About colonizethemoon

36 years old. Reformed smoker. Unreformed drinker. Antisocial neighbour. Sometime shower-singer. Speaker of appalling German. On a quest to become a grown up. In all the good ways and none of the bad. Originally from Sydney (via Wales, Spain, and Newcastle, NSW) now living and working in god's country - aka Munich, Germany.

How to Have Stronger Character Beginnings

Oh yes. Need to read this a few more times. Perfect advice for Nanowrimo!

A Writer's Path

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What’s the best way to initiate a solid protagonist character?

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Here is the pretty: Top 5 Beauty Products

The five beauty products I cannot live without, no matter how tight the budget.

http://www.amazon.com/KMS-FreeShape-Quick-Blow-Dry/dp/B005JDPS7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415701229&sr=8-1&keywords=kms+quick+blow+dry

1. KMS Free Shape Quick Dry

This stuff is the bomb. It cuts down trying time, saving your precious strands from a second longer under the dryer than they need to be. It also acts as a leave-in conditioner, giving hair gloss and health without weighing it down.

Fake bake

2. Fake Bake Flawless Tanner

Whenever I use this stuff on my face and chest, people comment on how healthy and relaxed I look. When I forget it, people try to dial me an ambulance. It’s super-simple and fool proof and NEVER makes you look orange. Trust me, I’ve tried them all. You put it on before bed, it develops overnight and you wash off the “guide” (darker colour which helps you see which parts you’ve done or missed) in the morning. Voila! Perfect, streak free tanning that fades naturally. Literally idiot-proof. It also doesn’t stain sheets or clothes…unless you drool. Water makes the guide wash off and you can end up with slightly purple discolourations. So don’t drool.

BB

3. Garnier BB Cream

This stuff cannot be beat for value. It’s light and relatively sheer, and gives a nice glow to my dry skin. It won’t cover spots so if you prefer full coverage or you’ve got some zits or redness, you will need to add concealer to your routine. But you can’t go past this for giving you a healthy glow (they also do a matt version), with some coverage.

Brush

4. Rotating Brush hairdrying wand.

I was “blessed” with thin, lank hair that, if left to it’s own devices, will frizz but stay stuck to my head. Enter this baby. You plug it in and warm air comes out through the brush which rotates clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on which button you press. It takes a few attempts to get used to, and it certainly isn’t pretty. But once you’ve got the hang of it your hair turns out with bounce, a nice natural-looking curl and volume every single time. Takes a bit longer than normal drying, but I can get three days out of a blow-dry with this – and that makes the investment worth it. This is the exact model I have. I don’t even really know what it’s called because mine is in German, so I made up the name.

KP Duty

5. DermaDoctor KP duty

My friend Jen used to rep for DermaDoctor and totally drank the Kool-Aid. Thank god, because she ended up with a bunch of stuff after her repping days, and passed this along to me after I complained of the rough bumps on the top of my arms. I suffer from Keratosis Pilaris and this stuff blitzes it. It’s not cheap, but if you want the confidence of smooth arms (and I guess you can get KP on other body parts too) then it’s worth the investment.

However! I have to say that since I eliminated all grains and sugar from my diet, and introduced a daily cup of bone broth, my KP has completely disappeared. My skin is much, much smoother. Still, it’s quite a sacrifice to make if you’re not on that particular food journey, and this stuff does it for you without the dietary change.

What are your “can’t live without” beauty products?

Latest WoDs – working on my snatch

So this is a snatch. The spotted onesie is optional.

But for those who have ever overheard a conversation on public transport, we know snatch can also be used in a vulgar way to refer to a delicate part of the female anatomy. Which brought about a funny situation with a colleague the other day. He asked me what our skill of the week was at Crossfit. I said I was working on my snatch.

He started, blushed and then stammered “What…like…pelvic floor exercises?”

I couldn’t stop laughing. Once we cleared up that misunderstanding, he couldn’t either. Anyway.

This week I had both the best and the worst workouts I’ve ever done.

Friday’s WoD was called Air Force. And it looked like this.

FITNESS
“Air Force”
20 Thruster, 45/30 kg
20 Sumo Deadlift High Pull, 45/30 kg
20 Push Jerks, 45/30 kg
20 Overhead Squats, 45/30 kg
20 Front Squat, 45/30 kg
4 Burpees at the beginning of every minute.

