Skincare 101

So I wrote a big post about feelings and why I’ve been so depressed for the last five and a half months, but it just feels too vulnerable… so let’s talk about skincare instead! Maybe the feelings will be easier to discuss when they are over and I can dissect them from a distance.

Anyway – skin. These are the products I use and love at the moment. My skin is very reactive to the temperature and humidity, so this changes seasonally depending on what I feel it needs.

Cleansing

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser – this is my favourite cleanser and I’ve been using it for years. It doesn’t foam and is not drying at all. I love that it doesn’t leave my skin feeling tight. Apparently you can wipe it off and not rinse (which doesn’t really appeal to me), but I always use it in the shower.

Face Halo – these little pads are magical (thanks Caitlin for the recommendation!). I use them every night to take my makeup off with just water, and I love that they don’t pull on my skin like a regular face towel would. They wash clean with soap and water, and apparently you can put them in the washing machine.

Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm – this stuff is so odd – it’s a solid, but turns into an oil on your skin but it doesn’t leave you feeling greasy. It’s amazing for taking off heavy eye makeup so I only use it occasionally.

Exfoliation

Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA – I probably should use this once a week, because it’s really good – I have to plan it though, because my skin gets a bit peel-y the day after.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel – I use this usually every second day, and it has been a revelation for me. Previously, I was hooked on non-chemical exfoliants and would practically scrub my face raw chasing some smoothness, but this is so much better. When my skin is well exfoliated, it feels like it absorbs serums better as well.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA – why do I need BHA and AHA? I think the short and probably wrong answer is that AHA works on dissolving dead skin cells on the surface, whereas BHA gets into pores and dissolves dirt and oil in there (I’m probably wrong, and I’m sure there’s a more scientific answer for this). I use this on my T zone, but not all the time – usually only when I can see that my pores are getting a bit gross, or when I’ve been wearing makeup or thick sunscreen.

Serums and Treatments

The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum-in-Oil – no link for this one because it’s either been discontinued or is being rebranded or something, but it’s not available online right now and head office had no idea why. The label says ‘overnight’ but I actually use this during the daytime because it’s so light and it helps keep things dewy underneath mineral makeup. I use it all over my face and decolletage, and it’s so light and absorbs really well. Prior to using this, I used to struggle with flakiness across my cheeks in winter, but this solved that completely.

Sukin Rosehip Oil – this is extremely rich and takes a long time to absorb, so I slather it on under night cream overnight so it has all night to soak in. My skin always glows and feels so soft and hydrated in the morning after using this. I know a lot of people have reservations about putting oils on their skin, but I’ve never had a breakout from using this.

Paula’s Choice RESIST Omega+ Complex Serum – I’ve only just started using this one, but I love it so far. I use it in the daytime when I’m not going to be outdoors (otherwise they recommend sunscreen). My skin seems smoother, plumper and more finely textured after using it, so I’ll definitely continue.

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment – I use this at night, maybe 2-3 times a week, focusing on areas where I’m worried about getting fine lines (like my forehead, under my eyes, the elevenses). Retinol has been harsh on my skin to begin with and caused some irritation until I got used to it, but I think it has been fairly miraculous in terms of preventing wrinkles. I am thirty years old and I have a single tiny wrinkle under each of my eyes, but that’s it. For my entire face. It’s hard to tell whether it’s intense moisturising, staying out of the sun or the retinol that has contributed to this, but I’m happy so far!

Moisturising

Sukin Facial Moisturiser – I have used Sukin for years and it suits me perfectly. I switch between the regular, the sensitive and super green moisturiser, but I don’t really have a favourite. They all smell delicious, have no parabens or animal ingredients, and are organic. I’m happy with that!

Sukin Sensitive Calming Night Cream – I use the sensitive night cream, because I tend to use the more powerful products (like retinol) at night. Plus it’s really rich and hydrating.

Baebody Eye Gel – I used this one during summer and really liked it for days when I was just hanging around the house, but it wasn’t the best under makeup. It has a really cool dispenser and is a light gel formula. It was nice to put on before I went to sleep – I tend to get really dry and itchy eyes at bedtime in summer, so this was nice. But honestly, in winter, I appreciate the richness of just regular moisturiser on my eye area more. I’m not sure what’s going on with this product though – you can’t get it at any regular shops, and getting it from Amazon is kind of shady. When I run out, I will probably try something else that’s easier to source.

Lanolips Lano All-Over Everywhere Multi-Cream – recommended by Caitlin, and I love it. I have dry lips for all of winter because I tend to lick lip balm off, but this stuff is so thick that it stays on for ages.

Bepanthen Nappy Antiseptic Cream – I use this like an overnight moisturising lip mask, and it’s nice. It sticks and doesn’t rub off before it absorbs, and I wake up with perfectly hydrated lips.

Routine

I don’t really have a rigid routine as I try to be intuitive about it – if my skin is windburned from being outside, I’m not going to subject it to something like retinol or AHA that night. I try to exfoliate and use treatments alternating a couple of times a week, and I try to do deep moisturising every night before I go to bed. I’m sure Nathan thinks it’s so attractive for me to go to bed every night with my face slathered in lotions and potions, but hopefully he’ll thank me in ten or twenty years when it will have paid off.

So there it all is! It seems like a lot, but it makes me feel nice and feels like an investment in whether I’ll age gracefully or not. There are a couple of concerns I would like to address in the future (I have some pigmentation across my nose in summertime, for example), so I’ll do an update post if things change.

The final thing that I wanted to say is… I don’t naturally have good skin. I spent a good portion of my teen years covered in acne before I discovered oral antibiotics; I am prone to hormonal acne from hell across my jaw (and let’s not even talk about my upper back and chest right now); I have perpetual dark circles under my eyes and will never not feel self-conscious about the pores on my nose. Sometimes, with the right skincare and good makeup, I’ll look like I have amazing skin… but takes work, and luck. I would love to think there would be a time in my life when I could just not put this much effort in, but it’s not realistic for me. Just gotta make the most of what I’ve got. 🙂

More About the House

It’s a pretty horrific week – if you haven’t been reading the news, you probably should. Or if you’re feeling fragile already, protect yourself and avoid it. It’s unbearably awful and sometimes it feels like the world just gets worse and worse. I know it will all be over at some point in the future, but it just constantly shocks me how so many people can get through life being rewarded at every turn for being the most disgusting, nasty sociopaths imaginable. You would think that being that kind of person would result in being ostracized, denied promotion, shut out of polite society… but no, they are on television, they are making a lot of money, they can even be president.

Anyway. Self-preservation time. Let’s talk about my new house.

It will be really nice when it finally happens.

The things I’m looking forward to the most are little things, but they would make me so happy. Things like having a dining table big enough to have all my family over for dinner, which is something that I’ve never done before. Having enough kitchen space and a working oven so I can make my own pizza dough and sauce from tomatoes that I’ve grown myself. Having an actual linen closet and a bathtub. A garage so that we can store our own Christmas tree. A door coming off the main living area that I can open so the puppies can romp around the backyard while I can keep an eye on them as I cook. A little cupboard under the stairs where our future child can live until they get their Hogwarts letter… 🙂

The house plan that we love has at least double the space of our current house, but because it’s on two levels, we won’t lose any back or front yard which is important to me. There are four bedrooms, but there is also a study that could be converted if necessary. There are three main living areas, which I am really looking forward to. I love the idea of having a nice family room on the ground floor which I will keep presentable and neat all the time, but also an upstairs rumpus-sort of room where we can have our messy or non-aesthetic things, like a puzzle in progress on the coffee table or a treadmill. I love the idea of having different zones for different levels of formality.

One of the best features of our plan is that the master bedroom has two walk in robes. I can’t even begin to describe how much of a fairy tale that will be. I have a lot of clothes… and a possibly unreasonable amount of puffy dresses. Currently, I take up half the wardrobe in our room, and an entire wardrobe in the spare room with all my dresses. I’m imagining myself becoming really judicious and exclusive about which clothes I buy in the new house, because it won’t just be a cupboard where I shove all my clothes anymore… it will be a collection, with its own little room. Maybe I am overthinking this! Or maybe it’s one of the rare times that my inner princess gets to come out.

I am also excited about the chance to finally decorate properly. I want it to be modern, colourful and functional; not too cluttered but with plenty of detail; eclectic and playful, airy but not minimalist. I’m going to overhaul all my pinterest boards in the next year. A lot of the display houses that I’ve looked at online are just so… taupe. I don’t know how to describe it – like, overly adult, or too “I’m so serious”, or something. Lots of greige and taupe and ashy browns and woodgrain. It feels kind of overly masculine and oppressive to me, even though I know I’m in the minority here – everybody seems to be doing it. None of that for us. I want light, bright, cute and cheerful. A house where it feels like it’s sunny every day.

