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Bienvenue 2019

 

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now but I’ve been so busy doing Christmas and New Year things with my family, and writing here and there, I haven’t been motivated to carve out the time.

  

  

Some of the things we’ve been doing here in Tassie, include: climbing trees, playing pooh sticks, visiting the forestation, playing golf, feeding the horsey, and going for long walks…

So, yes another year has ended and it is now 2019. All I can think is, where did the last 19 years go? Nevertheless, I thought I would do a resolution post. It’s been a while since I posted one and the last time I did, I really enjoyed looking back on it the following December to see how many of my goals I achieved — which turned out to be a lot more than I expected!!!

So this year, given my previous success, I thought I’d include a resolution that is a little bit unusual for me, something that feels a little frivolous but definitely doable.

So without further ado, here are my resolutions for 2019…

1. Finish the rewrite of my book

2019 is looking more and more like the year I will finally finish my rewrite. Currently, I’m working on scene 45. Once completed, I’ll only have one or two more scenes to write until I’ve finished all twelve the diary entry scenes! Then all that is left is rewriting the final third of my book which is already written, but just needs to be changed to present tense and some scenes reworked into idea’s perspective. So yes, a finished manuscript by the end of 2019 is looking very promising 🙂

2. Learn some French (my frivolous plan)

Over the past three weeks, while I’ve been here in Tassie, I’ve watched most of season 1 of Escape to the Château DIY, and pretty much fallen in love with the idea of visiting France one day. In fact, after talking to David, I’ve been thinking I’d like us to stay in a whole bunch of places, once we finally retire and the boys have grown up. Three months in England, three months in France, three months in Canada, three months on the east coast of the USA, and the list goes on. Three months at a time so we can live more like locals than tourists. I even checked out long term rentals online, and it turns out there are plenty of holiday houses you can rent around the world for the same cost as renting here in Australia.

But given my current binge-watching escapades, France is currently number one on my list. So, in the spirit of all things new and resolute, I thought, “why not learn some French?” and downloaded the Duolingo app.

My resolution for 2019 is to complete all the French Duolingo levels by the end of the year, which I think is quite doable. And funnily enough, my middle son has been doing the classes with me and he is a little language machine. Although, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised given his affinity for memorising obscure dinosaur names, since before he was even two years old. He’s always had a good ear and a talented memory for unusual words.

3. Adopt some new lifestyle habits

Last year, while not a resolution of mine, I managed to implement a new practice in my life which ultimately became a new habit. This is quite unusual for me. Usually I’ll start something new and then stick with it for all of about a month or two. But in 2018, I introduced audiobooks to my daily routine, and now they are an integral — and much cherished — part of my day to day life.

It’s funny, but after making this change, I feel like I have a little bit more power to change my life. I can implement new activities and routines to improve my life for the better, and mould my real life into the life I aspire to in my head.

So, into my day to day routine, I would like to incorporate three new things:

1. Drink more water every day. I’m already doing this, and want to continue 🙂

2. Special family dinners every Sunday and experimenting with new recipes. A few weeks ago I watched (for the second time) the Julie & Julia movie which I thoroughly enjoyed. It inspired in me a curiosity: to try some of Julia Child’s recipes! I’ve already ordered a copy of her book Mastering the Art of French Cuisine (Volumes 1 and 2), which hopefully will be waiting for me at home when I return to Brisbane next week.

 

On a more general note, I would very much like to try to experiment with cooking a bit more on a day to day basis — ie. making bread rolls, bread, and other things like that. While I’ve been in Tassie this trip, I’ve cooked a few treats, including apple crumble and my favourite cheesy potato bake, as well as a whole bunch of seasonal fair (such as fruit mince pies, chocolate truffles, cookies and white Christmas). One day I promise I will get around to sharing my favourite recipes on here.

