stairs. And that whinge has nothing to do with the weather, thankyouverymuch

Mr BC is dong very well, thank you to everyone for your well wishes. He has a new found relaxation in fishing, and sometimes comes home with pictures of sea turtles. Lovely! Can you see it? In the middle? It's little head popping up?

Sometimes he actually comes home with a fish or two, which is also lovely.

And sometimes he comes home with other sea treasures for me to find. Took me ages to find this crab claw, but the smell gave it away. Ewwww. (Can you see my new curtains? They are replacing some truly hideous vertical blinds that made the lounge feel like a prison.)

Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chocolate Muffins (with a secret ingredient)

Sneaky Bastards
And the secret ingredient is ..................................mashed sweet potato! Or Kumera, if you are married to a Kiwi.

Muffins are popular in this household. I seem to have broken/worn out/burnt out the engine on all my kitchen devices that mix, so making these is great because there is no creaming of sugar and butter. Also, everyone likes to eat them, so bonus! I didn't set out to hide vegies from my kids, but I did notice that the child who turned his nose up at dinner the night before happily scarfed down 6 muffins. Just sayin!

This is a recipe that I have adjusted from a Nigella recipe. It is a good basic (read flexible) recipe, I've made it as lemon & poppy seed, strawberry vanilla, choc chip, red velvet, banana; just add in whatever is in season, or whatever you like to eat. I often make extra mashed kumera at dinner so there will be leftovers to turn into muffins.

Basic Muffins

Dry Ingredients - mix these together in a bowl.
  • 200g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • half a teaspoon of bicarb soda
  • 150g sugar (whatever kind you like - I often use raw sugar, but white or a mix of both is fine)
Wet Ingredients - mix these together separately, then mix into the dry ingredients.
  • 60g melted butter
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 120ml of milk
  • 1 egg.
For chocolate kumera muffins, I added 50g of cocoa powder into the dry ingredients and 1 cup of cooled cooked mashed kumera to the wet ingredients.

Combine well - I know most muffin recipes say to not over mix but the action of the bicarb, milk and lemon juice means that your mix will become very aerated, almost like mousse. It needs to mix properly for this reaction. Baking is a science!

I made these as mini muffins, with muffin papers (because I am lazy) and baked at medium heat for about 20 minutes. Every oven is different so check them after about 15 mins.

Nom nom nom.

Happy baking!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Elastoplast Product Review and Giveaway (the post where I give you the finger alot)

You know, I like doing product reviews. I get to try out stuff, give my honest opinion, and then I get the chance to give something to you. This time I am reviewing Elastoplast and the giveaway is worth $150, so read on.

Elastoplast, via Soup, have sent me some of their new plasters to review - which is awesome, because they are my favourite brand of plaster. They are perfect for blisters on your heel because in my opinion they are the only plaster that will not fall off.

Now they are even better, because they are waterproof. Yes, I know - a fabric plaster that is waterproof! Not only that, they will not fall off yet they will not leave any grey sticky stuff on you that is impossible to get off. It must be some kind of magic. I was very keen to put them to the test, so I got right to it.

The water just beads up and runs off the plaster, leaving it bone dry.

This test didn't seem hard enough, so I made up a bit of a Tough Mudder course for it. I left  the plaster on my finger for exactly 24 hours. The course consisted of;
  • 3 loads of laundry and then hanging it on the line.
  • Cleaned the bathroom, including scrubbing the bath tub.
  • Wrangled Monkey boy into halfway decent clothes.
  • Met some other bloggers for lunch and inhaled a large Chicken Katsu
  • Sat at the Estee Lauder counter and was colour matched with some nice foundation and given a 10 day supply (check their face book page, it's free)
  • Met the wino mums at the park and drank lots of wine.
  • Went home and attempted to order pizza online. How hard does it have to be?
  • Went out for dinner (Thai) with Mr BC, then onto a movie (Dark Shadows - hilarious)
  • Slept on the couch because my bed was full of small children who had wet theirs.
  • Awoke to find Mr BC had gone fishing, made the children some breakfast, did MORE laundry, then thought Why on earth do I have a plaster on my finger?

To be honest, cleaning the bathroom did make the plaster a bit soggy, but it quickly dried and I forgot it was there.

