Of Stock, MacGyver and Flu

Typical, get thinking about posting regularly again and then get the flu badly! The last week has been full of trying to get rid of the flu and laying on the lounge chair watching daytime tv – something I only do when I am sick. Yay for repeat episodes of MacGyver! Did you like MacGyver? I loved it…and pretty much everything else Richard Dean Anderson was in, especially Stargate SG-1. If you also like MacGyver, you might enjoy the MacGyver Lexicon.

I am currently making chicken stock for tonight’s Chicken and Fennel risotto! OmNomNom. I should return to cooking dinner lest I burn it!

Vulnerability and Shame

Ah, Friday. Best time of the week, I think. You have Friday evening, and then there is still all of Saturday and Sunday to come! I am chilling out watching some music videos on YouTube currently. After buying Darren Hayes‘ recent album, Secret Codes and Battleships, I have also been listening to his older albums and his music from Savage Garden days. So much good music!

Thinking on my lack of updating on here, and, well my lack of most creative pursuits, I realised that what stops me is my wanting to always be perfect. Whatever I do MUST be perfect. No mistakes. But really, that isn’t possible (and when I checked this post for mistakes, I had typed ‘that isn’t impossible’ hmm). I may want to keep everything all tightly wrapped and perfectly formed, but life isn’t like that. And living that way, you miss out on so much of life’s special wonders. There is no way to control everything, you need to learn how to let go of the things you cannot control. To do the best you can with what you have. And by ‘you’, I mean ‘me’!

I’ve watched a couple of BrenĂ© Brown’s talks (1 & 2) from TED recently, and her research and her message struck a cord. Shame and vulnerability. For me, they are a big part of my perfectionism. I don’t like to feel vulnerable, which is how I feel if I do things that won’t be/aren’t perfect; plus I feel great shame when my results, or even my actions, are the opposite of perfect. I don’t want to show vulnerability or face my shame. But in reality, I need to do both to move forward, to grow. I am inspired by BrenĂ©’s statement that “Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage”.

It always seems better to wrap up the shame, the things I perceive to have done wrong or not perfectly and cocoon them into a ‘hidden’ ball. But then they just snowball and the layer around them gets bigger and bigger until they start to hinder future goals. Like a roadblock. A landslide. A wound. A splinter.

But how to you learn to not be so caught up in perfectionism? How do you face the shame and let it go? How do you learn to be vulnerable, but go forward anyway?

Some of my thoughts come from waiting for the results from my cataloguing assessment which was completed on Wednesday just gone. A big part of me wants it to be 100% marks or it is a failure. Another recent assessment saw me obtain 42 out of 50. My first thought was that it equalled failure. Not good enough. Silly, I know. But…

Do you also want to have all your creations be perfect? Or have you learnt how to let go of that need to be perfect? Have you discovered how to let go of shame? Please share! You can email me at alyshajane@gmail.com, if you’d prefer to respond that way!

Catablogging

I really do need to do something about this blog, don’t I? I’m back to study at Tafe and have been very busy with study and learning. The perfectionist in me demands full marks or as close as possible, which means a lot of study! I enjoy it! Pippin keeps me company and helps me notice the important sections! hehe

Pippin and I, studying Marc21

If anyone is still visiting this blog aside from the Googlebot, what did you or do you, enjoy about my writing and blog? Now that I have my schedule more in hand, I think I will get back to blogging. Would the occasional library related post bore you? Or perhaps those are better elsewhere on a dedicated blog. Hummm.

Hello, again! I should have said that first. How have you been, dear reader?

Librarian Girl

As you may guess from the title, dear reader, I have decided to complete my Library and Information Studies course ( I may have previously alluded to this). I had gone back to web design for a year but found my heart just wasn’t in it and I was completely sick of demanding, rude clients who thought they could take as long as they wanted to pay invoices. Do not want! Some of my current subjects are Cataloguing, Acquisitions, Databases and Information Research. Those are not the exact class titles, but sum up each class quite nicely. When I finish, I would love to find work in the Cataloguing/Archival areas.

