Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 in Review

It's generally being said around the Internet that 2016 was the year from hell, and in many ways I agree. In my own life though, it was a very good year, with many changes, most of them positive.

I was going to write about things I wish I'd done differently this year, but I'd rather focus on the positive, so here's a list of good things that I did or happened to me:

➸ I left my old job and had 6 months off
➸ I got a new job in the field I wanted to go into
➸ We got a cat (!!)
➸ I went on trips to the country, the beach, and a fashion show (all on my own!)
➸ I made a new friend
➸ I went to see a shaman
➸ I KonMaried my house (it's not finished yet, but I did most of it)
➸ I turned 40 and had a crafternoon party to celebrate
➸ I made jam, preserved olives, gluten-free hot cross buns, and learned how to make gluten-free pastry
➸ I started writing a zine
➸ My attitudes towards work, material things, and other people all seem to have changed

Now for the customary stats (last year's stat in brackets):

Books finished:
full-length: 20 (14)
short & manga: 20 (38)
Currently reading as of today: 9 (13)

Blog posts: 63 (69)

Craft items started: 6 (8)
Craft items finished: 6 (7)
Craft projects currently in progress as of today: 40 (I did have 52, but I made myself cull some a few weeks ago.)

Last but not least, the annual Apartmentcat Favourites Awards!
Top Movies:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Rogue One
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Maleficent and Mad Max: Fury Road were also very good.

Top Books:
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Essays in Idleness by Yoshida KenkĊ

Have a happy and safe new year everyone!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Season's Greetings (and Presents Received!)

I hope you've been having a wonderful and relaxing time, no matter what you celebrate.
Thank you for the views and comments this year!
May your 2017 be everything that you wish for.

And now for the presents! I didn't receive as many this year, but I don't mind at all. I love everything I received. Husband bought me the board game Scoville as I heard about it from a workmate a few months ago and I mentioned it to him as a game I might like.

Lottie Fossil Hunter doll and two outfits. I ordered these online and then gave the unopened box to Husband for him to give to me.

Books -- some I asked Husband to give me, some I received from my mother and father in-law, and Cakemoji was from my best friends. My mother-in-law slips a cheesy romance novel into our Christmas hamper every year -- it seems to have become a family tradition!

Food gifts: the bottle of Kirsch has a spinning mini bottle insert in the front. Husband and I are always on the look-out for interesting liqueur bottles to give each other. The mug was a going-away gift to me from one of my workmates. I gave it to Husband to wrap and put under the tree because, it's quite pretty and why not?

Crafts: I instructed Husband to give me some sparkly gel pens and a pencil pouch. The Tsum-Tsums activity tin is from my best friends. They know I like childish things like that, not to mention tins to keep my craft projects in!

Lastly, I did indeed receive the Harry Potter boxed set that I wished for. Husband and I bought it together as a gift for ourselves, so we decided to revive an old tradition from his childhood -- we designated it a "gift from the tree". When he was a child, his parents would wrap small gifts in green paper and hide them amongst the branches of the Christmas tree for him to find. This gift was much too heavy to hide in the tree! but it was just as special. It's something I'd like to do every year, not only to solve the problem of joint gifts, but as a lovely tradition.

Happy festive season to all!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere

The photos from today's post are unrelated to the text -- I took them yesterday during a trip to the city. I included them to give a general festive feel, and I always like to illustrate my posts. I hope you like my reminiscence of Christmas in Australia.

Christmas is nearly here! The school holidays are a few weeks in; the weather's turning hot. We set up the sprinkler in the backyard, running through it squealing until we get tired and convince Mum to give us an icypole. There's plenty more time for play -- it doesn't get dark until 9pm and we're allowed to stay up late on Christmas Eve. It's hard to sleep in the sticky heat, and even harder to stick to the rule of not waking Mum and Dad up until 6am.

