Sunday, 28 April 2013

I have been featured in the Sunday Sip

Hello my lovely ladies and jelly spoons, I'm just popping in on my way to the Bahamas (I wish) to let you guys know that an interview I just did with the ladies over at More than Mommies has just been posted.

To see the full interview, plus much more from these lovely women, please check their website out here

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tips for surviving Pinterest

So everyone here has heard of Pinterest yes? If you haven’t please tell me which rock you have been living under for the past year, and is there enough room for me in there too? For the rest of us non rock-dwellers, we all know that Pinterest is, like most fandoms, something you just don’t get if you don’t participate. While us pinteresters talk about boards and pinning and crafts and Mod Podge, the non pinteresting people just stare into space with an incredibly bored look on their face.

But even if you are Pinterest’s biggest fan, you will know that not everything goes to plan when using the ideas you get from there. And sometimes nothing goes to plan at all. And then there are the times that you end up burning your house down while trying to make grilled cheese sandwiches.

Luckily for us the rise of websites like Pinterest has also given birth to websites aimed directly at laughing at the failures of people who try the things they pin. For a good belly laugh as well as a good directory of what not to do when trying any of the pins you can find, check out craftfail or the wonderful blog Pinstrosity. There is also the hilarious Pintester, who I have mentioned in a previous post here.

So for any of you who are seasoned Pinterest fans, or for anyone out there looking to dip their toe into the waters, I have come up with a fool-proof plan for surviving any visit on any board anywhere on the website. Please take this as a reference next time you wade through the pins.

1. Avoid anything that looks deceptively easy
So if anyone tells you that you can bake a perfect soufflé in less than five steps, take a giant step back and press the bull#$%^ button. There is no such thing as a soufflé in less than five steps, or even less than ten steps. In fact the first five steps should be dedicated to egg whites alone and would probably go along the lines of keep beating, keep beating, almost done, keep beating, I know your hand is sore but just keep beating. Remember the age old saying if it looks to easy to be true, that is probably because it is.

2. Avoid anything with glitter
Glitter is the herpes of the craft world. Once you have it, you can’t get rid of it. As I type this, I am sitting in a pool of sparkly tiny metal flakes, thanks to my baby sister’s decision to have a glitter and sequin themed 21st birthday party almost two weeks ago. Two weeks ago and many goes with the vacuum cleaner and I still can’t get the @#$%@ stuff out of my carpets. We have a running gag in our house where we try to describe what Edward Cullen has been doing in our house to explain away all the glitter you can find layering every flat surface and a few non-flat ones.

Nuff said

3. Avoid anything that calls a Mason Jar an everyday household item
The same goes for Cream of Tartar, or resin, or glycerine. For some people these may be every day household items, but for the most of us, the inclusion of the words Mod Podge in a tutorial means a special trip to your local craft store and then hours of frustration and hair pulling while you try to learn how to use this new ingredient you hadn't heard of before today. If you find something you want to try with foreign sounding ingredients, buy them first and play with them a few times before you start tackling the big projects.

4. Avoid anything that Martha Stewart says is easy
There is a rumour going around the internet (started by me) that Martha Stewart is a sorcerer who sold her soul in order to be the best crafter in the world. While she may be able to make any meal look good, (see here for proof) her estimation on how easy a project is going to be is in fact a perfect indication that this is going to take several years off your life. If you can get through a Martha Stewart project without needing to be institutionalised, or at best resorting to voodoo to try and rid the world of the evil spirit that has possessed her, then you are a stronger person than I am.

5.  Always make sure the pin links to a proper tutorial
This one is a big one, and a huge source of frustration to me and I’m sure millions of other people who try to copy something they see on Pinterest. You see the beauty of Pinterest is not only is it an inspiration board, it is also an effective bookmarking tool, which looks a whole lot better than a bunch of tabs at the top of your browser. The only problem with this is sometimes people don’t actually pin things directly from the source. Sometimes they pin things from Google Image, sometimes the pin is just a link to another website where they talk about the fact that they've seen this, but don’t actually tell you how to do it, and sometimes it takes you to a spam site where they try to harvest your kidneys through your modem. (True story*) If you are just going to use the picture as your inspiration and you don’t need any instructions, then pin away whatever the heck you like. Otherwise you will be sorely disappointed when you finally try to make that button bowl and realise the website it is sending you to is just the artist’s blog where he sells the bowls pre-made.

6. If all else fails; Google it
The amount of times I have saved myself the heartache of another failed project by typing the end result into Google only to come across lots of posts by angry and frustrated people who have failed miserably at the same thing could propel me around the world twice. (I stopped paying attention part way through that sentence, what did I just say?) While Pinterest is a wonderful website full of awesome ideas, Google is an even better website full of angry people and trolls (but only around the bridges) who are more than happy to tell you not to bother trying to make cupcakes in ice cream cones, or any form of cake pops, or string balloons.  You can ignore their words of warning at your own peril, but don’t be surprised if they all show up at your house screaming “I TOLD YOU SO!!!” when everything fails miserably.

Well that should be enough to get you started for now, I'd also suggest letting friends and family know when you are going to log into Pinterest, so that they can check on you every 24 hours or so to make sure you're still ok. If any of you have any further advice you'd like to pass on to the readers, please add it into the comments box below.

*Of course that isn't a true story, if you believe that then you’ll believe anything, and this tutorial really isn't enough to help you. May I suggest some sort of 12 step program?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Spotlight on Mental Health - Jamie's Story

Hello everyone and welcome again to another episode of Spotlight on Mental Health. 

Today's special guest is Jamie from Being Positive with a Depressive Soul. Her blog is an amazing insight into the life of someone currently suffering from depression, and even when she is having the worst day in the world, it is all shared with her audience so you can see what it takes to get through depression.
Being Positive with a Depressive Soul

I am a 42 year old mother of a teenage girl, anxious with life, wild at heart, blogger and an Administrative Assistant, who loves finding freebies and deals.  I also happen to suffer from major depressive disorder and choose to blog about my journey staying positive with major depressive disorder.  My daughter also suffers from depression.  I am me and this is my brief story.