So, twelve months. Why twelve months? We could pull the trigger tomorrow, if we really wanted. But twelve months gives us breathing room and time to plan things properly. We can save more money, firstly, but it also gives us time to research, figure out exactly what things to include in the build, finally find out exactly what infills are and why everybody on forums are paying extra for them. It is likely that we will have to buy a new car in this time period too, so it would be nice to be doing that before our mortgage doubles. We also have a hell of a lot of decluttering and general reducing of our stuff to do – I just know that if we hit ‘go’ right now, we’d just end up shoving all of this junk into boxes for it to be a problem in the new house too.

The other thing is… I have a lot of plants in the garden that were gifts from my dad, from Nathan, from my grandma. I can take cuttings from them at certain times of the year as ‘insurance policies’, in case transplanting them into pots doesn’t work so well. The daphne, for example, needs to be propagated at Christmas time. By taking a year, it means I will have the best chance of making sure that everything in my garden can be saved.

So, lots to do, lots to think about. It’s going to be a hard twelve months. This house really is crumbling around us – the ceiling in the living room is caving in and sprinkles dust on us when the wind blows, the shower is currently a big hole in the floor, the bedroom windows leak, and the dogs can’t even have their beds on the floor because it’s so drafty. It’s not ideal, and it’s going to be extremely hard trying to write a novel here. But we’ll survive, and eventually, thrive. Eyes on the prize, waiting for the second marshmallow, all of that.

June – Taking Stock

I’m thinking that I’ve come to the end of this series – it’s pretty boring, and it’s especially boring when it’s basically the only type of post I do every month. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with this blog in the future, with some of the ways that I’m hoping my public life will transform in the next couple of years (with regards to writing). I think I will set a lot of this stuff to private and move towards something a bit less personal. Not completely sure yet. One of my idols does a newsletter, but I don’t know if that dynamic works for me. This blog – it’s like… it’s here, read it if you want, but a newsletter feels like “here, have this, read it, enjoy it”… and I’m not sure I’m interesting enough for that.

We’ll see!

Here is June, and here is the last one of these I’m going to do, inspired by Pip Lincolne‘s lists:

Making : big and little plans, mostly about writing
Cooking : absolutely nothing right now, but considering making some hamburgers with that new vegan mince that just came out
Drinking : water and a sneaky ribena here and there (it has vitamins, that’s my excuse)
Reading : the prospectus for the masterclass I’m going to take in April
Trawling : wikipedia for articles about everything from mackerel fishing to Viking expansion to the history of tartan to the origins of the Swan Lake story
Wanting : my ongoing leg pain issues to be solved by some dry needling next week, so I can exercise a bit more
Looking : pretty rough right now – I need a haircut, actually, I needed a haircut at least two months ago
Deciding : that I really want to go see Hereditary this week
Wishing : that my leg would be recovered enough to go skiing with my sisters next month
Enjoying : that Nathan and Mum collaborated last night for me to have a long luxurious bath, complete with candles and salt scrubs
Waiting : or rather, I can’t wait until we are in the new house and then have the scary task of furnishing/decorating it
Wondering : how much it will annoy me to have a laundry and a linen closet on different floors (I think I will most likely just be grateful to have either after spending almost a decade in a house with a horrible laundry and no linen closet)
Loving :the sneak peeks we’ve had so far of Posie and Rupert’s little photo session (Rupert is featuring in a book about rescue dogs)
Pondering : what to grow in my vegetable garden over the next twelve months, seeing as we will be here after all
Listening : to people who are helpful, ignoring people who are not
Considering : possibly taking the dogs to the snow next year
Buying : I don’t know if I blogged since then, but I recently bought two more mermaid tails for the collection
Watching : Masterchef – yes, I got sucked in, yes, I regret it, but what else is there to do in this house when it’s so cold?
Hoping : that my novel will be as good as I hope it will be
Marvelling : at how much more delicious proper Asian instant ramen (with at least 3 sachets) is compared to Australian flavours
Cringing : at last night’s Masterchef episode – judging was all over the place, they broke their own rules, and one contestant’s dish was completely overlooked in the edit
Needing : to book some flights and accommodation for Adelaide next year
Questioning : the whole premise of Grease, especially the flying car bit – what does it all mean?!
Wearing : oh goodness, it’s tragic – it’s that time of year where I pretty much live in lounging clothes with cardigans and scarves on top, plus ugg boots
Noticing : that all my clothes are looser, even if the scale disagrees
Knowing : that I need more champagne-drinking occasions in my life
Thinking : about what sort of writer I want to be, in terms of overall career outlook
Admiring : a lot of Alannah Hill cardigans right now
Bookmarking : tips and tricks about a game called House Flipper – it’s kind of addictive
Disliking : okay, I love it when people give house building advice but ultimately recognize that every decision rests with you, because you are the one who will live there. I do not love it when people load you up with their demands about what they would want, despite the fact that it really has nothing to do with them. I dislike it even more when you calmly state your decision and the reasons why and why it’s not up for discussion, and they actually argue with you, like it’s a fight they have to win. BIG dislike.
Feeling : cold – it’s a hunkering down kind of season, of weather and of life
Hearing : Nathan’s Ren and Stimpy ringtone from the other room, eternally annoying
Celebrating : getting into my masterclass and taking one more step towards publication
Embracing : the fact that the new house is over a year away, but each day is one step closer, and that’s something to feel excited about

