Friday, August 31, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up #7


So what have I learned this past week?
  • Single parenting is incredibly hard, but I'm not alone. 
  •  I feel all kinds of gushy and mushy towards Boyfriend, but I'll spare the details so that you don't ralph into your garbage can. That's no way to start a long weekend!
  • Having someone else read you pages of the 50 Shades trilogy, all the while stopping to question the logic/terrible sentence structure/word choices (favourites being "HOW COULD SHE HEAR HIM MURMUR OVER THE HELICOPTER???" and "Anastasia Steele is a name for a Russian pro wrestler slash prostitute" ) is a million times more entertaining than reading it yourself.
  • My book club is slowly turning into "drinking wine and talking about our children" club...so basically  it's every day of my life but with new people.   
  • Standing up for yourself does not make you a bitch, as long as you do it nicely. And firmly. 
  • Having the flu one week and a wicked cold the next is unpleasant, uncomfortable, gross, and very frustrating. Can I have one week where I'm not yucky, please?
  •  Knowing that I will end my week with great times and great friends is exciting--but it also makes the week move at the speed of a two-toed sloth. {Did you squee over that link? Because I sure did, for about ten minutes!}
****
Although I'm a big fan of my own work, I also enjoy what other people write. What were my favourite reads this week?
  1. The name of the sections of College Crush slay me: relationshit, crazy train. Perfect. Also: this, and I will vouch for the source. I lived it, and am currently living it--although "it just feels right" is sometimes the best that one can come up with.
  2. I am addicted to this site
  3. I cannot believe that I had never heard of The Geeky Hostess before!
  4. For some reason, I am obsessed with laundry rooms
  5. Joelle's 'Thus Is The Life Of A Blogger' is the truth. 
  6. Best. Ever. 
  7. Kendra tells it like it is. Kendra's recipe also makes amazing sweet tea
Where is your favourite place to long-weekend drink? You can find me on the dock {with safety supervisors, of course!}.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

July Glossybox Review


July was the month where I popped my Glossybox cherry. I was late to the party with signing up, so I didn't receive my July box until 03 August.


The packaging was beautiful, and the box is very high-quality and sturdy. {So sturdy, in fact, that it now has a home in my bathroom drawer to hold my nail accessories.} 

1-dove visible care softening creme body wash | 2- eucerin calming creme for dry skin | 3-alessandro international pedix feet heel rescue balm | 4-john frieda collection frizz ease hair serum extra strength | 5-zoya professional nail laquer in 'myrta' | {hidden} beauty so clean cosmetic sanitizer wipes

I will admit that I was slightly disappointed when I opened it up. Glossybox was described to me as "Canada's version of Birchbox" so I was expecting something entirely different than what I got. Even their website describes it as "makeup samples and luxury cosmetics from top brands in one box". I suppose that this isn't a lie, seeing as John Frieda and Dove are both best-selling brands; they are drugstore rather than luxury brands, though, so really I think that Glossybox should call a spade a spade.
Regardless, instead reviewing them negatively (based on both my perception as well as their marketing campaign), I decided to give them an honest try. I don't have dry skin or frizzy hair, I don't even have a skin tone that compliments the color of nail polish that was chosen for me. But everyone deserves a fair try, so I have spent most of August testing everything.
Dove body wash: This one was a no-brainer for me, because I love Dove products. I actually had to put the bottle of Dove body wash that I was currently using into storage so that I could test the one that Glossybox sent. It delivered on it promises--it visibly moisturized and softened my skin just from using it, although it only lasts a few hours after my shower and then my skin is back to normal. It also smelled great, which is always a pleasant surprise.
Verdict: I would buy this for regular use.

Eucerin lotion: I found this lotion to be slightly greasy, and it seemed to leave a film on my skin. There were multiple times that I touched my black blazer and ended up with white flakes on it, which is kind of gross. I didn't notice a change in how soft my hands were either. 
Verdict: I would not buy this for regular use because I found that it did not work.

