This weeks Blog This challenge was a pretty easy one for me. Normally any book challenge has me all a flutter because I have SO many books and I love SO many books that choosing a favourite (or even my favourite 15) is WAY too hard, but earlier this month I got this book in the mail and it is far and away the best book I’ve ever read.

“Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer

Most of you will already have seen me mention this particular book. My readers who keep up with my other blog will already have heard me go on about it, I did a book review over there about it a couple of weeks ago, if you didn’t hear about it there, perhaps you saw my tweets about how good it was? Or my Tumblr updates with quotes from the book? Or on my facebook account where I declared my undying love for Jonathan Safran Foer, or maybe I just called you or emailed you to tell you that you HAD to read it/buy it/borrow it.. either way, you’ve probably heard me go on about it already.. so I won’t start up all over again, except to say, READ IT, READ IT, READ IT! This book changed my life!

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I realised today that i am 38 days closer to day zero and that progress on my list hasn’t been going so well. It hasn’t stalled completely either which is good but things aren’t moving along as nicely as I would like. I suspect it’s because I kind of feel like my whole life is on hold at the moment until the move. Anyway I decided this morning to take a bit of a look at the list and see if there was anything I could do today and I found two things that I could at least get started on. #47 (make a list of 101 things that make me happy) and #41 (Write a list of 101 places you want to see before you die). I started both lists and have managed to complete one. The other will stay safely in my drafts until it’s ready to be unveiled but for now here is:

#47. Make a list of 101 things that make me happy

1. Brunch with my husband in the sunshine
2. Starting a new book by a favourite author
3. Waking up without the alarm/sleeping in
4. Hot chocolate by the fire
5. Being able to see the stars
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6. The sound of waves crashing on the beach
waves
7. Photo of the day with my Mum
8. Holidays
9. Laughing until I cry
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10. Friends visiting from interstate/overseas
11. Long emails from friends/family
12. Catching up with friends for coffee
13. Sitting on the grass in the sunshine having a sandwich and reading a book
books sunshine
14. Freddie (my lovesac beanbag)
15. Planning my next holiday
16. Putting “pins” in my Places I’ve Been Trip Advisor map
17. Having a clean house
18. Reading through my travel journals
19. Visiting a new country
20. Seeing something in person that I’ve read about
21. When my husband’s wedding ring catching in the sun
22. Home made dumplings
23. Taking photographs of beautiful things
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24. Talking to friends on the phone
25. Making lists
26. Having savings in the bank
27. Buying plane tickets
28. Being a vegetarian
29. When my dreadlocks are neat and tidy
30. Writing
writing
31. A new episode of a favourite TV show
32. Hearing my husband laugh
33. Roadtrips
roadtrips
34. Using my imagination
35. Hugging people hello who I haven’t seen in a while
36. Going out for meals with friends
37. Walking around and listening to my ipod
headphones
38. Waking up in the middle of the night and realising I still have hours to sleep
39. Dancing around my house when there is noone else around
40. People watching
41. That feeling when I’ve just had a really incredible dream
42. Doing nice things for the people I love
43. Buying books
44. Massages
45. Making it home just before it starts to rain
46. Listening to the sound of rain on the roof as I’m falling asleep
47. Re-watching a favourite movie
48. Planning future adventures
49. Christmas at Mum’s place
50. Having my four besties in the same place at the same time (rare!)
51. Seeing old people holding hands
old-couple
52. Finding the perfect present for someone I love
53. Making mixed cds for people
54. The smell of fresh babies and puppies
55. Getting money back when I do my tax return
56. Reminiscing about happy times
57. Walking with a friend
58. Watching people who are in love
59. Finding a really great song
60. Freshly cleaned sheets on my bed
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61. Finding a restaurant with great vegetarian food
62. Getting mail
63. The smell of really great coffee
64. Crossing things off to do lists
65. When people ask me for travel advice
66. Naps
naps
67. Getting a new high score in Bejewelled Blitz
68. Having a seat free seat next to me when I travel
69. When my husband picks me up from work and opens the door for me from inside the car
70. The smell of wood fires
71. Being snuggled in bed when it’s cold outside
72. Putting clothes on straight out of the dryer
73. Visiting art galleries
74. Feeling inspired
75. Feeling the vibe when everyone is happy and having a good time
76. Having the solution to someones problem/question/need
77. Getting lost in a daydream
daydream
78. Making a difference
79. The feeling of anticipation before a good night out or a holiday or a visit from a friend
80. The smell of jasmine at dusk
81. Summertime, when the sun sets really late
82. The smell of vegetables stir fried in sesame oil
83. Feeling connected to the people in my life
connected
84. Being able to inspire people
85. Finding little ways to show friends and family that I love them
86. When people trust me enough to confide in me
87. Saying I love you at the end of a phone call
88. Having a really great word in Scrabble
89. The smell of my knotty boy dreadlock wax
dreadlocks
90. Tasting the food on someone elses plate when we go out for dinner
91. Dessert
92. Lying on the floor in the dark and listening to music
93. Making other people laugh
94. When my backpack is right there on the baggage carousel when I get off a plane
95. Getting new stamps in my passport
96. Remembering past adventures
97. Seeing my friends happy
98. Feeling passionate about world issues (although the picture is of tears it really does make me happy)
sad
99. Learning new things
100. Unexpectedly hearing a song I love
101. The fact that I have so many things that make me happy!

