Some Birthday Gratitude

It was my birthday this past Tuesday. I turned 25, which feels a bit odd. I don’t think I’ve felt like my age since I was maybe 19 or 20, maybe even younger than that. I don’t know what it is, there just seems to be this discord between how I feel and think about myself and my biological age. But it doesn’t really bother me; there’s much more important things to think about in the grand scheme of things.

For instance, how wonderful my friends are. I went out with a group of friends on the weekend for an early birthday dinner. We had Korean BBQ, which was maybe not the best idea considering it was a 41 degree day (probably about 28 at dinner time) and the BBQ involved mini hot plates being brought out to sit directly in front of us on the table. Nevertheless, it was still delicious. I loved looking round the table and seeing all these wonderful people, putting up with the heat emanating off the tables, chatting to each other and having some laughs. If I had thought to take my camera, those are the moments I would have tried to capture. The moment where someone delivers the punch line of a story and everyone’s faces break into wide smiles as their laughter booms around the place and happiness hangs in the air.

My best friend then suggested we go for a walk to get some ice cream – as if anyone would say no to that. It was the perfect way to end the night – stepping out from the stuffy restaurant to (comparatively) cooler weather, heaving a collective happy sigh of relief before we all ambled down the road to seek dessert. After ordering, we all stood around outside the ice cream place (given it was a balmy night, quite a lot of other people had the same idea as us, just earlier, so they got the seats), chatting some more, in between spoonfuls of refreshing ice cream, as the perfect breeze fluttered around us, ruffling hair and shirts and dresses. You know the one where it’s not to hot and not too cold? Yeah, that one.

My friends were also quite the cheeky little bunch. I told them not to worry about gifts as I wasn’t really that fussed this year and really just wanted to spend time with them. So, of course, they got me things. My favourite tea, a book of poetry, a soy candle teacup, a cat ring – and that’s just to name a few!

I’ve definitely been spoiled this year, both in the presents and the presence my friends have given me (see what I did there, eh? Eh?). Honestly though, my friends have been there to support me through some pretty crappy times and have also helped me celebrate some of the more exciting and happy times. Having some good friends, even if it’s just one or two, can make a real difference in life. As I remarked to Mathew on the drive home “We have some pretty wonderful friends, don’t we?”


I would also like to make a special mention to Mathew for driving around with me for approximately 20 minutes after dinner, trying to find a petrol station that a) I could use my discount docket at like the cheapskate I am, and b) actually had the unleaded petrol pumps working. I saved, like, a whole $2.06 using that docket. Totally worth it.

Too Many Things To Do

I have too many things to do. And I’m not talking about the boring, annoying, dull, menial tasks of work or uni, no, I’m talking about creative and fun and crafty things. GOOD things. I have too many GOOD things to do and I am completely paralysed by it all*. So, instead of starting one of the many things I could be doing, I decided to sit down and write about how I’ve got so many things I could be doing.


But I figure if I write about it, I can vent my feelings and get all my thoughts out of my brain and written down. By creating a list of things I need to do, I can also be held accountable (at least a little bit, to the People of the Internet). See, I think it is actually a pretty smart idea.

The Many Things I Would Like To Do

  • Repot Stanley, my succulent who lives at uni. I’ve brought him home over the holidays and he desperately needs a good repotting.
  • Take photos, just for funsies.
  • Read at least some of the eleven books I need to finish to meet my reading challenge. Yes, ELEVEN. Shut up.
  • Get sewing! I’ve got a ridiculous amount of ideas for things to sew and they’re all so exciting! This in and of itself is a good example of how I’m paralysed by too many options. (I was going to make a bad joke about choice-paralysis inception but I feel those jokes have been overdone so I just explained the joke instead. Good.)
  • Start sketching again. And maybe painting.
  • Write about my PhD, creativity, life – all those good things – on this here blog.
  • Decide what I want for my blog next year.
  • Start art journalling.

Blargh. I’m tired just from typing up that list. But I can see that I just need to cool my jets and focus on one thing at a time. I think I might try and focus on the sewing side of things for a little while at first, and see if I can at least make a small dint in my “to read” pile by going to bed early and reading.

Do you ever feel like there’s just too much shit to get done? Good or bad shit? I also have a bad shit version of the above list but that’s far less interesting and infinitely more stressful so I chose not to think about it. I know this experience I’ve just outlined is not a novel one, so don’t tell me I’m alone in this! Don’t leave me hanging guys! Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by choice right now? Let me know!


*It is actually a thing that happens. There are journal articles explaining research about it but there’s also a really interesting TEDtalk if you’re keen to know more. Fun fact: this is actually one of the assignment topics I run in the psychology unit I teach at uni.

A Snapshot of Two Cities : A Summary

I’m gonna go ahead and try not to get emotional (or totes emosh, as I believe the kids say these days) but today’s post is a summary of everything A Snapshot of Two Cities. In case you weren’t aware, Isabel from Nanjing Nian and I posted a photo each week. Simple concept and it was really fascinating because Isabel has been in China for the last year or so and I’m here in Australia.

