Saturday, 27 February 2010

Shrove Tuesday and the Glories of Nutella

This has made my day!  I just checked analytics and flipped around it in a bit - I'm still learning what things mean etc.  In seeing what google searches led to my sight, it turns out that my soulmate (whoeever it is) search for "shrove tuesday and the glories of nutella".  What a specific, heartwarming, mouth watering search phrase? I am sorry for that person as I don't believe I have ever used those words and I doubt they stayed long, but please, do come back - I think we could be firm friends!

We didn't end up having Nutella on Shrove Tuesday, but I did last weekend.  Our trip to Vienna was in two parts, over the three days.  We spent Saturday and Monday in Vienna, with Sunday (incl. Sat night and early Monday morning) out in Edlach, staying with friends and their family.  Their hospitality was amazing and I can't remember the last time I've eaten so much food, and been offered it so often.  Desserts with every meal, choices of desserts with every meal.  One of the desserts was crepes with Nutella.  Or should that be, crepes with the glories of Nutella.

After being offered so much food and overwhelmed by the number of dessert and cake choices (that seemingly changed with each meal), I asked one of our hosts, Lizzie, if they usually had this many cakes.  Her response, dead pan, well serious - "oh, no.  Only on special occaisions, like if someone is coming over or it is the weekend."  In 5 meals (including two breakfasts), we were offered 6 different cakes/sweets.  I loved it, but I couldn't live it.

Oh, may I mention that these cakes and desserts we were offered in Edlach were in addition to the one at the coffee shop in Edlach or the several at the Viennese coffee houses in Vienna or the several blocks of chocolate we had in Vienna or the green hot chocolate in Edlach.  Yeah, it was a totally OTT indulgent weekend.  But I'll be back with picture soon.

In the meantime - happy happy Friday and go have yourselves a ripper weekend.  What is in store for it?

Updated - pics of just some of the sweets we had.  And the random chocolate flavours (Mandarin & mustard, hempseed & mocha, peanut & ketchup).


Friday, 26 February 2010

Ten on a Tuesday on a Thursday again

I'm well behind in life this week and this blog is no exception.  I returned late Monday night (actually early Tuesday morning) after a brilliant weekend in Vienna and Edlach and have been chasing my tail ever since.  I feel as if I'm coming down with something but I'm pretty sure it is just lack of sleep.  So, I've prioritised that over pretty much all other things this week.  Posting will probably be non-existent until the weekend but I've dropped by for this one.  The ten questions focus on desserts.  So not to strenuous for this tired girl.

Questions, as always, via Chelsea

1. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
A good coffee fudge never goes astray, or passionfruit gelato.  I'm pretty easily pleased though.

2. What is your earliest memory?
Of our child minder (Alice, a lovely Irish lady about 10 years older than my parents), giving me a big paper bag of sweets the night before a plane ride.  Connected to this, I remember walking off on Dad (against his explicit instructions) at Melbourne Airport when we were in the viewing deck watching the planes the next day.  My reasoning? I wanted to return to Mum who was minding our luggage and lolly bags. 

3. What is your earliest memory of a dessert?
Lollies and sweets aside, this is a hard one. I remember mish mash desserts my cousins and I would make each Christmas on the kids table.  They'd be chocolate pudding (none of us liked dried fruit so we didn't have Christmas pudding - the adults did though), vanilla ice-cream, triple swirl ice-cream (blue, pink and yellow - flavours unknown), cream and custard. 

4. Do you have any recurring dreams?
No.  I'm terrible at remembering dreams so I can't really think of any, let alone recurring ones.  I might have over the years but not recently.

5. Have you ever dreamed about dessert?
Not than I can remember.

6. What is one thing (aside from a cell phone or computer) that you cannot go the entire day without?
My lip gloss and chewy.  I'm seemingly addicted to both.

7. What is one dessert you could go your entire life without ever having again?
Junket.  Have you ever had such a thing?  Even the name makes it sound yuck. And yuck doesn't even begin to cover it.  Any dessert that is made from tablets (rennet tablets) is wrong in my book.  I just looked it up on wiki.  The first line should warn you just how bad it is:

Junket is a milk-based dessert, made with sweetened milk and rennet, the digestive enzyme which curdles milk. It might best be described as a loose pudding.

It comes in flavours.  Chocolate, strawberry etc.  They taste like the "flavoured" plaster the dentist/orthadontist uses when making a mould of your mouth ahead of braces/mouthguards.

8. If you could go on vacation tomorrow, where would you go? (Assume someone else is footing the bill, but within reason…so “the moon” won’t work)
New York.  I think I've covered.

9. If you could have any dessert tomorrow, what would you have (assume someone else is buying it for you. Within reason though, no “gold sprinkled ice cream cones.”)
My step-mum's chocolate mousse.  It's wickedly good - full of cream and chocolate - and made with love.  So, if someone offered to make it for me, I'd say yes, but it wouldn't be the same.

10. What was your first impression of your significant other? If you’re single, what was your first impression of your best friend?
Best friend - I was jealous because she had doritos (corn chips) and I didn't.  It was prep, she was 4, I was 5.  These things mattered.  Incidentally, we met in February but didn't become friends until November when she offered me a corn chip on my birthday.  That was 1987.

11. What is your first impression of dessert pizza?
Sweet.  Sounds good.  I've only ever had nuttella ones and they were great. 

Having answered those and realised there were 11, I don't feel so bad about taking until Thursday to actually do them.  Let's just say (between you and me) that the extra question took me an extra few days to think about!).  Agreed?  Yep, good, thanks.

