Today I had to come and share one of my recent and marvelous new discoveries: cacao powder (yes, I discovered it, it was me).

Cacao powder is not the same as cocoa - it's not that tin of Nestle in your pantry that you use to make choccy cakes. Sorry.

Let's just get one thing sorted before we continue: how to pronounce cacao. *Leaves page to find out how to pronounce cacao.*

Okay everyone, it's KA COW. I was saying it wrong. *How embarrassment*

Alright, so lately I've been adding a friendly spoon of cacao to my morning smoothies. As a lover of chocolate, I feel like I'm having a treat, and my body agrees! Lately I've been thinking about redefining the word 'treat'. As far as food goes, when we traditionally think of having a treat we think: piece of cake, chocolate, dessert, take-away. But whom are you treating? It's a treat to your taste buds, fair enough, but not a treat to your internal organs or your bootay (depending on your preferences). When you eat nutritious food, your body, your internal organs (just imagine them as cartoons with big smiley faces) are screaming "THANKS FOR THE TREATS!".

Just another way to think of it.

Anyway, ka-cow powder adds an extra taste element to my smoothie and is a treat to both my taste buds AND my body (UH-HUH MOMENT ALERT!)

I'm going to borrow a couple of paragraphs from this Body + Soul article about the benefits of cacao (it basically says that raw cacao power is crazy high in antioxidants and is great for your hair, nails, healthy organs, bloodstream and mood).

Naturopath Aimee Robbins says raw, powdered cacao is full of flavonoids, which act as natural antioxidants. "Antioxidants protect the body from ageing and disease caused by free radicals. Raw cacao contains up to four times the antioxidants of traditional cacao powder, and has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world." Scientists from Cornell University in the US recently discovered that raw cacao contains nearly twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidant content of green tea.
The cacao bean is also rich in magnesium, an energy mineral and vital electrolyte. This super-food is also a good source of sulfur. Sulfur is associated with strong nails, shiny hair and a healthy liver and pancreas. Medical herbalist Dominique Finney says the flavonoids in cacao prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidising and clogging the arteries. "Cacao has also been found to help regulate blood pressure and reduce cholesterol while building the immune system."
...Raw cocoa is an aphrodisiac because it contains anandamide, a substance that induces euphoria. It also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mood enhancer. While this super-molecule exists naturally in the brain, the only other food that contains PEA is blue-green algae. 
Shiny hair AND happy organs? I can tell you're sold, now where do you get it?

I bought a 125g  pouch of Nature's Way Cacao Powder (100% certified organic raw - all of the things) from Chemist Warehouse on special for $8.95 and that will last me a few weeks. Some sources say that mixing raw cacao with dairy inhibits the absorption of nutrients. Admittedly I need to find some alternative ways to mix it as I've been having it in a dairy smoothie. Do you have a cacao powder concoction you can share with me? I'm not a fan of store-bought soy, coconut, rice or almond milks because they contain a lot of additives/sugars/seed oils/gums (whatever they are). Maybe I should try my hand at home-made almond milk... that's a story for another day!

Happy cacao!

Edit: Went to Coles this morning and read the ingredients list on the back of at least 10 different varieties of almond milk and coconut milk. Yep, that person. Most of them are rubbish - way too many ingredients and sugar high up on the list, but I think I found a winner:

Pure Harvest Activated Almond Milk. 4 ingredients only - water, almonds, sea salt and rice syrup as a sweetener, but in negligible quantities (2.4g per 100g). 

This concoction: 1 cup almond milk, half a banana, 2 heaped teaspoons cacao powder. Good thanks!


Did you know that Father's Day in Australia is Sunday 7th September? That means we have two weeks to sort out a gift - something thoughtful that won't stink of last-minute vibes (that Lynx pack from Woolworths and a Scratchie). For the book lovers, surfers, barbeque-ers, campers, fishers, drinkers and Masterchef wannabes, all of these items are available online so whip out that credit card and get shopping!

1. Lovely Day for a Guinness Poster HardtoFind $110 2. Hot Dog Penny Boxer Peter Alexander $49.95 3. Top Mix Navy Blue/Grey Havaianas Havaianas Australia $24.99 4. Triumph & Disaster Shearer's Soap Antipodean Love $8.95 5. Camping Coffee Maker Carry Case BCF 6. EH Holden Storage Box Antipodean Love $64.94 7. Falcon Enamelware Range Antipodean Love from $10.95 8. Personalised Sterling Silver Identity Bracelet HardtoFind $89.00 9. Triumph & Disaster Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub Antipodean Love $29.95 10. Oztrail Titan Armchair BCF $109 11. Pagan Playing Cards The Flush $22 12. Mailman of the Birdsville Track Book ABC Shop $24.99 13. Australia's Hardest Prison Book Angus & Robertson $27.99 14. Fulton Walk Short Quicksilver $69.99 15. Campfire Jaffle Iron BCF $24.99 16. Sphere Ice Moulds Latest Buy $13.95 17. Tackle Box BCF $99.99 18. Darrell Lea Dad's Bag Tasteful Delights $25 19. Custom BBQ Branding Iron Latest Buy $29.95 20. Fishing Lures BCF from $14.95 21. Gents Hardware Shoe Polish Kit HardtoFind $39.95


Pancakes are one of those things that sugar quitters keep trying to tamper with, and I believe they should just STOP. Someone recently Instagrammed some Sugar-free Maca Coconut Buckwheat Protein Pancakes. Pancakes aren't supposed to be stiff and beige. Pancakes aren't supposed to be made from quinoa or sugar harvested from kale.

