Gallery: Home Tour

A few new thrifty vintage finds recently prompted some redecorating in my little home. It’s come together so nicely that I thought it was a good idea to share a quick gallery with you all. It’s felt so cathartic to get rid of old furniture that didn’t suit the space and create a place that was really, finally, just for me (and Ripley, of course).

 

‘Til next time,

Sig

 

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Recap: January Reads

My, my, my. Not only is it suddenly 2018 but it’s suddenly February 2018 and, pardon me,  where has the time gone?! I don’t know about you guys, but last year sure got away from me and to think we’re already well into the second month of a brand new year and Christmas was an age ago and summer is nearly over and there are Cadbury creme eggs in the shops and, oh ALL THE THINGS!

Hello. How are you? Nice to see you. Your hair looks bloody great.

I’d sure like to get back into the habit of regular blogging and recapping my January reading seems a good place to start. So, without further ado and in no particular order…

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The Messenger – Marcus Zusak (2002)

After becoming something of a local celebrity for foiling a bank robbery, nineteen-year-old Ed Kennedy starts receiving mysterious playing cards in the mail, setting his uninteresting life into a cryptic and tumultuous spin. A mixed bag of self discovery, small town desperation and human connection, The Messenger could have felt cliche or contrived, but Zusak presents a story that is unpretentious and characters that are believable and raw.

Where Zusak particularly succeeds is in capturing the necessary ordinariness of his setting, tinging small town Australia with a kind of humble sadness that makes Ed’s journey as a disaffected almost-adult all the more poignant. Though certainly problematic in places, The Messenger made for pretty compulsive reading and was tricky to put down.

3.5/5 stars.

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor (2017)

The big strength of Laini Taylor’s writing is how effortlessly she seems to blend vivid imagination, original storytelling and lyrical prose. It was what made the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series so enjoyable and what here sweeps the reader so fully into the fictional world of Lazlo Strange – daydreamer, orphan and librarian – to solve the mystery of the lost city of Weep.

The first in a planned duo of books, Strange the Dreamer feels part fairy-tale and part classical epic. Cleverly conceived and beautifully written, with good doses of adventure, conflict, gods and monsters, softness and light, it gets a whole-hearted two thumbs up from me.

4/5 stars.

Labyrinth – Kate Mosse (2005)

A $4 op shop bargain and veritable doorstop of a book, Labyrinth promised secrets, adventure and conspiracy all wrapped up around that old chestnut, the true Grail. With parallel storylines of medieval and modern day France, and two characters with a mysterious connection, Labyrinth, for the most-part, delivers.

On discovering two skeletons in a cave in the French Pyrenees, the crux of mystery resides with Alice in 2005 but following Alaïs circa 1209 is clearly where Mosse is most at home. Though highly effective as a sweeping historical narrative which paints medieval France with a deft hand, the story could have been 100 pages shorter and been no worse off. The main characters are well-realised and compelling, though some of the supporting characters felt under-done and largely expositional despite hints of potential for being interesting in their own right (Shelagh, for example). These quibbles aside, there is more than enough suspense and intrigue to keep the pages turning (all 700 of them).

3/5 stars.

‘Til next time,

Sig

 

CREATURE FEATURE SUNDAY: 50 Thoughts While Watching Ghost Shark

It’s Sunday afternoon and my eyes hurt. It’s more likely caused by the smoky bonfire I went to last night than from watching Ghost Shark (2013), but I’m fairly certain Ghost Shark did nothing to help. Let’s jump right in…

