Friday, November 29, 2013

Crazy Cat Lady

I have a secret talent. 

i have this amazing uncanny ability to find really cute, adorable cat related items. This also stretches (at times) to raccoon items (if I'm really lucky).

It's not always as easy as it seems, sometimes I have to search for hours to find something cute and other times I attract items like a magnet, drawing them to me like a moth to a flame. 

This talent brings some amazing pieces into my life but it can also be a burden. I mean I love cats, but I don't want to end up being that crazy cat lady with a house full of cat ornaments and pillows and rugs and cups and mugs - well you get my point. 

To help alleviate some of my desire to own all the crazy cat items that come into my life I wanted to start sharing some of the amazing things I find. 

Cat 1

The weirdest part about this is that I don't even have a cat. I want one and I think it should hopefully happen sometime in the new year, so until then I fill that space with all things cat related. Maybe my cat obsession will tame down once I have my own cat, maybe it wont, I just know that I'll know where to get cute kitty tipis and scratching posts and dress ups (yeah I'll be THAT kind of cat owner) , well you get the point. 

This is part 1 of many awesome fun cat related posts. Do you have a weird talent for hunting down a specific items?

 - Brooke

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I can't stop listening to: Lily Allen

Listening to music and seeing artists perform live is a part of my life. I love discovering new songs or artists and I am the kind of person who can listen to one song or album or repeat and not get bored.

I thought something fun that I can do is share a song or artist who have somehow captured my attention in the hope that it's something new and amazing that someone else can also love.

Lily Allen

This week I bought the new single from Lily Allen, "Hard Out Here" after seeing the video on youtube. This is her first official single release since 2009.

The song itself is a catchy, punchy tune that tackles the way women are portrayed as sex symbols and the tough road we still face - especially of women in show business. It's been a song that has not been without controversy, obviously a subject like this is going to generate opinions from both sides of the fence.

I like this song because it's un-flinchingly honest, it's edgy and it's a fantastic pop song.

She uses the word "bitch" so many times I'm sure Jesse Pinkman would be proud.

I've been listening to Lily Allen for years. I'm so glad she's back and hasn't lost that sneer and attitude that has always made her stand out from the crowd.

 - Brooke

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gratitude List: Week ending 24 Nov

This week was filled with all kinds of normality. I worked 6 out of 7 days however I still had plenty of things to be grateful for.

Cat legs

1. NEW BLACK MILK - Crazy Cat Lady leggings and Christmas tress skater dresses OH MY! These delightful items arrived during the week and I'm so happy with these new items. The cat leggings are so perfect I can't imagine what my life was like before owning them (I'm wearing them while I type this). I have a special feature coming soon to the blog so if you love cat items like I do you're sure to love it. 

GC and Tate

2. Seeing movies in Gold Class - Gold Class cinemas are basically smaller cinemas with recliner chairs  - luxury cinemas! I love going to Gold Class, things are more expensive but I manage to get free vouchers through work "perk points" and this time we went and saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (which I LOVED)

3. Jennifer Lawrence - After watching The Hunger Games I went on an internet search of Jennifer Lawrence. This girl is a seriously inspirational human being. I think the best thing about her is that she's honest and natural. THIS VIDEO just made me want to give her a big hug and tell her she's awesome

4. Reading books from amazing authors - I've started to read again, which has been a great stress relief for me. It helps that the finale for Divergent Series by Veronica Roth came out and the next book in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead came out. I am half way through The Fiery Heart and I love the double perspective we're getting with the book written in the POV of 2 of the characters.

5. Watching old movies with my nieces and nephew - On Saturday when I came home from work I was greeted with a couch-full of kids watching Free Willy. It's really fun watching them react to things I watched when I was their age. Evie stood transfixed by the movie and Bridie kept asking questions to which Evie would tell her "they are trying to save Willy". So cute!!!

What is making you happy this week? I know I've got a few things happening this week that I'm really looking forward to including a local town festival.

 - Brooke

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How I got my groove back at The Blogcademy

Photo by Corey Sleap!

