Category Archives: journal

21 for 2021: week 7

Week 7/2021: week of 15 February 2021

21 for 2021 updateThis was my first “normal” week for about a month. “Normal” as in school was back and I was at work all week. None of those annoying public holidays to muck up my routine. Ha.

My first thing this week is the Change Journal, where I’ve been marking off two habits in chapter 7 since January —the pre-work routine (thing 20), which I have now completed for 32/66 days, and my yoga stretches, which I have done every day since 10 January. I’ve been thinking I need to make a start on the other chapters in the book or I won’t make my way through the book by the end of the year.

This week, I decided to start with chapter 2, Thanks, which asks you to note down something you’re grateful for every day for a week. I actually already do this. Every morning I note down three things I’m grateful for, and every evening I write down something I’ve been grateful for during the day in my Some Lines A Day journal. But I don’t really think about them and what they mean to me so sometimes it feels more like a chore than a meaningful practice. The Change Journal takes this a step further and asks you to write down how the thing (or the person) you’re grateful for enriches your life and what your life your life would be like without it (or them). So it goes a bit deeper.

I did that every day this week and concluded that it’s a good practice to maintain as it makes my current practice more meaningful, so I’ve added my version of this into my daily gratitude journalling.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.

This week, I wanted to try Alice’s Sesame Cucumber Whack Salad (page 384), but I didn’t know what to have with it. I thought some fish might be a good accompaniment, and there was a fish recipe in the lemongrass section of the book, Lemongrass Fish Pops with Green Mango Salad (page 110). Obviously, it has a salad with it, which includes ingredients I have never heard of and/or don’t like and/or have never cooked with, including pomelo, green mango and banana shallots.

I figured I could make the fish dish (lemongrass check) and have it with the cucumber salad (cucumber check) instead of the salad that was supposed to go with it. Slabs had other ideas. He convinced me to at least try the green mango salad (I HATE mango!), and proceeded to purchase a mango (not green), a ruby grapefruit (not a pomelo but apparently close to it) and, well, normal shallots because what in hell are banana shallots anyway?

So I ended up making the fish pops (which is mashed fish with some curry paste and spices grilled on skewers of lemongrass), with the (not-)green mango salad and the cucumber salad. It was a lot of work, and a lot of food, and I didn’t need the cucumber salad in the end.

Mashed fish squooshed onto lemongrass skewers

My verdict: This is the first recipe from the book I haven’t liked. I liked the idea of it but I didn’t really like the way the fish turned out and I didn’t like the salad. I suppose that’s to be expected if you don’t like mango or citrus. Slabs, on the other hand, said he really enjoyed it so it wasn’t a complete fail.

The final dish

The cucumber salad was really yum though, and I’ll be doing that one again, maybe as an accompaniment to a curry or, as Alice suggests, with some soba noodles and some steamed fish, so the cook wasn’t a complete wipeout.

Cucumber salad

In a rather more epic fail, I decided to make the Ultimate Cheesy Garlic Bread Bake on page 38 on Sunday night, without having noticed that the recipe notes say “Begin this recipe one day ahead”. So Kramstable and I did not have garlic bread on Sunday.

If I ever write a cookbook (ha), I am going to make sure that in the header of every recipe that requires advance preparation is a large clock symbol.

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. I finished the last collage for 2020, printed it and stuck it in the book. That is now complete.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I did this on Sunday.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I normally go to see my mum on Thursdays but this week she had some personal issues that meant it wasn’t possible to talk to her about her story. I got her to identify herself in some photos and did a bit of internet research into some of her family members.
  • Thing 11: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I don’t have a specific time set aside for this (because schedules, who needs them), but I spent a couple of hours on Tuesday working through the third lesson, and I started the fourth lesson on the weekend.
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. I did the first lesson of Module 3 and learned about Fishbone diagrams

21 for 2021 summary for week 7

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 1 (1)
  • Things I progressed: 8 (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (6, 13, 18)
  • Things not started: 9 (3, 7, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 19, 21)

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s one of my favourite posts from 7 March 2011. It’s actually the prequel to the flashback post I posted last week and the one I meant to post last week. Here is the correct link to “Pushing Papers (AKA on art and writing part 1)“.

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I’ve been reading the book Hollow Places: An Unusual History of Land and Legend by Christopher Hadley, which is about the author’s attempt to track down the story behind a legendary dragon slayer and the belief that there had been a dragon lair underneath an old yew tree in England. In the book, he refers to the practice of “grangerising”, which is when you take a book apart and rebind it with photos and pictures from elsewhere, including from other books, resulting in a much bigger book, or even additional volumes of the book. In one case, Christopher refers to a grangerised Bible, which ended up being 60 volumes. I kind of love the idea of making a book your own like this but, on the other hand, am horrified that people would destroy other books in order to do this.

The practice was made popular by (and named after) fans of the late-18th century print collector and author, James Granger, who, according to Christopher, didn’t actually engage in the practice himself. But the many “grangerites” did it to enough copies of his Biographical History, that I imagine the name stuck. One copy was grangerised to expand the original three volumes into 36.

