Posts from — July 2013

Sweet Little Something 5

July 19, 2013

A Friday ritual – a wordless post: a personal photograph that captures a moment from the week. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere.

And if the mood strikes, leave a “Haikument” in comments inspired by one of these photos. We’ve had some fantastic ones! Check them out here and here. No poetry degree required! You can use the  5/7/5 syllable count rule if you like, or create something unique. If you want to find out more about Haiku (and who doesn’t?), check this out.

From Hannah:

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From Ria:

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In: From Hannah, From Ria, Sweet Little Something

R&R 6

July 17, 2013

Raspberries and Relaxation, that is. I’m going to make the ‘relaxation’ part do double duty and say it includes ‘rest’ so the first ‘R’ is in need of a new identity. And it’s July. I did promise a raspberry post, didn’t I?

I’m going to start with the second R. And goodness knows there’s been little of it around in recent weeks. What with the novel getting finished up, an exploding garden to tame, an old house’s perpetual demands and a toddler to run after (squeeze full-time work in there somewhere), there’s been an awful lot of un-relaxation going on. But that all changed this past weekend, if briefly, when DH and I took our first overnight trip sans child. My first night away in all her 20+months. It was glorious. I know I don’t need to explain how much I love my daughter, or how much I love being on my own schedule. It’s only when we get away that we realise just how tethered we are to little ones’ naps and mealtimes and playtime whims.

Case in point, the things that made me so very glad this weekend: We stayed out all day! Without having to search the city for a suitable diaper-changing spot! We ate whatever/wherever/whenever! Things that would be choking hazards for tiny throats we consumed with abandon! We went into shops that hate kids! We tried things on in the shops! We went out for dinner and smiled fondly at the couple by the window who were out for their first meal without their 11-week-old. We knew we were so much further along than them. We changed our minds a few times, did things for longer than we’d planned and snuck in extra sights. We. Slept. In.

Not only was all that child-free time invigorating, but the location of said trip made it all the better. We drove one and a half hours to Victoria, BC to stay with friends, and man, is it nice to be in the big city sometimes. I think I need to add a third ‘R’ –Reinvigoration.

We saw this

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and ate/drank this

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and witnessed this skirmish between a pirate ship and a pickle boat. There were actual swords drawn on the pirate ship, though I can’t verify their battle-worthiness.

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And now on to the other ‘R’. Our raspberries are the everbearing kind, so once they start producing in July, we’ve got them until about November. It’s the best half of the year. I stock the freezer with fresh-picked yogurt-tubfulls of them. They spoil us to the point of boredom–another bowl of raspberries? What are we going to do with them? So here’s what I did with one bowlful last week.

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There is no recipe here, really just some ingredients that I had in the fridge, so threw together. I was craving something light, fruity and a bit rich. Kind of like Eaton Mess or a Pavlova. but I wasn’t about to make a merengue just to satisfy my wanton desires, so I improvised. I took some thick plain yogurt (full fat organic) and folded into it some freshly-whipped cream (also organic–it tastes so much better). Then I drizzled that with honey and strew the raspberries over top. It sounds too simple to need describing, but on tasting it, I felt like I’d come up with some astounding new thing (which I definitely had not) and immediately put more yogurt and lots more cream on my shopping list (danger). Try it. Tell me what you think.

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I have a feeling this would also be amazing with macerated strawbs, fresh blueberries and also chopped up mango. Maybe less honey for that one. Salivating.

XO

Ria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In: Food, From Ria, Kids and Parenting, Travel, Writing

The Kindnesses 4

July 13, 2013

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We’ve recently moved into a new house. New old house. It’s actually the first house we’ve ever lived in together as it’s been apartments up until now and I luuuuurve it. Apart from all the housework of course. Apartmentwork was pretty easy in comparison. Vaccuum up and down, up and down, and we’re done! Now it’s more like – vacuum, vacuum, vacuum, lose the will to live, stare down the hallway at more rooms to vacuum, shake small child off end of hose, vacuum, vacuum….

