Friday, December 31, 2010

Australian writing.

Australia doesn't have very imaginative TV. I reckon the reason Australia pumps out such good actors is that they have to earn a living acting lame scripts. There are few well-scripted local shows, with complex characters in layered environments.

But by lack of imagination I also mean in the premise. Cop/Doctor shows and small town/family dramas is all. I would LOVE to see a mystery series (adaptation of Arthur Upfield stories, perhaps) or a science fiction genre series, or a modern Australian adaptation of Oliver Twist. Something with an interesting premise, using history and place and personality. And it shouldn't be too high-brow.

If I was a writer, I'd be trying to get into television script writing. It seems to me a more potentially dynamic field, it's got audiences, and it's such a collaborative creative process. Also, if I was a composer, I'd want to score films and stuff, because that's where the most people are the most exposed to classical and cutting-edge music. Is anyone listening? You should make an Oliver Twist set in Bowral and Newtown with a soundtrack by the Whitlams and Nigel Westlake.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Packaging rant.

Vita-Weat Sandwich size 300gram box. Box is 30% bigger than product. Waste of packaging, space in transportation, and misrepresents size of product to customers.

I have complained to Arnotts, who replied unapolagetically but promised to mention it to the packaging and marketing department. I considered complaining to the ACCC, but it's probably not that serious. I looked into Choice, but I couldn't see an easy email form. Maybe Today Tonight? But I might have to be interviewed and I don't want Arnotts to know it was me.

By the way. Isn't it interesting that they left the H out of the word wheat and it doesn't look weird? I think it is because it saves space, shorter words can be bigger than long words. Nothing I hate more on a book design brief than a word like Everlasting or Reformation in the title. (Because I'll have to set it pretty small to make it fit, and then the author's name has to be even smaller, and it will all be unreadable on a bookshop shelf.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Irrational

I engage in irrational behaviour and I'm not sure why.

The situation is this: I usually don't have any chocolate, biscuits or chips in the house because I am not to be trusted with them when I'm stressed.

So when I feel like doing some comfort eating, I will spend ten minutes in the kitchen opening pantry door after pantry door, opening the fridge door and freezer, several times. I basically go round and round in circles in the kitchen, opening door after door, looking for non-existent comfort food. I know it's not there because I haven't bought any and I know the contents of the pantry and fridge. Yet I still go foraging, in the vain hope I may have overlooked some biscuits. WHY?

When I finally give up, I ask, "WHY IS THERE NO CHOCOLATE/CHIPS/BISCUITS IN THE HOUSE???"

Counting the year.

End of Year is like Week of Birthday. All of a sudden I realise my life is slipping by, and it's a tiny bit depressing. A year goes so fast, you only get used to writing '2010' and you have to get ready to start writing '2011'. And what have I done? Nothing. Still me, just older. The end of the year is a whirl, which adds to the feeling of time slipping by.

But I know it's an illusion. A year is still a significant period of time. Most of the months moved at a normal speed. And a lot of things happened. Moving house, new flatmates, Eat Street, holidays in different places, new directions at work, different health things, spiritual growth, spiritual challenges, deeper friendships. And the start of 2011 will be a long, long summer starting with CMS Summer School, then just lots of swimming, eating fruit, work, church and friends.  It's a lot, really, when I take account.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

KESC review: Taniphon Thai.

9 challengers. Too many for any of the shop tables so we were tabled in the back room. It has new tables and lighting, but needs new paint for it to be nice.


A ordered a green curry soup thing, JK ordered stuffed chicken wings, and the rest of us ordered either a noodle dish or a main each. I had roast pork in chilli and basil, very yummy, and enough for 2 meals, at a price of $12 I think, plus $1.50 for rice. Some of the meals were  $14, for duck or seafood.


The best thing about this place was that it was very meaty and verry tasty. They didn't pad out with bean sprouts and it wasn't bland. Which was a surprise, because I'm sure I had a lunchtime special here a long time ago and it was bland and stingy, JK had same experience. This time it was almost TOO strong and meaty. I added more veg to my leftovers the next day. Personally I'd give it a 4 out of 5. The value was pretty good and the service was good, quick with lots of water refills.
 
 
Now tragically ABC was shut, and won't open til mid-Jan. So at Elsie's persistent begging we went up to Papa Roti to try some gelato. They don't have very big scoops, and some flavours are a bit of a disappointment, like my choc mint that had no choc bits in it and tasted like toothpaste, and the shop isn't very nice to sit in, and they serve ice-cream in plastic cups not martini glasses (but you can ask for a cone as well). But they had classic music videos playing so we all sang along to Summer Rain. If you are going there, Ferrero flavour was by all accounts the best.

Monday, December 20, 2010

From little things.

I think my impatience is getting worse. The last few weeks I've noticed that I find waiting intolerable. Yesterday I found myself literally stamping my feet like a spoilt brat when I was being ignored at the chemist, and when I was finally served I was seriously fighting the urge to be the cranky customer. And it was a Sunday afternoon. I'd just been to church, and I had nowhere to hurry to! I should have been glowing with godliness and good manners. So I'm blogging the following paragraph because I just worked it out for myself, not because it's original.

Small trials—things that are just annoying, not even tragic—are excellent opportunities to grow in godliness. If I'm waiting, I should pray for patience, and then aim to be gracious to the person making me wait when my turn does come. If I'm doing a job I think is beneath me, I should rebuke myself for my lack of humility, and serve my co-workers or housemates with love. Small trials really are opportunities, because how am I going to remember to be humble if I get my own way all the time? And then I won't look as much like Jesus.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reading on the go.

I'm a booky person, but I don't read often now. I think because it's effort to go and find a good book. I'm trying to be better at keeping some handy. My lunchtime read is now a book on Martin Luther I pinched from my parent's bookshelf (so it's pretty old and daggy but I like books with an old-fashioned tone).

I always forget how addictive novels are! How hard it is to stop and go to sleep at night. It ruins my perfect body-clock. If only I could read while at work too (which is what audio books are for).

I have also remembered the art of reading while walking. I saw Michael Morrow doing it one day and I was impressed: what clever multi-tasking, and also what a good way to create the illusion of romance or intelligence. A little dangerous, but with practice it is very comfortable. It took me a few weeks to get used to it: the trick is, keeping your peripheral vision alert beyond the boundary of the page. Warning: a heavy book makes your wrists tired after 30 minutes.

Underrated: Making things.

This guy explains really well why making things is so satisfying, if you are a romantic and slightly alternative person like me. I made a lot of stuff when I was homeschooled and I'm getting back into it now, and appreciating it. I like stuff which is unique, hand-crafted, and really belongs to me: hand-making does that. And what he calls "the story", that it's not just a shirt, it's a shirt I made, I chose all the bits and sewed them together and it's unique and it's mine. It's not just biscuits, it's Julia's recipe and I made them and they taste better than shop ones.

I think hand-me-downs are almost the same thing—like a shirt mum used to wear. There is a story, and it may be a unique item by the time you get it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

That's what friends are for

If I don't feel like going home after a day of uni, I sometimes call upon Jess. While veg-ing out on her couch, I have noticed she uses either a step ladder or milk crates to prop up her television.

Yesterday I noticed the perfect tv stand for her while I was at Salvos, so I barged into her office and told her to buy it. Pronto.

This photo is a photo of friendship: Jess bought the tv stand, I'm shielding her from the sun's rays because she forgot her hat, Jess K took the photo and helped Jess transport her new old tv stand home.

Tanaphorn Thai

Yo peeps. Just a quick reminder about KESC on Friday night.

Tanaphorn Thai
6:30PM, Friday 17 December
510 Anzac Pde Kingsford NSW 2032

Maybe we'll go to PappaRoti for dessert. They have quite a selection of gelato/ice-cream.

Lolly teeth.

