Tag Archives: Travel

Fake It Til You Make It

1 Jul

Distance Vision1

I have terrible distance vision. Both literally and figuratively speaking. I always want things to happen now. Today. Not next month or next year. And I have trouble seeing that a little bit each day adds up to a whole lot.

Which is a bit of a problem for someone trying to write a novel.

In the beginning, I would set aside whole Saturdays every once in awhile, work nonstop from dawn to dusk and then get frustrated that the novel didn’t seem any closer to being finished.

We’re often told to fake it til you make it. If you want to be a fit person, then turn up to the gym every day, until you are one. And, if you want to be a writer, then sit down in that chair, and turn up to that blank page every day.

It wasn’t until I started taking my laptop with me on the train to and from work every day that I started to see progress. Real progress.

Distance Vision2

But I couldn’t see that day to day. Thanks to my crappy distance vision. All I could see was how much I hadn’t yet done, how many weeks of editing lay ahead. But I just kept picking up that laptop, opening it up to a new page.

Within the space of two weeks I had advanced 10,000 words. And in the space of three months I had a novel.

And in hindsight (which is always 20/20) that was no time at all.

___________
Glasses image courtesy of Bart Heird on Flickr.
Vision quote image courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr.
Maldives image courtesy of Sarah_Ackerman on Flickr.
___________

This will be the last post you see from me for awhile, as I am off on our long awaited trip to France for the Wedding 2.0 followed by our honeymoon in Italy and the Maldives. Jealousy-inducing photos to come in August. À bientôt 🙂Maldives

Books About Paris

3 Jun

Books in Paris

It is fair to say that books about Paris are in no short supply. As someone who is writing a book about Paris, I am painfully aware of the fierce competition. Books about Paris fill my shelves, and I can’t resist ducking into Dymocks to see if there are any new ones on the shelves. But, there are some that keep me coming back.

*Paris Tango by Carla Coulson

Carla manages in one frame to capture the nuances of French life, in a way that armed with a thousand words I could only dream of. I love everything about her book. The weight of it, the texture of the cover, the old-school red placemarker. Of course, her words are magnificent too, once you manage to tear your eyes from her lovingly captured photographs. Her blog, which I stumbled across only recently, is also a delight.

*A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

A Moveable Feast

Indeed, Mr Hemingway requires no introduction. I only picked up a copy of A Moveable Feast this year. I think I put it off for so long because I was intimidated, and perhaps also because it is home to one of the most over quoted lines ever used to describe Paris. The reality, however, is that A Moveable Feast reads as if you have plopped down next to Hemingway in a Latin Quarter bar and he’s telling you about his perfectly ordinary day. It is a slender and light as Carla’s book is solid, and is intensely captivating in its brevity.

*Almost French by Sarah Turnbull

Almost French Cat

Almost French is everything I hope my novel will be. I would love nothing more than to have my as yet unnamed (suggestions welcome!) book sit side by side with Ms Turnbull’s. That possibility equally excites and terrifies me.

What are your favourite books about Paris?

_______________
Paris books img courtesy of Roman Lashkin on Flickr.
A Moveable Feast img courtesy of life serial on Flickr.
Almost French with cat img courtesy of [o] suze q … [packing for firenze] on Flickr.

Things That Make Me Happy

27 May

Inspired by a post on the talented Carla Coulson’s blog, I decided to make a list of things that make me happy. Feel free to post yours in the comments below….

Bubble baths

Bath
Brightly painted toenails

Toenails
Towels fresh from the dryer

Mojito
Royal Mojitos

Mojito made with rum, lime, sugar, mint, club soda, served in a tall glass.
Weekends away

Bulong vines
Peter Alexander pyjamas

PJs
Working on my novel

Laptop
Fresh food markets

Fresh vegetables at a Paris market, Paris, France
Summertime picnics

Picnic basket
Reading in bed on rainy days

Reading in Bed
Drinking fancy tea

Teacup
Snow falling on cobblestones

Snow
Mastering a difficult yoga pose (read, all of them)

Yoga
Macarons

laduree-macarons.jpg
Falling asleep on the couch

Puppy snooze
Going for long walks through new neighbourhoods

Walk
Inspiring talks with people who believe in me

Inspire
Puppies & Monkeys

Puppy Monkey
Cooking, eating and hanging out with my husband

Max and I

What makes you happy?

__________
Bath img courtesy of
aka Laverne on Flickr.
Toenail img courtesy of
haunted by Leonard Cohen on Flickr.
Fresh towels img courtesy of
cattoo on Flickr.
Mojito img courtesy of
TheCulinaryGeek on Flickr.
Pyjama img courtesy of
sillypucci on Flickr.
Writing img courtesy of
joelgoodman on Flickr.
Market img courtesy of
Kevin Oke Photography on Flickr.
Reading book in bed img courtesy of
Reena Mahtani on Flickr.
Teacup img courtesy of
MyLifeThroughPhotography on Flickr.
Snow img courtesy of
Tavallai on Flickr.
Yoga img courtesy of
AmandaD_TX on Flickr.
Walk img courtesy of
gari.baldi on Flickr.
Inspire img courtesy of
Mark Brannan on Flickr.
Puppy & Monkey img courtesy of
elaine… on Flickr.