And I think I don’t have enough book cases!

What did I do for the Earth this week?

I’ve been reading doom and gloom stories, feeling like nothing I do will make a difference and falling further into a “nothing will stop this” mindset, which isn’t helpful and isn’t achieving anything.

What I’m reading this week

  • Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt & Antonia Dodge
  • Burning Out by Katherine May
  • Hollow Places: An Unusual History of Land and Legend by Christopher Hadley

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 4
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

The Change Journal

I’m not sure where I first heard about the Change Journal. Probably on one of the many stationery store social media feeds that I follow. 

It’s a journal by LEUCHTTURM1917 that was originally produced in German, with an English edition being released in 2019. 

Designed by Tim Jaudszims, it’s a guided journal that gives you 24 ideas to try out to see if they help you improve your productivity and organisation. Some of the ideas include gratitude, digital detox, single-tasking, reading, and decluttering.

Testing out ideas is one of my favourite things, as you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, and I’m a sucker for gorgeous stationery, so finding a beautiful notebook whose sole purpose is to let you experiment with new things is my idea of heaven! I was never not going to get a copy. 

Change Journal, Berry edition

In the introduction, Tim says:

“When you’re incredibly lazy and yet as full of ideas as I am, at some point you start searching for tricks to make your life a little easier. Like how to get more done in the same amount of time. No, hold on! How to get even more things done in less time! A fine idea but no matter how hard I tried I failed at it.”

Tim Jaudszims, Change Journal Founder

Hmmm, sound familiar? 

Tim observes that he used to try and keep journals in beautiful notebooks, like the LEUCHTTURM1917 journals, but he always lost the motivation after the first few pages. And his handwriting kind of wrecked the beauty of these fine books. I can totally relate. He decided to design his own journal that allows you to try out 24 different ideas for a week at a time (I refuse to call them “hacks”), with a brief explanation of the technique and then a week’s worth of daily templates to record your experiences.

Each chapter has a short introduction to the idea

Each chapter also has a review page where you can go over what you learned during the week and decide if you want to continue using the idea or if it didn’t work for you. The website has downloadable templates you can print if you want to keep doing it. 

A daily tracking spread, which includes tracking your water intake

This page gives you an idea of how it works. 

The weekly review page

You can work through the chapters in any order you want. The instructions say to flick through the journal and start with the chapter that looks the most interesting or that appears easiest to you. The only rule that Tim wants you to follow is that once you start a chapter, you need to stick with it for the whole week. He says using the journal should only take a few minutes a day so even if you hate the idea, it shouldn’t be too much of a chore to do the work each day and then, after the week, you never have to do it again. 
Basically, you just have to start. 

So after buying the book about six months ago and sitting it on the shelf, occasionally getting it out to flick through it and thinking how beautiful it was, I think that if ever there was a good time, it’s now. A new year, a new list of 21 things to do this year and an empty book, with 24 weeks worth of mini-challenges to do. If I start now, I’ll be finished by the end of June. Actually, there’s really only 23 challenges I need to do, as the first one is to drink more water. This is something I have already made a priority, and it doesn’t actually have its own template in the journal. Rather, each of the other 23 challenges has space to record your daily water intake, so I’m going to continue to aim for around 2.5 litres a day of actual water and record that in this book.

There’s a couple of others that I don’t think are going to work for me as weekly challenges, so I’m going to find different ways to do them as I get to them. The first one is the chapter called “clarity”, which sort of relates to the work I’ve been doing with the Unravel Your Year workbook and includes stuff that I might do over the course of a week, a month or even a year . . . or perhaps just one day. I started filling out this chapter as I was working on Unravel Your Year 2021, so this one is a work in progress rather than a weekly challenge. 

I’ve set up a page to track my progress with this journal. I think I need to pick up my German language studies again now so I can read the Change Journal’s Instagram posts! 

2020 in review

Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year 2021 workbook asks you to describe the year just gone by in three words. It’s left open to you how you interpret this: you could, I imagine, choose three words that describe the year from a global perspective, from a personal perspective or anywhere in between. There’s one word I’ve heard more often than I care to remember that has been used to describe 2020 that I never want to hear again and I have no intention of using it. It starts with unp . . . .

And that is the last I will say about that word.

I’ve chosen three words to describe the year from my own isolated perspective from the bottom of an island at the bottom of the world. They are:

  • Unexpected
  • Inconsistent
  • Introspective

Unexpected because I didn’t in my wildest dreams imagine that the world would be thrust into a pandemic that shut everything down, took so many lives, and shook everything up, leaving people jobless and causing so much worldwide despair, uncertainty and confusion. On a personal note, I didn’t expect the issues I was having in my workplace with noise to be (temporarily) resolved by having to work from home. There were other unexpected things too, not all good, and not all for this blog.

