Taking Stock: March ’17

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Hey gang! How are you going? I have been feeling pretty good. Yep, I have. I’m enjoying the post-school life. There seems to be a lot more free time. Not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m not having to run around sourcing costumes and dress up day clothes, which seemed to be needed with annoying frequency! So it’s good. But me being me, the guilt thoughts start to creep in, and there’s that little voice saying ‘everyone else is working, you need to be doing something!’ Because for some reason I don’t count doing cleaning the house, doing the washing, the garden, the cooking as doing anything! So I’ve started clearing out the attic to assuage the guilt. So much stuff up there! I’ve been making lots of trips to the Salvos!

So apart from becoming a manic attic cleaner, what’s been happening with my freed up time?

Making: still working away on my cosy stripe blanket. Had to undo about eight bands of colour the other night because I’d miscounted. Grrrr!

Eating: grapes

Drinking: tea

Cooking: rigatoni with salami, tomato and chilli

Hearing: the wind outside. It’s getting quite blowy out there

Listening: to lots of podcasts! This American LifeS-Town (think this is going to be good!), Chat 10 Looks 3, and The Messenger (an ‘interview’ with an asylum seeker detained on Manus Island)

Watching: This Is Us. I LOVE this! The relationship between Jack and child Kate, Randall (loved the night in the hotel excitement!), William, Kevin. All so good!

Reading: A Spool of Blue Thread

Looking: forward to a beginners weaving class next month

Loving: cuddling a sleeping baby at a new family I’m working with

Wearing: skirt, singlet, cardigan and beads

Noticing: I don’t know when school holidays are

Planning: a couple of short trips my man and I could take when work becomes less consuming for him

Wishing: the painter hadn’t found so much dry rot when he’d washed down the house! Eek! But what can you do? We have lovely new fretwork and window architraves now!

Opening: our garden waste bin a lot know that the leaves are falling and the raking has begun

Knowing: I need to make sure I don’t lose contact with my school mum friends

Has March been good for you? Do tell!

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Have you read…? The year to date in books

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book post so I think it’s time to do a quick round up of what has been sitting next to my bed, my couch, and shoved in my bag and carried around!

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The Book of Hygge by Louisa Thomsen Brits ‘Hygge’, that lovely concept of Danish cosiness, is hot right now, yes? And there are quite A LOT of books in the bookshops explaining to harried souls how they can incorporate hygge into their daily lives. This was the ‘how to hygge’ book that I received in my Christmas pile. It is a lovely looking book. The pics are muted and tranquil and they made me want to spend my days wandering through forests or sitting by candlelight with a mug of hot chocolate. And, to be honest, this is pretty much what the text said – over and over again! There was a lot of ‘hygge is stopping by at your neighbours and sharing a glass of wine on the verandah’,  ‘hygge is a basket of knitted slippers at your front door’, or ‘hygge is lighting a candle and eating breakfast together’. Now I am not averse to any of these suggestions, but I probably only need to hear the suggestion once, not once each chapter.  Reading the book made a long haul plane flight feel a bit more hygge-like, but I’m not sure if I’d been sitting on my couch at home that I would have continued reading it from cover to cover.

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The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North Fairly self-explanatory from the title what this one is about! The story of the wunderkind filmmaker Sophie’s life and death is told by those closest to her – her brother, ex-husband and lover, and those who were part of her working life – film subject, film reviewer and producer. As I read the novel, I was a little unsure how I felt about it. I wondered if I was learning more about the characters who had had relationships with Sophie, than I was about Sophie herself. The focus of their recollections seemed to be how THEY responded to Sophie, how she made THEM feel. But as I read on, I started thinking that in showing how they were affected by Sophie, they were painting a picture of her – a self-contained, distant young woman who was an observer of life (appropriate for a filmmaker!), who,  when she did become a participant, seemed driven by her own desires rather than the desire to share herself with others. For the most part, I found it difficult to warm to her, but Anna North has managed to infuse her with enough victimhood and trauma in her life for her to be seen as a psychologically isolated, tragic young woman. Not sure that I super enjoyed it, but the fact that I am still mulling it over weeks down the track shows it was an affecting read.