What are your favourite desserts people?  Do tell...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sorry, missing in action

Hi - my projec 365 is still fullish steam ahead but I'm behind in sharing.  I'm away in Vienna for a few days and didn't get a chance to upload the pics before I left.  I'll catch them up when I get a chance.  In the meantime, here's a random pic from my archives:

It's Simon and Simon's Sista.  Sime snapped this self portrait of us outside York Minster in late December 2005.  He was living and working in London, I was living and working in Melbourne but came over to see him for Christmas.  We stopped by York after spending some time with the extended family in Leeds. 

Hope you are all having a great weekend

Friday, 19 February 2010

A week in review

This is a random summary of the week I've had, with other random thoughts. A Friday brain stew if you will.  It is long, and wordy and largely uninteresting.  But I'm sure your weeks weren't.  At least I hope they didn't feel to long.  Let me know though, especially what movies have you seen lately (and if you liked them) and/or a random thought from your week?

  • I've eaten well this week. Maybe too well. We had delish pancakes on Tuesday night for pancake Tuesday then I had crepes this morning for breakfast. The restaurant here are work does crepes on Fridays only. So most of my team had them this morning at our weekly team breakfast. Lemon and sugar and cinammon apple for me (yes, altogether). They were as delicious as I was hoping. I like pancakes but I love crepes. Still, I don't normally have them twice in a week.

  • I ate well, for free last night. A friend of mine does these mystery shopper type assignments at restaurants where so our meals get reimbursed. There were specific instructions to follow, but as they included that we must order at least two courses each and allow our server to offer side dishes, 2nd drinks and desserts, it was no hardship. The meal was quite good, if not a little too much food. You could have rolled me home after. Would I go to the restaurant again? Maybe, but I wouldn't initiate it. The people he does it for aren't taking on any more mystery mealers right now where we are but I'll keep my eyes out. Free food, sure.

  • The sun is not setting until after 5pm now, and getting later all the time. I knew this would come and happen, but it doesn't lessen my joy at it happening. Now for those blissful few weeks over late June, early July where it's light until 10.30pm. English summers might not be hot but they sure are light.

  • I'm so glad Torah Bright won gold in the snowboard halfpipe. She's been working hard at that dream for a long time now, giving up a lot to achieve it. All the competitors in the field have, as well as those that didn't make it, but Torah - well, she's an Aussie and we don't win winter sports very often. She's the 4th Australian Winter Olympic gold medallist. Ever. The others were Stephen Bradbury (his win needs to be seen to be believed…being the last man standing is now widely known as "doing a bradbury" in Australia), Alicia Camplin (a little pocket rocket of a freestyler), Dale Begg-Smith (Canadian born slaloms, he got silver this time around) and Torah. It's a small group but it's growing.

  • I think people who are standing still have a sixth sense as to when I'm walking by and always walk on as I'm walking past or not.  Maybe.  Maybe I'm just being paranoid.

  • I saw Invictus during the week, with Matt Damon and Morgan Freeman. They both did such good jobs with the accent. It's a relatively easy accent to mock if you were just to say "I'm Sethh Effrican" but to do believably - I think they were pretty damn good. The movie itself - I liked it to. I like Rugby, especially at international level. For rugby playing nations, there really is national pride associated with it. The 1995 Cup is the first one I really remember.

  • My boss said the most wrong thing the other day.  It went like this..."Do you know what I've been fantasing about when it comes to bank structures and systems?".  No. I don't.  And I don't want to.  I don't especially want to hear any of your fantasies but I would like you to not fantasise about banks and works.  Don't get me wrong, I'm really like my role here and the work environment but none of my dreams or fantasies and in any way related to it.  I don't want them to be either.  Weird.

  • I saw Precious last weekend. Yeah, Mariah Carey is in it but only a small part. She's good, but Gabourey Sidibe, playing the title role, was amazing. She's in pretty much every scene. It's based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire which is, sadly, based on the story of a girl Sapphire encountered whilst she was teaching in Harlem. It's not really a pleasant story so it doesn't make for a feel good movie but it is a story that should be told, well told. It's confronting and at times scary. We all got so caught up in the movie that at one point, much of the audience screamed.

  • The Lovely Bones came out today in London town. I won't get to see it (what, with a crack of dawn departure for Vienna) but I am looking forward to seeing it when I get the chance. I read the book back in 2005 and was a bit mystified by it all. I remember the main story but not so much the finer details. I probably won't know what I've forgotten v what the book left out. I have heard that they have made the heaven scenes far more dramatic and pleasing on the eye than the book lends itself to. I hope they haven't gone all "what dreams may come" on us. Given Peter Jackson directed it and it was shot on the South Island of NZ, I don't think they would have - that is where some of the world's most stunning scenery is so they needn't tweak it too much.

  • I had a bad hair day the other day.  A really bad one. It was on Wednesday.  I normally shower at 7am but I knew my housemate wanted to shower then so I had to shower earlier or run late.  I woke up during the night, checked my phone, saw it was #:28, thought sweet, jumped in the shower.  Wondered why it was still so dark outside afterwards.  Checked my phone again.  Turns out what I read as 6:28am was really 3:28am.  I happily curled up in a ball and went back to sleep.  With freshly washed but not brused or dried hair.  So yeah, I might need pay more attention to details like the time and stuff.

  • Kings of Leon are playing a Hyde Park gig in June and I'm going. It's not cheap but I wasn't a gig I had to think twice about. I'm going and I can't wait!
So that was my week - how was yours?