Braces are really handy for sticking your lolly teeth in place. When did lolly teeth start tasting minty? Is it supposed to reinforce the irony of eating something teeth-shaped which is actually bad for your teeth, by tasting like toothpaste? I think I prefer whatever they used to taste like.



Friday, December 10, 2010

Of Transactional Analysis and Speaker Boxes.

Guest post by my mum. I asked for a brief guide to 'the voices' and she kindly obliged. 
Transactional Analysis (TA for short) is a helpful model that describes something of what internal conversations go on within each of us. Without wishing to imply that any of you dear readers ‘hear voices’, we do all have a whole range of messages that we ‘hear’, and that inform our decisions and actions. It’s a bit like those cartoons, where someone has an ethical dilemma, and we see the ‘angel’ sitting on one shoulder, and the ‘devil’ sitting on the other shoulder, and they’re arguing. So what are these messages, and where do they come from?
According to TA, there are basically three different sources of messages: Parent (Taught); Adult (Thought), and Child (Felt). Of these, two of the three can be further broken down: the Parent divides into Critical (CP) and Nurturing (NP); and the Child can be either Adaptive (AC) or Free (FC).
Our Critical Parent’s job is to teach us right from wrong – clean your teeth, put your seatbelt on, don’t steal, murder, lie, etc; the down-side is that it can be a very hard task-master. Our Nurturing Parent soothes us when we’re hurt, and encourages when we’re afraid; maybe it can be a bit soft on us, or a bit suffocating. Our Adaptive Child feels the hurt, anger fear, etc, and alerts us to what might be wrong or harmful for us. Our Free Child is full of fun, excitement, laughter, joy. Neither of our Children have much self-control, though, so AC can fly off into rages, become Victim, blame, etc, while FC can be terribly irresponsible. Our Adult is our CEO; it’s all in the head. This is the one that delegates, gives considered responses. Of course Adult can be rather like a whole box of dried fruit, sucking all the yummy juice out of life!
So maybe we’re a bit like speaker boxes: different speakers within the box give different sounds – bass, treble, etc. Sound technicians specialise in balancing all these sounds to get just the right mix. When one is too loud, it makes for terrible music. The same with us: if one or two parts of our psyche are over-functioning, if they are shouting too loud, we, too, make terrible music.
The two who tend to shout loudest together for most of us are Critical Parent and Adaptive Child. Try this exercise: write down 10 statements (more if you like) beginning with “I should….” Now read through your list again. How are you feeling as you writing and read all your ‘shoulds’? You have now heard your very own CP, and felt your very own AC! CP is all about ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘more’, ‘less’. AC is all about feeling guilty, sad, unworthy, angry, afraid.
It seems to me that ‘good’ Christians have most problems with our CP and AC. On one level, we know we are saved by grace, but on a much deeper level we also know we should be doing more, better; measuring up to God’s perfect standards somehow. There is so much ministry to do. How can I possibly waste time enjoying myself?!
I recently heard a sermon based on Deut 20:1ff, and the point was made that the kingdom and the battle is God’s! In this passage, all the fit, strong, brave (and even scared) young men were to be sent home from God’s army, so they could dedicate their houses, farm their land, marry their wives; they weren’t needed, because God would win the battles. And the first application? STOP running around like a headless chook and trust God! So now I’m wondering: if all I feel when I think of ‘ministry’ is tired and weighed down with guilt, maybe I’m listening more to my own personal, portable, Critical Parent rather than to my loving, gracious Nurturing Father. If this is the case, maybe I’m not really trusting in God to win his battles, but myself to do it for him.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Revelation and liberation

I had a revelation yesterday. I have been living as if my life's primary goal is to find a marriage partner, settle down and have kids (this may have been obvious to some of you, but I was blind to it).

What is the effect of this? It means finding a marriage partner takes up a lot of your thoughts, prayers and conversations. It means questioning God, "Where is my husband? Where are my kids? Where is my house in the 'burbs?" and doubting yourself, "Why haven't I settled down yet? Aren't I good enough for anyone? What's wrong with me?"

What (or who) brought about the revelation? Well, God, obviously, but as I've reflected on my life throughout the year, I've been continually thankful for my current life situation. Life is good. Hard at times, but good. I can clearly see that he's given me opportunities that I can take only because of my current season in life: single and unburdened by marriage, kids and mortgage.

Secondly, we studied 1 Corinthians 7 in Bible study last week. Some of you may feel like you know this passage inside out, and you've done it to death. When we went around summarising what we thought the main gist of the passage was, I said, "If you're married, stay married. If you're single, stay single, but you're free to marry. Live as God's called you." It only struck me yesterday that the practical application for me is that my primary goal is no longer "find a marriage partner" but "live as God has called you". Once I realised that, I felt incredibly liberated.

It's liberating because the issue of marriage doesn't have to dominate my thoughts, prayers and conversations anymore. I don't have to worry about whether God has or hasn't got marriage in store for me or whether I'm an unmarriable nutter. It decreases the attractiveness of dating non-Christians considerably. But the greatest liberty is being freed from WRONG thinking. It is a beautiful feeling and state of being.

Sure, I'll continue to pray for me and friends regarding marriage (if it be his will) and at times I may be frustrated by my singleness and I may eventually try internet dating, but earthly marriage is not my life goal. It is neither here nor there. I am free to marry or stay single. Both are good options in God's eyes. Just live as God has called you, whatever circumstance you are in.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

5pm giggles.


It's the end of the day. I've been laying out a book called Robot Planet. I go to save a pdf of it, and I realise that I had totally unconsciously named my layout work Robot Chocolate.



My subconscious is trying to tell me something?

My test for sufficent digestion

If I can do 30 jumping jacks and not feel sick afterwards, I take it to mean lunch (or whatever meal or snack consumed prior) is sufficiently digested. It also helps if it's been at least 2-3 hours since a meal.

What's the significance of this? It means you can exercise. No more excuses.

More non-bread.

E: Gingerbread is actually not a bread.

J: No. It's sort of biscuit. Unlike banana bread/cake, it doesn't transition to bread by the application of butter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some is better than none

Sometimes, I set myself some lofty aspirations e.g. I'm going to do an intense hour of exercise or I'm going to study for six hours today. But your day doesn't always go to plan. So what do you do? Throw in the towel?

No, I remind myself that "some is better than none". So thirty minutes of gentle to moderate exercise is better than none. Two hours of study is better than none.

Then I remind myself, some days I can achieve my lofty aspirations and other days I can't. And that's okay.

As Geoff Huegill said in a recent Good Weekend,
To be your best, keep it simple. You can't be excellent every single day, but you can go out there and be the best you can be at that moment.
So on the days I am tired, I remind myself "some is better than none", and that I will have days when I can do more. On the days I have energy, I crank it to the max.

KESC 20 Review: Buck Me

There were 6 of us: unfortunately Elsie was struck down and absent. We were all rather tired, so it was sort of subdued, but still enjoyable.

Chicken Jellicoe

Indonesian style noodles. They don't do table service (other than bring out the food) and they don't have any free drinks at all, it's only bottled water I think. It was not air-con, which made us even thirstier. So they loose points there.

Mince Jellicoe

We ordered the house special, either mince or chicken in soup with an egg, a giblet, some wontons and some greens. It was nice and salty and a little spicy (I added chilli sauce to it). They were $8.50 each. Pretty good value. The chicken wasn't all that nice quality or taste, but the mince was OK. The fried wantons were nice.

A fried wonton
Chicken stir fry noodles

Overall, 2/5.

We proceeded as usual to ABCafe, and ate our favourite ice-cream. The sugar kicked in and we were way too giggly. Sorry Dave. Sorry couple sitting next to us eating a banana split. Sorry the second couple sitting next to us sharing Death By Chocolate. Thanks again, AB!

Next, Taniphon Thai, 17th Dec, our 21st Eat Street and probably the last before Christmas (apart from a possible bonus visit to Nasi Goreng).

Envelope Grocery Budget Challenge update.

