Life as I Know It

Last weekend The Bloke and I had a Big Talk about things. You know, the kind of talk that leaves you mentally and emotionally exhausted but with that one spark of optimism about the future.

We got to talking about my life and what would happen if something happened to The Bloke. He said (and I agree) that I have built up my online presence and career quite well over the past few years. At this point, though, that's pretty much ALL I have.

Everything in my life at the moment appears to be wrapped up in my career. I don't have any hobbies or activities that have nothing to do with my career. Heck, there is barely anything I have going that even gets me out of the flat, and that's what worries The Bloke.

I won't go into all the details, but the talk left me contemplating my life.

The Bloke is and was absolutely right. There are so many things I could check into doing - from starting yoga to taking some courses - that I'm just not doing because all my time and energy is so focused.

Other than career-wise, I don't have an identity that is separate from The Bloke.

I'm not sure what I should do.

I've looked at various groups (none of which I'm terribly interested in), thought about tutoring or teaching... I'm just not sure what to do. Who is JM? What does she like to do? What is her style?

You'd think I would know that about myself, but I really don't. I don't know who I am outside of work related things. I don't know who I am outside of my marriage to The Bloke.

I've thought about photography, but I'm not sure I should go that route given my friends are into it. I think I need something that I'll need to learn. Even if it's reading 'blogging for dummies' it'll be learning.

Though I shouldn't read about blogging unless I want to, given that is also work related.

I just don't know. I know I want to do something that makes me happy, gets me out of the flat and isn't work related. What that thing or those things are... Argh.

Who thought it could be so hard to find something that is 'you' when you have so many choices available?

Any suggestions?


News Sites and Contests

Hello ladies and gentlemen!

I am so, so excited to present not just one grand opening, but a double grand opening for my two new websites! and !

I have been working hard on both these sites for the past fortnight and they still have that new website smell, but I hope you’ll enjoy them.

I invite you all to go to the sites blogs - InkyBlots Blog & Down Under Views Blog – to participate in the two grand opening contests I have going. :) There are some pretty awesome prizes on offer – if I do say so myself – and more than one chance to win.

For the people (mostly Dorothy and Cheryl) who have been waiting patiently for me to divulge what I have been up to, thank you so much for your patience. I dream of big and great things for these sites, even though they are just babies at the moment.





Digital Cameras?

While The Bloke and I do have a digital camera, I've been thinking about getting one of my own. Ours is a bit heavy, and I get nervous with it. I would like something small but sturdy that I can toss in my bag and that can stand getting dropped.

Something that is easy to use, not a lot of complication, is best and preferably something I can use with one hand. A big screen is great. I don't really care what colour it is, but I do like the ones with a little curve on the front on one side to it conforms more to your hand - if you know what I mean.

The less in price, the better. I don't want or need anything spectacular, just something nice I can take with me as I run around.

I'm more of a Samsung kind of woman, but I am willing to check out anything with a really strong recommendation from you.

So, any ideas?


I'm so Glad it's Friday

...and so is Melbourne


Guest Author Kathy Balland - Cleaning Out the Weight

From time to time, people get that urge to do some cleaning and clearing out; not only in their homes, but in their lives. Do you feel that you are surrounded by clutter? Is it getting a little too dusty in your world? Sometimes people discover that when they begin to let go of things in their homes, they can actually start to shed a few pounds. In other words, the mind and the body go hand in hand.

Besides doing actual cleaning (which can burn a few calories), you can use your imagination (or your subconscious mind) to release and let go of any negative thoughts such as fear or other limitations. For example, you can do this when you shower. As the water rushes over you, simply imagine that you are washing away and letting go of whatever negative thought or emotion that you have been holding on to.

You can then begin to replace those feelings with something more positive. For example, you can spend a few minutes each day imagining yourself doing whatever it is that you want, as if you have already achieved your goal (such as a healthy weight).

You can also create a vision board, or perhaps re-vamp your old vision board by placing old pictures with new pictures or positive words that will provide you with renewed inspiration.

