Friday, October 28, 2011

Confession Time

I'm doing the Friday Confessional again!



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Click the pic to go visit Mamarazzi and play along!


I confess...

...that I'm not finding the planning of my "world tour 2012" very enjoyable.

Let me catch you up if you're new around here or visiting from Mamarazzi's. My family is going on a big, awesome, round-the-world holiday next year.



It is a very big deal and it is going to be awesome.

And it's not even just in the wishin' and hopin' stage; it's really happening! We have forked over our thousands of dollars for the flights. We are visiting our travel consultant tomorrow to spend some more money. Yay!

But I've got to admit that trolling through brochures and surfing the internet, comparing prices and making lists, is getting old real fast. And when Chris and I talk about it, some very real cracks are starting to appear in the "perfect holiday plans", given that he and I have very different personalities and, I think, ver different expectations for the trip.

I hope that the travel consultant is not called upon to do some impromptu marriage counseling tomorrow!

...that I have not done a thing so far to prepare for Christmas.

No. Just no. Not a hope in hell that I'll ever have something like this for Christmas.

Please don't tell me how many shopping days are left until Christmas. I don't want to know.

I have no idea what I'm buying for the kids, or what to tell other relatives to get for them.

I have no idea what I'm buying for the assorted relatives that I need to buy for.

Christmas cards? With a cute picture of the kids/family on them? Haven't done them since 2001. Seriously. I buy my Christmas cards in the supermarket and send them off in reply to cards that I receive. I know. I suck.

...that I signed up for NaNoWriMo.


What was I thinking???

For those of you not in the know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. Yes, novel writing. In a month.

For the month of November, I'm going to be madly scrambling to write in every spare moment to reach the magical goal of 50000 words (yes, you read that right!) and get this novel out of my head and onto the page. Pages.

Go here to find out more!

Well that's all for me. What do you have to confess?




Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thankful

I'm linking up with Thankful Thursday at kate says stuff.

Click here to visit Kate and link up!

I believe in being thankful.

I believe that our minds are very powerful. How we think and what we think about has a huge impact on what we experience in our daily lives.

I try to practise gratitude every day. As someone who has been through a bout of depression, I know that for me, gratitude is an important tool that I use to maintain my mental health. Focusing on the positive is a great way for me to develop resilience and the strength to face challenges.

Of course, I'm always thankful for my husband and children. That's a given.

Today I'm thankful for...

...my library


Now those of you who regularly read my blog will know that I'm a recently graduated Librarian. So you may think that I'm giving myself a bit of a rap here! But I'm not kidding. I'm so thankful that I have easy access to information via my local public library.

I use my library a lot. I've currently got seven items out on loan, including a book and CD set to help me learn Italian! I borrow lots of fiction from across the genres; if I don't like a book I don't have to force myself to finish it. I just return it and try again! I also read a lot of non-fiction, and my library allows me to borrow big beautiful books that would cost a fortune if I were to buy them.

Long live libraries!

...possibilities






Every day brings new opportunities. Really.

I'm thankful for change.

For new things.

I'm thankful that I'm not finished yet.

...more work






Since starting to write this post I've received a phone call from my boss at the library where I work casually, offering me four more weeks of work! Hooray! I'm so thankful for the opportunity to gain more experience and for the fact that this time I'm on a contract and will start to accrue sick leave and holiday leave. What a blessing!

What are you thankful for today?



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What I'm Loving

I'm linking up with What I'm Loving Wednesday at This Kind of Love. I want to get this post up while it's still Wednesday here at my place, so I'm hitting publish even though the beautiful Jamie at This Kind of Love hasn't posted the linky yet.


Click here to visit This Kind of Love. (Link will take you to the home page.)

What I'm loving...


...warmer weather






Spring weather is unpredictable. One day it's pleasantly warm and sunshiny, the next it's cold and rainy. But this past week we've had a few warm (even hot!) days, and I've finally been able to wear some of my new summer clothes. I've worn my new shorts, denim skirt and sundress - all three items are above-the-knee! (And the dress is sleeveless!)

I'm loving feeling comfortable to wear hot-weather-appropriate outfits, and I'm finding that now that I'm at a healthy weight, I don't feel as uncomfortable and tired in the hot weather as I used to. I think it's going to be a great summer!

...wearing my hair curly


I've got the type of hair that, depending on the weather, or how I've styled it, or how it's been cut, can be curly, wavy or straight. (Or, of course, frizzy.) Usually I blow dry the front of my hair straight and try to make the rest of it sit smooth in nice controlled waves. But lately I've discovered that if I just let it be when I wash it, it dries nice and curly and doesn't look half bad! As I write, however, the weather is rainy and I've got a ferocious frizz going on because I didn't blow dry it. I need to find something that I can put on dry hair to keep the frizz at bay. I think I need to get me some of that fancy Moroccan Oil that my hairdresser uses!