I have over a week to go of my $2 a day budget (groceries only), and only $1.55 left in the yellow envelope. Before you laugh, or start donating tinned food, don't worry. I spent the money on food, and I still have food.

I did really well for the first two weeks, spending less than my budget. I was helped by a weekend at my family, a wedding reception, and an Eat Street. I haven't yet touched my frozen meat, but I have supplemented my cheap food with 2 frozen pies, 2 sheets of pastry (which I made lentil pasties with), eggs, and other random scraps.

I'm not eating much tasty tasty meat, but I'm feeling healthier with all the vegetables I'm eating instead. Homemade soup with homemade bread is cheap AND easy (after the initial evening cooking you freeze enough for many meals) AND very delicious. Lunch envy in the office.

Last week I ran out of cheese, and bought a block for $7. And then on the weekend I got a bit cravy and blindly bought some bacon, chocolate and stonefruit. That cleaned out my last $10 a little bit before schedule. So the next 9 days I'll be eating only what I have in the house. Which is OK, cos I have lentils, eggs, bacon, things to bake bread, frozen veggies, cheese, and one tomato. Only going a week without fresh fruit will be a challenge.

I love challenges. You get to act a little crazy. I have now lived without shampoo, eaten at 20 restaurants since October last year, and lived out of an envelope. I want to refine the envelope challenge and do it again next year.

It's good advice.

J: I found a hole in my tooth last night. Boo.

D: How do you find a hole?


J: I flossed.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Watches.

The phone was a near death blow to the watch. When my watch battery died, I started relying on my phone. But a watch is really more convenient, and it's a fashion statement now too. I think it's making a comeback. I'm getting the battery changed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gift giving.

I don't get too worked up about it. I buy for my immediate family, which isn't too hard, and I give to others depending if I find something or not, Christmas or birthdays. You might get an amazing hand-made card with Miss Bennet drawn sitting at a bay window looking through the carefully cut out panes, you might get a banana guard (I still have 3), you might get a vintage sewing machine, you might get a crocheted hand towel from a market, you might get nothing. Hopefully it all evens out over time. I'd rather give something interesting or nothing at all, rather than rush around in a panic or buy something token.

It's getting boring, I think.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hanging washing: comparison of disadvantages.

Inside:
  • Fills house with laundry
  • Doesn't get that fresh air and sun feel
  • Dries slower

Outside:
  • Clothes fade in the sun
  • May be ogled or stolen by neighbours
  • Exposed to rain, bugs and birds
I definitely like to hang sheets and towels outside. Some clothes I want to hang inside so they don't fade. Drying outside at night is a good compromise, but they just need a little bit of morning sun to finish them off.

Monday, November 29, 2010

KESC 20 and 21

This Friday at Buck Me Jellicoe Noodles,

then,

Friday 17th at a place to be argued about. Should we skip Nasi Goreng where someone saw a cockroach crawl up the wall? It's a tricky one. On the one hand, we obviously don't skip places on the basis of probable bad hygiene, otherwise we would skip a lot. Kingsford Chinese combines possibly the best Shan Dong with possibly the worst food safety, and we won't skip that. On the other hand, a definite cockroach…

Ha ha tan line

Tan lines can be pretty funny. My flatmate (God bless her) has had a good chuckle over these two tan lines of mine:

Sock tan
Sock tans are pretty standard, but I have a sock tan AND a Birkenstock (sandal) tan at the same time (no, I'm not wearing socks and sandals together :P). You'd think one would cancel out the other, but no, I have both.

Elbow pit tan
You know where the needle goes in when you give blood? That's what I call the elbow pit. Now that it's (practically) summer, the mornings are sunnier. I came back from my run one morning and I noticed a ring of white skin in my elbow pit. I pointed it out to my flatmate and asked her, "What on earth is this?!"

Then I realised: it's from exercising in the morning sun. Think about it: you don't extend your arms fully when you go running, so my elbow pit doesn't get any sunshine, but the rest of my arms do. Thankfully it's only really prominent after a sunny morning run (which I'm now avoiding).

I don't know why, but tan lines just crack me up.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Kesc 19 tofu revu.

  Korean Restaurant Gourmet Tofu.

Jess:

This is why this is called a Challenge: we climbed stairs to eat tofu.

This upstairs restaurant is surprisingly much nicer than the average dining room in Kingsford. Spacious, with proper wooden dining tables. We sat at a window, and since it faces west it had a blind, but as soon as the sun dropped behind the buildings the waiter opened it up and it was really nice. There were a couple of other groups but it was pretty quiet on Monday night.


This seafood pancake was delicious, like a scallop filled with fishy bits.


 Elsie:

Gourmet Tofu Korean Restaurant in Kingsford is gooooood. Love the Korean pop music videos too.

There were 6 of us & we had four dishes: seafood pancake, bul gol gi (beef), sweet & spicy chicken & jap chae (sweet potato noodles). We also got special rice & lots of yummy side dishes incl kimchi, seaweed, 芽菜, fish, tofu hotpot. The side dishes come w the meal, you don't need to order it separately (I think). Yum!

 Jess:

I really liked the spicy chicken. The anchovies were crunchy. It was a good selection and it came to $13 each and we were plenty full. You can see in the photo all the hotplates, tofu hotpots that come along with the dishes, the rices, and the little condiments.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My one rule

This is a really handy rule if your family celebrates Chinese New Year (CNY or the Lunar New Year to cover all other cultures that celebrate it) and it's a big deal to them.

DO NOT COMMIT TO ANY FEBRUARY EVENTS UNTIL YOU'VE CHECKED WHEN CHINESE NEW YEAR IS.

Now the tricky thing to this rule is that CNY is not always in February, but it usually is, so to be extra safe, just don't commit to anything from January to March until you know when CNY is.

CNY is a big deal to my family. When I was younger, I didn't tweak that it was bad to be away during CNY, so I was away once. Now I know that CNY is like Christmas for Westerners i.e. you're supposed to go home and see family and friends (and collect money if you're single, ho! ho! ho!).

That's the weird thing about being a migrant child, growing up with two cultures. Parents assume you know stuff about their culture, that you somehow pick it up. Some stuff you do pick up, but wikipedia and google fill in the gaps. Oh internet, where would I be without you?

And to make this a community service announcement, it's on Feb 3 in 2011. So make sure you're at the parental home on Feb 2 for a yummy, yummy meat-filled feast, and there as well on Feb 3 for a vegetarian meal (no meat on CNY's day). At least those are the two important days to be at home for my family.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Watch me scoot!

I bought a foot scooter for commuting purposes, but then I got all excited about the fun of it. I basically bought a toy! That is such a novelty. I always want to completely justify my spending, and not spend money on fun things (movies only on cheap tuesday, etc). The scooter is a fully justified purchase (I worked out how many bus trips I had to take on the scooter instead to break even), AND it happens to also be a toy. This is why I imagine that everyone in cars is jealous of me. As transportation it's a bit pov, but just it's so much cooler.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Christmas should not start until December.

I wrote an email to the Prime Minister today. I think if she took a stand on this issue, it would really impress a lot of Australian voters. James Valentine did an excellent segment on the topic today, and I got all fired up.

Aside from the fact that Christmas decorations in October are plain stupid, my reasoning is: a long Christmas means a short year. When you see Christmas decorations and go "November already! the year went so fast!" do the maths: it has not been a whole year, it's only been 10 months. You lose 2 months from the year into the vortex of "End of Year". Less Christmas would mean more rest of the year.

If Christmas was compressed down into, say, 2 weeks, we could enjoy a peaceful, productive slide into summer, and then enjoy a mad rush of Christmas parties and shopping and food, do Christmas day, and it's over. Short and intense, not drawn out by 2 months of torturous carol muzac.

So I wrote to the Prime Minister. I'd sign a petition if there was one. If the people speak, the shops have to listen. Or, since shops can only focus on one feature event at a time, put something else just before Christmas, so that they can't get into Christmas until they have gotten through Schoolies or Back To Holidays or whatever happens in December. Fight fire with fire.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The media monarchy rant.

