30in30 challenge — march 2015 final

3030-20150301

Kept forgetting some of the days during travelling, somehow got it done.

    health

  1. run/walk/bike 60mins // done
  2. run/walk/bike 90mins // done
  3. take the stairs // done
  4. weights/trx/resistance band // done
  5. do more than one type of exercise // done
  6. do something relaxing // done
  7. sleep early // done
  8.  
    food & drink

  9. 3 different vegetables in a day // done
  10. 3 different fruits in a day // done
  11. no red meat day // done
  12. no alcohol day // done
  13. no snack day // done
  14. new food // done
  15. new drink // done
  16. new recipe // done
  17.  
    looking inward

  18. gratitude for the day // done
  19. keep calm and… // done
  20. participate in prayer or service // done
  21. say a prayer for family // done
  22. silent retreat // done
  23.  
    photography

  24. 10 photos: a colour // done
  25. 10 photos: a shape // done
  26. 10 photos: directions // done
  27. 10 photos: loud // done
  28. 10 photos: morning // done
  29. 10 photos: next to me // done
  30. 10 photos: numbers // done
  31. 10 photos: old // done
  32. 10 photos: people // done
  33. 10 photos: water // done
  34.  
    bonus

  35. rest day — no challenges today // rest day not needed

 

europe day 18: rome sick | 3030: 10photos

Started the day feeling dizzy with a heavy-head headache. Managed to walk a couple of blocks to a nearby bar café for some vegetables before needing to head back to our room. [TMI]Promptly threw up the food.[/TMI]. Slept for a few hours until around 3pm. Did about 12mins of mindfulness meditation, ate some pasta, drank lots and lots and lots of water and juice. Feeling a more human but still slightly dizzy. No idea why I suddenly got sick, and we decided it wasn’t worth speculating. The important thing is to quickly get better. I feel bad about wasting a day but mm, bless her, doesn’t see it that way. I leaned on her all the way walking this morning, and she ran up and down to the vending machine and across the road to the supermarket to get stuff. In a way, today Good Friday was as good a day to get some rest. We’re at halfway through our trip and aside from 2 masses (the next one is Easter Sunday mass) and the Sistine Chapel (which we covered yesterday), we don’t have anywhere pressing to go. If I continue to feel under the weather, I’ll try to hold on until London so I can go see my GP.

I did manage to upload the photos that were tasks #21-30 of 30.30: take 10 photos over 10 days. I set these tasks deliberately knowing that I would be travelling the second half of march and figured it would be easier. One would have thought that there were plenty of opportunities in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Belgium, Florence, Siena and Assisi to take 10 simple photos. I don’t know if it’s the subjects I picked but it wasn’t as straightforward, may be it’s because I kept forgetting. Managed to get 10 photos in the end. Posting thumbnails, click for full size.

21colour 22shape 23direction 24loud 25morning
26nexttome 27numbers 28old 29people 30water

  1. a colour
  2. a shape
  3. direction
  4. loud
  5. morning
  6. next to me
  7. numbers
  8. old
  9. people
  10. old

Challenge is done. I’ll post the final update.

30in30 challenge — march 2015 mid-month update

3030-20150301

Some days I can’t be arsed to deal with the daily challenge, but somehow managed to get something done. Haven’t needed to use the rest day yet. Deliberately leaving photochallenges for the trip.

    health

  1. run/walk/bike 60mins // done
  2. run/walk/bike 90mins // done
  3. take the stairs
  4. weights/trx/resistance band // done
  5. do more than one type of exercise // done
  6. do something relaxing
  7. sleep early // done
  8.  
    food & drink

  9. 3 different vegetables in a day // done
  10. 3 different fruits in a day // done
  11. no red meat day // done
  12. no alcohol day // done
  13. no snack day // done
  14. new food // done
  15. new drink // done
  16. new recipe // done
  17.  
    looking inward

  18. gratitude for the day // done
  19. keep calm and… // done
  20. participate in prayer or service
  21. say a prayer for family
  22. silent retreat
  23.  
    photography

  24. 10 photos: a colour
  25. 10 photos: a shape
  26. 10 photos: directions
  27. 10 photos: loud
  28. 10 photos: morning
  29. 10 photos: next to me
  30. 10 photos: numbers
  31. 10 photos: old
  32. 10 photos: people
  33. 10 photos: water
  34.  
    bonus

  35. rest day — no challenges today

30in30 challenge — march 2015

3030-20150301

My friend R asked if I wanted to do another challenge or take a break; it’d be 3 months in a row. The Europe trip starts the second half of the month and doing challenges on holiday can be, well, challenging. But that’s why they are called challenges, right? (I’m thinking an editor will frown at this paragraph, with so many instances of challenges, snerk.)

Switching to the 30.30 format. I am fully aware that march has 31 days, but I’m keeping the tag as 30.30, and given myself one day with no required task. I’ve listed more photography challenges than usual because: a) I find I’m doing photo-a-day type challenges anyway; b) I’ll have more opportunities to take pictures.