*And yes, I seem to have been a bit movie orientated recently - I think it is the cold and dark. I hardly see any flicks in the summer.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Before Sunrise

I'm super stoked to be heading off to Vienna, Austria this weekend.  It's a place I've long wanted to visit as it is the setting for one of my favourite movies.  I know I’ve mentioned this movie before but have you seen it? Liked it.  I’ve watched it countless times and will watch it countless more.  It’s a romance, but not a rom com and not too girly (ok – it is girly – as a male friend pointed out the other week, there are no car chases or fights or gun battles). 

It’s the story of two twenty somethings train travellers who meet by chance and spend the next 12 hours together.  I love the romantic notion behind it, I love the train travel involved in it and the “live now” approach they both have.  All around, I love it.  Ethan Hawke isn’t too bad either (if you can get past the 1995 styling he’s got going on!).

This got me thinking about how and where I travel.  This is not the only trip booked for this year because of a movie or novel. 

What’s a place that you have visited or would love to visit because of a movie/book/song? Others for me include Prince Edward Island because of Anne of Green Gables (done) and St Petersburg because of The Bronze Horseman (not done).

*Book or movie needn’t be the only reason to go somewhere.  We're heading to Vienna to see some friends too, so I think I would likely be doing this trip regardless of my love affair with this movie.  But still, the movie has played a big part. 

* In doing the teensiest amount of research ahead of the trip, I came across an article in the travel section of the NY Times.  I think it is a bit out of date now with the finer details, but regardless, my reasons for heading there do not including trying crayfish on cauliflower with grapes and fried capers.  I may however try the fair-trade coffee and mustard chocolate bars if I see them.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010



{made using Flickr photos on My Cool Signs (incase their signage wasn't already clear!)}


Thirdly, we had pancakes last night.  The really really thick fluffy sort.  With strawberries, bananas (not me - they're yuk), maple syrup, lemon, sugar, ice-cream and toffee sauce.  Not all at once either, we had a few smaller pancakes with the various toppings.  Then played Wii bowling to "work them off".  Hardly balanced out but all of it was fun.  And sometimes, that is just more important, right?

Did you have pancakes? 
How is your hump day faring?  Week passing by quickly?

Ten on a Tuesday - 18

Another set of questions, some good ones this week, from Debbie via Chelsea.

1. If you could open any type of store/place of business (money is no obstacle), what would you open?
I would love to run a book store.  A small independant store that had rooms of books and nooks and areas.  An could do readings, and wine and coffee tastings etc.  I would love for money to be such a non-obstacle that people could sit and read and I just didn't need to care about them buying stuff.  Like a library come bookstore etc.  With sweets and coffees.

Or maybe a pizza buffet - where you get to choose your own toppings and put them on?  I'd like to eat at a place like that, but not sure if I would want to run it.

2. If all jobs paid equally, what occupation would you want? Why?
Work in a bookstore.  Like Foyles.  That place is amazing. 

3. If you could be any animal in the world, what would you pick? Why?
Probably a cat - independent, nine lives, sleeps, cuddles.

4. If offered one “service” free of charge, which would you choose? (chauffeur, maid, personal shopper, chef, etc.)
Chauffer.  Not so sure why - maybe I just miss having a car.  If the supermarket was easy to get too, I wouldn't mind cooking so much etc.  I and I like supermarket shopping anyway.  My place is pretty small so having a maid wouldn't really make that much difference to me right now.

5. What is one habit, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to break?
Bejewled Blitz.  I think I will give it up for Lent.  I know that is not the traditional kind of forgoing but it is what I will do.  I play it when I should be reading, socialising, eating, cleaning, cooking, drinking, blogging and sleeping.  It really adds nothing to my life but kills time.  So.  I'm out.  For 46 days (hey - can I still play it on the Sundays?).

6. What is one thing that no matter how many you own, you still love to buy all the time?
Books.  Books.  Books.  And notepads (cute ones). And shoes and bags a bit too.  I'm a lot lot better now than when I lived in Aussie.  Weighing up a pair of shoes with ticket on the Eurostar/flights to Europe puts things into real perspective for me.

7. Out of all the game shows (past and present), which would you want to be a participant on and play?
Supermarket Sweep.  That show ended before my time but serioulsy, that is the game for me.  In the final round where you have to amass a valuable trolley load, you would not just go straight to meat, chocolate, coffee and saffron etc?  Oh, and olive oil.  Yep - that is my game.

8. If you could play the lead role in any movie that’s already been made, which movie would you pick?
Tough one.  Really really tough one.  Maybe...Mm...Hmm...I don't know. Maybe Satine from from Moulin Rouge - or Kirsten Dunst' Mary Atoinette.  Not characters I would want to be in real life but kick booty costumes.  Yeah, I think I would go for something you get to wear mad costumes or do some amazing things.  I'll keep thinking about this one.  And probably not get back to you.

9. Name 5 things on your bucket list (things you want to do before you die).
I don't have a bucket list I don't think.  I like the idea of one but I haven't made one.  Things I do want to are travel to Russia (booked for this year!!), have a chandeleir in my house, fall in love, have people over for dinners (I want a homely home where all feel welcome and I relax as a host), crochet a throw.  But these things are not on my bucket list.  Because I don't have one.

