Writing plans

Prompt: Have you set a writing plan for 2019? If not why not? Do you feel planning makes you more productive or less productive?

I haven”t made a writing plan yet but I think I will.  Generally speaking, plans help me avoid wasted time.  For instance, I might not write any more than I would have without the plan, but what I do write is more likely to be what’s on my plan than random waste-of-time writing.  Okay, I don’t normally have writing plans, I don’t think, but this is generally what happens to me with plans.

I did have a writing bucket list once.  Let’s see what was on that…

*Box* Handwrite all my poems into journals
*Boxcheck* Finish, edit and print Grand & Epic Adventures
*Box*Write a short story based on one of my ancestors
*Box* Write a short story based on my own life
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about Boxing Days
*Box* Write a poem about each of my family members
*Boxcheck* My dad
*Box* My mum
*Box* My older sister
*Boxcheck* My younger sister
*Boxcheck* My husband
*Boxcheck* My son
*Boxcheck* My daughter
*Box* My father-in-law
*Box* My mother-in-law
*Boxcheck* Complete National Poetry Writing Month
*Box* Complete National Novel Writing Month
*Box* Fill a journal with writing
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my younger sister in the UK
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my godson in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my goddaughter in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my grandmother in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my great uncle in the UK
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my uncle in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my friend Beth in the US
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my old next door neighbour
*Box* Take a poetry writing or appreciation class

Hey, I’ve actually done quite a few of the things on my list!  When I was checking the list though, I realised I hadn’t updated any of my 2018 to-do lists and made 2019 lists.  I need to do that.  This is a great prompt, because I hadn’t thought about doing this earlier!

Okay, let’s do writing, and then I’ll do the other ones after posting this entry.

Last year I set myself a goal of writing a poem and a short story every month.  I failed that pretty spectacularly.  I didn’t write any short stories at all last year *Shock* and I think I only wrote poems in about six of the 12 months.  Ugh.  So I won’t set that goal again.

Oh, I should probably mention that I also have a Writing.com list (for entering contests, etc) and a blogging list.  So I don’t count blogging as writing for the purpose of this writing list.  Sorry if that confuses you!

Okay, let’s set a goal of writing at least one short story in 2019.  That’ll be an improvement over 2018!  *Laugh*

I do wanna write some poems this year.  Maybe I should set a number instead of a timeline?  Like 10 poems in 2019?

The more I think about this, the harder it gets.  Because I was like ‘Oh, I need to do some book reviews too’, but that’s a different list as well (reading).  Clearly I have too many lists.  *Facepalm*

So I put this blog entry down, went away, spent half the day watching Youtube videos and making a rock playlist and I’m still no closer to answer.  *Laugh*

Okay, here goes.  Executive decision.  Write six poems and one short story by 30 June, and write a total of 12 poems and two short stories by the end of the year.  Done!

Now I gotta update my other lists…

You’re my density

My husband sent me flowers at the office today.  Gorgeous roses in an array of different colours, including a couple of really pretty variegated ones.  He’s so naughty.  The card said ‘After 16 years, you’re still my density’, referencing the Back to the Future quote.

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I worked out that next month, it’ll be 19 years since we got together.  I was 19 then, so that means I’ll have been with him for half my life.  Half my life!  That’s insane.  And married for 16 years.  I guess that’s the good thing about getting married young, you can celebrate some pretty epic anniversaries.   Ha ha!

Travel dreams

Prompt: Where in the world would you like to visit the most? Assume you are not worried about money in any way.

Ooh, fun. Travel with no money restrictions, yes please! Living in New Zealand, it’s so expensive to go anywhere. And some of the flights are so freaking long. It takes about 30-odd hours to get from Auckland to London. In cattle class, that sucks. You arrive so exhausted that you have to spend two days recovering before you can start exploring. So money-is-no-object travelling? I’m in.

I haven’t been to many places, although I’ve been lucky with where I have been. I’ve done most of the North Island of New Zealand. I’ve been to Melbourne, Australia and the Australian Outback. I’ve explored London, England, and Inverness, Scotland pretty well. I’ve been to Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland as well, and Northampton and Keswick in England, but not explored, so only seen one or two specific places and a whole bunch of English and Scottish roadside.

When it comes to travel, I have some priorities I guess. Like everyone. Some people want to immerse themselves in a different culture. Some people want to get a sense of history. I’m a country girl at heart, and a photography enthusiast, so I tend to go for natural scenery.