 

    health

  1. run/walk/bike 60mins
  2. run/walk/bike 90mins
  3. take the stairs
  4. weights/trx/resistance band
  5. do more than one type of exercise
  6. do something relaxing
  7. sleep early
  8.  
    food & drink

  9. 3 different vegetables in a day
  10. 3 different fruits in a day
  11. no red meat day
  12. no alcohol day
  13. no snack day
  14. new food
  15. new drink
  16. new recipe
  17.  
    looking inward

  18. gratitude for the day
  19. keep calm and…
  20. participate in prayer or service
  21. say a prayer for family
  22. silent retreat
  23.  
    photography

  24. 10 photos: a colour
  25. 10 photos: a shape
  26. 10 photos: directions
  27. 10 photos: loud
  28. 10 photos: morning
  29. 10 photos: next to me
  30. 10 photos: numbers
  31. 10 photos: old
  32. 10 photos: people
  33. 10 photos: water
  34.  
    bonus

  35. rest day — no challenges today

 

30in30 challenge — september 2014 final

20140930

A bit of planning needed to manage the daily tasks due to travelling. Another monthly challenge completed, happy now.

    health

  1. run/walk/bike 30mins // done 20-sep-2014
  2. run/walk/bike 60mins // done 27-sep-2014
  3. do more than 50 squats in one set // done 06-sep-2014
  4. do more than 50 crunches in one set // done 07-sep-2014
  5. weights/TRX 3 sets of 10 // done 19-sep-2014
  6. weights/TRX 3 sets of 12 // done 10-sep-2014
  7. mindfulness 10mins // done 02-sep-2014
  8. mindfulness 20mins // done 17-sep-2014
  9. sleep early // done 04-sep-2014
  10. turn off electronics 1hr before bed // done 14-sep-2014
  11.  
    food & drink

  12. 5 different vegetables in a day // done 18-sep-2014
  13. 3 different fruits in a day // done 03-sep-2014
  14. mostly water (1 tea, 1 coke zero only) // done 22-sep-2014
  15. no red meat day // done 01-sep-2014
  16. no alcohol day // done 13-sep-2014
  17. no snack day // done 23-sep-2014
  18. new food/recipe // done 28-sep-2014
  19.  
    personal/family

  20. family activity // done 25-sep-2014
  21. bbmm activity // done 26-sep-2014
  22. scan 10 family pics // done 05-sep-2014
  23. gratitude at 1:11 or 11:11 done 21-sep-2014
  24. celebrate a bizarre holiday // done chocolate milkshake day 12-sep-2014
  25.  
    creative

  26. 25 squares // done 30-sep-2014
  27. do something creative // done 09-sep-2014
  28. outline nano 2014 // done 15-sep-2014
  29. 1000 words PP // done 16-ssep-2014
  30. read a new author // done 08-sep-2014
  31.  
    photography

  32. photofriday challenge // done 11-sep-2014
  33. random from photo-a-day // done 29-sep-2014
  34. random from instagram challenge // done 24-sep-2014

101.1001 #48 | 30.30 #17 new food: insect

silkwormbeondegi

Task #48 of 101.1001 is to eat an insect and task #17 of 30in30 is to try a new food. I’ve never knowingly tried insects before, so we bought a small cup of beondegi or silkworm pupae at namdaemun market. This is a typical Korean street food, the pupae were boiled and eaten with toothpicks. One small cup was KRW2,000 or two dollars so it was worth trying.

When I initially set this challenge, I envisioned trying the cricket chocolate from Wittamer, but the box went mouldy on me. I have been reading a lot of articles about the benefits of eating bugs — they are sustainable, nutritious and 80% of the world’s cultures already eat insects. As global population grows exponentially, there is a lot of thinking that the future human population will turn to insects for protein source. I guess people in 200, 500, 1000 year’s time will look back on our diet with the same shock as us looking at the diets of people hundreds of years ago.

I wasn’t really prepared to try bugs that look scary. I don’t think I’ll let anything with legs come near me, so spiders, grasshoppers and ants were out. I was okay about trying mealworms so when I read about beondegi in the course of my seoul research, I thought it may be alright to try.

First, it’s served hot, in a seasoned sauce. People complain about the smell, but it was no worse than other meat-based street food. You eat the whole thing, just pick it up with a toothpick and pop one in your mouth. The outside had the texture of boiled peanuts, a little crunchy, a little soggy. The inside was a little gamey, like mild liver. I won’t say I’m in any hurry to try it again, but if offered I won’t refuse it.

101.1001 #86 | 30.30 #19 bbmm activity: korean spa jjimjibang

kor0003spasalt

Task #83 of 101.1001 and task #19 of 30in30 is to do a new activity with mm. We are in seoul for holiday and as soon as we got off the plane and deposited our luggage at the hotel, we headed to a jjimjibang spa to rest and pamper ourselves. We got the deluxe package at KRW100,000 (USD100). We ended up staying from 10am to 5pm so it was worth it.

The spa says it’s the largest in Korea. At a sprawling 7 floors I can believe it. There are sauna, steam areas, baths, massage rooms, sleeping rooms, relaxation hall, restaurants, a rooftop garden, internet café even a cinema.

First we got keys to our locker. The key was a regular locker key as well as a smartchip that recorded any purchases or treatments. We had a quick shower at the large bath area. Korean baths are like Japanese baths, sexes are segregated and you don’t wear anything inside except a small towel to strategically cover certain areas.

First stop of our treatment was the herbal steam bath. We were seated on wooden stools with an opening in the middle. The herbs and water were heated and the steam rose up through the opening. We were covered in a sort of plastic tent to keep the steam in. Quite surreal, the herbs smelled really nice though.

After the shower and steam we changed into standard issue pajamas—t-shirt and shorts. Everyone inside the facility was dressed in these pajamas. The massage part was 90mins of a mix of acupressure and thai style. The young technician got almost every troublesome spot in my shoulders, lower back, arms and definitely hit the ITB around my left knee.

