Event: Click + Connect

I’ve written previously on how I find it hard to meet and keep friends in my local area. As it turns out, I’m not alone in this thinking. Many people in Canberra (especially if they’re new to the city) find it hard to fit in and find friends.

Her Canberra, a website that keeps people up to date on the goings on in Canberra, published an article last year on finding friends in the city and were amazed at the response they received from people saying that thought it was difficult. As a result of that they started the Click + Connect events to get a bunch of women in the city together to meet new people.

Some of the guests of the event at Guild.
Some of the guests of the event at Guild.

It was 2 days before the event that I found out about the event and I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. I also found it quite a terrifying  idea when I thought about walking into a restaurant full of strangers. I didn’t buy my ticket until the night before the event and was still pretty scared about doing it. There was an ‘interests’ survey when buying tickets so they could try and match you with similar personalities however I couldn’t tick any of the boxes and had to use the dreaded ‘other’ option. I wondered if I was going to be that quiet weirdo in the corner.

There were more than 50 women that came to the dinner and many others who couldn’t make it because of availability. Part of me thinks it’s pretty amazing feat for Her Canberra and Guild to cater but they did a great job of it. Another part of me thinks it’s a bit sad that so many people (who knows how many more are in the same situation and just don’t know about Click + Connect) have a hard time making friends in this city.

While I did feel a bit like the odd one out wearing my jeans and pop culture reference t-shirt, where most of the other women actually looked like grown ups, I didn’t feel like I was excluded and everyone was very friendly and interested in knowing about everyone else.

Banquet menu and cards from game Timelines
Banquet menu and cards from game Timelines

The dinner was held at our local board game restaurant (it’s the only one we have and opened in January), Guild, which I was also a little hesitant about. I mean, aren’t board games for nerds? It may be that I underestimated the many different types of games that come under the banner of ‘board game’ and that, in fact, they were pretty fun. It was actually an excellent idea to run the event here as it was the perfect ice breaker for all of us shy strangers (although some were less shy) sitting at a table together.

Lavender Lemon Fizz - Vodka in Lavender infused Lemonade
Lavender Lemon Fizz – Vodka in Lavender infused Lemonade

As part of the event, we had a banquet dinner that included a free drink. I, obviously, went for the one that included Vodka. Plus it had lavender infused lemonade! I had to find out what that was about – as it turns out, I am much more adventurous when trying new food than meeting new people. Both me and the girl next to me ordered this drink and marvelled over how pretty it looked. In reality, it was much more purple (you may even say, lavender) than this photo shows with little bits of lavender floating around the glass. Once I got over the fact that I was about to drink some lavender, I gave it a try and it was actually quite decent and really did taste like lavender. I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Zombicide Pizza - Pepperoni, smoked ham, herbed lemon chicken breast, smoked bacon and housemade BBQ sauce
Zombicide Pizza – Pepperoni, smoked ham, herbed lemon chicken breast, smoked bacon and housemade BBQ sauce

I was quite impressed that we were all able to choose our own pizza. It was an amazing feat by the pizza chefs to get so many pizzas out in such a short amount of time. I went with your typical ‘meat lovers’ style pizza which, in this case, was called Zombicide. All the pizzas had game based names, e.g. the 4 cheeses was called Connect 4 which I thought was cute.

The toppings on the pizza were pretty great but the base let it down a bit. It was quite crunchy and sort of biscuit like. I’m not sure if this is because they had to cater for so many people in such a short timeframe or whether this is their standard base. That being said, it didn’t ruin the pizza but it could be improved on.

Guild bar area
Guild bar area

The staff were great at Guild and they had people roaming around whose job it was to come and make sure everyone’s game was going ok or to check if they wanted a new one and in some cases come and play the game with you. It’s a nice service and you can tell they really enjoy what they do. It is definitely a good place to go with a bunch of friends, family or basically anyone (as we found out that night).

Her Canberra put together a pretty great event. It was well organised and a lot of fun. After I made the walk down the stairs to Guild and was introduced to my ‘early bird’ table friends I was less anxious about it all, I knew we were in capable hands!

I’m not sure that I made any lifelong friends this time around but I enjoyed going out and trying something a little different, as well as getting a chance to check out Guild with a big group of people, something I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do.

I’m definitely interested in going to future events and recommend their facebook group for anyone in the area to keep an eye on for next time.

Sarah

Melbourne, Four Years & Easter

Last week Jarrod and I celebrated our 4th anniversary, Jarrod surprised me with a trip to Melbourne for the week which involved quite a lot of walking and ended with us coming home, quite tired, on Good Friday to a good collection of easter chocolate!

