Red Velvet Cupcakes

For Christmas my mother in law gave me a box set of cupcake recipes. I have been wanting to try them out and especially the Red Velvet Cupcake recipe. I have never had red velvet cake or cupcakes so was very keen to give it a go.

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe

As I have never cooked this before and had no idea what the outcome would be. I collected all ingredients to create my cupcake masterpiece and enlisted my two cute little helpers to help make a big mess in the kitchen. You can image the kids would be messy but it was me that was the problem. I managed to put a mixture of beetroot, water, lemon juice and vanilla extract onto the walls of my kitchen. Not only did I give my walls a nice purple addition, the kids got some of it as well. I was very happy that it all came off and no one is the wiser. Well they are now, since I have told you about it. (So be careful if you give it a go)

redvelvetcupcakes2,1

The girls were very taken with the fact that we were adding beetroot. I was wondering if you would taste it? In the recipe you do add cocoa and other things that will help take the edge off the beetroot taste. I was also keen to see if they looked a deep red like the recipe told me they would. Only time would tell… I had to continue making them to see if the instructions were right.

The kids helping me cook the red velvet cupcakes

The kids helping me cook the red velvet cupcakes

After all the mixing and adding the wet ingredients into the dry, the moment of truth was upon us. Will the mixture taste any good? As you can imagine the kids had to dip their fingers in for a taste. Lillian decided to go and have a spoonful and took a couple of goes and like it until it got a bit much for her. I tasted it and it was a bit sweet, but I thought due to cooking it might not be as sweet. Julia did not like the mixture and let me continue my test batch of red velvet cupcakes.

Trying the mixture.

Trying the mixture.

In the recipe it did mention that you can add more cocoa, and I did think of this but wanted to see how the recipe came out when you followed all instructions.

Cooked Red Velvet Cupcakes

Cooked Red Velvet Cupcakes

So what was the outcome?

I was not taken with them, but think I might need to try different ways of making red velvet cupcakes. Maybe more chocolate would take away the tartness or sweetness from the beetroot. Maybe less beetroot?

Do you love red velvet cupcakes? Do you add more cocoa to take the edge off the beetroot? What is your favourite recipe? How do I get them to be bright red?  Send in your tips and tricks.

Continue the discussion on our Twitter and Facebook Pages.

Categories: Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Twitter Profile

I was reading about Twitter’s new look for their profiles when low and behold, my account got updated with the new look. Yes how amazing is this.

My old look…

Old Twitter Profile, well just before I said yes change to the new one!

Old Twitter Profile, well just before I said yes change to the new one!

My new look on Twitter…

My new look on Twitter

My new look on Twitter

Twitter is rolling out the new look to everyone so be patient. I’m sure you will get your turn soon. While you wait, why not check out some other profiles that have the new look on their twitter account.

 So what do you need to know?

  • New dimensions for images; Cover image is 1500 x 500 pixels & Profile image is 400 x 400 pixels. Note: I found that adding my new cover image with recommended dimensions 1500 x 500 pixels it was rather pixelated and blurry. Geek Sugar is saying to upload your cover image as 1252 x 626 pixels to ensure it will not be pixelated. I will give this a go and see if it works.
  • Profile image now sits on the side and no text is over this cover photo
  • Cover image allows for calls to action, collage of photos and so much more. Why not change your cover image to align with seasons, products and giveaways.
  • Pinned Tweets – You can now pin tweets to the top of your timeline
  • High Performing Tweets – Tweets that are popular and performing well get displayed in bigger text than other tweets. To have high performing tweets, they will either be retweeted, favoured and shared more than others.
  • Tweet Filtering – You can now filter by just tweets or tweets and replies. When you visit another profile page you can chose what tweets you wish to see. You can filter them.  If you want the tweets with tweets, tweets with photos & videos, or tweets and replies. As this is new I have to give it a go and see what works.
  • Who to follow & Trends can be found on the other side of the page. Yes it has moved to the right hand side of the page.
  • All new accounts will get the new look. If you have not got it yet, it will happen in time.

So happy planning and fixing up your new looking Twitter Page and I hope this has helped you with the changes on Twitter.

Do you like the new changes to Twitter? Send in your comments or why not continue the discussion on Twitter or Facebook.

Categories: News | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

We Survived Term 1 of Kindy

Term one for Kindy is over.Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Term one for Kindy is over.Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Term one has ended. Yes the kids have survived their first term at Kindy and so have I. Who knew there would be so many notes home, events, things to do and of course the magic of hearing your child read. It has truly been an eventful time.

