New years resolutions 2017

One of my favourite things about starting a fresh new year is setting new years resolutions. I’m a total productivity nerd so any opportunity to self-evaluate and set goals gets my gears turning.  I’d really like 2017 to be a year of self-love and transformation.  And I want to make sure that I make time for the things that I love most.  To that end, here are my resolutions for the next 12 months.

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Journal at least once a week

Regrettably, I’ve neglected my journal badly this past year.  I’ve gone entire months where I haven’t put pen to paper once.  That makes me sad, because not only is journalling really cathartic for me, but it creates a wonderful record of my experiences.  I used to journal every single day, but that’s not really realistic with my current schedule.  I think aiming for a minimum of once a week is much more do-able.

Read all the books in my to-read pile.

I have a huge stack of books waiting to be read on top of my bookshelves.  Some of them were gifts from two Christmasses ago, and I still haven’t gotten to them.  I read a lot, but lately I’ve been getting a lot of books from the library.  This year, I’d really like to zero in on those books I already own, and start making headway on them.  By this time next year, I’d love to have that pile down to nil, or to whittle it down considerably.

Knit a whole garment

I adore knitting and crocheting, and in the last few years my skills have grown in leaps and bounds.  I’ve taken a few chances with patterns I’ve found scary, such as knitting socks and mittens and crocheting placemats.  This year, I’d really like to have a go at knitting a whole jumper or cardigan for myself.  I think I’m ready.

Continue transitioning to a vegan-ish diet

Over the last two months, I’ve been learning about veganism and begun making some significant changes in my diet.  And I’ve felt so much better for it.  I’ve lost a little weight, I’ve had more energy and I feel more creative with my cooking.  I’ve been referring to my diet as “vegan-ish” because I’m finding it practically difficult to be full vegan.  I often dine with my parents and they both eat meat and dairy.  And I live in a small town and most restaurants offer limited vegetarian options, and no vegan options on the menu to speak of.  I don’t want to make a huge fuss, because I’m self conscious. So ultimately what I’m aiming for is to cook vegan food in my own home, and make the best choices I can when I’m out and about.  I’d like to continue to learn more about vegan cooking and work towards creating a diet that works for me.

Declutter my flat

About two months ago I started a ruthless declutter of my belongings.  I just have so many items that I don’t use and it was overwhelming. I’ve already gone through my wardrobe and gotten through a huge stack of items that no longer fit me, items I don’t wear and things that were worn out.  I’ve gone through one of my bookcases as well, and my makeup.  By the end of the year I want to have done a massive purge, clearing out the items I don’t need and actually removing them from my home.

Buy fewer things

On the flipside of decluttering and throwing away stuff I don’t need, I’d really like to be mindful of what I’m bringing into my home.  I want to try to buy fewer things, and really think carefully about what I’m buying.  I’d like to buy better quality items that will last longer and avoid purchasing items on impulse.

Write more sex-positive posts.

This year, I began writing more posts about one of my favourite topics: sex.  I’ve written a number of sex toy reviews, shown you my haul from Oz Kink Fest and chatted a little bit about BDsM.  And so many of you enjoyed those posts and gave excellent feedback.  This year, I’d like to review loads more toys for you, as well as delve deeper into some specific sexual health topics and do some more BDsM posts.

Build an aftercare kit

I’ve been exploring the world of BDsM a lot more deeply this year, and I’ve been playing with my Dom often.  Aftercare is an essential part of any kind of BDsM play, and one thing I’ve been thinking about making myself is an aftercare kit.  I’d like to pack up all the essentials I need after a scene into a little bag so that they’re all together and ready for use.  That way, when I’m all head-foggy after a scene I don’t have to go searching through the house for what I need to bring myself back down to earth.  And it will be so handy to just pop the kit into my luggage when I travel.

What are your goals for 2017?  Do you have any questions about my resolutions?

