Monday, 29 December 2014

to review 2014

This week at My Home Truths we are sharing our favourites post from 2014. I thought I would take this opportunity to do a bit of a recap of my year by sharing my top 5 posts of the year. These posts happened to be 5 highlighting events of the year as well as my most popular posts of the year. So in no particular order really here goes.

5. Sharing my secret
A few weeks ago I confessed that I had a secret and last time I linked up with Kirsty I revealed that secret and a slight weight lifted off my shoulders. I was super excited about the positive feedback and encouragement I got from my blogging friends and if you commented then I truly thank you for your support. I think reality hasn't set in just yet and it will be some time before it does, but I am nervous and anxious and excited about times ahead all at the same time! (if you don't know what I am talking about then you'll have to click the link above to find out!)

4. Trip to Vietnam
Without a doubt an absolute highlight of my year was my trip to Vietnam during the September school holidays. Not only did I met some truly awesome people, I also ate something I never thought that I would, and just got totally absorbed by the whole country. They are truly lovely and amazing people who live very simple lives with such gusto! I still feel like I have so many stories and photos to share with you from that trip! The trip was also a precursor for what I want to next year and it certainly confirmed my decisions!
This made me smile and feel like a Queen in Vietnam!

3. ProBlogger
Again another highlight of the year in a very overwhelming kind of way! Prior to January 2013 blogging was something I never really gave a second thought to, let alone knew there was a whole conference attended by 100's of people dedicated to the cause! It really was a nerve racking, eye opening, overwhelming, awesome experience.
Laney Galligan's photo.
Janet from Middle Aged Mama, Marleisa from This is Who I am.. and I catching up over lunch at ProBlogger!

2. A to Z Challenge
I was crazy enough to sign up for the A to Z Challenge in April, where every day for the month (with the exception of Sunday) you blogged about something to do with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. A lot of people chose a theme in an attempt to make it "easier". I chose to blog about me and my life as a teacher. The link will take you to my wrap up post at the end of the challenge. So if you are new around here and want to know more about little ol' me, that's bound to answer pretty much all of your questions!
1. Remembering Kathy
This was both one of the hardest posts I've ever written and also my most read post of all time. On the anniversary of her passing I shared my recollections of the days prior and post losing my beautiful sister Kathy to cancer back in 2006.

2014 has been another year where goals seemed to go unmet and it would be easy for me to be a bit doom and gloom about all of that, but the beauty of blogging is that you do have a record of all that you have done so it's been good to look back and see what has happened and what I have achieved. I am not sad to see the end of this year though, I am definitely ready to move on to bigger and better things and excited about what 2015 has is store for me! I look forward to sharing the journey with you!

Linking up this 2014 wrap up with Kirsty from My Home Truths and Alicia from One Mother Hen.

Friday, 19 December 2014

for a Fitbit Flex v Garmin Vivofit Review

Thinking of buying a Fitbit or Garmin fitness tracker this Christmas?? Then you MUST read this highly professional* review of the products!

I had been looking vaguely at these new 'must have' products for a while and when my Fly Buys Catalogue turned up back in August I discovered that I had enough points to get a Fitbit Flex for free (the thousands of dollars I had to spend on groceries and fuel to get enough points doesn't count right?). So I did a little bit of research on exactly what the Fitbit Flex had to offer but ultimately I didn't have anything else to choose from so I was always going to get it. 

After seeing me with mine for a few weeks my sister decided she wanted to get a fitness tracker of her own and I (almost) convinced her of the awesomeness of the Fitbit Flex....that was until she went to the Sports Store and the sales guy talked her into the Garmin Vivofit...
It's a Fitbit v Garmin faceoff!

So whose is better? 

In many ways they are pretty much the same, both have the ability to track your steps, calories burnt, you can input your food intake and water intake, both can be turned onto sleep mode to track your sleep. 
The view of your sleep pattern on the Garmin Vivofit

My sleep pattern on my Fitbit Flex...I am definitely a crasher!

Both have apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone to track how you are going during the day towards meeting your goals. Both come in a range of different colours that are interchangeable for all you fitness fashionistas out there. 

Both also allow you to connect with other users so if you have friends and family with the same tracker then you can challenge them and track each other's progress. 
So, what's the difference then you ask? 

