Monday, May 30, 2011

Things I Had Somehow Forgotten

The Things You Love Are The Things You Love For a Reason: Namely, because you love them. I realised that I had forgotten this while I was doing some filming for a video I’m including in an upcoming post, and editing it all together. I’d forgotten what a thrill it was to put some kinda lame videos into final cut and then edit them into a masterpiece (or something a bit more polished at least…). I sprang into Stevie’s room with a giant goofy grin on my face after just half an hour of it, begging her to watch the rough cut I’d done so far. I love editing! I love making videos! Is it weird that I’d forgotten that when I love it so much? Or has that happened to you before as well?

How Good Flat Bread Pizza Is. Seriously, I had it for lunch, and then I had it again for dinner. Its amazing how good some veggies, pineapple, pizza sauce and cheese thrown on a linseed wrap and toasted for ten minutes can be. Flat Bread Pizza had always been a regular on my weekly meal planner, but since I Crazy Sexy Diet-ed, it has been conspicuously missing, mainly due to the fact that I'm trying to slowly edge myself closer to being vegan (remembering how good flat bread pizza is (especially with cheese) probably doesn't help this cause...). I especially love throwing avocado on there. Yum yum yum!

    How Much I Love Wes Anderson Films and Why.
    On a whim I decided to throw The Life Aquatic on on Saturday night. Such a gorgeous and clever movie. I have a reawakened need to buy a red beanie, powder blue collared shirt and pants and make myself a Team Zissou uniform. I haven't watched any of his films lately (this year has had a clear lack of re-watching films) so I think the time may have come to watch them all all over again!

      Friday, May 27, 2011

      Eating While Travelling: The Delicious vs Healthy Dilemma

      I love getting Chinese from Chinatown when I visit a new city!
      Lauren says:

      When I was young my family never ever ate takeaway. Only when we were on holidays would we splurge with fast food and then it was like a treat from the heavens. My parents explained this habit simply, our family saved money during term time (with mum as a teacher and my sister and I at school, everything revolved around the school timetable) so that we could do special things together on holidays. It made sense.

      As a child, though, my body was a bit more hardy and, it seems, could cop a fair amount more ‘bad’ food. I could have Macdonald’s pancakes for breakfast and still have the energy to make it through the day, perhaps if I was really lucky getting a cheeseburger for lunch if we were on the road to somewhere. These days, give me a sugary breakfast and a heavy, fatty lunch and I turn into a cranky, listless, head-achey mess, which is no way I want to spend my time off!

      My recent trip to Melbourne was one of the first ‘proper adult holidays’ I’d been on, being one of the first times I’d been away from family, which usually involves a bit more give and take over where to get meals, and not on an organised tour or trip where options can be limited. Simply put, Melbourne is a wonderful place for food. While there, it seemed I could pick cuisine from any country in the world, prices ranged from delightfully cheap to decadently expensive and I ate at both ends of the spectrum. While there, cramming my days full with touristing, shopping and culture absorbing, I noticed something very interesting about how my food intake correlated to how I was feeling.

      The hotel I stayed in provided breakfast each morning, complete with lovely gluten free breads. After two pieces of spelt toast and a cup of tea I could go literally for hours before thinking about food again, full of boundless energy and feeling light, airy and cheerful. Gluten free, I began thinking, was definitely my friend. As was spelt (I had a small love affair with the spelt bread, I have to admit, though my sister hated it, choking and gagging at the thought!). Lunch would then come and something interesting would happen. One day I visited Lord of the Fries…oh yummy hot chips, how could I go wrong?! I’ll tell you how. One (small I might add) bucket of deep fried white carbs later and I was all wandering listlessly around the streets, wondering how early was too early to go back to the hotel, have a nap and then get ready for the evening.

      A different day I had Chinese, beautiful Mongolian beef and fried (brown, how wonderful to be given the option!) rice packed with veges. I felt splendid for the rest of the day, not stopping for dinner until late in the evening. The difference food was making to my holiday was, though it seemed like common sense, remarkable.

      A few years ago, I went on a cruise with Aleisha (best friend/housemate/travel buddy etc.) around the Pacific Islands. The thing we both remember most the cruise is the food. It was ah-ma-zing. So. Good. We still spend days reminiscing about ‘cruise food’ and the delightful way we felt during the holiday. Cruise food for us wasn’t actually all that unhealthy (though sure, you could eat a lot of it, and often a lot was a quantity that wasn’t exactly recommendable) but just well cooked, well balanced nutritious meals (with ice cream). We would have protein filled breakfasts (protein and breakfast and me are a winning energy combination), lunches that might start with a soup or salad, the main event maybe some beautifully cooked fish, and dessert fresh fruit (ha!) or ice cream (more likely for me, I’m afraid) and dinner that pretty much resembled lunch (but with more ice cream). It wasn’t what you’d call a sustainable lifetime diet, but for a week and for a treat it was perfect. It wasn’t full of added fats and grossness, there weren’t any ‘unidentifiable’ meat products, it was just nice, simple, good food.

      I think the key to eating when travelling is remembering that the purpose of food is still to provide your body with nutrition. You want to feel great on a holiday, not bloaty and uncomfortable, and you can enjoy stunning food that’s going to give you plenty of energy and pizzazz (if you’re not pizazzful on a holiday, then when?) easily by being conscious about your decision making.

      My parents taught me well with saving special food for special times, and when I think about it, the fast food establishment visits were far less common than the trips to local restaurants, getting fresh seafood at the beach or wonderful pizza at Biloela (if you’ve been to Biloela you’ll understand how unlikely this seemed). It’s a habit I continue to this day, hardly ever eating out and enjoying cooking more, and going to a restaurant is something that I like to keep as a treat. That all said, my parents have made a tradition of having Macdonalds in every country they possibly can (countries conquered already range from France to Oman), but what can you say, they are on holiday after all!

      Ell-Leigh says:

      So here’s the thing. I went on holidays recently. It was great. The sun, the sand, the food… The tummy aches. The cruise we were on offered 24 hour meal service all of which was included in the price of your cruise ticket. We dined, we drank, we were merry. But then we were hungover, we were grouchy, we had a little trouble in the digestion department.

      No one wants to feel sick on holidays, and when your pipes aren’t working cause you jammed ‘em up too full, other things are going to stop working so good as well. This becomes a problem when you want to be enjoying your hike up Diamondhead Crater, or your snorkelling trip on the other side of the island without having to worry about your swollen glands, sore throat and constant headaches.

      I think Gala Darling wrote that while travelling you should eat one salad a day, and I think this is very sound advice. Very sound advice that I wish I’d taken, as it happens. When you’re on a cruise ship you’re constantly in air conditioning, even while sleeping, and this can cause some serious dehydration. Add to that the lack of sleep and water you got on the plane there and you’re in for a bit of a doozey. If you drink on top of that… Well, you’d want to be making sure you drink a lot of water, and replenishing your cells with some fresh fruit and raw veggie goodness, and not the kind that’s been blended and mixed with vodka. Also, the mint at the bottom of your Mojito doesn’t count.

