Wednesday, September 17, 2014

All the things I'm not

Do you ever have that lurking feeling of inadequacy? I'm not beautiful enough, not smart enough, not interesting enough? As a perfectionist, I tend to harp over my flaws day in and day out. Weaknesses, failings, shortcomings: you name ‘em, I've obsessed over them. This list was far too easy to compile. If I wrote one of things I'm great at, that could take weeks. By listing your flaws, you give yourself permission to pursue your genius.

1. Talking about my feelings

Those are gross. Talk nerdy numbers to me all day (Clearly I'm an ESTJ)

2. Any sport where you have to throw or catch a ball

Thus I played tennis and ran track in high school.

3. Short term memory

Recalling what I ate for lunch, dates, names, song lyrics, or where I  last left my keys is a daily struggle.

4. Directions

Imagine my struggles in Sydney when I can’t even find my way in my own hometown. I can’t read maps, I miss road signs and exits, and have no natural sense of where North is.

5. Not speaking my mind

There exists literally no filter between my brain and mouth. You know how they say honesty is the best policy? I take that to the extreme. I've kept it professional at work meetings thus far.

6. Having “just one drink” 

I have college to thank for that.

7. Talking about myself

Particularly my strengths and successes.Thus I’m writing this post on my mediocrities. And don't even get me started on interviews.

8. Cooking

Or anything domestic for that matter. A prime requirement of my future husband is to be the chef of the household. They tell me I better make some good money.

9. Staying awake for an entire movie

Who am I kidding, I struggle to make it through the first 20 minutes. Boyfriend hates me for this.

10. Clean eating 

Total fat girl at heart. Gimme all the cookies!

11. Not eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting

Seven servings my ass.

12. Making decisions

Whether it's what dish to order at dinner, picking out my outfit in the morning, or what to buy at the grocery store, you're going to need to give me time to make a fully calculated decision. Who knows, I may make the wrong one?

13. Gaining weight

Freshman 15 would have done me good.

14. Being spontaneous

Taking risks was never my forte. But hello Australia!

15. Painting my nails

They end up looking like a 3 year old's masterpiece. The right hand is a whole nother story.

16. DIY

I have not a creative bone in my body. Scrapbooking and photography are the exception.

17. Eating breakfast

I know, I know mom, the most important meal of the day. I don't get hungry until my body wakes noon.

18. Reading books "just for fun"

I used to be a huge bookworm until college hit and all I had time to read were textbooks. I haven't done much pleasure reading since.

19. Peer pressure

FOMO is so real, my friends. Resisting the temptation to go out with friends instead of catching up on sleep and saving money (and my liver) is no easy task.

20. Keeping in touch

There are so many people I think of on a regular basis while in Australia, but when it comes to actually picking up the phone and calling, I drop the ball time and time again. Text me, maybe?

21. Accepting failure

The perfectionism trap.

22. Driving

I barely passed my Learners permit test by one point. Don't even get me started on parallel parking.

23. Walking in heels 

24. Relaxing

My mind always seems to be in another place. Even while watching TV, I must have my hands dirty in something else (blogging, laundry, reading) It's like I have 20 tabs open in my head at all times.
Now tell me, what aspects of life are you lacking in? I have wasted far too many years worrying about the mundane.  It is time to let go of the shame, guilt and embarrassment once and for all. Now who's with me?

Swoozie's Giveaway

3 Lucky winners will receive $50 to spend however their little heart desires on Swoozies! 
Also, if you're in the mood for a little online shopping spree, you can use the code SwooFallFun25 to receive 25% off any Swoozies order! I already have my eye on this Kate Spade agenda!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sponsoring for dummies

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: blog sponsorship. Just as no one appreciates commercials interrupting their precious TV shows; it is easy to feel inconvenienced, frustrated, and downright annoyed by ads in the blogosphere. Yet, they are a necessary evil which we as bloggers should not apologize for.

Let’s be realistic: As passionate as we may be about blogging, it takes hours out of our days that could be devoted to family, friends, and other endeavours. Whenever we feel at risk of selling out, we must be reminded that we deserve to be compensated for the amount of time and energy devoted to keep our blogs afloat.