I know, it’s insane that I can say that and yet I haven’t been to the South Island. People come from all over the world to see the scenery of the South Island, and I’m a Kiwi and I haven’t seen any of it!  My friend Charlie on Writing.com was talking about Norway’s fjords, but New Zealand’s South Island has fjords too. And glaciers. And mountains.

Why do we spell it fiords? That seems very American of us. *Wink*

So yeah, the South Island is high on my list. I also really want to explore the Lake District of England. I’ve been there twice, once as a child and once as an adult, but only briefly. I want to explore it.

Where else? I want to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria. Again, amazing scenery. And I love road trips. My mother and older sister rave about cruises, because you do all your travelling at night while you sleep and just wake up in the morning at your next destination, but I actually like road trips, and so does my husband. You get a feel for the country, and it’s interesting and relaxing. Plus, you can pull over anywhere you like and explore. That’s how we ended up in Gretna Green. *Laugh* Oh, and Stoke-on-Trent. That was a heck of a detour for what ended up being a walk around a pottery museum. *Smirk*

I’m sure no one will be surprised to know that I have a travel bucket list. No, I thought not. Me, the queen of lists, having a travel bucket list? Kind of a given, I know. So here you go:
*Boxcheck* Fly business class
*Box* Fly first class
*Box* Apply for a UK passport
*Boxcheck* Go inside St Matthews in the City, Auckland, New Zealand
*Box* Go to New Zealand’s South Island
*Box* Go to Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand
*Boxcheck* Go to England as an adult
*Boxcheck* See Buckingham Palace in England as an adult
*Boxcheck* Go inside Westminster Abbey in England
*Boxcheck* See the Tower of London in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Hyde Park in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Scotland
*Boxcheck* Go to Gretna Green in Scotland
*Box* Go to Dunfermline Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland
*Box* Go to the Isle of Skye in Scotland
*Box* Go to the Orkney Islands in Scotland
*Box* Go to Ireland
*Box* Go to Wales as an adult
*Box* Go to ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli
*Box* See the Northern or Southern Lights
*Box* Go to Antarctica

See? IrelandWalesthe islands of Scotland and Antarctica. That’d be fucking awesome. I’m so jealous of my friend Jody from Writing.com who is going to Antarctica. Again, so close to New Zealand (ironically, that one we’re actually close to whereas you’re all so far away from it) and yet it might as well be on the other side of the world. No, I’ve been to the other side of the world, but still haven’t been to the South Island or Antarctica. *Facepalm*

Where would you love to travel to if money was no object?

Volume 1 of the family recipe book DONE!

“Mum would make porridge for breakfast every morning. My brother used to run down the stairs every morning to see what colour porridge it would be today – maybe blue or green, perhaps red or purple or could be coconut. Mum made everyday porridge an everyday surprise.”

I haven’t been very active online lately.  I started a new job in December, which kept me pretty busy, and when I wasn’t working, I was trying to make progress on the family recipe book.  I’d reached that point where I wanted to change projects, but I refused to go back to my old modus operandi.  That was the reason it’d taken me five years to write a children’s novel, although I did finally finish that last year.  That was the reason it’d taken me eight years so far to create a family recipe book.  No more!  No more flitting from project to project and crowning myself the Queen of Unfinished Projects. I was determined to finish the projects, and I’d prioritised them, and the recipe book was next cab off the rank.

“When my dad used to get off work, I used to go and meet him and he’d give me a penny to go and get chips at the chip shop, hot chips. We also used to get a ha’penny worth of batter bits – it was all the crunchy bits that had dropped off the fish.”

Well, I finally gave in to popular opinion and agreed to make the recipe book in volumes.  It makes it more affordable for people (including me), it’s more practical to actually use in the kitchen, and it allows me to do it in stages which makes it less daunting.

Don’t get me wrong, I do all these projects because I want to, not because I have to.  They’re not a chore.  But I tend to get bored of a project after a while and start a new one, and some of these projects are important to me and I actually wanna finish them.

“My family always used to have a roast dinner on Sunday. Mum used to do cabbage, which I didn’t mind. We used to drink the cabbage juice which was put in a green glazed china jar on the table with salt and pepper and I used to like that. When she cooked a chicken, she always used to boil up the neck and put herbs and things in and make a beautiful gravy.”

