Saturday

On Saturday, we turned 11 – or, 10+1. Which is… 11 years together, 1 year married. It should have been momentous, it could have been stupendous, but we’re both going through this unfortunately tired and stressed phased right now, so we dropped a lot of balls. I didn’t even get him a card, which I’m still sad about. But we did something special together that totally made up for it.

I’ve got a secret love, you see. My love for Asian food is out and proud, but French food is something that has always been a distant, inscrutable, mysterious thing. Perhaps because we never cooked it at home until recently, but mostly because I had never been to a French restaurant. Until Saturday.

We went to Bistrot Plume in Belmont. I had been begging to go there for at least a year, but Nathan (being Nathan) was dragging his feet. He never wants to go anywhere, and is always astonished when my recommendations are great. Anyway, we finally went.

We had:

Oysters mignonette. Steak tartare with a gorgeous glossy egg yolk and some shoestring potatoes. Garlic escargot floating in little pools of butter. Crispy skinned barramundi served on bouillabaisse with whipped cod roe croutons. Cassoulet with pork belly and confit duck leg. Green salad with radish and pickled shallot. Pear frangipane tart with salted caramel sauce. Creme brûlée with pistachio biscotti.

It was so indulgent and gorgeous, we had a great night. I loved everything except the snails, but to my credit, I tried one and could tell they were objectively delicious, but just not for me. The dining room was so intimate and quaint, and I felt far too self-conscious to take out my phone and take some photos, so you’ll just have to go see for yourself. Their lunch and breakfast menus look really good too – we’ll be back as soon as I can muster up some excuse.

As for the actual anniversary part, it was nice. It was especially nice holding hands across the table with the man who is my husband, the man who I’ve weathered and rejoiced over more than a decade with, the man who I will be old and grey with one day.

What Has Really Been Going On

I’ve talked at length about what a horrible year this has been, but I’ve been sketchy on the details the whole time. I usually don’t talk about hard stuff on the internet, but it seems fair for anybody reading to have the full picture, rather than the little breadcrumbs I’ve been dropping. So here they are:

I fell through my bathroom floor and injured my leg so badly that I needed 7+ months so far of rehabilitation and it is permanently disfigured (I call it the Zombie Leg because it’s usually grey, sometimes blackish purple). It’s still not 100% in terms of functionality and perhaps never will be again. I’ve been feeling incredibly down about it, and how it’s just another thing to add to the list of my scars and battle wounds and ways that my body is disfigured forever and ever.

In this time, we discovered that Nathan’s standards in housework and meal planning/prepping are not the same as mine (not that he didn’t try – thank you Nathan!), so our house became an overwhelming junk pile of insurmountable trash and we both got really unhealthy from eating takeout all the time. This was going to be the year of getting our health and fitness levels under control, and for the first six months, we went so far backwards – incredibly disheartening.

Something I’m still sore about is how revealing it ended up being about the lack of community around us. Very few people helped out during this time. I get that ‘severe haematoma, sprained knee, lacerations and massive soft tissue damage’ doesn’t sound as dramatic as ‘broken leg’ or whatever, but I was really shocked at the number of people we were supposedly close to who didn’t even care to ask how it was going or if we needed any help. A positive from that is that I have a much clearer idea now of who our real friends are.

Just before Christmas, my grandma went into the emergency department with pneumonia. She never came home and died in April. This was awful, but worse still because there was so much up and down, so much hope and grief drawn out over such a long time… so many months spent dreading every phone call just in case it was the worst. I still miss being able to just call her and ask her questions about gardening or tell her stories about how spoiled my dogs are so she could pretend to disapprove. There are so many stories I’ve never heard or I’m only just learning now, and I know it’s going to be hard in the future when wonderful things happen and I won’t be able to share these things with her. But she was very religious, so if there is a heaven, I know she’d be there, and she’ll just know without me having to say anything.