...sharing encouragement


Every day, pages that I "like" on Facebook publish photos that are posters featuring inspirational and encouraging quotes.


I like to click "share" so I can pass on the inspiration.

What are you loving?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Ten Books to read during Halloween


I have to list the top ten books to read during Halloween.

I feel that, being Australian, I have a distinct disadvantage in this task. Halloween just isn't celebrated as a holiday here in Australia.

Of course we know what day it falls on (October 31st, right?). When I was a child, Halloween was a holiday that we only saw on TV via American sitcoms. As I grew older and children obviously watched more TV and became better at nagging parents, small numbers of trick-or-treaters began appearing on the streets, wearing half-baked, home made costumes and carrying plastic grocery bags to collect their booty. Unfortunately, many householders were caught unawares and without lollies to give out. "I'm sorry, we don't celebrate Halloween," was commonly heard. (NB: lollies = candy.)

Nowadays, a significant minority of children successfully beg their parents to be allowed to trick-or-treat. Their costumes generally aren't much better, and you still won't see more than a handful carrying specially designed Halloween lolly bags. Despite every retailer's attempt to get us to buy Halloween related merchandise, most Australians just can't fathom spending money on something that will only be used for a couple of hours on one night of the year. A night of the year that has no personal relevance for them. Despite this, most householders are now prepared with a small bowl of lollies to give out, but can't imagine going to the trouble of decorating their house or having a party. I'm sure there are some exceptions, but adult Australians don't dress up for Halloween.



Anyway, enough about that. I'm supposed to be talking about books.

I'm going to start with some books that I have read, and enjoyed, with supernatural themes.

1. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Click the link to read my review.

2. Shiver and Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Linger, just like Shiver, is about love. It is heartbreaking, uplifting, devastating and beautiful. Stiefvater creates a fantasy inhabited by characters that are intensely human and real.

You must read these books!

Don't get me started on the fact that I haven't yet read the third book of the series, Forever. I'm going to borrow it from my local library just as soon as it becomes available.

3. The Sookie Stackhouse (or Southern Vampires) Series by Charlaine Harris.

These are the books that inspire True Blood. Enough said.


4. The Harper Connelly Series by Charlaine Harris.

I actually like these even better than the Sookie Stackhouse ones!

5. The Otherworld Series by Kelley Armstrong.

I'm just about to start Broken, book six in the series.

I could continue. Now that I think about it, I do read a lot of books with supernatural themes! However, because I think of Halloween as a children's holiday, I'm going to suggest some kids books.

6. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.

7. The Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine

8. I Spy Spooky Night by Jean Marzollo, Walter Wick (Illustrator).


My kids loved the I Spy books when they were younger. They used to have races to see who could find all the items on the list first!

9. Miss Fiona's Stupendous Pumpkin Pies by Mark Kimball Moulton, Karen Hillard Crouch (Illustrator).


I couldn't resist this book that I found via the Apples for the Teacher website, given that my name is Fiona! Reading the review, it sounds like it has a nice positive message.


10. Celebrate Halloween from National Geographic.


I've included this book because some kids prefer to read non-fiction. Also, given that I live in Australia where, as I've indicated, we don't celebrate Halloween or really understand the traditions, I thought it was a necessary inclusion!


If you've enjoyed this list, then go visit the linky post and read some more suggestions!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Let's catch up!

How about I catch you up on what I've been up to, 'kay?

I have tickets to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1.


I told you I'm a sucker for the teen stuff! How about you? Are you on board for another episode of sparkly vampires and shirtless werewolves?

Alana and I have read the books and watched the movies. We've chosen our seats and printed out our advance purchase tickets. We're ready to go! Come on November 18!

The kids' passports arrived today.

And guess what? We've booked and paid for our round the world airplane tickets. No way! WAAAAY!

I made a photobook using snapfish.

I used to scrapbook, once upon a time. But then I stopped using film and started taking all my photos digitally. And got really lazy about printing them out. So all my family photos from the last few years are either sitting in a file folder on my computer or in a Facebook album or on this blog. For shame!

I'm getting together with some girls I went to school with in a couple of weeks time. We try to get together once or twice a year. Sometimes we make it a family affair and all bring our partners and kids, but this time we're just doing a girls-only lunch. 

One of the girls suggested that we should each bring along some photos of the kids, and that's what prompted me to get my act together and put together a little album.

I found snapfish easy to use and good value.

How about you? Do you scrapbook? Make digital albums?

I still don't have a permanent library job.