Inconsistent because, while I made a lot of progress in some areas I wanted to work on and I achieved a lot, I didn’t do as much as I’d hoped in other areas. I completed my uni course, and I had some good results at work but, there were other areas I was less successful in developing (no judgement here, just stating a fact) and they continue to haunt me. A lot of that is connected to me not being able to stop procrastinating and giving into distractions. And not getting into an exercise routine that works for me.

I struggled to find a third word but I chose Introspective because I started to work on some long standing personal issues in my head that are preventing me from being the person I want to be. It was hard work but rewarding, and I think I am starting to discover small chinks in the façade I’m trying to break down.

I would also add interesting to the mix . . .

I started the year with beautiful sunny Sunday morning photo expeditions, a couple of times with a good friend and other days by myself. It seems like so long ago now . . .

Sunday morning explorations with my camera

A major focus of my year was my uni program, of which I had three units to complete. The first one was intense, involving a lot of self examination and analysis, which left me feeling drained but also with some very clear ideas of what areas of my life I specifically needed to work on. I finished the course in October and received my qualification in December and am very glad that’s over but also grateful for the opportunity to have done it and learned so much.

I managed to keep reasonably healthy in 2020, not least because I have now gone for nine months without drinking alcohol and, as a formerly very regular moderate drinker, I’m particularly proud of my efforts to do this. I read the book The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, and it totally changed the way I looked at alcohol. I’m not saying I will never drink again but for now I’m very comfortable with my decision not to.

This book changed my life

I had a potential issue with my eyesight that I had to have checked out a couple of times during the year but it all seems to be okay for now and the professionals are monitoring it. I got a hearing test at the start of the year, which revealed I have a low noise tolerance, which makes sense of all the issues I’ve been having at work and in other situations. I’m not sure what we do about this but a retest later in the year showed that my sensitivity had increased and I still don’t really know how to manage it. I kept up with my dental checks and my physio visits to resolve long-standing neck, back and posture issues.

I’m grateful there was never a time during the lockdown that I wasn’t able to go out on my regular morning walks. That would have made it a lot more unbearable.

Morning beach walks, muwinina Country

I started riding my bike to work, which became a whole lot easier when everyone had to stay home because of the pandemic and, as I said at the time, while I didn’t love riding in the traffic, I didn’t necessarily want the roads to be clear because no one was allowed outside. I stopped doing it as much (at all) as the weather got colder, the buses stopped charging fares and, eventually, when I was working from home full-time. It’s something I will start to pick up again when I go back to work after the holidays.

Bike riding to work

Another habit that I actually stuck with was reading, and there were a couple of things that made this possible. First, my goal was to develop the habit, rather than to set a number of books I wanted to read, which the pressure to read a certain amount off and allowed me to just focus on doing it. Second, keeping my no alcohol month going the whole of the year led to me going to bed earlier, which meant I could read in bed before I went to sleep. As of today, I have finished 34 books, which is 13 more than in 2019 when I set myself a target of only 12 books to read and never really stuck with it after I’d finished the 12th book.

The most powerful book I read in 2020, Truganini by Cassandra Pybus

I didn’t do as much work on learning Photoshop as I had intended at the start of the year when I signed up for a bunch of courses. Even though my uni work took up a lot of time, I still had a lot of free time that I could have done this work and I’m not sure what was stopping me. It’s not like I have to do the courses all at once or that there’s a time limit. I can do them in my own time, and maybe that’s the problem. I’ve worked well to deadlines where there is a clear assignment to complete but with these courses there are no assignments, just instruction and it’s up to you to play around with what you’re shown and see what you come up with. This is one of the areas I’m disappointed that I didn’t achieve very much in, and I want to do more in 2021.

I completed the major photography project I wanted to do this year, which was to spend 50 days making a photo a day with my 50mm lens. I’m really pleased with that project and it’s made me appreciate and understand that lens a lot better. I certainly won’t be keeping that one stashed in the bag again!

50mm photo of the Aurora Australis, the day before she left Hobart for the finial time

I had a couple of exciting moments in my photography in 2020 too. In January, one of my photos was published in Australian Photography magazine.

My first photo published in a national publication

I was equally chuffed when the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court asked if the court could use one of my photos of the court in their Christmas cards this year.

Supreme Court 2019

And just before Christmas, I found out that one of the photos I had taken of the Hobart Magistrates Court at the Open House Hobart weekend had been chosen as a winner of their photo competition, which was a lovely way to end the year. I’ve really enjoyed my photography this year.

Hobart Magistrates Court 2020

I was lucky to be able to get away for a couple of short breaks during the year. We had a trip to Bridport in the July school holidays. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and couldn’t remember it at all, so it was great to be able to explore a part of Tasmania I wasn’t familiar with.

Old pier at Bridport on pyemmairrener Country

In October we had a night at Port Arthur, a place I am always somewhat reluctant to visit because of the many sad layers of history held by the area. And then, as a reward for finishing my uni course, I took myself off to Launceston for a photography retreat and I had a wonderful time photographing some of my favourite buildings and walking all day.