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New year’s resolutions 2016

Regular readers of my blog might recall that I didn’t make new year’s resolutions this year.  I started a new job in January and I figured I had enough to worry about without heaping a bunch of new goals onto my plate.  So now that I’m settled into work I thought it would be a great opportunity to make a few resolutions for the year ahead.

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Get my to-read list down to seven pages

My to-be-read list is out of control.  It’s currently eight pages long and threatening to spill over onto another page.  In the past year I haven’t made a lot of time for reading, but I’d like to change that in 2016.  I would really like to carve out a bit of time a few times a week to lose myself in a book and really chip away at this list.  If I could whittle it down to seven pages, that would be great.

Finish off a few niggling spring-cleaning jobs

I have a couple of spring-cleaning jobs that have been hanging over my head seemingly forever.  These include fixing my reading lamp which has been broken for the better part of a year, picking up some prints that I took to the framers six months ago and taking all the bags of clothing that I’ve cleared out of my closets to the donation bin.  This year I’d love to stop procrastinating and just get these things done.

Visit a teppanyaki restaurant

I think this goal was on my resolutions list a few years back and I never ticked it off.  But this year I want to book in and eat a fabulous Japanese meal that’s cooked right in front of me by a talented chef.

Make at least three vlogs this year

I really enjoy vlogging, but it’s been such a long time since I made a new video.  I have plenty of ideas, but I just never get around to actually making the vids.  In 2016, I want to put at least three new videos up on my channel. If you have any ideas or requests, please let me know!

Buy less

My spending habits went a bit feral in 2015.  Working full time meant having more fun money, and as a result I went a bit silly buying lots of things I didn’t need.  Now that I’ve gotten over the novelty of earning a full-time wage, I’d like to spend more of my time enjoying the things I have rather than acquiring more, and being more discerning about what I spend my cash on.

Review some products for my blog

It feels like forever since I last reviewed a product on my blog.  And I’ve found some sensational things that I want to share with you all.  Hopefully by the time the year grows to a close, I’ll have had a chance to tell you about some of my favourite beauty products, some sensational gadgets and (if I’m feeling brave) maybe even some sex toys. And, as always, I’m open to requests.

Try one new recipe a week

The top of my fridge is currently littered with recipes that I’ve torn from magazines and newspapers.  My Pinterest is overflowing with things I want to make.  I will occasionally try something new but mostly I’ve just been sticking to the old favourites.  This year I want to really make a big effort to try some of those mouth-watering recipes, and if I could manage to do one a week, that would be sensational.

Get my eyes tested and possibly get some new glasses

I am woefully aware that my eyesight has deteriorated, and it’s been at least four years since I last got my peepers checked.  This year I vow to make an appointment with the optometrist and get some new glasses and contacts.

Start planning an overseas trip

I have never been overseas, but with many of my friends making trips to far-flung lands this year I’m feeling inspired to change that.  I don’t see myself actually having a chance to go overseas this year, but I’d like to at least begin planning in earnest.  I’m thinking either the US or England for my inaugural trip.  What do you think?

Celebrate my birthday in style

I turn *gasp* 30 in 2016 and I want to make sure that I celebrate it properly.  I’m not really sure what I want to do for my birthday, but I know that I want it to be fun and memorable.

 

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress with these goals as the year goes on.  I don’t really expect to do every one of them, but it sure would be nice if I could tick most of these things off my list.

 

Are you making resolutions this year?  What are some of the things that you’d like to achieve in 2016?

Confessions of a craft fair virgin.

Last weekend I finally took the plunge and ticked something off my bucket list.  For ages I’ve wanted to run a stall at a craft fair.  While I love my Etsy store, I was keen to try selling at markets as well. Selling in person has some distinct advantages: you don’t have to worry about crazy shipping costs, potential customers have a chance to touch and try on your wares and you can joke and chat with your customers.

I was extremely nervous about running my own market stall.  I was very worried that my crafts weren’t good enough or that nobody would want to buy what I was selling.  I was concerned that my social anxiety would make it hard for me to interact with my customers without it seeming forced.  I also felt a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work that would be involved in running a stall.

