Thursday, 17 November 2016

Help remove Archie's tumour, win Kimberley Freeman books

Hi friends, it's been a while (relaunching at a new URL soon, hence leaving this one alone for a while)...

One of the big things that's happened since I last posted here is that I adopted a gorgeous seven-year-old Westie boy called Archie. We have been together for a month now and have completely fallen in love. Archie is a happy dog who loves his morning walks. He's affectionate and loves pats and belly rubs, dinner time, and sleeping. He's happy to come out with me and sit under the table at a coffee shop and he makes friends wherever he goes (even the neighbour kids routinely knock on my door and ask if Archie can come out and play with them). 

But sadly, while Archie was vet checked before I rescued him, a few days after he came home, I found a little lump on the back of his right hind leg. It looks like a nasty pimple. But it's actually a tumour with cells from two kinds of malignant cancers inside (one is a mast tumour and the other is a sarcoma). It will have to be removed, it's not a little job and it's close to a set of lymph nodes so they're coming out too. 

With the encouragement of some friends, we put up a GoFundMe to try and raise some of the money needed to treat Archie's tumour (and get him ready for the surgery which will be quite big). 

This is where the books come in! Kimberley Freeman is an award-winning author, a friend and colleague of mine, and an all round amazing human being. She's given me three of her books to give away to someone who donates to Archie's GoFundMe 

This is a competition you can’t afford to miss. For just $5 a ticket, you’ll go into the raffle to win Kimberley's book pack. 
What a fantastic Christmas present this might be for you or someone you love! 
All you have to do is go to Archie's GoFundMe page and donate, and when you’re asked to put in your name, put KF after your surname, so I can identify you as a competition entry. So if your name is John Smith, write John SmithKF.
I'll draw the winners on Sunday! 
Archie says thanks:

Thursday, 11 February 2016

How do you eat an elephant? (Getting organised in 2016)

Happy New Year!

Yes, I realise it's almost the middle of February. But with a wedding (my gorgeous sister), a bunch of interstate friends and family coming to celebrate, and a 90th Birthday, there's not been a lot of time to start those New Year routines. I think that's been good though, because it gave me a date to start aiming towards starting a new routine. And it also gave me time to start thinking about what I was going to do and how I was going to achieve it, along with reflecting on last year.

I ended 2015 and even began 2016 with some fairly extreme stress and not-excellent health. Every single aspect of my life felt out of my control; I was having trouble with fitting my volunteer job in around my day job; I'd move from project to project without properly cleaning up; I had big organising jobs that I wanted to tackle in a particular order. Meanwhile, while I was sitting at my desk from 9 in the morning until the wee hours of the following morning, I was letting my washing and ironing pile up, my desk get messy, and the big clean-ups I wanted to do were not even getting started. I was literally a mess.

Anyone who knows me in person knows this is not usually how I run my life. I actually used to think if I worked from home, life would be much easier, but then I had a change of jobs and I work from home most of the week, and things are no easier. In fact, they're almost more difficult because of the aforementioned desk-sitting until the small hours.

There are lots of circumstances that let me get to this point, and I don't want to be hard on myself, because I'm really good at that. But I'm a busy person and as such, have a big three months coming; I go back to teaching at the end of February, and I start my masters, the convention I'm volunteering for is in March, I'll be moving house at some point... and I have the potential to fall in an even bigger heap.

Instead of floundering and just treading water, I am going to work on getting back to being the organised, tidy, in control person that I was once before. The start of that has been stepping back from work and volunteering as best I can, but I also need to set some nice habits going forward. 

In my experience, it takes a few weeks to form a good habit. But I also can't go all gung-ho in this first little while because it'll just been too much and too hard and given my health at the moment, I'll fall in a heap. It reminds me of that saying: "How do you eat an elephant?" 

The answer is: One bite at a time. 

So just a few things at a time. One job, one list, no getting hard on yourself. Just start.

