20 September 2014

Blurb books and offers

I wanted to do a post and talk about Blurb books and my posts about them and how I plan to share their offers.

As I've mentioned before, I was using Blurb for my photobooks for years before looking into their affiliate programme. I'm now an affiliate, which simply means that if you click on a link in one of my posts and order your own book through them then I get a tiny amount of money (and it is really small). I used to receive free books from them, but they no longer offer that so I pay for my own books now.

I have looked into other affiliate programmes but there was nothing that I wanted to pursue. The reason is that I didn't want to suddenly start talking about products or stores that I hadn't before, just to make some money. I became an affiliate for Blurb because I was already talking about their products and because it's a company that I genuinely want to promote because I appreciate their goods.

Now, Blurb sends me offers to share all the time. And I want to pass those offers on to you. BUT I also don't want to turn my blog into a hard-sell commercial enterprise (we all know those blogs, ahem.) I share them now and again but there are plenty that don't make it to my blog. So I thought I'd start sharing them at the bottom of regular posts.

I currently post on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, with an outfit post on Fridays. I think I'll add any current Blurb offers to my Fashion Friday posts, so you can always pick up the latest code but not have extra posts just about Blurb. I hope that suits you - please let me know if you have any other ideas, for example if you'd like to see a Blurb post on its own as an extra post, detailing the offer, or a separate page with the latest Blurb offers.

I'd love to hear from you. Have you ever used one of the offers I've posted? Are you likely to?

That said, I will share the latest offers for you here, and it is (this is an affiliate link).

Offer: New customers only. Save 20% off photobooks
Valid: through 30 September
Promo Code: SEPT20%

Offer: Save 15% off photobooks at Blurb
Link: Save 15% off photobooks at Blurb with code SEPT15%
Valid: through 30 September
Promo Code: SEPT15%

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19 September 2014

What I wore to go grocery shopping

I found these cropped jeans while thrifting recently and didn't want to wait until summer to wear them. Voila - with boots over them you wouldn't know that they are calf length.

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Chiffon top: thrifted (SaveMart)
Black long sleeved T-shirt: Tesco
Turquoise cropped jeans: thrifted (SaveMart)
Boots: The Warehouse

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17 September 2014

Snippets of our life

I thought I'd put together some video clips that didn't make it into day-in-the-life vlogs. For example, Grant's fastidiousness when it comes to packing out groceries onto the conveyor belt, Daisy at puppy preschool, and a freaky sleeper, among others.

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15 September 2014

Lace your shoes with elastic

Shoes are easy with little ones - velcro straps make putting them on and taking them off so convenient. However, they do create a certain laziness. While Daniel can tie shoelaces, it took him years to learn and he finds them tedious.

I can relate - I get pretty impatient about shoelaces, especially because in NZ we tend to leave shoes at the door when entering someone else's house. If you're in and out a lot then that's a lot of faffing around with laces.

The easy solution is to lace your shoes with elastic, which makes them super easy to slip on and off.

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Simply remove the original laces and lace your shoes with some strong elastic, making sure that it lies flat after each turn. You want to do this with the shoe on the foot so you can get the elastic tight enough but not too tight, and to ensure that both feet feel the same.

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Take one of the ends and put it back through the hole next to the one it came out of.

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Do the same with the other end.

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Then tie the elastic in a knot, and tie a bow to finish it off.

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Voila, no need to tie and untie the shoes - just slip them on and off and the elastic will stretch to accommodate your foot as it goes in and out, and at a glance the shoes look no different to those laces with shoelaces.

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13 September 2014

5 ways to manage anxiety

I have struggled on and off with anxiety for the past few years. This post isn't about treating anxiety disorder in general, but I wanted to share with you a few ways that I manage anxiety when it actually happens. Obviously prevention is the best way of dealing with anxiety, but sometimes it happens. What do you do in that moment?

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1. Aromatheraphy smelling salts

I shared with you how to make aromatherapy smelling salts - I use mine for managing anxiety. My smelling salts have a blend of calming anti-anxiety aromatherapy oils in them, namely:

- Lavender (soothing and calming effect on the nerves, relieves tension, depression, panic, hysteria and nervous exhaustion, is effective for headaches, migraines and insomnia)

- Bergamot (calming, helpful in the treatment of depression, stress, tension, fear, hysteria)

- Frankincense (soothes and calms the mind, slowing down and deepening breathing, helps to calm anxiety and obsessive states linked to the past)

- Clary Sage (calming to the nervous system, particularly in cases of depression, stress, insomnia and deep seated tension)

A few whiffs of my smelling salts is helpful when I feel anxiety coming on. They are handy enough to take anywhere with me, especially to places which I know provoke an anxiety attack.

