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Kangaroo Spotting

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Can You Avoid Gender Stereotypes with Babies?

Does a baby’s gender affect the way you treat them? I wish the answer was no.

I look good in blue, no?
This day and age we have access to unlimited information about stereotyping and it's affects. We know the history (HIS story) of patriarchy and recognize society sends very clear messages about gender roles.We know that if a child does not quite fit the typical mold bullying can occur, or worse.

I’ve taken many Women’s Studies courses in undergrad and graduate school. I read The Feminine Mystique in my free time and follow Miss Representation on Facebook. I don't necessarily agree that gender is completely socially constructed but I'm still a proud feminist. So of all people you'd think I should be informed about gender stereotyping.

So why did I start treating my pregnancy differently when I found out I was having a girl?

Until my 20 week scan I was convinced my little bean was a boy. I referred to my fetus as ‘dude.’ I cycled to work, went to the gym several times a week, ate homemade mayo (twice!) I came thisclose to ordering little boy clothes on Etsy.

All because some quack psychic told you you were going to have boys back in 2002

Perhaps I wanted to be okay with a boy because of my (not so secret) desperation for a little girl. Again, Why?



To understand my own mother?

Fear of my own energetic and sleepless little brother?

When I found out a little girl was en route- my attitude and behavior changed. This little bean seemed much more fragile. I stopped cycling to work as often and was more anxious when I did. I put the bicycle away for good shortly thereafter. Could this be decades of subconscious gender conditioning at work? Who was I?

Girl-confirmation-day was the happiest, most emotional surprise of my life (even better than the day she was born). I cried with joy, and then anguish. I knew that bringing a girl into this world meant that I had to take on A LOT of responsibility. I had to teach her how to be a woman (however you define that) how to have self respect, how to prevent men from taking advantage of her, how to be smart, kind, caring and how to value substance.

I told relatives that we are not to call her pretty or cute without also saying she is clever and smart- by the time Lavinia turned one that plan went out the window because she loved it when something was ‘pretty,’ even her dinner had to be 'pretty' in order to get her to eat it...I caved and only realized it when my Mother said to me, "what happened with not being allowed to tell her she's pretty?" Fail.

One of my Mums Group friends said she was surprised at how many soft toys we had (traditionally soft toys are given to little girls). We were given so many toys for Lavinia that I didn't buy her any myself. I had intended on getting gender neutral toys but it completely slipped my mind!

I catch myself calling her a 'good little girl' even though I know it's wrong to praise girls for being 'good' as opposed to boys for being 'active.' I know in my brain that I want her to be on equal footing with any boy her age but I can see the differences between them so clearly. The little boys in our Mum's Group play differently than the girls do. Lavinia dodges those little guys at every turn as they wrestle and bump around the room as she clings to my legs.

The thing is, there are differences between the genders that are undeniable and detectable early on. Do I think this is cause for sweeping generalizations? Absolutely not. So how have I fallen into the stereotype fountain while walking and looking at my iPhone at the same time? I should know better. Women younger than myself are distancing themselves from feminism at an alarming rate, no wonder I feel the need to set a better example.

We don't have to get nuts about what extremists on both sides of the argument have to say. Let's just play nice. Feminism is the simple concept that men and women should be treated equally even though they have differences (nature vs nurture debate not happening here.) Fair enough too.

So how can we parent (both mothers and fathers) as feminists? My daughter loves accessories, combs her hair and adores applying lotion and 'stick' (lipstick). She gravitates toward stuffed toys, nurtures them, pretends to feed them and puts them to bed. She also loves cars and building blocks (I finally bought some). I avoid dressing her in pink most of the time though she grabs for the tutu's in her closet (that grandma buys her) and I realize that my influence is just that, influence not control. I can only hold out hope that one day she like, if not appreciate, her science-themed nursery.

Sometimes I like to dress myself. I call this Elf chic.

All I can do is present her with options and try to keep my own biases out of the way (if that’s even possible, so far it's not going as well as I hoped.) As long as she remains the expressive, sweet, feisty, determined little person she is, I will support her even if she wants Barbies and sparkles or combat boots and neckties (I'm aware these too, are stereotypes) Because I am her mother and I will love her no matter what.

Parents who have a child of each gender- do you find yourself raising them differently even if you try not to?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

International Travel With Baby: Plus Free Packing Checklist!