I remember, I believe I was around 12 years old, feeling so alone, lonely, and sad.  I was a very shy child, got my feelings hurt easily, and cried a lot.  I always cared way too much and was very sensitive, I still am.  As I got into my teen years, thanks to being introduced to alcohol, I was able to get over some of my shyness.  Now, mind you, alcohol and I have not had the best relationship but that is a story for another time.  I was young, naïve, had no self-confidence, and absolutely no experience with boys; Yet I fell in love for the first time.  We had a short six month romance and then he broke my heart and at age 19 I had a nervous breakdown and I was diagnosed with depression.  Little did I know that this would the beginning of a life long illness.  

I have struggled with alcohol and drugs but didn't let them consume my soul.  Anyone who has a mental illness and takes medications knows that they shouldn't drink.  Well, I, many times, challenged that and lost each time.  I have been in a toxic relationship with my daughter’s father now, on and off for 17 years.  We currently live together but are not romantically involved.  One change I wanted to make this year was to be able to move out on my own but due to financial difficulties that didn’t happen.  There is always next year!

I used to be very pessimistic about things in life; a bad attitude to say the least.  I have had never actually tried to commit suicide but I have wished many, many times I was dead  Turning 40 turned out to be a pleasant experience.  For the first time in my life, I made my mind up that I would not be depressed about turning 40; age is nothing but a number.  Every milestone 25, 30, 35, would roll around and I would be so negative and dwell on all the things that I didn’t accomplish.  There is something to say about getting older and gaining maturity.  I decided to take my life into my own hands.  I decided to take responsibility for myself and stop blaming others for my mistakes, my past, and my own happiness. 

Blogging has been the best decision for me that I could ever make.  I feel that I am finally free to be me and no longer have to hide who I am.  I am a kind, loving, fun individual who deserves the best in life.  So what if I suffer from major depressive disorder and will need medication for the rest of my life, there is more to me than that.  I do feel lonely and sad a lot but I will take each day as it comes and I am hopeful of the future and believe that the best is yet to come.  One positive step at a time!

So firstly I would like to thank Jamie for sharing her story with us. As her blog shows, her struggle is still a daily one, and sometimes while you're still in the middle of something it can be hard to write about. Luckily for all of us Jamie is always happy to talk about her past and her struggles. If you would like to show Jamie some of the love I know you awesome readers are capable of, please feel free to visit her website, or leave a comment below. 

Well that's all for today, sadly I don't have a new story lined up for next week at this stage, so we may have to take a brief break from this series while I madly try to rustle up some more people willing to tell their stories here. If any of you my wonderful readers have a story and wouldn't mind sharing it here, please get in contact with me, I would love to feature you.

Until next time, stay awesome.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Life Hacks Episode 3

Well here we are again at another episode of Life Hacks. In this series I give you a heap of quick and easy tips designed to make your life just a little bit quicker and easier. If you are the kind of person who still types www at the beginning of every web address you visit, then pay attention because this series is for you. (Little side note and nothing to do with today's episode, stop typing www at the beginning of every web address, seriously you just wasted 3 seconds of your life by doing that. You'll get to exactly the same place if you just start typing the address after the www. Go ahead and try it, I'll stand here and wait for you.)

For episode 2 click here

Now today's life hack is something that I know everyone has to deal with, and that is preventing clogged drains in your kitchen. Thanks to our laziness, most of us just tip every little bit of fatty, dirty, food infested water straight down the sink, and then curse our stupid plumbing when it all comes flowing back into the sink after you turn the tap on full.

I told you you can't flush an entire pumpkin down the sink!

Now there are many ways that you can actually prevent all that nasty fatty scrappy gunk from being washed down your sink. You can always tip fluids out into the garden, or go out and buy a tiny strainer for your sink, or you could use something that you probably already have in your kitchen and are about to use to scrub out your pot anyway. 

So to safely empty a dirty pot of crud into your sink without blocking your drain, you will need the following

1 pot full of scummy water (or a whole sink full of dirty dish water)
1 steel wool
1 rubbish bin

Now I Googled steel wool before I wrote this because I'm never sure if these life hacks will translate into other countries, but I'm very happy to find out that Australia isn't the only country that sells steel wool. So way to go the rest of the world, you can do this too! However the type of steel wool you use may end up producing different results, I have used a very coarse steel wool that is already well loved, so there is plenty of room for the water to drain out of it while the scum and crud stays put.

So to save your drain and your sanity, plug up your drain with a piece of steel wool BEFORE you start emptying the water out. If you are emptying a pot, this is simple, just plug up the hole. If you are doing this while the sink is already full of water, it is still simple, just make sure you use two hands, one to pull the plug out, the other to jam the steel wool into the drain hole.

Voila! one plugged up sink hole, and a perfectly timed drop of water splashing into the sink. How awesome is that?

Note that I have taken a photo before anything is tipped down the sink, because truly that is a nasty sight. Once you have emptied all the water, take the steel wool over to your rubbish bin and shake all the crap out into the bin where it belongs. If you are a squeamish person who can't stand the thought of actually touching a dirty scrubber feel free to use gloves while you do this, or even better find someone else to do it for you. 

The beauty of emptying out water in this manner is that while it saves you from having to unclog your drain in the future, it also helps keep our waterways cleaner and reduces the amount of work that water treatment plants have to do once your dirty water reaches them. It truly is a green tip you can feel good about doing it.

Well there you have it, another short cut for you done and dusted. I'll be back again tomorrow with our next episode of Spotlight on Mental health, and for once it isn't a family member i begged to write something for me so be sure to tune in tomorrow for that. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Recipe- Toasted Banana and Nutella Sanga

Hello again my wonderful audience, I am back with another super dooper awesome recipe for you guys to share. Now I am feeling incredibly lazy today, which explains why I am so late in posting this recipe, as well as why I have chosen a simple meal to share with you guys today too.

So as you can tell from today's recipe, I'm showing you guys how to make a toasted sanga. For any of my audience who doesn't call Australia home, this term may confuse you, so to confuse you guys even further, I'll tell you that I'm either toasting sandwiches, or an Abyssinian Ox. I'll let you guys decide while I post this picture.

For anyone who guessed I was cooking an Ox, you are awesome, PM me now, we need to talk!

Yep I am so lazy that today my recipe is a toasted sandwich. But this is a toasted sandwich that takes a certain amount of skill. Because it's one thing to smear some Nutella on a piece of toast and walk to the lounge room while chewing on it. It's another to combine the Nutella with hot melty banana and eat it without ending up looking like a two year old who is still learning to eat properly.