10. Which one of your birthdays was the best? What did you do that day?
I have some really good ones.  For the most part, I'm a "let's celebrate, I don't care that it is a milestone party".  Best one, or best for me, was probably my 25th.  It was the day after I'd got my final results for my post-grad and I went skydiving and to some wineries with two of my best friends.  Pizza and old school Nintendo at mine afterwards.  It sounds a bit lame but the two friends were my old housemates who had moved north to Sydney for work.  Together we'd dealt with a lot of sht in the previous few years.  It wasn't the wildest party or anything like that but it was just a relief that a few years were over and I've been a happy camper ever since. And despite saying I'm a let's celebrate kind of person (I was and I am) - I wasn't (at all) for my 23rd and 24th.  So, my 25th - a turning point of sorts for me.

My favourite family celebration was teppenyaki for my 21st.  Dad, my two brothers and I got giddy happy drunk on sake.  My stepmum couldn't stop laughing at us all.  It was so much fun watching the chef could our food and us all trying to catch it with our mouths and bowls etc.  Basically, as a family we just laughed and laughed and laughed for a really long time.  And we needed that at the time.

Feel free to play along - I'd love to hear your answers, even if it is only a few of them.  Especially question 7!

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Shrove Tuesday - what to make

So tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday.  I'm heading to a friend's place after work for pancakes, which I'm really looking forward to.  Between now and then I've got to decide on a topping to prepare there.

Last year I stayed in with my housemates and we cooked up a feast, each contributing one sweet topping, so in all, we had to have at least three desserts that night.  It was a hardship I tell you, but we indulged in:
  • Raspberry sorbet crepes with a dark chocolate sauce
  • Vanilla bean ice-cream with hot toffee sauce (a thick fudgy sort*)
  • Blueberries, lemon and sugar
It was loads of fun, as it is rare all of us were home at the same time, let alone cooking together.  Jo has since moved out, to be replaced by Tash but life gets in the way and, up until a few hours ago, I was going to be the only one home.  As much as I like pancakes, I wasn't about to serve up a feast just for me.

In 2008, I was in the height of my poker phase - I loved texas holdem poker when it was social (not for money). I still do like it, I just don't get the opportunity to play it over here.  I hosted a pancakes and poker night at my place where again.  I made two batters (one thick and fluffy, one for crepes), had a few pans going and set all the sauces/toppings up buffet style.  They included lemon and sugar (can't go past them on crepes I don't think), fresh strawberry (slightly mashed, maybe a bit more than slightly if I remember correctly, with lemon and sugar), Nutella, fresh hot chocolate fudge sauce, ice creams and sprinkles.  It was a really good night, which was great given the people I invited were a mixed bunch (ie. not overly familiar with each other).

So this year, I'm wondering what topping I should I make? Will you be having pancakes tomorrow night?

* the easiest way to make toffee sauce (and what we did last year) was to melt down a few rolls of Werthers toffees, stiring in cream until we got the consistency we wanted.  It needs to be done right before serving though as it is quick to reset.  On contact with ice-cream, it stiffens a little and becomes chewy (and wickedly good). 

Chocolate Crepes with Cranberry Sauce
{3Liz4's flickr photos}

(As an aside, I know that Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent and has become synonymous with pancakes as it is a way to use up goods that would go off during the Lenten period.  But my cupboard is currently such that if I only used stuff I had, it would most likely be choc chips and hot mustard or something.  i.e. I don't have supplies that will cut it, so I'll be shopping for what I cook).

Monday, 15 February 2010

Project 365 – Week 6

Ok, here is a post that I didn’t think would happen! I couldn’t find my camera cord for what felt like the longest time.  But I did, so here are the pics I took last week:

07.02.2010.  Baking the NY Times cookies.  Last weeks tulips mingled with this weeks roses.  For a few days at least.  The red tulips are gone, and the best of the roses are now mingling with this weeks bunch.

08.02.2010.  Clapham Common at night (about two hours after sundown). The photo was taken on auto, with the ISO far higher than what my camera can handle. So noisy.   Not sure what I can do about it, other than stop taking night shots.  Using a tripod would at least help me hold still – but I was on my way somewhere and this was a quick snap.

09.02.2010.  Happy Valentines Day… a little berry iced chocolate cup cake from the cafe at work.  Sweet, but a bit too sweet.

10.02.2010.  My front door.  Well, the front door to my apartment block.  The reflection on the door’s right pane is of a street light behind me.  I like my street and apartment – although I do wish our door was more of a bright Kelly green.

11.02.201011.02.2010.  A night out ice-skating and then Mexican.  This struck us as odd – hot sauce is not the first thing I think of when you say Devon.  I think of cream teas, and rolling green hills, and cider, and things English.  But hey, hot sauce it is (and was – really hot). Was playing with the focus on this one – it has always been set to full frame but recently I’ve been trying out point focus instead.  I think it works here – you?

12.02.2010.  Installation art at the O2.  Not able to capture it in the pic, but the colour of the balls slowly changed, like an upward moving wave of blues.  I was pretty captivated (and would I have stayed longer had I not been rushing to see a film)

13.02.2010.  Liberty’s of London.  Famous for it’s fabrics etc, it is a stunning department store.  One day I will venture inside…

Favourites this week? 

Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Week Five
Flickr Set

Friday, 12 February 2010

Digging Hometown Glory

So I'm really really digging Adele's Hometown Glory at the moment.  It's not a new song - it was her first single back in 2007 - but thanks to a genius playlist and shuffle on my ipod, I've been getting back into it.

It really reminds me of the Alicia Keys New York song that I was on about (and still love) a few weeks ago.

Adele's song is about London - so maybe more relateable for me?  Although, it isn't really my hometown, just my hometown-for-now.  What songs remind you of your home town?