Not only have they grown with their education, the girls have grown more height wise. We are not huge so don’t think that we have had a massive growth spurt. However it is just enough to have to tell the kids to sit down when I brush their hair. The extra height is also giving the twins an edge to get into more areas of the house. Not a major fan of this new found talent but they think they are super clever.

I must admit that I am keen to have sleep ins in the holidays and to see if I can get some things done around the house. Holidays have started in style with a trip to the movies. Yes, kids and I went to see the new Muppets film, “The Muppets Most Wanted“. It was funny in parts and the kids loved it so that is the main thing.

The one thing that I will not miss is the morning melt downs; the screaming when I ask kids to brush their hair, to find the other school shoe and where oh where is their reader for school? Or the school hat? It is not me that is going to school and I don’t care if you don’t have your hat and cannot play outside. It will be so nice to not worry about any of this for the next two weeks.

What about you? Have you survived the first term of Kindy? Are you thankful for the holidays? Will you get a sleep in? I might not, but not having to be anywhere for a certain time is relaxing enough. Send in your comments.

Categories: 5 years and beyond | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Today’s Feel Good Post

Do you have dreams? I’m sure you do! I have been slowly working towards one in particular and have had some hiccups along the way.  Yes some dramas but nothing that cannot be fixed. I thought that this image I found on Pinterest was apt.

I also find that others tend to zap the joy out of what of some things, so I have decided to put my head down and not worry about them. If I believe it I can do it. I can.  Well at least give it a go!

Believe you can and you can! Image from etsy.com

Believe you can and you can! Image from etsy.com

Is there something that you are working on? Do you find that once you tell someone you get comments, some good and some bad? Although I find that the bad ones stay in my head. I do listen to constructive criticism but find that I need to just power on and not look at others work or compare.

“Comparison is the thief of happiness”, I read that somewhere and it is right.

 

Once you start comparing and judging yourself with what others have done you start to find fault and not see accomplishments and achievements.

So BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND YOU CAN DO IT. I know you can!

I’m now off to have a cuppa tea and get working. Have a great day everyone.

Categories: 5 years and beyond | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcement: Downloads Available

Hi all, I’m very pleased to announce a new section on the blog. Yes I have been hard at work creating some wonderful downloads for you all, and especially for Easter!

The download area has launched with Easter Bunny Cupcake Toppers and Pin the Tail on the Easter Bunny (this is also able to be used for birthday parties).

All the cupcake toppers cut out

All the cupcake toppers cut out

More great downloads to be online the blog soon. I am thrilled that the blog has now got a new section and I will endeavor to populate it with more items for parties and kids activities.

Pin the tail on the Easter Bunny

Pin the tail on the Easter Bunny

Let me know if there is something in particular you are really needing and I will see what I can do!

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Best Australian Blogs 2014 – Vote for me!

Vote for me in the Best Australian Blog 2014 Comp. Just click on this logo on the right hand column of the blog and you will be taken to the right page to vote.

Vote for me in the Best Australian Blog 2014 Comp. Just click on this logo on the right hand column of the blog and you will be taken to the right page to vote.

I have been super busy organising new things for the blog and creating a whole new section, “Downloads“. Other than that, something exciting has happened, I am up for Best Australian Blog for 2014. Yes how amazing would this be.

This competition is run by The Australian Writers’ Centre and there are so many cool things that will happen if I win. To get anywhere close I need you to help me. Can you spare less than 5 minutes to vote for me? I hope so as it would be a great help to my campaign.

All you have to do is to go to this link for Best Australian Blogs 2014 and it will take you to the correct page to vote. Follow the prompts and it will only take a few seconds.

Thanks so much for your help and support.

 

Categories: 5 years and beyond | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Off To The Opera

Figaro. Image found on wikipedia.org

Figaro. Image found on Wikipedia.org

UPDATE: The Opera was put on hold. Once cast member broke their leg and the replacement is having a baby. So it has been rescheduled for next term. Glad we won’t miss it but was looking forward to it.

This is my post to make you all jealous. Yes you read that right. I fear that this will make you all green with envy. Just what about you ask and wonder?

Next Friday I am off to see Opera Australia perform “The Barber of Seville” at the twins school. Yes the opera! The Australian Opera is coming to perform. Not only are they going to showcase a wonderful story to the kids and open them up to costumes, the stage and great performances but they are allowing parents to tag along free! Yes FREE!

Well as long as I can find a seat that is. Would sitting on the floor be o.k if I was not in the way? How early is too early to wait to make sure I get seat? Should I turn up 30mins before the performance? Not sure what to do here….there might be heaps of interest and maybe none.

