Sunday, November 29, 2015

Maybe there is a bright side

Its funny how things can hit you at times despite always being aware of them. Last night at church I realised that God knew what he was doing when he took away my license and that there's a bigger picture of what is going on. I have struggled with the loss of my license not so much not being able to drive but the lead up to it and the anticipation of it. I guess I always wondered why God took it away from me after how hard I had to fight to get there and now I have to face the practical test again which I am already dreading - so I eat chocolate and watch some Parks and Rec and tell myself to only focus on today.
Almost everyone who knows have told me how annoying it must be and are on my side, which is nice and its good to have the support.
There are times when I miss it like when I an invitation to an event and I have to figure how I am going to get there and lately I have just wanted to go for a drive and clear my head.
In a sense its actually helped me at work as I spend the journey reading and relaxing (rather than being stressed out that I am going to be late or that there are multiple trucks surrounding me each one going slower than the next) and I arrive to work with a clear head. To get to work only takes me 15 minutes more in the mornings and I do arrive 45 minutes early so I spend 30 minutes in the staff room enjoying the quiet and reading the paper while eating my lunch which isn't a bad thing as I can just focus on myself rather than the few hundred things I should be doing when I am at home.
My car has also been in a desperate need of a new exhaust system so over the past week it has been at the mechanics getting that done (and there goes all my money!) which has caused no disruption among the family compared to the last time when it was getting repaired.
I guess that maybe just maybe there is a bright side to all of this even though it didn't feel like it in the beginning.
Please keep praying for me as I have just under another 2 months before I can begin the process of getting my license back, and can you please also pray that the process of getting it back will go smoothly and that my anxiety will stay at bay.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I am

I am 21 years old.
I am someone who has lost their drivers license for 3 months.
I am someone who works in local government and loves every (hard) minute of it.
I am a dark blonde blue eyed girl.
I am creative and love to paint.
I am always able to survive the toughest situations.
I am someone who has had to fight to get where she needs to be.
I am an older sister.
I am the first daughter who was born exactly 2 years and 1 month after her parents were married.
I am someone who suffers from anxiety.
I am hopeless at sports.
I am extremely clumsy.
I am a Christian.
I am someone who loves cats.
I am a baker.
I am a writer and blogger.
I am chocaholic and a shopaholic.
I am a bookworm.
I am currently waiting for the right guy to come along.
I am a dreamer and often has realistic dreams.
I am a cat owner.
I am a ReachOut Youth Ambassador.
I am currently studying to get my diploma in Business Administration.
I am a fighter.
I am someone who keeps her friends close.
I am a pastors daughter.
I am a teachers assistants daughter.
I am someone who lives with Dyspraxia but has never let me stop it from fulfilling my dreams.
I am learning how to fly and leaving and impact on this earth.
I am me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book review: Katie in Waiting

Being single is hard at times and its hard when it seems like most of your friends are dating someone. Don't get me wrong I am happy for them, its just annoying when you realise that in certain circles you are the only single one (excuse me while I go and adopt some more cats). I have had this urge to wait lately regarding the whole boyfriend thing and for now that is what I am going to do and eat chocolate and read some chick lit.
I love Erynn Mangum's books so I had to read her latest book Katie in Waiting the moment it came out. This book was different from her other books in many ways the major way was that it didn't focus around a couple rather it focused on Katie who is a single 30 something girl waiting for the right guy. The blurb reads (taken from Kobo):
Katie McCoy has spent her whole life waiting for the right guy and he isn't coming. After relocating to Carrington Springs, Missouri, Katie finds herself getting more and more frustrated. Can't God see that she's trying her best to meet someone? Doesn't He care that she's lonely? What is she doing that is making Him not bless her with this? With two new friends, Eliza and Ashten, by her side, Katie starts to realize that maybe God has bigger plans for her life than she could have ever imagined.
The book is such a refreshing change to the typical Christian chick lit (yes that's a thing) books that are out there as it focuses on being single and realising that what we want isn't always what God has planned for us. Sure there are few cute guys involved but they add to the book and provide some further insight into just how big Katie's struggle really is.
I also loved meeting Eliza and Ashten and seeing how they were coping with their singleness as well. When reading the book I found myself drawn to Eliza as we are so alike with our personalities (the only differences is that she is a nurse and I am a customer service officer and I am a touch more creative). It was nice to have the book focus around such a new friendship group rather than a boy and girl relationship.
If you want a good non romantic read this book is a great read and you will no doubt be hooked from the first chapter.
I am looking forward to the next book (Once Upon an Eliza) in the series which comes out mid next year and can't wait see how the girls grow and develop in it.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Christmas Gift Guide 2015

With Christmas just round the corner I thought I would once again do a gift guide! I swear people are getting harder and harder to buy for these days and its not easy sticking to a budget.