Anyway, what I consider a lovely song to take you into a hopefully lovely weekend

Duvet days

I’m lusting after this Orla Keily duvet cover at the moment, but it is tying with two others, both from Melbourne brand Aura.
or Scrunchy

I don’t actually NEED a new cover.  I had two and bought one more last weekend.  But I can lust, can't I?  Especially if it means looking and thinking about cosy beds (which is where I'm mentally at right now!) and

Which one would you go for? 

My room is pale greige mainly (carpet and walls) with white trim and tops above the picture rail.  (That description makes my room sound foul but it actually full of potential!  It has a large bay window and gets lots of sunlight.  When the sun actually comes out.

Any bed linen you are lusting over?  How many sets do you have, or just the one favourite one?

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Baking the NY Times Choc Chip Cookies

So I caved in and made the NY Times Choc Chip cookies
Are they good?  Yes.  Would I make them again?  Not sure. 
Notes on the baking of the cookies:
  • Dark chocolate discs are really really hard to find (ie. I couldn't).  I used dark chocolate chunks  - whilst they probably didn't look as good, they tasted great.
  • They were really really chocolate chippy.  Far higher chocolate to cookie ratio than what I normally make.
  • Converting everything to measurements units I can measure (ie. weights or UK cup sizes) was quite faffy, but now it is done, it wouldn't be an issue next time around.
  • I didn’t know the difference between cake and bread flour initially. after learning the difference (protein and gluten contents) I couldn’t find any cake flour.  As the recipe calls for equal amounts of cake (6-8% proteins) and bread (12-14%) flour, I just used plain flour (10%), figuring they netted off nicely.  The other difference between the flour types is how fine/coarse it is.  I couldn't do much about this.
  • I let some dough sit for 18 hours, the balance for 24 hours.  This was more to do with convenience than plan.  I (over) baked a few cookies Sunday morning to give to friends I was seeing, and finished baking the rest that night.
  • The resultant cookies from each batch were very similar.  If anything, the second batch was less crunchy because I didn't overbake them.  Crunchy outer, goopy chewy inner.  The recipe says it makes 18 x 5” cookies.  I ended up with 46 x 3” cookies.   Maybe had I made them to size, they would be less crunchy (but ridiculously large!).  The tin I took a pic of is the smaller of the two tins I packed.  After we ate lots (and ate lots of dough too) and put some in plastics for home.
  • My colleagues loved them and allayed any concerns I had about them being too crunchy.
  • I'm the only girl in my group.  Boys are easily pleased.  They will probably like any cookies I bring to work, so I can't take their complements too seriously.  They wolfed them down.  It was chaotic, but entertaining to watch.
  • One colleague said he loved them and they were better than his mum's (usually too crunchy) or girlfriend's (usually too doughy) cookies.  So, maybe I can take the complement seriously.
All in all, they’re yum but I think I’ll stick to my staple recipe from the BBC for the most part as it just seems to be an easier recipe.

Have you made them?  Would you?  What is your staple cookie recipe?

Ten on a Tuesday - 16

Update:  I typed this out yesterday and thought I posted it.  Clearly I didn't.  Oops.

Another Tuesday, another Ten.  I'm thinking of doing these on Wednesdays in the future though - makes it easier with the time difference.  Hmm, not sure.  Will think some more about it.

Anyway, with any further delay, here is this week's 10 from Kyla via  Chelsea.  Go check out their sites (esp the ginger cookies Kyla has just posted about - I think I need to bake them).

1. Fill in the blank. Sometimes I wish my life was more ______.

c o l o u r f u l

London is a big grey place at times. I love spring and seeing things in colour. I wish I saw everything is vivid colour.  (Although, would that make me not appreciate it so much when I do?)

2. How do you cure the hiccups?

Time and patience. Really, I don't cure cure them. I would if I could but I can't so I shan't.  I hiccup it out. However long that takes.

3. What are three of your favorite indulgences?

Travel is certainly my biggest.
Then maybe coffees?
And...I've hit a road block...maybe shoes, although I've curtailed that in the past two years a lot.

4. Where is the most exotic place you would like to travel to? The most mundane?

I would love to sail to Antarctica from South America - I think it would be amazing, and certainly exotic in the sense it would be different to anything I've seen before. Mundane? I can't think of anywhere in particular that I want to go that I consider mundan.  Maybe home?  (not that Melbs is mundane but going home might be considered mundane).

5. Does having your time planned out stress you or relax you?

This is a balancing act. I love having soemthings planned but having day to day life all planned (unless there are days set aside for downtime) really stress me out sometimes. I have a friend who likes every minute of every day planned - which makes it hard when organising things.

6. What are your favourite fabrics to wear?

Flannel right now. Comfy comfy flannel pyjamas.  I wish I was wearing them now.  But I'm at work so (a) I'm glad I'm not or (b) I wish I was but wasn't here. 

A more glamourous answer you want? You've probably asked the wrong girl - but denim and cottons are always good.

7. Do you sleep through the night?

Mostly. Sometimes I wake up, roll over and go back to sleep. I'm a pretty good sleeper.  It is rare for me not to be able to get to sleep or to wake panicked.  The best nights sleep tends to come the first night after changing the sheets for some reason.

8. When you were younger, what did you think you would be doing at this age? How close is that to what you are doing?

I always wanted to be a phys ed teacher, which is nothing like what I am doing (my quals are all accounting but I work in a more mathematical/analytical role now). In terms of where I'd be in life (married, kids, house etc), I can't remember really having any aspirations.