(Please investigate the oils and their contra-indications before using! Be sure that this mix is safe for you before using, or substitute for oils which are.)

2. Bring it back to the physical

Try to resist the urge to worry. One of the reasons anxiety comes on and you feel that urge to worry is because your body is tense. When your body tenses up, or your breathing becomes shallow or rapid, or any other physical stress symptom, then your mind goes, "It seems we're tensing up - is there danger? Where is the danger? Should I be concerned?" and you begin to have that anxiety loop of thinking over what you said or did, or wondering what you've forgotten, or searching out in your mind what you should be worrying about.

Here's the thing: you will always find something to worry about. The reality is that you are not in danger, so rather than worrying and turning the problem mental, keep it physical.

Relax your arms and legs. Breathe deeply and calmly. Make your muscles soft and limp. Roll your head to loosen your shoulders. Show your mind that your body is relaxed, and it will believe that you are not in danger and the anxiety will lessen.

Rather than thinking about your problems and worries, focus on what you feel. The texture of the clothing you are wearing; the scent in the air; the warmth or coolness around you; the quality of the light and shadow.

Be aware of what made you tense in the first place. Was it a sudden sound? Is the environment too noisy or too bright for you? Are the kids interrupting you a lot while you're trying to concentrate on something? It can be something really random - my sports bra, out of necessity, has really tight shoulder straps (gotta hold the girls up!) and if I wear it too long my shoulders get really tense in response to the pressure. It's good to be aware of your muscle tension and release it; it's better to remove or correct what caused it in the first place.

By focusing on your physical body and experience you will distract your mind from getting into the crazy anxiety loop and stop it in its tracks.

3. Keep it simple and slow

When I feel anxious it's usually because I'm doing too much - either too much in general or too much at one time. Multitasking is no good for anxiety. You will encourage the feeling that you are missing or forgetting something (it's quite possible that you are) and that you're not performing well (you probably aren't).

When I feel anxious I make a point to move slowly and deliberately. It has a very calming effect. I naturally tend to move very quickly and efficiently but this can make things feel urgent when they aren't. Just by slowing my movements I feel more relaxed and calm.

I  simplify and do one thing at a time, focusing on each movement and step. If someone talks to me I shut off my music and stop what I'm doing and listen to them. It's much less stressful than trying to tune things out and trying to keep on working on my project while listening.

4. Distract yourself with music or reading

Listening to relaxing music can calm me as I go about my day. By relaxing music I mean music that doesn't have a fast beat and that isn't played too loudly. Some music is great for revving you up and getting you going, and some is useful for slowing your breathing and calming you down. You'll know which is which just by the effect it has on your body.

Sometimes you just need a bit of escapism. Reading a book that is enjoyable but not tense (thrillers are no good for winding down) can take my brain off the worry loop, at least for a while, and even give me something non-anxious to think about when I go back to my tasks.

5. Just feel the feelings

This one is a toughie. But I've learned the hard way that sometimes when I am feeling anxious for no reason it's because I'm avoiding an emotional purge. It's never fun, but sometimes it's necessary

If I take the time to stop and ask myself, "What's really bothering me?" I can sometimes feel the answer. For example I'll ask myself, "Am I homesick?" and if I burst into tears then bingo, guess what, that's what's been bothering me, even though I hadn't realised it.

What's needed then is to feel the feelings. It's scary and horrible - nobody wants to feel sadness / fear / grief / whatever negative emotion - but I've learned time and again that it's necessary and that the longer I avoid doing so, the longer those feelings will lurk in the background making me anxious and depressed.

So I go to my room and shut the door and have a good cry. I cry and I cry and I cry. I let the feelings wash over me and I let myself feel them, as hurtful as they are. It's usually extremely emotionally painful BUT the storm passes and I feel so much better afterwards!

These emotions are part of our human experience. Honour your feelings and let yourself feel them. I promise it is very freeing and you will feel better afterwards. No matter how scary it is to let yourself fall apart, you will not break. It is very healing to let the feelings out. You'll be surprised at how much better you feel afterwards, and how much longer you can suffer if you suppress them.

