Stories from the past

 

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I don’t usually post photos of myself, but I couldn’t resist because I’ve developed a fabulous new hobby. Well, I think it’s fabulous, although not everyone agrees. My muse thinks I’ve gone mad. He thinks I’m having a bit of a ‘mid-life crisis.’ He told me this when I was wearing a screaming red caftan from the 70s, with my hair in a turban, but I digress. My new hobby is shopping for vintage clothes in the op shops. I developed my new passion after stumbling across a gorgeous dress from another era made in London. I loved it so much, I went back to the shop and found a few more fabulous things, like a purple coat from the 70s, and this blue number I’m wearing in the photo from the 60s.

The amazing thing about dressing in these treasures from another decade, is that I feel like I’m putting on a story every time I wear them. Someone, forty or fifty years ago, wore this coat. I like to make up stories about the life these clothes have lived – cocktail and dinner parties, nights out at clubs and shows they’ve been to. This coat came from a designer in Melbourne, so who knows what things it’s seen. I feel like I’m their guardian now, and it’s my duty to make sure they go out and have fun!

Tomorrow I’m going to the country with my muse. He has to man a stand for work at a farm fair, and he asked me to go with him. I said I would, but only if I could go into the small town and hunt through their second hand shops. I hope there are some more treasures waiting for their new home. I can’t wait!

 

 

Turning up the heat

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It’s autumn here in Adelaide, but you wouldn’t know it. We’ve had a hideous heatwave, complete with muggy, humid days and nights, which frankly, none of us are used to because we live on the edge of a dry, dusty desert. As I stood in a car park the other day, with my windows, doors and hatch open trying to cool down my car, I was transfixed by the heat shimmering off the car roof. I could have cooked not only an egg on that roof, but quite possibly an entire BBQ. Which led me to wonder why my body hadn’t simply imploded in the heat. Probably because the amount of sweat we’ve all been producing has pickled us in our own juices.

Anyway, I recently decided to volunteer as a competition judge with our romance writers organisation in Australia. I said on my application form that I was happy to read any genre, and any heat level. Well, lucky old me got down to judging the entries over the weekend, and let me tell you, the heat level of those stories matched the heat from my car roof and then some! I got all the erotic, exotic extracts in my quota of entries. I sat there, mesmerised by what I was reading. It was fun. Smutty, naughty fun, but fun nonetheless. It kind of reminded me of being a teenager again. Or, going on a date with some gorgeous guy when you are in your twenties and your body is toned, tanned and your jeans fit you. Ahhh, the stories were great. It got me thinking how important it is to focus on smut, I mean fun things, whatever that may mean to you. The world is so filled with fear and sadness at the moment, but for a few hours I was grinning and sniggering to myself, and enjoying every moment.

Then I thought how amazing it is that people write stories, enter competitions, make craft and put stuff out into the world. And, you never know who is going to be touched by the thing you create. Even if it’s one person, sitting up in bed with a grin from ear to ear (I’ve seen that in the hospital more than once, when a patient has a Mills & Boon in her grasp), then your creation has made the world a better place. So, pick up your knitting needles, get those fingers on the keyboard or paint that picture. Really, your creation might be the one thing that makes the day of someone you have never, and will never meet. What a magnificent thought!

I’ve Admitted Defeat

 

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Well, at least on the kale front. I’m just going to say it. I don’t like kale, I can’t stand quinoa and I think my green smoothie days are over. However, I’m still loving my fruit smoothies so all is not lost with my Magic Bullet. I also had to admit defeat this week on squashing my creativity into a rigid daily timetable of set amount of words at a set time each day.