This is usually how I look after eating one of these bad boys.

Ok so to make my favourite breakfast/lunch/snack/comfort food, you will need the following.

2 slices of bread. 
Margarine or butter to lubricate the bread
Nutella or other similar choc-hazelnut spread
1 medium to large banana
1 Sandwich press or grill

So to make a toasted banana and nutella sandwich, first spread your butter/margarine/olive oil spread/Nuttelex on both slices of bread
Smear a generous amount (read; shitload) of Nutella on one slice of bread
Mash the banana and spread it on the other slice of bread
Slap those two babies together, being careful not to spill any banana, that stuff is precious.
Put the sandwich in the sandwich press, or under the grill until the bread is golden brown and crispy, and the banana is nice and warm and soft

This bad boy feeds one, but don't be surprised if you start getting hungry eyes from everyone within a ten metre radius.

I'm so hungry I'm going to stab this melon....ladies

Well that's all from me for now, I'm off to go do something productive, like make another toasted banana and nutella sandwich. Later y'all.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

My first guest post

Hey guys, it has been sooo hard to keep this one under my hat, but I have just been published as a guest blogger on another website for the first time ever!!!

So pretty pretty please all of my wonderful readers, pop on over to All My Happy Endings right now to check out my post on dealing with mummy guilt. I'll seriously love you all forever.

Image source

No more wait and see.

Hello again my lovely readers, I come armed with words of warning to all of you. (Ooh that sounds ominous doesn't it?) For any of you out there who have children, or are planning on having children in the future, this applies the most to you. For any of you out there who never want to have children, or call your pets your fur babies, some of this can be related back to yourselves, so don't turn away just yet.

So over the past 2 years of being Miss K's mum, I have noticed a distinct lack of willingness for medical staff to make decisions when it comes to treating children. There is a prevailing attitude that it is safer to wait and see, especially while they are still babies. Now while I am sure this attitude is perfectly safe in some cases, in many it can be more dangerous and come with more long term damage than making a cautious decision to start low level diagnosis and treatment at a young age. Now I only have my personal experiences to draw on here, so I'm not saying in any way I am an expert. But I will give you my stories so you can understand why I have come to my own conclusions now.

When Miss K was first born, we had a huge problem with her breathing. Occasionally she would stop breathing and choke on some mysterious fluid that seemed to be coming from somewhere either in her lungs or stomach. Every time I brought this up with a nurse or a doctor they always brushed me off and said it sounded like excess amniotic fluid. Then at 2 weeks of age she got this massive infection in her eye complete with lots of oozy pus (sorry for any sensitive souls out there, who get queasy at the sight of the word pus.) I had an appointment with my MHN (Maternal Health Nurse for anyone who is not up to speed with parenting acronyms) who said it was just a case of conjunctivitis, and proceeded to tell me I could treat it with breast milk. Now this was the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard. I know that breast milk is full of lots of wonderful vitamins, minerals and antibodies, but nowhere on any of the forums on breast feeding that I have gone to have they said to use it on serious infections. So I smiled politely, and left the nurse's office and took my baby to MY doctor, who took a swab of the infected area and told me she'd get back to me the next day with a diagnosis, as it was more likely a staph infection than plain old conjunctivitis. Well by the time she got back to me 5 days later, we were already in hospital getting Miss K treated for meningitis along with a whole host of other infections, so I thanked her for confirming my suspicions, and told her we were already getting everything treated all at once in hospital.

From that day on, I have developed a deep suspicion of doctors. There are very few people in the medical industry in my area that I will actually trust with my daughter's well being, because no one around here seems able to accept that as her mother I may know a little bit about what I'm talking about, and that my concerns need to be taken seriously. My second case in point is Miss K's eyes. I took her for her first appointment at the optometrists at almost 10 months old, because she already had a lazy eye. While the optometrist we saw was a lovely gentleman, and he was very patient with both of us, especially as 9 months old don't always have a tendency to be able to sit still long enough to have their eyes examined, but even though he admitted that she does have a problem with her eyesight, he was hesitant to start treating it straight away, and told us to come back in 12 months time. So despite my concerns that this wasn't something that was just going to right itself, I went away and came back 12 months later, this time to be seen by our current optometrist Dr Con. Now I love Dr Con. He is so patient with my squirmy 2 year old, and he always manages to get what he needs out of our consultations, but I got so angry when he told me that Miss K should have been given glasses at our first appointment 12 months earlier. And then he told me that a lot of the balance, co-ordination and developmental issues that we had been having with Miss K all this time was most probably linked to terrible eye sight. So yet again my daughter was kept behind by another medical expert hesitant to try anything to help her, and my own stupid belief that the doctors know better than I do.

So when I went to our old family doctor with concerns about Miss K's speech and breathing, and again was told she was too young to have anything done about it until she was three years old, I refused to give in. I took her to our current MHN (who does not believe that breast milk is a magic elixir that cures staph infections) who spent five minutes watching Miss K and then organised to get us into a program designed to help kids with developmental difficulties. It was such a huge relief to have someone finally tell me that I wasn't an idiot for wanting something done sooner rather than later I could have cried. We were assessed for the program a week later, and started attending the very next day. Miss K has been going for two weeks now and the change in her was almost immediate. And it's not just her speech that we are getting help with, it is also her gross and fine motor skills, something which I didn't even have any idea were under developed. I have been madly searching the internet for other things we can do at home to help boost the work we are doing in the sessions, and I found a forum telling me don't wait until the child is 3 like our family doctor told me to do, get it taken care of sooner, to stop them falling further and further behind.

Now our old family doctor is indeed old. He has been seeing my family since Ben was about 8, so he's been doing this for a long time, and is currently getting ready to retire. He is still very much an old school doctor, so the treatments you get from him can be a bit dated. I can't fault the level of care he has given us in the past, because he has been a trusted physician for our whole family for as long as I can remember, but I can't put up with one more person ignoring my concerns just because I'm only a parent and not a trained physician. What these people seem to forget is that we mums (and dads) are the ones who spend 24 hours a day with these little people. We are the ones who learn exactly how they are feeling just by the look in their eyes. We are the ones who know when they're just a little bit off or when something is seriously wrong from the colouring in their cheeks. We may not have gone to university for a period longer than all of my relationships put together, but we are experts in this little person we are bringing to you, and we wouldn't be coming to you if we didn't really think that something was wrong. You can't just pat us on the head and tell us to stop being such a worry wart, take us seriously dammit and check out the child.

