Awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love #4 – Your time. Or someone else’s.

Jan. 23 - life practice

We’re getting down to the wire with LESS THAN A WEEK TILL XMAS. But there is so much we can offer just by being there. Yes that sounds incredibly cheesy, but it’s also true facts. So if you still haven’t figured out what to give, why not use your biggest commodity. You.

Here are some ways to spend your time doing something useful:

* babysit * clean * house sit * take care of animals * send a blogger some guest posts to give them a break * be a chauffeur * garden * sew * give massages * give a lesson on that annoying computer related thing your family keeps asking you to do *

If you really must give something physical then feel free to make up and print some redeemable vouchers.

And if you really must spend money then pay for some of these. There are plenty of talented individuals out there ready to help. At a pinch you can pay for these last minute gifts as well:

* blog hosting * domain names * the power/phone/gas bill * phone apps *


Extras for experts: A plain silver or gold chain is perfect even for people that like wearing colourful pendants and plastic charms. Reuse that “VHS your Aunt sent you” and share one of your favourite TV shows or movies. Be romantic and give someone your favourite book.

Awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love #3 – Pictures

I’ve gone with the generic ‘pictures’ because lots of people are scared of art, or aren’t interested in photography, or are scandalised by the thought of rasterbating. But really everyone likes looking at nice images, you just need to find their style.

If you’re good with a camera offer your photography skills and take some family photos that aren’t staged in a boring studio; make a scrap book of you with your person; blow up your favourite image onto a canvas.

In Memory Of Chico(My Dog) Pencil Drawing

If you’re an artist create a masterpiece featuring your person’s fur babies or copy a favourite photo of your coupled friends onto beautiful paper.

If you know an artist or photographer you could buy them tools of their trade, or better yet, buy them vouchers from their favourite art supplier so they can choose exactly what they want. Or pay for a year of their flickr subscription.

Rachel's painting stuffs

Even if you think you have no artistic talent you can give the gift of art. Just take a quick peek at Etsy and you will find over a million pieces! If your friend is an artist then get a frame made for one of their works. If it’s a teen in love with their reflection print photos from their facebook page for their bedroom wall. If you’re an instagram addict head over to printstagram and get a poster, or mini prints made. If it’s an animal lover needing some love surprise them with a full wall of kitten printed using rasterbator.

chronic rasterbator

Awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love #2 – Recipes


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Everyone loves food. Delicious home cooked food is even better. Delicious home cooked food that mixes in all the best ingredients – best ever!

A pretty parcel of salted caramel cookies tied with a bow. Chocolate mixed with berries and chilli set into the shape of unicorns. Pint sized rainbow cakes in mason jars (if you do it right they will keep unopened for AGES so you can make them well in advance). Mini pulled pork or bacon and egg pies. Olive and rosemary bread. Jars of bacon infused whisky. The possibilities are endless and interesting.

However.

You could go one better for your people that love to cook.

Instead of making them something how about giving them the recipe and ingredients. Hand craft a fancy recipe card from card stock, doilies, and fat felt pens – you could even laminate it so the butter and flour wipes right off.
If it’s cookies or cake you could layer the dry ingredients in a jar. All they need to do is tip it into a bowl and add eggs and butter.

If you’re super amazing (and have lots of time) think about making a collection of your favourite recipes.

If you’re like me you’ve got recipes bookmarked all over the internet, post its in your cookbooks to mark pages, and print outs that people have emailed you. Type them up, scan them, or work on writing them out over the course of a year. Print them in a book. Stick them on themed recipe cards and present in a wooden box. Hand out card stock to everyone and get them to write up their favourites.

If you go the recipe card in a box option make sure you include a few blanks for them to fill in later. Note the size of them down for yourself and you’ve got xmas and birthdays sorted forever!

Boom.

Awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love #1 – Mixtapes

Each year I try to give suggestions on great gifts for people that don’t take up space, don’t add unnecessary crap to people’s lives, and don’t play directly into the hands of huge retail chains that pump out poorly made trinkets.
2008 suggested what to do and what not to do for last minute present buying.
2009 listed some consumable gifts that won’t leave a trace when they’ve been used. (Well apart from the obvious trace a tattoo will leave.)

This year I’ve got a whole lot more ideas that I would be really stoked to receive. Many of them won’t cost a thing. Others will have a small but worthwhile cost. The physical things on these lists can easily be bought second hand, some can be created from your own hands. Some only require your presence.

We’ve all gotten lost so far down the rabbit hole that we don’t even realise we’ve turned into capitalist consumerist whores. He who dies with the most toys wins and all that rubbish. We all need new clothes, and new computers when our current ones die. This is modern life after all and a computer is an integral part of living in the modern Western World. But spare a thought for those 200,000 Kiwi kids in poverty when you’re debating whether to get the $800 leather bag or the $200 leather bag.

So without further ado – here’s the first in my list of awesome shit that you should think about gifting to the people you love:

he gave me a mixtape, i gave him my heart.

Mixtapes

You thought these went out around the same time tapes did didn’t you? Well you thought wrong. Mixtapes are still one of the ultimate romantic gifts. And even if you don’t have much of a clue about the music your giftee will like it’s really the thought that counts here.

Make a playlist for a specific mood: your favourite songs for getting ready to go out, the best to cook to, a chilled out selection to have on in the background when there are people over, power ballads that everyone loves to sing at the top of their lungs.

Find all the rare b sides and live bootlegs from your giftee’s favourite band and burn them to disk with some homemade cover art.

Or the ultimate in selfish gifting (other than the old classic power tool gift that you really want for yourself) spend an afternoon (or a lifetime) cultivating your favourite songs of ALL TIME and put them on a flash drive. Your recipient might be exposed to some new music they love just as much as you do, and if nothing else they’ll have music to put on when you’re hanging together.

If all of my friends sent me 10 of their favourite songs I would get some much needed exposure to new music and I’d finally be able to offer up my iPod for the stereo when there are people at our house! Apparently I’m the only one who chooses to fill the majority of their soundscape with Finnish metal and sex addicted pop rockers.

Be The Girl That You Admire

Heart

Thankfully I have some beautifully talented readers to take up the slack when I feel like I need a holiday from blogging! Corrine ever so kindly stepped up to the plate with this gem today and I’ll bet it’s something we can all relate to. I have girl crushes on so many of you btw. x

By Corrine, www.frockandrollonline.com

Have you ever experienced a ”girl crush”? You have? EXCELLENT! I can now dedicate what WOULD have been an entire paragraph on definitions to instead discussing possibly more important things, like ice-cream. Gosh, I love ice-cream.

Okay, enough fooling around already! (Or Ms Constantine will surely never let me guest post here again.) Coined to describe ”feelings of admiration and adoration which a girl has for another girl, without wanting to shag said girl. A nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level” (why thank-you, Urban Dictionary!), it’s likely that you’ve spent some time with the emotion if you’ve ever marvelled at a friend’s amazing ability to style herself, coveted her phenomenal skill at attracting men folk or found yourself remarking ”why can’t I be just like her?!” in reference to a female acquaintance.

While it can almost sound like a negative experience, actually? It’s not. At ALL. In fact, it can even serve as an amazing opportunity to harness the EXACT fabulous qualities that you’d like to possess for yourself. For example, if you’re green with envy over another girl’s seemingly perfect physique, why not use the situation as pure inspiration to develop an exercise routine of your own that you’ll love? If it’s Jessica’s astounding social circle that has you feeling a little begrudging, why not work the issue to your best advantage by deciding to improve your own friendships? If it’s Ashley’s dazzling smile that you hold in such high regard, why not practice being as happy, friendly and charming as possible, and beam at everyone that you see?

Conjure up the very image of your personal girl crush, or think of the most fascinating female that you know. What is it about her that makes her so mesmerising and truly delightful, and more importantly, what can you learn from her?

Whether it’s something that you want to establish immediately, or would like to incorporate as part of your 2010 resolutions, light up the room. Astonish everyone around you with your sparkling conversation skills. Thrill with your kind demeanour. Enchant with your sense of humour. BE the very girl that you admire the most, and watch as you blossom into the very best version of yourself that you can possibly be.

Corrine blogs about fashion, self improvement, and everything in between at her cleverly named blog Frock and Roll.

The Gift of Consumption

Oh yes, we love our tuberculosis jokes in the Cupcake Factory (see: The Boy always shortened to TB on twitter).

I’m not actually suggesting you try to kill someone by infecting them with TB I’m making a very grown up suggestion (again) that you stop cluttering your friends and families houses gift shop trinkets and candles because you really had no idea what to get them. Instead you should be gifting consumables. Great gifts that will leave nothing but memories in the end.

Even in a recession many childless couples and singles are in a position to buy themselves whatever takes their fancy, they don’t need to wait for gifts or an increase on their credit limit, they just buy. But if they’re anything like me they’ll be buying chocolate, but never a box of the really good ones; the wine but nothing above $20; and the only foliage in the house is plants, not flowers. You see where I’m heading with this?

There is only one week till giftmas day! I know right, I have never been this disorganised before leaving on holiday in my life. I have 2 days to clean all my clothes and pack up my life for three weeks.

Just in case you’re a slacker like me this year here are some ideas for last minute gift buyers without a clue what to grab.

  • Hampers Great for food lovers, fill a decorated box (easier to get rid of, and cheaper, than a wicker basket) with chocolates, olives, nuts, and sauces.
  • Alcohol Be a gracious guest this holiday season and provide some lovely wine to drink. It doesn’t have to be too expensive, your host will be stoked that you appreciate them.
    Or if you have 17 year olds in your life you’ll go own in history as the best sister/aunt/mum ever if you provide the just under ageds with something that will get them wasted.
  • Subscriptions Magazines, dvd rentals, cheese of the month. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
  • Cleaning I would LOVE someone to come scrub my kitchen and bathroom – unless the recipient is a clean freak that doesn’t need a break in that department I wouldn’t worry too much about offending.
    Or you could offer to clean mum’s house in preparation for guests, she’ll really appreciate your help!
  • Homemade treats Chinese takeout boxes can be bought for cheap and filled with homemade treats like sugar cookies, truffles, and fruit mince pies.
  • Lessons Cooking lessons (available at every price point), language, dancing, photography. Won’t clutter the house but will stick with them for life!
  • Tattoos What could be more special than paying for a much wanted permanent artwork that your recipient will carry for life? I say nothing.
  • Body care While usually an intensely personal item if you know your recipient well, or spend a lot of time in their bathroom, you’ll probably know what products they use. Buy those. Moisturiser can be expensive yo.
  • Geek stuff If you’re a geek you could create your bestie a site of her very own. Buy your travelling friend a subscription or renewal to Flickr so you can keep an eye on the snaps. Surprise your internet buddy with her very own .com so she can get rid of the blogspot part of her address.
  • Vouchers If all else fails vouchers of any kind trump incense and ceramic kittens. Make it personal by giving a voucher to their favourite clothing shop, a meal at their favourite restaurant, or iTunes money for your music obsessed little brother. Other great vouchers include food, spa treatments, movie tickets, and those booklets from your boyfriend that you can use at any time and he has to do what it says.

What’s your favourite consumable?

The Enthusiastic Yes

Yes

Last week Rabbit wrote a fantastic post about grey areas of sexual consent. She discussed the notion that consent isn’t the opposite of rape, enthusiastic consent is. And it got me thinking about how this applies to everyday human interactions, not just sex.

How many times have you been talking to someone, whether you know them well or not, and they suggest doing something? A business venture, a night out clubbing, a coffee date, and while your heart isn’t in it you still say you’ll check your calendar or “yeah, I guess that could be ok” when you really want to say no.

Now think about how many times you’ve been the one asking the question. Where you’ve cajoled and coerced to get someone interested.

As someone that’s learnt most of what she knows about business from the internet I should be endorsing any number of pushy tactics to try and get people to listen. I should say that you never take no for an answer. But the reality is if someone isn’t interested then your emails and prodding will get you blocked and marked as spam. This particular customer or friend may never trust you again and they’ll never sign up to another newsletter that you’re involved in.
Always offer an unsubscribe link (metaphorical or actual) and make sure it works.

If your people aren’t enthusiastic about what you’ve got on offer you need to be able to take no for an answer. Take a step back, reassess what you’re offering and then let them know you’re available if they change their mind.
Have you ever naively stopped to talk with a Greenpeace volunteer and agreed to sign their petition only to be harangued for 20 minutes as he tries to sign you up for monthly donations? Despite protests that you’re self employed and don’t have a steady wage, that you’d rather he emailed the information he won’t let up. I have, and I’ll never stop to sign a petition with Greenpeace again for fear of not being able to get away.

Do you really have enough energy to expend on someone that’s not enthusiastic? Can you afford to have people avoiding you just so they don’t have to feel awkward saying no?

Summer Essentials For Ladies That Prefer To Hang Out Under Trees

summer essentials

Don’t get me wrong, I love summer in New Zealand. It rarely gets too hot (high 20s), everyone is getting their required dose of vitamin D and it’s making them happy, holidays abound, and there is a general sense of love and frivolity in the air.

However, above New Zealand is a giant hole in the Ozone. This means an extremely fast burn time (think 5 minutes at midday for someone fair skinned like me) and a high risk of skin cancer whether you tan or not. I’m not a sporty type, I don’t get much enjoyment from battling waves in the ocean or feeling uncoordinated while trying to throw a frisbee, so I usually sit under a tree with the other pale uncos or amuse myself with books, photographs, and music.

What you need

  1. Cool Clothes – I’m a big fan of rockabilly clothing but it’s almost always too windy to wear flowy dresses and skirts in Wellington. Pencil skirts are great for combating the wind but make lounging on the grass and sand difficult. Capris are sexy and generally stretchy – perfect for summer! I wore my pair a lot last year, this year I’m thinking of getting a few more and embracing by ass and thighs.
    A pair of loose dress pants are also essential for night time in summer. Mosquitoes, evening breezes, and sunburnt legs stuck to chairs be gone.
  2. Distractions – While everyone else is off doing cartwheels I like to read a book, listen to some music, or take pictures of the fun. Books and music are also great for occupying the pockets of time you can grab for yourself in between holiday visitors.
  3. Protection – For pasties especially a wide brimmed hat and plenty of sunblock are essential for staying healthy during summer. Sunburn is never fun and never hawt. If you have tattoos make sure to either keep them out of the sun or heavily sunscreened, you don’t want your artwork fading do you?
    If you’ve got darker skin, or skin that tans don’t forget you’re still at risk for sunburn and skin cancer! The only safe tan is one that comes from a bottle.
  4. Hydration – Worse (IMO) than sunburn is heat stroke. You really don’t want to go there, it’s a nasty nasty business. Stay hydrated when it’s hot outside and if you’re drinking alcohol match each drink with a glass of water.
  5. Bottomless pitBag – Gotta have somewhere to store your travelling fun, and a big pretty bag is most ideal. You’ll probably end up being asked to look after everyone elses stuff too so lots of pockets are a must.

What do you need to get through summer?

Friendship By Numbers

Best friends

There’s a rule of thumb for dating where you divide your age by two and add seven and if your prospective date is younger than the result then they’re too young for you. By those standards it gives a 23 year old “permission” to date an 18 year old, but how often do you open yourself up to being friends with someone of that age?

Up until a few years ago when searching for new friends, even online, I would look for someone the same age as me with the same interests. It meant I didn’t even give myself a chance to talk to people 10 or even five years older than me because I’d already decided the age difference would make us incompatible for friendship. I assumed anyone that much older than me would think I was too young to hang out with them and anyone that much younger than me wouldn’t have the same life experiences and we wouldn’t have anything to share.

But how backwards is that thinking! It’s great to have a besty or two that are exactly like you, but it’s even better to find friends that you can learn something from. I met Chickie Little at work. Together we lamented about our bosses and hung out at work events and eventually got to know each other better and found that despite our five and a half year age gap we like many of the same things (and dislike the same things) and we are both in relationships and our partners get along well which makes double dating easy and movie nights easy. Chickie with her never age asian features often looks younger than me despite the ring on her finger and humongous baby bump, and her husband is a typical never grow old geek despite being in his early thirties.

Chickie has taught me a lot about baking and geeky stuff, things I wouldn’t have found in a friend if I kept looking for someone exactly like me. Other ex colleagues I consider friends are mothers, grandmothers, sporty, they all teach me something about who I am and bring unique perspectives to my life. I bring the perspective of a Gen Y’er to the relationship and let them know it’s ok to hate your job but you should do something about it, and that you’re allowed to challenge the status quo, and that a lot of 23 year olds are actually intelligent and self sufficient.

So next time you’re stuck talking to your workmate, teacher, boyfriends little sister, don’t think about age. Get to know them like you would anyone else. They might become a great friend.

“The Pill” is Medication!

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I realised how important it is to answer comprehensively when you’re asked what medications you’re on. The optometrist/dentist/gynaecologist etc isn’t being weird when they ask you, they’re asking so they can keep you safe and give you the best care. They’re not going to judge you because you’re on the pill (and if they do you should find yourself a new provider), and if you are on it, you should be including it in the list of medications you’re on along with your over the counter hay fever tablets and the aspirin you take a few times a week.

I realised how widely the pill can affect your body when I discussed contacts with my optometrist recently. We talked about my dry eyes and how they get irritated really easily when I wear contacts, and that liquid tears don’t seem to help. He asked if I was on the pill and it all made sense when he said that being on the pill can cause dry eye symptoms. A medication that affects your body so much it thinks it’s pregnant when it’s not it is bound to affect other areas of your body. It’s something us ladies taking oral contraceptives need to be aware of.

Don’t be ashamed.

A myth about “the pill”

You do not need to take a break from it. The biggest myth about the pill is that it’s unhealthy for you to be on it for long periods of time, and that it can cause infertility. That’s a pile of crap, you are able to get pregnant immediately after you stop taking the pill. That includes times where you don’t ingest it properly due to illness. Women that have trouble getting pregnant after coming off the pill would have had trouble getting pregnant anyway, especially if they’re now in their late thirties and prime child bearing age has passed.

In fact, the only reason there is a 7 day sugar pill section in every 28 day pack is because it was thought women would adjust to it easier if they still got their period. If you are on a pill with steady dosage you can quite easily take 2-3 packs in a row and get your period 4-6 times a year instead of 12. That’s what I do.