At the end of the massage it was around 1pm so time for lunch. The spa had a cafeteria and 2 restaurants. We went to the self-service korean restaurant and had tofu soup and beef rib soup. Came with banchans and I had a tasteless beer.

We found massage chairs in the main hall and fell asleep for around 1.5hrs. One of the features of traditional korean spas is the sight of people asleep at sleeping rooms and areas. Admission is 24hrs so some people stay the night.

Then it was time to check out the heat rooms. The traditional pine scented one was so hot inside we could barely walk, our soles were burning up. Lasted 10 seconds inside there, max. The himalayan salt room was a pleasant 52°C, blankets were provided so we lay down and rested on pink salt crystals. The charcoal heated rooms were good too, we went into the high temperature one, around the same as the salt room. In between rooms, we sat in the ice room to cool down, and then on the floor.

Last stop was the baths area. There was a steam room and half a dozen baths at different temperatures. We like the outdoor ones for the fresh air, the ones with jetstream massage and the cold 24°C cooling pool.

Great day, and the perfect cure for a night spent on a red-eye flight.

30in30 #18: family activity

steakathome

Task #18 of 30in30 is a family activity.

Originally I was gonna go trampolining with sis and my niece over the weekend, but tiredness and too much homework scuppered that plan. Sis and I could have gone one morning by ourselves but we wanted to wait for my niece.

Anyway sis had a cocktail event tonight with IC MBA alumni. She asked if I was interested (I’m an IC MBA alumni too) but I had zero interest in these social events. Instead I volunteered to babysit my niece so sis can go. Not really babysitting, a 12 year old at home requires minimum supervision. I was responsible for making dinner so I teenager favourite food — steak, mashed potato and cherry tomato. Sis opened a bottle of red wine for me too, I had a glass.

30in30 #16: no snack day

toastlemoncurd

Task #16 of 30in30 is to stay away from snacks.

What, no crisps, no biscuits, no cheese, no popcorn? It’s fine. I managed. Although I had a couple of slices of lemon curd toast for tea. In my mind tea is a meal, like breakfast, lunch or dinner, so doesn’t count as snack.

101.1001 #96 | 30.30 #13: drink mostly water

teacokewater

A combination of task #96 of 101.1001 and task #13 of 30in30: drink more water, drink mostly water.

We all know that water is good for us and we should drink lots of it every day. I don’t know if it’s circumstances or age or becoming healthier, I don’t mind drinking water as much as before. I’ve always drunk a lot of liquids, when I was working it was soda water and coke zero all day. In the US I bought these gallon containers of arizona green tea. Then of course there were the beer and wine and whisky. And the vital cup of tea in the morning.

Don’t have access to gallon containers of tea anymore, and I’ve cut down the coke zero to one can a day. Alcohol consumption is down too.

I’m making up the quota with water. Here we boil our water then let it cool to room temperature. Tastes bland. I kinda miss the mineral taste of London hard water. I keep my room temperature in a glass bottle I bought at John Lewis. I also keep bottles of water in the fridge. I find cold water tastes much better than room temperature or warm water and I can drink more of it. It’s surprising how quickly I finish a bottle of 500ml ice water.

30in30 #11: 5 vegetables

5vegsalad02

Task #11 of 30in30 is to have 5 vegetables in a day.

What better than to make a salad. Easy carrot, cucumber, pepper, sweetcorn and tomato with a japanese sesame dressing. Added a couple of small taiwanese sausages I grilled.

I had enoki mushrooms for lunch so i actually had 6 vegetables today. That, plus walking for 1.5hr while listening to a mindfulness walking mp3 made me feel sort of healthy.

30in30 #8: mindfulness 20mins

Task #8 of 30in30 is to do mindfulness meditation for 20mins.

I’ve been diligently doing sb&t daily and although I’m not sure I’m seeing results, it’s a nice way to close my eyes and slow down for 10mins. I particularly enjoy the body scan meditations, which is just slowly becoming aware of parts of our body moving through head, neck, shoulders, back, arms and legs.

I found this 20min guided mindfulness exercise that is 100% body scan. It took me a few beats to get used to a new voice — this one is a British guy vs the usual American woman on sb&t. Once I got past that, I was able to follow the meditation.

I even tried a few steps of mindful walking when I was walking to the bus stop. May be I’ll download something to the iphone to listen to next time I’m out and about.

30in30 #26: 1000 words PP

pp20140916

Task #26 of 30in30 is to write 1000 words for PP.

I said I wanted to build up some momentum for PP, so I made myself sit down in the afternoon to get 1000 words. Start wordcount=2472, finish wordcount=3604 so actual words written=1132.

The story is set in Franklin TN. Here’s when I wish I still lived in Chicago. It’s about 8hrs to drive there, so research in person is feasible. Lots also to do in nearby Nashville. Important things happen during the cherry blossom festival in April. MC1’s dad worked at Nissan and they even offer factory tours. Plus of course, the bourbon trail distilleries are on the way from Chicago to Nashville.

30 in 30 challenge — sep 2014 mid-month update

20140915

Chugging along. I look at the list every night and decide which task I’ll tackle the next day. The first half of the month is easier, I’ll have to plan more towards the end of the month, especially since we’ll be away from the 26th. Have to reserve some tasks for then and complete other tasks I can only do at home.

    health

  1. run/walk/bike 30mins
  2. run/walk/bike 60mins
  3. do more than 50 squats in one set // done 06-sep-2014
  4. do more than 50 crunches in one set // done 07-sep-2014
  5. weights/TRX 3 sets of 10
  6. weights/TRX 3 sets of 12 // done 10-sep-2014
  7. mindfulness 10mins // done 02-sep-2014
  8. mindfulness 20mins
  9. sleep early // done 04-sep-2014
  10. turn off electronics 1hr before bed // done 14-sep-2014
  11.  
    food & drink

  12. 5 different vegetables in a day
  13. 3 different fruits in a day // done 03-sep-2014
  14. mostly water (1 tea, 1 coke zero only)
  15. no red meat day // done 01-sep-2014
  16. no alcohol day // done 13-sep-2014
  17. no snack day
  18. new food/recipe
  19.  
    personal/family

  20. family activity
  21. bbmm activity
  22. scan 10 family pics // done 05-sep-2014
  23. gratitude at 1:11 or 11:11
  24. celebrate a bizarre holiday // done chocolate milkshake day 12-sep-2014
  25.  
    creative

  26. 25 squares
  27. do something creative // done 09-sep-2014
  28. outline nano 2014 // done 15-sep-2014
  29. 1000 words PP
  30. read a new author // done 08-sep-2014
  31.  
    photography

  32. photofriday challenge // done 11-sep-2014
  33. random from photo-a-day
  34. random from instagram challenge

30in30 #25: outline nano2014

ppoutline

Task #25 of 30in30 is to outline this year’s nano.

Original plan was to write spotter this year, but I don’t feel like it, mainly because I’m having too much fun with it in my head and writing it down will take the fun away. In any case I want to get some momentum going for party planner, so I’m going to tackle PP this year. And since it’s already outlined, I’m sort of cheating on the task, but whatever. I’ll call it auto-completed.

I’m also cheating on nano because there’s about 2,000 words already written. Technically, nano is supposed to be writing 50k words from scratch. But hey, I’ve been doing nano enough years to know that it’s the spirit of writing 50k new words that count and it’s about time I joined the nano rebels group for a year. I just did a calculation and this will be my 10th nano.

30in30 #10: turn off electronics 1hr before bed

offline

Task #10 of 30in30 is to turn off electronics 1hr before bed.

Everyone will agree that we are too dependent on being connected. Our blackberrys chime and we are compelled to look at it, even though we know it’s work and we hate it. We can’t help but check fb or twitter constantly, in case we are missing out on…something. There’s a lot of advantages for unplugging occasionally, and the national day of unplugging is in March.

Anyway, I’m coming down with something. Cold, cough, flu, whatever. Tired all day. So I shut everything down at 8.45pm. It’s fine to turn off electronics, the only difficulty was I couldn’t use the ipad to read, so I had to find a paperback. I think next time I’ll unplug from internet but I can use electronics for standalone tasks like read books or use the calculator.

30in30 #15 no alcohol

notdrinking

Task #15 of 30in30 is to have a no alcohol day.

I haven’t been drinking a lot, so It’s no big deal. I think up to this point in the month, I’ve had one whisky and one beer. I can do no alcohol week too. I’m quite happy about this, taking a rest from alcohol, not completely but a nice balance.

30in30 #22 bizarre holiday: chocolate milkshake day

Task #22 of 30in30 is to celebrate a bizarre holiday. Since I have homemade vanilla ice cream, it’s perfect to celebrate chocolate milkshake day.
All I did was blitz together 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with chocolate milk. It seemed the easiest, without having to buy chocolate syrup or cocoa powder, which are the usual ingredients used. It wasn’t chocolate-y enough so I melted some 70% chocolate into the mixture. Why 70% chocolate? I only have baking chocolate in my fridge.

chocmilkshake01

Very rich, a little to sweet for my taste, which I know because the ice cream was too sweet. Chocolate isn’t my first choice for ice cream or milkshake, so if it weren’t for the national chocolate milkshake day, I would probably just had the vanilla ice cream on its own or with some fruit. I can’t imagine how many calories, I made myself go running for 5 miles in torrential rain for this.

30in30 #6: TRX 3 sets of 12

Task #6 of 30in30 is to do 3 sets of 12 weights or TRX.

Lots to do tonight: sort out some spreadsheets, update apps, buy the all-season pass for run zombies (on sale for $9.99), defrost my fridge (again) and other stuff at home. In between I found time to get a TRX workout in, because: a) it’s one of 30in30 and b) I haven’t done TRX for a while.

I don’t usually do so many TRX reps. Two sets of 10 or 12 is what I usually do, so 3 sets of 12 was a little more strenuous. And it was great! My shoulder and triceps are already telling me they got a workout. The TRX is one of the best things sis ever gave me.

30in30 #24: something creative

tok001mosiac tok026chirashi
tok345meiji tok310mosiacwater

Task #24 of 30in30 is to do something creative.

Lots of possibilities here. Since task #26 is to write 1000 words and tasks #28-30 are photo challenges, I should try something else. Draw something, crochet a blanket or make bunting. Ack, no good at any of those. No artistic talent there.

What have I been doing recently? I sorted through the Tokyo pics. 414 pics and 2 videos into 2 sets: tokyo 01 | tokyo 02. So may be I can do something fun with them. I don’t like photo montage apps but I did use a webapp to create a mosiac out of all 400+ pics. Took a few minutes to upload and compose, I picked the bowl of chirashi from tsukiji market and the water bath outside meiji shrine as base pictures. I think the results are pretty cool.

Did that count as something creative? Or should I have drawn something or folded an origami swan? It’s creative enough for me. YMMV.

30in30 #27: read a new author

amberbenson01

Task #27 of 30in30 is to read a new author. Appropriate, considering today is international literacy day.

Sis asked me for my recommendations for science fiction books for my niece. Ah the memories. I can’t remember if I started reading scifi books at 12, definitely at around 15-16 I was going through the shelves at the library — hitchhiker’s guide and the foundation series came first, because they were there alphabetically. I can’t remember half the ones I read now. I switched to fantasy soon. I still have both sets of David Eddings’ Belgariad as well as his other books, all (I think) of Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series on my shelf, even after downsizing from 2 full bookcases of fiction to half a bookcase.

So when sis asked me, I went and looked to see what physical books I had left that I could lend to my niece. Anne McCaffrey and Philip Pullman. I’d love to introduce her to the world of Pern but I think I’ll start her with The Ship Who Sang. I also got a few recs from my fb friends. It’s enough for her to borrow from the library or get on kindle.

I also noticed the couple of Ghosts of Albion collectible hardbacks, and then I remembered I still haven’t read Amber Benson’s Calliope Reaper-Jones series. The first one, Death’s Daughter, was published in 2009, and I went to the signing in Chicago. I wanted to see if I can recommend it to my niece.

I’m a bit of an Amber fan. Tara of course. I have a small signed Chance poster framed on my wall. I remember reading that one of the locations for Ghosts of Albion was St Mary’s le Strand and it brought warm fuzzy feelings.1 I follow her on twitter and fb and instagram (but not in a stalkery way, I don’t think I’ve ever DM or commented on her posts.)

The publisher’s blurb for Death’s Daughter:

Calliope Reaper-Jones so just wanted a normal life: buying designer shoes on sale, dating guys from Craigslist, web-surfing for organic dim-sum for her boss.

But when her father—who happens to be Death himself—is kidnapped, and the Devil’s Protégé embarks on a hostile takeover of the family business, Death, Inc., Callie returns home to assume the CEO mantle—only to discover she must complete three nearly impossible tasks in the realm of the afterlife first.

Reviews for the book is mixed. Some outright fan fawning vs people who don’t think actors should write. I’m not a fan of these reviews. Actual reviews of the book are also mixed. And I can see why.

Callie is forced to return to the family fold after her father is kidnapped and she is the designated person to save him and the family business, Death. Reluctantly she drags her tank-topped and Jimmy Choo-heeled self to Hell (literally) and back in order to complete 3 tasks before a) her allocated time and b) her competition beats her to them. She’s whiny, contradictory, frustrating and basically bumbles along with help from friends, her sister and various mythical beings. Everybody talks like a SoCal teenager, even though they are mythical being or, in the case of Callie, a twentysomething immortal who lives in New York. There’s Bollywood dancing and an inordinate amount of ogling of the male body. On almost every page there are numerous pop culture references.

But that’s the point. I don’t think it’s supposed to be taken seriously, it’s not like it’s the next Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. Yes, Callie is, like, annoying, but her heart is, like, in the right place (that’s, like, how she speaks). I can get past the juvenile speak and get behind snarky Callie. Yes, the mythology is mixed up, with a Cerberus that acts in a surprising manner and the Indian goddess Kali acting like a mean girl and using words like “dipwad.” So what. It’s tongue-in-cheek, people.

The story itself is your standard do-3-impossible-tasks-to-save-the-world deal. Interesting twists on all 3 tasks. A flawed, reluctant heroine (like Buffy s1 or General Buffy s7) who is more concerned with shoe shopping and boys. The cover has a tough looking girl with short dark hair but for some reason I picture Lindsay Lohan (the actor with some talent, not the drug-addled failure). Hotter than hell…Hell, a castle with walls made from tortured people, a bottomless black pit and a 14-room house in New England are some of the locations. Plus a supporting cast of misfits. I can see it as a funny indie film.

It’s not a perfect book. Needed tighter editing to fix the spelling mistakes and superfluous parts. The dialogue doesn’t flow in all places and the plot jumps with no reason—they are screaming and yelling at each other then suddenly her dog bites her on her ankle.

The motivation for reading is to see if it’s suitable for a 12 year old. The story itself, yes I think a 12 year old will enjoy it. The silly speak and sarcasm too, i think a 12 year old will get the funny. I won’t be recommending it to my niece though, not until she’s older. There are too many inappropriate words and sexual references. It’s a shame, because these were the superfluous parts that didn’t add value to the story.

Death’s Daughter is the first of a series, there are 4 books now. I like this first book enough to want to get the other 3. Now here’s the problem, ebook vs paperback. In order of cost:

  • 3 used paperbacks shipped to US = $12 (I can get all 3 at 0.01+3.99 shipping)
  • 3 new paperbacks shipped to US = $21.57 (7.19 each, free shipping if I borrow the use of Prime)
  • 3 new paperbacks at paddyfield = $24.61 (64 each — paddyfield is a local online bookseller who sells English books from US/UK at almost direct fx conversion)
  • 3 new paperbacks shipped here from amazon = $26.56 (7.19 each plus 4.99 total shipment)
  • 4 kindle = $31.96 (7.99 each)

If I get the paperback, cheapest is used shipped to the US which means I have to wait till July. The advantage of ebook is obvious, and I’ve been 100% ebook for a few years now. I’ll think about it, I’m not in a big hurry.