I have tried a few modified/healthified pancakes in my time, so I do know what I'm talking about. I have tried pancakes using wholemeal flour, and again I say to myself, "why?" I have also made pancakes using dextrose instead of sugar. The dextrose left a funny taste in my mouth. If you're going to go to the trouble of treating yourself with pancakes, you don't want them to be a chore to eat.

Thus I present to you a guaranteed YUM sugar-free recipe that will yield yummy pancakes!

It is by far the best sugar-free pancake recipe I've had, and all I had to do was... leave out the sugar from the regular pancake recipe I've used for years. I served them here with some frozen blueberries that I heated in the microwave.

Pancakes don't want to be a health food (they slipped me a note) but if it's just sugar you're trying to avoid, THIS is the recipe for you (obv. if you're totally avoiding fructose you'll skip the blueberries, but why would you, blueberries are excellent!)


1 cup self-raising flour
Pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon bicarb soda
2/3 cup sour milk*
3 tablespoons sugar (simply leave this out if you don't want sugar)
1 egg
2 teaspoons melted butter

*Make sour milk by adding 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the milk, microwave for 30 seconds, stir.

Combine dry ingredients. Mix to a smooth batter with beaten egg and milk. Melt butter then stir into mixture. This recipe is good for pikelets - for a thinner pancake just add more milk.



A friend of mine recently put me onto pink Himalayan salt, with the simple recommendation that "it's actually good for you". I like salt, and I love pink - sold. But being the information fiend that I am, I had to further investigate this claim with a little reading. So, is this just another food fad or is there substance to pink Himalayan salt beyond its exotic name and rosy hue?

According to this read, pink Himalayan salts "are one of the world's most potent and powerful hidden secrets... prized for its healing and restorative powers". The salts are a pure substance sourced from the Himalayan mountains and have a supposed list of health benefits including the following:

- 84 minerals and bio compounds

- Used to effectively detoxify the human body

- Lowers blood pressure

- Relaxes muscles and mind due to its ability to be easily absorbed into the bloodstream

- Used to treat sinus issues and other respiratory conditions including asthma

- Improves sleep

- Balances the body's acidity and alkaline levels

- Clears and heals arteries

Why might pink salt be superior to ordinary table salt? According to this post, "commercial refined salt is not only stripped of all its minerals, besides sodium and chloride, but is also chemically cleaned, bleached and heated at unnecessary high temperatures. In addition, it is treated with anti-caking agents... [that] also prevent dissolving within our system leading to build up and then deposit in organs and tissues, causing severe health problems. Finally, the iodine that is added into salt is usually synthetic which is difficult for your body to process properly."

While that all sounds convincing, there are just as many articles that claim the Himalayan pink salt hype is bogus, and definitely a fad. This health blog says that the quantity of extra minerals in pink salt are too small to count, and that at the end of the day, it's all salt (this blog does not like salt). 

This site claims that pink Himalayan salt is unusually high in fluoride and that this is damaging to your health; it labels the emergence of pink Himalayan salts as a scam, but it does talk about the various benefits of different varieties of salts.

Damn. I really liked my pink salt grinder. You know, my parents were never huge salt consumers, I think I picked up the habit of adding a sprinkling of salt to my dinner (especially my peas) from my Nanna. She definitely didn't have pink salt, and if you'd asked her what a superfood was she might have said that it was a really good baked potato?

At the end of the day, I feel like there is something to be said for the health benefits of different types of salts, including the way these salts have been treated before reaching the supermarket. But I also believe that for something that I consume in moderation, it's probably going to be neither here not there at the end of the day (or at least until they make up their minds). If you like the look of the pink Himalayan, join the club, but otherwise, I don't think a light sprinkle of the Black & Gold is going to send you early to the grave.


Yesterday's happy-happy-joy-joy post comprised of a rant about my current struggles with unemployed life. I let you know that I'm experiencing a few more bad days than I care to, and that I'm looking to flip this situation for the better. Involuntary unemployment is always going to be a tricky situation; as I explained, there can be really bleak days, but I also know there are things you can do to make the situation more positive. The aim of this post is to reflect on my positive days, lessons learned from the past six months, and to form an action plan for myself and for anyone else who may face a similar situation. My aim is to crowd out the bad days by amplifying the good, and to basically win at unemployment.

This post is not a guide for finding a new job. There are plenty of resources out there for finding vacancies, preparing job applications and so forth. This is not a post about dealing with unemployment by GETTING A JOB. It's about dealing with the situation as a whole.

I'm speaking from the position of having been without full-time work for six months (and still in this position at the time of writing). I have had bad days, but the days where I feel most positive are the days where I am organised, exercised, healthy, in control and proactive. Some of these tips are things I do already on my good days; others are things that I need to introduce or make routine, for my own wellbeing. So here we go.

1. Attend to Your Job Application Strategy Early
At the beginning of my job search my CV was not in top shape and my cover letters were not amazing, either. I had thought they were acceptable, until I attended a workshop that highlighted a few things I could improve. Since then I have received double the response to my applications. I regularly re-evaluate the material I am submitting (sometimes when you look at something too much, you're unable to see it objectively) and still have more work to do to improve my applications. My advice would be to seek professional advice at the beginning of your search - you want to be 100% prepared if an advertisement for your ideal job pops up.

