Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Books Lately

Show us your books day! First off I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words on my post about my nana yesterday, they were much appreciated. It's funny how sharing things like that can make you feel better, help you cope. I liked sharing some of my memories and though I'm sure I will always miss her, I feel lighter somehow. So, thank you. Now, book time! As usual, when I'm going through stuff, I bury my head in books to cope. So I have quite a few to share!


Daisy Jones & the Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid
follows the break up of a fictional band
Talk about high expectations! I still haven't really gotten all my thoughts together, but this was a really easy read, different format but you get used to it quickly, fast paced and you keep turning the page because you want to know what happened, a little disappointed with the endings for some characters, a teeny twist that made me gasp.. I shouldn't compare, it didn't come close to Evelyn Hugo for me, but it did give me all of the feels.
Received from Netgalley.
99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
new sally thorne book what more do you need to know
I like to keep my romance books separated in the little area below but this deserves its own spot up here. Heather and I both got the ARC and we were like we should read it together, when do you want to read it, it doesn't come out until January, we should wait.. and then we were both like yeah, we want to start it right away. Couldn't help ourselves! Anyway, if you are a fan of The Hating Game, I recommend, just try not to compare it, as they are like cousins rather than sisters. I really, really, really enjoyed it. Now, not so patiently waiting for the next Sally Thorne book... 
Received from Edelweiss.
Pretty Girls Dancing - Kylie Brant
missing girls
Well this was creepy AF. It was definitely engrossing. It was fast paced and I thought it was well written. I liked most of the characters, except of course the ones you're not supposed to. I really liked the ending, some characters getting their just desserts. I had no idea where anything was going, I didn't see anything coming. True, I don't read a whole lot of books like this so take that with a grain of salt. I mostly read it though I listened to a bit on audio and I don't recommend that at all.
You Are a Badass - Jen Sincero
personal development
This reinforced a lot of thoughts I already had, namely that it's okay to not have big grand dreams or to live what others might consider a 'small' life. It also made me look at things a different way, and made me realise I might hold on to things a little too long, might be more angry or bitter over things I need to let go of or forgive. It made me think about being more present in my life, appreciating the bumps instead of getting angry or frustrated. It also made me want to be more honest with my goals and bad habits. There was a lot I didn't agree with or thought 'yeah no thanks, not for me' and that is okay.
Still Me - JoJo Moyes
third in me before you series
I liked After You, I did not hate it like others seemed to. Though I don't remember a whole lot about it so it took a bit to get back into this world. I ended up liking it a lot, felt a lot of emotions and I liked the ending.... but I'm still not entirely sure books 2 or 3 even needed to be written. Like they could have been about different characters and held their own, without the Will thing hanging over Louisa's head. I did like this, and After You, but I do hope JoJo Moyes writes something else soon, something not Louisa Clark related (and I really, really like Louisa). I still like Me Before You best, like book wise, but I also really, really love Sam. 
The Book of Essie - Meghan MacLean Weir
daughter of preacher with tv show like the duggars is pregnant
This was really, really, really good. It's about so much more than the synopsis makes it sound. It's a very emotional book, a lot heavier than you think it might be. There's a lot going on, it's told from three POVs and I'm not sure one of them was really necessary but it wasn't a big deal. The ending was satisfying. Somehow this was a light read dealing with heavy stuff. I do recommend. 
I Am Watching You - Teresa Driscoll
woman sees two teenage girls meet dangerous guys, next day one is missing
I thought this was really good, very interesting, very 'must know what happens next'. Had no idea who the bad guy was. There was a lot going on, not just with possible bad guys but just.. a lot. Like a lot of filler. Anyway, it makes you think, what would you do in certain situations? If you saw two teenage girls talking to older, dangerous men? Would you try and stop them, or try and call their parents (even though they are strangers), or would you do nothing?
girl writes letters to people she's loved and they get sent
I kept putting this one off because I really didn't enjoy her other trilogy. Then the netflix movie came out and obviously I had to watch it, but I had to read it first. I don't read a whole lot of YA anymore because teenagers are really annoying but I tried to ignore that. I read a LOT of contemporary romance and I also had to try not to compare it to that, because a lot of things that go down are super not okay in the romance world. But anyway. This was totally adorable, and the movie was even more adorable. I'm not so patiently waiting for the next book from the library.
A Spark of Light - Jodi Picoult
shooting at women's health services center
Never thought I would dislike a Picoult book. I think it was the subject matter, but it's turned me off her books. I can acknowledge and respect a lot of different beliefs someone might have compared to me, I try not to judge and just accept that we are different... but there are a few I simply cannot accept or understand. I feel like she was too ambivalent in this one, about which belief/opinion was right or wrong and I couldn't get behind that. It's a nope from me. Also, it's told in reverse which is not my jam.
Received from Netgalley.
Consumed (thanks Netgalley!) // Bountiful (loving this whole series but this is by far my favourite) // Fight or Flight (thanks Netgalley! Comes out today) // Hot Winter Nights (I adore Jill Shalvis) //
One Day in December (thanks Netgalley! Comes out November 7th) // Reckless (wow, this was so much better than the cover makes it look) // The Simple Wild (thanks Netgalley!) // Rebel Hard (thanks Netgalley!)

