7 things I am doing instead of writing my book

1. Cleaning the house. Procrasti-cleaning. Rearranging the pantry, catching sight of my laptop and feeling guilty about the book, then distracting myself by organising my wardrobe. 2. Writing this blog post. Also, writing pretty much anything that isn't my book. I have finished an article that is due in mid-November. This never happens.

3. Baking chocolate banana cake, apple muffins sourdough bread, lasagne and homemade pasta.

3. Crocheting like a boss.

4. Watching Unreal.

5. Reading a LOT. Surely this counts, right? And actually reading with the view to learn, so lots of taking notes and highlighting passages. Lots of research for the book, not a lot of actual writing of the book.

6. Buying books about writing and using Australia Post as an excuse not to write the book, because I can't possible start writing if I haven't read Bird by Bird yet, right?

7. Playing play dough with my kids. They have benefitted greatly from my epic procrasination.

Writing a book is harder than I thought, you guys. I have done about 5,000 out of the target of 80,000. I am aiming to write a shitty draft then refine it later, but it's even hard to write a shitty draft. Two children, a job and too many commitments does not make for a productive writer.

But! I am attempting to let things go in order to write. I want my legacy to be a bloody book, not the fact that I was always up to date with the washing and dutifully scraped weetbix off the table every day. Even if no one reads it. Especially if no one reads it.

I'm writing a book.

Deciding to write a book is a culmination of lots of pieces falling into place: turning thirty and realising that there is no right time to do it; growing more confident in my ability as a writer; feeling that I have enough life experience to write with deeper insights; and wanting to leave a legacy for my children. Even if this book remains hidden in a folder on my desktop forever and never sees the light of day, I'll at least know that I've done it. God, writing fiction is hard work though. It stirs up every shred of self doubt that I have (I'm actually a terrible writer, no one will want to read this, Helen Garner would be horrified) and has become totally all encompassing. I've written plenty of journalistic work, memoir, essays and instructional writing, but never a full length novel so the pacing, structure and narrative is all new to me, and I don't like the feeling of not knowing what I'm doing!

I have been devouring books in a similar style, so lots of Tim Winton, Helen Garner, Liane Moriarty. My writing is quite Australian, female and literary, so I am paying more attention to the details and structure of my favourite books. Not to copy them but to learn from the masters. I'm highlighting turns of phrase and making notes on dialogue and syntax.

I am aiming for 80,000 words, which seems like a good length for a first draft. I am trying to get a draft down as fast as possible, then the real work begins in the revision. The editing is my favourite part of writing: polishing and refining, shifting sentences around and often, removing language that is too flowery and cliched. I'm not ready to talk about the content (I'm still at the point of slamming the laptop shut when Lee walks near anywhere near me when I'm writing) but it is Australian literary fiction about a young family. It's not autobiographical by any means, but there is a married couple, and there is a baby, so obviously there are parallels there with my own life.

I just ordered a pile of books on writing that I've been meaning to read for a while: Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and Stephen King's On Writing, plus Cate Kennedy's novel The World Beneath and short story collection Dark Roots. I dug out my old copy of John Marsden's Everything I Know About Writing which I bought at thirteen after doing a writing camp with him in Romsey. It's good to get a local perspective.

My rough aim is to enter the Vogel's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. I'm under no pretensions of winning, but it is for authors under 35 so it gives me five years to complete the damn book. Ideally I would finish it before then, but hey, I'm finally cutting myself some slack.

 

 

 

Recent readings: colonials, Hollywood and Zadie

3679 I have an unofficial goal to read at least 52 books this year. I've already read five since Christmas, so am well and truly on track. I'm trying to focus on female writers, mostly because, um, I am one. One of the things that helps me read so much is picking up my Kindle or a book instead of picking up my phone to look at pointless Facebook sh*t, especially when the kids are around. I figure it is better for them to be ignored because their mum is reading a book than if she is doing a Buzzfeed quiz on 'Which Kardashian Are You?', right?

Here are a couple of recent reads...

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

This was a dark, bittersweet read about a colonial family in South Australia. The most poignant parts were the interactions with the dwindling Aborigine community and the family dynamics. Poetic and evocative prose.