Before you begin shopping here are some tips sticking to a budget:
  • Allocate a set amount per each person and be aware of it. The amount can vary from person to person and its ok to go slightly over it but aim to stick within the amount.
  • Start shopping now! That way you can space out the spending, and it won't be suck a shock to your bank account.
  • Shop the sales, by starting now you can keep an eye out on the sales and find things well within your budget.
  • Shop online, there are many sites where you can compare prices of things across many websites. If you are buying books as gifts check out Booko which will compare the prices (including postage) across every website possible. Be aware of the postage times so you won't be cutting it too close.
  • Get crafty. Buy craft materials in bulk (check out ebay and discount stores) and go to town! Check out pinterest for simple crafts and do it while you are watching TV at night, these gifts are great for co-workers .
Grab a cute Christmas box and fill it with a variety items linked to a theme, some great themes are:
  • Movie night - grab a film (or a Netflix subscription card), microwave popcorn, and lollies. Great new to dvd films to include are Minions, Big Hero 6, Inside Out, Descendants, Night at the Museum 3 and Jurassic World.
  • Pamper pack - nail polish, nice hand cream, a loofa, face mask (I love the Formula 10.0.6 ones) and some cute hair elastics.
  • Ice cream sundae - think all the toppings you can imagine, along with a gift card ($10 is plenty) for the ice cream and some cute bowls.
  • Craft - look on Pinterest and find a few cute crafts to make and include the items to make them,  along with the instructions. A fun craft is to grab a few colours of oven bake clay (like Fimo), some magnets, jewellery fixings and some inspiration photos. Studie DIY has a great tutorial for friendship bracelets just grab some thread and beads and print off the instructions and you are good to go.
  •  Book worm - include a book, some tea or hot chocolate mix, a mug, some chocolate and a cute bookmark.
The good thing about in-a-box gifts is that you can
spend a much or as little as you like and you can vary it from person to person.

Stocking stuffers:

  • Lip balm - I love the Urban Rituelle brand, as it conditions and protects your lips with a blend of beeswax, sweet almond oil and olive oil and sunscreen for extra protection (which is great during the Australian Summers). As a bonus there are tonnes of yummy flavours like cotton candy, carmella and peach blossom just to name a few.
  • Body shop body wash - I love the scents of the body shop body wash and a full size one will last you ages.
  • Fun stationary - check out Smiggle, Typo and Kikki K for some stationary that is fun and practical to use, people tend not to buy themselves cute stationary (I rarely do as people like to steal my pens and everything else) so its a great stocking stuffer and it won't break the bank (pictured set here)
  • Baked goods - I love baking around the holiday season and people will love receiving some yummy baked goods as a result. Gingerbread and shortbread are always popular, as are brownies, oreo truffles and cookie dough truffles
  • Adult colouring book - jump on the latest trend and buy them an adult colouring book. You can get some super nice ones for under $10 in most stores or the Book Depository has a nice selection here. If you want to make it a complete gift include some coloured pencils/textas and a yummy treat.

 Gifts for everyone

Its always tough to find the perfect gift so here is a great selection criteria for finding a great gift:
  • Make sure they can use it, unless its a framed print or art piece.
  • If you are going to buy a picture or art piece make sure its them and they can relate to it.
  • Its within your budget, any gift that will send you broke isn't worth it.
Here are my top gifts for Christmas:
I love playing games with friends so here are some games that I love and think would be great for that hard to buy person.
  • Coupe - this a great game that can be played with 2 - 6 players. Its also extremely quick and won't last longer than 15 minutes. The aim of the game is to assassinate the other players and bluff your way, Jocelyn and I had a lot of fun playing this and I know it would be great with more people.
  • The Resistance - this game is in the same universe at Coupe but is for more people and takes slightly longer to play (its like the game Mafia you play with a pack of cards). There are also two expansion packs (here and here) so if you know someone who has the game you can get them the expansion packs to continue the fun.
  • Wet Heads - think russian roulette but with water! Players take turns to strap on the hat, give it a spin and pull a pin, one person will end up with a wet head. This looks like such a fun game and I can imagine it being a good game to play with teenagers on a hot day.

