Fabulous Fridays: 29 July 2011

We're back from our Melbourne mini-break where we sat in a footy TV show audience, saw my team's record loss live and visited cute comic book stores. It was great to catch up with interstate friends and spend some quality time with family. Now for some quality time with the Internetz...

  • Days before landing in Melbourne, I was crushing on this online magazine megastore, then found the real-life shop around the corner from our hotel. Meant to be! Digging their Scrabble and Pantone mugs too.
  • Anything inspired by icecream is A-OK with me.
  • Somehow, this is like porn to me. Sweet, sweet airplane food porn. The muesli bar we received on our Melbourne flight was a bit sub-par. Three stars.
  • Majorly crushing on Lorna Jane clothing lately, particularly the dancewear line.
  • Wow... WOW. If I saw a man wearing pants like these I'd bitch-slap him. Then mug him.
  • A super article on writing your own magazine quiz. 'Cos we all know they're bullsh*t, but still enjoy finding out if we're a Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte or Samantha.
  • I bought this iPhone app and intensified my Etsy fanaticism. Whoops.
  • I hate spiders, except chocolate ones.
  • 10 tips to becoming a rollergirl. If only I wasn't such a raging wuss. PS Mooky Chick rocks!
  • We learned this dance style at this week's burlesque class. Glad I wore a good bra.
  • I've been looking for a fun seat to install in the garden shadehouse Mr Big made me. Giant teacup? Winner! If it's good enough for Jamie Oliver...

And that's this week in a nutshell. Or a teacup.

"Summer and the City"

I wasn't so impressed with Candace Bushnell's first prequel book to the Sex and the City series, The Carrie Diaries (see my review here -- I've since revised the rating from 8/10 to 7/10). So does the continuation of Carrie's story about her first arriving in New York City fare any better? Let's see...

I'm going to try to review Summer and the City with as few spoilers as possible. Suffice it to say that throughout the book Carrie begins hanging out with a couple of her best friends from the TV series and meets one of the men featured in the very first episode (now your brain is ticking over wondering who it is!).

Reading this novel very much helped to reconcile the previous book with the TV series version of Carrie. She makes a brief trip back to Castlebury and a few of the hometown characters from The Carrie Diaries stumble onto the pages of Summer and the City, but mostly to explain why they're never mentioned in the TV series. They're brought up to be dismissed.

Carrie deals with the issues of reinventing herself in New York City. The other characters, with their varying personalities, represent the different choices of who Carrie could become. Should she assume a fake identity, like one of her friends who's lying to her fiance? Will she crumble under the pressure of New York and have to crawl back home in disgrace? Has she changed in the big (Big, ho ho!) city? Is she a snob for no longer respecting her previous small-town existence?

These questions were answered in a believable and well-written way. I also enjoyed the struggles and self-doubt in Carrie's quest to become a writer -- I could relate to this all too well! Although quite painful in spots, Carrie doesn't give up on writing and of course, we know that's the right decision from what her future holds.

I felt much more compelled to keep reading in this second instalment of the prequels. Overall, I'd suggest reading The Carrie Diaries only so you fully understand Summer and the City. It's the questionable main course you must suffer through to earn your dessert. And what a dessert it is.

Rating: 8/10.

Have you read Summer and the City yet? Do you agree?

Magazine Guide #21: QANTAS - The Australian Way

Publication: QANTAS - The Australian Way
How Often Does It Come Out: Monthly
Distribution: Australian in-flight magazine in QANTAS planes travelling regionally, interstate and internationally.

Contributors vs Staff Writers: Good news! It's predominantly freelance contributors writing the articles.

Target Audience:
Age: Professionals aged 29-45.
Gender: Male and female.
Interests: News, travel, culture, food, wine, people, arts and business.

Topics and Themes:
The magazines' content is divided into the following departments: Upfront, Travel News, Recharge, Talkabout (eg Louis Vuitton luggage, rugby, motoring, technology and books), Food & Wine, Diary (art, music and festivals) and Games (crossword, sudoku, quiz etc). Articles include short Q&A-style interviews with Masterchef judge, Matt Preston, and a prima ballerina, pieces on the Blue Mountains and France's cycling tours in time for the Tour de France and an examination of New York stationers.

Length of Features:
Around 750-2,000 words. Shorter snippets and Q&A interviews are as little as 300 words.

