The Katy Diaries – Entry #2

 

In the grand tradition of starting my dairy entries with a quote, I’m going to open with my new favourite from Rent:

The opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.

I’ve never thought about this before, but it just makes so much sense. If war is tearing things apart, then of course the opposite is making them again. And I have missed creating things so, so much. I miss writing, building worlds from the ground up. I miss cooking, creating something bigger than what I was given at the beginning. I even had to miss dancing on Monday, thanks to a rather frustratingly timed cold. So with new found determination, I picked up the camera and started taking photos. I only got a couple of good shots, but it’s quicker than finishing a recipe and easier than smashing out a chunk of a story.

However, the midst of exam week is not really the time to be having a sudden desire to act upon my creative urges (which, psychology fact, come primarily from the right side of the brain), so I tried really, really hard to settle down and study.

I was mostly successful in studying the soundtrack of Rent very intensely. Hence the opening quote.

It’s really hard to motivate myself to do something I’m not particularly interested in. I love learning, but I detest the way the school decides to measure the way we learn and determine our intelligence based on who can cram the most information in their heads. Standardized testing achieves very little, apart from placing insane amounts of stress on students. As someone who places a fair amount of stress on herself anyway, it’s enough to make a person go insane.

I have found, eventually, that studying with someone is much more effective, so I spent the rest of the afternoon watching Friends on and off and quizzing psychology content back and forth with a friend.

I am still frustrated. I’m still not even remotely looking forward to doing these exams, and I’m already dreading getting the results; not because I don’t think I’ve tried hard enough, but because it has gotten to the point where there are subjects I am forced to take that I just don’t understand. It doesn’t matter how much I try, I am not ever going to understand mitosis and meiosis, or sex linked cells, or velocity vs time graphs.

Okay, so my issue is mainly with science, but it’s also with the fact that in the end, whether or not I get into my first choice university will be based on exams just like these. It won’t matter that I know a lot of things that can’t be tested, or that I might have had a really bad cold on the day of the exam (just like this week). The only thing that will matter is whether or not I can use information that I’ll have crammed tightly into my head, that I’ll also promptly forget when I walk out of the exam room.

So really, I wish I had more time to dedicate to creation. I wish I had more time to take a thousand bad photos to get the perfect one, or write a thousand useless sentences until I have the wording just right, but I don’t. Because I’m too busy trying to remember logarithmic laws (something I’m sure I’ll use all the time when I leave school).

It’s war trying to drag myself through these exams, and I can’t wait to get to the opposite.

 

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25 Things To Do Before I Die

I recently watched (and read the book) A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks, in which a trouble-making student, Landon, falls for the terminally ill Reverend’s daughter, Jamie. One of my favourite scenes in the film is when Jamie mentions the some of the items on her bucket list, and on their first date Landon helps her achieve them.

As a result, I was inspired to make my own bucket list of 25 things I want to do before I die. Some of them you’ll find are taken directly from the film, as I thought they were worthy ambitions, but most of them are my own.

  1. Write a book
  2. Visit New York
  3. Graduate high school
  4. Be in two places at once
  5. Be a mum
  6. Work for a charity
  7. Build schools in a third world country
  8. Protest for something I’m passionate about
  9. Visit Harry Potter World
  10. Have something named after me
  11. Swim with dolphins
  12. Buy macarons in Paris
  13. Wear a ball-gown
  14. Sleep under the stars
  15. Dance in the moonlight
  16. See a Broadway show
  17. Visit Euro Disney
  18. Go on a roadtrip
  19. Have my own apartment
  20. Get to the end of a rainbow
  21. Make a wish on a shooting star
  22. See a meteor shower
  23. Go cliff jumping
  24. Learn another language
  25. Learn to play a musical instrument

Some of these are overly ambitious and some of these are simple, but they’re all things I hope to accomplish in my lifetime. Whether it’s something poetic or noble or simple, I think it’s incredibly important to have something to aspire to, and I can’t wait to achieve mine.

The YA Chronicles Unboxing

I have decided that the 19th day of the month is my favourite, because it’s the day that my YA Chronicles box comes! This month’s theme “Summer Days Driftin’ Away” was very well suited for warming me up after the cold days we’ve had here in Melbourne, and everything in the box was perfect for relaxing after a week full of tests.