  1. You can rarely go wrong with redneck fishermen as your opener, and that’s a creature feature fact.
  2. They are shooting at a great white with a handgun.
  3. And they have a GRENADE! This is excellent.
  4. Poor old sharky has swum his way to a cave to die but the cave is *gasp* some kind of supernatural portally thing?
  5. Ghost Shark is bright blue! And translucent! And DOES NOT MESS ABOUT.
  6. What is a shark movie without gratuitous bikini shots?
  7. There is a crotchety old alcoholic lighthouse keeper. How refreshing.
  8. “You think ghosts are illogical, Sheriff?” (To which my response would probably be: ‘yes, in the context of quality police work if nothing else’, but I am not in the movie).
  9. Classic Shark Movie Mayor. Check.
  10. “The pool party. What if we turn it into a memorial?” (Like, are you after a list of reasons why that is a horrible idea or…? Again, I am not in the movie.)
  11. So Ghost Shark can manifest in ANY water. ANY water!
  12. Good job it’s a pool party!
  13. Ghost Shark has crashed the party via the swimming pool, and a decapitated head just landed on a champagne bottle.
  14. Cheers!
  15. I mean, it IS awkward that the party was at Classic Shark Movie Mayor’s house.
  16. Quick montage of car wash, plumber working on kitchen sink, backyard slip n slide. Were the writers on a round of Family Feud where the question was “places you find water”?
  17. SHARK IN A BUCKET OH MY GOD ALL IS FORGIVEN THIS IS AMAZING! ghostshark1
  18. Do lighthouses have basements? This one does. Is that weird, being built on the coast and all? Anyone with expertise please advise.
  19. Bath tub #placesyoufindwater.
  20. Fashion tip: rather than seeking medical assistance, use a number of decorative belts as a tourniquet, then affect an unconvincing limp.
  21. “It appears in water. Any water. All we gotta do is stay dry.” GENIUS. I mean, that is much of the premise but I am glad we’re all on the same page now.
  22. Museum Exposition Guy has just filled us in on the legend of some lost colony that disappeared forever, town elders keeping it under wraps, blah blah.
  23. Anyone who dies violently in the magical cave will rise again to take their revenge. Again, that seemed kind of obvious but thanks for being there, Museum Exposition Guy.
  24. Oh no, the spell book with the instructions on how to send vengeful spirits back to hell has been stolen! Of all the times!
  25. Spell book? Lame.
  26. Oh wait, this is a movie about a bright blue, translucent ghost shark.
  27. …..
  28. We’ll just run with the spell book thing then.
  29. Fire sprinklers! #placesyoufindwater
  30. This poor bastard was literally only drinking a cup of water:ghostshark2
  31. #placesyoufindwater
  32. NO ONE IS SAFE FROM GHOST SHARK.
  33. Fire hydrant! #placesyoufindwater
  34. Toilet! #placesyoufindwater
  35. So long, Classic Shark Movie Mayor. You were a shit dude.
  36. Evidently, at least according to that stolen spell book, the object that killed Ghost Shark can send him back to hell or whatever.
  37. ….
  38. But it sure didn’t work.
  39. Oh man, this movie isn’t even close to being over, is it?
  40. Wait what, Crotchety Lighthouse Keeper got drunk and murdered his wife in the cave a bunch of years ago?
  41. What?
  42. Things got weirdly dark for a minute there.
  43. Stealing a bunch of dynamite is the next logical step.
  44. Rain! #placesyoufindwater
  45. Ghost Shark is literally diving out of the sky!
  46. It’s like Sharknado but somehow less endearing.ghostshark3
  47. Puddles! #placesyoufindwater
  48. “Bite me, you bitch!”
  49. SLOW MOTION RUNNING AWAY FROM EXPLOSION!
  50. See you in hell, Ghost Shark!

Ghost Shark rates 2 out of 5 vengeful, translucent spirits.

‘Til next time,

Sig

Trash & Treasure: Considerations in Wardrobe Cleaning Sprees

First thing’s first:  I’m not a Marie Kondo decluttering type. I have stuff, and I have a lot of it. I’m big on shopping and holding onto things for sentimental reasons and if I was looking for a way of describing my household style, I would (somewhat generously) say happy clutter. There comes a time though, usually about once a year, when I go on a decluttering spree of the wardrobe variety. I call it my Brutal Seasonal Wardrobe Clean Out and it generally coincides with realising all my clothes, when laundered, do not physically fit in my wardrobe and that I have started dressing from a clean clothes pile, normally strewn over my bedroom chair. It’s also sometimes a ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ scenario because, I am telling you, for everything crammed into the cupboard, I have nothing to wear.

