Friday, August 18, 2017

Five Friday Favourites

I have managed to survive Winter without a cold until now, it's not uncommon for me to get at least one major cold a season (plus being an asthmatic it can mean once it goes to my chest it never leaves!) and I was so hopeful that I would escape the sickness trap but it wasn't meant to be. Colds are never fun but on the bright side it means I can spend all my time watching Netflix and not feel too guilty.

Still quiet on the job hunt front but praying that will change soon, though on Monday I was at the R U Ok day convoy representing ReachOut which was interesting. I had no idea what to expect but I think I did ok and had some fun chatting to people about mental health and why you should ask R U Ok.
I am also giving a presentation on Exam Stress at a mental health expo on behalf of ReachOut in a few weeks. I am busy writing that and trying not to stress too much about it myself. I actually enjoy public speaking and doing oral presentations at school was an assignment was something I could do and always got top marks in. I am so thankful that ReachOut has a load of awesome resources regarding Exam Stress so it means writing the talk isn't too hard and it will be a fun experience (I hope!).
The week after the presentation I have a ReachOut stall at a local school which will be fun. I love school events as they are more laidback and it's nice to chat to the students about mental health and any issues they are facing.
I sometimes joke that ReachOut is my job during this time of unemployment and recently I feel that it is true but no complaints as I love every minute of it :)

Moving on to Five Friday Favourites:

Pumpkin, Spinach, Feta and Pine Nut Quiche - I made this last Monday and I am still thinking about it! It does take a while to make but if you spread it over a day or two its not too hard to make. The cheese in the pastry really makes it for me as does how deep the actual quiche is so you get a good pastry to filling ratio which can be off in some quiches.

ATypical - I watched this last weekend on Netflix and really enjoyed it. It's about Sam (Keir Gilchrist who played Craig in It's Kind of a Funny Story) as an 18 year old high functioning autisic boy who decides he should get a girlfriend and what happens along the way. I loved how it gave you a look into his mind and his daily struggles along with how it affects his family and friends. I liked the touch of Sam's friend Zahid who didn't see him as an autisic person just his friend who is struggling with getting a girlfriend and it was great to show that people with autism can have normal friendships. I highly recommend this series if you are after something a bit different and will get you to think.

Papyrus Cards - I needed an anniversary card for my parents and could not find anything I liked. I was close to giving up when I found one, of course it cost a small fortune but it was a lovely card (I can't find it on the website to link) and very them. I love Papyrus cards and while I do find it hard to justify spending a heap on a card when it's for a special occaision or event I do feel that it's worth it. I could've spent ages looking at all the different designs and styles and they are really beautiful cards.

Diary of a Teenage Jewel Thief by Rosie Somers - this was my latest read and it was a fun read. It reminded me a bit of Ally Carter's books and while it wasn't up to her standard it was still an enjoyable read. It did take me a while to get going and was a lot slower paced that I expected but Mari was a great character it was great to see her come to life in the pages.
The blurb reads:
Most sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t know where museums keep their rarest jewels (the basement) and they really shouldn’t know that vans make the worst getaway cars. But for Marisol Flores, a life of jewel thievery is a birthright handed down from generation to generation, even if she didn’t ask for it. So when a rival thief targets Mari and her mother, Mari’s more than happy to flee to the anonymity of bustling New York City.
Blending in is a dream come true for Mari, but keeping her former thieving ways a secret gets way more complicated when handsome Will Campbell sets his sights on her. She can’t help but like his terrible puns and charming grin...but when her past catches up with her, it’s not only her life—and her anonymity—that’s at stake.
Will could be the next target

If you like Ally Carter's books then you will like Diary of a Teenage Jewel Thief which is out now.