It looked a bit grungy after it's tough mudder course, but it came off easily and left absolutely NO residue, which is something I hate.

The Giveaway

I have one $150 voucher for one lucky reader to spend at House. No, not your house! The cookware retailer! There are stores across Australia, and you can shop online. Most of my mishaps that require plasters happen in the kitchen, so it fits well - once I cut my finger so badly it required 3 stitches and if that wasn't bad enough, water proof plasters hadn't been invented yet. Oh, the inconvenience! You can buy a decent set of knives and really do some damage if you want, which is why the winner will also receive two packets of Elastoplast waterproof plasters.

To enter, please leave me a comment telling me about the last time you needed a bandaid - the comment that makes me laugh the most will win. Australian residents only (sorry). Winner to be announced 27th May 2011. One entry per post please.

I'll be doing another fun test on Wednesday, make sure you drop by for another chance to enter!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Mix Discount Voucher

Why hello there family and friends!

Tommorow only Mix are offering 40% off to family and friends - that's you! You are my friend, right? Or at least family. Why else would you be here?

There are some conditions, so check the fine print. Don't forget to print this out and take it with you!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Don't be intolerant of Food Allergies!

I love food. I know, hard to believe *snort* but it's true. Preparing it, cooking it, shopping for it, reading about it, even eating it. I've always been a dedicated omnivore, and have refused to acknowledge my few food allergies because they would slow me down - I'm not giving up prawns for anyone, not even me. I only get a bit tingly in the tongue, promise. OK, I will back off on the Rock melon, because vomiting from both ends isn't pretty for anyone. But that's it.

So it was with some small shock that we discovered The Gentleman was allergic to dairy, soy AND wheat. Our initial relief at discovering the cause (and therefore, control) of his painful eczema was quickly followed by the question 'What do we feed him?' Plenty of rice and corn, as it turns out.

We quickly became experts at learning the language of food labels. Casein? Milk. Glucose? Is it made from wheat? If the product is Australian it probably is, better off with American lollies because they are made from glucose that derives from corn. Orange Juice? Only if it isn't calcium fortified, because that will contain some form of dairy. Hot Chips? Not from maccas, they are coated in wheat to enhance crispiness factor. It's a minefield, with unpleasant and sometimes dire consequences.

The Gentleman was lucky that we lived near several good health food stores that could supplement the unexciting allergy food section of the supermarket. He went without a lot though, including a decent first birthday cake. At this stage we where too scared to give him nuts or eggs, so his cake might have looked spectacular but it tasted really awful. Luckily he grew put of these allergies by the time he started school, but he still has trust issues with chocolate.

SO! Why this big long story? Because I want to tell you about Orgran products.They've been around for ages so they are very well trusted, but did you know they actually taste very good? I didn't, and I was genuinely shocked to discover this, when they sent me some Itsy Bitsy Bears lately. I actually wrote to the PR lady to tell her how surprised I was that they didn't taste like cardboard. If you need further proof, the children in this house demolished 2 packets over 24 hours. Yes, they hoovered up the Berry Choc and the Chocolate flavours. Pretty good for something that is free from gluten, wheat, dairy,egg, yeast, nuts, and soy.

Orgran also make a wide range of other foods suitable for allergy sufferers or vegans, and to help you even further they have a free app at the iPhone store! The Orgran Gluten Free Foods Recipe App has over 300 hundred recipes, which means you can still be a dedicated omnivore even if you or someone in your family has food allergies.

The Orgran Gluten Free Foods Recipe App is free to download here.

You can learn more about Orgran products here.

You can taste some Itsy Bitsy Bears  here!

Please leave me your best allergy friendly recipe in the comments section for your chance to win a packet of each flavour. Two prizes to be won, winners chosen and announced 30th May 2012. Australian residents only, sorry. AND because I love all of my readers you don't have to be a follower of this blog, so Lurkers you are welcome! (Please make sure you leave a valid email address though so I can contact you.)

Disclaimer - Orgran supplied me with 2 packets of Itsy Bitsy Bears for review purposes. All words and genuine enthusiasm are entirely my own.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Dressing for Autumn, Chaos style

I know, two 'style' posts in a row! Brace yourselves.

