They made it! “I Made It! Monday” Round-Up

Each Monday I invite fellow bloggers to share their proudest (or favourite) accomplishment from the previous week via the “I Made It! Monday” event, and the following Sunday I round them all up so we can all give ourselves a collective round of applause or pat on the back.

Please join me in congratulating the following bloggers who shared their remarkable achievements:

Week one – A-Z, brownies, chicks and DIY floors:

The inaugural week of this challenge did technically stretch over two due to the Easter long weekend; nevertheless I am as proud as punch to present the first participants and their terrific triumphs:

What did you make last week? Find out more about “I Made It! Monday” on the main event page.

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I Made It! Monday (Weekly Event)

Look out world – here comes yet another blogging event..!

In this fast-paced world it can be very difficult to find the time or energy to tick off all those items on your ‘to-do’ list, or let your creative juices flow and make something…let alone give yourself a pat on the back if you manage to do so!

The I Made It! Monday” weekly blog event gives you the chance to take stock of the week that was and share your greatest (or favourite) achievement of the previous seven days with your some of your biggest supporters – the blogging community!

To make it super simple, there are no set themes each week; it’s just a case of searching your memory banks until you find that “Aha!” moment and then blogging about it. No matter how seemingly trivial or monumental your achievement may seem (a small win is a win, am I right?) – if you finished/did/made/achieved/got through it, we want to hear about it!

Refer to the I Made It! Monday” event page to find out more…I look forward to sharing our accomplishments 🙂

Where to from here..?

Although I created this blog in April last year, I’ve only really been working on it in earnest for the last 6-7 weeks, thanks mostly to the talented and supportive team behind the Daily Post’s Blogging101 course, as well as the encouraging feedback I’ve received from the blogging community along the way. I’ve learned so much in a very short space of time, and I continue to be inspired by my fellow bloggers.

Ultimately I’m happy with my efforts so far, but at times I worry that Confessions is another one of my ‘phases’ and I’m going to eventually lose my blogging ‘mojo’ (hereby referred to as blog-jo) again – particularly after the daily incentives provided by the Blogging101 (and now Blogging201) course comes to an end. I can already see myself not spending as much time on my blog as I did in early January, and I know that once my university study recommences in a couple of weeks, together with my full-time job, time (and motivation) is going to be even harder to find.

While it may sound like I’m already admitting defeat, I’m hoping to try and combat the seemingly inevitable and keep my blog-jo going by considering the following (hopefully achievable) goals:

  1. Create an editorial calendar of Confessions for the next two months based on my extensive archive of food and/or travel photos. By nature I’m quite impulsive and ad-hoc with my writing – I’m not very good with detailed forward-planning (alas this doesn’t bode well for me when it comes to university assignments, either!) Believe it or not, most of my posts to this date have been a result of coming up with the story behind the image/s on the spot. But should I not have the time or energy to spontaneously come up with something new, I’ll at least have some ‘pre-prepared’ inspiration to fall back on. Think of it like preparing a week’s worth of meals on the weekend so you don’t have to cook so much during the week (nope…I don’t do that either). An editorial calendar will also allow me to ensure that there is plenty of variety in my posts.
  2. Post at least twice a week. Leading on from the first point, I know I will never be a daily blogger (I wish I had that motivation!), but I at least hope to keep posting on a regular basis. My ideal is to post something short and sweet in the middle of the week, and use the weekend to add more substantial posts and spend time exploring and engaging with my fellow bloggers.
  3. Listen to feedback, and create a ‘You Asked For It…‘ feature. You, yes YOU the fellow blogger/reader, are my biggest inspiration, that’s why I’m giving you a say in what my future posts will be. What’s the use of feedback and constructive criticism if you don’t do anything with it? I’ve put together a suggestion box to get an idea for the kind of Confessions you enjoy the most, and would like to see more of. Depending on the volume of feedback I get, I hope to build the results into a regular feature where the ‘winning’ suggestion (as voted by YOU) becomes the post. Of course this means the suggestion box will be updated on a regular basis as well!

What do you think? Am I being too defeatist at this relatively early stage of my blogging career? Have I set myself realistic-enough goals? I’d especially love to hear from those of you who have fought a downturn in your blog-jo – did you get past it, and if so, how? Are you still dealing with it?

Please do share your wisdom (and confessions) below!

