Friday, August 31, 2012

It's been fun playing photo a day

Well August is over and that means the end of the photo a day challenge. It has been quite fun doing it again, but I have found out it is very hard to be as creative as I want when I am stuck at work for the majority of the week and my camera on my phone doesn't work at night. I could've done so much more if I was able to get out into the world during the day. Nevertheless I did come up with a few good ones and a couple of average ones (when I clearly ran out of time and chose something obvious).

My favourite pics - clearly I like the sky

So tonight I say goodbye to August and hello to September, which means hello happiness! My own little photo project starts tomorrow. Its super simple and you don't even have to do it every day if you don't want to (or forget to). You can refresh yourself with how to play here.

I'm running it through my facebook page and you can either share on my wall or in the Snap Happiness event here It's a public event so anybody can join in, just click the join tab. You can also invite friends to join in as well. I'm doing a collage at the end of the month with all the happiness pics, similar to the one below.

August photo a day collage

Can't wait to see what we all come up with! So remember to grab your camera or phone tomorrow and think "happy".

Toni xx
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Stress less, smile more - 7 tips for reducing stress

To say last week was a stressful week was an understatement.  I had (or at least was meant to have) a head office visit at work. Not just any head office visit, I'm talking owner of the company, CEO, national manager and state manager. Like major visit. I have never met the owner in the whole five years Ive worked there (because he lives in France - lucky for some) so I was beyond paranoid about it. After rushing around like a crazy person all week making sure everything was perfect, they didn't even come. Sometimes they come for a visit and just skip our store, but this time they didn't come at all. Like didn't even set foot in the state. Biggest, most stressful visit of my life and it never even happened! Beyond annoyed. I swear they do this on purpose so they know we are running around making everything perfect, just to make sure we are 'focused'. I could have done without it.

I'm no stranger to stress, seriously. I usually stress about everything, including stuff that has already happened and is over and stuff that could happen, but hasn't actually happened yet. I'm surprised I don't have constant headaches and my hair isn't falling out all the time. Somehow I have learnt to cope over the years. I thought I would share my tips for reducing stress with you guys. They always seem to help me.

7 simple ways to reduce stress

1. Smile - Find reasons to smile, even little ones. While you're smiling you wont be worrying about the problem at hand, just thinking about something that makes you happy.

2. Laugh out loud - Laughter really is the best medicine. Do something funny, pull a funny face in front of the mirror. Dance like a crazy person in the car on the way to work (and pretend nobody can see you doing it). Trust me its funny dancing only with your arms while seated, it will definitely make you laugh (just don't do it while the car is in motion - traffic lights are always good for this).

3. Listen to music - Not sad music, something you love. I find listening to music really loud or with headphones on is really good. It helps you block out everything else that is happening. Music can also help you to smile & laugh.

4. Dance like no-one is watching - This is my favourite one. Dancing is fun all the time, but especially good when your stressed. Just listen to the music and move to the beat. Who cares if you look strange, your dancing like no-ones watching so it doesn't matter! And if someone does happen to walk in, no problem, that just leads to laughing which as mentioned above is good too.

5. Ask for a hug - Its OK to ask for a hug. They make you feel protected, needed, wanted and loved all at the same time. All good feelings for when your stressed. They also make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside (which is better than feeling like your going to throw up).

6. Exercise - This is one of the best ways to release stress. If you have pent up anger or frustration go for a run, lift some weights or better yet do some boxing. It will get rid of the stress and make you stronger and fitter at the same time.

7. Look at the sky - I am obsessed with this even when I'm not stressed. I love looking up at the clouds and the sun. They say sunlight helps when your depressed so maybe that's why I like it - all the vitamin D soaking up into me. I remember as a child lying on the trampoline just looking up at the sky for ages. Its equally as good to look up at the sky at night. All the stars are so calming.

So there you go, next time your stressed try one of those (or all of them if your super stressed) and it will make you feel at least a little bit better I promise.

Toni x

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Cheap Chicken casserole

I never thought I would be posting a recipe on here, but here goes... I came home tonight all prepared to make dinner for myself. I had all the ingredients I needed and the Masterfoods recipe base. All set, so I thought. I got everything out to make dinner and for some reason actually checked the use by date on the back of the recipe base and realised crap its out of date. Not like a few days, were talking two months. For a moment I did consider using it anyway and risking food poisoning, but then my brain kicked in. So, then I got resourceful and decided to make the recipe base myself. All simple savings style using what I had in the pantry and backyard. So here’s my simple cheap chicken casserole recipe to save dinner, if you should ever find yourself in this situation or if you just want to try a cheap and easy dinner option. No oven needed, ready in 30 mins (including prep time).


