Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas and I hope that everyone has a relaxing day :) We are keeping it low key this year on Christmas day with just immediate family but then on Boxing Day/night (the following day) we are spending it with my Mum's side of the family which should be fun. Be sure to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season and that he is the best gift of all.

Below is my favourite Christmas card I have received this year of course I may be biased as ReachOut sent it to me and I just so happened to design it (all Youth Ambassadors were invited to design a card it just had to have the ReachOut logo on it somewhere and my design was chosen. Not bad for only using Word, Paint and a lot of patience and trying not to kill the computer!).

Merry Christmas from my part of the world to yours!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

This will be the last Five Friday Favourites for 2016! I can't believe how quickly the year has gone by and I am excited to see what 2017, stay tuned for a 'Dear 2016' post in the next couple of weeks.

Touchable Bubbles - I was in Australian geographic the other day and there were all these bubbles everywhere and kids were touching and stacking them. For something so simple it brought so much joy, so I ended up buying some and I can confirm that they are just as fun in your own home (and for those wondering they do not leave any sticky residue once they pop!). They would make great stocking stuffers or secret santa gifts too.

A Royal Christmas Wedding by Rachel Hauck - I love Rachel's books and I was super excited when

she released her latest book! The Royal Wedding series are such fun books and this one has a Christmassy twist to it. I have only just started it but so far its a great Christmas read and I know it will only get better.

Christmas cupcakes - I somehow managed to have 3 end of year events this past week and I volunteered to take cupcakes to all because they are fun to make and easy to transport. I needed a quick and easy to make them Christmassy, so I grabbed some oreos and using a star tip piped green buttercream around the outside and added some pretty sprinkles to make them into wreaths. I then put them onto the (nicely iced) cupcakes, it added another element and you got an oreo as well. Megan of course couldn't resist taking some pics with her tablet so here is the least blurry pic she took :) the rest of the cupcakes I (fine Jocelyn the expert cupcake piper) sprinkled mini M+Ms in red/green/brown (we just removed them from a normal pack and saved the rest to be used or eaten at a later date).

Klutz books - Summer is slowly starting to hit over here and when it gets to over 35 degrees I just want to lock myself inside with the air con on and craft away. I recently picked up a couple of Klutz craft books when they were on special at Aldi to keep me busy and I am really enjoying them. I grabbed the Shrink and Link Jewelry and Glitter Clay Charms books, both a great books and anyone can craft with them. I am tempted to order this book as well as no doubt it will be a long summer!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Pentatonix version - this is one of my favourite Christmas carols and I love the twist Pentatonix put on it, the video is also really well done too :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Anxiety Anonymous

I have come to the conclusion that I should go to AA meetings not that kind of meeting (I rarely
drink haha) but Anxiety Anonymous meetings which aren't a thing (yet!) but need to be created. Think about it anyone with anxiety could sit in a room full of people who have gone through similar experiences and just vent about what has set their anxiety off recently, what they can't let go of and what keeps them up at night. Here are some (real) examples:
  • 8 months ago I texted a guy friend without thinking it through and I never got a response and sometimes I wonder if I said the wrong thing (it was an invitation to join me and some friends for a games night). When in reality he was probably too busy to respond or he just forgot but sometimes I still wonder if there is something wrong with how I worded it.
  • Even if I just think about a driving test I freak out and if any characters are learning to drive on TV shows, I can't watch it as it brings back all these memories about me failing the test.
  • I am doing everything I can to get a job, yet I have friends who seem to be doing very little in terms of job seeking but still managing to get jobs.
  • I didn't leave my indicator on long enough before I made a turn even though it was down a quiet road (near my house) and there were no other cars in sight.
  • I am scared the one day when I am home alone a snake will get in the house and I will have an anxiety attack and have no idea what to do (this is my current not quite rational fear with Summer getting in to full swing and a few snakes being sighted near my house)..
So many people think that anxiety is just worrying about things which it is, but it's also not being able to let go of the past and things you can't change no matter how hard you try, the things that you obsess over and keep you up at night and the things that pop up randomly when you think you have forgotten about them and moved past them. This is why I think Anxiety Anonymous needs to exist and be a thing because sometimes you just need someone who understands what its like to tell you its ok to worry about all the small things or to let them go because you really need to move on.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

This week has been hard,  just accepting that I won't get a job until the new year has been a huge thing for me and I am anxious to see how next year pans out. I wrote a post on Tuesday on how the job hunt has been going, just so I have it written down and that one day (hopefully soon!) I can look back and see how God got me through it.
Thankfully this weekend is looking fun with plans to go to two markets (I am my mothers daughter when it comes to going to markets) and just soaking up all the Christmassy atmosphere. I love supporting small businesses and there is something about spending a morning browsing through stalls that makes me happy.
Moving onto this weeks Friday Favourites:

Christmas Gift Guide 2016 - so last fortnight I skipped Friday Favourites to publish my yearly gift guide and it was a big one! With Christmas creeping up (how can it almost be 2017?!) if you haven't started your Christmas shopping now you should get a move on. I heard on the news that they think 17th of December is going the busiest day to get your Christmas shopping done (read the day I avoid the shops) so the sooner you start it the better. The guide has a range of gifts for a range of budgets, so its bound to give you some ideas.

