Welcome to Life at Number Eight! My monthly series that lets us recap the month and catch up with everything that has been going on.
It’s been a short and quick month, but it feels as though a lot has been going on. The new year is in full swing and things seem to be settling into a bit of a routine which has been very welcome.
From trying new things and getting out of the city, to 4 new book reviews, there are a few things I am really excited to talk about this month! Also, my phone camera broke and I didn’t do much photography this month, so forgive a few random old photos in this post.
This has been on my new year’s resolution list for the past three years. And I have wanted to do it for even longer than that. The simple reason I hadn’t followed through was because my fear was stronger than my desire to try. I was scared that because summer is my least favourite month, and that I tend not to cope very well in the heat, that doing a yoga class in a room that is heated to about 38 degrees was not going to end well.
But, with a little encouragement, I gave it a try. And I tell you, that first 10 minutes laying on the floor waiting for class to start I thought I may die. The heat was so intense I thought that there was no way I would make it through. I found as I moved through each posture, that it was mental challenge just to stay in the room. But I did.
Afterwards I didn’t feel great, feeling dizzy and nauseous. Apparently all totally normal for the first try. The second class was much better and I felt pretty good afterwards. I still find the amount you sweat in class quite confronting…
I have now completed my third week, going on both Tuesdays and Thursdays and I’m feeling really good about it. It’s getting easier to stay in the room and I’m find myself pushing even harder in each pose. There are so many benefits that I want to get out of it, both physically and mentally, but I think that I’m off to a good start.
Day Trip: Maleny and Montville
One of the things I mentioned last month was wanting to get outside into nature a bit more this month. Well the month started off so hot that being outdoors wasn’t really a good plan. Still, we decided one weekend to go for a drive into the mountains to get out of the house and find some pretty views.
We first drove to Maleny, which in itself is quite a nice drive through the glass house mountains. Once there we stopped by the book shop for a cup of really good coffee. We checked out a local craft market as well before getting back in the car to head towards Montville.
The drive between Maleny and Montville is beautiful with views reaching all the way out to the ocean. The other direction provided bright green rolling hills, a welcome change as with the lack of rain, green is hard to find.
On getting to Montville, we weren’t quite ready for lunch so we decided to detour to Lake Baroon, just for a look as neither of us had been there before.
Once back in Montville we stopped at Wild Rocket @ Misty’s Micro Brewery for a delicious (although small for the price) lunch and an ice cold local ale. It was incredibly hot and humid in Montville as we watched the dark clouds roll over us, threatening a storm that didn’t come.
While only a small slice of nature, it was still good to get out of the city and do something a bit different.
Something I have been thinking about lately is the direction and the content on Eight Forest Lane. Over the last 4 years, I have changed and morphed into the primarily food blogger I am today – which I love. But there is something that still feels not quite 100% when it comes to the content I am sharing.
My main reason for starting my blog was to write. I am a writer at heart and this is my outlet. While I absolutely love the shift I have made over the last year into sharing more and more recipes, writing about recipes doesn’t quite tick all of the boxes for me. There are other aspects of food blogging, such as the actual cooking and the photography that I am so passionate about and love, but the writing aspect can become quite structured.
It was actually one of the reasons I started this monthly series, to allow some freedom with my words.
As 2019 continues, I want to keep my focus on sharing recipes but I also don’t want to forget about the lifestyle content that got me started.
I haven’t really travelled over the last 12 months, instead I have worked on building up my savings, so naturally the new travel content has been on hold. But some of those pieces are the ones that I am most proud of, so I don’t want to forget about that side of the blog completely.
I guess what I am getting at here is, I hope you enjoy the recipes and the delicious food I share here, but that is only one aspect of my life, and yours too – so as I look to find a little variance in my content and what I share, I hope you will stick around and find some things to relate to.
And tell me, is there any topic you would like to see covered or see more of? Let me know!
Most Popular Blog Post
This month was dominated by savoury dishes with a multicultural twist. We travelled from the Philippines to Greece and then to Vietnam. It was really fun to celebrate the different styles of food on my blog that make up what I love to eat.
Therefore, it only naturally makes sense that the most popular new recipe this month was the only dessert. But of course, this is not your ordinary dessert. This is a no-bake, decadent chocolate tart with a rich creamy dark chocolate ganache and an oreo crust. Oh and it’s dairy free and vegan, so yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Charlie Chan Pasta – a flash back to my trip to the Philippines in December.
Greek-Style Lamb Pitas – tackling working with yeast to make homemade pita breads which are so much better than store bought.
Vietnamese Noodle Salad – recreating one of my favourite takeaway lunches at home.
What I Read This Month
This month in reading wasn’t quite as full as last (it also contained less days), but still I’m happy with my efforts. My overall goal for 2019 is to average a book a week and I am still on track for that with 4 books completed in February.
Golden Child by Claire Adam (2019)
This was my most anticipated read of 2019 (so far, I mean we are at month 2..). It is the second book published by Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, and with how much I loved the first from her publishing house A Place For Us, I was really looking forward to what she would release next.
I have to say I was intrigued by the premise of this book, particularly the setting in rural Trinidad, a place I knew absolutely nothing about. The book follows a family with twin boys, Paul and Peter who are thirteen years old. One evening, Paul goes for a walk into the bushland and doesn’t come home.
This story is mainly about Clyde, the father, as he struggles to provide for his family and make the decisions that best serve their future.
I have to say, that while the story is well written and flows from present to past and back to present again, I came away underwhelmed by the story itself.
It paints a brutal picture of the harsh landscape of Trinidad and the class divisions that exist. But it also becomes quite awful and at times unnecessary in the way that it showcases family relationships. I had so many uncomfortable thoughts following the book and without giving too much away it is difficult to express exactly what I didn’t like. All I can really say is that the book just didn’t really sit well with me.
My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen (2018) Audio
When this autobiography was released, I heard Lily Allen speak about it on the radio and I just knew I was going to read it. I’ve never been a huge fan of her music (I don’t mind it) but I think what she has been through and the type of person she is always was going to set this up to be an interesting tell all on the music industry.
No one has ever criticised Lily Allen for not speaking out or voicing her opinion, and that is exactly what you get with this memoir. What you also get though is some raw and vulnerable personal stories about her experiences. She talks openly about sexual abuse in the music industry and makes it clear that she thinks this is still something not talked about enough, and hopes the recent ‘outing’ of the film industry will trickle through.
She also speaks of her stalker and how this traumatic experience affected her mental health, as well as empowered her to work to help others who have gone through similar situations.
There are things in this book that are unbelievable. Lily Allen’s life has not been straightforward and there has been a lot of mistakes that she is honest about and owns up to. Much of her early years after finding fame and success she was battling some serious demons. I recall seeing her perform at the Gold Coast Big Day Out in 2010, seeming drunk and smoking on stage, walking around like she just didn’t care. This book gave me some context for that performance, and it made sense in her situation at the time.
I chose to listen to this as an audio book because I felt connected to Lily telling me her own story. I highly recommend listening to autobiographies when narrated by the author, they convey the emotion in just the right way and add an extra layer of context which I find really interesting.
On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (2019)
When I found out that Angie Thomas had released a new book, I literally stopped what I was doing and bought it, downloading it straight to my kindle app on my phone. After The Hate U Give which was my favourite book of 2017, I just couldn’t wait to get stuck into what Thomas had in store next.
So it was really no surprise that I read this book in 2 days, I loved it just as much as I had hoped. What I think made me super excited was that it is set in the same community of Garden Heights which we were introduced to in THUG, but set a few years later. But it is in no way a sequel. This story expands the community Thomas built but tells its own story which I think was really clever.
It gave me that familiarity and satisfied the need of wanting more, while at the same time telling a brand new story with different characters and families, separating it from the hype around THUG.
This story is centered around the music industry with Bri, a 16 year old with a dream to be a rapper, who is also the daughter of an infamous rapper who was killed in gang violence when she was just a child.
It’s a story about passion, about forging your own path, but also about family and race and feminism. It is complex and subtle as it calls out political statements while also weaving a beautiful story of friendship and love.
And with the rap battles and the epic moments of music, I just know this is a film waiting to happen.
Thomas has wholeheartedly done it again. If you’re looking for an easy read but one with a lot of depth, this book is for you.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom (2015)
I picked this book up at a charity store about a year or so ago as Mitch Albom is one of my favourite authors. I knew nothing about the story so somehow I just left it sitting on my bookshelf. I finally got around to reading it and Albom’s lyrical storytelling once again delivered.
This book is best described a the Forest Gump of the music world. As we follow the life of musician Frankie Presto from 1940s wore torn Spain, to America through the 50s and 60s and beyond, Frankie’s life becomes intertwined with many artists who defined the music of the eras. Frankie is there at Woodstock, he bares witness to the first recordings of many greatest hits, he performs with and even impersonates Elvis, and above all he helps guide people towards music.
The greatest gift Albom has with the way he writes is the emotion that he can convey while spinning a web of complex and tangled story lines that all come together to form an understanding. It truly is remarkable how the story unfolds, always coming back to where it started.
The other interesting thing about this book is while it is narrated by Music itself, there are short interludes of interviews with famous musicians told from their perspective. Make sure to read the acknowledgements at the end of the story as Albom explains these in more detail.
Overall it is a book that makes you feel something, and as a music lover it intrigued me and I become very involved in understanding the life of this incredible fictitious man. As if I could expect any less from Albom.
What I Watched This Month
So I FINALLY watched the movie that everyone has been talking about. And while I was hesitant at first due to all the built up expectations, it really was good.
Rami Malek embodied Freddie Mercury so perfectly and I was happy I watched this just in time for him to take home the Oscar for best actor. I found the way they did the film, focusing on the development of the band rather than just on the life of Mercury, really interesting and maybe not what I expected. But for me, I really liked the understanding of how supportive and collaborative the whole band was, particularly when it came to all the outrageous things Mercury would do.
Oh and the music. You forget just how many massive songs Queen have, and it’s cool to hear them in the different scenarios, from stadium performances to the process of writing them.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
So I was a bit bored one Saturday afternoon and as I was flicking through Netflix looking for something to cure that when I saw the Fyre documentary which I had been hearing about everywhere, and decided to give it a watch.
Well, it was ridiculous. And I don’t mean the documentary itself, I think that was done pretty well, I mean the whole Fyre Festival thing.
I didn’t really know much about it going in except what I had heard people say when talking about the documentary, but it is all pretty unbelievable. The premise for those of you who haven’t watched it is that a rich startup founder decided to throw the most luxurious music festival on a private island in the Bahamas, and while he had zero understanding of event planning and logistics, he was really really good at lying and selling an ‘experience’.
And I don’t mean just a little bit of lying, this is the most elaborate straight up fraud built upon a social media campaign that probably has ever existed. All I can say is I’m glad that dude is in jail.
If you want to see just how ridiculous people can be, give this a watch, it’s definitely entertaining.
I can’t decide if this show is ridiculous and annoying or straight up hilarious. I go back and forth between hating it and laughing hysterically. It’s really confusing.
It’s your basic American TV sitcom drama where people seem to spend an unhealthy amount of time at work together, and somehow they all are involved in every aspect of each others lives.
The story lines are mediocre but the one liners are gold. Worth the watch in small doses when you need a non-serious 20 minute TV filler.
What’s coming up?
Hello and welcome to Autumn! My favourite season. It also happens to be my birth month, so that might have something to do with it being my favourite…
I am looking forward to cooler nights, less time in the aircon and more time outside, and the possibility of wearing something with sleeves. Oh and cooler weather means red wine and tea in the evenings. I may just be a little excited.
I will be starting the month by heading down to the Gold Coast for a breakfast lunch for my mum, but I’m not sure what is in store yet for my own. There will probably be cake.
A Final Thought
This month has shown me that mental strength comes in many different forms and that sometimes you really just need time to recharge, you can’t always push through. Acknowledging that and allowing yourself to stop can take a lot of mental strength in a society that values constant movement.
So, I hope you enjoyed the break reading this post gave you and in case you need to hear it, it’s totally ok to not always be productive. If you need a break, take it. Self care isn’t all bubble baths and face masks. Resting and recharging is only going to help you once you are ready to start again.
Until next month,