Weekly Photo Challenge: Warmth

This week, let’s keep things nice and cozy.

We have traveled for thousands of kilometres from sunny Australia to have a Northern Hemisphere winter. Whilst we have been disappointed to not have snow we have kept warm in many ways. The most successful one being eating chocolate and drinking hot chocolate. The following photos are from our favourite – Newfoundland Chocolate Shop. The ceiling had   pretend melting chocolate dripping from it and a train track. It was awesome and there were free sample. Yum!

052 - New Foundland Chocolate Co

053 - New Founde Chocolate Lande


055 - New Founde Chocolate Lande

Chocolate definitely makes me feel good inside and out.


Inner Child

When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?

I grew up early. As the eldest child I have always been responsible, however, I have always had time to nurture my inner child. I don’t believe that we are ever too old or grown up to have fun.


Growing up

When was the last time you had fun, did things you enjoyed as a child or played with your own children. All of these things are great stress relievers and help us to remember not to take ourselves too seriously.

Make a list of ways you can connect with your inner child:

  • Dance while you are doing the housework
  • Run in the rain or puddles
  • Play with the Lego and create a masterpiece
  • Read children’s books
  • Go to a theme park
  • Watch an animated Disney movie
  • Build a snowman or a sand castle
  • Play Sing Star or sing into a hairbrush
  • Colour-in
  • Draw with chalk on the cement
  • Play elastics or skipping rope games
  • Go to the playground
  • Play with your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews
  • Eat your childhood favourites e.g. fairy floss

It is certainly important to be responsible and grown-up most of the time. However, take some time out of your day to have fun, help your creativity and connect with your inner child. You’ll be glad you did. It will help you laugh which has its own health benefits.


Dog Sledding

Yesterday, although Quebec has a lack of snow, my husband and I had an amazing experience. We went dog sledding. Despite it being in jeopardy initially, luck was on our side.  A light snow fall overnight allowed it to happen. Without the snow, the track would have been to icy for us inexperienced sledders to manage.

Our venue was the spectacular Pourvoirie Du-Lac Beaufort only 20 minutes out of Quebec City.  For about 10 minutes in the shop, there were twice as many Australians as Canadians because the other couple booked to dog sled to our surprise were fellow Aussies.

Our first stop was to feed the Huskie puppies. They were so cute and ate from our hands.

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Now we were off to complete our training to be able to drive a dog sled.  Manu, our musher explained that because of the ice they had only given us 4 dogs in our teams. Any more dogs would be too hard for the drivers to control. Then it dawn on us. This wasn’t going to be as easy as we first thought.

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Manu was a very experienced musher and his team lead the expedition.  Our dog sled was the first for the day so the dogs were full of energy. We were given several instructions; the main one being to keep the dog teams apart as they will fight. Soon we got to experience stopping wasn’t as easy as any of us thought and the dogs kept running into each other. When this happened the front team started attacking the team from behind. Manu sorted it quickly and we were off again.

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In the dog sled team, all dogs are trained to a specific position depending on their abilities. The smartest dogs are the lead dogs and there are two of them. They are the ones that sense danger and stop the team if things aren’t right. They also listen to the orders of the sled driver. The middle dog  was the point dog. He is a strong dog to pull the sled. The last dog is the wheel dog and he is the strongest dog giving extra help when needed.

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Initially I sat in the sled and my husband was the driver. It took me 5 minutes to realise I didn’t want to drive as stopping was too tricky. At times we went close to ponds and I was very grateful I  wasn’t driving and that i didn’t end up in the water. When it came to change overtime Manu was very pleased neither of us ladies wanted to drive. His opinion was that the conditions were too hard for us to manage, which made it dangerous. It definitely was a psychical workout for the boys as they were sweating. I agreed, driving yesterday was a boy job and I was not offended. My job was photography and as we were moving quickly this wasn’t easy.  Fortunately we both succeeded at our tasks and we had a great morning.

If you ever get the chance connect with nature and go for a dog sled. It’s amazing.

