30 September 2013


Something's happening tomorrow. Something that combines science, frocks, preventing cancer and puns, so many glorious puns. That something is Frocktober. Frocktober is a month of frock celebrations, big and small, in aid of the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. Ovarian cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women. It's often called the 'silent killer' because the symptoms are vague; they are not detected by a pap smear. The OCRF supports national research focussed on developing awareness and an early detection test to increase the chances of survival. It receives no government funding. Basically, it's an organisation well worth supporting

In a fit of madness (inspired somewhat by this lovely lady) I've put my hand up. I pledge to wear a different frock every day for the month of October. You can sponsor me here. Every single dollar is appreciated - even $5 is a frocktastic donation for a frockin' good cause! (Did I mention PUNS?!!!). $5 is like half a coffee in Australia these days right? So give up one half a coffee during the month of October and give it to the OCRF instead and help prevent cancer and feel AWESOME. Yay!

Even after my recent wardrobe clear out, I have a lot of frocks so this should be a breeze, but I'm pretty sure by day five I'm going to be missing my jeans and shorts and yes - leggings as pants! Also, can you wear a dress to the gym? What are the rules there? Anyhoo, these photos are a little teaser of what frock-joy your eyes will be assaulted with throughout October. I'll be cracking out some vintage numbers and some never before worn, back of the closet gems. I am a bit sad that my most outrageous vintage frocks are currently on a boat heading from Seoul to Sydney, but I've still got some great ones to work with. And, if you're lucky, and if I can convince the husband to take me out for a fancy meal or two, and if I lose about three kilos or so, I might even bust out some of those M Missoni numbers. 

I'll be doing daily posts on Instagram, and weekly round ups here (both depending on how enthusiastic and/or competent my photography assistants are). So from tomorrow - it's goodbye comfortable, easy jeans and hello frock-tastic-ness! Frock on people! 

27 September 2013

Death by Doxie : We Miss Our Hounds

The evening before the dogs flew to Australia was a gorgeous one. The heat had finally gone out of the Seoul Summer, so it was warm but not unbearable, with just a hint of a breeze. Ferdi, Elfi and I spent a good hour or so sitting on the balcony, watching the sunset and sniffing the air. And I took a lot of photos. 

Now the dogs are in quarantine, apparently doing well. We miss them a lot. I miss them most when the husband is away (like he has been most of this month). I still kind of think I'm going to see their happy faces whenever I open the door to our serviced apartment. I still unconsciously save food scraps for them. I miss the comfort they give me, when I'm lying in bed alone. Those of you that have a dog in your family know what I'm talking about - there's a constant companionship you get from them, a warmth. And many times a day I'm noticing that absence.

On Saturday I have to pick the dogs up from quarantine, which is exciting. But then I have to drive for an hour or so to drop them at the boarding kennel where they're going to spend the next six weeks. Which will break my heart a little. I am not looking forward to it! But I am looking forward to sharing more of the balcony photo shoot with you (there are some especially cute ones of Ferdi still to come!). And I know the next few weeks will fly by, and mid-November will be here before we know it...

24 September 2013

ProBlogger : Five Things I Learnt

In my last post I mentioned that I'd just returned from the Problogger Training Event. It was two days of fabulous sessions on all kinds of things - from the nitty gritty of Google Analytics to ways to engage your community and tips on becoming a freelance writer. I also met some really ace people in the flesh for the first time (*waves hello to Cheryl, Jess and Elle*) and got to spend more time with some other bloggy friends (Hello Dannielle!). So much food for thought! Now that the dust has settled a little, here are some of the key things I picked up... 

1. ProBlogger isn't all about making money from your blog. 
Sometimes it is, but sometimes it's not. During the opening session, Trey Ratcliff told a story about Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy - about how his real passion is Shakespeare, but he made his money by acting in a sci fi TV show. The money making bit is related to the passion bit, but it's not where he generated his income. Later, I attended a very informative session on freelance writing with Valerie Khoo and Kelly Exeter. One of the things they talked about was writing copy for corporate newsletters and company websites. They talked about writing that feeds your soul and writing that pays the bills.