You can bring new hope and peace into your life when you let go of the old, then re-assess and revive your dreams and goals. And in the process, you might just shed some of those unwanted pounds.


Kathy Balland is the author of: Lose the Diet – Transform your body by connection with your soul. For a FREE half hour guided meditation audio to help you relax and reconnect, sign up at: The book trailer is at: Follow Kathy on Twitter at:


Guest Author Kathy Balland - Better Health Through Inner Peace

Do you know someone who is living life in a way that is detrimental to their health? They may be dealing with their stress with food, drugs, alcohol, or through some other form of artificial gratification. Not only is this type of gratification temporary, the use of these substances can have a negative effect on an individual’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being.

Instead, there are natural ways that a person can tap into their own inner peace. The key is to find what brings that person a sense of joy and relaxation. One option is meditation. For others, it’s as simple as being out in nature, finding a hobby they enjoy, or spending time with their pet.

The act of meditation can involve simply sitting in a comfortable position, with the person closing their eyes and clearing your mind. Or, they can focus on relaxing and taking deep breaths. They can also count down from number 5 to number 1, into deeper levels of relaxation. (One technique is to visualize that they are going down in an elevator, relaxing more with each floor.) When the elevator door opens, they are in a peaceful garden, where they can imagine themselves relaxing for awhile before counting back up and feeling refreshed.

Going for a hike or a walk can help to relieve stress and bring about a sense of peace. (Studies have shown that greater amounts of physical activity are generally associated with reduced symptoms of depression.) Bike riding, or finding a sport that an individual likes, can not only bring about a sense of joy, it can also help to shed any excess weight that the individual has. This can also boost a person’s self-esteem, allowing them to feel a sense of accomplishment.

For people who love animals, they may find an inner peace by walking or playing with their pet. (Research has shown that heart attack victims who have pets live longer. Even watching a tank full of tropical fish may lower blood pressure, at least temporarily.) Another hobby that involves animals is bird watching, which has been found to help relieve stress. Walking through a zoo can provide a combination of both exercise and enjoying the sights and sounds of animals.

In conclusion, taking time to breathe and relax through meditation or self hypnosis can be a great way of finding inner peace. For some people, the answer is physical activity, being out in nature, being with animals, or perhaps finding a hobby they enjoy. These techniques can allow a person to relieve their stress, and promote better mental and physical health by re-connecting with themselves.


Kathy Balland is the author of: Lose the Diet – Transform your body by connection with your soul. For a FREE half hour guided meditation audio to help you relax and reconnect, sign up at: The book trailer is at: Follow Kathy on Twitter at:


Guest Author Kathy Balland - Achieve Your Goals

There may be times in your life when you feel stuck. You may be in a situation that is making you unhappy, however you are lacking the inspiration you need to help you to achieve your goal; whatever that goal may be. Sometimes you may not even be sure of what it is that you want.

If you are unclear as to what your goal is, you can take a look at each area of your life. The areas may include: Family, friends, health, career, finances, physical location, hobbies, and also your love life. You can begin by determining on a scale from one to ten (ten being best) how you feel about each of these areas of your life. After you determine which area has the lowest number, you can then think about what you can do to make that area a “ten”.

(For help, check out the resources section of Lose the Diet at:

Once you have determined what your goal (or dream) is, then you can begin to focus on it by determining what steps you need to take in order to get there. One thing to consider is that even though you may not be happy with your current situation, it was that situation that launched your dream. So it is important to appreciate where you are in your life, which helps to create a positive mental attitude. This attitude can help to move you in the right direction more quickly.

Also, it is a good idea for you to surround yourself with other people who have similar goals. This support system can add more inspiration, and can provide even more ideas which will help you to reach your goal. Determination is very important, because the person who did not reach their goal is usually the one who gave up before they reached the “finish line”. (Consider that Thomas Edison tried 700 times before inventing the light bulb.) Sometimes, you simply need to keep trying and not give up.