It all started when I got an email from a lovely lady named Isabel, who had been a regular commenter on my blog. She was always so lovely and cheery and when I saw that she liked the photos I took and wanted to run a collaborative project with me, I was so chuffed! What a huge compliment that was. After a few emails back and forth cementing the details of how it was going to work, we decided to post our photos every Wednesday with a time stamp and a little blurb about where it was taken. Some weeks there were some really surprising similarities, other weeks there were some interesting differences.

Here’s the wrap up…

Nanjing, China (and a bit of Japan) by Isabel:

Melbourne, Australia by Jacquie:


One thing I noticed when I was compiling these galleries was that there is a cross-over of the seasons smack bang in the middle of our photos, round about the time when we both took a photo at a picnic within a week of each other (weeks 11 & 12). You were leaving the summer behind and heading into autumn and I was saying goodbye to the chilly evenings and welcoming the warmer weather. Pretty cool timing, hey?

I have loved every single one of Isabel’s photos – I think she has a real knack for capturing the essence, or vibe, of a moment. You’ve definitely inspired me a great deal with your photography skillz, Isabel. I have absolutely adored seeing snapshots of China – and right from the comfort of my own home, too! With each of your photos I really feel like I’m being transported straight into Nanjing.

This project has honestly been one of the best things I’ve done – ever! I’ve had so much fun, scoping out a good shot each week. When I look back over the photos, I can see a huge improvement in the way I’ve taken photos. I feel like I’ve learnt how to frame a shot, what angles can be interesting, and also how to step out of my comfort zone a little and take more street photos with actual real-life people in them – all through getting out and taking a photo each week. I’ve realised how much I love photography and actually miss not grabbing a snap or two on a weekly basis. It felt very odd when we stopped last week!

I think I’ve said thank you about seventeen different times in our emails back and forth, Isabel, but I really can’t thank you enough. I was (and still am!) so flattered that you wanted to share your wonderful idea with me and I’ve learnt so much over the past five and a bit months. So thank you. I can’t WAIT to meet you and reminisce about all the fun we had creating this little pocket of memories together.


Op Shop Haul : Aztec Cardigan, Mug, Books and More

Hi-ho! How are you doing? Hopefully you are well and cheery and all other good things. If not, I strongly recommend you watch a kitten/puppy/turtle/monkey/goat video. Apply liberally. Stat! Okay, enough with the medical references now.

I went op shopping today. Yes, on a Sunday! Not a lot of op shops are open on Sundays, the day of rest (or the day of reading and tea-ing as I like to call it), but good old Savers sure is. If you haven’t been to a Savers before, it’s basically an op shop on crack – it’s gigantic and I love taking my time and walking through the many different aisles. I also love sending Laura photos and making her super jelly like the op shop tease I am. Don’t worry pal, when you’re over here I will have a Day of Op Shopping planned and it will be glorious.

Anyhow. Bless Savers for a) being open on a Sunday and b) for having a special student discount! Here’s what I found and fell in love with:

Op shop mug & jarSTRAWBERRY MUG. I did have some reservation about buying this actually, purely because it was part of a set and I didn’t want the set. On top of that, the set was in the “Collectables” section, so I felt uber bad about taking part of it. An internal debate ensued about whether or not I was the kind of person to break up a set. I decided I was. The mug was $3.99 (presumably because it’s “collectable”, though probs not worth much now without the set!). The glass jar was $2.99 and I liked it because the colours have a tutti-fruiti, 80s kinda vibe to them.

Op shop thread and fabricSpeaking of colours, look how bright and happy these embroidery threads are! They came in a bag for $5.99. The fabric was an instant mental purchase. Any ditsy floral pattern melts my heart and for $3.99, I was okay by that. These will all help to make items for my Etsy shop – exciting!

Op shop basketI spied this basket sitting all the way down on the bottom shelf and may have made a small squeaking noise. It was completely involuntary. But I love these types of wire baskets and I’d been looking for one to store my (very small) wool collection so was pretty chuffed to find this one. It cost $4.99.

Op shop booksThere are four or so massive shelves of books at my local Savers and they are my favourite section (as always) to browse. I found these two beauties for $3.99 and $2.99 each. Fun fact: inside the back cover of Noah Barleywater Runs Away was a Christmas card. It was addressed to Caitlin from Nana and Geoff. I’ve found a few interesting things in second-hand books over the years – bookmarks, newspaper clippings, that sort of thing – but never a Christmas card.

Op shop cardiganStrolling through the many clothing aisles, I saw this cardigan out of the corner of my eye – how could I not? The bright aztec pattern was calling out to me. I hesitated, a little unsure if it was a little too “loud” but when I tried it on it made me think about curling up on a couch with a cup of tea and some craft so it wound up in my cart. For $3.99, I feel that’s pretty good.

Another extremely successful op shop adventure. As usual, I really didn’t mean to purchase any of these items but when you see a bargain, you’ve gotta grab it, you know? Plus, I haven’t been op shopping in a while – my last haul was in August! – so I feel I deserved a pat on the back…in the form of more op shopping…

Have you found any goodies in a local op shop lately?