Give Your Socks A Holiday!

IMG_0712“The socks and tights stored in your drawer are essentially on holiday.’ Such is the wisdom I am finding in a book my friend put me onto. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. At first, I thought she was mad, but within a few chapters of her book, my muse and I had rearranged our lounge and I was eyeballing my sock drawer, with a promise to the socks that I would Youtube this lady and learn how to fold them with more respect (so they can have a holiday in their drawer).

And I do find myself talking to my clothes.

For many years, I had the sort of shape that meant I could never have a wardrobe I could be excited about. Big boobs. That’s all you need to know. At times I was a tiny 17kgs lighter than I am now, but even back then, I couldn’t get clothes to fit me, or clothes that made me feel good about myself. If you are outside of the circle, in any way, shape or form, society lets you know it. It’s a constant reminder that ‘YOU DO NOT FIT IN’ (literally). I spent years hating myself, what I looked like and wishing I could be different

All that changed last year, when, after returning to nursing, my budget went to hell in a hand basket. Our government seems to be hellbent on casualising the nursing workforce. Essentially this makes you into a day labourer, and your shift can be cancelled an hour before you are due to turn up to work. You can’t plan for anything, and if it happens enough, you can’t pay for anything. So, enter the local Salvation Army op shop. There, I found a world that meant for $10 or so, I could start to be bold, find things from other decades which fitted me!!! And, I began to build up my confidence, which had been worn down to nothing over the decades.

Nowadays, it can take me an hour to get dressed, as I examine my lovely friends who now hang in my wardrobe. Bright coats from the 70s, groovy jackets from the 80s and all manner of lovely items which make me feel attractive and happy again. For the first time in my life I don’t want to lose weight. I’m happy where I am, and I LOVE my clothes.

To the point that I am prepared to give my socks the holiday they deserve. So, no matter how you feel about yourself, try to find something that makes you feel good. For me it was a 1970s dress made in London, that I purchased for $12. And I have never looked back, and I have never felt better about myself.

It can take a long time to accept yourself for who you are, and what you look like. But when you do, it is absolutely fabulous!!!!

Super Annoying!

IMG_0980 If this year has taught me nothing else so far, it’s that kombucha tea does not give you super powers, and that the whole superfoods movement is a load of wilted kale. My kombucha tea scoby is now in the compost, and yesterday I discovered that my organically grown kale plants were being destroyed by caterpillars. After picking about 40 of the little bastards off my ravished plants, I realised the only thing left for it, was to uproot the whole lot and be done with the kale phase of my life.

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I felt too guilty to just bin it in the compost, so I took a deep breath and spent the next hour trying to wash all the caterpillars out of the curly kale leaves.

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Disgusting.

Finally, facing a mountain of clean kale, I got out my trusty NutriBullet and pulverised the lot, before pouring the extremely bright green liquid into ice cube trays. I now have about 60 kale cubes ready for green smoothies. They are pretty smelly, but I think it will work. Either that or they will be thrown in the bin in due course.

So, that’s it so far for organic gardening and fermented super foods. I think my next task will be to find an exercise class I enjoy. Anyone for yoga?

 

The end of the road…

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Hmm, I could have done with a camel recently. Two weeks ago I was sitting in my car at the end of our road, waiting to turn into the main street, when some hoon (for non-Aussies, that’s a person in a car who is driving like an idiot) came barrelling into the back of me, ripping off the bumper and wrecking the boot. My trusted car of eleven years was promptly written off by the insurance company, and taken to the scrap yard. The stupid driver of the other car was whinging at me about his insurance excess (being a 19 year old. Yes, it was $1,500), but I wish I had said to him, ‘hey dickhead, I’m on foot now.’

I’ve been catching public transport ever since.

Still, I wasn’t injured, and I’ve found a new car which I get tomorrow, so all is well in the world! This experience came shortly after we lost two of our little ferrets to cancer and old age. They passed away together on the same day. We’ve had a lot of change happening around us lately, and it’s made me think about the whole idea of letting go of things, and moving into new phases of your life. Not the easiest thing to do.

Sometimes you simply don’t get a choice. The best thing to do is try and accept the situation and make the best of it. While I hate public transport, I’ve rediscovered that 30 minutes to work is the perfect amount of time to get stuck into a smutty book a friend has lent me. And two new fur babies have found a home with us, from the animal shelter.

It’s hard to trust that the future will work out, but these last few weeks have shown me just that. And I got a great new car to provide it.

 

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!!!