There's Something About Blogging, a blog series by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ('s Something About Blogging, a blog series by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ('s Something About Blogging, a blog series by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

I’ve been thinking about this blog of mine.

If I had to be completely honest, I think about my blog a lot: what posts to write, which images to publish, how to string my sentences together, how to curate my visual storyboards, how to do it all efficiently and well, whether or not I’m staying true to myself, whether or not my blog is getting stale, etc.

I have no complaints though. I love it. I love the community that has grown here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What I have been contemplating recently is the nature of what I put here on the blog.

When I started this space of mine back in 2002, it all began as a purely personal blog. Hence the stories about completely random things and everything in between. When I got married, I started musing about marriage (in the best way possible), but then after losing Cameron, I almost stopped blogging here altogether. Instead, I started a separate blog where I poured out my grief. In 2010, I actually returned here and started blogging regularly: yet again, I was recording the random stuff and the funny (but true) stuff for the internet to enjoy and peruse.

In my head, I’d divided my writing into two categories. Happy and funny and random stuff? Pink Ronnie blog. Sad and grieving about Cameron? Cameron’s blog.

It continued like that for a long time until I actually started sharing about Cameron here in this space. I don’t think any one event triggered this – it simply seemed like the natural thing to do. If I were to be true to myself on this blog, why would I not share about my precious son here? Why was I stowing him away like he was some sort of a secret?

In fact, looking back, it seems kind of ridiculous to me now that I was limiting this blog of mine to all that happy, happy, joy, joy stuff.

I guess I just assumed that that’s what people wanted to read. I assumed that my readers wouldn’t want to hear about my grief and my tears.

Essentially, I had too narrow a view of my blog, and I had too narrow a view of my readers.

Ever since I opened my heart up about Cameron here on Pink Ronnie, I’ve received nothing but love, support, compassion, and understanding from all of you, and for that I will always be grateful. Truly and deeply so. I’m sorry I ever thought less of you guys.

And to be honest, being able to share about Cameron has been a joy for me. It’s one of the few things I can do now as his mother.

As I move towards launching the LIFE:CAPTURED site, I’ve started pondering again about the fabric of what I post here on Pink Ronnie. I know that it’s unlikely we’ll be starting a separate blog for LIFE:CAPTURED, which means that visitors will be referred back here and to Trish’s blog. In light of this, should my posts here on Pink Ronnie become less personal and less emotional somehow? Should I pare back my writing and make it less raw in order to accommodate the commercial site and brand?

My conclusion so far has been ‘no’ and my reason for this is simple.

People connect with people.

As much as marketers would like to suggest otherwise (and I say this being a marketer myself), I don’t believe that people actually connect with brands.

At the end of the day, we are relational beings.

So as much as I love, say, Apple, and I would have no qualms recommending Apple’s products, I don’t feel like I have any actual personal connection with the brand.

As human beings, we want somebody to talk to, to laugh with, and to cry with. We want to lend a shoulder and express our sympathy, or simply to listen and empathise. We want to read that somebody else is going through the same thing as we are. Made the same mistakes we have. We want to know that we are not the only ones struggling and grieving.

We want to know that we are not alone.

And for this reason, I intend to keep sharing the hard stuff here on this blog. My love for Cameron is real. My heartache is real. My tears are real. His absence is real. It is all a part of who I am, and it goes a long way to explaining why I do my best to cherish my family, embrace the present, and document our lives as if my own life depended on it.

Does this somehow make me less ‘professional’ as a business person? I like to think not. At the end of the day, I want our customers to know that I am a person just like them, rather than just an impersonal site that spits automated messages and sends them template files to download.

Perhaps my thinking might change. But I hope not. I really hope I can remain true to myself, and all that that encompasses, here on this blog.

And thank you all once again for not only being my readers, but also my friends. I know that many of you live far, far away, but please know that your words, your love, and your kindness mean the world to me.

You can read the other posts in this series here.

