Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Berlin Trip Planning

Hi all. I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but I'll have to take a blogging break until the end of the week. Things are just a bit hectic this week as I prepare for a business trip to Berlin.

Next week should be back to normal, although I won't have as much time for blog visits. Will do my best, though.

I will announce the winners to the Paying Forward Awards and the Word Master Challenge next week, so don't stop voting and entering!

See you next week!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Berlin Preparations

Sorry for not posting yesterday. It's now my last week before my trip to Berlin, which means this week will mainly be spent running around looking for winter clothes (proper ones for very cold temperatures). In the middle of summer.

Needless to say, this implies plenty of running around and even more sweating in the fitting rooms. So this won't be a hiatus announcement, but more of a warning that my postings will be irregular for the next two and a half weeks.

I will try to post pictures of Berlin while I'm there, though.

Anyone else traveling to the other side of the world soon? Where are you going?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Singing again and other news

After weeks of not singing a note, I'm finally back at class. It's actually a nice feeling, even though I'm a bit disappointed by how much my voice's quality slipped back.

Oh well. I'll catch back up as soon as possible.

Otherwise, I'm still going strong in my carb-fast. Next week I'll be reintroducing selected carbs to my diet so it's not a shock for me when I have to eat lots of bread in Berlin.

And yes, I'm assuming there will be lots of bread there.

BUT! There will also be lots of walking, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue.

Otherwise, I'm re-thinking the structure of my blogging at the moment.

I currently have three. All are at least moderately active. But the thing is, I don't think the third blog is sustainable. I started it as a chronicle of my activities as a new orchid grower. All nice and well, but I made one very crucial error. I assumed orchids to be tricky little buggers.

And they're not.

So now I'm stuck pulling at my hair because half the time, I have no idea what I should write about.

Now I'm wondering. Would you all mind terribly if I combined this blog with that one? It's not highly scientific or anything and hopefully it shouldn't be all that boring.

The reason why I want to merge the two is that orchids are starting to form a significant form of my life, so it can be put in here every now and then.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Food blues

One advantage I have when it comes to writing this blog is the fact that I'm so much more self aware for it.

Especially when it comes to my "Taking Charge of my Life" posts. I never post something under that tab unless I've managed some extent of success with it.

It also means that often, I also know where I struggle. And yes, I do.

I struggle a lot.

The posts I write are up-beat and orientated towards successes, but there are always things I want to do better. To do more of.

One of these things is managing my weight.

And trust me, I've probably tried everything in the book when it comes to that. The only method I've found to meet with constant and noticeable success is cutting out sugar and refined flour to a large extent.

I say large extent for the same reason why I'm only writing this now, at 9 p.m., when I should have had this post scheduled this morning. Without some form of carbohydrates, I'm useless.

And no, it isn't some sort of food addiction thing. I've been off carbs for two weeks, wanting to kick start my weight loss and hijack control back over my food. I don't really crave any more (thanks to my "I don't want to eat these" thinking), but I'm definitely feeling the lack.

I don't lack energy. But I lack the sort of energy that pops up on demand. (Don't ask. I'm not a specialist. This is coming from own experiences.) Like yesterday, I tried to swim. It felt like I was in custard.

So yeah, cutting carbs and exercise are turning into an either/or thing for me. I want to like exercise. I want to like the way I feel sugar free.

Right now, I don't.

Still, I'm keeping to my challenge. Why? Because it's Wednesday of my second week. The third will be my last for now. Then it'll be much healthier choices for me.

In the meantime, though, I'm down to pure determination. I don't like eating protein all the time. I hate the lack of variety. Most of all, I hate the feeling I have to live with.

But by jove I will get through this, because I'm stronger than my food tastes.

Anyone else change the way you ate recently?

Monday, January 21, 2013

As promised...

Sorry for skipping the past few days. Work was really busy last week and when it wasn't I took the time to finish this instead...

Yup. Very late, but my grandmother finally has a completed Christmas present. In case you're wondering, the lady on the right is her. The one on her left is her cousin Joey.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Sorry about missing yesterday's post.

I had decided to query every single literary agent on my list and it took much longer than expected.

I will say this, though. It's scary. Because not only am I putting my money where my mouth is, but I'm putting ALL my money where my mouth is.

If all of these agents say no, I'm not going to get an agent. They don't take resubmissions.

At the same time, I know God is guiding my way. If it's His will for me to go the traditional way, He'll make sure I get the perfect agent.

In the mean time, I'm in for a two month wait.


What about you, have you ever gone far out on a limb? How did it work out for you?

Friday, January 11, 2013

10 Things I Learnt in 2012

Since Wednesday's 10 things post went over so well, I thought I'd do another, more in line with what TCoML is about. 

Therefore: I present to you the 10 big lessons I learnt last year. (In no particular order.)

  1. Changing the wording in my mind changed the game. Instead of "I have to do this..." I tried saying "I want to do this." It really makes a difference. 
  2. Not to put limits on the size of God's grace. When I decide what He won't do for me, He more often than not doesn't. But when I keep faith that ANYTHING is possible through him, everything became possible. 
  3. Sometimes, doing a good thing, isn't necessarily right. Confusing, I know, but once you'd spent an amount of time serving a church, you might know what I mean. 
  4. Commitment isn't always about who gets an advantage, but neither is it intended to be a punishment. 
  5. Committing to my happiness is a 24/7 job, because no one else will do it for me. 
  6. No one can fully support anyone, even if they love that person. It's impossible to fully support something you know nothing about. 
  7. Fighting and screaming is miles better than silence and toxic atmospheres. As long as fighting is done while keeping things clean and in order to make something better.  
  8. I can do much more than I think. 
  9. Sometimes taking deep breaths are better than to say or write something. 
  10. Being Christian and living as one can be very hard, but satisfying at the same time. 

So that's my lessons from last year. What did you learn?  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beginnings Blogfest

Today is L.G. Keltner's Beginning's Blogfest. She was nice enough not to stipulate what type of beginning we should work with, so I thought I'd be different and let my two entered posts run along the same line.

MFB's post is about what my first days as a beginning blogger were like. Here, I'm sharing ten tips I wish I knew when I started. So let's just jump in, shall we?

  1. Don't sit there waiting for people to come. Get out there. Comment. Draw attention. DO NOT SPAM COMMENTS. 
  2. When commenting, DON'T DO THIS. or This!!!! (In case you're wondering, I didn't do either, but saw people who did, and it's rude and annoying.)
  3. Leaving nice comments showing you actually read what people wrote, brings those people to you. 
  4. Get involved. Help when people need help. Even if it's spreading the word. Even if it's posting on your STILL tiny blog.
  5. Use the above to ask for advice. You'll get it in spades. 
  6. Short posts. I repeat. Short posts. 300 words are optimal. 
  7. It's okay to poach followers from blogs. Go to the big ones and go visit as many of their followers as you can. Trust me, they want the interaction as much as you do. 
  8. Don't ever think people will continue to come to you if you stop visiting them. It's nothing personal, but there are thousands of bloggers. If you don't stay in their awareness, they'll forget about you. 
  9. If someone writes something controversial, think before you comment. Yes, disagreeing is fine, but don't be rude. It's not only between you and the blogger. Everyone else can see it too. Nothing creates a worse impression than a rude comment. 
  10. Blogger has word verification activated as a default. If you don't want to annoy more than half your readers, de-activate it. It's not that hard to check comments for spam. You can even activate a moderation option so nothing goes through without your say-so. 
There are many more about the finer points of blogging, but those you can figure out for yourself. But if you apply the ten tips I gave, you'll be well on your way. Promise!

Anyone have more tips for beginning bloggers? 

Monday, January 7, 2013

How to achieve resolutions: It's a mind-set thing.

Before I start, I just want to clarify the following: Although this post was written with New Year's resolutions in mind, it applies to goals in general, so please bear with me.

Every year, January is filled with people on two ends of the same spectrum. There are those who have a million and one things they are "resolved" to do in the new year. Usually it involves losing weight, or publishing that book they never finished, or any of the many other noble resolutions.

Then there are the others. You know, those who are resolved not to set any resolutions, cause hey, they're doomed to fail anyway, aren't they?

Most of them end up not really getting things done that they want to get done. Interestingly, the reason for their failure is identical.

They gave up too soon.

How many people do you know who wanted to give up smoking? They did well for the first few weeks, but the first time they stumble, they give up. Or maybe the second time.

And the non-resolutioners. They're always so happy to tell you they're not setting goals. Oh good. But... isn't that giving up before trying? Because deep down, most of them were devout resolution-setters who met with failure again and again and now just don't bother any more.

In the middle of the spectrum, there are a few people who work differently. They set goals and chase after them with abandon. Once they achieve their goals, they set more and go chasing again. It might not be for everybody. I sort of realized that this way of living makes me quite highly strung. I always have something to do. Somewhere to be. Something that needs to be improved. On the other hand, I VASTLY prefer it to being passive. I've been wondering why we few, we band of brothers (sorry... just HAD to), are able to function in such a high octane situation, so I started listening to when people in this area of the spectrum spoke.

I read and listened to interviews with entrepreneurs and people who changed the world by going after what they wanted. This is what I learnt:

1) Almost none of them fell into success by accident.
2) None of them believe that circumstances are unchangeable.

Let me repeat that.






It does not exist. Yes. There are things that didn't work. It might cost a lot of blood, sweat, tears and (let's face it) money. But it's not failure. These things other people see as failed, they see as one possibility for success ruled out. 

Then they dust themselves off and start again, using what they've learnt.

They might even change the goal. See point 2 above for the reason why this is okay.

The point is this: When there isn't such a thing as failure, going after big goals aren't that scary. Taking risks aren't all that bad (as long as you're not being stupid). Most importantly: Everything you set out to do becomes that much more possible, because no set-back is going to make you give up.

On the contrary. It will strengthen you. Give you knowledge you didn't have but might need to achieve your goal.

So you wanted to quit smoking but failed when sitting in the smoking section of a restaurant? Start again, and this time, sit in non-smoking. Wanted to lose weight, but refined sugar got you again and again. Don't let sugar into your house. And no, it isn't punishing your loved ones. They can buy their own (crappy) refined sugar as long as they keep it out of your sight.

Get up. Adapt. Keep going.

Failure. Doesn't. Exist.

God speed!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy but really tasty stuffed mushroom recipe

For the past few months, I've really been craving mushrooms for some odd reason, so when I decided I wanted to start cooking more, I thought I'd try stuffed mushrooms first. 

I did some improvising, so I guess it means it's my own recipe now. It turned out very well, which is why I decided to share it with you all. 

Mushrooms (48 small or 20 or so large ones, depending on size) 
500g Sausage (I used pork. Also, if you have more people, easy trick to increase servings without doubling the recipe is adding more sausages.)
230g (one tub) cream cheese. 
Half a cup of bread crumbs
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 crushed garlic segments
1-2 tbsp parsley 
salt and pepper to taste (just remember that the mixture tastes different without the mushroom, so go for less rather than more)
a cheese you think will work with your sausage of choice, grated. I used emmental. 

1) Prewarm oven at 200 deg C (400 deg F). Cover baking trays with foil. 
2) De-stem the mushrooms and pack caps on trays. Put aside. 
3) Mix cream cheese, garlic, parsley and garlic until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Be careful Put aside. 
4) Cut open sausage links and cook the sausage mince on a skillet or frying pan until not pink. Might be necessary to tease the mince apart, although some chunks are fine. 
5) Mix bread crumbs into the mince. 
6) Mix still warm mince into the cheese mixture. 
7) Divide mixture between mushrooms. And grate emmental (or other preferred cheese). 
8) Put into oven for 14-16 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked. 

See? Easy. 

By the way, sorry for only posting this today. Was busy with it yesterday, but lost the desire to write to a blinding headache. Anyway. Have fun with playing around with the recipe. 

Which variations do you think would be good? 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A quick update

It's actually nice to be back at work again.

Although it's fun to be lazy, work just brings balance to my life. Odd to think about it, but I found that while I was immersing myself in all my artistic activities, I missed work.

Anyway, today is the first day where I get to apply some of the activities I want to do in order to achieve this year's goals. So eating healthier (and less) and exercising more.

Hopefully I'll be able to resume with my singing instruction soon.

Otherwise, I'm busy getting ready to send out another round of queries.

But yeah, otherwise, things are still pretty boring, so I'm just going to sign off for today.

How are you doing?