101 things: take singing lessons

9 08 2012

And you can't stop me!

image from here

I can’t sing. I can sort of hold a tune, but I’m flat and sharp and pitchy and all over the shop. Which doesn’t stop me, but it does make it a bit shit for other people (sorry).

A secret want of mine for ages to was learn how to smooth out the rough bits and sound better. Well, not so secret, since I stuck it on the 101 things list. But even still, I didn’t know how to move forward on it, because it all seemed very unknown and scary. I think it’s really hard to put yourself up to do something totally new – and it seems to get harder the older I get.

Quick scene change to a dinner party, where there was one of those decks of question cards designed to break the ice. One of the questions was “What’s something you wish you’d learned how to do?”

Turns out that I wasn’t alone in my warbling wish.

So given that doing anything terrifying is much better if there’s someone there to hold your hand (misery loves company?), friend B and I found a teacher, and started lessons.

(After a lot of procrastinating and faffing around.)

And after three terms of lessons, I can say that we’re definitely getting better. It’s hard – because we’re not very good, because we’re not very confident, and because it’s bloody hard doing something that you’re terrible at, week after week. We are well out of our comfort zones.

But it’s getting easier. I’m not about to release an album any time, but I’m enjoying learning a completely new thing, and making progress on it.

So, note to self: it’s okay to be really bad at doing something. The key part is the doing. That’s the only way you’ll get to being any better at it.
(Unless, of course, you’re happy to never, ever do that thing for the rest of your life, therefore never facing your complete crapness at it. This is an option I have been known to choose.)

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Visit three museums or galleries: Three

2 08 2012

I took a trip to the US of A in September/October 2011. It was magic, for a whole bunch of reasons.

Of course New York was high on the list, and of course high on the New York list was MoMA. Which was as excellent as I’d thought it would be.

I would move to New York and be a member in a heartbeat. And eat bagels. And generally soak it all in.

In fact, I signed up for the MoMA email list just to briefly pretend that might be possible.

(I remain optimistic)

(with very little cause, but then, that’s what optimism is about, right?)





Summer pea soup with smoked trout salad

19 07 2012

Possibly a bit odd to be posting this in July, when chilled soup is the last thing on your mind. This was the start of a menu for a very hot day in January (the Architect’s birthday, no less). I’m very much a creature of my immediate context – it’s hard for me to imagine it being hot when I’m shivering here in thermals and jumpers and drinking hot tea like it’s going out of style. So it’s good to remember that this too will pass, and the hot days will come again.

So. A nice chilled summer pea soup. Yum.

Green

This was a little more stuffing about than the tomato and harissa soup. It’s cooked, cooled, blended and then chilled. It called for a cup of cream, which seemed excessive, so I went instead for half a cup of cream and then an extra teaspoon to garnish.

It was pretty tasty. Body from a sneaky potato, and the paprika gave it a nice smoky flavour.

The soup went along with a smoked trout salad, served on a lettuce leaf (and on a banana leaf plate, here). Interesting but a bit too fiddly for the payoff.

Trouty

I might make the soup again, but probably not the salad.





Go to 6 new restaurants

28 05 2012

This one was in the 101 things challenge as a way to try some new places to eat. Familiarity is nice, and everyone likes a guaranteed result, but it can be nice to branch out as well. I don’t go out to eat that often, but I love doing it, so when I go I really want to enjoy it.

So here’s six new places I’ve eaten at (in no particular order) and loved since this challenge started back in January 2010 (and here’s my urbanspoon profile for more of the same).

Restaurant Amusé, East Perth

Hands down one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I was in Perth for CHOGM, and the Architect had come with me. We decided to do one fancy night out, and chose Amusé based on advice from the internets. The internets gave us very good advice. They do a 10 course dégustation from local ingredients, with wine matching, and every single thing was absolutely exquisite and beautifully presented. I know I’m in danger of the hyperbole police coming, but it was seriously that good.

