That’s a wrap – September 23, 2018

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Mooloolaba Mornings this week

Down on Mooloolaba Spit, there’s a telegraph pole that was placed there to allow the resident eagle pair (although technically they’re kites…whatever) to build their nest. Each morning when we walk we look for them. Just lately there’s been a lot more activity in the nest and this morning all four residents of the nest were up and standing proud. Yes, they’ve managed to raise two chicks who now appear to be ready to leave the nest – at least mum and dad appear to be ready for them to leave the nest!

Anyways, enough about the eagles…

Where we explored…

Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point
Apollonian Hotel, Boreen Point

Sunday lunch was at the Apollonian Hotel in Boreen Point – about an hour drive north of where we live on the Sunshine Coast, but just 20 minutes or so from Noosa.

The Apollonian, first licensed in 1868, is a fabulous place for a bit of a Sunday sesh, but we were meeting some fellow bloggers and their husbands: Jan from Budget Travel Talk, Jan from Retiring Not Shy and Sandy from Tray Tables Away.

Food, wine, beer, sunshine and lots of travel talk. Is there a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon?

What I announced…

Coming soon

The cover for Happy Ever After. I love this cover and I truly love this book – and can’t wait to get it out into the world. If you want to know more about it, check out this link.

What I wrote…

I’ve finally finished drafting my 6th book – snappily titled Book No. 6. It’s no. 2 in my Careful What You Wish For mini-series. I’m now in the process of going through it making sure that the dots are joined and all the scenes run the way that they should. I write by the seat of my pants so there’s usually quite a bit of re-working through that I need to do.

I also blogged something about strawberries.

Buderim Village Park

Just up the road from us with great picnic and barbecue facilities and a pretty impressive outlook.

In the kitchen…

Ten acres spelt bread, Gympie fresh goat’s cheese, Noosa Red tomatoes

We tried out a new laksa paste from a local producer. The next best thing to making it ourselves – except of course, that it’s quicker. Super yum.

Oh, the green on the top of the soup is sliced snow peas because I don’t like bean sprouts but wanted some crunch.

We also took the kitchen to Buderim Park on Friday and prepared Bun Cha – Vietnamese pork noodle salad – outside.

 

There was also this salad I put together on Saturday using produce we’d picked up that morning at Kawana Waters Farmer’s Markets:

  • Smoked salmon
  • Noosa Reds cherry tomatoes
  • Cucumber and leaves
  • Avos from the organic avo man
  • Yoghurt from Maleny Dairies
  • Lemons

What made me go eeeeuw…

The first cane toad sighting of the year on the front lawn.

That was my week…how was yours?

That’s a Wrap – September 16, 2018

Wow, I haven’t done one of these for ages and, with the amount of other work I have on at the moment, I probably shouldn’t be procrastiposting now either. Not to worry – on with the week.

How’s the weather?

Sunrise is now well before 6 am and Spring is definitely in the air. On my walk yesterday morning I watched some whales breaching not far off the Headland. They’re on their way back down to Antarctica, but seeing them is always a sign that the weather is warming up. What amazed me was the number of people watching their phones rather than the whales – and trust me, these guys were putting on a show and a half. Aside from the breaching thing, there was quite a bit of tail slapping and fin waving going on.

The banksia is in full colour and is full of birds every morning.

In the herb garden the Thai, or Holy, Basil is also in flower and attracting huge numbers of bees.

In the Kitchen

I’ve been experimenting with different noodle salads at least once a week – all part of the trying to eat a little bit healthier thing. This week it was Bun Cha – little Vietnamese pork patties with vermicelli noodles, a herb salad and a spicy dipping sauce. Very yum.

I had a colleague from Sydney working out of the Buderim Office this week, ie our home. We had a ridiculous amount of work to get through so booked out the meeting rooms for the week ie the dining table.

On Wednesday we cooked pho bo from scratch. We put the stock on during our lunch break – using a heap of beef short ribs and bucketloads of spices. We loved it on Wednesday night and enjoyed it even more for lunch on Thursday.

At the markets this week I bought a bag of passionfruit and turned them into passionfruit and vanilla pannacotta.

And yes, we’re still buying strawberries – direct from the farmer – despite what is going on in the supermarkets.

Using some of the berries we had in the freezer – a mix of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries – I blitzed up this instant ice-cream that I heard about on a Gary Mehigan podcast. It’s 500g frozen berries, 1/2 cup icing sugar, 1 egg white all in the blender and blitzed. It comes out like soft serve.

Where we picnicked…

On Friday we took some fabulous Mooloolaba prawns, salad and bread rolls up to the Headland and looked for whales. We didn’t see any whales, but we did have the best lunch!

What I wrote…

With all the policy writing that went on last week, I’m running a few days behind in finishing my draft of the Tiff book for my editor. To say I’ve struggled with it would be an understatement.

In other news, I have the copy edit back from my editor but won’t start on that until I’ve finished with Tiff. The way that I’ve been struggling with the Tiff book even a copy edit seems preferable to work on at the moment!

I’ve also got a few concepts back for my cover for Happy Ever After. My faves are:

My pick is No 1 – I love the colours – but I’d love to know what you think.

Ok, that was my week – how was yours? 