As soon as I hear some "big news", or something the Today show will think is "big news", I groan and go into media blackout mode. Royal engagement in this case. I like Royalty OK, but I am deliberately uninterested in the story because I'm kind of in rebellion against the media. Everything is over-exposed. There is no mystery. I know more than I want to know already. You've ruined the Royal family for me with 20 years of tabloid coverage, so now I just don't want to know anymore. Same in every case—nothing amazes me, amazing things just fill me with dread at the anticipated media bombardment of dull cliches and melodramatisation. Oh no, here comes Fairytale Wedding and Will Charles Be King Or Let William and Does Australia Want The Monarchy. Fingers in ears, nah nah na nah nah.

Monday, November 15, 2010

KESC 19: Gourmet Tofu

The date: MONDAY the 22 Nov.
The place: Gourmet Tofu, upstairs, opp IGA.
The time: 6.30pm.

Epic epic story.

Strong flatmate bonds are forged in the fire of battle. When invasion forces come against you, the trials of war and the emotional journey will shortcut months of "getting used to each other". Flatmates united against the terrors of evil. 

I speak, of course, of bugs.

At 11 o'clock last night, the new flatty and I confronted an enormous huntsman on the wall between our two bedroom doors. K is phobic. I'm alright with spiders but I'd rather have them out of the house before I go to sleep. As the least frightened, I was the frontline, while K was the tactical support.

There are 3 options. Squash, spray, or capture and release.

Squash is out, because Yuck. Squashed spider is no better than alive spider. Also, what if it's not a clean kill? I might injure or enrage it.

Spray is out, because it seems inhumane to spray larger bugs. Cockroaches I'll spray, but a big spider reminded me of the spider in Harry Potter that gets the Cruciatus Curse on it. All that writhing and pain. Also, all we have is surface spray. Can that be used directly on bugs to kill them? I'm not sure. Again, it might not be a clean kill.

So that left capture and release. K gave me a large 4L, clear decor container. And 2 cans of surface spray for backup. I stood there for 5 minutes moaning about how ugly it was and wishing I didn't have to be the one to do it, while K was moral support from the safety of the kitchen. Eventually logic kicked in: since the spider didn't move with all my screaming and jumping when I first saw it, I decided it probably wouldn't run around if I snuck up on it with the clean container. I covered it successfully, but when I bumped its foot to get it off the corner, it ran all around in the container and I screamed again. (It's interesting: I don't think of myself as the screaming sort, but it's an involuntary reaction I developed in my 20s.)

I got it outside, but in the dark I couldn't see if it was going out of the container. I was shaking it out and it was hanging on. I thought it was gone, picked the box up, and screamed again when I saw it on the box next to my hand. K leapt to my aid, providing backup again with a small book-light so that I could rescue my box in safety.

Such trials build unity and respect. Flatmates united against a common foe will be strengthened to withstand the smaller irritations of flat-sharing.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quality of weekend life.

I think my life changed for the better… when I stopped doing housework on weekends. A little bit every couple of nights is the way. There is no reason why you can't mop a floor on a Monday night while the news is on TV. I have better things to do on Saturday.

Unless its something I will find satisfying, like fresh white bed sheets on the line, or organising books.

My other tip for having a better weekend is not to sleep in. Controversial, but still I stand by it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I think I want a kick scooter.

An adult-sized one with bigger wheels, but still folding and light. Can ride on footpath, store in small place, not wear a helmet. I asked a random man riding one in Newtown if he liked his and how much he paid for it, and he was very positive. $300 is the minimum price for a Micro or a Xootr. That means about 100 3-5 section bus trips to pay it off. So if I ride it to church for 2 years, 100 one-way trips means I break even, anything else and I'll make a profit.

I wonder if I'd stick with it? It's hard to know if something is actually a good idea, when you're obsessed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Counting down to the envelope challenge.

I've done a bit of research now. $60 a month doesn't get many results, but $2 a day gets heaps. 

Live below the line

I discovered a wealth of info here, where someone started a campaign to challenge people to eat for <$2 a day for a week in August. Now I've looked at some of the recipes and eating plans, it looks suspiciously like a lot of lentils. I'm not a stranger to lentils, I ate lentils all winter in 2009 for reasons of health, convenience and also I was a bit obsessed (I've noticed I get obsessed with things). I won't be able to afford to buy meat, but at least I can eat what meat I've got in the freezer. I suspect a one month challenge wouldn't be as challenging as a second month would be, when I've worked through my food storage a bit. But I'll still benefit from the discipline.

I've signed up to hear about the 2011 Live below the line campaign.

Tips for living below the line. From the stonesoup minimalist kitchen blog. I like these tips, good sensible advice. Foraging is going a little bit far.

Here's an extra $100 a week.

Wendy loaned me a book all about skimping on food spending. I don't think I'll be buying full cream milk, spreading it out over an extra bottle so that I can add 1/3 water and make my own lite milk. But there is a useful menu plan, if I feel like planning menus.

I like coconut biscuits, I like cheese and tomato sandwiches, I like baked veggies. This looks OK. It also include suggestions for what to do with the money you save (invest it!) and a helpful guide to flatulence.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Envelope Budget Challenge.

I don't know how much I spend on food, but some of my spending is pretty junky. I need an incentive to stop buying "a block a week (etc)". I want to make my diet more simple. And I want to keep track of my money better. I want a challenge!

This is today's brilliant idea:

I'm going to put $60* in an envelope at the start of the month, and my food purchases will come out of that envelope. Simple! I have no idea if that's a realistic budget, it's only $2 a day. I actually hope it's a challenge, I hope I'm forced to think creatively about what I eat and how I shop. I'm sure I'll eat through my freezer and tupperware. If I'm eating self-raising flour and tomato sauce at the end of the month I'll feel a great sense of achievement.

The escape clause is that social eating doesn't count, because I don't want to limit Eat Street and other social things. I believe single people need to eat with other people, not eat alone in front of the TV. And 3 or 4 eat-outs a month would take most of my envelope. Takeaway DOES count; if you eat it by yourself, it comes out of the envelope.

So those are the rules!

I get paid in the middle of the month so I'll start my month on 16th. That way the month challenge will be finished before Christmas (If I go away for Christmas and eat my family's food that would be be cheating!). I won't blog boring shopping lists, but if I learn anything profound, I will share it. Also keen to know if you are doing it with me.

Oooh, I'm excited about this one!!!!!

* I really want it to be $50, but I'm afraid I'd do one shop and spend half my envelope and freak out and not eat enough fruit and veg and meat for the rest of the month. $60 makes me feel like I can afford a balanced diet. If I have $$ leftover at the end of the month, I'll do something special with it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Big dinner theory.

You eat some big dinners and it stretches your belly out, and you get really hungry for the next meal because normal sized meals don't fill you up now.

Sometimes, though, you eat some big dinners and you are less hungry. Last week I was starving for morning tea every day. I ate big dinners on the weekend, and today I'm not as hungry. Sometimes big dinners fill in the gaps of things you were deprived of, probably.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hottie at work.

Yes, I have a hot water bottle at my desk. Every woman should have one. Overactive air-con, cold rainy weather, and of course monthly euphemisms. Such a good investment.

I also have a small fan heater under my desk for when my feet are wet or cold. I didn't bring it in, I just found it and put it to use. Thankyou, cold-blooded employee from the past.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Living in small spaces.

I like the small apartment life; the restrictions are, in a way, freeing. Less to clean, less reason to buy things which means less attached to worldly things. Renting makes me feel even more nomadic, which is a good thing to remember—heaven is home.

What I've noticed is, almost every inch is valuable. Putting these bars of soap here means more space here, note to self, do not buy soap in the medium future. Hanging those on hooks behind the door means more space in this drawer, note to self, stop buying stockings I never wear them. Having no bookshelf means more space in living area for table, less space wherever boxes of books can go, note to self, no more books while in this apartment. Space juggling. The best things to do are 1) don't buy things and 2) get rid of things).