So guess what… it was really hard.  I put in tonnes of work and preparation, I only made a single sale and I felt so nervous every time someone came to my stall.  But you know what else? It was totally worth it and I would definitely do it again.  Here are a few observations I took away from my first time as a craft-stall vendor.

There’s no one “right” way to run a stall.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time stressing over how I should set up my stall.  I looked at countless Pinterest boards for inspiration and ended up completely spinning myself out.  I was so unsure about how my stall should look, what type of displays I should use, how much stock to bring and so many other worries.  In the end, I went for a pretty minimalist look with a few displays and most of my stock spread out on the table.  And you know what?  It really seemed to work.  My colourful goodies really stood out from the crowd and loads of people were drawn to check out all the awesome colours and textures at my booth.

There were some really professional-looking displays at the market.  Some vendors had made their entire stall from scratch.  Others hired tables and used home-made or pre-purchased display racks.  But they all looked awesome and everyone was making sales.  When you’re trying to plan a stall, it’s best to stick with a few simple ideas that seem right to you, see what works and build from there.  Comparing yourself to other stalls will drain your energy and worth.

Talk to other vendors and learn from them.

I met some fantastic vendors at the craft fair.  There were some people who, like me, were relatively new to the game and others who were market veterans.  Everyone was really friendly and helpful, and I picked up some great tips to help me with my stall and my customers.  If you’re a newbie, these tidbits of info are so valuable.

And don’t forget, even if you don’t know that much about markets there might be some other areas that you have some flair in.  For example, the woman running the stall opposite mine has been thinking of starting an online store so I was able to give her some pointers based on what has worked for me in the past.  We swapped advice and it was a great learning experience.  It’s great when people are willing to help you out and learn as well as teach.  It’s the type of scenario that everyone benefits from!

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Bring business cards…and lollies.

Not every customer will be ready to buy on the day.  Markets can be quite overwhelming and some will be unsure of what they want to spend their money on with so many options on offer.  For that reason, it’s nice to have something that your potential customers can take away with them.  I made sure that each person I talked to took my card and a sweet treat.  If people wanted something I didn’t have, I highlighted the fact that I can make custom orders on request.  Offering people a card in a friendly way isn’t too pushy, and it gives them the opportunity to take a look at your shop when they have more time on their hands.

Pay attention to what your customers have to say.

Although it can be daunting to put your crafts out for display and potential criticism, it can also be a valuable learning experience.  I gained so much insight into the kinds of things my customers are looking for, which will be very helpful.  For example, I was able to take note of the items that were most popular, and which things people asked for which I didn’t have.  I noticed that there were a lot of children at the market shopping with pocket money, and that most of my items were out of their price range.  So next time I plan to have some small cheap items, such as headbands or crocheted brooches, which can be bought with small change.  I will make sure to have some of the sought-after items that people seemed to be looking for.  And I will put those more popular items in a prominent place so they catch the eye.  Even though I only made one sale this time, I feel more equipped for my next market.

Have you ever run a craft market stall?  What did you learn from the experience?

The struggle between control and letting go.

I’m a firm believer in going after what you want.  If there is something in my life that I wish were different, I will do whatever is in my power to change it.  However, there’s always a bit of difficulty in deciding what is within my power and what is outside my control.

There is a point when you’re working towards something when you have to relinquish control and just let things happen.  But I’ve learned that I’m not good at identifying when that point arrives and deciding to let go at the appropriate time.  Part of this is possibly due to my anxiety, part of it is probably because I’m a perfectionist who is fiercely independent and wants to do Everything For Myself.  And part of likely comes down to the fact that I’m a bit impatient and I want everything good to happen Right Now.

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I feel as though I’m constantly torn between two beliefs: that of “If it’s meant to be, it will be” and “If you want it, you have to make it happen”.  I often feel the pull between these two ideas, never quite knowing how to draw the line between them.

