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My music taste is like my shoe collection – mixed and sometimes shameful.

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My 'grandpa' shoes.

My ‘grandpa’ shoes. Don’t worry – I did get matching feet to both of these.

For many years I worked in a shoe shop. As a female, I was living the dream: discounts on shoes (good shoes too – not cheap and nasty ones) and first pick of the new stock. Over the space of six or so years, my shoe collection grew and grew and grew. It was a wonderfully eclectic mix of high heels, flats, and multiple pairs of boots; black shoes and brightly coloured shoes; shoes that I am always complimented on and shoes that people hate and would never be seen dead in; and shoes that I wore all the time versus the ones that to this day – four years on from me leaving the shoe shop – still have their stuffing in them and have been confined to their box: never have they had the pleasure of being clutched in my hands as I wander the streets barefoot looking for a taxi after a big night out. When I moved house a few years ago, I knew that I couldn’t take all my precious shoes with me and sadly for me, I gave the majority of my hoard away. Happily for my housemate at the time, her shoe collection grew as she had the same shoe size as me.

Recently I’ve started rebuilding my shoe collection. A couple of days ago I obtained two pairs of shoes and posted a picture on Facebook, because people love seeing pictures of my ugly shoe purchases. Unsurprisingly, the majority of people hated them; two people actually called them grandpa shoes, which to me is all part of the charm. That and the fact that they were $20 each reduced from $170 – how could I not buy them? Then yesterday I got some nice girly wedges which were received by my shoe critics with overwhelming warmth. The only thought that raced through my mind as my new shoes received praise was, ‘if only they knew what was on my iPod’.

My new girly wedges

My new girly wedges

There’s stuff on my iPod that everyone loves and stuff that people hate; music that makes me happy, music that makes me sad; there’s music from just about every genre you can think of (except for heavy metal screamy stuff) – pop, r’n’b, classical, dance and I’ve recently just added some opera and my new study jam is Marvin Gaye. If I hear it and I likes it, I add it. Then there’s the music on there that even in my most vulnerable moments, I would never admit to having in my collection. The music that you know people will judge you for and which almost immediately causes you to be shunned from society. You would never even admit to yourself that you listen to it and when it plays on your iPod when you’re in public, you turn the volume right down so that there’s no chance of the people around you hearing your shame coming out of the ear buds. You know the songs I’m talking about: songs that no matter how much you want to, you just can’t bring yourself to delete them from your music library because you secretly really love them and you’ll miss not shamefully jamming along to them. You might be listening to one right now.

I have many shameful songs, and in an effort to really connect with the people of the world (or to make my shame less shameful), I have decided to share my shame with you and hope that you won’t judge me too harshly. So here are my top 5 ‘Songs of Shame’, counting down from least shameful to most shameful. I promise that these songs are not a reflection of me as a person. If you too have a song or songs of shame, feel free to share in the comments below – it’s a safe place, we won’t judge you (out loud).

5. ‘Mmm…Bop’, Hanson I know I’m probably not the only female staring down the barrel of thirty that has this in their music collection. I mostly keep it around because it reminds of times when I was young and carefree, and girls would sit around discussing which of the three Hanson brothers was the best looking. Obviously it was Taylor, but I won’t judge you if you were into one of the others.

4. Nickelback, nothing in particular, just all of the Nickelback I feel like this band gets a pretty bad rap. Then I hear that song where the Paddlepop Lion (aka, Chad Kroeger) sings about a girl with her pants around her feet, and I remember why I feel the shame whenever their songs play on my iPod. As I side note, I do not count the aforementioned pants around feet song amongst my music. I like their stuff that’s all ballady and popular with many people who would never admit they like it.

3. ‘Strawberry Kisses’, Nikki Webster Nikki was that cute little girl who sang at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She was Australia’s darling for a while and I guess there’s some part of all of us that still sees her as our little sister/daughter/friend.I have no excuse for this song other than I really enjoy singing it out loud when I’m alone. No I don’t use a hairbrush when doing so.

