Sep 11, 2019

What are you...?

What are you…

Reading? 

I have two books on the go at the moment. Annie West’s Sheikh’s Royal Baby Revelation and Ben Aaronovitch’s Moon Over Soho. They’re both absolutely wonderful. I also just finished Joanne Harris’s The Strawberry Thief, which was glorious. I’ve been reading so many fab books this year. :-)

 


Watching?

Nothing new. But I did re-watch Ladies in Black on the weekend. Such a gorgeous movie. I love the character of Magda so much. I might watch it again just in the interests of tracking her character development. :-)


Listening to?

An earworm! And this one has been hard to shake. When I was in New York—in an elevator no less—Hall & Oates' Kiss is on My List was playing…and it went round and round and round in my head for the rest of my stay. On the plane on the way home, a Best of Hall & Oates playlist was available on the entertainment system.  I thought listening to it might shift the song. It did, but only to replace it with Say it Isn’t So. Now I don’t mind the song—and I am a teenager of the 1980s—but enough is enough. Therefore I won't link to the youtube video because I'm guessing you don't need it in your life...but just excuse me while I go and listen to it again.

What’s making you smile?

So many things are making me smile—the rain, the rosellas, my work-in-progress, and my New York Public Library Card! However, my biggest smile is being reserved for my TBR pile. Here’s a sample of what’s up next for me (in no particular order):
* Kate Atkinson’s Big Sky which is the next in the Jackson Brodie series
* A Man Called Ove which is my next book club book
* First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (I went to her workshop on humour in New York and really enjoyed it).
* The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary (heard so many good things)
* And Amy Andrews’s Nothing But Trouble. This has been on my Kindle since it released, and I’m dying to get to it. :-)




Okay, your turn? What are you reading / watching /listening to, and/or what’s making you smile today?

Sep 9, 2019

Reading Dark

I love reading romance. I’m currently reading The Million Pound Marriage Deal by fellow LoveCat Michelle Douglas and love it. 

Crime is another of my favourite genres. Michael Connelly and Michael Robotham are two of my go to authors. I devour everything written by Jane Harper.

But, there are some books I just can’t bring myself to read. I love Stephen King’s book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I’ve read it three times, but I can’t bring myself to read one of his fiction books. I’m too scared.

At the recent Byron Writers Festival, I listened to Ginger Gorman discuss the world of online trolls and her incredible journey researching this phenomenon. I immediately purchased Troll Hunting and had Ginger sign it. I’ve picked it up a number of times to read, but just wonder if I can face learning about the inside world of online hate. I teach Social Media Tactics at university, so feel it is a book I should read, but do I really want to know about this world?

What about you? Are there genres of books you can’t read or don’t want to read?


I’m heading back to Will and Sophie’s story and will leave the trolls for now.

Sep 6, 2019

Why I LOVE My Footy Team

This weekend sees the start of the AFL (Australian Football League) finals.

And my team - the Collingwood Magpies - are right there in among it. To say our household is nervous, and excited, is an understatement.

We cannot commit to any events in the next month in case it clashes with anything finals related. Seriously. Birthday parties. Sleepovers. Trips. Holidays.  On hold.

A football player and a coach have a chat.One of the reasons why this club is important to us is history.  My husband's family have long, deep connection to the club, with his great grandfather playing and working for them as accountant and piano player. My son has been a member since 2 years before he was born (that's another story ;).)

Another reason we love them so was showcased beautifully in a wonderful documentary played on the ABC this week - Collingwood: From the Inside Out - all about my teams's 2017/2018 seasons. During that time they went from being an hour away from firing their coach at the end of 2017 after six years of depleting success, and deteriorating club culture, to a turnaround rarely seen in such a big business, with the club coming withing two minutes of winning last year's Grand Final.

It was a dream year. A fairy tale. Spring from a decision. To do better. To be better. Not just as administrators, but as men.

The doco highlights what we, as fans, as believers, saw happen week by week; a football club becoming a bastion for kindness, for openness, for tears, for hugs, for opening up about struggles, for love. Yes, love.  Love is a word the coach, the players, throw around constantly.  These men. These warriors. These humans under an intense spotlight. Above and beyond any wins, losses stats - they love one another.

A coach talks to his player in a football changeroom.
The doco is a story of love, of redemption, of young men being open about anxiety, about identity, about wanting not just to be football stars but well-rounded humans.

Win or lose, we are Collingwood Magpies, and so very proud of it.

...

Do you have a sports team you LOVE?  A sports star who you think is a true role model? 


Watch the documentary here: https://iview.abc.net.au/show/collingwood-from-the-inside-out

Photos courtesy ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-02/afl-documentary-collingwood-from-the-inside-out-mental-health/11452884

Sep 4, 2019

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...For real.

It occurs to me that there are two types of people in the world. People who deck the halls with boughs of holly come December, and people who play Christmas carols all year 'round.

I am most definitely the latter.