This is how I'm going to tackle my elephant:
I thought about three feelings or things that have happened that I want to try and avoid and wrote them down.
  1. Not feel so stressed 
  2. Keep things clean and in their place
  3. Save money
And then I wrote lists of things I could do under each of those headings that needed to be done in order to achieve those goals. There were some really big jobs (like scanning and filing my tax receipts) and some smaller things (keeping appointments in my diary); some overlaps between lists and lots of in betweens. 

Once I had lists, I knew where to start. I decided to stick to developing some smaller habits for a few weeks and tackle the bigger tasks, one a week when time allowed. I'm using a 'weekly good habits' pad from Kikki-K to write down those things I want to make routine and tracking how I go about that.

The small habits for this week have been: 

  1. Keeping a daily to-do list (yes, another list) 
  2. Walk the dog
  3. Keep my desk tidy  
  4. Use my exercise trampoline. 

As you can see from the picture above, I haven't done one thing every day yet, but by having it written down and on my desk has kept things in the forefront of my mind. I haven't decided on a reward for achieving a full week of each habit yet, but it will likely be simple things like an hour of reading in the backyard, or a milkshake at a cafe. I'll cross that bridge once I consistently start to make these a habit. 

To-do lists
Obviously, lists work for me. I like nice paper and pens and diaries and having things written down. And crossing things off lists makes me feel satisfied - it's a reward in itself.

For the daily to-dos, I've got a long notepad to write my daily to-dos on, and it's tear off so that if I'm not at my desk, I can tuck it inside my diary (2016 Diary from Kikki-K of course)  and keep it with me. 

Paper lists might not work for you; you might find that a to-do list on your phone where you can build in reminders works better for you, or just tackling things within a certain timeframe might be the way to go. If you want to start getting organised, think about what motivates you and give that a go. 

Lists can get out of control (I also use them to write lists of photoshoot concepts and costumes I want to make and gifts for people, and and and...), so I've been doing a bit of research into Bullet Journaling. There are some parts that don't work for me, but I think I'm going to incorporate some of the concepts into my list making. 

An ongoing project
My hope is by the time classes resume, I'll be in a comfortable enough routine to then divide my days by job (i.e., Monday is uni teaching and study day, Tuesday is my marketing job, Tuesday evening is volunteer job admin etc). 

Ironically, when I sat down to write this post, I was feeling a little unorganised, so it's time for me to head off and start tackling today's to-do list. But I will be making this an ongoing subject to keep you posted on how the elephant eating is progressing and to share any tips and hints I find along the way. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Pinup smile update: in which the orthodontist isn't pleased...

It's been a long time since I last wrote about my Invisalign. Actually, I wrote about getting my teeth out and the week before I got my braces and then promptly stopped talking. I'm annoyed at myself because before I signed up for orthodontics, I obsessively read blogs and got annoyed when they stopped sharing in the middle of the process.

The thing is, it became a part of my routine really quickly and I couldn't think of anything more boring to continually post about them. The two-weekly changes of little plastic, mouthguard-looking things; the occasional ulcers; getting used to having to put your fingers in your mouth; the extra shame getting lipstick on your teeth involved (it goes under the trays, which is not easy to subtly fix); and working out how to not have the basic need to eat make me ruin a $50 manicure (the trays, they are buggers to pull out and nails are required. And sacrificed).

I also was struggling with the fact that just three months after I made the commitment to go forward with two not-so-cheap years of orthodontics, I lost my job and started working part-time. It's fair to say, my disposable income would be a lot higher if these little plastic doo-dads didn't cost me so much, and I probably wouldn't have gone ahead had I had a crystal ball about the job situation. 

It was only a few months of wearing Invisalign before people started telling me they could see a difference. In the first weeks, I'd scrutinise the shape of the new trays, stare at my mouth in the mirror and make side-by-side collages of my current face with my pre-op face. I didn't see what people were talking about and decided they were just being nice (and lots of those comments came when I was whinging because it's gross taking your spit-covered retainers out before you eat at a restaurant).
This was the end of May 2015, three months in.
No big changes that I could see, but people had started commenting at this point. 