2/1. ‘Nothing in This World’ & ‘Stars Are Blind’, Paris Hilton You can put these two in whatever order you like on the list of shame. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the only person in the world to admit to having these in my music collection. In my defence, I bought the entirety of the album that these songs appeared on when I was all, “I don’t care what people think of my taste in music”, AND I only allowed myself to put two songs instead of the entire album on my iPod. Good job me – I kept some credibility.

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NaNoWriMo-ing

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Because I don’t have enough to do already, I’m having another crack at NaNoWriMo this year – that’s National Novel Writing Month for those of you not in the know. I first did it in 2012 and actually made the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Sure it was pretty crap, but I can proudly say that I have actually written a novel and while it will never – and should never – see the light of day, I think that’s pretty cool. I then attempted it again last year and lasted a week on one novel before I started another because the first was going no where, and then I just stopped after two weeks. Actually it was probably less than that if I really think about it. But this year I have what I believe is a good solid idea which I should be able to get 30 days of drivel out of. I’ve also decided to set myself an extra little challenge this year just to spice things up a bit. While I guarantee that your idea of spice and my idea of spice differ greatly, I’m very excited about it.

obtenebration, n. The condition of being overshadowed or darkened; a darkening or blacking-out; shade or gloom.

Being the little nerd that I am, I follow the Oxford English Dictionary on Twitter and I have the OED homepage saved on my favourites bar (I actually wrote a post many moons ago, reviewing a book that told the story of the creation of the OED, it’s here if you’re interested). If you’re into words like I am, it’s an excellent source for all your etymological needs. You can even find the definition of ‘etymological’ if you need it. Anyway, every day the OED has a ‘word of the day’, usually taking the form of those that aren’t in high circulation these days and which chances are you’ve never heard of. For example, yesterday’s word (or today’s if you’re on the opposite side of the world to Australia) was ‘obtenebration’ (see definition to the right). Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard that word, nor used it in a sentence. I’m not even sure how I would use it in a sentence in the grammatically correct way.

So in an endeavour to increase my vocabulary and ensure that I am using words in the correct manner, I will be slipping whatever word happens to be the OED’s word of the day, into my novel on that day of writing (did you get that?). See, I did tell you that your definition of spice and mine would differ. But I am confident that it will get me thinking about the words I am using and make sure that I am using the best ones I can. I mean, it would look a bit silly if I had ‘obtenebration’ sitting surrounded by a pool of commonly used words, so I will have to upgrade my vocabulary somewhat to make sure all the words fit together nicely. Then there’s also the need to make sure that I’m not just sticking the word in for the heck of it – I have to make it work. The good  thing for me is  that I am planning my novel to be a series of related short stories, so I’ll be able to adapt each story accordingly. Clearly I am WAY too excited about this, but it’s the little things that will help me push through the month. If you’ve ever done any Na##WriMo’s before (yes, there’s more than one), you’ll know that sometimes it can be a struggle and motivation and inspiration are often hard to come by. If anyone would like to join me on my silly little challenge, the OED is here on Twitter, or the website is here, on which they also post the word of the day (it’s over on the right of screen). If you’d like to add me as a NaNoWriMo buddy, you can find me here.

For my fellow NaNoWriMoers, are you setting yourselves any little individual challenges to help you get through the month? Have you set yourself a new goal for the consumption of caffeinated beverages?

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Coming out of blogging hibernation – what I’ve been doing and my thoughts on Muse of Fire

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The old blog has been a bit quiet of late – as you may or may not have noticed. I’ve found myself very busy. I’m getting myself an edumacation through an online university, which has been fantastic as I have rediscovered brain cells that have been tucked away for a few years and which have now come out to stretch their little limbs. Combined with my baking, and my arts & craft projects (what I like to call my “old lady hobbies”), as well as work, it has meant that my blog has been left to moulder in the corner of my life (before I began getting educated, I wouldn’t have considered using a word such as ‘moulder’, how fantastic). When I started my studies, I promised myself I wouldn’t neglect my blog but promises to myself are generally the only ones I don’t keep, so for those of you who enjoyed reading my thoughts – I’m sure there’s at least one of you out there (that’s you, mum) – I apologise.

