24 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of those of you who follow me here on the blog.

To everyone who has come by and liked, followed, loved, shared or commented on a post here or on Facebook, I just wanted to say thank you! 🤗😀

I'll be taking a rest from blogging as I have my girls home for the school holidays. We've planned another camping trip to Victoria in January, so looking forward to spending quality family time and a break from my business.

See you in the new year! xJulie


19 December 2018

Christmas craft & recipe ideas for the holidays

Its the last day of school here in NSW, it's hard to believe that the girls will be in Year 2 and Year 5 next year. Tomorrow we are planning on going nowhere and staying in our pyjama's all day, otherwise known as pyjama day!

I have Christmas craft planned as part of their advent calendar, but as I'm been busy working I haven't thought of any craft ideas. I find Pinterest is great in searching for some inspiration!

I thought I'd share some of our old favourites that the girls have created over the years, along with recipes for my yummy shortbread and gingerbread men.


I hope you enjoy them :)




Recipes


My girls love to help make the gingerbread men

Shortbread

My yummy shortbread

Christmas craft ideas

Santa


Snowman

Toilet roll reindeers




Folded paper Christmas tree



Recycled Christmas card tree

04 December 2018

Goodbye IBOT, thanks for the memories

Today is the last day of the Tuesday linkup, a group of bloggers all knew as IBOT (otherwise known as I Blog on Tuesdays).

While I know that all good things must come to an end, it feels like its the end of a blogging era. I remember when I began blogging back in 2010, linkys were BIG and a must for anyone wanting exposure or to build a blogging community. OTTP's community has always been on the petite size, mainly due to the time and effort it takes to build a blog's following.

I never had dreams of writing daily blog posts or even publishing more than twice a week. When the girls were small and slept a lot, I had more time to devote to my blog, but nowadays my business is keeping me busy and I tend to be writing up posts for its blog instead of over here.

I was late to the IBOT party and didn't join until July 2015. Over the years it's been a great way of connecting with other bloggers. Not just sharing blog posts that we had written that day, but opening up and sharing parts of our lives. It was like sitting down with a friend over a virtual cup of coffee and having a chat!


I will miss you IBOT!


Thanks to Kylie & Jess for hosting IBOT for as long as you did, and for giving us a place to share our stories and be part of a blogging tribe. xx

Also thank you to those of you who have popped over via IBOT and left your thoughts and comments on my posts, its much appreciated! xx

Below are some of my favourite posts I have shared over at IBOT these past few years.

The arrival of Popette: my experience with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome
04 AUGUST 2015


11 AUGUST 2015


17 JANUARY 2017








30 JANUARY 2018





09 JANUARY 2018


27 November 2018

Camping out west

As a family, we love nothing more than to explore the beautiful country we live in. Whether it's going on little adventures in the car, or taking camping holidays. Being outdoors and experiencing nature, as well as discovering new towns, and bushwalks are exciting to us. There is nothing better than sitting around a campfire on a crisp, clear night and looking up at a starry sky!



For a while, we had been planning to go on a camping trip with our friends that travelled along the Newell highway to places like Dubbo, Coonabarabran, Warrabumgunles National Park, Glen Innes, Inverell, and Tamworth. So when Popette asked if we could purchase a bale of hay or donate some money to the farmers, we thought it would be a good idea to go during the holidays and visit the areas where we could donate directly to the rural towns and support the farming communities.



Being able to visit small businesses and see farms who weren't getting any rain, was a good life lesson for our girls. It taught them what measures farmers had to take so they could feed themselves, their stock, and water their crops.

Driving along the Newell we spotted numerous rigs hauling bales of hay

On the stretch to the Warrumbungles NP
The views up the top of Siding Springs - you must go on the behind-the-scenes tour!


Kangaroos are everywhere!

The Kangaroos in the afternoon sun at Copeton Dam

Pilliga Sandstone caves at Coonabarabran

View of Mt Kaputar in the distance

With the Giraffes at Dubbo Zoo (and yes Popette is nearly taller than me!)
Emu chicks - from an Emu farm we visited in Tooraweenah - we purchased some emu oil
 and a couple of knitted emu soft toys. The farm was having a bad year and
 worried that if they couldn't buy feed from a local, they would have to cull some more of their emus.

Popette running with the emus


Standing stones at Glen Innes

Taking in the view of the lake while enjoying breakfast
Within the Warrumbungles - the view from our site

Warrumbungles

Fossicking for sapphires, Hubby had good eyes and found me one!

