Pip-Life Taking Stock

Taking Stock: October

October 3, 2016

I’ve been a bit too busy to blog. Everything has been topsy turvy at mine because a) we had ace relatives from New Zealand and other family popping in and out and b) I finished work with a bunch of people I’ve worked with for FIVE WHOLE YEARS and am preparing to begin afresh with a new bunch. This meant I kind of got a bit lost, out of my usual routine of five years, and took a little while to bounce back. I am not used to not working with others.

For me, having a part time writing day job is the best way to balance my life. Then I can do my own (more slowly paid) writing/making and not worry about starving in a garret. It keeps me sane and works for me, leaving me enough hours in the day to work on my blog, books and other things.

I find the discipline of a (writing focused) day job helps me to be a better writer, to stay on top of writing to a deadline and also means I get to collaborate with others, which is really important to me.

Once that work is done – I move on to my own projects and writing that’s just for me. It’s made easier because the day job has provided some good structure and warmed up my writing muscles for the day (as well as earning my some bread and butter funds.)

I NEED structure, collaboration and challenges in my day to get the best out of myself. This keeps me on the straight and narrow AND on my toes, if that makes sense.

Anyhoo… we were actually meant to be talking about ‘Taking Stock’. And why I have been a tiny bit AWOL. I sort of got side-tracked. Hm.

Taking Stock is a sometimes monthly list of things that are going on and a satisfying way to sort out what the what is and document life as it is.

If you scroll right down there’s a blank list for you, in case you want to do this somewhere, too.

Here’s my version…


Syd Brak


Taking Stock for October

Making : A blanket for my niece’s new baby. It’s this one. It’s zig-zagging like crazy and nearly finished.
Cooking : Chocolate chip cookies and sambal – but not to have together, obviously!

Drinking : Cups of tea. Cups of coffee. Mineral water. Lots of all of these. Coffee being the current fave (but this may change tomorrow.)

Reading : We’ll Always Have Paris by Emma Beddington. She is a genius. You might already read her blog?

Trawling : Pinterest and Google image search for 80s airbrushed artwork like the one above. I was obsessed with them when I was 14 or 15 and only just remembered about them. As I was searching, I found a bunch of other good stuff. Like George Michael and Brooke Shields, for instance… And this amazing must-watch video of 80s airbrush artist Gerry The Cat’s process. I had one of these and I thought I was so cool.

Wanting : To go and buy: face washers, a cutlery storage thing for the drawer, a nicer bowl for our cat. She’s eating out of the leftover bowls I bought from Anthropologie ages ago. Leftover being the ones that the boys have not smashed.

Looking : At a midday movie on the telly. It’s one with Kathy Bates and Ed Furlong and seems to be really good and a bit against-all-odds feministy. A single-mum family have just driven cross the country – dirt poor –  to a derelict semi-built home and I THINK they are going to fancy it up and make it their own.

Deciding : On a cake to cook this week. Because I want to cook a cake every week. It’s a new thing I have settled on.

Wishing : I knew more about kombucha – I am going to ask Clare and find out more via this book too. Does it taste terrible?

Enjoying : The above mentioned movie. The kids are learning to build a house, which is such a useful thing to know.

Waiting : For my new phone cover to arrive. I know. It’s pretty naff to be waiting for a phone cover, but the one I have cost $2.80 and is really wrecked and turning a weird shade of yellow. This is the new one I ordered.

Liking : Seedy toast with humus and tomato and sriracha. Delicious with white pepper and a sprinkling of salt. Plus tea. Or coffee. Whatever your fancy is. (Mine’s both.)

Wondering : About compassion. It’s great and all, but sometimes it seems compassion is touted as enough… I think compassion + action is really the best thing. It’s not always enough to care, you have to care and make a move.

Loving : Everything Nina Stibbe has written. All her books. So good. Get on them! I wish everything was written from Lizzie Vogel’s point of view.

Pondering : Making some Summer dresses. Bright ones with pockets and a breezy fit. They need to be roomy and fun to look at, I think. Bit of a twirl factor would be nice too…

Listening : To an old album that I forgot I loved. It has this track on it – which is ace – because Willy Wonka.

Considering : A new routine – in line with some new work I am doing.

Buying : Books. All of the books. I want to be book rich.

Watching : Transparent – season 3. My friend told me about this talk that Transparent writer Jill Solloway did and it’s so amazing. If you want to think and learn more about gender politics and a better life, you might want to make time to watch it too? I am so glad I did. ALSO – have you watched Transparent? I am so confused by it and yet in love with it. Possibly I don’t really know enough about all the different complicated kinds of sex to take it in my stride… but I am semi-okay with being uncomfortable and challenged. Especially when it’s by a rad show like this.

Hoping : To get a new old car some time in the future. Our car is great, but it’s been crashed into twice, the stereo doesn’t work, the central locking doesn’t work, the fuel gauge doesn’t work, the petrol cap has been stolen and replaced by one that leaks a bit. Etc. I might get one the same (obviously without all the problems) or I might get a yellow hatchback because I’ve got it in my head that it’s a cheery AND economical AND practical kind of car.

