Friday, 29 August 2014

July + August Design Work!

I forgot to write a post about my design work last month, so today you're getting two months worth. I've been fortunate enough to work with lots of talented bloggers lately, and it's been an honour to have these ladies put their trust in my design skills.

Custom Blog Design for Niomi from Niomi Smart

One of the biggest design jobs I worked on recently was for the lovely blogger and YouTuber, Niomi Smart.  Niomi wanted a complete overhaul and a new logo design as she was wanting to consolidate her branding across each of her social media platforms.  Together we came up with the idea for a simple but stylish line drawing of a red stiletto shoe - the perfect touch for what would have otherwise been a completely monochrome design.  My favourite part about this design would probably be the custom font we used for her header as it just ties everything together so perfectly. :)

Custom Blog Design for Sophia from Sophia Meola

I'd been wanting to work with Sophia Meola for the longest time (because I already loved her blog and knew I could make it even prettier), so I was delighted when out the blue she randomly got in touch with me to ask if I could give her blog a bit of a face lift.  Sophia wanted to keep her header image as it was so I decided to base the colour scheme off that, but she also wanted a lot more white space and touches of subtle rose gold glitter.  I had so much fun working on her design and I think the results speak for themselves.

Custom Blog Design for Roxy from Roxy I Am

Another blog design I had a blast working on was for a brand spanking new blogger by the name of Roxy.  Roxy has a lot of personality which she wanted to come across in her design, so I set myself to work on one of the most challenging yet rewarding designs I've created yet.  Check it out live by clicking the link above and let me know what you think!

Custom Blog Design for Angie from Angie Loves This

Custom Blog Design for Kerri-Anne from Notebook of Beauty

One of my favourite styles of designs to work on is simple, feminine and whimsical.  Both of the blog designs pictured above ticked this box for me and were an absolute pleasure to create.  Angie wanted her design to be bright and happy with pastel pinks and mint greens, whilst Kerri-Anne wanted her design to be timeless and elegant.  In the end both designs turned out beautifully. :)

Custom Blog Design for Peta from Trainee Mama

About a week ago I was contacted by the beautiful Peta who I have worked together with previously, wanting me to give her blog design an overall pick-me-up.  She wanted to keep her current header image (which happens to be designed by my talented friend Lauren from Tastes Like Love) so I based the colour scheme, fonts etc. around the header as well as Peta's spunky personality.  I really love how this design turned out and hope you guys like it too!

Custom Blog Design for Nicole from Seeking Victory

Yet another design I created based around an existing header image (this time by Lou Endicott) was for the lovely Nicole.  Nicole wanted me to continue the header colour scheme into the rest of her design, as well as touches of the grapevine theme.  Once again I was really happy with how this design turned out. :)

Custom Blogger Based Website Design for Pursuit of Felicity Designs

Last but not least, I redesigned my blog design website!  It's been a long time coming but I finally put aside the time I needed to give my website the revamp it so desperately needed.  Everything on my website I designed and illustrated myself (unlike my previous logo that was designed by my good friend Lauren) - I even took the photo that is featured on the homepage (my office doesn't always look that perfect in case you were wondering).  I am super chuffed with the finished result and am no longer embarrassed to show my website off - let's face it, my last design wasn't the best example of my work!

So what do you guys think?  Which design is your favourite this time?

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Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Hearty Parmesan Tomato Soup Recipe.

If you liked my creamy pumpkin soup recipe that I shared the other day, then you are guaranteed to LOVE this recipe!  This hearty parmesan tomato soup is one of those meals that you can make at any time of the year and it will always go down a treat.  It doesn't taste overly weird or fancy (so kids will love it!) just incredibly delicious - like a pizza in liquid form!

I came up with this recipe after sampling many different tomato soup recipes over the years and picking out the ingredients from each that I personally found tasted the best when put together.  This recipe serves 6, making it perfect for larger families, or for couples who enjoy their leftovers.  Enjoy!

