There’s Always Room for Tea and Cakes #IBOT

we can't change what we refuse to confront

I think that as a person I have the tendency to over analyse things a bit. Not so much in the sense of every time my kids get sick I feel the need to track down patient zero, and I haven’t yet felt the urge to write a chart to work out which food gives them such stinky gas (though that would be helpful), and I still don’t know why the red gloves were so important in the movie Shine. (Sorry Mr Oakman but 15 years later I’m still lost about that English lesson.) But I do think a lot.

Sometimes I wonder if I think too much.

Take blogging for instance.

Usually when I blog, my creative process goes like this. ‘Oooh an idea! Let’s write it!”

Done.

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Pretty much an exact representation of me

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Occasionally it’s more like this. ‘What should I write about? I have to write something, because it’s Tuesday and it would be bad form to not have something for your own linky, but what to write….

‘It should be a good post. Not some random, hastily thrown together piece of whatever….

‘It should have meaning, because let’s not go clogging the interwebz up with pointless dribble now.

‘It has to be interesting. Hmm… that might not go with the meaning thing. Interesting and purposeful. Well that’s going to be hard! And I’ve tried that a lot, (hopefully with success), so maybe people are bored with it.

‘But I’ve done stupid and pointless a lot too so maybe I’m just useless. Useless and a hypocrite who can’t write anything decent, and has to write because tomorrow is Tuesday, and what am I going to say?  Clearly I suck as a writer and a blogger, and I should probably quit whilst I’m ahead.

‘Also I’m a terrible, horrible person and I think I’ll just sit on the couch and cry! And can someone please pass the wine?!!!’

Which, creatively, and in all the other ways too, is much less helpful.

Can you guess what mood I was in this week? ;)

I blame it on the world really. And FB. Or FB showing me what’s going on in the world because sitting down to watch the news is just a luxury that doesn’t happen in this place.

There is just so much sadness happening right now. So many heartbreaking things going on, and I feel like I should be doing something to help. Which of course I can’t do very well, so instead I feel like I should be writing something that somehow helps. Which also feels kind of impossible, so maybe it’s easier just to forget about it? Pour a cup of tea and cut up some cake and pretend everything is coming up roses.

Then I go and read things like this:

we can't change what we refuse to confront

Which is inspiring yes, but also makes me feel bad. Because sticking our head in the sand and saying it’s all too hard, is never helpful. But then what exactly is? Is writing about it going to change a thing?

Imagine if I had set an essay style topic for this week’s IBOT, along the lines of, ‘Write a blog post about an event you read about in the media this week, and how we could change it.’

Can you imagine the variation we would have then? We would have posts about Robin Williams and the devastating effects of mental illness. (Of which this one was excellent). We would have arguments over whether Hamas or Israel is the bad guy, and is the number of civilian fatalities proportional to the evil intent with which they were inflicted. Someone would surely write about why our national treasurer feels the need to speak to the public in a way that most people wouldn’t even talk after a few beers at a barbecue with close friends. I would probably write about the tragedies being inflicted by ISIS on anyone in Iraq who dares to have a different belief system.

And that’s just the big stuff. There are a hundred other things that made the news last week, that could be shared, as well as a thousand that didn’t, but have stories worth telling anyway.

All these stories that deserve being shared to not just raise awareness, but because anything that affects humanity should catch our attention.

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Which is why sometimes, I over analyse and think ‘I need to write something with meaning. Because the world is going to pot, and this is not the time for tea and cakes.’

Except that it is. Apart from if you were being forced to evacuate because of a bomb in the building, or some equally catastrophic event, it is always time for tea and cakes.

One thing I’ve learnt from writing, is that when your heart is heard, your words can do a lot more than you imagine. And what seems trivial and pointless can in fact be the exact thing that shines some light on someone’s day, that helps them walk through a bad situation, and let’s them find the way out.

The other day a friend told me she found my book and downloaded it. This was the day that Robin Williams passed away, and the event was quite triggering for her. My book is about being a Christian mum who tries to find God in poo (and other things.) It’s not what I would recommend to someone who was struggling with those kind of circumstances. And yet she said it was exactly what she needed to read. It helped her through those days and kept her safe.

There’s meaning when we highlight the atrocities of war, or the reality of human trafficking, or the terrifying statistics of depression. But there’s also meaning when we write about coffee, and doughnuts and floor pie. Life goes on hard and horrid and we have a responsibility to humanity to make sure we don’t ignore the pain, just as we have a responsibility to each other to encourage, to elevate and to share the happy, funny silly things that make life wonderful.

And so yes, I have a tendency to over analyse things. But I also have a slight lean towards sheer stupidity and fun and games, and writing about fluff for the sake of it. And I think that both are ok and have their place.

After all, there’s always room for tea and cakes.

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Here Comes the Floor Pie #IBOT

essentiallyjess

I spent a great portion of Monday afternoon moping. The kind of moping that results in eating doughnuts and not even caring if your bum gets bigger (I do care today.)

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On Sunday/Monday depending on how the time thing works, my friend Garry was off getting married to the lovely Kim, in New Jersey of all places, and we weren’t there.  We would have liked to be there, obviously, but it turns out that New Jersey is just a little bit further away from Port Lincoln than we could drive. Also, there’s the whole ‘Boatman just started a new job and hasn’t got any leave up his sleeve yet,’ problem, coupled with the ‘we haven’t won Lotto’ dilemma, which made it all rather difficult. I’ll admit that a good portion of my devastation comes from the fact that I’m  pretty sure they recreated the whole Robin/Barney wedding thing, (chapel by the sea upstate from New York, as if you wouldn’t?), but also the  fact that all my old school friends  were there.

Not Garry and Kim

Not Garry and Kim

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Well almost all. One was excused on account of his wife just having had a baby, and we were excused on account of all the above reasons I just gave.