The Clockmaker's Daughter and Nine Perfect Strangers - coincidentally both Aussie authors! The Clockmaker's Daughter actually comes out today, I was hoping to finish it before the link up, but... life. Also, Nine Perfect Strangers doesn't come out in the US until next month, but I'm still hooked up to my Australian library and it came out in September there.

Linking up with Steph & Jana. Happiest of happy anniversaries guys! 4 years, wow! Favourite link up ever.


Life According to Steph

TL;DR - I recommend Daisy Jones, 99 Percent Mine, Pretty Girls Dancing, The Book of Essie, I Am Watching You and To All The Boys I've Loved Before. 

Read anything decent lately?

Monday, October 8, 2018

See you in a porridge, nana

When you hear about someone losing a loved one, you feel bad. You feel sad for them, and I truly believe when you say I'm sorry you mean it. I know in the past, I have always meant it when I said sorry for someone's loss. I thought I understood their pain, I mean, I knew I didn't 100% because I'd never lost someone I really actually truly loved, but I've known loss. I thought I knew, I thought I understood, I thought I was prepared.


I won't be able to do my nan justice, but I want to share this today because I am trying so desperately to remember every little thing and I am still trying to cope. It's been a month since she died and it still hits me like a sucker punch to the gut, my heart drops and my knees go weak for just a second. I think I'm okay, I think I've grieved and it hits me suddenly and I feel so empty, so freaking bereft. Why didn't anyone tell me it was debilitating, losing a loved one? Why didn't I realise, how could I have been so stupid, of course it is. There is a hole in the world now. How is the world still turning?

My nana - my mum's mum - is the only grandparent I've ever known. Her husband, my pa, died before my mum met my father. I knew my paternal grandparents when I was a baby, but I don't remember them - I've seen photos, that's how I know. But no memories of anyone but nan. I won't lie and tell you she was the best grandmother in the history of grandmothers. She was not a stereotypical grandmother. But she's mine. My only. And to me, that makes her the best.


She gave good squeezy pat you on the back hugs. She was strict and she didn't spoil us. She never wasted food, including the jar of vegemite I'm pretty sure she had in her cupboard my entire life.

Her name was Shirley, she went by Shirl. She had a newspaper waiting at the newsagency every single day for years and years. She walked down the shops to pick it up or she'd send me when I was visiting, and I'd go in and say 'here for Shirl's paper' and it would be behind the counter with her name on it. I don't even know why she had it set aside, it wasn't different and there were always plenty sitting out.. but I didn't question it. Just did as I was told.

My first overseas trip was with my nan. I loved having that time with her.


Nan loved crosswords. Mum loves magazines and she'd save every single one she bought throughout the year and we'd throw them in the car when we went down to Melbourne for christmas. They'd wake up and do crosswords for hours. Sometimes I would join them, but nan didn't like me to do that while they were smoking. Which was basically always. She had a stool like this in her kitchen - without the back - that I would sit in, swing my legs, eat my brekkie and shout my (often wrong) answers. But I learned a lot. It's random, but I will always remember learning the word thespian via a crossword morning.