 

Sentence a Day – August

August was a month that began with us still on our road-trip through NSW (you can find part 1 here and Part 2 here) and ended with business as usual. In between was a head-cold that I’m still not entirely over – a touch of asthma is still lurking around, but not enough to stop me from my morning walks.

Aside from the road trip and Eucumbene, the highlight for this month was a single ingredient dinner at Jimmy’s. This month the ingredient was pumpkin and it was featured very yummily in each of the four courses we were served. We’ve already booked in for next month!

The weather is currently gorgeous – blue skies and mild late winter days. The sun is up by 6 am and the morning shivers don’t last long. It’s a beautiful time of the year.

Hubby looking for whales

Anyways, without further ado, let’s wrap this month up.

1.Canberra. Caught up with my mother-in-law, pho in Dickson, and dinner with friends at Walt & Burley in Kingston – when did Kingston get so happening?

Pho

2. Canberra – coffee with Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit, catch-up with a friend, dosa for lunch at Dosa House in Garema Place, and a wander around the Art Gallery.

3. An icy start for our drive to Eucumbene. Day 1 around the campfire and the Clancys are already on fire – metaphorically rather than literally. Culinary hit of the day was the steamed dumplings.

4. The wind howled all night – as the wind down here can do. Into Jindabyne for a wander and a tasting at Wild Brumby Distillery before an afternoon of prep and cooking around the campfire. Golden syrup dumplings cooked in the billycan went down a treat.

5. While the other Clancys went looking for snow I had some serenity time outside in the cold reading my book. Jaffles with the lot on the menu – ie leftover time.

6. Began the drive home – as far as Cowra today via a snowy Kiandra, and stops in Tumut and Young.

7. Big 600km drive to Armidale via Wellington and a forgettable lunch stop at Werris Creek. A visit to Boo Books in Armidale and dinner at our fave – The White Bull.

8. Home the long way via Gatton, Esk, Kilcoy. Dog and daughter seemed pleased we’re home – although the dog was a tad more obviously pleased to see us.

9. Nice to wake up in our own bed. Back to work and a huge load of washing – all of which smelt of the campfire.

10. A sort of sleep-in before the monthly visit to the hairdressers. I also got a notification that my little astro blog is in the top 50 astrology blogs worldwide and no. 2 Australian Astrology blog. I think that’s probably a good thing. It’s also a reminder that I need to invest more time and effort into it.

11. Markets this morning. Oh, and I made an orange and almond cake.

12. Yum cha at the Plaza for a friend’s birthday.

13. It was Monday and it was blue – does that make it a Blue Monday? (That’s one for the New Order fans – and shows my age.)

14. Drinking heaps of hot water with lemon and ginger to try and ward off an impending head cold. In other news, there’s a butcher bird singing gloriously on next door’s aerial.

15. The head cold has a hold – first one in a couple of winters, but I fear it’s so bad it could be man flu. I prescribe myself whisky and chicken dumpling soup.

chicken dumpling soup

16. Feel like total crap and took my first sick day since about 2011. In other news, adding substantially to Kleenex’s revenue.

17. The head cold has turned to asthma and breathing and talking at the same time is a challenge I’m not quite up to.

18. Feeling a tad better today so made strawberry jam – as you do.

19. Decision Bowl lunch at Junk (Maroochydore) today, beach roads closed due to Sunshine Coast marathon, ordered Vietnam photo books, and Rake is back on telly.

20. Sunrise is getting so early – I think we might have seen the last one for this year.

Random trivia: Did you know that each colour of Bassett’s Jelly Babies – there are 3 million of them sold in the UK every week – has a name? And they all start with B. Don’t say you don’t learn anything from this blog.

21. Happy 50th to my sister. Wishing you all the best Tommy…

22. Recipe and foodie website launched – a new place for all things foodie. Welcome to the Brookford Kitchen Diaries.

a random shot of yoghurt and strawberries

23. Clarity around the new project that I’m not yet ready to talk about…watch this space. Roads and parking already closed around the beach in readiness for the Ironman 70.3 this weekend.

24. Friday = work on my novel day. Some words written – many more deleted.

25. Markets and a walk down to have a look at Flinders Fair. Gotta love the fete days at these posh schools – they absolutely have their priorities right with the largest space given over to the bar.

26. Astro get-together, lunch at Nguyen Bros, and rain – we need it but.

27. Roads and parking still closed around the beach after yesterday’s Ironman. All this disruption for one race that lasts half a day. Oh, and dolphins. Mondays are always better with dolphins.

28. Single ingredient dinner at Jimmy’s tonight. The ingredient? Pumpkin.

29. Cracker of a day which apart from my morning walk was spent mostly inside at my desk.

30. Dolphin sightings again this morning on the walk, work and a homemade tom yum soup for dinner.

31. Lunchtime sausage sandwich on Alex Hill. A lovely way to end the month.

What I’m reading:

I read six books this month, but the highlights were two memoirs by British food writer, Nigel Slater: Toast and Eating For England

What I’m Watching:

  • Jack Irish (ABC) Series is now ended, but I think still available on iview
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway (ABC) Series is now ended, but I think still available on iview
  • Rake (ABC) Yay, Cleaver’s back!
  • 800 Words (Channel 7)
  • Detectorists (ABC) Earlier series is on Netflix
  • The Split (ABC)
  • The Chefs Line (SBS) (Catch up on SBS on-demand)
  • All Aussie Adventures (It’s time to hit the road) (Channel 10)

Sentence a Day – July

July started in Melbourne and ended up somewhere very different. In between were work and writing and all the usual stuff of life. Some sun, some rain, some cold, some warm…no time to be bored. Anyways, here’s the month that was – in one (or more) sentences a day.

