Blogging: Why it took me so long to start!

(I’ve always loved this photo. It’s of these meringues my family ate years ago in Paris, and I’ve always just loved their bright colours. I wish we had meringues like this in Sydney or there was a recipe for them!)

As many of you already know, I’m fairly new to blogging.

I’ve never kept a consistent diary or journal and have often struggled to even keep daily log books for my assignments (oops). For years, friends and family have encouraged me to write more regularly, take up writing competitions or even consider written-based professions. So why didn’t I?

Well the problem isn’t that I didn’t have anything to say, it was just that didn’t know how ‘best’ to say it. I thought than rather enter a writing comp today, it was better to wait until I had a perfect idea, and then once it’s fantastic I’ll write it. The problem: I had many great ideas but I was too fixated on how to start them. I have spent, and will continue to spend countless hours fiddling and rewriting the first sentence of an essay opening before I feel like I can write anything else, and if I can’t find that perfect one sentence opening, become very disheartened and sometimes give up.

It’s so silly how whether or not my first sentence is amazing can determine if I continue writing that essay or story, when in fact, it’s the other 2490 words which are probably the most important. Yeah, a great opening is important, but not to the detriment of what you’re actually writing about. This is why it took me so long to start a blog. I felt like I needed to have a perfect plan, and some grand idea about where it was going to go. I needed to have a topic and a particular ‘image’ which I could never ever stray from. If I was going to write about design then I can’t write about beauty, if I’m going to write about my life, then I can’t write about tech and so on, and I actually wholeheartedly believed this, worried that if I ever strayed from my blogging ‘box’ that something bad would happen, which is surreal, it’s my blog and my thoughts after all.

It wasn’t until I was sitting down and explaining to my friend over coffee that I didn’t know what was the ‘best’ thing I should write about. I have so many interests and so choosing one category that I was constrained to for the rest of my blogging life seemed unrealistic and daunting. Her response: “Just start. Your writing and blog will change over time and that’s expected because you’re changing over time, so don’t worry about it, just start already“, and so I did. I decided that I wanted to make some changes to my life, the number one being: adopting a more minimalistic lifestyle and the second being: to write more and actually pursue my passion for writing. I have no idea where that will take me, and all I can do is share my experiences of where I end up.

When asked by friends, what specifically I write about, I say, “this, that and everything“, because it’s true. Some days my focus is on de-cluttering my room, (which I do have a few more interesting posts coming soon on), and on other days I’m exploring art, design, time management, university, cooking, my relationships or even the beauty products I use. These things all play a role in my life and are things that are all slowly changing as I progressively move to a more minimalistic lifestyle. I would like to save more, help the environment more, try more things, learn more and ultimately, get more enjoyment out of my life. For me, minimalism is all about having more, by having less.

For example, I have recently done a massive cull of my clothes and I am already starting to get more enjoyment out of the ones I have left. I spend less time worrying about what I’m going to wear and can use that extra 10 or so minutes on reading a bit more of my uni work. The time I save worrying about my skin significantly reduced the time wasted in the bathroom, worrying. I’m not saying this approach works for everyone, but for someone like me who tends to worry a lot, doing these little things helps me get more out of my day, because worrying makes it harder to start and easier to procrastinate.

So, rather than agonising over what box my blog fits into or if my opening sentence of my essay is perfect, I’m just going to write, and I’ll worry about the ‘category’ later.

Also, for those of you who have been following my de-cluttering journey, I’ll be putting up a post this week all about my clothing cull. Oh my goodness, did it take a loooong time!

Alana 🙂


Mimspo Monday: The Art of Patience

“First you have to learn to do something, then you can go out and do it.”

– Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

If someone asked me to describe my traits, self-patience would not be one of the first things that come to mind. I like to be able to do things, and to be able to do them now.

Throughout school, I had so many hobbies and took up multiple co-curricular activities, all of which at the time I was determined to be amazing at. I would hours the first few weeks practising this new hobby to the extent that I wouldn’t much of any else, until one day, I get frustrated that I still wasn’t very good and then I’d stop. A great example of this is my relationship with musical instruments.

I spent around 5 years learning the piano. I had lessons once a week and used to practice every morning, until one day at my new school we we’re all choosing instruments for the band and the piano was already taken. So I had to choose another instrument; I had a choice of the clarinet, trumpet or the French horn, all of which I had no experience with. I tried each one out and eventually settled on the French horn. At first I loved it, I was the only French horn player in the band and I thought give it a few weeks and I’d sound great. A few weeks went by and I still sounded awful, a year went by and I still sounded awful. So I decided that perhaps the French horn wasn’t for me, and a year later in music class decided to try something different, and so I picked up the flute. Again, I played for about a year and still sounded terrible, so I joined the choir, and again, after a few years, I was still as un-musical as I was when I started.