We often had get togethers at her little unit, even though it was chockablock with all of us in there. We are not a quiet family. I never realised how completely comfortable and myself I was with my family until I brought KC home and he noticed it. They are like any family, fights, getting on everyone's nerves, but they are my people.


Nan says happy christmas instead of merry. She was not a fan of my 'dress and sand shoes' phase, aka the year I wore skirts and skate shoes. She called me a silly duffer when I did something stupid, which was often. I would turn the corner to go down the hallway too quickly, I always forgot there was an extra wall there. She always laughed. If I close my eyes, I can hear her laugh and I wish I had recorded it.

She didn't like a lot of 'new' stuff, but she liked mambo number 5 and that connie and carla movie. I watched her copy of Calamity Jane on video so many times that I ruined the tape. She would always make a comment about 'oh please, not again' but then she'd rewind it for me and hum along to all the songs. She made this little clicking noise when music was playing that she liked.


Every christmas she would tie string around her lounge room and put all the christmas cards on it. After christmas she made me take down all the cards and neatly sort them - gosh, I hated that. My nan got a lot of christmas cards. She saved the string, she saved or recycled christmas wrapping paper. Even now, when I open a present, I fold the paper.

She had plastic snakes around her garden - I don't know why. To keep the birds away? That's what she said. She didn't like cats. She loved the news and tennis. She got cranky when we let the fridge door slam. She helped name me. Thanks nana, can you imagine me as a Bree? Especially with the middle name Lee?

I told my nana that I would name my child after her and she said don't you dare. She didn't like her name. She gave me permission to use her middle name though.


When we went down to Melbourne each year, I slept on a little rollaway bed in her room. She snored like a freight train and would keep me up if I didn't get to sleep before her. I went to bed early being a kid and all, but she liked to go to bed early to read. She had a cereal box that she'd cut open and she'd put it around the lamp in between our beds so the light didn't bother me.

I would say I get my love of reading from my nana. My mum used to read occasionally, but nothing like me and nothing like nana. She owned every Agatha Christie book. We used to walk down to the library and the librarians let us borrow more than normal on her card because they knew I was just there for a few weeks. I read my first Agatha Christie book this year and I wish I had told her, I wish I had talked to her about it, asked her which one was her favourite. She wasn't able to really read the last few years because of her eyesight but I wish I'd asked.


My nana is a card person. Birthday and christmas, engagement, wedding, congratulations, thank you cards after you sent her a card or called her.. moving overseas didn't stop her sending them to me and I am so so grateful. I am thankful I am a card keeper. I have years of cards with love Nan in her distinctive handwriting. She sent KC cards too and signed them Nan C. So adorable.


My nana always had this specific smell, and years ago I asked her what it was, because as creepy as it may be, I wanted access to that smell just in case. I wanted to use that perfume or soap if I was far away and feel like my nan was hugging me. Instead, she laughed and told me it was probably her hairspray, she didn't wear perfume. So I went into her bathroom and yep, sure is. And of course you can only get it in Australia, so I bought heaps last time so I always have some around my house. I don't use it, it's not a great hairspray, but sometimes I just smell the lid like a weirdo, or I spray it on my wrists. She stopped using it years ago but it still reminds me of her.

She loved the pokies (slot machines) and could play for hours on end. She had this miniature pokie machine that I used to like playing with (I wasn't supposed to and always got in trouble), I don't know where she got it, but we helped her clean out her unit last trip and she was getting rid of it. I took it, after asking of course.


She also got rid of this framed picture - I wish I could put into words how I feel about this picture. Family scattered around Australia and the world, we weren't all together in one place for many years. This photo was framed in all of our houses and it's such a part of my childhood, my life, and even though we had the exact same picture in my own childhood home, this one with this frame just.. it's just nana. She had it on a little end table next to her chair (no-one else is allowed in nan's chair!). She put a mini christmas tree next to it for christmas and all the presents underneath. If I went to the shops to get a frame, I wouldn't pick this one up. But when she gave it to me to take home to America, I never dreamed of switching it out. She'd duct taped the back and the stand. I removed the stand and it's on my wall, right above where I sit on the couch. Only two cousins are missing, because they weren't born yet. I'm in the bottom left, apparently eating my finger. Nan's in the middle. I could close my eyes and tell you where everyone is, I've looked at this picture so many times in my life.