  • Earrings - earrings are one of my go to gifts and for good reason, you can pick up some really cute stirling silver earrings on sale and every girl loves receiving jewellery. Keep an eye out on store windows to pick up some cute bargains leading up to Christmas. If in doubt buy simple and classic earrings like hoops and delicate studs.
  • Cute PJs - If you know the person well enough some cute pjs are a good idea.A great idea is to buy a nice pair of pj pants from somewhere like Bras N Things or Peter Alexender and grab a plain singlet from Kmart or Target to keep costs down. These pants are a cute pair from Bra N Things and they feel so nice on (I have a similar pair which I love) perfect for lazy Saturday mornings.
  • Experiences - no one ever needs more stuff but people are always open to experiences, movie tickets, zoo or aquarium tickets, museum tickets or concert tickets are always good presents. Plus with museum tickets you encourage the person to be a tourist in their own town. An old prison near runs a variety of tours including tunnel tours which means you get to go below the actual prison which sounds fun and adventurous! Ask at local tourist centres what tours they recomend and buy some tickets for yourself and a bunch of your family or friends and make it a fun day out. 
  • A subscription box - there are so many subscription boxes out there and its a gift that will keep on giving. For books theres FoxThings which contains a book and a few other book themed items, for makeup theres Marie Claire The Parcel, for the artist in your life there's ArtSnacks, if they love tea there's Tea With Alice or Monstrositea, there's also the Handmade Box if they love craft and supporting small businesses. You name it there's a box for it and half the fun is finding all the different boxes that are out there.
  • 2016 Diary or calender - call me old fashioned but I still use an actual diary rather than my phone. It also helps when I am planning out my year and the bigger picture. I like smaller diaries that can easily fit in a bag rather than the big ones. I recently bought this one and have already began filling it. Check out specialty stationery store such as Kikki K, Typo, and Office Works for cute diaries and calenders.
  • Magazine subscription - this is another gift that will last all year! With so many magazines around even the hardest person on your list can be bought for. The great thing so many companies have special deals for new subscribers at this time of year. My favourite magazine is Super Food Ideas and its a great magazine for anyone who loves cooking be it they are just starting out with cooking or who is an experienced cook plus at only $30 its an afforable subscription. 

Gift giving doesn't have to be hard and at the end of the day Christmas is all about the greatest gift the world has received Jesus!
Here are two of my favourite Christmas songs to help get you in the Christmas mood, because it is never too early to play Christmas music in my opinion!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Limiting my Anxiety

I have been trying to limit the amount of anxiety I have to deal with, unfortunately medication doesn't take care of it 100% so there are days when my anxiety will be really bad, I am trying to limit those days so that they occur very rarely and when they do my anxiety isn't as bad.

My main way is in my diet, I am currently doing a high protein diet as recommended by a family friend who is a naturopath (apparently it helps stabilise the chemicals in your brain). This is what a usual day for me in terms of food looks like:
  • Breakfast - one hard boiled egg with salt and pepper.
  • Lunch (I eat lunch early at around 11.30 before work) - carrot and cucumber sticks with either hummus or avocado dip (you can buy single serving sizes of dips in packs of 3 in coles which are great to have on hand) and some crackers.
  • Snack - These vary for me during the day and it just depends on how I am feeling. At the moment I switch between the following: m&ms/malteesers/chocolate - I know this isn't the healthiest snack but I crave chocolate sometimes and when I do I bring a small container of it to work (rather than a whole block or bag), sometimes I won't eat the whole container and sometimes I do it just varies. Bujah which is an indian snack food made up of crunchy chickpea noodles, nuts, dried peas and spices which is high in protein and tastes great. Nuts almonds and cashews with some dark chocolate chips thrown in.
  • Dinner - whatever the family is eating just with less carbs.
  • Drinks - I aim to go through a 700ml bottle of water at work, I will also drink straight carbonated mineral water or a mix of diet lemonade and mineral water (either half and half or 3 parts mineral water to 1 parts lemonade).
  • Supplements - I take 4 fish oil capsules at night along with my allergy medication and anxiety medication.
I avoid caffeine throughout the week so that means no diet coke, if I do have a diet coke its on a Saturday and that's its for the week. I have noticed a major difference by making the above differences to my diet. Of course there are some days when I won't eat well at all and that's ok, I aim to stick to the diet the bulk of the time but still treat myself. The other day I had pastacup for lunch at work as I was working a full day and a group of us decided to order it, the other week when I was having a tough week I ate (a lot of) chocolate but I make sure to go back to the diet afterwards. I love my sweets and chocolate is definitely my weakness, of course being dairy intolerant means that I have to be careful and not go overboard.