3 cans of diced tomatoes
2 large potatoes, finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1L liquid chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of flour
1 cup of milk
1 cup of thickened cream
1 cup of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Grab your slow cooker and throw in the diced tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, oregano, basil, and liquid stock.  Cover and cook on the lowest setting for 6 hours.
2. After 6 hours, and 30 minutes before serving, you will need to prepare a roux.  To do this, melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat and gradually stir in the flour.  I find it easiest to do this with a whisk as it will break up any lumps in the flour a lot quicker.
3. Once your roux is smooth and silky, add in a ladle of the tomato soup mixture and mix well until the soup blends into the roux.  Repeat this step until you have blended at least 6 ladles of soup into the roux.  Once you're done, add the roux/soup blend back into the slow cooker and mix together with the remaining soup.
4. Return your saucepan to the stove top and quickly mix together your milk and cream, stirring continuously until they are nice and warm.  Add to your slow cooker and combine well.
5. Add your parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the slow cooker and mix together once again.
6. Leave your soup in the slow cooker for a further 30 minutes before serving with crusty buttered toast.

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Snap Happy Sunday // Dad's 50th Birthday Party!

This blog post is dedicated to my Dad (and my Uncle) who turned the big 5-0 today.  For the first and only time in our lives he is officially twice my age!  I actually didn't see my Dad today but I saw him last weekend for his official birthday party and again last night for his twin brothers' birthday party.  The reason they didn't just have one big combined party is because they don't actually live that close to each other, but that just meant more cake for everyone so we weren't about to complain haha!

The following photos were taken at my Dad's birthday party.  It was a freezing cold, windy, raining Winters day in Toowoomba, and my Dad's birthday party had been set up outside under a couple of marquees.  For this reason I didn't get the camera out much except to take photos of Lucas chewing on a biscuit and Dad blowing out the candles on his cake.

7 month old Lucas chomping down on a biscuit.
Such a cutie!
Dad blowing out his candles.
Lucas back inside keeping warm and having another feed.
Woot woot! Partyyy!

These next two photos were taken last night at my Uncle Wayne's birthday party.  We didn't arrive until quite late in the evening so the lighting wasn't the greatest.  For this reason we didn't take many photos again last night either.  We did manage to snap a proper family shot with my Dad, his partner and all us kids though, so we were pretty happy with that!

L-R: My brother Mitchell, Stepmum Judy, Baby Lucas, Dad (in the back), Stepsister Lexi, Stepsister Abby, B (in the back) and Me.
Uncle Wayne and my Dad cutting their birthday cake.
All in all we had a lovely time at both parties.  It's so great when the whole family can get together. :)

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Monday, 18 August 2014

My thoughts on the life and death of Robin Williams.

This isn't the sort of topic that I would usually write about, but it has been weighing heavily on me recently and I want to get a few things off my chest.  Robin Williams was an incredible person.  Brilliant actor, hilarious comedian, wonderful friend/father/husband, and an amazing spreader of positivity and laughter.  He was the sort of person that you would idolise without consciously knowing that he was your idol.  He was someone you thought would just always be there.  Like a childhood teacher that never grows old - or at least not in your mind.

When I first found out that Robin Williams had passed I immediately texted my Mum to let her know. She was the reason I discovered Robin Williams all those years ago, and so my first instinct was to inform her before she heard it from someone else.  It seems silly looking back, but it also goes to show how upsetting I felt his death could be.  Just two days prior I had been visiting at my Mum's house and I made everyone sit down to watch Mrs Doubtfire with me.  I know this sounds ridiculous, but it's almost like I knew that something was going to happen to him.  Towards the end of the movie Mum and I started reminiscing about some of Robin's other movies and how he always has what appears to be really sad, soulful eyes - even in his funniest of films.  It was a general observation made by Mother and daughter, generations apart.  It meant nothing at the time, but two days later it suddenly meant the world.

I'm not a stranger to suicide.  I know people who have tried, failed and instantly regretted it, and I know of people who tried and succeeded.  Sadly, up until now, I was one of those people (one of the majority of people) who wrote these suicides or attempted suicides off as being acts of selfishness.  I could feel compassion for their sadness, struggles, etc. but I could never understand how they could ever take it that far.  I am ashamed to admit that it took Robin Williams' death to open my eyes to the harsh reality that is depression, but I am also grateful that my eyes are now open.  If someone as truly caring, hopeful, positive and warm as Robin could reach a point where he felt that he had no other choice, it seems very clear to me that selfishness has nothing to do with it.

