Posts Tagged ‘New Year’

The Christmas that was

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

A friend just asked me what my New Year resolutions are and I told him that I didn’t have any. I think this might be a slight lie. I always set resolutions, well aware that I won’t stick to them. But I need something to work towards and challenge myself with. I’m not entirely sure what they are yet (although reducing my sugar intake from its current excessive heights is definitely up there) but I know I want to return to writing more on my blog. I have been neglecting it lately and now that I have two large essays to write I find myself drawn back to the safety of my own personal writing. So much easier than scary academia.

December has been a crazy month – I spent a lot of it laughing/crying hysterically and pulling on my hair whenever someone asked me how I was. A lot of people had to put up with a manic Jess as I went a little bit nuts working on a group exhibition for uni. Thirty five people attempting to organise one exhibition does not make for relaxed times but the end result was surprisingly great. I will write about this in a separate post a little later.

exhibition

Proof that I am learning stuff.

I also had a written group assignment to put together, plus two other large essays looming. They’re still looming. Really. Need. To. Write. Them.

Plus paid writing work has been flowing in steadily which has kept me fed and housed. It has been lovely that so many of my clients have been willing to stick with me as I country hopped over the last few months. Being able to juggle university and paid writing work has been life saving. I don’t think I could handle a ‘real job’ at the moment.

And then there was Christmas. Once again, Jess McScrooge came out and I managed to avoid the Christmas markets until the final day when I stocked up on my favourite dutch almond slice. I am exceptionally lucky to have some exceptionally welcoming family members in this country and was invited to spend Christmas with them. It was a small and relaxed gathering (well, relaxed for me because I didn’t have to do anything!) with plenty of delicious food and a mulled wine or two.

On Boxing Day we went for a windy walk up Bosley Cloud, somehow managing to avoid the rain. We ate fruit mince pies at the top, a feat that required two hands in order to stop the wind from steal our pastry crumbs.

mince pie at Bosley Cloud

Pie and a view.

I had another large family gathering yesterday at another cousin’s house and it has reminded me of how fortunate I am to have such a great family around. Sure, they may all be a bunch of oddballs, but who isn’t? Much laughter was had. They’re a good bunch.

Now New Years approaches. I’m quite excited to see what 2016 brings – I already know it will be challenging as a dissertation awaits. If anyone has any thoughts on what I should write about, please let me know because I currently have no idea. Thanks.

We are Italiano

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

For Christmas, I bought Sir Pubert Gladstone a pasta maker. He eats an unusually large amount of the stuff and had mentioned his desire to own a machine so he could make his own. It was an obvious choice for a christmas present but his constant mentioning of this being on his ‘christmas wish list’ to every family member/friend/bearded man who asked was a little annoying considering I had already purchased one and no one needs multiple pasta machines.

Anyway, the purchase has resulted in our four attempts at ‘filled pasta’ – whether that be ravioli, tortellini or pastaloni as our non-traditional shapes would suggest. And clearly we have italian blood seeping through our bodies as we have managed to create some mighty fine pasta-pockets.

pasta machine

Ready to roll.

Our first attempt was on New Year’s Eve where we went for roast pumpkin, stilton and walnut ravioli with a sage button sauce, accompanied by parmesan roasted fennel. Holy guacamole, it was good eating.

pasta

There’s pumpkin in there. And cheese as well.

Sir Pubert then challenged me to create two different fillings as a ‘surprise’ for him (although I suspect it was just his way of tricking me into cooking for him) and I delivered a seriously good spinach and ricotta filling and one with mushrooms with thyme.

pasta

Dough pillows.

While the idea of making your own pasta seems somewhat time consuming at first, it is remarkably quick and easy to do. I think the Italians would agree that simplicity is key so there aren’t many ingredients to worry about. Plus it is much lighter and far more satisfying than buying the dried stuff from the supermarket – knowing you have kneaded the dough means you’ve already worked off most of the calories. More pasta for you!

Oh Hello, 2015.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Somehow I have managed to make it to 7 January without writing a long reflective blog post about my past year and all that I have achieved/seen/done/visited/eaten. This is due to various factors:

  1. I have been too busy.
  2. I didn’t necessarily want 2015 to arrive quite so quickly so I am avoiding the subject.
  3. I haven’t sat in front of my computer for the last seven days so haven’t had the opportunity.

Does anyone really want to read a pensive exploration of my past year or should I finally accept that I only write it to boost my own ego and to prove to myself that I haven’t wasted another 365 days being a lost soul pretending to be a writer but really just plodding along? Either way – here’s my year in hyper-speed and in no particular order.

