Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ifs with porridge and Bircher muesli

I used to make porridge with milk. The thought of making it with water used to gross me out. It was a silly notion I had. Just this week, I decided to make it with water and didn't notice too much difference.

My ifs with porridge:

- If you want to save money, you should make it with water.

- If you have a large group of people to feed and you need a cheap breakfast, porridge is a great idea. You can get a 900g pack of rolled oats for $1.20! (Something to add to your blog, Jess K?)

- If you used to make it with milk, you can now eat your porridge and drink your milk separately at breakfast. It'll make you think you've eaten more at breakfast, and probably fill you up that bit more.

Bircher muesli
Bec tweeted about Bircher muesli and I've been thinking about it ever since. I first heard of it at beach mission, but don't recall ever eating it or making it.

The basic concept is leaving rolled oats to soak in apple juice, dried fruit and yoghurt overnight. In the morning, it will look like cold porridge. You add a shredded Granny Smith apple and other stuff you like e.g. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts, fresh fruit, milk, honey, cinnamon or yoghurt.

I love the idea of Bircher muesli because you make it the night before and you don't have to apply heat (thus saving gas or electricity and washing up the saucepan).

My ifs with Bircher muesli:

- If you're in a rush in the morning, breakfast is already done!

- If you need to cook breakfast for people, you can prepare this the night before and not have to wake up so early. And you can make it tasty and look pretty - just check out the comments on the highest rated Bircher muesli recipes on Taste.

- If you make it with water (instead of juice), low calorie yoghurt and add some unprocessed oat bran (for fibre) it's a very healthy start to the day.

- If you wanted to be decadent, you could make it with King Island yoghurt, full-fat Greek yoghurt and/or double cream (yum!).

My current batch of Bircher muesli sitting in the fridge is made up of oats, water (I find apple juice too sweet. For you penny pinchers out there, it's a money saver too), yoghurt and some trail mix (nuts, seeds and dried fruit) I found in the fridge. Yummo! Can't wait to eat it in the morning.

Many thanks to Bec for inspiring me.

Update: I forgot to add that porridge and bircher muesli (if you leave out crunchy stuff) are very braces friendly food.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jelssie vocab: Exclamations.

When you are startled, or impressed, or even confounded, instead of saying "Wow" or "Cool", try and use one of the following exclamations:

Heavens to betsy!
How perplexing!
Golly! (or it's longer version, Golly-gee-willikers!)
Goodness gracious me!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fat sausages are wrong.

Why do supermarkets even sell them? They are so gross. They take longer to cook. They are gross and inconvenient and wrong.

Thin sausages are just superior in every way. I'm not even going to make 5 dot points for you, thin ones are better.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How to spot a killer.

I am developing a theory for solving television crime. Currently I am studying it's application in those one-hour American franchises like NCIS, the Mentalist, Law and Order, etc etc. My proposition is as follows:

The killer will be the 2nd person you meet.

Reason: You need to be introduced to the killer early enough for you to forget them while the detectives pursue red herrings. The 1st person is too obvious, so is often a red herring. The later persons are usually a distraction from the second person, so are also red herrings.

Identifying the 2nd person: As well as being the 2nd person, common traits of the 2nd person are that they lurk in the background behind an obvious suspect, or they seem nice and helpful—to foil the suspicions of investigators. In fact, "2nd person" is a pretty good tag for characters who blend into the background and turn out to be killers... but it is amazing how often it is literally the 2nd person.

Note: This theory only applies to one-hour crime shows which follow a formula and are really more about the personalities of the cops, etc. It probably has little relevance for other shows like Midsommer Murders, which is long and annoyingly random, or Wire in the Blood, which is a psychological chase.

I have been working on this theory for quite a long time, perhaps 6 months. It needs refining because it is not always true, but I am testing it against every crime show I watch.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Fringe issues.

By fortunate chance I was asked to model for a Toni and Guy trainee, as I was walking through the shops after work a few weeks ago. It was hair-washing night anyway, so a free wash and blow-dry was a good offer. Trainee and I swapped numbers in case she needed me again, and I got another free hairstyle last night. I don't know much about hair, so I took the opportunity to pump her for information on why some perms are frizzy, how to get hair off from wrapped around a round brush, and who can have fringes. Fringes are all about the forehead:

  1. Tall foreheads can have any kind of fringe, and they often look great with a front fringe, which grows straight down. I don't have a tall forehead, but even if I did I've got one of those cow-licks, and fringes don't grow straight.
  2. Short foreheads don't suit a front fringe. But you can do a side fringe, one of those flicky fringes like on Grey's Anatomy.
Anyone with any forehead can have a flicky fringe. But it is the more annoying fringe because you have to keep flicking it back out of your eyes.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Guess what! We get to eat something NOT ASIAN!!! After this, and Oporto, we eat another 3 blocks of asian before we get to a pub.