   

  

3. And lastly I’d like to make more of an effort with my appearance. These days, with my hectic schedule, I resort to t-shirts and jeans every single day. It would be nice to be a bit more adventurous and maybe add a few French style items to my wardrobe. Like this lovely scarf I received as a gift this Christmas…

But we will see how that goes… lol

Anyways, Happy New Year!!! And good luck with any resolutions you may have 😀

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My Favourite Things, Recipes

My favourite things #4: Fruit Mince Pies

In the spirit of everything Christmas, I thought I might share my favourite Christmas treat recipe – Fruit Mince Pies 🙂

Ingredients:

Pastry
• 2 ¼ cups plain flour
• ¾ cup ground almonds
• ¾ cup sugar
• 277 g butter
• 2 egg yolks
• 1 ½ table spoon water

Filling
• 2 x 410g jars fruit mince
• ¼ cup sweet condensed milk

Topping
• 400g marzipan
• 1 cup ground almonds
• ½ cup sweet condensed milk

Tools required:

• sift
• rolling pin
• 6 ½ cm fluted cutter
• electric mixer
• mixing spoon
• cutting knife
• cup and saucepan
• several mixing bowls
• 2 x large muffin tins
• 24 circles of baking paper (cut to size of base of muffin tin holes)
• Spray olive oil (better than canola as canola oil froths)

Instructions:

Pastry

  1. Sift flour into a bowl, add almonds and sugar.
  2. Rub butter in.
  3. Add egg yolks and water.
  4. Mix to firm doe. Split into two halves to make it easier to work with.
  5. Roll pastry out onto lightly floured surface to 5mm thickness.
  6. Cut into rounds using 6 1/2cm fluted cutter.
  7. Spray muffin tins with olive oil and place circles of baking paper onto bottom of every muffin tin hole.
  8. Line large muffin pans with pastry.

Filling

  1. Mix together.

Topping:

  1. Grind almonds in the mixer; chop marzipan into small blocks (with a little icing sugar).
  2. Combine marzipan, extra almonds, extra condensed milk and egg whites, mix until smooth, spoon onto fruit.

Cooking:

  1. Bake on 200* C (or 180* C if fan forced) for 15-20 min, till golden brown.
  2. Allow to cool before removing from pans (so they don’t fall apart), and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Makes 22 to 24 pies.

 

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Progress Update

Is it time for a snoopy dance, yet?

I’m happy to say, since my last post 11 weeks ago, I have achieved the following:

Listened to three audiobooks…

 

Watched season 1 of A Discovery of Witches on TV, which was good but sadly IMHO not as good as the book 😦

And while I do think Matthew Goode is a wonderful actor, I’m sad to say he isn’t the Matthew de Clairmont I imagined. In my mind, I pictured de Clairmont as being more of a Henry Fitzroy from Blood Ties than a Charles Ryder from Brideshead. But alas, I would rather a Charles Ryder than no de Clairmont at all…

Matthew de Clairmont? Now this is more like it…

Started re-watching True Blood, which is totally getting me in the mood for a long, hot, humid summer

Rewrote scene 37 (as planned in my last post) AND finished scenes 38, 39, 40 and 41. Currently, I’m 400 words into scene 42!!!

So I have to say, I’m pretty stoked with my progress. I finally broke through the barrier I was stuck at for 5 months, and only have 4 1/2 new scenes left to write. Once they’re done, I‘ll be on the downward stretch – just rewriting/editing the third act of my novel (which is about 30,000 words). And I love rewriting/editing 😀

At this rate, it looks like this draft will end up being approx. 110,000 words, and will hopefully be finished in 2019 😀 How wonderful that will be.

Then I’ll have to go back through the whole thing combing for anachronistic dialogue and prose… But I won’t mind that part because finally AGAIN I will have a complete novel.

Time for a snoopy dance…

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Musings, Progress Update

The first day of the rest of my life…

I thought it was about time I checked in again. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything non-work related, let alone a blog post.

A lot has happened since I last posted:

I’ve finished at least four more audiobooks…

Pretty much completed the renovations of my writing room…

 

(The change is significant, considering how it used to look…)

Caught up with the Print Posse gals…

But still I haven’t written anything more in my novel. In fact, this weekend I plan to actually tear to shreds the last “new” scene I wrote and rewrite from the ground up. But I feel ready now… or at least I think I do. Actually, I feel pretty awful about the whole not-writing thing. Since I started writing seriously back in March 2009, this is the first time I’ve had so much time off. It’s scary and makes me feel like I’m not a writer at all, and then I start thinking “but what will I do if I don’t write?” I’ve kind of planned my whole future life around writing and all my writing plans. Without it, my life (and by “my life” I mean my personal, internal life within myself) would be pretty empty. I would be lost. Writing gives that part of me meaning. A purpose. Self-satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment.

