MadeItMonday: CAKE THE SECOND

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

Okay, another apple-spice cake this week (see last week’s post for reference). I was commissioned to make the one I posted last week, and since making two cakes at once is barely any more work than making one, generally speaking, and since I, y’know, had a book come out around the time I was making these cakes, and since I wasn’t planning to have a formal launch since it’s a book 2 in a series and idk, that just seems weird to have a formal launch for? but since ALSO I knew there were friends who wanted a copy, I decided pretty much on the spur of the moment to have an informal launch party at home.

(10/10 highly recommend, if you have supportive fam+friends. It was SO cool to just hang out with everyone, and not everyone bought a book and that was TOTALLY FINE, but wow, quite a few people did!!)

So, I figured I might as well make that additional cake and have CAKE AT MY OWN PARTY WHAT EVEN IS THIS I MADE A CAKE LIKE ACTUALLY ENTIRELY 100% **FOR MYSELF**. Whoa. Up is down and cows are round.

So, same principle as last week in terms of flavourings, but I went with super simple decorations so it only took about 35 mins to assemble and decorate the whole thing. Woot woo!

You’ll notice the streaks in the caramel topping; I don’t know, I think I must have overcooked the cake CARAMEL, I MEANT CARAMEL when I’d made it the day before, because overnight it set SOLID. Normally it has a nice, chewy sort of texture, but this time, NOPE. BRICK SOLID. I hadn’t burned it, but obviously I did something differently. IDK. Never mind, still tasty. BUT it meant I had to do some serious melting of it to get it to a pourable consistency, and then it was – shockingly enough – HOT, and wow, did you know that buttercream is made primarily from BUTTER, and butter MELTS when it gets HOT?!

Like, I knew this, and there really wasn’t anything I could do except let it cool as much as I possibly could and then dump the whole cake in the fridge the instant I’d poured it, desperately poking and prodding to stop the caramel melting the edges of the icing and dripping down the sides…. 😀 THAT succeeded, but because I was chilling the super-firm caramel asap, there were a few little holes in the top of it, and then because it was hot and the buttercream melted, the buttercream seeped up and made those smears. BUT NEVER MIND I actually don’t even care because it was amazingly tasty and it was just for a book party so eh.

Also: YAY MORE CAKE.

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

What It REALLY Means To Be Trilingual

IDK, I think this is just going to be slam poetry month, ‘kay? ‘Kay. Anyway, this one’s lovely, and touches on a topic that fascinates me both as an English teacher and as a trained linguist. We tend to have this view that anyone who can’t speak ‘proper’ English is lower, defective in some way. But this erases the totally glorious truth, which is that NO ONE speaks English ‘properly’, because what do you even MEAN by English? American? British? Australian? Singaporean? East coast Australia or West coast Australia? Texan or Alaskan? Southern British or northern British? Etc. Like, linguistically speaking, there is NO One True English.

This kind of attitude also totally ignores the fact that different variations of English, even when they ‘mangle’ the original words/grammar/whatever, still have really strict rules themselves. I am, for example, totally fluent in internet English, which is a totally different dialect to spoken east-coast Australian English; while it might superficially seem like phrases such as ‘It me!’ are just being blatantly ungrammatical, actually there’s a new set of grammar rules at play which mean that while it’s totes fab to say ‘It me!’ (or ‘totes fab’), it’s NOT grammatical in internet-English to say ‘It amazing!’ (at this point; internet English even more so than any other variant, dialect, pigeon, etc, changes FAST).

There is no One True English. People who speak other variants aren’t dumb, they’re just using a different grammar system. And unless we’re all supposed to go back to speaking Old English (Wes þū hāl!), well, grammar systems change with time and geography. That’s just Language. So we can rail about the ‘declining standards of English due to the internet/migrants/texting/whatever’, or we can celebrate the awesome creativity of the human mind, and appreciate different styles of grammar. I think you know which side I’m on 😉 😀 hehe.

Anyway, rant over, enjoy the vid, and your soon-coming weekend!! <3

STREA. KING. Also words. And bats! #random.

Behold, the power of streaks, that lures me here to my computer when I really, really, REALLY just want/need to go to bed. BUT I AM HERE AND BLOGGING AT LEAST SOMETHING BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO BREAK MY STREAK, OKAY?

So y’all get insanity once again. Sorry.