1 chicken breast
1 tomato paste sachet (or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste)
1 400g can of tomatoes
1 cup of rice
1 brown onion
4 mushrooms
Garlic (paste or 2 cloves)


Here’s how simple it is:
1.       Cut chicken into strips (or dice if you like). Cut mushrooms, onions and parsley.
2.       Put rice on to boil for 15 mins.
3.       Sauté onions and garlic for 1 min. Add chicken and brown.
4.       Add tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms and parsley (save some parsley to garnish). Stir. Cook for 10-15 mins stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through.
5.       Serve in a bowl sprinkled with parsley.

Dinner is served!

Optional changes:
You don’t need to add mushrooms if you don’t like them. You could substitute with olives or cauliflower.  
Instead of parsley you can use basil or chives, depends on your personal taste.
You can substitute rice with cous cous or pasta. I like it with any option, just depends what I have in the pantry at the time.
Grate cheese over the top to serve.
This recipe makes enough for 2 people for dinner, however if you want left overs for lunch or you just eat more than me you can use 2 chicken breasts and 2 cups of rice/cous cous/pasta.

I was pretty happy with myself to come up with a solution for dinner. Given that I’m home by myself takeaway would’ve been the easy option. If you’re forced to stop and be resourceful  you really do find out just how much you can make with the few items you have in your pantry.
Oh and it tasted amazing if you’re wondering. Just like if I used the recipe base. 
Toni x

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The elephant that hides in the room

When I ended my marriage it was hard. Not hard to leave the marriage, but hard emotionally knowing that going forward I would always have a problem to deal with. A problem that most likely would not go away and would affect any future relationship. Well my entire life going forward to be honest. It’s the elephant in the room that I have to carry around with me for the rest of my life, or until it kindly decides to piss off and leave me alone - which I’m hoping it chooses to do. Usually it sits contently in the back of my mind without making a sound, but occasionally it gets restless and determined to be heard. One day I hope it will run away and join the circus where it belongs. The elephant is my infertility.
In a way I’m glad and also resentful that I have fertility problems. Sounds weird right?  Allow me to explain, I’m glad because it meant that I never fell pregnant during my marriage. Whilst I would have loved my child or children unconditionally, I would have felt sorry for them having my ex as their father. I’m glad that we don’t have a child linking us together; I am free to go off and live my life completely separate from him. A child would have tied me to him forever. Again, I would've loved that child dearly, but I’m immensely happy that any children I may have in the future will have a loving father, not an a-hole as their dad.
I’m also resentful for the infertility because it means that I can’t just decide I want to have a baby and go ahead and get pregnant. I’ve mentioned before about my incessant need to plan, so the fact that I can’t control this really annoys the crap out of me. I was born to be a mother. My heart aches so much that I can’t experience it for myself. Thankfully I have my two beautiful nieces so I get to live vicariously through them as an aunty and I love being an aunty. In fact I would go as far as to say I’m a pretty dam awesome aunty. My brother might disagree, but in the eyes of a two year old girl I’m pretty sure I’m cool.
The elephant in the room has reared its ugly head of late. I think it’s because I’m at the age now where all my friends are having babies.  Three friends have all had babies in the last month and my close friend is also pregnant. There are babies all around me and yet none are mine. I hate that infertility makes me think I’m missing out. I’m still so happy for them all, but there is a tiny part of me deep down inside my heart that is sad.
I think the elephant has also appeared again because I've found T and he is so dam awesome. Somehow I managed to find a man who wanted children as much as me, but is just as happy if it remains the two of us. I never thought I would get this lucky. How did I possibly find the perfect guy who understands my issues and still loves me anyway? That was my biggest fear when I was by myself. Now I’m scared. What if we can’t have kids? It would be so cruel; to finally find the one who I know is perfect for me and not be able to make the most beautiful gorgeous babies together. I almost feel guilty in advance, like I’m pre-empting that I’m going to shatter his dreams. I’m over thinking I know. I can already hear him telling me off for worrying about this; in fact I know that’s exactly what he will do when he reads this. Its making me second guess writing this, but I need to get it out of my head. I feel a brain dump is in order and if I get it out onto paper (or the computer screen in this case) then maybe it will make sense. My feelings will suddenly become logical and I will be able to analyse them without going around and around in circles. Maybe I need therapy? Maybe I need to sleep. More than likely I need to not write about these things when I’m over tired.
So anyway, that’s my elephant in the room. It’s a part of me and I accept that. It doesn't mean that I won’t challenge it and I certainly intend on beating it. It annoys me that it keeps coming up at random times even when it’s not an issue in my immediate life at the moment. I didn’t choose it, I don't like it and I can’t control it. I just need to get it out of my head right now.
Thanks for letting me vent. I already feel better.
Toni x
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best. Day. Ever