So this Friday we will be meeting at Giovanna at 6.30. I think it is 285 Anzac Parade. It would be good to let us know if you are coming, if you can, cos a Friday night at an Italian place might be a little fuller than the last few places we have eaten.

I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Something not about food, clothes or speedos.

It is not the habit of jelssie to be deep and profound, but just for some variety I'll finish the week with something I read today on a proper theological blog...

If you hadn't realised, I like to be observant, and often I judge. I'm sure you're all still reeling from my opinion of "cold toast".

But on Sunday nights I also judge what goes on up the front of church. And when I'm serving (sort of up the front), I turn and judge the participation of the rest of church. I can see all sorts of failings.

Conveniently, somehow, I never fall under my own scrutiny.

Claire Smith helpfully pointed out the obvious today on Sola Panel. I think everyone (who complains about their church) should read it.

...We will now return to our regular programming.

Toast law.

Toast is hot. There is no such thing as cold toast. What you have there is very dry bread. If butter won't melt on it, it isn't toast.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Clueless part 2.

There were many helpful suggestions to my Clueless clothes post, thankyou for your comments. It made me realise that there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding what to wear, and a card or rotation system doesn't cover all factors.
  • Mood
  • Weather
  • Matching and coordinating (but not matching too much, that is called 'matchy-matchy')
  • How fat I feel
  • How much is in the washing basket
The other solution I have been considering for the last 3 years is creating a "uniform", by buying a bunch of same colour shirts and same colour skirts and trousers. Here is the beauty of the uniform:
  • It removes much of the decision making process
  • Since you don't need variety, your "uniform" will take up less room than all the other clothes you normally choose between.
  • You can rewear the same clothes and nobody notices.
The last point is significant. It seems to me that everybody rewears their clothes once or twice, but everybody tries to hide the fact that they rewear clothes by sneakily alternating their outfits. That's how I do it, anyway. So my bedroom always has half-dirty clothing draped off draws and door handles, waiting for their 2nd turn to be worn. With a uniform, I can rewear my clothes the very next day, and nobody will know the difference!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


At the moment, I find getting dressed an uninspiring chore. My clothes are boring. I have no interest in wearing any of them. The end result is hard to evaluate anyway because there are no full length mirrors in my new place.

One of these days I am going to take Elsie's suggestion and photograph all my clothes in matching outfits. Inspired by the Clueless movie wardrobe software. Then I can print the outfits on cards, and randomly select a card each day. Maybe put weather symbols on the back of the cards so I pick something weathering.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jelssie vocab: Greetings!

I do not wish our common tongue to become bland. We should strive to be more creative in our expression. We shall colour our speech with words and phrases we like the sound of. I will include suggestions and examples in my posts for you to incorporate into your daily life as you see fit.

Today's vocabulary topic is Hello/Goodbye. Instead of Hi, Hey, or Hellohowareyou, why not say:

Good morrow!
Greetings, dear sir/lady!

And instead of Bye, why not say:

I must away!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Never okay

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say to men, it's NEVER okay to go running in just a singlet and your budgie smugglers unless:

1. you are currently competing in an Iron Man competition (or similar) and that's what all the competitors are doing or

2. crocodiles just ripped off your shorts and you are running for your life.

Put on a pair of shorts! Think about the rest of society that has to see you running! How hard is it?!


Before Sydney I lived in Bowral for 6 months, where it is cool and pleasant and nobody sweats. My first summer in Sydney was a nasty shock, because I had forgotten what humidity was and I felt sticky and sweaty all the time. This current warm, steamy spell is just as yucky. Washing isn't drying, you sweat, you get heat rash and other itchy skin flare-ups, mould is thriving, dry food is going stale and soggy instantly.

But it's not all bad. Here are some pros to cheer you up.
  • No dry skin. Save money on moisturiser and lip balm!
  • Air plant is thriving!
  • Wisps of hair form cute curly ringlets!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Wanted: Rental Boyfriend for Lunar New Year

I saw this article in the New York Times about a Chinese girl advertising for a boyfriend to take home for the Lunar New Year. So timely given that the Lunar New Year's Day and Valentine's Day fall on the same date this year.