At the beginning of the year I set myself quite a few ‘goals’. I’ve realised that my life can’t be that rigid. I do know some people can organise themselves into powerhouses of amazing achievements, but I’m not one of them. Instead, I’m sitting down for an hour each day and just writing for the fun of it. No word count, no deadlines, no pressure. Otherwise, writing becomes like having to drink a kale smoothie every morning vs. eating what you feel like at breakfast. There’s something so depressing about ‘should’. I’m not saying discipline isn’t important (hello weekly yoga class and daily french lessons on Duolingo), but at the end of the day, I’m not sure following some weird idea of what life ‘should be’ is a recipe for success.

So, onwards! With less kale, a few more laughs and less pressure to achieve.

An alien poo in my tea

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I’ve got a feeling fermented foods are going to be the next craze in our fad-obsessed diet culture. But that’s a good thing, because 70% of our immune system exists in out gut, and fermented foods are excellent for improving gut health.

So, enter kombucha tea; a fermented substance that looks something like an alien poo, floating in a sea of urine (that’s the nurse in me coming out – sorry). It’s a pretty scary looking brew, however you view it.

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I came across it at a health fair, where I spoke to a herbalist who sold me a bottle of the tea. There was a tiny wisp of the alien poo thing (called a scoby), floating in the cold brew. After a bit of internet searching, I decided to try and produce my own tea, by growing the scoby, with the hope that I wasn’t going to poison myself to death in the process. The top picture shows how big the initial scoby was, and the bottom photo is what it looks like at the moment. So far, both myself and my muse are still alive. The finished product tastes much better than it looks, that is if you like things that taste like a cross between vinegar and sweet tea. The floating poo thingie sits in a brew of cold, sugary tea, and turns it into fermented kombucha tea, which you drink morning and night (just a tiny cup full at this stage.)

I’m not even going to attempt to advise on how to cultivate this stuff, as I’m still on a learning curve, but if you are interested, then it’s certainly a journey into quite strange food territory. And it’s something you can use to frighten unwanted guests away!

I’ll let you know how it goes…

The Art of Procrastination

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Ever noticed how hard it is to actually get started on something? Since the new year, I’ve been trying to put better habits in place in my life. Eating less, eating better, drinking less alcohol, cutting down on wheat, sugar and anything else tasty which can survive without going mouldy for months… I’ve been doing meditation, I’ve been keeping up with my French lessons, AND I went to the gym. I was feeling like a phoenix, rising from the ashes of MacDonald’s wrappers.

However, today I jumped on the scales, only to discover I’ve put on weight following a ‘plant based’ diet. Feeling defeated, I went up the road to the local green grocer, who proceeded to tell me how much he loves the hot dogs, which the take away shop next door sells. So much for the fucking green smoothies. The gym was pretty out-there too. Lots of aggressive women doing squats with weights (Body Pump class). Everywhere I looked, people were doing their exercises badly, to the music, and looking quite surly about it. It made me miss my yoga classes, which I’ll be heading back to next week.

So, after a month of new habits and trying new things, here’s what I think. Getting started is hard, but filled with the promise of change and new horizons. Once you get started, this might not be quite how it works out, and you may need to change course more than once to get where you want to go. I guess the main thing is to keep trying, to leave the stuff behind you which you know doesn’t work, and keep going until you get it right. It’s going to take a while, clearly. Ugh.

It’s like starting to write a new book. For the first day or two, my word count is about 35, and all the household chores I’ve been avoiding get done. Then, one day, if you keep at it, you end up with a 70,000 word novel. There isn’t an easy answer. You just have to start, and keep going.

A Magic Bullet…

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I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I succumbed to the whole ‘green smoothie’ fad, after a recent visit from my friend David. David is one of the wisest people I know when it comes to nutrition, herbs, and anything to do with health really. So, when he told me about how good the NutriBullet smoothies were, I was willing to be open minded.

Then the universe stepped in, and I won enough money on a random bet at the casino to buy one!! You can argue with that.

‘So Jane, have you become a kale drinking hipster?’, I hear you ask. Well, not exactly. But I have started putting more fruit and veggies in my diet via my Magic Bullet superfood nutrition extractor (yup, I’ve watched those infomercials), and I am feeling better. I’m not saying that adding a shot of vodka to the morning mix wouldn’t make it a even nicer, but, as this is my year of getting my act together on as many fronts as possible, this is a damn easy way to rev up your diet.

