Sunday, December 21, 2014

What I'm Reading: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Okay, so it's been a while since I've posted, but I'm getting back into the swing of it! I've got some fun stuff to catch up on blogging about, which I'll get to over the next few weeks. For now, I'm looking for some comfort and familiarity, which means Jane Austen for me!

There has been a lot of sadness lately in the world, with some really terrible things happening. It's even worse that these things are happening at Christmas, a time of joy and love, and peace. I have not felt peaceful lately.

Luckily, when I put that out there, a few friends did a great job of reaching out to me to comfort and reassure me. I am so lucky to have people like that in my life.

There are also general things that I like to do in my life, when I realise that I'm struggling to cope:

  • Make sure I'm getting enough sleep. You are almost certainly not getting enough sleep, so make it a real priority. A couple of nights this week, I went to bed at 8:30. I didn't fall asleep then (I read!), but I was in bed, preparing for sleep. There was no phone, no news, no Facebook, no email... Ah, heaven. 
  • Make sure I'm eating properly - for me, that means, making sure I have lunch covered and I don't have to race around in the morning and throw together a cheese sandwich. A cheese sandwich will get you through the day, but it's not really living is it? And even if you are going to have a cheese sandwich, make it the night before. 
  • Feeling the love. This is where my awesome friends stepped in and shared wonderful things that were happening in their lives, or reminded me of wonderful things happening in my life, or just talked to me about other things that are wonderful (in this case, comics). It was pretty great. 
  • Revisit wonderful, familiar things - I'm avoiding most television at the moment, but I try and catch Bitchin' Kitchen whenever possible (it's a hilarious cooking show) and I'm re-watching Community, because it really makes me laugh (although some bits are weird and I don't like them, but on a DVD you can just fast forward). And of course, I'm re-reading Pride and Prejudice! 
I first read Pride and Prejudice many years ago as a teenager, and I had the delight of studying Jane Austen with John Wiltshire at La Trobe University during my Bachelor's degree. The subject was called 'Re-reading Jane Austen', and there was a lot of focus on how Jane Austen often recaps events, and how brilliant it is. In Pride and Prejudice, the best example of this is when Elizabeth re-reads Darcy's letter, and we see how it affects her differently every time, and how she gradually comes to understand and accept what he says. 

So, in case you don't know the story of Pride and Prejudice, it's essentially a love story. It was written in 1813 and is set at the same time, during the Napoleonic Wars. At that time, the community you lived in was really the only people you ever saw - people didn't really travel far throughout England, and letters took ages to get anywhere. Plus, there were strict social conventions about who you could write to - if you were a girl, and you met a guy at a party, and he was going off to war, you couldn't write to him. And you would have had to be introduced to him at the party by someone who knew you both. So you can see how people's social circles were really small! 

The book opens with a rich guy moving into the neighbourhood, which is a real boon for all the families with single daughters! The main character of the book is Lizzy Bennet, who is the second daughter of the Bennet family, who have 5 daughters. They live at an estate called Longbourne, but due to the conditions on inheriting the estate, it can't be left to any of the daughters - instead, it goes to a more distant, male, relative. It's just like Downton Abbey! 

So there's a lot of reasons for the women of the neighbourhood to want to meet and marry the man who has moved in, Mr Bingley - not to mention his even richer friend who is staying with him, Mr Darcy. This is another thing that happened a lot in those times, people had really long visits with their friends and family. Because the visits were so rare, when they did happen, it could be for weeks or even months at a time. 

I just love this book, because it's about mistakes and misunderstandings, but everything still ends happily. If you know me (and if you don't, you're probably not reading this blog) you know that I love that. I know I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I'm probably not done yet, but it does kind of feel like everything is going to end well. 

So I guess all my tips worked! I'm feeling more positive about everything. 

I'll have another post up before the end of the week, and I'll always tweet and Facebook that they're up, but if you want to know immediately, you can subscribe to the blog and get an email whenever I put a post up. 

Take care everyone. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

PPOM: Something that makes me happy

It's August, which means it's Potentially Problematic Opinions Month! Except this year, it's now just a great group blogging attempt, with weekly themed posts - the first post is things that make you happy.

What is making me happiest at the moment is my family. I caught up with a cousin last week, and had a great time reminiscing about lots of family events. And things have been really great with my family as a whole lately - we've had a family wedding, and overseas trips, and school performances, and an engagement announced, and everyone is home safely and getting along. That makes me so happy.

