March 31, 2014

The dinner party game

Do you ever play the dinner party game?

You know, the one where you try and decide who you'd invite to your ultimate dinner party, and it can be anyone at all, either living or dead?

You get seven seats, and you have to fill them with people who you'd just LOVE to meet at a dinner party. And extra points for trickiness if you manage to sort out a seating plan!

My list can change daily, but today, the lucky invitees are as follows:

  • David Attenborough (because AWESOME)
  • Bill Bryson (my all-time favourite non-fiction author)
  • Tim McGraw & Faith Hill
  • Jennifer Aniston (hair tips, please!)
  • Robert Downey Junior (because BEAUTIFUL)
  • and my husband, because I'd want to talk about it every day for the rest of my life with him!

Can you whittle it down to just seven guests? And what would you serve?!

March 29, 2014

Instagram Inspiration: Folk to follow

Cheers to another awesome week coming and going, and double-cheers to Saturday!

Needing a little extra fabulous in your Instagram feed? Here are four that I love to follow, I hope you love their pics as much as I do.

Clockwise from top left: hulaseventy, pen_friend, citysage, instablonde

hulaseventy fills your feed with bright, warm retro-style pics. Think antique store windows, succulents and Santa Fe skies.

Australian graphic designer Sharna of pen_friend pours her heart onto paper, literally. Written words are given calligraphed feeling in these inspiration pics.

Nothing compares to a good Instagram still life, right? And citysage delivers just that. Anne Sage posts gorgeous, quirky and colourful moments - it always seems like she's just about to throw a party or host a brunch, and you'll wish you were invited!

instablonde is the hair, tan and summer vibe I want to possess year-round. You'll get massive lifestyle envy, but isn't that what Instagram is for?

Who are your fave Instagrammers?

March 27, 2014

Why do we blog? Why do we read blogs? {part 2}

Reading blogs is something I've done regularly since I first started using the internet.

Photos from one of my first blog posts on Jan Powers'
New Farm Farmers Markets back in 2008.
I was kinda fixated on faking Polaroid pics, can you tell?

I would google (because seriously, who Bings something?) and search recipes for sweet treats, and invariably find new favourites on blogs rather than proper cooking websites. Why? I guess I preferred the more informal way they talked about cooking, and loved reading snippets of real family life, and of course, seeing photos of people's homes and inside their kitchens. I'm a stickybeak at heart.

I think most of us in the blogging community (readers, bloggers, commenters) feel the same. A blog is a website with personality. Just cooking a mean brownie and taking a fancy photo of it won't connect with your readers. They want to know the little details, the things you would mention to a friend if they phoned and asked for a recipe. That's why blogs with real heart are the most popular. Imperfections make us human, and seeing others' imperfections make us feel more ok with our own. (Need proof? Check out the #myimperfectlife hashtag on Instagram.)

I think that's why I've always enjoyed blogging, all the way back to 2008. If you go through my old blog's archives, you'll likely discover that I rarely published a post without some sort of brackets, parentheses and asterisked sidenotes. I'm a serial oversharer, and most bloggers are.

I'm so curious to find out why my blog community friends read blogs, what they look for when they choose blogs to read, how they first discovered blogs, and when they knew they wanted to write their own blog. To that end, I'm starting a little series of interviews with blogging folks you may know, and others that might be new to you. It'll be fun!

(Just a heads up, I won't be asking questions about the business of blogging. There are plenty of much-smarter folk than I talking about that, and asking the right questions. I just want to know the personal stuff, the over-sharing stuff. Of course.)

If you're a blogger and you're interested in telling your 'Why I blog' story, hit me up with an email. I promise to overshare it appropriately.

March 26, 2014

Clutching at straws

I love a clutch, I really do.

I'm not really an obsessive handbag girl anymore, I seem to have two or three reasonably good quality bags on rotation, a very good quality laptop/work bag which gets used whenever I need to look like a grown-up, and then a whole bunch of fun clutches and wallets.

I like holding them, I like waving them around (I talk with my hands a lot), and I like the fact that I've found some of my faves at ridiculously low prices.

Harvey Who shift dress, Witchery coin purse, Eb&Ive and Cat Hammill bracelets

Just need somewhere to stash your lipgloss, credit card and car key? A coin purse is very satisfactory clutch, although in my experience, the smaller the clutch, the more easily it's left behind on the table when you leave a restaurant. Just sayin'.

Seed print skirt, Target pencil case (yes, really - and it was only $3!), ring from Eumundi Markets

This is my current favourite - not least because I found it in the stationery section of Target for $3. The two zip sections are perfect for coins, credit card/licence, phone, lippie and powder, and house/work/car keys. And it's very unlikely that you'll spot someone at the party with the same nifty little pattern on their clutch.