So that brings me to my words of warning. Doctors are not gods. They may have an extensive medical education to back them up, but they aren't infallible. There are times when you are more of an expert than they are, because it's YOUR body or YOUR child that you are talking about, and who knows them better than you? Now I'm not saying stop going to doctors, or start a revolt and insist that they give you a barrage of tests for every single sniffle, but if your gut instincts tell you that the doctor isn't taking your concerns seriously, then seek a second opinion. or a third. At the end of the day if something terribly wrong wasn't diagnosed and treated correctly, you are the one who has to deal with the aftermath, not them.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

A letter of apology

An open letter to the people and things which I have reason to apologize to for past, present and possible future infractions.

Image courtesy of

To all of the people who I park next to in car parks around the country; I am very sorry if my attempt at parking has left you with the urge to beat in my windshield with a sledge hammer, I’m still not very good at it. Also I’m sorry if you have to wait five minutes while I get my squirming daughter, both our bags, her pram, any extra toys she wants to bring and the kitchen sink out of the car. I promise I am going as fast as I can, but these things do take time.

To my stomach, thighs and bottom; I’m very sorry but things don’t appear to be shrinking on their own and I can’t be bothered doing anything about it myself. If you can just hold on for a little while longer I’m sure they’ll invent an ice cream that sucks the fat out of your body. Until then I’m going back to my donuts.

To my big sister; I am sorry I destroyed every book I borrowed from you, and broke your hairbrush then hid it under my bed for three months. And I’m also sorry I scared you with the spider I found in my toy picnic basket when we were kids. I’m also sorry I still laugh about it every time I think about it. And finally I’m sorry for thinking you were the world’s biggest meanie every time you disciplined your kids when they were two. I am now in the same unenviable position now and I totally see why you did it.

To every sports teacher I ever had as a child; I am sorry that I hate sports so much, and that you had to be at the receiving end of said hatred. If it makes you feel any better I still hate sports, but I give a lot less attitude about it. (I just hurl abuse at the television if they interrupt my scheduled programming for a stupid @#$%$@ sports show)

To every other teacher I ever had; I am sorry I was so well behaved and smart, because you then expected every other brother and sister after me to be equally as well behaved and smart. I should have come with a warning that I was the weird one of my family for having such large brains and beautiful manners.

To all my younger brothers and sisters; I apologize for setting the bar at school so high for all of you. Obviously it was too hard for you to get straight A’s in all your classes and not make your teachers cry (I’m looking at you Kim) and I feel that maybe the teachers expected so much of you because I was such a brilliant student, so I’m sorry.

To every future teacher of Miss K’s; I apologize that she said/did what she did, and I will make sure to explain to her why it is not a good idea to feed that to the class pet, or call her classmates that, or insert (blank) into (blank). I am sure we will not have a repeat of this incident again.

To my car; I am sorry that I keep forgetting to put oil in you, and I let the tyres get dangerously low on air before I finally get tired of having to wrench the steering wheel every time I turn and pump you up again. Also I am sorry that I leave it more than 12 months between each service, and longer for tune ups and all the other boring hard to understand repairs you always seem to need. If you could please avoid dying in the middle of the supermarket car park again, I’ll make sure to take better care of you.

To Miss K; I am sorry that…oh hell there is too much here that I will have to apologise for, so let’s just say I’m sorry.

And finally to my mum; I am sorry that I was such a pain in the butt as a child, because I am getting it all back tenfold now.

Do any of you have anything you need to apologize for? Let me know in the comments and get a load off your chest.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Test blog, please disregard

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Sorry guys, I'm trying to fix up bloglovin and I have to do this. Please continue with your day as normal and ignore the gentlemen in white coats.

Spotlight on Mental Health - Ben's Story

Hello again and welcome to another episode of Spotlight on Mental Health. I have had some wonderful feedback on the series to date, and it has been touching to have so many people come forward and tell me that they have loved hearing the stories of other sufferers to match their own. So without further ado, I bring on the banner.

So today my guest is the vivacious and frantic Ben of Ben's Bouncing Brain. He is the amateur theater extraordinaire of Melbourne who happens to also be my baby brother. 

Okay, SO I'm Ben and I am a 23 year old theater tragic! That really does sum me up in a "Nut shell" (Pun intended) Musical Theater has been the main focus of my life for the better part of 16 years and I would not have it any other way.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder when I was 16 years old. At this time I was not put on any medication as my doctor felt that I was still a bit too young and he wanted to try "self-management" techniques before pumping my body with unnecessary and dangerous drugs. This was a really rough time as the reason I went to the doctor in the first place was my mother told me that she was scared that I would physically hurt her or my two younger sisters in one of my "episodes". This was possibly the hardest things to hear BUT also the best as it was definitely a wake up call. So in the two years following my diagnosis I had many ups and downs and struggled with my mood swings and emotional roller coaster. Once 18 I went back to my doctor and we immediately developed a mental health plan. This took a few months to perfect and we tried many different medications (Antidepressants, mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics). Eventually my doctor prescribed Lithium. This seemed to be the answer and I was "Stable" for a while. Slowly after a few months I was slipping again and went back to my Dr. He upped the dosage and this again fixed the issue. This process continued over months and at one point I was taking 16 lithium tablets (8 twice a day) and 4 antidepressants (2 twice a day). While this was working for me and I was "Stable" I did NOT like the fact that I was on such a high dosage, I also did not like the constant blood tests that came with it. SO I went to the Dr once again and we made a "Mental Health Plan" that was medication free, this involved medication, therapy sessions (which I only attended maybe three times). This worked out well for me for quite some time, sadly it soon came to an end and I found myself not coping. BACK to the DR and BACK on the medication. This was fine and I wasn't happy about it but being on the medication and being able to cope with everything is better than crashing in a heap. When re-commencing the medication though I had a "blond moment" and resumed my 8 tablets twice a day... Those of you playing at home this is NOT what you are meant to do. You need to slowly increase the dosage and monitor the Lithium Serum levels in the blood. So by starting back on such a high dose was not appreciated by my body and I OD'ed. Lucky I didn't have any major problems... I passed out at one point, called my mother and then Doctor on call and I was reassured that I would be fine and to see my Dr when I can and explain what happened and get checked out, stupid mistake but one I will NEVER make again. So in that time to now I have been on and off the medication a few times... Currently I am back on them and this time (sadly) it is for good... I have tried managing without them and I am okay for a few months but it is never a long term thing so it is better for my body if I just stick with it rather than keep going on and off.

The hardest thing about suffering with a mental illness is the social stigma attached... While I am not ashamed that I have a mental illness, it really isn't something I can control unfortunately, and it is still something that is shied away from in general society and I feel this is really due to ignorance... The famous saying "People fear what they don't understand" is SO TRUE! I have so many friends that once they find out that I have a mental illness they are so fascinated and ask SO many questions... ALL of which I am more than happy to answer. But yeah... like I said I am not ashamed to admit I have a mental illness but on the same hand, when I am in the midst of an "episode" be it mania or depression it does affect my day to day life so I need to explain to my boss or co-workers or whomever that I am unable to cope with the stress at the moment and why this is so... THAT is when I feel my worst because I feel like I am being a drama queen and I am hiding behind it. When I am lucid/rational/"normal" I know this is silly and is part of the illness but obviously when I am lucid/rational/"normal" I don't NEED to explain to people that I can't cope... Vicious circle.

When it comes to controlling my emotions or recognizing that I am in the middle of an "episode" (again manic or depressive) the one guarantee to bring me out of it is Musical Theater  I am aware of how silly this sounds but it really is my life force. Put on a Broadway Cast Recording and you have me in a good mood. Now I know this is my personal "fix it" and honestly it doesn't always work but there really isn't any set way to deal or cope with it. Everyone is different and no two people will react the same way to the same triggers. The best way to help is to be able to recognize your triggers. You HAVE to get to know yourself so well that you can feel when you are beginning to slip and pull yourself aside and clam yourself down. Meditation really helps.

Something everyone needs to know about Bipolar and any mental illness really... EVERY ONE IS DIFFERENT, really the best thing you can do is research and get to know the general outline of the illness so you are aware of the general signs and what not.... BUT the rest you need to talk to your friend/family/sufferer and ask them about their personal situation... By that I mean what sets them off, what calms them down, how they manage/cope with things. The number ONE rule I find though is NEVER ASSUME, you can do a lot of damage by assuming or making generalizations about people with mental illness.
Thanks for reading guys and please if you have any questions for me I would be more than happy to answer them.

So a huge thank you to Ben for sharing this story with us. As Natalie said last week in her story, Ben seems to be the person in our family who suffers the most from his mental illness. He is also the only one in my immediate family with Bi-Polar and Borderline Personality Disorder. The rest of us seem to have been lucky to have been diagnosed with simple depression compared with Ben, and I shall remember that and the fact that I don't have to take 20 pills a day the next time I'm having a hard time. To actually know Ben is to know a concentrated ball of energy in human form. I have never seen anyone who has as hard a time sitting still as Ben does, and it can be quite exhausting spending a lot of time with him. Luckily he has the most wicked sense of humor, so it can also be quite fun to watch him bounce off the walls while telling filthy jokes.

Well that's all for this week, next week's special guest is a wonderful lady with a very interesting story to tell, so please join us next week to read Jamie from Being Positive with a Depressive Soul's story. And once again I will put a call out to all of you, if any of you have a story to tell on your time dealing with mental illness, please contact me as I would love to share it with the rest of my readers.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Life Hacks Episode 2

I would like to start todays post by expressing my sorrow at the tragedy in Boston today. My thoughts and hearts go out to everyone in who has been affected by this terrifying attack. I am still of two minds whether to even post anything today, but if it is indeed an act of terror as the news reporters are stating, then the best thing to do is go on with our lives and refuse to give in, so with that in mind I would like to welcome all of you to the second episode of Life Hacks.

For episode one click here

Now today I am going to show you guys how to fix something which is the bane of my existence, and something I am sure everyone has had the frustration of dealing with at some point in their lives to date. Scratched CDs.

Pictured: enough scratches to give you a whole head of grey hairs

This one can be fixed with just a few items that can be found in most households, depending on how yellow your teeth are. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out more.

Ok so to repair a scratched CD you will need the following items;

1 scratched CD
Several cotton buds (cotton swabs or Q Tips for my overseas friends)
1 tube of tooth whitening toothpaste with Bi-Carb

Don't judge my choice in movies, or the fact that this one is so well loved. I love me some classic Disney

Now just for a little side note, technically I could send this DVD back to the Disney company in America, and they will replace it for me with a brand new, completely unscratched copy for a minimal fee, but given that I don't feel like mailing my DVDs to America and then waiting weeks and weeks before I can watch The Sword in the Stone again, I'll stick with my method. 

Ok so back to repairing our scratched discs. I mentioned above that the toothpaste has to be whitening toothpaste, and that it must contain Bi-Carbonate Soda. This is important, because it is the Bi-Carb which actually gets rid of the scratch. Why can't you just use plain ol' Bi-Carb? I guess because this way your discs end up with a minty fresh smell once the scratch is repaired. 

So on to repairing the gray-hair inducing scratches. First load up your cotton bud with a small amount of toothpaste. Then start buffing at the scratch, using small circular motions. You will need to buff all the way up and down the scratch in this manner.

Soon this disc will have a sparkly smile and a new lease on life

Now this method can take a little while to complete, depending on how deep the scratch is, but it is important to persevere because it really does work, and can mean the difference between being able to watch a movie, or throwing it into the bin forever. (Although for some movies that may not be a bad thing. I'm looking at you Disaster Movie)

Ok so once you've buffed the scratch rinse the disc under cold water and check your progress. Again if it is a particularly deep scratch, you may need to repeat the above step several times.

Don't forget to rinse with mouthwash to kill the 99% of germs found in your mouth.

Now one other thing I must mention before you fly into a panic when you see it is the micro scratches. Because Bi-Carb is an abrasive, this method will leave a cloudy patch of micro scratches on your disc once you have removed the initial scratch. While this patch is not pleasing to the eye, it does not affect the ability of the disc to play, unlike the massive scratch you started off with. I tried to take a picture of the CD I just cleaned, just so you could get an idea of what it would look like, but evening light plus reflective surface plus terrible photographer do not make for a very clear image. 