I realise this post is all over the place. I've mixed my past and present tense, I can't quite get the hang of was. Of no more. I still don't quite believe it. I've read several posts and heard people talk about losing loved ones before. You feel bad, you say sorry, you think you understand. I am so lucky, so lucky I know, to be 31 before I knew real loss. I thought I understood, I knew it would hurt, but god, the pain. I can't handle it. It keeps me up at night and people ask me what's wrong - what's wrong? My nana is dead that's what is bloody wrong. It's not fair, it was unexpected, she wasn't even sick, it happened too quickly. I didn't even get to talk to her again. I feel so bloody selfish and guilty, why didn't I do more? Why didn't I call more? Why didn't I go home one more time?


Since before I can remember, when we would say good night, we'd kiss mum, say love you, kiss nan and she'd say 'love you, see you in a porridge'. I never questioned it. I feel like I was born knowing what that meant, I don't remember ever being given an explanation, I just knew. See you in the morning. I have no idea where she got it from, I don't know if anyone else in the world says it or if it's just my nan. Over the years, we'd try to beat her and say it before she did.. and as I got older, I did the whole pretend to say it before her and let her beat me.. I moved across the world and every phone call would end in see you in a porridge, no matter the time.

When I decided to start a blog to deal with homesickness, I stumbled over several names. Most had to do with being an expat.. and then this just popped in my head and it felt so right. And I am so glad. I think of my nan daily. It's also helped me deal with it a bit, you know? It doesn't hurt as much to think about those particular memories, even though they are the strongest.

If I ever have kids, I might try and make see you in a porridge a thing. Keep it going. This is the last photo I have of my nan. It's not the best but I will treasure it.


So at the risk of sounding completely sappy, this is me saying see you in a porridge one last time to my nana.

I am so lucky to be your granddaughter. I miss you so much.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

September 2018 Recap - What's New With You Link Up

Hello all, time for another what's new with you link up! Thanks again if you join me, I always appreciate it. You don't have to display the button if you don't want to, but don't forget to mention it somewhere in your post and check out some of the other posts! I'll be doing a monthly recap like I do every month.

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September wasn't crazy quiet, but I have almost nothing to show for it, so apparently it was.

I feel like we were somewhat busy, but maybe that's just because I did the mins game and felt like I 'did' something every single day.

The biggest thing we did in September was finishing our entry wall - which I've already shared in my goals post, but here it is again.


We also went to World Fest - it was a lot hotter than I thought it would be and a lot busier! We didn't stay too long, but the food was great.


And I'm sure we did other stuff in between the beginning and end of the month, but not according to my phone and memory. I was out of it for most of the month, coping with the death of a loved one. We had lots of sunroom/windows open time because the weather was quite nice (though lots of rain, if I remember correctly).

I do remember book club being in there somewhere, everyone loved Evelyn Hugo as they very well should. As always, the food is the best part, and one of the girls made these fancy cocktails. Delicious.


At the end of the month we went to Downs after Dark, which was a little too much fun but I have zero photos except for this one. Seriously, it was fun and I highly recommend if you are local or ever visiting. It's like a super cheap ($10) and casual Derby. By that I mean it's in the same place and has horses. Basically the same.


So, clearly worst blogger in the world in regards to photos, can I interest you in some cats?


Also, I just want to point out that all 3 of them are doing the paw out pose. I mean, I realise that's not really abnormal because they are cats and all, but still. I cannot handle the cuteness, I simply cannot.

Today is my mum's birthday, so happy birthday to my mum. Unfortunately, my nana died last month so this is mum's first birthday without her, which is obviously very hard. I am still not coping very well either, but naturally mum is taking it a lot harder than I am.


If you'd like to link up, please do so below.


So, what's new with you?

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

2018 - 10/12 - October Goals

I can't believe - well, I can but you know what I mean - that we are officially in the 4th quarter of 2018... Time flies, right?