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Mind you, you need a good recipe. The first one I made went down the drain. It was disgusting. So, here is my version of a green smoothie (thanks David!) I want to try drinking one a day for a month. And, if I don’t feel better at the end of the four weeks, then I’m heading straight to McDonalds for a burger and coke.

Hipster Kale Smoothie Drink

2 pitted dates

1 tablespoon raw cashews

1 large celery stalk

Slice of fresh ginger (to taste, it makes the smoothie very zingy)

1 small red apple (no seeds or core)

2 kale leaves

1/2 peeled lemon (no skin, no seeds, no pith)

1 cup of cold water, or coconut water if you want to be super trendy

Combine the lot in your Magic Bullet blender and blast it to kingdom come.

A New Start

IMG_0320Last year will not got down in my personal history as one to remember. It sucked. However, as 2015 drew to a close I realised that sitting around, wanting to change, was not enough to get things moving. It’s amazing how often something will come along, just in the nick of time, when you’ve reached rock bottom.

Enter Nicole Cody (check out her blog at Cauldrons and Cupcakes – http://cauldronsandcupcakes.com). This wonderful woman devised a planner for 2016 and I purchased it (from her shop on her blog – http://cauldronsandcupcakes.com/shop/). Amazing. I actually sat down, stopped whinging about everything I wanted to change, and made a plan! It wasn’t that hard. In fact, it was fun to give myself permission to dream again. So what if my books hadn’t cracked the big time yet, so what if I still haven’t lost weight. Suddenly I was imagining what I wanted 2016 to look like, but best to all, I had plans in place to make it happen.

A dream without a plan is pointless. That’s my motto for this year. So, with that out of the way, I’m looking forward to sharing recipes, ideas and stories with you in 2016. And if you are feeling stuck, I urge you to get the planner and get started. After all, the Chinese New Year doesn’t start till February 8th, so technically, we have another shot at getting up and getting going for 2016. May the Force be with us!!!

If Celine Ruled the World (and other solutions to the shit we are currently in)

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Celine Dion. If she ruled the world, what a wonderful place it would be. ‘Jane,’ I hear you say, ‘she’s amazing, but really?’ Yes. Really. Recently I was in lovely cocktail bar, where the owners know me so well, they put a martini glass in the fridge when they see me walk through the door (see my earlier post, ‘lifetime secret shared’). A young couple were also sitting at the bar, and for some reason, we started talking about Celine. The guy said that he had been travelling in West Africa a couple of years ago, and that he and his friends had been stopped at a border check point. AK40 semi automatics were drawn on them. They were taken into a small hut at gun point. Things were looking grim… Then Celine Dion came on their radio. The dude at the bar said ‘it’s the only time he’s seen men with guns taking a three minute silence, with tears in their eyes.’ I can totally understand that. The dude at the bar said ‘I hate Celine Dion.’ Dude, she saved your life. I’m just saying. Actually, I did say, ‘if I’d been there, I would have known the song, filled them in on the words, then told them about the time I saw her live in Las Vegas.’ Who knows where we could have all ended up? Probably sharing a meal somewhere.

Which brings me to my small contribution to world peace. Get to know your neighbour. My current neighbour is from Korea. I had her in for a chocolate cake morning tea recently with her two year old. Let me tell you. Two year olds are the same worldwide. Tornados, and magnets to barbie dolls and anything that might be small, which can break. What amazed me is, that despite our age differences and our cultural differences, we bonded over food, our hatred of housework, our muffin tops (we are going to join the gym together). I firmly believe, people want the same things. A home, family, a job, a direction in life. Friends. To belong. We can all contribute to this by creating it in our own little corner of the world.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, on the whole, I’ve found people are pretty much the same once you scratch the surface. It’s easy to pin labels on certain groups and demographics, and while some of the stereotypes are true, it’s much harder to hate each other once you’ve made a connection. Unless you don’t like Celine. Then we may have a problem…