Sleep is another big thing that I have to be aware of. I aim to get 8-10 hours of sleep a night depending on how busy the next day is and how I am feeling. There are nights when I will crash and other nights when I won't need as much sleep. I also sleep with my blinds open and try to get up with the sun as I'm not forcing myself awake with an alarm. I rarely set my alarm and when I do its because I need to get up that much earlier than usual.

Lately I have found myself saying no to various social activities just because by the time I come home from work and unwind I just don't want to face people. Not having a license also makes catching up harder but at the same time it gives me an excuse not go to things if I feel like I can't handle it. I have opted out of doing Sunday School this term as by the time it gets to the weekend I crash and need to rebuild my energy levels. I also haven't been doing bible study this term as even when I had my license I was only getting there once every 2-3 weeks as I got home from work at 5.30 and had to leave the house by 6.15/6.30pm to get there on time and then by the time I got home, unwound and went to sleep it was 10.30/11.00pm. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed bible study just I always felt so rushed on a Wednesday night. I hate saying no to people and always feel like I let people down when I do but sometimes you need to do what is right for you regardless of what people think. Saturdays I pretty much crash and just do something with the family and Sundays are of course church.

Its strange but not having my license has made my work trip much more relaxed, I do have to leave home earlier (10.30am) but the transport is so easy and I can just relax and read a book and not focus on anything major. I also get to work 45 minutes early so I can chill out in the staff room for a bit and eat my lunch or do some window shopping if I please. I mean not having a license is tough but my focus at work has improved a lot and my head is a lot more clearer now which helps. My car goes in for an exhaust system replacement this Tuesday which needed to happen at some point so this makes it easier on everyone with me not needing a car and having to major car swap around. My Mum's car also needs some work done on it in terms of panel beating so the aim will be to book it in and then she can drive my car while that is happening.
I do miss driving and I find myself stressing about the practical test - What if I fail it? What if I get a driving instructor who decides to make the test extra hard as I lost my license? What if I can't book in a test until 2017? Yes I have an extremely over active train of thought so if you guys could please pray about the above that would be great.

I hate exercise but once again not having a license is extremely handy as I have to walk to the bus stop most days and when I get to the train station I take the stairs rather than the escalators. Its not much in terms of exercise but its better than nothing and I hope to increase it eventually.

ReachOut Youth Ambassador work is kept to online and things I can do from home. I would love to do more with ReachOut, but at the moment its just not possible. I do have dreams for some events but at this stage they are only dreams and won't be made realities until next year (hopefully!). I have been indirectly involved with events and created a colouring in page for a competition (which some of the other YAs ran for Metal Health week at a local uni) which was fun and its an image than can be used again. I love ReachOut and being a YA gives me confidence. I also love knowing that I am changing how people think about Mental Illness.

I am also planning on increasing my psychologist appointments to more frequently (once every 3 weeks instead of once every 4 weeks) as I honestly feel like at the moment I just need that extra support. The past few months have been hard and have taken a large toll on my mental health and increasing my appointments will help me both long and short term.

I find that when you have anxiety you have to be so much more aware of the little things. I am always looking at my lifestyle and working out ways to manage my anxiety without doing anything major (as new situations only make my anxiety worse!). I started by always having an egg for breakfast and reducing my carbs then moved onto reducing my diet coke and eventually having high in protein lunches and snacks. I refuse to let my anxiety rule my life so I am willing to do anything to prevent this, all in all by doing the above my life has been easier.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Book Review: A Sugar Creek Christmas

I love Christmas and books, so when I got a chance to do a review on this book it's no suprise that I jumped at the chance.
Jenny B Jones is a great author and her books always make me smile and have gotten me through some tough times.
A Sugar Creek Christmas is a great read, the blurb read's (taken from Amazon):

Sometimes all love needs is a second chance.

Morning television show darling Emma Sutton has just been fired. The only way to get her job back is to find a holiday story to warm the coldest heart. So when her hometown of Sugar Creek, Arkansas, needs a Christmas event planner, Emma moves back, sure her story lies in the town’s desire to become a tourist’s holiday wonderland. The plan is perfect—until Emma meets her new boss.