A few weeks ago, my sisters were in the Lombok earthquake. It was horrendous and there was a full hour where our family thought that we were exchanging the last messages we would ever send to my sisters before they died in a tsunami (tsunamis, or specfically Posie and Rupert being ripped from my arms in a tsunami, is one of my recurring nightmares so it rattled me a lot). They saw so much death and destruction, and I will never forget my sister’s description of the violence of the shaking knocking her to the floor, and running as fast as she could while buildings collapsed all around her. I would never want to say that “my trauma” was anything on the same scale as what they experienced, but it was such a terrifying thing that rippled out from them and really affected me too. My sisters were watching Dante’s Peak this afternoon and making jokes about how unrealistic the earthquake depictions were, but I could barely look at the screen as this huge swell of anxiety surged through me. It’s making me a bit anxious about my Bali trip in nine weeks too.

So there it is. I’m not writing this for pity, mainly so I can stop vague-posting. Life isn’t meant to be wonderful all the time, but it has been a shocking run. I never expected my first year of marriage, especially, to look like this – being a newlywed is supposed to be blissful and fun, not watching your depressed wife lay on the sofa chowing down painkillers for months while your house turns into a hovel. But things are finally turning a corner, and there are exciting things coming up. I have a feeling this next year is going to be the honeymoon year that we didn’t really get to have.

We are going to Bali in October. I’m so excited about this, because originally I was going by myself and was a bit down about it… but Nathan surprised me by taking a few days so we can be together for the first part of the trip. The rest of it will be my writerly retreat of solitude – I am fully planning to eat banana pancakes every day, swim in the pool, nap, read, dodge geckos and get a ton of writing done. I am currently in the planning stages of my novel – I want it all plotted before we go so I can dive straight into it.

Another good thing is that we got a treadmill (I’m calling it the dreadmill). Magpie season is especially bad around here because we live right near a nature reserve, so it will be great to exercise indoors for the next few months and not risk losing an eyeball every time I leave the house. I’m making a plan to be able to run the 5km in the Melbourne Marathon with my sisters in a few months, wish me luck!

It’s our birthday in a few weeks (yes, it’s the same day) and I haven’t got any concrete plans yet, but I think it should be a full treat yo’ self kind of day. I sorta kinda want to go to the Pancake Parlour, even though I always regret it when the food coma hits after drinking those giant soda floats. We’ll see. But I also kinda sorta want to go on safari at the open range zoo. And I sorta kinda also just want to have an at home spa day with Lush bath bombs and expensive body butter, lay around all day in a robe, eat sushi, drink Veuve Clicquot and watch Bridesmaids and How to Make an American Quilt and The Joy Luck Club and Twister (ha). Again, we’ll see. It is Nathan’s birthday too, so I have to balance what I want with what he wants (he’d probably love any of those options, to be honest).

And in April, I’m doing the single biggest thing to date for my writing career by attending Fiona McIntosh’s masterclass in South Australia. I am thrilled that she has such a stellar record of getting attendees on the track to publication, but into really good contracts too. It seems like she has such a knack for knowing how to give people the tools to turn themselves from hopefuls into professionals, so I can’t wait. Next year is going to be the year I sell a novel, I can feel it. When it happens, I’m honestly going to throw myself a party. An excuse to buy some more expensive shoes and wear one of my completely over the top cupcake dresses, if nothing else. I never had an 18th or a 21st, but it seems like such a bigger milestone to celebrate my first novel, so why not?

And of course, we’re building the dream house in about twelve months. I am beyond excited for that. I’m calling it Barbie’s dream house, Nathan is calling it Chateau von Doggeaux. Either way. I will be sad to leave this little house behind, especially because of all the memories, like bringing Posie home for the first time or when we got engaged. But the memories won’t go away just because the house will.

Apart from that, the summer beckons. I love summer, every second of the year that is not summer, I am yearning for it to come back. But this year, I have something that will make it especially fun. This is the one thing I’m not going to be completely upfront about in this post – it wouldn’t make quite the splash if I gave it away before I have photos for the full effect (yes, that is a very big hint!).