I keep having to pinch myself to believe that the two days I spent with blogging royalty actually happened. The two days were totally surreal and inspiring and I've walked away with so many new ideas and a newfound focus and determination to make something of this little space on the internet. I digress - let me start at the beginning

What is the Blogcademy? 

The Blogcademy is a two-day workshop run by Gala Darling (, Kat Williams ( and Shauna Haider ( that is designed to help aspiring bloggers gain the insight and direction needed to take their blogs to the next level. It's the ultimate insiders guide to blogging from three very successful, talented and amazing women.


Photo by Corey Sleap!

Why did I go? 

I love blogging (something I can proudly say, and something I would have felt weird saying a few years ago). I began blogging on my myspace page (back when it was still a thing) and moved to this URL in 2008. I love that it gives me the freedom to write about things I am passionate about and love - I've just never really been super dedicated to this space. I've posted sporadically and have been one of those bloggers who is always apologising for my absence. I want to change this and I needed the direction and the "how to" which I believed I could gain by attending this course.

What did I learn? 

These headmistresses know their shit. I learnt so much in two days that my head is still spinning. I'm a processor so I'm going to have to give the information some time to sink in BUT there were a few key things that stood out from the rest.

  1.  You must have a plan and goals for your blog - here I am, a 30 year old professional woman who creates business plans for work every year and I didn't think that this was something that would be important for my blog. I work in a very goal oriented business with budgets and plans for everything I do, so I'm surprised I have never looked at my blog in the same way.

  2.  Consistency is key - for EVERYTHING you do. This is something that sounds so simple but is probably the hardest thing to maintain. I have been guilty many times of neglecting this space and I had a great conversation with Gala about this. I just need to see this space as something I should be proud of and give it the attention and love it deserves and that means applying the work ethic I have in my job to this blog. It's going to be hard work but I'm ready to get it done.

  3.  "Don't be that guy" - This was a common saying throughout the two days. I think this saying applies to everything that I want to achieve in my life and on my blog. I try to be a positive person and make sure the things I put out into the world are worthwhile. I now have this written on my desk at work as a little reminder. It's simple, yet effective. 

  4.  Build yourself a blogging support network - these ladies are serious BFF's. Their relationship was built online and solidified in person. The great thing about this course was that there was a room full of talented, diverse and AMAZING women that were all in the room because we wanted to learn more about blogging. We've got a fabulous forum and have a Facebook group that is alive with questions, help, suggestions and support. My Instagram follows went up very quickly and I'm back on twitter (with tweetdeck downloaded on my laptop). I'm excited to have people to chat blogging with and I know I need to make the effort to keep in touch with all these awesome women.


  5.  I CAN TAKE A DECENT SELFIE - My many selflies that I have shared on Instagram helped me WIN the best Instagram selfie award (the photo above on the right was the winner)!!! I scored some super cute tea towels. I'm not sure if I showed exactly how excited I was at winning this (I was a bundle of excited butterflies on the inside) - I take a lot of pride in my photos and to be recognised by three super bloggers is an AMAZING feeling. I'm going to own that win for a very LONG time. 

Photo by Corey Sleap!

Was it worth it? 

HELL YES!!! There are so many other things that I have learnt but I don't want to divulge all the secrets. The biggest thing I gained from this course is to trust and believe in myself and my blog. I was a little shocked and amazed when Gala told me that she had seen me "pop up" online over the years. I guess I've never really taken the time to realise just how far my online presence has reached. I've reached more than just family and friends and that's really exciting to me. 

I have so much to share and so much to offer and so many ideas swirling in my head. I have my sparkly magical blogging ears (from Crown & Glory) that when I put them on empower me to be the best blogger I can be. All of this - the inspiration, focus and excitement - is all because of the Blogcademy. 

Blogcademy Trio
Photo by Corey Sleap!

A massive thanks to the headmistress for the time and love that they put into the two days. It was surreal and unreal to meet you all and this was an experience that I won't ever forget. An even bigger thanks to the lovely ladies I met over the two days - you guys are radical, inspirational and so lovely.

