Princess For A Night

Found this on Pinterest the other day:

I actually got to do this, true story. My husband worked together with my Mum to pull some strings and get us the top-level suite in the top hotel in the city for the price of a regular room. We arrived at like 10 o’clock at night, and to get to the suite you have to walk down this long-ish corridor walled by windows on both sides, you know the ones that are broken into smaller rectangles by dark frames the whole way through?

So anyway, it’s past 10 o’clock at night, it’s definitely dark out, there are stars, and we pull up to the hotel and hand the keys off the valet (!!) and I walk up the front stairs in this huge, white-satin gown, my hair done up like a princess, and then they point us to our room – and off we go, hand in hand, because we’ve been married all of about six hours, (though tbh we’d probably still walk hand-in-hand) and we head down the corridor, and it’s dark out but the corridor is lit, so the glass turns into a kind of opaque mirror, and all I can see is the long hallway with its plush carpet and on either side myself, in this huge white gown and white shoes with bows on them and dangly crystal earrings like clusters of tiny, sparkly grapes (I got my ears pierced especially for my wedding, you know), my reflection superimposed over the dark peaceful quiet of the glorious, sculpted gardens…

…and that, friends, is the story of how, just for a few short minutes, I actually lived the life of a princess, and it was grand.

Made It Monday: Yup, It’s Cake.

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

A little behind on posting since I made rather a lot of cakes in Dec, and am making Rather A Lot More in January, so here’s the next the in cake instalments:

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

How To Host A Pinterest-Worthy Party WITHOUT Going Insane (Part 1)

It can feel like there’s a lot of pressure sometimes to host ‘perfect’ events, what with the advent of Pinterest and Instagram and the like. My family is Big on Events, and we can Pinterest party like it’s… uh, 2018. I’ve been involved in plenty of events-coordination epics that took months and even years of planning, and my sisters, mother and I have collaborative Pinterest boards spawning out our ears.

But let’s face it: My life is packed. I don’t have TIME to hold Pinterest events. And honestly? I tried one for my birthday a while ago when I turned 30 and… eh. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was amazing. The place looked gorgeous, and the guests thought it was wonderful. It’s just that the sheer amount of work coordinating on the day meant I was pretty stuffed by the time the party actually *started*. Plus, Pinterest-style events are expensive, y’all.

Also, many of the “events” I’m doing these days are for kids, and you know what? A three-year-old doesn’t care if you spent six hours on their party or one or twelve. They just love that it’s a party.

But! It is entirely possible to get a party worthy of Pinterest and Instagram WITHOUT going insane, losing your mind, and making you want to stab your eyeballs out by the time the party arrives – or breaking the bank. All it takes is a little bit of planning…

1: FOCUS

The first really important step is to figure out which bit of partying you actually enjoy. My middle sister loves decorating. My mum loves cooking. Me? I love the cake. (Okay shush, I can hear your shock and surprise from here :P) So for me, that’s my deal-breaker: everything else I can hack, but the cake needs to be top-notch.

Figure out that one thing that is make-or-break for you as far as an awesome, wow-factor party is concerned. It is having the entire room full of themed decorations? It is an incredible, awe-inspiring cake? It is having every item of food totally in theme? Or is it something else entirely? That’s the thing you want to focus on.

2: IDEA KERNEL

Okay, now that you know what’s important to you focus-wise, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas. Chances are you or the person you’re planning for has this bit covered for you: my son requested a Toy Story party for his birthday last year. (Incidentally, “Toy Story” is too big a kernel for a keeping-yourself-sane party, so we narrowed it down further: Buzz was his favourite character, so we’d be having a Buzz focus.)

The year before it was Frozen (which I chose, but he was OBSESSED with it at the time, so he was pretty stoked), and when he turned three I initiated him into our time-honoured family tradition of sitting down with the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Cakes cookbook and letting him pick a cake (no shocks to anyone, he chose the race-car :)). This year, he wanted pirates, but we narrowed that down to ‘treasure’, because again, ‘pirates’ includes a HUGE variety of options and styles.

Last year, when I first wrote this series, I’d been planning for the baby’s party. Figuring 2017 was the last year I’d really get to steer the party-theme ship, I decided to do narwhals, because NARWHALS, Y’ALL. However, when we discovered that she was totally obsessed with cows, I flipped directions and we ran with cows instead.

