Thursday, 30 October 2014

one of those days: life with a pre-schooler

There is a very high mischief rating around these parts today - a half-eaten banana choc chip muffin only tells part of the story!  I've also found texta on a lampshade, plant tag and chair and found goodness only knows what happening in the bathroom.  Needless to say, the small child who was standing on top of the toilet was swiftly removed!  It's time to give up trying to do any more today, we're heading to the playground - it's one of those days and I'm just going to roll with it...
And in case you were wondering what the muffins looked like before the deed was done, here you are!  No time now to blog the recipe - I hate to think what would happen if I spent any more time on the computer - but the addition of a full packet of chocolate bits and four overripe bananas was absolutely delicious!

How are things in your neck of the woods?  Have you had one of those days lately?!

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

stonefruit season's photographic alphabet...

A-Z in pictures, as taken by me!  I survived the Fat Mum Slim photo a day challenge  on Instagram and am now contemplating joining in with next month's as well.  It would seem quite a lot to do, but I love photography and it's another wonderful form of expression.  I will keep you posted if I do!

In the meantime, here is my A-Z, sailing a bit close to the wind at times, but it was quite a challenge!

A is for aubergine
B is for blossom
C is for cake
D is for dinner
E is for echeveria
F is for freesias
G is for garden
H is for helping
I is for iris
J is for jug
K is for Co. Kerry (Ireland, where Joe is from)
L is for Lucy, me of course!
M is for Melbourne
N is for nurse
O is for old linen
P is for poppies
Q is for quiet, be quiet!
R is for rose
S is for street lamp
T is for trick
U is for up, look up!
V is for very excited about my Woburn Abbey rose
W is for wow, white irises!
X is for x marks the spot
Y is for yippee, it's Show Day!
Z is for zippedeydoodah (stretching it there, but isn't that what you think of when you look at the sculpture in the bottom right-hand corner?!)

Monday, 27 October 2014

fun of the fair...

Is there anything better than the clowns on show day?  I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures of these bright sparks at our local agricultural show this weekend.  We braved an unseasonably hot day to join the crowd.  People ducked for shade wherever they could, even if it was just a small patch at the end of an amusement ride.  The kids had two activities each, including the bouncy castle, boat ride and dodgem cars - I won't be in a hurry to go in a car with them, I can tell you!
It was sweltering in the pavilion after a few hot days in a row.  Someone suggested they should hire a person to overnight there in that instance and open the doors when the cooler night air comes in - what a fabulous idea!  Despite the oppressive heat, I was I thoroughly inspired by the roses - this prize-winning entry makes me want to enter my own next year - aren't they just beautiful?
And finally, the poultry display!  This handsome devil just begged to have speech bubble - see the results on my Facebook page - let's call it a bit of healthy procrastination.  He was a very happy and friendly chap compared to the one in the cage opposite.  It scratched madly on the floor and waved its wings menacingly at Joe and I when we looked at it - not great pet material at all!

How was your weekend?  Is it show time in your neck of the woods?

Friday, 24 October 2014

no plot? no problem! the writing guide revealed...

Nanowrimo is just around the corner - the national novel writing month founded in America is now fifteen years old.  Author Chris Baty's 'low-stress, high-velocity guide to writing a novel in 30 days' uses a great deal of humour to support crazed creatives in their efforts to succeed.  Coffee, stolen time and getting rid of the inner editor are essential according to Baty, who says writers just need to keep moving forward.  Whether you plan on writing a novel in 30 days or not, this is a fantastic guide to getting started and a wonderful insight into the process.

Essentially, it doesn't matter if you don't have your novel mapped out from start to finish when you write that first word - the plot will reveal itself.  I felt myself falling into that trap last week, when I sat down to start my second manuscript.  I thought I needed to research heavily first, but then I realised I could write and research at the same time.  What I needed to do was to start writing - and have now amassed nearly 8500 words.  I highly recommend Baty's guide, forget about the 30 day deadline if you prefer, and concentrate on the content and many tips by fellow writers - enjoy!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

blooming marvellous!