When it comes to Christmas, I can literally never get enough, but I feel a little (tiny bit) guilty listening to carols in the first quarter of the year, so I'm not quite as 'loud and proud'. In March, I don't blare Jingle Bells at school pick up, for example, with the sunroof open and the windows down - even though it's tempting. But guys, it's SEPTEMBER. We are officially on the downhill run to Christmas which makes every little bit of festivity completely legit from here on in.

So herewith my list of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit over the next 111 days.

1. Christmas Carols. Even the most hardcore grinch can't help but feel all festive and gooey when Christmas carols are afoot. My favourite? Diana Krall.

2. Soak your Christmas fruits ready for the cake and fruit mince pies. Buy premium Australian fruit and rum and breathe in all those spices.



3. Make a list of Christmas gifts. Being organised cuts down last-minute panic and it's so much fun to start planning! If you want to arrange bespoke gifts (custom, matching t-shirts? Hanna Andersson PJs for the fam bam? We have these ones...) now's the time to order and make sure they arrive in time.

4. Festive Reads. October is when Christmas books start to be released but if you can't wait another month, never fear. Last year's Christmas books are already out there just waiting to be enjoyed. Hurrah!

5. Get yourself a truly great Christmas candle and burn it, baby! I love this one.

6. Plan your Christmas day menu. If you're not hosting, work out what you can make to take wherever you're going. Or just to eat on your own while you watch CHRISTMAS MOVIES (point 16).

7. Grab whichever small person you can get your hands on and COVER THEM in green and red for as long as possible. (Not literally cover. They need to breathe, obviously. But give them all the festive. They're too young to object. Besides, they'll love it. Really, I promise.) This works for pets too.



8. Every year, in early December, I have a Succulent Wreath Making day for a group of girlfriends. There's prosecco and (naturally) Christmas carols and we spend a few hours around a table making wreaths. It's a lot of fun and I can't imagine a year without it.


9.  We also do gingerbread houses every year! The first time it was a bit intimidating but now we have it down to a fine art.  Persist! It's so much fun and they make great gifts.



These are teeny, tiny gingerbread houses which you can make with the leftover cookie dough. These ones fit tea light candles and when they're burning they smell divine. Just make sure they're not too small or they'll catch fire and turn your bread into toast ;)

10. More on point 7. Little people are great victims errr models for hand-made outfits! I used to make overalls for my kids - shopping for the Christmas fabrics was always a highlight. FYI the seasonal fabrics usually start to get released in September so that further validates my early-Christmas fever.



11. Paperboat Press! This is one of my most treasured traditions. The gorgeous, artisanal store in Queensland makes the most beautiful ceramics, including gorgeous custom Christmas stars (and even doggy bones - I'm looking at you, Rachel Dr Love Bailey!).



12. Okay. I'll willingly admit this next one might be a bit OTT but now that I've started the tradition I can't stop! We have a cutout picture board and each year the kids and I paint something new on it. Then we make (errr invite) all the family to pose for piccies. Pro tip, we re-use the board for Easter so it's really the gift that keeps on giving. Always add the year so you can montage the pics for later enjoyment. ;)




13. Paint all your stemware, all your ceramics! Okay, not *all*. But this is so much fun. Ceramic paints are available at any good craft store and you can decorate them however you want, set them in the oven and enjoy. In my experience, the paint doesn't last long so you'll more than likely get your glasses back eventually (but why would you want boring transparency when you can have the pleasure of drinking through a wreath-decorated glass all year 'round?).



14. Bake, bake, bake! This one's best saved until the week before Christmas. ;) Pudding. Cake. Fruit mince pies. Custard. All the things! Ideally in a Christmas themed apron.

15. And the big one. The tree. I used to put the tree up at the end of September (don't knock it until you've tried it - it's way too much effort for just a few weeks). But over the years we've acquired new family members and one of them has his birthday on the 31st of October so we wait until his birthday's been and gone before putting up the tree. But every year on November 1 it is officially tree day in our family! If you're one of those people who waits until the week before to get decorating, allow me to challenge you to try it my way this year. I really don't think you'll regret it.

16. Christmas movies!! There are so many amazing ones to enjoy but my top four, the movies I can't miss or it doesn't feel like Christmas, are: Die Hard (the first one). Love Actually. Arthur Christmas and Home Alone. 

What about you? Tell me you're a Christmas-a-holic like I am? How do you celebrate the season? What are your favourite traditions!? 

This is Clare Connelly signing off and wishing you a very Merry Christmas (for the first, but definitely not last, time for 2019!). xx

Sep 1, 2019

Winner of Last Sunday's Smooch Giveaway from Annie West

Hi everyone! Annie West here with the results of the draw from last week's SUNDAY SMOOCH GIVEAWAY.  The WINNER of a signed copy of 'Sheikh's Royal Baby Revelation' is BLUEBELLINA! Congratulations.

Bluebellina, if you could contact me at annie(at)annie-west.com with your postal details I'll post your prize.

To everyone else, thank you for your interest. Look out for more Sunday Smooches and chances to win in future.