20 Things…

There’s a thing going round Instagram at the moment, where you share 20 things about yourself and tag other people to do the same. It’s been really fascinating learning random things (and remarkable similarities) about some of the lovely people I stalk follow, and I thought I may as well use it as ready blog fodder, seeing as spare time is rare at the moment and my blog has been less than personal of late.

20 Things1/ I never learned to ride a bike or swim. I was always too small for my sister’s hand-me-down bike, and I was afraid of the water.

2/ I would choose giving birth over being pregnant (hence no more babies!). My thoughts are probably clouded by my beautiful waterbirth with Pickle, but still…pregnancy and I are not good friends.

3/ I’m terrified of moths. When my mum was pregnant with me, one flew into her ear.

4/ I first went on a plane aged 22, to Sydney with my boyfriend at the time.

5/ I hate heights but have done a tandem skydive and would do it again in a heartbeat. Even better, I got to do it for free, thanks to the place I was working at the time.

6/ I don’t like even numbers.

7/ I never remember the plots of movies I’ve seen, unless they strike a real chord with me. Or I’ve read the book.

8/ I love words but I loathe Scrabble. Tall loves Scrabble and beats me every time, much to his surprise and delight. He thought I would be really good at it, but I grew up playing with my mum who takes hours to make a word, and my patience for slow players is basically non-existent.

9/ I’m terrible with names but never forget a face. I can often recall where I’ve met or seen someone, what they were wearing, how old we were…but names just don’t stick unless I see them often.

10/ I can’t cope with my own house being a mess, but mess in other people’s houses doesn’t bother me at all. My work spaces always have to be clear and tidy, but I wouldn’t even notice or mind the mess elsewhere. Unless it’s extreme hoarding, and then, I get twitchy.

11/ I’ve been to 24 countries and my feet are constantly itchy. I miss living in London, and popping away into Europe for a weekend. Luckily Pickle and I have a trip to Fiji in May to look forward to, which will satisfy my craving for travel for a little while.

12/ I don’t like sultanas – they are just lazy grapes. Raisins…I’ll barely tolerate them, but sultanas will never be welcome in my home.

13/ I’m fascinated by dreams and the subconscious mind. My own dreams are vivid and crazy.

14/ I’ve never been able to donate blood due to weight requirements, but my hubs donates every 3mths so that makes me feels a bit better about it. He has an in-demand blood type, while mine is the run-of-the-mill variety, but still…I’d like to donate at least once.

15/ I like doing squats. Yep.

16/ Tuis and fantails take my breath away. We have a tui who visits our backyard regularly at the moment (usually on sunny afternoons just before it rains), and I loved watching a group of fantails swoop and play chase in the front yard of my parents’ holiday home.

17/ My favourite sandwich filling is cheese and carrot, bound with a little mayonnaise and a little chutney. Yum.

18/ I always wanted a daughter but now I can’t imagine myself as mama to anything but boys.

19/ I have small feet and can buy kids’ shoe, although sometimes they can be too wide. I’ve never been able to lend or borrow shoes until I became good friends with another small-footed lovely two years ago (I didn’t become her friend so we could share shoes, but it’s a great side-effect!!)

20/ It was a struggle to think of the initial 20 things, but since then, I’ve thought of a few more facts I could have used instead.

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Enough

(Disclaimer: this isn’t a cry for validation or platitudes, it’s merely a musing on something I’ve noticed about myself over the past few years)

Every year at this time, a feeling of maudlin insecurity creeps into my mind. I begin to feel that greedy monster called Comparison unpack his bags, and his friends Insecurity and Self-Doubt start to make regular house calls. I like to think of August as my month of throwing Pity-Parties-For-One.

I start to question everything. I wonder whether I am a good mother, or a good wife. I wonder where I fit with my friends. I wish I was as thin as one, or as fit as another, or as pretty, or as friendly, or as smart, or as fun. I feel envious, and unsure of my place.