Finding Your Passion – Am I Creative?

6 May


Quote

Towards the end of 2011 I started feeling restless. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Over lunch one day with two close work friends, I tried to articulate how I was feeling. Next to the two of them, one, a talented guitar-playing-singer-songwriter, and the other a former art gallery owner, I felt hopelessly dull.

What about doing something creative, they suggested helpfully. I nodded, but inside I was thinking, easy for you to say, but I’m not creative at all!

But throughout the week, their words stuck with me, and I decided to give some creative-adjacent things a go.

Knitting

I thought perhaps I would be good at knitting, so I made a beeline for the Lincraft store on Bourke Street to pick up some needles, wool, and a beginners guide to knitting. Indeed, the methodical nature of the task appealed to my logical brain, but the perfectionist in me grew quickly frustrated when stitches mysteriously disappeared, and I abandoned my scarf before I’d really begun.

After admiring some decorated calico bags for sale on Etsy for $20 apiece, I decided that was something I could definitely do, and maybe even make some money while I was at it. I dreamt of my pop up market stall at the Queen Vic Markets, and my future working form home as my online business took off. This time my efforts lasted just long enough for the Spotlight salesgirl to tell me they were out of calico bags.

Carambar

One Tuesday I flirted with the idea of becoming a trained masseuse, and working for myself, and by Wednesday I had decided I was starting a carambar import business.

In short, I was all over the place. What seemed like a brilliant idea one day would be revealed the next to be silly, or impossible.

Then, a friend sent me the following link.

Stuck? 25 Questions That Will Help You Find and Follow Your Passion.

Of course, the first time I read it, I skimmed the whole thing without writing anything down, sure that I would find the answer out my osmosis. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. You actually have to answer the questions. Like, on paper, with a pen. I know. What. A. Drag.

List

It isn’t the kind of online quiz where you answer a bunch of multiple-choice questions and it spits out a disparate list of occupations you might enjoy (usually spanning everything from hairdresser to scientist). The questions are designed to help you determine where your passion lies, and the answers, for me at least, were not clean cut. But what did emerge were a few key themes.

Food. Independence. Writing. The first one I knew about before I even started the questionnaire. But interestingly, while I was answering the questions it became clear to me that I didn’t actually want to work full time with food. But things a little bit removed, like food writing, hosting gourmet tours and writing meal plans for people sparked my interest. And realising that I could cook just for fun too, was a bit of a revelation. I seemed to think that I needed to manically combine all of my passions into a well-paid career in order to be happy.

Cookbooks

Independence was one thing I had been feeling for awhile, yet unable to properly articulate. I often felt that I didn’t want to manage anybody else, or lead a team. But I also wasn’t 100% comfortable working directly underneath someone either, taking orders. I felt that perhaps this desire for independence might indicate I’d be happy in a freelance type position, or working as a consultant.

And as for writing, I almost laughed out loud when I realised that was it. That was the thing that had been hovering in my peripheral vision, just beyond my reach. As a little girl I would stay up late, straining my eyes devouring books by moonlight. I read quickly and avidly, and told anyone who would listen to four-year-old me that I was going to be an author. I liked to write, and my short stories earned me praise from my schoolteachers. But, as I got older, without consciously acknowledging it, I’d come to understand that authors didn’t earn any money, and that if you wanted to make a career out of writing, you had to be a journalist, and I didn’t want to be a journalist. Therefore, I couldn’t write.

But the real power of these questions is that they made me realise what was stopping me. Fear, of course is a pretty common reason for not changing things up, for not trying something new, but was I was afraid of, wasn’t what I thought. I wasn’t scared of finishing a novel and having it never be published. I wasn’t frightened of going into business for myself. What was stopping me, ironically, was the fear of waking up in five years time, and realising that I had never tried…

Try

And once I’d worked that out, making a start was actually pretty straightforward. All I had to do was try.

_____________
Passion image courtesy of deeplifequotes on Flickr.
Knitting image courtesy of
underthesun on Flickr.
Carambar image courtesy of
Sylvain Naudin on Flickr.
List image courtesy of
Flood on Flickr.
Cookbook image ocurtesy of
abakedcreation on Flickr.
Try image courtesy of
purplejavatroll on Flickr.

Gaufres de Chez Meert

22 Apr

Meert, une institution rue Esquermoise

As the cold weather begins to envelop Melbourne this week, I’ve been thinking about Lille. For me, visiting Max’s hometown means a great many things. It means cold weather, sometimes snow. It means comfort food and hot drinks and long, indulgent meals en famille. It also means eating the gaufres de Chez Meert.

It’s no secret that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. From delicate macarons to thick slices of brioche studded with sugar crystals and spread with nutella, visiting Lille is a little bit like a trip to your grandparents house, where all the things that are off limits in normal life are allowed.