I am in a bit of a rut with my wardrobe. I don't subscribe to the no-leggings-as-pants rule and am happy to wear them most days, as long as the shirt covers both my arse and gunt mummy tummy. 

Today however, is fricken freezing. Freezing I tell you! It was 10 degrees* this morning, and in a state where it is warm enough to warrant thongs (feet or bum, choose your poison) that is mighty cold indeed. Today is one of the few days I wish I owned ugg boots, and I don't even own slippers.

So shopping my wardrobe for something warm bought me to the realisation that;
  • I have a serious lack of 'wardrobe staples'
  • I must really dislike shopping.
  • There is a lot of crap in my wardrobe, maybe I should go through it (that is another post)

What I ended up wearing was the above ensemble; 
  • a purple maternity dress that has been through 2 pregnancies and has the cleavage held together with a very attractive brass safety pin.
  • Leather boots that are ancient  genuine vintage! I remember buying them for $50 in Bondi Junction, back in the mid 80's.
  • Black leggings because they are warm and comfortable. Deal with it!
  • A stylish cardigan (re) gifted to me by my stylish sister.
  • I have run out of hair elastics so am using a bit of emergency sparkly elastic gift ribbon to scrape my clean but product free hair back into a bun.
  • No makeup whatsoever, but I do have on some moisturiser/sunscreen.
Do you know why this outfit is Winning with a capitol W? Because it is warm? Yes, but also the monkeys made such a fuss of how 'beautiful' I looked - to them I looked 'as lovely as those ladies on Mousehunt but without the knitted hair because that is just freaky.' Works for me.


    * Don't tell me it is colder where you live! 'Freezing' is a subjective emotion!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Diversionary Sewing Tactics

I sewed this skirt a few weeks ago. Really quickly, out of off cuts. I'm not very good at sewing, I can barely sew in a straight line, but these offcuts where just hanging around, delighting me with their matchy brightness. The front and back pink was given to me by an old neighbour who used this material to make cushions; the sides are the excess length on a maxi dress I bought at Big W a few weeks ago; and the waistband is another hem length from a Seduce dress that was a freebie on a magazine. It has a super comfortable elastic waist band, and the tiniest split the back centre.The skirt percolated in my head & then bang bang bang, almost sewed itself!

I wore this skirt to visit my diabetes doctor last week because I have noticed that if I wear bright clothes, a bit of bling and some makeup, she says happily 'You are looking very well, so vibrant! Obviously you've been exercising and paying attention to your diet.", wheres if I go in looking like a gloomy emo she starts talking about increasing my medications. So last week she complimented me on my skirt & we had a very chatty 30 minutes going through the results of my blood tests, blood pressure, weight, waist measurement, blah blah. She also filled out the forms for medical certificate attached to my drivers licence, no questions.

We must have been a bit too chatty because the next morning I looked at the medical certificate and realised she had written the date of my visit as the expiry date. I called the Dept of Motor blah blah, who said she had to amend it and sign it. I spoke to her receptionist, who said of course she will amend it immediately, just bring it in straight away....

Damn it I should have made TWO skirts!


Thursday, May 10, 2012

Baby Mum-Mums review and giveaway

 No! Not those Birdy Num-Nums.

Rice rusks? For Babies? You know..


Gluten, egg, and peanut free.
No artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
Four flavours - original, apple, vegetable and banana.
They are an ideal shape to hold, and miraculously leave no mess.
Less than $3 for 18 individually wrapped rusks.

This sounds like a much better offer than what was available when my monkeys where teething.
The BC monkeys where eager to test drive these rusks, but I thought these should be tested on actual babies, so I took them to the school pick up.

This little miss is going to be a dentist, so I can't show you her face.
Although I have it on good authority that she adored Baby Mum-Mums.
Her mum loved that they didn't crumble or mush up into a hideous mess.

Miss Molly was happy to show her smiley face to the world, especially for some rusk action!

Look, I'm eating them, I'm eating them! I've even taken my dummy out!

She really is adorable, and totally enjoyed those Birdy Mum-Mums.
I felt like she was holding back on something though...

Watcha hiding, Molly? Sorry, mouth too full of delicious healthy teething rusk.
Can't talk. Distract you with my manicure and dainty pinky..More rusk?

Molly! You are not teething at all!!
(pass me another rusk!)