Today I am here to show you how to get the most bang for your buck, holla from your dolla, ounce for your bounce, what have you, from blog sponsorship. You will discover that the sweet spot of balance between sponsored and personal isn't necessarily easy to find.

Myths, debunked

Myth: Only sponsor blogs with a million followers.

Debunked: A better metric is monthly page views.

A high GFC count does not necessarily mean your ad will get clicks (Who reads from Google Reader anymore?) Generally, the higher the page views, the more exposure for your blog. If a blogger doesn't properly disclose this amount, don’t be afraid to ask for a copy of their media kit. Bonus: smaller blogs often have more time and bandwidth to devote to promoting you each month!

Myth: Sponsor a blog within your niche.

Debunked: Branch out to different genres.

True, a blog with similar content to your own will catch the interest of like-minded readers, but by always hanging out where your friends do, how do you expect to meet new people? You will reach a whole new audience that otherwise may never have set eyes on your site. As a general lifestyle blogger (what’s that even mean?) I’ve had great success sponsoring fashion and mommy bloggers.  

Myth: Sponsorship is easy money.

Debunked: Realize that with sponsors comes responsibility.

It is vital that you appreciate that another human made an investment in your blog with hopes that you would bring traffic their way. They are more than just a button sitting on your sidebar and deserve to be treated as such.

Treat your blog like a business if you are earning money from it. Sponsors expect to see results. They anticipate that you will publish a new post several times a week Don't let them down or you will surely lose your street cred.

Once you begin accepting sponsors, you will spend exorbitant amounts of time: Promoting posts, e-mailing, creating sponsor spotlights, and organizing giveaways and guest posts. 

Passionfruit has made our lives easier by eliminating time spent scheduling, sending Paypal invoices, resizing and coding buttons. The only downside is the monthly fee of $9 but entirely worth it if you are selling more than a few ads per month. They also have the best customer service I have ever seen. Jason will tweet you back within minutes and even gives out his cell phone number!

Myth: There is a magic number you must reach before accepting sponsors.

Debunked: This differs from person to person.

Here is my deal: Whispering Sweet Nothings was established February 2011 but didn't start gaining followers until the end of the year. I swapped a few buttons with similar sized blogs for free in the beginning. From there, I try to sponsor 2-3 mid size blogs a month to get my name out there. Nowadays, I wait to sponsor blogs in months I know I will be posting consistently.

Peruse Passionfruit and search by topic, price, and location to discover new areas to advertise. Reach out to blogs and shops you admire and ask to collaborate. Many times, those with similar stats and followings will be willing to swap. The very worst you can get is a “no” from someone you will likely never meet. Are you really any worse off?

Myth: Followers will always become readers.

Debunked: Many times, people will give you a follow just for the duration of a giveaway and unfollow. However, no matter how great you are at blogging, if you don’t put yourself out there, people won’t magically stumble upon your blog. In my opinion, you aren't "buying your readers" by participating in giveaways. They simply get eyes on your blog to develop the beginning of new blogging relationships.

Myth: Accept every offer that comes your way.

Debunked: Be selective.

Don't be afraid to say no if a blogger, business, or product isn't the right fit for your blog.  If you want to keep the trust of your readers, only endorse products you would truly recommend. This will also keep things tidy and uncluttered on your sidebar. I want my spot to stick out. So do your sponsors.

Myth: Bloggers will always be clear on what services they are offering.

Debunked: Do your research so there aren't surprises on what exactly you are (or aren't) paying for.

Is it just my ad sitting on a sidebar or are bells and whistles included?
What exactly do they mean by “Social media love”? Tweets? Pins? How often will they promote you?
Is the giveaway included in the sponsor price or an optional additional buy-in?
Will a sponsor spotlight be at the bottom of a traditional post or a conglomeration with other sponsors?
Will they comment and interact on your blog?
Will the guest post go live on a weekend when blogland is quiet or Monday when it is thriving?

Myth: Sponsorship is a one way street.

Debunked: If you don’t do your job, I can’t do mine.

Do not sponsor someone unless you are planning on blogging frequently that month. You have to give the blogger fresh and quality content to promote, or what is the point?