I feel nostalgic, and wonder what life would have been like if we’d stayed living in London. I feel regret for things I did or didn’t do when I was younger, especially around my choice of study. I’m insecure about everything, and I re-play conversations in my head, wondering if I said the wrong thing, or interrupted too often, or said too much. I long for things I used to have, or wish I had; material things, as well as things like daffodils, perfect vision, a tan.DaffodilsI know I do it, and I know why I do it. I’m tired. I’m over winter, and it’s almost my birthday. I know that these feelings will subside in a short space of time and that I’m being self-indulgent, but I allow myself to wallow in this self-pity for a bit, because I know that in all reality, I AM enough. I know that comparison is unnecessary, unhealthy, and unhelpful, and so I give myself a mental slap on the face and after a while, that monster and his friends pack quietly and go, threatening to return in a year’s time.

Does anyone else feel this way as their birthday approaches, or is it just me?

Just Call Me Brace Face

Last Monday, I had braces fitted onto my upper and lower teeth.

That’s right, let it out….call me “Brace Face”, “Metal Mouth”, or “Train Tracks”…

Feel better? Right, let’s move on, shall we? To the FAQ I’ve been answering for the past seven days:

But there was nothing wrong with your teeth!….Was there??
Yes, there was. It may not have been obvious to other people, but to me, my crowded teeth were my biggest flaw. For most of my adult life, I’ve hated them. I remember my first few dinner dates with Tall: I ate with a hand nonchalantly covering my mouth. When the photographer was happily snapping away at our wedding, I was silently wishing she was standing at a different angle: there are a number of photos that I think are gorgeous but won’t display, because of my teeth. I first decided to get the braces purely for cosmetic reasons, but it transpires I have an overbite and my teeth don’t meet where they should, so the decision has actually been a very good one. A very good friend also had braces fitted a few months ago, and I asked this exact question of her – I thought she had lovely teeth. Then, when I told her I was getting them, she said the same thing to me…what we see as a flaw in ourselves might not be seen at all by others.

WeddingWhy did you wait until now to get them?
I actually had braces on my bottom teeth when I was about 15 years old, but when the retainer broke off a month or so after they’d come off, my idiotic dentist took it upon himself to remove it entirely, telling me I’d be fine without it (same idiotic dentist also removed one tooth and used insufficient anaesthetic, meaning I break out in a cold sweat thinking about that experience even now). Then my wisdom teeth came through, and it turns out they are functional (ie: no impaction or issues)…which is all well-and-good, except I have an extremely narrow palate and a child-like jaw. Too many teeth + not enough space = crowdy-crowdy; then both pregnancies saw them move about too…oh joy. So now that we’re finished having babies, the time seemed right, and I’m looking forward to finally having a smile to be proud of.

How long do you have to wear them for?
18-20 months, or until I’m happy with the results. It sounds like a long time, but I’m looking at it from an age-of-my-Pickle point of view, and that time has gone FAST.

Do they hurt??
Yes, they do, but as a good friend said: “No pain, no gain, right?” They were easy and pain-free to get put on, but a few hours later, the pressure became quite intense. That dull, constant ache lasted for about four days, and painkillers at bedtime solved the problem. My biggest issue has been catching my lower lip on the brackets during the night, resulting in a bit of tearing, but wax on the brackets does the trick. No pain, no gain. No pain, no gain.

Aren’t they really expensive?
They ain’t cheap, but I think the cost is worth it in the end. Plus the orthodontist I chose offers a monthly payment plan (with no extra charges) over the course of treatment, which makes it more affordable.

For the past week, my little men have delighted in calling me Mama Train Tracks, running their little fingers gently across my teeth. It’s endearing, and I’m not offended by it at all, and while I’m a little self-conscious when I first see someone, their reassurances that they’re hardly noticeable soon make me forget they’re even there.

Except I still can’t eat properly. Urgh.