      I know salad sucks, especially when you can’t make it the way you like it, and whenever you order it you are faced with bitter disappointment and a pile of iceburg covered in ranch. Whenever possible, at salad bars or buffets, take the opportunity to fill your plate with salad the way you like it, despite being surrounded by other delicious foods. Your tummy will thank you later.

      Also, go steady on the bready. I know bread is delicious, and I know you’re on holidays, but too much bread will make you feel sick. And, if Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is correct, it will also make you fat. Chances are that you aren’t planning to come home from your marvellous holiday weighing more than when you left, and chances are further that you probably don’t want to spend more time than necessary being concerned about your visits to the ladies’/gents’, if you know what I mean. So, if you’re anything like me, and will use any excuse to dive into the break basket head first, think twice. 

      So, perhaps I am just writing this to my pre-Hawaii self, wishing I’d spent more time taking photos (I really didn’t take enough photos) than the time I spent at the buffet and many restaurants during my cruise, and as a result of that, at the chemist section of the general store buying tums. But when all is said and done, what really matters in your holiday is that you have loads of fun, enjoy the company of the people you went with and remember to reapply your sunscreen every thirty minutes. If you eat a few salads and come home the same size as you left it’s really a bonus.

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      Things We Love Thursday

      Source: They Roared Vintage

      Lauren Loves: 
      This song makes me chair dance in the most Thursday appropriate manner, and you just can’t beat seagulls with dodgem cars. 

      Having Energy – A winning combination of going to bed early, making it back out of bed early to get to yoga or gym class, eating good food and getting my hands on some more lemons has landed me with lots of energy this week. I’m always amazed at just how productive I can be when I make the effort to look after myself and this week has definitely been a good example.

      Little things I’ve loved: pastel post it notes and metallic rainbow paperclips, chicken pie for cold weather, watching the last three Oprah shows (ok so this is bittersweet…we’ll talk about it later), scoring a new (extra, I’m still keeping the old one) job that I’ve been working towards for a long time, planning a trip to Sydney to see my sister, watching the possum that lives nearby crawl onto my balcony to watch me while I sleep (in the cutest, most non creepy way), not shopping – I love not spending money and watching it grown in the bank account, lamb shanks and dreams of baking cinnamon scrolls.

      Source: Thrill'd
      Ell-Leigh Loves:
      Working Towards and Getting Closer To My Goals: This week I've had Green Smoothies (although today's is pink because of all the raspberries!) for breakfast each day, and I've already eaten a whole container of spinach this week. I'm feeling healthier already, and am rather pleased with my choices. I've also been writing fiction (doesn't matter if it's good, matters that it exists) and flossing. The closer I get to reaching my goals, the closer I get to my self-set rewards, like catching up on Doctor Who, buying new T2 tea, and my slightly larger reward (for reaching a slightly larger goal, mind you) of buying a bike! YAY!

      Little Things I've Loved: My New Power Album (and everyone else's too) Gaga's Born This Way, (I don't speak German, but I can if you like...!Looking forward to Harry Potter! (while at the same time being scared of how much I'm going to cry in public), reading about what happens behind the scenes at 30 Rock cause I'm reading Bossypants by Tina Fey, This morning's deliciously tart mixed berry, avo, spinach and broccoli stem smoothie, daily meditation, "acting as if".

      Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer - A Response


      First of all, I need to say that I haven’t actually finished the book. This not at all because of the quality of it, it’s magnificent, but purely because I’m a pretty slow reader and after reading almost solely non-fiction books since January I needed a bit of a change and switched halfway through to reading Little Women as well.

      I approached Eating Animals with trepidation. I am a meat eater, a true carnivore, I like eating meat and animals products and I can’t see myself stopping in the foreseeable future. I worried when I chose to read the book that I was going to be met with a barrage of shame inducing facts and stories and that Foer, the author, would be working his hardest to ‘convert’ me to veganism and produce in me a new-born activist. Call it resistance and fear of change, call it burying your head in the sand, I didn’t want this to happen.

      Ever since reading the book last year, Ell-Leigh had urged me that I must too. I have long had on my reading list Foer’s other acclaimed work Everything Is Illuminated and I knew that, if I trusted the reviews, it would be a stand out piece of writing. I decided to give it a go, borrowing her copy, and warning her (and trying to convince myself), “Remember, I’m going into this as a person who still wants to eat meat. It will not convert me.” She, as did the many others who questioned how I was going with reading the book, raised her eyebrows with a ‘we’ll see’ manner and left me to it.

      The first thing that I realised, with delight, when I read the first chapter was that Foer was not necessarily trying to convert me to anything except taking the time to be educated about a very important issue. He was not having a ‘right and wrong’ type conversation in this book and it was not as wholly didactic as I imagined it would be (in fact, I’m finding Little Women contains far more outright, ‘this is what you must do’ type sermons than Eating Animals). Instead, Foer tells a story in Eating Animals, in fact he tells a couple. Mainly, he tells the story of his relationship with food and all the influences that have led him to eat in the way that he does. He also tells the story of farming and how practices have changed over the centuries. He tells the stories of animals and how they live and people and how they eat. He does, too, tell facts, but they are not biased or framed in any way, they are just plain facts. In this book Foer lets the facts do the talking, something which so many writers have difficulty doing, and because of this it is a great book.

      Others may feel differently, but I do not think that Foer’s ultimate aim for this book is to turn the whole world vegan. Instead, I think that the purpose is to impart knowledge, knowledge that has been well hidden and swept under the metaphorical rug of our thinking for decades, and to urge us to realise just how incredibly, life changing-ly important this knowledge is. I have always been a knowledge seeker, and fiercely (perhaps stubbornly) independent, and I have always want only to be told the correct information, not what to do with it. Foer understands this.

      Eating Animals is filled with too many facts to easily pick favourites to share with you, but these are the bits of info that I will be acting on in my own eating first.

      Taken from Words/Meaning chapter:
      Free Range
      “The USDA doesn’t even have a definition of free-range for laying hens and instead rlies on producer testimonials to support the accuracy of these claims…One can reliably assume that most ‘free-range’ (or ‘cage-free’) laying hens are debeaked, drugged, and cruelly slaughtered once ‘spent.’ I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range.” P. 61

      Taken from Hiding/Seeking:
      I Am the Kind of Person Who Finds Herself on a Stranger’s Farm in the Middle of the Night
      “I’m not a radical. In almost every way, I’m a middle-of-the-road person. I don’t have any piercings. No weird haircut. I don’t do drugs. Politically, I’m liberal on some issues and conservative on others. But see, factory farming is a middle-of-the-road issue – something most reasonable people would agree on if they had access to the truth.”

      From the same chapter:
      I Am a Factory Farmer:
      “I’ve told you the drawbacks because I’m trying to be up-front with you. But in fact, we’ve got a tremendous system. Is it perfect? No. No system is perfect. And if you find someone who tells you he has a perfect way to feed billions and billions of people, well, you should take a careful look.