Hopefully pointing it out to you makes it a little easier to see it past the blur and flash.

And there you have it. One way to rescue your CDs and DVDs from extinction. 

Well that is all for now, as you can tell I have a lot more scratches in this disc to buff out if I am going to get to watch it before bed tonight, so I'll leave you until tomorrow where we return for another Spotlight on Mental Health. Until then, stay awesome.

*Edit* I have since discovered that car wax may be able to do the same thing. Is anyone willing to test this for me??

Monday, 15 April 2013

Recipe - Tuna Pasta Bake

Hello again and welcome to another recipe Monday. Today I have another firm favourite meal from my family vault to share with you. This is another one I can usually guarantee that Miss K won't turn her nose up at, but I haven't made the mistake of serving it every week yet for fear that she'll get tired of it and start refusing to eat it like she did with the Dim Sims. So sit back and grab a pencil and pad while I teach you how to make a Tuna Pasta Bake.

Again apologies for the terrible photo, if any of you would like to donate a DSLR camera to a good cause I'm happy to give you my mailing address...

You'll notice that this meal isn't nearly as caramelised as the taco lasagna that I showed you last week, that is because this one is a lot quicker to cook, so you don't need tin foil on the tray to protect the cheese from becoming a fossil. So despite the terrible photography, I don't need to rely on Martha Stewart to make my meal look good this week. Success!!!

Alright before I send you off to the kitchen to cook this, I will send you to the supermarket with a shopping list that looks like this.

2 cups Penne pasta
1 400g tuna in springwater
1 tin tomatoes 
2 cups grated cheese
1 - 2 cups chopped mushrooms
1 sachet of chicken chasseur flavouring (or similar tomato based flavour packet)
salt and pepper to season

So you've gone up the street, you've bought your ingredients and they're sitting on the bench staring at you. Now what? well be patient and keep reading and prepare to be amazed.

First pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. (That's approximately 356 degrees Fahrenheit for any of my American friends.)
Boil your pasta according to the instructions on the packet. 
While the pasta is boiling, combine the tinned tomatoes, the sachet of flavouring and half a cup of water in a saucepan. 
Bring the tomato mixture to the boil then remove from the heat.
Add the tuna and mushrooms (and any other vegetables you feel like sneaking in there) to the tomato mix and stir well. Season the mixture with salt and pepper as desired
Once the pasta is boiled, drain out the water, then combine the tomato mix and the pasta and stir well.
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the grated cheese on top. If you want to you can sprinkle cheese into the mixture as you are spooning it into the dish as well, just to make sure the cheesyness spreads throughout the whole dish.
Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown.

And there you have it. A meal for 4 - 6 people, depending on how big you like to slice things. This is one of my all time favourite meals, and I hope you guys can enjoy it too. 

Well that's all from me today, except to let you guys know that the lovely Jamie from Being Positive with a Depressive Soul has accepted her Liebster Award today on her blog, so you can go check it out now. The lucky duck got two nominations this week so there is twice as much fun to see.

Friday, 12 April 2013

You tolerate me, you really really tolerate me

What up mah homies?? Word to your mother!

Alright, I have that out of my system now I'll get to the point of this post. I was very pleased to be contacted by Stephanie at Life, Unexpectedly recently to let me know that she was awarding me with a Liebster Award.

For any of you who have never heard of the Liebster Award, it is an award given by the bloggers for the bloggers. It's in essence a chain letter that has been making its way around the blogosphere since around 2010. If you are given the award, you need to write a post with 11 random facts about yourself, you must then answer 11 questions asked of you by the person who gave you the award. You then have to spread the love to 11 further bloggers with a following of less than 200 people, and ask them 11 questions and so the chain continues. While there is no special award ceremony and goody bag to go with a Liebster Award, it is nice to have someone say they like your work so much they want it recognised officially. 

I'd like to thank my mum for teaching me how to write...

Ok so first the 11 random facts about me

  1. I can flip my eyelids inside out. This is an awesome party trick, but one I don't pull out much any more because I got tired of people running away from me screaming
  2. My all time favourite band is Everclear. 
  3. I cannot go to sleep unless I have a television on in the background
  4. I once drove my car into my living room window while trying to do a 3-point turn in my driveway
  5. While cleaning up the broken glass from the above "accident" I sliced my arm open and needed 6 stitches. That was not a good night.
  6. My longest relationship has been 2 and a half years. I thought I was going to marry him, until the day I realised that would be the biggest mistake of my life and left him. I still don't regret this decision.
  7. The biggest arguments I have are always in my head, usually in preparation for a real argument that never seems to happen
  8. When I was younger and child-free I used to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner sometimes.
  9. I have both cheated on and been cheated on by a partner. Both of these make you feel like crap.
  10. I cannot stand seeing children being hurt, it always makes me cry a little bit
  11. If I could speak Spanish, I would move to spain, just so I could have a siesta every day without feeling guilty
Ok so now I have to answer the questions Stephanie has asked of me.

1. What is your favourite fruit?
Definitely bananas. Aside from their comic potential they are also delicious and have so many healthy benefits, it's a total win-win.

2. Do you get your 5 a day on a regular basis?
If you're talking about 5 arguments with my daughter, then yes, yes I do. If you're talking about fruits and vegetables sadly no. Unless you count coffee as a vegetable, which I seem to be the only person who does.

3. Sweet or savory?
Definitely sweet. Cakes, ice cream, lollies, chocolate, biscuits, the sweeter the better.

4. Do you have a lucky number?
Not really, I usually just use my age, but given that changes every year it's hard to know if it's lucky or not.

5. What do you order at Starbucks?
Well we don't have Starbucks down here in my teeny tiny town, so nothing, but if I ever go to the city I'll order a hot chocolate if anything. I'm too used to instant coffee so the real stuff tastes terrible to me.

6. Share your comfort food
This one would definitely have to be banana muffins. Once upon a time it was breakfast food, but given I don't live or work near a patisserie any more it is not as easy to get fresh banana muffins these days, but it is a good day if I can find a bakery that sells them. If not I will settle for a donut.