Alessandro International heel balm: This product surprised me the most. I had never heard of the brand, and it smelled a little weird. Minty, and slightly moldy. To say that I was hesitant to use it was an understatement. I persevered, though. I slathered it onto my heels, put on a pair of cotton socks, and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning (other than my feet smelling like moldy toothpaste), my heels were very soft. I had a slight callous that seems to have disappeared, and my heels feel great. 
Verdict: I would buy this for occasional use.

John Frieda Frizz Ease: Well, this was pointless to try. My hair is very fine, and I don't have a lot of it, so when I used even a fraction of what was recommended, it turned my hair greasy. If you're a fan of the wet-look hairstyles, though, this could do the job beautifully I'm sure. 
Verdict: I would not buy this for regular use because it is not formulated for my hair type.

Zoya Professional Nail Lacquer: This colour looked horrible on my toes, and I did not even attempt to put it on my finger nails. I double-checked my beauty profile with Glossybox to make sure that I didn't accidentally request bold colours; I didn't. I had selected "natural" and "neutral" for my colour palettes, so I'm not sure how I ended up with the brightest orange the world has every seen. That being said, I did like the actual product so that is an important fact to note. The consistency of the formula was great, the brush wasn't flimsy or cheap, and the iridescent shimmer in the color was pretty. 
Verdict: I would buy this product for regular use, but in another color.

Beauty So Clean cosmetic wipes: I actually own this brand already, too. I use the brush spray to clean my makeup brushes, as well as to clean my compacts occasionally. Because of this, I found the wipes to be redundant for home use. They would be excellent for travel, since they don't take up a lot of space and you don't have to worry about bringing a liquid product. 
Verdict: I would buy these for travel use.

Overall Impression: Although I felt that they were slightly dishonest with their marketing, I did enjoy my first Glossybox and I will continue my subscription (for now). I feel like I did receive my $15 worth, and I discovered two brands that were otherwise unknown to me. I hope that my next boxes take into consideration my beauty profile, however, because sending me products for frizzy hair (when I indicated that mine is fine) and a color that cannot possibly be considered natural or neutral when I clearly indicated that these were what I was interested in is slightly frustrating. It also made me feel like the box was not personalized in any way, and that every subscriber had received the same box as mine. 
I would recommend Glossybox to my Canadian lovelies that enjoy trying new products, and the price seems reasonable for what you get. Click here to join in on the fun!
This post was not sponsored by Glossybox, and the opinions contained herein are my own. Negative reviews are not meant maliciously, they are simply given when I do not personally enjoy a product. If I have given one of your products a negative review and you wish to discuss this, please feel free to send me an email. By utilizing my "click here" link, you are letting Glossybox know that I have referred you. I receive no cash compensation for this, although I will earn GLOSSYdots that can be used towards free boxes in the future. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

#TT: What Do You Mean, Cruising Is Fun?


cruising the caribbean on the norwegian jewel
The Norwegian Jewel, my home for a week in the Caribbean.

The only reason why I went on the cruise is because my boss told me to go. My employer at the time was paying for it, and there was going to be a lot of training that happened on that ship. It was early mornings, long days, and late nights. It wasn't a vacation, but it was a working holiday.

the port of miami from the cruise ship norwegian jewel on my caribbean cruise
The view of Miami from my balcony as we set sail.

I wasn't at all excited for it, and in the weeks leading up to it I started to downright dread it. In my mind, I was not a cruiser. I was a backpacking-wearing, small group-traveling, eco-conscious wanderer. Not a chaise-lounging, fruity drink-sipping, shore excursion-taking cruiser. I was convinced that I wouldn't have any fun, and that I would come back with a (now completely rational) hatred of cruises.

I was so very wrong.

the mayan ruins of altun ha in belize
The ruins of Altun-Ha in Belize.

Everyone is a cruiser, you just have to find the right itinerary. If you enjoy ship culture, choose a longer duration or one with a few days at sea. If you are like me and enjoy a new port every day, choose intensive itineraries. For the Caribbean, ships sailing from San Juan usually have a new port every day; many Mediterranean and Baltic cruises have only one day at sea.