It's lovely seeing stock grazing on the side of the road

You can't stop in Tamworth without visiting the Giant Golden Guitar - my first visit!
Here are some ways you can help support farmers, if you are thinking of taking a camping trip out west:

  • Visit towns that are affected by the drought,
  • Stay in the local caravan parks or hotels, 
  • Purchase items from the local stores, 
  • Instead of taking groceries with you, buy them when you get there.
  • Enjoy a meal at the local pub, or pickup some pies and bread rolls from the bakery, 
  • Visit the family-run tourist attractions - some of the attractions we visited included: fossicking at Sapphire, a Crystal Museum/Shop at Coonabarabran, Dubbo Zoo, Siding Springs Observatory & behind the scenes tour, and an Emu Farm at Tooraweenah.


You might have seen some of these pics shared on IG or FB. I tend to spend more time posting photos to my Instagram account rather than posting to my Facebook page, so it would be great if you would come over and join me. 😊

06 November 2018

A letter to Cherub - now you are 7

To my little Cherub,

Little, you are not so much, as you are growing up to be a tall girl. I can't believe you are 7! Ever since you started school, time seems to have flown by. The days of us sitting on the back deck painting or joining friends at playgroup are slowly becoming a distant memory in place of home readers, book parades, playdates and homework.

You are still a chatterbox. Your constant chitter chatter drives us & Popette crazy at times. You are our "Boo Boo", and the baby of the family. Out of all of us, you are the one who always wakes up happy and ready to give out cuddles.

Your sweet nature has earned you many friends at school with numerous party invitations throughout the year much to your sister's jealousness.


Popette at the river earlier this year

You and Popette both love playing games together involving your ponies, unicorns, princesses and BFFs animals. The imaginary worlds you both create bring you countless hours of joy. If only you had as much enthusiasm in cleaning up after yourself and putting your toys away as you do with coming up with ideas of different games to play.

You are thoughtful and will offer one of your own lollies or chocolates to us if we don't have any.

You wear your heart on your sleeve and believe in the goodness of people even though sometimes that means you get hurt.

You had a lovely birthday! First enjoying opening your presents on our bed at 6.30am! So much for sleeping in! After a breakfast of mushrooms on toast (your request), we played a game of tenpin bowling (Daddy won!) and games at playtime. Then had some morning tea at Krispy Kreme.


You can't go to tenpin bowling without strutting out some dance moves


Deciding against a ride on your bike we had a backyard picnic then you and Popette coloured-in and played with your new BFFs and Shopkins toys together.


Popette's 7th birthday (back in September)
It was a lovely day which ended with your favourite meal and chocolate mud birthday cake with Nanna.

Lots of love,
Mumma xxxx

21 August 2018

What is making me happy - Exploring

On the weekend I saw a sign that read "Happiness is enjoying the simple things in life", I couldn't agree with it more. That's why I thought I'd bring back my little series on "What is making me happy".

As a family, we love nothing more than jumping in the car and go exploring. We love driving to new places, or places we have visited before and want to check out again, or stop where there's an amazing view on the side of a road or from a lookout, or visit a place for a bushwalk.

Last weekend we went camping down on the NSW south coast with friends for a long weekend. We enjoyed exploring towns such as Berry, seeing the blowhole at Kiama, as well as taking in the beautiful rolling hills and countryside.

It was too cold (and windy) for a swim or fish, but the kids enjoyed finding shells on the beach, running around on the sand and stopping at Black Head Reserve to check out the views of the headlands and coastline.

At the end of the day, Popette beamed with excitement telling us "It was the best day!"

Its the little things like spending time together exploring that makes us all happy. What have you done recently that made you happy?

Cherub on the beach

Looking for shells


Kiama blowhole

Beautiful countryside near Gerroa
Views of Kiama
Seven Mile Beach

Headlands and coastline from Black Head reserve
A farm near Berry

14 August 2018

My first year in business and what I have learnt so far

This Wednesday marks 1 year since I took a leap of faith into registering my own business. At the time I was nervous, and a little anxious about starting a business. I had no idea where to start, I hadn't run my own business before or really knew what to do first. 

I wasn't feeling 100% confident with myself or my skills as I had been out of the workforce for over 8 years due to raising my girls.

But what I did know, was that I wanted to be my own boss, have flexibility so I could be there for Cherub & Popette and still enjoy time with them at school when I'm helping with reading or attending one of the school events. 

I wanted to be available to them in the mornings and afternoons.

I wanted to be my own boss and decide on the type of work I wanted to do, and not have someone delegate work to me that I didn't enjoy doing.

