Friday, February 15, 2013

MILK + COOKIES - Cookies in a bottle

If you liked our 'Cookies in a Jar' you will SUPER love this. 

The same recipe fits very nicely into our Vintage Milk Bottles (available HERE in our store) - the perfect play on milk and cookies!! 


Layer the following into a Pint size jar or milk bottle:
1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 cup white sugar (mixed together)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
Cover lid with pretty fabric or paper, bind with twine and tie on a tag with the following directions:
Preheat oven to 190 degrees celcius.
Empty contents of jar into a bowl.
Melt 100grams butter, beat one egg, and add to dry mix.
Drop tablespoons of mixture onto oven tray.
Bake for 6-7 minutes.
Makes approximately 12, delicious, crunchy and chewy cookies!!!
(Mine turned out more chocolatey, as the melted butter melted my chocolate chips!)

Tips when constructing: 
Use a funnel (or make one out of paper) for easier pouring in of ingredients. 
It is better if the denser ingredients are at the bottom.
Use a chopstick to spread ingredients around evenly if necessary (brown sugar needs a bit of help!)

I separated the flour mixture and constructed as two layers for a bit of variation, and then stuck some washi tape around the bottle as a label.


Friday, February 1, 2013

STEP 2, DE-CLUTTER - Unclog the blockages in your creative arteries

Studio on a good day
Studio on a bad day
I am the world's best procrastinator before a big deadline, the start of a new project, or the beginning of a task that requires thinking space. Right from high school, all the way through university, and now as a thirty-something mother, wife and business owner I've really got it polished and refined. I'm a total pro. I've always gone into a cleaning frenzy, a complete re-arrangement of a room, a total organisation of a linen cupboard, or even a sort out of jars into different categories (yeah....taking it a bit far), before settling down to contemplate the 'real' task at hand.

I didn't realise until just recently that what I thought was procrastination, was actually a vital part of my creative process (oh I feel better about it already!!). Hopefully you've had a little holiday (STEP 1), and have had a chance to 'de-clutter' your mind somewhat. Simply by doing lots of nothing, and lots of everything BUT work. Unclogging your creative and intellectual arteries if you like. Taking a complete break from work really does this, and you don't realise it until you've done it.

My next step is to unclog the 'arteries' in your physical surroundings, the things that, unbeknown to you, may be causing creative blockages. Getting rid of little jobs that are nagging at you in the back of your mind (I must sort out that linen cupboard because it's an 'argh!!' moment every time I open it and stuff falls out), piles of things that torment you every time you walk past and think "I need to sort that stuff out someday". Where I sit here at my computer, which is actually in the corner of the dining room (yes, I do have my own large, very spacious, beautiful office/studio, but I need to be down this end of the house to keep an eye on the kids, 'multi-task' by cooking dinner and emailing at the same time, and I so don't want the children hanging around in my studio wrecking everything. OK Husband??! Awesome. So glad we cleared that up)....where was I....

Oh yes, sitting here at my computer in the dining room and there are two things that majorly irritate me and almost put me off my work - the bookshelf in the lounge which is a disaster courtesy of a two year old, and the wall unit right beside me, which is a disaster courtesy of ME. I almost have to wear horse blinkers when I sit here so that I don't go crazy and can focus on what I'm doing, rather than my eyes making contact with the mayhem beside me.

Having a good de-clutter and clean out is a positively amazing way to boost your productivity and unleash your creative thinker. Sometimes the solution for a creative or planning blockage is to forget about the project for a while, let your mind rest, and simply let your subconscious complete it's "procrastinating" - WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY. Once these annoying and frustrating blockages are cleared, your mind almost has permission to engage in creative or thinking activities. Well, it works for me. I really enjoyed this Facebook post by the gorgeous Sarah Laurie Lifestyles on "Tolerations", and sorting these out before we head into our planning. Have a read, it's just a short post - and well worth it.

Here's the plan:
  • FRUSTRATIONS: I chose - the high kitchen bench (where everything gets chucked because the children can't reach it), the linen cupboard, the fridge, and the kids drawers!


A bin/box/bag for each of the categories above.

  • RECYCLE -  envelopes, newspaper, old packaging that can't be re-used. You can shred large paper for future packaging, otherwise - get it into the recycling bin. My new rule of thumb is to recycle all envelopes and extra notices/brochures that come with bills STRAIGHT AWAY. Yucky plastics and unnecessary glass of course!  
  • HOSPICE - a box (or 10) for your local Hospice or charity shop - be ruthless. You WILL accumulate more, and you know it. Things you really don't need. Clothes you are never, ever going to fit again. Odds and ends crockery that no longer go with anything, and that aren't very cool. (I had to learn to not be so sentimental about stuff. But I did keep 'handy things for future projects', and Husband rolled his eyes again). TOYS!! There are far too many, it's overwhelming. 
  • CHUCK - anything broken that can't be recycled, given away, or repaired. Pens that don't work. Dried felt tip pens and markers. Falling apart handbags. Rubbish.
  • ARCHIVE: by law you have to keep business accounting documents and records for a period of seven years, so keep what you have to. Once you no longer need it (if your accountant has signed off the year and accounts filed) - ARCHIVE IT. Put it all into a box labelled 2011 (or whatever year it is), tape it up, store it away, forget about it. The only time you will ever need it is if IRD decide to audit you, at which time you can hand them the box and say "sure thing, it might be in a shambles but it's all there, go for it!". No-one said it had to be 7 years of neatly filed records did they. Unless you are good like that! I'm not. And I just saved myself 8 hours work.