Marvelling : At how much seeing other people’s holiday photos makes you want to go on a holiday. You can literally spend hours looking up potential holidays, when really you know you are going nowhere and must buckle down and get some proper work done.

Cringing : At the same thing I cringe at most days… Trump and the possibility that he just might win. Argh. Spew.

Needing : To make a chickpea, tomato and silver beet stew. Because I really want to eat that.  Also I want to eat green tea noodles with a Japanese-y dressing. Also the word stew is not nice.

Questioning : Most things, a lot of the time. And other times, nothing. Just going with it and hoping for the best.

Smelling : Someone cooking fried rice in the next room.

Wearing : This comfy and stripe-y dress and some leggings and no socks which is stupid because I have cold feet.

Following : All the chatter about microbiomes and our tendency to anti-bacterially declutter our homes and even our stomachs, leaving them unprepared for the rigours of daily life – and US unprepared as a consequence. It’s so interesting to note that we really know a lot, and yet very little about how humans work and how we can thrive. *eats kimchi* *hopes for best* *looks to see if stomach is less bloated*

Noticing : That Survivor Australia is on tonight and feeling excited (because I love survival shows even though I could never survive out in the wild!)

Knowing : That the #tenpagesaday challenge really worked! I am reading fiction again and loving it.
Maybe you want to do that too, if you are not really making the time to read actual books.

Thinking : It’s good that someone just brought me this bowl of fried rice.

Admiring : Shirley Jackson. I love this bit in this article. “She needed the children as much as they needed her. Their imaginations energized her; their routines stabilized her.” I am stabilised by routine, so I feel very affirmed by the fact that it can be the backbone of writerly success.

Getting : Excited about Christmas. We’re doing Thanksgiving at our house too because one of my nephews is engaged to an American girl and she’s going to show us how!

Bookmarking : The article about naps. I don’t take them. I want to though. I am considering learning how to do it.

Disliking : My broken fuel gauge. Because anxious.

Opening : This drawer next to my bed and wondering what all those random things are in there. Playing cards. Necklace. 4 chocolate swirly bud type lollies. A sticker. Some coins. A passport. A shopping list. 4 hair clips. A notebook. 2 pens that don’t work. Headphones. Cherry Riper wrapper. Post it notes (unused). Brooch (never worn.) Ribbon. Small pompom.

Giggling : When I was reading Man At The Helm. Gosh I loved that book. I wish I could read it for the first time again.

Feeling : Excited for the week ahead. New work and new things to do = happy me.

Helping : Ari with his homework. Because it’s good to do your homework on the last day of the school holidays, amiright? It’s the only way… Gulp.

Hearing : Clare Reilly and Clare Bowditch talking about frugal living on the radio.

Celebrating : New opportunities and just having lots of nice moments in my days.

Pretending : Not to notice that my bedroom is very messy.

Embracing : Hairy legs. Due to extreme laziness and needing to read in the bath instead of deal with hairy legs.


george and brooke


Here’s a blank list for you, in case you feel compelled to cut and paste and create your own list:

Making :
Cooking :
Drinking :


Let me know if you do a list too?

pip signature


  • Reply Kerrie October 4, 2016 at 5:46 PM

    Love Crazy P too and in fact used that track during the signing of marriage papers at our wedding a few years back. Also a Survivor addict!

  • Reply Cheekie October 4, 2016 at 1:59 PM

    I don’t like the word stew either, sort of like spew which is what a stew can look like but stews are usually delicious.
    Best wishes with everything you do, I too have been working flat out over autumn-winter and am now sick (boo) just before I go on a tropical holiday (yay).
    I love that pic of George Michael and Brooke Shields, so so good and takes me back to my youth. How sparkly and gorgeous are they?

  • Reply Deb Baker October 4, 2016 at 11:01 AM

    Oh my goodness! I watched that movie yesterday too. It was a movie watching kind of day here. Drizzly, cool weather. Twas lovely. What a great movie it was. It just popped on and I was hooked. How good is Kathy Bates? Gosh and how harsh was it. Even though it wasn’t based on a true story, this kind of life was (and is) the reality for many. I, too, have made the decision to make a cake (or something sweet for the kids) every week. Now that they’re back to school again I’m determined that they have something homemade and lovely in their lunchbox. And like Carolyn we just had our last school holidays with our eldest son. It was a bittersweet time. Sigh..

  • Reply Kate October 4, 2016 at 8:48 AM

    I love these lists, and like Reannon I have missed you in my feed too Pip.
    Look at Brookey that smile, that denim oh wow, but George…that body hair. Can’t imagine that being allowed these days, even if he was being hipster.

  • Reply Kellie October 4, 2016 at 8:05 AM

    Just wanted to say that picture is awesome and it is everything good about the 80’s….oh George ?. We bought a new car last year, a Ford Ecosport and I totally love it, a tad bit small for all the shit you need for a 3 and 1 year old but it is fantastic and yellow….only colour I liked in it, people always comment on the colour. Only downside is bees do tend to be drawn to it lol. Not had a problem yet but have noticed one occasionally when I pull up at lights trying to get on us lol.

  • Reply Reannon October 3, 2016 at 10:58 PM

    I’ve missed you in my feed Pip!
    And as far as kombucha goes my advice is try homemade before a store bought one. To me, the store bought taste too yeasty but I love my homemade stuff.

  • Reply Lisa October 3, 2016 at 9:01 PM

    Making : tardis themed crochet rug?
    Cooking : gluten free lemon slice – the one with the biscuit base and custard top for my work friend Michelle’s birthday tomorrow?
    Drinking : Kilkenny Irish beer?
    Reading: Henning Menkel The Troubled Man? & Louis Theroux on meeting Jimmy Saville and being manipulated without really understanding it.
    Trawling: for granny square recipes?
    Wanting: a good plan to eat healthier this week at work?
    Looking: for excuses not to finish my final assignment?
    Deciding: whether to wear shorts or tights for the morning run. Prefer shorts but legs are untrimmed and what if I was to run into a handsome fantasy person…whatever would they think??
    Wishing: a piece of baclava would suddenly appear in front of me?
    Enjoying: peace and quiet…hubs and kids have gone fishing?
    Waiting: to put the slice in the fridge?
    Liking: the royal blue Cleckheaton wool I’m using for the tardis rug?
    Wondering: if I can get some more?
    Loving: the names of our two new chickens…Miss Rebecca McSpazmoid the Second, and Toilet. Toilet is fatter….apparently. ?
    Pondering: how to make peace with my sister. She is under a lot of stress and she said something a bit nasty about me to everyone else in the family and it made me sad. ?
    Listening: Paulo Nuttini…who is impossibly Scottish?
    Considering: going to bed early and watching a movie in bed?
    Buying: a black and white printer with wifi and a glass screen protector for my phone?Watching: not yet…but maybe Caught on a Train featuring a very young and handsome Michael Kitchen who I like…a lot.?
    Hoping: to be amazingly organised in the morning so I can get to town by 7 for a run before work around the uni…in long tights….leg fuzz?
    Marvelling: at how lost I feel when I am alone, as rare as it is.?
    Cringing: at Brooke Shields’ double bedazzled denim but OMG look how close she is to George? and he is just so dishy and surprisingly hairy! Brooke is so lovely.?
    Needing: to get my uni blog back up and working so I can do the reflective learning task and finish the unit with a bang.?
    Questioning: the situation of my mates Jen & Caz who have fostered a little poppet from an unsafe and crappy situation and have now had their adoption court proceedings delayed twice. ?Smelling: lemon slice?
    Wearing: hot pink shorts and my favourite shirt with holes…it’s not favourite because of the holes…?
    Following: the development of hashtags that don’t change anything. The funny ones tend to stick, but the horrific ones…such as #syriaholocaust are a bit pointless making clicktivists of us all.?
    Noticing: the swirly whirly noises the dishwasher makes..it’s so quiet in here?
    Knowing: I’m going to let the dog sleep near the fire and not in the laundry….because it’s cold and he’s lovely?
    Thinking: about what the lads are up to at Jindabyne. They’ve caught two trout today. The teenager sent me photos.?
    Admiring: my clean kitchen.?
    Getting: cosy and snoozy?
    Bookmarking: laptop reviews. 12 year old needs a device for high school next year. There is a social start up who make a tablet with keyboard attached called the one infinity…maybe that one??
    Disliking: how computer reviewers dish the dirt on all the really affordable machines…not everyone can afford a Mac for crying out loud and even if I could I wouldn’t be sending it to school with this 12 year old! How about something realistic, like, “if you’ve got $300 to spend, then this one here is a good choice.”?
    Opening: a packet of milo oaty clusters….yum…wholegrain!?!?!?
    Giggling: because regardless of wholegrain certification, they’re really just chocolate flavoured toasted muesli. Delicious.?
    Feeling: like reading some fan fiction in bed.?
    Helping: our youngest boy to adjust to his medication and worrying about him because he cries for me when I’m not there.?
    Hearing: the distant rise of the clamour of the working week ahead. Ignoring…I think.?Celebrating: 96% in my literature review essay on designing spaces for learning?
    Pretending: I’m in Balmoral as a guest of the Queen and invited to sing songs and entertain at a dinner party….now it just looks plain silly written down?
    Embracing: the weirdo within.

  • Reply Carolyn October 3, 2016 at 7:17 PM

    I have done a list too! I really like doing them every month. Thanks for the idea, Pip! I had to laugh about leaving homework to the last day of the holidays. I hate it when that happens! But my girl is in year 12 so we have had our last school holidays so I won’t have to face that particular happening anymore!

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