If you're thinking about going to the Blogcademy my advice is to JUST DO IT. Don't let the fear hold you back from something so special. Everything that you've read about the course is true, everything you hope to get out of the course you will as long as you're open to listen and learn. I was nervous, worried and scared when I first arrived but when I first walked into the venue I was greeted with a smile and "love your hair colour" from Kat and that eased the nerves (a little). The space you enter becomes very comfortable very quickly and it's a place of positivity and encouragement.

I feel like I'm a part of a very special group now, I'm glad I was brave and hit that "Register Now" button. I can already feel that this has changed my life for the better.

 - Brooke

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Gratitude List: Week ending 17 Nov

I didn't post a Gratitude List last week due to my excitement and distraction by The Blogcademy (don't worry there's a post coming on that). This weeks Gratitude List is jam packed full of fun amazing things to make up for it.


1. THE BLOGCADEMY - The highlight of my week/month/year. I can't even begin to explain how happy I walked away from these two days. I was so blissed out on Friday afternoon that the almost 2 hour commute back home didn't bother me. I could see my hula hoop from in my rear-view mirror and I smiled all the way home. My re-cap of the two-days is coming (it's in the drafts being carefully edited before posting).

2. A quick stay in North Melbourne - I didn't want to have to stress about traffic so for the two days that  I went to the Blogcademy I decided to rent a small studio apartment in North Melbourne. It was a last minute decision and it was the best decision. It was nice to set up shop in a small little space and be by myself for 2 nights. It gave me a chance to re-charge before the next day in quiet.


3. Seeing Franz Ferdinand live - on Thursday night I went to the Forum theatre tired and mentally exhausted but it didn't last long once Franz Ferdinand hit the stage. I found myself bouncing around, dancing and singing and basically having a fantastic night.

4. Creating Vision Boards - Since I moved to a new store I needed to update and re-new my vision board for at work. It's something I really love doing and I think I'm pretty damn good at it. I love creating collages and this is the perfect excuse. I also scoured the internet looking for some inspirational quotes and have plastered one of the walls in our back office with these quotes. It looks bright and cheerful and exactly what I want when I am sitting out there.

5. Chinese food for another b'day - I didn't realise exactly how many family b'days there are in October / November until I started writing these lists. We've had 4 different b'days in as many weeks. Last week it was my sisters turn and we went out for delicious Chinese food at one of our favourite places followed by one of my Mum's amazing sponge cakes.

This week I want to make sure I do something nice for somebody else - I want to share the kindness and happiness I've experienced this past week with somebody else. I'm not sure how or what but I'm determined to make someone smile unexpectedly.

 - Brooke

P.S Thanks to Lucy at My Day My Way for the shout out - it's nice to find another blogger being grateful for their week

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Adventure Awaits - Hand feeding lions


Wellington New Zealand - June 2012

Normally I would associate New Zealand with all things Lord of the Rings (it's exactly where my mind wanders to when I start thinking about New Zealand) and while my trip back to the beautiful North Island was filled with many wondrous LoTR related adventures I was able to find a special kind of experience in an unexpected place. 

I can remember reading about a trip to Wellington Zoo that Gala Darling took in 2011 where she did a "Zookeeper experience" and was able to hand feed lions. The image on her website stuck in my mind and I promised myself if and when I headed back to New Zealand that I would do this too.  It was probably (if I'm being honest) a main driving factor of going back to New Zealand and more specifically the north island (that and Sir Ian McKellan was touring at the time). 

When we were in the planning stages of this trip I can remember having a conversation about the different animal encounters that Wellington Zoo offered. For some reason it became a discussion between Crystal (my sister), Lauren and I which one we would actually do. The choice was between the Red Pandas and the Lions. It wasn't a very long conversation or discussion.


By the time we reached Wellington on this trip we had already patted lion cubs in Rotorua at the Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park and had seen lions fed up close but we knew this face to face encounter with the lions was going to be something special. 

I still don't know if I can properly describe the fear and joy involved with being face to face with a full grown lion. 