Tried and true Advice:

1. Don't blog just for sponsors.
You will come to regret it, I can promise you that. I did not start this blog to make money, nor continue for the money. My joy comes from writing, reading your comments, emails, and interacting with my readers. Disclaimer: My main reason I started accepting sponsors is to fund my ads on larger blogs, which in turn brings more people to my blog to view your ad! This here is a win/win situation, ay?

2. Offer reasonable prices.
This takes major trial and error. You may think you are worth $80 bucks a spot, but if no fish are biting, you should consider lowering your prices. On the same token, if you have several fighting for your spots each month, increase your rates!

In pricing, look beyond the number of GFC followers you have. Page views are the #1 most important statistic. You could have 34,456 followers with only 200 consistent readers. Advertise your pageviews and other social media statistics on a sponsorship page and have a media kit ready for inquiring businesses.

3. Proper promotion is key.
Don't get me wrong, I am flattered by the #FF love, with myself and six other sponsors but I'd much rather them take the time to tweet out and promote my links. Find creative ways to highlight your sponsors and readers will want to become one of the crew. 

4. Request feedback.
Send out a questionnaire at the end of the month for sponsors to rate what they loved and hated about your sponsorship program. Ask for testimonials to share on your page.

5. Create an eye catching button.
Make it bright, sparkly, photagraphic and fun so people are tempted to click onto your site! Here's how.

6. Simplify your ad options.
The last thing you want to do is overwhelm your customers. It's been proven that when faced with too many options, humans will fail to make a decision at all. Here's not one but two ways to take advantage of that PassionFruit ad shop.

7. Offer discounts.
But do so sparingly. We all know that sushi bar that offers BOGO Every. Single. Day. Why not just lower your prices? Stick to offering promo codes for special occasions such as holidays, seasons, and life changes for the best impact. Or when you write cool posts like this (code: DUMMIES)

8. Keep in touch.
I love sponsorships where I feel like bloggers are truly investing in me and taking time to connect and form a relationship. E-mail you to keep you in the loop for sponsor spotlight and giveaway days so you know to do a little more promotion that day, or schedule a quality post.

9. Don't spread yourself thin.
Only take on as many sponsors as you can juggle at one time. What to do if a blog fails to deliver? Bloggers are human and real life gets in the way. Send the blogger a polite email asking if there has been a miscommunication in your sponsorship. Odds are they may have flubbed unintentionally on there end and will be grateful that you reached out.

10. Be grateful.
A quick thank you to those willing to invest in your blog goes a long way! Karma, people.

Sure, I'm no expert, but I have been around the block a time or two. Shameless plug: Use code: DUMMIES for 20% off any ad for this week only!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Weekend Wanderings + Giveaway!

It feels like the blog-osphere begins to die down come Friday, then trickles off on Saturday, with far less posts than Monday through Thursday. My quick fix? A rules free, anything goes link-up! Link-up your plans for the weekend, tutorials, giveaways. The best part? You can come back and link-up the entire weekend until Sunday at midnight! Then have fun wandering with some new friends! Wanna be featured next week? Use code: PIMPME for 20% off
Whispering Sweet Nothings

Anne @  Love the here and now

If you could be any color in the crayon box, which would you be?
Definitely purple, it's my favorite color.  Not a bright purple; just a soft shade of purple.  To me it's calming and pretty.  Besides, it's a cheerful color!

If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it? 
I'd gather all of my family and friends together for a party. We would walk down memory lane and laugh and celebrate our time together.  I'd have my favorite meal, a strawberry daiquiri, and one last trip to Target too I'm sure.  At the end of the day I would just be surrounded by my family and I would let them know how much I love them.  I'd like to end the day with fireworks too.  Might as well have a big party in the sky too.

twitter // bloglovin // facebook

Amanda @  Keeping up with the Haneys

If you could be any color in the crayon box, which would you be?
I would be yellow. It's slowly becoming my new favorite. Not my ultimate, it's turquoise, but yellow is so bright and cheerful. It's the color of the sun and smiley faces. 