On the one hand, I’m not about to sit on my backside and wait for good things to come to me.  It’s not in my nature to just wait patiently while expending only the energy to send out some positive thoughts.  While I think that positive thoughts are great, they need to be coupled with dedicated action if you’re actually going to get somewhere.

That being said, all the dedicated action in the world isn’t always enough to propel you towards your goal.  Sometimes, even though you’ve worked really hard, the stars just never quite align and opportunities don’t present themselves as quickly as you’d hoped.   If you keep slaving away, you’ll eventually just work yourself into the ground, so you have to just let things go a little bit.

For me, one thing that has helped me to straddle the line between “working towards a goal” and “letting things unfold naturally” has been to identify where the control in a situation lies.  Often in a scenario, we have some degree of control, but we aren’t able to influence the entire outcome.  Once I’ve found the things I can control, I put my energy into working on these areas.  For example, if I’m going for a job interview, I can’t control the questions I’m asked or the final decision. But I can control my presentation by making sure I’m well-dressed and that I’m equipped with an up-to-date resume.  I can control my ability to answer the questions by researching the company I’ll be working with, thinking about some answers to common questions and trying to remain calm during the interview.  Once I’m out of that interview room, there’s little more I can do, so worrying about it is pointless.  So I try to put my worries out of my mind.

When I get to a point where I’ve done all that I can do to the best of my ability, it’s time to step back.  It’s true that sometimes you have to be patient and just allow things to happen.  And once you’ve done your bit, it’s that much easier to hand the reigns over to the universe and let it drive for a while.

Also, if I get to a point where I feel like I’ve been working my fingers to the bone and I’m still beating my head against a wall, then I find it’s time to relinquish my stranglehold on the situation.  Often, things take a bit of time to take shape and you need to give yourself space to see the bigger picture.  It will pay to let go a little, trust me.

Do you struggle between control and letting go?  How do you deal with this conundrum?

New year’s resolutions update: join a class or club.

This month, I had resolved that I would take a class or join a club.

So on Wednesday, I headed off for my very first New Vogue dance class.  I’d never actually heard of New Vogue before, but I knew it was an older style of dancing and I was keen to give it a shot.  After a bit of research, I learned that New Vogue is an Australian dance style that originated in the 1930’s.  It features a series of pre-choreographed dances that have between 16 and 32 steps which are repeated in sequence until the end of the song.

I was extremely nervous before my first lesson.  I have practically no dance experience (except for a couple of years of bellydance, but I didn’t think that those skills would apply here).  I was sure that I wouldn’t know anybody at the dance and I was worried because I didn’t have a partner.  I didn’t think that anyone would want to dance with me because I was a stranger and a beginner to boot.

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I couldn’t have been more wrong.  The people at the dance made me feel so welcome and were very encouraging.  Right away, one of the gentlemen got me up and taught me the basic waltz step.  He was so kind to me, even though I kept tripping over my own feet!

The dance club meets every Wednesday night.  The beginners are supposed to come at 7pm, and spend half an hour practicing with the instructors.  From 7:30 to 10:30, a dance is held.  About 12 dances are performed each night, with supper served at the midpoint.  Unfortunately the information I got about the times was wrong, and I arrived at 7:30 so I missed the instructions at the beginning.  It didn’t really matter too much though.  I was encouraged to sit and watch for a while.

I was amazed.  The average age of the dancers is 65 years, but they move like much younger people.  It was easy to tell the couples that had been dancing for a long time, because they seemed to glide around the floor.  Their movements were so fluid and perfectly in sync.

I also couldn’t help but be drawn to the glamour of some of the women who were dancing.  They were all beautifully dressed and very stylish.  I couldn’t stop staring at a slight woman with a figure as dainty as a little bird.  Her white hair was cropped into a bob and she wore a perfectly tailored blouse and a flowing cream skirt.  On her feet were a pair of beautiful champagne-coloured dancing slippers with rhinestones on the buckles.  Although she must have been at least 65, she was possibly the most graceful thing I’d ever seen.  Her every movement was precise and measured, but seemed completely natural at the same time.  I spoke with her during supper and she told me that she’d been dancing since she was a teenager.

