Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Highlights

Ten Highlights of Christmas...

1. Lemon Barley Water to keep us cool.

2. Bouncy cousins and sisters getting pink cheeks from the trampoline.3. Juicy purple cherries.

4. My grandmother's amazing tuna dip with mini-breads!

5. Fruity pink champagne and drunk relatives (he he he).

6. Sourdough, salad, and beautiful blue blossoms.

7. Hilarious puppies with whole sausages in their mouths.

8. Silly sisters.

9. Siblings and gangly Christmas trees.

10. Charlie the Cactus, Roman's Christmas present.

Merry Christmas, bunnies!

Some Beautiful Things...

My birthday has just recently celebrated it's 19th year of being held on Christmas Eve.
I had a lovely couple of days for my birthday and then Christmas, and got some really lovely thoughtful gifts.
I was really very spoiled, as you can see...
My mother and father, who have proved that they know me better than anyone, gave me the MOST AMAZING THING - Harry Potter Cluedo. Oh my GOODNESS. What a game. I forced my siblings and poor Roman into about five games of it on my birthday and another one on Christmas Day. My brother gave me the DVD of The Golden Compass, and my sister a Discworld novel and a beautiful silver bookmark crowned with a beautiful silver rose.
My good friend Cecilia gave me the two funny little critters you see in the top right hand corner, one of which is a malleable little Ernie-bag, the other of which is a purple bee candle which I cannot bring myself to light - it's too cute!

I got three awesome books, one about the history of Greenpeace, an organisation that I'm an active part of, the discworld novel I mentioned earlier, and most excitingly my Christmas present from Roman, a in interesting book called Handmade Nation, about the rise of the Handmade movement in the U.S., which is absolutely fascinating.

I got the looongest necklace I've ever seen from my dear mum.

A pretty treble-clef pendant, for my muso cred. Hehe.

And most excitingly, this beautiful beautiful little creature from the lovely Plume's Etsy shop. It is the most beautiful thing I have ever owned, the craftsmanship is amazing, and I haven't taken it off except to shower since I put it on that morning. It was very sneakily purchased by my darling Roman after I had expressed an almost obsessive longing for the shiny shiny thing. Thank you Roman, and thank you Jillian! I have never seen its equal.

I hope you all had merry merry Christmases or other holidays, and I hope you have exciting plans for the new year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Goodness gracious. I wish my cousin's sweet little puppy was all mine!

Her name is Tilly and she is adorable.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

How Mary-Sue Got Her Groove Back or Caitlin's Twilight Film Review

Once upon a time there was a bored young woman called Stephanie. One day, Stephanie decided to turn her mind (an arguably blunt instrument) to writing teen fiction. And what better thing to write about than her own richly romanticised and deeply sexual fantasy life.

It's quite a common phenomenon for authors to insert sort of avatar or idealised form of themselves into their writing, and this is particularly common in magic-realist, fantasy, and teen drama tales, especially when written by young women (sorry ladies, you know it's true). Stephanie Meyer's Twilight slips neatly into this category and the result is one of the most blatant Mary-Sues (self inserted character) in the history of literature.

Similarly to my Beedle the Bard review, I must say that my love for Harry Potter, which many not-quite-academics say has had its throne usurped by Twilight and its three sequels, has coloured the way I read the book.

A friend of mine was quick to exclaim "it's syntax is identical in every sentence!" which is not as much of an exaggeration as one would think. The narrative flow variously drags and races in places, it misses the mark when it comes to philosophical dialogue about the nature of the vampires' cursed immortality, and the romance between MaryBella and Edward (cue fangirlish shrieks here) is so implausible even before we consider the fact that he's 108 and drinks blood.

However - it is undeniably addictive. Another friend of mine told me that he found its page-turning quality second only to Da Vinci Code, but not as clever...

... which is definitely saying something.

Anyway, the point is that the book is just a little bit rubbish. It's a trashy good read at best, a mind-numbing waste of paper at worst. My own opinion on the novel is somewhere in the mid-range of these extremes, which is why I approached the recently released film adaptation with a healthy amount of skepticism.

My expectations were that basically the film would be sexy, glamourous, big-budget slick, have a seat-wetting effect on teenage girls, and be pretty much soulless (excuse the pun), but it turned out that I was not completely right - there were things I expected and things that (pleasantly) surprised me.

The production values came as no surprise - everything was very smooth, everyone was very young and beautiful, and some of the aerial shots screamed "look at our big budget!" I was really impressed by the special effects for the exact opposite reason to the one you'd expect: there was something really wonderfully understated by the way the vampires' supernatural powers, especially their fast movement and diamond-like skin glittering, were rendered.

I appreciated this because of the way the rest of the film was presented visually.

