Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Hello Winter!

Winter has come early and hard to my part of Australia this year. The frosty mornings and overcast skies have blown in suddenly like a southerly wind straight from Antarctica. Thankfully, Winter isn't completely relentless here -- there are still some sunny days which bring a little warmth and hope.

Here are some ways that I'd like to celebrate Winter this year:

As I mentioned in my last post, I really want to get back into baking again. I love making cakes, loaves and biscuits that I can share with Husband and with friends. I have a secret love of rock cakes -- they make the perfect snack! Collecting cute utensils to use in the kitchen is another wish of mine.

In Summer it's just too hot to handle wool or have large blankets-in-progress draped over my lap. But Winter is the perfect time for that! I've even been taking one smaller blanket to work with me and working on it during my lunchbreaks. There's something comforting about holding the yarn in my hands which goes well with cold weather.

When I've had a long day at work, all I can think about is coming home and snuggling with my cat. He's a confirmed lap cat and a huge sook, so I know I'm guaranteed some time with him on my lap every evening. Sometimes I even joke that I'm nothing but a heated cushion in his eyes! Not only is it nice and warm, but I can scratch under his chin easily and it's bonding time for both of us.

I hope your Winter is warm and snuggly, and if you're in Summer right now, I hope you're enjoying the sun!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

End of 101 Things in 1,001 Days

A couple of days ago, I finished my first 101 Things in 1,001 Days. Like with many things, the last two-and-three-quarter years has seemed like a very long time and also hardly any time at all. My life has changed tremendously since it began, but I'll save that for another blog post.

I ended up finishing 35 things on the list -- approximately one-third. And that's even with reviewing the list every 6 months to take out things I was no longer interested in and adding in new ones. I'm trying not to see it as a dismal failure rate, but in just that it just reflects my personality as a person loves novelty and whose interests can change pretty quickly. I also have a feeling it probably says a lot about the lack of time and energy I have to devote to my hobbies. Perhaps the experience will give me motivation to look at the way I spend my spare time.

I always knew that I'd start a second 1,001 Days well before I finished the first one. I love the concept of (slightly!) longer term planning. Sometimes I want to plan further ahead than a year, but 5 years is a bit too long and daunting! A time period about half that length just seems right to me. I rolled over some of the things I'd completed and enjoyed from my last list. I also re-added others that I didn't complete, because I'm still interested in doing them. Others are new.

Here's the full list (there's also a tab at the top of my blog), and here are a couple of the highlights:

✦ finish KonMariing my house -- well, it's still not finished, even after 2.75 years ... a little outside of the 6 months that KonMari recommends! But I'm determined to finish one day.

✦ write a "reverse bucket list" -- as much as I hate the term bucket list, I think it's a good idea to remind myself of the things I've achieved so far in my life, big and small.

✦ hang all my art -- this was uncompleted from my last list, but it's important to me. Tara Leaver recommends hanging your own art in your studio to help inspire you, and it just makes sense to decorate the house with it instead of it sitting stacked up in a corner somewhere.

✦ watch 50 new movies -- I finished this one way early too, and now that we have Netflix, Husband and I watch a lot more movies. So I've increased it from 30 to 50.

✦ go to 15 art/craft exhibitions -- increased from 10 on the last list.

✦ create a gluten-free flour mix for bread -- I've been meaning to do this for a while. Gluten-free flour mixes are available from my local supermarkets, but they're expensive and only come in small packages. I want to experiment with different blends until I can make the perfect bread. (And perhaps pizza dough, cakes and biscuits too!) Since I've been unable to eat gluten, I've baked a lot less and I've missed it. This item will be a great excuse to take it up again.

✦ have a Harry Potter themed feast -- because who wouldn't want to do that?

✦ write 30 reviews on my blogs -- this item was a lot of fun, and I finished it about a year early last time, so I've increased it from 20 to 30.

✦ read A Christmas Carol every Christmas -- I had this on my list to do once, and I loved it so much that I've decided to do it every year. The message of goodwill and generosity in the book is so wonderful that I want to remind myself of it regularly.

✦ learn 5 songs on ocarina -- I didn't have any music-related items on my old list, as I only took up playing the ocarina late last year. I've been sadly slack with my practice and would really like some motivation to do it more regularly.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Winter Reading List

As the weather gets colder here in Australia, my nesting instincts have kicked in. I'm suddenly into reading again. My interests in reading are quite broad -- from non-fiction of all kinds, to classic literature, to cheesy romance novels, to toddlers' board books. (I like to know what the kids are up to!)

Before I go on with my reading list, I'd like to mention that I joined Goodreads earlier this year. I mainly joined so I could do the yearly reading challenge, but I'd really love to have some more friends there, so if you're a member, please friend me!

To begin my reading quest for this Winter, I've decided to sign up for an online course (sort of crossed with a book club) reading Ulysses by James Joyce. It's generally thought to be one of the hardest books in English to read, and it's certainly one of the longest. I've been wanting to have a crack at it ever since I was 14 and bought a copy of it at the local bookshop to make myself seem smarter. I never got around to the important part of actually reading it, of course, which is why I'm endeavouring to do it now. Hopefully doing it with a group will be fun and keep me motivated.

The course begins on 16th June, so there's still time to sign up if you'd like to do it too.

After that, I want to re-read The Lord of the Rings. I first read it when I was about 13 years old, over a boring Summer at my grandparents' house. That was an incredibly long time ago, and I think it deserves the justice of a re-read. I've decided to add it to my second 101 Things in 1,001 Days, which just happens to start in two weeks (there'll be a blog post about it!). Husband apparently has a copy of the book, but I can't find it, so I decided to buy a nice boxed set. (I recommend reading The Hobbit first as a prequel, but I'm not going to because I only re-read it a couple of years ago.)

Meanwhile, while I'm waiting for the Ulysses course to begin, I'm going to try and reduce the number of books I'm currently reading -- 14, which is a little long even by my standards. I've already given up on a couple, and there are a couple that are more like textbooks so I'm not sure they should count. Here's a short list of ones I'd like to actually finish. They're not the necessarily the hardest, or the easiest, the shortest or the longest. I guess they're just the ones that are piquing my interest right now. There might be reviews coming soon if I feel like writing them.