7. Have you filed for your taxes already?
This one confuses me because in Australia the end of our financial year is actually June 30 so I still have months left to worry about filing a tax return. Plus given that I am a full time parent and do not actually pay tax right now I have even less to worry about, but when I go back to work, I will probably be doing my taxes around mid July. Is it sad that I get excited about filling in my tax return each year??

8. What is the last thing that you bought? (excluding groceries)
Well yesterday I actually went on a mini shopping spree and bought myself a new pair of shoes. I have to go to my baby sister's 21st birthday party tomorrow and I'm pretty sure the pub we are going to won't accept thongs (flip flops for all of you over the pond) or sneakers as acceptable footwear. I also bought myself some more stuff packs for the Sims 3. I am totally obsessed with that game right now.

9. What is your favourite animal and why?
For me it is the dolphin. I love the playful reputation that they have, but that they are also an incredibly intelligent animal. Of course given that they are wild animals they can be incredibly brutal too. It just goes to show you that appearances can be deceiving.

10. What is a colour you would never wear?
Fluro green. I believe it is a colour that belongs in highlighter pens and nowhere else. 

11. Are you happy with your name?
I love my first name because it means Ireland, and that is where my family history is. My surname is absolutely horrible, and easy to misspell and mispronounce, but I can't change it now because then Miss K and I would have different surnames, so it looks like I'm stuck with it forever. (I never gave Miss K her father's name, she took my maiden name when she was born.)

So now I am going to nominate 11 other blogs (with less than 200 followers) that I think are also worthy of the Liebster award. So in no particular order, please find my 11 nominees.

1. Marianne at We Band of Mothers
6. Shelby at It's Always Sonny
8. Shannon at Relentless
10. Momma Bear at A Mommabear's Life
11. Vanessa at Babbling Bandit

So as you can tell just from this tiny list of the blogs that I follow, I love reading the stories of other parents. It's kind of like legal stalking since they let me subscribe to them. And now I am going to ask them all to answer these 11 questions for me.

1. What is the best thing about having children?
2. What is your biggest pet hate?
3. If you could have dinner with one person dead or alive, who would it be?
4. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
5. What is your favourite place in the whole world?
6. Finish this sentence: A perfect day for me would be...
7. Are you a feminist?
8. If you could be a celebrity, what would you want to be famous for?
9. Do you believe in ghosts?
10. Who is your biggest hero?
11. Tell me a secret. 

Ok so all of the lovely bloggers are about to be contacted and notified, there is of course the option of receiving an honorary Liebster award, which means that you don't have to pass it on to other bloggers if you wish not to. 

And again a big thank you to Stephanie from Life, Unexpectedly.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Spotlight on Mental Health - Nat's story

Hi guys, welcome to another in our series of spotlight on mental health. I hope you guys are enjoying these stories as much as I am. For any of our new readers, if you want to read the first two posts, you can do so here and here. Otherwise, it's on with the show.

Now today's guest is a little bit different, because she doesn't suffer from depression. But that doesn't mean she isn't affected by it. Today my little sister Natalie has offered to come along and share with us how it feels watching the people you love go through mental illness.

Hey there blogosphere and loyal readers of Erin’s. My name is Natalie, I’m 22 years old and I am Erin’s second youngest sister. Let me tell you a bit about myself. When I was 4 my mum enrolled my younger sister, older brother and I into dancing – I instantly fell in love with dancing, singing and later acting. Dancing was a huge part of my life. For 14 years I competed in dancing, and only stopped because I turned 18 and my mother told me I had to pay for it myself, and let me tell you… dancing is frigging expensive. So now I take part in the occasional amateur theater  I work in childcare and love every minute of it. It’s such a rewarding job!
I’m here to talk about my experiences of being in a family where depression plays a big part.

Being the second youngest of a family of 6, with 4 out of the 6 officially diagnosed with depression, I've seen my family go through a bit. A lot of it I didn't fully understand, as being the second youngest, no matter how old I was, I was still treated as a kid in some cases, so it wasn't really something they would talk to me about. (I was 12 when Erin was diagnosed, so I guess I was still a kid). I knew about it, just didn't understand why they were acting the way they would. One thing I remember is when Erin was in her teens, she would spend a hell of a lot of time in her bedroom, my mum would tell me that that’s just what teenagers do, so I really didn't think much of it. Sometimes to be honest it would annoy me the amount of time she spent in her bedroom, don’t ask me why. It may have been because I felt like she didn't want to spend time with me or something. I don’t know. But of course looking back now, I fully understand.

There was something that happened when I was 12 that took me a while to forgive Erin for. It was the second week of term holidays and my sister and I had just finished a week of competing, and it was a routine of ours to go to Melbourne to enjoy our last week of freedom before school started back. It was one of my brothers, my younger sister and I with our mum visiting our oldest sister, doing the usual fun things we’d do. This time though, it wasn't like it usually was. Our trip was cut short when one night, someone got a phone call from our other brother (I can’t remember who took the call) but all of a sudden we were having to pack everything up and head back to our home town. No one was telling my brother, younger sister (who was 11) and I what was happening, so we were pretty upset that we had to go home early. We pulled into a petrol station and while our brother in law (I think) was paying for petrol, our mum decided that she would let us know that Erin was having a little party with some of her friends and had cut herself. I of course at first thought that she’d had an accident and it must have been pretty bad, but then mum said she had done it deliberately. And that’s when the anger set in. I didn't understand why Erin had deliberately cut herself and it wasn't until I was a little bit older that I sort of understood, but being someone who has never been in that frame of mind, I still don’t fully understand how someone can actually harm themselves. So I was angry at her for making us have to go home early when she had brought this on herself, harsh I know… but come on, I was 12.

There have been other times that Erin has made me angry, that wasn't the only time she had self-harmed.  Only a couple years ago, she had this a-hole of a boyfriend that treated her like dirt, and she seemed to be the only one that couldn't see it, no matter how many talks I had with her saying that she deserved better. At about 12am or even later, she came over to mum’s while we were all in bed, and I remember being woken up to her in tears. I walked out to see what was going on and she had an ice pack on her wrist. She had taken her lighter and burnt her arm in multiple spots because she was in a bad frame of mind and had finally realised it, but with her form of depression, there are times where she can’t think rationally, so on this occasion again she thought it best to harm herself for a bit of relief.