On Being an Introvert

This weekend, I’ve got plans to hang out with 60 strangers.

Yep. 60 people I have never met in my life. When my husband asked, “Do you actually know any of these ladies?” I giggled hysterically and hiccuped something vaguely coherent like, “Noooo, but that doesn’t matter, right? Right?? RIGHT???”

He raised an eyebrow (okay, both of them – he’s not that talented) and simply said, “Cool.”

It got me thinking about why I decided to take the plunge and register for Around the Table – Bloggers Connecting.

Here’s the thing: I’m shy.

Not awkwardly so, but shy enough that I will stand back in a crowd of people I don’t know and spend a good while working up the courage to sidle up to a group and stand there, waiting for them to notice me. When they do, I’ll respond to their hellos with a quiet one of my own, and then I’ll stand there, smiling and nodding, taking in every facet of the conversation, but possibly not contributing anything of my own. I’m a listener, you see; I take everything in, and you might be surprised at what I’ll remember from a brief conversation.

Then I’ll start to worry that people will think I’m aloof or snobby, and so I try to partake, but my quiet voice is sometimes lost amongst the chatter, and I lose a bit of confidence.

Then someone much braver than me will ask how I fit in to the situation and I’ll waffle at great length about who I know and how, and then in my nervousness, I will forget to ask the same. When too much time has passed for it to seem natural for me to ask, I’ll suddenly realise that they probably think I’m not interested, and I am, so I’ll try again, which might come across as stalking, but really, it’s because I want them to know I do care, and that I am so grateful for them taking an interest in me.

So why, oh why, did I decide to register?

Most importantly, to meet some of the amazing women I have already forged friendships with through the wires. When you start to read a blog, you generally get a good feeling for what that person is like, and whether you’d really get along. I’m hoping that my instincts on this one are right, and the women I am dying to meet feel the same way about me.

I know I can overcome this shyness and enjoy the weekend. I know that the friendships that exist online can transcend to real life. I also know that many other introverts will be there, waiting for their opportunity to sidle up to a group, and that there’s solidarity in numbers. Surely when you put a group of shy women together, they can all sense the mutual feelings, and that makes it easier??

I’m going to try and be brave. I’m going to try and introduce myself when I see a face or name I recognise, and I’m going to try and be the first to ask you about yourself. But if I don’t, please don’t think it’s because I’m not interested…give me time, and you will see that I will, and I am.

A Love Story: today

(Start with A Love Story: in the beginning, A Love Story: the dating game and A Love Story: tomorrow)

As I slowly opened one eye and peered around me, my stomach started to tingle. I fumbled for my mobile phone. 6.23am. I sat up with a jolt, a grin spreading across my face. I’m getting married today!

I said a silent good morning to my husband-to-be, and briefly wondered how he’d slept, knowing that the answer was likely to be similar to my own: brokenly.

When I heard my niece and nephew in the kitchen above, I stretched langourously, rolled out of bed and tried to wipe the smile from my face as I went up the stairs.

In the kitchen I was greeted by a chorus of “Good mornings!” and as we all sat down for breakfast, those little butterflies started flexing and fluttering their wings in my stomach, energised by the sunny glow radiating from my heart.

Wedding1Two hours before the ceremony was to start, my mother, still in her dressing gown, was sitting at the sewing machine, finishing my dress. Armed with a needle and thread, my sister, my best friend and I took turns hand-sewing little tucks in the outer layer of the skirt. The photographer commented that she’d never seen a bride looking so calm and serene with an unfinished dress just two hours before getting married.

I laughed and said, with extreme confidence, “It’ll get finished. I’m getting married today.” I felt calm. I would have walked down that aisle in a paper bag if I’d had to; nothing was stopping me from getting married.

Finally in my dress, veil securely fastened, I grinned at my dad, and clambered into the waiting car. My stomach was in knots, but I chatted away with our driver about his car, about the weather, our travels, everything but the wedding.