Marie Kondo has one thing right: letting go can feel cathartic and freeing, so filling the first bag or two with clothes to donate is always easy. These are filled with the obvious items to cull. It’s getting down to the nitty gritty that can be tricky. We want to avoid decision fatigue, whereby everything feels like trash and then three days later you regret donating that pair of soft pink mary-janes and that one dress that was old but was actually still awesome. To a hoarder like me, being brutal is vital, but so is making considered assessments. It’s a slippery slope.

 

Items I bought without trying them on.

Everyone knows that sizing varies wildly from store to store, and a medium from here may be comfortable but a medium from there may only fit one leg. We should all know better than buying without trying. But you do it, I do it, and occasionally time is of the essence and you just have to guess, right? Oh hello, unflattering mid-calf length knitted pinafore dress. And you, frilly off-the-shoulder shirt. We tried. It didn’t work out. Let’s move on. You’ve hung, unloved and unworn, oftentimes with tags still attached, for long enough. Verdict: cull.

Concert t-shirts.

Oh, how frequently have I handed over my hard-earned $40ish to say YES, I WAS HERE AND IT WAS GOOD. More often than not, my concert tees washed poorly and shrunk and now languish in the drawer, a monument to experiences past serving only to take up much needed space. I have moved them from prime drawer real estate to a sentimental box at the back of the cupboard. I have occasional thoughts of stitching them all into some sort of quilt, but I am not known for my craftiness so they will probably stay there still, until I next review the whole wardrobe sitch. Verdict: keep, for now.

Trend items that are no longer on trend.

Let’s consider the speed that trends move. It’s logical that some pieces won’t stand the test of time that staple items will, but do you hang on to them hoping they will re-emerge or do you let that fleeting moment remain consigned to the annals of history? I’m remembering a time when I wore red and yellow tartan pants with a beret, but that is worst case scenario. Look at velvet and skivvies. Who knew they would be seeing the light of day again? What goes around comes around might be true, but it could take its sweet ass time. Trend items, in my view, are here for a good time not a long time. Verdict: ditch.

The maybes.

The maybes are a tough bunch. They are the much-loved, well-worn items that parting with is such sweet sorrow. You know the ones. The cardigan from that first time you decided you were adult enough to splurge on proper quality expensive-as-hell knitwear and it lasted for years but is finally, devastatingly, starting to show its age (pilling, am I right? BASTARD). The favourite dresses and jeans that fit a pre-pubescent body but can’t quite handle hips or boobs or, dare I say it, all that pizza. The old leather jackets and that one pair of boots. Verdict: tough call. I sometimes move my maybes to a separate box and if I haven’t worn them or thought about them by the next wardrobe clean out, they are instant goners. Sometimes wardrobe catharsis comes in stages. What can I say?

‘Til next time,

Sig

Backwards page numbers are my jam (and other thoughts on books)

Ah, books. My  favourite. I was reminiscing earlier this week about the time years and years ago that I did a holiday internship at a publishing house and I got all doe-eyed and nostalgic over copywriting blurbs, editing recipes and compiling indexes for history books. One of my colleagues called me ‘bookish’ and they weren’t wrong. I refer to my spare room (only half-jokingly) as ‘the library’, which conjures up images of wingback chairs and rich mahogany and not a tiny cupboard of a room which also houses my vacuum cleaner. But you know, I am bookish. So there.

library

The ‘library’

I want a book to read, obviously, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also want something pretty to adorn my shelves (so torn: lugging a doorstop-style hard back on the bus is not my idea of a great time, but SO PRETTY). I love the idea of books as objects. I am one of those old souls weirdos who romanticises picking them up and leafing through them, inhaling that new book smell, that old book smell, like I can absorb the contents through my fingers by osmosis. It’s part of the ritual of reading, for me, to hold a book in my hands. There is a satisfaction in turning the pages or reaching the end that can’t be matched by e-readers or tablets no matter their convenience.

