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The year that was: 2015

Towards the end of 2014 we often talked about craving some change. We thought about another extended holiday, talked about moving cities and even considered moving back to New Zealand. All of those ideas will appear in some form in our future, but what actually happened in 2015 was that our employment situations shifted. Change is as good as a holiday, they say, and new jobs and business opportunities provided a new perspective. In this way, 2015 was a satisfying year.

Blogging-wise it was a little patchy. A busy life provides lots of material for blogging, but little time in which to write posts. Still, there were some stand-out moments. With regard to food, the blog’s raison d’être, the most popular post was Best Roast Chicken, generating the most website hits (by far) that I have ever had in one day (I blame the golden crispy skin in one of the photos!). However, my personal favourite was A taste of home (Fish & Fennel Pie) for the fishing photographs as much as for the recipe.

Another key theme of the blog is the ways that we create or make a home. The post My home is green and gold was an opportunity to reflect on the different landscapes and colours of my two homes, Australia and New Zealand. The post was extremely cathartic to write, and seemed to hit a nerve for ex-pat readers, New Zealanders and otherwise.

As for 2014, travel was a bit light. My post Road Trip was therefore an attempt to relive a past holiday and re-explore a favourite idea – the liminal nature of the journey. Photographically, the post Small things: Flowers & Fur was was the most satisfying to produce, and a good reminder to notice the minutiae of every day life.

My year in review posts always follow the convention of selecting one photograph to represent each month, using a photograph that was taken during that month. Some months have ample material from which to choose; others have very little and it’s harder to find something decent. Nonetheless, I enjoy the discipline of attempting to sum up an entire year in just 12 images – it’s my once-per-year journal entry. Thank you for reading Chez Moi in 2015 and best wishes for the year ahead!

Dramatic skies over Cairns

January: I visited Cairns (in Far North Queensland) three times in 2015, all for work. This photo was taken on the first trip, from the window of the plane as we descended. Over the course of four days April and I flew from Cairns to Townsville then drove to Airlie Beach, MacKay and finally to Rockhampton. It was blisteringly hot, but a great way to see some more of this beautiful state.

Rainforest fungus in Queensland

February: February was a tough month as my lovely grandmother died. Despite the sadness, it was a privilege to help care for her during her final days, back in New Zealand. This photo was taken at Lamington National Park on the weekend I returned to Brisbane. The cool air of the deep green rainforest was just what I needed.

Wesley Mission church in Brisbane CBD

March: I love how the Albert St Uniting Church looks miniaturised from this angle. This photo was taken from the top of the Clock Tower at City Hall, which is accessed via the Museum of Brisbane – the best little free museum you’ll ever go to. On this day we were there for the Costumes from the Golden Age of Hollywood exhibition.

Fishing in the pristine waters of New Zealand

April: We travelled back to New Zealand for a week during late March and early April. Thanks to Dad, we squeezed in an early morning fishing trip on Doubtless Bay. It was a pristine day, and as the sun came up the fish were in a frenzy to eat our bait. Exciting fishing!

Greg's 50th in New Farm Park, May 2015c

May: May was for celebrating the birthday of our dear friend Greg with pavlova in New Farm Park. It was also the month that I started saying goodbye to friends and colleagues in preparation for starting my new job. Four delicious cakes helped me show my appreciation for them.

Weekend away at Coolum Beach. Sunrise on day two

June: In early June we had a lovely weekend at Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast, a last hurrah before I started my new job. We climbed Mt Coolum, had a massage in Noosa and enjoyed long walks on the beautiful beach. A perfect weekend getaway before knuckling down to the task of remembering all those new names.

Gluten free, dairy free, high protein muesli slice

July: I must have been busy in July, because the only photos I have are of Chocolate & Cardamom Muesli Bars. There was an unexpected trip to Perth in July, but beyond that, maybe we were still recovering from the epic party we threw in June to celebrate Colin’s 40th birthday? Quite possibly.

Good morning Brisbane - a golden sunrise floods our apartment

August: One morning in August I woke up to find the apartment flooded with golden light. Winter in Brisbane is a beautiful thing indeed. Other clues to August events lie in my calendar and photo library – new cafe discoveries, yoga with friends, and a winter sniffle. Not pictured: the flatmate experiment that went spectacularly wrong.