Pro tip: book your airfare through the cruise line; that way, if anything goes wrong (late ship, missed transfer, etc) they will take care of the arrangements for you. If you decide to book them yourself, err on the side of caution and book your flights with a one day window on either side. You'll end up paying for a hotel before and after your cruise, but that way if there are any issues or delays you should still make your flight.

fishing in roatan honduras caribbean
Fishing in Roatan, Honduras.

Make sure (before you book!) that you know exactly what is included. With most cruises, gratuities aren't included in the fare. What else isn't included? Shore excursions, souvenirs, certain restaurants on the ship, and usually drinks. No one likes expensive surprises at the end of a trip!

Pro tips: 
  • Buy the pop package on the first day. It will seen obscenely expensive at first, but it's nonstop so you'll end up thanking yourself later. 
  • Most cruise lines will allow you to pre-book your excursions; this will ensure you have a firm handle on your budget for the trip. You can always change them when you get on board if you have a change of heart.

floating and swimming in the caribbean sea
Floating in the Caribbean.

I ended up meeting some wonderful people, seeing places that I had never been to before, and discovering a whole new way to travel. Oh, and of course I learned a lot from my seminars! ;)

The most valuable lesson from this cruise: don't judge a trip before you've traveled it. 

Rakas Kesa Travel Tuesday

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Cooking with Ramen

Y'all just need to trust me on this one. 

Garlic | Soy sauce | Sweet thai chili sauce | Lemon juice | Worcestershire sauce | Fish sauce | Ramen noodles {2 packages can usually feed 2 adults and a young child}


one cup of your favourite frozen veggie mix


one pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed


Mix together condiments to taste. 
I use {roughly}:
1/8 cup soy sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
a few shakes of fish sauce 
1 tsp sweet thai chili sauce
a few shakes of Worcestchire sauce
dash of lemon juice


Place chicken cubes in non-stick pan, cover with sauce.

{not pictured} cook ramen noodles according to package directions--add the package sauce at your own discretion. I choose to, but I also avoid thinking about how much extra sodium this adds! Before adding the package sauce, I cook the noodles and then drain all but a half cup of water from the pot.


With the heat on medium-low (4 on my stove), cover the chicken for five minutes. 
NO PEEKING. 
The steam that forms with the lid on will keep the chicken tender and juicy. 
After five minutes, turn the chicken and stir the sauce. 
Cover for another five minutes--seriously no peeking!

{not pictured} stir frozen veggies into ramen, cover and turn heat to low. 

When the chicken is cooked thoroughly, throw it and the sauce from the pan into the pot with the veggies and noodles. Mix well. 


Happiness in a bowl!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up #6


{base: sally hansen smooth & perfect in 'sea' | top: essie luxeffects in 'set in stones'}

So what have I learned these past two weeks (since I skipped last week)?

  • I can never watch too many shark shows. Boyfriend, on the other hand, can only handle two.
  • Never tell anyone that you're awesome with Excel, because suddenly you will be making a bunch of spreadsheets for them because they don't realize that you can Google it. 
  •  You will never be able to successfully replicate an awesome manicure that you saw online. Instead, you will spend hours putting nail polish on, then taking it off, then putting it on, then getting mad and throwing the bottles across the room. Pro tip: make sure you securely fasten the top before throwing.  
  •  I found out that I have masochistic tenancies--when it comes to reading terrible books, that is. Irony! 
  • Glitter nail polish will last through the apocalypse. 
  • Starbucks Pro Tip: A venti hot chocolate with three shots is the same thing as a venti mocha if you ask for two shots of vanilla, but the latter is $1.48 cheaper.
  • Colour-depositing conditioner will turn blue nail polish pink, defying all laws of design and color mixing.
  • Hard conversations shouldn't be avoided because in the end you will feel better for having it. 
****
Although I'm a big fan of my own work, I also enjoy what other people write. What were my favourite reads this week?
  1. The only thing better than reading a well-written Monty Python recap on Monday morning is telling your coworker about it and reciting pretty much the entire movie while in a fit of giggles. 
  2.  Before saying something, consult this flow-chart to see if it's acceptable to say. (Hint: all signs point to not saying anything at all)
  3.  This made me giggle because {spoiler} the peeping tom was a deer
  4.  I was nodding my head and saying "Hell YEAH!" pretty much throughout this entire tirade. Jenny, you are wonderful. 