The burpees are the thing that kills you. You feel like you just finished a set and then you have to start on another one. Constantly getting down and getting back up again is extremely tiring. I am not ashamed to admit that I was using the 10kg bar for this.

I am ashamed to admit that I cheated towards the end. I was doing more like 12 or 15 reps of the last 3 exercises. And I felt like my heart was bursting out of my chest.

However! I redeemed myself on Sunday. Not only have I got the hang of the snatch – albeit still with a 10kg weight – but I was third to finish this workout, without missing a single skip or rep. Granted, I was using the lighter weight, and I scaled ring rows for pull-ups because I am not even close to getting my chin anywhere near the bar. But I can skip like the wind, and I don’t get tired doing it so whatever I lost on the reps I made back up in the skips.

Workout
200 Single unders
21 Overhead squats
21 Pull-ups
200 Single unders
15 Overhead squats
15 Pull-ups
200 Single unders
9 Overhead squats
9 Pull-ups

11 mins 13 seconds. Not amazing but great for me. And especially considering it was the first time ever I have done an overhead squat with the bar. I don’t go that deep, but I do it.

Thanks for watching.

The Bag Lady Solution

Photo Credit: ryanmcginnisphoto via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ryanmcginnisphoto via Compfight cc

With no disrespect to this lady or to homelessness intended, this is what I look like on the days I go to crossfit. I am carrying:

  • My gym bag – a large, over-the-shoulder, traditional sports bag
  • My handbag – this is also fairly large as it needs to accommodate the usual lady accoutrements in addition to hat, gloves and umbrella now that winter has struck our fair city
  • My cooler bag – our office canteen doesn’t cater to coeliacs and they definitely don’t have paleo options (think dumplings, schnitzels and kaiserschmarrn), so I bring a Lunchbot full of leftovers each day and usually some nuts or berries or other fruit

It’s hard to get on and off peak hour trains with this load. I’m constantly getting stuck between people or caught in a tangle of my own straps. Not to mention it’s damn hot on the trains too. God help me if I try to shuck the bags and wriggle out of my heavy coat. I usually end up groping someone or copping a sharp shove to the back. And if I ride my bike to the station, it acts like a stubborn pack mule and tries to shake me off at every turn.

My question is – has anyone else found a good solution to this? Anyone else suffering from bag lady syndrome and managed to find one way to carry all these things? I was thinking of a rucksack/backpack, but the only ones I’ve found lack an insulated pocket for the food I need to bring.

Can anyone, anywhere offer some advice?

Simple Dishes: Seared Duck Breast + Broccoli

Oh dear god this looks amazing! Going to try it out tonight.

eat. live. paleo.

Seared duck breasts are surprisingly simple to make.  We love duck —  they make a great departure from chicken, beef, pork, lamb… the usual meats we eat.

Here’s how I usually sear duck breasts:

Rinse and pat-dry the duck breasts.  Score the skin side — I like to make the cross-hatch quite small, so that the fat really renders out and makes the skin crispy.  Salt and pepper both sides, and let it stand at room temperature for half an hour.

Heat a pan/skillet on high.  When hot, place the duck breasts, skin-side down, in the pan/skillet.  Sear the skin for about 7 minutes, until the skin is crispy and a golden brown.  Turn, and sear the meat-side, for about 6 or 7 more minutes for medium-rare (depending on size).  Transfer onto a plate and cover with foil, and let it rest for at least 5 minutes.

(**While the duck…

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Five common mistakes German speakers make in English

hoto Credit: Garyisajoke via Compfight cc

hoto Credit: Garyisajoke via Compfight cc

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. Fuck knows WHAT I am saying in German half the time, but I know that on at least one occasion I told people I went nude sledding instead of night sledding. The best thing about that language though, is that it’s so handily practical. If you don’t know the word for something, you can just describe it!

Don’t know what gloves are called? Just ask for hand-shoes (Handschuhe). Guess what? That’s the right word. Your gums are hurting? Just complain about your teeth meat (Zahnflesich), and you’ll be right on track. And your wrist is sprained? I think we both know you mean your hand-joint (Handgelenke) don’t you? Want to put something in your pocket? No. Actually, you want to put it in your trouser-bags (Hosentaschen).

So. While I go around murdering this lovely language, let me tell you the instant giveaways that you’re not a native English speaker. Just in case you were wondering.

“I’ve been here since ten minutes.”/ “I’ve lived here since two years.”

Nope. You’ve been here for ten minutes. Or else you’ve lived here since 2012. I don’t know why. No-one said English made sense. That’s just how it is. Deal.

“On the other hand side.”

There is no other hand side. There’s another hand. And there’s another side. Put them together and you’ve stepped through the looking glass.

“I need this until Friday.”

Actually, you need it by Friday. If you need it until Friday, that means you expect me to continually give it to you all the way to Friday. Which has come out sounding way dirtier than I meant it. You can say “You have until Friday to give it to me” but that sounds rather demanding and impolite.

“Let’s see how it looks like.”

We can see how it looks. Or we can see what it looks like. We cannot, unfortunately, do a combination of those things.

“This is the actual version.” “Could you please make this content more actual?”

Actual, in English, means real. Aktuell, in German, means current or up-to-date. So I can totally see where you’re coming from. But unless you’re speaking to someone who is familiar with this mistake, you’re going to be causing quite a bit of confusion.

That’s it! They’re the most common ones I ever hear.

Now, let me tell you about the time I went sledding…

Book Review – Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers By Mary Roach

Books like this make my world go round. Really. It was also an NYT best-seller, so chances are good I am not the only one who loved the heck out of it. But why?

Firstly, I love non-fiction. I feel like I am getting two for the price of one when I read a really great non-fiction book: an education and the pleasure of reading the words of someone skilled at their craft – the pleasure of reading for it’s own sake.

Secondly, good ones are often hard to come by. Some writers can get so absorbed in their subject matter that they forget the book might not be read by scholars but rather laymen interested in the topic. Other writers may lack the finesse needed to pull non-fiction off, and the finished product can be dry and uninteresting. But when the two things come together well – immense knowledge of a topic and great word-smithing – it’s a complete delight to me.

Mary Roach nails it with this book. She investigates every single aspect of what can be our “life” after death, so to speak. The various afterlives of cadavers, should they be donated to science, involved in an accident, or just suffer garden-variety death.

The book is so incredibly respectfully written. Not an easy feat considering she discusses an ordinarily taboo and unpleasant topic. Roach somehow manages to write about adult male cadavers dressed in leotards and used as crash test dummies without causing any distress to the reader.

I loved this book for what it taught me about things I’d never considered, such as the embalming process when bodies are prepared for viewing by loved ones, or how what happened in air fatalities is pieced together in investigations. But mostly I loved it for the moral questions it raised with me. Namely the ethics of dealing with corpses donated to science. And the issue of how we choose to be handled once we have passed on.

The first part, dealing with ethics, is something I had never thought of. Basically everything we know about our live selves was learned through studying dead bodies. Here, science has an inglorious past and several of Roach’s historical stories were stomach-churning. You’ve probably heard of Burke and Hare, but there were so many more commonplace travesties. Men inheriting medical positions from their fathers, despite lacking even the most fundamental training or consideration for human life and conducting experimental public surgery on suffering patients without even the benefit of anaesthesia.

One quote from the book has stuck with me. Robert Berkow, author of a definitive medical textbook said, “It wasn’t until around 1920 that the average patient with the average illness seeing an average physician came away better for the encounter.” Every time I have been to the doctor since, I have said a silent thank you to all the poor souls who have fallen ill before me. Science didn’t get to where it is today without effort, sacrifice, experiment and suffering. We are so lucky we live in an age where we can take advantage of that.

But there are so many things that we still need to research. If you learned that a relative had donated their body to science and you ever thought about what that might entail, you would perhaps like to imagine some gentle, laboratory-style research being carried out on blood and tissue. How would you feel if you learned they were actually being shot at close range to study the damage done by bullets and to develop better protection for soldiers or officers? These are the questions Roach broached with members of the scientific community carrying out these studies. Not every corpse can be used to try to cure cancer, sometimes we just need to learn more about how bodies decompose so we can better investigate murders and deaths.

It’s something I had never considered before, and gave me great respect for people who choose to donate their bodies to science. I also realised that if a loved one of mine does so, the less I know about it the better.

As for final resting places, in most cultures this involves some form of burial. But how do we deal with booming populations and the accompanying space shortages they bring about? Not everyone can be buried on a plot of land within the bounds of a peaceful green garden. Stiff introduces some alternatives to this, and the one that captured my interest was Promessa. A Swedish company, Promessa offers to transform your remains into a kind of ecologically-friendly fertiliser that can be used to nourish a tree or plant.

This book is a fascinating, hilarious and highly-recommended read that is sure to prompt some interesting discussions around your dinner table