Why reading and writing is the road to happiness...

This blog started years ago as a place to muse on the life projects keeping me entertained. It is no surprise then that it has morphed into a blog about my reading as that has been my lifelong project. Here I review lots of different types of books, with an added focus on Australian women writers. Hope you enjoy - feel free to contribute to the conversation!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Baking - Red Velvet Cupcakes

A friend is addicted to these reality TV shows - Real Housewives of Something Something - and they apparently guzzle these Red Velvet Cupcakes and she was desperate to try one. So I had a crack at them. Well - the verdict fromn the old boy was they were a bit dry, and I have to concede that was probably true. But they were still edible. But how to get your icing neat? I can never do it...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Breaking Bread

“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.”
                       Robert Browning (1812-1889) English poet

I thought I would have a crack at bread because if I practice making cakes, someone has to eat them... actually, bread is my weakness anyway. A few years ago I did the low carb challenge and was a lean, mean fighting machine. I keep thinking I should go back to that regime to lose the last bit of baby weight but... uuggh. It was a nightmare - no bread, no pasta, no rice. Miserable. Sooooo, I'm still on the bread.
This is a basic white bread roll recipe from www.taste.com.au
One of the rolls looked pretty good, but the others were a bit mangled. And they tasted - well, a bit doughy if truth be told. But I think I'm not used to eating white bread as well. Next time I'll try wholemeal flour.
But - I think this was a pretty good attempt for the baking challenge.
Now, this week onwards, I start to reduce my bread intake again *sigh

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Boo hoo for Haute Couture

Stories in both the Telegraph and Herald today on a topic that has been reported on since last year - high end fashion stores on Oxford St closing down due to ongoing dwindling sales. I have little sympathy for these retailers. Don't get me wrong - I worry for the general retailers and traders who have been hit hard since the GFC, and know first hand the worry that fluctuating sales bring to small businesses. 

But these haute couture designers? Pfft. Not worried for them. Two issues at play here - the oft cited problem of these designers not catering to women in sizes higher than 12 - that's a big issue, and I would also argue that they are catering to a limited age group as well. But the other issue I see here is the ridiculous prices these designers put on these little sprays of fabric, so flimsy they are barely more than 2 metres of fabric - $5.99 at Spotlight...if only we could all sew!

Okay, okay - I know that the fabric on these designer pieces may be imported. I know that there is labour time for the tailors. I know some have some intricate sewing detail. But most DO NOT. I know the Oxford St precinct well, and I appreciate finely made clothes. But I saw a shift dress in the window of a store last year, just plain fabric with no detail, a very simple summer dress in cotton. $999. One dollar short of a thousand bucks. For a COTTON DRESS!

Some advice for those designers who want to stay afloat. 1: Design for women of all sizes and ages. 2: Bring down your price a teensy tiny bit...
Because you know how you've been hit hard by the current econimic climate? We all have.


Friday, 13 April 2012

Bad BUPA vs Good BUPA

A deeply serious question has been niggling at me for quite some time - and I have been losing too much head space time much dwelling on it. And it was this - are those people on the BUPA ads twins or are they the same actor with make up?

My life couldn't move on without the answer.

I had taken a straw poll and it seemed other people were also intrigued - and as it turned out, felt the same way that I did about the ads. The fact of the matter is that these ads are immensely depressing because each and every one of us knows deep down that we are rapidly becoming the bad BUPA, and our good BUPA self is becoming a sad and distant memory. What is depressing me even more is that my descent into bad BUPA seems to have accelerated at the recent birth of my first child. Not only has my waist expanded, hair thinned and lost shine, skin gone sallow and tired looking - but my dress sense has reduced to old gym gear with vomit stains, and fluff from wipe up terry cloth nappies.

To sum up: if I went with my sibling / twin for the audition for the BUPA commercial, I would be thinking I'd get the good BUPA part - and BAM! Director: "Soooo, Angie you'll be playing the part of the bad BUPA... No we won't need you to sit for make up darl, just come as you are...."
*sob When will I get back to good BUPA............?

Incidentally, Google informs me that the ad uses single actors with body doubles for the over shoulder shots - prosthetics and make up were used to create effect. Why bother - they could have just used me for free

Monday, 9 April 2012

Book Review - The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Eugenides only publishes every hundred years or so (!), which is why this novel was eagerly anticipated after his Pulitzer Prize winning 'Middlesex' and his debut novel 'The Virgin Suicides'. I loved both those novels so I looked forward to 'The Marriage Plot'. This novel is set in the 80s and follows the college graduation and first few years after college life of three individuals - Leonard, a manic depressive science student, Mitchell, a shy religion student, and Maddie, the English lit major who both boys love. Maddie is writing a thesis on the marriage plots in works like Austen and the Brontes - Eugenides makes the point that these classic love plots happen in real life, no matter the decade or society. 

This novel is not nearly as interesting as 'Middlesex' and doesn't have the atmosphere of the 'Suicides' but the characters were quite engaging. I loved the section following Mitchell's backpacking through Europe and India - brought back memories of feeling like a loser standing out like a sore thumb with huge bag, filthy cheap clothes and passport clumsily hidden in belt waist etc etc. I wonder how much backpacking has changed now? If you like Jonathon Franzen, Eugenides is very similar but more accessible.