I have to write!!! I just have to!!!

But right now, not having written for so long (since April), I feel disconnected from a huge part of myself. I have to get back into it. I have to force myself to do it. I only have 11 new scenes to write, for goodness sake. All that stands between me and moving on to my new project is freakin’ 11 new scenes and then a reworking (which I love doing) of the final act. Blah! I just have to do it and break this drought.

That is the plan anyway. This Saturday I am sitting down in front of my computer and rewriting this last scene I wrote. I’m gonna make it better and then I’m going to write the next scene and the next and the next (well, not all this Saturday, but I’m going to at least get started). Then I will feel better. Then I will be a writer again.

Lol I just realised Saturday will be the first day after I turn 40 (my birthday is on Friday). What a great start to the next decade of my life 😀

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Musings

If speaking is silver, then listening is gold…

I’ve recently reacquainted myself with audio books…

Back when I lived in Tassie, I delved into the amazing world of audio books, purchasing several Nicholas Sparks audio books on CD and listening to them while I exercised. It’s been more than 10 years since then, and last week I purchased my first audio book since The Wedding on Audible.comLooking For Alaska by John Green (Between you and me, I have a secret love for John Green stories which, it just occurred to me, happen to be in the same vein as those of Nicholas Sparks. Who would have thunk it, hey?).

These days, between working, looking after the boys and writing when I can steal a morning, finding time to read is tricky. Usually by the time I go to bed and lie down with a novel, I’m so tired I only manage get through a page or two before the lure of sleep overtakes me. With audio books, though, I can listen to them in my car on the way home from dropping off the boys at school in the morning, and on the way to picking them up in the afternoon. And that’s a good hour a day!!!

In one week I’ve almost finished Looking For Alaska, a feat which might have taken me months if I’d been reading the novel at night time alone 😀 

I must admit though, I feel a little overwhelmed by all the audiobooks I have to choose from. I’ve already decided the next audio book I’ll be listening to Brideshead Revisited. Not only because I’ve been wanting to read this book since forever, it’s also only a little over 2 hours long! After that, though, I have no idea.

Night Circus, perhaps? Or The Bronze Horseman? I’ve long wanted to read both of these novels. Or maybe I’ll delve into a series, like Vampire Academy or Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake series. Some other YA books have made it onto my wish list too – Eleanor & Park and All The Bright Places. I guess we shall see which one ultimately grabs my attention.

Regardless of what my next selection will be, I’m so excited at the thought of all the books I’m going to be able to devour now that I’ve rediscovered Audiobooks!

Just a quick note before I go – I thought I’d share with you my favourite quote from Looking For Alaska. When Miles asks Alaska why she smokes so damn fast, she replies:

“Y’all smoke to enjoy it. I smoke to die.”

Best. Line. Ever.

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Musings

Harvard Law… who am I kidding?

In the spirit of wet weather and cuddling up in a cosy jumper and sneakers (yes, after days and days of plus 30 degrees heat, it’s actually raining here today and only 19.9 degrees!!!) I pulled on my jeans and favourite Harvard T-shirt before heading down to the office. To those not in the know, I love anything Ivy League (I’m even plotting an Ivy League thriller) and on a whim decided to search the net to see what sort of Harvard University-related gear I could find 🙂

Much to my delight, I came across this cool website:

Apparently it’s run by none other than the students of Harvard themselves!

I just love how they add at the bottom of each item’s description: All orders designed, packaged, and shipped by Harvard University students.

Some of my favourite items would have to be…

This sweatshirt tote bag: 

That Harvard Trapper Beanie (like OMG how gorgeous!!!): 

And these folders: 

This striped scarf: 

That T: 

And those pencils: 

Although if I’m being brutally honest, I might have to add this one from Etsy to my list… cos here in my office it’s   all round 😀

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