1St Mary’s le Strand is a tiny church on the Strand rather pitifully divided by 4 lanes of traffic rushing either on the Strand or turning left onto Waterloo Bridge. It’s also directly opposite King’s, so I would have walked past it at least twice a day for 7 years.

101.1001 #44 | 30.30 #3: 101 squats

squats

Task #3 of 30in30 is to do more than 50 squats in one set. Task #44 of 101.1001 is to do 101 squats in one set.

I’d originally aimed for the set of 50, seeing that I haven’t been working out as rigorously as I used to. I got to 50 and felt fine, so I carried on. A little tight at 80, at which point it was worth pushing on to finish at 101.

Slow squats, on form, trying to keep a 90 degree angle at the bottom of each motion.

30in30 #20: scan 10 family pics

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Task #20 of 30in30 is to scan 10 family pics.

Both my grandfather and father had cameras when we were small; my dad still has his camera and my grandfather even took 8mm videos. Before the age of digital cameras and social media, photographs were carefully composed on 35mm film, developed at a shop and stored in photo albums. We have a lot of family albums. A couple of shelves in their cabinet and I have 2 boxes myself. It’ll take a long time to organise and scan them all, I want to make a start somehow.

These are small 3.5”x2.5” pics of me and sis. I love the small format, these are firm favourites. There are 16 double-sided pages in this album, each page holds 8 pics so 256 total. Scanned the first 24, all b/w, I was about 4 or 5 years old. Still good quality albeit a little yellowed, adds to the charm.

p.s. image is deliberately small and blurred, I don’t want our faces to be recognisable.

30in30 #9: sleep early

clock1010

Task #9 of 30in30 is to sleep early.

I haven’t been sleeping well. I wake up in the middle of the night, usually 3 or 4am, then can’t get back to sleep until 5 or 6am. I don’t know why. I don’t think I’m stressed. I don’t drink anything with caffeine after around 3pm, I don’t eat anything substantial after 8pm and because I don’t need to get up for work there are days when I’m in bed till 9 or 10am.

There’s so much research on sleep. Every so often there will be articles on why we can’t sleep, how many hours of sleep we really need and the science behind sleeping. All sort of interesting, but doesn’t solve my can’t sleep problem.

I’m going to bed early tonight. I hope I get some quality sleep.

30in30 #12: 3 fruits

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Task #12 of 30 in 30 is to eat 3 different fruits in a day.

I had 13 giant peaches in the case from tokyo; one was extremely squashed and three were quite squashed. The figs I bought were also a little squashed. I had diced giant mangos in the freezer so it was an easy job to assemble a fruit salad. Even the extremely squashed peach had good bits, and 2/3 of a squashed peach tasted just as delicious as a whole peach.

I went to sis to give her the ikura, a few peaches and the pokemon soft toy to my niece. She had watermelon so total I had 4 fruits today.

30in30 #7: mindfulness 10mins

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Task #7 of 30 in 30 is to do mindfulness meditation for 10mins.

Today was a travelling day. We did tons of walking, shopping and pushing suitcases along the streets of Tokyo before flying home. Got home around 11pm, unpacked and showered. So it was good to sit quietly, close my eyes and listen to the meditation for 10mins.

30in30 #14: no red meat

30302014091401sushi 30302014091402cake

Task #14 of 30in30 is to have no red meat during the day. The last time I did 30in30 was april 2014, and it also coincided with bbmm going to Japan. Co-incidence much.

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It’s so easy to skip red meat in Japan. We had sushi for lunch, cake for tea and went to a fugu restaurant for dinner — the first time we tried the infamous poisonous pufferfish. In between, we sampled some potato snacks and red bean sweets at stalls around the Sensō shrine. If we hadn’t bought a couple of skewers of squid and chicken liver for snack, i could say it was a no meat day.

30 in 30 challenge — sept 2014

30days

Time for a new 30 tasks in 30 days challenge. Tried it for the first time in april and it was a good challenge. To recap, 30in30 is 30 tasks, each should be achievable in a day.

    health

  1. run/walk/bike 30mins
  2. run/walk/bike 60mins
  3. do more than 50 squats in one set
  4. do more than 50 crunches in one set
  5. weights/TRX 3 sets of 10
  6. weights/TRX 3 sets of 12
  7. mindfulness 10mins
  8. mindfulness 20mins
  9. sleep early
  10. turn off electronics 1hr before bed
  11.  
    food & drink

  12. 5 different vegetables in a day
  13. 3 different fruits in a day
  14. mostly water (1 tea, 1 coke zero only)
  15. no red meat day
  16. no alcohol day
  17. no snack day
  18. new food/recipe
  19.  
    personal/family

  20. family activity
  21. bbmm activity
  22. scan 10 family pics
  23. gratitude at 1:11 or 11:11
  24. celebrate a bizarre holiday
  25.  
    creative

  26. 25 squares
  27. do something creative
  28. outline nano 2014
  29. 1000 words PP
  30. read a new author
  31.  
    photography

  32. photofriday challenge
  33. random from photo-a-day
  34. random from instagram challenge

30in30 challenge — april 2014 final

deepbay090sunset

All done. No excuse, although towards the end of the month I had to plan ahead which task to tackle on which day. This is a challenge format I will use again, definitely.

