If You Only Read One Post...

Friday, September 19, 2014

If you only read one post on the blog Field Notes, let it be this one on living with meaning.

*this post is a little different as Field Notes is the blog of the brand MATTER, a socially motivated business inspired by travel that is story driven...I'll leave you to discover the rest

image credit field notes blog

Ren, co-founder of MATTER explains why she chose this post: When this letter arrived I knew I wanted - no, needed - to share it with the community. It's beautifully written, felt and sensed, and it captures in a story the essence of what MATTER is all about. I am so grateful that we have customers like this, and I know that on days when I am filled with doubt and uncertainty, I will read this to ground me again.

Vanisha's notes: Firstly, this isn't a sponsored post. I came across MATTER on Instagram, liked at least 50 of their photos and then got online and started reading about the company and their philosophy. I was impressed and I was in awe. So much of what matters to them, matters to me too. The stories, the community, the ethics. I knew I wanted to share their story with my community and I hope you have a moment so stop by their space and have a browse and give these ladies a little love and encouragement. I'm currently trying to decide which pants from their collection I need for my upcoming South Pacific adventures!

Tell us, what matters to you?

My Relationship With Food

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An Introduction: There have been a few times when I've really wanted to talk about food, meals and recipes here on the blog but I've never been sure how to integrate that into what I normally write about. I didn't want my readers to think 'umm...where is this coming from?' I think I've figured it out, for me posting a recipe isn't about the recipe in and of itself. It's about the experience, the memory, the sentiment. I wouldn't be writing about a meal in terms of what I ate but rather who I ate it with and what that moment was like. I can definitely talk about food, meals and recipes by simply talking about my relationship (experience and memories) with food so that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to talk about my relationship with food! 

It was after mid-night, Patrick and I were reading in bed and I developed a sudden out of the blue craving a chocolate-berry cake. I was trying to convince him that we needed to get up that very moment and bake a cake. We didn't. But the next day I still had it in my head that I was going to bake this cake! 

Boiled Chocolate Berry Cake 

The Cake: I have been using this recipe for years. I first made it when I was about 8 or 9 years old. The recipe was in my mum's brown soft leather bound diary. When I started out I didn't bake it in the oven (we had a gas oven that you had to light with a match or a lighter) so I quickly learnt to make it in the microwave. My sister and I both have fond memories of making this for our parents' birthdays and anniversaries. (If you own this recipe let me know, it's at least 20 years old and was written into my mum's diary). 

Vanisha's Mum's Boiled Chocolate Cake 

125g butter 
3/4 cup sugar 
1/4 cup cocoa 
1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
1/4 cup water 
1/2 cup milk 
1 egg 
1 1/2 cups self raising flour 
  • Combine butter, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, water and milk in a pan. Stir over low hear until better melts. Bring to the boil
  • Remove from heat and cool to room temperature 
  • Add egg and sifted self raising flour 
  • Mix until smooth 
  • Bake in moderate oven for 30 minutes 
To turn this into a berry cake I added some frozen (straight out of the freezer) mixed berries before putting the cake in the oven. After about 10 minutes of the cake being in the oven I took the cake out to even the mixture out a bit and push the frozen/thawing berries down. If you feel there is too much moisture bake a little longer. 

I wonder if thawing the berries first would make a difference (it's the first time I've used frozen berries for baking).

Also, this cake is quite moist anyway and the berries make it even more so. You could always use your favourite chocolate cake recipe and just throw some berries into the mix. 

With the berries it becomes quite a 'rustic' looking cake, for this reason I chose not to serve it on a pretty platter (I was worried it might look more messy, less rustic!). I served mine on a wooden board, I think it enhanced the look of the cake. It was yummy and demolished in no time! 

Do you have a recipe that you use today which you also used as a child? 

A Day In The Life...

Monday, September 15, 2014


8.30am woke up, wished Miss 10 luck and love for her soccer game. Stayed in bed catching up with (messaging) a friend. Craving a coke and a brownie, I think we have both, but I shouldn't. I  really shouldn't (I didn't).