Change of Plans

Big news! So you know how The Calamity happened in February and we were wringing our hands about how to solve the house problem? The more we thought about it, the more we realized that it wasn’t so straightforward. We realized that to make this house nice, we would have to spend months and months, and far too much money. And when all was said and done, it wouldn’t fix this house’s fundamental flaws – a bad floor plan and not enough space. The idea of potentially having children (!) in this house made me feel so claustrophobic, and I knew deep down that it wouldn’t be a harmonious home if everybody was so crowded.

So, we’ve changed our minds. Twelve months from now, we will be knocking down this house to build a big, new, shiny one on the same land. I’m unreasonably excited at the fact that I will get my own walk-in-robe (I’m going to put a mini chandelier and a pink velvet pouf in there, of course). It’s double storey and there are four bedrooms with space to convert a fifth, if needed. Three living areas. The kitchen is so lovely and spacious, and there is a butler’s pantry which will be a dream come true for all the entertaining I’m planning on (gotta make up for lost time). It has a garage so we won’t have to store all our tools and paint cans and stuff in the laundry, and unlike this house, it will be warm in winter and easy to keep clean. It has a Hampton-esque façade, which will suit our neighbourhood much better than the really modern new builds. Best of all, it has a bath, which I foresee spending a lot of time in!

In the meantime, we are going to spend a little to put the cheapest possible shower/bath situation in our current bathroom, just so we don’t lose our minds in the next year. It won’t be the most fun sticking around here, and it means that a lot of our other plans will have to wait, but the amount of money we can save if we wait just a little bit longer will be worth it (technically, we could go for it tomorrow, but I guess Nathan and I are naturally cautious people about big decisions). It also means that I have a year to take cuttings from and transplant all my roses and the other plants I’ve been given as gifts over the years.

Anyway, it’ll be great. The next twelve months won’t be the brightest or shiniest of my life, but they will be worth it in the end.

Little Bits – Almost Winter

We went to see Belle and Sebastian on Friday night, and it was everything I’ve been dreaming of since the last time I saw them – when I was sixteen! I think they definitely qualify as my favourite band. There is nobody else that I have such a hard time deciding which is my favourite song because there are so many wonderful ones to choose from. The best part of the whole concert was the setlist – it was everything I could have hoped for, except Lazy Line Painter Jane. But I got that one last time, and I did get Jonathan David.

On the weekend, we had dinner with my family and I decided to make vanilla custard cannoli. Not quite from scratch – I made the custard to pipe into pre-made shells. I should have taken a photo because they looked quite enticing dusted with powdered sugar and surrounded by strawberries. Dad was impressed and declared that I will be making them again.

My embroidery progress stalled this week (I’ll write more about why later, when I’m feeling a bit more ready), so nothing to report there. Every creative thing I do always seems to come along in fits and starts. Hopefully I’ll have another burst of energy this week… in a few areas, could be nice. It’s almost time to start knitting again too. I have a gigantic blanket that I began years ago as a gift for somebody who I later realized doesn’t exactly appreciate handmade things, so it’s probably best to just keep it for myself. It’s huge and only about four or five balls of yarn away from being finished… the nicest thing about working on it is that I can drape it over myself and be all cozy while I work on it, so definitely a winter activity.

I saw my dream house for sale tonight – the auction is tomorrow. The most frustrating part is knowing that we could technically afford it, but there is a big difference between what you can afford in dollar terms and what you can afford as a responsible adult with a million other obligations and no crystal ball to see what the future holds. I know there will be other dream houses, and I know that this house could be pretty lovely once we fix it up, but it’s still sad to know that this particular one is just a daydream.