In 2014, I…

  • Lost my Co-Op job (good start.)
  • Contemplated returning to Australia early and then realised that was a stupid idea.
  • Went to Sheffield many times.
  • Did a lot of baking.
  • Climbed a few mountains/hills.
  • Met a boy.
  • Had lots of picnics/outings/adventures with aforementioned boy.
  • Moved apartment and shared a house for the first time ever.
  • Became serious about this ‘copywriting’ bizzo and actually started doing it for realz.
  • Explored many great places in the UK, including Chester, the Peak District and Blackpool.
  • Went to Northern Ireland and learnt about the importance of tray bakes.
  • Ran a marathon in Manchester.
  • Ran a half marathon in Paris.
  • Got gastro.
  • Joined the wonder that is Yelp and had so much great food and drinks and met so many fun people that it made me giggle like a school girl.
  • Attended various weddings and half weddings.
  • Hugged my Dad.
  • Had lots of fun times with my fabulous friends.
  • Had one of the best food-filled, view-over-Manchester-with-a-cocktail-including, educational birthdays.
  • Discovered a lot about crisps thanks to various office mates.
  • Became addicted to pound stores and discount supermarkets. Seriously – I wander through at least one a day. You won’t believe the bargains!
  • Went to Scotland and the Edinburgh Festival.
  • Saw the Lochness Monster.
  • Witnessed worm charming, chicken racing and gravy wrestling.
  • Went to Old Trafford.
  • Discovered the joy of working in the Manchester Central Library. So quiet. So calming.
  • Painted walls and floors/installed kitchen cabinets/re-painted walls in Sir Pubert’s renovator’s delight.
  • Decided I like Manchester too much and began the process of trying to stay.

So that was significantly more than I realised. I’m glad I decided to feed my ego.

I have 23 days left in the UK. That’s not a lot. Most of that will involve packing, crying, saying goodbye to people, and deciding whether or not I really need to keep all of my belongings. In between all of that, I also have plans to make the most of my time here and climb as many hills as possible. But right now I must do some of that copywriting do-dally.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

So Long, 2013

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

This is going to be a short entry as I have a train to catch. I am off to Sheffield to celebrate the arrive of 2014 with my brother and his girlfriend. I am crashing their celebrations as the New Year snuck up on me and other plans didn’t come into fruition – lucky them!

Normally at this time I would write a long reflection on the year that has passed and then plans for the year ahead. Sometimes this is a good idea, other times not so much and I end up questioning my logic for choosing an unfocused life country hopping and ignoring career paths. Today would most likely result in the latter so I am going to simply focus on five positive points for 2013. Ready?

  1. I moved country. That’s a biggie.
  2. I ran a marathon. Again, not bad.
  3. I met new people, made new friends and started a brand new life as a northerner.
  4. I got a job (wow.)
  5. I had fun while doing all of the above.

Who knows what will happen in 2014? No one except magical future seeing people and I’m not even sure they know the details. All I know is that it is another year filled with opportunity for great adventure, new friends, and moments of pure craziness.

Happy New Year, my friends.

The End, My Friend, The End.

Monday, December 31st, 2012

I am currently sitting on the couch in my brother’s apartment in Sheffield with a rug over my legs and it has just dawned on me that in three hours it will be the last day of 2012. You may have noticed that I enjoy a good reflection and feel that the last day of the year is probably a very good time to do one. So here we go, chaps! My thoughts on the past year.

It has certainly been a ride – this time last year I was uncertain as to whether or not I would be allowed to return to France for a year and I was preparing myself for a flight to Australia to prove my visa-worthiness. It worked and I have spent 2012 living in one of the greatest cities in the world. I still love Paris and the past few days in Sheffield have reminded me of some of the things I really, really love about living in France. Great food, cheap wine, a massive variety of shops and things to see and do. It has also reminded me of some of the bad things – grumpy Parisians, smelly streets, dirt, dirt and more dirt. I think Paris will remain as the city my heart does back-flips for but you can’t spend your entire life jumping backwards. Time to move forwards.

This year was tough as I had to deal with breaking up with my boyfriend and learning to live on my own again. As much as it sucked at the time, it was definitely a good decision and life as a single female in Paris isn’t so bad. Although I can say that French men are shorter, weaker (I prefer the word ‘pathetic’) and generally more feminine than me so it has become very apparent that I will never marry a Frenchman. Of course I still have two months and I continue to be willing to marry for a passport…

I have spent this year building up my skills and knowledge of the craft world and feel that I have developed a much better understanding of how to gouge linoleum. Next year I hope to push this further and increase my output and hopefully income significantly. I have also written a LOT which is nice – nothing has come of it yet but one day… one day.