2. Establish Your Goals
My strategy for finding work has been somewhat complex due to my relocation from the city to the south, and for months I lacked a defined strategy. Establish your strategy - what you're looking for and where, and stick it to the wall. This will help maintain a focus and keep you from applying for that farmhand job 3 hours inland when you're feeling desperate (having said that, I'm all for crazy changes if they fit in with your other plans!).

3. Have a Designated Work Station
I'm lucky to have a spare room with a desk, so I do all my job seeking in an officy setting. I find that it helps to have an organised desk space, with a folder for filing all of my applications. When I sit down at my desk I know that it's time to focus, and I have a sense of control - it pretty much feels like a day at work (without the pay, people to talk to, or a vending machine). I have some inspirational quotes stuck in front of my desk and an essential oil burner - little things to keep the environment positive. I have also found that it makes the application process less time consuming to have a folder on my desktop with subfolders for 'Resumes', 'Cover Letters' and 'Extras' (Certificates, References etc) then subdivided again for different categories of work (e.g. Hospitality, Marketing, Admin, etc.). It took a few hours to set this up, but now that it's there, it definitely helps make the whole task less brutal.

4. Work Casually
I've been doing a bit of casual work (waitressing, babysitting) and I also have a small business on the side, but even so, if I had to do over this time I would try to find a part-time or casual job with steady hours, from the outset, even though my goal was to find full-time work. There is just no way of telling how long you will be out of work for. For that reason I have recently begun applying for casual jobs as well. I allowed my conscience to talk me out of this for a while as I didn't want to stuff around a potential employer. I now realise that you have to leave those things at the door and do what you gotta do. A casual job may not be your ideal scenario but it's a means for social contact and more importantly, funds! That brings me to my next point...

5. Benefits or No Benefits?
Centrelink. It's a dirty word. For good reason. I shouldn't say that - the fact that we have access to government benefits is pretty amazing, but I would not push the idea of a Newstart allowance (payment for job seekers) on anyone unless you feel you really need it. I was receiving payments for a few months, now elect not to, and I prefer this scenario. The program requires you to apply for a certain amount of jobs every fortnight so I suppose that provides the motivation that some need. For me, in hindsight, I would have been better to just find more casual work instead. The number of jobs I was required to apply for while receiving payments was more than were available, so I was forced to send faux applications to reach the quota, and to sometimes apply for jobs that weren't suitable or were very far away. It's a bit of a flawed system because you end up taking jobs that you don't want. I won't even go into the nightmare that is dealing with the "administration" of Centrelink. Anyway, for me, it is better to have full control over the jobs I apply for, putting more energy into fewer applications - jobs I actually want. My advice would be to find casual work to tide you over, that will still allow you the flexibility to attend interviews. I am trying to avoid jumping into full-time work that I don't want, because firstly, it makes it very hard to then apply for jobs your actually want, and secondly, you might end up just settling.

6. Establish a Routine
Besides having a quality CV, establishing a productive routine would be the most important thing on this list. This is something I need to work on re-establishing. I think the most important thing for the day is to set an intention to be productive and to get stuck in early. My most effective days involve getting up early (7.30am), having breakfast, attending a gym class, showering, attending to chores, then sitting down to job applications. Procrastination can be a real kicker with applications, but it helps to remember that the hardest part is getting started. So just start - then you're doing it, then it's done. In the afternoon you might have time for some extra curricular activities (for me: sewing, reading, blogging) then preparation for dinner. When I follow this formula, it works for me because I'm reaping the therapeutic benefits of exercise, keeping the house clean and organised, and making sure that I attend to job seeking every day. I feel like I've achieved and that's healthy for my overall happiness. My plan is to re-establish this routine and I am going to aid this along by writing out the routine and sticking it to the wall. I also need to work on keeping monotony at bay by including some highlights throughout the week - that might be as simple as going out to do the grocery shopping, a swim at the beach, getting a cheap massage or meeting a friend for lunch. It's important not to fall into the trap of punishing yourself for your situation by not allowing yourself these little bits of fun. You may as well make the best of a bad situation.

7. Exercise
I dealt with the subject of exercise in a recent post, and although I sometimes find it hard to summon the motivation for the gym, the fact remains: "I really regret doing that workout", said no one ever. I must make time to incorporate exercise into my daily routine. On the days I do exercise, it gets me out of the house, interacting with others, and it pumps up the endorphin levels. I feel more energetic and ready to take on the day. Even if you're not yet kicking goals with finding work, it's nice to feel like you're kicking some kind of goal: why not fitness?

8. Include Hobbies and Make a To-Do List
Applying for jobs is time consuming, but shouldn't take up 8 hours a day. As I said before, you may as well make the best of a bad situation, and devote some of your time to your hobbies. That may even involve volunteer work. For me, I was able to make some progress in further developing my hobby business, and lately I have taken up a fun sewing project. It's good to do things that keep up your creativity and passion. I enjoy cooking, so I've also used this extra time as a chance to try out new recipes that I might not otherwise have time for.

9. Set Non-Work Goals
It can be draining when you are pouring all your efforts into the task of finding a job yet receiving no rewards - the reward is a job offer, and it might take a while to get. To keep your fighting spirit up, I think it's a good idea to set an achievable goal that is not related to employment. It could be something as simple as tackling the jobs you've been putting off for ages - something like cleaning out your cupboards or organising your digital photo collection, or setting some fitness goals. It brings a great sense of achievement when you can strike a task off your list that you might have been putting off for ages. I want too look back on this time and think: "I may not have been working, but I achieved X goal."

