Monsterful Monday: in praise of the Great British Bake Off

Yep, I went there. I have knitted in front of a programme about baking, because apparently I’m turning into somebody’s great aunt Margaret or something.

Season 3 is being re-screened on Prime, and I haven’t seen it before so please don’t tell me who wins.

Maybe it’s because of my heritage, but I love how British this particular iteration of the talent reality show is. I love how Mary Berry tries to find something positive to say about each contestant’s efforts. I love how happy people are when Paul Hollywood likes their cooking. I love how they own it when something’s gone a bit wrong, they don’t try and argue about it. I love how the departing contestant each week is given an enormous bear hug from Mel and Sue, the presenters, as well as all the other contestants.

And season 3, oh season 3. Cathryn, who is all of us wanting our baking to turn out well and being nervous. Victoria, who knows what a ‘filip’ is and wears padded vests and I suspect has a couple of dogs and a family tree that goes back to Cromwell, or at least her name on a plaque at a fancy girl’s school. And James, the student from the Shetlands in his array of devastating fair-isle jumpers, who is every hipster crafting girl’s dreamboat. Note, I don’t have a crush on him, though I do wish I had some of his recipes and that I could find out whether he bought the fair-isle jumpers or had them made for him by his Nan. I hope it’s the latter.

There’s actually an impressive number of guys in this season, and I think it’s great seeing men embracing something so ‘domestic’ as baking. I am deliberately not looking up who won Season 3, because that would ruin the fun.

I love the gentle innuendo, “we need to come up with something naughty to say about this week’s challenges. It’s tarts…nope, can’t think of anything.” And my personal favourite, of course, “we all know what makes a great cocktail party: keys in a bowl!”.

And I love all the inspiration it gives me to bake myself- the flavour combinations that make me hungry, the tips and comments from Mary and Paul that help you know what good baking looks like…

All I can say is, I love this show and I actually made choux pastry from scratch last night and turned it into profiteroles, and it’s because I’ve been watching this show.

Gratituesday

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been hell-for-leather getting ready to run a LARP, and I have to admit, it’s triggered my anxiety. But I’ve learned something very helpful, at least for me. Listing off the things I’m grateful for in my head actually helps reduce my feelings of anxiety. I did it a lot on Saturday. I’m so grateful to have found a technique that works, and also grateful to the Best Beloved for taking good care of me.

Gratitude, people. It’s good for you.

Commuting 

I know, I know, what kind of a crazy person would be grateful to be commuting? The kind of crazy person who has a big-ass crochet project to finish, that’s who. That half an hour or so in the morning and the evening is a great time to fill with crafting. Not only because I’m slowly chipping away at the project- actually, not so slowly when I consider how much it’s grown- but also because it encourages conversations. I’ve met other crafters on the train, or people who’ve wanted to ask about the yarn or the process. My answer is always the same when they express admiration that someone can do that- “it’s easier than it looks.”

Of course, it helps that I have the pattern mostly memorised and I’m not knitting lace. I suspect if I was trying to work on a shawl, as I plan to, my response (in my head) would be “please be quiet, I’m counting”.

Rainbows

One of my favourite things about Auckland weather (yes, I have some) is how often there are rainbows visible here. To me, they always seem like a promise of good things.

Testing out takeaway places

Of which there are many near our new house, so we have quite a few to try. For science, you know. I’m grateful to have so many places near my home that will bring me (or serve me) hot delicious food on the nights where everyone is too knackered to cook (like Sunday night).

Getting out in the sunshine

Yes, in the middle of winter. Sunday was the third Moonbright game, which involved hanging out in Auckland domain. I was shattered from the night before, but being outside and soaking up some warmth and making more vitamin D did me the power of good.

Startitis

More about this on the blog later in the week, but a friend and I are doing a “what the hell were we thinking knitting an entire jumper on tiny needles in fingering weight yarn” knit-a-long, mostly to motivate each other to finish them. I’m excited!

The little things

Hugs, sleep, electric blankets, hot baths, tea, and all the other things that keep you warm in winter!

Monsterful Monday- brought to you by the letter R

Recommendations

I decided to get my ears pierced for my birthday this year. Strangely, with three tattoos (and counting), I’ve still never gotten any piercings so this was my first time. I therefore asked a friend of mine who has MANY holes punched in her where she gets them done, and she pointed me at Streetwise in Newmarket. They were brilliant. I was lucky enough to get Shane Johnston, a Master Piercer who’s been doing piercings for 20 years. He told me what they were doing at each step, explained what everything was for, spent a while fussing to get the position of each pierce just right to look symmetrical (as someone who is weird about symmetry, I really appreciated that).