This year I travelled to Australia twice, England four times plus Spain, Italy, and Holland. I also took a writing course, went to a Parisian wedding, and made some awesome new friends. I ate over 200 different cakes. Yep. I sure did. And I didn’t get fat. I also ran the furthest I have ever run in my life (30 kilometres) and committed myself to running even further next year. That was probably the biggest mistake of 2012 but we shall wait and see how that pans out.

I guess that leads me to next year and my big plans for 2013. So far I have no idea what the year will hold for me as I don’t know what country I will be living in as of March. I am surprising myself but not being completely freaked out about this fact – I haven’t even made myself sick over it. IT’S A MIRACLE! I’m sure it will come soon, but I am currently ok with the idea of most likely moving to England. Manchester, to be more specific. That is my current thought – it might change tomorrow. What I do know is that next year I will be leaving France which is sad but I think well timed. I will be returning in April, however, to run 42 kilometres like a crazy lady in the Paris marathon. If that doesn’t kill me, I also plan on publishing a book. Yes, there we are, I have said it. Now that I have put it out in the public forum for everyone to tease and point fingers at me if I fail, I have to do it. Or at least try really, really hard. I have spent the last two years explaining to people that my reason for living in Paris is ‘because I am writing a book’. This hasn’t been a complete lie – just an extension of the truth. I have certainly be writing but it is in no way a book. More just general musings. Now the time has come to put my head down and get cracking. Mostly because my second novel, My Life in Manchester, needs to start being written and I can’t have two books on the go at once.

Ok, enough rambling. A very happy, safe and exciting New Year to everyone. May 2013 be full of fun times, great adventures, belly-laughs and a hell of a lot of cake!

Starting 2013 with a BANG! That's a volcano on my head, in case you were wondering.

Starting 2013 with a BANG! That’s a volcano on my head, in case you were wondering.

Holiday Snaps

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

For anyone interested in seeing where I went and what I ate over Christmas and New Years, you can see my holiday photos on my Flickr site. Highlights include movies of crazy Dutch fireworks, a hill in Holland, and a GIANT spring roll.

Back to Business With Galette

Saturday, January 7th, 2012

Happy 2012 to one and all! My year started with insane Dutch people setting off fireworks in their back/front yards, carparks, petrol stations etc., plus lots of olliebollen, appelbeignets and general consistent eating.

Olliebollen

Mmm... olliebollen.

It is strange to think that I have come back to Paris with the idea of now being able to eat ‘normally’ and hence hopefully return to my original pant size. I have hit one slight set back – La Fête des Rois. Also known as the Epiphany when the three Kings or wise men visited Jesus and gave him birthday presents, the French have taken hold of this great day and turned it into something even greater. Everyone eats galettes – a round puff pastry delight filled with almond paste goodness. OH, IT IS GOOD.

Galette

Galette

Inside the galette, the bakers place a small item (yesterday I was witness to the discovery of a jigsaw puzzle piece, a green cow, and a miniature ScoobyDoo) and when the galette is divided, the person who finds the item in their piece of galette is crowned the King. They then get to wear a crown for the rest of the evening, lucky buggers.

While we had plans yesterday evening to have a galette party with the other residents at the Récollets, as Ben is a budding baker, we went in search of a GOOD galette (as opposed to one from a supermarket) for morning tea. We decided to go to Julhès, a family empire of deliciousness where you can buy bakery goods, wine, cheese, tapenade, foie gras, chocolate, and every other delicious thing you can think of. Ben, Tom and I divided the galette into 12 pieces and then invented a complicated mathematical formula for deciding who received which piece of galette. Ben was the winner with his second piece of galette and wore, with pride, the golden crown.

Galette

Keeping things fair

The second rule of galette is whoever is crowned King is also, therefore, rich and must purchase another galette for his lowly citizens/friends/family. So Ben bought a second (smaller) galette from my favourite boulangerie to have with lunch. As this was a galette for one or two persons, there was no item hidden inside so no one had to buy another galette. HOWEVER, we did then meet my fellow residents in the evening for dinner and galette eating. Almost everyone brought a galette so there were plenty to go around. This time we followed even more traditional methods and the youngest person was sent to sit under the table to call out names of people and select which piece of galette they would eat.