If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it? 
If it were the last day of my life I would spend it with my Daughter, who is two. We would have dance parties, wear tutus, eat lots of suckers, and take a nap and snuggle. All our favorite things together. 

facebook // twitter // bloglovin

Emily @ Breezing through

If you could be any color in the crayon box, which would you be?
I would pick Royal Blue. It's a good color on me and I think it goes with just about anything else.

If today was the last day of your life, how would you spend it? 
I would spend it with my husband on a beach somewhere. I would want to be with him if it were my last day and my favorite place to be is the beach (doesn't matter where!).

bloglovin // facebook // twitter

Ready to be featured next week

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lies bloggers tell themselves.

I must blog every day. 

Quality over quantity, people! You will slowly burn out if you attempt to write valuable and meaningful content every. single. day. Your writing will suffer and it will be obvious to your readers. Posting every day shortens the life span of your post to a single day which is hardly enough time to gain social media attention, traffic, or comments.

If blogging begins to feel like an obligation  to get through, rather than an enjoyable hobby, it's time to re-evaluate your priorities. Consistency is key. Make an editorial calendar and stick to a schedule.

My Advice: Start a weekly feature (ie. Operation Beautiful and Weekend Wanderings). This makes your life easier by not having to write completely original content for every post. Added bonus: Series like these keep your readers engaged and coming back for more each and every week. Win-win! 

Scheduling posts is also very helpful. I have 85 posts in draft currently (yikes!)

Question to ask yourself: Am I proud of my top-most blog post? Is it the first impression I want to make on new readers? You should only publish content you are confident in, don't post just to post!

I only write for myself.  
If this is the case, why don’t you keep your thoughts in a diary or make your blog private? It’s highly likely that if your blog is public it seems clear you are looking for random strangers to read it, let's be honest. We, as humans, crave having our voices heard and acknowledged. We want to know that what we're saying and doing matters.. You can't tell me you don't get a slight adrenaline rush when you have 10 new e-mails in your inbox, all comments on your most recent post.

My advice: Keep your authenticity while realizing you will never please everyone. Invite reader engagement by writing transparently, about your failures. Keep things open-ended by ending your post with a question.

Question to ask yourself: What's the takeaway for my reader? What will keep them coming back for more?

Blogging will come naturally.
Expect to be clueless in the beginning. There is no "blogging bible" we are given when starting off down this journey. You learn by doing, what works, what doesn't.  Blogging takes a lot of hard work, tons of dedication, passion, and patience

My advice: Be willing to make the mistakes. It will take a while to grow your blog, don't give up hope!

Numbers matter.
You see that little number on your GFC widget? Ignore it! Most of those people most likely aren't even keeping up with your blog now that GoogleReader is gone. 

Now explain to me those genius posts that get slim to nil comments, then mediocre posts ones which get hundreds?

My advice: Focus on the relationships you form by interacting with other bloggers rather than the numbers associated with it.

Blog promotion is lame. 
How else am I supposed to find your post if you don't tweet about it? No one will magically find your blog. Especially since the death of GoogleReader where it's difficult keep up with your favorite blogs. I didn't have a twitter until this year, and it's one of the best decisions I've made for my blog! Let's be real, if you aren’t proud of your posts, why are your posting them?

My advice: Put yourself and your links out there. In the beginning I joined as many link parties as I could in order to meet other like-minded individuals. But that only works if you are social and interact with others in the community.

Retweet others and mention them in your blog posts, it's good karma, people will notice! If someone retweets you, a simple thank you goes a long way.

Blogging is a competition.
Guys, there's enough internet for all of us! So don't be stingy. My favorite part of blogging is the community of support. Don't be afraid to feature others thinking it will diminish your worth. When you feature another's work, they are more likely to remember you and help you right back. Don't get discouraged by the success of others. Use this to propel you forward.

My advice: Be willing to help out a newbie! We all started at the same place, it's your turn to pay it forward.  Connect with the community and help each other grow.

Be controversial.
There is really no need to stir the pot. Most people are set in their ways and won't be swayed by your radical opinions. I have yet to be featured on Get Off My Internets and intend to keep it that way. Sometimes we just need to agree to disagree and move on.

I must comment to make my presence known.
Of course interacting with other bloggers is crucial, but only comment if you have something relevant to say. Say no to comment vomit! If you are offering honest feedback, sharing an experience of your own, or graciously disagreeing, that is all well and fine. But when you are using comments to self-promote, that is no good.

