The First Year of Marriage

“Love seems the swiftest, but it is the slowest of growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”

Mark Twain

Bride's Bouquet and Groom's Hat - photo taken by my sister, while we were sneaking scones and tea in between the many, many photographs being demanded...

Bride’s Bouquet and Groom’s Hat – photo taken by my sister, while we were sneaking scones and tea in between the many, many photographs being demanded…

As Mark and I reach our First Anniversary this weekend (Paper, so a card will do…), I had planned to write about what I’ve learned of Marriage during this last year. But really, I don’t think I’m qualified yet. We’ve only been married a year, after all, and I don’t honestly feel much different to when we were just living together.

We laugh together and squabble together much as we always did. We do things together and we do things separately. I try not to be a nag (don’t always succeed) and he tries to do things so I don’t have to nag (doesn’t always succeed).

And we’re still friends, when all is said and done. We’re a team, united against the world and the questions about when we’re going to have a baby (answer: not yet, please stop asking).

Lots of the quotations out there about marriage talk about how much hard work it is, and joke about perceived negatives – there’s an amusing one by Groucho Marx about Marriage being an institution, but who wants to live in one of those? – and maybe I haven’t been married long enough to appreciate how difficult it is, but I think maybe people think too much about it.

As my mother might say, you’ve just got to get on with it. Once you’ve made the decision, and the commitment, stop thinking about it and just do it. You get out of it what you put into it. It’s the little things – the early-morning cups of tea or coffee – as well as the grand gestures and bunches of flowers.

At the end of the day, if you can still make each other laugh, nothing else really matters.

No-Fuss Chocolate Cake

Is there anything better in this world than a good cake which requires very little effort to make?

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This chocolate fudge cake fits the bill. Very definitely the lazy person’s cake, or the cake for the time-deprived. It’s even better than that 5-minute microwave cake in a cup recipe that floats around on Facebook.

Because this cake is a bread-maker cake, and it’s a cake-mix, in the manner of the bread-mixes you get for the bread-maker. You just put the mix in the machine, pour in so much water and oil, set the machine to the cake setting, and press on. An hour or so later, and you have a perfectly good loaf-cake. Alternatively you follow the instructions for the making of muffins.

This one would be particularly good with soured cream and berries on top, especially since it sank a little in the middle.

I shall be testing the other bread-maker cake mixes, since this one was so yummy.

To Have Your Cake And Eat It

Life is a fine balance of indulgence and self-denial. Self-denial and discipline are not my forte. Life’s too short, and all that.

Sadly, to get anywhere in Life with one’s dreams, one must Work Hard: also not my forte. I’m working on that. For the moment, at least the latest issue of CrossStitcher has helped with my love of cake…Anyone for guilt-free cake? (Not that I ever feel guilt over cake; so silly!)

Suggested for a card; I plan a cover for my cake recipes.

Suggested for a card; I plan a cover for my cake recipes.

Currently my cross-stitch TV is the quite honestly delightful Australian Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Post-WWI, in ’20s Melbourne, complete with a lovely, jazzy soundtrack. When I have the time, I intend to spend a month or so reading the novels.

Life’s Too Short

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Is there anything nicer than coming home to freshly baked cookies after a stressful day?

Unfortunately, I have no recipe: it was a mix-and-match-and-hope-for-the-best one of Mark’s from various cookie recipes. Whatever it was, it worked.

Over the last few days, I’ve been thinking more and more that life is by far too short not to be doing what I want to be doing. My mother always used the phrase to justify not doing things like ironing. Non-iron shirts are much more sensible.

Me, I’m trying to use it as a spur to get on with making my vague plans and ideas become something a little more than just notes. It’s all very well to have dreams, but what’s the use of them if you never do anything about making them come true?

Life is simply too short not to enjoy it.

Cherish Every Moment

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Having decided to start actually using the patterns in the magazines I buy, I began with this clock-face from World of Cross Stitch. I don’t know how far off the suggested 30-hour stitching-time I was, but it’s taken me about two weeks’ of evenings stitching, although I suppose it isn’t really finished since I haven’t yet done the back-stitching. But it’s basically done.

It’s easy to say “Cherish every moment”, but it’s an entirely different matter to do it. It’s the sort of thing which takes practice and a lot of pretending in the beginning, but I imagine that eventually, with enough practice and pretence, it might become second-nature. But it might take a while.

I haven’t got there yet.

On the other hand, I enjoyed stitching this, which tells me that I might have been too quick to dismiss the pretty patterns with long lists of threads, and it has rekindled my desire to find some way of making stitching a part of my everyday business, and not just something I do in the evenings. Now to bestir myself into becoming a doer as well as a planner…

Knowing about Writing

“I’m going to write fantasy,” I announced, with all the confidence of a fourteen-year-old who hasn’t thought it through. “Then, if I don’t know something, I can just make it up. No research!”

“Hm,” said my dad, with that parental expression of unimpressed but trying not to discourage.

He’s not a writer, I thought, what does he know?

Turns out, more than I do.

To write convincingly, whether fiction or non-fiction, you have to know your subject matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re making it up or not: you still need to know it, inside-out and back-to-front. You don’t need to have experienced it, but you do need to be able to research it, and to be able to imagine how it feels.

And yes, in the grand scheme of things, if you don’t know or can’t find something out, you can just “make it up”, but make sure it makes sense with the rest of your story. And you’ll have to know how it fits in.

My suspicion, based on my current WIP, is that the key to this is Proper Planning. That way you don’t get sudden surprises half way through a chapter. And you don’t need to rewrite the entire manuscript.

You have to know what you’re writing about, whatever that is.