When your life exists on two continents long-haul travel is unavoidable and expensive.  When you add a child to the mix  it  becomes terrifyingly daunting as well.

In this post I will try to let you know what to expect because half the battle is mental.  I'll describe how I survived the first 30 hour journey with my six-month-old daughter. I will also provide a detailed list of what I brought along with me and why. Don't forget to download the free packing checklist at the end of the post.  I hope it helps! x

Seasoned parents told me; the younger the baby, the easier the journey.  I guess it makes sense. At just a few months old they can't run away from you and only eat, sleep, poop...and cry.  I took Lavinia from Melbourne, Australia to Buffalo, New York when she was just a little nugget. Looking back, she was the perfect age to travel yet I was waaaaay to stressed to appreciate that fun fact. 

Still in the midst of my post-natal depression and anxiety I flippin' freaked about what to pack and how to carry it all without the help of a donkey or elephant.  In addition to my packing woes I also had some new-Mom-guilt attacking me over taking the baby out of her routine (let alone exposure to germs and recycled air.)  

I needed more than Google.  I asked some of my ex-pat Mum friends for advice, looked online, and even ordered a book about 'flying with baby.' After reading the first chapter I didn't sleep a wink and had the good sense to delete it from my kindle at daybreak.  Seriously, a whole chapter on airport strollers!! Way too much information. Brain no comprende.

Disclaimer: The journey was completely and totally worth it. I got to introduce my beautiful little girl to the rest of her family and her other home. 

As soon as I got out of my own head and up into the air I realized that traveling is still a part of who I am. I'm glad fear did not prevent me from hiding my baby away in the Melbourne suburbs forever.

Recently my cousin had to travel from the USA to Germany with her baby girl and she asked me for advice.  It brought back sharp memories of researching myself into a tizz before my own trip. I still had my original packing list and figured this information might actually be useful to others as well.

So brave parental travelers...Here are my humble words of wisdom.

What to Expect Once you Arrive at your Destination
  1. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is your baby’s jet lag.  Be prepared for a few difficult nights. Luckily I was able to feed Lavinia back to sleep when she woke up confused and freaked out by the time change and new environment.
  2. When you arrive immediately put your baby in her routine on the current time at your destination.  It took my little angel 3-4 nights to adjust which was a result of her barely sleeping on the journey.  A blessing in disguise I suppose!
  3. They say that getting the little bug out into the midday sunlight helps them adjust to the new time-zone more quickly.  A little walk outside each day can’t hurt either of you, even in winter.
What to Carry How to Carry it and What to Wear
  1. Forget about bringing anything to entertain yourself.  I had two magazines with me at the start but ditched them before I even boarded the first plane in Melbourne. Even if you do have a few spare moments of peace you'll probably be like me and race to the galley begging for white wine.
  2. I dressed my baby in: A Bonds Wondersuit to fly and took an extra one.  These suits are great because they have a two way zip and little fold-over mits that cover both the hands and feet for extra warmth.
  3. I decided against a stroller because I could not find an airport stroller that reclined.  It may have been handy but we didn’t need one.  Many airports lend strollers/prams however I was not so lucky when I checked in at MEL as they were all out.
  4. I wore a 'cute' pair of sweatpants and slip-on flat sneakers plus a v-neck T with button-down over it so I could breastfeed easily and a lightweight hoodie (layers are key- it gets cold up in the sky.) I also had a change of clothes in case I got barfed on... or worse.
  5. I carried a diaper bag with everyday supplies, and a rolling carry-on with the rest of our gear.  I wore a travel baby carrier that was lightweight and folds up into a pouch.