8.52am dragged myself out of bed, had a shower, got dressed and read emails. I tend to read first and let things simmer and reply later.

9.30am Patrick is home today so we decide on a cafe date, this date includes a few minutes of talking about work and then about our childhoods, families, plans...

11am back at home. Replying emails and settling in to do some work. Work today includes a thematic analysis of data on a research project I'm working on. 

12.50pm stopped for lunch (chilli and garlic spaghetti with breadcrumbs), first meal of the day. It's so bad, I really need to get my act together. Thinking about a new blog post category - My Relationship With Food. I think I'll do it! Turned on the telly, MASH was on. I left it on. Managed a little bit more analysis too. 

1.42pm feeling sleepy, headed to bed with a book. Couldn't sleep. Spent some time talking and hanging out with Patrick. 
2.55pm school run, which I normally do but Patrick went to get Miss 10. I washed dishes.

3.10pm met up with Patrick and Miss 10 for a quick spot of shopping. We're easing Miss 10 into dresses and skirts. Basically to prevent the mother of all tantrums when she has to wear them. Talked a lot about compromise and how we need to meet half way.  

4pm Miss 10 is happy with her dress, no tears, no tantrums. I worked on my mentoring program, got my client notes and appointments in order. 

4.20pm back to working on the research project. 

5pm ten guilt-free minutes on Instagram. It's the small things. 

wearing: le breton from the iconic | scarf and skirt by 4 Minutes 33 | shoes from Florsheim 

5.15pm tidied myself up for an evening out.

6pm headed out for the night, took some photos of Miss 10, stopped by Patrick's office.

7pm meeting. 

9pm dinner. I love late dinners. I love being out at night with Miss 10, it allows us to spend quality time together. It bothers me that society expects children to be in bed so early. All three of us are happiest when we're enjoying decadent desserts at 11pm! 

10.45pm we make it home. Miss 10 tries her luck at getting in bed with us - no such luck! She heads to bed, I read...ohh that coke and brownie....

I suppose these are one of those posts that don't really offer you much, but I personally love seeing how other people spend their days so the A Day In The Life posts are just a little bit of fun for me. I hope you enjoy them. Do you share similar posts? 

If You Only Read One Post...

Friday, September 12, 2014

If you only read one post on Anastasia's blog Stardust, let it be this one on what you should be doing in your 20s

Anastasia explains why she chose this post: This post is one that has really resonated with a lot of people and although it was geared towards 20-somethings, the advice reigns true for every decade, really. I'm so passionate about the message behind this post - that no matter the situation and no matter how old we are, we are the masters of our own destinies. Just because something is 'the norm' or just because everyone else tells you that you should be doing X instead of Y doesn't mean you have to - what's right for them may not be right for you. Life is all about finding your own path and creating yourself!

Vanisha's notes: I came across Anastasia's blog via the social media positivity project she's started called #ProjectPositive I was so impressed with her efforts to spread the messages of self-love and confidence that I knew I wanted to invite her to take part in this series and also show her my support and take part in #ProjectPositive You can read previous posts in this series here and you can also email me if you'd like to be part of the series. 

Personal and Blogging Boundaries: Is Your Story Really Yours To Tell?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bloggers talk about boundaries a lot. I've read a lot of posts about how bloggers manage what to keep private and what to make public (see this post by Martine from Make it Blissful). I've never really had to deal with this tension in my blogging because it's really just been me. Even with issues that affected Patrick, it was very easy to talk about me and what I was dealing with, without involving him. Now I find myself in a situation where I not only have to manage this tension on the blog and in my online life but also in my personal life, in real life. To be honest, seeing these two lives as separate is a struggle because I've always tried to maintain an authenticity and level of honesty on this blog so that it never seemed like two separate worlds. 

