2020 not-resolutions: bessie

This is TENTH year (holygoodness! ten years!) of the family “not resolutions”!

At the beginning of each year, I coerce everyone into nominating 5 things they’d possibly, maybe like to accomplish in the coming year – no pressure. Some of the family are ever-so-slightly more willing to participate in this than others, but we get there in the end.

Spoiler: this was probably the year where everyone’s achievements didn’t necessarily line up with their not-resolutions.

First Bessie – big changes in her life this year!

Review of 2019
1. Continue with Pilates and find a second form of exercise (ie swimming or dance)
PARTIALLY ACHIEVED. I was doing Pilates at work but they have since canceled it, I tried doing dance with a friend but our schedules kept not aligning. Currently having been doing workout in the apartment

2. Learn to drive (carried forward from last year as we got the math wrong on when jono could get his full license)
NOT ACHIEVED. I went on one lesson with Hansel and I ended up crying. I have since not returned, it’s also harder now that we both live in the inner west. We don’t know where to do lessons.

3. Design a new set of pins based off a different Australian city
4. Reach 1,000 Instagram followers on my design Instagram
5. Be accepted for a stall at a large market
NOT ACHIEVED. My design business was put on the back burner since starting a new job and moving out.

And for 2020
1. Draw something new every fortnight
2. Read a new library book once a month
3. Go on at least one holiday
4. Do more markets
5. Try a new dinner every fortnight

2885 days


Bessie’s previous not-resolutions:

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the first

Alas, those glorious seven days of freedom flew by – and as ever I’m mystified by there being a mere few hours remaining until I return to SML. It only seems a couple of days since we broke for Xmas.

I had a list of mildly ambitious tasks planned for the break. I achieved five of those nineteen items. I spent a decent amount of time reading non-improving books and pottering. To my surprise I managed the daily (admittedly not-particularly-strenuous) exercise – I desperately need to keep that up in 2020. Health needs to be very high on the agenda.


While I do mostly adore my job, I’m utterly dreading the return to SML. It’s going to be a really tough 7 months delivering the final and most difficult part of Project Sulfur. And then there’s the accompanying difficult decisions around what’s beyond that.


I wrote the above several hours ago and let it sit while I took in a pub lunch with Don, made David Lebovitz’s pasta bolognese** and started on the petticoat from the holiday list. I got part-way through pressing the (french) side seams and our most excellent 13 year old iron died. I took this as a possible sign of … something.

I’m mentally compiling my list of 2020 intentions. There are some minor(ish) changes I’m keen to make to improve my quality of life. I’m not entirely jazzed by aligning them to the start of the year, but hey, whenever the mood strikes right?

I should post a wrap-up of 2019, if only so I actually remember what went on (it’s a bit of a blur). There are some really lovely and thoughtful reflections out there which make it somewhat daunting.

Here are some I’ve enjoyed (caveat: I’ve undoubtedly overlooked some great ones):

+ small quiet pretty

+ james o’brien

+ fig jam and lime cordial

+ handmade by carolyn

+ hula seventy

+ dances with wool

One of those 2020 intentions is to share more of the good things I am reading online, consider this the start of that!

2887-2886 days


** this is very, very good – you should totally make it.

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more of this in 2020

This year, rather than the usual cash, Bessie requested haushold essentials for Xmas. We also hadn’t seen her in real life on her late-December birthday, so there was a small mountain of gifts to hand over.

Rather than add wrapping paper to landfill, I decided I’d make a couple of shopping bags to contain the small mountain.

I used the same basic approach as with these bags – which have faded slightly, but otherwise still very much powering on despite weekly use for over 8 years.

I was planning to use the same sturdy twill for the exterior and in the week before Xmas, I searched the CBD for the twill and some kind of cat-themed fabric with which to line the bags. Alas I could find neither of those things, so decided to see what I could do with what was in the small(ish) fabric stash.

Success! I came away with the bottoms of the curtains I hung in Bessie’s room a couple of years ago, 18 year old dollhouse fabric blogged here (there is still a wee bit left for another project) and some adorable space fabric leftover from a skirt she made to wear to a festival a couple of years ago. There was not quite enough for what I wanted, so I made up the difference with the reverse side of some chambray Bessie printed on at uni.

I stencilled Bessie and Hansel’s initials with a small paintbrush, silkscreen paint and an A4 sticker. Oh and excellent labels from sublime stitching which I had kicking around.

Note to self: never declutter craft supplies.

It all came together pretty cohesively and I was quite delighted with the results! Especially delighted as it was all likely to be junked. I feel like I am getting some of my crafting confidence back and am inspired to get on and make more things.

I must say, it’s really brilliant to have a dedicated room in which I can messily craft and not be in everyone’s way.

2889-2888 days

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25 and 26

I feel like I’ve completely forgotten how to construct a sentence, never mind a whole post – I hope you’ll bear with me while I attempt to get my groove back.

As is traditional, we were dispersed for Xmas Day – the babies with their other family(ies)** and Joan on the other side of the world in Marrakesh. Don and I (and the kitties) spent a rather sedate but quite delightful day pottering about.

We did some puzzling++, I did some crafting, we listened to CDs and spent some time prepping for our Boxing Day family dinner (pulled pork, baked beans, coleslaw, soft buns).


In the evening we feasted on BBQ lamb leg and fattoush. Both were excellent. This was a relief as my cooking mojo has been in absentia recently. Possibly aligned with my general malaise?

After my success of a few years ago, I also whipped up my second ever pavolva. It seemed much less effort than the first, mostly because I absolutely agonised about recipe selection and every step of the process the first time around. This time I was diligent about wiping down the equipment with white vinegar, but otherwise pretty relaxed about it. It turned out better than I could have hoped – all credit to my 80 billion dollar oven. For much of my life I loathed pavlova. I suspect this is because I’d never had a decent one – I couldn’t see the appeal in horrid crumbly shards of over-sweet staleness. Who knew they were supposed to be deliciously gooey in the centre?