Now that design can be for fun, I’m slowly starting to find my creative spirit again, particularly in terms of my own sites. This site will likely change a bit, every now and then, as I tweak the design and get it to look just so. In working on this site, I was browsing through my archives and discovered that on March 20, I will have been blogging for twelve years! There have been a few pauses in there, but hey – I’m still one of the early bloggers from before Blogger itself and even the ability to post a comment on a blog! That dates me a bit, too!

With some travel time each week, I’ve gone back to working my way through The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I’m almost up to the end of the second book; no spoilers, please! It is amazing how fast time flies once I start reading, I’ve almost missed my stop a couple of times.

I shall post a few photos next post; some of the Kittens who are growing in leaps and bounds (or should that be fluff and meows?) and also some general snaps, including some of my latest stitching project. Mmmm stitching, I think I shall do some tonight!

iPhoneography

I love taking photos with my iPhone, especially since the newest iPhone came out – the camera is amazing! Better than my little compact digital camera and smaller. Plus there are all the fun photo apps available. My favourite of these is Instagram, with which I took the photos below.

From the top left:

  • 1. Some of the random items on my desk
  • 2. Cute little Pippin!
  • 3. Pippin and Merry, geeking out on my desk
  • 4. Some of my retro cookbooks
  • 5. Cat vs Human book – so funny!
  • 6. Apple Pie Cookies, recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Delicious!
  • 7. Churros, mmmm yum!
  • 8. Merry, all sleepy and cute!
  • 9. Action figure of the Eleventh Doctor.

And yes, I totally failed with Blogtoberfest. Two posts in October, oops! Here’s hoping that I manage more posts in November!

Our 3rd Wedding Anniversary

(Subtitled: Why I Missed a Day of Blogtoberfest!)

Oops. I missed a day of Blogtoberfest! I think my slip is allowed, however, as it was our 3rd Wedding Anniversary yesterday! My husbitect and I have been married for three absolutely blissful years. It feels like so much longer to us, and in that wonderful way of happily married couples. Our gorgeous outfits came from Gallery Serpentine.

Three years ago on October 4th, 2008, we were married in the Blue Mountains. It was a wonderful, misty mountains day. Even though our planned outside ceremony had to be moved inside due to rain, it was magical. A pair of frogs serenaded us from their pond, outside in the garden, underneath the window. It did not matter where our ceremony was held – we only had eyes for each other! The whole day was perfect.

For our anniversary, we went to a local Japanese restaurant, and apart from feasting on looking at each other, we dined on delicious food! We started with Agedashi Tofu & Soft-shell Crab. Followed by the freshest Sashimi and then, Beef Sukiyaki! All washed down with Japanese beers and Green Tea. Nom!

On leaving the restaurant, we took a photo outside, under their gorgeous LED-lit cherry blossoms! I want some for our home, but with two feisty kittens, they would not last long! I am tempted to try by hiding them on top of a cabinet, however. I cannot resist the pink nor sparkly!

After mentioning the delicous Japanese food we enjoyed, I thought I would find some recipes for each course we had, so you can try them at home!

  1. Agedashi Tofu – Recipe from ‘My Delcious Blog’
  2. Soft-Shell Crab – Recipe from ‘Cooking Light’
  3. Sashimi – Tips from ‘About.Com
  4. Sukiyaki – Recipe from ‘Just Hungry

How do you like to celebrate your anniversaries? Not just wedding anniversaries, but any kind of anniversary? I’d love to know!

Trying to be Creative Again

Late last year life threw us a few curve balls which, amongst other affects, saw my creativeness all but disappear. I am now trying to get that spark back again, as allusive as it is. One of the projects I want to pick up and finally finish, is my mushroom embroidery. My last post about it was back in November. I’ve done a bit more since then, but still much to do:

I’m going to make a little crafting and creating nook in the kitchen this week. Now we have two very curious kittens, I don’t feel safe doing crafts that involve needles on the lounge chair. I shall hang a few pictures on the wall around the table, add some dishes for working needles and maybe a cloth on the table!

Speaking of kittens, Pippin and Merry are much bigger than they were in the photo I posted the other week. They are now heading up to five months old and getting quite big! Their fur coat is changing with the warmer weather and some of the longer fur is shedding out until next winter. They will be much comfier with a lighter coat for summer!

