It’s all about perseverance

My daughter did the ‘Great Te Atatu Mud Run’ on Sunday morning.  She signed up to do the long run (1km), although this was supposed to be for people aged 16+ and she’s only 12, as she was doing it with two family friends of ours.

We watched some people do shorter runs, and it was amusing to watch them slog through the knee-deep mud.  On the smaller people, it was occasionally thigh or waist high mud!

One of the ladies that was doing the run with my daughter was running late, so the three of them ending up starting the long run quite a while after everyone else.  By that stage we had already seen some people give up and many people struggling to make it back to dry land, and we were a bit nervous about how she would cope.  She was easily the youngest participant for this course.

The obligatory ‘before’ photo when they were still clean!

The 1km course ended up taking them a full hour to complete.  They were covered in mud from head to toe, literally, with mud in their hair and everything.  They were absolutely knackered, but triumphant, and grinning from ear to ear.

Thankfully there were some handy fireman bearing hoses to clean them off before they got in the car to come home.  The car still got pretty grimy though.


At home, she took a long, hot shower and then spent the afternoon drawing.  She’s at the stage of self-taught drawing where she’s finding drawings she likes online and copying them, freehand.  We watched our son go through that too.  They start with tracing, then move on to copying, then start drawing things from their own imagination and/or things that they see in real life.

They don’t get the drawing talent from my husband or me specifically, but we have plenty of artists in the family.  My mother and sister are both skilled artists, and my husband’s grandparents on his mother’s side were too.  Having watched my son learn to draw, I know that it is 90% practice and 10% talent, but you need that drive, that love of drawing to keep you practicing until you start to get good.  It’s so wonderful to see my daughter following in his footsteps.  I love seeing the art they create.

How impressive is that for a 12 year old drawing freehand?!

Oh, and I did spend Saturday with my mum working on the photo book project for my sister, so I’m on track there.  And I will try to get some more book reviews done soon too.  I have read a few books that I need to review.

What have you been up to?


‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’

I was talking to a colleague of mine today, about my projects.  She was intrigued by the idea that I had multiple projects on the go, and asked me what they all were.  I told her that my projects were:

  • A photo book for my sister (wedding present)
  • Transferring my blogs from 2001 – 2018 into printed books, embellished with the memorabilia I’ve collected from those years
  • The family recipe book
  • Family history books
  • Handwriting all my poems into journals

She asked me what my plans were for achieving these ‘goals’.  I was stumped.  I don’t have plans, I just have projects!  *Laugh*  I started my family recipe book in 2010.  That was 8 years ago!!  *Shock*

I told her that I needed to get the photo book for my sister done by June, because it was a wedding present.  I was then going to work on the blog books because I had all these boxes of memorabilia stashed around my bedroom that I needed to get rid of.  But as I spoke to my colleague, I mused that the blog books were for me (and eventually my children), but the family recipe book and the family history books are intended for my older relatives.  I gave an abbreviated copy of the recipe book (what I’d done to that point) to my great-uncle (who is in his 90s and in ill health) and to my husband’s grandfather a year or so before he passed away.  The remaining relatives, other than my grandmother who is in her 90s and has contributed to the book, are my parents and parents-in-law’s generation.  This means they’re in their 60s.  If it’s taken me eight years to do approximately a quarter of the book, these people will be in their 90s by the time I finish!!  *FacePalm*

So clearly I need to prioritise again, and on top of that, make plans for progressing these projects.  It’s not enough to just do some whenever I feel like it.  So I’m going to do some work every weekend on my sister’s photo book until that’s done, then sit down and come up with a good plan for the family recipe book.  That at least is a finite project.  Then I need to sit down and work on the family history books (which could be infinite if I don’t set boundaries on them).  I really wanted to get DNA tests done for both my parents before finishing the family history books, but that will be finance-dependent.

And now seems like a good idea to provide an update on the to do lists that I shared in For the love of lists…, as requested by Marie at Create Space.

