Spring is On the Way

The cherry blossoms are in bloom; the first sign that spring will soon be with us.

Cherry blossom.
Cherry blossom

The delicate pink flowers last for the briefest few days before they are carried away on the wind. But for those few days, they bring many smiles.

Cherry blossom.
Cherry blossom

Journal Shopping

My new journals arrived yesterday. They are made by Lantern Studios, and I love them.

I first discovered these journals a few years ago at Officeworks. I was initially attracted by the pretty fabric covers, but the detail that won me over was the paper inside with embossed lines. Not your usual printed lines, but lines physically pressed into the paper.

Lantern Paper journal
Lantern Paper journal

Choosing a journal is highly personal. I have strict criteria that any new journal must meet:

  • A5 size;
  • Hard cover;
  • The cover must extend beyond the edge of the pages;
  • Standard hardcover binding (definitely not spiral bound);
  • Good quality paper.

I prefer the lined pages, but will happily choose a journal with unlined pages if the paper is nicer. I also like to have a ribbon page marker and a pocket at the back for  mementos, but they’re not essential.

Graham’s journal criteria are very different. Each October we start the hunt for his perfect journal for the upcoming year. It must be dated, a week to a double page spread, with the days arranged in columns.

Lantern Paper journal and a pen
Lantern Paper journal and a pen

For now, I have found nothing to surpass my Lantern Studios journals. The only thing they are missing is a memento pocket, and the beautiful paper more than makes up for it.

Making Profiteroles

Having recently discovered we can successfully make croissants from scratch, I have been wondering what other French delights we can make. This weekend, we embarked on coffee profiteroles.

Our profiteroles were inspired by one of the first pastry treats we tried in Lyon, France. These wonderful pasties were filled with coffee crème pâtissière and smothered with coffee icing.

French profiteroles
French profiteroles

Ours were smaller and less elaborate, but still delicious.

Profiteroles are basically a pastry shell, filled with custard (crème pâtissière, or pastry cream, is basically custard) or whipped cream. They take some time to make, but come together surprisingly easily. I think that choux pastry (the pastry shell of a profiterole) is the least labour intensive dough I have made. With the help of our stick mixer with whisk attachment, it was whipped up and in the oven in 10 minutes.

Piping choux pastry onto a baking tray ready for the oven
Piping choux pastry onto a baking tray ready for the oven
Profiterole shells cooling on a rack
Profiterole shells cooling on a rack

The stick mixer also made easy work of the custard. The longest part of the whole process is waiting for the pastry and custard to cool before you can pipe the custard into the pastry shells.

The finished product: homemade coffee profiteroles
The finished product: homemade coffee profiteroles

I can also recommend using the egg whites left over from the custard to make meringues, and enjoying them with the left over coffee cream.

Free Press Release Services

As part of the Wordsearch 1 for Beginners launch, I tried out a few free press release sites. These sites allow you to publish your press release free of charge and distribute it through their news channels. Most have pay for options as well.

Below is a brief overview of each of the sites I used, and links to the final releases.

Sane PR

Sane PR requires you to sign up for an account before you can lodge press releases. Lodging the releases is fairly straight-forward, and they have helpful examples and tips beside each field. The press release is published as soon as it is approved.

The English Space at Sane PR

Pressbox

Pressbox is simple and no frills. They don’t require you to sign up for an account, and there is one short press release form to fill in. The press release is published as soon as it is approved.

The English Space at Pressbox

24-7 Press Release

24-7 Press Release also requires you to sign up for an account. You can enter a release date for your press release, but unfortunately they don’t seem to honour it. The press release is published after it is approved, and this is the date that appears on the press release.

The English Space at 24-7 Press Release

PR Log

PR Log is another site requiring sign up. Unlike the previous sites, your press release is published on the release date. They allow basic formatting within the press release.

The English Space at PR Log

My First Book

Today marks the launch of my first book: The English Space Wordsearch 1 for Beginners. It has been a journey of many firsts: first book, first product launch, and many new technical challenges putting it all together.

When I first decided to put my English teaching skills to use creating a wordsearch book, I imagined that writing the book would take the most time. I underestimated all of the other tasks around the edges.

There is a surprising amount of infrastructure required to launch and sell a product. I have had some welcome help in this area; DssW is publishing the book, and providing their tested payment and delivery system. And Graham’s experience of product launches has been invaluable.

It has been an amazing journey, and one I hope to repeat.

Wordsearch 1 for Beginners is available as an e-book from The English Space.