The youngest person at the table was three months younger than me, and as he was quite insistent that I take the honour of sitting on the floor, I spent the next 15 minutes or so calling out names from under the table. What fun! I failed at choosing a winning piece of galette for myself on both the first AND second round of galette distribution. Once everyone had had two pieces, there were still a few kings missing but everyone was a little bit sick of puff pastry and almond so the rest of the galettes were attacked with knives to find the final items. It was a lot of fun and galette is definitely high on my Deliciousness list. The search for the hidden item is highly entertaining and the fact that you’re eating delicious galette instead of looking for a penny inside stodgy plum pudding is definitely an additional benefit.

Things are returning to normal now after the Christmas and New Year’s break. I have just dropped my brother off at the train station and sent him back to England to continue his baking. My plans for today mostly involve cleaning as I still have christmas presents, decorations and general “I’ll deal with this later” items scattered around my apartment. We returned from our two week trip in Germany and Holland with a lot of excess baggage in the form of presents and food. Lots of food. Tom got excited by the price and availability of Jagermeister in Germany, while I went a bit nuts buying chocolate sprinkles and biscuits in Holland. Luckily there’s no such thing as customs when crossing European borders. Ben is currently travelling back to England with a two kilogram bag of flour in his suitcase. That flour has been through Holland, Belgium, France and now England.

I am trying to work out how I can bring everything that is delicious from France to Australia. I have 20 days left in Paris until I get on a plane and fly away home. While everyone around me is telling me how great Australia is and how much fun I am going to have, the whole process of having to get on a plane for 24 hours, have jet lag, fly to and from Sydney, and spend the entire time crossing my fingers that I am allowed a visa isn’t really making me jump for joy. Yes, yes, beaches, sunshine and family. But also a lot to think about and hope that the French government doesn’t think of a stupid reason not to let me come back to France. What will I do then? Plus what cheese am I going to eat in Perth?!

Well this post is getting very long and I have cleaning to do. Spread the word that Zaum is back in action for 2012 with more stories, more adventures and plenty of photographs of food.

Stroop wafel

Like this fresh stroop wafel I ate in Gouda

Bienvenue, 2012

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Apologies for my recent lack of contact. The last few weeks have been particularly busy with completing my work for the exhibition, playing tour guide for my friend, Rachel, and my brother, Ben, and now Christmas and New Years adventures in Germany and the Netherlands. I am writing this from the loft of my second cousin’s house in Gouda (yes, like the cheese except with the correct Dutch pronunciation – Gcchhhowda.) To my left is a view of apartment blocks surrounded by a Dutch morning sky – grey, foggy and wet. No snow in sight. It seems that all of Europe has been hit by some sort of strange heat wave and snow has been rare this winter. Very disappointing but somewhat expected as I am here and hot weather seems to follow me where ever I go. I have now spent two snowless winters in Europe. I need to work on this.

So today is New Year’s Eve, the day when everyone is supposed to reflect on their past year, examine what they have achieved and what they need to put on their “To Do” list for the next year. We all know I love a good reflection so let’s do it.

This year really started for me in February when I moved to Paris. It is still hard to believe that I only have one month left of my year away. If I hadn’t planned on extending my stay I would now be in a state of complete and utter panic, depression and general Oh-Woe-Is-Me. I am still very nervous about my approaching trip back to Australia and Sydney to visit the French Embassy to ask for a second visa, but at least it is going to happen. I think I can grandly announce that this year has been the best year of my life thus far but how could it not be? I have lived in an amazing city, met awesome people, visited wonderful places and eaten some of the greatest food of my life. What’s not to like?

Next year I plan to continue this current way of living while also endeavouring to put more effort into my writing and ‘stuff’. When I first made my Zaum business cards, I kept my options open by declaring Zaum was a business for “Writing and stuff”. I am still trying to find out what that stuff is and how exactly to do it but my recent sock laboratory adventures have put a few ideas into my head. I have so much I want to do and try – I just need to work out how to do it. According to my horoscope in the Dutch tv magazine, the best time of the year for me to work out what I want to do with my career is from March to June of next year. Sounds like a plan.

So this reflection has become a bit of a pathetic thing but to be honest my stomach is grumbling and I want to go and eat some breakfast. At 10am I am expecting to hear the onslaught of hundreds of fireworks being set off. In the Netherlands, it is legal to purchase fireworks for a few days leading up to New Years and then legal to set them off between 10am and 2am on New Year’s Eve/Day. It is now 9.30am and apparently the existence of sunlight doesn’t put people off. Should be a fun day.

