Inspiration // New Year's Resolution Challenge

On the 1st of January 2014 I made a new year's resolution unlike any other. I wasn't planning on losing weight or exercising more, or any of the typical new year's resolutions. My goal for 2014 was to learn to do everything I've wanted to learn to do in the past but have always been too lazy or busy for. Ok, not quite everything, but 12 things. One for every month. This has been the only resolution I have ever managed to keep. In some cases I took classes and in others youtube was enough. I challenge you to pick 12 things you've always wanted to learn to do and do them in 2015. Here's what 2014 looked like for me:

January: Learn to play the Ukulele

My mother never let my siblings or I learn to play an instrument when we were young. (Well, aside from that time in primary school when my youngest brother decided to learn to play the cello, but we mustn't speak of those dark times.) She obviously felt being in the choir was more than enough musical education, with the added convenience of no home work involving string instruments. So, number one on my list of goals was to learn to play the ukulele. A happy little instrument. Well, it turns out learning to play the ukulele is pretty easy and fun. Nailed it! This course helped a lot as well.

February: Learn to dive

I always had posters of reefs and underwater landscapes up on my bedroom walls, and for ages I dreamt of becoming a marine biologist so that I could explore these underwater wonderlands. Luckily I discovered that you don't have to be a marine biologist to dive. You only need to be a little bit brave and have $300 - $500. We planned a trip to Thailand for March that wouldn't have been half as amazing if we hadn't gone diving. We learnt to dive at Dive Centre in Manly and they were great. On our most recent dive, at Magic Point in Sydney, we saw 5 wobbegong sharks, 7 grey nurse sharks, 1 juvenile great white, 1 cat shark, 1 nudibranch, 2 weedy sea dragons and 1 fur seal.

March: Learn to play the guitar

Yes, I'd barely gotten my head around ukulele chords and now I had to learn an entirely new set of chords on a more grown up instrument. I'm happy to report that I can now play several songs and even have most of the barre chords mastered. I apologise to my neighbours.

April: Learn to make a wedding bouquet and floral crowns

Done and done. These were super fun things to learn to do because they involved several trips to the Sydney Flower Markets, as documented here.

May: Learn to sew and read patterns

I've always dabbled a bit in sewing, but I'd never learnt to read a pattern or to make an actual item of clothing. So of course I chose the hardest possible thing to make: a wedding dress. I borrowed a sewing machine and got cracking, the results are below. I also made a bunny for my future niece. And another wedding dress. And a whale soft toy. Then I got over it a bit.

June: Learn to make sushi

Becoming a sushi chef takes 5 or more years of training so I wasn't hoping for much. My goal was simply to make one decent batch of nigiri and salmon rolls. Youtube taught me and they were absolutely delicious.

July: Learn to train a dog

We got a puppy in July. Her name is Oyster and she's a Shih Zu x Bichon Frise. She's absolutely adorable and incredibly naughty, so training was important from day 1. So far we've conquered sit, stay, come, lie down, fetch and we're working on shake.

August: Learn to make terrariums

Nailed it! Here's the post as evidence. This was so much fun that every birthday and Christmas present I've given this year has been a terrarium. My family and friends are now in possession of several and I'm running out of table space.

September: Learn to grow and propagate carnivorous plants

I have always been fascinated by carnivorous plants. You have no idea how many venus flytraps I've killed in the past. I was determined to learn how to keep them alive and thriving for several years. There had to be a trick. And it turns out there is: use demineralised water. The salts in tap water burn the roots of carnivorous plants which causes them to become stunted and die. There's also one other little fact I wasn't aware of: they become dormant during winter and sometimes completely die back until there's nothing left above the soil. This was something I discovered with a sundew I bought before winter. It is now 3 sundews and thriving. And then I discovered Nepenthes and Sarracenia and completely lost it. I now have an incredible collection of these strange plants with several seeds germinating in propagation boxes.

October: Learn to crochet

Over the past couple of years all my friends have learned to crochet. I know how to knit, but never thought twice about crochet, until now. I'm a junkie. I've made 15 baby hats and I don't even have a baby! Luckily I'm a newborn photographer so they do have a use. Wooly Wonders Crochet is an awesome teacher. I did, however, show some of my creations to my mother and she laughed and called me a newb. Apparently it's all about lace crochet, which is more of this and less of baby hats.

November: Learn how to rock climb

Scared of heights? Not me. 98% monkey? That's me. So why have I not tried rock climbing before? I have no idea! It's so much fun and I think it's about to become my new sport. Running is a thing of the past, it's all about the upper body strength now.

December: Learn how to make Christmas Lunch

I've never done this before, I've always had a mother or a mother-in-law who made Christmas lunch for me. But not this year. This year it's all on my young shoulders.