Narwhal cake.

It’s important that you hone in on that one specific thing is that you’re interested in, because it helps when it’s time to…

3: PLAN (BRAINSTORMING)

While you can totally do this months ahead (and I do because I like to get things sorted during school holidays so term time is less insane), you do run the risk of having to flip if the person’s interest changes (especially with kids). Of course, you can always say, “Tough luck!” Your call 🙂

What you DON’T want to be doing, though, is planning the night before. Har. But with that said, if you use this system you could easily pull off a low-stress, Pinterest-worthy party with only a few hours of planning a week or so ahead, if you can either do everything yourself or have people you can outsource to.

So what exactly do you plan? EVERYTHING, but usually in a specific order.

First of all, hold onto your idea kernel. It’s going to be your guiding light when you come across ideas that are shiny but ultimately distracting.

Narwhal cake. <– Idea Kernel for the narwhal party

Secondly, brainstorm. I do this on Pinterest because it’s a great way to generate a lot of ideas fast, and you don’t have to do the thinking because you can pretty much be guaranteed that someone out there has already done it for you. Alternatively, you could do image searches on Google; you’ll still get some good results, it’s just more of a pain to try to save them and they might not be as strictly relevant.

So what am I searching for? Anything around my idea kernel. For the Toy Story party I searched ‘Toy Story cakes’, ‘Buzz Lightyear cakes’, ‘Toy Story party’, ‘Toy Story food’, etc. Often on Pinterest you can luck out and find that someone’s helpfully put together some composite images that show the food, the decorations, and the cake all in one; these can be a great place to look for ideas, especially for food.

For the baby’s narwhal party that never ended up happening (because COWS), you can see the original Pinterest board here. If you note that the first pins are at the bottom and most recent are at the top, you’ll see the gradual drift in ideas: my idea kernel was narwhals with mermaids in a teal-and-purple colour scheme, so down the bottom of the board are a lot of mermaidy pins with purple and teal colour-schemes. However, as I went along you’ll see that the pins drift towards silver + blue + Arctic. I had this thought that since it was a winter party and narwhals are Arctic I could incorporate that… but because I had my idea kernel, I realised I was drifting away from what I really wanted, and knew it was time to stop brainstorming.

Initial ideas
Ideas as I started to drift

When I was re-brainstorming for the cow party, I knew I’d be looking at a lot of farm party things – but because I knew I wanted to focus specifically on *cows*, I could avoid getting distracted by all the cute general-farm-themed stuff out there, and it literally took 15 minutes to put together a plenty-big-enough board.

How big is ‘plenty big enough’? You know it’s time to stop brainstorming either when you find yourself repeating a lot of ideas, or when you start to drift away from your kernel. You can get a perfectly decent brainstorm done in 10-15 minutes.

So now you’re finished the brainstorming phase of your planning. Tune in next week for the nitty gritty of what you actually need to plan to keep yourself sane, and hang in for Part 3 where I’ll share my prettified version of the party planning sheet :3

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How To Throw A Pinterest Party Without Going Insane – Update

It’s party-planning time again! Which means I pulled out the series I did last year to review my own handy-dandy process, and I realised that I never finished that series :\ So expect to see the updated version of the series over the next week.

But as part of that, today I made up a lil worksheet to fill out so I could go through the process I’d created easily – because, yes, I’d forgotten my own process having not done this for nearly a year, and I was in real danger of turning the planning process into something way too epic.

Instead, using the process outlined in the old posts (which will be up again soon – watch out over the next few days), it took me about 2 hours start to finish to plan the party, including roaming Pinterest for ideas, and diarising all the tasks over the next few weeks.

Here’s the unpretty version of the worksheet, in case you have a party coming up you’d like to use it for. I’ll make a prettified version over the next week or so and link you when it’s done 🙂

Word doc version

Pdf version

Top Ten Things To Do While Tired

Caution: These activities were completed under controlled test-conditions.* Do not attempt in Real Life.

1. Attempt to open your son’s school locker by pressing the car remote.

2. Drop son off to school and get halfway home before you realise you’re not supposed to be going home, you’re supposed to be going to work.

3. Show up on time for Year 11 – when you’re supposed to be teaching Year 8.

4. Overbalance when you stomp on the non-existent clutch in your automatic car (after not having driven a manual/stickshift for five years straight).