The entire list of what I brought with notes
A diaper bag- with normal day supplies in it.
A carry-on rolling bag with the rest of baby supplies.
A small purse that I could easily shove into one of the other bags. It contained our passports, a pen for filling out customs cards, my wallet, blistex and our itinerary
An Ergo Travel Baby Carrier- this is great because it folds up into a pouch. I hooked a carabineer onto mine so I could clip it someplace out of the way when not in use.
Remember: you are carrying all this stuff plus a baby so go easy on yourself.
Diapers, bring enough for a whole day, I brought too many and they took up lots of room in my carry on. At least they were not heavy
Diaper baggies for dirty ones
A few travel packets of wipes and some extra in the carry on
Change mats bring at least 2!
Hat (it gets really cold on the plane so be prepared to bundle her up)
Sleeping bag
Extra pjs, and onsies. It's a good idea to bring plenty of layering options in case it's warm or cold (it tends to be freezing on planes but you never know) extra baby clothes are one thing that don't take up lots of room and are worth bringing
Teething Rings and rusks and cookies
Bottles x2 with cool boiled water* (I was breastfeeding at the time so just in case)
Food pouches, spoons and bibs (each in a separate ziplock bag)
Formula pre-measured pouches
(feed or get her to suck on off and landing for her ears)
Lotion and Bottom balm (for dryness)
Bach’s Rescue Remedy (for me) and homeopathic jet lag pills (for both of us)
An empty water bottle and snacks (for me) you'll need them.
2 swaddles
A few burp cloths
Socks hand mittens
For me:
A change of clothes
Lip Blam
Contacts, Saline and Glasses
Facial Wipes
Travel deodorant

*make sure to dump and rinse any bottles with excess formula in the airplane bathroom. Security made my Mummy-friend take a sip out of each 'leftover' bottle at Heathrow airport after a 14 hour flight.  Have you ever smelled old formula? Dis. Gus. Ting.

Further Research:
My friend Bec also did some recon for me and sent through this article. It is one of the most helpful ones I read. Thanks girl x

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Blogging VS Journaling

I have been thinking a lot lately about the difference between blogging and journaling. To me they are as different as Buffalo, New York and Melbourne, Australia.  Yes they have both been homes for me but have served extremely different purposes.

Why do I blog?

Honesty is something that did not always come easily. When you have this desperate need to be liked you wear different masks. You watch what you say, and try your best to filter or dilute who you are to suit each crowd like a politician.

If everyone knows your true-self, then you may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I always wished I gave less of a shit about popular opinion. My brother lives that way and I've always envied and admired him for it.

I’m not sure why I grew up to be so needy-perhaps that's a topic for my therapist (see I don’t share EVERYTHING on here.)

When I started blogging years ago I gave up on it because I felt that I had nothing to say, like I was being narcissistic talking about myself all the time. I think the real problem was that I was scared. Scared and worried about what people would think of me.  When I wrote it fell flat because I chose safe subjects.

After offending more than one person here and there with my writing I started to realize that some people will still have to love me, even if I disappoint them. And if they don’t- I’m going to have to learn to be okay with that because my words are my truth. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way but in a self-survival kind of way.

Not everyone will like you but everything is going to be okay.

I realize I didn’t answer my own question: Why do I blog?

I blog because I believe in the power of a story. Relating to someone else through the written word is as close as you will get to experiencing it for yourself. I’m giving my stories to the Internet because I believe that they will resonate with some people, perhaps people beyond my own circle.  And if a few of you, dear readers, are touched, moved or shown a glimpse of familiarity in my words then I am beyond satisfied. In rare instances I would like to be able to help, support, inspire or genuinely encourage some of you. I want to show you; that everything is going to be okay.
I am not an expert on anything, but as my husband says, “Sometimes people aren't looking for expert advice.” And you know what? He is absolutely correct. I know when I walk away from a good chat with a friend I often feel better than I do when leaving my shrink’s office. I hope that when you guys read my posts that you get that sense, that we've just had a good rap sesh over a cup of tea. Sometimes we just need to know that we are not alone in this.

What a blessing it is to live in an age where we don’t need publishers to distribute our words. It changes the whole concept of what it means to be an author. As if getting paid for my writing would somehow make it more valuable and me legitimate. Google Analytics tell me that I have an audience of 400 readers who look at my blog over 1,300 times per month and that number is climbing. 

Even better than statistics, which can be misleading, is that I have personally heard from many of you. Stories of camaraderie, commisery, and joy. Those stories are what create true connections. I believe in those connections so much that I've started a group so you can branch beyond just me.

So to the 400 souls who care enough to look at my humble words, I thank you.  Thank you for showing me that as long as I remain honest, everything is going to be okay.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quick, Guilt-Free, Non Dairy, Chocolate Mousse

A dessert that will destroy your chocolate craving: And it's healthy enough to share with bubs.

The clean-up takes longer than actually making this.

I'm obsessed with the Foodgawker App.  When I get bored or need inspiration it's my go-to. Personally, cooking is a constant challenge to make the healthiest (most of the time) and most delicious meals possible.  I consider it a win if I can't tell if something is good or bad for me.  Like this one here.  Mmmmm.