It’s two counts of gratitude, really- one to the friend who recommended Streetwise, and one to Streetwise themselves for being so good. If you’re in Auckland and want to get a hole punched in you (well, one that involves jewellery), then hit them up.

Relaxation

Next weekend is going to be hectic as, so I was very grateful not to have too much to do this weekend beyond mainline Project Runway All Stars (I don’t love it as much as the original, but it’s still sewing crack), unpack more boxes, and knit. And also ask stupid questions while my Best Beloved plays Minecraft. Always fun.

(T) Rex

Lets face it, the T-Rex is the real hero of Jurassic World. We all know it. Even the film-makers know it. I watched it with some friends at the weekend, and it was everything you would hope from a big silly movie with dinosaurs. Including hero shots of the dinosaurs. Also, whoever thought you’d come out of a movie thinking “those velociraptors were adorable”? Certainly not me. And yet.

RuPaul (and Priscilla)

Meet RuPaul and Priscilla, the metal flamingoes who arrived as a gift from a bunch of friends for the housewarming at the magic house. The Best Beloved hid them outside the door, rang the doorbell and legged it around the back of the house while everyone else watched for my reaction. I love them, aren’t they fabulous?

rupaul

 

I’m so grateful to the friends who got together to organise buying them, hiding them (in the garden shed no less) and surprising me with them.

And the Rest

Snuggling, living with the Best Beloved (so far so good), crafting on the train- and fellow crafters on the train, supportive friends, tea, marmalade, Parks and Recreation, co-writers and GMs, Carl’s Jr (the buttermilk ranch chicken burger is so gooooood), working out a quicker route to work, and sleep. Oh, so much sleep.

Gratituesday: My life in boxes, again

Well, it’s almost all in boxes ahead of the move at the weekend. This is somewhere between my 23rd and 28th move (depending on which ones I count). The fact I’ve actually lost count is rather scary. Such nomad, much moving. Hopefully this will be the last one for a long time.

Mad Max: Fury Road

I took a break from packing (and made sure one of my flatmates-to-be did too) to go see this at the weekend. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to see it, and then I read about how it’s got the MRAs up in arms and I *had* to go. Holy hell, I was NOT disappointed. Aside from anything else, it was a damn good movie. Fast-paced, exciting, well-realised characters. And most of all, it passes the Bechdel test repeatedly, and has well-rounded female characters who are actually agents in their own survival. They don’t need Max to save them, they fight for their own liberation, and he fights alongside them- and in fact, they rescue him too. You never get the sense that women, of any age, are safe because of their gender- just like the brilliant ‘Attack the Block’, in which you never get the idea that the young characters are safe because of their youth. Anyway, the brilliant Laurie Penny expresses what’s great about this movie for women much better than I could, so I encourage you to read what she has to say- and also to go see this movie. It deserves to be a huge success. And some more about the feminism in the movie at the Mary Sue.

I’m thankful for the break, thankful that films like this are being made and being successful and also for the opportunity it gave me to have a discussion with my Mum about representation of women in the media. She didn’t know about the Bechdel test- she does now.

Eureka

Deputy Andy and Sarah the house are my OTP. Who knew you could get so emotionally invested in the relationship between an android and an artificially intelligent house? Not me. I’m thankful the Best Beloved was there to give me cuddles.

Pinterest and Offbeat Home

Because I’m moving house, to a place where I can actually make changes to stuff if I want to. And that means I’ve been looking for ideas. Bring on the DIY!

Auckland Library

Because free interiors magazines, for the same reason as the last one.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour

I was lucky enough to see the live show when it came to Auckland last week. ‘Beyond Belief’ is my favourite, because how can you not love Frank and Sadie Doyle? I’m sad the show is finishing up (though I totally understand why, after 10 years, the people behind it are ready for a change).

The Little Things

My Kindle, knitting, marmite, flanelette sheets, tea, snuggles, Miyazaki inspiration, $5 vegan lunches (om nom nom), packing tape, Villainess perfumes.

What about you? What are you thankful for this week? Let me know in the comments!

 

Gratituesday: Pack All The Things

Has been what I’ve been doing, mostly. That and sorting out all the things for the new place. It’s a people roundup this week for gratitude!

SophNickIel, and W

They have bestowed upon myself and the Best Beloved the gift of BOXES. So many boxes. Maybe even enough for my stuff.