Tessellated Pavement near Eaglehawk Neck on paredareme Country

Kramstable adapted really well to online school and I was impressed with his commitment to his work, his ability to self-direct and to manage his workload. The schools did a huge amount of work to ensure that kids could continue learning during the lockdown and I have nothing but admiration for them for what they achieved. Thank you seems like such a lame things to say to convey how grateful I am for what they did. It has been wonderful watching Kramstable learn and grow this year, and for it to start to become more obvious what his strengths are and where his passions lie. The high point of his film work was his nomination as a finalist in one of the categories of this year’s My State Film Festival. It’s also exciting to watch his work and interests develop outside of school. Seeing his dedication sometimes makes me wonder how my life might have been different if I’d had such a passion as a teenager and had been supported to pursue it in the same way I hope I’m supporting him.

Sadly, Bethany the Australorp chicken and Rex the rabbit died earlier in the year. Two new chickens joined the flock in November, Dorothy and Shirley, who are black copper Marans and are very cute. After a month in a cage in the chook yard, they are now finding their feet with the big girls, some of whom are none too pleased to have them there.

The new chickens

Aside from the working from home, covid didn’t have a massive impact on my life. I don’t like going out much, I detest shopping, I don’t play or attend sport and I don’t enjoy being around large gatherings of people. I spend a lot of time at home anyway, and I love it. So I pretty much did what I always did, it’s just that I didn’t have a choice any more. Regular Friday night dinners at the bowls club were replaced with trying out various takeaway and home delivery options from local restaurants and pubs. I actually reversed my no caffeine strategy and started getting takeaway coffees from my local cafe (I am sorry for the plastic, but they weren’t allowed to use keep cups). I’m not sure why. One day I felt like a coffee and it was a valid reason to get out of the house and one day tuned into a couple of times a week, turned into every day. And when they were allowed to reopen, it because my go-to place to write. And a place to work when I needed a change of scenery.

Monthly review at the coffee shop

I realise that I am incredibly lucky that this was my experience when so many others suffered greatly and many continue to do so. I am so grateful for having the job I have and that the Tasmanian Government did what it needed to do to keep our state safe. I haven’t stopped being grateful for being in the position that I’m in this year.

It was, indeed, an unexpected year.

A weed is just a plant growing in a place someone doesn’t want it to grow in

Unravel Your Year asks you to consider what the gifts of 2020 were. I know for many, this would be difficult. I offer the following.

2020 brought me the gift of afternoon walks. Instead of being at work all afternoon, packing up and catching the bus home, I packed up my home office and went for a walk every day. I watched the afternoon light dance on trees, rocks, water and the opposite shore, and I made photos of what I saw. I would never have been able to do this if I hadn’t been working at home.

2020 brought me intense self reflection and the deep inner work that I need to do to start to heal myself.

2020 brought me a confidence boost that tells me maybe I do have an artistic side.

2020 brought me a brain that is no longer befuddled by alcohol, and the clarity and health benefits that go along with this.

2020 brought me respite from a work environment that was becoming increasingly stressful and difficult for me to cope with. My stress and anxiety levels are lower than they have been for a long time as a result.

A friend recently posted that we all need a little more yellow in our lives. I agree. You can never have too much yellow!

Goodbye, 2020.

You were not the year I expected you to be. I know the challenges you have presented, both on a global level and to me personally, are not going to disappear when the clock ticks over to 2021. In reality, the date on the calendar is just an arbitrary thing anyway. The sun is going to come up tomorrow, covid is still going to be here and I’m going to have the same struggles I have today. The climate emergency hasn’t gone away and there’s a lot of work to do. However, the end of the year is a good time to have a bit of a reset, to re-examine my priorities and goals, and make sure the course I’m on is still the one I need to be on.

Thank you, 2020, for the gifts and the opportunities you have offered me. I ticked 18 things off my 20 for 2020 list. I haven’t made the most of everything, but I think I’ve made some progress and I have learned a lot. I intend to continue to learn in 2021.

One thing I know, 2020, is that I won’t forget you in a hurry.

19 for 2019: week 28 update

Week of 8 July

No-buy July, which isn’t one of my 19 things but is a 30-day challenge I want to do, lasted exactly nine days, and on the tenth day, I forgot I wasn’t supposed to be buying stuff and ordered something online. As soon as I hit “pay now” in Paypal I knew I’d stuffed up. I tried to rationalise it by telling myself it wasn’t really buying, it was pre-ordering and that I had intended to buy this product for ages and had just never got around to doing it, so it really wasn’t a purchase of a non-essential thing in July.

All very fine excuses, but not good enough. I bought something I didn’t need and so the month restarted on 11 July.

I finished two assignments in the photo course, so I now have four remaining out of the 31 assignments in the course (thing 1). I watched the last class video and I learned some new things in Lightroom for one of the assignments (thing 19).