My best technique for crispy skin and succulent chicken meat

September: And here it is, the most popular food post of the year – Best Roast Chicken – in which a process of dry-brining leads to crispy skin and succulent meat nirvana. Besides roasting chickens, in September we also enjoyed a weekend away at the Glasshouse Mountains and my work activities took a smelly turn at the local rubbish tip.

The Old Windmill next to the Spring Hill Reservoir

October: October was a cultured month, with a delightful visit to the heritage-listed St Isidore’s for lunch with my book club group, and a roam through some of Brisbane’s most iconic buildings courtesy of Brisbane Open House. This photo was taken inside the Old Windmill in Spring Hill, which has a bloody history indeed.

Tahini Cookies

November: November swooped towards year’s end at an alarming rate. Even so, being in the kitchen is one of my ways to relax and unwind and I found time to make many things, including some recipes I’m still working on. These Tahini Cookies are an old favourite and they never fail to please.

Fresh flowers from Mum's garden in the Far North of New Zealand

December: The last month of the year always feels so short. December was busy with end-of-year celebrations, baking homemade gifts, shopping and wrapping presents. Christmas was extra special in 2015 because we were at home for the first Christmas in four years. Mum always picks flowers for our room whenever we make it home, and this time they seemed especially lovely.

13 Comments

  1. Michele

    I discoverd your blog mid year, so this recap has encouraged me to link across to earlier entries. Its fascinating how we crave change, and yet when we look back we find our daily lives have been far more adventurous and varied than we thought. And I suppose this is one of the advantages of marking our years in weeks and months, because when we start afresh ( New Year), as well as looking forward we tend to be retrospectively introspective…. Healthy as a one off, not so helpful if we wallow in it!

    So your photographic journal of the year gone has been a joy to visit, and you have encouraged me to consider doing the same. I loved your hankering for home (my home is green and gold). That pull for all which is comfortable and familiar is the heartache of every expat. I have memories of standing in botanic gardens around the world, sniffing the crinkled gum leaf and yearning for home.

    May 2016 provide your followers with many more great reads. Thank you.

    • Thank you for all the thoughtful comments you have left over the past six months Michele! I have enjoyed reading them all. The image of you inhaling gum leaves on the other side of the world is a very poignant one. Living internationally always sounds so exciting and glamorous – which it can be – but its also more complicated than that. Living here in Australia has given me a far stronger sense of being a New Zealander than I ever had at home, so when I go back, every aspect of my experience seems heightened. To use your terms, it feels so comfortable and familiar, but at the same time, because I’m acutely aware of how comfortable I feel, I am constantly reminded of my expat status! Very Mobius strip.

      • Michele

        You threw me with the mobius strip comment. I knew it as a mathmetical descriptor, but not in relation to philosophical and emotional explanations. Now I do, and I love it. Those single sided, same same but different moments seem to fill our lives. Once I got my head around it I immediately thought of one of Primo Levi’s short stories about a ‘tinkerer’ who adapted a copying machine to ‘clone’ people. (Very precient in these days of 3D printers.) anyway he duplicated his wife, and altho No 2 was an identical copy, the moment external influences came to bear she became different. So to get back to our original premise, the moment you left your beloved NZ those external influences changed your perceptions of it. I think we could discourse on this at length over a gin and tonic. Levi available to borrow as well!

      • I did my PhD in the field of (post) Lacanian psychoanalysis and the mobius strip is a favourite motif for problematising binary phenomena and describing therapeutic processes…I’m a long way from all of that now, but the mobius strip is one idea that persists for me. Primo Levi sounds interesting; gin sounds necessary!

    • Philippa, I’ve been thinking about this comment for the last couple of hours, since I first saw it! You’ve given me some ideas…still half formed but I’m sure they will appear here at some point. Beyond this already significant gift, I think it’s safe to say that this is the loveliest comment I have ever received. Thank you for your generosity xxx

  2. What an awesome introduction to your blog. 🙂 Looks like your year was filled with a whole bunch of fabulousness, especially love your wintery Brisbane outlook, Canberra is bleak, cold and miserable. I do hope your 2016 is filled with all the fun, love and deliciousness. Cheers, Anna

    • Hi Anna, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! It was nice to look back and realise what a fun and busy year it was. I look forward to having a good read of your blog, especially your travel and Canberra recommendations!

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