Molly's mum was really impressed with Baby Mum-Mums, and was planning on buying more because Molly was strong arming her  even though Molly wasn't teething they are healthy, excellent value and handy to have on the go.  

Birdy Mum-Mums have a few packets of tasty rusks to give to you your teething baby, just leave a comment telling me something funny about your teething baby. Ooooh, trick question! How about you tell me your best idea for soothing teething babies? Or anything, really..Winners will be selected on Friday 18th May 2012.

Baby Mum-Mums are available from Coles and Woolworths, and seem to be popular with all age groups.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Mix Apparel May Picks

I'm posting over here today, come on over and see my May fave and how to style it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chaos Notes: Hospital Edition

Thank you everyone for the avalanche of big loves, well wishes, prayers and healing thoughts sent our way. The universe must have sat up and paid attention because yesterday my husband was released from hospital! There are lots of tests, medications and doctors visits in his immediate future, but apart from being very tired he is the same grumpy old Mr BC. (OK he is only grumpy because he is tired)

While sick hubs was in hospital, we had torrential rain here in Brisbane and my house flooded. Again. The boys went feral with some seriously bad behaviour. I know they where acting out because they where worried about their dad, but this fighting/yelling/constant whinging was like 8 weeks of school holidays condensed into 5 days and dude, I had a husband in hospital and my house was flooding - and lets not mention the laundry. I cannot thank enough the people who offered to help out, and I wish I had enlisted more of you. At one stage I dropped the boys off to a friend who serenely laughed at my instructions to sell them on the white slave market. When I picked them up two hours later she gave me some freshly baked banana bread. She has a special place in heaven.

The biggest star during this whole time has been Teenage Daughter, who wielded the wet and dry vac with expertise, while making beds, helping with shopping, and ignored her own sick boyfriend while being a brilliant babysitter. She has an excellent career in child care should she choose to pursue it. *Teenage Daughter runs screaming from the room.* Perhaps not...

During my stressful wait at the hospital when Mr BC was first bought in by ambulance, an elderly and very stylish woman noticed how upset I was and came over to give me a hug. If you know me in real life you will be laughing now, because I have serious personal space issues. This woman didn't pick up on that, but she did tell me she was psychic, and as she pressed her boobs into my face (!!!) she told me that my husband would be OK, she could tell it was serious but that he would survive. Turns out she was right, but it was all a bit awkward, really.

Hospitals are filled with so many characters. Everyone has a story. Sometimes it's hard not to be judgemental (the woman just out of rehab who's pain is very theatrical, who requests drugs at all hours of the day and night I can have everything but Rufies, Nurse..) But you cannot judge until you've walked a mile in their shoes.

The sweet faced young man with down syndrome, who hasn't spoken a word since his mother passed away a few years ago. Everyone was a bit shocked and teary when he waved goodbye to Mr BC as he left the ward.

The doctor overheard telling an obese man that if he (the patient) was in war time Poland, he could survive the war because he could live off his fat. Because you are so fat you could actually do that...I didn't see the patients reaction to this.

The elderly man who became delirious and started taking out his drips, tags and leads because he was off to see his mum.

The tiny lady who chirps to herself like a little bird, who turned 100 years old the week before. I have no idea what she is saying but her eyes look very intelligent.

The nurse that fusses over admin and protocol, but really knows her shiz when you get down to it. She spent time working in Papua New Guinea when she was younger. She had a very serious talk with my distraught 7 year old son, and assured him that it is important that his questions are answered as well, so he should ask anything he wants. He has a right to know what is going on and she is happy to tell him anything he needs to know. I love her immediately.

The student nurse who is quietly and calmly efficient, and who I'm sure is a future rock star of nursing. I'm convinced all she needs is the paper to say she's qualified. She is just that good.

The woman who's job it is to tell you to use your private health insurance, rather than stay on the public medical system. I think this is important, and valid, and I understand she has a job to do but she is so aggressively rude and overbearing I actually tell her to back off.  Later one of the nurses tells Mr BC she told her to fuck off. They are all super happy I am putting in a complaint.

So now we are all at home, happy and blessed and scared and a bit shocked. One day I will write a post called Things That Go Through Your Mind When You Are Chasing The Ambulance.
But not today.


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