Freshly baked: Not-so Never Fail Muffins

Just quietly, I am devastated. Not to the point of inconsolable, but quite dismayed to say the least. I’m currently enjoying a day off of work (pre-booked time off in lieu – I’m not ‘chucking a sickie,’* in case you were wondering), and I decided to bake some muffins for the following reasons…

  1. Because I can
  2. So I can say I accomplished something today…even if I end up spending the rest of the day on my laptop or the couch
  3. I thought ‘Freshly Baked’ sounded like a great idea for a new recurring theme for my blog
  4. Seriously, who doesn’t like to start their day with a delicious freshly-baked muffin, still warm from the oven?

I have a number of go-to muffin recipes (one of my most-used recipe books is the Muffin Bible which I picked up for the bargain price of six dollars); however, my pantry, fridge and freezer are a little light on at the moment, so I was having trouble finding a recipe for which I had all of the ingredients on hand…until I found one for ‘Never Fail Muffins’ in my latest purchase from Donna Hay (my hero): The New Easy.

What could possibly go wrong?

Everything was going swimmingly; by the time I took them out of the oven, my kitchen smelled awesome, they had turned a beautiful golden brown, the skewer came out clean…check, check, check!

So far, so good…I managed to get one muffin out of the pan with nary a crumb staying behind, but my (false) sense of security quickly diminished once I started trying to remove its neighbours. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had many a muffin baking session where one or two tops may come off a little earlier than the rest than the muffin (kind of an “oops…I mean, woo hoo!” situation), but this time I was having no luck freeing them from the pan.

Each of them acted like a two year old child clinging to their mother, begging to not be left at the day care centre; or a dog refusing to jump in the car because it just knows this is one ride that ends at the veterinary surgery, not the beach or park…Every. Single. One.

What could possibly go wrong?

Oh, the carnage! I’m not sure what my biggest crime was – adding a tiny bit of desiccated coconut to the recipe (I thought it would enhance the deliciousness), or using a light spray of cooking oil instead of paper cups, as directed (I didn’t have enough, and it was all or nothing as far as I was concerned)…maybe next time I’ll learn to Stick To The Recipe.

Still, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover (or waste food); despite their wretched appearance, the Muffin Crumbles taste absolutely delicious – even if I do say so myself!

Muffin fail

One out of twelve ain’t bad…right?

I have since done a bit of online research to see if anyone has come up with a genius idea for dealing with muffins mishaps. One post in particular – The Muffin Disaster, by The Brooklyn Farm Girl – caught my attention; the author’s experience was almost identical to mine and her solution was simply inspired…I think I’m going to give it a try!

Can you help?

Unlike Pamela, I’m not terribly innovative in the kitchen – the only reason I can cook is because I can read a recipe (above example notwithstanding). As a result, I’d love to get your suggestions for un-failing my failed muffins. Please also feel free to share the ways you may have dealt with your own baking flops – what worked, what didn’t?

I look forward to the possibility of compiling some of the best (and most disastrous) stories for a future post – confess away!

* ‘Chucking a sickie’ – Aussie slang for calling into work sick when you’re not really ill – I have way too much of a guilty conscience to pull it off, myself!

“This (giant) pretzel is making me thirsty!”

I made a promise to myself that I would begin to take part in the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge as soon as I could immediately make a mental connection between the theme and one of my photos. When I saw that this week’s theme was ‘Scale’, I knew there was only one possibility.

Flashback to October 2008:

As part of our Top Deck European Odyssey tour, we had made a very quick morning stop in Salzburg’s beautiful Old Town soon after departing the quaint storybook-town of St. Johann in Austria’s Tyrol region.

We were dropped off near the Kapitelplatz and given a little over an hour to explore the area before we began the long drive to Prague. Given that it was barely 9am in the morning, not a lot was open apart from a little kiosk and a couple of food and market stalls that were slowly setting up in the main square.

While I made a beeline for the kiosk to get a Viennese hot chocolate (it was a tad chilly), my hungry Other-Half quickly caught a whiff of fresh bread and followed his nose directly to the source: a food stall selling pretzels in a wide range of delicious flavours. Not only were they freshly baked, but they were also bigger than a human head!

I couldn’t resist the urge to capture him in his element devouring the giant pretzel in front of the random ‘man on a giant golden sphere’ sculpture.*

COAFT Salzburg 01

Spot the tourist: giant pretzel in one hand, Red Bull in the other…

To this day he still salivates when reminiscing about that giant pretzel…

COAFT Salzburg 02* later identified as Stephan Balkenhol′s “Sphaera”, part of a Salzburg Foundation Art Project.