List twenty seven: 15 lovely things at my place

I like everything in my house. Well, the things that are mine. I don’t really like the things belonging to the landlord like the broken dryer and crappy stove.

I go through phases in terms of what I love the most, but for the moment, these are what I think are the 15 most lovely things at my place:

This most beautiful, whimsical picture was the birthday gift Leigh and David bought me this year. They got it at the markets in St Kilda back in January and I had to wait four long months until my birthday FINALLY came along and I could look at it again. It's by Shannon art. The cute jewlerry box was a birthday present from Mel & Jay and the Voluspa persimmon body spray is the closest thing to perfume I can handle wearing. I found this range when hunting down candles for Mel's birthday last year and all their products are delightful!
A 'believe' heart from lovely Leigh. I hang ceramic and glass hearts from the hook. The glass heart was one my friend Lisa brought back from San Fran. Prince Designs on Etsy sent the ceramic hearts as a little gift with a bowl I ordered.
A gorgeous love bird bowl from Price Designs on Etsy. I coveted this for about two years, then realised it was just $20 and that I should stop looking at in online and look at it next to my bed instead!
I have a little obsession with ceramic hearts. These are from Miss Pottery on Etsy.
My ceramic rheart ring holder. The ring is the one Ian proposed with. I love it more than any other possesion, especially more than the other more traditional engagement ring we ended up buying. If there was a fire, it's the only thing that I'd grab before I dashed out (apart from Ian himself of course).
I'm not at all a travel memorabilia fan but I love these Teracotta Wariors from our trip to China a few years ago.
My cute little owlies. I love the squat one - he looks really dopey!
The earing tree I bought in Melbourne earlier this year. Leigh got one, we lugged it back to our hotel and then five minutes later we made David walk back to the same shop so I could get one too. The tree is currently topped with a massive love heart ring that Donna gave me for my birthday.
Cute cupcake cookie jar that my lovely sister gifted me. ADORABLE egg cups that was one of our wedding presents from Lis. Ian is ridiculously strict about the boy one being his and the girl one being mine - no swapsies!
I love when trees and dandelions are drawn onto ceramics like this. Actually I just like trees and dandelions.
Cute as can be Manequin Pis necklace made by Tomas and Jones and sent to me because I love Belgium, because I loved this necklace on their blog and because they are the loveliest pair of girls in the world.
My gorgeous 'stach hoop made with love and sent for no reason at all from Tomas and Jones. Ian thinks this looks like love birds. Either way, it looks pretty hanging above our bed!
My favourite shower gel. It's the 'Yes to carrots' brand which is literally made from organic carrots. You can also buy 'Yes to tomatoes' made from tomatoes and 'Yes to cucumber' made from cucumber.
My fridge which is covered in lovely magnets, the owl ones mostly from Sheels. I also am madly in love with the boy in the photo.
Irrewarra granola. I'm not very good at making people breakfast so I whip this out when people come to stay. It tastes like chopped up cookies!

List twenty six: Books to read

I have lists all over the place of books I want to read all . There’s a list saved on my computer, a list in my phone, a few random lists in different diaries/notebooks. And none of these lists even include all the books that are currently sitting on my book shelf unread.

At an attempt to consolidate the lists into one place, I shall list away here with a few sub categories.

Books in my current ‘to read’ pile
The following books are in a giant pile on my dining room table. I’ve decided that I simply can’t borrow or buy any new books until I get through these ones. I am hoping to read them within the next couple of months:

  • Oryx and Crake, a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel by Margaret Atwood
  • Fluke, the story of a dog who somehow remembers his previous life as a human being by James Herbet
  • The Bone Man of Benares, by Terry Tarnoff. It’s described as a lyrical travelogue of the author’s acid trip through the early 1970s Europe, Africa, India, and South East Asia, where he finds and loses love, and ultimately finds himself.
  • Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China, an autobiographical family history by Chinese writer Jung Chang
  • Changeless and Heartless, the second and third books in Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series.
  • A song in the daylight, by Paulina Simmons. This one’s been sitting there for about two years. I really need to get to it!
  • The Scarpetta Factor and Port Morturary by Patricia Cornwell. These are also books I’ve had a while and just haven’t got to yet.