If there comes a time when you could use some extra inspiration, a personal life coach can help you to find out what you want, and can help inspire you to get there. Also, a hypnotherapist can provide positive visualization, which can help you to reach your goal more quickly by using the power of the subconscious mind. Any of these tips and tools can help you to reach the goal that you desire.


Kathy Balland is the author of: Lose the Diet – Transform your body by connection with your soul. For a FREE half hour guided meditation audio to help you relax and reconnect, sign up at: The book trailer is at: Follow Kathy on Twitter at:


Health Week at The New Australian!

I definitely think it's time we get some positive vibes happening around here, so it is my pleasure to announce author Kathy Balland is joining us at The New Australian for my self-declared health week!

As many of you know, I'm not only living a new life down under in terms of location, I'm getting healthier, too! Forty pounds down and more to go, so I'm happy to promote anything that centres around a happy, healthy lifestyle.

Today I'll introduce you to Kathy and her book Lose the Diet: Transform Your Body by Connecting to Your Soul. She'll be joining us for the next three days with three excellent guest posts about living a healthier life.

You’ll discover your power to achieve and maintain a healthy weight naturally without diets. Food deprivation is uncomfortable and ultimately causes weight gain. Instead, enjoy the good health and joy that you deserve. Lose the Diet shows you how.

• Drop the diets and the weight in a healthy and natural way.
• Find out why deprivation doesn’t work.
• Learn about the mind-body-soul connection’s effect on weight.
• Discover that happiness leads to a healthy weight rather than the other way around.
• Insightful tools and information that help you to find balance — from the inside out!

About the Author

Kathy Balland, an expert in the mind-body-soul connection, teaches people how to tap into their own inner power for success. Clinically certified in hypnotherapy, her publications and seminars provide deep insights into the true causes and their remedies that prevent people from achieving their goals. Balland is a graduate of the University of Phoenix and the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts.

She is clinically certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners and certified by the American Board of Hypnotherapy. As president of Blissful Publications and author of “Lose the Diet: Transform Your Body by Connecting with Your Soul,” Balland provides information to enrich and empower people to achieve happiness and success.

You can visit her website at or visit her at Twitter at


Baking Adventures

I know I shouldn't question the good things, but I can't help but marvel at what baking does for me.

Logic says a woman on a diet should not be baking whatsoever, but since starting my diet, I have not only lost weight but also really hit my stride as a baker. There is just something the baking does for me that I don't find anywhere else. When I'm stressed out, frustrated, need to get away from the computer... Baking calms me down every time.

I have sampled some of my goodies here and there, but I don't really have a problem for the most part. Today I had a lot of fun...

^ These are the centres for the chocolate creams. I made them yesterday because they have to chill and dry out for at least twelve hours.

I originally had some problems cutting the cream centres because I don't have a cookie cutter. As it turned out, my Australia shot glad made a fantastic substitute.

This is the first batch of my lovely chocolate creams. They're quite messy, but I had to make do with what I had for melting the chocolate and dipping the cream centres in there.

Here are the rest of them. I ended up with a little bit of chocolate leftover, so I made some makeshift haystacks. We didn't have any chow mein, so bran sticks had to suit. It actually worked out pretty well in the end. The Bloke gave his thumbs up to both the creams and the haystacks.

Then it was on to the cupcakes! I couldn't get all the ingredients in, but I thought it would be fun to take a picture anyway. If you're wondering, the cream cheese and the white chocolate is for the frosting.

The recipe said it served for 18, but I managed 12, which ended up being fine. A couple were a little big, but it's all good.

My lovely cupcakes baked and close up. I'm impressed with the choc chips, which kept their shape quite well.

And from above.

Ah, the end result with cream cheese frosting and choc curls. Yeah, they look like they were decorated by a child, but hey, it was my first time using my frosting gun. Plus, cream cheese frosting is a bit different to work with compared to regular frosting.

