homemade iced tea

A few weeks ago Peter and I went out for breakfast to the crochet-covered, delicious-food-serving  Wild Poppy in Fremantle. We were a little disappointed when our iced tea came in glass bottles – rather than being homemade – but that only lasted until we tasted it.

I ordered a Peppermint, Lemon, Lime iced tea and it was the most refreshing drink I’d ever had. I can’t remember the brand name and it’s driving me nuts but when I got home I decided to make something similar.

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Several hours of trawling the internet later (okay, maybe it was more like 15 minutes) I mashed together a whole load of recipes to get this:

1 litre boiling water

1/3 cup of caster sugar

3 black teabags

1/2 a lemon

1/2 a lime

a sprig of mint (from my very own garden!)

Just add all the ingredients and stir until the caster sugar is dissolved. Take out the teabags after 3 minutes and the mint after about 15. Chuck it in the fridge til it’s cold and HOORAY ICED TEA.

It’s not quite as good as the mysterious iced tea from the Wild Poppy but it’s better than most shop iced teas and it’s a lot cheaper.

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rewrites

I finally bit the bullet and decided to go print out my novel at Officeworks. All my editing, up til now, has been on a computer screen. But I only have a few more publishing companies to send it to and I really want it to be the best story it can be, you know. And I heard that printing it out really helps.

Well I don’t know if it’s the time away from the story or the fact that it’s now on paper but I just spent an hour or so slaving over the first two chapters. Rewriting every sentence. It will be better at the end of this process than it was at the start. But will it be good? That’s the question.

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I’ve always had lofty ambitions. But they’re never out of reach.

what’s up with the phd?

I don’t post about my work much for a whole lot of reasons (the main one being that I’d rather talk about the actual content but you really need an undergraduate degree in maths for that to be interesting reading) but today I thought I’d break that streak a little bit. I’m nearly half way through, so why not?

  • That’s the main scary thing: being nearly half way through. I feel like I haven’t learnt a lot, and haven’t done very much, but when I look back at who I was and what I knew at the start, I know my feelings lie to me.
  • Knowing that my feelings lie to me has probably been essential in not quitting. Moving interstate helped too. Something’s got to be pretty horrible for you to quit after dragging your husband halfway across the country.
  • I’m having a good week. That needs to be said when it happens because so often I forget that any good weeks happen.
  • I am still struggling to work out what the point of my phd is, where the research is going, but I have more of an idea now and I’m less worried about the fact that I don’t know the things I don’t know.
  • I’m looking forward to this year of research. After that I guess it will mostly be panic and writing but this year is looking interesting.

Yeah that’s all for now. I just like to remind the blog part of myself that she is doing this whole phd thing.

Grateful for.

It has been a tough year for me but here are some things that have been pretty great.

1. I found two sort of new hobbies: writing and photography, and they have given me things to think about and care about outside of work that distract me from missing my family and stop me from watching tv all evening.

2. Europe. Guys, I got to go to Italy and Austria and Germany because of my maths. I made new friends, ate delicious food, saw beautiful things and generally enjoyed the good things in life.

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3. Public speaking. It might seem like a strange thing to be grateful for but I enjoy the challenge/adrenalin of performance and I guess presenting maths is the direction that’s going to take in me for a while.

4. My husband. I find it hard to write about him, and our relationship, on here because it feels awfully personal and he’s more private about the internet than I am. Suffice to say he has made me laugh and comforted me when I was miserable and we have grown closer together in our separation from everyone else.

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5. Living near the beach. There’s not a lot to be said about this. It’s just pretty great.

6. Friends and family. I’ve really appreciated all the visits we’ve had from outernet friends and family this year. But also, internet friends, you’ve been exactly who I needed and I’m so happy that we met.

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And nope, the pictures from Europe are not even near running out so expect posts with unrelated pictures tacked onto the end all through next year too.

Happy New Year, guys 🙂

 

New Years Resolution

If you read this post you might have thought, along with myself, that a good goal for the new year would be to get fit again. I wrote a whole blog post about it. And it’s definitely a good goal. But the more I thought about it the more I realised the reason I wanted to get fit was not that I wanted to be fit in and of itself – it was that I wanted to not be stressed anymore. I would love to be fit but I care more about not being stressed and I was choosing fitness because I knew it would help in that department.

So my goal is: become less stressed.

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I’m aware of the fact that getting rid of stress is a difficult goal and I also know that this is a tough one to judge. Will I know, at the end of the year, whether I’ve succeeded in being less stressed? I think so, although it won’t quite as easy to determine as last year’s goal of “Write A Book”.