Gah!  All the roses are opening, our penstemons (top right) are just about to burst and the orange tree is filled with blossom and baby fruit - perfect photographic material!  For such a time of growth, however, the lawn is already starting to dry out with flushes of heat and no rain.  We won't water all the grass over summer, so we'll enjoy the patches of green while they last.  Must make mention of our Chicago Peace rose (bottom left) and Woburn Abbey - both new to the garden this year and alive with colour - just love them!

What roses make your heart sing?  Any recommendations for next year?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

roll up! roll up!

Card tricks and more were the order of the day for Sophie and Tom's magic show.  Once Soph moved past the trick where all four cards were the same (and of course it was easy to guess what someone had picked), she then fluked two of the right ones - hence Tom's wide-mouthed look of surprise in the bottom left-hand corner.  The show was the culmination of an afternoon's practise by Sophie and I'm already looking forward to the next one!

Monday, 20 October 2014

and so it begins - the second manuscript...

There has been no rest for the wicked, writing-wise that is!  Now that my first manuscript is wending its way into publishing houses for appraisal, I have started work on my second.  It's no secret that I'm mad about gardens (particularly for those of you who follow me on Instagram) and one in particular will form the major backdrop of this next story.  It's hard to say more without giving too much away  - so exciting for you all, I'm sure (!)  - but it's more the background, the writing process that I share here.

I have been ruminating on the basic storyline for a while now (careful to not give it too much air play as I didn't want to interrupt my first manuscript) which has allowed the creative processes to commence.  Rather than being scared I wouldn't have anything to write, whenever I'm thinking about the story, there is an overwhelming rush of ideas - and long may it continue!  I know where my protagonist grew up, what she worked as before she married and how she met her husband.

I've been making the most of spare time - half an hour in between kinder drop off and the hairdresser's gave me time to make pages of notes to be transcribed to my computer.  I bought a reporter's notepad especially for this project - a Spirax pad with the rings at the top, perfect for a left-hander like me who usually runs out of room on left-bound notebooks.  It's the type of book I had when I worked in rural journalism back in the mid 1990s - 20 years on and I'm still using some of the same technology.

And between the notepad, tablet, laptop and computer, let's hope I can create something worth reading!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

icecream party invitation (or icypole if you prefer!)

A very excited girl is soon to have a birthday party!  I rustled up some invitations for her during the week and thought I would share the template, if anyone is interested.  I created them using InDesign and will try to make a similar cake - wish me luck with that!  I will post pictures down the track.  Guests' names were printed along the stick and details filled in as per the picture.  I have attached links to the PDF below - please let me know if you have any problems with them as this is the first time I've tried sharing files online.  I would imagine you could overtype on the PDF or fill them in by hand - enjoy!

Icecream invitation Black and White
Icecream invitation Colour
Icypole invitation Black and White
Icypole invitation Colour

Thursday, 16 October 2014

in the garden...

Recent warmth has made our garden leap alive with budding roses starting to flower, snowball viburnum bursting into showy balls of white, pink pig face opening and closing as the days rise and fall.  Every time I go out, there is something else to see - this morning I noticed a new day lily is about to flower, one of a few we bought from our local market earlier in the year.  I've snapped unopened rose buds from their bushes and brought them inside, the heady scent of Papa Meilland leaving me desperate for more.  Another season to enjoy, admire and soak in - another season in our garden.

Are you enjoying the awakening of your spring garden or are things starting to shut down for winter?!  What is taking your fancy as you look at the world around you?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

the alphabet challenge continues...

The Fat Mum Slim photo a day has been more of a challenge than I expected.  I usually post to Instagram every day anyway, but achieving alphabet-readiness is something else entirely.  Here were see Melbourne, nurse and old linen, the latter being the most challenging as I searched for something beginning with 'o'.  I think the next few letters will be less of an issue, until we reach the magical 'z' - which I'm sure will involve much thinking outside the square!