Books to read once I finish the ‘to read’ pile above

  • Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
  • A million little pieces, by James Frey
  • A fraction of the whole, by Steve Toltz
  • Jasper Jones, Craig Silvey
  • Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • A thousand splendid suns, by Khaled Hosseini
  • The curious incident of the dog in the night time, by Mark Haddon
  • The Boat, by Nam Le
  • Life of Pi, by Yann Marte
  • Tinkers, by Paul Harding
  • The Children’s Book, by A.S. Byatt
  • Water for Elephants (and the other book by Sara Gruen that Leigh recommended but which title I can’t remember)
  • Red Square Blues, by Kim Traill
  • The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Tomorrow when the war began series, by John Marsden
  • The Hunger Games series,  by Suzanne Collins
  • The Twilight books, by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Millenium series, by Stieg Larsson
  • Cellist of sarajevo, by Stephen Galloway
  • Tattoos on the heart, by Gregory Boyle
  • Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, by Richard Bach
  • Ransom, by David Malouf
  • Parrot and Oliver, by Peter Carey
  • My brilliant career, by Miles Franklin
  • Female Enuch, Germaine Greer
  • Love, lost and what I wore, by Illene Beckham
  • A fortunate life, by AB Facey
  • Nocturnes, by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Never let me go, Kazuo Ishiguro
  • 100 years of solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
  • Tess of the dubervilles, by Thomas Hardy
  • A childhood at green hedges, by Enid Blyton’s daughter!!
  • Castle in the air, by Diana Wynne Jones
  • Dog on it, by Spencer Quinn
  • Old Man and the Sea, Earnest Hemingway
  • Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
  • Perfume, a story of murder, Patrick Süskind
  • The Lake of Dreams, Kim Edwards
  • The Gourmet, Muriel Barbery
  • Dirt Music & Cloud Street, by Tim Winton
  • Everything by Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Truman Capote, Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald & Oscar Wilde.


List twenty five: Aromas that remind me of times, places, people

On day 16 of my list a day in may, Lis posted a comment suggesting I write about aromas that ‘take me back’. Since then, I’ve been thinking about the scents that remind me of times, places and people.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a particular aroma can mentally transport you  somewhere that you don’t necessarily think about in a conscious way. For example:

 – Poison
I remember that once in primary school, for some reason or other, there was this massive poison spraying session to rid the school of insects, or weeds, or some such. The stench was intense and obviously a health risk so we were all sent off to the oval, away from the classrooms and the rest of the grounds.

Every now and again, I’ll get a whiff of that same poison and my mind is taken straight back to year four. I’m reminded of the excitement of getting out of class to escape the smell, only to have the filthy stinkiness permeate through the air, over to where we were playing.

– Milk
I hate milk. Hate it. I have it in coffee and in the odd milk shake but I would never drink a glass by itself. Well, maybe if my life depended on it, but even then I wouldn’t do it happily. Husband on the other hand, well he is a lover of the milk. He drinks at least three litres a week and will always find the milkiest drink option on a menu. Milk shakes, thick shakes, iced coffess, malts, milky cocktails. If I’m ever with anyone else who gets a milky drink, I always think of him. And it is always nice to think of one’s husband don’t you think?

– Basil
When I smell basil being chopped, I feel like I’m in our family friend’s Barry and Cindy’s kitchen. Often when we’d visit as kids, Cindy would make us pasta or potatoes with pesto. And whenever we’d eat out with her and Barry, we would have pesto gnocchi at a gorgeous italian restaurant near their house. Regardless of what kitchen I’m in now, when basil is being chopped, I think of the Hasties.

 – Parsley
Oh how this reminds me of my Grandmother. The smell of the herbs as they are being finely sliced always makes me think of her tabbouli, which was a staple at our family lunches.

– Sunscreen
Even in winter, once I smell this, I’m instantly transported to a sandy, sunny beach.

 – Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Classique
I am not a perfume lover at the best of times but this one in particular makes my nostrils throb. If anyone walks past me wearing it or if I enter a room where someone has been wearing it I know instantly.

It reminds me of two people. One is a friend I had at Uni. If Mandy had been in a tute room before my own class, I’d know because I’d smell this perfume as I’d walk in. At work there’s a lady who isn’t based in head office that also wears this fragrance. On the days she does come to work on the same floor as me, I know as soon as I get out of the lift that she’s there. Even before I’ve entered the glass doors leading to the work area. Ick.