Feeling good? Great!! Now to de-clutter your ELECTRONIC WORLD.....YOUR COMPUTER

  • Your email inbox. Ouch. May seem like a monstrous task. First of all delete spam, and empty your trash. Unsubscribe from newsletters that no longer interest you. Then go through your inbox and delete anything you don't need - newsletters, advertising, spammish type stuff. Create folders for all emails - here's mine: Inbox (necessary!), Actioned, Follow up, Orders pending, Orders sent, Receipts/Invoices, Bank, News, Testimonials, Suppliers, Personal. Put as much of your inbox away in folders as you can, but make sure you are vigilant to keep an eye on the folders that still require action. Once you've followed up or responded fully - file it into 'Actioned' straight away! Do you know how good it feels to go from an inbox of 468 messages to less than 40? AMAZING.
  • Your computer files! Delete unnecessary photos, files and downloads. I take a million trillion photos before deciding on one or two to use. Get rid of all the junk, the blurry shots, the stuff that doesn't work. Empty the trash.
  • Defrag, do a system clean up, run your anti-spyware, clear your desktop of anything that might be slowing your system down. 
  • Do a BACK UP. NOW. 
  • Look at cloud storage. It's a great idea - and means you can access your files from anywhere and any device. And if your hard drive blows're safe (unless the cloud blows up).
This de-cluttering of your life may take a few days, but it is well worth it. Once you've de-cluttered, you can then go on to the next step ORGANISE, after which the lovely PLANNING will begin. Are you getting excited? I am!

Now here's a GREAT post from Kelly Exeter of A Life Less Frantic on The One Minute Cleaning Rule That Will Change Your Life. Some really great advice on how to deal with the clutter before it happens!

Christall x

Thursday, January 31, 2013

When it all turns to mush....A Foreword

I've learnt a lot of lessons this week (and it's only Thursday)....


I started this week full of passion and inspired and energised and amping to go and ready for action and ready to hit you with this incredible 7 day plan to refresh and kick start your business and life! Little did I know what the week had in store for me. Bit by bit, my days were being 'written off' by circumstances beyond my control - big and small.
  • The kids weren't back at school and daycare yet, and they started to get bored. Poor darling kids.
  • My washing machine broke down. Gutted.
  • It was so hot that I couldn't breathe and my legs got so swollen they hurt. Ugh. 
  • A blood test turned into over an hour and a half waiting in a stinking hot waiting room (during which time my phone battery went flat, so I couldn't even read the latest news, catch up on blogs, go on Facebook, reply to emails), I had forgotten to put my diary/planner in my handbag so I couldn't even doodle, or plan, or organise. I don't like reading magazines in waiting rooms that have been full of sick people - it's just a thing I don't do. The only thing I had in my handbag was the latest stack of unopened mail (all bills ugh!!!) and loads of kids stuff. So I just closed my eyes.
  • I have a desktop computer and a laptop, and when the room I work in became unbearably hot my desktop (and I) wasn't functioning properly. So I thought I'd find a nice shady spot under the tree, with my feet in the kids paddling pool, with the laptop. Five minutes later the battery ran out and when I plugged it in I found the cord had broken (wires hanging out of it, what on earth?!!). Can't use it at the moment. 
  • The two year old had a major tantrum leaving his big brothers school on the first day (huffing puffing pregnant woman with kicking screaming child - not a pretty picture). This won't happen again. Ever.
  • I spilt, and smashed, a glass jar full of cornflour from the top shelf of the pantry....all the way through the pantry. Do you want to know how long that took to clean up and how much glass I'm still finding?!! At least the pantry got a clean. 
  • The courier didn't turn up to pick up the parcels. No appropriate comment for this.
  • I got tired. Super tired. 
I'll stop there, because there's so much more, but I really didn't mean to have a big moan about everything that's gone wrong this week! I did start to beat myself up about everything....that really didn't help. At all. 

I had to realise that:
1) I had NO control over any of these things that happened (okay maybe I was a bit clumsy with the cornflour)
2) I needed to be more realistic and not expect so much from myself (just settle down Christall, take care of yourself and your family and the baby on board!)
3) Things could be a lot worse, and people are actually going through awful things right now. Don't let the little things get you.

