Sunday, August 6, 2017

July: hump month.

Well July is done, mostly uneventful. I get to pick a poppy every couple of days. 

Nothing good or bad has happened, really. Having a good winter, mentally and everything. What I want is a bit more time to think. I have a lot of great input at the moment. I'm digesting the Blueprint material (investing and being a responsible adult - I should get a will), reading through The Art of Frugal Hedonism (enjoy life not stuff), lots of good podcasts -  The Money, Straight and Curly, Budget and Cents - about what I think of as maximising life. Searching for a change. Probably just bored of routine, even though it's basically working well.

Here are some random thoughts!

I'm going to keep up with my gratitude journal til the end of the year but after that I'll try other things. This blog is a monthly reflection which performs a similar job. But also, praying in thanks to the father who gives me all these blessings. I could follow this through and thank people who are blessing me in many ways. Another idea I like is a shared gratitude journal for my house - if M and I both wrote down things it would be encouraging to read each other's things. Maybe a chalkboard or something.

I'm intrigued by people who chuck in normal life and live without money, or go off the grid in some way, or quit their jobs to be something interesting. I've been in the same place for 3.5 years now so that's when I usually have a massive change like moving house, also it's winter and the days are short and life feels like just work and life admin... so I daydream about being a hippy. But also I'm rational, and I'm going to delay being a hippy until my house is paid off. I think being debt free is more my type of freedom. Maybe I WILL be a part time artist then, or take 2 months unpaid leave each year, or something. I just need to remember this plan when the house is paid off and not upsize for a bigger garden.

I've been thinking about dating, and how it's the worst. I don't know how anyone gets married. So maybe there's a real roadblock in me? But on the other hand, I'm really good at being single. I'm not fearful of singleness. Thankful for that.

Out of the deep stuff: I love the show Grimm! Seasons 1-3 are on Netflix. It's just solving crime and fighting monsters, very mainstream and middle of the road, but it's right in my comfort zone. Very low tension, hardly any emotional drama, a little bit of gore and horror, action and fights, beautiful forests, likeable goodies. Big soft spot for Woo (Asian cop!). I have now bought season 4 on DVD. 

Probably watching too much TV though.

Cello lessons are back on. I restarted practice 3 weeks before term 3 so that I was kind of fit again. It's a thing I'm not sure about. It's so expensive, it's another job to do each day, what am I doing it for, and now I'm getting into kayaking which is another expensive hobby to setup... My house will soon be filled with the paraphenalia of a new hobby every 2 years. But I'm doing pretty well at it, I'm at 2nd grade so I'm working with positions. I just hope there is an opportunity to play with other people at some point. The duets I did with my colleague last year were so much fun.

And now the photo processing where I remember what happened last month.

Meal prep: I discovered cauliflower rice and it's great. Quinoa out, cauliflower in. I'm going to try and buy them fresh from farmer stalls that are in Maitland every second Thursday.

The slow cooker I inherited from Elsie has been getting a workout. I've done pork, lamb, beef and chicken. It works on all the meat. Mum and dad moved in for a few nights while their roof was being fixed and this was some excellent dinner for us.

Had some amazing sunsets this winter. Also it's been dry and mild and really pleasant weather.

Photos of rainbows turn into domes apparently.

I had a lovely flex day when I went to to Heritage Gardens nursery and bought some Star Jasmines and had morning tea. This was a really GOOD banoffie.

This is my last shady section of fence. Hoping the jasmine gets enough sun in summer to grow. I rigged up 10cm wire mesh on the fence for it to twine through. I think I'll plant sweet peas there this summer too and see how that goes.

 Nice big orange butterflies around at work.

Lemons galore! I had a big lemon baking day, where I made lemon curd, lemon coconut slice and lemon delicious.

Went to the Newy farmers markets with JK for the first time. Had a nice lunch, bumped into Liz, bought fresh ginger and some tea and mushrooms and things. AND CRUMPETS! Black Fox Bakery crumpets that are delicious!

Mia brought her dog in to work for a week. It was nice to have Lucy chilling out.

THen it was a farewell for Mia, and I organised it with Jo, and I baked this GF lemon cake.

Have had a newbie with nice little kids join us on our Friday park walks.

As well as Grimm, I watch a bit of Terrace House.

I went to a friend's auction which was interesting. It was passed in. Because the NSW trustees set an absurd reserve.

Project kayak took a step forward. Roof racks on!

JK and I went out for dinner for her birthday, soft shell crab, and free birthday churros!

And my favourite pair of jeans went in the bin.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Winter travels.

June was great! 