Last week I started on tray 23 of 32, so theoretically I have nine trays to go before the 'refinement' process starts, which is about 18 weeks.  Up until Christmas time, the process has been going smoothly. Generally, when I change my trays over, they're a bit tight for the first day and sore when I wake up on the second morning because they've had eight full hours in my mouth. The pain doesn't really last much longer than that. 

This was one of the first pictures where I could see some difference when people commented (July 2015).
I saw a massive change in about October, and realised that the front tooth that I had not-very-affectionately nicknamed Bucky, wasn't so bucky anymore. I started to feel pretty amazing about the process and not so resentful of the large chunk of my income it takes to pay for them every week. 

And then came my December orthodontist visit. He prodded around in my mouth for a long time and then I heard one of my most feared orthodontic-related words: 'wire' (you'll find out what the others are in a second). One tooth, one that's towards the back and pretty crooked, had decided not to comply with the trays and had started its own merry journey in a completely different direction. The only way to get this guy back into line is fairly aggressive wiring, so he wired three of the back teeth on the right hand side and I entered a world of pain I could never have imagined. 

The inside of my cheek was red-raw before I'd even made it home and less than an hour later it was a total mess. It was beyond the help of wax. And then the tooth pain was incredible too. I was reaching for the pain killers in a way I hadn't since my extraction surgeries. But then, just as quickly as it started, it settled down and I went about my life. It was a little more frustrating than usual because he'd also made some adjustments to my trays to fit the wire, and at singing lessons in particular, I discovered I could flick my top trays out at the most inopportune times. I also discovered I could click them, and clicking became a bit of a tick for me.

This week, I had another visit with my orthodontist. He tut-tutted his way through the appointment, rewired my three stubborn back teeth, told me I'd broken the wire pretty soon after my last appointment and therefore given myself another huge delay, and told me to spend a month and a bit on two trays instead of my usual fortnightly switches. He then uttered my other most-feared orthodontic phrase: 'enamel shaving.'
Side-by-side comparison: Left side is day of surgery, pre-extraction, right is from 1 February 2016.
Look at the difference in the bottom teeth!

A couple of weeks ago, I had my first photoshoot of the year and when the pictures came back, I really, really noticed my smile. It made me adjust my thinking about the major money sacrifice, and gave me a confidence boost.

The shoot was only a couple of days before my last orthodontist visit, so while I know I'm delayed a bit in terms of my finish date now, am dealing with bad pain from the aggressive rewiring, and having anxiety about my next appointment and the enamel shaving, I keep looking at this picture from that shoot day, and thinking about how good that smile is.

No one said this process was going to be easy, but boy, is it ever worthwhile.

Photo by Senergy Photography (shot at the Contact2016 shoot day Hotel Jen Brisbane)

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

12 Days (and more) of Christmas Outfits: Week three (and the end)

Christmas is over for another year, but I still have a few more outfits to share with you all (and technically, the 12th Day of Christmas is the 6th of January, so it's not that late).

This challenge was fun and I definitely want to do some more during the year, whether that's dressing to a theme or styling one piece ten different ways. It's hard to pinpoint what I liked the most about this last couple of weeks, but I think maybe the fact that people talked to me. They stopped to complement me, or talk about Christmas, or even just smiled more. It got easier and easier to make time everyday to take photos (not to mention, I got a lot less embarrassed about taking photos of myself in public places). 

Monday December 21

Outfit details
Dress: Kitten D'Amour Girl Crazy collar dress (past collection)
Shoes: Kmart shoes, glittered by me

Tuesday December 22

Outfit details
Dress: Black Milk Clothing Wrapped dress (past collection)
Hairpiece: Homemade
Shoes: Novo (they're on sale so hurry!)

Wednesday December 23

Outfit details
Dress: Black Milk Clothing gingerbread dress (past season)
Shoes: Kmart shoes, glittered by me
Hairpiece: Made by me

Thursday December 24

Outfit details
Shirt: Pinup Girl Clothing Doris top in Red (with a green Kmart shirt underneath)
Shoes: Kmart shoes, glittered by me

This one was my Zooey Deschanel from Elf-inspired outfit. I couldn't find a plain red tunic dress, so I paired a skirt and shirt which fortunately matched really well. I always need an undershirt with my Doris tops, so the green t-shirt was an obvious choice for this one! 