Tone and Style of Writing:
The audience here is mostly business travellers and the well-to-do (advertisements are for diamond rings, Volvos, wines, cameras, credit cards, banks, mobile phones, RM Williams clothing, etc). Titles are short and matter-of-fact (eg "Strait From The Heart" and "On the Road"). The language used is intelligent, but still accessible, and the writer is kept firmly in the background (no "I" or "we" is used). Some articles have lists, sub-headings and break-out boxes, the latter mostly for hotel and siteseeing information for destinations and case studies of brands in business articles. Most features have standfirsts of around 50 words.

About How Many Features:
Ten articles and five snippets.

Fabulous Fridays: 22 July 2011

I'm off to the gloriously fashionable city of Melbourne for a well-earned (not really, but let's pretend) break with Mr Big, so you're getting Fabulous Fridays a tad early this week. You lucky things...

Merry Melbourneness from me to you!

"L. A. Candy"

Star of The Hills reality TV show and all-round fashion icon, Lauren Conrad, has now released four books and I've been hankering for the chance to taste a little L. A. Candy in the form of her first novel...

I'm a Lauren Conrad admirer, I'll admit it. As shallow as The Hills was as a show, I was smitten with it and Lauren was my favourite. She always seemed so likeable, the perfect friend. So tick, I'm intrigued to read her books.

The problem is, are they really her books? Although I believe she's more than a pretty blonde and capable of writing a novel, with these celebrity books, they frequently have ghost writers churn them out and then the big name takes the credit. There's a good chance that happened here.

This makes me uncomfortable, as a writer, and as a reader. I want to interpret the novel from Lauren's perspective, but I can't know for certain whether she really created these characters, the plot, the scenes. Frustrating!

These elements follow The Hills pretty closely in the book. The main character is clearly a cardboard cut-out of Lauren, although her best friend is definitely different from Heidi Montag. Similarly, there's a Whitney clone who pops up halfway through, which is about when the action starts to pick up.

Sadly, this novel is drab at first. I was able to read part-way through, then put it down and neglect it for days. If it had been brilliant, I would have pulled an all-nighter because I felt compelled to find out what happens. To be fair, it improves later on and there's a nice little cliff-hanger at the end. Read on the beach, a plane or anywhere you need a light distraction. It's not a challenging read and is mildly entertaining.

Borrow from the library, don't buy it.

Rating: 6/10.

Did you find L. A. Candy sweeter than I did?

Fabulous Fridays: 15 July 2011

So, I'm packing it in anticipation of my dance competition performance tonight. Meanwhile, here's a pack of wicked links to get your toes and fingertips tappin'...

I want a jingle now. Anyone wanna write one? How about "Take me down to Becks and the City, where the blog is pink and the posts are pretty"?

"Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights"

When I discovered Sophie Dahl, plus-size model and granddaughter of classic children's author, Roald Dahl, had released a cookbook, it was a must-read...

I readily admit, I'm a lazy, neglectful cook. I've famously declared I don't cook anything with more than four ingredients (if only I'd turned my philosophy into a cookbook before others jumped on the bandwagon!), have ruined a packet cake and still can't poach an egg unless you prefer them rock-hard.

I have, however, improved at this cooking lark enough to covet pretty cookbooks like Miss Dahl's. Being Scrooge McCook, I borrowed it from the library, but having sampled some recipes, I've decided shelling out actual $ for it is a sound investment.

My girl crush on Miss Dahl has intensified. Not only did she pioneer a resurgence in plus-size modelling, proving non-stick figures can be confident and beautiful, she's a cracking cook. And, unlike Gwyneth Paltrow, I can believe Miss Dahl adores eating food and knows her way around a kitchen without all the hired chefs and macrobiotic bullsh*t.

Miss Dahl's cookbook is divided into seasons, making it easy to jump to winter warmers, summery salads or other weather-appropriate picks. One of my biggest gripes about overseas-created cookbooks is the confusing international names for ingredients (courgettes/zucchinis and eggplants/aubergines, for example), as well as impossible-to-source ingredients not grown locally and different units of measurement. These potential problems are side-stepped with ease in Voluptuous Delights and the recipes are simple, yet elegant and impressive. Sophie provides cute snippets of information from her childhood and cooking exploits to add just enough colour.

So what did I cook? I gave the caramelised red onion omelette and breakfast burritos a go and they turned out beautifully, took ten minutes each, produced few dishes (oh, I sound like a boring housewife!) and pleased Mr Big no end. I'd definitely whip them up again. Winner!

Rating: 9/10.

What's your favourite cookbook? Have you tried any of the celebrity offerings?