10. Eat Well
Good nutirition means a healthy brain, and a healthy brain means a happy you. It goes without saying that good nutrition is essential for mental and physical health. Unfortunately if you are in the habit of using food to desenstitise your emotions, then involuntary unemployment is likely to be a tricky time for you: it has been a challenge for me. Menu planning at the beginning of each week has helped me, as has buying ingredients to cook healthy and tasty lunches at home. Junk food binges will only make you feel worse and won't solve any problems, so do your best to avoid junk by distracting yourself with a walk or bath - something enjoyable. If you have a bad moment, nutrition-wise, leave the damage behind and start fresh. There are no limits to the number of fresh starts you're allowed to have.

11. Get Dressed and Do Your Hair
When there's a long day at home stretched ahead of you, the lure of your big baggy trackies is strong. I cannot lie, it's also pretty brilliant not having to put on a full makeup face everyday for work. But unemployment is not a good reason to become a sloth. You would be amazed how the way you dress, even when at home, can impact on your mood. I know for me, I feel much more positive on the days when I dress in nice clothes (comfy yet still acceptable for public appearances), semi-do my hair and slap on a bit of blush and mascara, rather than shuffling around in the sloppies with a ghost face. The aim is to still feel like a functioning member of the human race.

12. Have a Day Off - Just One
When you're in between work, looking for a new job IS your job, and it's a mentally and emotionally draining one. There is only ONE reward, employment, and you can't tell when you're going to get it. Sometimes you do need a break from the routine to recharge your batteries. I have found that there are significantly less jobs advertised on Mondays, so if you feel like you need a breather, Monday could be an option. Don't fall into the trap of missing more than one weekday in a row, though. It's important to keep the momentum of your routine, but also, some popular jobs are only advertised for a day, and you don't want to miss out.

13. Sleep
I am lucky to be living with my gainfully employed boyfriend, so we usually head to bed around 10pm every night and I almost always get my 8 hours' sleep. I am so grateful for this; without someone telling me when to go to bed my bedtime seems to go out of control. Make sure you treat yourself to the restorative sleep that your mind and body needs; a sensible bedtime is also essential for making sure you can get stuck into the morning tasks early on.

14. Plan for Fun
Being without work can be a lonely time, applying for jobs is dry work, and the housework is not exactly exciting stuff. The money may only be trickling in but it's still important to plan for fun and exciting outings and adventures to keep yourself stimulated. Life doesn't have to stop just because you're not working, so if you have an empty weekend coming up, plan ahead so you have something to look forward to - places to go, people to see, and a good reason to get out of the house.

15. Put Yourself First
My last tip is about remembering to put yourself in pole position. This means staying true to yourself and focused on your goals. Some compromising might be required in order to get back into the workforce, but don't succumb to pressure and feel like you have to do things that aren't right for you. Keep focused on your own goals and steer clear of anyone whose company you know is not the best for you right now; it might be someone who harasses you for being out of work or gives you unsolicited advice and suggests different career options for you - rarely helpful, insulting to your intelligence, and you need to be around positive and supportive people. Above all, just as your work does not define your entire life when you are employed, being out of work does not define you, either. Make you own definition. Lastly, fake it til you make it - it's okay to have "woe is me" moments, but then consciously amp up your positivity, surround yourself with as much fun and laughter as possible, and remember that your situation is only temporary.


I need colour at my desk space, even if it's in the form of an old melon.

Today I'm feeling inspired to write a little about resetting your [read: my] focus when it comes to health and fitness goals.

This morning I decided to go for a walk down to the beach before breakfast; about an hour round trip. The walk wasn't intended for exercise, but merely to get outside into the fresh air and sunshine and to enjoy the refreshing sounds and sights of the ocean. Once at North Gong beach, I walked down onto the sand and as close to the shore as I could go without drenching my joggers. I laughed at a one-legged seagull (sorry) and then laughed at myself as I had to sprint away from the water as it came too close. I picked a stalk of pink geraniums from the edge of the beach and walked on home.

As I was walking I was thinking about the matter of exercise and how and why we do it. The other day I saw an interview with Jessica Alba where she admitted that she basically didn't enjoy exercise, but she enjoys the way she feels afterwards. I am much the same. I go through stages with exercise, both in terms of motivation, and what I like doing. I do envy folks who genuinely enjoy the gym or who can stick to a daily running routine. Sometimes I will have spurts of motivation and can run for weeks/months, 3-5 times a week. Sometimes I enjoy gym classes and give that a good run, too. But inevitably my motivation wanes. It always comes back, but while it's away, I tend to give myself a hard time.

Well, I had a bit of an epiphany this morning. It's time for some self acceptance. People enjoy different things and are good at different things. Some people are very motivated by the gym, enjoy the gym, and have the discipline to exercise every day. I am not one such person. I am shifting the focus. I am grateful for the fact that my motivation at least shows up sometimes, even if it comes and goes. I will no longer rat on myself (is that a saying) for another "failed" exercise regime. My "regime" is just a little more, fluid. Accept it.

That brings me to my point about resetting the focus. I have some current goals that involve the relinquishing of some fat that I neither need nor want. My focus has been on losing weight to see a lower number on the scale and to look better, if I'm honest. I think that I need to shift the focus from a number and a look, to wellness.