1. In Melbourne but heading home today. In other news, due to some over-eating of the truffle and dairy kind (not together) my tummy is complaining.

2. Thai Boat Noodle soup for lunch – it was medicinal.

3. Dolphins at play this morning – just splashes in the distance with the light catching their shiny backs. I don’t want to jinx it, but I think the rain has stopped.

4. Swedish Death Cleaning – Dostadning – is a thing…so, apparently, is work.

Random fact: Swedish Death Cleaning is about gradually getting rid of your stuff. The idea is to minimise the amount of clutter that you leave behind for others to deal with some day. According to the idea of dostadning (try saying that ten times in a row) your treasures will be a burden to someone else someday.

5. Beat the rain with a walk – some really cool cloud action to start a busy work day.

6. Friday and usually my day off the day job. Today, however, instead of writing words as I go through the usual monthly de-greying regime, I’m still doing corporate stuff. Don’t ask.

7. Inspired by Masterchef this week I’m doing Rick Stein’s butter chicken for dinner.  As an aside, beetroot powder is a thing – and it’s a fabulous colour.

8. My brother and his family arrive this afternoon. Decision bowl lunch was at Uptown Gastro Pub in Maroochydore – food was good, but service slow.

9. Blue skies, fish and chips on the beach with the Lyons Den for lunch, and slow cooked 5 spice lamb for dinner. Other than that? Work…of course.

10. Walk to Alex, work, and the Lyons Den leave on stage 2 of their holiday.

11. Road trip itinerary nailed. In other news, it was flipping freezing – yes, even in Queensland.

Random whine: When trying to book a double room in one country town that will remain unnamed, I hover over the fine print to see that the 2nd person in the room will cost an extra $20 a night. Yes folks, the 2nd person. The one sharing the same bed. Not a 3rd person who would need extra bedding, that would be fair enough, but the 2nd person. Essentially that makes it $20 for the 2nd towel. Now I’ve seen everything. As an aside, I booked the other motel in town. Rant over.

12. Rainy start to the day – not that it mattered, I was stuck inside working.

13. Ms T off to Yandina for house-sitting, and some words written in the best office in the world.

14. Markets early on a cold morning, an afternoon walk on the beach, tried the new gelateria at Mooloolaba Wharf, and a Bastille Day menu. And pelicans at the boat ramp…I love pelicans.

15. Corbins was drawn out of the decision bowl but closed today, so La Canteena and beers in a bucket for lunch instead. Five coronas for $25, we couldn’t say no.

16. Another cracker of a day, hubby to Bribie Island to farewell Uncle T as he heads back to England. I, on the other hand, didn’t leave my desk.

Random thought of the day: Never in the history of calming down has someone calmed down by being told to calm down. Just saying.

17. Cold start for our walk, blue skies, stuck at my desk for the rest of the day.

18. I was a guest judge at the Brisbane Office bake-off comp – a tough job, but someone had to do it. The three winning entries are below.

19. Blue skies and work…that’s all. Fires up around Peregian painted the sky tonight.

20. Sunshine Coast Velothon this morning so roads closed and unable to get to the beach for our walk. Instead, we walked a different route – from Currimundi to Shelly Beach…8kms return.

21. Saturday morning beach walk and a cruise ship moored just off Mooloolaba Beach – Mooloolaba certainly dressed in her fancy pants for the occasion. Back down at lunchtime for prawns in the park. In other news, the white chocolate cheesecake I made was pretty fantabulous. You’ll find the recipe here.

22. Mad Mex Cantina drawn out of the Decision Bowl for Sunday lunch – Ms 20 is ecstatic, me not so.

23. A blue sky start to Monday. Walk, work, and a rainforest walk at lunchtime – complete with a catbird that sounds like a baby crying.

Random fact: the pink and yellow flowers are lantana – which is a noxious weed…it’s also pretty.

24. Take yesterday and repeat – without the rainforest and the catbird.

25. In between work we started putting together pantry pack for Eucumbene.  Yes, we really are taking paella rice, saffron and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce on a “camping” trip. The culinary competition is real folks.

26. There was a dolphin playing metres away from us this morning. A pink sky and dolphins – the day can’t get off to a better start than that.

27. Even though it’s Friday and my day off, I worked.

28. Got up early to watch the Mars and Moon show in the sky – it’s not every day you have a total eclipse under skies that clear. As for the rest of the day? Packing and cleaning – I can’t stand going away with a dirty house or any dirty clothes in the laundry.