Quick recap of September goals before I move on to October's:
  • No spend September - not 100%, so it's technically a fail. I shopped twice, both times I let my emotions about things in my life get to me, but no excuse. I ate out at work twice, both times were in the last week - I was going so strong! Other than that, nothing, so I am quite proud but can do better.
  • Declutter/Mins Game/Organise - I successfully completed the mins game, I did organise the basement a bit as well but I still have more to do there.
  • Organise and get rid of paperwork - I actually completely forgot about this one, oops.
  • Meal plan: I didn't stop eating mac n cheese but did meal plan for most of the month, so I'm calling it a pass.
  • Finish entry wall in kitchen: success! I am so happy with this wall.
  • Get in front of netgalley books: another success! Yes, it was an easy goal but whatever.

All in all I reckon I did okay. The only one I failed spectacularly was the paperwork.

Quick before and after of our wall that I shared on Instagram:


Moving on to October goals:
  • Little free library. I got rid of a lot of books in September and have saved them for our future little free library, but I don't want to keep them for years. So I am giving us a month to get this sorted otherwise the books are going to Half Price or Goodwill.
  • Stick to budget. I am trying something new this month in regards to finances, my goal is always to stop spending and then I inevitably fail, so this time I am focusing on sticking to the budget I've had in place for like 2 years and never successfully stuck to. My focus right now is to pay things off, and I am not doing it fast enough because I keep spending money. If we stick exactly to the budget - and there is money allocated for eating out, entertainment and shopping so it's not like I'm trying to restrict completely - I will be able to pay things off quicker. Paying things off, saving money and possibly going home - all of these things are so much more important than makeup, clothes or random shit from amazon.
So they are my goals for October. Keeping it relatively simple.

Also, just a quick reminder to anyone who wants to link up - this Thursday the 4th is the next What's New With You link up if you want to join me!

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Hobbiton, New Zealand Recap - June 2017

Tomorrow is apparently Hobbit Day - Bilbo & Frodo's birthday - so I thought, what better time to share that time I went to New Zealand and Hobbiton? I have been meaning to share our NZ trip ever since we went, but life. So this Hobbit Day prompted me to get off my lazy butt and post about that trip. I've already shared Auckland and Queenstown, but Hobbiton deserves its own post. I'm only a year and 3 months late.


So. If you are not a LOTR fan, this post will probably be very boring to you. If you are a LOTR fan, this post may still be boring to you. If you are me, you will delight in this post for years to come, so at least there's that.

There are a few ways you can visit Hobbiton, it's about a 2 hour drive from Auckland. We decided on doing an early morning tour with Bush and Beach. More expensive than the normal day tours, but you get there earlier than other visitors, it's a smaller group, you get to have breakfast and you're back in Auckland mid-afternoon, which was better than getting back late. I just feel like we pack more in when we get up earlier. So. I highly recommend if you are interested in going to Hobbiton. The weather was kind of drizzly but as you can see, didn't dampen our enjoyment at all.


I know it's basically just a lot of photos of us in front of really small doors, but it was a ton of fun.

Like I said, it included breakfast at The Green Dragon. It was like a mini buffet and I think we also got a free drink or two.


Also, there was a kitty and she was the most adorable kitty in the country. I always find cats that hang around businesses like this so interesting, my cats would 100% hide and have a heart attack if so many people came up to them daily. I know the cats get used to it, but they must have started as kittens, you'd think anyway.


On the way back in Auckland we stopped and got ice cream. Delish.


So on our NZ trip, we went to Hobbiton and a LOTR scenic tour in Queenstown. I'd say we've gotten our fill of LOTR themed tours and trips for at least 5 years. Kidding. I've mentioned before I wish I'd have gone to NZ when I lived in Oz, especially when they had all the sets up (not just Hobbiton), but I didn't, obviously. Good thing I can see them any time I want, just gotta watch the movies, right?

Thank you for sticking around if you did, again, I really just do these for myself because I love looking back and seeing how much fun we had, but it doesn't hurt if someone else gets some joy out of it too.

Fun fact - obviously we are LOTR fans and had a grand ol' time at Hobbiton... but I've not actually seen any of the Hobbit movies. KC has because he likes to hate watch things (he's weird). I've seen the LOTR movies a million times (queued up on Boxing Day 2003 for Return of the King, zero shame) and I've read the books a few times. I've only read the Hobbit once though. The movies do have Richard Armitage in it... but still. I haven't and can't see myself watching them anytime soon.

Erm, any LOTR fans out there?