I was introduced to a couple who had competed in New Vogue dances for decades and now teach others to dance.  They really took me under their wing, and the gentleman took me to a quiet corner to teach me some of the steps.  He taught me how to do the Festival Glide.  When the music for The Glide began to play, he took me by the arm onto the floor.  I danced the whole dance with only a few minor hiccups.  I was so proud of myself.

My dance instructor also taught me the steps to The Merrilyn, which is a waltz.  He was such a patient teacher and I truly appreciated his help.

Another gentleman got me up onto the dance floor during the Sallyann Cha Cha and tried to teach me.  I didn’t do too badly, but I did tread on his toes a few times.  He didn’t mind at all though.

Just as I was struck by the grace of the women, I was blown away by the manners of the gentlemen.  I don’t think I’ve ever been treated with such chivalry and politeness.  It was so lovely.

I had such a wonderful time at the dance. Everyone was so friendly and I learned quite a few new steps.  Although it will be a while until I’m ready to show off my skills, I’m very excited at the prospect of learning the dances.  I’m so glad that I gave it a shot and I can’t wait for the next class.

New year’s resolution update: January 2014

I canNOT believe that January is already at a close. Sheesh 2014, slow down a little whydoncha?  It’s already time to racap my goal for this month, which was to experiment with making my own household and beauty products.

I feel as though I did really well with this resolution. It began with a lot of research into the kinds of products that I could make at home.  I soon realised that there is a huge range of beauty and household products that are really simple to whip up yourself.  Once I had a list of recipes going, I couldn’t wait to get started.

I’m a fairly frugal person, and I don’t like throwing out things that are still good to use.  For this reason I didn’t make as many beauty products as I would have liked this month.  I have a bathroom cupboard that’s full of lotions and potions, and I didn’t see much point in making items that I already had.  So I’m planning on making fresh products to replace the ones I’ve got as I use them up.

So, what did I make?

DSCF9387– Cold cream face cleanser (using this recipe)

Salt and vinegar foot soak

– Tub tea using a pair of ripped tights, oats, powdered milk, Epsoms salts and bergamot oil.

– Multi-purpose cleaning spray (1 cup white vinegar, 3 tablespoons lemon juice)

– Yoga mat cleaner

– Laundry powder

I also experimented with substituting simple household products for commercial cleaners, which was interesting.

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My yoga mat cleaner  is so easy to make.  Just mix 5 drops eucalyptus essential oil and 5 drops of tea tree oil with a cup of distilled water and pop into a jar or bottle.  Use it to wipe down your yoga mat to keep it clean and smelling fresh.

DSCF9391This laundry detergent works a treat.  I just grate up a bar or soap (or use 1 cup of soap flakes) and mix it with 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda.  Just add one scoop to each wash.

I had a great time experimenting with more natural cleaning products. Not only was it MUCH cheaper than buying commercial products, the natural versions worked just as well.  It didn’t take much extra effort and I no longer get a headache from using loads of strong-smelling cleaners.

If you’re interested in making the switch to all-natural cleaning, here are a few products that I recommend buying.  Most of these can be used for a number of purposes, or act as the base ingredients in many of the recipes I used.

DSCF9392– White vinegar (is anti-bacterial and can be used for wiping surfaces, cleaning stovetops and kitchen appliances, cleaning the bathroom and toilet.  Also, a capful in your wash will make your linens super soft and fluffy.

– Bi-carb soda: is a natural deodorant.  You can use it to absorb odors from carpets, microwaves, refrigerators, pet beds and stinky shoes. It also makes a bitching dry shampoo.

– Lemon juice: another anti-bacterial agent that can be used to clean and deodorize.

– Borax: Can be used in laundry detergent.  You can mix it with vinegar to clean your toilet.  It’s brilliant for scrubbing showers, tubs and sinks and lifts baked-on grease off your stove like a dream.

– Washing soda: mainly used for laundry detergent but you can also use it as a dish washing agent.