29. Off on our road trip. Tonight’s scheduled stop is Narrabri in North Western NSW – and 666 kms away. The verdict? Narrabri is a lovely town – a very comfortable stop – but I can’t get over just how dry the country is…it’s heartbreaking.

somewhere between Moree and Narrabri

30. A lot of nothing for much of this morning’s drive. With a huge observatory at Coonabarabran, they’re a tad space-obsessed along this stretch of the Newell Highway.

at Gilgandra

We called in at The Dish just outside of Parkes. The last time I was here I think was back in about 1976 or 77. It hasn’t changed that much – but the visitor’s centre is very impressive.

Tonight’s stop is Cootamundra – 582km from Narrabri.

31. Tumbarumba. Even though I’ve never lived here if anyone ever asks me where my roots are it’s in this town – despite having been born in Sydney. It’s where my father was born and where his parents were born, lived their lives and died. The history of this town and the history of my family are so closely intertwined. Anyways, I’ll tell you more about that later.

Sugar Pine walk – about 20kms out of Tumba

What I watched:

  • Secret City (Netflix) – OMG this had me hooked.
  • Nanette (Netflix) – because everyone else was watching it.
  • Jack Irish (ABC)
  • Doc Martin (ABC) – I’m very late to the Doc Martin party
  • Masterchef…of course

I started watching the latest series of Poldark and am ashamed to say that I’m a tad over it. Not that I’m over Aidan Turner or the random shots of him emerging from the sea…no sirree…but I’m getting a tad tired of the story. Don’t throw anything.

What I listened to:

Other than my usuals, new podcasts for this month:

The Washing Up – a rundown of reality food programs with a heavy leaning to Masterchef at the moment. Don’t listen if you haven’t watched the episodes.

Wrong Skin – a podcast put out by Fairfax. Man, this is confronting and interesting. It’s an investigation into an unsolved death and a missing person in the outback, with themes of traditional law and relationships banned under those laws.

What I read:

I read 9 books over the month. My favourite reads were:

The Marmalade Files, by Chris Uhlman – political satire at its best and the basis of Secret City.

April in Paris 1921, by Tessa Lunney

The Hidden Cottage, Erica James

The Comfort Cafe series (I devoured them all – pun intended – over the month) by Debbie Johnson.

I’m on a road-trip at the moment and am blissfully wi-fi and cell-phone reception free – yes, those places do exist. I’ll respond to any comments when I’m back online.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Sentence a day – June

June is done and we’re into the middle of winter. I suspect that I’ve acclimatised as I’ve really felt the cold so far this winter. Don’t look at me like that, the nights can get a tad chilly! Besides, I’m writing this at the airport in Melbourne where it’s really cold. Anyways, enough of the complaints, let’s wrap up June – in a sentence, or two, a day.

1. The morning spent writing at the Surf Club and the afternoon spent baking cookies and lasagne. This is what the first day of winter in Queensland looks like.

2. Friends up from Sydney for the weekend. Made a French Savoury Cake to go with tonight’s bubbles.

3. Fish and chips on the beach for lunch.

4. Monday morning walk, work, lunch at Korean, and a sad goodbye as my friends head back to Sydney.

5. Walk and work.

6. It’s cold – yes, even in Queensland. It’s a wear your uggies to work kind of day. Luckily I work from home. (As an aside, this isn’t me working…)

7. If you can’t say anything nice, talk about the weather – I worked and it rained.

8. Hairdressers, more rain, some baking, and some words.

9. Woke to the sad news that Anthony Bourdain had died. He travelled the way I like to travel – street food, real culture, to the gritty soul of a place.

Street art from Hosier Lane – I’m disappointed that someone has tagged this.

10. Lunch at Saltwater and finished binge-watching Collateral.

11. Queens Birthday holiday in Sydney so I have the day off – sort of, I still did a few hours. Anyways, a walk this morning and a picnic up at Mary Cairncross Park. And a photo of One Tree Hill.

12. Way too nice a day to be stuck inside working…just saying.

13. Take yesterday and repeat.

14. Back to back meetings and friends up from Sydney for the night.

15. Nambour Show Day so a public holiday. Dinner at Maroochy Surf Club with friends and a big win on the meat trays.

16. Off to Sydney – where it’s cold. Unplanned drinkies tonight with a girlfriend to watch the Socceroos.

17. Took a long walk around the city, lunch at the Opera Bar, and a look at my fave tree. You can read about it here. Shivered through the bus ride home.

18. Wind is icy this morning and I think I’ve put on every layer I brought with me. Good to see my colleagues in the office, and dinner in Castle Hill with friends.

19. Woke after a bad night feeling completely wrecked – too many late nights I suspect. Rainy and cold getting into work this morning and a weird pink sky tonight on the commute home.

20. There was an accordion player busking in Wynyard tunnel this morning playing “The Final Countdown”. Not only was I singing it all day, but it was weirdly uplifting. Out for dinner with friends – I’m way too old and tired for all this gallivanting on a school night.

Wynyard Tunnel

21. Heading home after work today. Jetstar flight right on time. #winning

22. Lunch at The Dock, blue skies and coffee with a friend.

23. My first attempt at homemade crumpets declared a success.

24. Can’t be faffed driving around looking for a carpark in Noosa so a redraw from the Decision Bowl had us having lunch at Rice Boi. Good result.