      And from Slices of Paradise/Pieces of Shit:
      “In 1967, there were more than one million hog farms in the country. Today there are a tenth as many, and in the past ten years alone, the number of farms raising pigs fell by more than two thirds. (Four companies now produce 60 percent of hogs in America.)”

      What will I do now that I know all of this about my food and farming? Well, that’s a good question. Firstly, I’m going to finish the book, because it’s beautifully written and a simply amazing resource. I’m also going to stand by what I said when I began reading the book; I won’t be stopping consuming animal products. There are reasons, definitely selfish ones, for this, such as the inconvenience it would cause to myself and my household and the fact that I really enjoy how I eat. What I aim to do is continue educating myself about farming and food, and find a way to eat animal products cruelty and guilt free. I will not promise that this will be an overnight or radical change, because I know that that is a promise I cannot keep. It will be difficult, some think impossible, and those are the people who do eat vegan or vegetarian and I applaud them for it. I will endeavour to continue my quest for knowledge and encourage other people to do the same, because this is an incredibly important issue. Its importance is probably the biggest lesson I learnt when reading the book.

      I encourage you to read Eating Animals, because, as we are always telling people and being told, knowledge is power. Empower yourself and take responsibility for your choices.

      When I read this book for the first time last year, it was at a rather stressful point in my life. I was tired and exhausted after a three months trekking around a foreign country, two months of which I spent helping disabled kids from 6am to 12pm while eating a diet which was made almost entirely of eggs, sugary breads, vegetables which had been boiled to within an inch of their lives and a variety of processed meats, and not in that order. I was two days away from seeing my family again, and left in Santa Monica with no one that I knew, and just couldn’t wait to be hopping on the bus that would be taking me to the plane home so I didn’t have to entertain my sad, emotional self and my empty wallet in a foreign country any longer.

      I had seen Jonathan Safran Foer speak on Ellen, and it had sparked a sequence of thoughts in me that had always been underlying my understanding of myself. I think I’d always seen myself as a caring, kind person, and to an extent I suppose I’d always seen myself as the type of person who would be a vegetarian, I just hadn’t gotten around to the whole, not eating meat part yet.

      So after two months of digestive worries, 7 more kilos around the middle and an iron deficiency while I was at camp, I was looking to change. When I went to the bookstore to find something for the plane, Eating Animals was one of the first books I grabbed.

      As I had read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close earlier in the year and adored it, but only read the first chapter of Everything Is Illuminated before feeling it hurt my brain too much with all the word play (this was during camp, when I was overworked, lacking in iron and was about to suffer from a huge sinus infection of DOOOOM, so, understandably, clever books were a bit beyond me. Instead I read the first book of the True Blood series…) I can’t say that I was super well acquainted with Foer’s work, but as I started Eating Animals I realised I had nothing to worry about.

      The essence of Eating Animals is this: we eat what we do because of the stories we tell. The first chapter tells the story of Foer’s grandmother:

      (Foer begins speaking at 1:41, and begins reading the first chapter of his book at 7:25 until about 13:10, but keep watching if you want to.)

      This book is friendly and embraces you into Foer's family and thoughts with open arms. It's easy to read, and not in an “I’m writing an informative non-fiction book so I’d better make it entertaining” way that so many non-fiction authors I’ve read lately lean towards. This book is all heart and facts and history, without pulling any emotional blackmail. It informs the reader of some truly awful truths, but without judging or being harsh, in fact, it's manner is quite the opposite; the reader's ignorance and discomfort were once the author's too, and it is eased through a wise and articulate voice. 

      In essence it is a collection of stories - many of them are the frighteningly horrible stories that are mostly swept under the carpet and replaced with tales of sunny farms with happy animals and bearded farmers and their chubby, cheerful wives - but there are also stories of vegetarian cattle farmers, happy turkeys at an almost entirely cruelty free non-GM turkey farm (and the hundreds of people having to order them a years in advance for thanksgiving dinners), the story of our suffering planet, all wrapped up in Foer’s own journey of understanding.

      Through educating himself and in turn taking others on this learning journey readers are left with the question of what their own story will be. As he writes on page 252,

      "We can't plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?"

      What will your story be? When you come into this knowledge, do you make a change? It doesn't need to be a big one, perhaps start Meatless Monday (I can give you loads of great recipes!) or cut down on how many eggs you eat, and make sure the ones you do buy are from hens that were kept in good living conditions without being constantly fed hormones, antibiotics and other unnatural nasties. Find locally raised and killed, cruelty-free meat that was similarly well looked after. You don't need to stop eating it entirely (although it may do you a whole lot of good health wise... but that's another story for another blog) as I did after reading this book, but cut down how much you do eat, and choose what you do eat more consciously and know that you've changed your food story for the better.

      Wednesday, May 25, 2011

      Babies and Scallops, Scallops and Babies - Lauren's Week

      Welcome to my first post of the ‘what Lauren has been doing’ type. I’m sure you all have been eagerly anticipating it is as much as we all waited excitedly for 6:01pm on Saturday*, Rapture Fail jokes in hand and twitter as our joke dispenser.

      I could only think of one really, really share worthy topic today, but it’s so worth it you won’t even notice that it looks like I’ve only done one awesome thing all week (believe me, the week has been filled with awesome, but there’s a big difference between awesome to do and awesome to blog about, isn’t there?).


      I cannot even find words for how much I enjoyed this movie. After reading about it in a cinema newsletter last week and watching the trailer I knew I had head along and see this one of the big screen. As a bonus, it had been far too long since I’d enjoyed some simple time out by myself (one of my favourite things), so I blocked out Sunday afternoon as Lauren Time, headed a couple of suburbs out to my favourite cinema, got a iced bun from the bakery and settled in for what I expected to be a very cute experience.

      Babies follows the lives of four babies from around the world, through infancy to their first birthday. There is Mari from Japan, Ponijaro from Namibia, Bayar from Mongolia and Hattie from the USA. The best part of this film is that there is no language, occasionally mum or dad might speak or sing to the baby, but words really play a tiny to no part in a viewer’s understanding of what’s going on. It’s all about simple observation and celebrates the specialness of each moment in the babies’ live.

      This film is very special. It is a remarkable tool for re-opening our minds which can sometimes fall closed and become too judgemental, and I’d urge anybody, whether they are interested in having their own children or not, regardless of whether they actually ‘like children’, to see it. I as though Babies served for me as a soft prod into remembering how small the section of the world that I live in is, and how ok it is that everybody else around me is living in a slightly different way. There were two families in the cinema for my session, one couple with their own new little bub and two mothers with a collection of seven kids between them, and it was lovely seeing the children react to the quiet lessons they were being taught about acceptance, understanding and empathy.

      Babies made me laugh, made me cry and made me think. Watch the trailer below. Then see it.