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In the box this month was…

The Unexpected Everything

A jasmine bath bomb

A fairy bread scented candle

A magnetic ice cream bookmark

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My fairy bread candle from Nook and Burrow smells like birthday parties and looks adorable, with real hundreds and thousands in it.

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I have wanted a magnetic bookmark for so long, as I found that my old metal clip on one was damaging pages out of my books, so this cute-as-a-button ice cream was a welcome surprise.

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I cannot wait to read in the bath with my candle burning and my jasmine bath bomb from Allbody Soaps.

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And last, but not least, is the book from this month’s box – The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson. Amy and Rodger’s Epic Detour, by the same author, has been on my wishlist for months, so I’m certainly looking forward to reading this one.

Next month’s box is Pride Week, and I can’t wait!

FODMAP Friendly Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

A member of my family is currently on a low FODMAP diet. It’s something few people have heard of, but it’s extremely restrictive and makes it very, very difficult to make anything to snack on. For those of you interested, there’s more information here.

However, I have managed to find a fantastic chocolate chip cookie recipe and tinker with it enough to make it FODMAP friendly, but still with the crucial elements for the perfect cookie; crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside and filled with pockets of rich chocolate. I’m here today to share it with you all.

You Will Need

125 g butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla, essence
1½ cups plain, gluten free flour
½ cup cocoa (30% or more cocoa solids)
¾ cup dark chocolate chips

What To Do

  1. Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Sift and then stir in flour and cocoa, then fold through chocolate Chips.
  2. Place teaspoonsful on greased baking trays. Bake in a moderately slow oven 160°C for 10-15 minutes or until cooked. Cool on a wire rack.

Tips

  • It can be tempting to just throw the flour in without sifting it. DON’T! Gluten free flour is more coarse than normal flour and to get a nicer consistency you will definitely need to sift it.
  • To get the best chewy center out of these cookies, focus your efforts on creaming the butter and sugars. At least five minutes will get the best result.
  • Bring the eggs and butter to room temperature.
  • Use an ice cream scoop when dividing the mixture to create evenly shaped balls.
  • Make sure your oven is properly preheated before putting cookies in them.
  • You should take your cookies out of the oven when they’re very very slightly underdone. Leave them on the tray to cool before transferring to a wire rack. The cookies will continue to cook through when taken out of the oven and if you leave them in until they’re cooked all the way, they become slightly overcooked and crunchier.
  • Store in an airtight container.

These are a huge hit with my family, and I hope they are with your’s too!

Second Hand Book Haul

I live in a fairly rural area, and one of the farms near my house (which is open to the public as an educational center too) had a second hand book sale the other weekend. My friend and I decided it was definitely something we wanted to check out and I’m really glad I did, because I picked up the above books, all in excellent condition, for only $10!

Books Pictured

Perfect Match – Jodi Picoult

I have always loved Jodi Picoult stories, especially those concerned with parent/child relationships. My favourite book of her’s is definitely Handle With Care.

This is a book about a mother who shoots the man who sexually abused her son, and the implications this has. I can’t wait to read it, and I’m interested to see how Jodi Picoult handles a sexual assault, considering she’s an author that is prolific at doing her research.

Between Shades of Grey – Ruta Sepetys

Not going to lie, I picked this up because I adored the cover. However, after reading the blurb I’m certainly looking forward to reading it.

It’s about a girl called Lina, who is living her life happily until the Soviet secret police invade her home and forcibly remove her, her mother, and her brother.

The Hypnotist’s Love Story – Liane Moriarty

This was picked up with the intent to read in Thailand when I go later this year, so it’s a bit of a cheesy read as, suggested by the title.

The Game of Love and Death – Martha Brockenbrough

I picked this one up because the title intrigued me and the blurb did even more. It’s four sentences long and reads:

Love and Death choose their players in an eternal game. Death has never lost and Love will do anything to win.

Henry and Flora find each other, not knowing they are players. Can their love be enough to keep them both alive?

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason – Helen Fielding

I have just finished the hilarious Bridget Jones’s Diary. It only made sense to pick this up too.

I’m looking forward to reading all of these books and I’m still overjoyed that I got to get them all so cheaply. Keep an eye out, some of these might be reviewed on here too!

Paper Crown Magazine

Recently I had a piece of my writing published in an online magazine called Paper Crown. They have a Facebook, which you can find here, and a Tumblr, which you can find here. My piece is called Mirrored Skirts, and it can be found here.