John Crist UberChristian - I have never used Uber ever in my life but maybe I would be more inclined to if they brought out a Christian version? This video is so funny and if you haven't checked out John Crist then you are missing out!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Pumpkin, Spinach, Feta and Pine Nut Quiche

Everyone has their own types of comfort foods, for some its carbs - hot chips, rice, bread and pasta,
others its sugar - chocolate, ice cream, lollies and sweet treats and for others something completely different (cheese? meat? a mix of everything?). I'm in the sugar camp for sure when it comes to comfort food and am always up for a baked treat. But if I want real comfort food then I make this quiche, which is no doubt a surprise to all. Maybe it's the story behind it or how many steps there are so it gives me something to focus or just how good it tastes.
Across from my psych's office there was this café/retro and vintage gift shop, I used to regularly visit it and eventually got in to a routine of buying this amazing quiche for lunch before my appointments. It was a place where I could relax and I loved chatting to the owner and looking around the shop. Unfortunately the café shut down 2 years ago when the owner was expecting her second child and couldn't do both.
A while ago I was craving this quiche and attempted to recreate it, and I believe after many tries I have successfully managed to recreate it, which was no easy challenge. I was making it from memory, but I knew it was made in a deep dish and a spring form tin seemed like the perfect tin (though I am sure you could make it in a typical quiche pan but you would only be able to do one layer and not use as much egg mix). I started with the base which I knew had cheese in it as it wasn't a typical pastry and had little luck finding a cheese pastry recipe until I found Donna Hay's recipe which I have adapted. The filling was thankfully a lot easier and found that layering the ingredients gave a great result. The original version didn't have onion in it and while I think its a nice addition, though I am told it tastes better without it, so its up to you if you add it or not.
It does take a while to make (roasting the pumpkin, blind baking the base and over 1 hours baking time) it but it is well worth it and is great for dinner and lunch served on its own or with a light salad. I even made it on Monday night and served it with crumbed chicken which was a great meal.
It tastes amazing warm out of the oven but still nice cold. I would make it the day you need it but you can make the pastry and roast the pumpkin (and onion) in advance.

Pumpkin, Spinach, Feta and Pine Nut Quiche

1/2 a (medium sized) pumpkin, peeled and cut into cubes
Garlic granules
1/2 red onion slice thinly (optional) - Jocelyn says to leave it out
block of feta (approx. 150/200grms)
1/2 cup pine nuts
120 g baby spinach
8 eggs
1/2 cups milk

Cheese Pastry
150grm butter
2 cups of plain flour
3/4 cup grated cheese
1/4 cup parmesan
1/2 cup milk

  1. Grease a spring form tin with cooking spray.
  2. In food processor combine butter, flour and cheeses blitz until it resembles breadcrumbs and slowly add in milk until a ball of dough forms (you may need more or less milk). 
  3. Roll out between two sheets of baking paper adding more flour as needed to prevent it from getting sticky. You want it to be between 1-2cm thick.
  4. Place pastry in tin. You can either drape it over the tin and press in or cut around the tin and press in, before cutting strips of remaining dough to line the sides.You want it to overlap it the sides by a little bit to stay up while blind baking it
  5. Blind bake it for 30 minutes by placing a piece of baking paper over the dough and placing a smaller size dish in the tin (I used a glass bowl) and using rice to fill the gap or just using rice or beans. 
  6. Grease a tray and spread the pumpkin out evenly, sprinkle with garlic granules if using. Place in moderate oven for 45 minutes turning over half way through baking. If using onion 10 minutes before the pumpkin is finished baking spread onion over pumpkin to cook.
  7. Take out the base and remove baking paper.
  8. Cut  3/4s of the feta into smallish cubes setting aside to crumble on top for the final layer. How much you use depends on your preference.
  9. Layer the filling going: Pumpkin (and onion), feta, pine nuts and spinach repeat once more finishing with extra crumbed feta.
  10. Beat eggs, milk and pepper (I don't add salt as I find the feta is salty enough) and pour over the filling.
  11. Bake in a moderate oven for about 1 - 1.5 hours until its set (depending on the depth of the tin it may take longer)
  12. Serve warm or cold.
*You can make mini quiches just don't blind bake the base first and only bake for 30 minutes.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Five Friday Favourites

Another fortnight means its time for another Friday Favourites! Winter was in full swing this past week, with a strong weather warning on Monday resulting in storms, followed by the coldest minimum this year on Wednesday which meant ice on my car. I am thankful that we don't get snow here and our Winters aren't really bad compared to some parts of the world.