But. One day, I want room for a piano.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A name by any other name.

I was brought up 'Jessica', didn't get to be called 'Jess' til I went to senior high and then it was always with my sir name hitched on because there are SO MANY JESSES the same age as me. Jess K pointed out that on her blog comments it looks like she's talking to herself, hilariously lame, but actually there are three of us. Anyway, getting abbreviated was a sign of peer acceptance, and the family followed.

But I've just changed my Facebook name to Jessica. I'm making some moves back towards the long name again. Bit fancier, bit more syllables, bit of a point of difference with all the other Jesses, maybe won't get the first name + last name as much if my first name is a bit distinct.

Apparently if you have your identity stolen repeatedly the only thing to do is change your name. I'd give that a go. I don't know what I'd choose but it would be fun to pick. Maybe something like Jenny which feels similar, or maybe something totally whimsical. I don't think I'd do it for no reason though, mainly for the inconvenience to others.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gender theory

We often wonder why KESC is dominated by women. Last Friday it was six women and one man.

I've noticed the Tuesday morning runs is dominated by men. This morning it was me and five men. Usually there is one other female, and at the beginning of the year, I'm sure there were at least a couple more.

Are women less interested in running? Not true, I have a lot of female friends who like to run. Are men disinterested in eating? Surely not.

Here is my theory: KESC is organised by women, so it will tend to draw a female crowd, perhaps because our closer friends are female, and they are more committed to going to something organised by a close friend. Our male friends are not as close, so they are neither here nor there about coming.

Tuesday morning runs is organised by a man, so it will tend to draw men. What do you think? Is it that simple?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inexplicable mis-purchases.

One thing that really annoys me is clothes I don't wear. I feel like I should get my money's worth out of everything I buy, and clothes which sit in the drawer till they go out of fashion is like food that goes out of date. Except the food will start to rot and be thrown out, but the clothes will sit there forever, still being 'good'. "I can't get rid of that, it's still good and I paid $40 for it." Guilt and clutter.

It's hard to judge in the shop if something is going to be worn. Some polyester opshop cardigan will get worn constantly. But you think something is lovely in the shop, and when you get it home you develop an insecurity about it: it has no pockets on the back and my bum feels weird without pockets on it, or it's too pretty—don't want to look too pretty. Or the worst case, no reason at all—nothing to alter, no reason to throw away. It just lingers on, unworn.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Why different bananas?

There are bananas, there are lady finger bananas, there are sugar bananas. I'm not sure why we have 3 sorts of bananas, or why the smaller ones cost more. I know there are differences in apples, but I would never pay more for lady fingers, they even look less bendy and bananary. I would pay less. I resent their existence.

I just went to use the 'banana' tag, but we don't have one yet. What an oversight! There is one now. I'm going to go back and tag all our banana posts. It's hard to think of a bigger topic on this blog than bananas.

Early night TV.

Rarely am I at home at 5pm or 6pm. I survive OK without Ten news or the Simpsons or M*A*S*H. But I'm getting home early on Tuesday to eat before Bible study and discovering the best TV on the ABC is on then.

I watched a doco series on post-war industrial design (plastic, the ipod etc, how they change our lives). This week they started a series called The Choir: Boys don't sing. A 9-month challenge for a man called Gareth to start a choir in a boy's school. Fascinating and cringey at the same time. The obvious reluctance to defy peer norms vs the actual enjoyment of group singing. Gareth looks a little bit like David Tennant.

6 o'clock Tuesdays, TV for cool people.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Initially

I don't know why, but there are some people I just wanna call by their initials, like JG, JK and DK.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vere is ze cheesecake?

While perusing the dessert menu at Bavarian Bier Cafe the other night, a thought struck me. Why is there no Bavarian Cheesecake on the menu? I'm sure most of us have had Sara Lee Bavarian Cheesecake at some point. Doesn't that mean Bavarians are famous for their cheesecakes? Or is it a made up dish like Singapore noodles* and Mongolian lamb?

*I'm aware they have noodles in Singpore and they probably just don't call it Singpore noodles there. And I think someone told me there's no Mongolian lamb in Mongolia. But I am sure Hainan chicken rice HAS something to do with Hainan.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ice-creamenomics

Jess K has put her finger on it. Short-scooping! I'm always too shy to say anything, but I silently vow never to return to an ice-cream place that doesn't fill up the cone/cup enough. There should be some kind of metric scoop, or weigh the scoop or something.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

KESC 18: Turning Japanese!

We shall meet again at 6.30pm on Friday 29th October, at a very new Japanese place that starts with T. It's near the giant  yellow pub Churchills, opposite IGA. Hope that's clear enough for you.

Our first challenge on the Other Side Of The Road!

To add some bittersweetness to the victory, this place is on the site of the late Chuan Bar Chinese BBQ. When Chuan Bar first opened, Elsie and Georgina and I went there and Jelssie was born in my notebook. I think the concept for Eat Street Challenge was outlined there too. Closed already. Such is life in Kingsford Eat Street.

Constant vigilance.

Yesterday I tried to walk into a men's bathroom. I looked at one door, saw a man icon, looked at the next door, saw a disabled icon, so opened the 3rd door, and there was a man inside. Weird! I heard someone behind me say "Mens!" and realised there were multiple mans inside. Uh-oh. The first door icon did have a skirt on it after all, as plain as day.

Apart from the embarrassment, I find it quite stunning that I, graphic designer and lifelong user of bathrooms, was unable to read a simple icon. I don't feel safe anymore, my brain could fail me again at any moment! Although I'm guess there aren't many more embarrassing mistakes than the wrong rest room, which I will never do again.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How to cut onions.

Because of the tears, there are many theories. Wet them, or cut them underwater. Wear goggles. Put a peg on your nose, because it is breathing in the fumes which makes you cry, not exposing your eyeballs to them. The latest one I've heard, which I'm going to try next, is that the fumes are strongest at the root of the onion, so peel and cut them down to the root and then cut the root off LAST.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Modern-day Charlotte Lucas.

I've been doing some thinking in the back of my mind about settling. The millions of Christian articles which urge men to be godly and prayerfully pursue godly women… ideally, yes, but how often does that happen, really? How many couples I know actually got married because two perfect people who love Jesus were both attracted to each other (esp each other's godliness), the man took the lead, the woman responded, it was romantic, they prayed all the time, had a perfect courtship, never felt awkward, got married and lived happily ever after growing more like Jesus? It's the ideal, but this isn't heaven. Everyone settles.

Read this today:
"Rela­tion­ships are hard work. Love doesn’t hap­pen overnight. You’re not com­mit­ting to mar­ry­ing the first guy you go out with*. Give a guy a break. If you enjoy hang­ing out with him in groups, or in one on one set­tings, don’t hang out for Mr Right — hang out with Mr Right in Front of You. A bird in the hand and all that prover­bial jazz.
"Most Chris­t­ian guys have prob­lems — part of becom­ing a Chris­t­ian means you recog­nise you have fail­ings. The ones who don’t appear to have prob­lems are prob­a­bly arro­gant or har­bour­ing some sort of deep seeded emo­tional issues any­way, scratch the sur­face of most guys and they’re prob­a­bly incred­i­bly inse­cure when it comes to rela­tion­ships or entirely too scared of com­mit­ment to be worth pur­su­ing (that’s why they’ve dated all of your friends and none of the rela­tion­ships have lasted). If a guy seems to have it together, can hold down a job, and is pass­able at con­ver­sa­tion then he’s prob­a­bly a win­ner. It helps if you find him mod­er­ately attractive."
Although it's still hypothetical because there really are no guys in the 'single girl ghetto'. Some excellent wisdom from that wisest of spinsters, Jane Austen: "There is a great scarcity of Men in general, & a still greater scarcity of any that were good for much."