I saw this recipe for Avocado Banana Raw Chocolate Mousse and have simplified it in my kitchen.  It's so easy and seriously delicious.  Perfect for summer because there is no heat involved.  Don't get me wrong I'll eat it in winter too because chocolate is good all year long.

Healthy Chocolate Mousse Raw and Non Dairy

  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Spoonfuls Coco Powder
  • 2 Spoonfuls Honey
  • 1 Cup Coconut Milk (the canned kind works best)
  • Pinch Salt (Optional)
Cooking Directions
  1. Throw all ingredients into a blender until smooth and fluffy. You can eat it right away but I like to chill mine in the fridge for a while first.


Monday, February 16, 2015

8 Career Tips For College Graduates

Take the road less traveled, it's more fun.

Why am I qualified to dispense this advice?
I was like the quintessential, quarter-life crisis cliche. I had no idea what to do with my life and I tried a bit of everything. I mean, check out this list of job titles I've held over the years: Freelance Journalist, Marketing Coordinator, International Correspondent, Matchmaker’s Apprentice, Executive Assistant, Senior Supporter Services Team Member and Manager, Digital Media Coordinator.

Personal Resume
When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree (as we all know 'just an English BA' even though I was about 6 credits shy of a double major in English and Studio Art.) I was in no way prepared for the real world...whatever that meant. 

Dreams of being an artist dashed, I set out to do what any recent college grad would do. I took a thousand personality tests online so I could find some direction.  Suffice to say all that did was confuse me further.

Then I took the logical next steps. I sat the LSAT, filled out a peace-core application and applied to graduate school. Something had to shake out right?

Since I didn't really know if I could cope with living in a tent and bombed the LSAT, grad school was the clear winning choice. Plus school was familiar, safe and achievable. I proceeded to place myself into massive debt while I earned a Masters in Humanities. Ask me if I've ever used it. Nope. And I’m still paying it off at age 34. Basically I was delaying entry into said ‘real world.’

Do I have any regrets? No. Would I change some things if I could to make it a bit easier/ less expensive? Sure. So here is my advice to you, 22 year old self...if I could do it all over again with some minor tweaks.

Advice I would give my 22-year old-self if I could do it all again...

1. Get an Internship
If you missed out on this vital piece of advice during your college days, see if you can get one post-graduation. It’s less scary than committing to a job, especially if you’re unsure about your career path. At my first and only internship I found a mentor, made all sorts of contacts, created a portfolio of work and landed a marketing job. Bonus, it still looks good on my resume. I tended bar on weekends to supplement my income. Which brings me to my next point.

2. Lower your expectations
Tend bar, wait tables, hammer some nails for a while. Just because you have a degree does not make you too good for unskilled work. It teaches you about life, humanity, teamwork and business. When I moved to Melbourne I had to wait tables at age 29 with a graduate degree until I found an inroad to the Australian market. Do what you have to do rather than settle.  Future employers will respect the salty, hard work. It’s also a great way to support yourself if you are trying to start your own business or turn a hobby into a career.

3. Figure out what you don’t want
Look, sometimes you just have to take a job out of necessity even if you’re unsure about it (see point 2.) Sometimes learning about what you don’t want is just as important as figuring out what you do. I’m not one of those people born with a calling so I tried many different roles. Remember the golden rule: Your major does not determine your career- so don't pigeonhole yourself. Try something out if it seems interesting. Apply for that job you feel unqualified for. Just avoid the trap of getting too comfortable in a role you don’t enjoy. This is how people get ‘stuck.’ Don’t get stuck, get a plane ticket.

4. Travel
Seriously I bet you can give me a thousand excuses about why you cannot travel- and they're rubbish. Did you know you can make money by working overseas? You can. And you can find someone to watch your dog. And you can find a place to store your car. I should have taken a year off after college to travel. Bumming around Europe would have been far less expensive that that grad degree I’m still paying for. Stop worrying that employers will frown upon a gap year- betcha it makes you more interesting than the next candidate. You will learn far more about life on the road than in any textbook or office.  Teach English as a Second Language (ESL), or find a country like Australia that offers work and holiday visas to people under 30. Go.