Things I have achieved since I posted a month ago:
*Boxcheck* Write a poem in January
*Boxcheck* Write a poem in February
*Boxcheck* Read a book set in a country I’d like to visit, but never have
*Boxcheck* Read a book published in 2017
*Boxcheck* Read a book by my favourite author
*Boxcheck* Read a book with a one word title
*Boxcheck* Read a book set in New Zealand
*Boxcheck* Read a book set in the future
*Boxcheck* Read a book with horror elements
*Boxcheck* Read a book with an element in the title (earth, air, fire, water)
*Boxcheck* Read a book published in 2018
*Boxcheck* Write a book review in February
*Boxcheck* Write a blog post in the week commencing 22nd January
*Boxcheck* Write a blog post in the week commencing 29th January
*Boxcheck* Write a blog post in the week commencing 5th February
*Boxcheck* Write a blog post in the week commencing 12th February
*Boxcheck* Write a blog post in the week commencing 19th February
*Boxcheck* Post the Versatile Blogger Award
*Boxcheck* Approach at least one author/blogger/publisher regarding an interview in January
*Boxcheck* Read and comment on other blogs in the week commencing 22nd January
*Boxcheck* Read and comment on other blogs in the week commencing 29th January
*Boxcheck* Read and comment on other blogs in the week commencing 5th February
*Boxcheck* Read and comment on other blogs in the week commencing 12th February
*Boxcheck* Get 100 followers on this blog
*Boxcheck* Do a photography daytrip with Mum
*Boxcheck* Share a new photo on Instagram
*Boxcheck* Share a new photo on Facebook
*Boxcheck* Make soap
*Boxcheck* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge for January 18th
*Boxcheck* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge for January 23rd
*Boxcheck* Set up the 2018 Nomination Form for Quill Awards by end of January
*Boxcheck* Update The Snail Mail Forum in February
*Boxcheck* Send out Snail Mail rewards at the beginning of February
*Boxcheck* Write an editorial for at least one official site newsletter

Things I didn’t achieve:
*Box* Save $1,000 in January
*Box* Write a short story in January
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 13th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 14th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 15th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 16th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 17th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 20th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 21st
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 22nd
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 24th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 25th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 26th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 27th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 28th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 29th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 30th
*Box* Write a blog entry for the 30-Day Blogging Challenge on January 31st
*Box* Update Matters of the Heart Forum in January
*Box* Update The Snail Mail Forum in January
*Box* Send out Snail Mail rewards at the beginning of January

Hmm, I feel like I’ve achieved quite a bit, and still managed to miss out on a few things I should have done!  A mixed result.  No matter.  Honestly, most days I’ve come home from work and just wanted to curl up in bed and read a book (hence why I’ve managed to complete a few of my reading tasks!).  Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.  I was motivated to go out for not one but two photography day trips with my mum though, which was awesome.  And I’ve been keeping up with my blogging, which I’m really pleased about, even if I did miss some of the prompts I had intended to do.

Overall, I’m happy enough with that.  And it’s good to do a review now while I still have some of February left, and I can tick off a few things.  I’ve written a poem but not a short story, and I saw two contests on that I might be able to knock off with a single short story, so that’s a goal for this weekend.  Along with working on my sister’s photo book.  *Rolleyes*

What have you been up to?  Have you ticked off any of the things on your to do list?

Soap making

When we got together in January for our failed attempt at making cheddar cheese, my mother and mother-in-law decided they wanted to have a creative day once a month.  We plotted out some ideas.  We could make soaps, candles, chocolates, waxed fabric food wraps, and other things.  We decided to do the chocolates in March, because that would coincide nicely with Easter (no religious connection, just a chocolate connection!).  So we planned to do soap in February and candles in April.

On Saturday, my daughter and I went to my mother-in-law’s house, and we met up with my mum and my sister there.  We made soaps.  It was much easier than I had expected (although admittedly we were using melt and pour kits) and much more fun.  I think I might buy another kit and make more for gifts.  I really enjoyed it.

My daughter has a great write up of the day with photos of the soaps we made, on her blog.

Click here to read the soap making post at Creating With Caitlin

Falcon Game Reviews

I’m participating in a fun blogging activity started by Ian at Adventure Rules. He assigned us all ‘secret Valentine’s, and we get to explore a new blog and share it with you, our readers. Great fun! I love exploring new blogs, and this was a good way to get out of my comfort zone.