The main differences that set them apart are:
The Fitbit has a setting that allows you to set silent alarms. I set it to wake me up in the morning and I will admit to also setting my usual alarm on my phone as I was worried that, being a silent alarm, it wouldn't actually wake me up, but I need not worry. The 'alarm' goes off by vibrating on your wrist and the little led lights flashing. You can set more than one alarm per day which could be used as reminders to get up and move. The Garmin has no such alarm, or any alarm at all.

The Garmin has a display screen that allows you to easily see how you are travelling during the day without the need to go to the phone app. The Fitbit Flex does have five flashing lights that increase the closer you get to your goal by double tapping on it so you can get a bit of an idea, but you do have to go to your app and sync it to get an exact idea how you are travelling. The screen on the Garmin doesn't have a backlight so you need to be in a well lit area to see it. The Garmin also doubles as a watch which I think is great. 

Another difference is the batteries, I need to charge my battery using a USB dongle approximately once a week, the Garmin battery does not need to be charged and they claim it's a year long battery, so time will tell whether that is true or not. My fear (as it's almost already happened) is that I will lose the charging dongle and will have to replace it and who knows how much that would cost me. I also don't like that I have to take it off to charge! It's not counting vital calories burnt while sitting plugged into my computer! 

Price wise they are around about the same depending on where you shop and can be anywhere between $100-$130.  

Truth is we both love our fitness trackers but I will admit to loving the fact that hers has a display, but I also love that mine has the silent alarm. 

Fitbit have just bought out a new product called the Fitbit Charge which does appear to challenge the Garmin Vivofit a bit more than the Flex in terms of features but is (obviously) a little more expensive. 

*we don't really claim to be professionals and if you want to read a bit more of a professional review then click here!!

Linking up this review with With Some Grace for FYBF

Monday, 8 December 2014

to share my secret..

A few weeks ago I confessed I had a secret...or rather information that I was with-holding. Well I am now ready to share that information.

But first, this week Kirsty is asking us to be a bit reflective on 2014 which has kind of worked out well for me as it links in with everything else I wanted to share today.

I looked back at my goals for 2014 and I am a little disappointed to say I don't think that I really achieved any of them.

Twenty-fourteen has been somewhat of a stepping stone year to what I have planned for 2015 so whilst it's disappointing to see so most of those goals unmet, a lot of what has happened this year has paved the way for what is to come.

One thing that happened this year was that I attended my first ever ProBlogger Event.

I walked down to the beach early the morning after the ProBlogger Event finished and while I sat watching the amazing sun rise I drafted the following on my phone....

'To have a blog I love I need to have a life I love... To have a life I love I need to change it... Who am I to write a blog about life when I hate my life**... I know there is good in my life, I know there is so much to be thankful for, but for the most part... I hate it**

This morning waking up at 5:50am like I do most mornings so many thoughts and reflections are starting to happen. The last 3 days have passed in an amazing blur of information and I have reached a point where I really think things could go either one of two ways...I could throw my hands in the air and walk away... Who am I to think I can make it in this world, and do I even want to, why am I even here? Or I could shout "Bring it on!" from the rooftops and really try and make something of this...

And like so much of my life, if you were waiting for an answer it would have to be "I don't know"... Is it the fear of failure that's holding me back or is it that it's not what I really want... I don't know...

Over the last 2 days when people have asked me what I blog about I had no real answer for them. I mumbled something about it being about whatever I wanted, whatever I felt like...I told people it started off the back of doing Michelle Bridges 12wbt, but if the truth be known I look back and I know that I even failed at that. Sure I reached my goal weight but I didn't stay there for long, my body didn't transform and it didn't 'change my life'... I do so many things in my personal life half hearted. Mostly I think because of fear... Fear I'll get it wrong, fear I'll offend or hurt someone, fear of failure... fear that it's just all too hard so I should just stick with what I know...'

**Hate is a very strong word and I considered changing it but obviously that's how I felt at the time...looking back it was a bit harsh!

I had already started making plans to make some changes in my life but it was like ProBlogger just confirmed it for me. So here goes...

*I've sold my house.

*I've sold a fair chunk of my belongings.

*I've quit my job (well not really but I've taken leave for 2015 but "quit my job" sounds so much more brave and dramatic)

*I've joined a travel blogging course.