One year older

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

We are back from our holiday, my friends, and I am now one year older than I was before.

As thirty-fourth birthdays go, it was a pretty awesome one. In fact, it felt like we spent the entire weekend celebrating my birthday, and I honestly couldn’t have been happier. There was a hot breakfast on Saturday morning, hand made cards from the boys, a picnic lunch at a beautiful park, a Japanese dinner at my favourite restaurant, and then a late-night viewing of The Time Traveller’s Wife on DVD with my man. On Sunday, my wonderful husband baked me a red velvet cake and in the evening, my parents came over, allowing us to return to our much-loved restaurant for a proper one-on-one birthday date. We ordered different dishes to the previous evening, and this time, we managed to chat uninterrupted and savour each mouthful. We even made it to the cinema and watched The Grand Budapest Hotel – our first movie ‘at the movies’ in a very long while.

The boys were very cute about it all. They kept asking if they could come to my party and Pete pointed out that I was now as tall as daddy. How I love and adore their innocence!

As a special birthday treat, I gave myself a few days off from blogging. Staying in the present and cherishing every moment with my family has been the most wonderful gift of all. But now, I have thoughts to gather, memories to document, plans to formulate, and posts to write. Though I confess it will be a little hard, I look forward to returning to my regular blogging regime. Thanks to all of you for reading here, even when I haven’t been posting. I’ve appreciated every message that you’ve left me and can’t wait to re-connect.

How have you all been? (I’ve missed you!)

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

With my ever-increasing love for designing and creating story books for my family, the basic building blocks of my memory-keeping these days are still my Project Life albums. Today, alongside my Weeks 14 and 15 page layouts, I thought I’d recap on why I think using pocket pages as a memory-keeping system rocks, and why I am committed to all five of our Project Life albums. (Yes, it’s five now because Bear has one too now that he’s turned one. Crazy, right?)

I love that it’s a system that allows me to go back and change or add things if I want. One of the main stumbling blocks when it comes to starting a photo album or a scrapbook is that you worry about getting it wrong and making it perfect. A system like this takes that fear factor out of the equation, so that you can just start.

I have the freedom to choose how often I work on my albums. While most people choose to do weekly spreads for their main family album, you can do whatever suits you: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even yearly. As you all know, I use a weekly system for our family albums, and a monthly system for each of our boys’ individual albums. It all comes down to: whatever works well for you.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

If I fall behind, it’s easy enough to catch up. I simply ‘double up.’ For example, if I’m three weeks behind on our family album, I simply work on two weeks at a time for three weeks, and then I’m all caught up! For our boys’ albums, I sometimes like to give myself a break from doing them for a month, and so the next month I simply work on two months’ of photos and journaling, and then I’m up to speed again. (I never, ever try to catch up on a heap in one go anymore because I know from past experience that that usually becomes too big a mental hurdle. It’s all about spacing it out, and knowing what I need to be doing at any given time.)

I can use inserts to my heart’s content! When we’ve had special events like births, birthdays, anniversaries or special milestones like the first day of school, I’ve made use of countless inserts to help me document these momentous occasions. Other times, inserts have come to my rescue when I’ve simply had extra photos or extra journaling that won’t fit into the regular two page layout.

I can include keepsakes and memorabilia in our Project Life albums. Keepsakes like movie tickets, brochures, something your child drew, a note, a letter, cards, and school certificates can all go inside the albums. You can either slip them into a photo pocket or include them in an insert or a special 12×12 envelope designed to hold keepsakes or simply punch holes in them and put them into the binder directly.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

I love the fun of seeing a page come together. Obviously, my style is super simple and minimalist, but I still enjoy the process of deciding which photos go well together and working out where to add journaling. Photos that are seemingly insignificant and mundane in and of themselves suddenly shine with meaning and beauty when they are carefully laid out together on a page.