I love a plain old paperback as much as the next girl, but as a collector of quirky things, I am especially in love with books that do something a little extra, a little special, a little bit inventive. Not to judge a book by its cover, but you will win me over almost instantly with clever publishing quirks. It’s not all gilt-edged pages and embossed covers (though, admittedly, sometimes it is). I am nothing if not sophisticated: basically I want pop-up books for adults.

Anyway, here are a handful of books from my collection that do interesting things…

Survivor – Chuck Palahniuk

In Palahniuk’s Survivor, the pages are numbered backwards, counting down to page one, chapter one, as protagonist Tender Branson narrates his story to the black box of a hijacked 747.

Novel Journals 

One of the coolest gifts I’ve received in recent times is a thing called a ‘novel journal’. It’s a note book, right, but the lined pages are actually a classic novel in tiny, tiny print. Who comes up with this stuff? I don’t know, but they sure had my number. (Mine is Dracula, by the way – thanks, Rose!).

Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn

Not so much a publishing quirk as a conceptual one, the premise of Ella Minnow Pea is that it becomes unlawful to use certain letters of the alphabet. One by one they fall from a memorial statue on the fictional island of Nollop, and one by one the totalitarian Council bans their use. The cleverest part: as the letters are banned, they also disappear from the novel.

Vitalogy – E.H. Ruddock

As any good Pearl Jam fan knows, Vitalogy is a pretty great album named for a home medical encyclopedia first published in the 1890s. I have an edition of this veritable BRICK of a book from 1940 and among the questionable and hilarious health advice it offers there are amazing flip out anatomy charts. Flip out anatomy charts?! I am so there.

Girl Waits With Gun – Amy Stewart

I caught Amy Stewart at Adelaide Writers’ Week recently and really enjoyed her panel (with Kate Summerscale) on writing about real figures in history. Girl Waits With Gun is a fictionalised account of real-life Constance Kopp, the first female deputy sheriff in the US. Ever a fan of a signed edition, I was especially stoked that Stewart co-signs with a stamp of Constance Kopp’s actual signature. Oh, and she also had super cute temporary tattoos of the cover art. It was like book-signing Christmas.

‘Til next time,

Sig

Lull

I’m home sick at the moment, trying to work up the energy to go to the supermarket for green tea and a fresh supply of paracetamol. I’m wearing new knitted bootie slippers that I never want to take off and this ancient bobbly jumper that is too big and well past its prime but that I can’t part with for personal reasons (top of the list right now: it’s super cosy). So of course, in the spirit of the-couch-is-my-home-now procrastination, here we are. Hello, blog. Long time, no see.

Neglecting my blog reminds me of one of my worst habits: starting things that I don’t finish. I am surrounded by half finished projects, deserted at the mid-point because I turned magpie and (probably) got distracted by something shiny. Writing projects are chief among them, as is my Masters in Communications. (See also: cleaning out my wardrobe). There is no excuse, really, and no amount of frustration over these looming incomplete demons seems to prompt me to action. Oftentimes I just assume I will get back to it. Therein lies the problem: most of the time I don’t.

Recently during a clean up I found and re-read two such projects. One a very incomplete manuscript for a classic sword-and-sorcery style fantasy novel (which I am sure I imagined being a trilogy, because that is the done thing, right?) and the other a complete first draft of a humorous vampire novel, both written by me some years ago. Both have major failings and neither do anything revolutionary or of spectacular merit, but somehow I had forgotten how far I had gone with them both. How many hours did I spend on these for them to end up in a drawer? Achievement unlocked: English major with unfinished manuscript in drawer. Wait, two unfinished manuscripts. Do I get a patch for that?

