Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 301: Challenge Yourself

Reading challenges invite questions. Don't they? They are like a microcosm of debates pertaining to the meaning of life, or God(s). They probe moralities and philosophies that affect the true core that speaks to who we are as humans. Well, sort of. For example, how many reading challenges are too many? Which books? Which format? Why can't I read more? Should I make up my own reading challenge? But this one is the most pressing question for which I am seeking an answer: Should you be able to count one book towards more than one reading challenge? It's a doozy, isn't it? Personally, I am in the 'no' school on that one. It seems like, and this is not said judgementally towards the people of the world who are obviously in the 'yes' camp, but it seems like, well, cheating. I said it. It's out there now. Ultimately, challenges I set myself—like the high standards I expect of myself in things like playing Scrabble and walking across the UK—are challenges against myself, not others. If you finish twenty-three reading challenges and a half marathon this year, with or without using one book for multiple reading challenges, then yay you, but I don't feel secondary to you because I've finished, oh, say, none. Maybe I would have more finished challenges if I did multi-list my books, but I wouldn't feel good about it. What do you do? Are you 'no' or 'yes' school on this major life decision?

Irene               List_Addict

Speaking of reading challenges, I have added myself to a couple of more since I last spoke to you about them. I don't mean since the last paragraph. I mean here when I joined up to the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014. One is the easy-to-keep-track-of and no-rules Goodreads Reading Challenge. My goal is one hundred and one books (because I didn't get to one hundred last year, but I have to up the ante this year). Ironically, this includes every book from every challenge, but that is pretty much how it works. I feel morally okay in this instance. I have made my own little Scribd challenge as well—which is actually more like tagging a new wrestler into the ring than making a list of books to read with a common or disparate theme holding them together. How it works is that I start with a book at the beginning of the year that interests me (in this case Douglas Coupland's Girl in a Coma), and then the next book has to come from the recommendations Scribd makes based on that book. And Scribd seems to have a strange matrix for recommendations. I finished Girl in a Coma today, and the recommended replacement I chose is Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire. Like most challenges, this still has the best feature: making you read books you may not ordinarily have picked up. So, in fact, there is only one 'real' challenge that I am adding myself to: Giraffe Days' Around the World in Twelve Books Challenge 2014.

Because I don't like to under-challenge myself, I am going for Level 4: The Seasoned Traveller. Twelve Books—each set in a different country. At least one in each of the big six continents (I managed to find a book for the seventh, Antarctica, too). And in the interest of frugality, I will once again minimise buying books, and turn to my Kindle, my Scribd, and my bookshelf to fill the quota. Here's what I have in mind:

  • Africa
    • Nigeria: Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor
    • Egypt: The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany
  • Antarctica (my optional continent)
    • Antarctica (and the other Pole): North Pole, South Pole: The Epic Quest to Solve the Great Mystery of the Earth's Magnetism by Gilliam Turner
  • Asia
    • Pakistan: Dizzy in Karachi: A Journey to Pakistan by Maliha Masood
    • Japan: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  • Australasia
    • Australia: Verandah People by Jonathan Bennett
  • Europe
    • Russia: The Secret History of Moscow by Ekaterina Sedia
    • Ukraine: The Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko
  • North America
    • Texas-Mexico Border: The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans by Carmen Tafolla
    • Canada: The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  • South America
    • Amazon Jungle: Conquest of the Useless: Reflections from the Making of Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog
  • The World, or No-Place
    • Charles de Gaulle Airport: The Terminal Man by Mehran Karimi Nasseri and Andrew Donkin



The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go sloppy joe windcheater that I never wear unless to go to Boxfit, and I never go to Boxfit
Top: Op-shopped (whoo, makes the chest area look rather large!)
Windcheather: Cotton-On
Skirt: Op-shopped
Belt: Op-shopped
Necklace: Lovisa
Shoes: Irregular Choice 'Cheeky Moose'


Photographer de Jour: Moi


Who Wore It Better?



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Around the World in Twelve Books Challenge 2014


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Thrifters Anonymous


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Day 299: Howz It Going?