Wedding2As I heard the opening bars of The Lark Ascending, I suddenly felt nervous for the first time. But I was impatient, too: impatient to walk across that grass to where he was waiting for me, impatient to say “I do”, impatient to be married.

I watched as my girls crossed the grass, and instead of waiting for my favourite part of the music to begin, I suddenly urged my dad on. “I want to go now!” I whispered to him urgently. He patted my hand and held me back a moment longer, and then we were walking past the trees, across the grass, past friends and family, to where Tall stood, smiling nervously as I approached.

Wedding4

It drizzled at some point, but I didn’t really notice. My heels got stuck in the grass, but I knew my dress would hide it. I didn’t wait for Tall to repeat the vows before jumping in with my response.

There were probably a thousand other things that weren’t quite right, but I didn’t care. We were married.

And it was a perfect, perfect day.

Angela&Guy462~~~~~~~~~
Happy fourth anniversary to my wonderful husband.
Thank you for that perfect day, for all the days since, and all the days to come

xxxx

(Photos by Sinead Jenkins Photography, 2009)

A Love Story: tomorrow

(Read A Love Story: in the beginning and A Love Story: the dating game first!)

Tall’s mum came towards me holding a long velvet box. She asked if we could have little chat, and I nervously agreed, wondering if she was about to tell me that I couldn’t marry her son. Then she handed me the box, watched while I opened it, and told me the story behind the gold watch chain inside. Tall had been left a gold pocket watch by his great-great-grandfather, as they shared the same birth date, and the chain was to pass from his mum to his wife. I’d heard the story before, but to have my future mother-in-law passing the chain on to me that night was very special indeed. To know that Tall knew in those early days of us dating that I would be the recipient of that chain…well…that always gave me the chills.

When Tall and I said goodbye, I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. I clung to him, wishing time would stop for just a moment, just for us, right here, right now.

He gently pulled himself away and stared down at me with a bemused look on his face. “Why are you crying?” He asked. “We’re getting married tomorrow!”

“I know!” I sobbed. “It’s just…I don’t want you to go…and I’m tired and I’m sure there’s something I’ve forgotten to do…”

Tall pulled me back towards him, smoothed my hair with his hand and firmly whispered, “Everything is done. I’ve got to go, but I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

I sniffed in response, and escaped down the stairs to dry my tears while my fiancé – nearly husband – left for dinner with his family.

In the spare room of my parents’ house, my brother’s old room, the room we’d been staying in since arriving back in Dunedin two weeks ago, I sat in silence, hiccuping away the tears and sniffing into a tissue. I thought of everything we’d managed to get done in the short time we’d been home, and the sudden realisation hit that it had all come down to this one day – no longer months or weeks away, but tomorrow.

I looked at the pile of socks, boxer shorts and tees strewn on the floor on his side of the bed. I smiled.

Tomorrow.

(Read part four here)

Tomorrow, that mess of laundry would be my future, my forever.

A Love Story: the dating game

(If you missed the first installment, here’s A Love Story: in the beginning)

He nonchalantly invited me to his work “art exhibition”. “As friends,” he insisted. “Because that’s what we are right now.” He was treading carefully, slowly; I’d been single only a matter of days.

He picked me up, ushered me into the exhibition, nervously introduced me to his flatmates and friends, some of whom I’d met before. His best mate grinned cheekily at me, and gave me a “I’ve heard all about you” kind of look.

Wandering around the art, I asked if he’d submitted anything. He pointed out a great photo of the sun setting on Stewart Island, and said there was another piece around somewhere, but I’d have to find it. When I did, I couldn’t stop laughing, and he was relieved.

“I was waiting to see if you’d find it funny or not before admitting it was mine,” he confessed. It seemed I’d passed the first test.

After the exhibition, we went for a coffee at a local cafe. We talked, almost non-stop, about ourselves, our families, our lives. When he told me that his parents were “pretty awesome” and that he was “lucky”, my heart danced just a little.