I was losing track of the photos for my folio (thing 2), so I made a smart collection of all the photos from this year in Lightroom (there are 5900 of them) to have them all in one place and started to pull out my favourites. So far I have about 200 shortlisted. I made virtual copies of my shortlisted photos for the photo project (thing 16) and have started editing them.

I made my appointment for a manicure next week (thing 17) and I finished sticking the last of the 2018 photos in the book (thing 11). It is now safely tucked away in its archive binder and I have finished another thing!

The Bucket List Journal (thing 18) has space for you to list and plan out 100 things.20190713 Bucket List Journal

There’s a two-page spread for each of the 100 things to help you plan how you’re going to do it and to record what you did when you did it. There’s also an index section at the back to list all of the goals. That means you have to write the things in the book TWICE! I put all the 100 things in the index on Saturday but decided that it didn’t count as finishing the thing, because the things needed to be in the book proper so that I could start to make plans to do them. That was my intention when I wrote my list. So I wrote them all in. And I have a sore hand from writing so much. But I’ve finished another thing. And don’t be surprised if 20 of the things on that list make their way onto my 20 for 2020 list, if I decide to do that.

If you’re interested, this is how MiGoals, the creator of the journal, recommends to use it.

I’m failing badly at my attempts to implement a consistent evening routine (thing 6) and have been doing some of the other work from my wellbeing course around getting better rest. This course is a thing I don’t think I can ever actually fully complete. It’s designed so you can go back year after year and take what you need at the time. This is the fifth year I’ve worked with this material and so far I have never made it through to the end of the year. So my goal is to stick with it for the full year, listen to all of the lessons and I start to make a few small changes from some of the lessons. I can always go back and work through it again next year and get new things from it.

Status for week 28

  • Things completed this week: 2 (11, 18)
  • Things completed to date: 11 (3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 6 (1, 2, 6, 16, 17, 19)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 2 (10, 14)

The new year

I posted a different version of this post on instagram this morning with a non-sunrise picture of the beach. You can see a bird if you really look.


I was going to do it a couple of days ago, before the end of 2017, but I’m not good on this type of deadline and ran out of time to think everything through and write it down. Actually, I do that a lot because I always overthink things, start to write it all down and never finish it. But now I have actually finished it so I can check this one off the list.


I moved to a different suburb after almost 12 years living in the Derwent Valley. This was a huge change, but one I have no regrets about at all.

We got two new chickens and my favourite chicken, Isabelle, died.

I discovered that loss in one area can lead to positive things somewhere else in my life.

I had to let go of something I enjoyed doing very much (I wrote about this all the way back in May), which made me cry, but after thinking it all through I realised it has started to open up new opportunities to explore what I really want to do and to learn more about myself.

I have found new ways of looking at the world, discovered beauty in unexpected places and have started to sing with a group that has just started up. (It’s true. It’s on YouTube.)

I have gotten to know some passionate, inspirational people who make beautiful art.

I left a job of 12 years, which was scary, but which I needed to do because I was feeling stuck and uninspired where I was. I’m still slightly terrified and bewildered about the new job, but it’s all good.


I am grateful for everything that happened in 2017 and the experiences I had because I have learned and grown so much.

I’m grateful for the support from my little online community, whether I originally knew you IRL, or if I only know you online, or whether you’re an online friend who has become a real-life friend. Thank you all for being there. I said at the start of the year I was going to try to be okay with how I was feeling, to not squash my feelings, and to accept that not being okay is okay. I think I’ve made progress there.

Thank you for the lessons, experiences and new perspectives, 2017, and welcome 2018.

I know I say this every January, but I do want to write on the blog more regularly. I think the black & white photo challenge will help with that. I’m posting most of those photos on instagram, and when I get enough I repost them all here. I also made a separate page (here) where I’m putting my favourite black & whites so they’re all in one place.



Not actually B&W but I like to break the rules. They’re my rules and I can break them if I want to.


I didn’t find using the blog as accountability for my health habits was working particularly well because it kind of relies on people calling me out if I don’t stick to what I said I was going to do. And it wasn’t very interesting reading. So I think I’ll consign that to the bin for now.

I’m not sure if I want the blog to focus more on photos or more on writing, or if it’s capable of being about both, so my intention is to post at least three times a week with one or the other or both and see what happens. It might become obvious over time, or I might have to make a decision, but for now, I’m just going with the flow.

I’m excited about 2018 and the possibilities for me to have new adventures in my everyday life. I want to focus on learning something new and finding something to be grateful for every day, making more photos, writing more, staying active and seeking out and appreciating the beauty that is around me. I also want to become clearer on what I really want to do and to let go of things I don’t want to do but am doing because I think I should want to do them or that I wished I wanted to do. (Gretchen Rubin puts it like this: “you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do”.)

Happy New Year and may the coming year be good to you and your loved ones.


A few weeks ago I entered a competition on Instagram run by Notemaker and Dymocks to win a copy of Goodwood, the debut novel of Australian singer-wongwriter Holly Throsby and a new Two-Go Notebook by Moleskine. All I had to do was tell them what new hobby or skill I’d like to learn this spring.