Pork bao

25. Ms T in Sydney for the week. I’ll see her in Melbourne on Friday.

26. Fun fact – in Cantonese wonton literally means “swallowing cloud” because they float in the broth like small clouds. That piece of trivia is much more exciting than my day – which was grey and a busy one in the office.

27. It’s raining again – some half decent words were written to try and get me out of the timeline tangle I’ve written myself into.

28. Missing my Nan today – she would have been 100. Man, she would have loved that – any excuse for a party!

29. Did you know that Speedo, the Aussie swimsuit company, was founded in the 1920s in Sydney by a Scotsman – Alexander McRae – who was born in a small highland fishing village near Loch Kishorn? Neither did I. In other news, off to Melbourne for a long weekend with MsT. Flight delayed, dumplings for lunch, best plate of pasta in recent memory for dinner, and something simply stupendous for dessert – but you’ll need to tune in on Thursday for the details.

30. A walk up to Brunswick for the best pizza ever. Seriously. Shopping this afternoon and continuing the Italian theme for dinner at Cecconis. Oh, how I love this city…I truly think I could be Italian…just saying

What I read

June was a huge reading month – all of the above. My read of the month? Lisa Ireland’s The Art of Friendship.

What I watched

  • Masterchef (of course)
  • Collateral (on Netflix)
  • I’ve just started watching Secret City on Netflix and am hooked. Canberra has never looked so interesting.
  • Shakespeare and Hathaway (ABC)
  • Poldark (ABC)

What I listened to

Aside from the usual podcasts I listen to while I’m working, I’ve discovered Branch Out – the podcast from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney. It’s for research purposes.

How was your month? Read, watched or listened to anything great?


Sentence a Day… May

Banks of the Seine
The banks of the Seine

The first week of May saw a continuation of our France road-trip and the final stage – in Paris.

Then it was back home to work – and save for the next adventure!

What else? I got the structural notes back from my editor and somehow managed to finish the rewrite this month. This book is determined to write – and rewrite- itself.

Anyways, here is May in a sentence – sometimes two – a day.

Le Marais
Exploring the Marais district

1. It’s a public holiday here in France for May Day. F dropped us off just outside of Paris and we caught the metro in. Spent the afternoon exploring Le Marais – where we’re staying – and the banks of the Seine. Love this city.

2. Lots of ticks in boxes today: Notre Dame, Shakespeare & Co bookshop, the Left Bank, Latin Quarter, a cruise on the Seine, Galeries Lafayette.

3. A great first half of the day with the markets at the Bastille to start, a walk to and through Pere Lachaise Cemetary (with the world’s funniest accidental guide). Second half not so great – a wander from Champs Elysee through the posh part of town and down to Place de la Concorde. That part of town is really not me – too much money, too many people and too many pickpockets.

Bastille Markets
Bastille Markets

4. Paris redeemed herself today with Promenade des Plantees, the artistic viaduct, flower markets and ice creams at Ile St- Louis. I’m in love with this city again. It’s not goodbye, it’s a bientot.

5. Off to the airport at 7.30am this morning and on our way home.

6. Saturday and Sunday spent on planes. Finally walked through the front door at around 7 pm. Why does Australia have to be so far away from everywhere?

7. It’s our 24th wedding anniversary – and a public holiday for Labour Day. The two are not connected. Spent the day washing clothes.

8. Back to work – do I have to? Oh, that’s right, I have the next adventure to save for. Stood on the scales & rather than the OMFG moment, I had an OMG moment of a different sort – I’d lost half a kilo…in France! There could be something to this French paradox…

9. Mammogram this morning (all clear) followed by work.

10. Craving pho so indulged at lunchtime.

11. Hairdresser this morning (greys be gone) and a good start on the rewrite of One More Dance/HappyEver After/Book No. 5. (My editor’s notes came back last week.)

12. Markets followed by brekky at Jimmy’s. Life all back to normal.

13. Mother’s Day and lunch at Corbins – yum cha with a difference.

14. Back to work Monday and finally some blue skies for this morning’s walk.

 

15. Take yesterday and repeat.

16. Some good progress on the novel rewrite in the best office in the world.

17. Managed to sneak a walk in before work and before the rain started.

18. A stormy morning cleared to a fab Friday. Back to the Surf Club for more words.

19. Markets this morning, house-cleaning & the Royal Wedding on TV. Saturday taken slow and easy.

20. Relatives from Gloucester (UK) called in today. I made a lemon and thyme cake in the bundt tin – the recipe is a keeper and will make it into the next novel I think.

21. The day is so beautifully blue it seems a pity to be inside working.

 

22. Mum and Dad here from Sydney for the rest of the week – hoping the good weather holds.

23. Canal cruise in Mooloolaba and a drive up and down the coast to show Mum and Dad around.

24. I had to work so hubby and daughter took Mum and Dad out to the hinterland for a look around and a picnic.

25. Lunch at Sum Yung Guys for a friend’s 60th.

26. Markets this morning & then whipped up a batch of lemon lime & bitters scones (the recipe is here) for morning tea before taking Mum and Dad to the airport – we’ve had a great few days.

27. Astro club at Golden Beach followed by lunch at Woombye Pub. Parmy and rissoles – you can’t get much more old school than that.