The job front has been quiet and on Thursday after a disappointing employment agency meeting I struggled to keep it together. Last year I thought I would surely have a job by my birthday this year (mind you I was thinking more March which has long gone) and with exactly 6 weeks until I turn 23 that's looking more and more less likely. I know God is in control but it's still hard to wait and trust in his timing.
I have applied to a couple of jobs recently and I am praying that one of those comes through with at least an interview, but again it's all in God's hands.

I am off to a Christian women's convention tomorrow which should be interesting, I haven't gone to one before though my Mum has been going since they first started and thinks it will be a great time. This coming week is a bit busy, with catching up friends and family along with psych and doctors appointments thrown in (#anxietylife). I like to have all my appointments booked in the same week if possible as it just makes things easier and I'm less likely to forget something at them as I'm in the correct head space.

Onto Friday Favourites:

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason - I received this book to review and while I enjoyed it, it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I'm not a huge fan of crime fiction but I just found this book too busy and it had a lot of storylines which made it hard to focus on the main storyline. It was still an enjoyable read and Haley was a likeable main character, but it wasn't the book for me. I will say if you enjoy crime fiction with a strong female lead you will enjoy this book.
The blurb reads:
Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan may be in South Carolina, but when a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, her life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone.
In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit.

Chasing Secrets is out now

Backstage - I was after something to watch this past weekend that was fun and didn't require much attention and Backstage fit what I wanted perfectly. It's another Canadian show (are you really surprised?) and is like The Next Step meets Dance Academy meets iDream (if anyone remembers that show). There's 30 episodes and I am 2 thirds done and really enjoying it. If you are after something mindless to watch this show is it.

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin - I really enjoyed this book and once I started I could not put it down. I loved the character of Mia and loved seeing her story play out throughout the book. Jake was someone who had clearly struggled and was questioning God with how his life was playing out. With both Jake and Mia they were convinced God wanted something completely different for them than what he had planned. The additions of Lucy and Sam were a nice touch and it was nice to see their story playout along side Jake and Mia's. I highly recommend reading this book if you love Christian fiction.
The blurb reads:
After two broken engagements, nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she only trusts herself and God, and she's focused on her eighteen-year-old sister, Lucy, and caring for patients. Just as she applies to work for an international aid organization, a phone call from Lucy, who's pregnant and running off to marry her twenty-one-year-old boyfriend, throws a wrench into all of Mia's plans.
Jake Tanner may have recovered from the physical injuries he sustained on the job as a police officer, but his heart has yet to heal from losing his former partner in the tragedy. He's poured himself into starting a camp for the sons of fallen officers and mentoring Sam, the adult son of his deceased partner, who's asked him to be his best man at his wedding.
Mia is expecting a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn't expecting Jake. And Jake, who can't help envying Sam and Lucy, doubts he'll ever experience their happiness for himself. But maybe Jake's courage and Mia's caring spirit are just what they need to bring them a lifetime of healing and a forever kind of love. . . .

The Two of Us is out on the 8th August.

LOQI bags - there's been a lot of talk about banning the plastic bag and many of my friends were doing plastic free July. I am hopeless at taking my own bag so I decided as an incentive I should buy myself a reusable one I love and would actually use. I saw LOQI bags and knew that I had found my answer, not only are these cute they are practical, are able to hold 20kg and long lasting, they also weigh nothing which means in my bag where space is a premium I don't notice. There are many ways to fold it and roll it too (I like to fold it flat and stick it in the matching pouch provided) which means you don't need to have any origami skills to fold it. I got this cute one with cats on it but there are loads of designs, this one is fun and I would love to buy this one for my aunty who loves tulips.

You and Me - I watched Descendants 2 last week and really enjoyed it, I loved all the music numbers but my all time favourite was You and Me. It just looked so fun to shoot and I loved the song, which has been on repeat ever since!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Weekend retreat recap