It’s a lovely magazine that can be instantly accessed, for free I might add, so it would be really nice if you could check it out and support both them and me.

Katy

Newsies

A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie Newsies for the first time. It was released in 1992 by Disney and by critic’s standards, it was a disaster. I, however, absolutely adored it. I liked it so much I went out and bought the Broadway soundtrack for my phone and I have searched high and low for my own copy of the DVD (to no avail).

I liked it because the idea that a group of kids can stand up to someone who was doing them wrong, and win, was really inspiring to me. I loved that, and so I decided to research the real kids who managed to pull it off.

Those kids blew me away more than the movie did.

In 1899, Newsboys lined the streets of New York, distributing papers such as The New York Evening and The New York Journal. They paid 50 cents for a bundle of 100, and sold them for a penny a paper. They would make a profit of about 25 cents, once they put aside the 50 cents they would need for the next day’s papers. Any papers they didn’t sell became a drain on their finances, as they would not get reimbursed for them and would not be able to sell them the next day. They would often live on the streets, and just about scrape by on their meagre salary. Then, Pulitzer and Hurst, owners of the New York Journal and Evening, raised the price of the papers by 10 cents a bundle.

The newsboys weren’t standing for this. They were furious, and under the leadership of someone they called Kid Blink (so called because he wore an eye-patch and was blind in one eye) they decided to strike.

Together, the boys would fight anyone who refused to strike, hold rallies and work together to reverse the injustice that had been done. They were determined, and managed to go as far as blocking the Brooklyn Bridge for five days.

Pulitzer and Hurst tried to convince adults who were out of work to distribute the papers instead, but they refused, stating that they stood with the children.

And they won. Eventually, Pulitzer and Hurst had to change something. While they didn’t reduce the papers to their original price, they agreed to refund the newsboys any papers they didn’t sell.

The reason I love Newsies so much is because I find the story behind it so inspiring. History is full of stories like these, of children who decided to stand up for what they believe in. The newsboys inspired hundreds of other child labourers to strike, and sparked a change around the world.

The movie is fantastic and the musical is great, don’t get me wrong. But I think the best thing to come out of the newsboy strikes of 1899 is the real life story.

Goal Reviewing

Today my Goodreads account informed me that we are officially a quarter of the way through the year! Yay! Congratulations on making it this far.

I thought that as it’s a quarter of the way through the year, it would be a good idea to revisit my goals that I posted about at the beginning of the year.

They were all fairly simple, and achievable, but things that were important to me and I wanted to really focus on. Three of them were quantitate and three of them were less-so, so they were a bit of a judgement call.

I would like to read 50 books

A Quarter of the Way Through the Year

I’ve gotten to twenty, so I’m ahead of schedule! Here’s my Goodreads if you want to see them.

I would like to get a job

A couple of days after I posted my New Year’s resolutions I went job searching and about three weeks afterwards I got two jobs, which was nice. I did a shift at McDonalds, quit there and stayed at Baker’s Delight. They’re also known as Cob’s Bakery and they’re a franchise but also like a little local bakery and a great place to work for. I’m really happy there.

I would like to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in Gold Class

Well, this hasn’t come out yet. So no, but not for trying?

I hope that my family and friends and I are happy

This is still something I’m working on every day, but I think we’re doing pretty well on this one.

I hope that my school places more importance on mental health in the classroom

Ummmmm…

I hope that I have the strength to overcome whatever issues I may face in 2016

Lucky for me, I haven’t really faced any “issues”, per say.

So I think I’m doing pretty well on my goals this year so far, and I’ll check back in with you halfway through the year.

Curly Hair Rocks

I was watching The Princess Diaries yesterday and I was absolutely infuriated.

Don’t get me wrong – I adore the movie. I adore the book. I love the plot and I demolished those books when I was younger.

Nope, it wasn’t that. I was infuriated because there was yet another girl, with frizzy curly hair who got “made-over” into someone with pin straight, shiny locks of perfect hair.

I call bullshit!

I am sick to absolute death of being the “pre-makeover” girl in every film. And I’m going to tell you, quite frankly, why.

I hate my hair.

It’s a sentence that most teenager girls say on a regular basis. Usually accompanied with “I have nothing to wear” and copious amounts of groaning and door slamming.

However, I have a very large problem with my hair, and I have some people to blame.