You know how sometimes in publishing, there will be a little rush of similarly themed books being released in a particular time period… most probably by chance? Well… that has happened, and it seems that the novel that I have been working on will most likely be very same-old-same-old  (or worse – “that’s so 2017”) once it’s finished and ready to submit. I don’t know what to do. I don’t really have any other big ideas ready for jumping into right now. Actually I have a million ideas, but letting them steep and marinate before plotting takes time, and I just wish the whole process would happen a bit faster.

I have been neglecting this blog, a lot. I think part of the issue is that I’m not taking any photos, and I’m not taking photos because my surroundings are so ugly right now. I don’t want to be in photos because I am ugly too right now. And then it feels like… I suppose I’ve been sort of guarding myself from feeling any big feelings or thinking any big thoughts over the last few months, because it feels like there is no physical space for them right now. It’s hard to explain. I know what the cure is, but it’s going to be a long road full of persistence and hard work, which is never immediately fun. I won’t let this blog die, but I don’t think it’s going to be particularly bright or shiny this year. Unfortunately.

 

Current Obsession: Stardew Valley

Things have been rough lately for a number of reasons, and one of the best ways that I have found to weather the storm is to plug myself into gaming. It’s kind of reassuring that you can do something repetitive and know that it’s a few less hours where you had to feel anything or think too much. I have murky geek girl credentials, because I usually steer well clear of a lot of the big selling games. I like World of Warcraft (though level 90+ is pretty boring to me, and I will never enjoy group dungeons), but I also love Age of Empires and Banished-type games. Oh, and Orcs Must Die 2 will never get old. I also love a whole bunch of niche games on Steam, like Who’s Your Daddy? and Goat Simulator. I guess I’m weird and picky, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody!

Anyway, Stardew Valley – I love it. For the uninitiated, it’s a game where you are the owner of a farm and you have to do all sorts of activities to make money to upgrade your farm. You can grow crops, go fishing, mine for ores and gems, forage for food, explore hidden areas and make friends (or marry) the townspeople. It’s pretty much the opposite of hectic, but you do constantly have to watch how many hours are left in the day and how much energy you have left. There has been a lot of comparison to ‘spoonie’ culture, and I can definitely see that – it’s kind of refreshing that there are no shortcuts, you can’t put in a superhuman effort in one day to fast-track the game, it’s all about slow and steady persistence.

And oh my goodness, search for the game on Tumblr and see how much effort people have put into their Stardew Valley fan art. Especially the dreamy Shane and Sebastian portraits. There are some serious crushes going on for those two, which is interesting considering that one is an emotionally volatile alcoholic and the other is a sulky emo kid who literally lives in his parents’ basement.

Anyway, my very best quality tips for the Stardew Valley novice:

  1. Build lots of chests and hoard a certain number of foraged/fished/farmed items, so you are always prepared if you get a quest. I like to build up to hoarding three of each item, sometimes more if I know a particular character loves something, so that I always have a ‘loved’ gift for them (i.e. Shane and hot peppers). Note: Nathan disagrees with this strategy because he just ignore the quests and gives everybody salmonberries for friendship instead, so YMMV.
  2. Don’t go crazy with farming until you have enough resources for a lot of sprinklers, otherwise it will suck all your energy and you won’t get anything else done unless it is raining. Do make sure that you plant a lot of the crops that are included in the ‘quality crop bundle’ and use fertilizer on them – it really, really sucked only getting four gold star quality melons in summer and knowing that I’d have to wait a whole year for another chance.
  3. Birthdays are really important – I went from zero to three hearts with George by giving him a ‘loved’ item on his birthday, so worth it.
  4. Look at the community centre bundles on the wiki before you even start, so you know what you need. It’s beyond frustrating if you get to the last three days of spring and realize that all the farm items that you needed to collect won’t grow in time before autumn comes, so you have to wait until next year instead.
  5. Watch television! Very important. Especially the Living off the Land show – this will tell you when foraging events happen, like salmonberry and blackberry season. I easily foraged hundreds of these and they are useful for turning into jam en masse and selling.
  6. Plan out your day as soon as you get up, and make it a logical plan that doesn’t involve too much walking back and forth. For example, I might have saved up four geodes that need processing, so it makes sense to take them at a time when I have some ocean fishing to do, since I’ll be on that side of town anyway.
  7. Use a spreadsheet like this one to keep track of which crops are most profitable. In the first year, it’s a good idea to plant some of everything to build up your stored items and get those bundles, but once that’s done, it’s all about profit (except for if you need items for cooking).
  8. Five levels each day seems to be my limit in the mines; any more than that, I seem to be running out of energy or time. I keep a chest outside the entrance to the mines that is stocked with high energy/health food items to take with me, so I don’t have to lug them around with me all the time.
  9. Have fun!