My advice: Participate in the conversation! By not  responding to your readers, it is like hosting a party at your home, making a brief appearance, and then disappearing. Rude! Make sure you are not a "no-reply" commenter so that we can e-mail you.

Guest posting is pointless.
Let's face it, it's hard enough to come up with content for your own blog. Well in my book, it's perfectly okay to use your best posts from your archives as guest posts, saving you tons of time. Guest posting gets your name out there to hundreds of new readers, and if it's quality content they may even become a new fan of yours!

Giveaways are the best way to get followers.
False, false, false. If you've checked my twitter feed lately, you see I'm a huge fan of entering said giveaways, because honestly, I've won some pretty cool stuff. But, do you think people entering these giveaways are "real" followers that will actually be interested in your content? Probably not. Writing great, relateable content is what will get you the loyal readers who will come back for more from the real you.

My REAL blogging advice for you...

  • Find your voice. I was so afraid to be real and honest when I first started. Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. 

  • Find a bloggy mentor. Even if you never actually talk with that person, find a blog you like for inspiration. If you are a seasoned blogger, reach out your hand to a newbie!

  • Network, network, network. The bonds and relationships you create with other bloggers is crucial to both the success of your blog and enjoying what you're doing. Maintain an open conversation with your readers by replying to comments, talking through twitter, etc to keep them coming back for more! 

  • Read other blogs for inspirationYou think I get all my genius ideas by myself? Naa way Jose.

  • Do what feels right to you. You do not need to do what everyone else is doing. If you are not a foodie, DIY-er, or fashionista, don't pretend to be something you're not! Your readers will see right through you. 

  • All blogging tips are relative. (ie. this post) There is no blogging bible and not one set in stone way of doing things. We're making this up as we go people! Go with what works for you and your readers and screw the haters! You will never please everyone.

  • Expect dry blogging periods. Having a case of writer's block? Go experience life. Don't sit around in front of your computer wasting precious time that could be spent on much more satisfying, quality life enhancing things. Chances are good while you are out enjoying your life, inspiration will magically appear. Still feeling stuck? Read this or this or this or this

  • Readers have shorter attention spans. They are scanning content, looking for items that interest them. When you use subheads, lists of bullets or numbers, it draws readers in by making your content accessible. Don't make posts too long or use shorter paragraphs.

  • Don't make blogging your life: Realize: Blogging takes time, sweat, hard work, and determination: but don't let it take up all your time, energy, and zest for life. Many of us start blogging as a hobby to enjoy in our spare time. But don't neglect the priorities in your re life. The minute you make your blog a chore, the minute blogging sucks.
*This is a revamp from the archives.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Operation Beautiful V.31

As expected, I received overwhelming interest in my Operation Beautiful project. Thus, the showcase will roll out 3 lovely ladies each Monday as long as I receive entries.

This project is to make you think, ponder, appreciate the simple things about yourself, that add up and make you truly beautiful. The smaller qualities that you adore about yourself, like your lips or eyes, that make you feel pretty on the worst of days.

This project is about your talents, your secret hidden abilities, your amazing personalities. Those quirks which make you, uniquely you. And, I sincerely hope that after you read through the finished product to discover how these other ladies feel about themselves, you can spend the rest of the day, sincerely feeling great about yourself.
If you feel vulnerable, insecure, or hesitant to send in an entry, don't be! We're in this together. It will hopefully make you realize a few things about yourself. This will by far be one of my favorite posts I'll ever do on this blog, and I won't even write it, you guys will. Take it away ladies!
I feel most beautiful whenMy daughter is happy. I feel like my entire world is bright, and clean & beautiful - and the world follows us singing songs (Happiness is rare in our house). Her happiness makes me feel beautiful. I don't need to have my makeup or hair done, just the fact that she is happy makes me feel the most beautiful.
My favorite physical feature is my... Eyes (and my milk machines!). I love big, big eyes & am so thankful I have big blue eyes! Alright, and my hair, it holds curl realllllly well.
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...I'm pretty stinking resilient. I don't let negativity get me down. I've never really been worried about what others think about me - and if I read negative comments or emails, I just brush it off and don't let it bother me.
I'm happiest when... My mini is happy. But I'd never turn down a Saturday morning alone, at Starbucks, reading up on blogs with soft music in the background. Thats a close second!