28. Do I have to go to work?

29. I repeat, do I have to go to work?

30. Noosa to buy some gifts, lunch with hubby at Betty’s Burgers, and work on the novel this afternoon.

31. A beautiful morning with a pod of dolphins playing just offshore. Another big day in the day job. In other news, I finished the rewrite on One More Dance/ Happy Ever After/Book No. 5 tonight.

Ok, that was my May – how was yours?

Sentence a day – January 2018

We’ve been doing a lot of this time last year type comparisons of late:

  • this time last year we bought our Queensland house
  • this time last year we put our Sydney house on the market

This time last year…

It doesn’t seem so long ago – but at the same time, it feels like a lifetime.

Anyways, that’s all by the by – the first month of 2018 has flown by. Looking forward to February, it’s a busy one with work trips to Adelaide and Sydney on the schedule and a mini break to Melbourne. In between that, I have some freelance projects that are under deadline and a book that needs to be rewritten. So without further ado, let’s wrap up January so I can get my teeth into February already!

1.Happy New Year…and farewell to Fraser Island…for now.

Dinner at Maroochydore Surf Club…for somewhere different.

view from the Surf Club on a hazy evening

2. Brekky at One Block Back, Nice Kiwis back to NZ – it’s been fabulous having you here.

3. Back to work…enough said.

4. Testing and more testing, but also a big afternoon scheduling posts for January on the astro page.

5. Business plan (and post) completed for the year, Word of The Year post scheduled, Wellness goals and Creative Goals posts scheduled, and astro posts written and batched for the rest of January. That’s a huge tick in the box.

6. Markets, Jimmy’s for brekky, Nigella’s herbed lamb roast and olive oil chocolate mousses for dinner.

7. Another hot one on the coast, but glad we’re not in Western Sydney where it’s 45C! Secrets on the Lake for lunch and some respite from the heat.

Made a batch of corn and ginger soup with the corn I bought yesterday. The recipe is here.

8. Walk this morning, the gym at lunchtime, and the office in between.

9. Cut this morning’s walk short to have a swim as well. It’s hard to imagine that at 6.30am this time last year I would have been on the M2 bus into the city and doing a 90-minute commute to work with no time to exercise and absolutely no walk by the beach.

10. Back into the pool for some black line swimming. I reckon it’s been about 8 years since I did lap swimming, but man, it felt good.

11. Mum and Dad’s 54th wedding anniversary – seriously admirable in this day and age – and Adventure Spaniel gets a clean bill of health from the vet. In other news, my hair is green – I suspect from the chlorine yesterday.

12. Hairdressers – to get rid of the grey…and the green! She sent me home with some gunk that will protect my hair from future green episodes – although sadly not future grey ones. Back into the surf this arvo, so the fresh hair thing didn’t last long.

 

13. Winnie at Woombye for brekky, followed by a day of swimming, floating, reading…and some more swimming. Saturday done well.

14. Sunshine Coast Collective Markets this morning – scored some great earrings for $8. Pitaya bowls at Little Boat Espresso afterwards.

15. Walk, work, laps – all under a blue sky.

16. Dragged myself to the gym again at lunchtime – poked my bicep to see if it has grown yet…disappointment sets in.

17. Wednesday is usually a writing day, but sadly not today – I had to log into the office instead. Managed a walk in the morning and a swim at lunchtime in between. Big dumping waves down at Mooloolaba thanks to tidal surges and southerly winds.

18. A catch-up call after work with the friend in France I’ll be road-tripping with in April – love planning roadies.

19. My one day of the week to get some words done and boy the writing was a struggle this morning.

20. Went to buy a tart pan and bought a madeleine one instead – which meant I had to make some. The recipe is here.

21. Noosa Farmer’s Market for a change.

22. Friends from Sydney for dinner after work. Barbecue, potato salad and an apple and berry crumble.

23. Happy 76th birthday to my Mum – so grateful for how fit and vital she is and proud she still rocks a bikini.

24. Finally nailed the France road-trip itinerary…watch this space…

25. So humid at 5.30am on this morning’s walk. Train disruptions in Sydney so had to be at my desk early.

26. Australia Day – sun, pool, repeat.

27. Markets, writing and coq au vin and some little almond and apple cakey things (from the Rick Stein French Escapes cookbook) on the menu for diner a la maison. (See how I’m practising my French?)

28. Sunday lunch at Woombye – a real Queensland pub.

29. Walk work gym work walk.

30. Dinner and movie date with my daughter – The Greatest Showman. Spectacular.

Fabulous wave action at Mooloolaba Beach

31. Stupendous surf this morning, laps at lunchtime (with a visiting AFL team on pre-season training as a distraction) and work in between.

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishSeize the Day ProjectWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.

2018: The Word

Although I don’t always achieve as much as I set out to achieve, I am a goal-setting junkie. Every so often I think I should throw the goals out the window and just let it all be and flow, but I know myself a tad too well for that to work:

  • I have major issues with boundaries – I have no idea where they start or end. It’s why I can eat mindlessly whatever is on my plate and, also why I set myself deadlines – without them, I’ll drift on and on.
  • I’m a tad like Dory when it comes to focus. This meme literally is me.