    health

  1. do more than 50 squats in one set // done
  2. do more than 50 crunches in one set // done
  3. 30 day shred level 1 // done
  4. 30 day shred level 2 // done
  5. 30 day shred level 3 // done
  6. run/walk/bike 30mins // done
  7. run/walk/bike 60mins // done
  8. take a walk somewhere with fresh air // done
  9. do something relaxing // done
  10. sleep early // done
  11.  
    food & drink

  12. 5 different vegetables in a day // done
  13. 3 different fruits in a day // done
  14. no red meat day // done
  15. no alcohol day // done
  16. no snack day // done
  17. new savoury recipe // done
  18. new sweet recipe // done
  19. plan 3 course menu // done
  20.  
    family

  21. treat for my birthday // done
  22. treat for mm birthday // done
  23. activity with family // done
  24. gratitude at 1:11 or 11:11 // done
  25.  
    read/write

  26. finish outline for PP // done
  27. 1000 words PP // done
  28. find font for LL cover // done
  29. read a new author // done
  30.  
    photography

  31. submit to a photography challenge // done
  32. photo topic: box // done
  33. photo topic: travel // done
  34. photo topic: water // done

30in30 #24: write 1000 words PP

pp20140630

Task #24 of 30 in 30 is to write 1000 words for PP, which just got outlined.

This ended up being one of the harder tasks. It’s usually not a big deal getting 1000 words, but I kept getting distracted and the fact that the short story was already finished proved to be a big mental block. I ended up splitting the short story into 6 sections: they meet, they meet again, disaster 1, disaster 2, plans, party. Each section will be expanded to around 7-8000 words, mostly beginning with what is already written. Hopefully this approach will bring me close to 50k (heh, a nano!) and the rest will be new material culminating in a second party.

So the first chapter when the MCs meet starts with 1200 words from the short story. I need to cover MC1’s interaction with her family, her community and her church which will be the backstory. Again I kept getting distracted doing research but I hunkered down and wrote about dinner with her mom. Total word count is 2357 so the daily task is complete at 1157 words.

p.s. I love scrivener. That’s another post for another day.

30in30 #5: 30 day shred level 3

First time attempting level 3, it’s hard. On paper, not so much but all the exercises were complex multi-muscle group moves. Plank jumps, plank pull up with leg raise, squat clean with weights, jumping jack with weights, travelling pushups. I had to drink half a litre of water, scoff down a few biscuits and take a nap after the workout. And I was mainly following the beginner’s portion.

30in30 #23: PP outline

ppoutline

Task #23 of 30 in 30 is to finish the outline for PP. Working title Party Planner, this is supposed to be the next writing project since LL is finished (again) and a few people have very kindly offered to help beta read it.

PP is already a short story so the challenge is to expand and build from 4,000 words to 70-80k. I wrote it for a challenge a while ago and I think it was Carleen who said I could make it into a full length story. It’s a sort of prequel to nano 2005, which in turn is a sort of prequel to nano 2006, so some of the characters and situations have to tie in. It’s good because I can foreshadow. How many people have books 2 and 3 in draft form when they start working on book 1?

Outline is surprisingly not complicated, just a series of people relationships. The story progression is pretty straightforward too. I wonder if there is enough material for a full length story. We’ll see.

30in30 #25: LL cover font

coverll

Task #25 in 30 in 30 is to find an appropriate font for the cover of LL.

I have some ideas for the cover, currently evolving around a faint background of grids and the title displayed like a stock ticker. Not yet at the stage where I can put it together in photoshop. I went looking for some LED display fonts that are free for personal and commercial use. Just tried them out in yellow against a green background.

From top: TPF, ride the fader, bazaronite, krungthep, TRS million, repetition. Not sure if any one of them scream out to me, I guess I won’t know until I actually attempt to put the cover together. Right now they all look like some sort of theatre / circus announcement and not ‘financial’ enough.

30in30 #26: new author

gcls01gen080

Task #26 in 30 in 30 is to read a new author. The author is Sandra Moran and the book is Letters Never Sent.

For some reason I didn’t manage to speak with Sandra at Dallas last year, although I obviously saw her and took this pic. I was running around too much and too focused on getting pics I guess. I certainly hope she will be at Portland this year. I found out that we both run, so hopefully we have something in common to talk about.

One of the first things Carleen told me to do after the con was to get Sandra’s book and read it. Part of it was set in Chicago against the backdrop of the World’s Fair; she told me how realistic the description was and how I would recognise the street names, buildings and the atmosphere of Chicago in the 1930s. She also said (and read her review) that it’s a must read book and I always listen to her recommendations.

Here’s the blurb:

Three women, united by love and kinship, struggle to conform to the social norms of the times in which they lived.

In 1931, Katherine Henderson leaves behind her small town in Kansas and the marriage proposal of a local boy to live on her own and work at the Sears & Roebuck glove counter in Chicago. There she meets Annie—a bold, outspoken feminist who challenges Katherine’s idea of who she thinks she is and what she thinks she wants in life.

In 1997, Katherine’s daughter, Joan, travels to Lawrence, Kansas, to clean out her estranged mother’s house. Hidden away in an old suitcase, she finds a wooden box containing trinkets and a packet of sealed letters to a person identified only by a first initial.

Joan reads the unsent letters and discovers a woman completely different from the aloof and unyielding mother of her youth-a woman who had loved deeply and lost that love to circumstances beyond her control. Now she just has to find the strength to use the healing power of empathy and forgiveness to live the life she’s always wanted to live.