Friday December 25

Outfit details
Shoes: Kmart shoes, glittered by me

This is the outfit I had been saving all Christmas long! Mamar Dynamite is a Brisbane seamstress who makes the most adorable outfits. She's saved my terrible-sewing bacon by taking this impulse-bought Santa fabric and turning it into the perfect Christmas Day dress.

I was going to wear this more than once, but the day I picked it up I knew this was destined to be my last day dress. Next year, I'll pick out some more fabric and put Santa into the general rotation.


And that's it! I'm already thinking about outfits for next Christmas and want to make sure I invest in some in season pieces so my looks can be replicated (sorry about that - I spent all Christmas long hunting down past season Black Milk dresses and realised that you'd all have to do the same). 

I hope you enjoyed my festive blog posts this December and are enjoying a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. 

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Christmas in Brisbane

Last year, lots of fun Christmas stuff started up in Brisbane City. I don't really have much reason to head into town often, so last year when a friend invited me to see the Myer Christmas parade I was dubious. I loved it so much that this year, it was me doing the inviting. It's no secret that I love Christmas (because I wouldn't have dressed this way for almost 25 days if I didn't), so I've put together some Christmas things you can do in these last two nights before Santa comes.

Unfortunately, Sunday was the last night of the parade and pantomime, but the Gold Lotto City Hall light show runs until Midnight on Christmas Eve. If you're looking for a way of catching some last minute Christmas spirit, I'd definitely recommend heading into the city to see it. The show runs every fifteen minutes so you can see it a few times and make a night of it.

This year, the show is the final act of the Nutcracker story In the Land of Sweets. There's something really magical about sitting in King George Square with hundreds of other people on a warm summer's night (it's one of the only awesome things about living in the land of summer at Christmas time. Okay, so there are a few, but singing I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas when you are sweltering has a whole new meaning).

You can also wander down to the Riverside and eat dinner along the waterfront, overlooking the Story Bridge, which is lit up for Christmas.

If you're looking for more family-oriented Christmas activities, there are still things happening at Southbank! Tonight is the last free Christmas movie at Streets Beach (they're playing Miracle on 34th Street). It's also the last night of the Christmas markets.

You still have today and tomorrow to snag tickets to the Queensland Ballet's 2015 production of The Nutcracker. I can't go this time around, but we went last year and loved every second of it. I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you have kids.

And lastly, yesterday Les Misérables Australia announced a special which allows you to purchase $45 tickets (even the premium ones) to their shows on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or New Years Eve (and there are matinees all three of these days). You can only access these prices via this link: 

It's an amazing deal!

There's lots on, but if you don't want to go out, why not have a nice take out dinner at home and snuggle up on the couch with a Christmas movie?! That's what I'm doing tonight.

In case you missed the parade last week, here are some more pictures:

Monday, 21 December 2015

12 days (and more) of Christmas outfits: week three

Monday December 14

Remember back to Week One, when I went to the Black Milk sample sale? Well, this was one of my purchases. I was worried about the skirt being sheer, but with a black slip underneath it was a nice summer outfit.

Outfit details
Skirt: Black Milk Prima Donna Red Tulle skirt (now in the museum)
Hair flower: Home

Tuesday December 15

I love this dress so much. I searched for it online and was lucky enough to, after months of hunting, have a lovely Trashy Diva girl sell it to me. And it still had the tags on! It then spent a couple of months hanging in my closet because I had a pageant theme that worked well with it. Now I've retired, the dress is fair outfit game! 

Outfit details
Dress: Trashy Diva (now sold out, but you might be eBay lucky)
Shoes: Crocs

Wednesday December 16

This is possibly the greatest Christmas  t-shirt I have ever found. A Mickey shirt for Mickey. I am a bit disappointed that I didn't also grab the Minnie Mouse one, but for me, it's all about Mickey. 