We ordered second coffees, at 10.30pm. We were both stalling, not wanting the evening to end. He protested when I paid for them but I insisted. “This is what friends do.” And when he dropped me home, we hugged, like friends do, but there was a pause, as though we were both wondering where we were headed next.

At 3am, I was lying in bed, wide awake, buzzing from too much caffeine, and thoughts of the night. My mobile phone beeped. “I had a really great time tonight,” he’d messaged. I grinned. “Me too!” I replied.

And so we were dating.

We went to movies and out for dinner. He paid for everything, insisted on it. Having spent the past three-and-a-half years with someone who refused to spend their own money but didn’t hesitate to spend mine, this was a refreshing change. We would talk for hours, about what we wanted our futures to hold. We promised to travel together, and we discussed children.

One night he suddenly told me that his mother wouldn’t like me. I was shocked. “Um…why?” I asked, not sure I wanted to hear the answer. “Because she’ll have to give you the watch chain,” he replied. “Huh?” I was confused. “Nevermind,” he said dismissively. “More wine?”

One night, as he dropped me home, he asked if something was wrong. I’d been quiet all evening. “I’m just sad about how angry and upset she is about us seeing each other,” I said sadly. “I never meant to hurt her, and now she won’t even speak to me.”

“Do you want us to stop seeing each other then?” he asked in an incredibly neutral voice. I couldn’t look at him while I tried to form my thoughts into words. “It isn’t fair that she’s not happy,” I began carefully. “But it wouldn’t be fair to me to stop doing something that makes me happy…so I’m going to be selfish for once, and maybe I’ll be sorry forever, but that’s okay, because right now, I’m choosing to be happy.”

He took my hand and smiled, relieved. “But promise me that if you’re ever not happy, you’ll tell me.”

I promised, even though I knew there was no need. I knew that a moment like that would never come.

(Read part three here)

A Love Story: in the beginning

The night it all began, I was dressed as a wench and he wore a pirate hat fashioned from newspaper. When we arrived at the party, he was brandishing a plastic cricket wicket as a sword, lunging at us as we came down the front path.

Sitting around the brazier outside, I sipped punch and snuggled up to my best friend. Suddenly, he was beside me with a whole pineapple, daring me to take a bite. Not one to back down from a challenge – especially with the invincible cloak of too-much-alcohol surrounding me – I took the proffered fruit and took a bite, skin and all. He grabbed it back and, not to be out-done, took a bite himself. The next 15 minutes were a blur of hilarity as we giggled about how much it stung.

Then I had a fight with my boyfriend, and it was time to go home.

~~~~~~~~~
Weeks passed. Most Saturday nights, our friends converged at one of the pubs in town. I would spend my time flitting between the girls on the dance floor, and the boys at the bar; a friendship was developing that made me intensely happy. One night, I sent him a text as our taxi dropped us off outside a bar. His response that he was away made me suddenly sad; I shook the feeling off, but it stayed with me all night and I found myself heading home at an earlier-than-usual hour.

Two days later, as I was stretching at the halfway point of my daily 10km run, my best friend (returning from hers) stopped to stretch with me.

“He likes you, you know,” she said suddenly. “It’s pretty obvious.”

My heart leaped, but I laughed dismissively. “Well, he’d have to be an idiot if he thinks I’d go there,” I scoffed. “I’ve got a boyfriend, and besides, I know how she [a good friend of ours] feels about him.”

We ran on, but instead of thinking about nothing as I usually did when I ran, I couldn’t get her words out of my head.

~~~~~~~~~
A few weekends later, my boyfriend was away. I was relieved – I’d been miserable for months, going through the motions of being in a relationship, of living with someone I didn’t love. He was prone to bouts of angry depression and manipulation, and nothing I did seemed to make a difference. I felt smothered, trapped, controlled.