I feel most beautiful when I am smiling. I am happy. My husband smiles at me. I am laughing my butt off.

My favorite physical feature is my...
Um... I like that my eyes change colors depending on what color I am wearing. And I wear a lot of color so they are always a little different!
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...I like that I am an easy going and fun person. You can't take life too seriously, you know?

I'm happiest when...I am with my friends and family. When I am laughing. When I am trying on dresses.
I feel most beautiful whenI am surround by my loved ones enjoying each others company most likely around a bonfire with a glass of wine in hand. Nothing chases the blues away and makes you feel safe and secure like fellowship around a fire while munching 'smores!
 My favorite physical feature is and eyes. I have CRAZY thick hair and while sometimes it likes to be unruly (it is mom has dad straight hair) that is the exact reason why my husband loves it so much. My eyes like to play tricks; are they blue? Are the green? Is that a hint of yellow? My eyes tend to change with the color clothing I wear. Which makes it fun to experiment with different eye shadows.
 Something non-physical that I love about myself is...When I'm eating something that tastes really good, I tend to hum and do a little dance in my seat! Totally random :)

I'm happiest when... I am at the beach with my loves.

Interested on being featured in future rounds?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How to be an awkward American in Australia

Fresh out of the airport, Australia looks eerily similar to America. The people, the sights, and the sounds of Sydney are reminiscent of NYC. Now if I had moved to Asia or Europe, I’d have been mentally prepared to experience a massive cultural shift, but Australia almost didn't seem like a foreign land. They speak English after all!

After the honeymoon phase faded, culture shock became so real. I encountered unexpected intricacies at every turn. Things I had taken for granted for so many years were backwards: light switches and faucets, driving on the opposite side of the road, oddly shaped power outlets. I found myself frustrated with the mundane. Dorothy, we aren't in Kansas anymore!

Roller coaster of emotions experiences when moving to a new country:
1. Honeymoon phase: You are fascinated by everything and set out to experience all the touristy things that locals scoff at (ie. selfies in front of the Opera House, holding a koala, eating kangaroo)
2. Freak out phase: What am I doing here? I don't belong! Homesickness sets in as you become frustrated with the differences.
3. Contentment and bliss: I have learned to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I could see myself here for the long run. 
After 24 hours of flying, I arrive at the airport at 3am and order a $6 iced coffee for that necessary caffeine. I am instead handed an ice cream milk shake with freeze dried coffee. Thus begins my struggles.

1. Jump into the wrong side of the taxi, situated on the wrong side of the road. 

2. Open your mouth to speak and 90% of people ask if you are a Canadian (Canucks get offended if you call them American, so err on the safe side) Eh?

3. Arrive to your first day of work and your team expects a "bloke" (a male)  I didn't choose my name, people! I swear I'm just as competent, even in the brutal world of IT. 

4. Go in for a professional hand shake and instead get greeted with a double cheek kiss…from a man.

5. Forget to pack any jackets or boots because palm trees and beaches must mean it's warm year round, right? Freeze your butt off until you finally scrounge up enough $$ to splurge on a $200 pair of jeans.
Although it's winter here, it was warm enough to go to Bondi Beach. Tons of surfers!

6. Pregame on wine beginning at 4:30 IN THE OFFICE (a normal occurrence here) then get denied access to the bar. "How many have you had ma'am? Umm a couple? A few? As many as them? Look me in the eye..." The very next night, forget your ID for the bars figuring the drinking age is 18, why would I get carded? Oh wait, I look 12...