Two In The Bush

Clichés become clichés for a reason. Tell us about the last time a bird in the hand was worth two in the bush for you.

Personally, this is not a phrase I use. However, it is a phrase I heard often growing-up. It is a cliché that means giving up something guaranteed for the possibility of something better in the future.

Sometimes, we all need to make decisions.  When making them,  if we are not careful, it is easy to over look the bird in our hand.  Sometimes, it is either something or someone we have known for a long time e.g. friends, jobs or houses that we leave behind as we go looking for something better. The secret here, I believe is to keep the bird in our hand until we find another one that suits us better. Many people decide to take the bigger risk and give up the bird in their hand, to go wholeheartedly after the new bird, without success.

For me, I like security. I take calculated risks however I won’t give up my bird in the hand until I have found the new ones and they are in my hand.  Being a nurse if I want or need to leave a job I have always been able to find another one even if it only casual. On the odd occasion years ago was  I have been caught by this as staff freezes have stopped me obtaining work when I want it.

Today, when making changes I consider all the risks and where possible will keep a bird in the hand .  Over the next few years, I hope my job description will change from nurse to full-time writer. I will however be staging these changes. I will balance my life by changing from nursing full-time to part-time nursing/part-time writer and finally completing the journey by becoming a full-time writer after I have caught my second bird.



My Timely Gift.

You wake up one morning to find a beautifully wrapped package next to your bed. Attached to it is a note: “Open me, if you dare.” What’s inside the mystery box? Do you open it?


Today is Christmas day. However, as I am travelling I wasn’t expecting Santa to drop by. Then suddenly I noticed a beautifully wrapped gift at the end of my bed this morning.

Imagine my surprise. Being a positive, glass half full type of girl, of course, I was going to open it. I believe everything happens for a reason. But, what could be in my gift? I had no idea. So, I decided I would put myself out of my misery and just open it.

Or so I thought.

The problem. It was very well wrapped. Each layer was individually wrapped with instructions or a quote like in pass the parcel (the children’s game).

The first layer said “Always remember. You can do it”.

Yes. This is something I am working on.

The second layer said “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.

I was suddenly beginning to understand. Often, I didn’t know how I could get through  a situation.  But when I had no choice, I always came through with flying colours, by following my gut instinct.

The third layer and the toughest to get to said, “Change your attitude. Think of difficult situations as opportunities to take up a challenge, not obligations to be met”

Now I was excited. With these reminders my self-belief will improve greatly. Giving me more potential to make my dream of becoming a published author in 2015, a reality.

What a timely gift. I am glad I dared to open it.

Thanks. I am grateful.


Secret Santa

You get to choose one gift — no price restrictions — for any person you want. The caveat? You have to give it anonymously. What gift would you give, and to whom?

The best secret Santa’s are personally matched. For my secret Santa I would choose to honour my daughter. The fact that there is no limit to my present makes this task even easier. I would give her the gift of Demi Lovato singing at her 21st birthday party. She has admired Demi for several years and finds her very inspiring.

Demi’s honesty about her struggles with various mental health issues and her determination to keep on track, make her a great role model for young people. Her belief in getting help is so strong, she has set up a scholarship program to help young people with payment for mental health treatment called Lovato Treatment Scholarship Program.

My daughter and I are also a fan of one of her recent songs – Let It Go – the theme song from Frozen.

Now, I am so excited I can’t wait. I am looking forward to seeing the look on her face. The fact that she won’t know it is me is irrelevant. It will be so good to see her meet her idol.


2014 Achieved

We’re entering the final days of 2014 — how did you do on your New Year’s resolutions these past 11.75 months? Is there any leftover item to be carried over to 2015?

New Years resolutions are something most people make. However, how many people think them through as an actual plan after New Year’s eve. I admit I used to be one of them. Over the last few years I have realised without a plan, they never come to fruition.

Now when I make a  New Years resolution, I also make a plan to  achieve it. This year I have added the power of the moon to my resolutions. It reminds me of my goals every month and helps me stay on track.