Well that was easy – I’d just started my 30 days of cryptic crosswords challenge, so that’s what I said.

I entered and forgot all about it – and was very excited when Notemaker contacted me to tell me I’d won! I then had to decide what colour notebook I wanted – there are four colours: raspberry/green, light blue/pink, blue/yellow and ash/raspberry. They all looked lovely and I couldn’t decide, so I asked Kramstable to choose for me. He chose the raspberry.

My prizes have arrived!


I haven’t started reading Goodwood yet, but it looks like a novel I’ll really enjoy. Anything described as “a little bit Twin Peaks and a little bit Picnic at Hanging Rock” (Hannah Richell, Australian Women’s Weekly) is going to get me interested. I’m guessing the town of Goodwood, where the story is set, is not the Hobart suburb of Goodwood! It’s next on my reading list and I’ll be sure to do a write-up when I’ve read it.

The little notebook is lovely, and I’m not sure what I’ll use it for yet. I like the normal Moleskine books because they are slightly narrower than an A5 book (21 x 13 cm) and I find them very comfortable to use. The Two-Gos are smaller still, 11.5 x 18 cm, so basically the same width as my Midori Travelers Notebook, and about 4 cm shorter.


Because it’s the same width as the Midori, it sits nicely on top of it (see ^^^) and has  given me the idea of using this book as a catch-all/journal to carry round with my Midori, which I’m using as a diary next year. (The technicalities of how I’m using my Midori are beyond this post and require a degree of initiation into the Cult of Midori to appreciate.)

The Two-Go has a lovely contrasting colour inside the front and back covers.


And doesn’t the green go nicely with my pretty new Lamy pen? (Yes it does.)

The final interesting feature is that the pages are plain on one side and lined on the other, which means you could (if you were learning to draw, for example) do some drawing practice on one side and take notes on the other. If that was your thing.


The book has 144 pages and two bookmarks, as well as the back pocket that most Moleskine notebooks have. The cover is hard canvas, so it has a lovely textured feel.

Time will tell whether this is the journal solution I’ve been looking for, but I really like the look of this notebook, so all I’ll have to do is get over the fear of the blank page and write in it!

Thank you Dymocks and Notemaker for your very generous prizes. I was thrilled to receive them.

Counting and running as I go

Counting and running as I go
New Norfolk, Australia

New Norfolk, Australia

In February 1979, our family packed up my father’s baby-spew green Datsun 180B (apparently the actual name of this shade is Datsun Spring Lime. Who knew.) and embarked on the biggest adventure of my life up to that point.

(Thank you Wikipedia for the image of the car.)

Our destination: Adelaide, where my father would be spending the whole year at university, and we were going with him for a two-week holiday before he packed us on the train to Melbourne (from where we’d catch a plane home) and headed off to campus life.

The trip would take us two days, and all I can remember of the planning stage was that my mother kept telling us how hot it was going to be (the 180B had the classic 480 aircon), and we saved up all our spare change so we could buy ice creams on the way. I seem to recall that Golden Gaytimes were quite the thing back then.

We’d booked a self-contained beachside unit across the road from West Beach near Glenelg. For some reason, I still have some of the paperwork and tickets from this trip, and according to the internet, the units are still there – or if it’s not the same ones, they have the same name, Sea Vista.

We travelled over on the Empress of Australia. I don’t remember much about this, or even the drive. We took the inland route rather than the Great Ocean Road, and we stopped overnight on the first day in Mount Gambier. I can remember the stunning Blue Lake we saw while we were there. I can also remember we went via the Coorong on the second day, which was exciting for me because the movie Storm Boy was filmed there, and I wondered if the kid who had been in the movie would be there and if we’d meet him. (Not surprisingly, he wasn’t and we didn’t.)

My memories are fairly hazy of the trip, but I know we went to the zoo and a marine centre, we took the tram, we went in some pedal boats on the River Torrens, we bought lollies at Darrell Lea, and we spent most mornings on the beach. Lil Sis and I befriended a cat, which inspired us (in our father’s absence) to wear our mother down about getting a cat once we were home. I can also remember quite vividly Lil Sis ‘barking’ back at a dog that barked at us, and it being completely bewildered by this.

The reason for this wander down memory lane is that in 2002 Slabs and I thought we’d do a similar trip on our honeymoon, but take the Great Ocean Road, as neither of us had been there. For reasons related to the Ansett collapse it never happened, and we did something completely different. But we always wanted to drive the Great Ocean Road, and after we fulfilled our New Zealand dream last year, we decided this would be the year.

We’re doing the trip in July rather than the September school holidays because it’s winter, so we’re hoping it will be less busy because everyone will be in Queensland to escape the cold. (Right?) We’ll have a couple of days in Bacchus Marsh first with Slabs’ family before we set off. This will include a trip to Sovereign Hill, where I vaguely remember going as part of a school trip to Victoria in primary school. (I’m yet to figure out how this happened, because I don’t know anyone before or since who has had a primary school trip to the mainland, and it seems now that school trips, at least in primary school, are pretty much things of the past. Ahhh, Camp Clayton, Port Sorell, you are the stuff dreams are made of.)

