Browsing Category

life

life

2016 in review & looking forward to 2017

January 24, 2017
2016 in review - my boys

I like how I manage to get these posts up in January…. juuust.

Reading

I read 29 books in 2016. I was so! close! to finishing 30 books but the last one – Life or Death by Michael Robotham – ended up spilling over into January.

I had NO re-reads and NO did-not-finishes. Entertaining new reads the entire year! Goal = tick.

I very much enjoyed the books by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) in the Cormoran Strike series. And I don’t even usually read crime. One of them in particular has lots of scenes set where I used to live in west London, which made for a very vivid read (& a moment of “why did he just take the tube when it would’ve been faster to walk?”). JK Rowling does plot very well, and I love her vivid descriptions of interesting characters.

The sci-fi Something Coming Through by Paul McAuley was fantastic, as was the post-apocalyptic Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.

I also finished a few series this year, reading the following books which are all the final books in trilogies: Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear, Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie, and City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. (Lush, brilliant, and average, respectively.)

And I smashed the rest of Liane Moriarty’s back catalogue plus her latest novel. Lady better write the next one, stat.

Writing

Well… I had a baby. No, truthfully, I did get some writing done, but not as much as I would have liked. I embarked on edits of Silver & Iron, which I’m currently still doing. The.book.is.so.close.to.being.doneski.for.realski.

Goal: finish edits – finish completely! – by end of March. Including a query letter. Begin querying in April.

Then: write shiny new ideas that are shiny!

Personal

In 2016…
– I had another baby boy! And he’s wonderful. New people are wonderful. Boys are wonderful.
– We went to New Zealand for Christmas and I finally filled up my sadly empty Kiwiana Tank. Phew.
– My personal fashion concept could be described as Fat Preggo followed by Mum Uniform.
– We did not landscape. Boo.

This year, we have already smashed goal numero uno, which was landscape the back yard! It’s done! If I had written this post on time I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that, ha.

I would also like to figure out some kind of personal fashion concept that excites me. Because sometimes the t-shirts-with-holes-in-them and shorts (if it’s warm) or jeans (if it’s not warm) just… does not excite me.

House goals: Light fittings installed. Recover the awesome old chairs I got at a 2nd hand store. Sew some curtains. Furnish the TV room? Get cabinetry in the laundry? Paint the hallway wall. Wallpaper the toilet? Actually, I have a billion house goals, and only 12 months of the year…. Goal one: prioritise goals.


life

Loving & loathing for November

November 7, 2016

The 2016 edition…

IN

Achieving a new normal. Mini Sproglet is now 6 months old & I am emerging from the trenches, blinking into the daylight. Hello? Am I still… me? Might I even start thinking about returning to writing? About any of the other million things I would have liked to do this year?

Reading. Lots of good books this year. Other than keeping small people alive, I don’t really think I’ve been up to much else!

This trailer for Wonder Woman. All the feels. When she says “It is our sacred duty to defend the world” – oohee! This lady? Well damn. She looks oarsome. Hopefully I will get to see this on the big screen.

OUT

Query letter writering. IT KILLS ME. I suck at this! Maybe with the next book I’ll write the query first and then base the story off it…

Still no back yard landscaping. We have been in this house almost an entire year. The less said about this, the better.


life

Loving & loathing for July

July 1, 2016
Loving & loathing for July 2016

The 2016 edition…

IN

We has a front garden! With the shutters, driveway, fence, letterbox, path & gate our house actually looks like a finished house now… at least from the front… nevermind the backyard which currently resembles World War 1 France.

Pantry shelves. My dad built us some sweet custom joinery! He’s such a craftsman. Still need to get some baskets and finish off the Sorting Out Of Things, but I love having an organised pantry. Including a specialised nook for the breadmaker… which leads to…

Fresh bread! daily! Crunchy and crusty, soft and warm, with a thick smear of salty NZ butter. All you have to do is remember to set it up the night before, to wake up to the warm smell of baking bread filling the house in the morning.

OUT

Sleep. Not much of it round these parts lately. Eh. This is not unexpected!

Not getting shit done. Simply the reality of having a toddler and a newborn, but it’s hard to adjust to. (At least, even though I am sleep deprived, I have more energy now than when I was pregnant. This is nice.)


life

December like woah

December 16, 2015

We have MOVED!
What a crazy busy wonderful time of year this is.
I went to Sydney to see a friend for a couple of days. There were Christmas parties and presents, birthdays, packing up, moving, unpacking, cleaning the old flat, and multiple trips to Bunnings. I pretty much took out a second mortgage with AusPost, sending parcels all over the world.
Perhaps the very first thing I unpacked in the new house was the Christmas tree…
It’s currently filling up a spare corner of the living room. The place will probably look a bit more empty come January when it is time to pack it up.
Outside our house is a desert of dust and rock and weeds.
We have people coming to quote for driveway, paths, decking, blinds. I just want to get the outside done and then we will be more comfortable here.
Master J is learning to ride his scooter up and down the long hallway. Needless to say, he’s loving the extra space. I am too. I can’t wait to get my study set up with my own desk and comfortable chair – it will be the place of Many Great Words…


life

Loving & loathing for November

November 9, 2015
Calendar for November 2015 and vase of flowers

The 2015 edition…

IN

PROBABLY moving house this month! Floors are being done this week. Painting touch ups next week. Then final inspection, I guess… then last payment & handover of keys!

Ladies, a plate. I got this book for my birthday – I’ve been eyeing it up for years now – and am enjoying baking some classic & delicious Kiwi goodies. Anzacs, afghans, ginger crunch. Nom!

Christmas candles. It’s not too early for the festive sweet spice of Christmas! This year I snagged one of the ‘Christmas Pine’ candles by Peppermint Grove. It’s a scent designed for a warm summer Australian-style Christmas, just what I’m looking for.