Outfit details
T-shirt: Big W

Thursday December 17

Before December, I wrote a rough list of the sorts of outfits I wanted to wear for this challenge and one of them was an angel theme. I searched and searched for a white dress to wear, couldn't find one, gave up on being an angel, and then my mum told me she had some (which was about five). This one was perfect! I considered wearing the wings to work, but people got the idea without. No outfit details for this one (but you should all shop your mum's wardrobes). My halo is made from Christmas wire that you can buy at every bargain store, and I just wrapped two colours together. The wings are from Bargain City and my angel brooch is thrifted. 

Friday December 18

It's no secret I love Black Milk. One of the things I've loved since I started buying from them is their holiday-themed designs. This year I didn't love their Christmas collection though, so I started chasing the buy sell swap group for the older Christmas designs that I'd passed up. You've already seen the Christmas tree dress. This is the second one and it's gorgeous. The print is so vibrant and Christmassy! It's a little short though. 

I had just picked up this tie front shirt from Mamar Dynamite (who custom made this for my measurements - no gapey buttons. So many more posts about Mamar to come!) the day before, so I tried it out over the top. And my pudding earrings are my favourite and most tacky Christmas jewellery! 

Outfit details
Dress: Black Milk Clothing The Nutcracker Scoop Skater (museum)
Shirt: Custom-made by Mamar Dynamite
Earrings: Lovisa 

Saturday December 19

Another brilliant Christmas shirt I acquired this season! This one is from Kmart Australia and was perfect for my casual Saturday. 

Outfit details

Sunday December 20 (only five days to go!)

I went into Brisbane City to see the Christmas parade and light show on Sunday. We had dinner down by the river and it was lovely to see the bridge lit up in Christmas colours. 

Outfit details
Shirt and bag: Kmart Australia

That's the second last outfit round-up for Christmas!! I'm going to attempt to get the final week's worth of outfits up by Christmas night, so stay tuned. 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Festive tutorial: make your own glitter shoes

Part of Christmas for me is crafting. I get in the kitchen and bake, but I also like to make festive things to wear. Last year, I spent ages making hair pieces from Christmas flowers and decorations. this year, I wanted shoes.

I picked up a cheap pair of gold shoes from Kmart, assembled my craft supplies and turned plain gold shoes into these:

But it's super easy to do and even though it's less than a week until Christmas, you can definitely get a pair done for yourself! Here's how I did it:

You will need:

  • Shoes, preferably with a metallic finish close to the same colour glitter you want to use (just in case you miss a spot)
  • Modge Podge glue. I used the fabric Modge Podge because the formula is more flexible than regular Modge Podge, and you definitely need flexibility with shoes
  • Regular Modge Podge glue (this is for the pompoms. But you can use the fabric one too)
  • Paint brush
  • Your choice of glitter. The finer glitter seems to work better for me, but you can choose whichever you like!
  • Newspaper or cardboard , two pieces (I used a Lush bag and a sheet of cardboard)

Lay out your newspaper or cardboard. Coat an area of your shoes with glue, then sprinkle the glitter over. Repeat until each area is covered, then switch out your newspaper (keep the first piece nearby, you'll need the glitter!). Leave to dry for a few hours or overnight. 

Paint another thin layer of glue over the top, paying special attention to any spots you may have missed the first time and sprinkle more glitter. Leave to dry again for a few hours or overnight. 

If you haven't filled in all the gaps, repeat step one again. But if you're happy with the coverage, paint one more thin layer of glue over the shoes and leave to dry overnight. This is a really important step because it coats your glitter and means that it will be less likely to flake off. It also makes your shoes feel smoother to the touch and seals the glitter in. 

The last step is to put some regular Modge Podge on the front of the shoes and add your pompoms. For mine, because they were a moccasin-style, there was a little lip which meant I could basically flood the toe of the shoe and place the pompoms on the glue. You don't need to push down, just sit them on and let the glue dry overnight before wearing. When the glue is dry, just check that they are sitting down firmly enough, and if not, add some more glue. Modge Podge dries completely clear, so if it's white at all, it's not dry! 

Ta-da! Glitter pompom shoes. 

Be sure to send me your pictures if you end up making them.