The whole looking-for-work thing is getting me down. I've done some casual work in a library and I loved it. I believe that I did a good job and that my employer would like to give me more work if it becomes available. I also know that if something permanent or some contract work comes up, I'll have to apply and interview along with everyone else. No guarantees.

Jobs that I'm seeing advertised are generally for librarians with a significant amount of experience.

I really don't mind starting at the bottom. I'm just more than ready to get up, get dressed, put my makeup on and go to work in the morning. I also have all kinds of ambitions for my career, and I can't really make a start on it until I have a job!

So there you go, you're all caught up! What have you been up to?  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Confession is Good for the Soul


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I confess...

...that I am using a fellow blogger's linky meme to give my blogging a little bit of a pep up.

I've been feeling unfocused with my blogging lately. 

Lacking inspiration.

So I've been on the lookout for some blogs that host regular linkups. I thought that joining in would give me some much needed motivation to write about a given topic.

I confess that if linking up with Mamarazzi's Friday Confessional brings me a few more readers and/or followers, that wouldn't be such a bad thing either.

I confess...

...that I'm finding this a little bit harder than I thought I would. 

It's pretty easy to write something flippant and leave it at that; it's harder to share something of myself in truth.

So I'm going to try to walk the middle ground here.

I confess...

...that I like wine. A lot. And I have to be careful, when I'm relaxed and enjoying myself, not to drink too much of it. Or I might get a bit tipsy. Which is fine, but not so much when I'm at a family gathering with the kids in tow.

I confess...

...that I like teen-centred TV shows waaaay too much for a woman my age. I think I may be suffering from a case of arrested development. I'm ever so happy watching things set in high schools full of teen angst. The Vampire Diaries being my latest crush. I've been like this for a long time. I don't think that I'm likely to grow out of it any time soon.

So that's me for today.

If you've got something to confess, click on the pic at the top of this post and visit Mamarazzi.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

I'm a breast cancer survivor, and I'd like to remind you all to take care of yourself and make sure that you know your breasts, know your risk, and know the best way to make sure that you stay healthy.

I'm linking here to a post that I wrote earlier this year on the subject. Go read it!


If you live in Australia and would like more information about Breast Cancer, try this page of useful links from The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

If you live elsewhere in the world, please leave a link to your local information source in the comments.

And remember to pass it on to the other women in your life - remind them to look after themselves too!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The post in which I wish that my kids would go to bed earlier.

Lately I've been finding myself getting a bit frustrated at around 8:30 pm.

I long for the days when by that time of night my children were safely tucked away in bed, fast asleep.

Back in those days, at 8:30 pm I would be settling in for some quality TV viewing. Or reading a book. Or I'd watch TV for an hour and then head to bed with a book. It's what I like to do at that time of night.

Those days are long gone.

Nowadays at 8:30 pm my house is a hive of activity. The kids are completing homework, or You Tubing or Facebooking or watching TV. They're still hungry, and are begging for some dessert, or they're just arriving home from dance class or some other activity.

These days our bedtime routine doesn't even start until 8:30 pm, when I make some noises about having showers and brushing teeth and "wouldn't they like to go to bed with a book?". The kids aren't "safely tucked away in bed" until at least 9:30 pm.

All this is putting a serious crimp in my preferred nightly routine.

I've been pushing back against it for a long time. Trying to pretend that it's not happening and that I can somehow magic it all back to the way it used to be. I've been in denial.

No more!

Today I realised that life is about change.

You can't stop things from changing, you just have to be prepared to be flexible and adjust as necessary.

Because any animal that doesn't evolve will become extinct. And I don't want to become extinct!

So what am I doing differently? Not much so far, but my attitude is different. 

And let's face it, attitude is everything. I find that when I face situations with a positive attitude things just fall into place more easily. 

And so, at 9:10 pm, I'm writing this blog post while Alana does her maths homework beside me. And soon I'll just take myself off to bed to read for a while. I can always get back up again if I'm needed.

How do you go at facing change? Do you rebel against it like me? 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's all happening!

Hey there dear readers, I'm feeling a bit manic today.

Things have moved into overdrive on the whole World Tour 2012 thing.

What is the World Tour 2012? Well...

It started off as a little idea I had of doing a house swap. I put out the call to see if anyone wanted to come and stay at my place in Australia and let my family stay in their house.

I was lucky enough to receive two offers of accommodation, one in England and one in the US. Thus the idea for a "World Tour" was born.

So, I've been fluffing about trying to do some planning here and there while waiting for the optimum time to book our tickets. I had a travel consultant put together a proposal for us.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and suddenly everything's happening!