5. Do Your Homework
What’s that? The whole point of being a graduate is that there is no more homework? Wrong. Get out there and talk to professionals in fields that interest you. Offer to assist them for a day or take them out for coffee. You will be amazed at what you can learn. Ask them about their day-to-day. Ask them if they like their job. Ask them if they are happy. Seek advice on how YOU can get there too. Keep your ears and your notebook open. I can't think of a better way to get an honest snapshot of a specific career and lifestyle.

6. Reject The Pressure
Society sends a crippling message to young people regarding careers.  "A career should be fulfilling, make a difference in the world and earn you a lot of money." It will become part of your identity so it must also make you happy. But you can't work too much because you need balance." Sound impossible? That’s because it is. I remember my Dad telling me that when he was young, the goal was to find a job to make money and support a family. Your job should not and does not define you as a person.  We are all more complex than that. Sometimes it's just a job.

7. Network Like Crazy
Meet new people and talk to anyone who will listen. Get on social media, go to free events, put your resume online. Volunteer at a non-profit. Connect with career networking sites like LinkedIn.

I exchanged a few emails with Joe, Community Manager at TheLadders (an NYC based job finder) and not only is he a smart and personable guy, he was quite genuine when I asked him why the company is looking to help young people find careers:
"TheLadders wants to help young professionals be more successful in their job search because many of us can relate to the struggle of finding our first real job. I know not too long ago, I was in the same situation myself, looking to start my career after I received my diploma. When you don't have a lot of experience searching to find the right fit, it can be hard to know where to start. The job market is very competitive and can sometimes be a little scary."
Well said. The first step is usually the most difficult. And then you take the next one. You got this.

8. Take Risks
If you try and fail it’s better than not trying at all. Even if everything falls apart you will learn something valuable.  Don’t remain paralyzed by fear or negativity. You will not recieve your dream on a silver platter, no matter how long you wait, so you best get out there and risk it all. Here is the best article  I've ever read on finding your purpose. The article says you should be doing the thing that "makes you forget to eat, sleep and poop."  I never thought anything could make me forget to eat, but writing does. Nuff said.

Happiness off the beaten-path
Best wishes for an inspiring and rad journey! x

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Join Me on Facebook So We Can Be Awesome Together

 photo Joinusbuttontake2_zps530b2207.jpg
I was in serious need of some Namaste today. A van cut me off on my way to yoga and my immediate reaction was to swear and flip the guy off. Twice.

This week has been difficult. A loved one is trying to deny the existence of my depression prior to the post-natal.  It’s a sickening feeling when you feel you need to prove such a thing to someone.  Clearly the reason my middle finger was on a hair trigger.

I was hoping to find some peace of mind in yoga class.  I ‘know’ that I don’t need to prove myself my feelings to anyone, but I wanted to believe it and meditate on it.

And then something incredible happened. I was given a gift. An inspiration. An idea.

My Kangaroo Spotting Facebook Page:  It was just sitting there, doing not much, when I realized that it could be the start of my (our) very own community.

We all need support in our lives at times.  Especially when we become mothers (or Fathers.) Sometimes you just need an encouraging word, or advice from someone. I mean, you could try and figure it out- but Googling your butt off can’t take the place of chatting to someone who cares.

I have many Mom/ Mum friends in various places around the world (and other sympathetic non-mother friends too) and I've recently met some creative and compassionate bloggers online. I feel privileged to know so many amazing, smart, funny and beautiful people.  I wish we could get together in a room and have a serious love fest....clearly the logistics don’t make sense when we are busy living on different continents and all soooooooooooooo.....

I thought the Kangaroo Spotting Facebook page could be our virtual hang out.  A place where the rad women I know (and other like-mindeds) can ask for a hand, for a advice or just for understanding.

I belong to a few Mommy/ Mum’s groups online and they tend to become troll-y, trashy and bitchy. Let’s have our own space my gorgeous goddesses (and gods)!  And let’s see how it works out.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Turn a Bad Day Good with a Gratitude List

Our Surprise Care Package
I received an upsetting email last night and this morning I woke up sad, angry and even a little bitter.  Online I read about how Kanye dissed Beck at the Grammy’s and it was all I needed to be disappointed at the world. I love Beck, he rocks.  He’s been around twice as long as KWest and is ten times as humble. It’s just as important to support one another as it is to acknowledge those who came before us. Sometimes all we want is a little humanity and a little less drama.