Between birthdays, I am trying to get a bucketlist of forty-six things done. Here is my monthly progress report. The original posts in infinitely too much detail can be found here, here, here, here and here.

1. Getting caught up on Fur Earwig: Mmm, went backwards. I was at forty-two behind, am now at seventy-nine behind. I think I will cry.

2. Getting hypnotised: Barrier—have to go to a doctor for a 'Mental Health Plan' if I want to get a referral. Looking at options, but not doing anything with the looks.

3. Finish a Reading Challenge: Didn't finish one, didn't finish a book for one, but joined two more—Goodreads 2014 Reading Challenge and a place related one that I will blog about soon.

4. Becoming an Iceberger: Didn't even swim on the madly hot days we had.

5. Apply for my PhD: Nope.

6. Design a House: Did think about this when I couldn't sleep some nights. It's there in theory.

7. Buy the land to build it on: Looked, but nope. Did set up a realestate.com account though, and pinned a bunch of houses that might work in lieu of building my own.

8. Write a serialised James Bond satire: Cry Me a River: Nope.

9. Obtain blue aviators, spurs and a chambray shirt: Nope, nope and nope.

10. Finish my knitting blog project, blank page, clean slate, open book: Yep, that's a nope too.

11. Write a poem a month: No poems.

12. Do the Three Peaks Challenge: Nope. The one here in Australia seems impossible to get information online about. May have to do it in the UK. Just need to work out how I can fit that in?

13. Make it up to V——: Sorry V——, I didn't yet.

14. De-clutter: Oops, I was doing well and then completely forgot about this one.

15. Moisturise: Occasionally.

16. Comment on blogs I read: Irregularly.

17. Reply to the lovely comments I get: Not as often as I should.

18. Get a puppy for Lollii: Done. See Mr Darby Pickles at the link.

19. Check for skin cancers: Nope, went to a doctor for something else (which I never do) and the crusty letch reinforced my absolute dislike for them. Setback.

20. Use my Fitbit properly: Mmm. Um. No. I am trying to make sure I get the thirty active minutes a day, and most (more than half) days I do. I'm going to call this 'somewhat successful'.

21. Do my tax: Nope.

22. Finish Addict, List Addict blog project: Did absolutely nothing towards this.

23. Finish G’rilla in the Midst blog project: Or this.

Irene               List_Addict

24. Catch up on the LeJog blog: Don't think things this side of the photos will be much better. Nothing going on with this one.

25. Stress less: Who am I kidding!

26. Deconstruct jumpers for their wool: Nope—wool and warm weather don't work well together.

27. Learn a language on Duolingo: Nope.

28. Back up my blogs, and my computer: Un-backed-up.

29. Bake a cake: Cake-less (damn).

30. Change my name on the last outstanding documents: Not done, but I did remember some more documents I need to do this for.

31. Get a tattoo for each dog, and my full moon: I decided on my third dog tattoo 'symbol' for Darby. You know those push-puppets—you push into the bottom of the base and the figure on top collapses on it's elastic-filled limbs. That's Darby's preferred way of changing positions.

32. Seasonalise my wardrobe: Done! Whoo hoo. Although I do need to get some cedar balls for the boxes I used. The floor is still messy, but it is getting there.

33. Take care of my feet: Does getting at least three or four foot massages from the boy count?

34. Diarise my progress on this list and blog once a month about it: This is the blog (although late) and I diarised about six times.

35. Go to Boxfit: We nearly did. Once.

36. Store my jewellery better: Nope.

37. Get rid of my bicycle: No, but there may be a couple of options locally that B—— found. Just need to follow them up.

38. Source shoe lasts: No.

39. Instagram more: I posted two this month. Better than none.

40. Go to the movies twelve times in a year: Managed twice. I'll tell you about them soon. I saw Catching Fire and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

41. Design my own flag: Nope.

42. Coin a word: Nope.

43. Colour-in my colouring book: Not a single page.

44. Do photoshoots in special places: One. Euroa.

45. Make some amazing neckpieces. Nope.

46. Reduce the reading pile: I did finish two books from the pile, but somehow another five were added onto it. See here for an attempt at an explanation.