Don't you love it when you wake up expecting nothing from the day ahead and it turns into the best day ever? It wasn't even on purpose.

Monday started out as an ordinary day off. I slept in, probably too long to be honest, but its what I do on my days off. Then, for no apparent reason, I got breakfast in bed - eggs, toast, hashbrown and bacon. Admit it your salivating reading this aren't you? If I'm truthful I kind of ruined the surprise of breakfast in bed by waking up and getting out of bed, but upon being told I was going to get breakfast in bed I got back upstairs and back into bed real quick. Can't miss out on these things because of minor technicalities, it wouldn't be fair. By the way breakfast was awesome.

Then we went to check out the new Masters store. I went there thinking it was going to be just another hardware store, but turns out its a massive store filled with pretty much everything I love. Its got your traditional hardware gear, tools, appliances, bathroom stuff, flooring, doors, paint and my favourite - wall art & clocks. I lasted over an hour in there without getting bored, and I'm a woman. Its like Bunnings + Good Guys + Ikea all in the one place. If you're in Australia you know what I mean, if you're not then refer to previous description above. I spent about $800 so I should probably limit my trips there in the future (the same as I have to limit my trips to Ikea).

Afterwards I was content with going home to catch up on some housework I had been putting off for the past few days. However, half way home T (my boyfriends crap pseudonym for here) asked if I wanted to go visit my nieces. Stupid question really, when do I ever not want to see the babies? So, on top of breakfast in bed and a trip to my new favourite store I also got to stop in and play with Elouise and Izzy for an hour. Kids are so much fun, seriously. So many cuddles and kisses. It was even funny, mildly hilarious actually, when Elouise started telling me off while pointing her finger at me. Not fun however when my brother decided to shoot me to death with a nerf gun. Seriously why are guys obsessed with nerf guns? I dont get it.

Anyway, what I thought was going to be an ordinary day laying about the house infact turned into the best day ever. You will be happy to know that in the end when I did get home I still mopped and vaccuumed the house instead of laying about exhausted (which is what I wanted to do). We then hung all of the prints that I'd bought for the house.

What I learnt was I love breakfast in bed - I think we should do that more often. Shopping is fun when its for house stuff. I cant wait to have kids. Decorating makes me happy. And, putting all these individual things together in the one day creates unrivalled happiness and makes T the best boyfriend ever!

Never underestimate how much happiness little things can bring you.

Toni xx
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Snap happiness during September

It’s clear to those of you who have read my blog, are on the facebook page or who are my friends in ‘real life’ that I absolutely LOVE taking photos. Im also big on the whole positive thinking movement. So, I’ve come up with an idea to combine both of my favourite passions along with everything else that makes me happy. I threw it all together and this is what I came up with...

Feel free to share with your friends!

I wanted to create an interactive and fun project where everyone could join in to spread some happiness and make others smile. The idea is quite simple. A photo challenge based solely around happiness, more specifically what makes YOU happy! There are no prompts so you are limited only by your creativity and the only real rule is to take a photo of something that makes you happy.

So here’s how to play...

1.       Wake up - Pretty simple, infact I’m sure you already do this every day.

2.       Find something that makes you happy/smile/laugh – This can be anything from throughout the day. For example it could be a person, your child, an object, a place, an animal, a quote, a picture - the opportunities are endless.

3.       Take a photo – With your camera or phone. Edit it if you wish.

4.       Upload it to Finding Myself Young – That way everyone can see what makes you happy and we can all smile.

For the moment I am going to run this for the month of September, just to see what we all come up with. I know most people give up on photo challenges because they go on too long or the prompts are too hard so people get bored. That’s why I’ve made this one so simple.  You don’t have to upload a photo everyday if you don’t want to, just when you have something you want to share. You could even play along on your own facebook page if you’re too shy to share on the Finding Myself Young page.