So, back to moping.

It turns out, that apart from doughnut eating enablement, it’s really not good for much. Including blogging. All of my writing mojo went right out the window and left me with nothing for IBOT. A dilemma if ever I heard one.

 I attempted to push through; I’m not a quitter. But I’m also a little bit of an idealist when it comes to writing, and it turns out that trying to write any one of the seven blog posts half-formed in brain, was never going to work like I wanted it to. So I did what any self-respecting blogger does in this regard and asked social media. Facebook being what it is, there weren’t a whole lot of suggestions, (either that or people were hoping that I would just write nothing), but the ones that did pop up were pretty good.

Particularly the one from Emily asking me to write about who in my life (or blog land) is like the characters from Friends.

Brilliant idea.

Except of course that made me all the more mopey because the last time I did that, was with the group of friends who were currently all partying away in the States without me. *Cue  more doughnut eating* (I was Monica by the way- not in the clean factor. Just the wildly neurotic way.)

I would have rocked 'the routine'

I would have rocked ‘the routine’

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The second suggestion that appealed was from reader Janelle, who asked me to share my worst cooking failure.

Now to be honest, I’ve never really had a cooking failure. Apart from the fact that I cannot make rissoles to save my life (they always fall apart), I’m pretty decent in the kitchen. But there was one story that sprang to mind, again including those guys that were off celebrating wedding shenanigans.

It was not long after Chris and his wife Mel had moved back to Darwin, and Phil and his wife Anna were either newly married or engaged, when Boatman and I decided to invite them over for a pie night. The basic premise was ‘everything pie.’ Pie for dinner and pie for dessert.

At the time we were living in a tiny little unit that wasn’t built for entertaining, and so we had to set up our camping table to make room for everyone. I had spent the day cleaning and baking and getting it all perfect; there were sausage rolls for entrée, Beef and Guinness Pie for dinner, and (I think) an Blue-Berry pie for dessert. It was all set up and ready to go, and there should have been no problem.

Should have.

Of course that’s never the way.

We had gotten through the sausage rolls ok, and it was time for the Pièce de résistance; the Beef and Guinness pie, with a mashed potato crust.

Boatman had one job. Get the pie out of the oven, and put it on the bench. That’s all.

Off he tottered into the kitchen, everyone behind him, ready to see this pie that I had talked up to high heaven. He opened the oven, reached in, pulled out the pie, and then promptly dropped it upside down on the floor.

There was a brief moment of silence whilst we all stared at what was supposed to be dinner, before, almost simultaneously Boatman, Chris, Anna and Phil spoke at once.

Boatman: The floors clean!

Chris: Does this mean we get pizza?

Phil and Anna: We will still eat it!

Whilst I stood there  in shock, trying not to either cry or deal out a severe reprimand, Boatman hurriedly scooped the pie filling into the now empty dish and set it on the table. The floor was cleaned, and then, using a spoon as opposed to a knife, that Floor Pie, as it was then known, was served out and eaten in its entirety.

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In truth, I never ate it, but I wouldn’t have eaten it anyway, (on account of not actually liking pie), and Chris did look slightly skeptical as he ate his, but I believe it was fine. No one got sick at least, and it was a good night. Dessert, more importantly, managed to remain intact.

So whist I have never had any real ‘cooking’ disasters, that’s probably the biggest kitchen disaster we’ve had, and even then, it turned out all right. Floored or not, pie is pretty much pie.

I highly doubt Floor Pie made it to the wedding menu on the weekend, and I can’t really blame them for that. No one chooses floor pie when you can have regular pie. But sometimes that’s what you get, and you might as well make the most of it.

So here’s to Garry and Kim. May you have a blessed and wonderful life together filled with love and happiness and doughnuts and pie. And may you always have clean floors, just in case something gets dropped on them. Wish we could have been there.  xxx

Be honest: would you have eaten the floor pie?

How many doughnuts is too many?

And why don’t they fix writers block???

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A Country Practice #IBOT

greys anatomy

It’s been a little while since any of my children felt the urge to throw them self upon an object with the intent of going to hospital.

A fact for which I am quite grateful.

Yesterday, however, Taylah decided it had been far too long between doctors visits, and concluded that propelling herself off her rip stick, and on to her arm, was the quickest way to remedy that.

Her timing, of course, was impeccable.

It’s Ava’s 4th birthday today and my night was already looking busy enough, with cake and present preparations, so why not throw in what might, or might not be, a totally pointless trip to the hospital?
(My eldest has a flair for the dramatic. I have no idea where she gets that from…)

Boatman, ever the optimist, and wonderfully supportive blogging husband that he is, found the lining in this ominous looking cloud.

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He knows me so well. :)

So off we set for our first official visit to Port Lincoln Hospital, me envisioning all the possibilities for real life hospital drama, Taylah just hoping for pain relief.

Would it be possible that Doctor Greg had somehow transferred down here?

Would there be some suitably un-loved up female doctor to catch his attention?

Would we hear the inner workings of dramatic love life’s, from the local McDreamy and Meredith?

Sadly, no.

Instead I think we were featured on an episode of ‘Welcome to the country.’
If that show actually exists.

The first thing I noticed, after a very relaxed triage system in which the nurse looked surprised to see people, was a sign, placed, I’m sure, entirely for my benefit.

no photos

There would be no repeat love montages this time.

As for people to photograph, who might be of some interest to me blogging wise, well that was questionable. There were the two small children behind me, whom I was actually scared to look at. Between growling at each other, fake burping and coughing right over the back of my seat, I was slightly concerned I would end up with vomit all down the back of my cosy crows jumper.
Thankfully they were moved on before I needed a change of clothes.

What I'm sure they looked like, if I was game enough to look.

