I used to drink Bellinis all the time in Vancouver. My girlygirlfriend was an afficionado and nothing could separate her and a good Peach Bellini on a Friday afternoon in Summer. The authentic recipe calls for a skinned white fresh peach, but when you’re a mum with two kids constantly whining “Muuuuuuum. Can I [insert meaningless request]” I say fuck that, bring me the canned shit!
100ml sparkling dry wine
50ml peach puree. Canned. Fresh. Whatevs!
Mix into a champagne glass, bung on a fresh strawb (or not) and you are so done. Just as done as you’ll be after 7 of the little beauties.
… with one of the two most beautiful of creatures in the world. My little girl is 2 today. How the flipping jeheebaz did that happen? Oh yes, Time, you slippery sonofabitch.
Inky, you’ve changed. Two years ago you were a cranky baby who we thought was incapable of laughter, probably the after-effects of a traumatic birth. As sleep-deprived parents of a newborn, we got caught in the downward spiral of believing you might simply be an irascible, difficult little person. Looking back at that mum and dad, I just want to give them a motherflipping collective head-slap.
Some of the things that I most love about you:
- I need only to say the most mundane thing like, “Would you like a piece of toast?” and you pause for a second, your eyes light up and you cry out “Awwww, YEAAAAH!” Like it’s the BEST idea you’ve EVER heard.
- You insist on giving everyone two kisses (including your dolls and teddies) – one on each cheek. French style.
- The beautiful relationship you have with your big sister. I steeled myself for the fights, the jealousy, the irritating detritus of two girl siblings sharing the same room, but it simply hasn’t happened. You squabble occasionally, but you are both very similar – creative, easily entertained and you both love making people laugh. You follow Scout around like an attitude-ridden puppy dog, trying to look cool but following everything she does.
- When Scout showed you how to do proper somersaults, you did them all day and looked so proud when you did one well.
- How you see me from across your creche room and cry excitedly “Mummy hee-ya!” and run down any toddlers that get in your way in the pursuit of a “mummy-cubble”.
- How you sing back to me dodgy lullabies I’ve made up on the spot, but get some of the words slightly wrong.
- The way you do shifty eyes when you know you’ve done something naughty.
- How much you love Swedish House Mafia. I love watching you head banging the desk while watching “Don’t you Worry ,Child”. Can’t wait to start you on Eminem.
I am so thankful for you. You bring so much joy to us and everyone around you.
I can’t believe I was ever considering NOT having a second child, and had resigned myself to the fact that a hole in my heart that I didn’t even know existed, would remain unfilled. I had you (no, we don’t have to go back to where the newborn meets vagina, thank you very much) when I was 39, and still recovering from a major condition (no, not f*ckwittedness – don’t worry, I’ll never recover from that) and feeling profoundly tired, but your cherubic, loving and slightly daft ways have all lifted my ailing spirit more than you could ever imagine.
I love you so intensely, Inky. Happy Birthday beautiful girl.
Linking up with Trish at Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday!
Yesterday, Scout had set this up in the front garden:
Yes, that’s my slipper sock. No, that’s not a used cigarette to the left.
I thought she’d outgrown the fairies thing, and it melted my heart (see, it is possible). I believed in “fairies at the bottom of the garden” as a kid. I mean, it was the 70s – even grown men and women believed in fairies in the 70s. I reckon my dad saw a fairy at the bottom of his sherry glass every evening in the 70s. But I digress.
Then Husband tells me it may be a reaction to her idol in class (a rather scampish second grader) telling her that Santa Claus is “just her dad”, so we now think she’s experimenting with the fairies thing to see if they are real, too.
But in making the shrine, she’d used a tiny set of teacups/saucers that I’d had as a child. They are sentimental to me, so I’d told Scout she could use them, but that I trusted her to not to lose them. She did leave them for the fairies so they could drink tiny cups of… umm, fairy milk, but as they were in the front yard, someone could have nicked them. Not that anyone would, but we remonstrated her for leaving them in the front yard. She looked so despondent that she’d let us down and I just wanted to carry her away and take her somewhere where she could leave freaking teacups in the front yard and not worry about them being stolen. It’s the first time I genuinely wished we lived somewhere different because I basically love where we live.
Scout had also written them a little note…
…along with a pen for them to write her back.
Last night we started writing a note to her from a fairy, but then I thought it might be, I don’t know, cheating or something. Not that it’s any different from “being Santa”, but I want to give a little 7 year old imagination hope that things like fairies might exist, without actually writing a letter from a non-existent fairy. So instead Husband chopped up the card she left out for the fairy into little shapes and sprinkled them over her Fairy Shrine.