 – Clinque Aromatics
This is another heady scent that I find too strong. However it makes me think of another family friend Liz, who is lovely and doesn’t wear so much that it’s sickening. Liz’s daughter came to stay with me the other week and when I picked up her pillow I could smell the Aromatics lingering. It must have been her Mum’s pillow case and that made me all warm and fuzzy.

 – Elizabeth Arden’s 5th Avenue
This scent reminds me of Lis. It’s lovely and light and regardless of where I am in the world, if someone near me is wearing 5th Avenue, Alissa comes to mind instantly. Delightful!

 –Christian Dior’s Dune
My Mum used to wear this perfume and in fact she probably still does. Like me, she’s not a massive lover of perfumes so when I smell this, it makes me think of weddings or other lovely occasions when she would pull it out and use it.

 Aw shucks I’m feeling nostalgic again.

List twenty four: Qualities I appreciate in people

These are the qualities/traits most that I tend to appreciate the most in my friends, family and colleagues:

  • A big heart and a small ego
  • Thoughtfulness (so rare these days)
  • Self awareness (knowing their strengths as well as their weaknesses)
  • A curious minds, with diverse tastes
  • Quirkyness
  • Honesty (game playing, manipulation, etc, drives me crazy)
  • Positive chi
  • A sense of humour (preferably prone to belly laughs and silly behaviour)
  • Independence
  • Unpretentiousness
  • Back bone ( the ability to stand for what they believe)
  • A smiley face
  • Compassion
  • Good grammar
  • Following their ideals quietly ( I need to work on this one myself!)

List twenty three: Best parts of our holiday

I shed a tear in the lift today. A single tear. It’s part of the mourning process I always go through on my first day back at work after holidays.

Is there any feeling worse than going back to ‘the grind’ and realising that you do in fact have to have a job in order to survive?

Just to keep the memories alive a little longer, today’s list is the best parts of our holiday.

1) Alone time
No family, no friends, just me & E. We love hanging out together. Which is pretty lucky really! We google the meaning behind songs (like ‘there’s hole in my bucket’ and ‘jack & jill’. We lay next to each other and read for hours. We laugh. ALOT.

2) Seafood
We ate lots of it, just like we always do on holidays. Although, after four days of eating oysters, prawns, and fish, I felt quite guilty checking out the sea life when we got out to the reef. I hope the poor creatures couldn’t pick up the smell of their dead friends on me.

3) Mossman Gorge, in the Daintree National Park
We got there really early in the morning so that we could enjoy the tranquility of peaceful walks without other people on the trails. It was really lovely and very serene. The best bit was that despite walking through the rainforest for about two hours, we didn’t come across one snake. Phew.

4) Crocodile spotting
We spent an hour or so croc spotting while cruising the Daintree River. So much fun! This one was my favourite croc.

5) Ian scuba diving
What better way to spend your birthday than scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef? Ian spontaneously decided to try scuba, loved it, came out of the water after his 40 minute training dive and insisted on going right back down again. About ten minutes after we got home yesterday, he had already located the best diving school in Sydney.  He is now enrolled in classes.  I loved seeing how excited he was about diving!

Can you see him doing the metal symbol underwater? Crazy kid.

Ah, back to reality now kids.

List twenty two: My values

I want to live my life according to the values that are important to me:

– Caring for one another

– Helping fellow humans when you can

-Living a passionate and useful life

-Not contributing to the capitalistic, consumer driven, greedy world we live in

– Living joyfully every day

– Caring for and respecting the planet and it’s other inhabitants.

List twenty: Best food to buy organic

Following on from yesterday’s post, I thought I’d make a list of the best foods to buy organic. According to Sarah Wilson,  the best food to buy organic because it’s otherwise the most contaminated includes: 

– peaches
– apples
– capsicums
– celery
– nectarines
– strawberries
– cherries
– pears
– grapes
– spinach
– lettuce

The least contaminated foods are:
– onions
– avocado
– frozen sweet corn
– pineapples
– mango
– asparagus
– frozen sweet corn
– peas
– kiwi fruit
– banana
– cabbage
– papaya.