April – Taking Stock

Finally April. This is never my favourite time of year, but a new calendar month feels like a reprieve at the moment. The last two months have been awful, but things are getting better all the time. Looking forward to getting on with things!

Here is April, inspired by Pip Lincolne‘s lists:

Making : plans and lists
Cooking : tonight I’m making spaghetti and meatballs (plus extra to freeze) and later in the week, beef goulash with couscous
Drinking : I let myself drink some champagne and spiced ginger beer over Easter, but now it’s going to be all water for a very long time
Reading : trying to get on with two books that Dad wanted me to read
Trawling : the internet for a feather mattress topper – I’ve been spoiled by staying at Auntie Marie’s, and now nothing else will do
Wanting : this house to be renovated already so I can clean, decorate and enjoy it
Looking : at these two sleeping puppies and wondering whether we’re going to have a quiet day or a barking party day
Deciding : whether we should go all white or a little bit pale aqua in the new bathroom
Wishing : that I could skip the rest of this leg recovery stuff
Enjoying : being home after being away for the weekend, even if it’s a big downgrade to where I was
Waiting : for all this Easter chocolate to disappear from the house – if I just don’t touch it, Nathan will inevitably make it disappear
Wondering : how hard I can push my leg, exercise-wise, without going backwards
Loving : kind of secretly loving that my sister is living at my mum’s right now, and we all get to see her more often (which used to be a fairly rare thing)
Pondering : whether we can possibly swing a ski trip this year, or whether that will be a next year thing
Listening : to extremely good advice from my aunt about renovating this house o’ mine – it’s so valuable to hear from somebody with a lot of experience in these things
Considering :
Buying : trying not to buy much at all right now, because it is just more stuff to be packed up
Watching : nothing right now – I suppose we watched the two Ricky Gervais specials on Netflix, and I’m slowly getting through Black Mirror, which is a bit too upsetting to watch more than an episode at a time
Hoping : that ordering a meal service for a while will give me a break from meal planning and cooking, but also reset our ideas of portion sizes and help us lose some weight while I can’t exercise as much as I would like
Marvelling : at finally being able to wear leggings, just in time for the weather to get cold
Cringing : at how I almost managed to kill one of our houseplants that has a reputation for being one of the hardest plants to kill – hopefully it recovers
Needing : my hair to grow back from this awfully sad little haircut that I had last week
Questioning : whether I can/should plant out new vegetables for this mid-season if there’s a good chance that we won’t be here (renovating) to tend to them every day
Wearing : leggings, of course!
Noticing : how much junk we have, how much stuff we need to get rid of, how much we need to hire a skip rather than rely on shoving it all in the garbage bin (Nathan is resistant)
Knowing : (now) that it’s going to be a barking party kind of day
Thinking : about what sort of writing I want to get done in the next few months, and how I’m going to get it done while being temporarily homeless
Admiring : the photo that I posted on Instagram of the sunset at my aunt’s house – it’s pretty
Getting : impatient about getting things done
Bookmarking : the Jamie Oliver hot cross bun pudding recipe I made for Good Friday, that was absolutely delicious
Disliking : a giant moth was smacking around in the hallway last night, and this morning, I can’t find it anywhere – it will be lurking though, waiting to haunt me for another night
Feeling : sort of mixed right now – lots of catching up to do
Hearing : Rupert’s cold weather snuffling
Celebrating : that I can’t believe I’ve been married for seven months
Embracing : change, mess and inconvenience, because I know that it will make life so much easier and brighter when it’s all done!

Issues with Outlander

Let me preface this : I have not read the books. I intend on reading the books, because I have heard that Diana Gabaldon’s writing style is exquisite and transcends the literary/genre divide. So I can’t speak for what happens in the books – this is purely about the television series.

There may be spoilers in here – beware!

First of all, I don’t want to be mean… because part of me really loves the show. But another part of me wants to throw my TV out the window usually once an episode. I think I would be much happier with the show if Jamie and Claire weren’t in it (controversial!). But first, let me count the ways that I really like it.