If I shift to wellness, exercise takes on a whole different purpose. I am like Alba. (Almost exactly.) I love the way that I feel after a good hard workout, especially if that workout is in the morning. I feel refreshed, alive and strong. The endorphins are most certainly pumping. Especially now, when I am in job searching mode, exercise helps me feel more in control and stable. When I look at this morning, the focus wasn't on the shape of my body - I just wanted to get out and feel the warmth of the sun and breathe the fresh coastal air. And so, when I think of exercise, I don't want to think of burning fat. I want my focus to be on these other rewards. This shift in thinking may or may not get me exercising more than I have been, but I'm dead sure it will be more rewarding and I have an inkling it will be more motivational.

The same goes for food. When you are in weight loss mode, it's as though you enter into a battle with food - all food. It's You VS. Food. How ridiculous. You're an intelligent human being with a brain, going into battle with cucumbers, chickens and Tim Tams, and you're letting them dictate your worth. News Flash: they are just compost. When you're in a battle with food, it takes the enjoyment out of it. It's all "I was good today" or "I was bad today". As we well know, food has many other implications for our health other than weight. So I want to shift the focus here, as well. Instead of thinking "will this make me fat or thin", I want to think of what makes me feel good, and what makes me well. Because, let's be honest, chocolate will mostly make me fat but on occasion it makes me feel damn fine and perfectly lovely! This would be a personal thing for everyone, but I know, for example, that I usually don't enjoy drinking alcohol on weeknights, and I know that I sleep better without alcohol in my system (it disrupts REM sleep, the period of sleep where your subconcious sorts through all the baggage from your day). I know that sugar affects us in greater ways than just weight gain, for example, it has been linked to depression and Alzheimers. I know that I don't feel good if I go overboard on junk. I feel like a sack of potatoes and look like a drab old soandso. So I am shifting the focus. I'm going to try not to think "will this make me fat or thin", instead, "how will this make me feel" and "what is this doing for me, my body and mind".

I'm sure I will make better decisions, because who doesn't want to feel well and good?!

All this good thinking from a morning walk :) Have a good day!

Little flowers picked from this morning's walk. I love these bursts of nature.

My crazy tea lady shot. Tea helps me through boring job applications and chilly mornings, and my Typo phone case makes me happier than my old black one. #wednesdayadamshead

A little inspo from the #designsquid Insta feed.

Rest in Peace Robin Williams. A Perspective on Depression and Suicide.

If you take one thing from my post: "A call for help from someone who is depressed or suicidal will not be loud and booming, and will have taken every iota of dignity to even whisper. So don't take it lightly just because they say it quietly. Don't be afraid to squeak for help and know that you will be allowed to hide in your cocoon until you want to come out."

Writing this on 12th August, I'm feeling shocked and saddened by the news of Robin Williams' death, along with the rest of the world. You can tangibly feel that the world has lost someone special and is at a loss with their absence. For someone as magical, charismatic, entertaining, intelligent and wonderful as Robin Williams to have taken their own life is just such an enormous tragedy, it's hard to contemplate. At the second I heard of his death I assumed it was by natural cause - heart attack, maybe, but then to hear the word suicide was such a shock. It saddens me to think that now, when we watch his work, it will be tainted... in the back of your mind you won't be able to help but to think of how his life has ended. But even through the darkness, his light will shine on.

But this is not just about celebrities. It's so very sad, to the core, to think of when people are in that darkest of dark dark place and cannot see a way out, cannot see a light, cannot see a point, can only see struggle, do not have the fight, do not have the energy to even want to ask for help, don't want to ask for help because don't want help, because what can anyone do, it's all too hard.

I want to address something candidly, and it's the subject of labeling suicide victims. You know, I was about to write "it's sad that he was not able to reach out to someone for help". It is very easy for us to sit here and say that, and ask how someone in that situation, in that place, could not reach out for help. It's easy for us to say "no matter how dark your place was, no matter how low you are, we could and we would nurse you out of that place, don't be ashamed." But that is sadly missing the point. Also missing the point is when people say that suicide is selfish and cowardly, and it saddens me when I hear this. [Yes and no: I am glad you don't have the perspective, but I wish you could be more open minded.]  It is easy for us to say that, if we are not in that place. But you cannot know another person's place. And you cannot, you cannot, be presumptuous to say that they are being selfish, as if to say that they were not a caring person, a person who loved and respected their family. You are saying they are selfish because they could do this to their family. Some people who are in that dark place of utter despair may have a shred, an atom of strength, that they can hold onto, and that atom of strength might be their family, more specifically, that they can't put their family through pain. They might be able to make a decision to go on struggling, so that their family doesn't suffer. Suicide is not cowardly, I want to say that. People assume that someone who has taken their life has done it because they want an easy way out. To make that assumption is to not acknowledge the difference and diversity of human experiences. Understand that your experience and your mind is not the same as everyone else's, and even though it is hard for most of us to contemplate that place where people feel the only way to survive is suicide, it's a thing; it just might be a place beyond your understanding.