      * The Rapture was supposed to occur in Australia at 6pm on Saturday afternoon. I’m pretty glad it didn’t, because all week I had been planning to get the most amazing potato scallops with my friend Sophie, and all week I had been imagining how good they were going to be, but we were running slightly late and at 6pm hadn’t quite made it to the fish and chips place. I would have been pretty put out if I’d held off scallop time for so long and then Lucifer had been all, “You shall not have scallops! Raaw!” So I’m happy.

      Tuesday, May 24, 2011

      Hawaii in Review - Part One


      As you may already know, last month I went with my family on a two-week holiday to The Rainbow State - Hawaii! The first week we spent on the Pride of America, visiting four of the different islands, and then our final week we spent in Honolulu. This post will only be about the first week, since we did way too much to fit into just one post.

      The first day we were in the butt (we called it “the butt” as homage to the scene in Finding Nemo where they call the boat a butt. We’re mature like that.) we spent most of the day on board. Stevie and I hit up a hula aerobics class in the gym, which was super funsies, then proceeded to swim in the pool, laze around slovenly-ly and eat lots of delicious food - the locals don’t call that ship the SS All You Can Eat for nothing. On our second day in Maui we visited the Iao Valley State Park and saw the Iao Needle. It was a beautiful day and it was great to spend some time out in the sunshine in nature.

      In Hilo we went on a helicopter tour, which, due to the earthquake a few weeks earlier, was a little lame, as there was absolutely no lava action at all. This was especially disappointing for my youngest sister, who is obsessed with volcanoes. The closest we got was a puff of smoke that we flew through. As this was my first time on a helicopter and I was in the front seat and in charge of the emergency pull door handle I was quite nervous and couldn’t feel my hands when I hopped off due to how tightly I was holding the video camera and the hand hold. That afternoon we headed over to a beach near where the ship had docked for a stroll - much more relaxing than the first part of the day.

      Our ship from the Kona Canoe Club

      That's me with a seahorse! I LOVE SEAHORSES.
      The next place we stopped was Kona. My parents had raved about Kona from their last trip to Hawaii, and so I was looking forward to going there was seeing what the fuss was about. We spent the morning at The Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm where we got to go into the world’s only Paternity Ward (hrrhrr) and hold a seahorse (well, you get to have your finger held by a seahorse). This was incredibly awesome, and really interesting to hear about how their work is helping to save our oceans. We lunched and shopped in Kona down near the harbor, and feasted on what my Dad considers the best Spare Ribs in the World, from Kona Canoe Club. My Dad befriended the owner and got a round of free shots for the over 21s (I didn’t partake as I hadn’t been feeling too crash-hot – faulty sea-legs) and we shopped the afternoon away.

      The two days (I typed weeks first, oh, how I wish I could stay there for two weeks!) I spent in Kuwai’i were definitely my favourites. We spent the first day on a tour of all of the major sights and beautiful scenery… and the wild chickens. In Kuwai’i there aren’t any wild animals (like the mongoose which live on the other islands) which prey on the chickens, so they run loose, crowing whenever they like (since they don’t roost) and generally running amock, chicken style. The tour guide we had on this day warned us that they could smell fear, but they were really very harmless, and we were told that by law, any chicken we took photos of had to come home with us… If it had been true I would have been in trouble, cause I took SO many photos of the chickens…
      So many chickens!

      That night we went to the incredible Lu’au Kalamaku. For those who don’t know, a Lu’au is basically a huge party where Hulas are performed and traditional food like poi and kalua pig is served. This one was a little different; where at a “regular” Lu’au a number of hulas are performed one after another without any particular through-line, this one followed the story of a father leaving his daughter to migrate to the Hawaiian islands, with a Cirque Du Soliel feel. The fire twirlers were breathtaking and incredible, and the whole performance was really enjoyable and beautiful. And the food was great too!

      The second day my Mum and I got up early to take a Movie Tour of the island. I have to say, the tour guides we had in Kuwai’i were charming and funny which added to the experience. On this day we visited a number places which had served as locations for movies like Jurassic Park, Six Days Seven nights, Blue Hawaii, that musical where they sing that “Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair” and many, many others. And I got to see Ben Stiller’s house, or at least the one that he lives in when he’s in Hawaii (it was from pretty far away, but still one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life… Bar none. Ben Stiller is awesome.)

      Next week I’ll be posting the second half of my adventures, so stay tuned!

      Monday, May 23, 2011

      Starting Today; or, How To Pull Yourself Out of a Rut in Twelve Not So Easy Steps

      Firstly, welcome to the first of some new posts that Lauren and I have decided to start. They are basically a more personal, “what I’m up to, where I’m going, what I’m loving – today” type post, we’d love to hear what you think of them.

      So, the weekend before last I spent an entire afternoon figuring out my goals, writing them down and devising strategies that I can put in place to meet them. Today I met with Dave Burton, writer, blogger, my lecturer for a semester and old friend for some advice on writing. Did I need any advice? Not really, as it turned out I was really just having one of those meetings where you hear exactly what you knew you needed to hear, despite the fact that you really knew it all already but you just didn’t want to listen to yourself. Of course Dave gave some pretty insightful advice and the metaphorical kick up the behind that was necessary to get me started again. I walked home after a quick stop at the health food store up the road and wrote a page of the first fictional writing I’ve written in at least half a year. BAM.(A page may not seem like much (that is, unless you’re a grade nine student struggling to get through their English assignment about Pride and Prejudice) but it was a pretty important string of sentences from my point of view.)

      Of course, Dave's advice and what I knew to be true all along; nothing gets written if you don't write it. Action is key, nobody got anything out of nothing.

      So far so good. For the last week I've started to work towards making a habit of daily meditation, affirmations, mindful, healthy eating, "creative time" and flossing, and have only once or twice not been able to tick each of them off my list as I do them. This morning I started with my first attempt at making a "Green Smoothie", (2 pears, a handful of spinach, half an avocado and water all blended up until thickshake consistency = surprisingly yummy) a Lush The Sacred Truth face mask and spent my afternoon making a vegan version of the vegetarian casserole with dumplings I made last week. Small steps towards big (yet achievable) goals!

      I spent the weekend trying to get over the mother of all colds that I caught early last week, while also running around my home town going to appointments, catching up with people, going to a dress up party with Lady Gaga and Elton John (wink) before driving all the way back again on Sunday with two of Stevie's friends in the back seat.

      What are you up to today?

      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      How To: Change Your Hairstyle

      For my next cut, I do choose, Rose Byrne: Wicker Park style

      Oooh man do I love getting haircuts. Having quite short styled hair complete with a blunt fringe, I count myself amongst the lucky people who simply have to get their haircut at least every eight weeks. From the wash (only good if it’s completed with a great massage and suitably warm water, I do admit) to the brushing, snipping, razoring and blow drying, I’m a big fan of the whole process.