Let me eat my hat for a moment and admit that the film was beautiful. It was slightly over-exposed and grainy, and the colours were filtered in high-contrast to emphasise pale skin tones and dark hair, making it perfectly moody and gothic. I cannot emphasise enough how aesthetically pleased I was by the film, even before you add the cast of superhumanly beautiful young people.

And my, how beautiful they were. Honourable mentions go to Bella, played by Kristen Stewart, Alice, played by Ashley Greene, and the two fathers of the story, Charlie and Carlisle, played by Billy Burke and Peter Facinelli. Both of them were just a bit gorgeous for old men.

But anyway, past the supermodel casting, there was some value to the film. It definitely caters to the tween audience for whom the book, with its simplistic, prosaic style, is written, however it is clear to me that Meyer's story is only improved by the shift in medium. The change from reading to seeing suits the narrative perfectly, as it allows us to appreciate the romance and action without having to deal with Bella's endlessly simpering eternal monologue that narrates the novel.

Let me before I conclude sing the praises of lead actress Kristen Stewart - she is simply, naturally beautiful, writes and performs her own music, and most of all gives Bella a voice and presence that turned the Twilight adaptation from fucking ridiculous to decent in my mind. I really enjoyed her performance and I'm very much looking forward to seeing what she does in the future, within and without the Twilight saga. But mainly without, if I'm honest...

Twilight is a very entertaining film, and its art direction is worth commenting on. It plays, expectantly, to its intended teenage girl demographic, and as such is no tower of artistic integrity, but I'm sure that will come as no great surprise.

Much of the praise I have for the film is only in comparison to the novel, but I do truly think that the story works better as a film, and if you're into very beautiful people and very beautiful cinematography, it is very worth seeing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I have been tagged, and by gosh what a fun new experience... I shall endeavour to pass on this delightful little meme but I don't know quite who to tag... any suggestions?

Six things that I value, love, and am thankful for:
1. The warm wind beckoning me to come down to the beach one day soon. Very soon.
2. The prospect of a craft and baking day with a dear friend.
3. Thick, colourful balls of wool that make me feel like a kitten.
4. The opportunity to sing two amazing songs by my favourite composer Mr. Stephen Sondheim in a great little show from the 16th to the 20th.
5. A new blue dress trimmed with crocheted lace.
6. A wonderfully patient partner who acts as lover, best friend, treasurer (hehe), and bomb diffuser in my hectic life.

Six things that I do not stand for, support or simply do not like:
1. Denying anyone the chance to make their own decisions on their own lifestyle.
2. The assumption that my faith makes me like extreme Christian fringe groups, hateful, narrow-minded 'Christians', and very much along those lines the diocese of my own denomination in my own city.
3. Going to bed before midnight.
4. Being run-off-my-feet busy all the time.
5. Refusing to let go of ridiculous grudges that are currently celebrating their 2nd anniversary of immature silent treatment.
6. Cowardice in all its forms.

I taaag... Roman ... aaand... nope, that's all I've got for now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

What a fantastic little offering from the very talented woman behind Harry Potter.
I am probably not the right person to be taking a critical look at anything by J.K. Rowling, seeing as I am an insane fangirl and wholeheartedly believe that the woman can do no wrong.
So, in that spirit, here is my gushingly positive review of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

This book is a collection of original folktales set in the Harry Potter universe, touching on the same themes of the corrupting nature of power, the foolishness of pride, the importance of tolerance and acceptance, and the finality of death, as the seven Potter books do.
In addition to the five folktales, there are five small chapters of academic notes on each story, written from the perspective of Albus Dumbledore, with additional explanatory footnotes by J.K. Rowling herself.

The five stories are all very original whilst retaining a folksy feel full of archetypal characters and features, making the collection seem very familiar and very intimate. For me, it was The Fountain of Fair Fortune that struck a chord, in which three witches are accompanied by a knight on a journey towards the fountain in the tale's title, which gives fair fortune to the one who bathes in it. Throughout the story, the witches overcome the journey's obstacles despite the knight's valiant efforts to protect the lady, and in the end each of the four travellers find that the journey, rather than the destination, has given them fair fortune.
All five aim to teach a certain moral point, whether it be the virtue of charity, as in The Wizard and the Hopping Pot, the perils of being coldhearted, as in The Warlock's Hairy Heart, or the self-destructive nature of hubris, as both Babbity Rabbity and her Cackling Stump and the Tale of Three Brothers teach (though there is obviously a deeper folkloric dimension behind the magical objects in the final tale).