Skin/Mole Check - this is probably an extremely odd thing to include in this list but go with it! Skin
cancer is big deal in Australia and EVERYONE needs to go get checked regulary. Recently I had a scare, I had this mole in the middle of my upper back it was an odd mole (indented being a big issue) and when I showed it to my doctor he told me to keep an eye on it (this was 5 years ago) of course being in such an odd spot its was hard to keep an eye on. My auntie was diagnosed with skin cancer last year so that was a wake up call and I decided to go for a skin check just to be on the safe side and they didn't seem concerned because I'm in my 20's and skin cancer doesn't usually occur until much later in life (slip, slop, slap people!).
Then 3 weeks ago I had to go to my doctor to get a medical note and I decided to see if he would maybe remove it for me because I just wanted it gone (plus I wanted it to be worth while appointment). He agreed so the next day I got stabbed in the back (literally!) and got to endure 2 weeks of having stitchers in my back. Well the results came back as a sebacious cyst gone wrong so no cancer(*happy dance*)! But it still made me aware that I should apply sunscreen on a daily basis on the areas I am prone to getting burnt (I already use a skin moisturiser with SPF in it on my face). I do think people in their 20's should be aware of skin cancer and keep an eye on their moles so its worth while going for a skin cancer check. (heres a pic taken a couple of hours after the procedure, excuse the room mess it has improved since haha!).

Lost and Found Music Studios - while some people were busy counting down the days until the Gilmore Girls Reunion I am counting down the days until the next season of Lost and Found Music Studios! It's just a fun show and the music is super catchy so perfect to unwind after a long day. The next season episodes get released tomorrow on Netflix so my weekend is sorted.

The Grift of the Magi: A Heist Society Novella - nothing like some Christmas reading to get you in a
Christmassy mood and this book fits the bill perfectly! I love Ally Carter and the Heist Society books are some of my favourites, so I downloaded this book as soon as I could and it did not disappoint! Kat and her crew are back, this time trying to track down a stolen Faberge egg, steal it back and return it to its rightful owner. This book has a few twists and turns and I loved reuniting with the Heist Society world.

Kiss and Cry movie - one of my favourite movies I have seen this past year as been Full Out and I was thrilled when the same team announced they were bringing another true story to life with Kiss and Cry. Its based on the story of Carley Allison a promising 18 year old figure skater and singer with her battle against a rare type of sarcoma (type of cancer). It stars Sarah Fisher (who was also in Full Out) and Luke Bilyk who are both Degrassi alums and looks like a great movie.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Up date on the job hunt

Just thought I would do a general update on how the job hunt is going, long story short ITS NOT GOING WELL!
As the year slowly comes to an end businesses post less and less jobs so that means that unless a miracle happens I won't have a job until the new year. I have always said throughout this stage in my life I will trust in God 110% and I know he has the right job out there for me. In the past few weeks I received a couple of emails regarding promising jobs I had applied for saying I wasn't successful in getting interviews, but again God knew this would happen.
My employment agency has been great and their support has been priceless. Recently I have met with a marketer  and she is amazing, her daughter has anxiety so she has seen first hand how it can affect your life. What she does is she goes around to various businesses and pushes my resume on them telling them more about me and why they should hire me, she believes that come new year she will find me a great job. Many companies are now required to have a certain percentage of staff with a 'disability' and are in the process of creating jobs with these people in mind, which is where it helps having a marketer on your side who goes to these companies and makes them aware of you (and follows up to make sure you aren't forgotten!).
I hate using the term disability when it comes to my anxiety especially as growing up Megan I have been surrounded with various forms of disability most of my life and mental illness just doesn't seem like one. Sure it can affect how I work at times but for the most part once I am settled in a job I am fine and working part time will lessen how bad my anxiety is.
I am continuing to do volunteering and along with ReachOut, every second Thursday I help out at the local youth centre doing mentoring. This past week I was chatting to some of the staff members there and it came up I had anxiety (I mentioned my ReachOut work) and neither of them could believe I have anxiety and were amazed that I was helping out in the program. I really enjoy helping people (and enjoy sharing my struggles with people if it can be of help to them) so being part of the mentoring program at the youth centre seemed like a good place to volunteer. A bonus is that gets me out of my comfort zone while still being in a supportive environment.
If you guys could continue for me in the following areas that would be great:
  • That I will get a job early on the new year (I honestly don't know how much more of unemployment I can take!).
  • That God will provide for me during this time of unemployment and give me peace during the tough times.
  • Once I get a job I will settle in to it quickly and my anxiety won't flare up and give me minimal trouble
For now I am just trying to stay focused while also enjoying this quiet period in my life and continuing to trust in God. Because at the end of the day he has a plan for me and he has always come through even if I have at time doubted him

Friday, November 18, 2016

Christmas Gift Guide 2016 Edition

***Instead of Five Friday Favourites this week I am launching my 2016 Gift Guide! This has been a big post to write and I hope you will enjoy it.***

How can it be almost Christmas?! The shops are slowly getting busier, Christmas music has started to fill my ears and people everywhere are making lists and checking them more than twice!

Every year I do a Christmas gift guide (you can read last years here) for those who know me you will know that gift giving is my love language and I love trying to find the perfect gift for my friends and family.

I find that the lead up to Christmas is always so busy and there is just something about being a pastors family that makes it extra busy! So while I try to embrace the craziness I also try to get as much as I can done early so I can enjoy all the fun little things in the lead up to Christmas. Christmas shopping has been one thing that I have been taught to get out of the way early, growing up my Mum always used to shop throughout the year for the extended family as it cut down on the stress and also the impact on the bank account. Other ways you cut down on stress in terms of gift giving include:
  • Setting a theme - my Grandparents used to do this when it came to the grandkids so one year we all got beach towels, another year we all got board games, one year the girls all got opal necklaces etc. So we all got variants of the same thing, this made it a lot easier rather than shopping individually for each grandkid. This is a great idea if you have to buy for a lot of people and you pick something neutral, plus you can get a lot done all in one store!
  • Secret Santa - we do this on my Mum's side of the family so we each buy for someone whose name is drawn out of a hat. This also keeps costs down as we only buy for one person.
  • Stick to handmade gifts -if you are in a crafty family this is a great way to cut down costs and you know that each gift you are getting is made in love.
Gift giving doesn't have to be expensive if you start early and set a budget. I shop sales so much and take advantage of deals where I can, I also use ebay and online shopping to my advantage! If you start now you have plenty of time for postage.