How are you all, wherever you are?  It's been a busy week and I look forward to getting back into the swing of my blog after a couple of days away too…  more tomorrow!

Friday, 10 October 2014

how to write that book… 5 easy steps with a twist!

Writing a book had become something that would happen in the future
It was something I would do after I'd done this course or that one, had this job or the other, once the kids were older or once they left home.  And then I saw my opening - that small sliver of time once Jono started kinder and before he went off to school.  It was now or never.   Reading the acknowledgements pages of many women writers, I see now it's a golden age, early 40s, young kids - the first time in many of our lives that we are home and able to write.

All of which is a preface to the following steps
It's a way of explaining why I can say now that I have written (what I hope will be published as) a book.  It is only now that this perfect storm of events has created the space in my life - and yes, I have taken advantage of it, but I wouldn't have finished my manuscript yet otherwise.

None of this has happened overnight
It has taken thirteen years of marriage, three kids, numerous houses that we didn't own and finally one that we did (when I'd just about given up hope of ever being in our own home), jobs that saw Joe and I as ships that passed in the night or day or weekend, never quite managing to be home together.  It's taken two countries, money troubles, every day problems, dream catching and dream juggling.

And therein lies the rub - or the twist, as it may be
It might take just 5 easy steps to write that book, but sometimes you also need that perfect storm of events.  It requires the planets to align and you to read them.  Easy, huh?  Then, all you have to do is….

1. Stop saying one day and start today

2. Write little and often - it all adds up over time

3. Write despite the outcome - do it for yourself

4. Share the process with your friends, family

5. Celebrate the steps, big and small

Perhaps these 5 steps will work without the perfect storm
You might be able to more easily fit writing in with family or work or other responsibilities.  Because believe me - if you want to write that book, then it's something you just have to do.  It's the only way you will find out, one way or the other, if you can do it.  And then start on the next one and the next and the next.  You will never know unless you try!

Have you achieved a lifelong dream, writing or otherwise? Is there anything you'd like to share?

PS  Thank you for all the love on my last post!  This is the last day of submissions and I have my fingers crossed.  Otherwise, business as usual on Monday when I start my next manuscript!  Wahoo!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

the writer's edition: month 18 check-in, or 'what happened when I finished my first full-length manuscript'

When I first pressed the publisher's submit button on the computer, no magic sparked, no change came.  I was just the same person as always, the one who then had to take her daughter to the chemist for hair accessories and then rush to get groceries for dinner.  I had to pick up my youngest son from mum's, where he had spent the afternoon so I could finish the last of my edits, then hunt down my oldest son in transit from the school bus stop.

That night, dinner burned in the background as I drank my celebratory glass of red wine and life went on as usual.  I thought of the very ordinary things other writers must have been doing in the background as they worked on their manuscripts: cooking dinner, washing clothes, overseeing homework.  I knew that all the time I had spent writing could all be for nothing, that I wouldn't hear so much as a peep from publishers if there weren't interested.

But in the end, it was about me rather than anyone else.  It was about wanting to write a book for my whole life, as soon as I knew it was something that people did.  It was about stopping saying 'one day' and saying 'today'.  It was about realising that the loss of 15,000 words in a particularly tough self-edit didn't mean that my novel was dead - it was about breathing life into it when the existing words weren't strong enough.  My first full length manuscript may or may not make it into print, but guess what?  It's not going to stop me either way.

Next week I start on my second full length manuscript, an idea that has been floating around for a while now.  I'm looking forward to giving it some air space and discovering my next lot of characters, more imaginary people for me to fall in love with.  This time around, I'm looking forward to using my experience with the first manuscript to aid in this next creation.  And yes, in the background, I'll be doing the school run and unloading the dishwasher and getting children ready for school.  I will be just me, but the me who is working at achieving her lifelong dream.