What can I say, it’s been a week of “dude! I SO forgot where this was!”.

The Jackson 2

Have offered help for moving day, which is awesome. And their daughter had the best idea for the unused-in-6-years spa pool in the Rumpus room… BALL PIT.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s a joke and I wouldn’t actually fill a spa pool with plastic balls. You would be mistaken.

My flatmates

Who are lovely, and have been such great people to live with for my first 8 months in Auckland. Who gave me Geoffery Wildington Peabody III, who is very excited about her new home. And who recommend websites like Find the Invisible Cow.

The Best Beloved’s parents

Have gamely offered to store a sofa until moving day (now if I can just get the seller to get back to me), and have loaned their van for picking up furniture, and generally been lovely.

The Best Beloved

I can’t wait to be living with him. All the snuggles.

Monsterful Monday: Gratefully brought to you by the letter ‘B’

Brooches!

If you follow my Instagram you’ll know I’ve started taking mostly-daily outfit photos. It’s made me a lot more conscious of what I wear, and that’s led to me wearing jewellery a lot more often than I used to. A lot of that is brooches- I have so much fun basing outfits off them, or working out which one will go best. Yes, it’s shallow. But it makes me feel good about how I look which in turn is a boost for my self-esteem. Definitely something to be grateful for.

Also, if you like fun and whimsical costume jewellery, I can’t recommend Vintage Pip highly enough.

Boxes!

With the big move, I’m packing again, as is the Best Beloved. I’m so thankful to the multiple friends who offered boxes when I put out the call- it’s making life a LOT easier. Now if I can just work out how to get the big wooden box on wheels I’m giving away out of my room…

Butterick!

A package of (awesome) birthday gifts from Mum and Dad arrived last week, including Butterick Retro 4790. It’s known as a ‘walk-away’ dress and meant to be quite a quick make. Having read some reviews online I know that the pattern as-is needs alterations to make it really shine, and thankfully Edelweiss Patterns have good detailed instructions on how to achieve it, including a four-week sew along.  The only problem? There’s no way I can start a new sewing project before I move house. That would be insane. *eyes fabric stash*. Utterly insane… Also I need to pick out just the right combination of fabrics, because the examples I’ve seen online made of two different complimentary (or fabulously contrasting) fabrics are badass.

Buzzfeed!

I am getting so many ideas for the new house from their DIY section. My Pinterest has exploded as a result. This is a good thing, especially the moving and storage ideas.

Badass rock n roll

OMG ALICE COOPER. Motley Crue may have been a disappointment on Saturday night when the Best Beloved and I plus another friend went to their gig at Vector Arena, but Alice Cooper, who was their support act, was everything I hoped he would be- and I’m always grateful when that happens. At 67, he’s still absolutely killing it live, and I really hope he’ll come back to NZ as a headline act because I would be all about tickets to that. Favourite moment was when he walked on stage in a bloodied lab coat for ‘Feed My Frankenstein’- his pose and expression was the epitome of “That’s RIGHT, it’s me, and this is going to be awesome”.  And huge props to him for a) having a female guitarist in his lineup and b) not actually commenting on her gender, or her looks, or anything like that, just letting her be fantastic and also on equal footing with the men.

The little things:

Oxytocin, snuggling, successful gift-giving, fun presents, Offbeat Home, things with strawberries on them, creme brulee ice cream at midnight, having milk in the office (try not having any for your tea when you’re British), yummy Italian food (Covo on Fort Street in Auckland), the sense of accomplishment that follows getting something packed and ready to go, late-autumn sunshine, helpful friends, and the prospect of EUROVISION.

Monsterful Monday: 36 for 36

It’s been forever, I know! I’m sorry for being so lax. To make up for it, and because today is my birthday (and thinking about everything you’re grateful for on your birthday is a good thing), I present to you 36 things I’m grateful for, because I turned 36 today.

36: Hot tea: I almost never go a day without a cup of tea (maybe because I’m English) and as long as there’s no sugar in it (blergh), I never don’t feel grateful for it.

35: My hairdresser- because they get excited about my hair, and give me tea (see above) as well as an awesome head massage, and a cupcake.

34: Gchat- without which I wouldn’t be able to keep in touch with friends in other parts of the world/country so easily.

33: Nice flatmates- past, present and future.

32: Red lipstick- especially the ones that are designed not to go anywhere. Instantly makes me look more put together, and more retro.

31: Etsy- so many beautiful things. So dangerous for my bank account. So good for supporting artists and crafters.