I started the month with another cold. Run down from May. Two friends invited me to the Newcastle Flower Markets with them, which was great to check out. I was planning on getting natives but then the pink and white mums got me. They are still almost alive a month later!

Taire said we should pick some wattle foliage from the trees on the highway for free to boost our bouquets. GENIUS. Resulting in this from my housemate.

 Here is my bouquet!

Took meal prep up a level and prepped BREAKFAST. This is like an apple crumble but healthier.

Good things happening in my garden. Sugar snap peas, rocket, irises not rotting... In fact I am moving my irises to higher ground. I bought soil and mixed it with river sand to make very drainy soil and dug out the irises and planted them in sandy hills.

I rediscovered the joy of walking in the rain. Walking in the sun is good for you, but walking in a little bit of rain is being alive.

Julia turned 30! And did her own style of birthday. I spent the day in Singleton decorating the cake and meeting some friends.

At the last minute I remembered the Back to Back wool challenge on the Sunday of the long weekend. Spent about 3 hours at Tocal with JK, listening to music, eating scones, and knitting.

On the Monday I went to a pancake brunch with churchies. Note the trend towards black pants amongst the young people.

Some pretty kale.

My first yellow poppy! I've so far had about quite a few white ones, and 3 yellow ones. Really hoping for some pink.

Ahhh! And then Melbourne! Way back last year a few of us got cheap flights to Melbourne for this June. JK and my flight from Newcastle was cancelled so we got bumped to the 6 am flight :\ so on Wednesday morning we got up at 4:30 and drove to the airport. We got a taxi from Tulla to our airbnb, which was in North Fitzroy. It was sunny and spacious and well heated and there was a friendly dog called Ollie. We rested til George and Elsie arrived, listening to Bec's Sunday Storytime reading of Sense and Sensibility. Then we walked to the nearest cafe which was very Melbourny, and I had minestrone - to lay a nice veggie base in my belly for all the meat and noodle I was planning to eat later!

We dressed up and went by uber to Victoria St Winter Night Markets, which is a big shed mainly of food, so lots of meat and international BBQs.

Then we caught a few free trams to the theatre and saw Aladdin. Overall not my favourite musical, it isn't as good as the cartoon, but lots of enjoyable things. The dancing is fabulous, the singing is uneven, the sets and costumes are 100% amazing and sparkly. A feel good show.

The next day I think we did some Tiff workout? Then we went to the only thing I wanted to do in Melbourne, Meng from If You Are The One's noodle restaurant. The food was REALLY good. Would recommend.

Then we looked around some shops and eventually split up. E wanted to got to kinky gerlinki, which was hard to find, but we found some other things on the way. This chocolate cafe called Ganache, with best iced chocolate ever I think. And a clothes shop called Larry with whimsical linen and vintage clothes.

At 3:30 I thought I better scurry over to the art gallery and see the Van Gogh exhibition. I'm not a fangirl, but shouldn't waste these opportunities. 90 minutes is just about long enough to see it. The audio tour was wonderful. The tour gave me heaps of insight into his life and what he was attempting to paint. His letters to his brother were read by David Wenham, and he was just such a sensitive person. Intense but very pure in his ambitions. The way the paintings were arranged was effective too. By the time you get to the Summer room and see his style fully realised, it is this powerful recognition after years of struggle.

I got myself home on the tram by myself. Achievement worth noting. Using public transport system in new city where you don't recognise anything. I got stuck on the tram one stop too long because I thought you had to tap off but you don't.

The next day, Friday, I caught a tram to the station then a train for an hour down to Yaraman and saw my first housemate and her 2 kids. Very cute. Hadn't seen her since her wedding.

I caught the train back to the city for lunch. I had no data so this day was a bit old-school, I got some paper maps from the info centre. I tried to explore the laneways and find somewhere for lunch. I got too hungry so eventually picked a Korean place. I can't remember the food but I remember a table of geeks sat next to me and talked about games.

E had gone to explore the beach. So we met in the city on her way back through and got a tram to Lygon street to meet a friend of hers at Brunetti's, the famous pastry cafe. It's big. I had a nice afternoon special. Elsie charged her phones.

The 3 of us had a nice evening walk up the street. I was drawn into this tea and spice shop by the smell.

We had such good weather down there. Sunny and clear. Autumn really.

 JK was at home and G was out with her friends so E and I got some salad and a good pizza and went home to eat our Lygon Street Italian Food in front of the TV - Win a date with Tad Hamilton.

Saturday was our last day. We packed and checked out, and got a uber to Southern Cross, and put our bags into a locker. Then we got the tram back in to town and the laneway cafes weren't as busy as I expected, so we had morning tea.