Here is the rest of the batch next to the pile of choc creams. I'm putting them all the fridge to chill out for a bit, but then I'll box up a couple cupcakes and some choc creams to send with The Bloke to work.

Did I mention that these are made from recipes out of the choc recipe book I received for my birthday? These are thank-you presents for The Wedding Man and his wife, and for the St. Kilda boys.

I hope they will like them.


Saying Goodbye

No, no. Not to The New Australian.

Back in 2006, I was freshly transplanted in Australia with so many new things happening in my life. When the former owner of a writing forum I used to frequent mentioned that he was helping set up a blog network, I jumped at the chance. What better way to help start up my new life?

I originally applied as the scrapbooking blogger, something I laugh a bit at now because my scrapbooking skills are okay, but I don't do it very often. I received an email from the aforementioned former forum owner saying that the spot had already been filled.

Given I knew the guy, I didn't feel awkward virtually pouting a bit about missing out on the opportunity. I casually mentioned that I wish they had a fiction writing site spot open because I would love to write about that.

Lo and behold, was born.

From crazy beginnings of earning mere pennies per month and ten posts per week to a network of good friends as well as better pay, 451Press grew to be a place I thoroughly enjoyed.

Things were far from perfect, but I spent time as president of the Blogger Board for the network, I made an incredible amount of friends and I gradually took over six blogs. My baby, however, was always Fiction Scribe.

I have learned so much over the near three years working there, both through trial and error as well as from my wonderful friends. Not so great people have came and gone, great bloggers left us for greener pastures and we had enough problems to make the truly loyal among us do their best to keep the network going.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough (for various reasons).

And so I must say goodbye to my babies. They are still up, but I no longer have access to them. Not even to let people know that they can find me here. That's probably the saddest part of all. I will miss the correspondence with so many great people.

Thankfully, I have kept up with some people by linking to here and places like Facebook in the past, so that's something.

My friend Paul, whom I have had the pleasure of getting to know through 451 (I think we're the two oldest bloggers there in terms of who has been there longest), has written another great post about missing his site ToyBender.

I hope you'll stick with me here until I can get new places set up. I'm already setting up a new book review site that will have a twin site on Wordpress. I'm also quite eager to get going on setting up my diet/fitness site. I don't think I can go for too long without all the wonderful support I received through weight loss blogging.

I'm not sure what I want to do now to mourn 451, but I do need to mourn. That's three years of my life given to something that has now been taken out of my hands.

I think I'd like a drink.



Well, it looks like my blogs might be down. Permanently. Forever.

Ugh. I feel like I have been kicked in the gut.

Fortunately, I'm trying to look at this as an opportunity to expand and grow. That's why I'm asking for help.

Do you know anything about building/running/hosting websites? Who do you recommend for hosting? Where did you get your domain? Did you buy or build your template?

I have so many questions, but it comes down to me wanting to be able to start a website (or three) and not knowing much about the process at all. So if you have any advice/suggestions, please let me know.


Birthday Bliss

Aaaah. I have had the most wonderful birthday a person could ask for.

I've already talked about Saturday night, and now I have pics of my loot. Hehe.

From The Wedding Man and his wife, my lovely notepad and pen as well as the pouch I'm using as a money pouch.

Now, I have to apologize for the blurriness of the photo. It looked fine on the camera. Anywho, this is the book with the dozens of chocolate recipes. The little things sticking out are my markers for the things I want to make first.

Yeeeaaaahhhh, I'm not good at deciding between recipes.

I've already decided on what sweets I'm going to give The Wedding Man and his wife and the Lovely St. Kilda Boys. I'll take pictures of them when they are ready.

And this morning...

When The Bloke and I were woken up by the trash truck this morning, The Bloke said, "By the way, I forgot to tell you something last night."

I asked (barely awake at this point), "What?"

"I took off work today."

The silly man decided to surprise me by taking the day off for fun. It all started with waking me up a little later to take a shower, saying only that he wanted to leave by nine.

We headed into the city and he took me to the most wonderful breakfast-all-day place in Melbourne. The same place we went for our first breakfast as a married couple.

Cafe Sweethearts

We started off with our usuals: a long, strong macchiato for The Bloke and a chai tea for me.

We were just short of being total gluttons and started by splitting a serve of wholemeal blueberry pancakes (I haven't had pancakes for years!) with hazelnut butter and maple syrup. Yum. They're soooo good.

We then both ordered Eggs Forestiere: Two poached eggs on English muffins with bacon, mushrooms and hollandaise sauce. I had a bit of avocado on the side with mine. Double yum. I couldn't finish it because of the pancakes, but I gave it a fair go!

Despite the rainy day, things only got better from there.

After wandering around South Melbourne a bit to work off the breakfast, we headed back home and lazed about for a bit. I wrote up my list of needed ingredients for what chocolate goodies I want to make as well as a few things - like a muffin tin - that I needed.

We headed into the shops and The Bloke spoiled me rotten. I got my muffin tin, all sorts of ingredients, some gourmet chocolate for decorating one choc item, and more.

Then we headed to a shop specialising in kitchen supplies of all sorts. I have to stop myself from drooling when I walk around in there. I thought we were just going in there to look at things a bit, but it turns out The Bloke had something else in mind...

This little baby is my final wonderful birthday present. Courtesy of The Bloke:

That, my friends, is an icing gun with eight tips that also doubles as a cookie press - also with attachments for making eight different shaped cookies.


All I want to do all day is bake and use all my new goodies and ingredients. I'm in love! Yay. And I love all my friends, of course, too.

We finished the night with watching my first James Bond movie ever: Quantum of Solace.

Yep, I loved it.

Tomorrow it's back to work (heck, I did some tonight), but I'm going to enjoy every last moment of this day.

School 1960 -2007 and a Few Others

This is probably more true than we'd like to admit.


Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1960 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up mates.
2007 - Police are called, Armed Response Unit arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. Mobiles with video of fight confiscated as evidence. They are charged with assault, ASBOs are taken out and both are suspended even though Johnny started it. Diversionary conferences and parent meetings conducted. Video shown on 6 Internet sites.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.

1960 - Jeffrey is sent to the principal's office and given 6 of the best. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Counselled to death. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADHD. School gets extra funding because Jeffrey has a disability. Drops out of school.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car and his Dad gives him the slipper.

1960 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college,and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. Psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mum has an affair with the psychologist. Psychologist gets a promotion.

Scenario: Mark, a college student, brings cigarettes to school.

1960 - Mark shares a smoke with the school principal out on the smoking area.
2007 - Police are called and Mark is expelled from School for drug possession. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Mohammed fails high school English.

1960 - Mohammed retakes his exam, passes and goes to college.
2007 - Mohammed's cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for
Graduation is racist. Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuit against state school system and his English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Mohammed is given his qualification anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers, puts them in a model plane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.

1960 - Ants die.
2007 - MI5 and police are called and Johnny is charged with perpetrating acts of terrorism. Teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls during break and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.

1960 - Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy. Becomes gay.


Sleepy Time

I just looked and it's been a week since I've posted. Eesh.

I'm still quite pissed off at the blog network I work for. The majority of us still can't log into the majority of our blogs. I have to be honest and admit I've appreciated the break from it in some respects, but let's just say I'm going to try to teach myself how to make a website.

Otherwise, I've had a lovely weekend. The Bloke and I called it an early night on Friday and stayed in.

On Saturday we drove to Chelsea to a lovely little cafe called Centre Stage, which I have to write up a review about later. We then headed back home for a few hours before heading to my beloved Pugg Mahones for a pint of birthday Bulmers. Hehe.

The Bloke had already been acting a bit strange here and there, arousing my suspicions, but I didn't say anything. But when we headed to our reservation at the Sawasdee in perfect time and he suggested a walk around the block, I was sure something was up.

As it turns out, we walked into the Sawasdee and found a table for six instead of two. As a surprise birthday dinner, The Bloke invited our good friends: the man who married us (I need to think of a good blog name for him) and his wife, and the most absolutely fabulous couple you could ever meet. I don't have blog names for those guys either (I'm a bit tired to be creative), but they are sweet as sweet. I love them so much.

The Wedding Man and his wife were lovely and gave me gifts of a small trendy coin or phone pouch, a notepad and a lovely pen. My lovely St. Kilda Boys (nah, doesn't sound right, but it'll do) gave me an exquisite book filled with dozens of recipes - all with a common ingredient:


Does it get anymore thoughtful than that? With my growing obsession with baking and such, I found all the gifts to be wonderfully thoughtful.

We had an absolutely delicious meal (not surprising at the Sawasdee) filled with wonderful conversation. We didn't want the night to end, but we were all getting a little tired.

We said our goodbyes to The Wedding Man and his wife on the corner. The St. Kilda Boys were kind enough to walk us to a trendy little bar restaurant in Hardware Lane called Pop. They had a friend who is running it and The Bloke and I wanted to check it out.

They left us to our drinks and The Bloke and I had a wonderful 'chilling out' drink in the lounge on the second floor of Pop. The cocktail lounge was mostly empty except for us and we sat at the window, watching people in the street below.

We were too full for more than one drink or to try any of the delicious sounding menu items (the owner listed off a few for us when he came up to say hello). The drive home ended up being mostly quiet and we went (nearly) straight to bed when we got home.

Today has been a lazy day. I got the cleaning bug and sorted through some junk. And tomorrow will be my proper birthday but, alas, the start of another week.

To be incredibly boring, I think I'll go to be now...


A Day in the Life in Photos (Sunday)

I always love those 'day in the life' kind of posts that people put up with photos of what they're doing - even what they're eating. I'm not sure what exactly is so appealing about them, but I just can't seem to get enough of them.

Of course, I wanted to do one myself.

Forgive the quality of some of the pictures and the overall boring quality of the post. This is just a first.

Yay! Pajamas. The Bloke bought me a pajama set (matching bottom, top and blanket!) as a weight loss reward. I've been meaning to take a pic for ages now. I wore these all morning.

I made triple chocolate chip bikkies (cookies) for the people at The Bloke's work after The Bloke made a few comments about someone else's bikkies being quite nice. Sigh. I am competitive and always one to spoil The Bloke.

The finished product was quite yum, but I am someone who loves all chocolate - white, milk and dark. I so could have crashed my diet on these. Thank goodness they were due to go to the office.

Later in the afternoon, we headed to one of our favourite places - Pugg Mahones in Carlton. We watched two footy games, drank...

I was good at first! See! I had a glass of water while The Bloke had Guinness.

The pour an excellent Guinness at Pugg's.

Buuuuut, they're the only place I know that has Bulmer's on tap, so I had a pint... or two... Oops. Yum!

We ended up tipping eight for eight on the footy and won a meal voucher! Woohoo!

I hope I did well for my first photo post. I want to do more in the future. :)


Pissed Off

Argh! I'm a bit peeved right now. Almost all my blogs are down right now.

The beauty of putting most of your blogging eggs into one blogging network.

The funny thing is that I have been thinking about moving away from the network, but I have been scared because of the loss of income. Then again, instances like this... What pisses me off is not the loss of income (though that's a bummer) but the fact my readers probably don't know that I'm here.

That's my fault, true, but it would be nice if we had a network that cared about us enough to get our blogs back up quickly. At this point, I'd feel better just with some communication.


At least if I move to Blogger I can have a nice template.


My World Trip - Location List Updated

It's been a little while since I've talked about this, so I thought I would update the list a bit.


US West Coast

*Nova Scotia

New York via Niagara Falls





*Great Wall
*Hong Kong

*Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium

At the moment we have saved nowhere near enough money to go, but it's good to know we're saving.