What I’m sure they would have looked like, had I been brave enough to look

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Then there was the questionable trolley guy. He did look suitably sketchy enough for a photo, but that’s to be expected when you have a moustache, and push a trolley around with large white bags. #justsaying

He looked a bit like this guy.  But sketchier.

He looked a bit like this guy.
But sketchier.

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I also discovered a rather interesting assortment of doctors.
One Middle Aged gentleman with a kindly face and, what I assume, would be a lovely bed side manner, emerged out of the doctors only area in a driza-bone coat. No idea why you would wear that in a hospital. Unless perhaps he was catching babies?

He was followed shortly after by a slightly younger guy wearing a blue jumper with tweed elbow patches, and a golf cap. He looked oddly familiar, and then I realised where I knew him from.
Garfield comics.
He was the physical form of Jon if ever I’ve seen him.

Jon's hat's a little more colourful. And he a little more crazy looking. But otherwise the resemblance is uncanny.

Jon’s hat’s a little more colourful. And he a little more crazy looking. But otherwise the resemblance is uncanny.

Then there was x-ray lady. She was reasonably normal, although she kept looking at me like I was the sketchy trolley guy.
Well to be honest, everyone looked at me like that. Maybe it’s because I was typing away after any brief glance in someone’s direction.

I’d probably think I was sketchy too.

I've definitely got the crazy eyes

I’ve definitely got the crazy eyes working for me

Then came a very lovely looking family, whom I would have no concerns with bumping into in a dark alley late at night. (I’m being nice in case they stumble upon this.) They used exactly the correct volume when speaking, and did not appear to be constantly swallowing big balls of phlegm.

Like I said.

Welcome to the Country.

There was nothing Grey’s like about any of them. Not even the Steve Zahn look-alike, who walked past pushing an empty pram.

With this, exact expression.

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Eventually we were seen by two doctors. One who looked about 12, and another who asked Taylah if she had learnt to salsa. Which is possibly the closest we were going to get to an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, because of that one episode where there was a ballerina who was maybe going to get his leg amputated.

Dr Dougie Howser and Dr Talking about Latin dances with a decidedly British accent, agreed that the arm isn’t dislocated, but we need to go back today for an x-ray. Because of course it was after 8 o clock, x-ray lady had left,  and this is the country.

So today we shall have presents, and cake, along with x-ray’s and doctors.

Which, when you come to think of it, does sound kind of a lot like Grey’s Anatomy.

greys anatomy

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Just, you know, in the country ;)

Had any Medical Drama Show experiences lately?

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Let’s Talk About Encounters of the Personal Kind, Baby #IBOT

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Warning: this post contains all kind of gender stereotypes. I’m sure everyone’s different, but for the purposes of this post, let’s just go with it. :)

If, like me, you’re the sort of person who spends an inordinate amount of time on FB, you might have noticed an article doing the rounds, of a particular gentlemen who created a spreadsheet to show his wife how many times they consummated their marriage.
In their case, 3 times in 7 weeks.

Now I have no desire to get into a debate about whether he was a dead man walking as soon as the idea popped into his head. However I will say, I can see his point. I often rely on Boatman to (verbally, no spreadsheet involved), point out the time elapsed between ‘encounters.’ Often what I think was just the other day, has been a bit longer. That’s what happens when all your days bleed in to one another.

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Anyway what this argument has done for me, is really point out the difference between the genders. In short (and I’m making broad gender stereotypical statements as I say this), men are in the mood a little more frequently than women. (In other words, all the time.)
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Never was this more clear than the other day. Engaged in conversation, I casually mentioned to Boatman that the night before I had been ‘ready to go’ but he hadn’t seemed interested, so I let it slide.

Apparently this was the wrong thing to do. In fact the only thing worse I could have done, was compose a spread sheet of my own, of all the times I had been looking for some action, but let it slide on account of a hundred different reasons.

It was at this point he chose to (further) educate me on the finer details of marriage. Because clearly, I need the tips. ;)
And I, in turn, am here to share them with you.

Point One: Just because you don’t want to be bothered when you’re not in the mood, does not mean he doesn’t.
Apparently, it’s not offensive to fellas to let them know that a bit of nookie is on the table.

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These would be a lot more helpful

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Point Two: It’s not really a case of ‘I don’t want it,’ so much as ‘I’m just doing a great job pretending I don’t because I don’t want to nag you.’
Case in point.
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Point Three: When in doubt, shag.
I can’t make it any clearer than that really.

Bonus Point: Unless wanting to be an internet sensation, spreadsheets are rarely helpful.

So… Would you ever make a sex spread sheet?
Do you need a reminder every now and then, or are the tables turned at your place?
And on an aside, welcome to all our newbies.  Please make sure you’re linking a Tuesday post only. Thanks :)
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Multi-Thinking and Mind-Ladders #IBOT

women open tab mind

I had one thousand blog ideas to write today. (Ok that’s a slight exaggeration). And then I spent the weekend making an Olaf Piñata and I’m fairly certain that all my ideas disintegrated in much the same fashion as he did.

Which is a very random metaphor, and really just a way of me going looking at my piñata!

olaf from frozen, party piñata

But anyway…

I really did have lots of ideas but the only one I could remember was the most random one of all.

It started last Tuesday, when Kristen from Sustainable Suburbia made a comment about blogging being intimate yet distant at the same time, and I thought how right she is.

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Think about it, how many times have you met a blogger, or seen a full length pic of them and thought, ‘you don’t look like that!” When I suppose, they actually do.

Or you speak to them and they sound a lot different than you thought. Either in voice or intonation. Some bloggers also come across completely different in the flesh. They are quieter than you think. Or louder than you think.  Or strangely enough, more inclined to hug you than you would think….