So I stopped, sat on my front porch, took time to breathe, I reflected, and looked at my life and business goals that I had 're-arranged' and 'de-overwhelmed' a few days earlier to accommodate the changes afoot, ate some chocolate, and carried on....but without the torture of feeling guilty about what I hadn't done, or stressed about what needed to be done. Every minute is an opportunity to start over. What a relief!

And hello, a lovely little opportunity just peeked out at me *grins*

In saying all that, the second blog post of the 'REFRESH YOUR LIFE AND BUSINESS' all about the DE-CLUTTER step is coming right up. But give me a few hours - interruptions have been known to happen!  :-)

Christall x

Friday, January 25, 2013

REFRESH your Business and 7 Steps

Ahhh, the start of a new year. There's just something about it that excites me. I know it's just another day after another day, nothing really 'new' about it, and that different cultures celebrate a 'new' year at different times (eg. Matariki, Chinese New Year), but I like to see it as my fresh start - or a good excuse for one anyway.

Year after year, I seem to start the same way - full of vigour, far too many ideas, eager to do this and implement that, make this and finish that. I always, ALWAYS want to start something new. Idea explosion and inspiration overload!

Come March, and I'm all puffed out, having been overwhelmed by a mountain of ideas, plans, tasks and 'to do' lists that have now become lost amongst invoices, junk mail and bank statements.


I feel like it's just back to the grind, and I'm lost in piles of paper and 'inspiration', always trying to catch up (catch up to what, I'm not sure), and never feeling on top of things.

Hello October, and I realise the end of the year is nearing (fast), I vaguely remember some of the plans I had and feel remorseful that I never got around to doing much of it this year (again), and then get swamped with everything that happens pre-Christmas that I don't even have enough brain space to think about it.....

HOLIDAY TIME. Holiday. HOLIDAY!!!! Just to get away and clear the head for a start! Do nothing. Eat yummy food. Drink favourite beverages. Sleep in (well try). Go places. Do more of nothing. Read a book. Make a pavlova. Go swimming with the kids. Lie under the shade of a tree. Eat more. Do nothing. Watch the sun set. Visit beautiful places. Breathe.

Oh and do not take the laptop.

Let's face it, we all have Facebook and email on our smartphones anyway. If we are that desperate to check in or stay 'in the loop', we can. I went away with my family for three weeks, and had a browse on Facebook on my phone every now and then every day, and posted the odd holiday pic. My point is, holiday means holiday, which also means 'switching off' from work. Whether it is for two days, or three weeks - switching off completely once in a while is imperative to refreshing yourself, and your business.

Which brings me to my REFRESH plan for your business and life. A plan I designed last year when things were getting a little a whole lot overwhelming. It's a bit different to the other business plans and things out there, as this actually works in with my busy lifestyle, is do-able, and it kind of feels like going to a chiropractor for the soul. Getting everything 'aligned'. Your business, your family life, your commitments, your personal goals, your dreams, your vision.

Every day for the next week I'm going to share with you the SEVEN STEPS to REFRESHING your business and life, which I would say is also a bit of a gentle kick start. Here's a rundown....

STEP 1: HOLIDAY (yup, absolutely necessary, and not as hard as you think)

Each step is best done over an entire day. But I'll get into that in more detail later. First things first....

Go ahead and start with STEP 1: HOLIDAY. This doesn't necessarily mean paying a lot of money to go to a tropical island (but go for it if you can!!). It can simply mean 'switching off' from business and any encumbrances even just for a weekend (or if you are an Aucklander, you get a three day weekend right now - make the most of it!).  Getting away from your 'norm', going and doing stuff without feeling obligated to reply to emails, create your product, or sort out your paperwork. I know I come up with all the excuses in the world not to have a proper break...."I have so much to do! I'll fall behind!....What if I miss a really important call??....But I'm so amped to start this project right now....Oh but I really should finish project 16843....I don't have time for a holiday"....Sound familiar?

Having a holiday is good for the soul, can help you move from a tough spot to a better place, and can give you that much needed 'step away' from your business in order to see things from a different perspective and in a new light. It also gives your brain a chance to switch off for a bit!

So I've implemented my 7 STEP REFRESH PLAN (go me!), and feel sooooo good about where I'm heading. Huge changes this year, very soon actually, with baby number three on the way, so a bit of recalibrating of goals and dreams was in order. One has to be realistic, but still dream big. And the 7 days (okay it took me 10 days) was very realistic for me, as I am absolutely bursting with motivation, but seriously lacking in energy. But I'm ready to jump into 2013 feeling somewhat organised, with visible goals in sight, and with renewed vigour.

So do it, have a wee holiday, and I'll see you on Monday with Step 2. Enjoy.

Christall x

PS - I'm currently being re-branded! My lovely friend who did all the Maisy and Grace branding for me is working on some lovely stuff for me, but is a bit sick at the moment, so it will just be a wee bit longer. New look blog and brand new Facebook page for all things dedicated to kicking butt in your business and life. Can't wait.
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