Today was day-care day and I planned to exercise and go for a swim but I felt so off, I couldn't decide what to do.  But then as I was taking a bagged, poopie diaper to the back porch I noticed a little package sitting there.  It was from my Aunt (who is more like my sister.)  Her thoughtful gesture reminded me to stop feeling sorry for myself.

I decided to be grateful for the little things today.  Here is a big list of small things that happened which made me feel grateful, humble and a heck-of-a-lot better.

Hometown Love

  1. A lovely Care Package at my doorstep from my Aunt Jeefy.
  2. Vigorous and intense workout to blast negative thoughts out of my body and mind.
  3. Hearing Thunderstruck on the radio. Loud. It reminds me of the time I watched Buffalo’s own         heavyweight Baby Joe Mesi approach the boxing ring to the song. It still gives me chills.
  4. Reading a great article sent by my best friend: ‘10 Ways You’re Making your Life Harder Than It Has To     Be’ which basically tells you how to get over yourself, but in a good way.
  5. I bought Thunderstruck on iTunes because it’s not on Spotify.
  6. I went to my old neighborhood of Fitzroy to take a swim in the outdoor public pool. I still feel at home there, and I always park on our old street.
  7. I heard the Taylor Swift Song, Blank Space, on the Radio and it made me tear up.
  8. I bought Blank Space on iTunes because it’s not on Spotify.
  9. I ate my healthy bagged lunch in the sun and went for a swim.
  10. My car remained free from a parking ticket.
  11. I found gorgeous second hand bowl and saucers for 10 dollars.
  12. The nice American man who cashed me out enforced just how great it is to live in this country.
  13. When I started playing Blank Space on repeat I pulled over and bought the rest of the album. I like the first four songs already. (I’m all about guilty pleasures but I really wanted to hate her.)
  14. Lavinia had good day at day-care.
  15. I received some helpful advice from one of the women who runs the center.
  16. Lavinia did crafts for the first time and loved it. They told me she will probably be artistic. This makes me proud. It’s also okay with it if she’s not.
  17. One of my Mum’s group friends dropped off a plate while I was out. I’m so eternally grateful to know her plus the four other women in my group. They get it.
  18. My husband is one of the kindest, most supportive people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am beyond lucky. He is one of those people who has this “life” thing figured out.
  19. My daughter was asking to dance before I put her down for a nap.
  20. I can’t wait to play the Taylor album for her when she wakes up.
  21. Did I mention that today I got to go to the gym, the pool and shop???

Photo does not do these justice

Little Plate, Little Love
Budding Abstract Expressionist

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

7 Rad DIY Chair Tutorials

Images Credited Below*
I recently garbage picked for the first time in my life and it was completely exhilarating.  Don’t get me wrong, I completely condone it I had just never done it.

Luckily I didn't have to go very far because the thing would barely fit into my car with the baby-seat in the back.
Ridin Dirty
This bad boy sat beckoning me from about four doors down from our very own house. My little bug and I drove past it two days in a row (the first day I meant to grab it but, you know, Mommy brain.) If we lived on a busier street I would not have been so lucky to snag it.

Lavinia was proud of our haul.  She wanted to climb in as soon as we got the little beaut home.

They don't make 'em like this anymore.
I have always fantasized about refinishing furniture (I have boring fantasies okay?) and now I have my chance...except that I’m totally clueless about the next steps.  

Naturally I turned to Pinterest and the blog world.  After wading through a sea of information I've narrowed my research down to the top tutorials and ideas I came across. So, grab a seat (pun definitely intended) and take a look at how to refinish all different types of chairs!
  1. How to strip, paint and recover dining chairs step by step instructions on how to make tired chairs brand new.
  2. Refinishing wood with waxes and oils- a side by side comparison.
  3. How to turn thrift store chairs into an outdoor dining set- outdoor furniture can be so expensive or ugly- not in this case
  4. How to reupholster cushions, you can do it, really! This DIY’er had no previous experience and her chair looks really well executed.
  5. Simple instructions turn a traditional chair into a funky, modern piece.
  6. You can even make folding chairs adorable
  7. 28 before and afters for inspiration...Happy workshopping peeps!
I will reveal my own DIY chair before and after as soon as I make some precious time to get down to business.

What is a craft or project you have always wanted to try?

Note: Speaking of pre-loved wares- This awesome blog talks about all things vintage and more in Melbourne. Here is a specific tutorial from the blog about shellacking used furniture.