* But oh boy will I speculate about it, and my response to the potential "do you want to hang out" will be based on "do I want to marry you". Really hard to overcome that.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cycle of escalating lateness.

When you are late*, secondary factors will combine to make you later. I formed this theory on the 400 bus, it is the perfect example. 

The 400 bus has a very long route. It goes everywhere. Uni, airport, two Westfields, a hospital. If it comes a little late, there are more people waiting at the bus stop. They take longer to get on, slowing the bus down slightly, and there will be more people at all the next bus stops. Full buses drive slower because they are heavier. It takes longer for people to get off, because the aisle fills up. People get off at the front instead of the back, because the aisle is blocked, which slows up the queue of people trying to get ON at the front. Every stop on the route ahead holds more people waiting for the late bus, instead of getting on the next bus. The lateness escalates, late upon late, late upon late.

* I just might rant that I find lateness extremely annoying both in me and in others. Habitual lateness is deeply inconsiderate, because making someone wait makes them feel as if you don't value them or their time. If you want to love others and show them that you value them, don't make them get up early and then sleep in yourself. Don't arrange for them to leave work on time and then stay back yourself. Don't tell them that you have set aside time to meet them and then cut a chunk off that time. Don't make them wait around on the street for 20 minutes while you're "on you way". It's not just slack, it's rude and unloving, and sometimes it makes me quite mad.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Nap tip

I'm not a fan of taking naps because I'm never sure that I'll be able to get up after 20 minutes. Every now and then, my 20 minute nap turns into a four hour snooze. And then I can't sleep at night, and I've lost a night's good sleep. So generally I avoid naps.

I have thought of a way of having naps and ensuring you get up out of bed: nap with a full bladder. It won't be the most comfortable nap, but you'll definitely get up. Nothing like the call of nature to rouse you from your sleep.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Flattening ears.

In the local Courier I saw an ad for a cosmetic surgery, it had a before and after shot of a kid with his ears—sticking out, then flat. I can't find words to describe the ridiculousness and sadness of that.

I read somewhere, probably in an Anne of GG book, that you could put a band around your head when you sleep and your ears would flatten in over time.

The wonders of a hairbrush

My hair was looking dishevelled yesterday (as one does when one chooses not to wash her hair after her morning exercise...should I be admitting that?!). I was thinking of going for the dishevelled hair look when I came upon my hairbrush next to my bathroom sink (I usually put it away after I use it). So I decided to give my hair a quick brush. And it literally was a quick brush.

What a difference! My hair no longer looked dishevelled. Just an extra five seconds and I looked a bit more put together.

The wonders of a hairbrush, five seconds and short, straight hair!

I think I'm so amazed because I must not be in the habit of brushing my hair...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You know you're getting older when...

...your idea of living dangerously is flouting strata rules and hanging one item of clothing on the balcony. Or it means you don't get out enough.

Sunlight is so precious! The one thing I dislike about apartment living is not being able to dry your clothes in the sun.

It would be great if you could have an arrangement with a friend who lived in a house with ample backyard space, that on a sunny day, you BYO laundry line and get to hang some clothes out in the sun (they might need to use their own laundry line).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Three floors of bad clothes.

There are a lot of ugly clothes out there. I walked around Myer recently, and 99.9% of things were either ugly or hideous. Reminds me why I just shop at the same 3 shops.

If someone opened a shop which sold clothes which were nice, practical, had pockets, fit different sized women, and they sold summer clothes in summer and winter clothes in winter (which seems intuitive, but is not something most retailers have ever grasped)… that shop would sell a lot of clothes.

Monday, October 11, 2010

KESC 17 review: Sinma Laksa House.

The yellow restaurant on the Kingsford roundabout does Singaporean and Malaysian food. Four core challenge members met with much rejoicing. Sinma has fared badly on eatability reviews for service and food, but the service was fine and the food came hot and fast and tasty. It was reasonably busy, not full but bustling.


We ordered a hainan chicken with rice (which we ate before I remembered to photo), a noodle dish, a surprisingly spicy spinach dish and the only dish I remembered from my previous visits, butter prawns.


Food: Delicious but spicy. The prawns were a bit of a favourite, fried with buttery pork fluff on them, but didn't really need the big chunks of chilli. 


Value: the prawns were $19 a plate, the other dishes were cheap, so it worked out $13 each person.

Decor: not fancy, but Sinma is a good place to go with a big group, because it has big round tables and more space than many Kingsford shops. The music was a little crazy!

Service: we had a nice and helpful waitress.

It was a 2/5 or 4/5, depending on whether you like spicy food or not!

Poached in 30 seconds

Did you know you can poach an egg in the microwave? I used to think poaching an egg in cling wrap in a pot of simmering water was the most fail-proof way of poaching, but now I have discovered an easier method. Here's what you do:

1. Crack an egg into a small, Chinese-style rice bowl or an Western-style teacup.
2. Pierce the yolk.
3. Cover with microwave-safe lid.
4. Heat on high for 30 seconds.

And that's it! There was some exploded egg white on the cover and turntable of the microwave, but other than that, this is probably the easiest and least fuss way I can think of for poaching eggs. The cooked egg slides out easily.

This method has been sitting in my Australian Womens Weekly Cookbook, unbeknownst to me, until my temporary flatmate pointed it out. Ah, the joys of living with someone else: all the helpful, little things you learn.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Laundry: it's complicated.

Apologies, this will only excite people who are interested in efficient washing.

  • I used to stuff everything in one load when I had a basketful, but I found that if you have an old washing machine, you don't get good results this way: towel fluff on black tops, for example. So I started sorting my washing to improve results. When my basket is full I see what I have the most of and wash that stuff. There are 4 main categories to be aware of: clean, dirty, dark, light. This doesn't mean that I do 4 loads a week, it just means that eg I wash towels with other dirty things of a light colour.     
  • It's a good thing to stock up on undies (and socks etc), so that you can go longer between dirty loads. Even if you don't sort, buying more undies liberates you from a tight washing cycle. There is no rule that says you should have 7 pairs of undies, just because they come in packs like that. Buy enough for at least two weeks! This has changed my life. I am free from the pressure of the empty top drawer.
  • Another tip: if you have to hang your washing in your apartment, wash on a weeknight. Keep the weekend free of dreary housework. Also it doesn't matter if you have washing all over the place on a Monday night and into Tuesday, cos you're asleep or at work and won't see it. On Saturday, you're at home doing stuff and it gets in the way.
  • I've had it from two good authorities (Shannon Lush and the Choice website) that you only need to use 1/4 of the recommended scoop of detergent. It is still enough to break the water, and won't leave residue on your washing. Also, Emma T says to buy a 10kg box of detergent from Big W or Kmart, it saves you money and you won't have to buy it again for like 3 years.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pick a fruit winner.

Grapes won. Raspberries lost —a bit of a surprise.
Strawberries and pears did better than I expected.
Apple   4 (21%)
  4 (21%)
Banana (spotty and soft)
  2 (10%)
Banana (medium)
  4 (21%)
Banana (still green)
  1 (5%)
Pear soft
  7 (36%)
Pear hard
  1 (5%)
Grapes (crisp and seedless)
  12 (63%)
Kiwi
  1 (5%)
Manderine
  5 (26%)
Orange
  4 (21%)
Mango
  8 (42%)
Pineapple
  4 (21%)
Nectarine
  4 (21%)
Peach
  7 (36%)
Plum
  5 (26%)
Strawberries
  6 (31%)
Mulberries
  2 (10%)
Blueberries
  3 (15%)
Raspberries
  0 (0%)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to purchase a whitegood.

The only whitegood I've ever bought was a freezer*, for like $300, I thought a washing machine was about the same price because they are the same size, but they are a lot more. It's a sort of big decision. So I've spent the day flapping around, because decisions are hard and I just want to settle as soon as possible but also not regret my choice. (Speaking of which, you can just join Choice and read their reviews and tests, D said it was worthwhile if you are buying a lot of big stuff.)