Here are my top presents for this year:

Things to buy:

Codenames - hands down one of the best games around! You can play it with 2 people onwards (the more the merrier and I've played it with around 20 people at one time!), its such a fun game. The concept may seem simple but it can get frustrating very quickly. If you have kids there is even a picture version of it that sounds really fun and a good holiday game.

Apples to Apples - another great game. You have to pick the card in your hand that matches the word
on the table winner is the first that gets 5 green apple cards. This game can get really crazy and its a great game to play if you don't something so intense but still with a bit of strategy.

Annabel Trends drink bottle - does anyone ever have enough drink bottles? I have been loving the drink bottles Annabel Trends make, they are durable, come in a variety of colours, have the amounts clearly measured on the side (theres a 500ml and 780ml) and just look super cute in general. I got Jocelyn one a few years ago and its still going strong (and have since bought myself one!), its a great gift for anyone. You can check out the full range here.

Celebrate by Lauren Conrad - I love this book so much and its a great gift for anyone you know who
loves celebrating the big and little things in life. Its filled with ideas for a variety of budgets and I love how Lauren shares parts of real life events she has planned (like her wedding!) this book covers everything from dress codes to gifts to styling.

Cute Lunch bags - Sachi makes these super cute lunch bags that are durable and have enough space in them for multiple containers and drink bottles. My mum bought me one ages ago and as she loved it so much my sister and I bought her one for Mothers Day a few years ago and despite using it non stop its still looks new. They are one of those items that everyone at some stage will need and they are made to last.

Light Box - I swear these are getting more popular and they are a great gift! I have currently have two and use them for ReachOut stalls but when they aren't in use I use them as décor items in my room and love how I can write whatever I want using the letters. You can pull them out for parties and  make great conversation pieces. I got one of mine from Kmart (I also bought extra letters) and find for the price you can't go wrong and I have a small one from Typo (which are more expensive but if you want variety in sizes then Typo is the way to go).

The Handmade box - I am a big believer in supporting small business and The Handmade Box makes it easy, with everything in the boxes being handmade from a small Australian business. This year's Christmas boxes are almost sold out and they will no doubt be amazing. I can honestly say I have loved each box I have received, it was hard to resist just ordering one so I ended up ordering two and I can't wait to see the goodies inside. These would make great gifts for that hard to buy for person or someone you need to post something to (just address it to them and send them an email letting them know something from The Handmade Box will be arriving to them sometime soon).

Succulents - these are currently on trend mainly because they are such low maintenance and hard to kill. While you can already buy them in nice pots you could take it one step further and plant one in a pot you painted (just make sure to seal it first) for a fun touch. I have a few that I have had for many years and they are still going strong (and probably need to be replanted in bigger pots).

The Balm How Bout Them Apples - this is a great palate and I find myself reaching for it day after day for not just cheek but lip colour as well. Its a great palate for the make up lover and The Balm is a great brand (side note if anyone wants to get me any of their other palates for Christmas I would totally be open to it! Especially this one).

A good Summer read - for me Summer is sitting by the beach or pool with a book in hand, so why not give someone a great book to read. Rather than list book titles I will just mention some authors and the styles they write in:
  • Sarah Dessen - Sarah's books just feel like Summer to me and are great light hearted reads.
  • Candace Calvert - not your average medical drama books with deep meanings that will stay with you long after you have read them. You can read a review on her soon to be released book here.
  • Rachel Hauck - her books transport you to far away royal kingdoms and she has written a few great historic combined with modern era novels as well (The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop).
  • Jenny B Jones - I loved her Katie Parker Production books though my current favourite of hers is Save The Date.
  • Cat Patrick - her book Forgotten is one my favourite books and she writes great fiction surrounding interesting concepts such as 3 girls who are clones of the same person and all live one life.
The above authors have all written books that are standalone or if they are part of a series (as is the case of Candace Calvert's novels) they can be read in any order.

Cute beach towel - over the years I have received many beach towels as gifts and they are great useful gifts! With Christmas being in Summer I find that you can never have enough towels, pick one in a cute colour and pattern and you are good to go.

Gifts with purpose - we all have those people who are impossible to buy for or have too much stuff so this is where Tear and Baptist World Aid come with both these organisations you make a donation on behalf of the person and get a card that you then give to the person telling that you purchased them a goat, school supplies, a toilet, a well, a mosquito net ...etc which is being provided to someone in need in a 3rd world country. This is a great idea and there are so many puns you can do in regards to them: I 'Goat' you this card, it was selfish of me 'toilet' this go to 'waste', 'well' done on surviving another year, which are sure to get a groan or two out of them. The best thing is that these gifts will change peoples lives and you get to be part of that, its really a gift that keeps on giving.

Classic/childhood movie - when Finding Dory came out this past year so many of my friends I raced to go see it as Finding Nemo was a huge part of our childhood, but it made me realise that I don't have some of those films on DVD that I grew up watching. So a great idea is to find out what are some classic films (or TV shows) for them and track them down (   JB Hi-Fi is my go to place for dvds). Examples are:

  • Finding Nemo
  • Monsters Inc.
  • The Incredibles
  • Ferris Buellers Big Day Out
  • The Princess Bride
Include a pack of popcorn and/or some chocolate and you are good to go! A bonus is that most of these DVDs are available quite cheaply so its a gift that won't break the bank.

Earrings - one of my go to gifts is a nice pair of silver earrings, I keep an eye on sales leading up to Christmas and will often buy multiple pairs when there's a good sale on. I LOVE Magnolia jewellery and every piece I have from them is beautifully made and I get loads of compliments on them (also check out Lovisa, Prouds, Sheils and Zamels). Pictured earrings here from Magnolia.

Mind games - you can buy puzzle books or actual mind games at game stores (such as this one). There's always a variety of these around with varying levels and challenges. These always make great gifts especially for those hard to buy people.