I hope these tips have been helpful to you if you are struggling with anxiety. They work for me and I hope that they work for at least one of my readers out there!

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12 September 2014

What I wore to run errands

This four-strand necklace is a bit too long for me, so I tied a knot in it and I actually like it better now. I would have preferred to style this outfit with brown leggings and tan or brown boots, but oh well, gotta work with what you have! The cardigan looks white but is actually cream.

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Skater dress: thrifted
Leggings: Kmart
Boots: The Warehouse
Cardigan: thrifted
Necklace: Can't remember

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11 September 2014

Go Back to Camp - Book Making Camp

This is a post containing affiliate links. You already know I love their products and I wanted to share with you the latest offer code so you can make your own books.

Have you always wanted to make your own book? Not quite sure where to start? You, my friend, need to go back to camp. Book making camp! You won’t learn archery or how to paddle a canoe, but the arts and crafts are great. Check out this short video from Blurb and see how to use their new book making tool, BookWright. See how to get started, select and customize your page layouts, add and delete pages, add text and images, and create your very own customized book. Your camp counselor, Brenna, is pretty cool, too. And, if you make your purchase by 9/30, you can Save 15% off photobooks at Blurb with code SEPT15%.

Click on over here if you prefer to read all about it, rather than watch the video above.

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10 September 2014

DIY aromatherapy smelling salts

I'm sure we've all heard of aromatherapy, but sometimes it's hard to know how to apply it. It's not always practical to go for a massage or lie in a bath with oils in the water. Sure, you can diffuse the oils through a burner but what if you're out and about and need some aromatherapy for calming / stimulating / uplifting / emotional balancing / decongesting / whatever?

Smelling salts are perfect for this, and so easy to prepare!

All you need is a dark glass bottle or jar (I just used an empty vitamin bottle, peeling off the label).

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Into it you add a tablespoon or so of coarse salt.

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Then add a few drops of your chosen oils.

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Give it a shake and voila, you have a jar of smelling salts. You can take it with you in your handbag or pocket. Anytime you need a hit, just give the jar a shake, remove the lid and inhale deeply through your nose a few times.

My little jar of smelling salts is still whiffy and effective two years after preparing it!

Look online or talk to a qualified aromatherapist for the various properties of essential oils. I'll be talking about how I use mine in an upcoming post, so be sure to check back for that.

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8 September 2014

Clarks Beach

We've been taking Daisy to the beach while we can (i.e. out of season). One of the beaches we've been enjoying has been Clarks Beach. Just thought I'd share a few snaps taken there the other day.

Also, happy birthday to Grant! He is 42 today :)

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6 September 2014

Grain free, nut free pancakes

Since finding out I can no longer eat wheat I have tried a variety of pancake recipes to find one that is good. So many of them require a gluten-free flour mix, and all of the mixes I've found contain corn and / or potato starch, which I can't eat either. Lots of the recipes contain bananas, and I don't always have perfectly ripened bananas handy.

I also wanted something that didn't require ground almonds as Daniel is allergic to nuts (not anaphylactic, thank goodness, but they make him very sick).

This recipe, with my tweaks, is the one I use all the time now. The pancakes are delicious, light and fluffy and are really healthy - the coconut flour adds a lot of fibre but they don't taste "coconutty".

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3 eggs
2/3 cup milk (use any kind of milk - almond, rice, soy)
1 tablespoon coconut sugar (or regular sugar, or honey, or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup tapioca flour / arrowroot (I have substituted rice flour and oat flour and it works fine)
½ teaspoon baking powder

Whisk the eggs, then blend in the rest of the ingredients. Spoon some into a non-stick pan and shake the pan to spread the mixture. Cook over a low heat until bubbles start to form, then flip and cook for the same amount of time on the other side.

The mixture will get thicker as it stands and the coconut flour absorbs the milk; feel free to thin it out with more milk if you wish.

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These pancakes are lovely and fluffy and have a similar texture to regular pancakes. I like to make a double batch and store them in the fridge for quick breakfasts or snacks. For breakfast I eat them warm topped with fruit yoghurt, sliced banana and a little cinnamon. For snacks I like them with peanut butter and a scattering of dark chocolate chips.

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