I love being able to document our life on a regular basis. Every week, I write a short summary of what happened. I pick my favourite photos in Aperture. Using the InDesign templates I’ve set up, I add extra text or journaling when I feel it’s appropriate or necessary. I add the day and dates of the photos. I print the photos out on my Pixma. I slip them into the pockets. And presto! One week of our family life is documented, and the whole process takes me about 1.5 hours at most (if I’m not distracted by Facebook). I do this every week of the year, and at the end of the year, I have a complete album filled with memories of our family life: precious every day moments that would otherwise go undocumented. And because I’ve been systematically working on it all year, there is no catch-up at the end of the year. No huge, empty scrapbook for me to fill.

Project Life by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

The thing I love the most about Project Life is that it gives me an easy structure for documenting our family and family life from every angle. In ten years’ time, I don’t want to only have a record of events like birthdays or holidays, I want to have something like this so that I can remember those little moments and what our day-to-day life actually looked like. Our Project Life albums cover every single aspect of our family: important milestones, big events (e.g. birthdays, holidays), candid portraits, little moments, corners of our house, etc. Our Project Life albums are the reference point for everything – this is why I see them as the building blocks for my memory-keeping. I also like creating photo books, story books, journals (for example, this one), and scrapbooks (for example, this one): these are projects that allow me to ‘zoom in’ and focus on a particular story or a particular period in time. However, at the end of the day, it’s our Project Life albums that tie everything together.

You can read all my Project Life posts here.

Other posts you might be interested in reading:

My thoughts on the Fujifilm Finepix x100s

My weekly Project Life process from beginning to end

Tips on taking photos for Project Life

What you need to get started with Project Life

Lessons in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( in self-portraiture, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

Use manual focus.

You won’t believe how long it took me to figure this out. For the longest while, I kept setting my camera on timer and leaving it up to the device to auto-focus.

Out of ten shots, I would maybe get lucky with one.

I was like, “If only there were a way to control the focus myself…”

Manual focus, girlfriend!

Basically, the secret is to work out the distance between your lens and the point which you would like to focus, and set the dial accordingly.

The tricky part is that it’s not actually the distance between point A and point B if you don’t intend to place your subject matter in the centre of the frame (see, for example, the first and large images above where I have positioned myself to the right of the frame’s centre.)

Instead, it’s the distance between the two planes.

In other words, imagine an oversized sheet of paper in front of your lens, and imagine an oversized piece of paper hanging vertically in front of where you intend to stand.

It’s the perpendicular distance between these two sheets of paper.

The other thing to bear in mind is that the closer your lens is to the focal point, the more likely you’ll get blur if your calculation of the distance is incorrect.

The further away your lens is from the intended point of focus, the more ‘buffer’ you have for getting it wrong because the depth of field is larger (at a greater distance).

It might take a while to get the hang of this, but once you do, imagine the possibilities!

The key is simply to practise, be patient, and practise some more…

(You can read the rest of this series here.)

Around here

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

Around here, we are sleeping in almost every morning. Bear sometimes doesn’t wake up till almost 9am, and the big boys are happy to play in their room till about the same time. It is so nice to take it slowly in the mornings…

Around here, we are eating holiday cereal for breakfast. Think Coco Pops and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes. Yum.

Around here, the boys are playing well and inventing their own fun and games, with plenty of role-playing thrown in. It makes me so happy that they have each other.

Around here, I sorted through all the boys’ artwork from last term, photographed all their precious things, and tidied all their preschool/school drawers. This took almost an entire day but I’m so happy it’s done.

Around here, there’s been lots of gardening. Our raised garden beds are finally free from weeds, ready to be planted with new flower seeds when Spring arrives.

Around here, I have re-worked my blogging process and workflow, and I’m excited to start afresh after the holidays.

Around here, we have been taking the boys out for dinner every couple of nights. One night, we had Vietnamese pho, tomato rice, and spring rolls, and the other night, we went to a Japanese restaurant. We all squished together at the one small table, with Pete, Bear, and me on one side and Angus, Jamie, and Rick on the other. The food was amazing, and it was so much fun.

Around here, we spent the last two days driving around in a convoy of two cars while our Discovery was at the mechanics. Initially, I was pretty frustrated at the situation but it turned out to be kind of fun. I had the two younger boys in the green car, and Jamie would get agitated every time Rick overtook us. “Naughty daddy! Daddy is so cheeky! I have to tell daddy he’s naughty when I see him…!” Hilarious.

Around here, we are loving every minute we have together.

Around here, we are living life and cherishing this family of ours.

How are you guys going?

First year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

Today I want to share some glimpses into Bear’s first year journal with you all. As some of you already know, I did a first year journal for both Pete and Jamie and ended up with such a precious keepsake for them both. (I didn’t do one for Angus because I didn’t think of it back then.) I knew we would want to create something similar for Bear so in the month before he was born, I ordered yet another beautiful hand-made leather journal from Badger & Chirp. This time, I chose green leather, which turned out to be gorgeous. I brought the journal into hospital with me so that I could start documenting from Day One.

First year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

In short, this is a journal that documents (almost) every single day of their first year. You will notice from my other memory-keeping posts that most of my life documentation takes place on the computer. This journal is one of a few keepsakes which are entirely handwritten, which I feel makes it particularly special.

I wrote about my process behind the first year journal quite in-depth in this post, and it hasn’t changed. That’s the most wonderful thing about having a process in place that you’re on board with. You don’t need to keep re-inventing the wheel. You always know exactly what you’re doing and what the next step is to create the keepsake that you have in mind.

First year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

I think it’s worth mentioning that I have never gone through and compared how much we’ve written for each of the boys. It is not important to me whether or not we’ve written a similar amount. What matters is that, each time, we wrote when we could and we wrote what was true. And what matters is that both Rick and I wrote, so that when the boys are older, they’ll hear both our voices in the documentation of their lives.

I’ve said it before: These first year journals are utterly precious to us and the boys. They all know where to find theirs, and they have such fun getting them out and looking at all the photos. Down the track, they’ll be able to read our words too.

First year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( year baby journal, by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

As for me, flipping through Bear’s first year journal fills me up with joy, love, gratitude, and all sorts of warm and fuzzy feelings. When you have multiple children, life can seem like a blur and it’s not uncommon for me to lie in bed at night and feel sad and guilty that I haven’t been able to absorb every detail of how the boys are growing up and changing every day. This first year journal allows me to re-live all those big and small moments that made up the first year of his life, and it reminds me that I was there and present for his babyhood. And that’s something that’ I’ll be eternally grateful for.

Hope you are all enjoying the school holidays!

In the mood for…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

…pink flowers, fallen leaves, and road trips with the family. Today is officially the first day of our holidays. Rick is taking his annual break, which means we’ll have him all to ourselves for three whole weeks. This is the time of year that I live for. No commitments. No appointments. Just time together as a family. We will be heading down South again soon, and I can already feel that crisp, cold country air on my face.

I can’t wait.

p.s. Have you made any plans for the school holidays?

(Linking up with Em.)

As of this moment…

Photography by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

…I am writing in my closet.

…I am listening to Norah Jones and basking in the warm afternoon sun streaming through the window.

…I am busy planning and prepping blog posts for the week that we are away.

…I am grateful for all your kind thoughts the other night. I am feeling much better today. I have to keep remembering that even when things are out of my control, God has it all under His control.

…I am already counting down the days to the next episode of Offspring.

…I am looking forward to cooking tonight. Usually, Rick is the one who prepares dinner, but this evening, I feel like cooking up my favourite meal: chicken wings.

…I am sensing that many of you want me to write more about The Happy Closet. I hear you! Watch this space.

…I am excited for next month. My birthday. Our wedding anniversary. And our family holiday…

…I am already picturing the long winding roads, the rolling hills, the country air, the stormy clouds, and all that freedom to do whatever we want as a family.

…I am hoping like mad that I won’t get sick like last year. Vitamic C, check. Garlic tablets, check. Zinc lozenges, check.

…I would love to go on a date sometime soon with my husband. It’s been a while since our last one.

…I can’t wait to welcome the older boys home from school and preschool. It’s the last day of term, which definitely calls for a tiny celebration. I’m so very proud of them all, and so thankful that I get to be their mum.

…I can hear Bear stirring from his nap.

…I am thinking that a cup of tea and a couple of Anzac biscuits would hit the spot right about now. The perfect afternoon tea, in my opinion.

Happy Friday, everyone! What plans do you have for the weekend?

The Happy Closet, a blog series by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( Happy Closet, a blog series by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie ( Happy Closet, a blog series by Rhonda Mason/Pink Ronnie (

So after the biggest purge in the history of my closet, I got my entire original wardrobe – including clothes, bags, jewellery, shoes (literally everything) – down to 78 items.

As hard as that was, it turned out to be the easy part.

Deciding what I wanted my wardrobe to look like going forward was much, much harder. As I said in my last post, I wanted a wardrobe that reflected my age, I wanted a wardrobe that embraced the type of body I had, and I wanted my wardrobe to be as minimalist as possible – made up of a handful of well-chosen garments that I would wear over and over again over the next four to five years. From the outset, it seemed overwhelming, considering the billion items of clothing there are out there. I was also apprehensive about falling back into old habits of buying clothes compulsively and developing yet again an insatiable appetite for wanting more and more and more.

Despite my apprehension, I started acquiring items as mindfully as I could, and over the course of about six months, I’ve slowly but surely built a closet that I’m extremely happy (and content) with.

Here are some reflections on my experience:

With the exception of one item, I stuck to my core colours of black, grey, white and blue. There were a few items which I was quite tempted to buy but in the end, I’m glad I resisted because I just know that when it comes to putting clothes on in the morning, my natural inclination is to steer away from those ‘secondary’ colours. Why bother adding something to my closet which I’m not going to embrace wholeheartedly? I wanted every item in my closet to be my first choice.

After a couple of unfortunate blunders, I decided not to buy anything that was mass manufactured. Instead, I would stick to independent designers and handmade items. This has been such a good decision. Not only has this meant high quality clothes that are likely to last and last, but each item feels special to me. This is such a nice thing, because when you don’t own that many items overall, it’s good to make every piece count.

I opted not to create a moodboard a la Pinterest to work out my personal ‘style.’
I know this is the common thing to do, but something held me back. In the past, I used to happily pin my favourite outfits from my favourite bloggers. However, the problem was that I would become obsessed with tracking down items so that I could replicate the entire outfit. In other words, I ended up buying things which I would only ever wear the one time, simply for the purposes of that one outfit. I decided from the outset that this was not what I wanted for my new minimalist wardrobe, so no moodboard!

I let go of what had been my ‘uniform’ for the last five to six years. Let’s just say I got tired of muffin tops. Enough said. (Bye bye, jeans.)

I disregarded every ‘essentials’ list that I’d ever come across. I’ve written about this in the past, but it’s worth reiterating. No matter what anybody else claims is an ‘essential’ piece of clothing, it doesn’t have to be an ‘essential’ piece of clothing for you. My new wardrobe has none of the stuff that magazines are always telling me I ‘must’ have: blazers, trench coats, fitted coats, tailored pants, leather jackets, or bright accessories. I’ve even ditched jeans. Practically speaking, I erased every preconceived idea I had about wardrobe staples, and decided to write my own rules from scratch.

I knew what I didn’t want to wear anymore, and that helpfully cut down my options by about ninety percent. I didn’t want to wear jeans. I didn’t want to wear skinny pants. I didn’t want any pants with a button-up top in fact. I didn’t want t-shirts. I didn’t want tight sweaters. I didn’t want tunics. I didn’t want blazers. I didn’t want fitted coats. I didn’t want tight sweaters. I didn’t want earrings or bracelets. I didn’t want any new shoes. By knowing what I didn’t want, my work was reduced substantially.

I opened up my mind to embracing new silhouettes. I considered things which I had never thought of wearing before. As a result of this, I ended up with a few amazing pieces which I know I’ll wear over and over again for the next five years or so. They are items which I would never have worn in my twenties but which feel perfectly suitable now that I’m in my mid-thirties.

I was happy to repeat my favourite silhouettes once or twice. But no more than that. Obviously if something works well for you, then it’s common sense to get something similar. However, in building a minimalist wardrobe, I didn’t want too many versions of the one sort of item because I know from the past that when you have too much of something, it becomes a bit less special. Walking into my wardrobe, thinking to myself ‘I want to wear this sort of outfit today’, and then having only a couple of options has actually been really good for me.

With every item I considered buying, I tried to picture myself wearing it in real-life scenarios. When you browse through look books, clothes always look amazing on the model and against the backdrop of the chosen setting. But the thing is – are you really going to wear it in your everyday life, and wear it often? For example, my everyday life consists of going to school to do drop-offs and pick-ups, spending time at home with the boys, going to cafes, going on drives with the family, going to church, having people over at our place, and visiting the seaside. My clothes actually need to be appropriate for those contexts and scenarios. For example, as much as I love how high heeled boots and sandals look on Instagram, I’m never going to wear them in real life.

I realised that over time, my wardrobe would continue to evolve. This took a lot of the pressure off. What works for me in the next five years might not work in the ten years’ time, and that’s okay. I’m not trying to build a wardrobe to last me for the next two decades – simply for the next foreseeable stage of life.

I bought everything online and didn’t walk into a single store. This meant that I could take as long as I needed to make my purchasing decisions, rather than being forced to decide ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ because the children are getting restless. Whilst I didn’t have a pinboard for outfits per se, I did open up a private Dropmark board and I posted potential items that I liked to this board. This allowed me to see at a glance everything that I liked, and then I was easily able to keep editing it down until I was completely happy with what I wanted to acquire.

When I was in the midst of buying things, I wanted to buy so many things, but once I’d told myself to stop, contentment seeped back into my heart and mind. This was always my biggest fear – that I would fall back into old habits of constantly wanting to buy a few things more. I’m so relieved to learn that it is possible to return to being content.

The end result is that I have under 35 items hanging in my closet. And I have under 100 items overall. This includes all my jewellery, all my shoes, all my bags and even things like socks, stockings, gloves, swimsuit, singlets, pyjamas, and exercise clothes. (It excludes undergarments and my maternity clothes.) And yet, even with so few items, I honestly feel like my closet is complete. I am so very happy with it. And so very content with it.

Later in this series, I’ll talk about some of the things I consider now to be on my personal essentials list, which I’ll combine with my tips for dressing the post-baby body. I’ll also share why I think having under 100 items in my closest is the best thing ever and how I plan to regulate my purchasing from here on.

(Goodness, who knew I would have so much to write about in this series?)

* * *

Other posts you might be interested in reading:
The Happy Closet, Part 7 (the biggest purge in the history of my closet)
The Happy Closet, Part 6 (on contentment and two years of no purchases)
The Happy Closet, Part 5 (some thoughts on my recent purge)
The Happy Closet, Part 4 (on not buying anything for a year)
The Happy Closet, Part 3 (my tips on buying less)
The Happy Closet, Part 2 (the basic principles)

You can read all of The Happy Closet posts here.


Tonight, I am feeling overwhelmed by things happening in our lives that are completely beyond my control. I have already sat on the stairs and cried. Tonight, therefore, I have no words. Instead, I offer up these images which convey somewhat the heaviness that’s weighing me down…

Thinking of you all on this cold, winter’s night.