After opening our presents and having breakfast, we dress in t-shirts, shorts and thongs, and pile into the car. The road trip of visitations to various relatives is almost torturous in our old, un-air-conditioned car, and a towel is required to stop our bare legs from sticking to the seats. Our trip ends, mid-afternoon, at Oma and Opa's house. Despite living in Australia for 25 years, they had never quite acclimatised to the Summer heat, and their house is one of the few in the street with air-conditioning installed. At Christmas though, it labours and splutters in the 35-degree heat, not quite able to counteract the oven which has been on since early morning.

We stuff in as much gravy-smothered roast beef, pork and chicken as we're able, not to mention roast potatoes and pumpkin. The table laid out with a straight-out-of-the-oven feast heats up both us and the room even more, until we're sweating. The paper crowns we found in our bonbons stick to our damp foreheads, and our clammy thighs stick to the plastic folding chairs. By the end of the last course, we're itching to leave the table.

Sometimes at dusk, we go for a leisurely walk around the neighbourhood to help digest our dinner, shuffling along in our thongs, wishing Merry Christmas to neighbours watering their gardens. Other years, it's just too hot, and we lie slumped on the couch, staring at the Christmas tree and losing the battle to stay awake.

We might play listlessly with our new toys for a little bit, leaving sweaty fingerprints on them, before slipping gratefully under crisp white sheets in the spare room and drifting off to sleep.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Christmas Wishlist

Harry Potter Boxed Set
For the last few months, I've had a hankering to read the whole Harry Potter series again. I never had a full set because I'd borrowed the first 3 or 4 from the library to read, and had only purchased the last few as they came out. I must have donated them because I can't find them anymore. So I'm wishing for a lovely boxed set like this one:

New Phone
Actually, I have a phone, it just isn't set up yet. I'm not very technically-minded, so it's taking a long time to figure out how to do everything. (My situation is complicated by the fact that I have an old-style sim card that doesn't fit the phone, my music library is on my old laptop, and my contacts, apps and photos are spread across 3 devices.) I know I have to do the work myself, and it's a bit unrealistic to call on the Christmas elves to help, but a girl can't help dreaming, right?

Plant Pots
I have so many baby plants now that I need a constant supply of nice pots for them to live in. Spare pots are also handy for keeping craft supplies and other household items in. Specialty bonsai pots are the prettiest, in my opinion -- they come in small sizes, and many colours and shapes.

Hose Trolley
Watering the garden every day in Summer is a must for it to survive, but lugging around an unco-operative hose is no fun. It would be so much easier with a retractable hose trolley that I could trundle around to different parts of the garden.

Miss Peregrine Book
I don't often buy fiction books unless I'm sure I'll like them, but having seen the trailers for the movie, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children seems to be one I'll surely like.

I'm quite sure at least a couple of these are under the Christmas tree already!

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Late Spring Garden Update

It was a very wet Spring this year, which meant I didn't need to start watering the plants until a few weeks later than normal -- they sprang into life on their own and most things are growing well. Weeds grow so fast it's hard to keep up with them! (I secretly prefer the lawn like this, with dandelions popping up all over. It's the witch in me.)

I noticed when editing the photo that the shrub in the background looks like it has bright blue fairy lights all over it! But it's just the sun reflecting off the glossy leaves.

The orange tree has hundreds of tiny green globes all over it:

The plum and apricot trees are coming along nicely. I'll need to put the bird netting on them this weekend. This is the plum:

The ferns normally start to flag a little when the weather gets warmer, but it's not quite time for that yet:

Last but not least, the roses are even more glorious this year! The Circus Gold is a little too bright for me, but I can't help falling in love with its exuberance:

I'm very excited to see that the Julia's Rose is blooming properly for the first time in the three years I've lived here. The delicate pastel copper is just exquisite, and it smells wonderful too. It's competing with the Blue Moon (background) as my favourite at the moment.

This time next week, the weather is forecast to turn hot. The nightly cycle of sprinklers, hoses and watercan-hauling will soon begin. I like spending time with my plants though, it's calming and a relaxing thing to do after work when it's too hot for baths and tea.