The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go washed-out apricot beaded singlet.
Dress: Op-shopped
Singlet: River Island
Necklace: Lovisa
Shoes: Irregular Choice 'Fresh Cut Grass'


Photographer de Jour: Moi


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Lena B, Actually


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day 300: Hashtag

There are whole bunches of cultural things I need to catch up on with you, but rather than bore you with long-winded details, here are my impressions of three books and two movies that I have finished or seen in the last couple of months played out in Twitter format—not a character more than one-forty.

#hungergames2catchingfire

It is all about Katniss; but it is strange to watch this with one of the only people in the world who hasn't read the book. Can you imagine that?


#thesecretlifeofwaltermitty

A man—increasingly stubbled—chases a girl through his mind, Iceland and Afghanistan (all beautifully shot). But all along, she was where he left her.

List_Addict               Irene

#damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Killed by ... can't tell you: a 13yo girl, damned to hell, (re)makes herself powerful with her Breakfast Club buddies. Or does she? What do we control?


#allthatiam by Anna Funder

The best friend and the lover of a Nazi resistance campaigner alternate the telling of their stories of the Hitler resistance. Nobody was listening.


#thecuckooscalling by Robert Galbraith (a.m*.f**.k.a JK Rowling)(* more; ** famously)

There is no point comparing, so I didn't. A slow but entertaining who-dunnit with a denoument that runs, last minute, a little too quickly.


#ps: I made up the hashtags.


The Outfit
Clearing the Closet: It’s time to go red singlet, that one, there, just underneath everything else. Yep, you're expendable.
Singlet: Three million years old, I can't recall where from
Top: Op-shopped
Skirt: Op-shopped
Belt: Thrifted, Savers in Lubbock, Texas
Shoes: Target


Photographer de Jour: Moi


Who Wore It Better?

Getting linky today with:

Thrifters Anonymous


still being [molly]


Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 330: On a Scale of One to Ten, Eleven

I know you all know I am a nerd, but I have a nerd-denial/nerd-pride thing going on and am often too close to see my true nerd level on a scale of one to ten (seven million book- and word-related posts notwithstanding). Today's travel photo highlights several levels for me in right-there technicolour undeniability. Let's explore.

Badminton. It is not just that we take the badminton racquets away with us on holidays. It's that there have to be photos. Is that nerdy—or is it merely a continuation of the need to Instagram everything, even if things are done only for the sake of Instagramming them? Badminton is ace! All that is required is two racquets, a shuttlecock and an absence of wind. You can play anywhere. And it begins with the letter 'b'. I said to B—— yesterday that I don't do themes (like 'Clearing the Closet' or 'What I Thrifted in the States' or the upcoming 'Tequila Mockingbird Inspired' or 'S/S 2014' challenges, a.k.a 'themes'), but I think what I meant was 'I don't do a theme for just one day; it has to last a century and be bigger than Beiber'. So, speaking of badminton and themes, the theme of LeJog 2014 has been announced: Bifurcating Britain: Boyfriend? Check. Badminton? Check. Beaver? Check. So: badminton, long lasting and complicated themes, walking across Britain. Nerd level: 7/10?

List_Addict               Irene

Sun dog. That's on in the right of the top right photo. According to my Cloud Collector's Handbook (shown here on the Cloud Appreciation Society's website: I am a member, yes), a sun dog is a halo effect formed when sunlight is refracted through ice crystals in clouds, but only when the sun is about forty degrees from the horizon. They can be on either one or both sides of the sun. Fairly common—second most common halo effect actually. You have probably seen one. This was my second. And it shone out in the middle of an argument V—— and I were having about nerd-thing number three below. I stopped yelling, took a photo, and started yelling again. Nerd level: at least 9/10 with the semi-scientific explanation included.