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

Easy to read, eccentric story about two sisters who move from Ohio to Hollywood in the 40s, with their wayward father, a stolen adopted kid and a Spanish makeup artist.

 

Zadie Smith's On Beauty

I really loved this. Some of Zadie Smith's stuff can be a bit much, but loved the characters and the life injected into this novel. The descriptions of academia and families and growing up are spot on.

Up next, I'm burning through last year's Miles Franklin winner The Eye of the Sheep by Sophie Laguna, Clutterfree with Kids by Joshua Becker and Marie Kondo's new book Spark Joy.

 

 

 

Recent readings - Winter edition

So, due to the FREEZING cold weather and our under-heated house, I have been going to bed early (sometimes as soon as the boys are in bed!) with a hot water bottle and my brand new Kindle. Here are a few books I've read in the past couple of weeks... Cosmo Cosmolino by Helen Garner.  I LOVE Garner's work. Her writing is so spare and eloquent, tightly edited and carefully woven. This book, however, was MUCH more purple and flowery than anything else of hers I have read. Still awesome, but definitely not the Helen Garner I know and love. It's probably my least favourite of her books, but still an excellent read.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by Ryan Stradal. I have about 100 pages of this to go and have really enjoyed it so far. The story focusses on a girl who was born to foodie parents, and she grows up to be a culinary whiz. The story is peppered with recipes and homages to perfect tomatoes and corn. Definitely one to read if you want some cooking inspiration!

Dietland by Sarai Walker covers a lot of territory: feminism, the (evil) diet industry, body image, women's magazines, self care... all wrapped up in a rollicking narrative. A really easy read.

Why French Children Don't Talk Back by Catherine Crawford. I've read a heap of French parenting books, or American books about how the French apparently parent much better than the rest of the world, and they are all interesting and eye-opening reads. This one in particular focusses on how the French aim to raise good citizens and well-adjusted adults who can hold interesting conversations, have decent manners and respect their family. All noble goals! I don't think I parent my kids in any particular way (I try and focus on lots of outside time, roughhousing, talking about everything, having manners and trying new things) but this book gave me lots of food for thought.

And online...

Having babies makes you better at work. Amen!

Hairstylists in the delivery room? Not for me, but hey, whatever makes you feel good!

This has done the rounds already, but it really resonated with me.

I want to print this out and wallpaper my house with it. I was nodding along the whole time.

Have a good week

xx

Recent readings, and tips on how to read more

IMG_7485 ^^ These are the books I keep on my desk. Woodworking, some business-y stuff, design references and a random book about vernacular architecture.

It's been a good week on my bedside table. A bit of fiction, a bit of non-fiction, an anti-dieting book and a book basically written about my husband.

First up was Craft for the Soul by Pip Lincolne. LOVED IT. It's like a conversation with a chatty friend about how to be slightly more awesome, mostly involving tea and blankets and reading. I have a few of Pip's craft books and love her writing style, so was equally happy to read her first 'proper' non-crafty book.

I also just read Pretty Honest by UK beauty columnist Sali Hughes. I actually bought it accidentally, thinking it was another book, but I was surprised at how much I like it. It felt a bit like reading a grown-up version of the beauty pages of Cosmo. Lots of advice about skincare (my secret obsession), lipstick, doing your hair and girly stuff like that.

And last week, I read Anna Quindlen's Every Last One. Wow. There is a huge plot twist about halfway through which totally threw me. A very readable book. And god, I miss reading fiction. A good, rollicking story is like a holiday from your own brain.

Right now, I'm enjoying Quiet by Susan Cain. It's billed as a book about "the power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking". As I am married to someone who is super introverted and gets easily overwhelmed by groups of people and social situations, it has been a bit of an eye-opener so far. Again, very readable and interesting.

And up next, Just Kids by Patti Smith. I think I am the last person on the planet to read this, despite it being recommended to me eleventy-billion times. I don't always love memoirs, especially ones by rock stars, but her prose is pretty freaking amazing, so I'm looking forward to it.