Charming, handsome Noah Kincaid isn’t just Sugar Creek’s newest mayor. He’s also Emma’s ex-fiancĂ©. Ten years ago Emma left Noah her ring and a goodbye note, but it’s haunted her ever since. The last thing Noah wants to do is work with the woman who broke his heart, but Emma’s desperate to prove to him that her bah-humbug ways won’t interfere with her work.

Emma finds it’s more than the mistletoe drawing her back to Noah. Whatever they had is clearly not over, but Noah’s kisses can’t protect Emma from a past that won’t leave her alone. As the snow falls and the trees glisten, love will come to Sugar Creek. But will it come in time to make all of Emma’s Christmas dreams come true.

 I got sucked into this book extremely quickly and loved the charcters, Jenny has mastered the art of creating the best grandmas (Maxine (Katie's foster grandma) in a Katie Parker Production is one of my all time favourite charcters) and Emma's is no exception - an ex spy who still goes on missions while also keeping up with the towns gossip and her grandkids is such a warm welcome to the typical grandmas you find in books.
Emma is a great charcter and despite the fact that she hates Christmas you see that she has reason behind it and eventually see her come round to it.
Noah is a kind guy, who though he got hurt in the past by Emma still cares about her and is prepared to look beyond their complicated past and the fact she hates Christmas.

The storyline is a bit prediactable (though not cheasy in anyway!) but has a few twists here and there and its a page turner for sure! Its a great book to read if you want to get in the Christmas mood (and has turned me off wanting a white Christmas after hearing how hard it can be getting anywhere with snow!) and want something with substance but not too heavy.

Overall its a great read and one I know I will reread the closer it gets to Christmas, once again Jenny has written a winner.

You can get your hands on a copy on Amazon Kobo,  iBooks and Barnes and Nobel 

***I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Another 2 months

Well my probation as officially been extended by another 2 months and for some reason I am feeling angry, annoyed and sad at myself about it. I have wanted this job for so long and yet I feel like I am letting it slip away, I just feel so helpless! It has always taken me longer than average to achieve things, yet I thought this job would be different. I don't want to let my employer down either as they have taken a huge chance on me. I know that tomorrow is a new day yet so many times just when I feel like things are going well, something happens and my confidence is shaken. I just have no idea why God gave me this job that I wanted so badly when I am struggling so much with it and can't seem to do anything right at times! I really some major prayer that a miracle will happen with me in this job and things will start going smoothly. I just feel like there is so much stuff to learn and after not working for so long its a bit of a learning curve to say the least!
I just needed to get this out, please pray for me, I am hoping my next update will be much more positive!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Best ever loaded brownies

Its no secret I am a baker (and it helps me with coping with my anxiety) and these brownies are some of my favourite things to bake! They are super easy to bake and you can mix in and top them with anything. The ones pictured were topped with dark choc chips, maltesers and chopped up toffees.
You can totally leave out the toppings and mix ins and just put in choc chips to make ordinary brownies, its really up to you.

Adapted from here, this recipe will make a standard rectangular tray of brownies.

210 grams of butter (or margarine)
1 1/4 cups cocoa powder (I use the Cadbury brand)
1 1/2cups of sugar
3/4 cup of plain flour
3 eggs (take them out of the fridge the moment you need to add them)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Note: You have to use plain flour and baking powder in this recipe self raising flour won't achieve the fudginess (it makes them rise them too much). You can skip the baking powder if need be but it makes them less dense.

Mix ins/toppings such as:
Choc chips
Chopped almonds (or other nuts)
Chopped Maltesers
Chopped toffees
Chopped chocolate bars - smartie, mint oreo, caramel (freeze first to make it less messy to chop up), cookies and cream, crunchie
Chopped/crushed Oreos - you can also put these whole in the middle for a fun surprise instead of on top

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, line standard brownie pan with greaseproof paper and give it a spray with cooking spray (this makes a huge difference later on!).
  2. Melt butter (or margarine) in a largeish saucepan, mix in sugar, salt and cocoa powder, it will look grainy at this stage but don't stress! Let cool for 5 minutes (you don't want to scramble the eggs).
  3. Beat in eggs and vanilla essence until its glossy.
  4. Mix in flour and baking powder until there are no white streaks left.
  5. Stir in your mix ins reserving some for the toppings if desired.
  6. Pour into pan, sprinkle on toppings and bake for 20 minutes then check and lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees baking for another 10-15 minutes if required. It will be done when you insert a skewer and it comes out with crumbs clinging to it.
  7. Cool in pan and cut into squares and enjoy!