I don't know what causes some people to have these experiences and not others. I don't know whether it is something we are all collectively doing wrong - are we taking on too much, is there too much pressure, is is something we're consuming? Or is it something we are born with? A mix of things, I think. But mostly, personally I think that people are born with brains that are wired differently, and to a large extent we are each limited in the way that we see the world and can deal with our lives. Do you know what, I have been to a dark and sad place before, a couple of times, and I do not say this flippantly or for attention... no one, no one, wants that kind of attention or to be associated with that kind of weakness. It is in no way a badge of honour or an easy thing to say. No one wants to be in that situation. I also say it with knowledge that lots of others have been in the same situation and they're people just like you and me and you might never guess. That is why I can understand that it is not as simple to say "why didn't they ask for help." If all you see is darkness, and all you see stretching before you for the rest of time is darkness and repeated struggle and heartache, relentless, with no break, you don't want to be saved from that. You are not thinking "If I tell someone and ask for help things will get better". Things being better isn't in your realm of possibilities. And talking to someone is not an option because you don't have the energy to talk about it. Not an iota. It's not laziness, it's that you physically and mentally don't posses the energy. You've shut down. You might just want to lie on the floor and disappear into the ground. Everything is too much. It all hurts. It hurts to speak. It's a struggle to think. That is why you cannot possibly judge someone else's experiences or choices. You do not understand what they are experiencing in their mind, and it is not within their control. 

If you are lucky, you will have a shred of something that pulls you out of your darkness, and that shred of a morsel might be your family. Not in the way of reaching out to them, because that attention might be too much for you to bear, because what you're wanting is a cocoon in the middle of nowhere; the last thing you are wanting is counselling and questions. But family in the sense that, you don't want to hurt them. But you cannot judge someone, you cannot judge someone as selfish and cowardly, who doesn't have the strength to cling onto that small lifeline. Because maybe in their experience, that shred of a lifeline - they couldn't see it - I don't know, I can't say, none of us can, because we don't know. You can't know what they went through. How can you possibly label someone a coward, when they are in such despair, that they cannot see a way. No one chooses to be in that place.

It is immeasurably heartbreaking to think of what was going on in the mind of any human who takes their own life. I really do believe that having strong networks, making sure your friends, family and community know they are loved and supported can make a difference. When something like this happens, it makes you want to broadcast to everyone you know: there is nothing we can't beat... you don't have to speak, but if you need to lie in a cocoon with the covers over your head, not speaking, not talking about it... but with someone watching over you, that's okay, just say the word. There are rainbows beyond the darkness, but it's okay if you can't see them right now." You know what... sometimes I think we pass it off too easily when people call for help. Someone in that situation is rock bottom, and it would have taken every iota of strength and their last shred of dignity to even mention, quietly, that they were feeling that way. A call for help from someone who is depressed or suicidal will not be loud and booming. So don't take it lightly just because they say it quietly.

Sometimes it's too late. But again, we can't understand the extent of the experience. So all that is left to say is thank you, and rest in peace.

Russell Brand on Robin Williams


I have a problem when it comes to storing my jewellery. I don't remember this being a situation in my younger years, when my collection was contained in a musical box with a wonky little ballerina. But these days I cannot pass Lovisa without purchasing all of the things. So what to do with all these beads and bangles and bits of string with birdie baubles? A couple of years ago I built myself a jewellery tree. I loved the tree! It didn't survive my move, though. Having moved again six months ago, I currently have the SADDEST jewellery storage situation in the form of a couple of white gift boxes from the $2 shop. I tend to just chuck all my stuff in there and it's a tangled blob. Many of the jewellery pieces are pretty and unique and will only be worn once in a blue moon, but they are little works of art, and it's a shame to have them hidden away. I must resolve this situation post-haste.

Here are my favourite ideas, lifted directly and GRATEFULLY from Brit + Co (I have done absolutely no work here - thank you Brit + Co!). I love that you can mix and match a couple of ideas - something leaning, something hanging, something sitting. For detailed instructions on how to make any of these, click through to the link. I'll be sure to come back to show you how I've fixed my situation.

How do you store your jewellery, or is it a catastrophe like mine?

I love this geometric design, made using a plank of wood, acrylic paint and tape.The great thing is that you can lean it up against the wall and it doubles as art. Of all these options, it will probably invite the least objection from any male species you may share a room with.

Dream catchers! A great idea for displaying those delicate dangly numbers that you wear only occasionally. It's a shame I'm not really a dangly earring wearer, though... this makes me want to convert!

I'm pretty sure this is an antler, but if you can't get hold of one of those you could shop around in the wilderness for a flamboyant stick. There are lots of sticks out there just waiting to be picked up and turned into jewellery displays, trust me. I like the distressed white paint and gold tips.

This one was made using an old frame found at an antique store, with some chicken wire stapled to the back. I like that it could be used to hang sunnies, headbands and scarves as well as necklaces and things. It's probably a little too shabby chic for what I'm thinking, but a cool idea if you can find a suitable frame.

Oooh! I must have a thing for sticks, because I really love this. It would look cool using one or two accent colours and a metallic paint for the stripes.

Loving the colour combo on this rack, and the fact that you can use the top edge of the wood as a teeny tiny display - us girls always have teeny tiny things to display. The hooks were made using dowel, but at first glance I thought they were wine corks. That would actually be an easier solution if you didn't want to muck around with power tools - corks and super glue. Love this for necklaces, scarves, even a beret or small hanging clutches.

I don't think this one will make my short list, but I had to use it as the use of different hooks is interesting. You could go nuts using spray paint in your chosen colours. I do like that this one is strong enough to hold a brolly, and the key is a good idea too. It would work well in a studio flat type set-up.

Props for clever use of copper bathroom hardware.