I have paid for the kids to go and now I am super excited for my day at the opera. Should I dress up? Or just wear jeans and a t-shirt? I was thinking of the big hat and annoying people behind me with my swanky outfit, but that will not be happening. I have no swanky big hat and don’t think I can muster up a fancy outfit even in a weeks notice. Maybe smart casual and some makeup is what is going to actually happen.

My nana (the girls GG) loves going to the Opera House due to loving Opera, but that is not the only reason. One major reason is that they have all sorts of people come to their performances of Opera, comedy, symphony and more.  Dress is not a major thing that is noted. Nana loves it that she can be with people in thongs, jeans and a t-shirt who are passionate about the arts, you also get people who are in designer frocks and all the accessories that go with it.

It is great that the Australian Opera is giving the kids a chance to experience opera and these types of performances. I grew up going to the theatre and saw many operas so I know it is going to make an impression. Making art available for all kids to experience is a good thing and many kids don’t get the opportunity to go to the opera or even a live performance of a play.

I bet you are now very jealous of me going to the opera next Friday while you might be at work or at lunch. I will think of you while having a nice pleasant midday matinee performance of “The Barber of Seville”. Wish me luck in getting a seat for the show next Friday, and then I will be able to enjoy it in style rather than trying to get room on the floor.

What have you been jealous of lately? Has someone won something? Did a certain someone get tickets or go somewhere you have always wanted to go? Let us know.

Categories: 5 years and beyond | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Be Led By Dreams

Do you ever have times where things get on top of you? The housework, kids, life and everything else! Currently I have a lot of things to do and don’t know where to start. I am seeing issues and problems everywhere I look, sit or even lie down there are problems! Due to looking at all the problems it is causing me to get angry and more stressed about the situation. Not good is it? No not at all.

Deep breath! AHHHH focusing on your breathing does help make you feel better. Oh and a camomile tea is needed!

Camomile Tea to make everything all right! Image courtesy of patpitchaya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Camomile Tea to make everything all right! Image courtesy of patpitchaya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have so many dreams and things I wish to achieve but feel weighed down in the mundane and don’t get a lot done. Today’s wisdom is to focus on my dreams rather than being fixated on my problems. I will aim to work through one issue at a time and be calmer in the process. Harder said than done but this is my aim.

Be led by your dreams. Yes I need to think more like this! Image from Pinterest.

Be led by your dreams. Yes I need to think more like this! Image from Pinterest.

Do you see things that need doing and feel overwhelmed by it all? I know this happens to me. I will try and do one room at a time, and this in turn will give me more clarity to achieve my dreams.

I hope this has inspired you to follow your dreams and not let your problems overshadow your day and focus. Okay, now off to tidy up so that I can then live my dreams.

Categories: Wednesday Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Finding Your Why

After DPCON14 and my detailed summary of the conference, I am now focused on finding my why. How would you do this? What tools and techniques would you use? At first glance I had no idea, but after looking more deeply I have decided to get serious and develop an action plan to find my why.

I mentioned this to hubby, he thinks it is all fluff and silly to be searching for this. However if you have a clear idea of your business and what you are focusing on all the rest will fall into place. If you know what areas you wish to deal in or be connected to that will help out a big deal.

Simon Sinek inspires me to find my why

Simon Sinek inspires me to find my why. Picture from Press kit @ startwithwhy.com

Why is it important to find your why?

If you don’t know why you are doing things, you will not be on track and of course not have a purpose. If you know your vision and of course you’re why you will be on track and have more direction. Knowing what you want to do and of course your why, you can then make decisions that are better for you and in turn are more centered. Makes sense really, doesn’t it?  Well I think so!

Some believe that if you find out your why you can attract abundance into your life. Well that is a lovely thought, and was not my reason but if it is a result of finding my why I am not going to complain!

Some questions to ask yourself?

  • What inspires me? What makes me come alive?
  • What are my strengths? What am I good at?
  • How do I create value? What can I do that others cannot?

So how do you get to the bottom of what to do?

This is the tough part of finding your why. It would be so much easier if you could just look under a cushion or the bed and magically find your why waiting for you to claim it. Maybe if it was that easy everyone would have billion dollar companies? Having a great story is all about selling your vision, buying the story that sells rather than the products.

Maybe you can take some advice from Hunter S Thompson. He replied to a man named Hume, who lived in New York City. Hume wanted advice on finding his purpose and meaning in life. If you still want to find your why, you might want to continue on your path of own enlightenment or you can get help with this from Simon Sinek via his Why University. Yes there is a university set up to help you figure out your why!

