Making Lettered Pancakes this Shrove Tuesday!

Tomorrow is February 28th – a special holiday where our favourite type of food can be consumed in unlimited amounts; pancakes!

We all love our delicious food; it’s what gives our lives meaning after a long day at work. So it’s only fitting that we make plenty of special occasions around the dinner table with the people we want share it all with. Aside from the usual festivities of Easter and Christmas, and their associated food comas, today’s another day where we can all be free to enjoy every food category that apparently is ‘bad’ for us – Shrove Tuesday!

The tradition of Fat Tuesday (I mean Shrove Tuesday) began many centuries ago and is celebrated every year before the start of Lent in the lead-up to Easter. But what have pancakes got to do with this? The tradition of eating pancakes on this particular Tuesday originated as a way to use up ingredients including butter, milk and eggs that were not supposed to be eaten and would go bad during the period of Lent.

So even though this plentiful day started out as a practical way of making sure no cooking ingredients went to waste, we’re glad that it turned into a pancake holiday we can all celebrate with plenty of maple syrup. The variety of pancakes these days, from pikelets to crepes, gives us plenty of choices to devour. But what if you want to turn the classic pancake into a different shape? Lettered pancakes make things even more fun!

The trick to create edible letters is to use a squeeze bottle. Using one makes it easier to write in the pan and get the neatest looking edible alphabet you could hope for. You can go and experiment in the kitchen, or take note from the multiple recipes that are out there. We’ve gone out and found one that is simple, easy to follow and most importantly delivers delicious results:

Ingredients:
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon white sugar
– 1 1/4 cups milk
– 1 egg

Directions:
1. Brush griddle or skillet with vegetable oil or spray with cooking spray; heat griddle to 190°C or heat skillet over medium heat.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk, egg and melted butter; mix until smooth.

3. If desired, pour 1/2 cup batter into plastic squeeze bottle with narrow opening to use for making letters. Squeeze batter from bottle onto hot oiled griddle to form letters. Cook until golden brown.

In three easy steps you’ll eat your way to alphabetical bliss!

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

 

 

Copywriting cliches and buzzwords – ugh!

We’ve all been there, reaching for the most common expressions we could think of; scrambling for overused buzzwords and clichés. It’s easier than it should be. The trick is to source just the right amount, as many key words are necessary for things such as SEOs for websites and their content. In the world of copywriting there are a set of known rules which should be kept in mind when reaching out to your target audience. But I think this quote by Steve Harrison, from his book How to do Better Creative Work, really sums up what we need to look out for:

“If you tend to talk in business buzzwords and marketing clichés, try not to – they betray the fact that you don’t really know what you’re talking about. By using these pre-packaged phrases you are avoiding thinking about what it is that you really want to say.”

Only because these are easy to reach for doesn’t make them the ideal solution for the job. The key element to keep in mind, is figuring out the types of content your audience wants and the best way to deliver that content to them in an interesting and engaging way. This is your time to show what you offer and shine; wouldn’t you want to avoid clichés from this spotlight?

Here are some of the top ten overused buzzwords and clichés that have the unfortunate power of hindering your writing and our thoughts on their existence:

1. Awesome; just another replacement for ‘cool’

2. Big picture; two words for ‘holistic’

3. Get your creative juices flowing; just – no

4. Hit the ground running; how many times have we heard this one?

5. Multi-tasking; managers love the idea of this, but in reality it doesn’t really exist

6. Push the envelope; are you able to do that with an e-mail?

7. Raise the bar; of course we want to keep climbing the ladder of success…

8. Go the extra mile; or the extra kilometre, depending on your favourite metric system

9. Take it to the next level; go back to the drawing board and take it up a notch

10. Think outside the box; broaden the horizon of your mind and come up with a better idea – we get it

The list could go on and on, of course; there’s just too many of them.

Thanks to kudosmedia.com.au, kickamarketing.com, and thecopycollective.com for the heads up on clichés.

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

I found love – with books

Why do we read? Why do we pick up a volume and get a thrill out of having the touch of bound paper between our hands, as we turn each page in anticipation? Why do we spend hours meandering the endless shelves of bookstores, and get swept away in the sea of paperback and hard covers?