30: My Kindle- because thanks to downloading all the things, as long as I keep it charged I am never in the situation of having more travel time than book.

29: Knitting- calming and oh-so-satisfying to make something stitch by stitch.

28: Sewing- because I love being able to make my own clothes (and things for other people).

27: Quilting- because quilting fabrics OMG. And the hand-quilting bit is also therapeutic.

26: Crochet- so many pretty blankets and toys to make.

25: Project Runway- not sorry.

24: Moving to Auckland- it was the right time, and I’m happy here.

23: Snuggles- because they are the best.

22: Costume jewellery- the only stuff I really wear. I’m enjoying growing my collection and planning outfits around it.

21: Irregular Choice shoes. Because who doesn’t want shoes with unicorns for heels? I ask you.

20: Pinterest- so many craft ideas. So little time.

19: The library- see 20.

18: Chip shop chips with good mayonnaise- food of the Gods.

17: Geoffery Wildington Peabody III

16: The Bloggess- who makes me laugh.

15: Bad Jelly– a recent discovery. When I got to the banana candle, I nearly died.

14: Re-connecting with my younger brother. We weren’t close growing up, but we’re starting to get closer and I’m so profoundly grateful for that.

13: My tattoos: Grateful for how gorgeous they look, even unfinished. And grateful for the wonderful artists who are creating them.

12: Anna, who I talk to all the time and who enables my ideas and is a great cheerleader.

11: Prema and Walter: such kind and big-hearted, and fun people.

10: Offbeat Bride/Offbeat Home & Life- Time to come clean, I totally read Offbeat Bride all the time because I love reading about all the crazy, beautiful weddings. This one is a favourite. And their sister site Offbeat Home & Life is full of inspiration and wonderful ideas.

9: Buses and trains (and lifts from the Best Beloved)- being as I don’t drive yet, I’m always grateful for being able to go places.

8: Cheryl, who was my proxy on Saturday…and this happened:

imagejpeg_2Which brings me to 7: My lovely new house!

6: Trade Me: Source of good second-hand furniture extraordinaire.

5: Having a job: Always grateful for this, knowing what it’s like to be unemployed, but especially now.

4: Decluttering- makes things SO much easier.

3: My parents- without whom numbers 8 and 7 would not have happened.

2: My Best Beloved- always, without reservation. He’s the best.

1: Being alive and kicking and able to make lists like this!

 

 

Monsterful Monday: It’s business time

B School

I’ve been a bit all-business the past couple of weeks, and it’s all because of Marie Forleo. I’ve taken the plunge and am currently about to hit module 3 of her B School programme.

There’s a mantra in the school- ‘B School doesn’t work unless you do’. Some of it’s a bit overwhelming, and of course it’s prodding at my self-doubt buttons, but I’ve connected with some great, supportive women and I’m learning so much. I’m already working on the first products for the new business, and I’ve gotten some great advice from some very inspiring women. So it’s a challenge, but there’s so much to be grateful for.

Sewing

Partly because of B School, and partly because of 15 in 2015, I’ve been getting my sew on. Not as much as I could have- naps. Naps are good. But I’m making progress and that always makes me feel happy. I’m looking forward to the Easter weekend again this year. Last year it was because my Best Beloved was coming down for a visit. This year it’s because of the extra time together and of course time to sew.

Of course, I’d need to decide what to make, but still. Sewing time!

The little things

This flamingo purse, the Best Beloved, snuggles, terrible movies, introverting, connecting with lovely people, salt and vinegar almonds, tea, fellow B-schoolers in Auckland.

How about you?

Monsterful Monday: Aces high

Birthday happiness

Not mine, but my Best Beloved’s. He loves Lego, and he loves Star Wars, and I knew just how much he would love to have the Lego Millennium Falcon- the BIG one. So for his birthday I got in touch with a bunch of our friends and hey presto, we clubbed together and got him one. It was so wonderful to see how happy he was, getting it and then making it. Of course now he has to rearrange his shelves so he can display it but still- I’m so grateful that our friends were willing to go in on it, and that it made him as happy as I hoped it would.

Also, Lego Chewie is adorable.

Pirates and Cowboys

This weekend just gone I attended the Pirates and Cowboys LARP weekend, out on the Awhitu peninsula. I had a great time playing two silly and one serious and gritty game, in shopped-in-my-wardrobe costumes (though I’m very grateful to my friend Anna for loaning me a poufy red pirate shirt for one of my costumes, it just made the outfit!), with a bunch of great people. I was exhausted by the end of it, but I had a great time- and I was very grateful to be at a gaming weekend that wasn’t to do with the current big campaign over here.