Happy today – I finally started When Worlds Collide, Sanctuary Book 3. Only about a month late, but hey – better late than never?? I’m pretty much planning to do NaNoWriMo this year, because I’ll have to to get WWC in on time – still shooting for a late Feb/early March release. Fingers crossed!!

But anyway, after doing SO much editing and proofing and formatting and all so far this year, it’s SO nice to be back doing *actual writing* (TM) again. Actually, I think this is pretty much the first proper drafting/writing I’ve done all year? Whoa. What even is this.

That considered, it’s even HAPPIER that the words flowed well tonight – about 1750 words in about 40 mins, which is pretty much top speed for me! Yay! I love writing Edge – her voice is just SO easy <3 <3 <3

Anyway, I think that’s literally all I can scrape together the brain power for right now, so I’ll leave you with this adorable bat gif that I discovered today and which I’m pretty sure is going to become my lil mascot (because carrier bats and cookies, right?*). And now Imma go snuggle up in a blanket of my own and sneep. I mean sleep. Or probably at this point just eep, let’s be real. Ha.

G’night!

* If you’re not obsessively following along on Twitter, first of all, what’s wrong with you?** and second of all, I don’t know, I just have this THING where if anyone says something that needs a response, it’s all “*loads up carrier bats with health/congratulatory/celebration/writing/editing/happiness/insert appropriate description here cookies and sends them to you*”. Sadly, the carrier bats have a bad habit of becoming waylaid and getting distracted, and rarely make it to their destinations. A few do, though 😉

** WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU HAVE A LIFE????

I’m Only Doing This Because I Promised Myself

See? Streak power at work right here. I had posts for every day last week, so now I want to maintain that. I noted last week that posting once a week was too infrequent for streak-motivation to kick in, but apparently this week-daily bizzo is doing the trick (and let’s face it, the Monday/Friday posts are all prescheduled anyway :D).

So I have things to say and things I thought I’d blog about, but tbh I had like 4.5 hours of sleep last night and I’m fighting off the plague and I’m really all just

right now. So instead you get a random, short, rambly update, I guess about books because… I have nothing else interesting to update you with?

So Sanctuary book three, When Worlds Collide, is officially In The Works. I’ve done a bunch of planning and outlining* and trying to fit together the jigsaw puzzle pieces I’ve left myself in the first two books, and tomorrow I get to actually dive into the writing – assuming I’m up to date with my marking by the time I get home, anyway 😉 At the moment I have it scheduled for release at the end of Feb, but that will depend on me maintaining a moderately gruelling schedule for the next 2.5 months, so it may end up tipping over into March. We Shall See.

And then that wraps up the Sanctuary series, and WHOA OH MY GOSH I WROTE AN ENTIRE SERIES. o.O Y’all have no idea how WEIRD that concept is.

But I’m SUPER excited about what’s coming after that. You might remember that last year I went and stayed with the Twinny One in the US, which was AWWWWWESOME, and that we spent a large amount of time Plotting All The Things, and that one of said Things was the big and tangled novel I have drafted that we detangled, reoutlined, and generally tidied up, filming the whole experience because… why not?

Anyway, yeah, that one. Ferrets and sarcasm and enemies-to-lovers and Mercury, the super-smart, super-possessive, super-snarky, super-SLYTHERIN main character. A bunch of people have read early drafts of this one, and you guys, you are going to love it. Promises. So. Much. FUN.

I’m really looking forward to getting it done and out :3

I’m also super looking forward to some writing courses I’m doing over Christmas, but that’s probably of less general interest! 😀

Anyway, the gloriously savoury scent of roasting potatoes and rosemary is letting me know my dinner is finally cooked, so Imma go deal with that. Food. I hear it’s good to eat.**

Hope you’re having an okay start to your week! <3

 

* I’m not an obsessive outliner, I don’t outline All The Things in comprehensive detail, but I do appreciate a road map.

** This, friends, is called irony, because I have recently learned that I am literally, actually, 100% medically confirmed food intolerant. More on that possibly later this week. *sigh*.