We escape to other world beyond our own and beyond our day-to- day imagination. We let ourselves get carried away in the wonderful cocktail of feelings that books bring into our lives. They make us dreamers, deep thinkers, adventurers, detectives, romantics…

In pursuit of happiness among the ongoing ribbons of words, either bound or digitally in a Kindle, I found these ten books each in their own right a key into another world; one where I’m sure you’ll fall in love with them:

1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Another great book by an exceptional favourite, Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers with incredible empathy, intelligence and candour.

2. Today Will be Different by Maria Semple

When I saw this book cover, I knew it would be an interesting read. Today Will be Different is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

3. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty is a house-hold name; and she does it again in a powerful way. She takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

4. Me Before You by Jojo Moyers

We all know this has been turned into a movie; but we also know that books are better and deeper than movies. Me Before You is a heart-rending tale of Louisa, a young woman who finds herself in a predicament: how to convince Will, a young paralysed man in her care, that he has something to live for.

5. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

Ah, Lauren Graham; can we ever get enough of her? She’s always been our favourite kindred spirit since Gilmore Girls, and parent from Parenthood. And now she’s written something for us to enjoy time and time again! This book is her witty, charming, and hilariously relatable debut novel and New York Times bestseller about a struggling young actress trying to get ahead, and keep it together, in New York City. Aren’t we all struggling, in the city of our dreams?

6. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

This book catches your attention because it’s different. The Natural Way of Things is a gripping, starkly imaginative exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control, and of what it means to hunt and be hunted. Most of all, it is the story of two friends, their sisterly love and courage.

7. The Life-Writer by David Constantine

With a truthfully sombre tone, Constantine’s passionate tale of grief and rediscovery marks only the second foray into novel writing for an author whose short fiction has won international acclaim. A great work of literature, he reminds us, is never finished, it is ‘a living and moving thing, alive in all its parts in every fibre’, designed to be inexhaustible and to outlive. As Katrin’s journey proves, the lives of those we love are similarly inexhaustible, they keep on offering up new revelations, possessing the people they leave behind, and forever needing to be re-written.

8. Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

His name says it all; his writing sparks something in us with each novel. #1 New York Times bestselling author Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards. This is a powerful story of unconditional love, not only between these two characters but also with the family members that surround them. Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned, but it’s how you take each step forward, how you mend or break bonds, that can define your future.

9. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Music is another way we escape and something that influences us all on a personal level. Swing Time is a dazzlingly energetic and deeply human story about friendship and music and stubborn roots; about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

10. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

At first I thought it read Bittersweet, only for me to do a double-take and see the word flipped. Sweetbitter is a lush, raw, thrilling novel of the senses about a year in the life of a uniquely beguiling young woman, set in the wild, alluring world of a famous downtown New York restaurant. It’s a story of discovery, enchantment, and the power of what remains after disillusionment. What could be better?

Ewelina is a communications specialist and you can follow her at @marek_ewelina.

Why I love what I do and why you should too

It’s February, and that means love is in the air. Not only is Valentine’s Day just around the corner, but we’re also all feeling loved up about the many wonderful things in our lives.

There’s this one quote I always try to remember whenever I’m having a slow day:

“Do what you love, love what you do”.

If you truly believe this, then I think any job you will have or career path you’ll pursue, success will follow. We always hear about how important it is to do something that you enjoy; that way half of the time it doesn’t feel like work. Finding out the right job for you is like finding a pair of shoes that fit perfectly, or that missing puzzle piece.

However, there are still some people who would rather say that finding a job you love is age-old advice; even though Confucius has manifested this prolific notion that has stood the test of time – because that’s what love can do:

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be like this all the time? Steve Jobs also believed in this, saying:

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.

What we do is something that allows us to be creative, and explore the world from many different angles. What’s not to love; the flexibility, the ability to explore, and most importantly write something people will enjoy reading?

Everyone has as different journey to their successes; yet whatever shape their path is, or whichever detours it takes, everyone is able to love what they do or pursue what they really want to do – you too!

Thanks to forbes.com for the extra quotes.