Stress. The bottom photos represent in boy terms the excitment I had in going thrifting in the States. All V—— wanted to do was stop in at a great big fireworks shop and get rockets and bang-y things and sparkly things, and let them off in the desert. So we stopped. And the fight I was talking about above was us looking for a place to let them off. Suddenly, when you look for large tracts of nothingness, despite seeming to have been driving through them for ever, there are suddenly people and houses and cars everywhere. I felt physically ill with it all. And what I have come to realise is that it is because I have a substantial fear of doing the wrong thing. And to me this felt wrong. The noise, the risk of fire, the fact that in Australia you aren't allowed to do it (it was irrelevant that we were in a place where you were—I never felt like we found a place that was at least a 'mile from habitations'). Maybe it was the illness that was about to hit me not two or three hours later like a brick wall falling on me; maybe it was just my extreme nerdiness, but I just couldn't be happy for V—— despite all the time he had spent waiting for me at op-shops and thrift stores. I couldn't wait to leave. I'm not happy about this trait in myself. It seems to rule out some things I would like to be: a risk-taker, an adventurer, an individual. I am not even sure where it comes from. Inner nerd level 10/10.

And that onesie? 11/10.

Clockwise from top left: Badminton; Sun dog over Tuscon, Arizona; Fireworks aren't all they were expected to be

The Outfit
Top: Retail
Onesie: Thrifted, Savers in Vegas, Nevada
Necklace and Bracelets: Op-shopped
Shoes: Irregular Choice 'Bloxy'


Photographer de Jour: B——


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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Day 329: Going Back

I cannot believe I am still telling you about my so-two-months-ago holiday! You do know that blogging is really just a diary you don't have to write by hand. That it is a way of storing knowledge about yourself that doesn't take up space in your house. Well, okay, maybe, for some people, it is about promoting businesses, or helping people, or getting rich, or famous. But for me it's an alzheimer insurance policy and a freeing-up of internal real estate. And so while reminiscing about a two month old holiday serves no useful purpose for society, it is awfully handy for me.

Irene               List_Addict

This day was all about driving. We were quickly running out of time to make it back to Vegas for the end of our car hire, and there were lots of kilometers to cover, so we drove, and drove, and drove. Destination: El Paso, Texas. I had been there before when B—— and I visited for the sole purpose of entering Mexico across the Rio Grande. Like they do in the movies. Although, of course, it didn't quite work out that way—there were weird things happening with buses and visas and time, and we ended up catching a taxi in a blur of red tape and traffic and silliness, and not even seeing the river. I got a much better glimpse of the baby Rio Grande this year when we walked over it to get dinner in Alamosa. El Paso was a cute little city, and had a nice vibe in the area where we stayed back in 2008 (other areas felt, well, less nice). I really fancied being able to see that again and show it to V——. I also wanted to go cowboy boot shopping. But fate wasn't allowing for these things. The drive was long, the entrance into the city was stressful and busy (last time we flew and caught a bus, this time we came off country roads onto six lane freeways at rush hour). We had also programmed Samsung Siri to take us to the geographical centre again, which is never really the place you want to be. Example: the geographical centre of Melbourne is Glen Iris and while there are some nice cafes, some pretty houses and even some public transport options, it is ten kilometers from the CBD. So we sat in the geographical centre of El Paso and ate ice-cream and googled the true heart of the city so we could find the Camino Real—the hotel B—— and I stayed in last time we were here. The cowboy boots shops closed, the life drained out of the area around the Camino Real—even all the electricity was out when we went for a little walk later in the evening. The hotel wasn't as nice as I remembered. The dinner in the restaurant was terrible. The best thing we could do was put ourselves to bed and start again in the morning. And that is what we did.


A little aside: The road from Lubbock to El Paso did eventually clear of snow, the scenery was beautiful. You drive through amazing hills and ranges coming along that way. We had the iPad hooked up to itunes and randomly generating songs through the radio. As we came over the pass and saw the start of the city below us, the trill of a spanish guitar started up and Marty Robbins started singing about being on 'the hill overlooking El Paso'. It was more than a little weird!

Clockwise from top left: Back in Texas again; mountains and big sky in New Mexico; badmington and truck stops; looking out at El Paso and the facade of the Camino Real

The Outfit
Shirt: Thrifted, Savers in Vegas, Nevada
Shorts: Target
Socks: Sock Dreams
Necklace as Headpiece: Junk jewellery shop somewhere
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens


Photographer de Jour: B——


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Style Elixir