Mavi jeans, Isle of Mine top, Witchery hardcase clutch (purchased in last year's mid-season sales for $19!), Seed bracelets

This one is super-cute, and goes with every outfit. It particularly dresses up jeans and a cotton tunic. But... don't be fooled by this hard-case style. It looks roomy, but it's actually the hardest to fit all my bits and bobs into, and I've experienced the terror of dropping my ATM card and $50 note on the floor of a packed pub out of this baby. There are no zips to keep everything tucked away neatly, either. Save fiddly clasps and awkward can't-get-it-closed scenarios for alcohol-free excursions.

French Connection tube dress, Feathers studded leather clutch, Witchery rings, Skagen watch

This is the clutch for the girl that thinks she's got too much stuff for a clutch! So many brands do jumbo-oversized clutches, and this Feathers one is so awesome. Textured woven leather, silver studs, big ol' wrist strap, and room for a pony.

Any awesome clutches you've spotted lately that I've missed?

I'm joining in today with Kimba of Kimba Likes for Wardrobe Wednesday. Can't promise that I'll do it regularly, but I'll certainly try!

March 24, 2014

Why do we blog? Why do we read blogs?

It's such an interesting little world, the blogging community. I say little, but WHOA MAMA there are literally millions of blogs floating around on this here interwebs.

And you guys found your way here, and decided to stop speed-clicking for a second, and read for a few minutes. Thanks. (Amended to add: this post ended up longer and windier than I expected, it might take you more than a couple of minutes. Sorry. Go get a cuppa and start again.)

Because when I'm having a cuppa, I like to Instagram it.

I've had lots of discussions with folks lately about blogging, both people who blog, and those who say 'Blog? What's a blog?' And eventually, I ask 'Why do you read blogs?' Not because I want to tick every box, and say 'Well here you go, you like reading blogs which are X, Y and Z. I've written that, so now you can like me.'

I ask because I honestly am curious. Curious and I wonder why I read the blogs that I do, and I am also slightly over the whole blog thing, and wondering if there's a way I can get myself back into it without resenting any time spent blogging.

Because that's what happened. That's why there's a whole new space online for me to dump thoughts, rants, selfies, recipes, and all manner of junk outta my head. I was just over it, and all the ideas I had to write about weren't exciting me, and I could think of a hundred and one things I'd rather do (I won't say cleaning, that's a lie...) but I would definitely prefer to sleep, cook, read, iron, anything rather than blogging at that point.

Then I read a bunch of posts during a week-long period in early December, and I wasn't connecting and feeling inspired by any of them. Then came the big 'Ah ha' moment for me. I realised what it was about blogging in particular (both reading and writing) that I wasn't into. The whole monetisation thing.

I get it, I do. If you want to make money from your hobby of writing on the internet, I am SO cheering you on. If you want to commit to it and turn it into your job, then GO YOU. Seriously. You're awesome. But it's not for me. Not right now.

And I was reading regular blog posts hitting my inbox with headlines screaming Make More Money From Your Blog, and How to Get People to Pay You to Write, and Positive Thinking and Sponsorship - You CAN Be A Successful Blogger! That last one was the kicker for me. Why was money the way we see blogging as successful?

Yes, I do like me some free product, or cash, or any kinda kickback. And those who say they don't are lying through their 'editorial consideration' smile. But no, I don't like free product, or cash, or whatever, if it's accompanied by a PR push that I don't believe in. I will very, VERY happily review and write about product that I use, love and would spend my own money on. But send me something hideous, or unsuitable, and be sure you've got a Reply Paid envelope in that box, because it's coming back to you, folks.

Ok, rant over.

What I'm trying to say (in a longwinded way - see, you guys really didn't miss me at all, did you!) is that I am back to blogging, and it's because I'll enjoy it. I will always spend time on various social media channels while I enjoy them, and the minute I don't, I'll stop - because it's a hobby.

The upside of blogging is that it's a hobby which has introduced me to some of the most beautiful people I ever could meet. Honestly. My very closest friends are people I met first through social media channels and blogging, and then in real life. Or IRL, if you're a closet 90's MSN-messaging geek. And I wouldn't change that for the world. There's something very vulnerable about taking online friendships into the real world space, and I think that when you do, you find that the common ground you've previously communicated about, is actually just a teensy-tiny part of what actually makes you compatible as friends.

Take Anna. Yes, she's hot and hilarious and whip-smart. That's how I like my friends.

Love her.

We met on Twitter, chatted on Instagram, connected whilst talking about slightly-overbearing mothers, our love of the River City (Brisbane), Jimmy Buffett's laidback country/coastal music, and vodka. There was always vodka. Then one day, Anna bit the bullet and visited me at the retail store I worked at.

BAM! Fireworks, sparks flew, it was true friendship-love.But the best part was getting to know Anna properly over a vodka or three, and discovering so much more that we had in common.

There was no clue during those original few ranty public-transport-whinge tweets that we exchanged, but she's now one of the most important people in my life. And that's only one of my stories. I have many more beautiful friends who I met online first, and I think THAT'S my favourite thing about blogging. I get to tell you about them.

And another thing: I didn't answer my two questions, 'why do we blog, and why do we read blogs?'

Which I suppose is for the best, because it means I've got something else to write about, and I'll be back another day.