9. What has surprised you most about growing up?

That time passes but not much changes. Does that make sense? I don't really feel that different to ten years ago and I don't feel like much has changed. Sure, uni is over, post grad is over, I live in a different country etc etc but everything feels very much the same to me. I do think I'm better at espressing myself (this 10oaT aside) and a lot more patient and understanding, whilst also knowing what/who I can't be assd with as I get older. 

I guess that as a kid, I knew I was a kid and always thought the same would happen when I was "grown up" or an adult, like there was a magical time where you became an adult.  I don't think that is the case.  If it is the case, then I am clearly not an adult.  Maybe when you have kids, this clicks over? 

10. Are you good at keeping secrets?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. So I'm def. not the best but if it is a biggy, I can do it, and if it isn't mine, I can usually do it. I often tell people but that are unrelated to the secret. For instance - I knew a secret about a friend in London (who I have many mutual friends in common). I really felt like I needed to talk something out about this so I did, but with someone that didn't know the person. Should I have? probably not, no. Did it cause any harm? No. It is all out in the open now anyway.

Monday, 8 February 2010

A piece of me

Inspired by Angela of Craving Cupcakes, here is a little piece of me.  I can totally relate to lacking some inspiration sometimes.  Angela was in turn inspired by Notes from the Tooth Fairy.

This month....

I like: That the daylight is lasting longer, and the darkness is shrinking.  I like the cold and dark of a winter proper, but only for so long.  Bring on the flowers that come in Spring (I’m searching daily for the first crocuses)

I don't like: That our landlord built a television into the wall in our bathroom but doesn’t think we need a toilet roll holder. 

I want you to know: That I do girly push ups.  I can do about two normal ones then I’m on my knees.  I’m getting better though, and I always start with normal ones before caving to my knees!  A month ago I could hardly even do them on my knees.

I’ve planned: A summer sailing holiday around the Greek Islands with a bunch of friends! It is a while away but it really has put a spring in my step.

I want to say to someone special: Who would have thought we’d end up with the friendship we have? Thanks for reminding me of and reliving home but also encouraging me to experience the here and now.

Project 365 – Week 5

Another week, another set of photos.  I must say I am super glad the light is starting to hang around for longer.  It means that it isn’t getting dark until about 5pm at night.  Still too early for me to be home but good for my mood!  On the flipside, if I want to get out and get that sunrise shot of Tower Bridge, I’ve got to get up well early for it now!!

I’m missing one this week but not because I didn’t take a photo.  The photo for Friday is to do with a birthday present. Given the recipient sometime checks in on the blog, I think it only fair not to post it until after she receives it!  To keep the numbers at 7, I’ve included yesterday’s pic. 

30 January 2010
30.01.10.  Again, I need to stop and take time when taking these shots, especially at night.  This is the full moon over Lambeth Palace on the south side of the Thames.  Reviewing it on my camera screen, it looks quite clean.  Shame it isn’t really.  The moon was so big and low this night.  Equal parts eerie and stunning.

31.01.10.  A gray and dreary Sunday in London.  This is of the tulips at our kitchen window.  If I'm home for the weekend, I like to pic a bunch of flowers up on the Saturday morning from a nearby flower lady (she’s a long way from a florist but is utterly charming).  They set me back £2.  One flower goes in my room in a specimen vase, the rest in the kitchen.
01.02.10.  My newly adapted pin board above my bed.  It’s actually made from four small ones stuck together and then covered in a cheap bed sheet but I really like it. The wall needed something on it but I didn’t like having class frames.  This solves the problem quite nicely.

02.02.10.  A massive pendant light near work.  There is a row of these in a covered archway corridor thing.  I will go back and get a day time shot some time to show their context but they really suit the space (and are huge!)

03.02.10.  A snapshot of my everyday life really.  British plug on the left, Aussie adapted on the right.  I like that the one from “down under” looks like it is the right way whilst I will forever think that the British one looks upside down.

04.02.10.  Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast on the Thames.  After the laziness of my Wednesday shot, I deliberately broke my commute home to get a more scenic pic. This isn’t my first gratuitous Tower Bridge shot nor will it be my last.  I took more time to make sure I held still for this (i.e.. rested the camera on London Bridge’s rails) so it wasn’t so blurry.
06.02.10.  A night at the theatre with a friend calls for bubbles.  Actually, lots of things call for my bubbles in my opinion.  This time, it was super yummy bubbles.  Vevue is one of my favourite drinks, but my wallet doesn’t really like it so much.  Incidentally, we saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof which was phenomenal.

Which of this weeks pics is your favourite?  Any tips?
Project 365 posts from times gone by…
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
Flickr Set

Friday, 5 February 2010

Remembering Black Saturday

nday marks the one year anniversary of Black Saturday

Apart from a death in the family in December, never have I felt so far from home than in the days before and after that day, not to mention that day.  Sadly, for many Victorians, there were many deaths in their families on that day, and the days that followed as bush fires ravaged the state. 

here are a bazillion articles about what happened that day and the devastation it left behind.  In brief – it was the worst bushfire disaster in Australia’s history (or in the western world since 1916 if death toll alone is the decisive factor).  More than 400 fires burning throughout the state on day that reached 46.4 °C (115.5 °F). 

My my memory of the emotions I felt hearing and seeing the news are with me as if they were yesterday.  And that the Bunyip Ridge fire was right near (a little freaking too near if you ask me) my parents farm and burned out of control for more than a week.  I remember being on the phone at 3.30am  and they’d been on the roof, with hoses, filled the gutters with water, gathered the stock in.  It certainly wasn’t a good bye call but there were tears, all around. 

I later flew into Zurich for the weekend where my cousin and I spent much time glued to the tele (or Australian news websites hooked up to the tele) eager for new news and in disbelief at what we were seeing.  When we woke on Sunday morning, 30 deaths were being reported (a number that was to rise to 173).  After returning to London I spent the next few weeks glued to the CFA website until the fire near my parents was under control (and the one near the beach house which was a late bloomer).  I remained scattered at work, my mind so so many miles away. 

I’m so so grateful that we (my family and friends) escaped relatively unscathed.  And that I wish this Sunday did not mark the 1 year anniversary of the death of 173 victims.  And that they did not have to see constant reminders of it (there is no way to drive to the city from my parents place without travelling through blackened land with charred tree trunks and there would be far worse sites nearby).

I am glad this horrendous day is now nearly a year ago (although it still feels like yesterday) and the rebuilding for those who lost everything can continue.
Elvis the firebombing helicopter after filling from our dam, looking WNW

Smoke (and flames) to the NNW
These pics were taken minutes apart by my parents around midday on Black Saturday from their verandah, five hours before the wind change.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Thursday Thought Train

Ok, today I'm sharing with you some random thoughts and what nots so all aboard! I've got some random thoughts but from random thoughts come random questions and I'd love to hear what you have to say...

Today I look like a poodle. A ginger poodle. Not a good look for a dog, let alone a human (sorry all ginger poodle lovers out there). I don't know how many of you know I'm a red head but I am. And I pretty much always wear my hair straight, at least to work. Or tied back so much (like in a tight loop de loop) which means you can't see that my hair is not straight. It's the curly side of wavy, but not curls. It is worse when I go to sleep with it wet - as I did last night. And this morning my arms were just so dang sore from bootcamp last night that lifting them to straighten it just seemed unnessecary.  And it is too short to tie it back.  So yeah, ginger poodle unleashed at work. Do you like you hair al naturale or find yourself stylin it every morning?

Bootcamp last night was awesome. Seriously fun. For one reason or another there were this massive triple peaked 15 foot uncompacted dirt pile towards the edge of the common. You got to believe how we played worked out on that thing. In teams we ran relays meaning we went over it forwards, backwards, sidewards, blindfolded and like dominoes (actually, that time we were meant to go over all holding onto each other in a group, but it turned out more like dominoes).  We all got dirt everywhere. Seriously everywhere.  We were all alread caked in mud from sit ups and push ups and burpees and squats and what not for the first 45 minutes. I can't remember when I last laughed just so much during a workout. When was the last time you go play in big dirt piles? (I'm thinking I was about 10 last time I did!)

My group at bootcamp was broken into two teams. Thomas and Percy. I was the only person of the 16 that knew who Percy was. Do you know who Percy is? (Hot tip - there is a clue in the title of this post, but do tell if you would have known without this tip).

There is a print out of the New York Times Choc Chip Cookie recipe on our printer at work. It has been there since yesterday. Boss and I are monitoring the printer so we know who might be bringing us treats. Have you ever made those cookies? They look way complicated for choc chip cookies but sound good. These might have to figure in to my weekend plans. Weekend plans that were already sounding good may just have got a little bit better.

Every other time I open google in IE6 (at work - not my choice) I have to type in a security word because they're sorry... but my computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect their users, they can't process my request right now. It is odd but doable. The words are usually funny too - rackjism and tingl amongst others. Reminds me of a postcard I was sent to a friend from NYC (the postcard from NYC, not the friend). Cubism, Impressionism etc. (and yes, another post that mentions NYC - still lusting after a dose of the big apple). Do you reckon these are completely computer generated or is there someone there at GoogleHQ throwing the odd naughty or real world in amongst all the sjhjkdf auwyter bmneses type ones? I must say, I do like that I get to click on a "I'm Human" button multiple times a day. It is a nice reminder. Especially when I look like a ginger poodle.

IE6 doesn't let me comment on blogs - I'm not sure where the kink comes from it doesn't. But my home laptop does - when I get to turn it on (tonight) - then I'll be back sharing the love. What browsers do you guys use? Same at home and at work?

A typical Longhorn day!
{from i5prof's Flickr photostream}

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Smashing Wallpapers

What are you looking at? On your screen, when you aren't reading blogs? Or on facebook or emails or twitter. What is your desktop wallpaper? My January work one was this:

I change them reasonably often, and whilst I use my shots sometimes, I'm always seeking new ones. My January one from work was from Smashing magazine, who have a load of calendar styles for each month. Problem is, February is a lovely month, with love hearts and all sorts. I'm ok with love, and V day and what not, but I'm not sure I want my screens at work to shout it all out. Especially as I'm not in love. I'm not even in lust. Or crushing. So I don't exactly want to be sending a trillion love hearts to my greater working community. That said, if I did - I think this is my favourite one:

As it is, I'm using this one for now at work...

But might switch it out to this one...

So what pics do you use? Where do you get them from? How often do you change them up?  Tips welcome - I love change.

(oh, and as a postscript on "what are you looking at" - have you noitced today's Google Doodle?  Inspired by Norman Rockwell - I think it is my favourite yet)

(All pics from Smashing Magazine and the artists that create them for said mag).