The costumes are wonderful. I have read a lot of criticism of the costumes for not being absolutely historically accurate, but for me, it makes it so much more sense that somebody like Geillis Duncan would be a little bit kooky in how she constructed and wore her clothes. She can’t just erase the influence of her entire life up until going through the stones, of course it’s going to flavour the way she does things.

I love the music. The opening theme is perfect, and the background music never feels like an rushed afterthought. I really like the way that it captures a continuous feeling, but it incorporates different rhythms and instruments depending on the time and place.

The cinematography and the locations are so gorgeous, even when they are grim or unforgiving. A problem that I have with Game of Thrones and actually, most fantasy/historical movies that have come out in recent years, is that everything is so ridiculously desaturated. I know what they are going for – they want it to look gritty and cold, but when overused, it looks like an emo instagram filter. Couple that with the current trend of making everybody as dirty and greasy as possible, and it’s a bit depressing to watch. In Outlander, there are are moments of sunshine, there is the warmth of an open fire, people are occasionally wear colorful dresses or blush with pleasure. It’s nicer to watch, and it’s more realistic than everything looking like Skyrim.

I also thought it was fun and refreshing that Claire (in the first two seasons) drank almost constantly, and often ran into trouble because of it. Unflattering character quirks are always more interesting to watch, rather than somebody who is perfect all the time.

Which brings me to my issues with Outlander – Jamie is too perfect. All the time, no matter what, always noble and just and self-sacrificing and understanding and chivalrous and wounded and perfect. The problem with this is that he becomes entirely predictable. Of course he’s going to defend her honour. Of course he’s going to sacrifice himself to save her. Of course there’s going to be some convenient moral side-stepping if he does anything that doesn’t fit the perfect man narrative (like the explanation for marrying Laoghaire, which just served to make him even more noble). The only thing that could ever be said about Jamie Fraser is that sometimes he can be… backwards in his treatment of women, from the point of view of contemporary Claire. However, this is forgiven in the story as well, because she seems to kind of like it.

Which brings me to the next point – Claire. Oh Claire, the most frustrating person in the show. As a viewer, I should be grateful that she is so annoying, because it certainly makes things interesting. Or, I should say infuriating. Claire seems to run around Scotland causing trouble wherever she goes. She is headstrong, but this seems to translate into screaming, crying and banging her fists on the chests of men all the time… often when they are trying to help her or at least save her from herself. She never listens to anybody or is humble enough to accept advice – she always knows best. Jamie specifically tells her to not do things for her own safety, but of course, she does them anyway, never for a second entertaining the idea that maybe these Scottish people would have a better handle on the way things work in their time period because that’s how they’ve lived their whole lives.

And then there’s the rape bits. I acknowledge fully that it would have been a very dangerous time for a woman, and that facing the threat of rape would have been a real and awful part of daily life for women in that era. However, the show never seems to acknowledge this threat towards anybody but Claire (and to a lesser extent Jamie). Sometimes it seems like everybody that Claire meets wants to rape her. We see almost nothing of other female characters having to deal with these dangers – it feels like it’s specific to Claire, and it’s offered as an example of how singularly desirable she is compared to other women. Even when she boards the English ship as their doctor, everybody is so worried about her being the ‘only’ female aboard and what danger that puts her in… except that there is already a woman there, but nobody is concerned that she is going to get raped. I suppose because she’s not as beautiful as Claire, who’s not like other girls (urgh). This particular little complex that the show seems to have with rape and desirability is really icky, and I have such a hard time with it. And let’s not even talk about the whole ‘curative rape’ thing with Jamie.

Then there’s Frank. It’s very hard to feel sympathy for Claire after the way she treated Frank. His story is so sad, and I hate that she found a way to spin it around into her tragedy (“He was my first love!”). Claire, you are not (always) the victim.

There! Outlander and I definitely have our relationship status set to ‘it’s complicated’. I’m nearly finished with season three, but I think I’ll be doing some reading between now and the next season.

**EDIT – I just read this article, and despite everything I wrote above, I agree with a lot of these sentiments as well… even though they can be contradictory. Like I said, it’s complicated.

Stitchin’

The most annoying thing about this damn leg injury of mine is that I can’t do anything much. And everything I can do, I don’t wanna do, because it gets extremely same-old-same-old very quickly. I have been surviving on TV marathons, true crime documentaries, snacking like it’s going out of fashion, internet forums, and bitching to my sister about celebrities.