Taro’s Ramen, Brisbane city

Taro’s website humbly proclaims it “The best ramen in Australia”. He’s right. It is. I’ve eaten a bit of ramen in my time (excluding 2 minute noodles – those I have eaten a LOT of in my time). This is the ramen that made me understand why people love ramen. Handmade noodles. Incredible Bangalow sweet pork stock. Perfectly cooked eggs. The Fire Tonkotsu is where it’s at. Trust me, I’ve eaten my way through most of the menu.

Caravanserai, West End

Got a dinner coming up with a bunch of people with different tastes? Maybe some picky eaters in there? Take ’em to Caravanserai. It’s noisy and dark and cosy and has pretty lanterns. The banquet is the most ridiculous amount of food, and it’s delicious and pleases everyone (except maybe people who don’t like noisy and dark places).

Sono, Brisbane city

For my first couple of years in Brisbane, my go-to Japanese restaurant was Sakura in Highgate Hill – cheap, cheerful, what more could you want? But lately I’ve started to prefer Sono. While it’s a bit more expensive, the quality is better and the lunch sets are perfect for a cheeky celebration. And they sometimes have fresh uni. FRESH. UNI. Enough said.

Bamboo Basket, South Bank

WTF is xiaolongbao and how do you have soup in a dumpling? you may ask. Until you go here, and eat one, and then your world is taken over with cravings for more. A steamed pork dumpling filled with hot soup. Eat with care. Burnt tongue or no, I’ll be back.

Movida Next Door, Melbourne

A gorgeous few days in Melbourne last autumn with the Architect. Quite a few highlights: excellent dinners at Izakaya-den, Longrain, and of course the infamous four bottles of wine between three dinner with Anna at Siglo. Wandering the laneways for hours. Coffee and crumpets with vegemite in a tiny cafe. Moseying through the National Gallery of Victoria (I can’t be the first person to point out that Victoria is not a nation…?). Sitting the Architect down and asking him to marry me. Lying on the lawn in Carlton Gardens. Looking at cute things all around Fitzroy. Breakfast with Miff and baby Jez at the markets. But one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of those few days is the Monte y mar, the pork-stuffed calamari with squid ink dressing, that we had at MoVida Next Door. Silky texture, amazing taste, washed down with sangria, shared with a lovely man. And for dessert, my first churros. Perfect.





Visit three museums or galleries: Two

26 05 2012

The Architect and I were in Japan for a dear friend’s wedding. While there we took to the opportunity to nick off over to the west coast to Kanazawa, where we spent a few lazy, rainy days poking around and generally having fun.

So when you’re in a UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art, what do you do? Why, you go to the lovely Museum of Traditional Folk Arts and Craft, of course! For a couple of hundred yen, we got to look at some gorgeous things, stay out of the rain, and buy some awesome craft in the gift shop. Total win.





Torta caprese

24 05 2012

I love caprese. Ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil and my cheesy love, bocconcini. Add pastry lust and you’re guaranteed I would love this torta caprese.

Yum

It was easy to make, and it went down a treat. Next time, I might bake the pastry a bit longer before hand – it was a touch soft (I’m seeing a theme here – to do with my oven).

Tips for new players: the onion marmalade took a bit longer than I thought.

Will definitely make again.






Let’s knock off a few of these 101 things

23 05 2012

The original intent with 101 things was to do a post on each one as I crossed them off over the 1001 days. But given that we had a good, ooh, let’s be kind and call it a year between postings, let’s not and say we did, okay?

Instead, I’m going to collect up a bunch of the more, ahem, mundane things (though reviewing the list, it is hard to tell the difference between those and the less mundane ones) and tick ’em off here. As an added bonus, a snippet or two of some of the things I’ve been doing for the past year or so while I’ve been sorely neglecting my darling blog.

Make pasta from scratch: Done. A lovely engagement gift (oh yeah, BeeTeeDubs, got engaged, Imma be an Archi-wife) from a lovely family friend means I now have fresh pasta on hand whenever I get around to busting it out. Which has been exactly once, for pasta, but several times for gyoza skins. That’s a win-win, people.

Pickle 5 jars of produce from my own garden: Done. Chillies, last summer, 6 jars because I’m an overachiever. I took photos, but really, who wants to look at a photo of a jar of chillies?

Knit one other project that isn’t a scarf: This may be cheating, a bit, but I knitted squares for a baby blanket. Two blankets, actually, now that I think about the timing of this challenge. Cheating a bit because squares = not so different to scarves. But I’m counting this one as done.

Find a regular yoga class that I like: Many years ago, I took a yoga class with Gretsky. It was fun, but kind of boring, and I felt excellent afterwards, but kind of boring. That was “hatha” yoga, which is the standard, slow, hold-the-pose-for-10-breaths kind of yoga that used to get about everywhere back in the late 90s and early 2000s. Then, by chance, my boss at my first fulltime job turned out to be a yoga teacher, but of this particular kind of yoga called dru. I loved it. And have been (sporadically) doing it ever since. And in 2010 I found a dru yoga teacher in Brisvegas who is delightful, and have been absolutely dedicated in intending to go to her class. Because yoga’s all about the intention, don’tchaknow? When I do make it, I love it – but I don’t make it that often, because I’m super lazy. But – DONE.

Find a good yoga dvd and use it: Done. Aforementioned laziness being a critical reason why this was important.

Make a website: Hmmm. I’m claiming this one as done, because I made a website for the wedding (BeeTeeDubs, wedding coming up soon y’all). But it was based on a template and really not very difficult, so that’s possibly cheating a little.

Make a Europe photobook: Done. Put photos from my 2008 trip to France and Italy in a photobook. Finally. Yep. Not really much more to say about that.

Go hiking somewhere around Brisbane: I’ve been to the Bunya mountains a couple of times and gone for walks there. Done? With an option to revisit.

Act in my boss’s job: Done, and done, and done. A good way to do this is to do your boss’s job and your job at the same time. Double the fun.

Frame all my pictures: Done! I’d been putting it off for, well, ever, because of the cost. So I saved up over about a year, and then went and got everything framed. Now I can look at these beautiful things every day, instead of them being in a box. Highly recommended.

Go a month without drinking: Done. Six weeks, actually, in November 2010. Easier than I’d thought, but made it pretty clear that alcohol is fairly inextricably linked to celebration and relaxation in my life. So it was a good way to break that habit a little.

Get  a massage every month for 6 months: Done. This one was because I was generally always in pain because of shoulders or neck stuff. At the end of 2010 this got so bad I couldn’t turn my head (or sleep, or drive, or work). So I did one better than a massage – I went to an osteopath, as recommended by the Architect. He got my neck working again after two sessions, and since then has progressively been peeling back layers of tension and working out all the kinks (and keeping me up to date on political gossip).

Renovate or move: Done. Consider that I wrote the 101 things list at the end of 2009. So even then I was a bit keen to stop living in one room, it seems. Aaaand it only took us two years and a bit to find somewhere and move there. Oh well. At least it happened in the end!

Re-paint the trim in my house: Done. Turns out gorgeous many-paned charming ‘character’ windows are total shit to strip, sand and paint. Did it, and then got a stern talking to from my osteopath (lots of small, repetitive movements with my arm above my head = shoulder and neck in crisis). Looked great, though.

Sort out the window locks: Done. We got some. The Architect put them on. The end.

Write everyone’s birthdays down and try to remember them: Sort of done. I now have lots of birthdays in a spreadsheet (natch) and also in my calendar. Hooray. Now for the remembering bit!

Send Christmas cards/nengajou: Done, Christmas 2010. If you didn’t get one – sorry – turns out I was low on actual, physical addresses for people. Might do it again in a few years time. Or not.