Personalised packages/hampers - these days you can get nice hampers made up but they are always on the expensive side of things when you can easily put together your own for a fraction of the cost and they can be on the more personal side of things. Ideas include:
Tea lovers - nice package of tea (such as T2), tea diffuser (if you are giving loose leaf tea), tea cup and cookies (hand baked if you have time).
Pamper pack - nail polish, body wash/scrub, loofa, lip balm, face mask, hair band.
Baking- apron, cooking utensil of some kind, cookbook.
Camping kit- aleo vera gel or sunblock , glowsticks, marshmallows, multi tool/torch, camping chair,  pack of cards or travel game.
Study buddy- pencil case, pens, notebook/journal, gum, key ring.
Book worm- a book, chocolate, tea, cute bookmark.
Summer time - water bottle, towel, beach bag, sunblock.
Girls night in - chick flick, chocolate, popcorn, face mask, magazine

Can't Clutch This - firstly can someone please buy me a subscription to this for Christmas? As a girl I love bags and am always after a way to make my every day life fun (which explains why my keys have so many keyrings on them haha). Studio DIY has come up a great idea where every month you get an awesome new clutch (which she designed) sent to you for $20 (add another $3 if you live outside of US) which would make such a fun gift! A girl can never have too many clutches and its a gift can stretch over a whole year :)

Nude by Nature gift sets - I always fine Nude by Nature's gift sets value for money and a bonus is
that its all mineral makeup. With sets starting at $20 they won't break the bank either and there's a variety of sets available from the basic loose powder sets to brush kits finishing off with their new eye shadow range you are bound to find something for the make up lover in your life.

DVD box set - I love to binge watch tv shows and recently a friend gave me the complete box set of Friends to watch (because its a
must watch show I am told) as a going away gift (she was returning home after a working holiday here). I know box sets are expensive but they can make great couples gifts, alternatively you can give a couple of seasons of the show to them, so enough to get them hooked (which makes more sense if the show is still airing). I find comedy is always a safe bet but don't be afraid to do some snooping and ask them what they have or haven't seen! Shows that are worth looking into include:
  • Scrubs - JD and Turk = relationship goals, its a hospital comedy that's just what the doctor ordered.
  • The Office (US version) - who knew a paper company could be this interesting?! I am almost finished it and will be sad when its over, plus it has a receptionist called Erin in it which is fun bonus (and I totally relate to her personality). Its from the same guys as Parks and Rec so you know it's good.
  • Parks and Rec - Lesley Knope for president is all I can say and you will too once you've watched it.
  • Brooklyn Nine Nine - Jake Peralta is one of New York's finest detectives and its fun to watch him take on the crime with the rest of the Nine Nine crew.

Things to make:

Christmas decorations - over the past few years I have been big on making Christmas decorations and I find they make great gifts. This year I have made over 80 handmade decorations and while that may seem like a lot it didn't take me that much time or money. I bought supplies off ebay, discount stores and craft stores and used some leftover materials from last year. Pinterest is a great source to get ideas from and if you have kids you can get them in on the action too.

Baked goods - every year I spend a day or so in the kitchen making some treats that freeze well. I then package them up into bags with some Christmas ribbon and I am good to go. Last year I made 2 varieties of truffles and some candy cane bark. I go on a variety of cooking blogs to get inspiration, my only requirments are that they must be easy, yummy and package/travel well.

Stocking Stuffers:
Gift giving is my love language and while I don't have the money to give everyone a big gift I love to give out small well thought out gifts. Some gifts that won't break the budget are the following:
  • Letter keyrings - I love the Smiggle ones and I have a slight obsession with them (this one is my current favourite)!
  • Cute pens - individual pens are relatively cheap at stationery stores or you can get sometimes cute multi pen packs (like these) and separate the pens. Places like  Kikki K, Smiggle and Typo always seem to have cute pens. I have also had great success with buying pens off ebay just search for 'cute pens' or 'cute stationery'.
  • Stickers - a bonus is that they are easy to post, check discount stores and news agencies for cute packs.
  • Travel sized body products like body wash - check out the body shop for limited edition Christmassy scents
  • Nail polish and nail files - pick some Christmassy metallics like gold, silver or copper and include a nail file and you are good to go.
  • Lip balms - Urban Rituelle's are the best but the body shop's are also good.
  • Christmas decorations - I make a heap every year (see above) and everyone loves them. Alternatively keep an eye out for nice ones in the lead up to Christmas, I find Myer and Bed, Bath N Table always do nice ranges, you can also check out specialty Christmas shops.
I loved going to see The Next Step in concert with Megan this past September as an early birthday
gift to her and we had such a fun time and she is still talking about it whenever someone makes a comment on the concert poster which she has stuck on her door. Experiences are a great gift as they are something the person might not always do and they make great memories. You can often buy vouchers for general ticket places (like ticketeck or ticketmaster) that can be used towards upcoming concerts which are good if you don't know exactly the persons tastes.
Movie tickets are another good gift as some insurance/phone companies offer discounted tickets if you purchase through them (which are then sent/emailed to you) and if you include a pack of lollies you are good to go.
Other good experiences are:
  • The Zoo 
  • Local Science Museum
  • Theme parks 
  • Ice skating 
  • Other museums such as maritime or army
  • Historical place tours like old prisons, ghost tours (if they are into that), army barracks 
  • Cooking/art/craft classes 
  • Sporting event tickets like to the basketball or football
Also check out local coupon sites like Groupon for great deals in the lead up to Christmas.