Well I survived the weekend, despite being concerned that my anxiety would flare up it actually stayed in the background for most of the weekend.
Every year my church aims to do a young adult retreat and this year it was decided that we would have it with a country church to build some relationships. The numbers from both churches were equal and we had a good mix of people come which was good. We stayed at a resort down south in chalets, (I think there was a total of 5 or 6 chalets each sleeping 6) which had indoor and outdoor pools, gym, games room and squash courts when we retreat we do it right!
I was so thankful to get a lift down to the resort with a some of the other young adults from church, I'm not the biggest fan of driving long distances alone and rain was also forecast. We did end up driving through some big showers so I made the right choice with choosing not to drive and I found it made the retreat sooner rather than later. We got down there at around 6.30pm and then got dinner with the others who had already arrived. Friday night after dinner was spent settling in and meeting the young adults from the other church, this had been a concern of mine and a huge issue with my anxiety thankfully I got along with them all really well.
Saturday morning we did a devotion then after lunch we could do whatever we wanted, so a group of us went to the wineries and hung out, I'm not a huge drinker so I came along for the social aspect more than anything else (we did stop at some no wine places to taste the local produce too) . The rest of the young adults hung out at the chalets, some went 4WD-ing  (and got bogged because taking a Yaris 4WD-ing is a good idea haha?!) and some went caving. We then all met at the local ice cream place at 4.00pm as is our churches tradition when we are down there. Dinner was a busy fun affair with all of us crammed in 1 chalet enjoying soup and pasta followed by dessert (I made my famous caramel slice as if I didn't I was convinced I would be disowned my bible study group haha!) and then we played board games, chatted and hung out.
Sunday morning was spent packing before another devotion then lunch, we had a 12.00pm checkout and a few of us decided to play mini golf before we made the drives back to our homes. I'm normally against anything sporty but figured I would give it ago, I came last but still had fun and didn't injure myself or anyone else (yay!).
Today I crashed and if I hadn't needed to run errands (get fuel and buy blue paint while it was still on sale) I probably would've stayed in bed all day, which I think is a sign of a good fun weekend!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Friday Favourites

I am going away this weekend, I haven't been away in so long so I am excited for this brief break with my church friends. My bags are packed, new books have been downloaded, caramel slice has been made and my anxiety has been locked away in a box (I wish that were possible! So instead I am just doing my best to ignore it and put it out of my mind for the weekend).

The past couple of weeks have been highly emotional so last Sunday I just crashed and pretty much stayed curled up on the couch watching Chesapeake Shores. I saw my psych on Tuesday which was perfect timing and I found it was great to get her thoughts on a few things including the job hunt. I find with my anxiety I can dip at times and it takes me a while to get out of those dips so it's something I am working on and hoping that any more dips won't take me as long to get out of. My psych gave me some reading to do regarding negative thinking and just coping in general, which looks like it will be helpful.
My anxiety has been running rampant lately regardless of what I do and I am overthinking every little thing, plus feeling jumpy and just wanting to hide. A big part of me wants to just give up on everything and hide for the rest of my life but I know that isn't practical, so I am giving it all to God and taking it one day at a time.

Moving on to Five Friday Favourites:

Chesapeake Shores - I came across this series on Netflix last week and I really enjoyed it, it was good wholesome viewing and I loved getting to know all the O'Brien clan. It reminds me a bit of Parenthood but set on the coast and with a bit less drama. It's really nice getting to know all the siblings and how they each have their own struggles and where they fit in with the families dynamics. It's done by the same people as Good Witch so if you loved that you will love this.

Goodbye by Echosmith - Echosmith have finally released some new music and it was well worth the wait! I love Echosmith (Cool Kids, Safest Place and Bright are some of my favourite songs of all time), so I downloaded the song the moment it came out and it will now be in heavy rotation on my iPod. I can't wait for their new album to come out (29th September) and if this song is anything to go by it will be an amazing album.

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen - this is one of the books downloaded on my Kobo ready to be read. I love Sarah's books and find they are perfect holiday reads for when you want something light and fun. I first read Sarah's books in high school and I still love them, they are all standalone novels too but set in the same settings. If I need a break from the craziness of this weekend you can find me curled up reading this book.

Nokia 6 - yesterday I finally got a new phone! You know how some people are loyal to iPhones, Samsung's etc I am loyal to Nokia. My old phone was Nokia Lumia 520 and it was still going strong (despite being dropped multiple times) after 3 years but it was 2g and as of the start of August that would be switching off so I needed a 3g phone or higher to keep getting decent reception. I was thrilled when it was announced they would bringing out new Nokia's that would be android (my 520 ran on Windows which was not fun!) and for $400 outright for the top model I could actually afford a new phone. It's a great phone and with it being a Nokia I know it will last (though I have ordered a case for it), my parents already have their eyes on buying themselves one. I will say it uses a Nano SIM but some googling showed me how I could cut my micro SIM into a nano and I have had no problems with it.