*I've upgraded my blog a little bit (did you notice?)

*I've booked my flights.

*I'm heading overseas.

Each time I've travelled overseas I've come home with a burning desire to go again, I've come back with a strong desire to change my life and I've started researching other jobs because I've known for a long time how unhappy I've been. I've often said to friends and family that I wish I could be one of those people who sell everything a just go...but I've never actually done it...that is, until that's (kind of) what I'm doing.
Image Source

And so while I will confess to being a little bit anxious and scared about what next year (and beyond) will bring I have decided to just let what will, and see where it takes me.

Stand by for future posts about what I have planned for the year ahead and why.

Linking up with Kirsty from My Home Truths and Alicia from One Mother Hen!

Monday, 1 December 2014

for another award!

I must confess I am the slackest blogger ever!!!

Although if you have been following this roller coaster of a blog you will already know that so it's not really that much of a grand confession!

The thing that constantly surprises and amazes me about this whole blogging world business is that you really never know who is reading, who you are connecting with, who is giving valuable time in their day to read the dribble here!

So I must confess I was well and truly shocked when the lovely Tonia from Tonia with an eye nominated me for a Liebster Award!!

She has asked me to answer the following questions:

1. Who is your favourite person?
Oh wow...what a tough one! I am blessed with so many wonderful people in my life! I love and adore all of them and I hope they know who they are.
My besty is can read more about our friendship from my A to Z Challenge post here.

2. What is your favourite possession?
Of all the things I own (and some might say I own far too much) I would have to go with the possession that uses up most of my iPhone (and iPad!). I guess these are my favourites because they hold my's the way I connect with all the wonderful people in my life. It is my camera, my address book, my blog, my calendar, my bank, my appointment book. Would be completely lost without it...sad I know!

3. What was the happiest day of your life?
Again I find it hard to answer this one when I have so many to choose from. From graduating from university twice, to see 4 of my 5 nephews being born, to being asked to be Godmother to by best friend's little boy!

4. Sweet or savoury?
I usually like to start with savoury and then always end with sweet.... I always love something a little sweet after dinner!
I am such a fence sitter aren't I?!

5. Jazz or pop?
Why isn't country an option?? lol...
If I HAD to choose between these 2 it would have to be Pop I guess.

6. Coffee or tea?
Tea - definitely tea. I gave up drinking coffee back in 2004 I think it was and while it took me a while to adjust to tea I now love it. I don't drink hot drinks much during summer but in the cooler months I love nothing more than a nice cup of green tea (with lemon) in the morning and some other flavoured tea before bed at night.

7. What do you miss most from your childhood?
The innocence, being oblivious to the obligations and expectations of being an adult. I think young people today are in too much of a hurry to grow up! Enjoy your youth while you can!

8. What item of clothing do you wear the most?
I am a bit of a shopaholic and if I like something I buy it, so have lots of beautiful things. But one of my favourite items was given to me by a friend of mine. She bought it back for me from Greece, it's meant to be a symbol of good luck and I wear it almost every day. It's a little big for me and I have accidently lost (and found) it a number of times, one time even finding it wrapped in paper towel in the bin after drying my hands! It is so precious to me!

9. What is your favourite time of year and why?
School holidays!! I am sure everyone loves their holidays and I am no exception. As someone who has spent my whole career working in schools I don't recall a time when I was never excited about the upcoming holidays. Apart from the obvious, catching up with family and friends, they also mean not having to set an alarm, no playground duty and report cards (although I have managed to avoid that due to different roles these last few years) and being able to go to the toilet whenever you like! What's not to love about that.....
And to all those people who think we have too many holidays, I say to you...."It's all about choices!"

10. Why did the chicken cross the road?
I am wondering why the chickens motives for crossing the road are always being questioned...can't a chicken cross the road in peace these days!

Thanks so much again to Tonia with an Eye for the nomination! I am truly chuffed! If you haven't checked her out make sure you do! I am totally envious of her frock collection!

The idea is that I now nominate people but I am so far behind and feel so out of the loop with blogging at the moment that I wouldn't know where to start so I am going to set you a challenge! If you can be bothered to comment below you have to list a blog that you think I need to check out!
For in 2 weeks time I will be on school holidays and can't wait to get stuck into some reading and writing!

Linking up with My Home Truths and One Mother Hen!