Audrey and I are planning on spending as much time in our pajamas this weekend as possible.
How will you be spending the second-to-last weekend of summer?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

All The Mushy!

Y'all, I'm still crazy busy. 
But I wanted to share something with you. 
It perfectly describes how I've been feeling lately.
It is deliciously mushy, and it makes me smile.
Happy Wednesday!
courtesy of Pinterest (via The Vintage Apple)
 rakas kesä is now on Facebook! Let's be friends

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

#TT: Find Your Inspiration

{via Postsecret on Facebook}


One of the reasons that I love social media is because it is always changing. 
It progresses, it inspires, and it shares.  
Isn't that how we should be as well? 
Questioning the status quo, learning, evolving, growing. 
Dreaming, wishing, planning, doing. 
Where in the world inspires you?


Rakas Kesa Travel Tuesday

Monday, August 20, 2012

Judgement Day is Upon Me, or The Story of How I Ended Up Reading 50 Shades of Grey

I'm going to blame it on my flu-addled brain, because I refuse to contemplate any alternative. 

Last Thursday I got dressed and made the 45 minute drive from Boyfriend's house to work, stopping three times to puke along the way. Each hot flash, with it's accompanying pool of sweat, was followed by intense bouts of cold. Not the "oh, the A/C is too high" kind of cold; no, this was the "I'm standing naked in the Arctic, my teeth are chattering and my lips are turning blue" cold. 

Boyfriend was smart; he just stayed in bed sick after a long night of being flu-y. He was also smart enough to bring his laptop home with him the day before, while I left mine at work to avoid the inevitable whining over how ridiculously large and heavy it is. From the moment that I put my pants on, I knew that I would end up grabbing the damn thing and immediately returning to that wonderful king-sized bed for a day of sleep. 

Upon arriving at the office I made the executive decision to brush my teeth because ugh; this is a decision that I would come to regret immediately. Lesson learned: the flavor of Crest activates my gag reflex when sick. I stumbled to my desk, fell into my chair, and held on for dear life. The spins are the very worst part of being sick.

It was at this point when I wondered if driving home would actually be the best choice; I work in a hotel, for Pete's sake {sidebar: who is Pete?}. I was moments away from convincing my boss to let me borrow a room until check-in when my phone rang. I scooped up my computer, jammed it into my bag, and walked into my bosses office to announce my leave. 

I sat in my car with my head in my hands for a good ten minutes before I became the master of those damn spins and felt like I could safely navigate home. I knew that I needed Gravol as soon as possible, so I stopped at my mom's house on the way. Moms make everything better, right? 

Well, she tried. She gave me a book that I've been waiting to read (win!), and naturally I left with about six Tupperware containers of leftovers and healthy foods (slightly mean since I couldn't keep anything down, but in the end win because yum fresh fruit), but she had no Gravol. I sighed, and accepted that I would just have to stop at the drug store as well. 

Shoppers Drug Mart, I just can't quit you. It's one of those stores that I should never visit unsupervised or while carrying a debit or credit card. My arms were loaded down with lemon and ginger tea (that didn't actually settle my stomach and tasted horrible), the new Cosmo (because I accidentally bought last month's issue on Tuesday), arrowroot cookies (what? They help my tummy!), fast-acting Gravol (my sickness savior), and NeoCitron for my pounding headache. Somehow, lost in that haul of goodies, was a copy of 50 Shades of Grey. 

I will admit that I have been reading Lorraine's amazing (and snarky) chapter-by-chapter recaps of the horribleness of this book. I knew that I would be cringing and yelling at the book constantly, yet a small part of me was curious. Surely she was exaggerating about murmurs and incongruent descriptions of facial expressions for the sake of comedy? How could a book sell an infinite number of copies and actually be that bad?