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The Dry by Jane Harper This was a goody! Set in the fictitious sunburnt Victorian town of Kiewarra, this thriller seeks to discover who was responsible for the murder of the Hadler family. Is it a murder-suicide, or is there a killer in the small town? Aaron Falk, a former local, now a member of the Federal Police, returns for the funeral of his old friend, Luke Hadler, and is persuaded by Luke’s father to assist in the investigation. Aaron’s return stirs up the town’s emotions surrounding the crircumstances of the death, years earlier, of Ellie Deacon, a friend of Aaron’s and Luke’s. Were they involved in her death? Had Luke killed her? Had Aaron? This novel had sufficient twists and turns to keep me wondering throughout as to what had taken place, and satisfyingly, kept me guessing until the end on both counts. Recommended!

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Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance And now for some non fiction! Hillbilly Elegy is part autobiography, part social commentary. JD Vance grew up in Kentucky, then Ohio before becoming a Marine and then graduating from Yale Law School. He spent much of his life living with his grandparents whilst his mother battled drug addiction and cycled through one failing relationship after another. Vance shines a light on what constitutes hillbilly culture – its genesis and how it has spread from the south to the Midwest as hillbillies have migrated in the search for work. Alongside his own story of what it was like to grow up in this culture, his time spent in the Marines, and at Yale, he describes the culture of a people who feel hardly done by through the decline blue collar jobs; who feel minorities have gained an advantage over them through Democrat presidencies. Being Australian, I have read this book as an outsider – I cannot judge how accurate his evaluation is. I have read some criticisms of the book; that Vance seems to be saying that because he has become successful, others could too if they’d only put in the work. I didn’t get that impression from the book. I saw it more as explaining why there was a disaffected group in US society ripe for the politics of Donald Trump. And throughout, for me, he was conscious of his good fortune in having a family who despite their violent tendencies, aggressive behaviour and addictions, valued education and knew that he could achieve. They knew he had the ability to choose a path in life, that he didn’t have to accept what was, and it is this that he feels needs to be role modelled for those growing up within the hillbilly culture. An interesting read to learn more about US society.

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Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty I’ve never read any Liane Moriarty before and with Big Little Lies hitting the small screen, I thought it was time to give her a go. I’m not sure if this novel is reflective of her others, but I have to say I was a little underwhelmed by this one. The story revolves around three couples, Erika and Oliver, Erika’s ‘best friend’ Clementine and her husband, Sam, and Erika’s neighbours, Vid and Tiffany. The three couples, plus the daughters of Clementine and Sam, and Vid and Tiffany, gather for a barbecue one afternoon at Vid and Tiffany’s. Early on we learn that something has taken place at the barbecue that shakes the relationship between the couples. The chapters flick between the day of the barbecue and the present where we are made aware of the strains in Erika and Clementine’s friendship, Erika’s mother’s hoarding, Clementine’s cello audition, and Vid and Tiffany’s attempts to maintain a relationship with Clementine and Sam in the wake of the barbecue. For me this was a page turner but only because there was such a heavy-handedness in writing about what had happened at the barbecue – along the lines of ‘if only we’d stayed home’, ‘if only we hadn’t agreed’ – that I was saying through gritted teeth ‘just get on with it!’. I’m not sure that I felt the fallout from the incident to be entirely warranted, and I didn’t warm to the characters sufficiently to be concerned with their stories once the incident had been revealed. As a holiday read, maybe it’s okay. I guess I’d say ‘proceed with caution’!

Have you been reading anything interesting this year? Have you read any of these? Should I try another Liane Moriarty?

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When the stars align

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It’s a bit of a blowy old day here. The sky is grey and it has a touch of the ‘hunker down inside’ feel about it. You know when you have one of those days when the stars align? The weather is perfect for your mood? The day demands nothing of your time? Yep, I’m having one of those. And it is bliss!

It started with a Sunday morning walk, but a solo one as the man has a broken foot. Love having him for company but it was quite nice to hit the streets by myself with a podcast for company, and then meet up with him at our new local favourite for coffee. Lunch was leftovers from dinner last night so no need to think what to have. Love that! Why can’t leftovers always appear in my fridge? Gosh, my heart always does a little skip when I spy something yummy from last night’s dinner in the fridge!

Uni is yet to start so the boy and the girl are relaxed and happy with no brain power demanded of them. Many of our recent Sundays have been taken up with driving practice as the girl strives to accrue the hours needed before she can do her test but today she’s happy to take a break. Nice!