Christmas shopping shouldn't be stressful and its always a good idea to keep a list of people you need to buy for and write down what you have bought for them (or are going to buy then tick it off once you have purchased said item).
Just remember at the end of the day Christmas isn't about the gifts or the food or the twinkly lights its about the day that God sent us his son Jesus who is the greatest gift of all.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Giving it to God

I am pretty good at putting the negative thoughts at bay, a big part of my anxiety is that I second guess every little thing and that includes all the what ifs.
Today I went to a cafe by the river that is quickly becoming 'my spot' on Wednesday mornings and I was reading my book when all these negative thoughts just overwhelmed me so I put my head in my hands and prayed. I had no idea what else I could do, so I poured it all out to God because I knew I needed to give all my concerns to him.
I spend so much of my time keeping my mind busy so that these negative thoughts don't invade my mind so when they do creep in its normally when I am alone trying to get some 'me time' in. The whole job search isn't going well, with another application getting rejected today and the job market being non existent, so I'm giving it to God. I never wanted to be in this unemployment position and my savings is slowly going down (car rego, Christmas presents, Summer clothes... etc.) and I can't help but worry, so once again I'm giving it to God. I am realising that whenever we face a tough time situation all we can do is give it to God.
The reality is that God is in control 110% of the time and while it may be hard to acknowledge at times he does know what he is doing.
The American election results came out today and many people are wondering what the future will hold long term and whether its a disaster waiting to happen. We just need to keep reminding ourselves that God knew this would happen and he is in control of it all. In Peter 5:7 it says the following: Cast all your anxiety on him for he cares for you. During these tough times we just need to keep reminding ourselves of this.
So regardless of what thoughts overwhelm me and my worries about tomorrow and the future I will not let my anxiety get the best of me and I will just give it all to God, which is what we all should be doing through this uncertain times.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

Spring has finally sprung and we are due to have our first super hot day tomorrow with temps expected in the mid 30's which is just a taste of what's to come during Summer! I actually managed to get burnt on Wednesday, I was sitting at a café out in the sun reading and didn't realise so hello odd tan lines.
Christmas is also in the air and I love looking at Christmas decorations, I went into Myer yesterday and loved seeing all the new Christmas items, though I resisted buying any (for now). I am also starting to buy gifts and I can officially cross both sisters off my lists and I hope in a couple of weeks to publish this years Christmas Gift Guide.
Today I had an employment agency meeting and met with a marketer (pretty much a persons whose job it is to market you to various companies so they will employ you), she seemed really nice and eager to help me find a job. Though I was told that there is no way of me finding employment before the end of the year, but who know's I mean God can do miracles and I know never say never when it comes to God's plan for you. I am feeling supported at my agency and always walk away feeling values and with a confidence boost, they all love me there and believe that it's just a matter of time before I find work. I would love your continued prayers in that area espicially as it can be hard to stay positive at times and I hate not knowing what's just around the corner!

It's time for Five Friday Favourites:

Saving Hope - This past week I heard that this coming season of Saving Hope will be their last and
while it's super sad, I am so happy that they are heading it on a high rather than waiting for it to fizzle out and not have a proper ending. Its a great medical drama with a supernatural twist and I love the storylines, this is coming from someone who normally avoids medical tv shows like the plague (still haven't seen an episode of Greys Anatomy), so you know its worth watching.

Fundraise for ReachOut - so after weeks of this being in the works I can officially announce that I have been featured on ReachOut under fundraising! This is such a big deal and when I was asked if I would be open to sharing a bit about my fundraising efforts I couldn't believe it. I love doing work for ReachOut and raising funds has always been something that's been a no brainer, its also helped me push myself in ways such as walking 5km for them and giving up my laptop for a whole month. I hope I can inspire others to give up or take up something and raise funds for ReachOut (or another organisation) if I can do it others can as well!

God's Not Dead - full disclosure I have yet to see this film, but its sitting on the coffee table ready to be watched and I can't wait! I have heard good things about it and it looks like a good decent Christian film, that will be watched again and again.

Candy cane bark - this stuff is addictive and super easy to make! A bonus is that you can make it now and freeze it so you have it ready to go :) its so straightforward (just melted chocolate and crushed candy cane pieces) that you don't really need a recipe to make it but here's what I did to make the one pictured:
Line 2 trays with baking paper, melt 350grms milk chocolate (I used a large Cadbury block) and evenly divide between the two trays and spread out. Place in fridge or freezer to set (10-15 minutes) while its setting melt 250grms dark chocolate (I used Cadbury melts).
Crush 250grms of (unwrapped) candy canes (I used 2 packs of the Coles ones) by breaking into smallish pieces and placing a snap lock bag and banging with a rolling pin, I suggest double bagging as the bags will split. Alternatively you can blitz in a blender or food processor until your liking (you still want to be able to identify that its candy cane pieces though) this is a much less noisy and overall easier way.
Spread the dark chocolate over the milk chocolate and sprinkle on 1/3 of the candy canes over both trays pressing down so they stick (try and use the candy cane 'dust' rather than big pieces), plus back in fridge/freezer to set.
Melt 250 grms while chocolate (again I used Cadbury melts) and drizzle/spread that over the trays topping with remaining candy canes, allow to set.
Break into pieces before placing it in an air tight container in the freezer until needed.

Fruit of the Earth Aloe Vera Gel - as you will have read above I managed to get sun burnt on Wednesday and when I came home I reached for this gel without hesitation. Its a well known fact that aloe vera is a great cure for sunburn but so many of the gels don't contain that much aloe vera in them where as this is 100% aloe vera. It doesn't have sticky feeling either like other gels have after you have applied them. Its great multi use product and can be used an after shaving cream, moisturiser and even hair gel, so it will no doubt become a summer staple. * A tip is to put it in the fridge so when you apply it it will be nice, cool and extra soothing.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Finding some postitives of being unemployed

Lately I have been focusing on the negatives surrounding being unemployed (so over it!) and today I realised that maybe I should list the positives as something different. I am in no way glorifying being unemployed because at the end of the day I would do ANYTHING to get work but rather putting a different spin on it.

You can binge watch various tv shows - a great way to pass the time is to stream various tv shows and it has meant that I can watch shows I may have missed when they were on tv. I am currently watching The Office (US version) and really enjoying it. In the past I have watched Greek, Degrassi, Brooklyn Nine Nine, Scrubs, Parks and Rec, Saving Hope, The Flash, Supergirl, Suits and the list goes on and on! I tend to watch them while crafting or baking and its a great way to escape.