Well, ok. I've read the Twilight series, so I knew that a book could be written by a fourth grader and still sell millions of copies. But surely the world wouldn't allow this to happen for a second time? My poor sleep-deprived, flu-stricken brain rationalized faster than I thought possible (or, more likely, just didn't think about it at all) and allowed me to pick it up. 

Lovelies, I was so very wrong. So very, very naive. 

When I read Twilight, the run-on sentences and four-page long descriptions of Edward's facial expression (Coles Notes: it's blank, entirely perfect, and he has beautiful hazel eyes) would transform me into a crazy woman. This time I wanted to be proactive and avoid as much rage as possible, so I planned to keep a highlighter and a pen nearby--the idea being that I could make corrections as I went. Somehow, this makes more sense to me than to just not read a poorly-written book

Guys, the first hundred pages are basically all pink or otherwise written on. 

this was me throughout the book

Because a John Cleese/Monty Python gif is always appropriate. Also I've been hoarding this for weeks since I found it and needed an excuse to use it. Maybe subconsciously this is why I bought the damn book? 

As if buying the book, and then actually starting to read it, wasn't enough to kill any self-respect that I had, I've found that I cannot put the godforsaken thing down. I crawled into bed last night at a reasonable ten o'clock, only to tear my eyes away from it at one in the morning. ONE. 

In my very professional, I-took-Psych 101-so-I'm-a-therapist opinion, this is similar to the weird fascination that we have we driving slowly past a car accident or watching Teen Mom. It's horrible, and we hate ourselves for it, yet we continue to subject ourselves to it. 

The lowest point of this whole experience was asking my co-worker if I can borrow book two. What, at least I don't have to pay for it!

What's the very worst book that you've ever read?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Movin' On Up...with a professional, not made in Paint design!


I have been wanting a new design for rakas kesä for a while now. I have been scouring the blogosphere looking for the person that could not only create what I had in my mind, but that could also put up with my crazy. Somehow, I stumbled across Chelsea. I don't remember who's blog led me to her, but good grief am I glad that I ended up there!

 

One week and 29 emails later, she has made my bloggy dreams come true (possible slight exaggeration, as my real bloggy dream would be to have Wil Wheaton guest post for me). But she managed to take my incoherent ramblings of "I like girly but don't make it girly" and a comment about not wearing pants at work and somehow turn it into exactly what I had envisioned

That, my friends, is talent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

#TT: Antarctica, Shackleton & Penguins.

travel tuesdays

I do not work for G Adventures, and I am not being compensated in any way for this post. I have always loved the company; in the past I have sent many clients on trips with them and every single person came back raving about how amazing they are, so I feel confident recommending them to pretty much everyone.

Everyone has a travel dream, and they all vary widely based on who you talk to. My mom is very content to spend her annual summer vacation on a floatie in the Okanagan Valley in B.C, for example. I, however, did not receive the same want for simplicity. I have much more complicated travel dreams--spin a globe, randomly jab a finger on a location, and that will be one of the many places that I want to travel. I could spend every day of the rest of my life wandering the world, and I still won't see everything on my list. This is one of the downsides of working in travel--you see amazing vacations to so many places that your must-travel list continues to grow, even if you cross places off your list as you go. 

I do have that one travel dream, though. That one trip that I would take as my final, never-leaving-Edmonton-again trip. The end-all, be-all experience that could never be topped, no matter how hard you try. For me, that trip of all trips would be Antarctica. More specifically, my dream trip is Spirit of Shackleton, a trip that is offered exclusively by G Adventures

Just looking at this itinerary makes me itchy to go...
I have read pretty much every biography about Ernest Shackleton, as well as seeing the IMAX movie more times than I can count. His journey has always fascinated me, and the idea of actually retracing his steps (safely, of course!) just blows my mind. The only way I could get more excited to retrace the steps of an explorer would be to put me on the Enterprise so that I could relive all seven seasons of The Next Generation, but I'm fairly confident that this will not be possible in my lifetime. So Shackleton it is! 