  • I have a tenuous connection with reality and can successfully convince myself – in the absence of evidence to the contrary – that anything I want to believe is true can be so. This is great for when I need to believe that anything is possible, but not so good when I’m confronted with an expanding waistline. I truly admire those people who can manage their weight through the fit of their clothes. Nope, unless I see it on the scales it isn’t happening.

Why I set goals

Without goals, I drift and achieve absolutely nothing. I need the discipline and structure that a goal brings in order to get anything done. As far as I’m concerned, the stretchier the goal the better – that way wherever I end up landing is way further than I would be if I’d aimed too low.

It’s like how I always leave the bottom ¼ of a cup of coffee or tea – no matter the size of the cup. I’m the same with goals. If I aim high I’ll tend to get most of the way there, whereas if I am low, I’ll tend to get most of the way there. Same same but a very different result.

Word of the year

Further, I need a focus point. Something that’s front and centre that reminds me every day why I’m doing what I’m doing. Over the last few years, I’ve had a word of the year to help me do that:

2017 Adventure

2016 Awesome

2015 Fearless

This year? I faffed about with SIMPLIFY and hubby suggested a phrase: What’s Important?

While both were great suggestions, it felt more like a way in which I’d approach my goals, but not necessarily words to guide me this year.

I thought long and hard about HEALTH. It really fit what I want to achieve this year:

  • Healthy body
  • Healthy mind
  • Healthy relationships
  • Healthy business

Then I decided that at the base of each of these four primary goals is one thing:

HEART

I’ll blog my wellness and creative goals separately, but at, sorry, the heart of each of my goals, will be this word. My priorities this year will be to do things and be with people that:

  • improve the health of my heart
  • lighten the load on my heart
  • heal my heart
  • contribute to the happiness of my heart
  • make my heart sing

Do you do a word of the year? If so, what is it?

 

2017 – A Year in Books

 

I put my laptop away for the Christmas break and had a few days up in Fraser Island – which I’ll tell you about tomorrow. That means that even though it’s Wednesday, there’s no writing progress to tell you about today…it is Wednesday, isn’t it? I figured that I’d give you a round-up of my reading over 2017 instead.

How many books did I read?

According to Goodreads, I read 98 novels: 27359 pages – although there were others that didn’t make it to Goodreads.

Yes, that’s a lot of reading, but for the first few months of the year I was on a bus for an average of 3 hours a day – longer if there was a traffic problem on the M2.

And the ones that didn’t make it to Goodreads? Mostly genre romances that are devoured in an hour or so and are sweet but guilty pleasures – like glasses of bubbly and vegemite and cheese on white bread with butter.

The longest book?

Ok, I’m not great with commitment, so the longest book I read was Marian Keyes “The Break” at 576 pages. As an aside, whilst I gave “The Break” 5 stars it felt too long.

Any new series?

I worked my way through the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn series. I still have a few to go. It’s a series of cozy mysteries set in 1920s England and all very jolly hockey sticks.

I also worked my way through Amy Andrew’s Rugby series (I nearly wrote that I worked my way through Amy’s Rugby boys, but realized in time just how bad that sounded!), Anna Campbell’s Dashing Widow series and Nalini Singh’s Rock series. Yes, all of these are romances.

Additions to favourite series?

Sulari Gentill’s Rowland Sinclair was back for A Dangerous Language, and Sulari also gave us a prequel in The Prodigal Son. Her stand-alone Crossing Lines is on my kindle waiting for its turn.

Series I missed this year?

Ian Rankin’s Rebus…although apparently there is one scheduled for 2018.

Thanks for the recommendation…

I rely on my book blogger friend Debbish for additions to my to-be-read pile, and she certainly didn’t let me down in 2017.

Any 5 star reads?

Yes – nine of them…three of which I read in December. Sure it could be that I was feeling generous because of the season, but I don’t think so. Here they are, in the order that I finished them – from most recently read…

  • Two Steps Forward, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buit
  • Numbered, Amy Andrews and Ros Baxter
  • One More Song, Nicki Edwards
  • Deadly Kerfuffle, Tony Martin
  • The Word Is Murder, Anthony Horowitz
  • The Break, Marian Keyes
  • Best Day Ever, Kaira Rouda
  • The Shape Of Us, Lisa Ireland
  • Meet Me At Beachcomber Bay, Jill Mansell

Any books adapted into a movie?

I tend not to read blockbusters – in much the same way that I tend not to watch anything nominated for an Oscar. I’m a bit of a reverse snob in this way. This means that often I don’t watch movie adaptations.

Genre-hopping?

There was definitely more cozy crime consumed this year – I’m loving that genre. I also read a some historically based women’s fiction – although I’m still not big on that term. Of these, Fiona McIntosh’s The Tea Gardens, Natasha Lester’s A Kiss For Mr Fitzgerald, and Victoria Purman’s The Three Miss Allens were the stand-outs. Gill Paul’s The Secret Wife also took an interesting turn back into Tsarist Russia.

Craft books read?

No, not this year

Any business books?

Nope.

What annoyed me this year?