The entrance to The Langham, Melbourne.
The entrance to The Langham, Melbourne.

Our trip to Melbourne included 3 hotels with a very fancy one for our anniversary night. As we walked into the entrance of the hotel the above photo is the first thing we saw. It’s this huge, amazing fountain and all the surroundings are quite beautiful. We took 3 steps into the place and promptly someone was offering to take our bags and send them up to our room when it was ready. We eagerly dropped our heavy bags onto him and went to wander around the hotel.

Room View - The Langham
Room View – The Langham

This was the first time either of us had been in such an upmarket hotel and we were pretty amazed by the contrast in service we received from previous hotels we have stayed in. The service we received here was definitely above and beyond and there were many fun perks that came with our booking. We had access to their Club Lounge which was on the top floor of the hotel and they provided a free breakfast, afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks and canapes, plus you could just sit there throughout the day if you were so inclined. We only stayed the one night but we did get a chance to go up for the pre-dinner drinks and sat at a window seat which looked over the Yarra River. We didn’t want to leave and pondered how no where at home could even come close to equalling the view. It was a very hard place to leave (fortunately we received a late 12:30pm checkout!) and made us never want to go home.

It was fun to spend our anniversary in such luxury! Did I mention they had a spa overlooking the river that was set to a balmy 38°C? It would have been amazing sit in the heat, with the jets massaging your back on a cool Autumn night. It was pretty great during the day on a warm Autumn day, maybe a tad too hot for us though.

It was such a nice surprise from Jarrod, I didn’t know where we were staying until we were, literally, sitting outside of the hotel. The Langham was one of the places I dreamed of staying on previous visits but it was a bit out of budget so it was exciting to get chance to stay, especially as I had no idea we would be.

Street art by Abyss607 on Hosier Lane
Street art by Abyss607 on Hosier Lane

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know I enjoy hunting down some great street art. In particular I was hoping to find some work of Abyss 607 on this trip. He used to be based in Canberra but moved down to Melbourne a few years ago and I’ve missed seeing his work pop up around the city.

On one of our days down in Melbourne Jarrod let me drag him around the little lanes in Melbourne on the hunt for some awesome street art. We found a lot of great stuff and I was really amazed by how many people there were taking photos and posing in front of the different pieces. We even saw one guy in the middle of painting a piece, unfortunately it was graffiti-ed over pretty much the next day. I loved the atmosphere there, we were in what could have been a dodgy little lane but it had been transformed into a massive canvas for street art. I wish people in Canberra were that tolerant of it.

Easter Haul
Easter Haul

After enjoying nearly a week in Melbourne we came home on Good Friday and had agreed to give each other Easter surprises that night so we had maximum chocolate eating time over the long weekend. This was my mega haul of chocolate from Jarrod! How beautiful is the Hazelnut Brownie egg?!

I think Jarrod partly did it to make me feel better about being home. I am always sad when having to leave Melbourne. There is just so much to see and do and we barely even scratched the surface in 6 days. Canberra is much smaller with much less history and life in the city and struggles to compare (sorry Canberra advocates) to Melbourne regardless of how much it tries. However, it was nice to lie in bed on Friday night and not hear any traffic or people on the street so there are always positives to everywhere.

There will be more Melbourne based posts to come! I just wanted to do a little overview of some of the great parts of the week that was.. even if we did have aching feet from all that walking!

Sarah

Goals are Hard

Goals and me, we have never really gotten along very well. I have been taught various methods of making achievable goals throughout my career (most notably the SMART Method) but still I don’t make them.

The plus side to this is that I am never in a situation where I have pressure about succeeding or failing my goals.

During one stint of a goal keeping session my mentor said goals are best when they’re written down and vocalised to other people. Let people know that you’re working towards something so that you are accountable for the outcome. She excitedly thrust a piece of paper and pen in front of me and asked me to scribble down some ideas that could be turned into goals.

I looked down at the piece of paper blankly, the pen shaking in my hand, while she hovered around me anticipating all the things I’d write down and how she could help me work towards them. The paper stayed blank and instead she asked me questions about who inspired me, who did I look up to? I couldn’t answer, I’d never really thought of it before and while she babbled to me about all the many people who inspired her I wondered how she could so easily tell me about all these things she wanted to do and how inspirational people made her feel without worrying about what would happen if she didn’t succeed.

How can someone so easily tell the world about all these things they may never actually do?