There are a few things that make me nervous about this trip. I don't get seasick but it takes a long time for me to get my "sea legs", so I would be covered in bruises from falling by the time we actually got to the Falkland Islands. Also, that's a long time to be staying in a cabin on an expedition ship--even if you spring for the Category 5 Double. The last obstacle is quite obviously the price: a cool $17,000CAD for the tour (in the cheap Category 1 cabin, ew), including optional kayaking, Canada Goose jacket, and camping on the Antarctic peninsula--before flights, pre-tour activities (I couldn't go to Ushuaia without staying for a few days, and when you're that close to Patagonia how do you pass up hiking Torres del Paine??). That is the double price, too, so I'd have to find someone just as crazy as I am to go with, lest I want to spend the additional $10,000CAD for my own room. 

So, this is a pipe-dream for me, clearly. But it is one that I will dream of until either the day that I go or the day that I die, whichever happens first. 

Where do you dream of traveling to?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up #5

original source | pinned by Valerie
I am a west coast kid. I grew up with the Pacific Ocean as my backyard and the Rocky Mountains at my doorstep. I learned to swim before I could walk, I prefer fresh salmon to any other meat, and I have an indescribable amount of respect for the Coast Salish People. I spent my formative years in Victoria, BC, and that helped shape who I am today.

There are moments, though, that my Albertan shows. Monster mowers, drinking beer by the lake, line dancing and two-stepping, cowboy hats, singing Road Hammer songs at the top of my lungs and using y'all as a noun--these are all part of me too. It just goes to show that you can raise an Albertan in BC, but they'll always be an Albertan.

Y'all are turning me into a hillbilly country girl. But I wouldn't change it for the world!


So what have I learned this week? 

  •  Monster Mowers are every kind of awesome and wonderful. Especially when they have sirens and flashing lights. You win for flash factor, Kurt. 
  •  Every weekend between 01 June and 31 September should be a long weekend. 
  •  The Tuesday after a long weekend is worse than any Monday could possibly be.
  •  I'm most productive when I have Buffy and The X-Files as my background noise. 
  •  A double double from McDonalds does not equal a double double from Tim Hortons. Period. 
  •  Some people will never cease to amaze you with the decisions that they make, and that is exactly why you shouldn't base life decisions on anyone else. 
  •  No matter how much you enjoy country music, you can only listen to the Top 40 station for so long before you're banging your head against a wall after hearing Jason Aldean's Fly Over States for the fifth time that day. 
  •  Somewhere in the middle of the Work-Family-Life triangle, you have to make time for yourself. So when you take a two and a half hour bubble bath alone, don't apologize for it. Just enjoy it. 
****
Although I'm a big fan of my own work, I also enjoy what other people write. What were my favourite reads this week?
  1.  Facebook told me that the Snark Squad lost another member, and all I could think of was the time that Dawn moved back to California to live with her dad and how sucky it was until Abby became her replacement and suddenly I liked the books again because I freaking love Abby. It was around here that I realized that I had started Wiki-ing all of the characters because I never read past 94 because I grew up and whatever but suddenly I needed to know what happened to those girls.  Guys, I will totally be your Abby--less awesome than Dawn, but an adequate and entertaining replacement. 
  2.  Because sometimes we all need a reminder about how to be a good commentor...
  3.  I get it, I totally get it. Kate, I internet love you. 
  4.  HOLY CRAP A TAXIDERMIED PEGASUS


My brother is in town this weekend, so my weekend will be filled with family activities (and Mom's cooking!).
How will you be spending the second-to-last weekend of the summer?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's A Bribe, Charlie Brown.

If it seems like I've fallen off the face of the earth, it's because I have. When life gets busy the first thing that I ax is blogging, not because I don't love your faces but because I love my daughter more. Sorry I'm not sorry, she is ridiculously awesome.

The good news is that when life slows down I will have some awesome posts full of rainbows and unicorns for you. The bad news is that you have to wait. Sad face.

Lucky for y'all, I am a parent which means that I have a gold medal for handing out bribes. So today, enjoy one of my favourite Jenna Marbles videos. If you love the funny bitch as much as I do, you'll also follow her on Twitter.

