July – All Wrapped Up

Mooloolaba Beach on a perfect winter’s morning

So, it’s the end of July, and it’s been a good one with possibly the best mix of work and play so far this year. In other words, for the first time this year I’m finishing a month without feeling overwhelmed. It’s also the first time this year that I feel as though I’ve made any sort of progress.

Okay, without further havering (I love that word) or waffle, let’s wrap this month up!

The weather

Mooloolaba Beach

Mostly blue – some cold starts and absolutely picture-perfect mid-winter days. Just gorgeous. The days have been early-mid 20s and the ocean temp is also around 21C.

Travel

None. That’s right, none. Normally this would have me feeling a tad on the restless side, but this month I’ve been grateful for it.

Having said that, as this post is published, I’m at Sunshine Coast airport waiting for a flight to Sydney from where we’ll pick up a car to drive to Canberra to see hubby’s mother and then onto Eucumbene for the weekend.

Excess Baggage update

I’m finishing the month 2kgs lighter than I started it. Plus, as at the time of writing, I’d smashed my step target to pieces. After a few months of inconsistency on the exercise front, I’d set myself the target of averaging 10,000 steps a day. As at the time of writing I was sitting at around 325,000.

I’m happy with that.

Absolute high point

The announcement that my novel, Happy Ever After, is a finalist in the Romantic Book of the Year Awards – the RUBY. For my little indie published novel to get to the final three is absolutely humbling. The winner is announced on the 10thof August in Melbourne. I’ll be there with my bestie and celebrating whatever the outcome.

Whale watching

Watching a mumma whale and her calf off the coast of Mooloolaba with Whale One. Watching these magnificent animals is an absolute privilege that never gets old. 

Writing

I’m on the home stretch of the rewrite for my 2019 novel, Escape To Curlew Cottage. It will be going back to my editor for a structural edit very very soon. 

Reading

Because I’m writing something that’s a cross between chick-lit and cozy crime at the moment, I’m reading completely out of genre and indulging in a little light romance. 

The best book I read this month, however, was Felicity Cloake’s One More Croissant For The Road.

I’m addicted to Felicity’s foodie columns in the (UK) Guardian newspaper – to the extent that I’ve used them as inspiration for my character Claire Mansfield in Escape To Curlew Cottage. She does this series called “How To Cook The Perfect…” This book, though, is the sort of book I’d love to write someday – a travel foodie memoir. It’s about how she rode a bike called Eddie through France pretty much following a foodie trail. It’s the travelling through France following a foodie trail part that I like – not the cycling bit and especially not the cycling long distances and up a lot of hills that are like mountains bit. Yeah. Nah to that.

Watching

  • The latest series of Shetland (Foxtel)
  • The latest series of Hinterland (Netflix)
  • Masterchef (I’m missing it already)
  • James Martin’s French Adventure (Foxtel)
  • I’m also enjoying Channel 10’s new My Life Is Murder.

Listening

To a lot!

Margie Nomura’s Desert Island Dishes remains a current favourite.

Also, this month I discovered Giles Coren Doesn’t Have a Clue– essentially a podcast about how he arrives at the subject of his column each week – and Jay Rayner’s Out To Lunch. His interviews with ex actors Richard E Grant and Stanley Tucci were really interesting.

I also listened to Nigella, Nigel Slater and Jeremy Clarkson on Desert Island Discs; Nigel Slater on How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, Rick Stein and Yottam Ottolenghi on Diana Henry’s At The Kitchen Table.

It wasn’t all foodie heroes though, I also enjoyed “Falling For A Fake,” journalist Stephanie Wood’s story about falling for a romantic fraudster on Conversations.

By far, though, the best podcast I listened to all month was George Megalogenis and Christos Tsiolkas in discussion at Sydney Writer’s Festival talking about The Football Solution – how the game of AFL can teach us a lot about Australian politics as it currently is.

Baking

The Annoyed Thyroid’s Mandarin Mini-Muffins. They still haven’t made it to the freezer.