Post Great Ocean Road, we’ll go through some of the places we passed through when I was a child, so it will be interesting to see if I remember any of them. I doubt it, and expect they will have changed a lot. I have vivid memories of the Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, but suspect this is because I have one of those old off-centre square photos from the old camera (with the 126 film cartridge) I took with me, rather than an actual memory of the lake.

Today’s packing day. I’m giving my trusty Midori a break and trying out a different travel journal for this trip. That’s the one on the blog title. It’s by Mark’s, and must be the first journal I’ve ever bought that has instructions on how to use it (in Japanese). Kramstable will also be keeping a travel journal, and making a video of our trip. He’s decided not to do a travel blog this trip, so it’s all up to me.

Journalling challenge 

This week I’m participating in a journaling challenge set by the people at Asian Efficiency.

There’s a journal prompt, which is “what did I learn today?” and each day there is a challenge to help you to incorporate journaling into your daily routine.   (oh hi bad grammar)

Day 3’s challenge is to write down why journaling is important to you. This was going to be a short entry, but it somehow turned into a blog post.

Why?I’ve kept a journal on and off since I was 9 or 10 years old. I don’t know why I started. Maybe I was inspired by Anne Frank’s diary. I can remember how she called her diary Kitty, and so my first journals had a name too (which I’m not going to reveal here because that would be embarrassing.)

There have been times I’ve done it more or less every day. There have been times where there have been gaps of several months. But I’ve always come back to it.

Up until July 2005 I kept a paper journal and I’d stick stuff in it. Ticket stubs, brochures, little bits and pieces that I gathered. I have a box full of those dating back to the 1980s.

In July 2005 I started my first digital journal, documenting what was supposed to be my journey to weight loss and health. Somewhat unexpectedly, six months in it became a pregnancy journal, and I wanted to record everything about my experience because this wasn’t something I ever planned to repeat.

The pregnancy journal morphed into a day to day account of my life as a new mother, my struggles with breastfeeding, my attempts to process a birth experience that had left me angry, upset and unfulfilled.
And I just kept going. Everything he said, everything he did I recorded because I never wanted to forget anything. Children change and grow so quickly. Before you know it your baby is walking, talking, at school, reading, writing, and learning swear words. Where does that time go?

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to record as much as I can about both my life and his. In recent years my Twitter feed has become part of it. My daily ramblings about the little things that are my life right now.

One reason for doing this is that I take a lot of photos and my journal records the stories behind a lot of them so that when I come to do a scrapbook page or Project Life spread I (theoretically) know what the photo is about and what to write.

So the two are linked. Two forms of memory keeping. (I can add in a third, movies, which is another level altogether.)

And it comes back to why? Why do I take excessive quantities of photos? Why do I keep a huge journal? Why do I scrapbook? What’s the point?

This question has come at an interesting time, because it’s at least the third time this week I’ve read something that has stressed the importance of finding your “why?”. You are, so the story goes, more likely to achieve your goals if you know why you want to achieve them. You’re more likely to stick to your desired habits if you know why you want to behave like that.

So I journal, take photos, scrapbook so I can have a record of my life. But why? Why do I want a record? Will it matter in 10 years time that I drank coffee after lunch yesterday and got really jittery? Will I care that Juniordwarf wrecked the box of cards he just bought?

In the big picture no, but if I ever want to look back and know what my life was like on a daily basis in 2015, know what the little things were that were a big deal at the time, I’ll be able to do that. A photo of a building that I see every day before it’s demolished and the streetscape changes forever. A tweet about something Juniordwarf said that made me laugh. An entry about how much I enjoyed a dinner or a concert. Little moments that make up my life.

It’s a record for me to look back on, to remember what Juniordwarf was like, things that were once important to me, things I did, places I went, what my life used to be like.

Perhaps I’ll never read it again. Maybe some day Juniordwarf will read it and it will help him to understand me, and even himself, better. His world might be very different to how it is now, so he’ll be able to get a feel for what his life was like in the 2010s. I wish I had a more complete record of life in the 1970s. If nothing else, I’d have evidence to call bullshit on those Facebook posts that say how much better life was in the 70s because our mothers smoked when they were pregnant, no one wore bike helmets and we all played in the traffic until dinner time.

Maybe he’ll never read it either. But it will be there.

My journal also acknowledges the hard times, and can help me to see how far I’ve come (or that I haven’t moved on). Sometimes it just helps to write out how I’m feeling about something to process it and work out what to do next.

Taking it further I think a journal could help me to identify patterns that keep me stuck and to record my progress in making changes I want to make. Maybe even to help keep me accountable to myself.
So the why is twofold. To keep a record, basically for the sake of having those memories preserved for myself (and my family if they want them). And as an outlet for learning, reflecting, taking stock, processing, exploring, creating, expressing gratitude.