God, my stupid stupid hair. I was born with barely any hair, and stayed that way until I was three. If my mum hadn’t put bright pink dresses on me, I would have easily been mistaken for a boy. Then I hit three and look, a miracle! I had hair! Whoop-de-doo!

Except it was curly. Like, really curly. And short.

You know what you can do with short, curly hair? Not much.

You know what new parents with straight hair do when they’re daughter comes out looking like someone shoved my fingers into an electric socket? They leave it to become a matted mess and just shove a headband in to keep it off my face.

Then we moved to China. Anyone with curly hair knows it needs upkeep and humidity is your worst nightmare. So in a country where no one knew how to cut my hair and it was humid 90% of the time, my hair was more of a mess than usual.

Between the ages of 3 and 12, my hair was a disaster. Because I didn’t know what to do with it and neither did my parents, so most of the time no one did anything with it. But that was okay, because no one else cared.

Then I went to high school. And my hair grew long and thick and somehow, more curly. And I learnt how to tame my mane with conditioner and mousse and gel. But I still hated it. Because all these girls around me had straight, sleek hair and I still had a crazy mess of curls. They could do anything they wanted with their hair and I could have mine loose, which I hated, or in a ponytail. I found out that my hair came from a distant family member who is a fairly famous actress – Minnie Driver – and I was thrilled, until I realized she had her hair chemically straightened.

But most of all, I hated my hair because it made me look fatter.

All these girls had sleek styles, long and straight and inconspicuous, that matched their sleek, straight bodies. And then there was me, round and bouncy with chubby cheeks and hair that about doubled the size of my head.

And I absolutely loathed all the models with “curly” hair that in reality, was barely wavy. Between that and the all the movies that showed the girl with shiny, straight hair after her makeover, I learnt that curly hair should be erased from existence. That it wasn’t pretty, and in fact, it should be ironed straight out.

I have news for you, movie makers.

Curly hair can’t be straightened like that.

It just doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried.

So can you see how frustrating it is to never ever see a single celebrity who people see as beautiful with the same hair as you? Especially when you know damn well they’ve straightened it out.

Not to mention how angering it is to see girls losing their natural curls in a movie before they’re considered “pretty”?

It’s incredibly frustrating, because these people don’t realize how much damage they’re doing. They don’t realize that I’ve spent years listening to people telling me how lucky I was to have such beautiful and yet most days, I still hate it. They don’t realize that there’s a whole generation of curly haired girls who don’t have friends like mine, telling them it’s all crap. They don’t realize that by making sure no girl finishes a movie at a high school prom with curly hair, they’re making sure there’s not a single girl with curly hair who doesn’t at least once feel self-conscious about it. Even Hermione, who I idolized for the simple fact that she wore her hair loose and curly all the time, straightened it for the Yule Ball.

So was it really a surprise when this year I started getting questions about how I was going to straighten my hair for formal? Nope.

I just wish that for once, people would acknowledge that actually, curly hair freaking rocks (even if I often say otherwise), and let others know that too. Because I don’t want another single girl growing up with “chemical straightening” on her birthday wishlist.

Blog Changes

Hi all!

So today I went through and changed a bunch of things on my blog. The main thing though, is the name and the set out of it all. The content has not, and will not, change.

I outgrew/grew tired of the sparkszine theme. Linking everything to a spark seemed like a tedious metaphor, and with the increase in what used to be “Katy Sparks” posts, this blog is seeming less like an online magazine and more like a personal blog. Which is, of course, fine. It just means it’s time for a little change.

So as you will notice, I have a new theme. I also have new categories, and a new name – Katy’s Cosy Corner. This is becoming my corner of the internet, my little private space and I wanted my name to reflect that.

So the “sparks” part of all the names in my blog posts have gone, but some of the actual posts still reference the old theme. I will not be changing that.

I don’t believe in ignoring the past. I don’t believe in pretending that parts of my life never happened. So while I don’t love the whole Sparks thing any more, I won’t be getting rid of it. One day, I’d like to look back at it and go “this happened. I thought it was cool at the time. It’s not so much now.”

My social media is also all changing too. Katy’s Cosy Corner is now officially what I’ll be going by, and Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr are all @ katyscosycorner.

So keep an eye out for all my changes as they role out over the next few days. I hope you all stick around in my little corner even as it’s under construction, and that you like it as much as I do.

Katy