This sort of stuff is music to the ears of bloggers like me who feel a little uneasy about sponsored posts (and, let's be honest, who don't quite have the blogging dedication required to build an appropriate audience to garner sponsorships). Yes, ProBlogger is about making a profession out of a hobby, but there are so many forms that this can take. 

Across a range of speakers it became clear that blog monetisation isn't just about sponsored posts and advertising. It's about partnerships and collaborations. It's about ebooks and opportunities; finding those areas on the outskirts of your passion, the things you love that overlap with the things people need.

2. You don't have to be the expert. 
This was a theme that came up again and again. One of the things Darren Rowse talked about in his opening keynote was that you need to deal with the fact that you'll never know it all. Put aside time to learn, figure out how to build your knowledge, but realise that there will always be more to know. 

This was something I definitely needed to hear. I always put off doing things because 'I don't know how'. I don't call myself a blogger or a writer or a photographer because I feel like an impostor when I do, because there's so much I don't know yet. But maybe it's time to acknowledge the skills that I have, to be be proactive about the things I want to learn, and to just start doing stuff

Somewhat related was another common theme - these days bloggers and brands alike are focussed on 'engagement', on 'making the reader the hero'. This means that you don't need to be the expert, you and the reader can learn together. Want to blog about veganism but you're not a nutritionist? That's okay - admit the gaps in your knowledge and take your community on a journey with you

3. I don't want to change the world. 
In that room of 450 or so bloggers dreaming big, I'm pretty sure I was in the minority on this one. But it's true, I don't. What I do want is to be good at what I do. I want to be proud of the things I write and the photos I take. I want to learn a lot more about the technical stuff, and build on the skills I have. And I want to be a nice person. 

Sounds kind of lame, right? But it's true. I want to be a great wife, a great step-mum; to enjoy time with my mum and sister and nephews and family. I want to create good things; to contribute to my little community, my little corner of the earth. But I don't want to change the world. 

4. I still suck at small talk. But that's okay. 
Thanks to my previous experience as a trainer and facilitator in the corporate world, and that whole moving overseas thing, I am much better at chit chat than I ever used to be. But there are still times when I am incredibly awkward or just say really dumb stuff. I'm pretty sure this lady now thinks I am a total freak / airhead, which kind of sucks because she's a blogger I admire. But that's okay, we all mess up sometimes. And next time it will be better. 

5. No matter who you meet (or don't meet) at the event, your network will grow.
At the last minute I drew up a list of people I wanted to connect with. I tracked most of them down (although I missed Lisa Tilse which I'm quite sad about because her blog is a thing of beauty). But here's the thing - in the week or so since ProBlogger I've got a ton of new active Twitter followers and a handful of new Facebook friends. They are people that I noticed using the #pbevent tag (and they noticed me), or who I saw interacting with some of my favourite tweeters (and vice versa). So don't fret too much if you don't make all the connections you wanted to at the event (it's a pretty hectic few days) - you'll find your network will continue to grow afterwards anyway. 

So, that's what I learnt at ProBlogger. Well, to be honest it's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll be back in the next week or so with another post about some of my favourite speakers and a bit more about what they actually said. So, stay tuned! 

Oh! And a bonus thing I learnt - 6. I do not like the Gold Coast. It is all the bad things about Australia crammed along an (admittedly gorgeous) coastline. I really, really do not like it. But more on that at a later date...

16 September 2013

Collecting Colours : Navy + Red

I've just returned from a couple of days at the Gold Coast at the amazing ProBlogger Training Event. I'm simultaneously exhausted and abuzz, and grateful for the chance to hang out with all the lovely bloggers and listen to all the intelligent, inspirational speakers. It really helped clarify a lot of things; what I want to do and where I want to take this blog. I'll share some of the golden nuggets I learnt over the next few weeks, but before I get ahead of myself and race in to the new, let's finish off the things we've started shall we? (Did I mention that most of my key learnings were around focus?...Shiny things! Squirrel!...What was I talking about? Oh yes, Collecting Colours.) 

I'm about a month behind at the moment but that's okay. Because life. August was supposed to be all about navy and red. And even though it's not really August anymore let's all just pretend for a moment, okay? (Side note - how great would it be if it was still August? Because it'd mean the year wasn't rushing past at quite the breakneck speed that it seems to be.). 