Here's what have I learnt so far in my first year:

In the beginning, it's hard! A year on, and I'm still finding it hard in getting my name out there and finding new clients. I have joined numerous FB small business groups & VA groups where I network & connect with the other business owners and VAs.

This year I need to work on getting out the door (and my comfort zone
) and attend actual networking events, but its hard with kids needing to be dropped off at school and a husband who works in a demanding job where he needs to travel or be in the office for an early meeting.



It takes time to become good at juggling! I am hopeless at juggling, I don't know how people manage three balls in the air at the same time! Its much like juggling working from home with kids being at home, during the holidays can be tricky! I often get ideas for my business when I should be spending time with my kids. Or my kids want me to take them somewhere or go on the computer when I need to do some work. It's a juggle and something I am still learning to get good at it. It does take time. 

I find having my office at home can sometimes make it hard for my brain to turn off...especially when I am sitting on the lounge and scrolling through my Facebook feed....small businesses owners don't stop working at 5pm! They'll be working throughout the night, messaging or posting comments or asking for advice and recommendations.

Don't let the negative nancies and naysayers stop you from giving it a go! Some people will be jealous, and not be happy for you regardless of how much they say they are. Or they will say negative stuff and try to convince you on how hard it is to work from home or to run your own business or to run a business from home with kids! Usually, it's a person who knows 'someone' who tried it once and failed. Tried what? I don't know, but I bet you it's not what you do, or because they were brave to give it a shot.

Source: Pinterest/Elizabeth Gilbert


In years to come I don't want to think, why didn't I give it a go? Why was I so scared of having a crack at running my own business?



There will be people who don't support you, don't let that stop you from working hard on making your business a success. Even my Mum doesn't quite fully support me, which hurts a little, she worries that I won't have time for the housework or taking care of the cleaning or my husband & kids. OMG, what year is it? I guess she was a 1950's housewife who looked after the house, husband and kids. She's happy for me, but it's always a "but what about the housework & washing, doesn't D (my husband) earn enough so you don't have to work, what about the kids". blah blah blah.

If I returned to a full-time or part-time job in an office somewhere. I'd still have to find the time to get washing done, clean up the house, cook, take the kids to school, feed, entertain, and instruct the kids! 

You can do it even though the fear of failure may be trying to stop you. You can achieve and learn new things if you put your mind to it. Don't let fear stop you, otherwise you'll be forever wondering 'what if'. For someone who hasn't attended formal education in over 20 years (yep a long time) a couple weeks ago I signed up for a free TAFE NSW Business Skills course. I'm a little worried that I won't be able to devote the time or energy to writing assessments and studying, but I am going to give it a shot and hope that I can complete the course (its a Statement of Attainment) in the hope that it will provide me with up-to-date knowledge, and broaden my skills so I can provide my clients with more options.



Not You are good enough! There was a moment when I doubted myself and thought "I don't know enough", "I haven't studied enough", "I don't have enough skills". I had to get out of that mindset and tell myself that I did know enough, that I was capable enough, and that I could upskill myself and better myself. 

You just have to keep plugging away and think of the end goal. Remember back to "your why".

Why did you want this? 
Why are you doing this? 
Why do I want nice things?
Why do I want to be my own boss? 
Why do I want a flexible work/life balance?


Not everyone will understand what you do. That's okay. They don't quite understand what I do when I tell them I'm a virtual assistant. People automatically think that it involves Administration or Bookkeeping, when in fact I don't actually offer Bookkeeping, and Administration is only a small part of the type of services I offer. Think of me as an Online Business Support Manager, I work with clients who are time-poor, or who don't have the knowledge or skills to do a certain task. 



In the end, as long as you are happy, and your husband/partner/family are supportive and understand that it takes a while for a business to get off the ground and that you are working your butt off to get it going. And you have a good group of people cheering you on, oh and client's are praising you for the work you have done (and paid their invoice) that's all that counts!

If I can also inspire my girls that's a good thing.

I love that my two girls get excited when they see me working on my business. I want them to know that they can achieve whatever they set their minds too, and have the best of both worlds - if they want to be a Mum, and be their own boss, go for it!

I love it when I see them get excited about different jobs that I work on, which inspires them to draw pictures for me or come up with ideas for my business, or Popette asks me "What are you doing now Mum? Is it for your business". Seeing her eyes light up and being curious about what I am doing makes it all worth it.

{If you would like to see more of my motivation quotes, you will find them published each Monday on  https://www.instagram.com/jambussupportservices/}