To give you a taste of what Simon Sinek is offering at Why University you can try these podcasts out for free, “Start With Why Podcast

I am very tempted to sign up to the course as Simon and his material is so inspiring. His talk on TED did make me think a different way and see things differently as well. It is helpful having someone that can guide you and has the right way to discuss and engage with finding your why.

Finding Your Why. Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finding Your Why. Image courtesy of artur84 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

DIY Finding your Why

Don’t think you cannot do it yourself. Read books, get inspired and spend some time with just you answering the questions that were posed before. One major part of the Why University course is that for one section you need to have a partner to run things past and bounce things off. They don’t have to be your hubby or wife and has been suggested that it might be better to not have your loved one as your partner for these exercises.

Note: It is best to have someone that will not correct you, or push you in a direction. If your hubby or wife might do this it might be better to pick another person.

I hope this has helped address finding your why and give you some more resources. I am definitely going to be reading Simon’s books and checking out his websites resources, currently there are some free available.

Have you done Simon’s courses at the Why University? Were they great? Did it help you narrow down your why? Has it streamlined your business? Send in your stories.

Note: This post is not affiliated with Simon Sinek or the Why University. I am just interested in finding my why and had to share more resources and ways to do it.

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DPCON14 Takeaways

As you might know I went to DPCON14 or otherwise known as the Digital Parents Conference 2014. The conference was last weekend and was on a cruise to boot. Yes conference cruise or should I say a holiday and a conference. Oh well, you get the idea. This is a wordy post as I have so much to share. If in a hurry just look at the dot points.

dpconcollage

 I was very much looking forward to my first DPCON14, the cruise and of course no kids so it would all be ME TIME! YES how amazing would that be. As you can imagine the me time and time out was wonderful and much needed!

Where I had breakfast. What a view!

Where I had breakfast. What a view!

We sailed on the Carnival Spirit and I must say that I enjoyed some of the cruise but really loved the conference and got a lot out of it. A couple of quick things about the cruise:

  • I was under the impression that soft drink was calculated in the ticket cost for the cruise. Not to be. I was not that upset about it but do like a soda/mineral water and that would have been nice to have with lemon/lime. I lived off the water, tea/coffee or a drink that I purchased from the bar
  • The public toilets for everyone were not kept all working. Some packed it in and others were just closed to get fixed. I did see some notes on toilets saying that “Beautification is in progress” I wonder what it would look like after it got pretty from the beautification process? My brain did think of a show of before and after renovations for this type of thing. I know silly, but with a sign like that you have to wonder.
  • Food was lovely.
  • It was great to meet some fellow bloggers and to put a face to a name. It does make a difference to meet people face to face.
  • Looking out to see the sea was amazing. I am from North Queensland and really miss the beach and the sea. It was a nice way to get my fix
  • Make sure that you have ample credit available on your credit card. My bill was little when I left the ship ($148), however I still have a hold over my card for nearly $500 that I don’t owe Carnival.  I find this the most annoying as I pay bills and live off the card. As hubby gets paid monthly this has put us out this month and it was not what I expected.
One of the many signs in the bathrooms

One of the many signs in the bathrooms

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So what did I learn from the conference?

Below are some of the talks that made me think differently or learn something new. Why not share my learnings with you and we can all grow and be bigger and better bloggers.

Katrina Chambers @katrina_tweets - The Media Maid

It was amazing to be in the same room with some amazing bloggers and I was excited about them all but as Katrina was on TV and on The Block, that I watch religiously I was keen to pick her brain and learn her tips and tricks.

  • Katrina had a nice printed blog tip list that she kindly handed out to us all. I hope she does mind me linking to her PDF for it on my blog.
  • One thing that Katrina mentioned is to gather your database. Yes collect names. This is for news on the blog, updates and for much more. How did she do this, via MailChimp.
  • Sizes of photos need to be the width of your blog.
  • Blogs look better with white space (Yes I know mine needs white space or more of it. My new site that I’m working on has plenty so don’t worry)
  • Get rid of background images
  • Always rely on Google Analytics Stats. Other statistic programs are good but if you need to quote something Google Analytics is where you need to draw your data from
  • My notes at DPCON14

    My notes at DPCON14

    Don’t overload your sidebar

  • For comments it is recommended to move to Disqus Plugin (pronounced “discuss”.) It was revealed that Disqus hosts your comments and if you move from them you might lose the comments. However another blogger, sorry I have forgotten who mentioned that if you use WordPress that the WordPress database hosts it all so all should be good if that is you. The reason for using the Disqus Plugin is that many people like to comment while logged in with Facebook or other social media. Katrina said she has received more comments since switching to this plugin. Might be something to look at.
  • Your Footer, are you using it? Why not transfer some related posts or further info to this space on your blog. It can free up the sidebar. Just a thought.
  • Update your blog website every 2 years. Don’t need to do a major overhaul but spruce it up a bit.
  • Get someone or others to critique your blog and what is working and of course not.

I fell across this site that does free user testing. They are called Peek User Testing and it is brilliant. You submit your site and they email you back with a video of a person going through your site. You can see the screen of this persons computer and they give a description of what they are doing and thinking at the same time. It might be a good thing to see how others use your site.

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Deborah Alter-Rasche @learn_with_playLearn with Play at Home

Deborah was very inspiring and her talk was an insight on how to use Pinterest better and to help grow your readership with this social media tool.  Here are some points from Deborah’s talk.

  • Pinterest gets millions of visitors every day and it is growing
  • My view at the conference. Hard day at the office!

    My view at the conference. Hard day at the office!

    Pinterest for Business: If you have a Pinterest account you need to convert your account into a business one. Why would you do this? For a number of reasons:

    1. Y0u get access to stats, Pinterest’s Analytics. See what pins were popular and how many times they have been pinned. How amazing would this be!
    2. You will also be able to get access to rich pins
    3. Info on Promoted Pins
    4. Pin it Button
    5. Widget builder
  • Sharing allows your posts/stories/products to be shared in someones boards and also with all the other people they connect with.
  • Start a collaborative board to allow more traffic to come to your Pinterest site and of course Blog
  • Vertical pins work better 700 x 1000 pixels
  • Cleaning up your boards and adding more attractive images can help draw more interest and traffic
  • Post 20% about your content and post 80% on others.
  • Do you want to see stats and how popular pins are. Then go to this address http://www.pinterest.com/source/ and after the word source type in your url. So it should look like this http://www.pinterest.com/source/yourURL

I did notice the business accounts on Pinterest but did not think that applied to me. Now I know better and I’m working away applying the knowledge to my blog. Thanks Deborah.

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Katrina Springer @Organised_House - The Organised Housewife

I love Katrina’s blog and site The Organised Housewife. I think she has done a brilliant job and I was so pleased to have a one on one with her about my plans and ideas for my blog. Katrina of course gave some great tips and things to think about in her talk.

  • My pass to the conference

    My pass to the conference

    Katrina automates all of her social content and is of course very organised. She has a schedule and that is what I need to orgainse more. Anything on Instagram gets published on Facebook and anything on Facebook can get published to twitter. So must get more automated.

  • Note to all. Facebook is changing their look of their timelines. I did click on the put me on the list but not sure what the changes will look like until they are here.
  • Since Facebook is changing image sizes are changing so there will be a new image size guideline soon
  • Be uniquely YOU!
  • Make sure that you put a bit of text on pictures to describe what they are about. These pictures get more clicks.
  • Insights on Facebook help and there is recommended posting times. However they might not be right for your audience. Look at the times that suit your audience. What times do your readers like to see things. What is your popular times. Go to insights, then posts and look at times.
  • Make your timeline work. Change it to suit what you are promoting or doing at the time.

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The next one is my last one to talk about. So this long post will soon end.

Kelly Burstow @beafunmum - Be a Fun Mum

My mango cocktail at the end of the conference

My mango cocktail at the end of the conference

Kelly made me think about things very differently and she was just amazing! So glad that I got to hear her talk. Kelly’s talk was making sure that we knew not lose the core and spirit of our blog or purpose.

  • Kelly said that farmers don’t use fences but use wells to make sure cattle get home or stay where they should. Wells are a life force and fences take work to fix, install and are expensive to roll out in some areas as the farms are too enormous. The same is for blogs. Why build fences that undermine your options or opportunity why not build wells to allow growth and ideas to generate. If you build wells your readers will return to the life force, otherwise known as your blog or business.
  • Why wells? According to Kelly it is for the following reasons: Respect for the landscape, Respect for the reader and Respect for the concept
  • Invest in your concepts
  • All popular blogs have a story
  • Find out your WHY. Just like Apple has a story and people buy into the story not the product, the same goes for your blog/business.
  • Keep developing your WHY which is the heart of your blog
  • Kelly’s talk reminded me about a TED talk from Simon Sinek that I saw last year at university. See the video below:


I had a great time at the Digital Parents Conference. I am so glad that I went and learnt many things due to being there. I am very grateful that the world worked in my favour to allow me to go. My mum came and looked after the twins to take them to school. I was lucky that she was available to do this. So thanks mum! Now to put all these learnings into action!

Did you go to DPCON14? What was your favourite talk that opened your brain to a new way of thinking or doing? Thanks to all the speakers and organisers for making the conference possible.

Categories: News | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments