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.
Well here we are, another month closer to the end of the year and another month watching on at the world-wide response to this pandemic.
Currently in Queensland we are lucky. We have had easing restrictions over the month of July that has allowed us to start to venture outside our homes and take a peek at the possibility of society starting to open up again.
However, in Victoria things have only gotten worse and as I write this my friends in Melbourne are in stage 4 lockdown, unable to leave their homes except for grocery shopping and 1 hour of exercise.
The situation in Melbourne has the whole country on edge as we see how quickly things can get completely out of control with this virus. Already a few people who have returned from Melbourne to Brisbane and lied about it have tested positive causing Brisbane to tighten restrictions again.
I don’t know what August looks like, but I don’t think it’s going to be the getting back to normal that we had anticipated mid-way through July.
It’s hard to look forward at the moment because there is still so much uncertainty, but luckily this post is about reflecting on the past month so let’s get to that!
June and July were big months for me work wise and the extra hours had me feeling completely drained. When talking about this to a colleague they mentioned the idea of a staycation and I jumped on it so quickly, booking into the W Hotel in the CBD for the night for a much needed escape.
We brought our own champagne and nibbles to the room so that we wouldn’t need to go out if we didn’t want to and sat in the room looking out over the river feeling worlds away from the stress of work.
In terms of what it was like staying in a hotel during a pandemic, well it was pretty much the same as normal. The staff wore masks and the facilities such as the rooftop bar and spa were not open and the restaurant only opened for breakfast not dinner. Other than that we felt totally relaxed and comfortable during our stay.
After scrolling through all the UberEats options we finally gave in and decided to try our luck with one of our favourite restaurants Fat Noodle which is located in the Casino. This would be our first dining in experience during COVID so we were unsure what to expect. Instead of the usual packed dining room, all the tables had been rearranged to space them out further and there was a reduced menu available. It was still delicious and worthwhile but the change in atmosphere was definitely noticeable.
Celebrating a birthday
On another occasion for a friend’s birthday we again ventured out to a restaurant. We had to register our names on arrival and instead of getting up from your table to go to the bar for drinks, or a waiter coming over, there were QR codes on the table that you scanned, ordered what you wanted and paid and everything was brought to you. It made this idea of contactless really simple.
I was also given the opportunity to try something new when it came to cake decorating. You might remember I was able to make a cake for the same friend last year which was my first two tier. It was interesting to look back at that as I feel like I’ve come a long way with my cake decorating in the last 12 months and I can’t wait to do more!
The cake (pictured above) was 6, 7 inch layers of alternating cookies and cream, chocolate and vanilla cakes, sandwiched together with oreo buttercream and then the outside frosted with vanilla. It was a big undertaking but I was really pleased with the results and am now officially in love with the chocolate drip which until this month I had been too scared to try!
Most Popular Blog Post
This month with work being so busy I didn’t feel I was able to find balance when it came to creating content here. And while I did manage to publish four posts, they did feel like a struggle to get out.
That being said, the post I was most proud of this month also ended up being the most popular (no surprises really) which was my vegan cookies and cream cake. It had been so long since I had made a full size cake and this one was so much fun. It is an adaption of my forever popular oreo cupcakes recipe and is one of my favourite cake flavours yet!
The BEST Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes – my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe, it just happens to be free from eggs and dairy!
17 Desserts to Make Before Winter is Over – a collection of recipes to remind you of the positives of winter through cozy desserts.
Easy Tomato Soup – a super simple pantry staple recipe to get you through those chilly winter evenings.
What I Read This Month
This month I got back to reading for pure enjoyment and back to loving the feel of a physical book in my hands. After years of reading mostly via Kindle, I recently discovered it was cheaper to buy actual copies of some of the books I wanted rather than the Kindle version so I promptly went to my local Big W and stocked up on winter reads.
I am loving spending at least 30 minutes each night in bed reading a couple of chapters. By doing this I feel myself back in the habit and wanting to read more which I’ve struggled with a little over the last year. It also helps that the three books I read this month left me unable to put them down.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes: A Hunger Games Novel by Suzanne Collins
I was really excited to dive back into the world of the Hunger Games, this time getting to know the history of President Snow.
This prequel to the original Hunger Games trilogy begins on the morning of the reaping of the Tenth Hunger Games. The story explores key moments in the history of the games, and how it evolved from its original state to the televised and high tech spectacle that it became.
It was really interesting to dive a little deeper into the history of Panem and how the original uprising shaped the districts and the Capital, everything leading to what would be undone many years in the future.
I also enjoyed getting to know a young Snow to see how his thinking was shaped through his life experiences and the questions of if he was always evil or if he grew to be that way. Under the surface of this book lies some very key questions about humanity that you can’t help ponder on.
If you’re a Hunger Games fan, then this book is exactly what you hope it to be.
Talking to My Country by Stan Grant (2016)
Many Australians remember in 2015 the country erupted as Adam Goodes was being booed at AFL games, not long after being named Australian of The Year. This sparked an ugly national debate on racism within Australia. Stan Grant responded with a powerful and personal look at the hardship of being indigenous.
This book is deeply personal, exploring the feelings Grant has had throughout his life growing up in poor, regional areas, and then finding education and a love for journalism, which has allowed him to break-free from the cards he was dealt as an indigenous man, those of generational poverty and lack of access to opportunity.
He still struggles with a sense of identity and a true feeling of equality in a country he loves so dearly. He speaks about the challenges and ingrained prejudices he has had to deal with in Australia in a way that is deeply engaging.
If you have been watching the Black Lives Matter protests in the US and believe that things are not the same here, then I challenge you to read this book because there were moments of his story that sounded exactly the same.
Grant is a storyteller and you can feel that come through in the way he communicates not only his own feelings but his observations of the country and of behaviour. I really enjoyed reading this book and through the simplistic language Grant uses to explore complex issues, I really felt challenged in the way I thought about modern Australia.
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (2018)
This book is on every best seller list and has a list of awards a mile long. Everytime I browse for something new to read, this book pops up, so I finally caved and picked up a copy to see what everyone was talking about.
The story begins in 1983 Brisbane, which to be honest was the only thing I actually knew about the book before picking it up. There are not many novels set in Brissy so it was nice to read something where I knew every landmark and setting. Dalton crafts the story as a love letter to the city, talking about its history and its unique pockets as the story journey’s through every suburb.
Eli and his mute brother live in the western suburbs with their mum and stepdad who is also a heroin dealer. Their babysitter is a convicted murderer who notoriously escaped from Boggo Road gaol. So it’s not your typical family set up, but you get the feeling that they make it work. That is until the biggest drug dealer in town shakes things up.
What happens next is this quest for answers that lead Eli to fall in love, break into Boggo Road gaol, befriend the sergeant-at-arms of a bike gang, and rekindle a relationship with his father that he can’t remember.
This book is very compelling and I just couldn’t put it down as I had to know what happened. I don’t know that I loved the content of the book as such, but the way it was written made it one of the most engaging books I’ve read all year.
What I Watched This Month
Hamilton (Disney Plus)
We originally signed up to Disney Plus when COVID first had us staying indoors, but once I heard Hamilton was going to be released, I told my husband that we needed to keep the subscription.
There is so much hype around this musical, so I eagerly sat down one Saturday night to pretend that we were going out for a night at the theatre as I finally got a chance to watch it. From the first song I was hooked.
I loved getting a taste of Broadway in my own home and it was a total highlight of my month!
Morning Wars (Apple TV+)
Earlier this year I bought a new iPhone and along with it got a free 12 month subscription to Apple TV+. With so many streaming platform options I just set this one aside and didn’t really think about it until someone at work suggested I watch this show.
With an insanely high production budget and a big name cast, I was interested if Apple could indeed buy its way to a quality show, and the answer was yes they can.
This show goes behind the scenes on an American morning show to highlight the toxic culture that was exposed during the me too movement. It’s an incredible dramatic performance by Jenifer Aniston and the whole thing really just played out like one really long movie with breaks. Highly recommend.
What I Listened To This Month
Well this month there was something unexpected dropping into my Spotify playlist. When Taylor Swift dropped her new album, I wasn’t ready for the collab with Bon Iver. But I must say, I am quite into it.
What’s Coming Up?
I no longer know what I should right here. We were originally planning to spend the upcoming long weekend camping just over the border in Northern NSW where we usually go, however the recent announcement that the QLD border will close once again has put a stop to those plans.
I think for now its about not making plans too far in advance and just trying to go with the flow. I do hope that I can organise a few close to home adventures as after 4 months at home I am eager to get back out into the world.
For now, I’ll probably be spending more time in the kitchen working on content so please let me know if you have any recipes you would love to see!
Until next time,