7. Plead ignorance on the difference between Rugby (League and Union) vs Australian Football League (Footy) to strike up a convo with a man at the pub. 
They are three completely different games. As I understand it, AFL uses an oval-shaped field, rugby uses a rectangular. AFL has no offside and allows forward passing of the ball, which produces a  basketball-like strategy except that both feet and hands are used to pass the ball and gain territory. Aussie Rules is fast paced, high scoring, and uses a smaller ball.
In Rugby League you have a limit of 6 tackles to advance the ball down field to score a "try". This ensures more of an even flow of posession than Rugby Union. Real tackles to take out the man not the acrobatic "aerial ping-pong" you see in Aussie Rules. Rugby is rougher, slower, and uses a larger ball. Rugby is much tougher and far more physical than AFL which has very athletic but lighter framed players running, kicking and passing a ball to kick a goal between uprights at the other end. Now don't even get me started on cricket (their version of baseball).

8. Become slightly offended when a lad you just met invites you to a hotel. A bar is called a hotel. A hotel is also called a hotel. See my confusion!
9. Veer right instead of left on the sidewalks and stairs and get met with dirty looks from locals. Almost get your head chopped off by an oncoming bus crossing the street. Pedestrians most certainly do not have the right away here.

10. Deposit money into your bank account and confuse the $2 coins for 2 cents. It makes finding a coin on the street like hitting the jackpots (they don't do pennies here). I like to think of the brightly colored notes as Monopoly money. Makes me feel better about crazy exy (expensive) prices.

11. Tweet at Hungry Jacks, "You can take the girl out of America, can't take America out of the girl #burgerking or #hungryjacks?" Realize a week later over a tweet convo with HJ, it IS Burger King in disguise.

12. Try to squeeze into a size 2 until realizing your'e a size 6 here. Wow, I gained some major lbs in a month!

13. Wonder why the burger you just ate was 1,500 calories. Realize it's measured in KJ's and they call calories "Energy" to make you feel better after gorging yourself.

14. Any time you go #2, toilet water cling ons are a very real thing due to a tiny amount of water in the toilets.

15. Aussies ask "How ya going?" the answer is not by bus or by train. Also they don't care to hear the story of your day unless it's "no, how you really going?

16. Things not to say:
Bum bag: fanny pack- fanny is a certain part of the female team
Barrack for: Root (for your team):- root means doing the dirty

Stay tuned, awkward adventures in Australia to be continued...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

For when the blogging mojo is lacking

We all have those days when the desire to blog is just not there.  Personally, after a long day at work, I want nothing more than to relax and put my feet up with a large goblet of wine. Sound familiar? 
One of the biggest challenges of blogging is figuring out what to write about.  There are days when the ideas seem to flow, and then there are days when I feel like I sit and stare at my computer waiting for inspiration to hit me.  I have found that preparation is key in avoiding those blank moments.  Once or twice a month I will spend time researching posts ideas and planning them.  Some posts get written ahead of time and some posts are merely outlined and ready to be filled in when time allows. Anne is here today to share her tips & tricks on never running out of post ideas!


I have a notebook in my purse, in my office, in my bedroom, and scraps of paper all over.  If I get an idea I quickly jot it down.  If for some reason paper isn't handy, I add a note on my phone.  I have also used the Blogger app to quickly outline a post idea.  The key is this (if you're anything like me): do not trust that you will remember the idea later.  Record it somehow and somewhere.  You'll avoid frustration in the long run.  You never know when you will get an idea for a great post.  Be ready.


Pinterest gets major points for secret boards.  One of my secret boards is "Post Ideas".    I have the "Pin It" button on my computer toolbar and when I see something I may want to write about later I pin it to that board.  I can't tell you how often I go to this board for some inspiration.

Pinterest is also useful for the sheer fact that you can search "blog topics" and within seconds hundreds of suggestions are at your fingertips.

Link Ups

Joining link ups is a great idea for generating post ideas.  Each link up has its own set of rules and generally a topic to follow.  Using linkups as a springboard for a post is a great way to get rid of writer's block.

Monthly Prompts

These are wonderful.  They are released at the beginning of each month.  You are given a different prompt to write about each day.  It doesn't get simpler than that.  Here's one for August from The SITS Girls.  I have yet to do one of these for a whole month but I have been known to pin them to my  Post Ideas board and use a prompt when needed.


Some of my favorite posts to write and read are tutorials.  Take a moment and think about something that you like to do.  Is it cooking?  Share a recipe.  Are you a DIY person?  Teach us how to make that wreath.  Do you know how to create a button for your sidebar?  Show us how.  Think about your hobbies or your area of expertise.  Now share that with us!  Did you just learn something?  Post about it...chances are you will end up teaching someone something new.  