The end!
I really enjoyed making this list, in fact I challenge you to do the same if you can. It’s heartwarming and kind of exhilarating to realise that our happiness (well mine, anyway) depends on so little. Not lots of money or extravangant things.. just simple every day stuff.

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Challenge 6: Dinner for 8  Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to plan a fabulous dinner party. You’ve been given a healthy budget, so don’t scrimp! Guest list – 8 people, dead or alive, real or ficticious. The menu – will this be your very own masterchef moment, or is outsourcing more your style? Is there a theme? What will be the entertainment for the evening? What will you wear? What will you talk about? Don’t forget the wine! Have fun planning, be as creative as you like. If you’re creative, maybe even design the invitation. Make this an event not to be missed! Link back here with the URL of your blog AND the entry by 7.30pm 1st July – Have fun!

This is my second blog this challenge and I have to say, so far I’ve been pretty happy with the challenge content, by now you will all know of my nomad ways, but if there is one thing I love more than travelling it is eating! So the idea of hosting an imaginary dinner party with the guests of my choice thrilled me, especially when I read that my guests didn’t necessarily need to be real! So, first things first, I took a walk over to my bookshelf and plonked down on my beanbag. I stared at my bookshelf for a long time wondering just how I could possibly choose which of my favourite characters to come dinner, in the end I settled on the list below: (NB: Technically I suppose, since it’s ‘dinner for 8’ I should probably be one of the eight but it was hard enough narrowing it down as it was. Hopefully that is acceptable oh powerful judges!)

1. My husband – because he is the chef and without him we’d be eating frozen pizza (well also because I love him lol)
2. Stephen King – partly because I’m such a huge fan but mainly because I would really love to see the way he interacts with the rest of the guests, in particular one of his own characters
3 + 4. Henry & Clare from The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffeneger because theirs was a love story that has always stayed with me and I love the idea of them having the opportunity to spend time together at my party.
5. Roland from the Dark Tower Series – my favourite of all SK books, and also he and SK have already met and it seems fair that SK should know someone at the party since so far there are two other couples.

That’s it for the adults, then we have the kids table (though, for the record I haven’t quite decided if I would like these characters to come as the kids they were in these books or as the adults they are now in my imagination):
6. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird – what a brave and beautiful girl!
7. Leslie from Bridge to Terabithia – another brave and beautiful girl and I think that she and Scout would have been great friends

Choosing by number 8 was the hardest of them all, I spent a long time agonising over whether to invite Jesse from Bridge to Terabitha so I could reunite him with Leslie just for a night, or to invite Jake from The Dark Tower because I would love to see he and Stephen King interact with one another. In the end I chose Jesse.

8. Jesse from Bridge to Terabithia because his heartbreak was my heartbreak when Leslie died and I want to bring them together for the evening.

Now for the meal. At the moment I have a bit of a yum cha fetish and love serving meals over the space of a whole evening, small plates of dumplings and sushi and noodles, tiny bowls of stir fry or itty bitty pies, all matched up with wines for the adults and smoothies for the kids – a homemade degustation menu. 10 courses in total (with some shameless links to my foodie blog):

Vegetarian Mini Calzone
Spicy Tempeh Nori Rolls
Vegan Pad Thai
Pineapple and Quinoa Stirfry
Ginger Scented Vegetable Pot Stickers
Itty Bitty Shepherd’s Pies
Peking Mushrooms with Mandarin Pancakes

And then onto the desserts:

Carrot Cupcakes
Home made double chocolate icecream
Raspberry Brownies

We’ll end up the meal with some coffee and peppermint tea – and of course a hired minibus to come and take our guests home so that they don’t drink and drive after too much wine.