I've had to fill out forms and get photos taken for the kids' passports. Who doesn't love filling out forms? I also had to find someone to sign the kids' photos to confirm that it really is them. Then I have to take the kids to the post office for a "passport interview". I can't tell you how much fun it is!

At the same time, we discovered that the travel consultant who put together our proposal has left the travel agent. She doesn't work there any more. The fares that she put together for us are no longer available. We have to start from scratch.

So I freaked out a little bit.

And went to three different travel agents and sat down with three different travel consultants in one day.

And now I have some tickets on hold that have to be paid for ASAP and it's all happening so fast!

Breathe.

I've got travel consultants waiting on my call. And I've discovered that I'm actually quite good at diplomatically telling someone that I've decided to go another way. But I'm still finding it stressful.

It will be a lovely relief when we've handed over our thousands of dollars and I know that everything is locked in.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Confession

So. Where do you stand on the issue of Intellectual Property?

Ever broken a copyright law?

Bought a pirated DVD?

What do you do when a TV show that you love isn't showing in your country but is available online?

I think you can see where this discussion is going...


The Vampire Diaries

Here's the story of my love affair with this show.

I stumbled upon Season 1 showing on Go! TV. As soon as the season was available on DVD, I bought it. 

Season 2 also showed on Go! Each episode was "fast tracked" from the US, meaning that we were only days behind. As long as I didn't read too many blog posts or follow too many Twitter users that tweeted spoilers, I could enjoy the Season along with everyone else. As soon as the season was available on DVD, I bought it.

Which brings us to Season 3. Four episodes have aired in the US. And Go! doesn't have an airing date yet. Grrrrr.


Would you?

I consider myself pretty law-abiding.

I don't download the episodes to my computer. I don't distribute the episodes to anyone. 

I just watch the episodes.

And when the season is available on DVD, I'll buy it.

What do you think? How bad is this on a scale of one to ten?

And what do you do?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Date night!

Once upon a time there was a girl. She was sixteen and had her whole life ahead of her. So many choices, so many possibilities.

Then the girl woke up and was forty. Wait. What???

For my fortieth birthday I thought it would be really nice if Chris and I went out to a fancy restaurant. Not just the local Italian place down the road. A really, really fancy restaurant.

And so....the date night to rival all date nights.


Here I am getting ready. I'm sure you're sick of dodgy in-front-of-the-mirror outfit shots by now. Sorry. But I thought you'd like to see the beautiful new dress that my mum and dad bought me for my birthday. 

Unfortunately, the weather was not accommodating. So I had to pair my dress with some tights and a jacket to avoid hypothermia.


Here we are all ready to go. I think it's cute that we look positively giddy with excitement!

First we headed off to the movies to see Crazy Stupid Love. Which turned out to be the perfect date movie, especially for a forty-year-old couple who've been together since they were sixteen and were celebrating the fact that they're still in love!

Here we are in the cinema...


I know the photo is ridiculous, but I thought I'd share anyway. By the way, does anyone know how to take photos in the dark on your iPhone? Is there any way to get a flash? Maybe an app?

Then we headed off on the Manly Ferry to Circular Quay.

For those of you who are not Australian, I'll share a little bit about the Manly Ferry.

The thirty minute voyage between Manly Wharf and Circular Quay is an iconic Sydney experience.



Though Bondi is the best known Sydney beach overseas, Manly is just as well known here and is on the north side of Sydney Harbour.


The trip to and from Manly takes you right past the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, so you get plenty of great photo opportunities.

The swell was larger than usual on our trip so it was a bit rough!


Here's the Opera House...our next destination...


We had a little pre-dinner drinkypoo at Opera Bar. Here's a link to the cocktail menu, in case you're interested. I had "Buds and Bubbles". Of course I did.


Finally it was time for the main event - dinner at Aria.


Aria is celebrity chef Matt Moran's restaurant. It's pretty fancy. We felt just a teeny-tiny bit intimidated as we went in.

Luckily we had a delightfully friendly and helpful waitress and we also engaged the services of the sommelier (wine guy!). I told you it was fancy! Between us we managed to put together a menu that was just delightful.


It's hard to look classy taking photos in a fancy restaurant, but here I am with my entree - Scallops spiced and roasted with glazed witlof, pistachios and dried apricots.

Here's my main - Snapper seared fillet with chorizo, zucchini, lemon and a romesco sauce.


I wish I could show you a photo of my dessert as well, but I just couldn't fit one in! Believe me, I wasn't thinking about the points. I would have eaten one if I possibly could. In the end, I couldn't even drink all my "Fall in Love" tea (tea infused with rose, vanilla and chocolate - absolutely divine!).

Chris and I had such a wonderful time that I wanted to share it with you all.

What's the best date you've had?