Monday, 6 October 2014

fat mum slim october photo a day: the alphabet

A is for… aubergine - that's right!  Bet you didn't expect that one, but I love that picture and I have something else in mind for E!  I'm playing along with Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day, this month featuring the alphabet.  It's not something I have done before, but I've been curious since I started on Instagram.  I hope I'm up to the challenge of working my way through the alphabet - I will post them here and you can keep an eye on me too!

Have you joined in with an online challenge before, photographic or otherwise?  How did it go?

Friday, 3 October 2014

glass vases - a cautionary tale

We've gone from daffodils to freesias and the front garden is alive with the most delicious scents and sights - and in a vase just perfect for a picture or two.  What I didn't expect was to see the thin wisp of smoke that was sparked as the light from the glass hit the table!  Photography session over, freesias whipped over to the piano, well away from the window and a tiny dot of black char left behind on the wood as a memory.  I hate to think of what would have happened if I'd been out for the day.  The table is next to a large glass sliding door which has the sun coming in each afternoon.  I hadn't realised it could be such a hazard!

Have you seen something like this before with a vase?!  I would expect something like this from a magnifying glass, but this vase is quite round and had water in it - argh!

PS Can you see the smoke?  Bottom left-hand corner just above the spot of light.  Scary!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

treme, a homemade life and more

You know how they talk about book hangovers?  I get that way with television series too.  There's part of me still waiting for Friday Night Lights to return and misses the days before Mer-Der really got it together in Grey's Anatomy, back when George was still alive.  I'm forever hopeful of finding something new to watch and happy to say I've had some recent wins.  Post Hurricane Katrina, Treme is New Orleans in mourning and what came next - Season 1 was a kind of slow burn but I fell for it straight away.  Slickly filmed, the music is a highlight with a theme song I can't get out of my head.

I've stood on the sidelines regarding Game of Thrones, not imagining I would become a disciple but guess what?  I love it - and no-one is more surprised than me (and no matter how great my love of books, I will be sticking to television with this one).  We're now waiting for Season 3 to appear from the library - no spoilers please!!  Dallas Buyers Club tells the tale of Ron Woodruff who was part of the experimental AIDS treatment movement, something I didn't even know existed.  Matthew McConaughey was fantastic in this role and supported by a terrific cast.

Recently, Isabelle from the gorgeous Notes from Delft recommended I read Molly Wizenberg's memoir, A Homemade Life, which shares her passion for food and family.  It's written with equal measures of humour and honest reflection and is a great read.  Thank you Isabelle!  We are all completely beside ourselves is a masterpiece by Karen Joy Fowler, thoroughly deserving its nomination for the Man Booker Prize short list.  It's hard to say much about this novel without spoilers, so just trust me when I say you should hunt it down!

That's all for now!  Back to the book, the end is nigh and it's a very exciting yet nerve-wracking time.  How are things in your neck of the woods?

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

the art of adapting, the age of miracles & more

It's been hard to fit everything in lately - some books may have to be reborrowed for a time when I'm not trying to finish my own!  Cassandra Dunn's debut novel The Art of Adapting sees the renewal of Lana and her family after separation from her husband.  Life circumstances dictate her brother moves in his own issues to face - a lovely story about how family will always be number one.  The Age of Miracles is a standout.  Karen Thompson Walker's novel is written so deftly and beautifully, it's one of my best reads ever.  Imagine the world after the 'slowing', when there are days on end of light or dark.  Seen through the eyes of 12 year old Judith, it's a wonderful imagining of this time.

The Infographic Resume is an interesting concept - throw away your boring curriculum vitae and use an infographic instead!  There are some amazing examples in the book and it seems like a logical step in our visual world.  Salvage Secrets Design & Decor was written by interior designer, stylist and author Joanne Palmisano.  Filled with beautiful images of how to repurpose items and great finds - she also has a fabulous Pinterest board.  Cook Republic's Sneh Roy has blogged to book with Tasty Express - stunning photographs and great recipes - enjoy!

I've decided to split up my recent reading and viewing posts - too much to fit in!!  There will be more tomorrow and from then on I will try to blog my reads as I go.

What literary fodder have you feasted on lately?