Also, if you are wondering how I get through a few books each week, despite having two young kids and a business and a husband, here is my advice:

1. Don't watch TV. It is all crap and will rot your brain. However, I will make exceptions for Girls, Orange is the New Black, anything by Louis Theroux and the very occasional movie.

2. Go to bed earlier. I am in bed at 9pm at the latest, which gives me at least an hour of reading time.

3. Keep a list of books. I have a list on my phone of books I want to read, and I make an effort to download or buy them so I always have stuff to read. I get lots of book recommendations through friends, the Kobo book-recommender thing (see below) and from podcasts like Chat 10 Looks 3.

4. Get an e-reader. Unless it's a particularly gorgeous book or a book that a friend has written, I read pretty much everything on my Kobo. I can buy books straight off the Kobo too, and have found lots of new authors that way. It also saves space, paper, energy and all that too.

xx

Some awesome things I have read. And some gushing.

Some interesting books and articles I have read. Maybe you will find them interesting/awesome too.

I have been binge-reading everything that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has ever written. She is the Nigerian writer whose TED talk (watch it) was sampled on Beyonce's 'Flawless' video. And anything endorsed by Queen Bey is obviously worthy of my time. Adichie's writing is mesmerising and raw, while also being un-putdown-able.

Speaking of heart-wrenching writing, I have just finished rereading Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things. God, that is probably one of my favourite books of all time. The prose is sweetness and light and grit and earth.

Our book club (which unintentionally seems to focus on female writers with a feminist slant) just finished Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay. It's a book of essays, which aren't always my favourite thing, and honestly I loved some essays and wasn't mad on others. She has validating and positive discussions of everything from Lena Dunham's Girls to Sweet Valley High (Elizabeth Wakefield was always my favourite) to The Help.

I also recently read Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso and unlike most of the internet, I am not a fan. Amoruso started Nasty Gal Vintage, a vintage clothing store which started on eBay and is now a huge company. I was expecting a practical business book about leadership and DIYness, and granted, there are shades of that, but most of the book reads like an extended Dolly magazine article about girlpower and dream-following and selling your homemade plasticine jewellery at markets then using the profits to buy an art deco flat in Richmond #unrealisticmuch. I am all for more women starting their own businesses and doing it their way, sticking it to the man and all that, frankly Amoruso came off as totally self-congratulatory.

And on to the articles...

This is a loooooong story about passwords, but it's surprisingly fascinating.

Slow the eff down.

When someone you love wants to kill themselves.

Once again, Bec's writing has totally slain me. This is an old post, but her words are like a punch in the face. Marriage is really freaking hard, no matter how perfect anybody makes it look. Sometimes you hate each other and sometimes you feel like you are actually speaking entirely different languages and you want to push them until they hurt. And sometimes you do.

And then there are the times when you want to crawl up into their skin and hold them forever because there isn't enough words to express how you feel when they hook their ankle around your leg in the night. And how I know that if my sons turn out to be even a quarter of the man their father is, then I have done my job as their mother.

Well, that got gushy fast. 

Enjoy the weekend

xx

What I've been... Beatrix, dirty hair and birthdays

I tasted the whoopie pie, the carrot cake and the creme brulee. Eating: All the things. I am eating less sugar and amping up the vegies to help reduce inflammation and swelling, and give this baby the best chance at not actually being a Jelly Baby (despite its generous girth). Lots of salads, nuts, chicken, fish and green smoothies. Archie loves green smoothies, but his little digestive system does not. The nappy after he sculls a spinach-cuke-apple-ginger smoothie literally looks like the same smoothie has been poured into the Huggies. Lovely. Despite my virtuous and healthful ways, I have managed to enjoy a BLT and carrot cake at the lovely North Melbs cafe Beatrix, which Lee did the fitout for a few years ago. The owner, Nat, loved Lee so sent me home with a chocolate, caramel and peanut butter whoopie pie and a pistachio creme brulee. Oh yes.

Reading: I've just finished the Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan and Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes. Both books kind of blew my mind about the kind of food we eat, where the food comes from and just how messed up the diet industry is. In a nutshell, sugar is evil but everywhere, fat doesn't make you fat, veggies are best. And happy animals make nutritious meat. I've also just finished Eyrie by Tim Winton. God, that man can write. I've just started Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach. So far, it's dark, funny and informative.