You can just see a photo on my desk of me holding my late Maxie. Pippin has many of Max’s traits, and on the first day the boys were home, Pippin saw the photo of Max on my desk and gave him a little kiss! Awww! Last week was snip snip time for both boys. They were a little sleepy at first but are now back to bouncing and running around the house. No lack of energy, that is for sure! Another craft project I have in mind is making them little ties so they can be little business cats! hee!

Meet the new additions to our family!

On the 15th of July, we adopted two little kittens from a local rescue organisation. Meet Pippin and Merry, brothers and absolute bundles of cuteness! They had been relinquished to the pound by a man who promised he would (finally) get his cat desexed. Her five little kittens would have been euthanised perhaps the same day, if our lovely foster/rescue worker had not been there. All kittens have been rehomed! I hope their Mum is being looked after well, too!

The photos above are the ones taken by the foster carer – many more will come soon! I thought I would use these as their intro photos, as Pippin’s photo is the one that melted my heart and led us to them. *squeee*

Originally Pippin was called Bushells and Merry was called Brittany; he was presumed to be a girl then! Oops! We renamed them after a few days of name considerations. I almost called Pippin ‘Avon’ of Blake’s 7 fame. But it didn’t suit as well as ‘Pippin’ does. Virtual cookies for those who immediately understood where our name choices come from!

We actually went to meet Pippin only; as I was holding him and getting to know him, Merry ran up my Husband’s leg, climbed onto his shoulder and mewed “You are my hooman! Take me, as well as Pippin!“. So we adopted them both! While they are both ‘ours’, Pippin is my baby and Merry is my Husbitect’s baby. They each have their ‘hooman’!

They are just over four months old now and are lovely, loving little kitties. We believe they may be Maine Coon mixes. They rarely meow, they chirp, trill and chirrup! They have tufted ears like a lynx, and have ‘ear furnishings’. Pippin has a very pronounced ruff around his neck (Merry’s is a bit shorter) and they have a double-layered coat. Very big feet with toe tufts, fluffy tails and they will be big boys – even the vet has observed this!

Whatever breed they are, we are both very happy and fortunate to have them in our lives! They are very much loved, not to mention spoiled! Yay for kittens and cats!

And yes, I am back to blogging! Finally!
(and I am addicted to ‘!’ it seems. Ooops).

Pull up a chair and have some cake!

Mother's Day Cake

I hope all the Mothers out there had a lovely Mother’s Day; whether you be Mum to a human or a furbaby! We took advantage of the gorgeous sunshine and had a barbecue in the garden.

Steak (perfectly marinated by my Dad), sausages and salads. For dessert, I made a chocolate cake filled with Chiver’s English strawberry jam and freshly whipped cream! The icing was vanilla butter-cream. I was wonderfully assisted in making the cake by my darling Husbitect. My beautiful Mum had a lovely day filled with sunshine, gifts and yummy food. Not to mention much love! What did you do for Mother’s Day if you celebrated it, if not, how did you spend your Sunday?

Posting my photo of the cake I made, I started thinking about the history of cake. Where did cake first come from? What traditions are there surrounding the partaking of cake? Apparently, the word ‘cake’ traces back to the 13th century. The word ‘cake’ comes from the Norse word ‘kaka’. Food Timeline has these, and many more facts, about cake and other foods.

I wish I could find a course locally, that would enable me to become a food historian. I find food an endlessly fascinating topic. What do people eat and why? How has food influenced the course of history? What customs do the many cultures around the world have with food?

I also love it when authors detail what their fictitious characters eat. One of my favourite authors in that regard is Joanne Harris. Especially her food-titled novels, ‘Chocolat‘, ‘Five Quarters of the Orange‘ and ‘Blackberry Wine‘.

There are many non-fiction books that are on my must-read list too. These include ‘Salt: A World History‘ and ‘Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World” both by Mark Kurlansky. Humm, after visiting Mr. Kurlansky’s website, I now have many, many more books on my want/must-read list!

Do you like reading about food? Do you, like me and many others, read Nigella Lawson’s beautifully descriptive cook books as if they were novels?

My other dream career is one deep within the world of antiques. But that is a story for another time!

Cooking for the Queen!

Okay, not really! But it makes for a fun title, dontcha think?