Our zookeeper for the day led us into the lion enclosure - there are some very sturdy fences between us and the lions at all times, we weren't just walking through their enclosure, these are wild animals. They had the three lionesses inside the enclosure and there were two male lions out in the main enclosure (where you could see them if you were just visiting the zoo). When I saw that we were "playing" with the female lionesses there was a small level of disappointment (that didn't last long) - the boys were so huge and beautiful. 


The zookeeper showed us how they train the lionesses and explained to us that they do this to make it easier to do medical exams on the animals. It made it more comfortable for the lions especially if they could examine them without having to drug them. She had one of the lionesses go into a smaller adjustable cage where we got to first touch her tail - which was SO strong. My hands were shaking when it got to my turn to touch her tail - even though she was behind a caged fence I was touching such a powerful, strong, dangerous animal and it felt unreal and unnatural. 

After the zookeeper showed us how they are trained (this also involved having the lioness reach up with two paws on the fence in front of us) she then brought out the bucket of horse meat and said "if we were brave enough" we could hand feed the lionesses. She didn't have to tell us twice, we took turns feeding the lionesses. The way we did that was by putting the piece of bloody horse meat flat on our palms and placing our palms on the fence - making sure we didn't bend our fingers - and the lioness would lick the meat out of our hands through the fence. A LIONESS LICKED MY HAND. Their tongues were like a stronger, bigger version of your cats tongue - scratchy and warm.

While we were feeding the lionesses, the two male lions got interested in what we were doing and began stalking the cage area that we were in. The zookeeper asked if we wanted to feed the boys and we didn't hesitate to turn around and quickly forgot about the ladies. 


I could have stayed there all day. It was one of the most magical, frightening, amazing, surreal, beautiful things I have ever experienced. To look into the eyes of a fully grown lion and have it lick food out of your hands is something I will never forget. 

The best thing about this experience is that if you visit the beautiful city of Wellington in New Zealand you can do this too. It costs NZD $130 per person to do this animal encounter at the Wellington Zoo and I have to say it's worth EVERY penny (we paid the fee to do this, and I'd pay it again in a heartbeat). They take bookings online  and 10% of the proceeds of the "encounter fee" goes directly to conservation projects that are supported by the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.

 - Brooke

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Gratitude List: Week Ending 03 Nov

So it appears I'm not the as good at scheduling posts as I thought I was. I thought I had this ready to post on Monday night, but it appears that didn't happen. Lesson learnt

Here are the things that happened through the week that made me smile


1. I've been so busy and stressed out these past few weeks due to the fact that I was moving stores at the end of the month. Not only was I moving stores but I was opening a brand new store in a totally new location on November 1st. It was a lot of work but I'm so happy with the new store. I'm so happy it's finally open and my thoughts and energy can shift to this new team and new location. It still feels a little surreal right now.

2. Having my Sundays back - with this new store comes 6 day trade, which in turn means I get my Sundays back!!!!! I'm so used to working in a 7 day trade location and working full weekends that I'm not going to know what to do with all this free time on a weekend. It's perfect timing too with summer fast approaching, this means I might actually make it to the beach this year *hooray*


3. Birthdays - we celebrated another 2 birthdays this week. Cute little Seth and Evie both had birthdays during the week (that picture of Seth KILLS me - he was trying to blow out the candles but was just filling his cheeks with air and making the noise, not actually blowing on the candles).

4. I went and saw Thor 2 (or Thor: The Dark World) at Gold Class on Saturday evening and while we didn't get to try the Rocky Road Popcorn (they were sold out which has just peaked our interests even further) it was an amazing experience. There is something about the Thor movies that I just love. It is pure escapism. It was extra nice as the Gold Class cinemas we went to has had a re-furbishment and have super comfy new recliners (except they aren't as long in the legs and I had to curl my legs up on the foot rest).


5. Finding new ways to wear my Black Milk maxi dresses (especially my blue galaxy one) - I CAN WEAR THEM AS MAXI SKIRTS!!! This was a revelation for me this week. I want to wear my maxi dresses as much as possible but I kind of feel like it can be a bit much for day-to-day wear but throw on a casual t-shirt over the top and voila it's more casual. Perfect!

 - Brooke