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The fact of the matter is we are all actual people behind the screen, and who we are is not entirely obvious from our blogs.

Take our words for example. When I write a blog, generally speaking, I write it, then leave it for a few hours, and then come back and edit it. As much as possible I try to make sure there is a flow, and no not too much rambling, and that I don’t use the same words too closely to each other. A finished blog post is a polished (ha!) version of my thoughts, carefully put together in a reasonably coherent form.

In person,  I rarely make that much sense.

In fact I’m just as likely to start a sentence and not finish it, (because  I have jumped somewhere else in my head), as I am to actually end a thought. It’s entirely possible that one moment we can be talking about camping, and in the next breath I will be telling you that Bridie asked me if I was turning into a man because I had neglected to shave my arm pits. Both are related in my head, but the process of getting from one to the other is not dissimilar to one of those word ladder puzzles.

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Although in that case you probably have a better shot of working it out.

Basically, having a conversation with me can often be like having a conversation with a small child. You wonder if there is actually going to be a point. Or an end. Either is welcome. :)

And that’s just the way I speak.

Thinking is a whole other thing.

So many times, I can go from thinking the mundane, to changing the world in a matter of seconds. I’m sure the multitasking centre of my girly brain controls my thinking too (multi-thinking?), because my goodness, I can make a lot of leaps.

women open tab mind
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So then I thought, when I’m actually thinking, (as opposed to planning a blog post in my head,) how do my thoughts actually work? How does Jess really tick, when she is not polishing her ideas, or finding the perfect word?

Well, see for yourself.

This mind-ladder brought to you courtesy of a warm bath on a cold night.

I’m so glad Australia only has a mild winter. It doesn’t really get that cold here.

I mean that time in the Winter Olympics this year (was it this year), they were having all those warm days and it was the same temperature as our cold days.

Did people watching even wear t-shirts?

Australia could never have a winter olympics. I don’t think we get cold enough. Or enough snow. And we probably don’t have enough space. I think Thredbo is small. And the other places that get snow. 

I wonder if any countries in the southern hemisphere could host a winter Olympic games? Maybe New Zealand?

I guess that would change what month they held it in then, because of the seasons being all wonky.

Does the month of the actual Olympics change a lot?

Do they do that in summer?

No that would be too hot.

Maybe spring?

Australia could host an actual Olympics…

Oh that’s right we did! Sydney! What month was that in….?

Oh September that’s right because the opening ceremony was the day of Kas’ birthday. I remember now.

If we hadn’t had the Sydney Olympics, Princess Mary would never have met Prince Frederik.

Ha. There were all these people having these life changing moments that they expected, and then in some random bar an Aussie chick was taking the first steps to becoming royalty.

It’s amazing how one event can really change a whole bunch of things.

I wonder how many other people had their lives changed at that Olympic games, in ways they never expected….

 

And on I went. Thinking about Pippa Middleton suddenly getting to sit in the royal box at Wimbledon with Prince Frederik and Princess Mary, and how her whole life has changed, and on and on.

20 seconds of thinking is all it took.

20 seconds to go from weather to deep thoughts of ‘one moment can change a lifetime.’

mind ladder

Impressive even for me.

Now if only I could solve the world’s problems as quickly as I think.

Or even just talk a little better.

So tell me, how does your mind work?

Anyone else want to blog the random thoughts that pop into their heads on a daily basis?

How would your mind ladder look?

 

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How NOT to Plan a Party

olafcanvashoes-frozen

We are right in the throes of birthday season around here. Taylah’s was a few weeks ago, and in a few day’s time we will celebrate Miss Bridie’s, with BJ’s a couple of weeks after that. Ava then rounds out the season at the end of next month.

Anyway, I’ve been madly searching online for party game ideas for Bridie’s birthday, since she wanted a Frozen themed party. Like I’ve said before, I like themes for the guidance they can give, but I’m not an all-out-have-labelled- food-or-decorations-everywhere kind of person. In fact apart from Marshmallow snowmen, that I intend to get the kids to make, I’m not having any frozen themed food at all. Just the stuff Bridie likes.

Oh and a cake.

But I’m still yet to decide on that. :)

build your own olaf

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What I do have to admit though, is that I am secretly grateful to all you mums who do throw together elaborate birthday parties, because you have all the cool ideas, and it means far less thinking for this mum, who pretty much just wants to drink coffee, play with her three-year old, and write blogs.

So far, thanks to the internet, I have made these funky Canvas shoes for the birthday girl herself. I first saw these on FB, when Glowless show cased her Minion shoes. She’s got a post on how she did them, so I followed that, and voila!

olafcanvashoes-frozen

Olaf shoes! :)

The only think I did differently was use fabric markers and no waterproofing spray. Purely because that was easier for me. :)

Another idea I have been stealing is this one.

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Bridie mentioned last Saturday that she wanted a Piñata, and I got quite excited because I love paper mache and it’s been years since I did it.

In hindsight, it’s turning out to be a lot harder than I thought, and the weather is not helping me get the thing dry. In fact at the moment, it looks less birthday party, and more adult party.

Don't worry, it will get better. Hopefully...

Don’t worry, it will get better.
Hopefully…

But hopefully we can improve on it.

Invitations, I got from here.

Usually, when I make birthday invites, it’s a dodgy A5 piece of paper with a ‘happy birthday’ clip art image and all the relevant information, printed from a computer rapidly running out of ink.

This year, being super lazy and sure that someone out there must have done Frozen invites better, I googled it, and came across these ones.

frozen free party invitation template olaf elsa anna sven #frozenmovie

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How cool are they?

I love the movie ticket look, and even better, I love that the website owner had made them free to download. I literally just uploaded the template to pic monkey and we were done in 10 minutes.

That’s lazy party preparation at it’s best.

Awesomely though, it didn’t look lazy, especially when printed on photo paper (I was all out of the ordinary kind), and all the girls (and their mums) loved them. Talk about failing up :)

Anyway, this week I set about finding similar invitations for BJ’s birthday, seeing as I needed to get them out before school finishes. He was being less helpful with a theme, alternating between lego and soccer and ironman.

A truly great mum would somehow combine all three, but I am not that mum, and was thinking I would just can the theme altogether.

Anyway, I went searching for lego invitations, and the frozen lady had a great one, but it was very Lego Movie focused, and also very red. And I was pretty sure that the computer was running out of red ink.

My printer seems to always be running out of ink.

So searching high and low, and finding a whole bunch of websites that promised free invites, only to direct to me paid pages, or no pages at all, I eventually gave up, and decided to make my own based on the movie ticket idea. I went searching for a lego image to use, and instead came up with one from Minecraft, and not thinking anything else, other than ‘oh that would work,’ I made Minecraft Movie Ticket Birthday Invitations.

DEMO-minecraft-movieticket-birthdayinvatation-essentiallyjess

I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with myself. For someone who excels in borrowing everyone else’s hard work, it’s nice to actually make something myself.

Of course it then backfired on me a little, because upon handing out the invites, I was  besieged by some very excited six-year-old boys, chatting excitedly about ‘Bailey’s Minecraft Party!’ One little tacker even asked if he could bring is iPad to play it. :) (The head of the primary school later asked me about the Minecraft birthday. A day after the invites were handed out, my un-themed, not yet happened party, was the talk of the Reception class.)

So like it or not, I have inadvertently set myself a theme, and once again, I’m back on the internet borrowing party ideas, and hoping to ride on the coat tails of all the super mums out there, who actually enjoy thinking of themed food   and bunting ideas.

But for those of you out there like me, who just want to borrow ideas, and get by without a lot of fuss, I thought it only fair to give back, and so I’ve included my Minecraft invitation here. It’s all downloadable and stuff so you can use it for your next Minecraft party.

minecraft-movieticket-birthdayinvatation-essentiallyjess

Just upload the image to Pic Monkey or another photo editing application and put in your details. :)

But just so you know, if you hand these out, you will be hosting a Minecraft party. Whether you like it or not. :)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off on Pinterest for the next week and a half.

And planning a new piñata.

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How do you go about planning kids parties?

How cool is my Invitation?

Any Minecraft Party tips for me?

Linking with Grace.

How To Be a Fashion Blogger

how to be a fashion blogger

Let’s be honest. There are some things in life, that no matter how hard we try, we are never going to achieve.

I, sadly, will never win The Voice.

I’ll never be an extra on Grey’s Anatomy. (Though I can still dream.)

And I’ll never be a professional netball player.

Somethings just don’t happen.

On the other hand, sometimes life does throw you a fun little opportunity, and you roll with it, just because you can. Which is exactly what happened to me the other week.  And so, with great pride, after this post, I will now be able to declare myself:

A Fashion Blogger.

Hold on to your hats people, EssentiallyJess just got cooler. ;)

Now I’m going to preface this post by saying, I received a shopping credit, and  I’ve also got the opportunity to win an all expenses paid trip to Melbourne, for the sole purpose of shopping. Thus solidifying my fashion blogger status, well and truly in concrete.

Having said that, I would never have entered the competition if I hadn’t had at least some interest in the fashion at stakes.

As a brand new fashion blogger, I’m determined to take clothes very seriously!

So seriously in fact, that I created a fool-proof way to become a fashion blogger overnight, (based entirely on copying other actual fashion bloggers, and making stuff up), and I’m sharing my tools with you today.

And with that, I present:

how to be a fashion blogger

Step 1. Fashion Bloggers know the Store.

Being new to the world of fashion blogging, and having lived under a proverbial clothing rock for, apparently, ever, I had missed out on the fact that there was a brand even called UNIQLO. But there is, and it’s huge. (That’s the technical term.)

UNIQLO (Short for Unique Clothing) is a Japanese  clothing brand, that has extended onto the global market, recently opening their first Australian store in Melbourne, with a Sydney based one planned for later this year. Their mission is to create  quality clothing that won’t break your budget and will extend from one season to the next.

They cater for the entire family from onesies for infants, right through to men’s and women’s clothing, underwear and accessories. Their range includes funky t-shirts with designs based on modern art, heattech clothing designed to always keep you warm and toasty, and the more demure yet classy styles that come with cashmere and extra fine merino.

When it comes to clothes, I’m reasonably fussy. I want things that are comfortable, affordable, reflect me personally, and don’t make it look like I’m trying to smuggle two small elephants in to my back pockets. I was really impressed by UNIQLO. Their online range could be bigger, but they have a lot of fun stuff that appeals to me personally, and the prices are fantastic.

The quality for price is even better.

The pants are warm and thick (but not ridiculously so), the bag feels as if you could carry half the weeks grocery shop in it, and the beanie makes your ears all warm and toastie.  Plus, seriously, you can't argue with those prices.

The pants are warm and thick (but not ridiculously so), the bag feels as if you could carry half the weeks grocery shop in it, and the beanie makes your ears all warm and toastie.
Plus, seriously, you can’t argue with those prices.

Ethical production is also something I take into huge consideration. I researched UNIQLO’s standards, and came up with one negative article, and three positive ones. I think, like most companies there are areas they can improve on, but the fact that they deliberately create clothes to last multiple seasons, is a huge positive in their column.

Step 2. Fashion Bloggers  understand that style is more than what’s ‘in’ right now.

I have no idea what I’m actually ‘supposed’ to be wearing right now. None at all.

Are Beanies in? Are Beanies EVER in?

Are Beanies in?
Are Beanies EVER in?

I do know however what I like wearing, and so I wear that. I used to say this just because I had no idea, but I now (especially since being a fashion blogger), wholeheartedly believe that if you’re comfortable in your clothes, and they reflect you personally, then you can be stylish.

And that may even extend to ugg boots, if you so choose.*

These pants are quite possibly the most comfortable things I have ever put on my body. Especially with buggies.

These  pants are quite possibly the most comfortable things I have ever put on my body.
Especially with uggies.

Step 3. Fashion Bloggers know how to take good pics of themselves.

(I may still be working on this point…)

The shirt says it at all.  At this point, anything would help.

The shirt says it at all.
At this point, anything would help.

Being a successful fashion blogger is all about being comfortable in front of the camera. It’s about knowing the right angles that make an outfit really flattering, and the best light to de-emphasise flaws.

I also like to believe that good fashion photography is just as much about interpretation as it is about skill. And my work…. well it’s very interpretative.

How does a fashion blogger get the whole shirt in?  Probably with an assistant. OR Take three pics to make it all seen!!

How does a fashion blogger get the whole shirt in?
Probably with an assistant. OR
Take three pics to make it all seen!

Pink pants just aren't complete without a coffee.

Pink pants just aren’t complete without a coffee.

Neither is a picture of a bag where the little man is screaming for coffee. Or maybe screaming at the coffee.  It's hard to tell

Neither is a picture of a bag where the little man is screaming for coffee.
Or maybe screaming at the coffee.
It’s hard to tell

Trying to get a good pic of all the elements of an outfit? Why not break it up with random shots.  Nothing says style like a messy bedroom, or a pic of your shorts taken from above.

Trying to get a good pic of all the elements of an outfit?
Why not break it up with random shots.
Nothing says style like a messy bedroom, or a pic of your shorts taken from above.

Step 4. Fashion Bloggers inspire others to find their own ‘inner fashion blogger.’

It’s not just enough to be comfortable in who you are; a good fashion blogger is always about sharing their tips, their ideas, and the love, in order to help you be more comfortable in who you are.

Which is why, in my first official gig as a fashion blogger, I’m giving all Australian Residents (sorry everyone else) a 20% discount off the already really reasonable prices UNIQLO has on offer, so that you too, can embrace your inner fashionista.

Just use this exclusive code, which is valid until 12pm Australian Eastern Standard Time, Monday the 7th of July.

JESS62007BL

uniqlo exclusive code

So tell me, how do you score in the fashion blogger stakes?

Do you have what it takes to take strangely angled pics of yourself in public?

Have you checked out the awesomeness that is UNIQLO?

*I don’t wear ugg boots in public, despite how good they look with these pants**

**Ok I’ve worn them to the fish and chip shop.

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I’m Late, I’m Late, to An Un-important Date

Punctuality-Demotivational-Poster

I like to think I am a fairly tolerant person. Whether I am or not, is probably better described by my husband and children, but I do try.

There are, however, a few things that really make me cranky at the drop of a hat. Things like blankets lying on floors (drives me nuts),  butter being left in the Promite (I don’t like butter) or one thousand cups (slight exaggeration) on the kitchen bench.

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I only wish they were lined up this neatly in my house

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But one thing I really hate, is being late.

Can’t stand it.

I’ve always been like this. I come from a  family of people who were always crazy early. Both mum and dad can be relied on to show up at least 20 minutes earlier than the time you give them. As such, I grew up believing if I was only 10 minutes early, I was actually late.

Pretty sure this is the quote by which my parents lived their lives.

Pretty sure this is the quote by which my parents lived their lives.

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to be more relaxed about it, and I think, in many ways I am. For instance, I now understand that sometimes arriving 10 minutes after a BBQ officially starts, can actually be a good thing. And being half an hour early for anything, especially if you arrive with 4 kids, is not ever always helpful.

Having said that, my moral compass is firmly set on punctuality. I whole heartedly believe that being on time is a sign or respect and honour for whoever it is that has organised the event.

Or, in the case of our everyday happenings, school.

I don’t know why we are running later these days. We have twice the distance to cover to get to school than we used to in Darwin, (which just means a 10 minute drive as opposed to 5), but school starts 20 minutes later, so we should be fine. Somehow though, we seem to be constantly arriving just on or after the bell. Which perhaps isn’t a total sin, except that BJ’s teacher is a drill master in punctuality, and she submits the electronic roll not long after the bell goes. As such even a 2 minute late arrival  ends up with a long walk to the front office at the other end of the school.

Not BJ's teacher

Not BJ’s teacher

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Which is exactly what happened yesterday.

Now being late, I’m sure, is not my fault. I’m perfectly convinced if it was just me, I would be at school an hour early every day. (Though it would be weird because I don’t go to school.)

No, it’s the little people and the most random of reasons that hold us back.

Like Taylah this morning, trying to evaluate the psychology of the cat, when she should have been making lunch.

Or Bridie, suddenly losing her reader diary, even though she assures me it’s always in her reader folder. (Which it often isn’t.)

Or BJ, deciding that he needed to take another drink bottle to school, because the one he had there was empty, and the idea of filling it up at the bubbler is too complicated to comprehend. Instead he should just debate with me the many merits of taking a full one, and then just using cups at home.

You can imagine how much I loved that idea.

And then there was the argument with Miss Ava, who after debating with her brother over whether she or Taylah owned a ball, and Taylah not caring about it, was told to ‘just let it go,’ (the debate, not the ball), when she had absolutely no desire to let it go at all. So instead of screaming at BJ, she screamed at her mother (who does not take kindly to being screamed at), that it was her ball, and he needed to know, and she ‘would not let it go!!!’

But despite that, we managed to make it out of the house, and onto the roads.

And then there was the traffic.