MadeItMonday: CAKE THE FIRST

Welcome to #MadeItMonday, where I post something I’ve made in the previous week, and where you can join in and post something you made too! The rules are easy: post a pic somewhere of something you’ve made in the last week (ish; let’s say in the last month as the hard-and-fast) and tag it. Sit back and enjoy scrolling through all the beautiful things we’ve collectively created, and celebrate the fact that humans can be awesome! 🙂

Okay, buckle up: it’s the Month of Cakes!! First cake off the bench is this gloriously messy number, which was commissioned for a work birthday party. It’s a spice cake (my own recipe, primarily cinnamon and ginger, a little like gingerbread but… not?) with apple curd* filling between the three layers, covered with salted caramel buttercream**, drizzled with salted caramel sauce (this amazing recipe), and topped with candied apple slices and some toasted oats+honey for a little crunch.

The devourers tell me it went down a treat. Yay! 🙂

* Apple curd is super easy: make lemon curd but use real-lime-juice-lime-cordial 50/50 with water in place of the lemon juice, and add in about 1/4-1/3 of a cup of stewed apple instead of lemon rind!

** I pretty much always use Italian meringue buttercream, which is rich, siiiiilky smooth, and not as intensely sweet as regular american or vienna buttercream (though it’s much richer).

YAY! CAKE!!! <3

What have you made this week? (It doesn’t have to be fancy!!) Don’t forget to tag your contribution, or even better, leave a link in the comments!! I love seeing what inspiring things other people have made 🙂 🙂 🙂

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You Are Amazing <3

It’s Friday the 13th and I refuse to think of that as anything but lucky. This is totally not related to today’s video, but there you are. Anyway, I feel like we could all use a little encouragement these days, and a reminder that YOU, YES YOU are awesome 🙂 So here you are: a slam poem just for you, to remind you that you’re amazing <3

In Which A Stranger Makes Me Cry

Sometimes, you just really needed to hear it.

My kids are 5 and 2 right now, and they are both clever little beans, and super active. My son particularly is a little perpetual motion machine, and always has been.* So for the last two years, they’ve been doing swimming lessons as yet-another-way-to-try-to-expend-their-energy-and-keep-them-sufficiently-occupied. Y’all know my schedule tends to be packed so tight I can a) barely breathe and b) never afford catastrophes because they throw MY CAREFUL BALANCE OUT…

…but this is not, actually, a story of something that went wrong. The schedule comment is merely to contextualise, and to note that by the time I hit 6pm on the weekday whereon they have their lesson, I’m frequently a little frazzed. The actual lesson itself is fine (once I get over the almost-requisite being-5-minute-late part), but since I get in the water with the 2-yr-old, it means three swimmer-clad bodies to deal with at 6:30pm when we are all tired, in a crowded public change room where we often have to queue for the kids to use the open showers (though at least this means they don’t need a bath at home, and serves as their weekly hair-wash if I don’t get to it at any other point in the week 😀 😀 #MultiTaskingFTW), and then, because my kids are slooooooooooooooooow and everything is a biiiiiiiiig deeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaal when you are 5 and smart and tired, we usually have to queue for a cubicle so I can also strip off and change while they change, and look, it’s not a problem because we’ve been doing it for 2 years and have our routine down to a fine art (requisite tears x 2 + 2 x optional bonus rounds of tears included**), and it works, and I wouldn’t not do it because they both LOVE swimming (baby especially, who’s been swimming since 14 weeks*** o.O) and they need to learn to swim (this is such a compulsory Australian skill that most primary schools include a course of swimming in their sports curriculum each year), but it’s… a juggle. You know. I don’t mind it, it’s definitely not horrible, but it’s not the most relaxing 25 minutes of my weekly life.

So this week, I was going through all these motions as usual, had queued for a cubicle, and was just ducking in, and another mother came up to me.

I’ll admit, my heart sank a little, because the last time this happened it was a mother very politely and with much embarrassment on her part informing me that my son had been pushing her son into the pool >.<

But this lovely woman, looking – let’s admit – not a whole lot less frazzled than I, leans in close, and goes:

I just wanted to say, I think you do an amazing job.

I blinked, stunned, managed to beam and thank her appropriately, locked myself in my cubicle, put the baby on the fold-down table and instructed my son to set up under it, as usual, and promptly burst into tears.

I hadn’t been feeling especially frazzled this week, not compared to some weeks. And I hadn’t had a bad day at work, and I wasn’t feeling like I was teetering on the edge of sanity like I sometimes am. But I had managed to accidentally hurt Mr 5’s arm as I directed him out of the showering area, and the general frustrations of trying to wash, dry and dress two baby octopuses with Strong Opinions and Independences of their own in a crowded space on a tight schedule is always… well. You know. It is what it is.