And because I just love to write.

The family history trail – Part 2

The family history trail – Part 2
Gillingham, United Kingdom

Gillingham, United Kingdom

I mentioned that our Dad served in the Royal Engineers a few years after the end of World War II. His father had also served with them and had been posted overseas during the war.

One of the places we wanted to see while we were in England was the Royal Engineers Museum in Gillingham, Kent (not to be confused with Gillingham, Dorset – they seem to be pronounced differently – maybe this is so people know which one you’re talking about. Gillingham is about an hour train ride from London Victoria Station.

The history of the Corps of the Royal Engineers (RE) can be traced back over 900 years, but the Corps of Engineers was officially founded in 1716. Our father was a sapper – that is a builder of a sap. Sapping was the name given to the process of digging trenches in a zig-zap pattern at progressively deeper levels.

According to his journals, he was conscripted in 1950, after the end of World War II and underwent his training at 3 Training Unit in Cove. We found a picture of that facility from 1960 in the museum.

It was a really interesting place to visit. We didn’t expect to find anything about our father in there, but it was nice to see some photos of areas he would have been in during his service.

I got some information from one of the area’s visitor centres before we left and they said there wasn’t much to see or do in Gillingham. This turned out to be the case, so we got back on the train and headed back towards Rochester. This is another really old town, like Salisbury, with a beautiful Cathedral and a real Castle.

We had to see this! It was a short walk from the station through the beautiful old street to Rochester Castle. The original castle is believed to have been built by William the Conqueror. The new stone castle was built after a siege, by Bishop Gundulf, who had also built the White Tower in the Tower of London.

It was a fascinating place and we heard about the construction and use of the castle, and the story of the great siege of 1215. The rebels had taken the south eastern tower, so the King had ordered wooden props be fired with the fat of 40 pigs that were too fat for eating, and the whole tower and parts of the walls were brought down. The rebels hung on for a few days more before surrendering due to starvation.

The tower was rebuilt several years later in a rounded, rather than square design. This was our first visit to a castle. Very exciting!

And there was a pub right outside it. Who could ask for more? After a couple of ales, we made our way back through the old street, passing Eastgate House, which is “Westgate” in Charles Dickens’ novel Pickwick Papers and “the Nun’s House” in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

We returned to London on the train accompanied by some people who sounded like they’d been given a leave pass from the kids to go out for the night and were going to make the most of it. We then had an exciting adventure on the tube when the train got to our station and the doors didn’t open and we were trapped on the train!

We got off at the next station and had dinner on the way back to the hotel. It was a good day.

project life 2014

So around about this time every year I have these grand plans about how I’m going to keep my photos, memorabilia and memories for the year. This generally involves some kind of Project Life album.

I start off with all guns blazing, I get very excited about new products, I blog about it regularly  and then by about February, I’ve found I’ve had too much to do, the blog posts stop and I start to get behind on my album.

I did pretty well in 2013. I didn’t blog a lot, but I kept fairly well up to date (and by that I mean no more than three months behind at a time) and, as of today, I really only have to sort, edit and print photos from December and from Juniordwarf’s birthday in September.

In 2013 I tried a digital approach, where I didn’t use an official Project Life kit. Instead I used my own digital supplies for titles, backgrounds and journalling and I did a lot of journalling directly onto the photos. It meant a lot of time on the computer, but then once the photos and journalling was done, there was no writing and everything slotted neatly into the album.

For 2014 I’ve decided to go back to a paper kit. It took me months to decide which one to get. I thought I was going to get the Rain edition, which is lovely tones of olive, purple and blue, but I kept thinking it might be a bit monochromatic for a whole year.

Having said that, the approach many people seem to take is to mix up different kits throughout the year rather than stick to one kit.  Also the mini packs of themed cards that were released earlier this year mean that you can slot in layouts about various themes (such as school, summer, dad, soccer etc) and use cards that specifically relate to that theme rather than using the more generic core kits.

But I wanted one main kit to use during the year as I have done in previous years. In a last minute flash of enthusiasm I ended up deciding on the Sunshine edition, which I now have in my hot little hands, ready to go for the year.

This edition is designed by Elsie & Emma of the A Beautiful Mess blog, which is a lovely crafty/lifestyle blog.

Here’s a quick peek at what it looks like (I ended up getting the matching album, patterned paper and the 6×4 coloured cardstock as well as some blank journal cards):

ImageAnd inside the box:


The title page of the album (for now – these are the recommended title cards for the first page, but I usually change my first page layout during the year, add photos and try to make it a more consistent-looking spread).


And I love the matching dividers. I like how they don’t come pre-printed with the months on them now. They have labels so you can divide your album up in any way you want – which is going to be very useful for the approach I’m planning.

ImageSo that’s it for now. I’m trying to find people who will be using the Sunshine edition this year, so if that’s you, please let me know. If this year is anything like previous years, I expect I’ll be needing inspiration and a support group as the year goes on.