Well, by staying off social media for the past few weeks, I’ve made good progress.  The first volume is ‘Meals’ and includes Breakfasts, Starters and Snacks, Soups, Main Meals, Side Dishes and Desserts and Puddings.  It’s done.  I uploaded it to Blurb, and ordered myself a copy.  It should arrive in about 3 weeks or so.  Exciting!

I can’t sell the book commercially, because they’re not all my recipes.  Indeed, some of them are recipes from famous chefs.  It’s a combination of heirloom recipes and family favourites and some of those family favourites are from other recipe books or websites.  But it was never intended to be available commercially.  Just for family.  Just all our favourite and heirloom recipes collated in one place.

You can have a look if you like.  Hopefully the preview function is working, I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with it.

Click here to check out the preview at Blurb

Thoughts of Grace

I walked down Queen Street, in central Auckland, today and heard a busker singing this song as I walked past people lighting candles to go with the tributes left for Grace Millane.

I don’t often blog about current events.  In the 18 years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve probably blogged about national or global events ten or so times where the news has not directly impacted me.  It’s not something that I do.  I’m not interested in current affairs or politics.  But every now and then, I am touched, saddened, heartened or angered by such things.  I am emotionally affected, and therefore it seems appropriate to share that.

What makes Grace’s story so different from others?  Others have died.  Others have been murdered.  People as young or younger.  People with as much potential or more.  The truth is, I don’t know what makes Grace’s story different.  Only that it is.

My colleagues at work have discussed Grace.  Perhaps that’s because we work literally next door to the hotel in which she was murdered.  Perhaps it is because she is being discussed in offices around the country.  I have overheard people talking about her on the train.  And she has been discussed at home.

Every day as I walk past the hotel on my way to work, I see the tributes that people have left for Grace.  Flowers, gifts, etc.  From people who didn’t know Grace.  From people who never met Grace and never will.  People are grieving for someone they have never met.

I haven’t been following anything on social media, but I did notice there were a few people climbing on their soap boxes.  Saying that those who condemned Grace for travelling alone were perpetuating the cycle of violence against women. That any woman should be able to travel alone and be safe.  I agree.  I agree that any woman travelling alone should be safe.  But it is not the way it is.  I am reminded of the John Lennon song, Imagine.  There are so many dreams and wishes we might have for society, that every person should live in peace and never go without food, clean water, shelter and love.  But that’s not the way it is either.  Does that mean we don’t want it?  No, we do want it.  Does that mean we do nothing for those who are suffering?  Turn a blind eye?  No, it does not.  But it also does not mean that we turn a blind eye to the risks that are out there in the world.

I have been saddened by Grace’s death, and she has been much on my thoughts this week.  I don’t think she is a lesson to be learned.  But it is a tragedy.  As a mother of a daughter, I am very saddened by Grace’s death.  And I felt compelled to write something, to commemorate her.

Working on my family recipe book project

Worked on my recipe book yesterday. I’ve actually restarted from scratch. *Shock2* I know, I know, there is a big part of me bemoaning all those wasted hours. But I’ve thought a few times that I shouldn’t have gone down the digital scrapbooking route with it, and I finally gave in and restarted with a simple, clean template. I showed it to my husband and daughter, and they agreed it was much better. It was more useable as a cookbook and easier on the eyes. *ThumbsUp* So I’m rolling with it. It’ll be much faster to make progress on now that I’m not digitally scrapbooking every page.

I did a poll on Writing.com and Facebook last month because I wasn’t sure about how to proceed with the project. I have more than 400 recipes (and my daughter, my cousin and two of my cousins-once-removed have all said they have more recipes to contribute). Blurb only prints a maximum of 400 pages in a book, and I have to account for an introduction, contents pages, category headings, etc. I also really want to put a list of contributors in the back and note their relationship to myself and my husband, because a number of people won’t know where the contributors of the recipes fit into the family, as they’re from every branch of the family tree.

So I had a few options.
1. Split the book into volumes. This was my mother’s preferred option as it makes each book more affordable.
2. Separate the book into two – my family and my in-law’s. This was my mother-in-law’s preferred option, presumably because she only wants the recipes from her side of the family.

The first option won the polls.