This morning we walked past the shrine and she was a bit flustered at first that the fairies would leave something for her, then she got a bit excited and started saying “I’m going to tell EVERYONE for Show and Tell that fairies are REAL. That they VISITED me.”
What have we DONE? I feel dreadful, like we’ve set her up to look like a pariah. A freaky fairy believer. What if she’s teased by her schoolmates because of it. All we wanted to do was inspire her gentle little imagination.
Parenting FAIL 101.
No really, there was other stuff, too!
Fuck me it was a fabulous conference. I have nothing to compare it to, of course, as it’s my FIRST conference, but if they’re all like that, well, where do I sign up? And you know it must be a good event if Twitter shuts your #hashtag down temporarily because too many people are tweeting it.
For those uninitiated into the Cult of Problogger, it was 2 days of learning about how to get the most out of your blog (monetisation was a massive theme and let me tell you, there are many ways to monetise your blog, some of them sit well with me, others don’t), key ways to grow your readership, turning readers into “raving fans”, and the basics of having a blog purpose and a personality. I think mine has plenty of m*therflipping personality (don’t you think? No, just ask me) but, um, no real identifiable purpose YET.
Right, so let me get the social stuff out of the way first, and mention the cocktail party on the Friday night which was excellent. I like alcohol. Check. I like people. Check. I like darkish places that won’t show up the bags under my eyes after 2 kids and 20 extra kilograms. Check. Do I LOVE photo booths? FUCK, YEAH.
I expected to make some new friends – I wouldn’t say I’m short of a word, so it was reasonably easy to approach people. Of course, I was SHIT SCARED to meet hallowed members of the blogerati, which is dumb really, because they’re all just people. I did brush up against one so I can confirm that yes, there was a bit of flesh there. I really wanted to meet Eden Riley and Kerri Sackville – I think they’re brilliant, and they actually seemed rather approachable, which I wasn’t expecting, but the bloggers that knew each other did travel in packs a bit. Which is human nature, it’s not a judgement, but it made “cutting in” to groups quite intimidating.
Clearly I was meant to be a blogger whore. Which is fine with me. And it didn’t much matter, as there were a couple hundred other beautiful new people to meet – Carli, Caroline, Michaela, Rose, Claire, Kim from All Consuming and Zoey (and of course, Lori, Grace and Martine who trawled the Photo Booth with me) just to name a few.
I was inspired by most of the speakers/panels, to the point where I found myself wanting to run off in the middle of a talk and DO THE STUFF.
My top 10 takeaways (no, not double salami pizza, it’s much too early for that) were:
- “You don’t need a massive following to have a successful blog. You just need engaged readers” (Darren Rowse).
- “You shouldn’t be targeting everyone with social media – you should be targeting people in your niche” (James Tuckerman).
- “Look at where (successful blogs) started, not just where they are now” (Chris Guillebeau, who is not at all hard on the eye and ear).
- “Pay attention to what readers are responding to” (Darren Rowse). Which of your posts have lots of comments or traffic? Think about why that is and give readers more of what they want. Looks like me be getting a new spreadsheet!
- “Only the authentic survive” (Sarah Wilson).
- Let people know ON YOUR BLOG that you want to be a writer (as well as a blogger) – there are plenty of opportunities out there for people who want to write for other people (Kerri Sackville/Alison Tait panel).
- Tag your photos well and don’t watermark them if you want advertisers to find them on the web (Rachel Devine).
- “Think of yourself as a brand so people know what they’re getting” (Eden Riley/Mrs. Woog/Nikki Parkinson panel). Is my brand “highly opinionated potty mouthed wench” then?
- “Don’t think social media, think sharable” (James Tuckerman).
- Quit sugar and you too can be as superb as Sarah Wilson. Or not. It may take other things.
The one frustrating aspect of the event was the conflicting dialogue around “For Free or Not For Free” when it comes to sponsored posts and/or freelance writing. I mean, everyone has their own opinion, but on one hand, we had Sarah Wilson saying you have to do some things for free, that’s the reality of the industry; and on the other hand, the more successful bloggers insisting Don’t Do It For Free. For God’s Sake DON’T DO IT FOR FREE.
I think it’s all very well to say Don’t Do it For Free if you’re a Super Blogger and have 10,000 unique visits a month, but if you’ve only managed to create a reasonable following and haven’t quite reached the sanctified heights of a Super Blogger, then the reality is, you may have to do things for free at first, if that’s the path you want to go down. Of course, then the expectation is that you’ll do it for free ALWAYS, which is a prime piece of shitful as well. So confusing it’s messing with my tiny brain.