At the end of the month I’m going to compile a big collage of all the photos. If there are a lot of photos I might also create individual collages for each person who contributed so you can all have your own unique happiness collage of your own photos (like the one below).

Example of what makes me happy

I think this is going to be a fun way to get everyone involved and to learn more about each other. Sometimes we have down days and forget to stop and appreciate the little things and this challenge will, if anything, at least help us focus on being happy. And you have to admit most of us take a photo of something that makes us happy nearly every day already, this just gives you a new creative outlet for it. We can all benefit from more smiles, laughter and fun in our lives on a daily basis. It cant hurt!

I do hope you will join in!

Feel free to share the pic with your friends so they can join in too.

Toni xx

P.S. I know it’s still only August, but I couldn’t keep the idea to myself any longer.
Bring on September.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Do you know Christian Grey?

If you haven’t heard of 50 Shades of Grey by now then you have seriously been living under a rock somewhere far away on a deserted island. I found out about it from some women at work and some friends on the internet at the same time and within days it was like everybody around me was reading it, has read it or wants to read it. So, I decided ok I will give it a go.

Keep in mind here that the only books I have read since I left high school have been the Twilight series and that’s only because everyone said the books were better than the movies. Not really sure why I haven’t read anything else... I think it’s just a time thing, and I lose interest very quickly.

Anyway, so I’m up to chapter 12 of the first book and I must say it’s not all enthralling yet. Chapter 8 onwards has been more interesting than the first few chapters, for obvious reasons if you’ve read the book. I have been told it does get a lot more interesting. At the moment it’s not interesting enough for me to spend hours and hours reading the whole book in one day. I know people who have read all 3 books in a matter of days. That’s not me. I did however buy the 2nd book already, but that’s mainly to motivate me to keep reading.

There is a lot of talk on the net about the movie rights. This I am more interested in for some reason. There are so many stories on gossip sites about who’s going to play Christian and Ana (e.g here). Honestly, Ana I do not really care about because obviously we are all going to watch the movie to see Christian aren’t we? My top choice would be Alexander Skarsgard. I think he could pull off the domineering and also vulnerable side of Christian quite well and he’s hot. The talk about Robert Pattinson is just completely ridiculous; could you honestly see him as Christian ever? He will always be Edward and to think of him as anyone else is just weird. Ryan Gosling is another name being thrown around and while I do think he’s attractive I just think he’s played too many nice characters (aka the notebook) for me to take him seriously as Christian.

[My opinion on the top contendors]

I could be completely wrong though because I’m only up to chapter 12 so my opinion could change by the end of the book and again by the end of the series of books. We shall have to see.

What do you guys think of the books and who do you want in the movie?

I know one thing for sure 50 shades of grey has totally ruined the theory that men talk about sex more than women. Think about it, how many times have you had a discussion about Christian Grey in the past month?

Toni xx
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Saturday, August 4, 2012

I think its time for a holiday

Randomly today I decided it might be time to plan a holiday. Not just a little holiday either. I’m thinking along the lines of taking a few weeks off work and actually getting on a plane to go overseas as opposed to taking a weekend and driving 2 hours somewhere. I’ve done a few of the little holidays this year, but I think it’s time for a big one.

It’s been 14 years since I have been overseas and I’ve always wanted to do more travelling, but never enough to actually start planning to go somewhere. I kind of got over the travelling bug because I did all my travelling overseas before I was 15. I never did the gap year between high school and university and I also didn’t do the obligatory end of university trip either, or the go and work overseas for a year trip. I never thought I missed out, until now. This year seems to be the year of holidays and adventure, for everyone else that is except me. So many of my friends or friends of friends and even my own mother are going or have already been on an overseas trip this year. Finally I feel like maybe I should do it too.

Now, the dilemma, where to go??

I have soooo many places on my list. I want to party hard in Ibiza, Cancun & Rio. Eat my way through Italy and gorge on chocolate in Switzerland. Enjoy the scenery in Spain & Greece. I'd also love to re-visit Paris, London & Scotland. And I would love to go anywhere that looks like this...

Where to go first? I think a Europe trip might be in order.

I have seven weeks of annual leave up my sleeve so now I just need to work out where to go and when to do it. Oh, and how to pay for it....

Does anybody have any ideas of other places to go or have you been to any of these places?

Toni xx
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