Last New Years eve my goals were to get my book ready to be able to discuss with publishers and to plan a 6 week holiday to Canada. My holiday I am now on and when I return I will be completing the editing on my book for  Balboa Press. I did not make any other plans as I did not want to spread my time and focus too thin.

While I have not made my plans for next year yet I will be using a similar system as it works for me.


Remembering Newcastle Earthquake

For our final trio prompt of the year, write about any topic you wish, but make sure your post features a bookcase, something cracked, and a song you love.

Next  Saturday  28th December at 1027, it is 25 years since Newcastle was hit by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake. It was a day I and most Novocastrians will never forget.

I was awaken suddenly as I had been on night duty. Initially, I had thought my terrace was collapsing. I blamed the pillars of the terrace next door thinking they had cracked, causing it to fall. Either way I had to get out. I didn’t know what was going on but I was getting out.

I bolted down my moving stairs only to see my bookcases and plaster walls crashing to the floor. I rushed out onto the street just in time to see the steeple on the local church collapse.

Then the sirens began. They wailed all day and night. I lived in the damaged zone and major rescue efforts were underway. It was a scary time. The main hospital was evacuated and people were cared for on the lawns outside. Everyone did what they could.

This week our city remembers the 13 people who died on this tragic day, grateful this number wasn’t higher due to the time of year. The following song celebrates the power of our town as we supported each other through a difficult time in our history.

And we have built it up stronger than before.


Changing Christmas

The holiday season: can’t get enough of it, or can’t wait for it all to be over already? Has your attitude toward the end-of-year holidays changed over the years?

Christmas is a special time of year. For me, it usually involves a glass of champagne while opening presents with my family in Sydney. We all then travel to spend the rest of the day with our extended family. On occasions we are lucky enough to see all members of both sides of our family in the one day.

In Australia, Christmastime is usually hot. The question on everyone’s lips is will the bush fires stay away long enough for the volunteers to celebrate and enjoy a lunch with family and friends.

This year I get to learn about and love Christmas in a new way. All my life I have dreamt of  a white Christmas. So we have left sunny Sydney and are heading to hopefully snowy Quebec. Google tells us it is one of the few places in the world that has the best chance of snow on the ground as well as falling on Christmas day.

It will be very different for me only having my husband around on Christmas day. I will miss the rest of my family, but I am loving the build up to Christmas in Canada. Christmas traditions I am experiencing include:

  • The cold
  • The fires
  • Hot chocolate
  • Snow
  • Christmas parades
  • Ugly sweaters
  • Mulled wine
  • Hot toddies
  • Hat, gloves and coats
  • Snowmen
  • Snow shoveling
  • Snowflakes
  • Christmas markets
  • Christmas tree shopping
  • Christmas movie marathons daily
  • The smell of Christmas
  • Sugar cookies
  • Street Carolers
  • The weather report
  • Flights cancelled due to bad weather

I was surprised to see everything that I had seen on television happens in everyday life. And I love it. It’s great to see how the other half of the world lives during this special time.

148 - The Parade - Santa Arrives

St John’s Newfoundland’s Christmas Parade



Achieving My Dream

What’s your next, most pressing deadline? Are you excited, stressed, or ambivalent about it? What’s the first thing you’d like to do once you’re done with it?


As I am currently on holiday in Canada, I don’t like to think about deadlines. Deadlines equal work. However, on my return to Australia I have a major deadline due. In 2015, I am self-publishing my book Inspiring Hope: How Eating Disorder Recovery Is Possible. It has taken me 5 years to write and now I am both excited and petrified, at taking the next step. Despite this, I am motivated and looking forward to seeing the final product.

The next step and my current deadline is to complete editing my manuscript and send it off to the publisher for review. My personal deadline for this is the end of March at the latest, although February would be better. The reason for the large variation is that I want to be able to minimise the stress and make it an enjoyable experience.

Once I am done with this deadline, I am sure I will become the pawn of the publisher as they take control of what I need to do next in preparation for publishing day. While I wait for these instructions however, I will have a glass or two of celebratory champagne.

Deadlines certainly help me in achieving my dream.