This post has made me feel better already. The negatives were horrendous, but the future is bright!

Whirlwind Sydney Weekend

It’s no secret that I’ve had a rough year. I was meant to have a manuscript written by now, but that didn’t happen. We were meant to have a solution on the shower situation, but it still hasn’t happened (at least it’s a lot closer now). I’m still having issues with my leg, I’m still trying to get even just to the level of health and fitness that I was at pre-leg calamity, and a bunch of other hard things have happened as well. So it was so nice to get away for the weekend for the RWA annual conference in Sydney.

I stayed at the ultra-plush Sofitel Wentworth, and was thrilled that there was a little book in my room with photos of when Charles and Diana stayed there (it was the last place that they publicly danced as a couple), the Queen went to a gala in the very ballroom I was in, Andrew and Fergie were there too, plus Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and a whole bunch more. I loved all the chandeliers and beautiful flowers, and it’s gorgeous when hotels have grand pianos being played in the lobby. And it was beyond brilliant to finally have a long, luxurious bath in a marble bathroom (while eating chocolates, of course).

The conference was good – numbers were down, so it wasn’t quite as hectic as Adelaide was. I met some people and learned A LOT. I didn’t pitch this year, but I did completely embarrass myself by sitting next to a legendary writer who has sold millions of copies of her work and has won so many awards, and I asked her if it was her first conference and what genre she published in. She was gracious, but I was mortified to see her on stage two seconds later and I realized who she was. Luckily this seems to be a regular thing – one of the panelists recounted when she met a lovely woman in a conference buffet line and asked her whether she was published yet, and it turned out to be Nora Roberts.

The whole thing was pretty exhausting though. I’m looking forward to next year – it’ll be in Melbourne, which automatically makes things much cheaper, plus the theme is extremely conducive to me potentially wearing a mermaid tail to the cocktail party – may have to bring Nathan along to push me in a wheelchair, we’ll see!

Some photos:

 

A tiara for the cocktail party

On Monday, I had a little bit of time to kill before my flight home, so I wandered around Circular Quay. Sydney is not my favourite city by a long shot, but it’s kind of magical around the harbour. I went to an oyster bar right on the water with a view of the bridge, and sat in the sun for a long, grazing lunch. The water below was clear turquoise and teeming with little puffs of jellyfishes. I ate three different types of oysters and some delicious crab on toast (sounds really boring, let me elaborate: king crab with aioli, capers, pickled fennel and lemon on toasted ciabatta – fixed it, sounds loads fancier than ‘crab on toast’). Also try angasi oysters if you see them on a menu – they are a native mud oyster that I’d never tried before, and they were so good.

I had previously asked Nathan if he’d come up for the weekend with me (he didn’t want to because he likes Sydney even less), but that was the moment that I wished so much I could have shared with him. But there will be other times, I’m sure. And I think he secretly enjoyed having some time at home by himself to indulge in his secret bachelor behaviour (he did NOT buy a bucket of frozen pre-fried chicken from the supermarket this time, thank god).

How P+R Got Their Names

Inspired by Taza’s post this morning, I wanted to share a little about how Posie and Rupert’s names came to be. I have been obsessed with names since I was a little girl, and I was always trying on different names and begging to be called something else like Danielle or Henrietta. Luckily, I’ve come round to being perfectly happy with Johanna Rose! These days, I have a huge and ever-growing list on Nameberry – I seriously have enough for twenty kids, so it will be a bittersweet task pruning it down for the much smaller number of children and pets that I do end up having in my life.

Anyway, Posie and Rupert.

Obviously, we got Posie first. I didn’t actually know that we were getting a puppy until the weekend that we got her, and I was so enchanted by her that at first I couldn’t think of anything to name her. As we sat in the car with her minutes after receiving her, we ran through a bunch of names but nothing seemed to suit her. She was Miso (because of her colour – like white miso paste) for about five minutes, and I also suggested Claudia and Gretel and Cinderella and Pixel. She was spunky and independent, even in those first moments, so I knew she needed something unique. She seemed like a Rosie, but I suddenly remembered the Noel Streatfeild books about the ballet sisters and had a vague memory that one of the sisters was called Posie (actually Posey).

So Posie it was! I liked the fact that we both have floral names, and that it lends itself very easily to a Chinese name – Xiaohua (literally ‘little flower’). I also liked that Posie is traditionally a nickname for Josephine, which is a nickname that I am often called. And Josephine was an Empress of France – we didn’t know it at the time, but Posie has definitely grown into her role as queen of the household.

Nathan wasn’t immediately sold on her name. Posie has him wrapped around her paw nowadays, but at the time I know he had some reservations about having such a dainty little white fluffy dog with such a cute name. But it suits her so perfectly now – I can’t imagine her being called anything else. It’s unusual and a bit sassy, but so classic and conjures up images of a perfect little cottage garden full of fairies. Posie is a relatively rare name these days, but it is always exciting when I encounter people called Posie/Posey/Poesy in the wild.

Rupert actually came with his name when we adopted him, but it ended up being perfect and it’s what I would have chosen for him anyway. It means ‘bright fame’, and was the name of a historical King of Germany as well as a cartoon character. When we had been searching for a second dog, we’d debated names for our future dog (I can’t remember what any of them were now), thinking we’d have to change their name. But when we got Rupert, his name suited him so perfectly that we dropped the idea and never revisited it. I love that his name is warm and soft, classic and cute.

Together, the dogs sound like an adorable old couple in an English country nursing home. We have toyed with the idea of them having middle names, but can’t agree or decide on anything, so I guess they are just Posie and Rupert. If we ever get another dog, we will continue the theme of cute, unusual but old fashioned names for our animals.

As for future human names, I will never tell until it’s written on a birth certificate – seen way too many people with way too many opinions about this kind of thing, so it’s better to lock everybody out of the decision-making process until it’s already said and done, and there’s nothing they can do about it. But it’s going to be agonizing to decide one day. Though I suppose that whatever I don’t use, I always have the opportunity to use all these gorgeous names on characters in my writing. Or I can get chickens. And then more chickens, and more, and more. 🙂

Only the Best Boys

Yesterday was such a hard day – Rupert saw the vet on Tuesday who found that he had a cracked tooth, so he was booked in for dental surgery in less than 24 hours. Yesterday, all we could do was sit at home keeping all our fingers crossed for him. It’s a big ask for an almost thirteen year old dog, especially one with pre-existing health issues.

But he did really well. He ended up needing four teeth out – we were horrified and felt like the worst owners in the world, but apparently the vet worked on a dog the day before who needed twenty seven teeth out and was only nine years old… so we felt slightly better. Aside from the cracked tooth, one of the other ones actually had an embedded/infected ring of shark cartilage causing some problems around it (one of his former favourite snacks). I felt so bad that he’s been in pain and we haven’t even realized.

Since he got home, he has been up and down. Extremely floppy and miserable, sometimes crying and needing to be held all the time. Being strange in that he wants me to be close to him and look at him at all times, but also feeling vulnerable and growling at me. However, I went into the kitchen to get him a snack when he first got home, and he immediately leaped out of bed and came trotting in to see what I was doing. He ate some tinned oysters (only the best boys get tinned oysters), wet dog food and half a soft bread roll, and he has seemed very interested in anything that I am eating. The vet told us that he could be a whole new dog after these extractions, because after the initial recovery, it won’t hurt anymore. I hope so! It would be really good if he could gain about a kilogram.

I’m just so ridiculously grateful that we’ve cleared this hurdle with Rupert and can get back to him living his best life. He has had struggles that would have seen most dogs in his position being put down, but he’s still here, and aside from what he’s going through right now, he has a pretty great life. He is still spritely and can be as zany and hyper as a puppy. I really hope he’s around for a long time yet.

Skincare Favourites

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.