In my online research of various washing machine brands and types, I discovered that people really don't like it when their whitegoods break down. It's not like a car, which you expect to break down and where the NRMA comes to you quickly, tow trucks arrive at the speed of light, or you drive it yourself to a mechanic. It's all normal. If your fridge or washer breaks down (and bear in mind that you will not service it regularly like a car, so breakdowns will probably happen), you spend time on the phone to customer service, and then wait for a repair man, and in the meantime you can't wash or your food goes off and there is nothing you can do about it. Except get online and give bad reviews. It's a dodgy business. Extended warranties seem worth it, $40 per year for some peace of mind. Although things like $200 rubber seals on doors aren't included because they are "wear and tear". Oooh, they're tricky.

I narrowed my search down to a top loader and 2 front loaders based on reviews on productreview.com.au and based on what I could find at some online retailers with good discounts. Online seems an OK way to buy a washer. It's not like I need to judge picture quality, it's just a boring white box, and you can't take a load of towels to Harvey Norman and test them out—so you are buying on written specification and customer reviews either way. The only reason would be if you have a trailer and want to save on delivery (and appliancesonline has free delivery to some areas).

So that's how I'm doing it. If anything goes wrong, I shall update you.

*The lesson I learnt from that experience was, DELIVERY MATTERS if you are a single person. The sales men will put it in the back of your station wagon for you, but who will get it out? And the only man I knew in the whole Southern Highlands was my boss.

Monday, October 4, 2010

You don't need a breadmaker...

...you just need a can of beer. Hello beer bread! In the words of Jill Dupleix, "It's fast, and easy, requires no kneading, no proving, no knocking back, and no machine". And it only has four ingredients! Most of which you will find in the kitchen anyway, unless you are a beer eater like me, so you rarely have beer at home.

And by being a beer eater I mean I prefer to eat my beer rather than drink it e.g. beer battered food, beer in pies, stews, cake etc.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

KESC 17

We are skipping the block of little lunch places, the excuse being we don't think 8 people will fit in them, and that's our average group now. But really after all the delicious dumplings and shan dongs we don't want to eat battery fried food anymore. If there are complaints we can go to charcoal chicken one night, and 88 Chinese another. I've already eaten at both.

So the next challenge will be at Sinma Laksa House, the yellow one at the roundabout. Woo! the turning point! On Friday 8th October.

Win win

I'm catching up with some TAFE friends tonight. There's a running joke about me and steaks, so the plan was to go to Pinnochio's Restaurant. There is a time and place for restaurants and I do enjoy eating out, but once I looked at their menu I realised:

- a healthy option was going to cost me quite a bit
- I've already eaten out four times this week
- I'm meant to be a povo full-time student
- my flatmate is out and
- I probably could whip up a simple meal for five for the less (or the same) cost as would my meal would have been in the restaurant.

First I checked what was in my pantry and fridge (rice, usual spices and condiments, carrots) and realised I could easy do paprika chicken with rice and steamed vegies.

Then I went to the shops and decided on chicken drumsticks because they were on special and picked vegies based on what was on special and colour.

Finally get your friends to take care of drinks, dessert and nibblies and you're set.

And the other great thing about having people over? It forces you to clean the house. Win all round.

Hand-me-down vs new.

I need a washing machine.

I've previously had a string of either free, cheap or flatmate-owned machines. It's been good. But I think my luck has run out.

WMs are hard to scrounge when you need one; people tend to keep them till they die, whereas they update couches which are OK and TVs which still work (so if anyone has a spare TV I'd like one of those too) but I think my chances of finding a bargain/free washer quickly are slim.

So I have to spend proper money on a worldly possession which will decrease in value and break down and be inconvenient to move house with. I am so hardened by Sydney flatting that I see every possession as a burden. But, I'm rather looking forward to a new machine which washes really well. Clean is good.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wrapping.

If you are not a member of my family, I will wrap your present in wrapping paper.

Gift wrap takes up a lot of space, though. Long rolls are better value, but annoying to store, and I also have a few pieces of paper lying around I am reusing from other gifts. It is just not efficient. So I have decided to phase out all my current supplies of paper, and replace it with one roll of brown paper, and some different ribbons. Brown paper is extremely versatile and stylish, it works for women, men and Christmas presents, but I suppose it might not work for wedding presents and little girls who only like pink. Whatever. Anyway, a big bow will fancy it up.

The beauty of the plan is in the simplicity of storage and the elimination of choice. The initial outlay should be fairly economic, in a bulk roll of paper and some bulk rolls of ribbon.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

KESC 16 review: Chong Hing

The soup came with a chicken foot.
We must be half way by now! Last night 9 people met at Chong Hing, it was a bit of a different mix of people and there were 4 first-timers.

We ordered a banquet for 8, and they forgot to make one dish, but we didn't need that dish anyway since we were full, so it worked out well to take it off the bill. It came to $8 each, with some leftover takeaway. 

Beans in XO, Salt and Pepper wings
They house specialty is the deep fried salt and pepper chicken wings, which are indeed delicious. We ordered 2 plates full. They are piping hot and very salty, mmmmmm. The next best dish was probably the beans in XO, nice and tasty. We also had a satay beef, which was nice, some veg dishes, and a shan dong chicken.

The story with the shan dong is strange. I ordered it here once before, at Elsie's farewell, and what I got was so strange and yucky that I thought they must have given me the wrong order. I took a chance and ordered it again, and it was a bit nicer, but it was NOT the sort of shan dong I like. It has this think sauce like a gravy or satay or something, and it is on a pile of spinach, and it isn't crispy and garlicky. It's an OK dish I guess, but not a delicious shan dong.

The not proper Shan Dong Chicken, and a hotpot.
So the food was good overall, but not as good as we've enjoyed at some of the other places next door. A lot of it was very salty. If you try there, the chicken wings are a goer.

I think the reason they forgot the meal was just that they didn't have many staff on, it was a quiet Monday night after all, and they didn't expect a big group. The food wasn't exactly slow, but we're used to it coming in a rush within 10 minutes of ordering, and it came out bit by bit. Decor is random, staff quick, food cheap and big. 3/5

Pick a fruit poll now open.

We'll see which is the best.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Are strawberries overrated?

The office reached a fairly large consensus: strawberries aren't that great. A good strawberry is good, but generally, for the money you usually pay, strawberries aren't as yummy as other fruit. They're nicest when used as a garnish, really. I mean, as much as there are things I love which involve strawberries, is the strawberry my favourite fruit? is it anyone's favourite fruit? Do people enjoy eating strawberries as much they enjoy mangoes, or grapes, or pineapple, or blueberries?

I think we just love the strawberry brand. It is pretty, red, heart shaped, romantic, and it feels special to eat. It's a treat. It goes with cream, and gets dipped in chocolate, put on pavlova and mudcake and dropped in champagne. It's branded as a premium fruit.

Like lobster. Lobster is way overrated, in my ignorant opinion. I would happily eat a normal crab and save my money. Whereas, expensive cheese never disappoints.

Friday, September 24, 2010

No TV.

I'm out a lot, I don't have many TV shows I care about, and the few I really like aren't on right now, so I just don't watch TV anymore. Technically, I watch shows on DVD a fair bit, but I think that's quite different. It's selective, not just plonking down and brainlessly watching whatever is on for 3 hours. Last night I put the TV on for 10 minutes, and remembered why I don't watch it to fill in time anymore: ads, and Two and a half men. Life is too short.

My only regret is missing Alan Kohler and his lovely graphs on the ABC news finance report.

Jelssie vocab: Snot rag.

Mouchoir    (mŌ`shwär´)

n. 1. A handkerchief.