OUT

Moving house. Oh god. I have never had to pack up & move a whole house before. Let alone with a toddler. Eek.

Uncompleted novels. I didn’t quite meet my goal of finishing Rukan in October (boy did that end up a busy month). It only needs a few more days work though. I’m suuuuuper close.


life

1970 dessert experiments: mocha cream pie

October 8, 2015

Pie crust made, pie filled, about to be baked

Mocha cream pie fresh from the fridge

Mocha cream pie with an attempt to remove a slice

Mocha cream pie - half an eaten 'slice'

Essentially: glue

I actually thought this might be a nice dessert. It seemed to have good elements – a pie crust. A coffee/choc filling. Whipped cream. “Mocha cream pie” – it just sounds delicious.

I never learn.

Go & do a google image search for “mocha cream pie” and then come back here. Compare & contrast. Entertaining, no?

So, you start with a basic pastry – flour, butter, “enough” water. As usual I screwed up the pie crust & overbaked it. I am not destined to create pretty crusts, this much I have learned on my 1970s dessert journey.

Then you make a filling – sugar, flour, spices & cold milk – cooking until thickened. Add in some beaten egg yolks, butter & vanilla, and cook for 5 more minutes. Cool, then pour into the pie shell & chill until firm. Finish with whipped cream.

I sprinkled a little cocoa on top for effect. I thought it looked quite pretty for a pie made by me.

Then I tried serving it.

Listen. “Firm”, right? Firm makes it sound like maybe this would turn out like mousse. What “firm” actually means is THICK STICKY GLUE. It clings to the knife as you try to cut into the pie. It tries to SUCK THE KNIFE OUT OF YOUR HANDS INTO THE PIE. This is like some sort of 1970s quicksand. You think, this is how the dinosaurs died, in ponds of this stuff. You wrestle some out onto a plate. It should look like a slice. It looks like a gelatinous heap, possibly even a gelatinous heap that has reached singularity and is self aware and already plotting how to take over mankind.

It’s deceptively sticky. You try to remove a forkful and almost lose your fork in the process.

With some trepidition, you put a forkful in your mouth.

Your mouth is instantly gummed up. You cannot talk. You look at your fellow taste tester and communicate with bugged out eye language alone: I need a huuuuge glass of water. Me too.

But what about the taste? Even if it looked a hot mess, and gummed up your mouth, surely it tasted OK? Ah no, my optimistic reader. It didn’t even taste very nice, mostly due to the excessive amount of spice. I was somewhat perturbed at the levels specified – 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon & 1 teaspoon of clove – I halved the clove because honestly 1 tsp seemed too much, even though I do try to stay true to the spirit of the recipe. I should’ve reduced it further, and the cinnamon too. This wasn’t really “mocha-cream”. It was “cinnamon-mocha”. Although I have to say, it did seem quite 1970s. Lots of cinnamon and clove in a recipe that should be about the mocha flavours instead.

Things it would have been nice to know: how much water is actually required to make the pastry? (“add enough cold water to form a stiff dough”… turns out 3 squirts from the tap wasn’t enough, but 4 squirts was too much. Ha.) How long must you stir for until it is ‘thickened’? (I went for 3o minutes. Maybe I should’ve gone for more? Maybe it would’ve been less gluey? Or less cooking time = less glue?) How long should I chill it for until this magical ‘firm’ stage? (I must admit, the texture was sliiightly less gluey the following day after overnight refrigeration. But by then the damage had been done, and no more was consumed.)

At least this recipe specified a pie dish size & how thin to roll out the pastry…. small wins. Very small ones.

Verdict: never again.


life

Loving & loathing for October

October 3, 2015
Calendar for October 2015 and flowers in a vase

The 2015 edition…

IN

A blast of hot spring weather. This is a good way to start the warmer months! Even though I do think that, on the whole, October is the worst month in Melbourne. Pollen. Wind. Not a good combination.

Finishing my book. This is it! The last month to write on Rukan if I want to reach my goal of finishing it in October. Must. Keep. Plodding. On. (I have lost all will for it, btw. Good times.)

Getting old & decrepit. Another October, another birthday.

rose gold sandals from target
These cute sandals from Target
 Only $29! Sweet.

OUT

The lemon tree. I have decided I am not going to take it with us to the new house. With the amount of bug infestations & issues that thing has, it would be like bringing a Trojan Horse with us. The new house deserves a clean slate garden!


life

Five things on a Friday

September 18, 2015

Another Friday! Man these things keep on arriving, almost like they’re programmed that way.

~~~

These totally adorable ‘tea dragons’ as featured on io9. I love Lapsang Souchong’s flaming antlers, and Oolong’s mossy mane. And Ginger is soooper cute, can I have one please?

~~~


Just cause, you know, Nancy Sinatra is awesome.

~~~

37 tweets guaranteed to make you laugh every time

Number 12.
And 15.
And 22.
And 24 (haha, that’s so me)
And 29.
And 33! Best Jesus ever.

~~~

Martha Marcy May Marlene is a really awesome movie I watched recently. It’s about a girl who escapes from a cult, and takes refuge with her estranged sister. The way the movie slowly layers together clips from her past in the cult, with the current scenes of living with her sister, builds this great dramatic tension. You realise just why she was so terrified early on. You see what they did to her, how they drew her in. You wonder just how damaged she is – what is she imagining, what is now real? She is somewhat of an unreliable narrator in the current scenes. You see her sister suddenly realise something isn’t right with her. You see her sister struggle with how to help her. Highly recommended.

~~~

DAMN YOU STEVE. A very excellent & amusing video on blame. If you have ever dropped something & immediately blamed someone else for your unfortunate accident, give this a watch.