And in the background, playing softly so that our guests aren’t interrupted and are free to talk, an itunes playlist tailor made for the evening including (but not limited to) the following artists:

Ella Fitzgerald
Mat Kearney
Nouvelle Vague
Oren Lavie
Angus & Julie Stone
Tracy Chapman
Joshua Radin
Joni Mitchell
Edith Piaf
Portishead
Iron and Wine
Ani Di Franco

Dress code for the evening is pretty straight forward, we are a jeans and bare feet type of crew so whatever they’re comfortable in is fine, that was the rule at our wedding so I figure it will work here too, besides I’m not sure that Roland would have any fancy clothes and for all we know Henry could be ‘visiting’ from another time and may have to end up wearing my husbands bathrobe, it doesn’t really feel fair to make them feel uncomfortable by dressing up.

Wow, I had so much fun writing this that I was almost disappointed to get home this afternoon and realise that it would just be hubby and I eating vegetarian frittata for dinner!

I got this latest ‘list of’ from Alice and since I’m such a big reader I thought I’d give it a go.

The Rules:

1) YOU MAY ONLY TAKE 15 MINUTES TO COMPLETE THIS EXERCISE – NO EDITS ALLOWED

2) List fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you

3) Post your list on your blog and drop a link into the comments here

My list is below, it includes a few series which I’m not sure is allowed in the original exercise but I can’t help but include them! Also although I make no apologies for number 7 and 8, I do have to admit that I’m slightly embarrassed by them:

1. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
2. Goodnight Mr Tom – Michelle Magorian
3. Bridge to Terabithia – Katherine Paterson
4. Tomorrow When the War Began (series) – John Marsden
5. Needful Things – Stephen King
6. Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
7. Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling
8. Twilight (series) – Stephanie Meyer
9. The Dark Tower (series) – Stephen King
10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan Safran Foer
11. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
12. April Fools Day – Bryce Courtenay
13. A Child in Time – Ian McEwan
14. Came Back to show you I could fly – Robin Klein
15. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Wow, that was a lot harder than I expected. A lot of the titles that appear in the list are ones that I read as a young adult when my love of books was just starting to form, there are also quite a few series which I love to read because I’m able to invest so much of myself into something that goes into such depth as series tend to do.

I’d love to see what your favourites are! Post away!

Back in Sydney.. we flew in yesterday morning. Strangely enough the temperature inside our Sydney house is colder than most of our NZ adventure despite the average daily temp being 10 degrees warmer here. I suspect it has something to do with the terrible insulation in our flat and hope – desperately – that our house in NZ will somehow be warmer.

Yesterday was a bit of a write off. After getting up at 4am for our flight I spent most of the day in bed. Today promises to be just as unproductive, there is so much to organise before the removalists arrive on the 23rd that I barely know where to begin.. so I’m a bit in denial about it all. Hubby is starting his new job tomorrow though, which means that he will be working nights, leaving me with lots of hours in the day to get things done while he is at work. Hopefully anyway.

During our little holiday I was able to finish off another one of my “1o1 books I own that I haven’t yet read” (#60). I read Monster Love by Carol Topolski. It was pretty interesting and I enjoyed reading it a lot, but I have to say that the last part of the book was intensely unsatisfying and the ending pretty much sucked. Up until that point I could barely put it down and even managed to read a good chunk of it in the car on the drive from Twizel to Christchurch, and I have to say anything that manages to tear my attention away from the breathtaking scenery of New Zealand is doing a damn good job of being entertaining! I’d recommend it – the book I mean – even with the sucky ending.. I think the rest of the book makes up for it.

That’s all from me for now, just wanted to add some photos of the last bits of our trip, including some more strange rock piles (even stranger than expected considering we were on the opposite side of the country than the last lot!), a beautiful stone church in the country with a glass window looking out onto the mountains instead of an altar/stained glass windows, rays of light beaming onto a snow capped mountain and a few others as well…

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