It was 5am, the end of a big night in town. “I like you,” he said. “I really like you. I don’t usually say things like this, but this time, I had to say something…”

“Thank you for telling me,” I replied slowly. “That’s a really brave thing to do. But it’s complicated…I have a boyfriend…” Then I found the words tumbling out of my mouth, and he was the first person I told how miserable I was.

“I’ll email you tomorrow,” I promised as we parted company.

~~~~~~~~~
I emailed my sister. I asked for her advice. Her words have stayed with me for the past almost-nine years: “Does he offer you more mentally? emotionally? physically? If the answer is yes, then I think you know what to do…”

I composed another long email and with a shaking hand, pressed send. My stomach lurched, and I tried to concentrate on my work, but I was anxiously waiting for that familiar ding of a new mail notification. I checked the volume on my computer. I reinstalled the notifier, just in case. When there’d been no reply by 5pm, I began to feel sick, and a thousand “what ifs” ran through my mind

~~~~~~~~~
I was reluctantly forcing myself to eat dinner when my mobile bleeped.

“Our stupid email was down all day, so if you sent me anything, I didn’t get it…”

I released a deep breath that I didn’t know I was holding. My face almost broke with the wide grin that spread across it.

“That’s a shame, because I did, and it was a long one!” I replied. “I had a big think about everything, and if you’re okay with it, then…I choose you.”

There was a long pause.

Then: “Seriously? That’s so cool! Are you sure? I was waiting all day for it to be fixed. This is the longest text I’ve ever sent!”

(Read part two here)

Random Me

It’s Sunday lunchtime, and I’m stuck on the couch with a feeding-in-his-sleep Pickle. Tall has taken Tiny to the playground, so there’s no one to fetch my book or pass me the TV remote. I’m helluva thirsty, but – you guessed it – my water bottle is too far away to reach. Usually, I’m quite adept at moving about while nursing (much to the surprise of the courier who knocked on the front door last week!), but Pickle’s had very little sleep today and I’m loathe to disturb him now.

So here I am, wondering what I can do now that I’ve checked my emails, read some blogs, and looked on Facebook a thousand times. I don’t have anything specific to write about, yet I want to write.

Hence I shall provide you with some random things you may not know about me:

1) I’ve tandem parachuted, but the thought of bungy jumping scares the living daylights out of me. Somehow, falling from a plane makes me less uncomfortable than being attached to and jumping off a bridge.

2) Both of my parents are retired primary school teachers. I used to entertain the idea of becoming a teacher, but they persuaded me otherwise.

3) On our wedding day, I walked down the aisle to ‘The Lark Ascending’, one of the most beautiful pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

4) I hate hate HATE sultanas (I am oft-quoted as having said, “Sultanas…they’re like grapes that just couldn’t…”), and fruit cake. I will tolerate sultanas in hot cross buns, but only if there’s as much butter as bun, so the taste is disguised.

5) I can’t really swim, and I can’t really ride a bike.

6) I twisted my right knee when I was 12, and now the knee cap faces inwards slightly. It causes yoga teachers no end of frustration when they try to adjust me to lead with my knee, and I tell them I am.

7) When we moved back from England, we shipped back as many books as anything else. I cannot part with a book – that would be like parting with one of my children.

8) Tall and I shimmied to ‘Love Your Ways’ by Salmonella Dub as our first wedding dance. One of my aunts commented that it was “a terrible song the DJ chose” for us, and I smiled sweetly as I said, “Oh, no, we chose that song!”

9) I’ve only ever spent two nights in hospital: when my boys were born.

10) Caffeine gives me a headache, but I drink coffee anyway.

11) I know how to frame pictures, make sterling silver jewellery, stained glass windows and pottery thanks to a job I had at the University of Otago.

12) I once ate an entire pack of Mallowpuffs in one sitting, while studying for my degree.

13) The first time I went on a plane, I was 22 years old, and bound for Sydney with my then-boyfriend. Tiny was flying before he was even born, and has been overseas twice already.

