Organizing a Hectic Schedule

It’s 1:47 am as I type this… and that’s an early night for me. I’ll probably have my head on my pillow by 2:30 and maybe, just maybe – if I can turn off my ever-twirling brain, I’ll be asleep by 2:45.

Maybe.

Life has been crazy these last few months. It all really took off in July of last year, but now.. Now I’m wondering what I did to get myself where I am. And where is that, you might ask (after all, my veiled comments about a hectic lifestyle could, quite literally, mean anything… except of course that I’m sitting on my butt doing nothing all day. Because that is the opposite of hectic and pretty much what I’d like to do.)

Well, I’m working. My freelance business is keeping me busy and on my toes… well, at the very least awake, until nearly 3am every night. Granted, that’s partially due to my quasi-inadequate time management skills and the procrastination I learned from my mother, but mostly it’s because I’ve just got so much work.

And it’s amazing.

Keeping on top of the projects is proving to be a test of my organization skills. I have a system and it’s working for the time being. It’ll change – evolve if you will – as my project load increases… but for now it is what it is. And I want to share it with you in the hopes that it’ll help you keep on top of all the projects you have in your life.

Keep a list

I have a list of every project for each client that I write out and tape to the front of a folder. I update this list every time I pick up the folder to work for that client. The physical action of writing a project down and then crossing it off when it’s complete is indescribable… I realize that there is a virtual and more environmentally friendly way of doing this, but for me… writing my list by hand and crossing off projects really drives home the progress (or lack thereof) that I’m making.

You might find that your computer folders are adequate for your purposes; if that’s the case, here is how I suggest going about this list-thing:

  1. Create a folder for each of your clients.
  2. Create sub-folders for each project.
  3. Create a “list” file – this can be a word document, excel document or even a note pad file; the key is to ensure it is the only free floating file in your client folder. \
  4. Every time you get a new project from the client, open the document and add it to the list, complete with due date and any notes you need to remember.
  5. Every time you do work for that client, open the file and review your list.
  6. Every time you complete a project, cross it off the list by using the strike-through option, adding a “submitted” or “completed” date or just deleting it from the list.

This might seem like a lot of extra work but you might already be doing something like this. It’s just another method of keeping your ducks in a row.

Keep a Calendar

Next step, after you’ve organized all of your projects into neat lists, is to plug everything into a calendar. Again, I’m a hard-copy kinda gal, so I have an agenda I bought at Bureau en Gros (that’s Staples to everyone else in North America). I tried to use an electronic calendar – Google Calendars is actually quite good for this, except you have to enter each project as an “event” rather than a “task”. My problem was that the Google Calendar requires internet access… and for my computer to be open… and for me to have the program up and running while I work. Plus, you can’t scratch things off. And I can being to explain how satisfying I find it to actually scratch things off. The sound. The feeling. The texture. Oh man.

However, oddly enough the Google Calendar system works really well for me at my 9 – 5 job, where I have a ton more projects on the go than I do at home.

Anyway, here’s how I keep my calendar:

  1. At the beginning of every month – create initial schedule
    1. Review previous month’s projects and move forward any outstanding projects
    2. Review the project lists for each client, adding all important due dates and assigning days to work on the projects
  2. On Monday of each week – update schedule and assess project load
    1. Review previous week’s projects and move forward any outstanding projects to early in the current week.
    2. Review the project lists for each client, plugging in any new due dates and adjusting the workload for the week depending on availability and responsibilities.
  3. On the completion of a project – scratch that sucker out… scratch it hard.

So far, this method has aided in keeping me on track… at least for those projects with hard, solid deadlines. It also helps me quote a time frame for new projects because it clearly shows how much work I have in a week. Which brings me to my next tip for staying organized….