Navy and blue is another nautical pairing. It's kind of the more masculine version of blue and white. I don't mind this pair, but I don't love it. (I do like these photos though - they are chockfull of quintessentially Korean sights, which makes me happy!) I find blue and red a bit heavy, a bit staid, a bit old fashioned. Especially when it's used for interior design. And I don't have any of it in my wardrobe (but I don't mind it in my husband's wardrobe). How about you? Are you a fan of navy and red?

* * * * * * *

Every month through 2013 I'll be 'collecting colours', and you can join in too! Just create something, anything based on the colour pair for each month. Link up below, Instagram, Tweet and/or add your photo to the Flickr group here. You can go here to get all the information you need.  

09 September 2013

True Story : I Love Election Day

The weekend made me realise I freaking love election day. I mean, I really, really love it (and not just because of the sausage sizzles). I realise I may have just lost half my audience right there, and I also realise the other half that's still with me is rolling their eyes and thinking 'ughhh...I though we'd finally stopped talking about the damn election.' But I'm writing this anyway. You can relax a little - this isn't about the results (if you want to know my feelings on those have a look at my Twitter). No, it's about the day and the process. Actually, it's kind of about politics as a whole. 

Let's back up a bit. I grew up in a very politically aware household. My folks were involved; passionate about issues. There were posters and badges and marches, and late night arguments fuelled by cheap red wine. (Clarification - the adults were drinking the wine and arguing, I was dozing in the background.)

I remember the build up to state and federal elections, the excitement on the day. I remember handing out how to vote cards at our local polling station. That's me down there, barefoot, aged about 6 or 7, and rocking some 80s fashion (I wish I still had that tee!). I remember election nights, done Don's Party style. The gathering of friends, the commiserating and ranting when 'your side' lost. The relief when they won. Politics was kind of our football. I was pretty young, so all of this was a bit in the background, but I remember it. And I think it helped to give me a lifelong interest in politics, and a lifelong love of election day. 

I love the whole ritual of election day. Strolling past the how to vote people and ignoring them all (because I've done my own research, thanks). I love the lining up (no, really!), finding my name, carefully filling out the papers (I voted below the line this year), and, best of all, putting my precious vote in the ballot box. I've always lived in a very safe not-the-person-I'd-vote-for electorate, so you could argue my vote is pointless, meaningless. But...it makes no difference to how I feel about it. I think Leunig summed it up best. (Also, speaking of putting your vote in the ballot box, did you see this? Lovely, yes?). 

And then you have election night itself, featuring the astounding Antony Green, of course. If you're a people watcher like me, then election night coverage delivers the best people watching you could ever hope for. Think about it - these candidates have poured their heart and soul into something they believe in, and now the public has passed judgement. And then - after sleepless nights, a frantic day, and probably a red wine or two too many (we're looking at you Malcolm Turnbull) - they're expected to go on live TV and not cock it all up. It's like a really real, really big, reality TV show. No scripts or 'personalities', just jubilation and brave fronts; flushed faces, fumbles, photobombs; passion and dissapointment. These are people at their most vulnerable, most proud, most heartbroken, perplexed, honest. 

And when it all starts going sour that's when the fun really begins. That's when people start pointing fingers, apportioning blame. It's not election night without a losing candidate having a rant about how their own party screwed it all up. 

And I know that some of you out there are thinking - but I hate politics! Well, firstly, thanks for reading this far, that was unexpected. And secondly, you don't hate politics, I promise. You just don't like certain politicians. 

I'm not going to tell you you should like politics because it's good for you, because it impacts you. No, you should like politics because it's life, amplified. It's Shakespeare and Game of Thrones and America's Next Top Model and that niggle with your mother in law. It also can be, should be, about belief and vision and thoughtful analysis. About good things, noble things, smart things. About making the world a slightly better place. Politics says - I have faith, I believe in this place; I believe it can be better than it is. You may not agree with the how, but surely you'd agree with the why. And how can you not get excited about that?

06 September 2013

Death by Doxie : A Dog's Journey

One of the things about the move I was dreading the most was shipping the dogs off. I imagined handing them over to a stranger, seeing their distress, Elfi screaming, me crying. But as it turned out it wasn't so bad. 

I paid a specialist to look after all the paperwork and transportation (Sohee from Chung Wha Animal Hospital in Itaewon) and she was professional and caring and lovely. She organised all the tests required, sorted out the freight costs and booked them into quarantine (she even made sure they were in a pen together). On the day of their flight she picked them up early, leaving them on their leads rather than in their crates, to reduce their stress a bit. She even bought along her own (very well trained) dog which meant Ferdi and Elfi were so focussed on meeting another dog they barely noticed us saying goodbye. So, whilst I still shed a tear or two, it wasn't nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be.

It was a bit expensive (actually, the whole Australian quarantine process is expensive!) but having a third party handle everything was worth every penny - both for peace of mind and for taking some of the emotional heat out of the situation. 

A few other things that helped - a week or so before their flight I got their crates ready and clean and set them up in the lounge room, just so they could get used to them. I also put a toy and some old clothes in there (that's my old pyjama pants you can see next to Ferdi, featuring a dachshund print of course!). And when I gave them treats I'd throw them into the crate. Elfi would run in, grab the treat and run straight back out again, nervous critter that she is. But Ferdi quite likes to have his own little house, so he hung out in his crate a bit. Though he looked sad, as always. 

Anyway, the dogs are now safely in quarantine. I've been told from numerous sources that the level of care there is phenomenal, so that's reassuring. We'll see them soon enough, but in the meantime we do miss them quite a lot...

04 September 2013

The First Few Days : Random Thoughts on Moving 'Home'

After a frustrating last day in Seoul (it's a long story), we touched down in Sydney early Sunday morning. Not for a fleeting visit, for good. (Maybe.) We are home. 

Here are some things I've been thinking : 

- The first few days after a big move suck because you remember all the things you need right now (like health care details and internet banking passwords and so much more) that are currently in a box on a boat and won't be seen for a few months yet...I keep waking up at 3am in a mild panic thinking things like 'Oh no! My business cards are still in my filing cabinet (which is now on a boat) and ProBlogger is next week! Ughhh!'. (Thank goodness for moo.com's rush orders!).

- There is a massive gap in the market for corporate approved, pet friendly accommodation. Right now our dogs are in quarantine so they couldn't be with us anyway, but they'll be out in under a month and they'll have to go to a boarding kennel until The Big Project is finished. The company my husband works for is covering most of our temporary accommodation, which is really very awesome, but it does mean we have to stay with an approved provider. And not a single one of those are pet friendly. 

- Spring has only just started and already half of Sydney seems to have misplaced their wardrobe. (File this one under 'reverse culture shock'.) 

- It's rather helpful to be speaking the same language as the waiters and shop assistants and service people, but I really, really don't like being able to understand what all the people around me in cafes and restaurants and trains are saying. 

- Just because you speak the same language doesn't mean things will suddenly be easy to sort out. Paperwork and red tape and ridiculous rules are universal. This is easy to forget. 

- Related - during all the mad packing and organising in Seoul I kept thinking 'once I get to Sydney I'll be able to relax, for a few days at least'. Um, no. Not at all. It has been a ridiculously busy few days. Everything still needs to be done, and new things are constantly cropping up. Hoping the weekend brings a bit of breathing space...

- People aren't so friendly when you're all the same. In Seoul, whenever one of our young neighbours got in the lift with us they'd smile, giggle nervously, wave, say 'hi', ask where we were from. We stood out in Seoul, and people were drawn to that. I think there's also something about the community minded collectivist culture that you find across Asia, something that makes daily connections and polite hellos the norm. Also, in the expat world you kind of revert back to primary school friendship making techniques (basically 'hi, you look nice and we're in the same general vicinity, wanna play?'). You kind of forget that the real world isn't like that; that people tend to freak out when you randomly smile at them. 

- Sydney doesn't know the meaning of cold (and I'm okay with that). 

- Australian produce - dear lord I love you. I've basically spent every spare moment of the last few days wandering the supermarket aisles hugging fresh herbs and shedding tears over the perfect corn cob. And don't get me started on the dairy cabinet (ricotta! feta! cottage cheese!). 

- Everyone welcomes you home, but to be honest it doesn't feel like home, yet. 

The best description I can come up with for the past few days? Surreal. And exciting. 


ps. Thank you all so much for the Sydney advice in response to my last post! So much helpful info!