I’m not convinced that brand alignment is where I want to head. I liked Sarah Wilson’s adage “Only the authentic survive”. That’s not to say that you can’t be authentic and also do sponsored posts well, but for me, as I’ve always been a writer I’d rather use my blog as a platform to get other writing gigs and leave the blog as my purely authentic voice.
I accumulated a massive “To Action” list out of the conference, lots of little things I can do to get my work (my writing and my photos) out there, build an audience but also take care of my existing readers. In terms of making a part-time income out of the blog, which I was inspired to realise IS POSSIBLE (which I’m betting was the goal of the event anyway), the key for me is to focus first on creating quality content.
The rest will come later.
Last night’s Problogger cocktail party was a fucking HOOT. Now I will be lucky to actually get to the shower to prepare for Day 2 (Husband has already made me a coffee and offered to go in my place). Damn you Maha and your delicious wines. And damn you Problogger for your delicious bloggers.
Don’t you just love a word that starts with “arse”. I sure as hell do. Anyhoo, back to “business”. I probably won’t win any styling awards for this photo, but the contents will all be pulverised by the end of the day, anyway.
- Compendium + Pen. Because I’m freaking OLD SCHOOL, baby!
- Business Cards (and card holder when I can find the bloody thing).
- Tic-tacs for sweet-smelling breath (not that I’m expecting to snog anyone – but there may be some “close talkers”).
- Lippie, lip balm, mirror, deodorant (I’m sure it will get plenty stinky in there!), perfume (for touchups) and hand sanitiser (there will be a LOT of handshaking shenanigans going on).
- My blogger wish-list spreadsheet (which is not here as it’s a SECRET).
- I’ll nick husband’s MYKI at the last minute.
- Sunglasses to keep the blinding sun out of my eyes. Ha! Just kidding.
- Nappies and wipes. No, WAIT!
What will be in your Problogger arsenal? Is there anything I’ve missed?
The Problogger Event is on this Friday and if the Twittersphere is anything to go by, there is a little army of trepidative birdies in the nest (go on, admit it – you’re shitting your pants just a little bit. I know I am).
I get it. As a Problogger virgin myself, attending one of the biggest blogging conferences in Australia is an intimidating proposition, particularly if you are used to hiding behind a keyboard snuggling up in the soothing warmth of an anonymous blanket. All of a sudden you are expected to rock up and get your networking shesizzle ON and be INTERESTING. DYNAMIC. CHARMING. Even if that’s not your schtick.
When I was a kid I was insanely shy. PATHOLOGICALLY. My friends at Uni didn’t believe I was the doyenne of social awkwardness and called BS on me constantly. But it’s true. I had an epiphany when I lived in Canada, where I was forced to make friends because I had none of the old circles to fall back on – that everyone is having a similar experience. Every time I wonder “What does she think of me?”, that same person is probably looking at me, thinking, “What does she think of me?” I’ve learned to approach people I’m interested in talking to under the assumption that they too, are fellow travellers on the rocky path to social Shangri La.
There are a lot of inspiring people going to Problogger, whether they are keynoting, panelling or simply attending. I have a little list of about 10 people that I want to meet (oh alright then, it’s a little spreadsheet, are you happy now?), that seem like some dope-arse biatches (sorry, channelling Coolio there. Let’s get our shit together now, shall we?)
Yes. Better. They seem like a lovely bunch of smashing ladies, some of them are Problogger virgins, others not. Some have been on the blogging circuit for years (because bloggers do like a good excuse to meet up, exchange ideas over a coffee drip and clink glasses) but there’s always fresh blogging meat out there who would be happy to buy a ticket on your tram. Sorry, did I just refer to bloggers as meat? Pardon me. I’ll have to think of a better word to refer to myself. And write note to self that one doesn’t buy tickets on the tram anymore.
My five hot tips for surviving the social bit of Problogger (or any conference for that matter – knew my HR experience would come in handy one day):
1. Let go of expectations.
Sometimes a blogger who is daring and irreverent on their blog will come across as trepidative or unsure in person. I look at someone like John Cleese who is the most insanely funny bastard when acting, but in real life is softly spoken, even melancholy. They are both him – just two sides to the same coin. Conversely, blogs who don’t particularly float your boat may be written by people who end up being life-long friends and wiping your bum in the nursing home when you’re 90.
2. Don’t be intimidated.
Every member of the Blogerati started with 0 visits and the same number of Twitter/Facebook followers.