Keep deadlines reasonable

If you’re just starting out in the Freelance world, it may take a while for you to accurately quote time-frames to clients… because sometimes you just don’t know how long it will take. The key, I’ve found, is to always give yourself enough time… in fact, give yourself more than enough time to complete a project. Why? Well…

  1. You never know what’s going to come up – family obligations, social engagements, rush projects, the common cold – all of these things come out of the blue and could prevent you from meeting the 48-hour turn over you’d promised that new client. You don’t want to miss the deadline but you also can’t afford to be up for 48 hours straight.
  2. It’s far better to overestimate how long something will take, than to underestimate. If you consistently deliver projects before a deadline you set for yourself, you will impress the client and show them that you’re reliable.

In conjunction with this – learn to ask for more time or to say that you’re not available at the moment. Keep the lines of communication open. If you don’t think you can have something to the client by the time they’re asking, give them a time frame that will work for you. That shows that, though you’re busy, you’re still available and willing to work on the project. Most clients will accept the revised timeline… just be sure to deliver!

There are a few other organizational tools – such as emptying your inbox of all emails except those that apply to incomplete projects and keeping those same emails marked unread on your smartphone – that may help. The trick is to try out different things until you find one that works the best for you, personally.

On that note, if I’m going to meet my 2:30 head-on-pillow deadline, I’ll need to sign off right now!

Do you have any tips you find have helped keep you on track? Share them in the comments!

Half Way with 10K

Preamble: I listened to Christina Perri’s Jar of Hearts for the first time tonight and it’s amazing. Great writing music, especially for emotional sections. Listen here.

November 15th is officially over (it’s 12:06 am as I write this sentence)… and I am, at the moment, a full 15K words behind in my word count. I *should* be at 25K right now… but I’m not. So what do I do? I write a blog about it.

What has been keeping me from writing? Well, thank you for asking. The following are a list of all the things that I like to blame for my not writing, even though I know that the only person (thing?) to blame is myself:

  • Work. 9-5 is draining. Yes, yes, I realize there are people out there that work 9-5, have three kids, social functions and whatnot and are STILL writing. These people are amazing. These people are busy. These people are not me. I’d say work is the least of my reasons, but it still keeps me from writing because I have to be working. Besides, I had the exact same job last year and I kicked word count’s butt (I think at this time in 2012 I was at 35K or more by the 15th).
  • Freelance work. This one is an “it’s ok” type of “distraction”. It’s much like work, except I’m choosing to do this because this is my future I’m developing. That being said, I’m actually having trouble sitting down to do Freelance work as well… (hope none of my clients read this).
  • Soccer. For about four hours a week I’m out playing soccer. I’m also the captain of my co-ed team and that takes up another hour a week, just to write emails and coordinate things.
  • Pinterest. Have I mentioned yet that I’ve discovered Pinterest and now I’m hooked? Originally I didn’t understand it (no outsider does) but now that I do understand, I find myself on it for hours just looking at things. And I don’t even realize that time is passing. It’s a very very very dangerous thing, Pinterest. (Also, I’d like to make a public apology to all of my friends that follow my Pinterest account – I’m so very sorry for the sheer number of geeky Doctor Who and Firefly things I pin. I’m pretty sure no one will understand them… And that’s ok.)
  • Procrastination oh max. I wanted to name this particular entry “Writer’s Block” but writer’s block is just a myth we writers like use as a scapegoat. “I’ve got writer’s block” gets a lot more sympathy than “I opened up my word document, took one look at the crap I wrote yesterday, saw how many more words I needed to write today and decided I would watch Supernatural instead.” Yeah. No one’s going to give you any sympathy there. So anyway… I have writer’s block.
  • My boyfriend. He’s very supportive and does his best to keep me from watching Supernatural for hours on end and tries to push me to write more. But I’m a stubborn person and when he’s home, I like to spend time with him. So there’s that.

So that’s what has been keeping me from writing. Well, that’s not ALL there is, I’m sure there are a million other excuses I could come up with. Instead, I’ll share some of the Pinterest images I’ve found in the last 15 days that have *almost* convinced me to open up my Word document and work on my story. Almost.

This one just made me chuckle and say “No”

ANNNND we end with Neil Gaimon. Because Neil Gaimon is the be all that ends it all. Or something like that.

Post-script: I also didn’t mention that I changed stories COMPLETELY after I’d written my first NaNoWriMo blog. I’m now writing a fantasy with a whole bunch of characters and magic and stuff like that. It’s fun. It’s also a fantasy story I’ve been planning for something like two years, so it’s really intimidating. Which is ANOTHER reason why I’m not writing as quickly – my plot and characters intimidate me. That’s weird right? Things I’ve made up scare me. I don’t want to give them life because they might jump off the page and bite me! Or maybe I’m dreaming right now. That is entirely possible.

NaNoWriMo Begins…

2013-Participant-Facebook-Cover

It’s been a hectic year. In a good way of course! Now it’s November (boy did that ever sneak up on me!) and I’m participating in NaNoWriMo yet again… Though I’m using the word “participating” very loosely. I’ve only got about 600 words so far in my “story” which currently has a prologue, one character and absolutely no plot or setting. The only thing I know for sure is that it will take place in the future because my character is, apparently, driving a flying car.

Yup. This is going to be fun.

Of course, all of this has to wait until after I’ve finished some work.

For all of my NaNoWriMo friends, I wrote quite a few “helpful tips” blogs last year – feel free to browse the NaNoWriMo catergory and I’ll add more blogs when I can. :)

Without further ado, here’s an excerpt from my current NaNo project (the prologue):

The elusive “they” say that when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. In an instant, you relive everything significant, embarrassing and horrid you’ve ever experienced or done.

They’re half right.

Your life does flash before your eyes, but it’s not the life you’ve lived… it’s the one you could have lived. All of the moments of happiness and joy – the unfulfilled potential of your existence, whisking by one frame after another.

As the blood drained from my body onto the pavement, coating the shards of glass that surrounded me, I saw what my life could have been, had I not made the one decision. I saw myself in a beautiful white gown, the long sleeves trailing along the red, silk carpet spread before me, my face radiant, happier than I’d ever been. I saw myself holding a newborn in a white room, the boarder of dancing brown bears mocking the real me. My face is sweaty, my hair plastered to my forehead, my smile wide and relieved.

Tears leak from my eyes, tickle the bridge of my nose and drop onto the pavement, mingling with the thick, dark red coating. Cold grips me as the final moments of my life flash; shivers send shooting pains through my back. I’m old, lying in bed. My face at peace. I’m looking at a photo of a family, but I am by myself.

I slip away quietly, knowing I am loved.

The reality hits me harder than the pavement had hit me seconds ago. I will never have that life. My shoulders shake, pain lancing down my spine to my tailbone.

I wish I had made a different choice.

Spider Solitaire is Life

One initial layout in the game of Spider.

One initial layout in the game of Spider. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you guys remember spider solitaire?

Is that a stupid question?

I remember spider solitaire fondly from elementary school computer class (that may or may not have “dated” me a little bit) – it was one of the first versions of windows (ok, if that first comment didn’t date me, this one sure did. It took me out for dinner and even bought me dessert. Strawberry cheesecake. My favourite. Yum….)

Mooooving on. I discovered that Spider Solitaire does still exist (I don’t know why I thought it didn’t. Guess I just stopped having time for computerized card games at some point between elementary school and now). I downloaded an app on my phone and it’s my go-to game for transit and waiting rooms.

But none of this is the point of my post.

Spider Solitaire has made me realize a few things about life… in the sense that spider solitaire is like life. Here’s why…

You need to come at things sideways sometimes.

So I’m stuck… I have one empty slot and every other pile is a mess of reds and blacks in varying permutations. I’ve tried all of the straightforward approaches (at least twice) and nothing is getting sorted out. What do I do? Turn my phone sideways. Well, not really. I have to look for the more convoluted solutions – the ones where you move two cards here, then switch them with those other two cards and then move the group of cards and THEN fill the blank spot and hope for the best.

This… this is like life. We all keep trying to use the straightforward answers to our problems. The one-step, quick-fix type solutions. But what life really needs are the multi-stepped, long term solutions. Stuck in your career? Come at it sideways – make a move you don’t think will work but will lead you to a place you think will then be a stepping stone to the place you want to be.

I’m not 100% certain any of that made any sense.

No matter how good you think you are….

…. you will never go up to four suits unless you really really really like a challenge. Or pain. 

I’ve never, ever completed a game of four suits. Occasionally I try, just to see if I can. But I usually can’t. So I go back to two suits. It’s like I plateaued at some point and just decided I could never leave my comfort zone (do you guys see where I’m going here?)

The idea of the comfort zone, of staying in the place you know, is so strong in the real world that I see it everywhere. It’s not a bad thing – not by any stretch of the imagination – but it always makes me wonder… how do you know you’re doing your best… that you’re being everything you could possibly be, if you don’t take a chance at the four suits? You never know… you might succeed. And, in my humble opinion, succeeding at four suits would be amazing.

…. there is no guarantee you will win every game without restarting at least once.

Honestly… I can go weeks not restarting a game and then BAM! I’m stuck and at the end of my refresh pile (or whatever the technical term is). Eventually I realize you can only undo for so long… so I restart. And you know what? That’s usually the best thing I can do for that particular game.

No matter how good you are at something, you can get stuck in the middle of it that you can’t see the way out. Sometimes all it takes is just scrapping everything you’ve done (ouch) and starting again. All is not lost! The thing about starting from scratch is that you never really do. You still have all of the information and knowledge you’ve acquired from your first go-around floating around in your brain. And that will help you formulate new ways to approach the problem. The trick is to remember that you’re not infallible nor are you perfect (no one is. And who would want to be?), and your work is a reflection of you…

…. you will probably still give up on some of the games. 

I usually feel bad when I select “New Game” instead of “Restart Game”. I can get very persistent in my need to complete the game. But sometimes you just have to admit defeat. Not every battle is worth fighting.

I’m serious here – not every battle is worth fighting. Not every game is worth winning. Decide for yourself, but you may find that when you let go of something that’s causing you heartache, stress and distraction, your life will significantly improve. It’s really, really hard to give up though – at least it is for me. When I get my mind on success, I hold onto it with everything I’ve got. But that’s not healthy either. I should only strive to succeed at things that are actually important to me, and let any other losses be lessons and laughter to help me with my ultimate goal….

To become a superhero.

Freelance… and Life

You remember how I started that freelance business way back when and then nothing really seemed to happen?

Well… something happened. And it’s been glorious for the last four months. Busy, but glorious. My dreams seem to be paying off and now it’s the sweat, tears and hard work phase.

Here’s what that phase looks like:

I work 9 – 5, come home, take a “short” break (short sometimes translates to none…… or long) and then work some more. I’m averaging about 3 hours of work every night, give or take. With about 4 or 5 hours on the weekend, total. I try to give myself Saturday off. Or Sunday. Or Friday night. Or two of those. But no more than two. If I go for three, I’ll miss a deadline.

If my math is correct – and it’s not usually – that’s about 20 hours of freelance a week. Which is AWESOME, because hello – I have enough freelance work for it to be considered a part-time job.

Go me!

How did I do it? Well, if you’re here because you’re a stranger and you’re looking for advice… here are my tips:

1. Sign up for at least one decent online networking/freelance site.

I know. It’s a bit scary and everyone is skeptical about them. Those sites have hidden fees and no one is offering decent work and etc. etc. etc. All of those things COULD be true. But they could ALSO be false. You won’t know until you try.

The site I use is oDesk.com and honestly (no really, I’m being completely honest) – I had to lower my rates from what I wanted to what I think would get me a contract. Once I had completed two contracts at that lower rate and had two stellar reviews, I started getting invitations to interview. I get about 2 a week (though this week I’ve already received 2 and it’s only Wednesday).

My point – I’ve been using oDesk for about 6 months and I’ve already raised my rates up to almost where I want them. I also have two steady clients through the website and both of them are amazing.

If you’re a freelance anything and you need help kick-starting your business – join oDesk. Be awesome. Make money.

2. Network like a champ.

Know someone in your field or in a similar field that might have contacts? Tell them you’re available. Make it so that you’re the first person they think of when someone mentions, even just off-hand, that they’re looking for someone with your skill set. Let me clarify:

a. you tell your friend/colleague/coworker/the girl who makes your coffee at Tim Hortons  – let’s call her “Ali” – “I’ve got this business and I do X and Y… if you need X or Y, or if you know anyone who needs X or Y, give me a shout!” (hand her a business card)

b. she goes about her day thinking, “gee, that girl. She’s so cool, starting her own X and Y business…”

c. a customer talks to her later in the day about this project he’s working on, but they’ve hit a snag… he really “wishes that the X of his project was completed in a more timely fashion (or something to that effect)”

d. Ali remembers you and says “hey, I know someone who’s awesome and tips really well…”

Networking is great. It’s even better if you have business cards and gave one to Ali when you spoke to her. Business cards are great too.

3. Schedule the crap out of your life.

Start this early, my friends. I didn’t. I still haven’t actually. I’m working on it on a week by week thing… I’m kind of waiting until soccer starts before I solidify my schedule (so I say… that’s really just my uber-awesome procrastination skills at work). Anyway – set a dedicated freelance time aside for yourself. Sit down and work during that time. Follow this religiously. It’s still a job even if you do it on your own time and at your own pace and in your pajamas (mine are plaid.) A job means that you show up (relatively) on time and complete a set amount of work for a specific due date.

If you don’t have work yet, use the time you’ve set aside to find new clients, network, write blogs about things you do/want to do. Get your name out there. (side note: I didn’t do this part. Well. I did it once… or twice… every three months… and THIS is why it took two years for my Freelance business to take off. Learn from the error of my ways!)

4. Join groups of like-minded Freelancers and follow people in your industry on Twitter/Facebook/Linked In.

Yes, they may be your competition or your idols or people you think you can never be like… but they are also just like you. They’re looking for clients, they’re facing the same road blocks that you are, be it the market flooding with contractors willing to work for $1 an hour, or clients who have outrageous requirements and deadlines, but “very tight budgets.”

They will have possible solutions to the issues you face, can suggest sites for you to look at and, if you are outgoing and initiate actual conversation with them, could become great friends or mentors.

Groups/clubs/associations are also really helpful. I recently joined  PWAC (Professional Writers’ Association of Canada). I haven’t been able to use their resources to the fullest, but I didn’t browse through them and hope to (one day) get elbow deep in that. It’s worth it. So totally worth it.

Anyway, those are my four tips.

Have any other pieces of advice or tips for budding freelancers? Share them with the class!

Review: BlackBerry Q5

Blackberry Q5

Look at these beautiful babies… they’re so young and have so much potential!

I’ve had this distinct feeling over the last few months that BlackBerry is really not getting the hype they should be. If I’m going to be completely honest, I can *kind of* understand, especially after my adventures in battery failure from earlier in the year… but they’re Blackberry! They’re Canadian! They’re also the only smartphone company on the market that has released a quality smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard….

I for one am very very attached to the mechanical keyboard.

That’s probably the biggest reason I didn’t upgrade my Curve earlier to an iPhone, like everyone told me I should. I don’t follow the pack yo… (Though the biggest reasons were actually my chronic procrastination and my incredible ability to live so completely in denial that everyone wonders why I’m so daft… “my blackberry isn’t broken, it’s just tired!”.. “My head isn’t concussed, I just have a massive headache every time my eyes are open or I’m conscious.” “It’s not raining, that’s just the misty remnants of angel tears.”)

Regardless of what my reasons were, the severe lack of a mechanical keyboard on any viable replacement for my Curve was a huge factor. If one thing was certain, it was that when I upgraded, it would be to a new model – and by new I mean as new as I could get.

So I got the BlackBerry Q5… the weekend it was released. Quite literally. I may have been the only one in all of Canada with the Q5 for all of an hour or two. I mean, BlackBerry is going out of style, right?

I’m here to say, they shouldn’t be going out of style.

I’m taking a stand.

I’m also quasi in love with my phone.

Anyway, onto the review!

Specs

  • BlackBerry 10.1 OS
  • 3.1-inch 720×720 pixel LCD display
  • 1.2Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus processor
  • 2GB RAM, 8GB internal storage (expandable)
  • 5MP rear camera
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 2180mAh non-removable battery
  • WiFi (b/g/n), A-GPS, Bluetooth 4.0
  • 120g
  • 120 x 66 x 10.8 mm
  • HSDPA 850 / AWS / 1900Mhz, LTE 700 / 850 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100Mhz

Pros

Here are the reasons why I think my Q5 is awesome:

  • It doesn’t run out of battery life after 2 minutes on the phone. In fact, I have to try really hard to drain the battery – I’ve gone a full 48 hours without charging it AND constantly using it (this is more of a unique-to-me sensation than a benefit everyone will appreciate)
  • Internet browsing is crazy fast. I can THINK the website I want to go to at the thing and it’s already there. (note: this is an exaggeration.. I have to type in the web address… luckily I type nearly as fast as I think, so it’s not that big of an exaggeration)
  • It has a QWERTY keyboard, so I can actually type nearly as fast as I think… with a minimal amount of errors!
  • The HUB – which is where all of my emails and messages from text, BBM, What’sApp, Twitter and Facebook show up – is fantastic. Having everything in one place makes checking … everything… very easy. I don’t have to flip through the pages of apps to see which one has the little red star.
  • The Sneak Peak (which I only found out has a name at the Montreal Comiccon the other weekend) makes it easy to check the time or my messages in the hub without having to leave whatever app I have open at the time (mostly… Spider Solitaire. I’m addicted to that game).
  • Apparently – and I haven’t put this into practice yet – I can type “fb” and a message, and then it’ll post that message to Facebook as my status. Which is awesome and ridiculous because really? I don’t have time to go to my app? Or I can put “tw” and a message and it’ll TWEET that message… or BBM and one of my BBM contacts’ name and I’ll be able to BBM them from the main window… Who thinks of these things?!
  • It took a little while, but I’m now 100% used to the swipe interface of the BlackBerry 10 OS. So much so that I keep swiping on my iPod to turn it on… it takes me two or three swipes to realize why it wasn’t working. In all honesty, I prefer the swiping interfacet over the button-to-home screen function. Though I am a bit curious as to what I will do when my phone starts freezing. Hopefully I won’t have to figure that out until after my contract is up.
  • It’s got a whole bunch of features and capabilities that I haven’t even discovered yet… which makes me want to play with the thing all the time. Until I realize that if I haven’t discovered a feature yet, it’s probably because I don’t need it. But these undiscovered features are there and that’s awesome.

So those are some of the reasons why the BlackBerry Q5 is awesome (I’ll probably think of more when I’m trying to fall asleep tonight).

Cons

Here are a few of the pitfalls I’ve noticed so far:

  • Everyone keeps asking “why’d you get a BlackBerry, they’re going under” and/or telling me how horrible BlackBerry is and why they’ll never been seen with one of their phones.
  • BlackBerry World is sadly lacking in the apps you’d think would be there. Like my bank doesn’t have an app for the BlackBerry… which is sort of understandable given that it’s a smaller market than the iStore, but also not really that understandable given many businesses use BlackBerry devices… but I guess businesses don’t need bank apps. They probably have computers for that.
  • I sometimes wonder how long I’ll have with this device – one year? one year and one month? will I get to two years? If I’d gotten an iPhone, I wouldn’t question… I’d know that in six months my phone would be outdated and in one year it would probably slow down, but the device itself would still work for years and years. The reliability of the future is sometimes a nice thing. That whole “devil you know” thing.
  • The new SIM card thing. What’s up with that? I thought the SIM cards were developed so that you could easily switch from smart phone to smart phone. I’ve had two smart phones in my life and two SIM cards… because they made it smaller.
  • Only Virgin Mobile had the RedBerry Q5… that was a kick in the shins for sure.

That’s all I’ve got for now on the negatives. I think I’m still in the honeymoon period with this beautiful, sexy black berry. I’m sure I’ll have more in a year…

Anyway, if you’re at all contemplating switching to one of the new BlackBerries, I hope this blog post helped sway you one way (or the other)… get the Q5… or the Q10 if you can afford it!

For everyone who was expecting a real review rather than me gushing about my phone, read this one at mobilesyrup. It’s way better than mine.

Ants in my Pantscakes

I work up this morning with an insane craving for pancakes…. It was the weirdest thing. My first thought was “oh no, I threw out that pancake mix I’d bought years ago and was keeping around for just this reason!” My second thought was “I can so totally find a recipe and make pancakes from scratch.”

Annnd, that’s what I did – only I modified it slightly because W. wanted chocolate chips… and we don’t have any chocolate chips, so I improvised and created a “new” recipe!

Ants in my Pantscakes

Original recipe was found on Allrecipes.com and was called “Old Fashioned Pancakes

Pancakes

Brunch is served (also, my apologies for the blurry photo)

Overall Rating

Taste: 5 ants in my pantscakes (out of five)
Prep: One dropped pancake out of 10 (so, super easy)

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted (I used margarine because we don’t own butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • cooking spray
  • Chocoladehagel

What’s Chocoladehagel you ask? Well, it’s basically Dutch chocolate sprinkles:

Chocolade Hagel

These are Milk-chocolate sprinkles from the Netherlands. They’re delicious

Directions

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

This I did… but, funny story… we don’t have real sugar. In August, we went camping and decided that sugar packets would be easier to take with us than a big bag of sugar. So now we have a bajillion sugar packets instead of loose sugar. Luckily I’m an amazing guesser – 3 packets of sugar equals one tablespoon.

Whisk in melted butter, egg and milk until combined.

This is pretty self-explanatory and hard to screw up. Believe me, I tried. Well, I didn’t really TRY so much as worry that I would. Substituting margarine for butter didn’t seem to have any negative effects. Hurrah!

Add the Chocoladehagel

Open the spout on the box and just pour until you feel there’s enough chocolatey goodness in the mix… it’ll look like ants. It’ll be awesome:

chocoladehagel in pancakes

That’s what it looks like when you have chocoladehagel in your pancake mix. Also, sorry again for the blurry photos.

Let batter rest for 5 minutes.

Wash some of your dishes while you wait. That’s what I did.

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.

If you have a non-stick frying pan, you don’t really need to spray the cooking spray. I did, just in case. But you probably don’t.

Pour batter into the hot skillet, about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until bubbles appear on the sides and center of each pancake. Flip and cook until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes.

So, I tried the 1/4 cup of batter thing and let me tell you – those are tiny pancakes! By the end, I used 1/2 cup of batter per pancake… best decision ever.

Tragedy struck after my first pancake though. It sort of fell back in the batter – I think it wanted to go back into the horde.

One last fun fact – I am incapable of cooking pancakes the same amount on both sides. All of my pancakes were almost black on one side and closer to pale on the other. Luckily they were still delicious!