-Essential oils (particularly eucalyptus and tea tree) to deodorize and disinfect.  A few drops of each in a bucket of water will leave your floors gleaming and smelling gorgeous.

I feel like I did a pretty good job with this month’s resolution.  I am looking forward to trying out some more recipes as the year continues.

My new year’s resolutions for 2014

Happy new year!  I hope that you’re feeling bright, bubbly and ready to leap into 2014. I certainly am.

 

2013 was a bit of a bummer, to be honest.  So I’m hoping that this year will be better.  To that end, I’ve made a list of the things that I want to accomplish this year.

 

Last year I found it really helpful to make one resolution for each month.  This helped to break down my goals and make them a bit more manageable.  It was brilliant to have one thing to focus on each month, and it made the whole process a lot less overwhelming.  I also made loads of progress with the goals I set last year and I think that the one-a-month method had a lot to do with that.  So I’m going to do the same thing this year.

 

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

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January: Experiment with making my own beauty and household products

Ever since Miss Fairchild bought me a stack of her homemade beauty products, I’ve become slightly obsessed the the idea of making some of my own.  I’ve even created a Pinterest page devoted to household recipes. In January I’m going to experiment with making some of my own cleaning products and beauty concoctions.

 

February: Look for a new job

My current job is fine, but it’s only part-time.  I struggle a bit with money.  I have enough to make ends meet, but not a lot left over for fun extras.  So I’d like to start looking for a new job, that’s a bit more challenging and pays a bit better.

 

 

March: Take a trip on my own

The idea of travelling on my own both terrifies and excites me.  I’d love to take a little weekend trip to one of the small towns in my area.  There are so many beautiful places just a few hours away that it would be gorgeous to visit.  And I’d love to try going on my own.

 

 

April: Join a class or club

A few months ago, I signed up for dance classes and yoga classes. Then my Nana got ill and things just went a bit topsy-turvey.  I’m still really excited by the idea of learning to dance to doing yoga classes, so in April I’m going to throw myself into it.

 

 

May: Improve my posture

Although I’m pretty happy with my body, I think that my posture leaves a bit to be desired.  I tend to slouch and I often stand with my weight off to one side, which is murder on my back.  In May, I’d really like to make a concerted effort to improve my posture.

 

June: Go to a teppanyaki restaurant

I’ve always wanted to visit a teppanyaki restaurant, where the chef prepares your food at a hotplate right in front of you and performs all kinds of tricks.  It’s almost like dinner theater.  I’ve never been before because they’re jolly pricey, but this year I’m going to save up and go (perhaps for my birthday!)

 

July: Buy nothing new

I like to have a month each year where I give up shopping.  Not only is it good for my wallet, but it forces me to take stock of what I’ve already got and appreciate it more.  It’s always a bit of a challenge, but totally worth it.

 

 

August: Learn to use my sewing machine

I got a sewing machine for my birthday two years ago, and I still don’t know how to use it.  I’m going to ask my Mum to give me some lessons and hopefully by the end of the month I might be able to whip up a simple pattern.

 

 

September: Run a stall at a craft fair or market

I’ve always wanted to run my own stall at a market, but it’s a very daunting prospect.  I haven’t the foggiest idea how to go about securing a place, and I’m nervous about whether people would buy my wares.  But this year, I’m going to do it.  For reals.

 

October: Go camping

Despite living in Australia (where camping is one of our national pastimes) and being the daughter of an avid camping enthusiast, I’ve never been camping.  Well, I’ve slept in a tent in my backyard, but that’s not really the same thing.  I’d really like to spend at least one night sleeping under the stars and cooking with a campfire.

 

November: get my driver’s license

I’ve had my learner’s permit for more than ten years and it’s time that I took the leap into solo-driver status.  I’ve been taking driving lessons this year, and I still need a lot of practice, but I think that by November I’ll be ready to take my driving test.  Having my own license would open up a lot of opportunities for me and would give me so much freedom.

 

What are your resolutions for this year?