And so it came that I never made concrete goals, as it was easier not to rather than fear failing them.

The negative to this that I mostly just cruise through life and see what happens without a huge amount of direction. I pick up hobbies and then drop them when they become too hard and never really push myself to become better at anything, unless it comes naturally.

This year I am going to try to branch out and not be afraid of failing and see what new hobbies and adventures I can have in 2016.Goals for 2016!These are the goals I have for 2016, let’s see how I go:

Lose 20kg by 31/12/2016

Why:  So that I can work towards a healthy weight again.

How:

  • Separate it into blocks of 5kg per quarter. This equals only 1.6kg per month
  • Work on eating healthier snacks with less refined sugar
  • 1 thick shake per workweek! (you know how I love thick shakes)
  • Build up exercise gradually, focusing on strength training (at this point I’m happy with the cardio I get walking to and from bus stops and on lunch breaks)

Learn to crochet! (More than scarves)

Why: I enjoy doing crochet but sometimes find myself getting frustrated with it and giving up. I’d like to improve my skills and make some nice items.

How:

  • Look up left handed beginner patterns online to learn basic technique
  • Buy a bigger range of hooks and some different types of yarns
  • Purchase a kit or two to get started

Cook at least one new meal a month

Why: So that I have more variety of meals available to make and also to improve on my cooking skills.

How:

  • Finally put all of those cooking website bookmarks to use!
  • Don’t get intimidated by long lists of ingredients (especially if the recipe is marked “easy”)
  • Buy more staple ingredients so there is no excuse not to make something

Visit at least 12 new food places by 31/12/2016

Why:  My blog currently features a café/restaurant review every second week so I need to make sure I’m eating at new places to keep that up. It’s also nice to see what places are around as well.

How:

  • Find some interesting places around Canberra to eat at that are new, highly rated or not well known
  • Start a list of places I want to visit and start doing it!

Work on improving All The Me

Why: Why not really? Who doesn’t want to keep on improving their blog and seeing the improvements they’ve made along the year

How:

  • Create a bio for myself. I really hate creating “about me” sections but they can make a blog feel more personal
  • Improve quality of photos for the blog including both food and other types of posts
  • Add contact options so people can get hold of me without  having to comment
  • Post at least once a week – I did this for most of last year, I can do it again!

I think these are a good place to start! I don’t think they’re overly tricky but still something to work towards and they’re mostly fun things to do!

Sarah

My Year in Reading – 2015

This year I finally met my goal on how many books I would read for the year. Ever since I’ve been participating in the GoodReads challenge I’ve never quite gotten there so I’m glad I just made it through this year (finishing my last book to meet the goal earlier this week).

Book stats of 2015
Book stats of 2015

You can see what books I read here. I received a Kindle from Jarrod for Christmas so maybe I can increase the number for next year!

Tara did a post on her blog about the books she read this year and I liked the questions so I am also going to answer them below.

 

Best Book of 2015

This wasn’t a first time read for me and it probably won’t be the best book you read all year but it is the book I enjoyed the most. It holds some nostalgia for me as I used to own the book many years ago and it was the victim of an unfortunate knocked over cup of coke incident, of which it never recovered.

After that I made many futile attempts to buy another copy but alas, it was out of print. I found it (and bought it) earlier in the year from Abe Books and it never arrived (but I didn’t expect much given I only paid about $4 for it) and then I found it at FishPond and that time it DID arrive! I was pretty excited to read it again.

So, after much babbling, the book in question is Frankie Says Relapse which is about a woman who is unhappily married and feels lonely in her life and finds an old journal from when she was 15 in the 80’s and gets somewhat lost in the life she used to have. I really like the style in books of changing perspectives or characters through use of journals or letters so this is a definite winner for me. Plus it was just a great story, if a little (just a tiny bit) chick lit-ish, but mostly I would consider it a YA novel.

Worst Book of 2015

I don’t know if I’d call this the ‘worst book’, just the least enjoyable.. granted I didn’t even finish my least favourite book. If I’m honest, I’d tell you I only got through 24 pages and put it down in disappointment because I thought it would be great but the reviews said otherwise.

After Alice by Gregory Maguire (of Wicked fame) is about another perspective of Alice in Wonderland. As someone who really enjoys the original I thought I’d get really into this but it was just really boring. I know I probably didn’t give it enough of a chance but with the flowery style of writing and the 2.8/5.0 rating on GoodReads I decided to move onto something else.