When max first told me about the waffles on offer at Chez Meert, I was unenthusiastic. As a child in Australia, waffles came frozen in boxes, and on rare occasions we were allowed to pop one in the toaster and eat it drenched in maple syrup with a scoop of Peter’s vanilla ice cream. Delicious, yes, but not in comparison to all the other finely crafted sweet treats France has to offer. I had also tasted a waffle in Belgium a few months earlier, and whilst I enjoyed the nutella-smeared, whipped cream-adorned concoction, I wouldn’t have returned in a hurry. Max simply shook his head at my reticence and said ‘Tu verra’.

And see, I did.

Gaufres de Chez Meert2

These ‘waffles’ could not be further from those of my childhood, or the one I’d eaten in Brussels. These were long, delicate, pliable tongue-shaped wafers, sandwiched together by an intoxicating vanilla bean paste. They were as moist as other waffles are dry, and require no accompaniments whatsoever, except perhaps a strong espresso to cut through the sweetness.

In the interest of research, I tasted not only their classic flavour, but their speculoos one too. And though we all know how much I love speculoos, I think the classic just wins out in the flavour race.

Getting to eat a gaufres from Chez Meert has long been a treat exclusively reserved for trips to Lille, and the only way to enjoy them back home in Paris’ 9th arrondissement was to buy up big on our last day in Lille and practise extreme self-control on the car ride home.  But, with the 2012 opening of a Meert café in Paris, this is no longer the case.

So be sure to check them out next time you are in Paris, or Lille. You’ll never think of waffles the same way again.

____________________

Chez Meert image courtesy of fred_v on Flickr.
Waffle image courtexy of
bionicgrrrl on Flickr.

French-Australian Wedding Part One

16 Apr


Wedding Photo1

As many of you know, I recently married my French fiancé Max. Putting together a wedding with two sets of cultural norms to consider was a little bit of a challenge at times, but mostly it was a whole lot of fun.

As we are having a second wedding in France in July, the February event had more of an Australian flavour, but with some nice French touches. We were married at Leaves & Fishes in the Hunter Valley, in their function space ‘Feast’, which we picked for its distinctly European feel.

Wedding Photo2

I walked in to the song ‘Intermission’ by French-Canadian singer Coeur de Pirate, and we signed our registry to the hauntingly beautiful strains of Aboriginal artist Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who Max and once I saw perform live in Paris. My mum did a reading in English, and Max’s godmother, in French. The entire ceremony was conducted in both languages, and afterwards, we toasted with a French-style Australian-made sparkling wine.

Our wedding cake was a delicious fusion of the two cultures, square chocolate and vanilla cupcakes decorated with an assortment of iconic images from the two countries. The lovely ladies at Kiss Me Cakes in Sydney did an incredible job, and in the days that followed we were glad that we had over catered! We also had lolly jars filled with sweets from our childhoods, Caramello Koalas and Carambars (yum!).

Wedding Photo3

The following day we held a brunch at my aunt and uncle’s property, with sausages on the barbeque and a game of backyard cricket on one side; and delicious croissants and an intense match of pétanque on the other…

Wedding Photo6

Wedding Photo5

The perfect weekend!

Les Intouchables

8 Apr

Les Intouchables

Usually when someone tells me I MUST do something, it really puts me off. I’m not sure if that means I have inherently wilful nature, or what, but there is no surer way to make sure I don’t do something. I am even less motivated if the thing in question has taken the world by storm (i.e. Twilight, 50 Shades, cake pops…)

But, as I’ve admitted before, sometimes when I give in, the results are truly amazing (like when I finally decided to give Il Solito Posto a go). And so, a month ago I finally gave in and watched Les Intouchables. Everyone from my old friends in Paris, to members of Max’s extended family, to English speakers who had seen it at the film festival had raved about it, practically non-stop for a year. But for some strange reason I just didn’t want to. I guess I didn’t imagine that any film could be THAT good, and that I’d inevitably be disappointed. I know, I know, it’s not like every movie I watch is of impeccable standard or anything (I have seen both the Sex and the City movies more than once), but on this topic I would not budge.

I made excuses not to watch it. We were actually in France when it was released at the cinema, but I wanted to wait and watch it with French subtitles. Then, when Max brought the DVD back with him after his latest Paris trip, I let it languish in the cupboards. And when Max dragged it out to watch one lazy Sunday afternoon, I settled in for a snooze on the couch.

Puppy snooze

Now, it isn’t often that I’ll admit to being astoundingly mistaken, but this was one such occasion. I am about to become one of those people I hate, who tells everyone they MUST watch this film. For this, I apologise, but really, you must.

It is the spectacular opposite of politically correct, simultaneously bound by and gloriously free from stereotypes. It is a no holds barred, deliciously vibrant examination of how rich life can be, irrespective of circumstance.

I know that you aren’t convinced, because I wasn’t either. But go on, even if it’s just so you can come back on here and say ‘You were wrong, I hated it!’ – just watch it.

Go on.

______
Puppy snooze image courtesy of Josh Koonce on Flickr.

%d bloggers like this: