Christmas Shopping

I’m currently researching ideas for Christmas, because I LOVE Christmas! A lot of people I know are into tech gifts, so my usual google search involves the words ‘tech’ ‘rad’ ‘unique’ etc.

What I’ve found unfortunate however, is that if I haven’t found anything worthwhile or in my price range with those searches, inevitably, I end up on a page that’s titled something like ‘ultimate presents for boyfriends/fathers/boys’.

It’s something that irks me, because even though it’s true, a lot of boys like tech, so do I, and so do plenty of females I know.

And when you look up ‘cool tech presents for girls’ a lot of the time the products are  just lamer, albeit prettier versions of the boys toys. Or time saving products (you know, because all of the time traveling back to the fifties to do the ironing we have to do).

It’s definitely getting better every year, so there’s that. And the first product I clicked on while I was on the boys toys page was the Poo Head – Velcro Cap Poo Flinging Game. So maybe I’m just not as much of a lady as other girls.

 

Ramble over.

 

HOW COOL IS THIS THO

 

poohead

Aloft Santa Clara

We stayed at the Aloft Santa Clara this past weekend for our 4 year anniversary, and I really can’t speak highly enough of our experience.

The hotel is only about 9 weeks old, so the hotel is shiny and new and funky and everything cool that you’d expect from an Aloft. From the moment we arrived to when we left the level of service we experienced was outstanding.

Ryan had told the General Manager before we arrived and spoke to the receptionist as well, letting them know that it was a very special weekend for us, and they were so accommodating – we didn’t actually expect anything really, because we’re aware that Aloft hotels generally don’t provide extras.

But they did. From the Happy Anniversary from the receptionist when we first walked in  – to a knock on our door Saturday afternoon, where we were given a celebratory gift of wine glasses, wine, and a handwritten congratulations card.

It was pretty amazing.

Aside from that excellence, the bar staff were also so lovely, and the bar itself was a standout for comfort and atmosphere.The room was great, bed was super comfy, all those good things.

The location is a bit tricky if you didn’t have a car, but a close enough drive to anywhere you might need to go. They also have a pool that’s open 24/7 which is pretty crazy.

The Aloft is a Starwood Category 5 hotel, so 12,000 – 16, 000 points per night.

 

 

Players changes

I’m currently changing the novel that I’m currently writing (Players for those playing at home) from a first person narrative to third person limited. I find writing in first person much easier, even though it doesn’t particularly show in my writing.

“Third person limited point of view is a method of storytelling in which the narrator knows only the thoughts and feelings of a single character, while other characters are presented only externally. Third person limited grants a writer more freedom than first person, but less than third person omniscient.”

While: “A first-person narrative is a story from the first-person perspective: the viewpoint of a character writing or speaking directly about themselves and what they see.”T

Even though I’m 50,000 words deep on Players, yesterday I started playing around with the narrative voice and decided I would test out changing it to third person limited and so far I think it’s changing for the better, which always makes me happy!

Even if I eventually decide to change it back (just swap back to that edit), I find that it’s a really good exercise for me personally to go back through and really focus on the story and the development of character if I’m feeling a little writers block-y or lost in the story.

Which I am now.

I try to write every day on a number of projects, but sometimes when I get writers block on a particular project I give it a break, or rather give my mind a break from that project, and as good as that may be for my creativity in regard to that project, sometimes I can lose the rhythm of the story, or the heart of the characters.

Reading it back thoroughly and carefully is very helpful, and at this point, is getting me inspired and excited about Players again. That, other projects, (mainly short stories at this point) reading, and of course, general life stuff.

Like, the actor Shia La Beouf sitting in a cinema for 3 days watching all of his movies in chronological order whilst live streaming his face over the internet. I could write a story about that for sure. In fact, I am. Thanks, Shia.

 

(Small) Review of The Westin Grande Sukhumvit

We stayed for a week at the Westin Grande Sukhumvit using Starwood points at the beginning of this year, right after we stayed at the Aloft, and right before we went to Osaka.

Unfortunately I think I enjoyed my stay here less thank the Aloft for a number of reasons that have less to do with the hotel and more to do with me. I got really sick with a cold almost the minute we got to the hotel – so much so that we thought I was really allergic to something in the room (like the beautiful flower arrangement we had to have them take away sad-face).

I also had really high expectations for the Westin, driven even higher than our way better than expected stay at the Aloft.

Don’t get me wrong – The Westin is a really, really nice hotel. The staff are wonderful, the rooms are big, the amenities are great, the gym is small but good, and the pool is actually magical. But I was in bed a lot, sick in the head AND in the tummy, which means that like 70% of my diet was Macdonalds chips. Yum?

The hotel felt way more business-y than I had thought it was, and I felt like it was lacking in character because of that fact, especially in direct comparison with the Aloft.

The club was nice. Small, but comfortable with a buffet of both hot and cold snacks, including the usual cheeses and crudite etc, as well as Thai dishes. The staff were very lovely here and the drinks were to order. The location is pretty much exactly opposite Terminal 21 and the NANA BTS Skytrain- so pretty perfect.

We were Platinum when we stayed there and got placed in a club room with free breakfast.

The Westin Grande Sukhumvit is a Category 3, and will cost 7000 points or about $128 (current at time of writing).

 

 

The books in my life right now

I’m trying to commit to reading as much as possible right now, because, as everyone knows you need to read in order to write. And I’m really trying to write!

These are the books in my life right now –  have read, reading, or intending to read:

Elements of Style by William Strunk Jnr & E.B. White. Because every writer is supposed to read it, according to anyone who’s anyone. Currently reading. 

The Paris Wife – By Paula McLain. Intending to read. Intrigued by the set of people fictionalized in the book – Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, etc.

Hard Choices By Hilary Clinton  Currently reading, on and off. Interested in her character, in the events that shaped her recent life and her ambition for the top job. It’s a little dry in the beginning, having some difficulty in staying focused.

Armada by Ernerst Cline. Intending to read. Really enjoyed his previous book Ready Player One, looking forward to this one.

The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Richard Flanagan. Intending to read. Man Booker prize winner. Australian Writer, has got great reviews.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. Intending to read. Recommended on Facebook by an old university lecturer of mine with these words – The ‘absolute highlight of my reading this year’ How could I not?

Mr Mercedes by Stephen King. Intending to read. It’s a Stephen King book and I haven’t read it yet. I love Stephen King.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Intending to read. Highly recommended YA book. Sounds intriguing.

The Birth Of Venus by Sarah Dunant. Intending to Read. This, along with a couple of others, is a book I had intended to read while we were in Florence. I failed. Because Florence. 

The Book Of Fathers by Miklos Vamos. Intending to read. A book by a top Hungarian writer. I saw this in a Hostel in Berin and the cover art made me want to read it.

The House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert. Currently reading. Another book I intended on reading while we were in Florence. Just started it, it’s great so far.

Lone Star by Paullina Simons. Intending on reading.  I loved the Tatiana and Alexander love story that Paullina Simons wrote when I was a kid, and have been trying to recreate that reading experience ever since. I’m a little apprehensive about this book as I’ve read some not so favourable reviews, so have held off on reading it for a while.

Marching Powder by Rusty Young. Intending to read. Recommended by a friend, then buried amongst other books until I watched the (amazing) Netflix show – Narcos. You should watch Narcos if you haven’t, and i should read Marching Powder.

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles. Currently reading. Picked up a signed copy when I was visiting Harvard with Ryan’s parents. Didn’t get through it before I went home last, but wanted to still read the physical copy of the book which I left at Ryan’s parents house. Getting back into it now.

Harry Potter & The Philosophers Stone – by J.K. Rowling. Intending to read (again). Querying makes me think of J.K Rowling. The Harry Potter books are great and I love them and I haven’t read them in a long time.

Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris. Intending to read. Have heard a lot about David Sedaris lately, all of it good. Excited to read this.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Currently reading.  I love cooking, have worked in restaurants, and like Anthony Bourdain a lot. Liking it so far.

Holy Cow; An Indian Adventure by Sarah MacDonald. Intending to read. Always been fascinated with India, love travel books.

The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts. Intending to read. Love Shantaram. Have high hopes for this one when I can get my hands on a copy.

The Marble Collector by Cecilia Ahern. Intending to read. Have a love hate relationship with Cecilia Ahern and her books. Will always give them a red hot go though.

Housekeeping Vs The Dirt by Nick Hornby. Intending to read. Sounds awesome, and always ont he look out for more books to read from good sources!

Funny Girl – Intending to read. Love reading books with humour in them without being pure comedies. Nick Hornby is an excellent teacher.

New Boy by Nick Earls. Intending to read. I used to live a few streets over from ZigZag street from his 2nd novel. Read it when I lived there, appreciated him as a writer, looking forward to reading this.

An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green. Currently reading. Not totally sure about John Green yet. Enjoy his books to an extent – very easy reading and he certainly knows how to sell books. I enjoy his YouTube channel as well. Am enjoying this book more than his others so far.

Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker. Intending to read. Like her a lot, this book sounds interesting.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. Finished reading. LOVED THIS BOOK. So much. I had read her first book ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’ last year and enjoyed it, Furiously Happy is really excellent. Laugh out Loud a Lot in public type excellent. Read excerpts to your partner type excellent. Insightfully excellent. Loved it.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. Finished reading. Funny & interesting. You should probably read it. And Watch his new Netflix show – Master of None. Master of none is better than Modern Romance, but only because numbers make me drift off focus, and there was a fair few stats n shizz in Modern Romance. And I was in Florence when I read it so I was already not very focused.

