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life

Loving & loathing for February

February 2, 2016

The 2016 edition…

IN

Afternoon siestas. Thank you, Peppa Pig, for being such a great babysitter.

My new chair. This is my lovely writing chair *pats chair* Isn’t it lovely? I have been coveting this beauty for a couple of years and now we are – at last – in the new house, it was mine to snatch up (and on sale too!) Currently it is stationed at the kitchen table, awaiting delivery of my desk-slash-table. Ordered that from Freedom Furniture, which as you know, requires Chinese monks who have taken a vow of silence to climb a mountain under the light of a blue moon to chop down the timber by hand and then construct the table blindfolded before it is strapped to the back of pilot whales and ferried to Australia following the prevailing ocean currents. So, still a few weeks to go before that turns up. (Remind me not to order stuff from Freedom again.)

The Fridge. The marvelousness of being able to buy watermelon & bottles of sparkling water. Of only going to the supermarket once, maybe twice, a week. Appreciated.

OUT

The dustmudfest around our house. I’m soo sick of it. Can’t wait for a driveway, which I will hose down regularly with much reverence like a true blue Australian. (Actually I don’t know why Aussies hose their driveways so passionately. Is it the general dustiness of this grand sandy country? Are they just mad on concrete?)

Heat. I never thought I’d write this… ever… but I am actually looking forward to cooler weather. Turns out pregnancy & summer aren’t such great bedbuddies, even for a cold blooded creature like myself.

Restless legs. Insomnia. Difficulty reaching feet. General exhaustion. All that jazz, and more than 3 months still to go…

life

Exploring the hood: Pipemakers Park

January 22, 2016

One hot morning a couple of weeks ago, I threw the sproglet into the pram and pushed him across the bridge to see if we could reach the mall and by chance! discovered this weird, overgrown, dilapidated, wonderful space. Something about it made me think of the crumbling Oz as Dorothy rediscovered it, destroyed by Mombi & the Nome King. A post-apocalyptic park where scary critters might be hiding in the shade, history lost to tumbled stones. A place where old pipes stood on end to form a portico draped in unkempt grapevines, chipped mosaics led into the cracked concrete foundations of long-gone buildings, a fig tree drooped under the weight of green unripe fruit, birds sang in thorny bushes, old rail tracks went nowhere next to an overgrown dell, rusted signs stood watch beside wavy yellow grasses.

The park was built in the 1980s over the remains of old factories – meatworks, and pipeworks – and possibly has not been maintained since then. I was enchanted by its decrepitude, so I took my boys back there during the holidays to explore and have a picnic in the summery sun.

Pipemakers Park

Pipemakers Park

Pipemakers Park

A magnificent place to run around.

Pipemakers Park - mosaic

Lots of mosaics.

Old foundations

Pipemakers Park - old pipes

We ate raspberries and donuts in the shade of an arbor.

Pipemakers Park

Pipemakers Park - the meat trail

Found a few signs for the ‘Meat Trail’. Very intriguing…

Pipemakers Park

My favourite of these signs was barely legible, proclaiming the zone to be the ‘Garden of the Future’… well the Future is Now, and turns out it’s mostly weeds.

Pipemakers Park

Came across a mini caravan park where they must be doing some filming for the Reno Rumble TV show (remind me to watch it now) – what a lovely place to camp, beside the river!

There’s a free community bike workshop set up beside one of the old factory buildings, and lots of bike riders and walkers enjoying the riverside. But evenso, there’s something a little sinister about the park, with the quiet still, the ruins, the places to hide. That little thread of unease in the atmosphere only makes it a more interesting place to explore. I hope it doesn’t get fixed up any time soon.

life

2015 in review & looking forward to 2016

January 21, 2016

It’s still January! So this post is still legit! I’m totally scraping it in.

Reading

I read 21 books in 2015. Not a great year but at least it was more than 2014 (although 2014 was skewed by The Luminaries which should really count for at least eight books, don’tcha think?)

Three were did-not-finishes.

Two were rereads (Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer, and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells).

I discovered Liane Moriarty in the latter months and burned through a bunch of her titles. Love her stuff. She’s a bit like an Australian Marian Keyes.

My favourite three reads were The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, The Passage by Justin Cronin, and Little Big Lies by Liane Moriarty.

This year, I want to READ MOAR. I’m going for quantity, and for entertainment. I’m thinking about fun, about popular fiction, rollicking sci-fi and engrossing fantasy. I will limit my threshold for boringness. If a book isn’t gripping me within the first few chapters, I’ll be moving on – no wasting time ignoring it and reading magazines instead…

Writing

I edited and finished Silver & Iron (erm, mostly) (previously known as Rukan). I mean, holy shit. A book practically completed – the first one I’ve ever got to this point – that’s a pretty big win for the year. Nothing else got done. A few meandering thoughts on other stories, some poking at short pieces. I was consumed by that book.

This year, I want to send Silver & Iron out into the big wide world. And I want to get a sizeable chunk written on the first draft of my next story. It’d be nice to do more… a short story or two, a finished first draft… but I’m trying to be realistic about my capability.

Personal

In 2015…
– We built and moved into our new house!
– My personal fashion concept could be described as STAGNANT. With a side of Mum Bun Hair.
– I lost a pregnancy 🙁
– I did some adult beginner ballet lessons & luffed them
– I suffered some serious New Zealand homesickness
– My sister briefly lived in the same city as me (yay!) and then moved (boo!)

This year, I want to get the driveway, landscaping and window furnishings completed for our house. Hopefully also: a few light fittings in, and some cabinetry.
And I would like to just, at least, try – a little bit – to get regular haircuts like a normal person. And get some new boots come winter where the zips actually zip.
And we are expecting another sproglet now, which is sure to throw a spanner into the works of all the aforementioned goals…!

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

One year wiser et cetera

October 15, 2015

It was my birthday on Tuesday. Thirty four years on this earth, and four years in Melbourne town. This birthday really snuck up on me. Suddenly it was October! Whaaaat? Wasn’t it just March?

The day passed by without much fanfare – some years are like that, don’t you think? I could have made more time for myself but I didn’t. I did get to have a lunch out, which is a rarity these days. French toast with poached pear and strawberries and marscapone, and a latte. At a cafe which is very not-child-friendly. Boy did I take those for granted.

Thirty four is: another layer to my hair, thinking about the lost baby which would have been due this week, wondering if I’ll ever paint my fingernails again, apprehension at having to move an entire houseload of stuff for the first time, self confidence, experimenting with toddler containment techniques, always giving a cuddle, excitement for the next year to come, only pages away from finishing my first book to an acceptable readable standard!, slight addiction to marshmallowy goodies, content.

Big things will happen in the next 12 months, starting off with moving into our new house. There’ll be so much to organise – driveway, paths, window coverings, garden, lawn, decking, light fittings, mirrors, cabinetry, furniture. ARrrgh. Part of me just wishes it was already 6 months down the track with all these things finished, even though time is clearly flying by fast enough as it is. Hopefully by this time next year, we’ll be comfortably settled in, with all the major items ticked off. I look forward to the slow accretion of a home, of making this house truly ours.

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!