Bookmarking: The Art of Simple. The tagline is 'exploring the craft of living simply'. Love it.

Not doing: Washing my hair. I haven't washed my hair in nearly 10 days now. I don't know if it's pregnancy hormones or what, but I just went a few days between washes...then a few more... and now it's been ages and my hair is still fine. I rinse it with apple cider vinegar sometimes and spread a couple of drops of jojoba oil through the ends if it's getting frizzy. It isn't stinky or oily or dry. Maybe shampoo and conditioner is actually just a crock of shite?!

Coveting: Marimekko have launched a range of kid's clothes. And oh, are they cute. I want to buy all the things.

Writing: An interview about the business for Interiors Addict. Super exciting! And lots of words for a freelance project with a rather tight deadline.

Looking forward to: Lee turns 32 on Tuesday (so old!) so we are having dinner at Ladro on Monday night, hopefully with dessert at Gelato Messina. And on his birthday night we will get takeaway Indian (Kofta Nawabi FTW) and eat these heart attack brownies that he requested.

Submitting: Our building permit application! It is 170 pages of soil reports, site surveys, computations, engineering drawings and energy rating reports. Fingers crossed it only takes a few days to be assessed then we are ready to roll. Lee is at the house today pouring the slab for the front path, and next weekend we will finish the front fence. Progress!

2014 thusly.

photo 3 So 2014 has been weird/awesome so far. I have been a bit mopey due to apparently getting every single freaking symptom of pregnancy (Epic blood noses! Cracking hips! Weird peeling fingertips! Inability to bend!) coupled with exhaustion and a toddler who has only two settings: LOUD and FAST. Also I am lacking in inspiration for the old blogaroo so when I read this 'Taking Stock' list on Pip's blog ... JACKPOT.

Making: MY CROCHETED BLANKET IS FINISHED! This is worthy of a whole other post, which I will be boring you with shortly.

Cooking: Cakes. It was my brother's birthday on Monday so I made a baked lemon cheesecake and a good old Chocolate Ripple Cake. Ain't nothing like a two ingredient dessert to excite this time-poor lady.

Drinking: Water and tea.

Reading: The Omnivore's Dilemma, by Michael Pollan. It is pretty dense, but I'm reading it on the Kobo so I don't have to hold a giant brick of a book awkwardly in one hand. I have read a few of his other books and find them super-interesting. It raises lots of questions about industrial farming and Big Organic. The biggest lesson is how screwed up America is food-wise and how a lot of their problems stem from the reliance on cheap, subsidised corn. My dad has a 6000 acre pig, sheep and crop farm and it is really interesting comparing how his genetic breeding practices, land management and animal welfare issues stack up against the big American ag-industrial complex.

Wanting: To feel 100%. A constantly sore pelvis, lack of sleep and general malaise is making for a grumpy mama. I am currently wearing a girdle to hold my pelvis together. Hot. Pregnancy FTW!

Looking: Forward to a hair appointment next week. I get my hair done approximately twice a year and cut my own fringe (badly) so like to make it worth my while. I am thinking of going a bit lighter... maybe something like this?

Playing: So. Much. Cricket. Who would have thought that two extremely unsporty people could produce a child obsessed with cricket. What Archie lacks in skill he makes up for in enthusiasm. He has his own version which involves throwing the ball, running with the bat towards the ball, hitting the ball, clapping himself, throwing the bat, frantically running in the opposite direction, clapping himself for scoring a run, then starting again. I have to play all the fielding positions and am not EVER allowed to bat.

Deciding: On dinner. I think I'll pick some sushi up on the way home.

Wishing: That the coffee machine at home was not so freaking loud. I get that freshly-ground beans are important, but waking up every day to one of my four coffee-addicted housemates grinding, brewing and steaming is getting tedious.

Enjoying: My new king size bed. There is room for me, Lee, Archie and the seven pillows required to keep me comfortable.

Waiting: This dress.