These moral ideals are given a whole new dimension through the way in which they are contextualised in the magical world of the Potterverse, where "we meet heroes and heroines who can perform magic themselves, and yet find is just as hard to solve their problems as we do". Subsequently, we meet resourceful witches, cunning old crones, and the humble but cunning Ignotus, the youngest brother in the final tale, but on the flip side witness the failure of Babbity's failed charlatan, and the horrible fate of the (literally) heartless warlock in the Hairy Heart.
Magic adds dimension to the fantastic fairytale plotlines but Rowling refrains from using magic as a solution to the hero/ines' problems and plot complications.

Dumbledore's notes were a fantastically sweet addition to this book that I was not expecting until I opened the cover this afternoon - and what a treat. Such a loved character who got a rather raw deal as far as page-time in the end of the series deserves his time to shine, and Rowling writes brilliantly for him in this volume.
Amongst my favourite moments in Dumbledore's commentary were a recount of Hogwarts' Only Attempt at a Christmas Pantomime in which an engorged salamander set fire to the great hall, Dumbledore's correspondence with Lucius Malfoy over the propriety of wizard-muggle relationships depicted in Hogwarts Library literature, including this fabulous quote: "this exchange marked the beginning of Mr Malfoy's long campaign to have me removed from my post as Headmaster of Hogwarts, and mine to have him removed from his position as Lord Voldemort's Favourite Death Eater"; and of course the good professor's musings on the inalienability of death in the notes on the Tale of Three Brothers.

Finally, the artwork must be commented on, for all the illustrations on the cover and within the pages of the book are by J.K. Rowling herself. They are very organic, natural and well-detailed drawings that look like they were rendered exclusively in biro (I thought you might enjoy that, dear Emily) and you can even see some of the remaining pencil marks underneath the ink lines on the title page. Though they are not quite professional standard illustrations, they are commendably in the spirit of the text and there can be nothing more relevant than that.

This book is printed on Forest Stewardship accredited paper, and 100% of the profits from sales go towards the Children's High Level Group, a non-profit organisation that endeavours to change the lives of institutionalised and marginalised children in Europe, improving literacy and quality of life. Everything about this book is worth picking up a copy, which are readily available across the globe from today, I believe, and I cannot emphasise enough how well spent my $10 was.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

oh, the colour

Woah! Bright colours!
Aren't these button-y looking beads fantastic? They brightened up my day.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


My father's just pointed out to me (rather rudely, ahem) that food is a recurring theme in my blog. So, just to spite him, here's my breakfast!

It was very satisfying.

Monday, December 1, 2008


It's the first day of summer! This means summer dresses! Yay!

... if anyone's noticed how severely I've been abusing exclamation marks recently, I'd like to explain that it has something to do with taking more vitamins.

Sidebar: If you're a woman who gets bad crampies or semi-homicidal mood swings or itchy/blotchy/spotty skin, I highly recommend Evening Primrose Oil, which I take as 2 or 3 capsules every day. I cannot tell you how much it makes my life easier.

Anyway, back to summer.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday in Pictures

How nice was today? I don't think I've ever experienced a more blissfully calm Sunday. I cannot remember the last time I had a whole day with nothing on my schedule.
It's been a while, hasn't it? I hope you're enjoying a little pocket of stillness in your own lives.

Breakfast was scrumptious. There's nothing like getting up late and eating a lot of sweet delicious breakfasty things in a big pile. In addition to the croissant and pancakes I had strawberries and bananas with yoghurt, cheese and pickles, loads of toast, four glasses of orange juice and a cup of tea.
Roman and I went for a walk through the glorious streets of Northbridge. We played hide-and-seek. I won.
We visited my pet Woolworth's trolley, Stevie. He got lost one day and now lives outside our house. He's friendly. Say hi, Stevie!
I climbed a tree. It had nice hard, smooth wood and accomodating branches.
... Roman may have had to help me out of it.
We found real treasure!
and I rediscovered a treasure of my own from when I was young. It has sequins!
When the shadows grew long in the garden, I started to make dinner for my family and my brother's lady-friend.
Starting with an entree of garlic pizza...
And greek salad, the dressing of which is made from mixing sliced red onion with white vinegar and caster sugar.
I always thing it looks a little bit like a bowl of jewels. Rubies, emeralds, long shards of amethyst crystal and pearls...
Beef, beans, peas, garlic mash, and the aforementioned greek salad.
Followed by fried bananas and ice cream. Looks foul, tastes mind-blowingly delicious.

Now I'm just sitting on the couch, curled up in blogland, enjoying my 11th episode of the West Wing in twenty four hours.
Have a lovely week, all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday in Pictures

I had a very nice Sunday. A very nice Sunday, thank you my darling Roman.
The sun was shining...
We ate jaffles and pickles and tea on kitchy melamine plates that have brought me great joy throughout my life.
I made caramelised apples for desert and ate them with gluttonous amounts of cream.
And started getting my exciting Alphabet Swap package prepared for sending off!

Have a lovely week, all!