Found at  22 words.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get to know your fruit & veg shop

My local fruit & veg shop sells excellent quality produce. In the past, I used to head straight for the items on my shopping list, but now I've realised the value in knowing the layout of the store well. You see, if you head straight for the red capsicum display, they usually sell for about $8-$10 per kilo. If you go round to the back corner, you can sometimes buy a 1 kg bag of red capsicums for $2-$3.50. That's a substantial saving! Some of the red caps are tinged with green, but they are otherwise fine.

I've also found pockets of the store where they sell marked-down produce. Sometimes it's because they're irregularly shaped, or slightly broken off (e.g. huge field mushroom with a bit broken off), but they're otherwise still good. Sometimes they're slightly bruised or on the verge of going off, so I tend to steer clear of those.

I've noticed they also don't put all the weekly specials out the front of the store, but in various parts.

So if you want to get the most bang out of your fruit & veg buck, other than growing your own vegies, get to know your store's layout well.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tree falling in a forest

If you have a fringe that covers your eyebrows, do you still need to keep your eyebrows groomed?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A little lie down.

I came home from work last night very tired so like a zombie I went straight to bed for a little rest. It's not my habit, but whenever I do I remember that my Dad does it quite often, and I think he's onto something. Comes home from work and before anything else, cooking dinner or anything, has "a little lie down". I didn't fall asleep, I had radio on low, but I did feel a lot better. It was just 30 minutes of quiet and still in between work and supermarket and commuting, and the evening stuff.

It's just listening to your body. If you're tired, headachy, spaced out, drained, that means you need to stop and have a rest. So have a little lie down occasionally. 

Sex sells

Society is in a sad state when women routinely resort to using overt sexuality to sell products (I'm looking at you female pop stars). I'm sure it's not just women who decide to do things this way, but also the men behind them.

It's sad because it makes me ask, "Is that all you have to offer?". How many years of womens' liberation have we had, and yet we still resort to scantily clad women writhing and gyrating in music videos. It frustrates me on so many levels, but have we become so lazy and so uncreative that we just go, "Hey we need attention and we need to sell quickly. Go get a scantily clad woman"?

That's why I find Katie Noonan so refreshing. She has an ethereal voice and bucket loads of talent. She doesn't have to resort to overt sexuality to sell her music - she has herself to offer. Her voice and her creativity speak for themselves. Yet she is still very feminine in the way she presents herself. She may not ooze sexuality the way female pop stars do, but I think there is a very subtle, modest and demure undercurrent of it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Bad chips.

Kettle chips are on special at Coles now, and I haven't bought chips in ages and after a busy weekend I wanted to relax with some Doctor Who on DVD with my favourite flavour potato chip, sweet chilli. I like the flavour of the Thins, which are cheaper, but they are so light they melt in the mouth and I like the thicker, crunchier bite of the kettle chips. Red rock deli is nice, but I feel has too many folded and deformed chips and are not as sweet as thins. I like my chilli sweet. My ultimate guide, though, is the special price.

So I picked up a bag of chips on special and opened them and started eating and YUCK! so wrong! Like plain chips (which I despise, they are just salty oil to me) but hot! Plain and hot! I didn't know that there was a flavour called chilli which isn't sweet. pah.

So because I refuse to throw them out, and waste $3.50, and I refuse to eat chips I don't enjoy, here are my possible uses.
  1. Buy some proper sweet chilli chips and eat both of them in pairs: 1 of each at a time, to disguise the taste of the chilli ones.
  2. Put them in sandwiches with salad. Chip sandwiches. Add some crunch and spice.
  3. See how they taste with the pasta veggie chicken pesto thing I cooked on the weekend. The contrasting texture and flavour.
You only learn by bitter experience.

Dangerous attitude

I caught a bit of morning television the other day. The commentators claimed that a well-known neurosurgeon said that a woman's place was in the home (or in the kitchen) or something like that. He (the commentator) decided the neurosurgeon didn't know what he was talking about and should stick to neurosurgery.

The commentator displayed a dangerous attitude towards people with differing opinions. Regardless of where you think a woman's place should be, how does saying, "Your opinion is different to mine, therefore you're wrong and you should shut up" help society? What about engaging with one another? Discussing? Debating? And who made you the arbiter of where a woman's place should be? Why is your opinion more valid than the other person's?

I feel that tv shows stir for the sake of stirring. They often make mountains out of molehills for the sake of content and ratings. Uncreative.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Souped up

I'm really chuffed with the state of my freezer. It is full of the following soups:



Here's why I like soups:

Economical
Soups are extremely economical if you make them from vegies that are in season or on special.

Healthy
I make my soups out of non-starchy vegies and I omit cream. That's not to say that starchy vegies or cream will kill you, but when you want to have a lower kJ snack in between meals, this kind of soup is great AND you're on your way to getting in your daily five serves of vegies.

Freezable
There are certain kinds of soups that don't fare so well after you freeze them (i.e. those containing dairy, potato, eggplant or mushroom because they break down on thawing, according to recipes+ magazine). But for those that do freeze well, they are great to have in the freezer. You can always add your dollop of cream to your soup (if desired) just before you serve it.

Versatile
You just want a lower kJ snack in between meals? Have the soup as is. You want a more substantial meal? Add some carbs, protein and fat to make it a meal e.g. avocado on toast plus 1/4 BBQ chicken or add cooked pasta/potato and shredded, cooked chicken to the soup.

Easy
General principles in making soups:
1. Cook the vegies (either by roasting in the oven or simmering in stock/water)
2. Blitz the vegies (with water or stock) to desired consistency

Hospitable
If you have a few soups and dinner rolls in the freezer, they make a great meal on hand if unexpected guests drop by. Reheat the soup, pop the dinner rolls in the oven and you've got yourself a meal. If you've made your soup purely with vegetable-based ingredients, you can even serve it to vegan friends and most people aren't allergic to vegetables, so it's great for people with various intolerances.

Braces friendly
'nuff said!

I'll let you know when I have the recipes up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I love short hair

I am going to sing the praises of short hair.

When it comes to hair, I go through phases. I like my hair really really long or really really short. I dislike it in-between. It usually drives me nuts.

My hair is quite short now. This is what I like about it:

- So much easier to wash. No more long strands getting tangled in my hands while shampooing, no more longs strands to pick up after your shower.

- So much quicker to wash.

- So much less product (shampoo/conditioner) to use.

- So much easier to dry. I grab a towel and give my hair a good shake and I'm done.

- So much easier to comb/brush. I can use a lot less pressure to comb/brush my hair because there's a lot less of it to brush

- No need to tie it up.

- It doesn't get in the way of my food/drink (I confess, this was a pretty big reason for me cutting it :P)

- It's all healthy because yucky split ends have been cut off.

I LOVE SHORT HAIR!

Although to be absolutely fair, since there is now no hair covering the nape of my neck, I feel the cool breeze a lot more. I guess if you're a man, you're probably used to it. That's probably the only thing I dislike (if you could call it that) about short hair.

Friday, September 17, 2010

NEXT KESC

We're struggling to find any free Fridays these days. So cos we're desperate to eat the street after months of no Eat Street, we're throwing the next KESC on Monday 27th September, 6.30pm. The restaurant is called either Chong Hing or Ching Hong, I can't remember no matter how many times I check as I walk past. Either way, it is next door to the TAB.

And there was much rejoicing.

Silicone bakeware

I am going to sing the praises of silicone bakeware.

I eat a lot of vegies. At the moment, my favourite thing is to grill them under the grill function in the oven. Nearly every day. I was lining my baking tray with baking paper (to make washing up easier) to grill my vegies. I started going through lots of baking paper and thought, "This is ridiculous."

Well, a roll of baking paper costs about $4 and you can get a silicone mat for $5. You do the math.

I will eventually switch over to silicone bakeware instead of lining my tins with baking paper. It is so worth the money you spend on silicone bakeware because you will save heaps in baking paper, especially if you do a lot of baking.

But now I have a new roll of baking paper, so what do I do with it if I make the switch?