While I did not actually cook for any members of the Royal family, I did cook a British meal for MY family for us to enjoy as we watched the Royal Wedding. We had Coronation Chicken & Potato Salad, Eton Mess and to follow, Lemon (and Lime) Squares Cake with Matcha/Green Tea Frosting. I wanted to choose classic British recipes and was excited to try Coronation Chicken for the first time! Very delicious and I shall make it again. I was very naughty in taking the photo below; I did not notice that I had inadvertently messed up the lovely table setting that my Mum made! Very bad Lysh! ;)

Baking & Coronation Chicken Salad and our pretty table!

Thank you to those who sent messages after my last post; your warmth is muchly appreciated. I am still very much missing my lovely Max, and I always will. I am emerging from my cave though, and trying to get back into things – including this much neglected blog! Cooking has been one of my mercies (as well as craft) and has helped me to return to my old self. I really enjoyed making my Royal menu, even with it taking most of the day! It was quite fun. If you’d like the recipes, see below the photograph of my yummy cake; which just had to have hearts!

Citrus Matcha Cake

  • Coronation Chicken & Potato Salad
  • Eton Mess
  • Lemon Squares Cake. I used lime zest & did not use their icing. I found that the cake did not rise as high as expected, but was very tasty. The lack of rising could be due to my using an oven that is quite old and in Fahrenheit rather than Celsius, so could be my error in getting used to the oven.
  • Matcha Icing. Icing recipe near the bottom.


So, those of you who watched and enjoyed the Royal Wedding, what did you think? Didn’t Catherine and Prince William look wonderful? I watched the whole thing wearing my tiara. A common girl gets so few chances to wear a tiara – why not grab the chance when one can?!

Although, I am sorry to report that when I put on my lovely tiara (from my Husbitect and I’s combined Hen’s Bucks night) I found that one stone had fallen out. *sob*. I’m hoping it is safe within a draw or bag and I shall find it soon. It may only be glass, but I love it all the same!

Until We Meet Again, My Gorgeous Boy

On April the 1st, at about 9pm, our darling Max passed away in our arms. His precious little head, cradled by my arm. He became very ill and was starting to feel pain from his illness. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, and I am lucky that I had my darling Husband with me. The veterinary hospital staff were lovely, and we had a private room with a lounge chair.

Max was (and is) my darling Kitty for over 15 years. He was my best, and for most of that time, my only friend. He loved me through my sad times and always knew when I needed some Kitty snuggles and purrs. We crafted together, listened to music together, watched birdies together and at night, he would sleep on my pillow or under the bedclothes, snuggled by my feet. I miss my little Max more than words can say.

Not having a house of our own, or a special, safe place to bury my baby kitty, we chose to have him cremated. Again, the veterinary surgery (Small Animal Specialist Hospital) and the cremation company (Pet Rest) were lovely and helpful. Max was returned to us safely and in only a few days.

I have his little casket with his ashes in one of my vintage cabinets. On either side are my two large black Cat statues – one for Max and one for Puss, my first kitty. They guard at either side and at the front I have four little miniature ornaments of black cats. I also have a special box with some of my first Cat’s fur and now, some of Max’s fur. I have surrounded them with Max’s favourite toys.

The picture I hold in my heart, the wish, is that Max and Puss, my two black Kitties, are together now in Kitty Heaven. All safe and not alone as they have each other. And one day, I hope I can be reunited with them once more. Until then, I trust that God will look after my Kitties, because I believe that God is there for animals too.

Goodbye for now, my darling Max. Thank you for your love and for being such a wonderful friend. Trust and stay with Puss, she’ll protect you, and you her. Until we meet again, my darling Boo. xxxx

The Wanderer Returns

Hullo thar! Kind reader, does thouest rememberest me?
*cough* Perhaps it will help if I stop writing in very strange ‘accents’. heh

Yes, I am back. The last few weeks have been quite busy and most importantly, I have been taking care of my beloved Husbitect after he had surgery a couple of weeks ago. Not major, super life-threatening surgery, but serious all the same and with a lengthy recovery period. All is good now, he is up and about and experiencing much less pain and discomfort. Yay!

I’ve also been busy working on some web sites for clients (I am a freelance web designer) and at the end of the day was a bit ‘computered out’. But I am over the busy period now and feeling like getting back into my little blog. I have much catching up to do in blogland.

Regular alyshajane blogging will now resume!