The day is inviting me to relax. I’ve been reading my bookbuying wool, drinking coffee and tea, and feeling quite at peace with the world. I’ve got burgers for dinner, so I don’t even really need to think about too much cooking tonight! I do need to make an after dinner sweety-treaty but I think I can manage to get off the couch in my chilled state and whip something up. Might do it whilst having a glass of wine…or a G&T. Decisions!

How has your day been? Have you had the stars align for you?

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Taking Stock: January ’17

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Gah! Can you believe it? January 31 already! It feels like it has been quite a full month. It started out in wintry New York and has ended in sunny Melbourne. In between there’s been LOTS of driving around Melbourne as my girl has been trying to get up her hours before going for her licence, 18th birthday celebrations, university offers and subject choices and a husband with a broken foot! Phew! I feel like a need a holiday sitting by the beach! Alas, that is not about to happen, so instead, I’ll take stock whilst sitting on my couch.

Making: another one of these for Softies for Mirabel

Reading: The Dry by Jane Harper

Drinking: tea

Cooking: sausages and mash

Eating: passionfruit and nectarine

Watching: Lion with my girl over the other side of town at Sun Theatre. Yep, getting up those driving hours! What a tear jerker! Having said that, I cried in Beverly Hills Chihuahua when the doggy friends had to part!

Hearing: the clunking of crutches coming down the hallway

Savouring: extra holiday time since the now-two uni students still have another four weeks at home!

Loving: the flowers my man brought home to celebrate our wedding anniversary tomorrow!

Liking: morning walks to the shops to buy provisions.  More relaxed start to the day than jumping in the car

Marvelling: at the way my girl has reunited with a friend from years ago and it’s as if they’ve never been apart

Wishing: Trump hadn’t been elected

Cheering: protesters

Hoping: the girl’s room will actually be cleaned up tomorrow!

Wanting: a little more quiet reading time

Celebrating: regaining a bit of creative mojo

Bookmarking: Craftsy classes

Attempting: a little bit of art journaling

Looking: forward to a weekend catch up with friends

Enjoying: sunshine and warm air

What have you been enjoying this month? Do you have some happy things to look forward to in 2017?

 

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Taking Stock: December ’16 -The New York Edition!

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Howdy! How are you all? Recovered from Christmas? Planning new year’s celebrations? We have escaped the Melbourne heat for the New York winter and are happily residing in the Upper West Side whilst experiencing as much as we can of the city’s attractions. The list is never ending! But we’re also trying not to be too rushed so that we can afford to have some lazy mornings. I have felt quite tired out by this year so am appreciating a few sleeps in – and the opportunity to ‘take stock’ before 2017 descends! Thanks to Pip Lincolne for the idea. She’s full of ideas, that one!

Cooking: prepared meals from Fairway

Drinking: hot chocolate

Watching: US telly

Reading: NY tourist guide books and websites, and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Brooklyn author Anna North – which seems kinda appropriate!

Buying: these coasters from the Guggenheim store

Coveting: pretty much everything at Anthropologie

Wondering: how we’ll fit in everything we want to see!

Enjoying: warm rooms after the cold outdoors

Looking: forward to seeing a handful of musicals with my girl

Hoping: for some more space for creative pursuits next year. I lost my mojo towards the end of this year

Making: time to record memories of our time away in my notebook

Giggling: at the bass player serenading a woman on the subway and the Salavation Army guy outside Macy’s dancing to Happy by Pharrell

Hearing: horns honking and the occasional whooping of sirens

Wearing: layers! Tights, jeans, singlet, long sleeve tee, jumper – and then a coat and scarf. Haven’t cracked out the beanie or gloves yet but I think they may need to come out tonight!

Disliking: holes in my jumper. They just appeared today. I think it was the weight of my bag and coat rubbing against my shoulder 🙁

Noticing: the snow outside our window! Much excitement! The rest of the family has run downstairs for photos!

Feeling: the crush of people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such crowds! The other day outside Radio City, there was not enough room for pedestrians cross the road and to all fit on the footpath!

Paying: tips! I understand why we need to do it but I still don’t understand why the minimum wage isn’t increased. Happy for the employer pass on the cost to me. I’m paying anyway!

So. That’s where we’re at at the end of 2016! Maybe you want to take stock before the new year starts too? I’m looking forward to visiting MoMA and Purl Soho in the coming days and hoping that they’ll inspire me for the year ahead! Enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations and see you in 2017!

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Taking Stock: October ’16

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Hello lovelies! How are you going? Are you getting your Halloween on? It’s certainly gaining in popularity here in Melbourne. I’ve been noticing on my walks around the street that people have already been decorating their houses. That’s a bit different from previous years when the decorations only seemed to pop up on the day. I’ll make sure we have lollies ready to go but we won’t be doing anything else. Both kiddies have their heads buried in books, notes, or tapping away at keyboards as they’re in the middle of their end of year assessments. The pressure to achieve particular marks to get into courses or higher levels of study – eugh! I always fall into a state of inertia at this time of the year, tip-toeing around the house, delivering sustaining snacks and making cups of tea, doling out the hugs when the a bit of emotional support is needed.   There hasn’t been much levity in our house of late! So what has been sustaining me?

Making: crochet flowers for this project

Drinking: champagne with other parents whilst our girls were in their English exam!

Eating: chocolate

Cooking: my girl’s favourites – anything with chicken, salmon or pasta!

Watching: not a lot. Just started Deep Water which has a stellar Australian cast

Reading: This House of Grief by Helen Garner. I thought it may be a bit macabre and voyeuristic but I’ve been assured the focus is more on the legal and criminal procedure of the case rather than the case itself

Wearing: activewear!

Hearing: the washing machine thudding and whirring

Looking: at the blue sky and sunshine out my window

Hoping: both kiddies are satisfied with their efforts at the end of the year

Needing: to put a bit more thought into holiday planning for the end of the year

Looking: forward to a birthday lunch with friends later today

Wishing: my girl was not so critical of herself

Feeling: a bit emotionally drained. It’s been a demanding few years

Wanting: a magic wand so that I could give the other three people in this house what they want

Knowing: that not getting a particular mark is not the end of the world. Just have to convince others of that!

Hmm. Seems to be a bit of a theme running through that! Guess that’s just where we are at at the moment – and that’s what ‘taking stock’ is all about, isn’t it? Just taking moment to notice what is going on, being experienced, at a particular point in time. Sometimes they’re cheery, sometimes a little more fraught. What would your ‘taking stock’ look like at the moment? Thanks to Pip for the inspiration!

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Taking Stock: September ’16

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Happy spring or happy fall, depending upon where you are! Have you felt a change in the weather? We haven’t experienced a lot of spring warmth here in Melbourne but the days are certainly getting that bit longer. I’ve been watching the shelves at my greengrocer’s for the appearance of summer fruit. Whilst I don’t hate the apple, banana or mandarin, they are a little pedestrian. Berries, stone fruit, mangoes…well, they are just a bit more enticing, don’t you think? But whilst the days have still been a little chill and rainy, this is how I’ve been passing the time.

Making: a skirt for a futuristic themed 18th my girl was invited to. Honestly, there have been so many costumes this year between 18ths and school dress up days!

Reading: The Turner House. I’ve been a bit unfocussed with my reading of late but I am enjoying it.

Watching: The Bachelorette. Love Georgia and LOVE the guys this year. How could you get rid of any of them? Oh well, maybe Rhys!

Smelling: peanut butter and choc chip cookies fresh out of the oven

Hearing: my girl humming as she studies for maths. It creates the illusion that she is enjoying it but I know the reality is different!

Cooking: pasta for boy before he heads out to work.

Drinking: instant coffee. Nothing fancy today.

Eating: maybe eggs for lunch?

Enjoying: sleeping a bit better the last few nights. No night sweats! Do you feel me menopausal pals? Far out! The continual search for the cool spot in bed!

Liking: that our kids are now bigger so that I can have the odd weekend away with my man without needing to organise babysitters. So much freedom!

Wanting: to get onto a new craft project just not sure what.

Pondering: Disgraced, the play my girl and I went to see last night. Lots of stuff in there about identity and prejudice and changing societies. A play for our times.

Hoping: the coming months will not be too stressful.

Wearing: sloppy clothes. Yoga pants, t-shirt and hoodie. Need to change out of that soon otherwise I’ll feel slothful all day.

Finding: myself stressing out too much.

Wondering: why I let myself get stressed out too much! Just let it go!

Opening: my laptop to write this!

Giggling: at Michelle shopping with Ellen

So that’s September! Have you been baking or making? Watching or reading? Taking Stock posts spring from the creative brain of Pip Licolne. Maybe you want to have a go too?

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