A Little Life. Short Stories by Hanya Yanagihara Intending to read. Trying to read a bunch of the most loved short stories as I’m trying to write more of them.

Runaway. Short Stories by Alice Munro. Currently reading. Ditto. Didn’t enjoy the first story as much as I thought I would. It made me question a lot of things about writing though, which is always good?

The Garden Party and Other Stories. Short stories by  Katherine Mansfield Intending to read. Ditto. 

Tenth Of Decembe. Short Stories by George Sanders Intending to read. Ditto.

The Thing Around Your Neck. Short Stories by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie. Intending to read. Ditto.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. Intending to read. 

Silver In The Blood by Jessica Day George. Finished reading. Easy reading and I finished it, but I didn’t love it.

The Queen Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen.Finished reading. Liked it. Will read the next one – The Invasion of the Tearling.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes. Finished Reading. Because everyone needs a little Irish chick lit, amiright?  Easy summer reading.

Twenty Eight And A Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank. Finished reading.  Didn’t really like this, a little too romance novel for me.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes  Finsihed reading.  As someone who loves the movie, this was a great quick read. Enjoyed it.

Sick In The Head by Judd Apatow. Currently reading. Not as good as I thought it would be so far. Haven’t read very much though. Have hope!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. Finished reading. Took me a while to get into this, but enjoyed it more and more as I continued on. Worthwhile read.

Familyhood by Paul Reiser Finished reading.  Loved him as a comic, in Mad About You, and particularly his first two books – Couplehood and Babyhood. This was slightly disappointing, and I hate saying that.

Luckiest girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. Finished reading.  Eh. very Gone Girl. But I didn’t really like Gone Girl either. Might make a good movie, though?

DragonFlight by Anne McCaffrey Kind of reading?  I love this book, so sometimes i just go back and read parts of itI

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Finished reading.  Really liked this book. Will definitely read the next one.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Same as DragonFlight. Will go back and read it again and again.

On Writing by Stephen King. Same as above. So many lessons in this book, it’s a goldmine.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – Listened to this on walks at home. Was great.

David And Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. Currently listening to with Ryan. Enjoying it.

If you have any suggestions of other books to read, let me know!

The other things that I read right now are the Renegade Collective Magazine when I can get my mitts on it, because it’s the best magazine I’ve read in ages, and cooking magazines, because cooking.

 

 

HAHA! I’M BACK! With an Aloft Bangkok review…

Take that Thursday Eve resolutions! Today, you lucky sons of bitc*es get a review of the Aloft Hotel in Bangkok.

You should probably stay there.

Is that enough? No? Ok. We stayed at the Aloft using Starwood points at the beginning of the year. The week preceding the 26th of January, to be precise. How do I, renowned hopeless date rememberer, know this? Because that’s Australia Day, dummies. And we celebrated in style in Bangkok.

See?

IMG_0105

Classy. In the background, you can see the bedhead from our room at the Aloft. Fancy, huh? Well, the Aloft Bangkok is fancy, but not in the ‘your butler will be here 24/7 for whatever you need, sir’ type of fancy.

It, like other Aloft hotels we’ve stayed in is very loud and hip and architecturally funky, and lighting design funky. The nightclub that’s attached to it seems super popular (though we never went) and on Friday night’s it seems like it’s pretty pumping.

The Aloft is located in an excellent position in Sukhumvit Soi 11, right near the NANA BTS Skytrain, walking distance to all kinds of fun Soi’s, and right next to Terminal 21 Shopping Mall (killer mango sticky rice in the food court)

AND right outside are in our opinion some of the best Mango and Street meat vendors in THE WHOLE OF BANGKOK. Pretty high words, I know.

The rooms were smallissh but perfectly comfortable with a super comfortable bed, Mini Bar, etc. The Rooftop Pool is not by any means the tallest or most impressive in Bangkok but is big enough and has a good birds-eye view of the surrounding area.

Being an Aloft, we didn’t really get any platinum recognition, which is fine with us,but the staff were really nice and competent and we did get free breakfast which was pretty nice. Nothing outstanding, but your general Omelette Station, Sausages, hash-browns, fruits etc.

There’s an (expectedly) overpriced cafe, a Pool Table, an mayble slightly less overpriced pool bar, and a pretty nice little Gym that we used a few times until we forgot to.

Aloft is a category 2 Starwood and is the cheapest option in Bangkok, both if you’re paying in dollars (usually under $100USD)  or points (4000/night, 3000/weekend nights)

I have unfortunately misplaced all my photos from our time at the Aloft except for this one:

IMG_0091

 

So until I find them, that’ll have to do. Oh and here’s a link to the website so you can see what the hotel actually looks like n stuff.  –

 

http://www.aloftbangkoksukhumvit11.com/

 

Peace! xx

 

p.s. You should totally go to Bangkok, we love it there. I’ll write another post about the city another time… or will I…