Liking: Using my new Kikki K diary properly. I know it is only the third week of January but I am feeling super-organised having all my stuff in one place instead of scattered over fifteen different apps and notebooks and Post-Its. I am fully aware that any sense of organisation will all go to shit once the new bubba arrives, however.

Loving: Girls Season 3. So, so good. I loved Hannah's 25th birthday party and how horribly awkward and earnest Marnie is.

Pondering: The meaning of it all. Also, how to get inside the mind of a retail stockist and give them what they want, without going bankrupt. The wholesale furniture business is HARD, yo.

Considering: Paint colours for my brother's house. Because I am the Official Clark Family Paint Colour Consultant for all our various properties.

Watching: Archie grow bigger before my eyes. He tends to get really chubby, then have a huge growth spurt and get leaner, then get  chubby again. He is definitely in a growth phase now.

Hoping: That the weather will stay nice and mild like this for, oh, ever.

Marvelling: At how much the baby moves around. Archie was never still when he was inside, and this little bug is the same.

Needing: A massage. Also, a finished house.

Wearing: A Marimekko dress that is pushing the boundaries of appropriate maternity wear. I keep forgetting that my bump makes non-maternity dresses shorter at the front. Awkward.

Noticing: How much crap I eat. My sugarfree experiment starts next Thursday GOD HELP ME.

Knowing: Everything will work out in the end.

Feeling: Weary.

Admiring: Mothers who work fulltime and have lots of kids. And the daycare ladies at Archie's daycare. They are rad.

Buying: Groceries, presents for my new niece (!), ingredients for a lasagne for a new mum, maternity underwear.

Getting: Older. Ben's birthday made me realise that I will be 28 soon. Obviously I am channeling all my efforts into planning my 30th party in two years.

Disliking: People getting grumpy while waiting to turn right without a green arrow. I have right of way, dude!

Opening: Bills, Bills, Bills.

xxxx

Five things for a Friday - Sister Wives and shoes

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1. I have been meaning to get a photo book made of our gorgeous wedding photos, and have FINALLY gotten off my ass and started doing it. Our photographer Tricia King (oh, look at the gorgeous bride on her website!) is super amazeballs awesome and so far the book is just every single photo from the day as I am unable to edit a single one. It's an 800-page tome of awesome. And Snapfish (they are doing the photobook- there are lots of places which do them but they seem good. And they have 25% off during March!) One day I will get organised and do a proper post all about the wedding.

2. I have been watching this reality TV showcalled Sister Wives. Totes addicted. It's all about this fundy Mormon guy who has four wives and 16 kids. I LOVE to analyse other people's relationship so this is like porn for me. They are really upfront about the jealousy issues they have, and how they manage the day-to-day running of a massive family. I think I could totally cope with Lee having another wife or two. Mainly because I'd get the bed to myself every few nights to watch crap TV late and read and eat snacks.

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3. Shoes! My old standard Jellies broke last week. I was pretty devastated but pretty excited that I had a justifiable reason to buy more shoes. So obviously, I replaced one pair of shoes with...two pairs. I got red Saltwater Sandals (from here - cheapest place online that I found) which are ridiculously comfy and cute, and another pair of Jellies in SILVER GLITTER. I'm totally living out my childhood again. The Salties turn my little toes numb, which is weird, but otherwise they are my new uniform shoes. And really, what is the point of the little toe anyway.

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4. There has been lots of kitchen action this week. I made this tarte tatin to use up the millions of chezza tomatoes we have, this couscous thing which used up lots of leftover bits of rando stuff, these AMAZING caramel brownies, bog-standard broc pasta and two batches of nectarine crumble because we have a glut of nectarines. I'm still doing the 12WBT, but have moved away from the recipes as I was finding them too boring so am just freestyling and tracking the calories. I have actually reached my goal so am relaxing a bit and focussing on eating good, seasonal food. The weather finally cooled down yesterday, so I can crank the oven more often. I want to make these rolls and this bread.

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5. Archie has been obsessed with getting into the kitchen cupboards and drawers. We've got a safety catch on the cupboard under the kitchen sink but everything else he is pretty okay to get into. Because I have been cooking lots lately (see above) the pantry is pretty much always open, and he got stuck into the cans and platters and beer bottles that  aren't exactly baby-freindly. So I moved all that stuff and put some random tupperware and paper plates and stuff in there for him to play with. He LOVES IT. It keeps him happily entertained while I get breakfast in the morning. Parenting WIN.