Miss your faces!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unsolicited Advice: Too Many Giveaways















Even though my current blog is only a few months old, I've been blogging for three years continuously and in multiple places (Twenties Hacker. Check them out!). In no way am I an expert, but I have learned a thing or two since hitting publish for the first time. I feel a little weird about writing a how-to on blogging, but I feel compelled to complain about blogging pet peeves pass on any wisdom that I might have.
Last time on Unsolicited Advice: The Blogging Community 

Y'all, I love getting awesome free stuff; I also love giving away awesome free stuff. This is something that pretty much everyone I've ever met has in common. Companies know this, so they approach blogs to host giveaways in exchange for some online pimping. I think it's a fantastic way to expand readership, encourage interaction with readers, and introduce people to a company or product that they might not have heard about otherwise. I'm completely open to hosting giveaways

What bugs me, though, is when a blog that I read (and love!) suddenly turns into a contest posting board. There is little to no unique or interesting content, just post after post about some "wonderful" item that they are giving away. Again. I don't follow your blog because I want free stuff--that's why I go to trade shows or Costco on Sundays. I follow your blog because something about your content excited me, or interested me. I've even followed a blog because I loved their design and wanted to be able to reference it later. 

What are the telltale signs that you've sold out and turned into a giveaway machine? 
  1. You post a giveaway every day. 
  2. Your post announcing the winners of the past weeks' giveaways is longer than your About Me page. 
  3. Every post includes Rafflecopter (or similar)
  4. A reader has to go into your archives for a post that doesn't include a giveaway.
  5. You post multiple giveaways every day. 
  6. The largest tag in your tag cloud is "giveaway"
  7. You classify yourself as a fashion blogger but you're giving away a ShamWow. 
  8. You {finally} post something that doesn't include a giveaway, and vultures comment on how cheap you are for not giving something away. 
  9. You have never turned down a request to give something away, regardless of what the item is.
  10. You are the first result for "free stuff" in Google. 
So how can you ensure that you are being responsible with your giveaways? 
  1. Set goals for your blog. I have two goals when it comes to blogging: producing content that I am proud of, and making connections with new people. Any time I decide to do anything with my blog--whether it's changing the layout or posting something--I ask myself "is this going to help me achieve a goal?" If it doesn't, then it's back to the drawing board for me. 
  2. Create a plan to meet those goals. I offer sponsorships and ad swaps through my blog mostly because it is an excellent way to meet new people while simultaneously sharing the blogs that I enjoy. Through these, I've met lots of amazing people and forged some genuine friendships. The rest of my "plan" for making connections friends is to connect through social media (Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are my favourites). {Word to the wise--Passionfruit Ads makes it ridiculously simple to offer ads and swaps.}
  3. Know your demographic. I am a beauty and lifestyle blogger, and eventually I'd love to branch out into fashion as well. Sephora, Shabby Apple, Mod Cloth, Essie, even Neutrogena--these are all brands that would fit seamlessly into my blogging persona. ShamWow or Hair Club for Men? Not exactly. Stick to hosting giveaways or writing sponsored posts for items or brands that fit your blog--even though you're "writing for yourself", ultimately if you're hosting giveaways then you are also writing for an audience. 
  4. Set limits for yourself--and stick to them. So far, I have chosen not to host giveaways on my blog. I'm still finding my voice and gaining a following, so at this point it just isn't comfortable for me. Once I am comfortable with it, I don't want to host more than two per month. Two will allow me to highlight companies that I really do enjoy and want to share, while still focusing on generating quality content. 
  5. Focus on your content and your following will grow organically. I know of many bloggers that specifically hosted giveaways because they had a 'goal' number of followers that they wanted to achieve; they hit their mark, but unfortunately their content suffered. In the end, isn't successful blogging producing something that others want to read? 
How do you deal with giveaways on your blog?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up #4


There are a few things that I don't ever think that I will understand in this world. I don't understand why people think that it's okay to be derogatory towards me because I'm white. Is it actually considered acceptable to do this, or am I supposed to say something when it happens? I also don't understand--nor do I appreciate--when someone treats me like a second-class citizen simply because I am a woman. "I want to speak to a man" is not something that you will ever get away with saying to me. Lastly, I'm never going to understand why some people have this need to be in charge all of the time. Please, tell me again how I am holding my knife incorrectly. 