3. You’re there to learn.
OK. That might not be strictly true of the cocktail function, unless you want to know the difference between sparkling and beer (hey! We’ve all been there after a few sherbets), but if you don’t learn anything from the brilliant lineup at Problogger then you probably weren’t meant to be there in the first place.
4. Share the shesizzle.
If you’re the kind of person that everyone wants to be – charismatic and confident, with an army of blogging peeps – then take someone who looks lost amongst hundreds of screaming bloggers under your wing. Introduce them to some folks you know. You’ll have a friend for life. Just don’t, you know, eat them.
5. Remember that you are your own brand.
You have your own blogging style. Don’t be what you think other people want you to be. Be true to yourself, darlin’ (oh Shut Up, Marcia). If you’re a bit of a pottymouth (waaaaa? you’re looking at me?) then it’s hardly going to work if you prance over to Mr. Problogger and say, “Oh spiffing, darling chap, you really have put on a jolly good show here”. But I also don’t advise crowing, “This party is a fucking HOOT, BIATCH”. Remember that whilst you have your own personal brand, you still want people to talk to you.
Will I see you at Problogger?
If you’re a blogger and missed out on a live ticket, consider a Virtual Ticket.
I can’t believe I’ve only been at this Melbourne Mum caper for 3 months and I’ve already racked up 101 posts. Fuck, I’m prolific. Or just bored. Not sure which.
10 of my favourite places outside Australia
- Jasper N.P/Canadian Rockies, Canada
- The Great Wall, China
- Koya San, Japan
- New York City, US
- Vancouver, Canada
- Beijing, China
- Tokyo, Japan
- Nagasaki, Japan
- Halifax, Canada
- Cape Cod, Massachusetts
- Kate Bush
- Tori Amos
10 more things you might not know about me
- I taught English to ANA Cabin Attendants in Tokyo (photo above). Easiest freaking job EVAH.
- I once nearly stepped on a wolf in Jasper N.P. It didn’t eat me. Clearly.
- I love karaoke so bad it’s bruising my brain just thinking about it.
- I once snogged a police officer at the Marquee (South Melbourne) while he was on duty.
- I ran away from school on my first day of kindergarten (Prep for fellow Victorians). I made it most of the way home before the school realised I was even missing.
- I speak sensationally bad Japanese.
- I was on the high-school debating team and I was a shit hot debater. Just ask me.
- I am INKED, baby. A maple leaf on my lower back. Hurt like a motherf*cker but I LOVE it.
- I also have a thing for men who have visible tattoos and those who wear glasses. Not at the same time necessarily but please, at the same time. Please.
- The first time I drank alcohol I was 3 (apparently. This is my mum’s favourite story about my childhood, but I reckon it says more about her than me). I reportedly polished off the dregs of everyone’s drinks (sherry, wine, you name it) at my cousin’s Christening (f*ckin’ 70s). My parents found me and my cousin Shona rolling drunk under a table. One of my mum’s friends found us, tapped mum on the shoulder and said “Pam, I think your daughter has had too much to drink.”
- Tokyo, Japan
- Vancouver, Canada
- Toronto, New South Wales
10 of my most memorable food experiences
- Kaiseki (vegetarian) dinner in a snow-drenched temple in Koya San, Japan.
- Peking duck in Beijing. It was so good but Husband spewed all night because he ate ALL the crispy skin. I mean, come on.
- Eating BBQ lamb in an igloo in Niseko, Japan.
- Poutine at a divey takeaway joint in Quebec.
- Unagi (aka Eel) in a Tokyo elementary school. It was surprisingly good.
- My mother loved crumbed brains. I didn’t, but she fed them to me as a child anyway. Has someone mentioned the f*cking 70s yet?
- Chankonabe feast in a ryokan in Gion, Kyoto.
- Chickpea bake from the Moroccan Soup Bar, Fitzroy North.
- First yakitori at an izakaya in Tokyo.
- Ash-covered goat’s cheese from the Milawa Cheese Factory (washed down with some Brown Brothers Riesling).
- Absolute Balderdash. I am the Queen of Bullshitting and this game is my chariot.
- Trivial Pursuit.
- Settlers of Catan. Love the trash talk that goes along with this game, rather than the strategy itself.
- Every urban and suburban enclave is unique. Fitzroy, South Melbourne, Victoria Street Richmond, St Kilda, Brunswick. All beautiful (some grittier than others) and all different in their own way.
- I can walk to gorgeous cafes and the tram.
- We are spoilt for choice when it comes to diverse restaurants. I dare you to name a cuisine we don’t have somewhere here.
- Big enough to lose yourself in but not too big that you feel overwhelmed.
- Spring Racing Carnival. That is all.