There are so many things I want to tell people about my life at the moment. It's in a state of constant flux. Many of my readers know that Patrick and I have our 10 year old niece living with us. She's been with us for over 8 months and in her heart is set on living with us forever. I've previously talked about the joys of parenting and they have been pretty joyful. There are some parts of the story though that I haven't been able to tell. Not because I want to gloss over the not so nice parts - on the contrary - it's in my very nature to want to tell all. But circumstances prevent me from doing so in this instance. The struggles we're having are really centred around the tricky situation of having a child come to you at the age of 9, we're not her parents, but we kind of are, we're her aunt and uncle, she's with us now, but won't always be, she's come with one set of values and a particular type of upbringing to another home...It's endless. And we haven't adopted her, her parents are still very involved in her life.  

I feel like dealing with my infertility was easier because I was free to talk about it. All aspects of it. I decided what I wanted to share and what I didn't. With this particular situation, the boundaries of what I can and cannot share have been set. There are so many people's stories intertwined with mine. Miss 10's, Patrick's, Miss 10's parents...In telling my story I expose so much of their stories and that's not what they signed up for and it's not fair. But where does that leave me? 

It leaves me in a situation where I can no longer really depend on my strongest community (my blog and virtual community). Some of my friends might pick up on the changes in my words and photos and reach out. But for the most part it goes unnoticed because I really can't tell all. It leaves me in a situation where the people I can tell 'in real life' are limited, severely limited. I once made the mistake of sharing something with someone and because of their limited, and Eurocentric, understanding of this situation, their response to me was that I was a bad parent. It leaves me in a situation where I'm open to so much criticism and opinion, which I mostly quietly accept, because defending myself exposes other people that I care about. I find myself in a situation where I can't speak online and I'm restricted to who I can talk to in real life and how much I can tell them. It's tough and it's frightening. So really, how much of my story is actually mine to tell? 

Do you have similar tensions on your blog?
How are you navigating between what's public and private?

An Announcement

Monday, September 8, 2014

Many years when we met we didn't know 'how' we would turn out. Would we be friends? Would we date? Would we then break up? Would we get married? The one thing we knew we wanted to do was continue working together. Within months of meeting we put together a bid for a project and got awarded a large grant to undertake research and since then we've steadily grown this working partnership. 

Having completed numerous projects together, we decided it was time to make it official. Setting up a consultancy firm was always on the table. I had come up with a name two or three years ago - Making Connections. I thought it was fitting because when you strip back the work we do, at the core of it is people and relationships. At the beginning of the month, we decided to get things moving and Making Connections Fiji was established! 

Our website has just been completed. We have kept it minimal. We want our work to speak for itself, as it has done over the years. We're not trying to heavily sell ourselves, the website we feel really embraces our philosophy to life and business. This is who we are, this is what we're good at, and if you're really curious get in touch because we love nothing better than talking to people. I know Making Connections Fiji might not be directly related to your interests but we have a blog tied to the website and will be talking about the processes of working together, setting up the firm and updates on what we're doing - that could be interesting. 

If you're curious, you can have a look at the Making Connections Fiji website here and the blog. We've decided that twitter is going to be the only social media platform we use for now, so perhaps you'd like to leave us at tweet @MConnectionsFJ

Also, a huge thank you to all my blog friends who have known about this and have been so supportive and encouraging. Never doubt what the smallest words of encouragement and love can fuel! My thanks x

Making Connections (Fiji) Twitter | Website | Blog

If You Only Read One Post...

Friday, September 5, 2014

If you only read one post on Miranti's blog Pen and Peplum, let it be this one on what courage looks like.

image credit pen and peplum 

Miranti describes writing this post: I was experiencing a lot of fear and doubt about my business and the direction I was heading, when one day these words just seemed to pour out of me. So I grabbed a pen and jotted them down. Once I read back what I had written I knew that this was something I had to share with my beautiful readers. This post means a lot to me because it is as much a reminder for me as it is for them, and it allows us to connect through our similar struggles.

Vanisha's notes: I really have nothing to add to this, it's a raw and honest post. I had the pleasure of meeting Miranti and couldn't be happier to share my little space with a blogger like her. 

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