I usually pick thrillers or paranormal stories before ones that have historical elements, mainly because I’m not that interested in history. That said, I thought the way the book weaved between the 1930s and 1990s was done brilliantly. I loved that the 1930s wasn’t written as flashback, or as told by a storyteller in the 1990s. There were more details and we learned more about the characters and interactions of the older MCs, Katherine and Annie. And then we come back to the 1990s and we see how the daughter, Joan, was affected by the story of her mother. I also loved how the story unfolded, there was so much depth that it was a delight as each layer was revealed.

So often, we get characters who are tall, dark and impossibly beautiful, who are CEOs in their twenties, live in huge mansions and can walk on water while juggling. Ugh. We don’t get this in this book. America in the 1930s was economically and socially a very different time from now, and the hardships and social pressures were depicted realistically. Some of the actions and decisions made by the characters weren’t stellar either, and that makes them so real and so compelling to read.

There was a twist at the end of the story but I figured it out quite early — very shortly after Joan arrived at her mother’s house. The middle part of the book I wasn’t quite sure I’d gotten it right, and I was so happy when it turned out to be true. (I’m trying to be vague and non-spoliery here). I wasn’t obsessed with the clue though, I was busy being caught up with the story itself.

I have a couple of small criticisms. There was a mention of London Times, just in passing. It’s one of my pet peeves because there is no such paper. Secondly, there were two tiny, minute geographical inaccuracies about Chicago that only someone who is OCD will notice. Or perhaps streets were different in the 1930s and therefore I am wrong. Sometimes I get caught up with these small things and I end up not liking or even finishing the book, but it wasn’t the case here.

It’s a testament to the quality of the writing that I finished it, and immediately scrolled back to the beginning to read it again. It’s one of those books that stay on your mind long after you finish, and you can’t help but think about the characters or the setting or a particular scene.

30in30 #28: photochallenge box

syd264performance

This is the final photo challenge task of this month’s 30 in 30, the topic is box.

I saw a few possibilities for this topic, like a stack of fruit boxes at the supermarket or discarded polystyrene boxes at the side of the road or an overflowing box for charity clothes donation. But none have the impact of this street performer squeezing herself into a 16” box. This was taken in December 2007, a beautiful summer weekend day at Circular Quay Sydney.

30in30 #27: photofriday textures

deepbay054bay

Task #27 of 30 in 30 is to submit to a photo challenge. This is for photo friday: textures and is from Sunday’s outing to Deep Bay. One part of the bay is a small fishing village where there are oysters and various dried fish. I’ve tried to show the contrast in textures between the rough and sharp oyster shells which are discarded along the bay and the flatness of the water. Not sure how successful it is.

101.1001 #84 | 30in30 # 22: easter thanks sunset

deepbay090sunset

This is a combination of #84 of 101 in 1001, a new activity with mm and #22 of 30 in 30, to give thanks at 11.11.

Woke up early to go to mass with mm, I should try to go to mass at least at Easter and Christmas. We then lunch with her family before driving out to the NW, to a couple of places near Deep Bay.

First was Lau Fau Shan, which is famous for its dried fish and oysters. The oysters can’t be eaten raw, they are either braised, barbequed or deep fried. Quite a rich flavour and texture, great for snacks since we weren’t hungry.

About 20-25 minutes’ drive along a narrow winding and surprisingly busy road was Ha Pak Nai, just a tiny village with some fishing ponds and a couple of houses. A muddy path led to marshes at the bay, and quite a lot of people had gathered there to watch the sunset.

It was a hazy day, but we were still able to catch some of the sunset. It was a nice evening, not too hot yet and a little romantic. The first time we’d gone specially to watch a sunset. Went back to her place to watch Sherlock. I looked up and it was 11.11pm, sometimes it works this way. Perfect way to end Easter Sunday.

101.1001 #54.6 | 30in30 #17 new sweet recipe

choctart201401

This is a combination of task #54.6 of 101 in 1001 and task #17 in 30 in 30 is to try a new sweet recipe.

This is a recipe for no-bake blueberry truffle tart that has been bookmarked for a while. I made some adjustments, mainly in the ingredients and making of the base. The idea remains the same, make a biscuit base, make a ganache, top with blueberries.

225g crushed biscuits — I used half oreos and half hob-nobs, the recipe used just oreos
75g butter
225g dark chocolate
250ml cream — should be 300ml but the carton was 250ml
1 punnet blueberries

Crush the biscuits, I put them in a ziploc bag and whacked them with a pestle but a rolling pin or food processor will work. Melt butter in pan, add biscuit crumbs and transfer to lined tin. The recipe used individual fairy cake tins but mum didn’t have that tin so I improvised and used a square tin. Allow to set in fridge (around 20-30mins).

Melt the chocolate on a bain marie and stir in the cream. Can do it the other way round, heat cream and pour over chocolate. Either way, stir until chocolate has melted and the mixture glossy and smooth.

I sprinkled half the punnet of blueberries on the biscuit base and added the ganache. Set in fridge for about 10mins, then sprinkle the rest on top. Return to fridge so the ganache sets. I left mine overnight.

Usually we combine chocolate with raspberries or strawberries but blueberries work very well too. The ganache was extremely rich, and the fruitiness of the blueberries in every bite was a good contrast. A small slice is more than enough.