Step Away from the Computer

This is key.  You can not force it.  Take a walk, clear your head, focus on something else or better yet, nothing at all.  I have found that if I do this, my mind opens and ideas start to flow.

What tips do you have for keeping the ideas flowing when inspiration is lacking?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Operation Beautiful V.29 + Giveaway!

I apologize for the two month hiatus of this project, I intend to get it back on track for the long haul if it continues to be loved by you ladies! As expected, I received overwhelming interest in my Operation Beautiful project. Thus, the showcase will roll out 3 lovely ladies each Monday until I stop receiving entries...hopefully never!

This project is to make you think, ponder, appreciate the simple things about yourself, that add up and make you truly beautiful. The smaller qualities that you adore about yourself, like your lips or eyes, that make you feel pretty on the worst of days.

This project is about your talents, your secret hidden abilities, your amazing personalities. Those quirks which make you, uniquely you. And, I sincerely hope that after you read through the finished product to discover how these other ladies feel about themselves, you can spend the rest of the day, sincerely feeling great about yourself.

If you feel vulnerable, insecure, or hesitant to send in an entry, don't be! We're in this together. It will hopefully make you realize a few things about yourself. This will by far be one of my favorite posts I'll ever do on this blog, and I won't even write it, you guys will. Take it away ladies!
I feel most beautiful whenHmm, I actually feel most beautiful when I'm getting ready for the day. Whether I'm "painting my face" (putting on make-up) and throwing on my work clothes, or just pulling my hair back with a fresh clean face, and comfort clothes to complete the ensemble. I look at each day as a new beginning, a new start. I always feel beautiful when I'm able to wake up to a new day.
My favorite physical feature is my... Honestly, my crooked smile. I used to be SOOO self conscious about it when I was younger. As I grew older, I began to embrace it because it was different. It's unique and sets me apart from everybody else.
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...My sense of humor. I can honestly say that I am always trying to make people laugh, feel better about themselves, and encouraging them to smile. Laughter is truly the best medicine out there!
I'm happiest when... I'm near a body of water. Whether it's a lake, river, ocean, or my parent's pool... I love being in and around water. I'm a Florida girl and live a couple hours from the coast. Many of my memories as a child revolved around a body of water. It's such a soothing place for me.

I feel most beautiful when "I'm all dressed up. I have a weakness for skirts and dresses and its probably because I feel so good about myself when I wear them. Since they are dressy I feel as though I put effort into my look and I feel like I work to make my hair and make up follow suit.

Oh and I need to add when I'm wearing fake eyelashes. Not the obnoxious Snooki eyelashes, the simple enhance what you already have eyelashes. They enhance the shape of my eye and make them sparkle (not really but I feel like they do). Plus no matter what I'm wearing I feel like those add to my natural beauty."

My favorite physical feature is my...
My eyes! They're big and very blue. I've gotten compliments on them since I was young. I even won a contest when I was 6 months old. 
Something non-physical that I love about myself is...My caring heart. I am a nurse and I got into the profession because I wanted to care for people, especially those that are ill.

I'm happiest when...I'm on the water. I like to get out on the lake because its relaxing and good for the soul. I get to pretend like I have no stress in life and the only thing I have to do is enjoy the breeze and the the sun and the company of those I love. 
I feel most beautiful whenI put my makeup on and it's on a weekend or a day where I really don't have to but I want to. Also when I shop for clothes and put them ON! In my 20's I spent my shopping days feeling like I had to wait 'till I lose weight to buy clothes. No more waiting! I'm going to rock the look now and when I do lose weight, I'm going to pass my clothes on to another sistah to help her feel beautiful! 
  My favorite physical feature is my...lips. I seriously do not need lipliner and I can apply lipstick/gloss with no mirror. Yay!
  Something non-physical that I love about myself friendly personality. I make friends wherever I go! I love people! I love helping and I wear my heart on my sleeve.

I'm happiest when... I'm reading a book and sipping on a latte :D

Interested on being featured in future rounds?
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