Made using an old crate and wooden cotton reels, I like the multi-functionality of this one, with the hanging space, the trays at the bottom for odds and ends, and the space on top for those random things. Not quite into the paint colour or the labels on the boxes, but easy enough to personalise.

I love this! I think I would struggle to make it work in a boy/girl space but it could be something fun to have in a girl-only space or an office. Made using toy animals... chopped in half.

The humble stick and twine. Simple, but effective. 

This clever little number at first sight might appear to be a lamp, but it was actually made using a chunky candle-holder base with a utensil holder stuck on top ("Oh, yeaaaah!") and the addition of a few plastic hooks around the rim. Perhaps a little too mod' for me, but respect all the same.

This is love. This is one of those things that, even though you know is childish, you just don't care! It's like the mittens that look like animals that I can't not buy. It's just the way it is, don't fight it! These are plastic dino/mammoths that have been painted in beautiful colours and bejazzled because diamantes. I simply must make these.

Any faves?


Rainbow sprinkles sponge cake made by my Mama.

Today is my last day as Alexandra Kate the Thirty-Year-Old. Tomorrow I will be Alexandra Kate Firmly In Her Thirties. It's a nice feeling to have a birthday that's not a momentous one. There's quite a lot of pressure on that 30 birthday... people asking if you feel different and teasing you like you're so old you're about to pass away. But it aint bad here, you know. 

There were quite a few times, through my late twenties, when I'd look back on ways that I'd thought/acted in my earlier twenties and it amused me how much my ways of thinking had changed. I can't remember a single anecdote, but my point is, I'm expecting those 'ah ha' moments to continue, and that's a really good thing.

Thirty has been an interesting and challenging year for me. I decided to quit my good job and take up teaching. I moved out of my parents' place, for the third time, and into my boyfriend's place. I moved from Sydney to Wollongong. I went back to uni to start teaching. Something didn't feel right. I went through a battle with myself where I had to turn inside out to figure out what I needed to do and how to make sense of my unease. I challenged my fear and let my guard down to speak to a psychologist. My biggest failure this past year has also been my biggest victory. Feeling beaten, I sat in the university library in between classes and wrote a 10 page letter to myself, trying to make sense of the situation. I didn't feel the pull towards teaching that I wanted to feel, that I thought I needed to feel, and I feared I would arrive at the destination only to have come to the wrong place. Not because that place isn't wonderful... and that's what was so hard. While I was at Uni I had a notebook that I'd fill with creative teaching ideas as they popped into my head. I knew that so much about teaching would be fulfilling and I knew that I could be good at it - but something that couldn't be pinpointed was telling me that this was not my destination. It was not easy to let go. I was scared of what people would think if I backed out. My colleagues from the company I'd left, my boyfriend, my family, his family, my teachers. Who is this girl, who flits around making grand decisions and then backs out on them, they'd think. Well. My triumph is that I was able to put that aside and put myself first. I had to block it out and do what I needed to do. Things don't always go according to plan, and still, I suppose there is a little mystery surrounding this whole thing, and I wonder if it's something I'll one day look back on and be able to see a lesson. As yet, I don't know. The last five or so months have been clouded with indecision about where to work (location and commuting being a big issue) and what to do. I feel like I'm beginning to come out of the cloud. Just in the past week I've made another decision that has been momentous and scary. Up until now I've been applying for jobs both in Sydney and Wollongong. Any Sydney job would require a huge commute (up to 4 hours daily). I recently said to myself that I would only accept a job in Sydney if it were at Bauer Media or Pacific Magazines. Ever since I went to Pacific Magazines as a 16-year-old for work experience, it's kind of been a 'dream' (more like a simmering idea) to go back there to work. Last Friday I received a call from Pacific and an invitation for an interview. There was my window. I thought about it over the weekend, and then decided not to attend. Massive. Window closed. Mistake? No. Even when I lived in Sydney I didn't like the commute into the city. I think you have got to consider the whole picture. Your picture. What is your happy picture? What are you willing to sacrifice; what chances are you willing to take for things to turn out better?

My friend sent me a text yesterday and it said: "There's a ball of fire in the sky keeping everyone warm... everyone okay with that?" I wrote back, "And a big rock lamp that turns on when it gets dark".

What are we doing, walking around all serious and acting like it's normal to be on a dirt ball, spinning around the big fireball heater/light in the sky -- it's not. Life is too crazy amusing to take too seriously and to waste time doing things we don't like. I think that is why I have not been hasty on pulling the plug when things aren't ticking the happy box.

I'm at a point where I'm able to make some decisions for me. I also feel like there are so many possibilities out there, but that often we only see the world through the limited scope of our individual experiences and old goals. I want my scope to open. I'm excited to explore something new and ride the journey towards that. I'm feeling positive as we head out of winter and into spring. The past is behind. Tomorrow I'll be 31 and it's a fresh start for a new year. I'm looking forward to new inspiration, new energy, and happiness. 


Gosh, damn, I love Offspring.

But what just happened? So there I was, casually watching, when at the last moment my boyfriend dropped a bombshell. He, by the way, likes Offspring, but refuses to admit it. He watches it because it's on, because them's the house rules, but last week he lolled twice (during kiss chasey) and this week he put his phone away to make eye contact with the TV. Addict - I think so. Anyway, my boyfriend, lover of Offspring, told me during the last few minutes of last night's episode that he'd heard (using his keen Offspring ears) that the producers didn't know if there was going to be another season.