Moving into a new house is  exciting but busy too, with all those boxes to unpack and things to connect, joining fees to pay, mail to redirect, the strange quirks of your new house to figure out (What does this switch do?? Ooooh, garbage disposal. Sorry, sleeping baby in the other room.) There’s so much to do and clean and do. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like: Will it ever all get sorted out? Don’t worry, I’ve been told the answer. No, it never gets all sorted out. It’s like parenting and marriage and family : Endless. {People tell it to you like that too. All laughing and then deathly serious with eyes wide open and dun-dun-dun music playing in the background. Thanks.}

Which is why I must tell you about The Kindnesses. The Kindnesses have blown me away. When we’ve moved previously, it’s been to places where people didn’t know us, where no-one was really excited to see us. Moving back to New Zealand has been a whole different, lovely thing. Our first Kindness was from my friend who helped us pick our interior paint colour. She skipped her baby’s naps to help me, emailed me dozens of options and even came along to my meeting with the painter. We went with this one. It’s hard to explain how awesome a white can be until you know how awesome a white can be.

Then there was the lovely ‘hello’ sign, from my sister. Just about as perky and vibrant and cool as she is. A jar of homemade biscuits, a packed lunch and a whole day of helping me unpack boxes, from a friend I lived with at University. She’s the reason my spoons are in drawers and wine glasses are within easy reach; bless her cotton sox.

Then a frog card (welcome to your new pad!) and a HUGE jar of lemon curd (actually made with Tahitian limes, because that’s how she rolls) and pinwheels for the girls, from an old work pal. Lime curd and cream atop a fresh, hot scone is my new favourite morning tea. Gaaaaahhhhhhh.

 

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Our gorgeous Macau friends sent us a beautiful print of one of my favourite beaches (the same friends that introduced me to good champagne, my bank balance does NOT thank you). LOTS of food from local cafe, Little and Friday (which deserves a post of its own, methinks) hand-delivered by awesome fellow Mamas who came with kids in tow and stayed for long pots of tea. Thank goodness for your advice and humour, ladies.

Flowers, emails, and some embroidered linen of my Grandma’s, gifted by my Mum. For when you have friends over. Who bring tahitian lime curd, ooh la la.

 

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Mum has been The Ultimate Giver of Kindnesses over the move, as per usual, helping out with the girls, bringing over little treats like pulled pork she cooked in the slow cooker for about 12 hours and soup and little pottles of vanilla ice-cream. Clearly the strategy is to fatten me up, ply the girls with love and sugared treats (isn’t that the same thing?) and ensure we never move again, nyah ha ha! It’s working, Mum.

The flurry of Kindnesses has left me feeling so blessed and loved in a way no overseas move ever has. Moving overseas was heart-pounding exciting and incredible and a teeny bit glamourous, but also hard and gritty and lonely at times. Damn lonely.

And you know what else is lonely? Writing. I read your post on Wednesday and my heart went out to you because I know exactly the feeling you are talking about. You’re tired, it’s not working and you don’t know why. Your work in progress is being, well, a Shit, and you want to send it to its room until it gets a new attitude. It doesn’t. It just hangs around like a teenager with a hygiene issue. Worst of all, it’s your work in progress. No colleague to pin it on or even moan about it to. It’s a lonely place when it’s all your responsibility.

But then, The Kindnesses. Recently, my U.S. editor, has helped me view a battle-weary manuscript in a whole new light. She’s given me ideas, new ways to make things work, new enthusiasm. She is cheerleading my characters, and that fills me with so much hope. In Germany, where The Colour of Tea is The Perfume of Tea (doesn’t it sound so grown up?!) I’ve been chatting online with readers as they read the book and it feels like we’re all somehow in the story together, peeking into Lillian’s cafe. And finally – this. This sharing of good times and not-so-good times helps me understand that it’s not only me who feels this way, that it’s not always easy and that the job of a writer needn’t be so lonely after all. Just when you feel quite lost a Community of Kindnesses comes your way and you feel a whole lot less solo.

So, I’m wishing that Kindnesses head your way, or that the fresh paint on your lovely old house makes you feel shiny and new. Some of the best advice I ever got was to remember that a mood, emotion or frame of mind cannot last forever, it passes, they all pass. Sometimes you just gotta hold on for the change of season. And in the meantime I say, bestow Kindnesses upon yourself. Leave the vacuuming, eat chocolate in the bathtub, slather lime curd on your toast for breakfast. Pull out the good linen and the pretty plates. Invite over a friend who makes you laugh and brings donuts. Be around enthusiastic people, who cheerlead you and remind you – we’re here. When you need us.

HUGS, Hannah x

PS. Very, very big hugs and kisses to everyone who has loved us through our move; thank you for your Kindnesses! And for those who raise me up when the writing is challenging and my mood is dark – I’m afraid I’m gonna keep needin’ ya. It’s an endless thing. Like parenting and marriage and family and home ownership… 😉 x

In: Food, From Hannah, Kids and Parenting, Writing

Sweet Little Something 4

July 12, 2013

A Friday ritual – a wordless post: a personal photograph that captures a moment from the week. One photograph from Hannah, in the Southern Hemisphere and one from Ria, in the Northern Hemisphere.

And if the mood strikes, leave a “Haikument” in comments inspired by one of these photos. We’ve had some fantastic ones! Check them out here and here. No poetry degree required! You can use the  5/7/5 syllable count rule if you like, or create something unique. If you want to find out more about Haiku (and who doesn’t?), check this out.

From Hannah:

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From Ria:

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In: From Hannah, From Ria, Sweet Little Something

New Colours 2

July 10, 2013

Right now, I kind of feel like this:

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That’s our front step badly in need of new paint. It’s also how I feel about writing right now. Needless to say, neither house nor Work in Progress is looking too pretty. The first one is easily remedied: we are getting the house painted this week. Some sanding, scraping, primer and the right colours, and our house will look, well, not brand new, given it’s one hundred years old, but fresh. But I’m not so sure I can slap a fix like that onto my work.

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I’m going to call it a novel hangover. That time after you’ve finished up work on a book and the relief and euphoria of achievement slowly fades and then disappears. You’re left with little old you, your computer, and that half-finished kind-of-lame story you were working on three years ago that you know you need to kick into submission (A pun! A sign of writing life!) but there’s something so slippery about it and you can’t get hold of it long enough to do any good.

Re-enactment of Author’s conversation with Work in Progress:

[11:34pm, author’s office]

Author: Why the hell can’t you just be easy? I know exactly what’s supposed to happen to you, but you are making it SO DIFFICULT.

WIP: Well, you were the one who gave me all those extra characters last draft. I mean, I was obese with characters. I’m kind of disgruntled now.

Author: I was trying to write through it. There wasn’t enough tension. It’s a technique.

WIP: Your technique sucks. Your technique needs to go on a diet.

Author: Screw you.

WIP: You’ve been through enough writing workshops; deal with it. And while you’re at it–cut, cut cut. Trim the fat. I’m going to need a triple bypass soon.

Author: Yeah, yeah, I got it. No need to beat the analogy to death. Geez.

WIP:  Hey, I couldn’t help myself–I’m only a second draft.

 

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Yes, it’s come to having conversations with my own work. Whatever gets you through, right? Here’s what I’m hoping. 1. The new paint turns our house into the kind of place you do a double take for. The good kind of double take. 2. My hangover lifts and crystal clarity becomes my new mental state as I plough through this draft. Ploughing is a good verb here. There is fertile ground to be turned, seeds to be sown. I’m grasping at positive verbs as if they were Tylenol for this hangover. 3. That my squash plants will hurry up and start flowering. Didn’t they get the memo? Summer is here!

And in the end, we need something light, something uplifting, don’t we?. So here’s another thing that’s happening at our place right now:

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XO

Ria

In: From Ria, Writing