Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September Design Work!

For all you design lovers out there, here is a brief round-up of some of my latest blog design projects. You can check the designs out live by clicking on the links underneath each screenshot. :)

Custom Blog Design for Brittany from Just Britt

Custom Blog Design for Ella from Redlipstatement

Custom Blog Design for Haley from Bits of Wit

Custom Blog Design for Lilian from Lilian Tahmasian

Custom Blog Design for Holly from The Blonde

Leave me a comment and tell me which one is your favourite. If you're in need of a blog redesign yourself I'm currently taking on clients for October so feel free to check out my website and drop me an email!

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Friday, 26 September 2014

How long is too long to wait for a proposal?

Don't worry, I'm not asking this question in the context of my own relationship, but in the context of our current society. I was recently reading this post by Mez from Domestic Divinity about the pressure that friends and family constantly seem to put on each other (unknowingly or otherwise) about getting into a relationship, moving out of home, getting engaged, getting married, having kids, having more kids, etc. It seems that as soon as you become a legal adult these days, regardless of whether you even have the maturity of an adult, people expect you to have it altogether and want to you to start reaching these milestones in quick succession.

I often wonder if this is because the generations before us have moulded our expectations. My grandparents for example got engaged after 6 weeks of dating, and my parents got engaged after 6 months of dating. Does this mean that B and I will get engaged after 6 years of dating? (I'm joking obviously!) Seriously though.. could the fact that many of our parents and grandparents got engaged/married so early on in their relationships and then quickly had a busload of children afterwards be the reason that we are all so eager to see each other reaching these particular milestones? I'm guessing this is probably the case, which would explain why it feels like we are being pressured, because in the back of our minds we know that this is how our parents/grandparents did things and on some level we want to follow in their footsteps. I'm not saying this is the case with everyone, but it's something to think about isn't it?

I just wish that as a society we could come to realise that things aren't the same as they were 20, 30, 50 years ago. The same people that we are trying to please/live up to/follow in the footsteps of are the same people that also want us to "do it all" - to go to University, travel the world, get an amazing and well paying career, etc. We're living in a society where young adults are expected to be all things, and all before they turn 35. So why do we keep putting so much pressure on each other? Why do we insist on being our own worst enemies?

When B and I (who have been dating for almost 6 years now, which is an accomplishment in itself thank you!) do eventually become engaged, I would like it if my friends and family could wish us "Congratulations!" rather than "About time guys.." or "Finally! I thought he would never pop the question!". I realise that most people who say these comments are saying them out of love and in a joking manner, but that doesn't necessarily make it okay. I myself have been guilty of this behaviour in the past and I honestly regret it now because I know that soon enough it will be happening to me as well (it's already starting to happen).

This blog post is clearly a generalisation written to make people think, so I apologise if it appears that I'm pigeonholing everyone - I promise that wasn't my intention. I just thought it might be an interesting topic to think about. :)

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Creamy Chicken Linguine Recipe.

If you're a fan of pasta, sundried tomatoes, fresh parmesan cheese and a creamy garlic butter sauce - look no further than this easy and colourful recipe. Taking less than 15 minutes from preparation to serving, you really can't go wrong!

dried linguine pasta
1 tbsp butter
500gr chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chopped chives
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
handful of spinach
300ml thickened cooking cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Put your linguine pasta in a saucepan on the stove and start cooking according to packet instructions.
2. Heat half the butter in a large non-stick frying pan (or a frying pan lined with baking paper to prevent sticking) and quickly add your chicken, garlic, chopped chives and a little salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes until chicken is seared on each side and coated in the chives.
3. Throw in your spinach and sundried tomatoes and continue cooking for a couple more minutes.
4. Add the remaining butter, cream, parmesan cheese, pepper and hot cooked pasta.
5. Stir through to combine and serve!

Serves 4.

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

How to survive when living on next to nothing.

It may come as a surprise to you that wealth is not something I am familiar with. Throughout my entire life I have always been supported in whole or in part by the government in one way or another, whether that be through my Mothers pension as a child, youth (student) allowance as a young adult, or through recent assistance with the start up of my design business. Though this has meant getting used to living on very little, I am very fortunate and grateful to live in a country that affords me this continued support. It's only now, at 25 years old, that I am finally starting to forge my way forward to being financially independent. I haven't completely made it yet, but I am getting closer by the day. I predict that by early next year I will be completely independent in my own right (not just because my partner will finally be a doctor - although that is a happy coincidence) and I believe that this is not only due to my ever growing business, but due to the "tips and tricks" that I have utilised in order to survive and to maintain a positive outlook throughout my life.

This probably seems like a really out-there post for me to write (especially since I'm revealing a lot of personal things about myself), but as I was sitting here writing out what feels like my millionth grocery list of a lifetime I suddenly became inspired to share some of my tips and tricks for surviving on a budget (hint: writing grocery lists is one of them). It doesn't matter how well off you are either, these tips and tricks will come in useful to anyone who wants to save some money, or who wants to live a more simple and/or guilt-free life as a consumer.

My Tips

1. Write shopping lists for everything. It doesn't matter if I'm doing a weekly shop or just ducking into my local supermarket to pick up a loaf of bread, I always bring a shopping list. Not only does this mean that I won't forget what I came for, but it also means that I won't go "browsing" while trying to remember what it was that I needed to buy in the first place.

2. Meal plan. This obviously goes hand in hand with point number one, but it is important for other reasons too. By planning my meals for the week I am able to see what ingredients I need for different meals, what ingredients I will have excess of, and I am then able to plan the rest of my meals around those excess ingredients. Food wastage is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, so whenever I get annoyed with meal planning I just remind myself that I am doing my part and I actually enjoy the challenge.

3. Buy in bulk and freeze food where you can. My partner and I have the smallest fridge/freezer combo on the market yet we still manage to buy in bulk and freeze a lot of our food. This saves us money, time, stress - and it makes meal planning a breeze. I also like to buy things like soap, toilet paper and tampons in bulk as this saves us money and these items don't need to be used up straight away.

4. Wash and re-use old jars. I do this when I want to make a big batch of chutney, store snacks, etc. but you can also re-use jars as drinking glasses or whatever you can think of really.

5. Watch things online. I rarely watch TV shows on television anymore as I've gotten so used to watching everything online. Lately I've been getting really into YouTube (the British youtubers are my favourite to watch) and watching re-runs of my favourite TV shows from when I was younger (Passions is everything right now, ha!). My partner and I are fortunate enough to have a TV set, but if all we had was a computer we'd be absolutely fine.

6. Buy clothing items that are one size too big. Obviously I'm not suggesting you buy skirts/jeans/shorts that are going to fall down around your ankles, but if you can get away with an extra size up in tops/dresses then by all means do so. Doing this has saved me big time over the years when I have gone up and down a size (or two) with the change of seasons, etc.

7. Avoid using a tumble drier. Not only does this save you money, but it also saves your clothes from shrinking overnight.

8. Look after your clothes in general. I rarely ever need to buy new clothes because I'm always taking such good care of the clothes I already have.  I wash them in the correct load, hang them out to air dry, hang them up/fold them neatly and only iron them when it's absolutely necessary.  I also wear my clothes 2-3 days in a row if I can get away with it to get as much use out of an outfit as possible before going through the washing cycle again.

9. Make sure your partner, friends and family know about your situation. I'm not suggesting you should be constantly complaining about your financial situation, but it's important that your friends and family know that you might not be able to afford to eat at the swishest restaurant in town, or that you may you may have to pass on the Christmas present exchange some years. It's also really important that you and your partner are on the same page in terms of your budget to avoid any confusion, unnecessary spending or resentment.

10. Set yourself goals, particularly saving goals. This is probably my most important tip because unless you have certain goals you can reach by employing the rest of these tips, you will literally feel like you are living to survive and not to grow/achieve success.

There are plenty more tips that I could share with you all but this post is long enough as it is.  I'd be more than happy to write a follow up post though if that's something you guys are interested in. :)

Disclaimer: Poverty comes in all shapes and forms, and although I have never considered myself impoverished (I actually consider myself quite privileged), I believe it is important that we all bare this in mind when making assumptions about other people and the ways in which they live their lives. For example, you might think that someone in my situation who lives in a nice suburb, wears nice clothes, owns her own car, can afford a puppy etc. would know very little about financial hardship, but I can assure you that this is not always the case. I'd also like to point out that unlike the common stereotypes created by our society, not everyone who chooses to utilise government assistance is a dole bludging, drug addict, chain smoking no-hoper enjoying a free ride. If it wasn't for government assistance I wouldn't be alive, I wouldn't be educated, and I wouldn't have had the tools I needed in order to become a successful and happy human being.

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

DIY Blog Design: Replace 'Home', 'Older' + 'Newer' links.

Have you ever seen a fancy blog design with customised 'Home', 'Older' and 'Newer' links and wondered how you could install some of your own? Well here's a simple tutorial to show you just how easy it can be. :)

Create three text graphics that say 'Home', 'Older' and 'Newer' (and make them as fancy as you like!) that are roughly 100 pixels wide and 40 pixels high. Save these images in a .png format.  Here are some examples that I created for a recent blog design project:

Upload these images to photobucket (or some other image hosting site) and grab the direct image URLs. Paste these image URLs into a word document as you will need them again in a minute.

In Blogger, go to your 'Template' page and click on the button that says 'Edit HTML'. Place your cursor anywhere in the code and then use the 'CTRL + F' command on your keyboard to bring up the search option.

To replace the 'Older' link with your new text graphic, search for: <data:olderPageTitle/> and replace with the following code: <img src='OLDER TEXT GRAPHIC URL GOES HERE'/>

To replace the 'Newer' link, search for: <data:newerPageTitle/> and replace with the following code: <img src='NEWER TEXT GRAPHIC URL GOES HERE'/>

To replace the 'Home' link, search for: <data:homeMsg/> and replace with the following code: <img src='HOME TEXT GRAPHIC URL GOES HERE'/>

Click the 'Preview template' button and if you like what you see then click 'Save template'.  All done!

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If you're interested in learning some more DIY blog design tips you can check out my previous posts on this topic here. Please let me know in the comments below if there is anything else you would like me to do a tutorial on and I will do my best to help you guys out. Cheers!

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Monday, 8 September 2014

Recent Stationery Purchases.

It's not very often that I go shopping for stationery as let's be honest - the cute stuff is bloody expensive, but when I heard that Kikki K and Typo had finally gotten their butts into gear and started stocking some dachshund related items I busted out the Christmas savings fund quicker than you can say "sausage dog!".

The first couple of items I picked out are Christmas presents for my Mum as she is also a very crazy dachshund lady.  I got her a pink A5 notebook with a cute tan sausage dog with a balloon tied to its tail on the cover (which reminds me of my new design website logo) and some magnetic page markers in the shape of both a cat and a dachshund for her to use as bookmarks.

From the same Kikki K range I also purchased a dachshund/cat themed to-do list pad with alternating colours and designs.  I plan to use this for my design work by writing my clients names in the "for" section at the top, then listing the elements of each design job and ticking them off as I go.

A week after purchasing the previously mentioned items I headed back to the shops to pick up this gorgeous resin dachshund pencil sharpener from Typo for only $5 - bargain!  While I was at the shops I decided to head back to Kikki K and pick up the adhesive notes set in the same theme as before as I thought they would come in handy when we move house in January.  I plan on using them to stick on certain items to remind me of which drawers or cupboards they belong in.

Last but not least I also picked myself up a new weekly planner for 2015.  I just couldn't go past this A6 spiral "motivational" diary (which is cheaper if you purchase it online) as not only was it in my current favourite colour (lilac) with gorgeous metallic gold lettering, but it was also set out exactly the way I wanted it, plus it was filled with tonnes of motivational sayings as well.  I plan on wrapping it up today and giving it to myself as a Christmas present as I'm obviously not going to be needing it before then.

Which one of my stationery purchases was your favourite?  Have you already started your Christmas shopping like me?

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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

I've been nominated for a Liebster Award.

I was recently nominated for the Liebster award by the gorgeous Bec from My Bloggable Day. Apparently liebster is a German word meaning "favourite" or "beloved", so I feel very honoured to have received this award from a fellow Blogger. This isn't the first time I have received this award but I'm fairly certain this is the first time I have posted about it. I really liked the design of the award (and so didn't mind showing it off on my blog) plus I also thought the questions would be quite fun to answer.

Basically the rules of receiving the award are to answer the questions given by the person before, then ask 10 questions of your own and nominate some other bloggers to answer them. I don't expect everyone I nominate to follow these rules - just know that I think your blogs are awesome!

Here are my answers to Bec's questions:

1. What’s your most embarrassing memory to date?
I hate getting asked this question. I can never think of an answer. Perhaps I just block out all of my embarrassing memories haha!

2. If you could be invisible or fly, which would you choose?
To fly. I could make myself invisible with the power of flight anyway. I'd just hover up high in wardrobes etc. and listen in on people's conversations.

3. Would you rather knowingly eat ox tongue or unknowingly eat lambs brain?
Unknowingly eat lamb's brain. Ignorance is bliss people.

4. If you could live to 1000 years old, would you? Why/why not?
Probably. As long as I was able to still look after myself. How cool would it be to stick around for all of the great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandkids?

5. What’s your favourite annual holiday and why?
Christmas - because it's the one time of year that all of our families get together.

6. Would you rather walk around with your skirt tucked into your knickers for half a day or walk around with toilet paper stuck to your shoe for an entire day?
Toilet paper stuck to my shoe. There's no cellulite on my shoes. :P

7. Name one item you always have in your fridge?
Butter. Boring I know, but I love butter.

8. You can only save Beyonce or Taylor Swift, who and why?
Taylor Swift. She's younger.

9. Where is your most favourite destination in the world?
I haven't travelled far, and I've never been overseas, so I'm going to say the Sunshine Coast/Noosa. I have a feeling this answer will change to Townsville once we move there next year though.

10. On a scale of 1-10 how annoying have these questions been?
1/10. Only the first question was annoying! :P

I nominate:

Carly from Carly's Beauty World
Maria from Mummy Goes Mad
Be from Love From Be
Lauren from Tastes Like Love

Your questions:

1. Of all of the places you have lived, where was your favourite?
2. Are you a dog person, or a cat person? or neither?
3. What is your favourite "healthy" snack?
4. Would you rather live in a crappy apartment in the heart of the city, or a gorgeous house out in the suburbs?
5. How much do you think is normal or expected to spend on a wedding?
6. If you could choose how many kids you could have and their genders, how many/what genders would you have and in what order?
7. What is your all time favourite tv show? You can only pick one.
8. How old were you when you had your first kiss? A peck on the lips counts.
9. Would you rather give up dairy or gluten?
10. Do you think you'll still be blogging in 5 years time?

Have fun! I look forward to reading your answers. :)

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