Or… I could try and put more than one recipe on a page and see if I can fit them all in. This is MY preferred option as it means I don’t have to double up on the category headers (which all feature quotes from different family members) for each book, and I don’t have to try and figure out which book to put my kids’ recipes into if I split the project into two family groups (or do I double up on them in each book?), etc. It makes life easier for me. Plus, I love the idea of having all the recipes in one book.

But can I do it so that it looks good and doesn’t look all squished up? The font has to be readable, not teeny tiny. So that’s my challenge.

I was working on the category headers last night. I’ve had to add two more categories, following a phone call to my mother that ended up with me on speaker phone talking to her, my sister and their dinner guests! So now we have:
Breakfast (new category) with quotes from my mother and my brother-in-law
Starters and snacks with a quote from my maternal aunt
Soups with quotes from my maternal aunts, my mother, my cousin and myself
Main meals with quotes from my husband’s maternal grandfather
Side dishes with a quote from my paternal second cousin
Desserts and puddings (renamed category) with a quote from my sister
Baking with quotes from my maternal aunt and my dad’s maternal cousin
Sweets (new category) with a quote from my husband
Special occasions with a quote from my mother
Drinks with a quote from my husband’s maternal grandfather and my dad’s paternal cousin
Condiments and preserves with a quote from my maternal grandfather
Miscellaneous (renamed category) with quotes from my father-in-law and mother-in-law

I’m all pumped up and excited about the project again, which is awesome. I’ve been working on it lately because I know I needed to, but to feel enthused and excited again is perfect. Yay! I feel like I had a productive weekend, if only because I have a direction to go in with this project. *Bigsmile*

Talking to my kids about money

I think about money and financial planning a lot, because it’s talked about all the time in the offfice.  That’s one of the things about working for a financial advice firm.  It’s great though, I’ve learned so much.

Lately I’ve been thinking about my kids.  If they do their chores (my daughter has to make dinner on weeknights and my son has to do the dishes and clean the kitchen on weeknights), they earn $40 a month ($10 a week) to spend, and an equal contribution to their savings.  They both have other chores that aren’t paid, such as doing their own laundry, emptying the rubbish bin (trash), keeping their bedrooms in an acceptable condition, contributing to caring for the pets, and helping to keep the lounge and dining areas tidy.  My daughter is pretty diligent about earning her money, but my son is hit and miss.  If we end up doing the dishes, he misses out on that portion of his money.  Last month, he didn’t earn anything.  So far this month, I think he’s earned about $12.

Before our UK trip, it was pretty straight forward.  They knew they’d be allowed to withdraw their savings to spend in the UK.  Not a moment before.  What they chose to spend it on over there, that was up to them.  It eased some of the burden on us in terms of the money we spent over there, because they had their own spending money.  When we came back, I told them they could set another goal.  It had to be a goal I approved.  Therefore, not a waste of money.  An experience (like saving for a flight somewhere) or a new computer or whatever.  Once they reached their target, they could withdraw their savings and pay for whatever the goal was.  So far neither of them have set a goal.  Or talked about a goal.

I’m torn between the idea that saving just for saving’s sake is a good thing, and the idea that saving for a goal is a good thing too.  There’s probably no right or wrong answer there, huh?  Well, no wrong answer.  There’s a reason one of the goals on my bucket list is ‘Regularly contribute savings for a year and make no withdrawals’.  In my entire life, I’ve never managed to save without spending those savings.  Another goal on my bucket list is to have a contingency fund equal to one month’s salary.  Another thing I learned from working for a financial advice firm.  I’ve never had this either. We live from month to month, pay to pay.  It’s ludicrous.  And because I have such terrible financial habits, I am desperate to teach my children better habits.  There are two key things – financial literacy, which I am now learning as part of this job, and good financial habits, which I’ve never had and kind of despair of having.

I am doing much better since I set up my bill accounts.  Every pay I now transfer a set amount of money into an account for house bills, an account for online bills, an account for school bills, and so on.  What’s left is spending money.  This means that when my car needs registering once a year, or my rates need paying every three months, that I am not scrambling for funds.  It’s awesome.  I wish I’d been doing it for years, but at least I’m doing it now.

Today I was introduced to the Juno investing magazine through work, and I found some awesome articles.  I’m feeling all inspired again.

How to talk to your kids about money – without nagging.

How much pocket money should you give your kids?

Money smart: how financially capable is your child?

Do you talk to your kids about money?  How do you teach financial literacy and good financial habits to your kids?  How were you taught?