It's been a long week, don't judge me for being grumpy.

So what have I learned this week? 

  • You don't have to sit back and take it when someone is being rude towards you. 
  • "Killing them with kindness" takes much more self-control than I possess sometimes.
  • I underestimate the intelligence of my daughter on a far too regular basis, but she has no qualms with publicly shaming me so to remind me of her brilliance. 
  • It is entirely possible to be too organized.
  • I am not allergic to my cats, but I am allergic to the cat that lives at my vet clinic. 
  • Being covered in hives is incredibly uncomfortable when you don't have any allergy pills with you. 
  • Making real fruit smoothies to drink with dinner makes Mr Noodles a healthy meal.
  • Steve Jobs was a man of many quotes, but at last I have discovered my favourite: 
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking, and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart you'll know when you find it."
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Although I'm a big fan of my own work, I also enjoy what other people write. What were my favourite reads this week?
  1. I support a zero-tolerance approach to grammatical errors in the workplace. 
  2. I wish that I had enough space to create this closet for Audrey!
  3. I am absolutely obsessed with Craft Wars.
  4. Sometimes Hollywood gets it {sort of} right
  5.  And a Mythbusters clip, because they are awesome. 


It's a long weekend in Canada, so Audrey and I are doing plenty of family activities! 
How do you spend your long weekends?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No More Nagging!

Rakas Kesa

After reading The Happiness Project, I was inspired to embark on my own journey to find personal happiness. Each Wednesday I will be posting about my weekly challenge, including both successes and failures. Follow along, and don't be afraid to join in! 


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We've all been there: we ask someone to do something, and they don't do it. So we ask again, and again, until we're either a broken record or incredibly upset. Frequently it can turn into a fight with the other person, because seriously who likes to be nagged? And then the inevitable is said: "If you would have just done it when I first asked you to, then I wouldn't be nagging you". I don't know about you, but I hate hearing that phrase. As soon as someone says it to me, my response is usually "just because I didn't do it on your schedule doesn't mean that it won't get done!". And then? All hell breaks loose. 


Even though it makes me mad when someone nags me, I still nag other people. My daughter gets the brunt of it, really. She is incredibly intelligent and able to do things, like cleaning her room, without my assistance. I might have to remind her which shelf her Barbie bin goes on, and sometimes I have to remind her that we're cleaning and not playing, but for the most part she just does things when I ask her to. Not to be That Mom, but she is magnificent because she is so easy to deal with. 


Because I don't normally have to ask her more than once when she doesn't do something as soon as I ask, it frustrates me--which tends to make me angry. I turn into a nagging monster--I don't know how many of you have a four year old, but let me tell you that nagging just makes everything worse with them. As soon as you get upset, they get upset. The more you ask them to do something, the less they are willing to do it. Wait...that might be everyone, not just four year olds. Still, this life lesson stands. Nagging leads to discord, which leads to an unhappy home. Who wants an unhappy home? Certainly not this girl.


My goal for this past week was to completely quit nagging, and thus avoiding many unnecessary arguments. Patience is something that I lack, so finding more of this goes hand-in-hand with cutting nagging out of my life. Instead of getting angry, I planned to keep calm. Instead of asking eight times while threatening to throw the TV out of the window, I was going to be more reasonable with my threats of punishment so that I would actually stick to them. And, probably most importantly, I'd stop expecting people to drop everything they are doing to complete my task the second I ask it of them, because it's absolutely ludicrous to expect that. Unless I'm asking someone to put out a literal fire, then they better move their butts pronto. 


Well, it was a very easy week because my daughter was at her dad's house and I wasn't at Boyfriend's house very often. I didn't actually have to deploy my carefully crafted plan. So I passed it with flying colors. 


Cheating? Maybe. But a pass is a pass. 

Next Week: No phone zone.
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