And just today, I did a thing that made me really happy - I bought tickets to a convention that is happening in Germany, and am making plans to go to Europe for three weeks next year. I am SO EXCITED and can't wait for it to happen, but I know that it's a big commitment, and a big trip. I'm giving myself today to ignore the reality of all that, and just bask in the delight of being able to say 'I'm going'.

Finally, this got me laughing - a post on an ancestry blog, where the family historian author wrote hatemail to her ancestors. It's a hilarious post, about naming your kids better, and leaving better records for her to find - in fact, the whole blog is great, especially if you're a family historian. It's called Clue Wagon, and the post is here.

Take care everyone, and I hope you have lots of things making you happy in your life.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A return, and Meat Free Week

Well, have you missed me? Sorry about the long gap, guys, it's been a crazy, crazy time. But I'm glad to be back now!

There have been a few bookish things happening, but I think I'll leave them for a post next week. You see, this week, I've been doing Meat Free Week - which is a pretty big change for me. I am known in my family for being perfectly content with meat (or fish) and potatoes, and skipping most vegetables. This week, every meal I ate has been without meat or fish.

It has been a lot better than I thought it would be, to be honest! While I certainly haven't been eating all vegies, all the time, it has been fairly simple to do, certainly very delicious, and there were only a couple of cravings I had to deal with. A lot of my meals have been egg based, like the fantastic pumpkin and feta tart I had later in the week, and I had eggs on toast a couple of times. Looking back, I wish I had included vegetables with the eggs on toast - that would have been easy to do, and still pretty quick, which was my main concern at the time I was cooking.

I've really taken a few lessons away from Meat Free Week:

  • Meat free doesn't have to mean it tastes yuck, or isn't a complete meal. While I'm not a fan of a lot of meat replacement products, I have definitely decided that a meat free meal doesn't just mean a margherita pizza and chips! There are plenty of things you can do with pasta and with eggs that feel really filling (even with a reasonable size portion!) and are also delicious. 
  • Going meat free wasn't about losing weight for me, although I have dropped a bit. But there's no point going meat free and eating giant portions of everything else. As with everything, balance is key. 
  • I really want to get more COLOUR into my diet. Even going back to including meat in my diet, I want to aim to have a rainbow on my plate every time I eat. I occasionally get caught up in having the same thing over and over, so making sure to change things up and keep it interesting every meal is really important to me. 
  • Some people get really freaked out by the idea of not eating meat. Although Meat Free Week was about doing something that is good for your health, good for the environment and good for animals, there are always people who can only see the extreme version of your actions. MP George Christensen held a 'Free Meat' lunch which specifically did not include green vegetables (although onions were "allowed"). Mr Christensen says that Meat Free Week is trying to convert people to vegetarianism, and said that not eating meat meant you weren't supporting Aussie farmers, which is "un-Australian". Sigh. I think he's forgotten that not all Aussie farmers raise sheep or cattle, and lots still grow vegetables! If you like, you can email Mr Christensen about this through his website here, or you can leave a comment on his Facebook page about the event, here. Please note that unlike some of the other comments, I do not endorse comments about Mr Christensen's personal appearance, that's really unkind. 

Another part of Meat Free Week was that you could raise money to support one of their three charities, Voiceless (an animal protection institute), the Australian Conservation Foundation, or Bowel Cancer Australia. I chose to support Bowel Cancer Australia, as I am quite concerned about the health affects of too much meat. I was amazed at the donations I received from my friends, and really touched by their support. I even received an anonymous donation, which still has me stumped! If you'd like to donate, you can still do that (up to the end of April, 2014) here

In conclusion, I plan to continue with Meat Free Monday, and maybe even Faceless Friday. I'm never going to be a complete vegetarian, but cutting down on meat has made me feel really good. It's also made me aware of the portion size of the meat that I am eating, which is often more than I should. The Australian 'Eat for Health' guidelines say that a serve of meat should be 65 grams, a serve of chicken should be 80 grams and a serve of fish should be 100 grams. It's always a bit difficult to measure grams like that, so the usual correlation to use is that a serving size should be about the size of the palm of your hand. Not with the fingers, just the palm! I know that I often eat more than that, and I'm going to try and cut back. 

Next week will be a post about the comics I'm reading, and Oz Comic Con in Adelaide which I'll be attending next weekend. It should be a lot of fun, and I'm really looking forward to sharing that with everyone! Expect the post on Monday 7 April. Until then, keep reading!