14) I’m almost legally blind in both eyes.

15) My ear lobes are unusually small; I tried to get a second piercing when I was 16 (without my parents’ knowledge), and had to take them out because the hole was too close to the cartilage.

16) I used to work for Immigration New Zealand in London, approving and declining residence visas. Mostly approving.

17) I have a Diploma in Social Work, but I have never wanted to be a Social Worker.

18) I believe in fate.

19) When I was 6, my right ring finger was shut in the hinges of my sister’s bedroom door, almost severing the top and splintering the bone. I remember weakly asking my sister to open the door, and her protesting that she hadn’t finished hiding the toy we were playing hide-and-seek with. I remember the look on my mum’s face when she saw my mutilated hand and the blood. I remember asking for blue stitches, offering everyone a lick of the lollipop I got for being brave, and the bag of apples dad had thrown into the car incase we were at the hospital for a long time. And I remember being sad when the stitches were removed, because they were green, not blue. The scar goes across the middle of my nail and 3/4 of the way down to the first knuckle; the finger is slightly lopsided and more sensitive than the others, but I hardly notice it now.

(You can read more random things about me here and here)

Memories and Macarons

Over the weekend, I got all blitzy and decided to clear out the wooden chest in the corner of our lounge. It’s always been the “I don’t know where it goes so it can go in here” place, but like a woman possessed, I decided that Sunday was the day to go through it all.

I bagged up everything that was my husband’s, and he scanned through it quickly, deciding to keep everything. Whatevs. That’s his prerogative.

But I got ruthless. All my old school books? In the bin. Random bits of paper with meaningless things on them? In the (recycling) bin. Old school projects? In. The. Bin.

Some of my artwork from when I was little was too special to throw out, so I kept those. The pictures I could bear to part with, I photographed first, as a way of preserving it for some unknown future use. I came across a box full of old birthday cards, including ones from both sets of grandparents who have passed away, handmade ones from my brother and sister, and three very special ones from my dear friend, Cookie Bear. These, I kept.

As I was doing my blitz, a part of me wondered if I shouldn’t just hold on to everything, as a way of, you know, preserving my past or something. My mother is a hoarder – not pathologically, but she doesn’t throw anything away unless it is threadbare or utterly kaput – and a child of the Depression. She saves everything for the day when it might come in handy, and I think my constant cleaning and cleansing is a way of going against this.

Sure, there are times when I get ruthless, and then a few months later, wonder what I’ve done with something that I suddenly can’t live without, and then I regret my blitzing tendencies. But most of the time, I think carefully about what I’m getting rid of, I ponder it for a while and then make my decision: keep or cull. And then I act. Pow.

~~~~~~~~~
Also on Sunday, I decided it was time to try making macarons. I’d pinned this recipe ages ago, and it was finally time to give it a go.

Well.

They took a lot longer to prepare than I expected. I did spend some time online checking out techniques and troubles, trying to work out exactly what my egg whites should look like when they were done. I also had trouble with my piping nozzle and the size of my pre-drawn circles, and in the end, went freehand.

As the first tray baked, I saw straight away that they weren’t working. There were cracks and peaks, and no feet. NO FEET, people, no feet. In the macaron world, this is the disaster to end all disasters.

Definitely NOT macarons

The second tray was as bad as the first, but as they came out of oven and cooled enough to be sampled, I was pleasantly surprised at how good they tasted. It was evident that I was making heavy meringues instead of macarons.

The third tray were the best yet, almost good enough to be called macarons. What was different? I mixed the last of the batter a bit more, and used a different baking function on the oven (one that wicks more moisture out). Everything I read pointed towards the mixture being under-mixed, so next time (yes, I will try again), I will be sure to give an extra few stirs, just to be sure.

Could possibly pass for macarons

I had issues with brownies for a while, but I’ve mastered them now, and I am determined not to let macarons beat me either.