It's all made up

It's all made up

For lovers of beauty, books, and making rad crafts.

Slaughterhouse Five is one of my favourite books. It’s quirky and profound and silly and devastating. Vonnegut has a talent for straightforwardly narrating the end of the world - nothing to see here folks.

Cat’s Cradle was written in 1963, six years before the brilliant Slaughterhouse. The plot from Goodreads:

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he is the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three ecentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to mankind brings about the end, that for all of us, is nigh…

The plot is super weird, but it’s also sort of beside the point so don’t let that put you off. There are thinly veiled morals throughout, and the writing is still a joy to read. It seems like a less mature Slaughterhouse. Because it basically is.

If you’re going to start with Vonnegut you might as well start with the best and read Slaughterhouse. That said, Cat’s Cradle is still a lot more original and well written than 90% of what is written today, so you could do worse.


DIY: Bracelet Cluster

If like me, you collect bracelets that you will “definitely wear” only to have them sit on their nice little bracelet holder forever, then this is the craft for you.

Inspired by the too cool for school Hipanema brand I decided it was time to consolidate. To do this you’ll need to pick up some sort of functional clasp from a jewellery store, wire cutters, jewellery pliers, and patience.

Clasp in hand, I set about choosing which pieces from my bracelet bounty would work well together. Given the clasp is gold, I tried to stick with that theme. Once you’ve got everything laid out, cut the ends with your wire cutters so they’re all around the same length (that length of course being your wrist).

Now comes the fun bit, the clasp I used you squeeze together to squash things in place. Squashing multiple strings of various materials proved to be about as easy as herding cats and will make you want to throw things. I eventually resolved this two ways. First I tied a few of the smaller ones together at the ends, meaning less strings to control. I also clamped one end down on one of the bigger knots to create a sort of wedge to slide pieces into. If none of this works I suggest turning to a bit of super glue.

I hope to get more wear out of these now that they’ll take 30 seconds to put on (instead of five minutes) and am already planning my next attack. Watch out bracelets.


Book Review: The Dog Stars by Peter Heller


I have a weakness for the post apocalyptic/dystopian fiction. The Road, Oryx and Crake, The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Passage - I enjoyed them all. There’s something about light science fiction mixed with survival that really floats my boat.

The Dog Stars was another winner in this category.

The plot, courtesy of Book Depository:

The Road - but with hope. Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He’s just about surviving, so long as he only takes his beloved plane for short journeys, and saves his remaining fuel. But, just once, he picks up a message from another pilot, and eventually the temptation to find out who else is still alive becomes irresistible. So he takes his plane over the horizon, knowing that he won’t have enough fuel to get back. What follows is scarier and more life-affirming than he could have imagined. And his story, The Dog Stars, is a book unlike any you have ever read.

I agree. I liked it more than The Road because, while bleak in parts, it wasn’t so depressing. I’d imagine it would be challenging as a writer to craft a story from only four living characters (and a dog), but when done well it clearly works.  I liked all the players in Stars, and by the end had strong opinions about who would play them in the movie version (Hig = Ewan McGregor when he’s a bit scruffy, Bangley = Robert Patrick. I won’t go into the rest due to spoilers).

Some people commented that they found the writing style hard to deal with (quotes didn’t survive the pandemic, apparently). I didn’t mind it. Hig mentions a few times that he talks to himself and I think this style of writing lends itself to that. When you’re all alone it doesn’t matter if it’s out loud or not.

I had a few very late nights with Dog Stars (from both sadness and excitement) and will miss the characters now that I’m done. This is a great first work of fiction from Peter Heller. I look forward to more.


Beauty Review: Garnier BB Cream Miracle Skin Perfector - Combination to Oily Skin


This Melbourne summer has been a bit of a doozy. January felt like one big heatwave, which brings new challenges to dressing (anything more than a bikini felt like too much) and makeup.

My usual love, Garnier BB Cream, was struggling. I usually am down with its dewy finish, but since I was providing enough “glow” on my own thanks to un-airconditioned trains, I didn’t need any extra. I decided to give their Combination and Oily version a go to see if that could take the heat*.

On its own? No. Too heavy and too makeup-ey for my tastes. But I persevered. I blended.

Turns out that when mixed with the normal version it gives it a bit of a matte and long lasting kick. Perfect.


Helpful tip #1: get one shade darker than your normal version and this will also help to match your skin when it’s got a bit more colour in summer.

Helpful tip #2: as you can see, the oily/combo version is a lot more liquid than the regular BB Cream, and Garnier may have been a bit ambitious putting it in a squeeze tube (a pump would have been better). Store it lid-up to avoid leaks.

*sorry, couldn’t help it.


Book Review: Adventures in Correspondentland by Nick Bryant

If it’s a book on current affairs, there’s a reasonable chance I’ll like it. Faves from the genre include: I Wouldn’t Start From Here (Andrew Mueller), Boomerang* (Michael Lewis), Yoga for people who can’t be bothered to do it (Geoff Dyer), and then there’s my whole deal about the Iraq war

So yes, I liked this book. It was a good summary of recent events (both human and natural) from the past few decades which somehow are easily over shadowed by the next scandal or catastrophe. Light (the Clinton scandal) or heavy (the Indonesian and Japanese tsunamis, the Chilean and Christchurch earthquakes, 9-11), it can be good to be reminded of things in the recent past.

I also think it’s fascinating how other professions work, so to me I loved the tidbits about life as a reporter. Some of the more personal parts at the end I found a bit unnecessary (I’m sorry but I didn’t need to know about Bryant and his wife’s infertility problems) but since it’s his own memoir I suppose some nostalgic indulgences can be forgiven.

To summarise: if current affairs books are your thing, this will go down just fine. Bon appetite.

*Yes, you could say this was finance not current affairs but I’d argue that the international impact of the GFC was an affair, and it was current. So there.

I could carve a better man out of a banana.

Philip Castle

(from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle)


Beauty Review: Jergens Natural Glow Face Daily Moisturizer Sunscreen


I always wear sunscreen on my face, and I apply self tanner to my body. This healthy but tan counter intuitive combination can result in my head looking like it belongs on another neck. Self-tanning sunscreen to the rescue.

Natural Glow smelled a bit like self tan (which I actually don’t mind) but soaked in fast and didn’t cause any issues under makeup. As you can see from the picture, I didn’t have any problems using up this product.

I bought this online and I’d buy it again if I could find it in stores but it sadly doesn’t seem to exist in Australia. Looks like the search will be on for a replacement come winter. Any suggestions?