I guided us with the tour map around all the laneways which is a good way to see lovely things. We found this hat shop and G and I bought tweed hats that are like bonnets without brims. Very cute.

And then we struck gold, a shop called Design A Space which is maybe a co-op shop for independent design labels, and the clothes were awesome - wearable clothes but more distinctive than mainstream fast fashion. I bought 3 things. Will go back.

We had ramen for lunch in a food court, and then taxi to the airport. Travelling with group of 4 was great because we split so many costs.

These are the queues at the gates for our two flights. Since JK and I did carry on we did a bit of weighing our bags and putting on a few extra layers to get from 8kg to 7kg. In the end they didn't check us.

Here is a PERFECT camellia on my small little tree, which greeted me upon my return from Melbourne.

On Sunday I got sick again. Maybe it was the same cold as at the start of the month, I don't know, I just got up feeling tired, and after doing my grocery shopping and watching some TV, went back to bed with aches. I was a bit distressed because why was I sick again and what even is it that you don't have any symptoms except aching. I couldn't go to church.

On Monday I was a lot better, just tired from being sick, but I was planning to go to work because there was a book to fix up that week. But I decided to check my email first and hooray, the book was on hold because of discussions, so I stayed home. I felt very loved by Ros who happened to have made Vietnamese chicken soup on her day off, so she came over for dinner and brought it and left me some leftovers for the next night too.

Went in on Tuesday, had a flex on Wednesday, I wasn't super sick but I wasn't 100%. I decided to go for a walk to test my health on Wednesday and it was a bit slow and hard so I knew I was still not healthy. I bought a pair of black jeans on sale at Lizzy's so now I feel relevant to the youths. Bought some chips too because salt cravings.

Had dinner with Emma and her visiting parents on Friday night, we went to The Depot on beaumont st. Used ent book vouchers. It's a classy place. I wore my new pants :)

Anyway I made it to the weekend. And what glorious weather! JK suggested we go out for dumplings for lunch so we used an ent book voucher for Dumpling Story and they do a shan dong chicken style dish! And it was very good food. Then we went back to her place and lay in the sunny back yard eating baklava and drinking tea and reading about the church and mental health.

My mega tray of poppies has heaps of buds. Watching poppies pop is fascinating. The shell pops off almost as you watch it. It took less than half an hour to go from a closed bud to free petals.

On Sunday I was on church dinner with home group. It was a triumph of catering. We were like a special ops team, cooking and chopping, and had just the right amount for the 100 or so people. Got through 84 bread rolls and almost 1kg rice, and didn't have too much of the stews left over.

The last week I have enjoyed being healthy. I restarted lunchtime walks and did 3 tiffs after work. Went to home group and music practice. Worked every day. So much appreciation for a healthy body.

On Thursday at work J said "i'm obsessed with this thing but maybe I dreamed it, cadbury chocolate with four types of mint, I keep going to IGA but I can't find it" and I was like yeah, there are only two types of mint so definitely a weird dream, and then M said "I saw an ad for it!" so we researched it, and turns out it is at Coles. After music practice I at like 9pm I did a trip in to Coles and got it for us. It was so worth it. It was the most excitement and joy I've seen from J in ages. The three of us had morning tea together and dissected it. It's been over a month since our office fourth was diagnosed with all sorts of bad cancer, he's now had his 2nd chemo, and it's just been a sadness and much quieter without him. So I'm glad we did this.

Other news: We have Netflix back on because it's holidays, and I'm watching Grimm.

I'm going splits in a membership to the Barefoot Investor's Blueprint group, which is something I've pondered for about 5 years. Right now it seems overwhelming, but I have no shares and some cash I could invest, so hopefully I get a bit more educated and do something useful with the money. I've also discovered a few good Aussie podcasts about money. So I'm listening to the back catalogues and it's great, all the blah blah blah economics from the news (not that I follow the news anymore) sounds so much more relevant. I recommend the Money Cafe which is just Alan Kohler and James Kirby chatting in a cafe, but there are a few others out there from radio national and fairfax that are very informative. Along with a book Ann Marie lent me called The Art of Frugal Hedonism I'm doing a lot of thinking about money at the moment. I've got a secret facebook group with a few friends in it called Girls Talk Money, which I hope is a good place for single women to ask questions and bounce ideas. Money is a tricky thing to talk about because of pride, envy and shame, but it's a huge part of life and very much affected by following Jesus.

I'm trying to do some piano and cello practice regularly again. Cello because I'm starting lessons again in term 3, so I need my callouses back. And piano because I felt like playing classical again, and you need to practice that stuff. So many things I want to do and so few hours outside of work.