Thursday, April 30, 2015

A sort-of recipe (and week 18 of my 2015 photos)

Week 18 (20-26 April)

This is a highly disorganised sort-of recipe, because like many things I cook, I made it up as I went along. I follow recipes for things that aren't very forgiving but otherwise I like to experiment a bit. Quantities are vague or guesses, because I didn't use any measuring tools whatsoever. It's titled 'Apple Filo Dessert' because although it's somewhat strudel-y I don't know what else to call it.  Presentation is conversational and informal, because.

Apple Filo Dessert

First, make cheat-y stewed apples. Take one apple, peel if you wish (I didn't), remove the core and chop into small, flat slices. Put in a microwave-proof bowl with a tiny bit of water, a spoonful of brown sugar, a handful of sultanas, a knob of butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Stir. Cover bowl with a plate/lid/whatever and microwave for a minute or two, however long it takes for the apple to go soft.
Next, prepare filo pastry. When mine defrosted it turned out to have split into quarters along the fold lines. No worries. I can work with this, just a bit of a jigsaw, and small serves instead of one large one.
Melt a couple teaspoons of butter in a small dish. Lay one piece of filo pastry on a board and brush it with butter. Put another on top, and brush with butter again. Repeat until the pastry is at least five layers deep. Tidy up the edges if you want. Place slices of apple, overlapping, along one edge of the pastry, make sure some sultanas get in there as well. At this point you can choose to either fold or roll the pastry - I made three, and the one that's shown is rolled but really, be as creative as you like here. Once that's done, put in a baking tray on baking paper and brush with butter again. These were baked at 180 degrees celsius for half an hour, but if you make something larger you might need to wing it and guess the time...
Enjoy hot, or let them cool. They're pretty darn good either way.

Here are the rest of the week's photos - this was the last of the catch-up weeks I started in the last post but I left this one as the week hadn't finished yet - and then I woke up on Sunday to find the internet was out across the area, and it just came back a few hours ago.
The rose has been edited minimally, Mum has one variety 'Jubilee 150' which is so bright you'd swear it'd been photoshopped when you look at it. The autumn leaves are also in Mum and Dad's garden, it's putting on a very colourful display at the moment.

Friday, April 24, 2015

2015: A photo odyssey, part next

This is a catch up post, I'm just going to give you a few photos for the weeks I've missed posting for rather than worrying too much about having one a day. When I set out to take these photos, I promised myself I wouldn't let it get too stressful. It's a personal project taken on for the fun of it. So next month I'm going to try using prompts again because I find them a good source of inspiration - and in the cooler months I find photographic inspiration in much shorter supply than usual.

Moving right along.

Week 13 (16-22 March)

The highlight photo is from the chocolate walking tour I went on - a birthday present from Mum and Dad as this year I decided that I was more interested in doing things with people than coming up with a list of stuff. It was amazing! We stopped at seven venues, tried an amazing variety of chocolatey things and learned quite a bit as we went! This mint iced chocolate from Steven ter Horst was absolutely wonderful.

Week 14 (23-29 March)


The most significant thing this week, was that with incredibly inconvenient timing, my phone completely failed. Attempts at bring it back failed, and a new phone was ordered. After a phoneless week, I got the new one... which has a fault with the aux out. So it's gone back for repairs and as I write this I'm using a temporary very cheap phone I bought. It's got an incredibly dreadful camera in it, and I'm eager to have the very nice new phone back.

The highlight photo I chose because I preferred it to the dead phone photo (which is the first little one, I was feeling silly that day). It's part of my back fence, though the gate is in the neighbours' section. It's a heritage listed stable wall and gradually crumbling but it is quite beautiful.

Week 15 (March 30-April 5)

The highlight this week was a camping trip - I spent the long weekend with a great group of people camping, walking, photographing and snorkelling. There's a much bigger album of photos on Facebook if you are interested. The highlight is a fishing boat on the beach at Pondalowie Bay, near our campsite. The oldest graffiti is from 2008, so at a guess that's roughly how long it's been there. It made an amazing photography subject (and backdrop)!

During this week I actually had my new phone, I had some important calls to make/take and hung onto it until I could arrange a substitute. The photo of my feet has a short story - I took a photo much like it for Instagram on my previous phone, but I wasn't able to send it out before my phone shut itself down for the last time, not able to connect to a computer for retrieval (thankfully all but that photo had been backed up).

Week 16 (6-12 April)

A pretty normal week, mostly, and one for getting things done. In the case of the first photo, with a chai and in the Adelaide City Library. After my  haircut, I had work to get done on a deadline. The library proved to be a great place to plug in and get things sorted out.

I also went to a Board Games Day event - and won the door prize! Otherwise it was a good but unremarkable week of getting things done.

Week 17 (13-19 April)

Bacon + Eggs + Pancakes + Maple Syrup is the love story that won me some movie tickets in a twitter competition. There really only was one way to celebrate...

Side note, I actually like this one highlight, other smaller photos format. It's far less time consuming to put together, and I think it looks better too. Just as well I decided to change format for the catch up!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reading onward... books 21-30 for 2015

Time to take my nose out of my current book (briefly) and let you know what I've been reading. Forgive me the huge post!

21 - What makes us tick? - Hugh Mackay

I bought this book at Writers' Week during the Adelaide Festival of the Arts. Although I didn't know much about Hugh Mackay's writing his talk sounded interesting, and I had time - although he mostly spoke about a different book I decided to try this one.

In this book, Hugh Mackay explains ten drivers of behaviour and decision-making beyond the basic needs of food, water, air and such. Throughout the book a variety of situations are given and the interaction of these drivers is explained. I started to think of similar situations I've seen, and began to see the behaviour of others I've met with a fresh perspective.