Even the weather was on our side- it was a clear, warm night for the first silly game, glorious sunshine for the second, and then wind and blasts of rain interspersed with hot and dry for the gritty Western. It’s nice when Nature gives you a hand with the atmosphere.

B School

It starts today. Or sort of. It starts today in America, which because of the time difference means it starts early tomorrow for me. I’m so excited to get going on learning more about online business and get my hustle on, and thankful for having the funds to do it. I’m also grateful for the lovely community of students, it’s great to be going through it with such a supportive and friendly bunch.

The Little Things

Toast, tea, free Burger Rings, scheduling, the existence of this ridonkulous fabric which I totally plan on buying at least 2m of to make a skirt, being called a majestic unicorn by Betty Le Bonbon, new ideas, comfy beds to sleep in, good showers, getting back into some sort of running routine, decluttering, re-reading awesome books, and of course snuggles and kisses with the Best Beloved.

How about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Monsterful Monday: #choosemust, bicycle bears and a birthday

Webstock

Er. Ma. Gerd. Webstock 2015 was everything I hoped and much more. They put up the talks from each year for free online after the convention, and when they do that for 2015 you can be sure I’ll link y’all to Elle Luna‘s inspiring and beautiful talk on ‘The Crossroads of Should and Must’. The talk was born from an article she wrote on the subject, which she has since turned into a book (which I have pre-ordered, something I almost never do, because I’m so excited to read it).

I got to meet her at the after party (after 2 days of keeping an eye out for her and failing) and she was super-lovely and I went all dorky but she didn’t seem to mind.

Other highlights included Matt Patterson talking about customer service, Des Traynor- “using software is the new smoking a cigarette, the minute we go anywhere we’re taking a drag” (so true), Harper Reed and his amazing suit, Shelley Bernstein- who made me really want to go see the Brooklyn Museum if and when I go to New York (and hopefully don’t get ill with a temperature this time), Janet Crawford on gender inequality, Frank Chimero (building a site against the intentions of the internet leads to a Bicycle Bear website- “yeah, OK, the bear can ride a bicycle, and that’s kind of cool, but also cruel- just let the bear do bear stuff, man!”) There were some very interesting points raised about technology making decisions for us, about our relationship to the internet, about privacy, about the power and danger of the web. Every talk was fascinating and I’ll be saving up to make sure I can go next year.

My rockstar moment of the weekend was being retweeted by Cory Doctorow. Who also told a friend of mine he liked his cape.

Someone told one of my colleagues that they wanted to lick my Molly Crabapple tattoo, which was a lot weird. Someone else told me that the same tattoo reminded them of Delirium of the Endless, which was not weird at all and very cool. That same person also said I was “looking very punk rock- a lot more punk rock than when you left Wellington”.

Outside of the talks, the food was delicious, the icecream dangerously yum, the drinks free-flowing, and seeing/meeting other web folks was great. And I’m so grateful that this event that I’ve been looking forward to for ages was as good as I hoped it would be.

The Pride Parade

The Best Beloved and I hit Ponsonby Road on Saturday night to enjoy the Auckland Pride Parade, which was colourful and fabulous and I swear there was a guy dressed up as a heavily-bedazzled Hydra soldier. Seriously, there was a silver octopus on his hat. There were drag queens on swings, actual flames, some glitter (there could have been more glitter) fantastic costumes, and we got to wave enthusiastically at friends in the parade. Also I got to wear my flamingo dress (which is finished- photos and a blog post coming soon) and it wasn’t out of place.

Birthday fun

It was the Best Beloved’s birthday at the weekend, and I’m grateful for any excuse to spoil him. We spent part of it at a LARP, where I was cast as the Big Bad- it’s my first time playing the iconic villain of a campaign game, I’m looking forward to seeing how it progresses (though we all know how it’ll most likely end- dramatic death scene ftw!). The rest was spent doing very little except snuggling, reading, and eating tasty food. All good ways to spend a day, and all things to be thankful for.

The little things:

Starting to go through the links and book suggestions from Webstock, flights going smoothly, my year planner, useful convention swag, hot chips, butter chicken, butter naan, mental white space, photobooth photos, knitting, being with a man who says “go for it” when I want to drink the sauce from my starter at a restaurant, working out how to style outfits, bright ideas, supportive friends, not having to get up quite so early in the morning (at least sometimes).

How about you? What are you grateful for this week? Let me know in the comments.