So, I eventually wrote music off all together, no matter what I did, I wasn’t good at it. The thing was, it’s not what I did, it’s what I didn’t do. I never practiced. I thought my one or two music lessons a week was enough ,and that I should just be able to go out and do it without really putting in the hard yards. When I look back at the things, I thought I wasn’t good at, it’s not because I was bad at them, it was because I didn’t take the time to properly learn them. I struggled all the time with Maths at school, but always felt that English came to me naturally, when in fact, there was a time when I was in a lower graded class for English than for Maths, the difference was: I spent hours reading and inadvertently ‘studying’ English, determined to do well in that subject and so it wasn’t surprising that as the years went by I excelled in writing-based subjects compared to numerical ones. I highly doubt, that I just woke up one day and was able to form cohesive, well-written and persuasive arguments for my essays even though till this day, it still feels like I did.

I think the major difference between the subjects and activities I stuck to and did well at was the fact that I had the patience to learn and to fail. I failed French for years consistently, to the point that all my teachers recommend that I discontinue the subject. Me, being, me and 16 and ‘rebellious’ decided I would take in for my HSC anyway, and I did and I well. I made it into the top stream at university. How? I busted a gut. But then I got to uni and thought, ‘I’ll be fine, I’ll pick it up. No worries!’ And what did I discover? French at university is really hard, and that if I want to keep doing well at French, I have to keep practicing. I can’t just work hard for a year and then know it all for life, if I want to go out and work in France, I’ve got to continually practice it whether it’s through university or not.

So, I was sitting around last week, kinda feeling a frustrated with myself, and it kind of went along like this: “How come, virtually all my assignments take so much work just to do decently at, but I could write an essay last-minute, off the top of my head, for a book I kind of skimmed and a subject I don’t study for, and bam, here’s 85%?”

The answer: I read and write all the time and I don’t think of it as study. If actually counted the amount of time I spent doing English related activities, it’d be more than the amount of time I put into everything else, so of course it’s ‘easy’ for me. If I put that time into my maths, my french, my skateboard, I would be equally as good at those things. So why do I struggle to put time into them, is it because I don’t like them? No. It’s because it requires a lot of patience to work at things you’re not familiar with and it’s hard to be patient with yourself when it feels like ‘you just don’t get it’.

So what’s all this got to do with the architect? Well, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is a famous German-American minimalist architect who much of Chicago’s great skyline is attributed to. He’s renowned world-wide for his skill as a designer, architect, philosopher and educator, yet did not receive any formal training but was able to achieve so much. I’ve been reading and researching his biography and he’s the type of person who did the hard yards, and someone, I hope to emulate ideologically. He’s also the man the popularised the phrase and idea ‘less is more’, which is one of the main tenants of the minimalism community and hence why I started looking into him.

So, as I work through my first ever unit of design at university, I’m going to embrace his principles on learning. I’m not going to master adobe creative collections in one day, let alone the duration of this subject, but hopefully, in a few months time, I will have the understanding and knowledge to start creating interesting graphics and apply it my other subjects and interests. Who knows, if I become good enough, I might even be able to make some swift pictures for my blog, eventually of course, I’m still trying to get my head around Photoshop haha!

Alana 🙂

If you’d like to read more about Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, click here, here and here. If you’d like to see photos of his buildings, click here and here.

Feature image sourceMuseum for a Small City Project, Interior perspective. 1941-1943. MoMA Mies van der Rohe Archive. © 2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
(Day 8- for those of you keeping count.)

Days 6&7: My Weekend + Paramount Cafe

(A charcoal bun burger. Great burger, but the charcoal in my food is slightly ominous) 

Hooray! Finally, it has stopped raining in Sydney!

These last few weeks we’ve had some horrendous storms, to the point that it has been virtually impossible to go outside. So, it’s about time that we had a weekend with some decent weather. I was starting to feel like Sydney was going to permanently look like this:

Don’t worry, this picture is 100% fake…for now

Fortunately, this weekend we’ve lucked out with some great weather; sun both Saturday and Sunday, as well as being warm enough that I could get away without 10 layers of clothing…Okay, so Sydney actually doesn’t get that cold, but for someone who’s a bit of a chicken about the cold, it feels that way.

So, taking advantage of this lovely weather, I decided to not only continue de-cluttering my room but also catch up with a few friends. On Saturday we ended up going to this great cafe in Surry Hills called Paramount Coffee Project which is where Paramount Cinema’s head office used to be. It’s a really funky looking building. Although Paramount Pictures is gone, it’s been replaced with a vintage-style cinema and bar, called Golden Age, as well as this groovy cafe. I’m hoping that if I have time in the next few weeks, I can catch a film there since they show a lot of old cult films and the vintage aesthetic of the cinema looks like it would be a fun experience. If you’d like to see some photos and read more about the history and design of Paramount House, you can check them out here. It’s a really interesting read.

Back to the cafe. Again, like the rest of the building, it’s groovy as. It has typical modern white and light wood minimalist decor and a really refreshing feel. It pretty much looks exactly like I’d like my room to look like if I lived in a room big enough to be a café haha. Lots of space and light – two things I don’t have enough of in my room, but I’m looking to move some of my furniture around this break to make it a bit more spacious and functional; putting my desk in the spot with the least amount of light and then bed in the spot with the most light was not the smartest idea, I’ve realised.

Food wise, I wasn’t that fussed. I was more interested in catching up with people I haven’t seen for yonks than with  what I was eating. The coffee was great, and I was tired from a late Friday night that any coffee I had that day was amazing, but I wasn’t that stoked with the food. It seemed overly healthy. There were things in it that made me feel as if I was eating my five a day in the form of a breakfast muesli bar. I consider myself to be a fairly healthy person (unless there’s Tim Tams in the fridge) and I love a good porridge, but I prefer my porridge to be creamy with lots of banana, honey, nuts, sugar and all that fun stuff. This was nice, but it didn’t give me the warm cuddly feeling I want my food in winter to give me.  If you’re interested in checking the place out, this blog does a great write-up here.

I feel I’m just not catching onto this brown rice & rhubarb compote porridge trend that’s appearing in Sydney. This is the third time this season I’ve ordered porridge and been presented with rice instead of oatmeal. Any day now I’m expecting to order a fried rice that comes with oatmeal.  Hey, with all the weird food trends I see on Instagram these days, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Speaking of Instagram and the weekend, I often wonder, with all the food photos I see when I look through my feed, if people actually eat the food, or just take photos of it. I know how long it takes to get a decent shot of your food. By the time you’ve done that it’s cold and ugh. It often feels like the flavour and taste of many of the things we eat is being sacrificed for ‘looks’. Brown rice oatmeal with all these condiments looks great compared to traditional oats but it certainly doesn’t taste any better, and, for me, so-so food is not worth an instagramable pic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally a victim of instagraming my food too, (who doesn’t love pictures of food) but are we getting to the point that we’re making food for the purpose of being instagramable?

I’ve had many stunning-looking gourmet sandwiches and burgers in my life  that haven’t tasted that great. One of my favourite things that my dad makes is simple old spagbol. It isn’t one of the most attractive looking things but boy it tastes great. I feel instagrammability vs taste is even more of an issue when it comes to dessert. Massive, extravagant desserts generally don’t taste that good.

How have I come to this realisation you may ask? Well, I have a lot of friends who have turned 21 this year, so I’ve gone to a lot of 21sts. This means I have seen many extra-large, extravagant cakes which are stunning to look at. All the cake-cutting photos and whatnot are gorgeous and highly instagramable. But, most people leave their piece pretty much untouched, and that’s because a majority of the time these fancy cakes don’t taste great. Now, I love dessert and will always choose the sweet over the savoury, but I’d rather have an average, normal looking cake or pudding that tastes bomb than some sort of eatable thing that resembles a hat from the races or something like this:

Betty Crocker, why?????

This bread is from an exhibition at the New South Wales Art I went to last year. It’s bright, colourful and incredibhotographic – I didn’t have to edit the photos for this – the colours are so bright, which is exactly like the rainbow cake trend. The only difference is this bread is 44 years old. Yum. Now, I’m all for art, art is great, but if my 21st birthday cake looks this good after 44 years, I’m going to be concerned about what’s in that cake.

My point is that this trend of ‘photographic’ food often leads us to us buy food which doesn’t taste good and is more expensive than the less instragramable versions. There’s nothing wrong with basic poached eggs on toast, porridge with oats and cakes that don’t have 7 different coloured layers.

So, whilst brown rice porridge is an interesting experience, I think I’m going to settle this winter for having my non-fancy, non-adulterated oatmeal like this:

As I was taking this photo, she kept trying to drink my coffee, sniff it, then look at me disparagingly for not having something more appealing in there for her.


How has everyone else’s weekend been?

Alana 🙂