It was really hard to watch my sister go through this, and I know I said she made me angry when she would behave like this, but it’s only because I don’t understand. I love her more than words can say, and just want to see her happy, and recently I have. Having Miss K was probably the best thing for Erin. She still has days where the depression is overpowering her, but luckily for her she is part of an extremely loving and caring family who are obviously always going to be there for her. And also it’s really hard to be angry or upset with Miss K around, that girl has the cheekiest sense of humor  if she senses you’re angry or upset, she’ll do anything to make you laugh.

Now as I mentioned before, 4 out of the 6 kids have been diagnosed with depression, but there are 2 of those 4 who seem to suffer from it the worst. One is Erin and the other being the brother that’s closer in age to me. He’s name is Ben, and he is also going to contribute to Erin’s “Spotlight on mental health”. Ben has been diagnosed with bipolar and borderline multiple personality disorder. Now that doesn't mean that he goes around talking to himself, or has actual different personalities that join us for dinner sometimes… instead it means that he is a very impulsive person and finds it extremely hard to sit still. Let me paint a picture for you. Ben lives in Melbourne and is heavily into theatre and at the moment he is musical director for a production in Gippsland (roughly 2 hours away from where he lives), he is also musical director for at least 4 other shows in Melbourne… and that’s just for this year, and I know he’s already talking about other shows. So do you see what I mean by he finds it hard to sit still?

When Ben and I were kids we never got along, and I don’t mean just normal sibling rivalry… I literally mean we NEVER got along!! It was really hard as he is close in age with my younger sister and I, so we’d spend a lot of time playing together… but with Ben and I not getting along, it would all depend on if he was talking to our younger sister at the time as to whether I’d be allowed to join in… I’m not kidding. When he was about 14 he was voted off the island and went to live with our dad. This made things between us heaps better and we finally got along. Then in 2011 I thought it was be a good idea to move to Melbourne and move in with him. This was when I witnessed the full bipolar-ness. His moods are up and down like a yo-yo, which would make it difficult for me. When we fought it was an all out screaming war and would result in one or both of us storming off to our room. The problem was Ben would be over it in a matter of minutes while I’d still be fuming, so he’d come in and try to act like nothing happened and would just expect me to be fine with some of the things he'd said to me. Or there would be times where he’d be angry at me for more than a day and when I’d go and see if we could get things sorted he’d tell me that he didn't want to talk to me at that moment and it was best if I just left him alone (and then 5 minutes later he’d ask why I wasn't in there asking if he was ok). It’s quite an unpredictable roller coaster with Ben. When he’s angry there is no reasoning with him because that’s when his mind takes over and he finds it hard to control. He’s even admitted to being angry or upset for no reason whatsoever on more than one occasion.

I only lived with him for 9 months because I found it a bit hard to handle when he’d have his bad days, but since moving out, I've had Ben’s partner text messaging me with things that Ben may have said and done and has asked me for advice. Sometimes I have advice for him and other times the only advice I have is leave him alone and let him come to you. With Ben you never really know what you should or shouldn't be doing.

He’s struggling a bit at the moment, as the medication he takes for the bipolar is fairly strong and has possible side effects such as liver failure, so he doesn't like taking them but his doctor at the moment feels it’s the best for him. He goes off his medication frequently because he doesn't want the possible side effects to happen to him and it frightens him, but in doing so his bipolar gets worse. 

Ben, Nat and I in our younger and more carefree days.

First of all I have to say thank you to Nat for sharing her story with us today, it just goes to show that the sufferers of mental illness aren't the only ones who are affected, so it has been great to hear from the other side of the fence. There is actually a lot in this story that I didn't know before now, so even I am getting an education today. Natalie mentioned that Ben's story will be told soon too, and that is actually coming up next week, so stay tuned to hear from the craziest person in my family to date. 

Well that's it from me for another day, comments are always welcome below, and if you or anyone you know has a story you think my audience would benefit from hearing, please contact me via the contact me button at the top of my website, and I'm happy to include it in the series. 

Well until next time, stay awesome.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Life Hacks Episode 1

Welcome back my fellow nutters, and please welcome the newest change to this blog. I have felt for a little while that my blog was starting to wander aimlessly through the wilderness that is blogging for fun and profit. The longer I do this, the more I realise I really am a teeny tiny fish in a massive pond. I am part of the audience to some of the most talented and brilliant writers the internet could possibly offer, and then there's this blog, which sometimes feels like the internet's version of that special child who sits in the corner of the yard stuffing berries up his nose.

I think my biggest problem is my title. It somehow implies that I am looking for ways to make myself sane again, so why am I not sharing them with you guys?? So today is the first episode in another new series called Life Hacks 101. And like all poorly thought out and quickly implemented ideas, it even comes with its own banner.

For anyone who doesn't know what a life hack is, it's basically just a short cut to doing something quicker, easier and in most cases cheaper than what was once done. Once upon a time this segment would have just been called life shortcuts 101, but these days unless you make something sound really technological, people just don't seem to be interested.

In this series I will teach you about a heap of shortcuts I have discovered over the years that make my life just that tiny bit easier. Some of these may already be common knowledge to a lot of you. But there is always someone somewhere who doesn't know everything that you do, so this segment is really for you. 

So todays life hack is a source of much frustration in my life, broken zip handles. For some reason whoever invented zippers forgot to ensure that the zip handle never fell off. Either that or I am super rough on my zips. If you were still able to open and close a zip without that little tab there this would not be a problem, but a lot of the times the loss of this tiny little flap of plastic or metal means the end of that zipper. Luckily for me this one is super easy to fix with the aid of something we all have plenty of in the house. Keychains. 

That's right, all you need to do is insert a keychain into the hole that the zipper tab has left behind and your zip has a new lease of life. Just make sure it isn't a keychain that you actually use or you'll have a bit of explaining to do about the new accessory now dangling from your car's ignition. In my case the new accessory is actually a couch cover.

At least I can now say I was using upholstery as a key accessory before it was cool.

As you can see from the dark stains on this couch cover, it needed to be removed, as I can't fit an entire couch in the washing machine. But thanks to my trusty old life hack, I was able to remove the cover with a minimum of swearing and scissors, and the couch now looks brand new again.

Well that's me done for the evening, Miss K is demanding I entertain her, so I'm off to go watch her jump around the play room like a loon. Stay awesome everyone.

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