Falcon Game Reviews sounds pretty self-explanatory, right?  It’s way more than that though, all with an overarching gaming theme.  A lot of my followers are in to creative writing, and yep, there’s some of that too!  It’s probably technically fan-fiction (if you gotta throw a label on it, which I think I just did) as Shelby writes short stories from the perspective of characters from The Long Dark, his favourite game.

I found even the intro pages quite interesting, and I wonder if that’s because I’m the wife of a gamer. *Bigsmile*

I can’t possibly do justice to Shelby’s blog, as I’m not a gamer, and the only two computer games I’ve ever really enjoyed are not on his (very impressive) list of games, but Shelby writes in a way that you can easily understand his posts without an in-depth gaming knowledge, so that’s awesome.

That’d be like watching a movie that contained 12 hours of static spread throughout. Sure, the $10 I spent on the ticket and the $15 small popcorn would be worth the price if the movie was good, but anyone would feel ripped off if the situation were otherwise. The fact is, people play games to be entertained. Who wants to play a game that’s a chore to get through?

His posts incorporate a nice level of humour that makes them fun to read.

Games are expensive, sometimes. Most mainstream games these days seen to hover about the $50-$60 (US) range, with indie titles hanging out around $20-$30 (US). That may be pocket change to some folks, but Jennifer and I aren’t made of money. If that were the case, I’d be laundering cash every time I took a shower.

Wait, that’s not what that idiom means.

I just realised I’m doing a review of a review site.   *Facepalm*  Cue an Alanis Morissette song!

Ultimately, his posts are informative.  If you are interested in gaming, you’ll find his posts full of educated opinion and true gaming passion.  He does his best to avoid spoilers too, bonus!

I recommend reading You don’t need to enjoy everything if only for the line ‘I would rather be an uncultured swine than a pretentious douchebag.’ Ha ha!

If you want an easy intro into some of Shelby’s likes and dislikes, and his opinions, then The Most Awards 2017 is a good starting point.

There are serious game reviews aplenty, but those aren’t really my thing. I mean, they’re the focus of the blog obviously, but not really my thing. I’ve only ever played two computer games semi-seriously, and neither of them are on Shelby’s list (if you’re curious, those two games are A.D.O.M (Ancient Domains of Mystery) and Civilization).

Do check out Shelby’s creative writing though. One of his most recent stories starts with Sam’s survivor story part 1. His way of writing reminds of the narrator you get in some movies. Not the Morgan Freeman type narrators, but… Hmm, I’m not sure how to describe it. It’s easy to read though, and the imagery is vivid. I know the stories are fan-fiction about the game characters, but they read more like… well, characters in a novel. They feel like they have depth, when I guess I don’t perceive game characters to have depth. That might be ignorance on my part, or it might be skilled writing on Shelby’s part. Take the compliment and run, Shelby! *Laugh*

Anyway, if you’re interested in gaming, or if you want to read some gritty fan-fiction, go and check out Falcon Game Reviews.  Now, I’m off to tell my husband about this great gaming review site I found for him.  *Smirk*

I’m not okay

Although I wrote this poem in January, I think I’m about done revising it. For a tiny poem, it’s been through 11 drafts, and I think I’ve given up. It’s as good as it’s going to get. Feel free to make suggestions though!


My shoulder muscles tense,
instinctive reaction to a

I’m not okay.

My fight or flight response
a bone-deep warning to
avoid sudden movements.

The Versatile Blogger Award

I want to say a big thank you to Shannon at Simply Shan for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. I’m really honoured, thank you!  Shannon lives in the UK (can’t wait to go back there next year) and posts on a variety of topics.  She calls herself boring, but I find her quite interesting!  Her posts always seem well thought out, and she has a way of writing that comes across as bubbly and friendly, inviting you to join her in whatever she has planned for the day.