Lost and Found Part 2

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In the last couple of weeks I’ve been looking at my life, trying to figure out where I want to head now I’m in my 50s, why I am chubby, and why I wear the same jewellery and clothes all the time. It was not as scary as I thought it would be, to admit I’m in a rut, and I want to do something about it. I think the hardest part of making any change is taking that first look in the mirror, and admitting to yourself that you’re not where you want to be.

It’s going to take me a while to figure out where I want to go now in life. My advice is take it really slowly, if you too are in the same boat. You have to feel your way into the new, and if you rush head long into it, you’ll probably end up going arse over tit. No one wants to see that version of you.

So, the first thing I did was weigh myself (ugh!), start a food diary and cut back on the crap (yes, that does include meat pies for lunch and entire tins of condensed milk). Next, I went to my hairdresser, and for the first time in twenty years, came out with a fringe and a bit of a new look, which I’m liking. After all, it’s only hair and it will grow, but at least now I look different from my lost self. Then I took out all my jewellery, and had a really good look at things I’ve owned for years, but simply haven’t been wearing. I’ve got no idea why I’ve let my jewellery languish the way I have, but after polishing off some gorgeous earrings I’d forgotten I owned, I was out the door feeling excited about broadening my horizons.

Lastly, I’m going through my clothes tomorrow. Anything that I feel bad in, when I try it on, is going to charity (or the ferret bedding box). I’m not waiting to get thinner either. I just want to feel good about my clothes, rather than wearing things because they fit and don’t need to be ironed.

Then I’m off on my four day retreat by myself. I hope I don’t end up mooching around feeling lonely, but if I do, then that’s okay too. Since taking these steps, I feel like a small crack has opened up in my world, letting slivers of the new in. It’s really exciting. Nearly as exciting as trying to tame the cowlick I’d forgotten I have, in my fringe each morning.

My advice if you are feeling stuck, is start making little changes every day. Wear those earrings you’d forgotten you own, try a new drink in a new bar when you go out, and don’t be scared to take small steps in a new direction. It’s exciting. Like a journey without a real road map. Who know where you’ll end up!!

Lost and Found

A while back, someone asked me what was on my ‘bucket list.’ I replied ‘nothing, there’s nothing I feel inspired to do.’ When I thought about it afterwards, it made me realise I’m feeling a bit lost, with no dreams on my horizon. What’s a girl to do? Panic, pour herself a martini, seek enlightenment? I’ve tried all of that, and really, it just leads to a sore head on all fronts. Thankfully, along with Celine Dion, there are some wise women amongst us, to show us the way.

Elizabeth Gilbert is the fabulous author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, and she runs an amazing Facebook Page, filled with wonderful words and tips for living a more creative and satisfying life. I highly recommend checking her out. Shortly after my realisation that life wasn’t quite on track, one of her posts really caught my eye. Here’s the condensed version, which I’ll quote from her:

“Long ago, a wise woman — much advanced in years — gave me a wonderful piece of advice. She said that every thoughtful woman, every ten years, should take some time to be alone with herself, in order to reexamine the direction of her own life, and to decide if any alterations need to be made.

Ask yourself if the moment has come to check in with yourself. Make sure that your values, dreams, goals, and companions are still appropriate — not for the person you once were, not even for the person you THOUGHT you would someday be…but for the woman you have actually become. Ask that woman what she really wants.”

I ask you, how many of us actually do this in our lives? I know I haven’t. But, I think that time has come, so in a couple of weeks, I’m going away by myself for a few days to have a think about life. A few things might need to be overhauled, some dreams might need to be put in place, and I’m hoping to find a spark to ignite myself with again. So, as Elizabeth Gilbert always says ONWARDS!