You can volunteer at various places and challenge yourself - hands down being a Youth Ambassador for ReachOut has been one of the best things I have done. I LOVE doing it and the opportunities it gives me to spread the word about mental illness in young adults. I am also a mentor at the local youth centre which means every other week I go and hang out with kids at the centre and do fun activities with them. I doubt I would've gotten involved in either of the above if I hadn't been unemployed (of course I continued to do ReachOut during the 6 months I had work).

You can catch up with friends - I find being unemployed means I have more time to meet friends for coffee and catch up with them, its a great way to pass the time and help continue to build those relationships.

You realise that God always provides - being unemployed means I have to rely on God more and though it may be challenging at times it's a consistent reminder that God is so much bigger than I am when it comes to looking for work. I have days (weeks even) when there are NO jobs to apply for and I really have to keep reminding myself to trust God and that he has a plan for me. I know God has the right job out there for me its just a matter of time.

You get to bake more for different events - my church is currently running a course every Tuesday night for 6 weeks and I get to bake (in exchange for attending the course) and its giving me the experience of catering on a much larger scale. Last week I baked 4 batches of my cinnamon scrolls which was crazy but fun! I have also done a few private orders for friends which has been a bit of extra cash which has been helpful. I love baking and its great to use my gift to serve people, though I have no desire to turn it into a job.

You have time for crafting and painting - I have just finished making Christmas decorations for my friends and family and have been getting back into painting. Its such a great way to pass the time and I am enjoying experimenting with different styles and methods. I bought some small pots recently (they were cute and cheap) and after staring at them for a few weeks I think I have a few ideas as to what I can do with them, though I have no idea if it will turn out as I have pictured in my head!

You learn to appreciate the little things - whether its a nice sunny day when I can sit and read in the sun or finding a cute dress on sale, I have definitely learnt to enjoy the little things and focus on the present rather than the worries of the future. I find that I take more photos because I want to capture moments and look back on the good days when life is getting overwhelming.

Being unemployed is tough and it can be hard to stay positive when so much of your energy is used looking for work, but for now I will try to enjoy this period of my life because I know God has a plan for me.

Monday, October 24, 2016

There's Life After - How you can support a year 12 student facing exams

The final exams are coming up for year 12 students, now while I never did the exam subjects (well I did English) I do know what it's like to live with a year 12 student who is going through them. My youngest sister Jocelyn is currently getting ready to sit her final exams and I know that she can't wait for them to be over! I am amazed at the amount of preasure that the kids face when it comes to these exams they are made to feel like that the results shape their whole lives, when they don't.
ReachOut is encouraging everyone to share their exam experiences and use the #thereslifeafter tag. I know I celebrated once my final exam was done as high school was finally over and I could close the door on that part of my life.
The chances are you will know someone who is getting ready to go through their exams and you are wondering how you can support them, well here are some tips:
  • Give them space! - don't expect to see them during the day unless its for food or for a quick break.
  • Don't talk about how the study is going. - yes ask them if they are surviving it but don't dwell on it, instead ask about their plans for once exams are done focus on beyond the exams.
  • Share with them the Theres Life After videos. - these are great videos that show various media personalities sharing their experiences about what they did after their exams and how they felt during the exam period. Everyone's exam experience is different but it does help to know that other people have gone through it.
  • Do little things to help them. - grab them their favourite snacks, buy them some fun stationary, send them a funny meme etc. its the little things that will help them keep going and make their day.
  • Ask how you can help when it comes to study. - maybe they need space, maybe they need someone to help quiz them on human bio or maybe they need to have a steady supply of snacks coming. Everyone retains information differently so its good ask if there is any way you can help them.
Exams suck but ReachOut is here to help and to show people that there is life after exams (and year 12).

ReachOut is encouraging everyone from the 4th of November to share a pic of themselves (like the one below) sharing what they did (on social media) after exams. It could be what you did the moment you were done with the exams of what you have done since exams have ended. Just remember to include on and use #thereslifeafter tag when you post it.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

This week has been busy but not as busy as some, still 100% quiet on the job front though :(
Its meant to be warming up this weekend finally after what feels like an endless Winter (I know I know come Summer when we're in the middle of the heatwave I will do anything to have it be Winter again!). I also had my first breathalyser experience which was interesting, I mean I know they normally pick on P Platers but up until now I have always been ignored. Of course I had nothing to worry about as the only thing I had been drinking was Sprite Zero, so it was a rather uneventful experience and took all of 1 minute, I can now cross that off the driving bucket list!
Moving onto Five Friday Favourites (which happen fortnightly if you haven't figured that out!):

Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert - I received a copy of this book to review and I loved it. Candace knows how to write books and Maybe It's you did not disapoint. Click the link to read the full review and what it's about.

The Handmade Box - I love subscription boxes but it can be hard to stick to an annual subscription when you're unemployed and I find that while I love receiving a box every month I just don't need more stuff (or an ongoing expense). The Handmade Box while it is a subscription box at the start of each month there are a couple of boxes (each based around a theme) and a mini box and you can decide to purchase a box (or boxes) if you want with no long term committment. I love the boxes and the few I have purchased have been well worth it! I love how all the products in the box are handmade and there is always a great selection of products. The Christmas boxes have just been released and with 9 to choose from there's a great selection, I bought the Secret Santa box for myself and the Stocking Box for Jocelyn for Christmas and can't for them to arrive.

Staedtler Noris Club Triangular Colour Fibre Tip Pens 10 Pack - These were a total impulse buy one day when I was at Office Works but I am glad I bought them, I use them for colouring in and find the tips are the perfect size for the small areas that some pictures have. The colours are vibrant and they feel great to use, if you are after a decent texta to use for colouring in buy these.