The name of the game here is to nominate fifteen bloggers who I think produce quality content, and share them with you.  That gives you the opportunity to explore some new content that you might find worthy of following.  Then I share seven fun or interesting facts about myself, and give you a glimpse at the girl behind the screen.  Or something like that.  Ha ha!  Right, here we go! In no particular order…

1. Amy at The Life of Amy N – a very versatile blogger, with DIY crafts, uplifting motivational posts, recipes, product reviews, travel, etc. There’s surely something for everyone! I know I’m biased, but I think you should check out her post NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL ROUTE.

2. The Feisty Pauper – a seemingly random collection of posts, that are often fascinating. You have to check out her post Don’t Fear the Reaper Or How a total coincidence made my kid think I’m insane. So funny.

3. KalifornicationX – self-described as ‘words of an unadulterated cesspool nature of disgust and sometimes amusing truths and observations’. I say irreverent and hilarious. If you’re wondering if you can call yourself a writer or not, the answer is in A Hooker’s Ambition & Depressed Millennials.

4. Rowena at made things – beautiful, poetic (but not always poems) observations of life. My favourite post is imaginary dramas because it speaks to a truth I know all too well, but you should also check out my xmas revelation for an insight to the way Rowena perceives the world and why her observations are so powerful and intriguing.

5. Rachel at The Writer In Me… – poetry, short stories, music and personal reflections. Some are humorous, some are heartbreaking. A recent poem of hers that I love is Reflections From A Coffee Shop.

6. Jess from Jess of Earth – her blog is full of positivity and encouragement. I guess you’d call it a lifestyle blog, with fashion, exercise, meditation, etc. She’s mad for yoga. Her New Year, New You: Vision Board Tour will give you insight into who she is and what she’s working on in her life.

7. Nic Starr – music, books and guest posts. Nic is a published author, so definitely keen an eye out for her publications. For an insight into one of Nic’s books, check out this post about Patrick’s Savior.

8. Abbey from An anonymous escape from life – she writes prose, poetry and personal blog entries. She provides a great intro to herself and her blog in this post – Opening up about my blogging journey.

9. Tiny Rubies – personal posts, poetry, photographs and … are there any other p words I’ve missed? I love this post about anonymous blogging.

10. Parichita Singh – she writes about writing and books, and her personal journey with both. In 2017 she did a series where she wrote an alphabet’s worth of posts about writing, then she rounded it off with this post about what she learned by doing the challenge.

11. Thompson Crowley – music, poetry, and musings… Dammit, I needed another m word for poetry! I enjoyed gaining some insight into Thompson when he discussed his influences.

12. Books and Opinions – obviously there are book reviews, but also personal posts, guest posts, and a general love of books that overflows on this blog. The books vary enormously, and I even stumbled across this review of a poetry book – Magic Realized: and Other Poems on the Human Spirit – Louis Alan Swartz.

13. R A Douglas – poetry and personal posts. I particularly love this entry about bullying – What would you do, when your kids are bullied?

14.  Sionna from Books In Her Eyes. Honest book reviews, reading challenges, and other book or reading related posts. Lots of variety in reading material, with a lean toward sci fi/fantasy/paranormal. If you check out her Monthly Wrap-Up: January, that’ll show you the kind of books she’s reading.

15. Lia from Lost In A Story. What makes her blog different from other blogs about books is that she shares a lot of guidance for other bloggers, in addition to the book reviews, tags and other content you’d expect. She’s got a great series on ARCs which starts with Emailing publishers, and I thought her discussion on negative reviews, authors, bloggers, and the book community was a really interesting post. See what you think.

Okay, so I think we’re up to seven facts about me.  Hmmm….