I did one exciting thing though – for Christmas, Mum signed me up for an embroidery workshop. Despite having a former life as a felt bridal bouquet designer, there was actually only very simple embroidery involved in that – mostly chain stitch, back stitch and straight stick. Apart from a few ribbon embroideries that I did as a kid, nobody ever really taught me the basics, so I was keen to do a beginner class and start from the beginning. We worked on Purrrfect by Cinderberries, and the class was run by Natalie Lymer.

It was so much fun! And I get such a kick out of finding I’m a natural* at something. The pattern is perfect for a beginner, is ultra cute, and is going to look adorable hanging on the wall. Natalie was a really patient and kind teacher, so I would thoroughly recommend her if she runs any more classes. I really want to tackle her Yuletide double-hooped wreath to stick on my mantelpiece at Christmastime.

This is my finished work. I’m even proud to say that the back is almost entirely neat as well – just one tiny little bobbly bit where my thread knotted. There is one or two leaf fronds where I accidentally deviated from the pattern and didn’t want to unpick it, but I think it looks pretty good. And I have the perfect spot for it – I guess that will now be ‘the cat wall’ of my house, despite not having a cat.

* The long story on this is… after I finished this pattern, my head was the size of a small planet and I was feeling pretty good about my skills. I got a bunch of patterns that were, in hindsight, way too hard for a beginner. I started an alphabet sampler and oh my god, it’s a disaster so far. Even just satin stitching a simple circular ring has been beyond me. My ego is well and truly deflated now! I’ve worked out that I was probably using the wrong fabric (it was grey shot cotton – I think – and the same colour as my needle, which was making things extremely difficult) and that I didn’t trace my pattern very well… so I’m starting again. Hopefully I will have something worth showing soon, and not another trainwreck.

March – Taking Stock

What a drag. I have no photos, because I’m barely leaving the house right now except for physio and swimming. This is not the most enjoyable season of life, I can tell you. There are gaps this month, as there is truly not much happening in my life. April will be better! Or, it better be better.

Here is March, inspired by Pip Lincolne‘s lists:

Making :
Cooking : not a lot – surviving on takeout and sandwiches a lot these days, because I just can’t stay on my feet long enough to cook properly
Drinking : gallons of diet ice tea – having to take a million painkillers over the last few weeks has had the unfortunate side effect of making me gag on water a lot of the time, but I’m trying to reintroduce myself slowly
Reading : waiting for a copy of Call Me By Your Name to arrive in the mail, and cannot wait to be transported to gorgeous Italy
Trawling :
Wanting : something that doesn’t exist – I want flowers delivered, but not arrangements – just plain old cut flowers so I can put them in a vase, and it doesn’t seem like anybody does that
Looking : pretty bloody awful right now, especially since I hacked myself a new fringe last night
Deciding :
Wishing : that I could magically melt half my body weight off and not feel like such a whale
Enjoying : the slightly colder mornings, and the fact that the dogs like to snuggle now before they get out of bed
Waiting : and waiting and waiting and waiting… until this leg of mine is better
Wondering :
Loving : that Nathan saw my struggles with trying to trace an embroidery pattern by taping things to the window and waiting for a bright but overcast day, so he bought me a fancy lightbox thing that works really, really well
Pondering :
Listening : to the birds chirping outside the window, distant lawnmowers, Rupert snoring, the click-click-click of my keyboard
Considering : rearranging some of our personal timelines and five year plans, everything takes so much longer than anticipated
Buying : a ticket to Bali for the end of the year – I know, I should go somewhere else, but after how much of a nightmare this year has been so far, I’m really just looking forward to familiarity and relaxation rather than something more challenging
Watching : well, we just finished Big Love, and now I don’t know what to do with my life
Hoping :
Marvelling :
Cringing : at the way my leg looks scooped out where the muscle has wasted
Needing : to figure out a way of working out despite my current limitations, because this is ridiculous
Questioning :
Wearing : shorts only – I can’t tolerate fabric on my leg right now, so I’m really glad this is happening at this time of year
Noticing : that people are always all “it takes a village!” about their kids, but when you actually try to be that village, they can’t be bothered to even respond to you
Knowing : that I need to do something about the fuchsias running rampant outside my front door, even though there are native birds that feast on the flowers every day
Thinking :
Admiring : my finished cat embroidery piece that is sitting on the mantelpiece right now, I will post about it soon
Getting :
Bookmarking :
Disliking :
Feeling : pretty miserable about not being able to do anything, honestly
Hearing :
Celebrating :
Embracing :