And so even though I hadn’t been going, ‘Man, I could really use some encouragement right now’, apparently I still needed it, and it really hit home, and I am so, so grateful to this woman.

The take-home point is this: Modern Western consumer culture particularly sets us up to be in competition with each other – as men, as women, as non-binaries, as teens, as adults, in the workplace, in comparing homes, in our hobbies, in our social media. People who are united, gracious and forgiving of each other, always striving to encourage and lift each other up – these are not the kind of people who are susceptible to advertising, propaganda, consumerist values that drive corporate business. It’s not in the best interest of the people who currently run our society for us to encourage each other.

But we need it. Oh, how we need it. For the sake of our self esteem, our sanity – and, simply, our humanity.

So do something rebellious with your life: Become an encourager.

I bet you’ll be amazing at it <3 <3 <3

 

 

* Like, always. He nearly cracked one of my ribs in utero o.O

** One from Mr 5 at some point because he wasn’t listening to what he was supposed to be doing and got hurt (slipped on the wet floor, bumped his head, got soap in his eyes, take your pick), one from the baby when I wash her hair, and optionally up to another one round each while actually in the change cubicle because Tired and Wet and Getting Changed Is Hard).

*** Initially as a) something to do while Mr then-3 began lessons and b) as a bonding activity with my sister, who was also on maternity leave at the same time 🙂

*Tap Tap* This thing on? (AKA The Power of Streaking)

Wow. It’s October already. How did that happen? How I am, like, making appointments and lesson plans and things through to the end of November already? How has it been six million years since I last blogged?

…Okay, so the answer to that last one is, as we all know, that I still suck at blogging, though I’m *slowly* getting better, and *le gasp*, I actually have most Monday/Friday posts done for the rest of the year.

So, y’know, even if I die you’ll still have content 😛 #macabrehumour

ANYWAY.

Wow.

I actually don’t even know where to start, which is kind of why I’ve been delaying writing this post for the last two weeks. I mean, I just had a book come out and everything, you’d think I’d have blogged that. But because I hadn’t blogged in SO. LONG., it felt kind of weird to come back with a ‘hey btw I made a new book’ post, I guess. Hence, avoiding it >.<

I found the secret to making myself do it, though. School’s gone back this week, and although I have a mountainous-crazy to-do list because I didn’t do enough school work in the holidays because publishing blew up on me in the first week and I got commissioned for three cakes in the second week…

I actually completed my epic to-do list yesterday.

Granted, I had to stay up until 1:45am to get it done (*wince* don’t tell my family), but IT GOT DONE, DARN IT ALL. And so today, when I realized I was likely to get through my to-do list for the SECOND DAY IN A ROW… Well, streak-psychology kicked in. As in, two-in-a-row-is-practically-a-streak-I-have-to-keep-this-going.

And one of the few remaining tasks on my list today is – you guessed it – blogging, so blogging I dutifully am, because I will have my streak, darn it all.

As it turns out, streak psychology is actually a really great motivator (though it can be used for nefarious intent – I’ve heard of a few problems recently with young teens and a snapchat addiction, because snapchat (yet another social media app) records ‘streaks’, i.e. how many days in a row you’ve talked with a particular friend, encouraging you to make sure you chat to all those friends again tomorrow to maintain said streak). I was browsing Dean Wesley Smith’s site the other night and noticed that he talks about streaks as a motivator for writing, too. Relevant, as I’m diving in Sanctuary Book 3 after this weekend, so I’ll need to ‘streak’ writing as well as everything else. (I’m plotting it out this week/on the weekend.)

So I guess I need to harness the power of the streak on the blog, and try to get that happening – and for exercise, too. The problem seems to be that once-a-week isn’t frequent enough to feel like a streak, even if you hit the goal ten weeks in a row.

Maybe I’ll try doing short, rambly blog posts like this every second day or something to get into the habit? Heaven knows that if you’ve been reading the blog/hanging out with me for long enough, you’ll be used to ramble.

Who knows, I might even discuss that new books that I released two weeks ago, and the con I went to, and the book night I hosted at home. With, like, photos and stuff.

But for now, blogging can be crossed off my to-do list (:D) and I have to get the kid inside for his gymnastics lesson.

I hope you’re all surviving okay, and I guess have a think about how you could harness streak!power in your life rn. If you do, please share in the comments! I’d love to know 🙂