I swear, the roads are full of people who are completely inept at using them. And in turn I become a driver completely ept (as opposed to inept-totes a word) at using sarcasm to its fullest extent. “Oh great indicating there!”

“Please, drive slower.”

“Thanks for cutting in front of me! You have made my day.”

So-I-Heared-Youre-Late-for-Work

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Eventually, despite the arguments and the missing reader, and the cat that would not be understood, we arrived at school, I trekked all the way up to the office to do the sign in, handed in the late slips to three different teachers, and then bidding BJ farewell, and needing cash out, (and coffee) I headed to MacDonald’s. Ava had Kindergym, and I was $3 short, and Maccas was the easiest, quickest option.

Of course then it took forever.

Apparently all those slow people on the roads were also visiting Maccas, because I think I could have gone home and made a coffee in the amount of time it took to finally get mine. Instead though, I was standing in that store, almost bouncing on the balls of my feet in frustration because it was Kindergym day, and we were going to be 2 minutes late.

Exactly what it looked like. Except not at all.

Exactly what it looked like.
Except not at all.

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I don’t like to be 2 minutes late. Ever.

Turned out it was 4.

By the time we pulled up in the car park, it was 9:34.

Do you know what happens when you’re four minutes late for Kindergym?

73a70619f9a158e3e2447cec720257f547c68d05fb3eb6e1939ffddf6cbae6d2

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Nothing.

Nothing at all.

The line is a little longer, because of all the other late comers, but it doesn’t stop your child running in, and (bonus points) it actually gives you time to finish your coffee, and  8 minutes less of following an exuberant three-year old around an indoor obstacle course.

The world did not implode.

I did not fall apart.

And Ava had no idea that she had missed out on a whole 240 seconds of play.

So I am a person who hates being late, and I probably always will be. But I’m also a person whose learning that if you are late occasionally, it’s actually ok.

And it’s even better if you’ve got coffee.

Punctuality-Demotivational-Posterimage credit

Are you a frustrated time follower too?

Or are you always a late comer?

Linking with Grace

SoapBox From the Heart #IBOT

new-port-richey-bootcamps-fitness-boot-camp-gain-strength-confidence1

On Sunday I spent a good portion of the afternoon, looking over handwritten notes in an attempt to be able to use them in possible book form.

Or in other words I spent a good portion of the afternoon beating myself over the head with a metaphorical hammer, and wondering why on earth I ever wanted to be a writer. But you get that.

0219beacf35184d32651542ff87683c3

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Anyway, as I perused and painstakingly typed up the pages and pages of what I could only describe as complete and utter swill, I came across more than one phrase that made me want to gouge my eyeballs out. I mean it was as if my eleven year old had written it, and I mean no offence to her.

It was just so clumsily put together, that it literally made me wonder if I had missed my calling in life, and instead should perhaps take up brick laying or something. You know, actually be useful.

He looks fulfilled in life write?

He looks fulfilled in life right?

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But self-sabotage aside, as I transitioned those terribly written words (I actually should have been a doctor considering the state of my handwriting), on to the screen, I was a little jealous of the person that wrote them. As a writer I know I have grown in skill  over the years (my pink notebook of doom is the proof of that), but I think I’ve  grown in cautiousness too. And I’m still deciding if that’s always a good thing.

The words I had thrown across those pages were clumsy in their construction, but my goodness they were right. Even as I read it, I thought, ‘I would never say this now, but oh, how I wish I could!’ So many thoughts written down without a care, but that if put together differently, could hold so much power.

I took to Facebook (as you do when you have a mind-blowing revelation), all prepared to write something along the lines of ‘don’t you wish you could just say everything you wanted, and just the way you wanted to?’ That statement  in itself being testament to its meaning.

Yet I stopped myself, because I knew exactly what some would say. “Oh you can Jess! Just say what you want! It’s your space, you can use it as you like.’ The age-old (and by age I mean like 3 years,) generic response we give to bloggers when they have no idea if they can actually write what they think.

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There’s something to be said for it. A blog is the writer’s space. It’s born from their ideas, and opinions and heart. It reflects them in a way that others things often don’t. It’s a window into who they are and how they tick. In many ways it’s a stranger inviting you into their home for coffee and to have a chat.

Except that it’s also not. Because if you come to my house for a coffee, I’m not going to spend forty minutes talking AT you, but we will (hopefully) talk to each other. Really, a more accurate way of describing blogging, is standing in a room yelling at people.  And when you think of it like that, you have to be cautious about what you’re yelling, unless you really want to upset people. Or alternatively, if  voicing your ideas in a strong, opinionated way is exactly what you want to be doing, it’s your call. :)

new-port-richey-bootcamps-fitness-boot-camp-gain-strength-confidence1image credit

It’s why I don’t talk about my faith as much as some people think that I should. (Yes I’ve been accused of not believing in God enough.) Because let’s face it, if I stood in a room and shouted about Jesus every single week, that wouldn’t go down all that well. Unless of course it was church, and then that would actually be very cool. :)

I’m not a niche blogger, per se. This is not like a cooking class where you know to expect delicious recipes, though that happens from time to time. It’s not a drama or music class where I’m singing every week, though that’s also occurred. It’s not all philosophy, or self-deprecation or serious chats about body image, post natal depression and Grey’s Anatomy. If blogging were a University, and you were taking Essentially Jess 101, it would be one of those bludge classes that won’t change your world, but will give you extra credit. (Though credit for what I’m not entirely sure…)

And depending on the topic, it’s either going to be in the lecture hall with an impassioned speech, or I’m going to be channeling Professor Moseby and coming to class dressed like a Hot Dog.

tumblr_mcrdj9yC8d1rujeh5o1_500image credit

Either way, I’m talking at you, not with you. It’s not a discussion where I can really share my heart and say what I think and we can discuss things on an intimate level.  I can share my heart, but the words have to be so carefully constructed, and proof read, and analysed so that it comes out just right, because otherwise it’s not just an opinion that’s dissected, it’s actually me.