Five things for a Friday.

Source: wall-tattoo.co.uk via Emma on Pinterest

1. On Sunday night we went to an art opening in the Edinburgh Gardens. My best friend is an artist and is doing some work on a vacant 100-year-old plinth. It was a beautiful evening, and Archie was loving crawling around in the dirt. It was a nice reminder that it is actually possible to leave the house in a calm fashion without too much stuff. Although I did take a macadamia and pumpkin salad, a ricotta cake, baby food, a full nappy bag, cider, plates, cutlery and toys, and was slightly jealous of the cool kids carrying only a tiny vintage purse and cigarettes.

2. The other night Lee and I watched the documentary Searching for Sugarman, about the musician Sixto Rodriguez. It was great! I love docos, but keep forgetting to watch them (if that makes sense). Rodriguez released a few albums in the late 70s but they never really sold in the US. Meanwhile, in South Africa, he sold a whopping 500 million albums and was bigger than Elvis, but had no idea because the royalties never made it to him. He was a builder's labourer living in Detroit, totally unaware that he was a household name in South Africa until the doco makers contacted him. It was very well done and the soundtrack was amazing. Highly recommended.

3. Archie and I went to Ikea on Tuesday for a spending spree with my brother Ben and my friend Asher. Ben needed heaps of stuff for his bachelor-pad sharehouse and so he went nuts. I picked up a high chair for mum's place, a few frames, some bedding and a toilet brush. And on the way home from dropping Asher off a woman flagged my down in another car to tell me that my handbag was on the roof of my car. Awesome.

4. It has been so freaking hot the past few days, and it is going to be even hotter next week. I am SO over it. It is too hot to take Archie for walks or to go too many places, so we are mostly housebound, under the air con. He is a sweaty little bloke at the best of times so he gets all hot and stinky in the heat.

5. Because we have no money, I haven't bought any clothes for months, except op shop stuff and underwear. I literally wear a pair of $10 denim shorts and striped t-shirts everywhere, which is fine, but I would like to look remotely stylish occasionally. So I sucked it up and got some polkadot jeans and wait for it... another navy t-shirt. I need stuff that can survive getting spewed on, getting smeared in weetbix-caked grubby fingers, that I can get down on the floor in easily to play with blocks, and that isn't too hot. So it seems I still reverted back to jeans-and-a-t-shirt. At least the jeans are spotty?

Getting in early.

 

My birthday is on April 10, which is a bit over a month away. In the spirit of 'ask-and-ye-shall-receive' there are a few hot items that would make me a happy lady. Some practical things that I wouldn't get myself, and some things that I just WANT. Also I know that my mum and Lee reads this so... guys, you might want to bookmark this list. Just saying.

Some sort of phone charger/music player thing for the car. I know that these exist, and I actually have one in my car now, but it is way too fiddly for my liking. I am yet to find one that will play through the speakers of my old car (tape deck!) without me needing to tune it in or anything.

Subscriptions. Now that we are a 1 1/4 income family with a mortgage and kid (god that sounds boring) my magazine addiction has come to a grinding halt. But I would love a subscription to Inside Out, Real Living, or Habitus. And Anthology, Vogue Living, Belle, Living Etc, and Donna Hay. (Tangent: I once worked with Donna Hay. She is a tyrant. For the short time that I worked in the magazine office, she made someone cry every.single.day. Powerful lady, yes, but quite the bully.)

Books. Beci Orpin's new book looks rad. And I have my eye on a few cookbooks- Donna Hay's Simple Dinners, Alice Hart's Vegetarian and Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. I am trying to cook more exciting vego dinners (Lee is vego, I am not and Archie is not, although I can definitely foresee a day when Archie will decide that if Daddy ain't eating meat, then he won't either.)

A buttery leather jacket. I have a picture of one in my head, but I am yet to actually find it in real life. Not cropped, maybe with some panelling, not too motorbikey, quite slim fitting and not shiny. How hard can it be?