But even if it’s difficult, and even if it’s open ended, it’s really important for me. Every time I’ve seen a doctor in the last 3 years (or so) they’ve sent me home with the message: “It’s probably just stress.” As if that’s meant to be some sort of consolation. I tick nearly all the boxes on the “Symptoms of Stress” lists and, trust me, it’s no fun.

I’ll be posting throughout the year about the ways I’m going about this and whether I think I’m succeeding or not.

Do you have any NY resolutions?

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(The aim is to get from the first picture to the second picture. Also, I just like posting pictures of Adelaide.)

I’ve been away

I went to Sydney for a maths conference.
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And then to Brisbane for a wedding.
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I returned to Perth and then headed off to Adelaide for Christmas almost immediately.
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It’s been pretty crazy in my head lately. There’s been so much going on, so many things to do, places to be and people to see. All of it was great but also tiring and today we returned home to 40C, a car with a coolant leak and an air conditioner that is out of action. The photos make the present a little easier and I’m hoping for some relaxation on the horizon.

I’ll be back in a few days with NY resolutions, something I am newly keen on.

self discipline and running

Today I went for a run for the first time in a long time. I’m terribly unfit. People I went to school with wouldn’t even believe me because when I used to say I was unfit back then what I really meant was that I hadn’t been running for two weeks. Now I’m the least fit that I’ve been in my entire life except for the period after they cut my knee open to stick it back together. But today I went for a run.

And there’s something in those first few strides, wearing comfortable shoes and with my hair tied back, that feels like coming home. I know this is just because I used to go jogging a lot, and it wouldn’t feel that way for everyone, but I find it comforting. It’s comforting that even though running is hard, and by the end of the run my body hurt, I’ve trained myself to do it with some amount of joy.

It makes me wonder what else in the future, regardless of how hard it seems now, will feel like coming home when I return to it. It gives me hope and a renewed sense of determination.

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post NaNoWriMo reflections

Starting out without a plot was probably (certainly) a bad decision.

I’m not convinced I’ll ever do it (NaNoWriMo) again.

It showed me how much time I have available in my day. I don’t want to always spend that time on writing but now, for instance, I know that I really do have time to exercise.

I do not have high hopes for the story but I haven’t brought myself to read it all the way through so we’ll see.

On the (rare) days I knew where my plot was going I could write quite quickly.  So that’s an incentive to plot out my next novel in a lot more detail than I did with the last one.

Working on one project so incessantly gave me a huge ton of ideas and inspiration to work on other projects.

So overall, I’m glad that I did it. It taught me a lot about writing and I now have a book that will, at the very least, entertain a few friends.

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This picture is from Castello Aragonese in Ischia. I have no idea if that was originally meant to be a heart but I liked it.

do what you are doing.

It seems somewhat tautological but really it’s a piece of advice I need reminding of every 6 months or so.

If you spend your work hours compulsively checking your email or your relaxation time compulsively checking your code then you’re probably not getting the best out of either. It’s hard to think that you’ve had a successful day of work if you’ve read 20 news articles. It’s hard to think that you’ve really had a weekend if you’ve checked your computer program every half hour.

Sometimes I’m good at sticking to this advice and, of course, other times I’m not. Every now and then I need to stop myself and make up some arbitrary rules in order to get back in the habit of doing what I’m doing (I’ve checked email and tumblr while writing this up so I must be going through a bad phase.)

Here are some various rules I use to focus on doing work at work:

– The Pomodoro Technique (work for 25 minutes in every half hour)

– Turn off your internet (often impractical for me)

– Don’t check any media (incl. email), or leave your seat (at all!) for the first 2 work hours of your day

– Set mini goals with time limits

And, just as importantly in my opinion, focus on not doing work at home:

– Don’t bring any maths books or papers (or whatever you do) home

– Turn off your computer (if you use it for work)

– Go outside

– Choose to do something or nothing rather than being absentmindedly online doing neither (hence this blogpost)

I think the main “problem” is that life has natural pauses. I’m waiting for code to run, I don’t know what to write next, my maths got a bit too hard, whatever. When there are natural pauses we should stop and evaluate what we use those pauses to do. Before you stand up, before you change tabs or windows, work out whether you really need to. All the techniques I mentioned are really just ritualistic ways of forcing us not to do whatever we normally do during a pause.

Does anyone else have any good focusing methods?

PS: The photos are from Austria.

Young Writers Prize

I did not make the shortlist and I must be getting thicker skin because that doesn’t bother me too much. I know my work has improved significantly since I sent it to them and I knew from the start that my topic was a bit too Australian to translate well internationally. I am obviously disappointed but it is safe to say that my world is not ending.

In other news, I gave my talk at Combinatorics12 this afternoon. It went well. I have ideas to investigate and a conference dinner to attend.

Life is good.