  1.   I have a pretty decent cookbook collection and I enjoy watching cooking shows.  My favourite chef is Gordon Ramsay.  I also love Nigella Lawson (who is not a chef).  I’ll watch anything with either of them in it.  I have several cookbooks by each.   I’ve met Gordon Ramsay once, and ate at one of his restaurants in London, but have not had the pleasure of meeting Nigella yet.  On the flip side, I can’t stand Jamie Oliver, although we do use a few of his recipes.
  2. Speaking of collecting, I can’t help myself.  As soon as I have a few of anything, it becomes a collection.  *FacePalm*  My oldest collection is my bookmarks.  I added substantially to this collection when we went to the UK in 2014, as I collected a souvenir leather bookmark from every historical place we visited.
  3. I don’t watch much TV or go to the movies often.  I find that I tend to miss details on the screen, and therefore I am often turning to my husband and saying ‘Wait, what did I miss?  Why is that happening?’  *Rolleyes*  It’s frustrating for both of us.  I prefer books, because if I do happen to miss something (and it’s pretty rare), I can just go back and re-read the pertinent section, then keep going.  My husband is the opposite and prefers to watch something on the screen rather than read it, although he does both.
  4. I played netball in primary school, then cricket and soccer in high school.  I continued to play soccer until I was pregnant with my son.  My favourite forms of exercise though are swimming and bush walking.
  5. I’m not a fan of American muscle cars.  I prefer sleek European cars.  In truth though, although I am comfortable driving (and yes, I can drive a stick-shift or a manual as they’re called here), I’d rather be the passenger.  So long as a car is reasonably comfortable to sit in, and it gets me from A to B, that’s all I really care about.  If it’s easy to park, even better.  Oh, and I can’t parallel park. Never learned how.
  6. I gave up caffeine a few years ago.  I used to drink a LOT of Coke Zero, and I always said that the caffeine never affected me.  I could have a glass before I went to bed, or not, it didn’t make any difference to me.  But my husband had some health issues related to stress and anxiety, and he was told to give up caffeine by the doctor.  He did, and so I did too.  I’ve never been a tea or coffee drinker, so Coke Zero was my one big weakness.  I haven’t had more than a mouthful or two in the last three or so years.  My sleeping habits changed considerably, to my surprise.  And interestingly, I went from never dreaming (or remembering my dreams at least) to dreaming often.  Weird.  I tried to switch to water, but I don’t find it as satisfying.  Now though, I drink water during my work day, five days a week, whereas I didn’t drink any water at all before.  When I’m at home, I now drink Sprite Zero.  My drink of choice if I’m out is a lemon, lime and bitters, which is a non-alcoholic cocktail that originated in Australia I think.  It’s lime cordial, lemonade and Angostura bitters.  Has to be freshly made though, not bottled.
  7. For years, my favourite chocolate was Cadbury Dairy Milk.  But Cadbury have changed the recipe for their Dairy Milk chocolate, I think, and I don’t like it anymore.  They have recently brought back Caramilk though (not a caramel filled chocolate like the bar of the same name in other parts of the world, but a caramelised white chocolate) and I really love that.  Which is weird, because I don’t like white chocolate.  *Rolleyes*  I don’t like dark chocolate either.  Just milk chocolate.

Anyway, I hope this has been somewhat interesting.  I know that these little blog awards are more just for us small-time bloggers, and not the hardcore bloggers with thousands of followers.  I guess that’s partly because the point of them is to network and interact, and that’s something that’s crucial when you’re still a small fry.  For that reason, I tried not to nominate anyone with thousands of followers, but I think at least one has more than 1,000.  I tried to keep it to smaller blogs that showed variety in what they posted.

Okay, that’s all from me today.  Did you check out any of the blogs?  Find a new favourite blogger to follow?  Did any of my facts about myself interest you?  Let me know!

A wee poem

I’ve got a few poems jotted down that need a second (or twelfth) look before they’re ready to share, but this one is unlikely to become any more than it is, so I’m just throwing it out there.

I was sitting in a rattan egg chair (I think they’re called egg chairs? Like a little cave of a chair, suspended from the ceiling? Anyway, moving on) on the porch/verandah/deck at my in-laws’ this afternoon, and as I half dozed in the sun, wondering if I should start a new book or if my husband and my mother-in-law were serious that work would only take ‘fifteen to twenty minutes’, my eyes were drawn to the patterns in the chair. And ta da, a poem was born. *shrugs* It’s not great, but I feel like there are a couple of people who followed me when I was posting poems every day and I’ve neglected them lately. This poem isn’t probably the best way to indulge them, but oh well. I do have a few more on the way, but I think they have potential to be stronger, so I’ll hold on to them for a little bit.

The rattan is woven around the sides
in such a way as to make
and the borders
are encircled with bands
that give a sense of
decorative purpose.