Alannah Hill Challenge: Update #7

Yes, I'm still on my quest to accumulate a decent writing portfolio. When I'm satisfied with it, I've promised myself a lovely Alannah Hill shopping trip for a frilly cardigan. (See previous updates on this challenge.)

Well, we're at the halfway point of my 12 months of freelancing. I can return to my government job at the end of this year if writing doesn't work out and it's great to have this safety net. I'm thinking I may be mooning my old boss on my way out the door permanently in December, but I still have to prove to myself that writing can earn me full-time money. At the moment, I'm using office temping as a financial crutch, which is working out well, but eventually the plan is to be earning 100% of my income from writing. It ain't as easy as it sounds. : )

I've been doing the office temping for two months now, and I gotta say, it's surprisingly fun. I think of myself as a guerrilla office girl, a kind of mercenary secretary-for-hire, waging war on the crappy 9-5 drudgery. If my short-term gigs are pleasurable, then great, if not, then what-the-hey, I'll only be there for a few days before I move on. It's the perfect set-up for career commitment-phobes like me.

As far as the writing portfolio goes, I can almost feel that new, deliciously overdone AH cardigan wrapped around me! It now displays five magazines (admittedly there's two issues of eBay Life, but hey, that still counts!). A couple more will do it -- preferably with at least one more newly-cracked publication. Happily, I've got another article in the works for Women's Health & Fitness coming to contribute to the cause.

Oh, and did you happen to catch that not only did I write for The Essential Guide to Twitter, I scored the role of assistant editor? Hells yeah, I was rather chuffed with that effort. The actual act of editing other writers' work? Not so much (there were grammar mistakes, repetition, scary turns-of-phrase -- the works!). It's certainly a boost to my writing cred though. Bonza!

Hopefully the next Alannah Hill Challenge post will be my last and I'll need your help to pick my brand-new, brand-name cardie once I've reached my portfolio goal. Good times!

Fabulous Fridays: 8 July 2011

It's been a twisted week of tantrums, temping, and tweeting. Now for the good stuff...

Latest loves...

Reading: Dita Von Teese's Burlesque/Fetish and the Art of the Teese.
Listening: Jason Derulo's "In My Head" -- now stuck "In My Head" thanks to repeated playbacks practising my pole dancing competition routine!
Tasting: Breakfast burritos and an omelette from Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights, mandarins, Nutella and brulee coffee to buzz me through the day.
Loving: Being requested back by the lovely law firm where I temped recently, the Lush bath bombs Adam bought us as a treat, finally watching Hackers, Monday's burlesque class learning to seduce with long gloves, the free monkey soft toy I was given by my supermarket!
Awaiting: The girls' night out to see Bridesmaids, our Melbourne trip (two weeks to go!!!), our first anniversary trip to Sydney (six weeks to go!!!), the pole dancing comp (one week to go!!!).

Have a twinkling, twirly weekend. xx

Fabulous Fridays: 1 July 2011

Walking on sunshine? No? You will be after these great links...

  • Appropriately, we're starting with Sunny Mummy, which featured in this month's Madison magazine (I've really got a crush on that mag, huh?). Can't decide if her site is cool or creepy. You be the judge.
  • I have a major hard-on for mazes and labyrinths, ever since they made an appearance in my hand-made books as a kid. If you're like me, check out these beauties.
  • Haha, glad to hear it's not just me who plays supermarket Tetris! I must be obsessive-compulsive. : )
  • The cutest templates and most helpful tutorials for Blogger I've ever found: Adori Graphics. Don't miss the freebies!
  • I discovered the delightfully bright and British Happy Loves Rosie blog from reading Blogging for Bliss. Instant fave.
  • Coco de Mer is an eco-friendly erotic luxury boutique run by the daughter of The Body Shop founder, Anita Roddick. Take a squiz at the c*nt colouring book. Sexcellent.
  • I searched for "cats that look like owners" and most results were Hitler lookalike kitties. Hmmm. I did find this pair of human-kitty twins though.
  • Porn for flower lovers. I could click through page after page for hours.
  • A spot of Poison to start your weekend right...
  • A SHOUT OUT to two of my most loyal supporters, High Heeled Life and Christina Rozeas. Check out the Facebook page for Christina's gorgeous doggy book, "Where Did All the Cookies Go?" and High Heeled's most fabulous blog. Thanks ladies. xx

Oh, and I need your help! On my Facebook page, I'm asking my fabulous friends to tell me what you'd like to learn about blogging. Click here to vote!


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