Here is an opinion on the matter.

But, okay, let's take stock. If I had known this before, I would have been a wreck for the whole episode. Instead, it began to wrap and I thought, "Hmm, this is all suspiciously perfect", which is when Lindsay dropped that bomb. After initial shock and devastation, I thought about it and yeah, actually, let's end it here. Executive decision. Everything is nice. Everything is good. Everything is promising. And I enjoyed it all without the angst of knowing it was the last episode ever.

I don't know what I will do without it (how good are Wednesdays, at that moment you remember Offspring is on?). I'd be happy for them to wrap it up here, but if they come back with another season, of course that will be great as well. I'll be needing the box set of course, but not til it's official. What do you think? Wrap it up or is there more to come?


This week seems to be flying by. Two more sleeps of being a 30-year-old... ah well, who cares! Living it up this morning with two cups of Lipton. Yeh!

Last weekend Lindsay and I headed to Port Stephens; for Christmas, his parents gave us a holiday package for a weekend away - such a great idea. We did next to no pre-planning about what we'd do over the weekend, which turned out to be a good thing. The view from our balcony was stunning, but it was a little too chilly to venture out. So, we did what any normal people would do and headed to the shops to stock up on drinks and, you know, activities from the toy section of Kmart. Completely normal.

After a few drinks, a battle of Pick Up Sticks and some juggling practice, we wandered over to the Soldiers Point Bowlo across the road. As luck would have it, there was a bitchin' bowlo-esque cover band playing, by the really cool name of Jumpin' Jukebox. The lead singer did a pitch-perfect Elvis and Roy Orbison impersonation - I was very impressed, and jumpin' in my boots to join the swing dancers on the floor. After a while, Lindsay became frightened that I would drag him out to join the 60s crowd. The fear was evident on his face. We left the bowlo and ventured over to the Sally Shores pub underneath the hotel, where we found a bar tender, exactly seven patrons and a guy on a guitar taking requests. "The Gambler", said I, and he strummed it out while we found our confidence within the folksy confines of 'The Sally'. The happy, local drunkards pleaded for one last song and, to my joy, Pete (guitar, vocals) belted out Denver's 'Thank God I'm A Country Boy'. "I dare you NOT to get up and dance with me", said my eyes to the boy, and he understood. We formed a dancefloor on the carpet alongside Pete and stomped it out good and proper.

We got chatting to a fella who, still dressed in his fluoros and beanie from work, had clearly been at The Sally since knock-off. We found out he was an Irishman who'd been living in the area for twenty-something years - accent still intact. Ollie was his name, and he was well known in town, well, at The Sally at least. Ollie would have been in his fifties. He worked in construction and had a partner, and a Great Dane named Sox. I'm not sure, but he may have been more fond of Sox. He was friendly, softly spoken and polite, yet fond of the F-bomb at the same time (still gentlemanly enough to address me directly and say "excuse my language" - this goes a long way, amiright, ladies?). We'd been chatting for a bit when one of Ollie's mates said goodbye and asked him what he was up to in the morning. He said he might go for a fly. I thought he meant fishing, but on questioning, it turned out he owned a helicopter and he offered to take us for a ride in the morning. It was pretty obvious to me we were dealing with a genuine bloke, so we exchanged phone numbers (Lindsay's, not mine). Ollie went to put the number in his phone, but I said, "I'll write it down for you on paper. You might not remember in the morning what name you need to look up in your phone." Such was the flow of beer.

I wasn't sure if we'd hear from Ollie, but true to his word he called in the morning, told us the conditions were good, let on he was feeling better after an initial hangover, and arranged to pick us up at 11. Before we left our hotel room, Lindsay said, "Should we be leaving a note, in case we don't come back?" "Nar", I said. But I did send my brother a text.

Ollie picked us up and drove us out to a paddock, where the hangar sits, where the chopper resides. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a slight tinge of relief at the sight of an actual helicopter. The chopper was tiny. I'd known it was a 2-seater, but was still surprised by its compactness. Ollie wheeled it out of the hangar and commenced flight checks, talking us through the process. We decided to send me up first. I was hooked up with headphones and a mic. It was so exciting! We pulled up into the air effortlessly - it felt so light - we were a little glass pod adrift in the breeze. Although we were flying 170 kph, it didn't seem like it. Ollie flew me around for 15 minutes, conversing with the traffic controller, all "Victor Bravos" and "Charlie Tangos", as I took in the sand dunes, treetops, and ocean undulating from turquoise to cobalt. I even saw some dolphins. It was a dream! I'd been wanting to fly in a helicopter for ages - and this was such an amazing and frankly, serendipitous, treat.

Lindsay had his fly, and then although Ollie wouldn't let us even buy him lunch as thanks, he suggested a "hair of the dog" at The Sally. Of course he did. He'd downed 2 mid-strengths by the time we sipped our way through a cider. We said our thankyous and goodbyes and he told us to give him a call if we're ever back in town. Phone number or not, I have a pretty good idea where we might find him.

Unexpected adventures and making friends with strangers. Love :)

Pick Up Sticks, Canadian Club and M&Ms with my love and partner in crime.

Jalapeno Poppers (goats cheese) and Rib Eye Meatlovers enjoyed at Murrays Brewery post-flight. Highly recommend you stop here - 3443 Nelson Bay Road, Bobs Farm Port Stephens NSW 2315.