*Collage of images from designformankind.com, simplysalvage.com & homedit.com


Monday, February 9, 2015

An Open Letter to Rachael Abel of Love Yourself Green

Note: This post began as a comment on a blog I follow. Things got a little our of hand and I've made it about me. Sorry, sorry. 

But in all seriousness, Rachael from loveyourselfgreen.com has written a piece about how she cured her anxiety and depression as a result of trying to overcome a serious illness.  Read it- I bet you’ll learn something new about depression and people who have it.

Dear Rachael,

I loved your post about how you cured your anxiety and depression without trying. Don’t sell yourself short- you were trying, you were trying your ass off to get healthy. In order to have a healthy mind, so must be your body. I know a bit about mental heath from experience.

You touched on a point which is incredibly relevant and lesser known about depression- depressed people can appear to be happy!  I read this astounding fact recently and wrote about it here. Believe it- depressed people are often the most social, outgoing people you will meet at times (especially when they are taking drugs or alcohol to numb the pain.) What outsiders don’t witness are the days when we can't get out of bed to fake it till we make it.

I relate to you on several levels.  Looking back at my childhood- I appeared to be a happy-go-lucky kid and I think I was for a time...until the teenage years. My parents fought a lot. A LOT. It scared me so I clung to my friends. I didn't want to be at home. 

As a young teen things got out of control. I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol, I got bullied in school for liking a popular, older boy, my mother and I fought like cats and dogs occasionally violently.  I thought about suicide.  If you met me, especially at a party, you would never know this.  I had friends diagnosed with depression, on medication, who told me I would never understand (because clearly I coped with it very differently). I felt like an outsider. I loved when you mentioned in your blog post:

I legitimately thought I was happy! Everyone around me saw me as a happy and positive person and according to what my inner denial tells me, (apparently) whatever other people think of you is actually the truth!” -Rachael Abel

In my 20’s I dealt with it by drinking and taking pain killers. Otherwise life was productive.  I graduated college, went to grad school, held down two jobs, rented an apartment and bought a car. I had tons of friends and went out almost every night (red flag).

I escaped to Europe for a job and came back home again for a guy. The relationship ended because I threatened suicide and he didn't want to deal with it (turns out I could not hide my depression from absolutely everyone). So then I went on antidepressants myself.

The drugs made me feel like a zombie and it sucked. I drank a lot of cheap wine, watched a lot of bad TV and could barely stay awake long enough to work. I ended up quitting job as a matchmaker because I couldn't emotionally connect any longer.

I knew something needed to change.

I did what any sensible (cowardly) person would and changed my environment by moving to Australia. I had a lot of conversations with the ocean, wrote a bit and listened to a lot of Oprah.

Somehow I landed in a stable relationship that I didn't screw up, started hanging out with people who didn't binge drink and took a long, look at myself so I could start to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. Still I couldn't seem to figure it out. So...

I got engaged. I got married and I got pregnant. I was surprisingly happy (distracted) and had a reason to care for my body like never before. My hormones were stable and I felt strong. After my daughter was born- depression came crashing back into my life and brought its friend anxiety along. 

With support from my husband and friends I started the hard work of getting better, for real this time. Numbing was no longer an option. Now I laugh about the time I broke down and how my usual bottle of wine had been replaced by a bubble bath. I can no longer self-sabotage because I’m responsible for a small human and the family I've created.

I dug in again and did the work. Therapy. Assignments. Exercise. Eating healthily. Determined to lose the baby weight and gain more self-esteem.  I ordered local organic produce and cooked nutrient-dense meals.  I saw my homeopath.  I cut back on booze. I wrote about it all. None of these things are a quick fix, and not one single thing will do the job on it’s own. I had to find the right combination in order to heal myself from the inside out.

Somehow now, 16 months into my parenting journey- I’ve never felt happier. Honestly. I now have appropriate reactions to anxious situations and normal situations. This shows me how much progress I have made.

When you feel okay it's easy to let one area slip. If you do- get right back on-top of it. Something seemingly insignificant can be such a big deal. Thank you Ms Abel, for making that connection between mind, body and gut. Check out loveyourselfgreen.com for more healthy inspiration.

Rachael you are brave- you have a fan in me. 


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Friday, February 6, 2015

Libster Award Nomination

The lovely and thoughtful Emily of notsonanna.com nominated roospotting.com for a Libster Blog Award.  An award! Me?