More time. This is a tricky one. I would love a day where I can sit and sew, crochet, watch Grand Designs, drink tea and actually complete some projects and be creative in a non-rushed way. Maybe in about 16 years?

Five things for a Friday.

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1. Last weekend we had a lovely mini-break at Tonimbuk House, which is down in Gippsland. It was really, really, really relaxing. I was a bit worried that we would all be in one room and as such would all have to go to bed at 7pm with Archie, but he had his own room and so we all hung out, read books, did a jigsaw puzzle, caught up with Lee's family and ate good food. Bliss.

2. It was Lee's birthday on Monday. 31! When I was 20 I briefly went out with a guy who was 31, and I remember thinking he was SO OLD. And now here we are.

I only saw the birthday boy briefly as I had uni on Monday night and he was in Dandenong finishing installing a job. So I gave him his presents on Sunday night. I got him a new wallet from Status Anxiety, a nose hair trimmer ('twas necessary, especially as he is 6"2. Ain't nobody need to see those blowfly legs sticking out), and something else which hasn't arrived yet but will CHANGE HIS LIFE. My parents got him a whipper snipper. Fuck yes. You know you are an adult when you get a whipper snipper for your birthday.

We ditched the 12WBT thing for the day and I made him this tart, we ate a small slice each then moaned about how full we were and how sickly sweet it is and how it is all TOO MUCH whilst picking away at it and shoving more in our faces. My best friend was at our place when I got home from uni and she had brought Lee baklava and cheese pies. What a dame.

3. I am reading What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell. I've read all his other books and would gladly recommend them to anyone, and this book is no exception. It is a collection of his best essays for the New Yorker and New York Times over the past few years, and the essay format really suits my attention span at the moment.

4.I am trying to simplify and purge stuff from my life, partially because I know we are moving house soon and partially because I am a minimalist living a maximalist life. Clutter begone! I have cleaned out cupboards like a crazy lady, and turfed heaps of hair and face products. I have been washing my face with a castor oil and jojoba blend and with HONEY (hippie) and it has been feeling pretty good so far. I am also considering going the 'no poo' method and ditching shampoo in favour of bicarb and apple cider vinegar. We will see how that goes. My new favourite website Crunchy Betty is all about natural skincare and stuff and I am all over it.

5. On Tuesday Archie and I had the poached eggs with peas and feta at Lowlands. It was pretty freaking awesome. Archie was on fire, lots of gummy grins at the wait staff and giggling. And then yesterday we had lunch with some friends at a new-to-me place in South Morang called Two Beans and a Farm. Although when my friend texted me, it autocorrected to 'Two Beans Abducted a Farm.' Best cafe name ever. I had a super yummy steak sandwich and then a strawberry and white chocolate bread and butter pudding. Ohhh yeah. (Sorry Michelle Bridges.)

Book-buying overload.

I have a slight addiction to buying books. Since the announcement that Borders and Angus and Robertson has gone bust in the US, I am committed to propping up the printed-word industry. Here are some that I have bought/read lately... It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be

Life-changing. This little gem is written by longtime Saatchi & Saatchi Creative Director Paul Arden, and whittles down all the other self-help, inspirational business book to a tight, beautifully designed 124-pages. An excellent and easy read. I want to buy this for everyone I know.

Sew La Tea Do

The second book by the lovely Pip, this baby has sewing patterns for all sorts of gorgeous gear, from lady's dresses to quilts, kid's clothes, and purses. I have her first book, Meet Me at Mikes, as well, and cannot wait for the next one!

Less Than Zero

By 'literature's wild child' (God, I hate that phrase!) Bret Easton Ellis. Set in a very shallow and grimy 80s LA, this is an easy read but made me want to have a long shower afterward.

Glamorama

Also by Bret Easton Ellis. Revisits Victor Ward, the same shallow, vacuous kid from Less than Zero. Compelling and kind of grotesque.

Escape from Cubicle Nation

Based on this. This one made me want to leave my job IMMEDIATELY and become a full-time designer. Has awesome plans on the nitty-gritty of working for yourself.