This is a book that really made me think - it gave me a lens to look through when thinking about my own choices and actions and those of others. I plan to revisit it again in future as it's knowledge well worth keeping active in my mind. Along with other books I'm currently reading or have read in the recent past I'm finding that I'm developing a new way of looking at things and learning from them. This can only be a good thing.

22 - Chew, Vol. 1: Taster's Choice - John Layman & Rob Guillory

Tony Chu is cibopathic - he gets psychic impressions from what he eats. In a world where poultry was banned after an outbreak of avian flu killed millions this is a very useful detective skill in the FDA - combating the black market for chicken is serious work. But this skill is not always a good thing. Sometimes it's best not to know the details...and some of the things Tony has to eat in the line of duty are not exactly food.

The story is crazy and fun, the characters are wonderfully fun. I enjoyed the story and am looking forward to seeing where it goes - looks like a lot of shades of grey are developing.

You might not to read this one while eating though.

23 - Poisoned Apples: poems for you, my pretty - Christine Hepperman

This book of poetry mixes issues teenage girls frequently face with fairytales and feminism. I found about half of the poems in the book very enjoyable and cleverly written, but didn't really find much for me in the rest, especially the fairly substantial number of them tackling eating disorders. This might well be a reflection of personal experience, so others might find something more in those.

24 - Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8) - Terry Pratchett

A mysterious cult, a fire-breating dragon, a collection of unlikely guardsmen and (gasp!) a stolen library book. This book was my introduction to the wonderful and hilarious Discworld. I'd attempted to read The Colour of Magic before but hadn't got far. This book did the trick. When I heard that Sir Terry Pratchett had died I wanted to re-visit the Discworld, and I thought that the book that got me into it was the right place to go back to. I was sad to hear of Sir Terry's passing, but I was soon laughing along with this book. It's sad that he's gone, but the books he's left behind will bring many hours of laughter and good cheer to people for many years to come.

25 - The Disappearance of Ember Crow (The Tribe, #2)- Ambelin Kwaymullina

I really don't want to spoiler this series - and it's almost impossible to introduce this book without spoilering the first so I'll skip right onward.

Once again we're given the idea we know what's going on - but we're proven wrong repeatedly as secrets, some buried for many years, are revealed. It takes fantastic storytelling skill on the part of the author to do this so well, too often twists can be spotted a mile off - but not in this series. There are plenty of surprises here to keep you hooked and reading far later than is entirely responsible (*cough*). 

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf was a great book, but the second in the series is much stronger. The story has gained complexity and moral grey areas of varying degrees abound. My challenge now, is to wait patiently for the third book. That will be difficult.

26 - Hinterkind, Vol. 1: The Waking World - Ian Edginton and Francesco Trifogli

After the blight, little of humanity remains. Cities are overgrown and life as we know it is long gone. Fantastic creatures and people have returned to the world, and they're not exactly friendly...

Even by my standards, I'll keep this one brief. This book wasn't bad, but I just wasn't inspired or compelled by it. I did continue to Vol. 2, but I'm not sure I would have if I hadn't already borrowed it from the library. I'm sure some people enjoyed it... but this wasn't my cup of tea.

27 - Into the Grey - Celine Kiernan

After a fire destroys their Home Patrick, his twin Dom and their family move into a seaside cottage that was once the family's summer getaway. Now, changed by the fire, they attract sinister attentions. Patrick can see that Dom is changed - perhaps dying- but nobody else seems to notice. As things worsen and history is gradually revealed Patrick will have to deal with the situation to the best of his ability in trying circumstances. 

A good spooky read that drew me in so well that time seemed to disappear within its pages. The supernatural is here, but this is proper spooky stuff, not the more amiable and flashy paranormal that has become so popular. While I really detest gender categorising books, in YA I can't help but notice the dominance of books primarily targeted at girls. When looking for books to recommend to teen boys when they visit the library it can be tough to find newer titles. This book will be great for recommending in that situation.

28 - Hinterkind, Vol. 2: Written in Blood - Ian Edginton, Francesco Trifolgi and Cris Peter

According to my notes, I enjoyed this a little more than Vol. 1 (book 26, higher up in this review). That said, now that I come to write a review not much comes to mind to write about it. The characters are stronger, there are some interesting developments, but I'm not sure I'll continue with the series. There are too many out there that I'd rather read first.

29 - Pride of Baghdad - Brian K Vaughan, Niko Henrichon

Inspired by the real life escape and eventual re-discovery of lions from Baghdad's view, this emotionally powerful story imagines what might have happened and mixes it with a great deal of musing on the meaning, value and costs of freedom and captivity.

I was drawn to this book as I've enjoyed some of Brian K Vaughan's other work, especially Saga. I can't really draw a comparison between that book and this because there's not a lot of common ground. The philosophy was a bit heavy-handed at times but the ideas were interesting and I found myself quite attached to the characters.

If you're looking for a happy ending, you won't find one here. It's an interesting read though.

30 - Faking it (The Intern, #2) - Gabrielle Tozer

Things are going well for Josie. She's found a job as a writer and things are working out well with her boyfriend. But the pressure's building with new responsibilities and expectations and she's developing a shocking case of impostor syndrome...

As with the first book in the series, the characters are wonderfully written. Josie's awkwardness is believable and the distinct personalities of the other characters are really well written. I really only had one gripe - there's a scene with a librarian, she's a horrible, vicious stereotype (ultra-authoritarian, uptight, angry, moralist) who behaves in a manner totally unbelievable to a person who's worked in libraries. Given how well other characters are written it was quite disappointing. I had to put the book down and walk away for a bit. Thankfully that character didn't recur and the book is very, very good otherwise.

I've been enjoying reading some newer Australian YA authors and Gabrielle Tozer and the earlier mentioned Amberlin Kwaymullina have been the standouts.