Since finding out last Monday I have been walking around with a very heavy heart and crying a lot more than usual.  I first starting crying when I found out how he had done it.  A mental image involuntarily entered my mind and it has been popping into my head at random times throughout the week causing me to cry (thankfully in private) at the drop of a hat.  Then last night my partner and I decided to watch Dead Poets Society and I completely lost the plot.  I was partially crying because of the movie (Spoiler alert: the movie ends with suicide), but mostly it was because of the sudden realisation that we weren't the only ones who had been re-watching a bunch of Robin's old films this week.  At that exact moment in time there were probably thousands and thousands of people from all over the world, and of all different ages, mourning the loss of such an incredible talent in the best way that they knew how - through his movies - one of the many wonderful gifts he managed to leave behind.

I only hope that Robin knew how greatly he would be missed, and that knowing this was able to bring him some form of comfort and a feeling of peace with his decision.

May he forever rest in peace and in our hearts for always.

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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Creamy Pumpkin Soup Recipe.

This is hands down the best pumpkin soup recipe I have ever tried - and I have tried a lot. It is incredibly easy and affordable to make, uses minimal ingredients, and takes about 40 minutes all up. This is the pumpkin soup recipe that I will be passing down to my kids. Simple, tasty and extremely filling.  What more could you want?

1.5kg butternut pumpkin
1 brown onion
1 litre liquid vegetable stock
1/2 cup thickened cream
ground black pepper

1. Chop pumpkin up into small cubes (roughly 1cm) and finely dice your onion.  Throw into a large/deep saucepan and cover with liquid vegetable stock.
2. Bring saucepan to the boil, then reduce to about half the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Once pumpkin is soft, remove from the stove and use a stick blender to blend into a soup like consistency.
4. Stir in cream, then sprinkle in some nutmeg and pepper to taste.
5. Serve with fresh crusty bread or home made croutons.


Serves 4.

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Monday, 11 August 2014

5 things that every good blog design should have!

Today I thought I would share with you guys 5 simple but effective things that I believe every good blog design should have to help attract readers and keep them coming back.

One:  An eye catching Header.
Your header image is essentially your blogs logo/branding.  It is often what people visualise when they think about your blog, and it is also the first thing that draws a potential reader in to your page. My advice would be to inject some of your personality into your header. You don't need to make it big, bright and in your face if that's not your style - but at least make sure that your header looks somewhat professional and a little bit unique.

Two:  A Photo and Welcome Blurb.
Nothing irks me more than clicking over to a blog I haven't read before and not being able to see a photo of the blogger. If I wanted to do that I would go read a book - but in the world of blogging, I want to know who I'm reading about. Blogging is generally all about interacting with people and you can't expect your readers to interact with you if they don't know who you are. So do us all a favour and slap your favourite photo in your sidebar, or even an illustration of you if you can't share your photo due to privacy reasons. Once you've done that tell us a little bit about yourself - two or three sentences is more than enough. Place this 'welcome blurb' underneath your photo and you're good to go!

Three:  Large, clear blog post photos.
Even if you take all of your photos on your phone, make sure you upload them big enough to fill at least the majority of your blog post width. 640px wide (the standard extra large size that comes with Blogger) is a great size to stick with for landscape photos, whilst 640px long is fine for portrait shots. If for some reason your photos are still very small, why not make a collage of these photos to help them fill up the space more?

Four:  A Search Bar and Blog Archive Widget.
I don't know about you guys, but every now and then I discover a gem of a blog and become instantly fascinated to a point where I just want to go back through their archives and read all of their posts from the beginning. You'd be surprised how often readers tend to do this, so don't disappoint them - install a blog archive widget. While you're at it, make sure you have a search bar too. Your readers might see you post a recipe once and then forget to save it to their bookmarks. Make sure they can locate posts like this easily when they eventually remember to come back and hunt them down.

Five:  White space.
White space is particularly important when it comes to blogs, mainly because your readers are here to focus on your content rather than your pretty background design. You don't have to go for an entirely white background, but try not to make it too busy either. Trust me, the more white space the better.

So there you have it - 5 simple but effective things you can do to make your blog design awesome like mine (hehe!).  Hopefully these tips will have helped some of you!

If you're interested in reading about some other fun and simple ways to dress up your blog, feel free to check out my past DIY blog design posts.

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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Feeling more positive about moving to Townsville.

The last time I mentioned that we were moving to Townsville I was feeling a bit apprehensive.  I was overwhelmed by the thought of a number of things including distance from friends and family, the cost of having to move, finding a new place over Christmas, not knowing anybody up there, etc.  I spent a good couple of weeks stressing out about everything until I finally sat down and started writing up a list of all the positives I could think of about moving.  Here is what I came up with:

  • We get to move into a house! :)  After living in units/apartments for the past four years and having to deal with our neighbours in shouting distance, shitty body corporates, anonymous letters from people in our complex, etc. living in a house of our own (even if it's still a rental) is going to be a much welcomed change!
  • Not only will we be living in a house, but we'll have the freedom to live in a nice house as well.  I'm talking a modern house with air conditioning throughout, 3-4 bedrooms (we currently have 2 bedrooms and one of them is used for my office so it will be great to have a spare room for visitors), multiple bathrooms, a laundry, a decent kitchen with modern appliances, a well kept fully fenced backyard with a covered patio, automatic lock up garage, etc.  This is the sort of stuff that excites me more than anything! :D
  • Have you checked out the photos in this post?  This is what Google tells me our new location is going to look like.  Depending on where we choose to live, the beach could either be right on our doorstep or as little as a 20 minute drive away.. I'd personally be over the moon with either.
  • Townsville is basically miniature dachshund paradise!  I'm not kidding.. apparently dachshunds are one of, if not the, most popular breed of dog that you will see up there. There is a dachshund group on facebook which I have already joined and they have welcomed us with open arms.  I seriously can't wait to meet them all. :)
  • There are apparently job opportunities up there for me too, or so everyone keeps telling me. I just need to get my butt into gear to find one.

There are of course other positives that I didn't include in my list, but they are more in regard to B's career and financial aid for the moving expenses.. things that are still a bit up in the air.

Are there any other positives that you think might be missing from my list?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

New Hair + Glasses.

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Firmoo and asked if I would like to receive a free pair of prescription glasses in exchange for sharing their services with my readers.  Having already received glasses from Firmoo in the past and knowing what great quality they were (I'd been wearing my previous pair of glasses from them for the past two years and they were still as good as new!) I was more than delighted to take them up on their kind and generous offer.

After playing around with their virtual try-on system I decided to go with a pair of glasses as similar as possible to the pair I already had.  They're not the cutest pair of glasses by any means, but they're fun and quirky and the lenses are really big, which is perfect for when I'm working at the computer.  You can find the exact pair I picked out here.  Once I placed my order they arrived within the week which was really fast considering that they came from overseas.  Even if Firmoo hadn't gotten back in contact with me I was actually going to order my next pair of glasses from them anyway as their service is just amazing and their prices are incredibly affordable.  Win-win in my opinion!

Something else I've changed about my appearance recently is my hair length and colour.  Just like with my glasses it is only a very slight change, but it's funny how much of a difference a small change can make to the overall way you feel.  My best friend Katie who manages her own salon was my hairdresser this time around (I only ever go to Katie or my cousin Danielle because frankly they're the best) and she was very supportive of my wanting to brighten up my hair without damaging it too much.

I'm not sure what colour or process she was using exactly, but I do know that she put twelve "weak strength" blonde foils throughout my hair and left them on for about 45 minutes before rinsing them out and toning them for a further 15 minutes.  She also cut a good couple of inches off my hair to get rid of all the split ends and now it feels soft and voluminous.  As you can see from the photos above it looks much shorter than it had been previously, but it also looks a million times healthier.  Healthy hair trumps long scraggly hair any day!

So what do you think of my new hair and glasses?  Can I pull off this style of frame?

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Sunday, 3 August 2014

Snap Happy Sunday // Mount Tamborine.

Given that the iconic Tamborine Mountain is only half an hour away from where we currently live, B and I have finally decided to start making the most of this before we move to Townsville in the new year. For our first trip up there together we thought it would be nice to take my Mum along (she loves Mount Tamborine), go for a walk through one of the rainforests and then stop off at a little cafe for some lunch/afternoon tea.

At the end of the day we all had a lovely time, however since we foolishly made the mistake of bringing Ellie along, we were really rather limited with the things that we could do.  Rather than let this spoil our day out, we decided to break the rules a bit and sneak Ellie into one of the rainforest walks by hiding her in my bag.  She was such a good girl and sat in my bag very quietly just enjoying being carried around.

Next time B and I will probably go up by ourselves and check out the rainforest skywalk or possibly even go on a hike.  There's so much to choose from really. :)

Have you ever been to Mount Tamborine before?  What was your favourite thing to do there?

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