I didn’t want to waste four egg yolks, so spontaneously decided to make the base for chocolate ice-cream – the first time I’ve made ice-cream in absolutely forever. The ice-cream maker is over 20 years old and I used it all the time when the children were small and I was trying to be the ultimate housewife. Bessie rescued it from under her dad’s house years ago, but I think I’ve maybe used it once since then.

Note from my past self

My idea of a perfect relaxed kind of day.


We started meal prep relatively early on Boxing Day to get the beans^^ into the oven and the pork into harky-the-smoker. Each required around 8 hours of slow cooking.

Fortunately after the initial time investment there is not a huge amount to do, so lots more time for pottering and puzzling.

Joe/Frank had returned home very late the night before, Bessie and Hansel arrived mid-afternoon from house-sitting for Hansel’s parents and we exchanged gifts – a post for another time I think – we puzzled, listened to CDs, I churned the ice-cream, Don made coleslaw, I made lemonade.

TheUniverse was definitely smiling on us as every last bit of the meal was spectacularly good. There’s a lot to be said for having quality equipment and for taking time!

After dinner we played a rousing game of ticket to ride and of course I came last, because I am dreadful at board games. We sent Bessie and Hansel off home laden with delicious leftovers.

I do love the summer break.

2893-2890 days


** Bessie splits Xmas between Hansel’s family, her other family and us. Exhausting!
++ We bought this last year, but then were stuck of Bessie’s impossible puzzle. Trying to find a link and failing.
^^ You should make these – they are very very tasty.

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The thing I like about taking the time to assess why I’m grumpy is that I’m usually moved to take action pretty quickly afterward.

Yesterday morning I forced myself to ride for 5min (baby steps) on the exercise bike.

Today the air quality was only moderately bad, so I went for a very tiny run around the block. I’ve concluded that if I wait for the air quality to be good I’m unlikely to leave the house and that I should carpe the whatevs when and where I can.

Everything out there is pretty brown, dusty and very dry.


brightest thing on the street

That umbrella looks relatively new and likely broke in the super-strong winds on Saturday night. Such is the disposable society we live in. I was tempted to rescue it, but quickly came to my senses – I mean, what exactly would I *do* with it?

2894 days

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elf grass

As a metaphor, I often like to think I’m the house on the right.

Of course the reality is rather different.

And hey, the left is infinitely more interesting and has tons more potential.

2895 days

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I really wish I’d had the foresight to take tomorrow and Tuesday off, but alas, I’ll be braving the smoke and schlepping to the Project Sulfur offices on both days.

Because of the smoke and associated breathing issues, it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to exercise. Despite not stuffing my face with chocolate and eating reasonably sensibly++, I’ve put on a ton of weight in the four weeks since I returned from Thailand.

As is always the way, lack of exercise is a gateway to other undesirable behaviours. Though I acknowledge that as undesirable behaviours go, these are pretty benign. It’s the usual kind of thing: way, way too much time spent scrolling mindlessly on the Information Superhighway on my phone and way, way too much time sitting about unfavourably comparing myself to other people on the Information Superhighway.

I feel bloaty and grumpy and need an intervention!

So as part of the intervention, I spent the afternoon in Bessie’s old room doing crafty things and felt significantly improved afterward. I’ve been avoiding getting stuck into some projects (the usual perfectionist fears). It was excellent to lock myself away for an afternoon and make a huge mess!

Now to work out what to do about the exercise.

2898-2896 days


++ okay, the mango advent didn’t help – but hey, it’s fruit.

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I usually buy my everyone on my team a small gift for Xmas – token of appreciation and all that. Given we don’t really give family gifts++, it is just about the only Xmas shopping I do!

This year I chose cute reusable totes** from loqi and a sweet treat (sample below)



I had eight^^ to buy for and tried to tailor each bag to the recipient. Given the reactions, I think I was successful.

I rather undid all the good eco-work with those diaso christmas lights, but hey – we all need some tiny sparkles in our lives.

I probably should have thrown in a P2 face-mask, given the smoke-filled times we’re living in.

Three more days of work and I am very very ready for a break!

2900-2899 days


++ usually favour cash – though this year Bessie is getting kitchen supplies.

** I’ve had a similar tote in my handbag for around 8 years – as recommended by Joan, the early adopter. It rolls down into a very small bundle and doesn’t take up much space. I use it several times a week – still powering on.

^^ eight! this may not seem a lot to you – but gosh, they’re a handful!

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Sadly, I abandoned Mango Advent after Day 10 because eating a mango every day is A LOT.

Mangoes are of course delicious, and I would never tire of them, but I often found myself eating one when I wasn’t particularly hungry – just for the adventness of it. That’s a lot of calories just for the purposes of a project and not really in line with the whole intuitive eating thing I’m trying to cultivate.

We’re going to rethink the advent approach next year. It really sort of encourages gluttony, over-consumption or the acquisition of things one does not need. I think Bessie and Hansel have the right approach with the tea sampler and mini-chocolate calendar they put together themselves.

I really am down with the idea of doing something more personalised / handcrafted. I think this goes for gifts more generally. I was always perplexed by old people who insisted that you not buy them gifts. Now I am completely turned around on the subject.

I was going to say that I wish I had more time to do more handcrafted gifts. This is completely disingenuous. I would have plenty of time for such things if I did not waste my down time dicking around on The InformationSuperhighway.

I’d like to get better about that.

2901 days

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feels like a lifetime ago

Pretty exhausted from Project Sulfur part one release into the wild – and really rather wishing I was back here.

2903-2902 days

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