      I have found, though, that a lot of people don’t share my passion for hair fashion. ‘Why not?’ I ask, bewildered by their apathy toward the subject. The most common responses? Previous awful hair experiences, fear and complete confusion as to want they want in a haircut. Of course, taking it upon myself to rectify this serious societal problem is a big undertaking, but start I will today in an endeavour to help lasses and lads everywhere acquire the locks of their dreams.

      Step One in Changing Your Hairstyle: Find a good hairdresser. I’ll admit, this step can take time, patience and may involve a lot of trial and error. When I moved to Brisbane last year, and left behind Jason/God Of Hair (women of Toowoomba look him up), I tried no less than four different hair stylists before I finally found one that I liked. My criteria for a good hairdresser stands as follows:

      Good conversation maker/salon atmosphere – because you’re going to be sitting in a chair whilst they touch your hair sometimes quite intimately, I find a hairdresser needs to be at the very least personable. The first hairdresser I visited in Brisbane cut my hair with an attitude of what can only be described as intense and seething anger, which made me just a tad uncomfortable. The second liked to talk about himself and all the ‘ladeez’ he managed to pick up over the summer…not a turn on. The third…well…she didn’t talk so much as stare blankly at the back of my head, taking her sweet time to cut my hair until I feared quietly slipping into a boredom induced death. I doubt she would have noticed.

      Skilled with hair – this seems obvious, but you would have no idea how many people return to the same crappy hairdresser for every cut to only be disappointed, yet continue to blame their perpetual bad hair days on the fact that they chose the wrong cut, just ‘can’t do’ hair, have naturally bad hair or that the cut has ‘grown out funny’. People, a good hairdresser will cut to suit your face shape and hair type, will show you how to style a new cut at home and ensure that the cut will still look alright in four weeks time once it’s grown a bit. Don’t settle, demand hair respect!

      Charges fairly – I’m a believer in sometimes getting what you pay for with these kinds of things, but you should never, never be paying somebody upwards of $100 to fiddle with your hair for less than an hour. Do you charge $100/half hour to do your job? Probably not (well, ok, you might, but do you really think that this kind of pricing isn’t a rip off for a haircut? Really?). The last time I got a hair cut I paid $85 and the appointment lasted ninety minutes. This might still seem a little steep, but it’s what I’m prepared to pay for a good cut (keep in mind that haircuts tie with icecream for one of my favourite everyday experiences). You need to set your price limit and stick to it, decide how much value you can afford to place on hair and then find someone who will do a good job for that price. Trust me, it’s doable. Most salons have price lists on their websites these days, look them up and when you book in confirm the cost. Do this again before they start cutting.

      Have Good Hair Themselves – Ok, so you’re paying this person to make your hair look splendid, right? Does their hair look amazing? Not really? Well, they think it does. They think that hairstyle is the definition of awesome, and you know this is true because they’re a hairdresser and they could easily change it if they wanted to. Yes, they’re human, and so it’s possible that they didn’t spend much time on it in the morning while they were rushing to feed the dog and find their missing shoe, but if you truly think that the way their hair is cut is dreadful then you might want to part ways amicably before you’ve become a matching set.

      People are always saying that if you are looking for a new hairdresser then you should scope out people whose hair you like and ask them where they get it cut. Is this not the most ridiculous piece of advice ever? I’ve not met anybody who has actually done this to a stranger. It is, after all, a good idea in theory, just potentially waaay too stalkery and likely to get you smacked down if you pick the wrong person. Luckily, this wonderful little invention called the internet can take the hassle right out of this situation. There are plenty of sites set up for reviewing hairdressers and all sorts of forums where you can ask for advice about a good stylist in your area. Put the hard yards in at the research stage and your chances of getting a good cut are going to be a lot higher.

      Step Two – Choose the Cut. Going to the hairdresser with absolutely no idea what you want done isn’t usually a great choice, neither is the question ‘if you could do anything you wanted with my hair, what would you do?’ In my experience, this question and ‘I’ll do whatever you want’ attitude makes hairdressers nervous if you’re looking for a significant style change. This haircut is about you; it’s your hair and will effect how you will look for the next few months at least, so you need to do some work and figure out what you want.

      There are three main things to think about in how you want your hair. Lifestyle is always important; whether you need to be able to put it up to exercise or want to be able to wear it out with fancy dressers, how much you have time to do and maintain it and how often you want to get it trimmed and touched up. Secondly you must consider how the new style will complement or remark upon your current style; a short, pixie cut teamed with your usual jeans and jacket combo will be a completely different look to long, cascading tresses and you need to be prepared for what the new look might make you feel like. Will you really be able to pull off a mohawk everyday, or should you go for something still edgy, but a little less conspicuous. Lastly, of course, is how you’ll look with the new hairstyle. Think realistically about how your hair will sit in the style you want, and be mindful that a new cut doesn’t change your hair’s natural body and shape.

      I always find that taking a picture in to the hairdresser is the easiest way to communicate what it is that you’re after, and from there your stylist will know how that particular cut has been worked and can tell you how they can make a similar idea work with your hair. Clipping a couple of different cuts or photos will also give your stylist options, and give them an idea of the feel you’re after without locking them into copying an ‘exact’ style.

      After years of more or less chin length hair, I’ve decided that this is the year I will grow my locks out again. I’ve talked to my hairdresser, and we’ve discussed how to go about growing out the layers I already have and how we’ll try to avoid any odd looking in between lengths. Changing your hair is one of the easiest (though if you’re growing it, it does take some patience) ways to change your appearance, and can quickly refresh your sense of self style and confidence.

      In case you're still a little scared (or just because it's pretty awesome), try practising by getting a 'virtual haircut' instead. (have your headphones at the ready and close your eyes!)

      Friday, May 20, 2011

      Peter Pan Syndrome

      Lauren Says: 

      I think I’ve decided I’m Peter Pan. I think I don’t want to grow up.

      Here’s my thinking:

      Growing Up


      Have Money – Have Security – Have Freedom – Have Relationships – Have Holidays – Have Achievable Goals – Have Schedules – Have “Grown Up” Parties – Have more than $3.99 per bottle Wine – Have Organic Veges – Have Retirement to Look Forward To


      Health Deteriorates – Eyesight Fades – Hearing Goes – Closer to Dying – Feet Widen – Boobs & Bottom Sag – Go to Bed Early – Can No Longer Apply for Youth Programs – Are No Longer ‘Future Of Tomorrow’ – Potential Lessens

      The thing with this pro/con list wonder up above is that, while all appears evenly balanced on both sides and that growing up is a ‘well, you may as well’ cut and dried matter, it is not actually so. While the cons list is fairly certain and predictable, yes my body will age and I will lose the benefits of youth, the pro list is actually made up of non-certain events, which in turn means that the pro list actually doesn’t exist. There are no pros to growing up! Think about it. I may not have more money when I’m older than I do now. My goals may remain allusive and I may never achieve them. I may not ever be able to/be given leave to retire (by the way, future, I am SO retiring, get prepared for it). All this means is that while there are a stack of negative aspects to aging, there are no definite positives. So, I don’t wanna.