Most Disappointing Book of 2015

Most disappointing book was definitely Peter and Wendy which was quite surprising. Everyone talks about this classic book and it has obviously stood the test of time but really I found it so very dull. It was the shortest book I read this year but it took me 3 weeks to read because I just couldn’t make myself read more than a few pages at a time. I just don’t understand how this book has been the inspiration for so many better and more entertaining adaptations.

Overall, I just felt sad for Wendy because she was manipulated to go to Neverland with a selfish little boy so she could be the Mum to the Lost Boys and stay in their tree house all day mending socks. How exciting!

Most Surprising (in a good way) Book of 2015

I suppose this would go to Daughter of the Territory but mostly because I didn’t expect very much from it. I received a free copy of the book as a Good Reads First Reads and it sat waiting for me to read it for about 6 months. It was actually quite fascinating to think someone who had experienced the hostile and isolated world of the Northern Territory in the 40’s is still alive.. I know that sounds weird but reading the book makes it feel like it was another world entirely.

If you’re interested in reading about the harsh realities of the Australian outback from the 1930’s until today this might be an interesting read for you.

Book You Recommended to People Most in 2015

I’m not sure I really recommended anything, other than telling everyone to buy Poorly Drawn Lines (I suppose that is recommending) because, Poorly Drawn Lines – which you should definitely check out if you haven’t heard of it. It’s an online comic which, at the best of times, is quite bizarre and hilarious. This year the creator released a book and I eagerly anticipated its release.

Best Series You Discovered in 2015

I don’t think I read any series in 2015 so I guess the answer is none.

Favourite New Authors You Discovered in 2015

I don’t think any authors particularly stuck out for me this year. I didn’t have that feeling where I needed to read everything they have ever written right now! I enjoyed the books I read but that was mostly where it ended.

Most Hilarious Read of 2015

Another win for Poorly Drawn Lines because of it’s “so weird it’s funny” content although, that being said the book is less funny than the comics that are up on the website. They’re still good, just not as good. There is also little intro story’s to each section which are usually quite odd.

Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2015

I can’t recall any books I read this year giving me that feeling of having to finish it RIGHT NOW! As mentioned above, I enjoyed them all for what they were but nothing to the point where I stayed up all night just to finish it.

Book You Most Anticipated in 2015

As mentioned above, that would be Poorly Drawn Lines

Favourite Cover of a Book You Read in 2015

I didn’t really read too many books because of their covers. For the most part I either read ebooks or borrowed books from the library based on their descriptions, before I had even seen the cover but I did like the look of Amelia Dee and the Peacock Lamp. It’s nothing flashy, I just think it is pretty:

Most Memorable Character in 2015

I’m actually drawing a blank here.. That’s not really what you want when thinking of memorable characters. I would say Small Cat from Poorly Drawn Lines but I’m not sure he counts.. and mostly he’s just a jerk.

Stop misbehaving Small Cat!
Stop misbehaving Small Cat!

Most Beautifully Written Book in 2015

Hmm, this is a tough one. I’d probably say The Magic of Reality but not so much for the words themselves but how beautiful the book looks and the placement of the words.

Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2015

Unfortunately, I don’t think I read any books this year where I thought “This is a book I’m going to remember forever” and went out and bought a copy for myself. Maybe 2016 will turn this around.

Book You Can’t Believe You Waited Until 2015 to Finally Read

Probably Peter and Wendy, it’s so short and such a classic that I’m surprised I didn’t read it sooner. Too bad it didn’t meet my expectations.

Sarah

The Freedom of Vodka

A few weeks ago I went to a bar after work with a couple of colleagues and ordered a delicious cocktail. It was the first time I’d had anything alcoholic in weeks (and prior to that months) and I figured I deserved a $15 cocktail – fortunately for me it was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. As I sipped it I felt myself start to relax and by the time it was finished I was feeling calm, a pleasant numbness that made me care less about things that were happening.

Today I had my work Christmas party lunch at which I partook in 1.. 2.. many.. drinks and felt that same feeling, an absence of worry.

I once knew a guy who said he drank (and he drank a lot) because he liked the person he became when he was drunk. A person who was confident and lacking in the social anxiety that plagued him. Unfortunately, he never listened to everyone else who pointed out that he was a total dick when he was drunk and we preferred the person he was sober.

For me, and it doesn’t have to be a lot of drinks, one or two is fine, I like the freedom it gives me, freedom from the overworking of my brain on things that, ultimately, don’t matter.

Now, as I sit here, the effects of the day wear off and I wonder how I can achieve this same feeling without having a few drinks first.

Sarah