And because of that reason, there are so many things that I will never say on my blog. So many words I will never write.

So much of my heart that won’t be shared.

If you were to come to my house for a coffee however, and we had a real friendship, the kind that gives and takes and shares each other’s loads, then there are more things I would say. Then those words could pour out of me, or possibly stumble out in some hard to understand, haphazard manner.

More than likely the latter. Generally, I tend to write better than I speak.

Which is a slightly terrifying prospect really, considering the rubbish I’ve been reading lately.

But anyway…. the point of saying all that, in a terribly long-winded, possibly not entirely coherent fashion, was to say that yes, it is my space, and I can use it how I want to. And for me that means that the cautiousness I’ve learnt, or the wisdom I’ve gained (a much better way of looking at it), says ‘don’t shout everything that comes into your head. Instead shout what’s in your heart in such a way, that even if you’re not understood, you’re not offending those who’ve chosen to listen to it.’

Shout what’s in your heart, so that those who  hear it, can’t help but want to have a coffee with you and know you even more.

And for the love of everything ever written, don’t shout swill.

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The Do You Like Camping Quiz #IBOT

camp fire

We have just come back from a weekend of camping fun, which has been the first time we have got the camper trailer out since I wrote this 18 months ago. Boatman had initially said ‘no camping till summer’ but apparently he couldn’t wait, so the first weekend of winter we found ourselves alternating between warming ourselves next to a roaring fire, or trying not to freeze in a dew covered camper.

It was fun.

Now I get that not everyone is a fan of camping. And some would never even consider it. And honestly I used to be one of those people, but we had such a fabulous time camping I really felt inclined to come home and tell you all to pack your tents and head out next weekend.

Except that I know that a good portion of you would be like,

Screen Shot 2014-06-09 at 3.17.38 pm

and only even consider it, if it looked like this.

3608862_orig

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And so,  instead of telling you to get your butt off the couch and go enjoy nature, I have put together a very scientific quiz to help you make up your mind.

Presenting the,

Should I Ever Go Camping Quiz:

camp fire

Question 1. 

Do you like being outside?

a. Yep love it. I would rather be outside than in.

b. Sometimes. If the weather isn’t too bad. Or it’s at the beach.

c. What’s outside?

Question 2.

How long can you go without showering?

a. I don’t believe in bathing. I think natural smells are the best kind.

b. A few days at most. So long as I can brush my teeth and change my knickers.

c. About three hours.

Question 3.

Do you like doing things with your family?

a. Yep. As much as we can.

b. Of course. So long as I can get a bit of adult time in there as well.

c. Yes. Especially in hotels.

BJ JETTY

Question 4. 

Do you have any interest in building a jetty out of seaweed and sand?

a. Heck yes. Though we have progressed past that and are now building entire civilisations.

b. I had never realised you could do that, but it sounds kind of cool.

c. I use seaweed in sushi. That’s all.

Very cool 'jetty' the kids made from compacting seaweed and sand. It was over 6metres long and you could walk to the end.  Very cool :)

Very cool ‘jetty’ the kids made from compacting seaweed and sand. It was over 6metres long and you could walk to the end.
Very cool :)

Question 5.

Do you enjoy watching your kids running around having fun, whilst you sit with friends and drink wine?

a. How is that even a question?

b. How is that even a question?

c. How is that even a question?

Question 6. 

How do you feel about seaweed fights?

a. I love them. Especially if you can roll around in it afterwards.

b. It would be funny to watch, and possibly join in on.

c. Again, I use seaweed for sushi only.

ava seaweed

Question 7.

Do you like wildlife?

a. I love it. Sharing the outdoors with the creatures there, makes the whole experience.

b. I don’t mind it mostly. Just keep away the ones that want to eat me…

c. Wildlife should not be where people are.

pelican

Question 8.

What is the most likely injury you would sustain if camping?

a. Shark bite, from when I tried to wrestle one.

b. A few scratches and bruises from attempting to find somewhere to wee in the dark.

c. Breaking both my legs from climbing an impossible hill, whilst trying to get mobile reception.

Question 9.

How much do you rely on the internet?

a. A reasonable amount. But it doesn’t concern me if there’s no reception.

b. I like it. But also enjoy getting a break from its constant demands.

c. I can not be away from my phone for more than 30 seconds or the universe will combust.

Question 10.

How willing are you to put up with a few days of cooked snags, dirty faces, mozzie repellent smell, and dusty feet, to see your kids having an absolute ball, and making all kinds of great memories?

a. Totally willing. I rock the dirty face and mozzie repellent smell is my signature perfume.

b. I’m willing. It makes me happy seeing my kids happy.

c. I would prefer that we watched a movie about people on an adventure. Or downloaded a ‘safari app’ of some kind…

bridie and Taylah

And now the results:

If you answered mostly A’s…

You’re a camping enthusiast. You go every long weekend, know the best recipe for damper, and which way to pitch the tent to get the most protection from the wind. A lot of people don’t get how you can go all the time but you don’t care, because you love it so much. I’m kind of surprised you took a break from camping long enough to read this.

If you answered mostly B’s….

Chances are you’re slightly skeptical, and don’t know if camping is for you. You might have been once or twice, or you’ve just heard stories about and are unsure. Get out there and do it. Even just for one night. You might find you’re pleasantly surprised and have a great time.

Plus bloggers, it will give you something to write about. :)

If you answered mostly C’s…

You have two options. Either never go camping ever miss the joy of it completely.

Or find someone who answered mostly A’s and see if any of it rubs off on you.

Good luck!!!!

So how did you do? Are you a camping avoider or enthusiast?

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