      Have you ever heard a person, after a good, relaxing holiday say “Oh I just feel thirty-four again!” No, you haven’t. Because they all say twenty-one. Currently, I am twenty-one years old. Catch my drift? I have exactly ten weeks and six days to find Never Never Land before I turn twenty-two and begin the long, slow, drain-circling process of my aging.

      Perhaps it’s that I’ve suddenly realised how good I’ve got it (did I ever mention that the place I rent has FOUR TOILETS? My life is sah-weet!) or that I’ve finally come to terms with what ‘aging’ is actually going to entail. Once, at the gym I used to attend, the instructor ladies made up an exercise where we all stood on one leg and lifted the other to the side while we bent over. The point to this? Most of the women who were over forty at the gym could no longer put on underwear without sitting down. I LOVE STANDING UP TO PUT ON UNDERWEAR.

      Whatever the reason, I’m suddenly wishing there was a way to pause time here and go with what I’ve got. I’m healthy. I earn plenty of money for myself, in a job I don’t despise (now there’s a feat), and work only part time so that I get most of my time to write. I’m sure technology will advance, and quickly, but I’m ok with where things are now, and medically we’re doing reasonably well. I’m free to travel. I have access to books, movies, television, theatre, music, magazines…entertainment options galore. I have great friends and a loving family. I feel no need to change anything.

      Wisdom, they say, is the ultimate perk of growing up and older. Wisdom and perspective. Well, what if I said I wanted wisdom and perspective now, hey, what then? A wise person in a twenty-one year old yoga body…imagine the things that could be done! This was supposed to be an article about other people’s ‘Peter Pan Syndromes’ and how everyone needed a swift shove into the direction of taking responsibility and behaving like adults, but when I got to some self examination I realised it wasn’t other people that had a problem with growing up, it was me.  

      Yes, it may all be a bit morbid, and tomorrow I might wake up aching to turn thirty, have a kid and earn lots of dough as the head chiefy person at some sort of workplace. But today you can call me Peter, for uncertainty fazes me and old age scares me and I’ve a lot to do while I’m young and care free, including finding a means to stay that way. 

      Here I stand, my silhouette challenging the moonlit world! Out of my way, oldies!

      Thursday, May 19, 2011

      Things We Love Thursday

      I don't know who Rita is, but I sure do wanna be like her.

      Lauren Loves: 

      Being Inspired: Things that have inspired me this week – the National Young Writers' Month event: In conversation with John Birmingham and Benjamin Law, which was pretty wonderful to see (a video of the night will be uploaded sometime soon) – Getting Organised: around me people everywhere are keeping schedules, rocking daily plans and ticking off to do lists, so I’ve decided to go full throttle ‘every minute is planned’ style organised…I’ll let you know the results – Reading wonderful books and articles – Travel Magazines – Budgets (you gotta earn it to spend it!) –  the generosity of others (see free fringe trim at awesome hairdresser).

      Sloooowwww Cooking!: Last week I bought a slow cooker. This week I slow cook my way to glory. Because I and the girls I live with tip regularly from the busy to the crazy section of the organisational spectrum, it has become apparent over the last few weeks that something has to give and it looked like it might be cooking. We all love to cook and we all love to eat, but none of us has enough time to continue creating lavish meals every evening. The solution: the mighty and wonderful Slow Cooker of Awesome. Last night we ate a wonderfully warming lamb casserole (there are leftovers which will keep me in lunch for the rest of the week) and tonight it’s time to give Julie Goodwin’s Spaghetti Bolognese recipe a whirl, a household favourite when made on the stove top, which Julie assures us will taste even better slow cooked. Slow cooking is perfect for me because I don’t go to my ‘out of home’ job until the afternoon, so preparing a meal in the morning is easy as pie. Pie, which in fact, may just be our next slow cooked experiment! (Can you slow cook a pie?)

      Little Things I’ve Loved: reading Little Women and being reminded of how much my sister and I loved the movie when we were children, making plans to visit my sister in Sydney, seeing June and July book themselves up busy, picking my first ever ripe tomatoes to go into tonight’s slow cook spaghetti, understanding the ways in which to get future plans happening and knowing they’re achievable, donating to Ell’s Live Below the Line challenge, wearing cosy cardigans and drinking warm ‘sleepy’ tea before bed, finding friendly new blogs to read.

      Ell-Leigh loves:

      Normal things that seem so awesome when you're sick: Earlier this week my nose was running like a tap, and I just chalked it up to allergies. Alas, here I am now with a rather fierce cold, downing cold and flu tablets, cough drops and chugging Berrocca. Last night I actually managed to sleep through most of the night, which was amazing, although in most other situations this would just be normal. Similarly, breaking our Below the Line challenge to get some pumpkin soup would usually be rather lame, but was so necessary and down right amazing because I felt so very crap and pumpkin soup is one of the most comforting foods known to mankind. I wish we could have made it to the end of the week, but alas, the virus that is now bullying my cells had a different idea.

      My new Filofax: On Tuesday my friend Georgie and I went for a bit of a shopping trip in the city and visited the soon to close (cry!) Borders, where I met my true love, my new red Personal size Filofax. I spent the afternoon hole punching bits and pieces to put inside, and writing inspiring quotes on matching red love heart post-its and putting them on Mondays. I feel so organised and stylish, yay!

      Writing Down My Goals: On Sunday afternoon I spent a few hours working on figuring out my goals and how I'm going to achieve them. I used Gala Darling's Love and Sequins 5 "How to Set Amazing Goals" to help me set them and my new Kikki K Goals book: document them all. I feel so motivated and inspired... Get your hands on a copy of chapter 5 of Love and Sequins, just do it. For reals. It's really, really brilliant.

      Little things I'm Loving: seeing how many home remedies for cold and flu I can pack into one day, sleeping in and resting, not being as snotty as yesterday (tmi!), taking my cold and a few other crazy things that have happened this week as the universe testing to see if I'm serious about my goals, Angry Boys, eating Raw Vegan Choc-Mint Cheesecake made by Carrie On Raw (it's amazing! So minty!), daily affirmations and meditation.

      Book Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of The Wicked Witch of The West

      Early in the year my family and I went to see a matinee performance of Wicked at QPAC and we really enjoyed it. Having been quite into musical theatre in late high school and early university, I knew all of the words to the songs, and was looking forward to having the bits in between filled in. Not only that, but I got to see Bert Newton in action (whether his performance was good is neither here nor there… He was there, people.). My cousin grabbed a copy of the novel that very day. I’ve wanted to read it for ages, but hadn’t been able to get a copy, but decided to push it a bit higher on my list of priorities now that I’d seen the musical and bought the themed Midori cocktail.

      Everyone I know who I’ve spoken to about reading this book have told me the same thing – it gets really slow around the middle, and they couldn’t make it through. Well, I was up to that slow going middle section while stuck in an airport in Fiji for eight hours, without a bookstore in sight. So I battled through, and I’d like to think that I would have even if I hadn’t been trapped and desperate for entertainment, although I doubt this would actually have been the case, since it took me two weeks to finish the final section despite it being quite short. I’d just lost interest, more than anything.