Ten on a Tuesday – on a Tuesday (16)

That’s right – back to predictabl - I'm doing the questions on a Tuesday not a Thursday this week.. Here’s my ten this week.  Some tough questions.  Not sure what is says about about me but the first two questions were the hardest.  The later ones, whilst maybe saying more about me, were easier because I believe what I believe, if that makes sense?
Anyway, play along if you will (here and over at Chelsea’s)

1. What is your favourite travel destination spot?
NYC.  Still on my mind.  I’m super stoked to be heading to the Greek Islands this summer so that may surpass it.  I love Sandy Point too - a lil beach village on the south east coast of Australia.  Any holiday sounds good to me.

2. Cats vs. Dogs.
I’m kind of on the fence.  We had a cat (Flip) when I was young and we didn't get a dog (Shaq- german shepherd) until I was 16.  We (ok, parents on the farm, but whatever) have a beautiful dog (Fraser, a Bernese Mountain Dog) and he’s just adorable.  But then, so are the cats, and they don’t hog the bed so much.  Look, here’s Fraser as a pup with Merlin (ragdoll Russian blue).  Must I choose?  No, I won't.  But I will say everything beats little dogs.  For me. 

3. Do you believe in fate?
To an extent.  I’m not sure if belief in fate can have grey areas or should be black and white.  I think people coming into our life might be fate but we need to stand up and be accountable for what relationships develop.

4. Do you believe in karma?
Yep, in the form of an elephant.  I always thinks “that’s the damn karma elephant biting ##### (me or someone else) on the bum.  It’s just how I think – I don’t know where this visual of it came from.

5. Everyone has a unique laugh. Do you like yours?
Yeah, it’s not outlandishly unique.  I don’t think.  Readers who know me…please let me know if it is???  I tear up from laughing all too often (not that I laugh too often - not possible - but I have a low funny tears threshold).

6. Is love really all you need?
Nope.  Hope and patience and all other things.  I don’t think loving someone doesn’t solve your worldly problems (but it I don’t think it hurts them either)

7. What’s your take on the whole 2012 scare?
I don’t have a take on it.  I didn’t know anything of it until I read this question.  Google took me to the Fin Times’ science blog (just a hop skip and a click over here).  I still don’t have a take on it.

8. If you won a million dollars and had to give it all away, who would you give it to? (Family and friends not included.)
Spread it around.  I think I'd split it amongst a few causes.  Bowel Cancer research is probably the biggest one.  That's the bugger that got Mum (and a former colleague, and a cousin) and I don't want it to be able to do that to someone elses Mum.  Also some kids - maybe indigenous youth in Australia?  We're good at helping out others around the world but some of the kids in the outback live in way substandard conditions etc so I'd help there.  I'd probably take counsel from loved ones on what was important to them.

9. Do you believe in God/religion/the power of prayer?
Yes, I believe but I'm not huge on classifying it.  I grew up going to a Uniting church, went to an Anglican school.  But I’ll be honest and say I don’t love everything about some religions.  I sometimes don’t get how don’t or can’t believe but I don’t feel like it is mine (or others) place to make them see/believe.  I honestly believe people will find what they need in the own time.  Gentle prods, maybe.  Preaching, not so much for me.

10. What New Year’s Resolution do you always make but never keep?
Keep a diary or get fit.  Although, so far so good for this year.

Monday, 1 February 2010

What I didn't do

So happy Monday everyone!!  I woke up with a spring in my step which is most unusual for me on any day of the week, let alone a Winter Monday's morn.  Might be that the sunshine is coming back, Spring is just around the corner and I had a peaceful weekend.

A weekend that included another bootcamp class.  I think it is becoming a of dependency - I'm really enjoying them. And wanting to go more and more often.  Let's embrace whilst I can, hey?

A weekend that included cooking.  Soup on Saturday as is seemingly standard and Chicken Parmagiana for housemates and a friend on Sunday night.  I'm a big baking fan but cooking for others scares me.  I stress if it is overdone, underdone, something they don't eat etc.  Cooking meat whilst being a vegie adds to it a bit because I can't taste it or check is so much.  I should stress less about it because most of my friends (well, all probably) are good people and won't hold it against me if I don't serve up Michelin starred food).

A weekend that included movies - It's Complicated on Friday night (loved it, not the least bit suprised that I did either) and Before Sunrise on Sunday night (it was movie night at my house - we were all crammed around the tele in the lounge watching what is one of my favourite movies).

A weekend that included getting my hair cut.  I'm really bad with my hair - I only get it cut every 3 - 6 months or so.  Not good.  Anyway, this time it is a lot shorted.  As in, a bob-ish style, about 2 inches off my shoulders.  Shorter than I wanted but it will grow so hey ho.  It's funny though - despite spending a whack of time there on Saturday arvo, I keep forgetting I had it done and getting a shock when I see my reflection! 

A weekend that include doing - I finally hung my pinboards that I've had since last year and used those pins I made way back when.  It looks good, not yet great but I think it is something that will evolve.  I'll include some pics when I get a chance to upload them.

A weekend that didn't include reading. In tidying and sorting and de-cluttering, I realised there are far too many books on my nightstand that I have not read. I buy them with the best intentions and just seem to be making no headway on them. I've put one in my handbag today to get going. Once I'm into a book, I find it hard to put it down. It just sometimes takes me a while to get into them. Here are the books that I have not yet read, or finished (this is a new thing for me - I never use to start a new book before finishing the last. I suspect doing this is slowing the whole process down). Some of them have been hanging around since last August!! Others have been picked up cheaply in the Borders closing down sales or at the Southbank Secondhand Book Market.  So here is my list, shaming me for my complacency:

Have you read any of the above?  Or do you have any books kicking around unread??  Share away

{Bookcase from Jamie Meares via I Suwanee