Anyway, coming up in one of my units of study, I’ll be doing some Shakespeare. There will be no acting involved – it’s all literary, which is very lucky for anyone who may have come into contact with my “acting” (drama was not my best subject at school, but it did make me less petrified of standing in front of people). I was hesitant to do Shakespeare initially – studying modern texts hurts my head sometimes, let alone trying to comprehend something that was written over four hundred years ago and is written in what might as well be a foreign language to many, but I figure if I’m going to be getting educated on literature and writing, it would be remiss of me to overlook Shakespeare. The fact that his work has survived and grown in popularity over such a vast period of time speaks for itself and is evidence that he is an important point of reference for any aspiring writer.

This guy. (Wikipedia)

Anyway, I was trawling the Twitters yesterday and discovered a little documentary called Muse of Fire made by a couple of friends, Dan and Giles, who also happen to be actors. The guys wanted to understand where people’s fear of Shakespeare comes from, so they self-funded a little trip to find out as much as they could about the man behind the quill. They documented everything as they went and the result is this wonderfully entertaining film. It seemed pretty interesting to me and as I was soon to be looking at Shakespeare’s work, I thought I’d have a watch. Before I go too much into it, I just want to say that it was the most enjoyable documentary I’ve ever watched, and I’m a HUGE fan of Sir David Attenborough so that’s saying something. In fact I loved it so much and was so inspired by it, I felt it necessary to emerge from my blogging hibernation and share it with you all.

Made over a period of seven years, the guys travel here there and everywhere speaking to all manner of people about their thoughts on, and experiences with, Shakespeare. From actors such as Dame Judi Dench; directors such as Baz Luhrmann; scholars who have devoted much of their career studying the work of Shakespeare, like the wonderful Harold Bloom; right down to the average person on the street, Giles and Dan leave no stone unturned. There are many moments throughout the film that had me thinking to myself, “yes, I can relate to that”, or, “I’d never thought of it like that before”; there were others that had me giggling quietly to myself at my desk, my very favourite part of the entire film being when they were attempting to compose an email to Sir Ian McKellen (how do you even do that?). Then there are moments that make it clear the true impact of words on people and leave you feeling quite emotional. This was especially true of one scene taking place in a German prison, at which point I realised that the words of this one man not only transcend time, but also the personal situation of the individual reading them – Shakespeare’s words touch us all in different ways, but somehow have the same effect. While the main focus of the film is obviously on Shakespeare, it also serves as an excellent example of finding something you want to do and doing it, even when the money runs out, the car breaks down, and it takes a while to get a ‘yes’ from people. Because it’s not all roses for the boys, yet they pushed through and we are now left with a beautiful documentary that is testament to their passion.

HOW TO BEGIN AN EMAIL TO (SIR) IAN MCKELLEN
“Dear Ian.”
Sir Ian.”
“Sir -“
“Although he doesn’t like the ‘sir’, does he?”

What I discovered while watching, is that there really is no reason to fear the Shakespeare, at least not from a literary perspective – I’ll not speak for those brave enough to speak his words to audiences. It’s actually got me really excited to study Shakespeare now (I’m basically a Shakespeare fangirl, almost).  What can I learn by looking at his work intimately? How can I apply that to my own writing? How can I write so amazingly brilliantly that people read my words four hundred years from now? Ok, that last one’s a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. I think back to when I studied Hamlet in high school and we went to watch a production of it at the Belvoir Street Theatre here in Sydney. I remember that the thing I found the most exciting back then was the fact that Hamlet’s mother was played by the “not happy Jan” lady (if you grew up in Australia, you’ll get that – everyone else, Google it) and the actor who played Hamlet, I believe it was Jeremy Sims, I had also seen very fleetingly on tv. Imagine a bunch of teenagers sitting in a theatre, whispers of “not happy Jan” echoing around the room as we realised who Hamlet’s mother was, which I am sure she had NEVER heard before, and giggles of shock as Hamlet shouted his lines up into the audience, with one smarty pants saying his line for him when he paused just a fraction too long between lines. I don’t know that anyone else’s first experiences of Shakespeare were like this, but looking back now, I realise that it was perhaps this way because it was something we were essentially being forced to learn and therefore we cared little for it. The fact that we were young with next to no life experience meant that we were unable to relate to many of the themes which no doubt compounded our disinterest. I wish now that I had a greater appreciation for it and was able to remember it better.

Where am I going with all of this? Well in a very long winded and round about way, I’m encouraging you all to watch it, as soon as possible. I hear you asking why, so I’ll tell you.

  1. If you love Shakespeare, the documentary will reaffirm your love for him.
  2. If you hate him, you’ll hate him a little less and possibly have a better understanding of what he’s all about.
  3. If you’re not particularly fussed either way, you’ll be very entertained for an hour and a half and you’ll probably learn something, which is always good.
  4. Finally, if you need any other reason, think of the purchasing of this film as an act of charity, because Dan could really use a new car – if he doesn’t already have one.

They have a Twitter here, https://twitter.com/museoffirefilm, and a website here, http://www.shakespearefilm.com/. If you’re in Australia and feel inclined to watch, you can get it on Vimeo, otherwise I think the rest of the world has it available on iTunes (but not Australia because we’re a bit backwards).

If there’s anyone reading this that has already watched the film, or watches it based on reading this (which would in all honesty shock me), I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. OR I would love to hear some other first experiences with Shakespeare – did you love it or could you have imagined nothing worse?

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Cover Recreation – April 2014

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Early again for this month’s cover – but only because there’s hot cross buns on the cover!! And we all know that you need to eat as many hot cross buns as you can while they’re around. These ones are Sour Cherry Hot Cross Buns – so yum!

I had some trouble setting up for this one – I didn’t have a rack big enough to put the round of buns on, so had to improvise and change it up a bit. They’re also not the best looking buns around (I think I got a bit sloppy with rolling the dough into balls) but they taste amazing and I made them myself which only makes them taste better. The recipe called for dried sour cherries, but I couldn’t find those anywhere, so I experimented a bit and bought a jar of morello cherries from the preserved fruit aisle at the supermarket, rinsed them under water to get most of the sweet syrup off them, dried them, put them on a tray covered in baking paper and put them in the oven which was preheated to the lowest temperature setting (whatever that is) and in this way I had my own dried cherries after about 3 hours! I could have let them go longer, but got impatient! As with last month, the recipe for this one isn’t available online, so if you want to make these ones specifically, you’ll have to head out and grab the magazine. Otherwise, they have this one here which looks pretty good too! Happy baking :-)

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The Lighthouse at Byron Bay

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Last weekend we were lucky enough to attend a beautiful wedding at the lovely Byron Bay. The wedding was Saturday afternoon, so my boyfriend and I decided to drive to Ballina to look for a black shirt for him to wear to the wedding, as he hadn’t packed his. So in the car we got and began driving towards Ballina, but we hadn’t even been in the car for 5 minutes when we drove past a sign that said “LIGHTHOUSE”. I’d not ever seen a lighthouse before so my lovely boyfriend agreed that we could go check it out.

It was lovely. Being situated on the most eastern point of Australia, it has some amazing views over the ocean and even back inland, looking over the town of Byron Bay. We spent nearly 45mins up there in total I think. There’s a great little cafe just down from the lighthouse that we had a great coffee from. They also sold ice-cream there – I couldn’t imagine anything better than sitting on a bench on a hot day, looking out over the ocean, and enjoying a cold ice-cream!

Anyway, here’s a few photos I took. I only had my iPhone on me, no big camera sadly, but I plan on going back very soon so hopefully I can get some better photos!