      For those who don’t know, Wicked is basically a biography of The Wicked Witch of the West, the villain of the Wizard of Oz novel and film. According to this telling, Elphie, as she is known by her friends, who has been green all her life, makes an unlikely friend in her room mate Galinda, who would later be known as the Good Witch of the North. After a murder takes place at their university, Elphaba is forced to choose between a life of “normality” with her friends and sister or to fight the despotic Wizard and his forces and goes into hiding after a meeting with him. This is just the start of the tale.

      The book has a little bit of everything, romance, magic, philosophy, politics and adventure, and until the later sections is quite a good read. Watching her story unfold and her character change and grow is really enjoyable, although there were large parts of the story which could have been omitted or condensed where it was a struggle to stop myself from grabbing Tina Fey’s Bossypants from my opposite bedside table. If you’ve seen the musical don’t get your hopes up too high - they’ve definitely changed the storyline and even some of the characters around – the novel and the musical are two very different creations. Not the best book I’ve read lately, but I’m glad I eventually got through it.

      Unfortunate update: my sister and I aren't continuing our challenge to live below the line as I've come down with the mother of all colds/possibly the flu, and she thinks she might be coming down with it also. This doesn't mean you can't donate to the cause anyway... 

      Wednesday, May 18, 2011

      How To: Buy a New Pet Fish

      Some readers may remember Godwin, the best pet fish who ever lived, who sadly passed away (had to be euthanized, which, if you've ever had to euthanize your pet fish, you'll know is not a pleasant experience) about a month ago. Godwin would not have wanted people to mourn over him too long, he was a positivity kind of fish. In fact, I'm sure that if he were here he would be encouraging me to pick up and move on, put a new fish in the ol' tank and forget all about him. While I, nay we, shall never forget Godwin, it is time, I think, for a new fishy friend to join the household.

      Thus: How To Buy a New Pet Fish

      It's really important to prepare properly for bringing home a new pet fish, much as you might for bringing home a new boyfriend or child. Fish are extremely sensitive to new environments, perhaps even more so than boyfriends or infants!, and it's your responsibility to make the transition as easy for them as possible.

      The first thing you should do, nay, you must do, is clean out the tank. Why, you ask? Well, you know that burning feeling of anger and general appalledness you have when you get the keys to a new rental property, only to arrive with your stuff to find the place shut up, uncleaned and stinky? You do not want your new fish feeling these feelings of rage towards an unclean environment. Keep in mind that the reason you're getting a new fish is usually because the last occupant passed in that very tank, and give it a good scrub out. How would you feel setting up house in a drowning death site if nobody had disinfected first?

      Put the filter on (you should have a filter...if not consider this to be the reason that your last pet died, and purchase one immediately) for a couple of days to get everything settled, and buy a new plant so new fish has somewhere to hide if moving day becomes a bit too much.

      Preparation is key to getting a new fish. Remember, fish are prone to dying speedily and with minimal cause. Try not to kill yours on the first day.

      Choosing the Fish

      Yay! This is the fun part! Your new friend should be chosen with your specific needs in mind. Do you want a hardy, difficult to kill variety? Are you after something a bit more rare, a tropical offering perhaps, and if so do you have the facilities to care for such an aqua-beast? What kind of colour scheme are you going for in the room where the new fish will be situated (seriously)?

      When it comes to the choosing of the actual specimen part, I like to stand in front of the tank and see which fish approaches me first, just like a puppy (all my life I have been trying to make these two domesticated animals interchangable ). Then I make sure the playful personality doesn't belie a tendency to eat other fish (cannibalism is not so on at my house) and doesn't have any droopy/broken/weepy bits that don't look right (chances are if the fish doesn't look right now, it'll be dead tomorrow. Fish World = Harsh World). Next you've got to get the pet shop person to actually scoop up the correct fish, and then it's time to go home!

      Life With Your New Housemate

      Fish are creatures of habit, and if you keep this in mind looking after your new pet should be a breeze. Try to feed every day at the same time and with the same amount. Overfeeding is the easiest way to accidently rid yourself of pet caring duties, try to give small pinches of food and watch to see if your fish eats the whole lot instead of tempting the poor thing with a massive and deadly feast. A goldfish will tend to eat until all the food is gone, instead of stopping at the full mark.

      Stray away from sudden changes in atmosphere, such as drastic heating changes or changing the room the fish lives in often. It's proven that even gold fish can recognise faces, so give your fish a bit of attention during the day and it'll soon know you when you come near (note that especial excitement will abound at feeding is not your face in this instance that the fish is going crazy about). Every so often as a special treat you can feed your fish a frozen (but left to defrost) pea or even buy some blood worm tablets.

      Fish are, and I say this with seriousness, pretty awesome pets if you treat them right. They have personalities, quirks, habits and, most importantly, lives of enough signifigance that they deserve respectful treatment if procured as a pet for people. I'll be buying my new pet fish, Godwin II (working title) soon, and you'll all be introduced the minute I perfect the art of taking fish photographs (so. difficult.)

      Tuesday, May 17, 2011

      Below The Line

      Hey All!

      My sister Stevie (who you may remember from this post) and I are taking the Live Below The Line Challenge, which gives you a little insight into life in poverty by challenging you to live on $10 worth of food for five days and raise money and awareness to help kick global poverty's butt out of our global future and into the past. We figured, if Hugh Jackman can do it, so can we. (But then again, Hugh Jackman can be a very convincing Wolverine, and I'm afraid neither Stevie nor I can claim that one, so I guess we'll see how it goes)

      Here are some pics from our rather miserable trip to the shop yesterday:

      Stevie misses Nutella already... and we hadn't even started then.
      Significantly less fresh fruit and veg than our normal weekly haul...
      Altogether it came to $20.40
      Today was day one, and I'm already experiencing serious paranoia about not having enough food to get us through the week. We both had porridge made with water for breakfast - that stuff is sticky! And not very tasty. Tinned spaghetti (1/4 of a tin each... gotta make them last!) on toast for lunch, snacked on a carrot and then pasta with a tomato and spinach pasta sauce I made that was awfully brown and not delicious looking at all, and tasted, well, good, but bland. So we've got some pasta sauce ready for tomorrow's lunch, and hopefully the pears we bought will be ripe soon, but with only half a packet of pasta left, man! I'm reaching for my Bach's Rescue Remedy drops already, and it's only day one. WHAT IF WE RUN OUT?

      If we run out, I'll have given it a red hot go, admit defeat, be proud of the generosity of my friends and family that we've even raised the bit that we have, momentarily think deep thoughts about the state of our world where some have so much and others not even enough, then sprint down the street as fast as my legs will take me to Hungry Jack's... Fortunately I have that option. Obviously, most people living in poverty don't.