Cinnamon Scrolls - This is one of my most requested things to bake and no one ever believes me when I tell them how easy they are to bake! You can easily cut down on the time by making the dough in the food processor (just gradually add in the butter until it resembles wet sand then slowly add in the milk until dough forms). I have made these so many times and its gotten to the point where I am known for them in church. When they are baking the smell of the house is seriously amazing and if I am able to I will often bake them at the place where I am serving them because nothing beats them warm. Give them a go and see how easy they are to bake :)

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water - This has quite a cult following and once you try it its easy to see why. In one step it removes make up (even the toughest eye make up!), cleanses and soothes the skin, it feels so light to use and its non irritating. I love this stuff so much and its one of those all rounder products that once you start using you will wonder how you lived without it. My skin always feels amazing after using it, I just apply some to a make up remover wipe (once I've used it to wipe my face) and it gets everything the wipe didn't get.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Book Review: Maybe It's You by Candace Calvert (advance copy)

If you know me you will know that I love reading and will read for hours. I was recently given the
chance to review Candace Calvert's latest book due to be released early next year.
I first came across Candace's books at the library but was super hesitant to start reading them as I'm not a fan of hospitals/medical procedures and the books are all set around hospitals. I watch two medical TV shows Scrubs and Saving Hope and that's because the general medical stuff happens in the background and the shows are based around the characters.
I finally decided to give her books a chance when I was in a bit of a reading slump and figured the worst that could happen is I stop the book and move onto something else well its safe to say I loved her books. Just like the TV shows the storylines are really based around the characters and the hospital stuff happens in the backgrounds and to sometimes add some drama. So as someone who is not a fan of hospitals and has almost fainted in many science class dissections (fine and watching a C-section for childcare class) these books not only kept me reading but wanting more...

Moving onto Candace's latest book Maybe It's You, the blurb reads (taken from Candace's website):

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past—new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.
Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.
Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.
Can hope spring from crisis?

We had previously been introduced to Sloane in her last book Step By Step, so we know a bit of her background and what made her leave her last hospital. While you can read Candace's books in any order, I would recommend that you read Step By Step before you read Maybe It's You just so you have a bit more understanding about her past. Maybe It's You also includes a cat, Marty which ups the cute factor in this book (can more books includes cats please!!!).

One thing I really loved about Maybe It's You was that none of the main characters were perfect, in so many Christian books the main characters are seemingly perfect and its how they deal with their struggles - which isn't a bad thing just not that relatable in this day and age. Where as these characters are each dealing with their pasts and how that made them see themselves in the present day. Sloane has lived in fear for so many years and now she finds a place where she wants to stay and things are holding her back from opening up to people and putting down roots.
Sloane has never had it easy and we can see how that affects her judgement and how willing she is to trust people.
At the beginning of the book Sloane takes comfort in knowing that she has rescued her cat Marty and believing that she can rescue herself. Throughout the book she begins to slowly realise that she may need people (and God) to help rescue her.
I loved the storyline and how the characters just wove together with it beautifully, the love of God also shone through. I am all about the characters when it comes to books (and movies and TV shows)and they need to have good chemistry the characters were amazing and just connected so well together, I just love how even small characters were connected in with the book perfectly. I read so many books and at least half the books I read are Christian Fiction so I know this genre and these things really made the book stand out for me.
I would probably compare Candace's style to Dee Henderson's (but not as dark) with a dashes of Jenny B Jones, Rachel Hauck and Denise Hunter so if you love those authors then definitely read her books.

Maybe It's You gets released on the 7th of February and its well worth the wait! You can pre-order it on Amazon, Book Depository, Koorong, and where all Christian books are sold.

*For those wondering how accurate the medical side of things is while I am unable to personally comment on it, Candace was an ER nurse for many years and has used her own experiences during that time in her books. So for me coming from a non medical I felt that it was accurate from what I have heard and seen, but if you do have a medical background its up to you to decide.

**I was provided with a temporary EPUB copy of Maybe It's You in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Mental Health Week

This week is Mental Health Week and its a week when people are made more aware of mental health and illness. 1 in 4 young adults will go through a mental health issue (or illness) at some stage and so many people are shocked that it's so high, as no one really talks about it. I still get people looking at me shocked that I am so open about my anxiety struggle, when at the end of the day in order for them to get to know and understand me they must know that I struggle with anxiety.
In order not to let my anxiety effect my life I have to be so aware of my mental health, some days I am fine and other days I really have to take it one thing at a time.

I have done many posts over the years to do with mental health so below are some posts that really stand out for me:

How You Can Help Someone Who is Going Through a Mental Illness - If you know someone going through a hard time, I've written a list of dos and don'ts on how you can help them.

My Anxiety. My Mental Health. My Story. - This was such a big thing for me to write about but I have received so much positive feedback surrounding the post. It will give you an overview of just how a mental illness can affect someone and the types of treatment they may seek during their diagnosis.

Mental Illness in TV Shows -  This was meant to be a part of a 3 part series but only 2 parts got written. Once I started writing this post I was amazed with how many TV shows cover mental illness, which go unnoticed.

Mental Illness in Movies - The second part of the above series. It just covers some films that show mental illness, though I was annoyed when I could only think of two recent films. Hopefully there will be more films in the future where one of the characters suffers a mental illness.

Taking Care of Your Mental Health - A few easy ways that you can take care of your mental health. I notice a huge difference

Mental Vs Physical -The differences in how mental illnesses get treated compared to physical illnesses, and should we really be ashamed to speak up when we are struggling due to a mental illness.

Limiting My Anxiety - How I limit my anxiety in my day to day life, this covers things such as diet, sleep and down time. Its a good read if you or someone else has anxiety and is looking at ways to limit it as much as possible.