5. Walk into doorframe. Repeatedly.

6. Walk into the corner of the bed on your way back from the bathroom at night. Every night. Maintain consistent bruises on your thighs.

7. Show up early for a meeting – when you’re supposed to be teaching Year 7.

8. Miss your mouth entirely and throw your orange juice over your shoulder instead of drinking it.

9. Put the Thing in the wrong Thing. You know, the Thing with the Thingies? The Thing-Thing. Words. Urgh. THING.

10. Borrow your mother’s car. Cut the final corner on your way home with the sun just skimming the rooftop in front of you, neatly blinding you. Hit something. Bounce up so high that your head hits the ceiling of the car. Sit stunned as you wonder how on earth you managed to hit the gutter – you know you cut the corner, but surely not THAT badly? Peer confusedly as someone taps on your window. Die, as you realise that actually you didn’t hit a gutter, you literally ran over the bonnet of a tiny, old car belonging to tiny, old people that you didn’t see because Sun and that you hit because Cutting Corner, but actually all because Exhausted.

(Bonus: 11. Never be allowed to drive your mother’s car again :P)

* Lies, all lies.

Happy New Year!

Family emergencies have had me out of action since Christmas, but regardless, happy (western) new year! I look forward to sharing the next 12 months with you :3 Let’s hope they’re good ones.

All Day I Get Bacon, Not Just When I Awaken

YOU GUYS THERE IS A CUTE DOG DO YOU REALLY NEED ANYTHING ELSE TO ROUND OUT YOUR YEAR?

…Yeah okay, it’s been a pretty crappy year. Good riddance. OTOH, YAY PUPPY.

Go on. Go watch the puppy and celebrate the cuteness in life <3

HAPPY LAST WEEKEND OF THE YEEEEEEEAR!!!!! <3

Happy Holidays! (A Themed Made-It Monday)

Happy lil Dino is here to wish you all a happy holiday season, regardless of which holiday you celebrate (e.g. ‘the holiday of not celebrating other people’s holidays’, a totes legit option here). I hope you all have a great week, that no one in your family is awful, and that you can take some time out to do something that heals you.

I love you all! <3

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Gnurgh.

I have nothing especially to say rn, but I also don’t have a great excuse to NOT be here, so here I am, being here, and hereing. Woo!

Anyway, writing is progress, if not apace then at least at a better pace than during term time. I have about 37k done now in How Not To Take Over The World (HNOT), and it looks like it’s going to be closer to 80k than 70, but never mind. Just means I probably won’t get it done by the New Year, but whatevs.

ALSO, I looked at my schedule again yesterday (tooooootally not procrastinating from writing, nope, not me, nuh uh!) and, *gulp*, looks like Sanctuary Book 3 won’t be out earlier than late June of 2018. I was really hoping for a late May/early June release, but because HNOT is running a little behind schedule, I’ll be starting S3 later than planned. So yeah, even June isn’t a hard-and-fast, but it’s the aim at the moment, and obviously I’ll keep everyone posted when I have more concrete info.

I’m also doing a bunch of writing courses lately, which have been super fun, interesting, engaging and useful (if you’re a writer-type let me know and I’ll point you in the direction of what I’ve been doing), and as part of the assignments for these I’ve been working on building some new stories in the background. There are a couple in particular that I’m REALLY excited about and cannot WAIT for you to read some day – but sadly, they need to get in the queue, because obviously I need to finish Sanctuary as a priority, and then probably the HNOT trilogy since, y’know, book 1 will be complete. Ha. And then I’ve been promising a segment of my mailing list the Fox Red books, since the opening scenes (?) of that are in the That Moment When anthology and all, soooooo…. Yeah. Wow. So many books, so little time.

Still. I’ve done what, over 7k in the last three days? Hardly epic, but also a huge amount better than the 0 I’d been doing for the previous four weeks! 😀 Getting there. Getting there.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling. HP#4 is finishing up on TV and I’m going to head to bed and hope madly that this will be the night that the insomnia (caused by injudicious consumption of far too many amines over the last month, urgh) *finally* agrees to get lost and let me actually sleep.

I like sleep. Sleep and I are good friends.

Pity we haven’t seen more of each other the last few weeks. Blah.