I think a part of me assumed I would finish one if not both of these eventually, and then my reading grew more diverse and I wondered if there was much merit to what I was writing and whether launching it out into the world was worth it. In short, was sword-and-sorcery fantasy or funny vampires really what I was passionate about? I’ll admit: for a time, yes it was. There is process and there is end point. The process, at the time, must have been enough if the product of so many writing hours was locked away with little thought or use afterwards. I try to claim that it bugs me, and on some level it really does. Reading a solid chapter with a brief middle section that reads “plus more here to link scenes” is just annoying. Past April, how could you?

I wonder if it would give me a hearty sense of accomplishment to try and finish either of these projects, just to prove I could. Truth be told, it has been so long, I quite enjoyed reading the pair of them. What if it wasn’t desertion or failure, but just a lull? It’s tempting but I think I know that neither of them is right for me now, and anyway, we’ve established that one of my worst habits is failing to finish what I start. Maybe the process, this time, really was enough.

‘Til next time,

Reflections on Romance (ft. very little romance)

Valentine’s Day is approaching, you guys. I’m not a fan and never have been, but this is not a rant about Valentines’ Day being commercialised / made up / lame / a Tuesday. If it’s your bag, more power to you. It’s not mine but it’s not that hard to just chuck all the jewellery catalogues in the recycling instead of complaining about it. Go forth and be loved, lovers, and bask in your I-got-flowers-delivered-to-work smugness when I see you on public transport. Good for you; you deserve it.

It does seem timely though, to use this opportunity to talk about dating and romance, so here we are. Don’t know what it’s like to be a single girl negotiating this whole dating landscape this day and age? Well, pull up a chair, bucko, and let me take you on a journey…

You’re a bit confused at the moment. Because obviously you are a sucker for cute boys with nice arms who laugh at your dumb jokes and are sweet to their mothers. It wasn’t a ‘thing’ though, even if you wouldn’t have minded it being so. What can you do? Sometimes people don’t people very well and it sucks. You can only be you and you’re not everyone’s cup of tea.

So you feel a little deflated, until you pick up Aziz Ansari’s excellent and hilarious Modern Romance at the airport, which fills you in on how this whole thing is legitimately HARD FOR EVERYONE, not just dorky introverted girls like you, and people are BAD AT IT, as backed up by a swag of research data. Evidence, you guys! In your face, people who reckon this stuff is easy.

But then you’re on a plane reading a book about dating while this perfect hipster poster-child couple (long hair / straw hats / sketch books) start madly pashing in the seats next to you and you start to think that if your life was a sitcom this would be one of those moments when the laughter track kicks in.

So you think now is the time to just branch out. You don’t have to be looking for anything in particular. Just find some people to go on dates with. At best, you will meet some nice, interesting people. No big deal.

And then you find yourself on Tinder because it’s quick and easy and no one can bother you unless you’ve matched with them. And this happens:

  • Within the first 10 swipe-able options: the guy with the nice arms above.
  • Within the first 30 swipe-able options:the guy you slept with before him.
  • Every other person: former colleague / school friend / presumably-fake calendar fireman.
  • Also, does EVERYONE snowboard?

You go on a turbo swipe-left marathon and then:

rejector

You’ve rejected everyone in town. Good for you.

I kid, I kid. You matched with people. It’s not all doom and gloom.

Your bestie hits you up to say a former colleague has asked after you, seeing as how you’re single and ready to mingle and all. They seem to be forgetting that THEY HAVE PREVIOUSLY MET YOU and you did not particularly get along. Hooray for the information age. Just use the damn app and leave my mates alone.

You realise your conversation skills might not be quite up to snuff when you find yourself chatting with a guy about the weather. The weather?! You don’t care about the weather. You are capable of talking about so many other things. (Sorry, Thomas. My bad.)

The point is, it doesn’t matter. Not in any real way. And it’s hard because people are hard. No one has a clue what they are doing. Look as much or as little as you like. Message, don’t message. It is no big deal. The only person you are going to end up with forever is yourself. So buy yourself some goddamn heart-shaped chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and cut yourself some slack. You’re a pretty sweet deal.

‘Til next time,

Sig