This is the best kind of award because it’s about spreading blog love and creating a community.  Both of these things are high priorities of mine in 2015 and I’m super stoked to participate.

Here’s how it works. I create a post about the Libster award which includes 11 questions Emily has posed to me.  I in turn find 11 blogs I admire (with less than 200 followers, though this is not a super strict guideline) and nominate them for a the award, asking them 11 questions of my own. Easy peasy. 

Not sure if the rest of you occasionally lack topic ideas but this is like a little freebie- plus it forces you to go out and explore new blogs and give shout outs to your faves. As the band Rilo Kiley sings, 'You've got to give a little love to get a little love.' xo

Here are my answers Emily!

1.      What was the one thing that took your blog from a dream to reality?
It would have to be the support and encouragement of friends and family when I started writing about my post natal depression and anxiety.
2.      Who is your favourite artist (musician, crafter, painter etc)?
This is an incredibly difficult question!  I have a favourite in every genre.  Here goes off the top of my head: Musician(s) Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse, Dave Matthews, Led Zepplin, Jay-Z, Missy Elliot, Coldplay, 90’s Alternative Rock....Crafter: Alexander Calder, Painter: Michelangelo, Photographer: Cindy Sherman, Poet: John Donne Playwright: Shakespeare, Director: Frances Ford Coppola, Actor: Bill Murray I could go on...
3.      Why do you love your favourite season?
I Love Summer more than anything because I grew up in the Northeastern part of the USA where we didn’t see the sun (or the ground because it was covered in white stuff) almost 9 months per year. Bring on the sun and the beach!  Autumn in New York is a very close second.
4.      What was the best moment from a birthday when you were a kid?
Probably my 10th birthday when I had 10 girls sleep over and we stayed up all night trying to freak each other out with games like ‘light as a feather,’ the Ouija Board and Bloody Mary.
5.      Milk, dark or white chocolate?
6.      Least annoying / despised / boring type of house work?
7.      If someone offered to make you dinner, what would you have them whip up?
Something healthy, tasty, and veggie-laden
8.      Last concert you went to?
Uuugh sore subject.  I had tickets to see The Kooks in Melbourne a few weeks ago but we had a wedding to attend (which was amazing BTW).  It's the second time I purchased Kooks tickets and didn't get to go.  The first time I mixed up the dates.  Ouch!  To answer the question the last concert I saw was The Lumineers at the Corner Hotel in Richmond.  Excellent show.
9.      Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook?
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest in that order.
10.  Do you watch the movie first or read the book first?
Read the book, then the movie is never as good.  Why do I do this?  Good question.
11.  Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A recovering night owl.  I have a 16 month old daughter so I’m trying desperately to fit in with the morning peeps.
Ok ya’ll.  Here are my Libster Award nominees.  Check out their blogs, they rock.
And here are the 11 questions you lucky folks have been charged to answer:
1.      What is your biggest blog inspiration?
2.      Favorite subject to blog about?
3.      What is one thing you want to try in 2015?
4.      If someone gave you three extra hours in each day, what would you do with it?
5.      Most recent TV obsession?
6.      Top three favourite movies?
7.      If you could eat one type of cuisine for the rest of your life what would it be?
8.      Favorite way to unwind?
9.      Coffee or Tea?
10.  Who was the last person you called?
11.  If you could get on a plane tomorrow, where would you go?
And here are 11 random facts about me.  I have a feeling this is going to be the most difficult part!
1.      I have 11 tattoos
2.      I met my husband on Langkawi Island, Malaysia
3.      Our daughter owns two passports (American and Australian)
4.      She was named after the song, ‘Lavinia’ by The Veils
5.      I grew up in Buffalo, New York.  Go Bills!
6.      I’ve worked and lived in Germany, The Netherlands, Finland, Australia and the USA
7.      I write sentences in my head
8.      My younger brother is turning 30 this month (man it makes me feel old)
9.      I have an on again, off again obsession with Bikram yoga
10.  I really like wine, wait-that's not random, everyone knows that
11.  When I am creating, I am happy
 Wasn't that fun?  Okay nominees.  Here are the official rules in dot points:
  • Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the Liebster Award image on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you.
  • Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 11 blogs that you think are deserving of the award, have less than 200 followers (check out the Facebook and/or Bloglovin’ follwers if you can tell from the blog – this seems to be a bit of a flexible rule).
  • Let those bloggers know that you’ve nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer

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