My editor’s advice must be sinking (finally) into my brain because I read way too many books this year where sub-plots were added late into a book for the sole reason of enabling the author to tie together loose ends. There were also too many books that told us in the last couple of chapters about the character’s growth without showing these traits throughout. Oh, look! She used to be like x, now she’s like y…that sort of thing.

This cost at least six books on my list from getting a 5-star rating.  What is concerning is that all were traditionally published yet they felt like they needed tightening editorially. Perhaps I only noticed because I’m aware that this is something I’m guilty of too – like typos in quickly cobbled together posts…whatevs.

Best cover blurb?

On Tony Martin’s Deadly Kerfuffle: “Deadly Kerfuffle proves yet again that there is nothing Tony Martin can’t do. I wish I’d read the entire thing” Sam Pang.

2018?

This is much the same as last year. I have a heavy writing schedule planned, so will probably limit my chick lit again this year. I have a cozy crime series fermenting at the back of my brain, so will read more widely in this area – just nothing where the kid is taken or the dog dies. I still haven’t read any Agatha Christies so will rectify that.

Book-related resolutions?

This isn’t great news for the authors that I support, but my resolution this year is to go three months without buying any books at all. I have books on my bookshelf – both physical and virtual – that are crying out for attention and yet last year (and the year before and the year before that and…you get the idea) spent the equivalent of a very good holiday on books and music. I intend to work my way through some of these this year. I’ll revisit my progress (and my wilpower) at the end of March.

What about you? Any favourites? Recommendations? 

 

Sentence a day: December

It feels weird writing about December when I should be writing about 2018, but, of course, one year needs to be finished off before another can begin, so without further ado, let’s wrap December up – a month that started with more rain than I ever thought was possible to fall in a short space of time and finished with sun, sea and tequila. December, you were memorable.

If you’re interested – which of course you are – my year in review can be found here.

1.Tried out the new Asian street food place – Rice Boi – down at the Wharf. I’m in dumpling heaven…

2. Friends for dinner and a Nigella disappointment – the Italian apple cake might look ok, but isn’t a great pudding option.

3. Sarah home from Sydney – yay!

4. Deluge – we have a new water feature in the backyard. Got a walk in before it all started.

5. Sun sneaking through, but another massive storm this afternoon. Managed to get a walk in early this morning though.

Amazing light before the storm (see the frangipanis in the main shot) and an impressive sunset after.

 

6. Did some writing at The Surf Club this morning and had partition work this arvo.

7. Fabulous walk around the Headland this morning instead of over it. The Marriage Equality Act finally passed parliament – Australia, it’s about time.

 

8. Lunch at Saltwater at the Wharf – prawn roll and the best chips ever.

Eumundi Christmas markets this afternoon – pissed down and hardly any stallholders there…pretty disappointing.

as seen in Eumundi

9. Brissie for bloggers lunch – so good to meet these wonderful ladies in real life. Made it home before the biggest most intense storm we’ve had yet. Queensland is teaching me a lot about rain.

10. Finally got the taxes done and sent down to the accountant in Sydney. Phew.

11. Back to work – do I have to?

12. Gorgeous morning for a walk – such a pity the office is calling.

13. Kali at home delivery doggy day spa and I caught up on astro bloggy stuff.

14. Late afternoon beach swim after work – the best way to finish a working week.

15. Haircut, colour, and time in the pool to undo all the time in the hairdresser’s chair. I’m not that girl who can swim without getting my hair wet – when I’m in, I’m under.

16. Catch up with friends at Alex Surf Club and bedlam in Mooloolaba thanks to the Christmas Boat Parade.

17. Pre Christmas barbecue with friends – the first time we’ve done the entertaining numbers thing in this house – and my lemon curd pavlova is a thing of beauty.

18. Morning walk. Slow on the work front – thankfully.

19. Walk, Work, pool, work, beach – a good balance.

20. Take yesterday and repeat.

21. Drinks at The Dock

and then a Canal Christmas lights cruise to celebrate the end of the working year – what a great night.

22. Disappointing, but not unexpected, news re hubby’s contract – the project is coming to an end. Fabulous news to be going into Christmas with…not.

23. Cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking.

24. The Nice Kiwis are here – yay! Lunch at Sum Yung Guys – as good as it always is.

25. Christmas Day – full of a flamboyance of flamingoes and lots of fun.

26. Boxing Day – pool, sun, and a visitor of the serpentine variety to the backyard. I think he’s harmless – he’s certainly very pretty.

Mixed up with tequila, margaritas, and cards against humanity – plenty of laughs.

27. Brekky at The Velo Project, more pool, more sun, and some more visitors – not of the snake variety, thank goodness!

28. Sight-seeing drive through the Hinterland – plenty of others with the same idea. Lunch at the Imperial Hotel in Eumundi.

29. Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island. It’s a hot one, but the breeze on the barge and a late afternoon swim cool us down.

Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island

30. Fantabulous 4WD bus tour of Fraser. Swimming at Lake Mackenzie and Eli Creek, picture stops at the Pinnacles and the wreck of the Maheno, and a walk through the valley at Central Station. (Keep an eye out for my post…)

31. New Years Eve. Sun, storms, bush tucker and dancing. Goodbye 2017 – you’ve certainly been an adventure…which was fortunate given that adventure was my word of the year!