This week is all about raising awarness of mental health, so be sure to talk about it and bring it up in conversation. The more people talk about mental health and illness the less stigma there will be surrounding it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Five Friday Favourites

I can't believe another week is over! I have started to see Christmas stuff in store and its hard to believe that soon the year will almost be over. I have been enjoying having a quiet week and just relaxing as next week is looking to be really busy. Saturday I have the mentor workshop, then next Wednesday I have a stall at a mental health expo, Thursday I am picking up Jocelyn from an exam (followed by lunch) in the morning/afternoon followed by the mentor program launch at night (in the middle of that I have Megan's friend to walk), and Friday I am preparing for Jocelyn's birthday high tea on Saturday. The job front is really quiet and I haven't heard anything back from the jobs I have applied for so if you could please pray that I hear some good news that would be great, I just feel so stuck in that area!
Moving on to Friday Favourites:

Designated Survivor - I am not normally in to political shows but this one has me wanting more! The concept is super interesting and the characters are great. If you like Suits the chances are you will like this, but the storyline (so far) isn't as intense. Its actually filmed on the same set lot as Suits and has just been given a full season order. Netflix is actually releasing weekly episodes, so we get it just after the US which is a bonus :)

Stitchers Season 3 - in the best tv show news this week, Stitchers has finally been renewed! I am super stoked for a 3rd season of this great show and if you haven't watched it now's the perfect time to check it out.

Mental Health Week - next week is mental health week, which is a great week to talk about mental health and mental illness. There are heaps of events running around and the aim is to raise awareness and get people talking about their mental health. With suicide one of the leading causes of death in young adults we really need to be made aware of mental health and what we can do to prevent more deaths.

Havaianas Freedom sandals - I am slowly beginning to think about Summer despite it feeling like it will stay in this winter like state forever and I have just ordered these sandals to put me in a Summer mood. Unlike the other sandals Havaianas offer these have an adjustable strap so there isn't any chance of them slipping off your feet. I pretty much live in sandals in summer and find a rubber base is best for my feet and these last really well (I got the Flash style last year and wore them non stop and they still look new!).

There's Life After - continuing with the mental health theme, every year ReachOut launches a 'There's Life After Year 12' campaign (is that what's it called?) to let Year 12's that there is a life after the major exams they take. I never took these exams but I currently live in a house where my younger sister is preparing to take them and I really appreciate what this campaign is saying. It seems like year 12s face so much pressure with these exams and its ok to be stressed and unsure what the future holds. Its well worth checking out if you or someone you know is facing the ATAR exams.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Catching Up - this past weekend, job applications and online workshops

Well I survived the weekend! Despite a major lack of sleep, my anxiety deciding to rear itself (which would not go away despite me using every trick in the book!), getting hit by various objects (more on that later) and weather that is so not Spring (where's the early 20 degree days not the 16 degree days and raining).
I left at 4.00 Friday afternoon and managed to skip the worst of the traffic as Gem and I were doing dinner and my idea of fun isn't sitting stop start on the freeway. After grabbing some pizza and chilling for a bit I got to the gym where we staying at around 8.30 and helped set up and figure out what sports I was volunteering at. We are so lucky that we get a gym all to ourselves rather than sharing with multiple churches and it really helps knowing that we all get our own space. There's also the option of sleeping on the gym matts rather than taking down air mattresses. One of things we had to do when we got to the gym was get down the matts from where they were stored and of course one managed get loose and hit me, thankfully I wasn't injured (I just laughed for a few minutes) despite getting an offer to call an ambulance! One of my friends was volunteering doing first aid at various sports and had decided that he wanted to call an ambulance, of course after realising that he would get very few major (or minor) injuries at the sports he was at he decided that I was his bet best. Luckily for me that didn't happen but it became a joke that if there was any chance that I could get hit by spectating something I would get hit.
The next day I was only down to volunteer for the morning session which meant I got the rest of the day off. I ended up watching some ultimate Frisbee in the afternoon where despite spectating I managed to get by a Frisbee in the eye no less. By this stage I was wondering whether I should result to wearing a helmet full time during the weekend! Thankfully that was the last of getting hit by items accidently (I did get roped into playing dodgeball on Saturday night but I was expecting to get hit then).
The rest of weekend passed ok but I found that I could not just get to sleep or get comfortable at nights so that didn't help with my anxiety levels. Thankfully Gem came to the rescue and offered me a bed (not knowing just how much I needed it) on the last night which I eagerly accepted, so I at least got a decent nights sleep before I had to drive back on Monday morning.
I didn't end up staying for the closing ceremony as I had an online workshop to start which I was eager to get into. But we came 2nd in small churches and 9th overall which isn't too bad!

Moving on to other news! I am proud to announce that I have been accepted into ReachOut's peer support program, which means getting involved on the forum side of things and was the online workshop I needed to start. I am super excited to get more involved with ReachOut, ReachOut has opened so many doors for me, so applying to do this program seemed like the next step and I am thrilled to do it.
I have also been accepted into a mentorship program run at the local youth centre, I applied on a whim and figured its something else to do and as I am enjoying ReachOut so much I might as well expand my horizons.

On the job application front its been quiet, I actually had a job interview on the 16th (the day after my birthday) but the moment I got the call I felt like it was a 'warm up' interview. I had applied for the job on the Monday as it was one of those jobs that ticked all the boxes on paper but didn't expect to hear anything back from, so to get an interview was a surprise. It was my first interview in 6 months so it was good to get back into that frame of mind, I went and gave it my all but in the end it wasn't meant to be (which I had accepted as soon as the interview was over). I just didn't 'click' with the people and while the hours were good I knew deep down this job wasn't for me and walked out completely at peace with it all.
I am still praying that I will hear back from the job I applied for a couple of weeks ago and know that it is in God's hands. These past few weeks have been so busy that I haven't really dwelled on it and have just kept on praying about it.
 I couldn't help think about how much can change in a year, this time last year I was working. I remember driving down to the gym in my work clothes after work and feeling exhausted from work. This time I drove down when I wanted to and felt exhausted from a concert the night before. I can't help but wonder what I will be doing this time next year? How much will things have changed?

I know that God has a plan for me and nothing he does is ever a coincidence, so for now I know I am where I am meant to be and I am feeling excited for what the future holds.