I’ve also been making these amazing brownies for Sarah to take into her work. They feature in my new novel. The recipe is here.

101 things in 1001 days – an update

I’ve ticked off another 3 items:

  • Make puff pastry from scratch
  • Make a tarte tatin
  • Make soft white dinner rolls
  • Make flatbread

Although time consuming, there was something quite rewarding about making the puff pastry from scratch. It was even more rewarding seeing those layers in the finished product.

As for the tarte tatin, I’ve now made it a couple of times. Sarah has declared it her new favourite pudding. I’ll pop up the recipe in the next couple of weeks.

The dinner rolls too worked well and were beautifully soft.

I made them, and a French-style terrine to take on a picnic.

Picnics

July was perfect for weekend picnics – blue skies and mild temperatures.

One Sunday we went to the Bushland Botanical Gardens near our house.

And another day we took some sausages and bread rolls to the park on the top of Buderim Hill. Not a bad view, is it?

Okay, that was my month…how was yours?

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

16 thoughts

  1. Hi Jo what a lovely month you have had and so proud of you – 2kg is fanatastic! Your photos are always stunning but I love the one with the ocean spray over the rocks. As for the flat bread and bread rolls you have inspired me to start trying to make things I’ve not made before. You really should consider baking as another career – writing and baking that would sound like bliss, wouldn’t it? Have a great August and thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. xx

  2. Hi Jo – Your July looks perfect from beginning to end. Congrats on smashing your step target, 2kgs lighter is a big achievement, plus achieving so much with your writing! August 10 in Melbourne is going to be memorable for you. #MLSTL

    1. It’s everything I do outside my day job that keeps me same so I have to find time to do that stuff – even though sometimes it really is a balancing act.

  3. What a wonderful month. I’m glad you had some down time and could recharge your batteries before jetting off again. We’ve had some beautiful cold, blue skied days in WA too – probably too many for the rain needers, but lovely for the rest of us. All those food photos made me salivate – and probably added 10,000 cyber calories – I’m off to check out your brownie recipe, but will never get around to making it!
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

  4. Jo, What a great month! And how you fit it all in amazes me. I’ve added the croissant book to my “to read” pile… as a foodie, I’m sure I’ll enjoy. I have friends who are avid cyclists, so I’ll understand those parts too – Not want to personally do them, but understand it. I’m not a baker and hubby is a diabetic, so I’ll just look at and drool over your brownies, rolls, and puddings. Looking forward to hearing about the 10th… and yes, it is wonderful you’re nominated!

    1. I love baking, but don’t eat them – I don’t eat sugar unless it’s wine. None of us can afford to put anymore weight on so these days the bare minimum stays in the house and the rest goes to work with my daughter.

  5. Firstly Jo your photographs are beautiful, and absolutely well done on being a competition finalist. I love your round up of podcasts, I listen to Elizabeth Day but there are some there I haven’t heard of so i’m going to find them. You mentioned the book you’re currently writing, I love your description of ‘chick lit with cosy crime’ that’s my kind of book. Have you read Catherine Bybee’s books she writes romance with crime. Meanwhile I’ll have a look for Happy Ever After on my kindle.
    Lorraine
    #MLSTL

    1. I forgot to say, I listen to a lot of the UK foodie podcasts – they’re the chefs & the personalities I enjoy. I haven’t read Catherine Bybee, but am heading to Amazon now.

  6. I’m so in awe of all you managed to do in the month Jo!! It sounds like a great mix and the best thing is you didn’t end it by feeling overwhelmed! That’s a win for sure 🙂 I’m enjoying the My Life is Murder too. have fun on your road trip! #mlstl

  7. Hi Jo, July sounds like a very successful month for you. You have done a lot. I love getting a peak into the writing process and tidbits about how you learn about and try making new food. The mash-up for cozy crime and chic lit sounds very promising. Based on the title alone I would read it!

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