Sarah also says that brocoli is one of the least contaminated vegetables but I’ve some research that says it can be sprayed up to 16 times….so I need to do more reading on that one.

List nineteen: 14 alarming factoids from Food Inc

One of the DVDs I’ve watched these holidays is Food Inc. Have you seen it? It’s been out for awhile. I actually watched it twice, the second time so I could make notes, cos I’m geeky like that. It’s directed by Robert Kenner and also had input from Michael Pollan.


The film is about food in America. What is produced, how it is produced and who is producing it.

It made me angry. And it led to Ian and I developing a bit of a food manifesto in terms of what we’ll buy and who we’ll buy it from. Here are 14 of the most alarming things I learnt or (relearnt):

1) Cheap food is socially and environmentally expensive. This is not new news but
is the premise of the film and a good message to take away.

2) Large food companies put insane amounts of pressure on farmers. Farmers basically have to do whatever the big corporates want otherwise they could lose their contrats, leading to major debt.

3) Corn is used as cow feed because it gets them fat, quickly. Cows are not meant
to eat corn. They are meant to frolic around in lush fields and eat grass for dinner. But because corn fattens them up faster, they have to stand in fields of nothing but mud and their own crap for their entire lives. This standing around in fields of crap means that the poor cows are more susceptible to E.Coli.

Eating grass for five days would get rid of the E.Coli. Instead, because it’s cheaper, once they are turned into mincemeat, ammonia is sprayed all over the meat (that people eat!) to kill the E.Coli.

4) Because people want to eat tomatoes all year round, not just when they’re
in season, they are picked from different parts of the world when they are green and then ripened with ethylene gas. No wonder so many people are getting cancer.

5) McDonald’s is the #1 buyer of beef, potatoes, lettuce and tomatoes in
America. This really disturbs me.

6) America flooded Mexico with their cheap, government, subsidised corn putting more than a million Mexican corn farmers out of work, severely affecting their economy.

7) There is a strain of E.Coli that is now resistant to antibiotics because of all the antibiotics given to livestock.

8 ) A big chunk of food in supermarkets has at least one genetically modified ingredient.

9) In 1972, the American FDA did about 50,000 food safety inspections. In 2008, they only did 164. Big companies are expected to self regulate. Given how many E.Coli outbreaks there have been in the States, it obviously doesn’t work that well.

10) Oprah spent six years and more than a million dollars fighting for freedom of speech after the beef industry sued her (unsuccessfully) for saying  “knowing what I now
know, has stopped me from eating another burger”

11) Commercially reared chickens are treated terribly. Now this is something I sort of knew already and is pretty much why I don’t really eat chicken. It appears though, that in America, at least, the farming of chickens is even worse than I thought. They are not only kept in tiny spaces but they also aren’t exposed to any sunlight at all. This is because it’s easier for them to be caught when it’s dark and taken away for slaughtering, rather than the chickens seeing their killers coming and getting into a flap. Pardon the dreadful pun.

12) Chickens have also been reengineered so that they now have bigger breasts because this is the part people find the tastiest. This means though, that the poor little chicken’s legs aren’t able to hold this redesigned shape. Sometimes, they can barely stand.

13) Meat packing in America is considered to be one of the most dangerous industries. The workers are often treated really badly, particularly in the pork industry.

14) People who work in pig factories spend so much of their time handing pig guts that their fingernails often fall off.

How veal is farmed wasn’t in this movie, but I find that alarming too. So while we’re on the topic, did you know that baby cows are forced into tiny hutches with no light and no exercise? This specifically weakens them so that their meat is more tender. I’m really not
sure how humans think they justify such cruelty.

So, what can we do? Food Inc gives the
following tips:

–  Eat food that’s in season
– Grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs if you can
– Buy organic or sustainable food as often as you can afford it
– Support farmers, not corporations. Buy from your local farmer’s markets
– Find out where your food comes from – read the labels
– Go without meat at least one day a week. This is easy. Ian and I have been doing this since we saw David Suzuki a few years ago. Think of how much water and energy we reduce by doing so. If my carnivorous husband can go without meat one day a week, then anyone can do it.
– Sign up for this blog.


Watch Food Inc if you eat food