Descendents 2 - so I was minding my own business out and about and I spotted this poster on the side of a building. It was so funny to see it (and unexpected, apparently putting posters up on buildings is still a thing?) and I sent the pic to Megan (who is obsessed with the movie and even insists on getting called Mal at times!), it made her day. You can also download the complete soundtrack and if that's anything to go by the movie should be amazing.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Book review: The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck

 Today is a very special day as its the release day of The Writing Desk by Rachel Hauck. Rachel is
one of those authors who once I discovered her I read all the books of hers I could find, she has also been the only author to ever get me to read (and enjoy!) historical fiction. She is also an amazing person all round, who is very active on Twitter and will respond to tweets, she even sent me a book when I tweeted that I couldn't justify buying it at the moment even though I wanted to read it. I don't know many authors who would do that and I have no doubt if I met her in real life we would be friends.
The Writing Desk is written in the same style of The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel and The Wedding Shop as in the story is based round an object and it's history and links two very different stories together. I am not a fan of historical fiction but I love how these books jump from past to present and vice versa easily, you get a better view of the story and just how important the object was to people.

About the book (taken from here):

Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?
With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.
A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.
Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

Where do I get started with this book, the characters were all amazing and the storyline was complex but easy to follow, with these types of books its easy to get lost amoung the different stories but I never once felt like I was.

I loved Tenley and how despite having had a somewhat broken childhood she was using her potiential to be the best writer she could be and wasn't letting anything get in the way of it.
Jonas had had his recent share of struggles in the past and was trying to get back on his feet. He is extremely loyal to his family and is willing to do whatever it takes to help them out, even if it means putting his own dreams and desires on hold.
Tenley longs to have what Jonas has in terms of his family and the stability that it brings, as while she had a loving father he has since died and she is now trying to get to know this stranger who is her mother.
To see how Tenley and Jonas relationship forms is really fascinating and it kept me on my toes throughout the whole book!

Birdie was an intriquing character and I loved getting swept up into the Gilded Age with her. She was full of fight and as the story goes on you get to see just how strong she really is. She never sat around and felt sorry for herself instead she realised that there was more to life than just being a housewife and marrying someone of status and got to work proving herself.

The story had lots of twists and turns and I loved seeing just how important the writing desk was to everyones stories throughout the book. It was a book that got me thinking and comparing the differences between the Gilded Age and current age. Overall the book was very enjoyable and I wouldn't expect anything less from Rachel Hauck.
If you are after a great standalone book to read then this is it and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Spoiler alert! Interview wasn't successful.

I guess this was to be expected and if I am being honest I know this was for the best. I didn't get the job I interviewed for last Tuesday. I was one of ten to be interviewed so the odds weren't in my favour at all and the more I thought about the job the more it made my anxiety levels rise. For starters the whole one week training on the otherside of the country gave me so many doubts and I know that deep down I wouldn't have coped (anxiety issues). I wanted to believe myself when I told people I would be fine with it but a huge part of me knew that my anxiety maybe wouldn't cope (and that's ok!). The hours were long and the location wasn't ideal but I knew that if I got the job I would make it work.
I was trying to prepare myself that I wouldn't get it, but when I got the email today saying I hadn't been successful, the tears just started to fall. I felt angry and like a failure, I started to doubt myself and if I will ever get a job.
On the plus side it was my first interview in 8 months! 8 months with nothing happening on the job search front, at least now I know I have skills that people are looking for and hopefully I will get some more interviews sooner rather than later (please pray that I do!). My resume has been revamped and I am hoping/praying that that will give me an edge and make me standout among the other applications.
I have been so thankful to have some great friends, I immediately messaged my bible study group telling them the news and they were so supportive. It was nice to have people telling me that I could cry and asking if I really was ok and that I will eventually get a job.
I don't know what the future holds, what I do know is that tomorrow is a new day and that means more jobs to apply for and I'm one day closer to finally finding that perfect job.