Happy New Year to all – I hope 2012 is exciting and fulfilling for everyone. I highly recommend running away to a foreign country and eating food for an entire year. It has worked out for me rather nicely.

And a special Happy Birthday to two of my most regular readers, Heather and Brendan. I hope people remember to say happy birthday amongst the happy new years.

Hippy Nu Yah

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Howdee doodley, ladies and gents. The New Year is finally upon us and in less than 12 hours we will be in the future! At least, that’s what people seem to think happens. We stand around all night being eaten by mosquitos and talking to people we don’t know/like, all in the aim of seeing the future. When the clock hits twelve all sorts of amazing things are expected to happen and it is a moment of change, reflection and acceptance. It is when people declare they are going to introduce something new into their lives or do something differently, only to forget their declaration when they wake up with a hangover the next morning. While I’m not a New Years party animal, I do like celebrating milestones and the end of the year counts as one of these so I quite enjoy the reflection of the past year and consideration of the next. So, what are my new year resolutions? Let us see…

  1. Live in Paris.
  2. Eat baguettes, cheese, chocolate, tasty European tomatoes, pastries and crepes.
  3. Not get too fat while doing Resolution 2.
  4. Write, create and explore cool and interesting crafty, arty things.
  5. Become world famous at something (preferably for good reasons).
  6. Have lots of fun, see lots, do lots, explore lots.

Well… that all sounds do-able and as I don’t plan on waking up with a hangover, I may actually achieve most of them. 2010 has been an interesting and eventful year for me – quitting a 9-to-5 job and starting a new business certainly puts a new spin on things. This year I:

  1. Created a business name and logo for myself.
  2. Printed business cards.
  3. Learnt how to use resin.
  4. Learnt how to sew and continued on to create a range of fabulous sock creatures.
  5. Sold 4 sock creatures.
  6. Completed some writing work for various businesses.
  7. Worked 2 days a week at the UWA Business School.
  8. Maintained a blog that is read by many, loved by some.
  9. Reached number 12 on the Urbanspoon Perth blog leaderboard.
  10. Finally decided to move to France.
  11. Bought tickets to Paris, applied and successfully received a French travel/work visa.
  12. Went to Sydney twice.
  13. Went to Melbourne once.
  14. Had long lunches with my Dad.
  15. Ate lots of good food.
  16. Didn’t crumble in a heap and die from incompetence.

This final point is probably my most pleasing achievement – I survived a year of potential insanity and have come out the end with a desire to be even more crazy and do it all again, this time in a foreign country. I have no idea what I am going to do, I have no idea how I am going to spend my days, I have no idea what next year or the future in general holds. While half of me wants to hide in the corner until someone gives me a nice little ordered job, the other half cannot wait to see what happens. Bring it on.

Happy New Year.

Jess

Happy New Year from all of us at Zaum

Life Moves Forward

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

I’m having a bit of a ponder about life in all its glory and complexity and its insistence in moving forward. In a few weeks’ time my best friend will be married and over Christmas I discovered another of my friends is engaged. There has been talk of weddings and babies and buying houses and other adult themes that I feel too young to be a part of, despite the other people involved in the conversations (and weddings and babies) being around my age. Despite being asked for ID at Hans Cafe in Mandurah on the weekend, I am getting older and am supposed to be wiser. My twenty-fifth year saw me set up a relatively functional business – perhaps my twenty-sixth will be a year of wisdom, responsibility and sensibleness. Gosh I hope not…

Time is a magical yet evil thing that brings me much perplexity as I cannot control it. Since the age of fourteen, I have been saving to move to France, and eleven years later I am finally doing it. Those eleven years, and in particular the last two, took FOREVER to pass but all of a sudden time has sped up into “SUPER SCARY ROLLERCOASTER” speed, just to freak me out. Today there are thirty-three days until we set sail for gay-Paris and start a new life of eating, seeing and doing, which, when you think about it, is not a lot at all. And the fact that I don’t really have much to do in order to prepare for departure just makes things worse because all I have to do is put my toothbrush and underwear in a bag, grab my money and passport and I’m off. Too easy.

Anyway, New Years Eve is fast approaching which always makes me reflect on what I was doing this time last year and what I’ll be doing this time next year and I can most definitely say that I am much happier to be where I am now than where I was last year and I suspect I will be even happier next year than I am this year. That’s progress for you. No babies or weddings for me though. Just baguettes, cheese, chocolate, wine and a bit of on-a-whim train travel.