      Living Below the Line sucks even on Day One. There is no novelty to it, it's just a big, stressful bummer. It makes me very thankful that I've only had very fleeting encounters with being too broke to afford food (and that was usually because I'd bought something pretty instead and then regretted it later) and have never lived in a situation where money was so tight that we had to go without it.

      It's weird that beyond anything I'm realising what an empty-pantry-phobe I am, and how incredibly emotional I get about needing lots of food, really close at hand. I've always had an emotional tie to food; I'm one of those people who cannot stand to skip meals without becoming Medusa incarnate. I'm terrible at controlling what I eat - whenever I impose a rule about only eating a certain amount I tend to think I'm hungry when I'm not, then eat whatever it was that I wanted incredibly quickly, not savouring it at all, like it didn't even happen - which is making this whole process really quite difficult. Having to "ration out" the food we can eat this week is going against all of these crazy emotional food control habits I have and it's - the worst part of all - forcing me to think about them critically. Yuck.

      (Critical thinking is even harder on an empty stomach. : ( ... So is writing articles for your website. )

      It makes the facts in this video seem so outrageous, in the 'shockingly bad' sense of the word, not so much the Britney Spears song sense of the word.

      SO, if you want to donate to help those living in poverty, you can visit my donation page!

      Monday, May 16, 2011

      Things to Love About Winter

      Boy, is it getting chilly down here! Just last week I spent a couple of hours in my local shopping centre, trying to find a warm, King Sized doona within my quite reasonable price range. They were running out of stock of everything but singles! I usually get pretty bummed about winter, since I have incredibly dry skin and tend to find that if I don't put in lots of time and extra special effort to keep it moisturised it leaves me feeling really uncomfortable and miserable. It's also so cold! Bah!

      However, not this year. This year I've decided to focus on the positives, so here is my list:

      Six Things to Love About Winter

      1. Hot chocolate when your face is so cold it feels like it might drop off. Similarly, hot coffee and hot teas are amazing in winter too, especially when holding the cup keeps your hands warm too!

      2. Eating hot, hearty foods. Pumpkin soup with crunchy, thick, buttered toast, veggie and lentil soup, (in fact, most hot soups fall into this category), casserole with dumplings! All of these foods are their most delicious during those long chilly nights.

      3. Cuddling up with your doona, tv and someone you love. Whether it be girlfriend, boyfriend, significant other, sister, puppy or seven cats, this is a winter past time to look forward to.

      4. Coming out of the cold into a lovely warm room. There is nothing like the sigh of relief that your cold limbs release the moment they realise they aren’t out in the cold anymore.

      5. Fashion is more interesting and challenging in winter. How do you keep warm? What jacket can I wear with what outfit, where can I get tights that are the right colour and are thick enough to keep my pins from becoming legsicles? Woollen hats, scarves, cardigans, layers and coats, all ready to keep you stylish and cosy at the same time.

      6. Slowing down. It’s natural to skip the nights out at clubs for intimate evenings curled in your doona for a Doctor Who marathon or to watch Love Actually, again. Why go out and spend god only knows how long on the train and in line to get into the over priced, smelly club that’s playing bad music when you could be watching the finest British actors of our time in your lovely warm living room? Why indeed?

      I'm also planning to try this very promising looking face scrub out, fingers crossed!

      image sources / a dessert a day / Veggie Wedgie / McFailish / Mia Marionette / CaitlynCotter

      Sunday, May 15, 2011

      Event Review: Women of Letters

      picture from the Women of Letters website

      Born from the astonishing minds of Michaela McGuire and Marieke Hardy in 2010, Women of Letters seeks to recapture the spirit of the dwindling art of letter-writing by inviting prominent women of Australia to write and read a letter to a common subject. Michaela curates the events and runs the show on stage, while Marieke hangs out front of house charming guests and raising money for Edgar’s Mission, an animal welfare shelter in Victoria.

      Usually held in Melbourne’s Thornbury Theatre, other capitals are sometimes lucky enough to have Women of Letters pay a visit, and last Sunday was Brisbane’s second turn to host the event. On the bill were Patience Hodgson of The Grates, Magistrate Jacqui Payne, novelist Kris Olsson, singer songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke and Morag Kobez-Halvorson. The theme of the afternoon’s letters was love; perhaps one of the most dreamt of yet hard to get right letters in the history of correspondence.

      The afternoon began with Patience tripling the wanderlust of all those in attendance as she spoke about her love for New York City; the co-op where she bought wondrous groceries at phenomenal prices, her beautiful upstairs neighbour who unwittingly provided Patience with free internet throughout her stay, her downstairs neighbour with a seemingly booming love life, the sunny step of her building, the streets down which she cycled and the studio in which she recorded. Jacquie Payne next bought tears to eyes as she spoke in her letter to the people she cherished most in her life; her six much adored children, their adventurous childhoods and the pride she had for the burgeoning adulthoods, her love of being a mother clearly shining through.

      Up next Morag wrote a love letter to her health, wondering where it might have tripped off to as she took the audience through her tale of the simply unfair seeming health trials of the past few years of her life. From uterine masses to having a hip replacement to a non-existent but for awhile panic inducing ovarian tumour, Morag told her often painful tale with a dark wit that had listeners simultaneously giggling and squirming, and reminded us all how we should love our health while we had it in full. Following Morag’s medical adventures was writer Kris Olsson whose love letter to the alphabet provided a lovely abstract note to the event. The tender way she spoke about her love for sounds, letters, words and their collective meaning shed light on the value she has for her work and the importance she places upon the information and education she has the privilege to spread.

      Finally rounding off the afternoon was Kate Miller-Heidke, whose love letter to her thirteen year old self had the audience in fits as she recounted the misadventures of her youth which she would have a do-over Kate perhaps not repeat. She finished by singing a love song written for her by her partner Keir Nuttall, key lyrics of which went something like “I need you like a tourist needs a toilet…” (there is a video of the couple singing this song somewhere on the internet, I know because I’ve watched it, and if I could find it for you I’d share, because it’s darn hilarious).

      Following the fives’ laughter, tear and thought inducing efforts, a short interlude allowed audience members to grab a drink and vegan cupcake from the bar, and write their own letters on pre-stamped Women of Letters post-cards and aerogrammes. With the break over Q&A was launched and the women answered audience questions about motherhood, advice, unread letter ethics and whether they had ever written an actual love letter to a lover, and what it might have contained.

      The afternoon was, as the Women of Letters seemingly always are, touching, uplifting, inspirational and educational. As the crowd exited The Zoo and sauntered down the streets of The Valley conversations were flush with excitement and revelations. Women of Letters as an institution is a very powerful tool (for men as well as women), and allows for a very subtle but necessary education process within the very personal sharing that is traditional to the letter medium. A must go to event for anybody if they can, visit the Women of Letters for more details of where Michaela and Marieke are headed next.

      (ps, sorry about the wibbly wobbly posting, blogger has been down for repairs and it has been causing us some issues! Not to worry though, as posting should be back to normal this week.)
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