I hope my parents don't ever give me that much grief that I would resort to those kind of tactics. But I hope I wouldn't. I would feel uncomfortable about the deception and dishonesty, but understand the lengths people go to stop other people's nagging!

(H/T to Alex for the article.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Being a thoughtful couple

As I crossed the Harbour Bridge tonight by train, I thought, "If I were married, I would celebrate Valentine's Day the day before and spend V Day with a whole bunch of friends (single and married) so nobody would feel left out."

This year for me, Chinese New Year trumps Valentine's Day (well, CNY trumps everything). Next year, perhaps, we'll take the opportunity to get friends together.

John Piper and skin hunger

Skin hunger is a topic Jess explored earlier on jelssie. Here is John Piper's response to How would you offer hope to someone who is addicted to cutting himself? His response touches on the topic of skin hunger and looks at people's need for touch, need to feel loved and cared for.

Food on a Stick Adventure Tour!

Jess and I are excited to announce our new eating venture: Food on a Stick Adventure Tour (FOASAT)!

The idea came to us while we were eating at Erica Restuarant for the fourth Kingsford Eat Street Challenge (KESC). We just realised how good food on a stick can be. We both had Chuan Bar in mind. And I was thinking of Pitt St in the city where you can get all this Korean food on a stick. And of course there's your Pluto Pups at The Easter Show.

We have no plans yet for kicking it off, but we are excited about it!

I also think we need to have a KESC round 2 once we've completed all the restaurants. I've noticed new restaurants popping up. Tropicana doesn't exist anymore and it's now called Zhou Mama or something like that. The point of round 2 would only be to visit the new restaurants that have opened up since we've started the Challenge.

Double dose Saturday

I've just realised that Saturday is a great day for me to do a double dose of exercise.

If I get up at my usual time in the morning and do my morning exercise, I have the rest of the day or morning for some more exercise. I could go for another jog with my flatmate (good test of endurance). I could do the Coogee to Bondi walk with my sister (great views and quality time). I could go for an ocean swim with Jess and friends (refreshing).

I must take advantage of double dose Saturday.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Heads up!

Today is the Friday before Valentine's Day. I'm a single girl in a big city. The world is full of experiences waiting to happen. What to do, what to do?

While I wait for Midsomer Murders to start, I will be checking out a new show on the ABC… Sleuth 101, some sort of a cross between Spicks and Specks and Cluedo. I hope it is the highlight of my week, and that's saying a lot because I really like The Mentalist.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Position Vacant: Valentine.

This temporary position, starting on the 14 February 2010 and finishing on the 15th of that same month, is ideally suited to a single man of good faith.

The applicant must possess good communication skills, an eye for the colour red, and a willingness to make a girl feel special. Displays of chivalry much appreciated.

Send your application by email to Each application should include a 50 word description of your proposed Valentine tribute.

Applications close 9am on 13th February 2010.

If no suitable applicant is found, the position will be awarded to Elsie's mars bar slice in heart-shaped tin.

Of Books and Birkenstocks

I've worked out a bargain way of buying books and Birkenstocks.

When it comes to books, I'm usually quite happy to borrow them from the library or get them second-hand. However, I don't always have the time to look for second-hand books nor are they always available. So I will usually head straight to booko and let it compare various websites for me, to tell me which is the cheapest online store to get it from. If it happens to be Borders Online, I will hop over to OzBargain and see if there are any valid 20% or 25% off voucher codes and apply it to my order. Savings galore!

If booko tells me that Book Depository is the cheapest, I will visit both the US and UK site to see if there is any price difference. They too do free shipping.

For Birkenstocks, you will rarely find them on sale in Sydney at a Birkenstock outlet. They pretty much never do sales. You'll find them on sale at Hype when they have their post-Christmas 20% off in stock sale, but they don't carry a large range of Birks. You might also find them on sale if a shoe retailer is trying to get rid of the last of their stock. They're not much cheaper at the shopping outlet at Birkenhead Point either. So I turn to eBay. You can get a pair brand new shipped from Germany at about 65% of the original price (and that includes postage). Or you could try Birkibox, which ships directly from Germany and they sell on eBay as well.

Birks are quite sturdy, so I've only bought my second pair after having my first for over four years (and that was wearing them a lot).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Vicarious Valentine.

It is impossible to avoid noticing V Day. I always fantasise a little bit about receiving a big bunch of flowers, or something poetic from an anonymous admirer*, or anything of a Valentiney nature… nothing ever happens.

So since there is no fun to be had with a real Valentine, "we shall have to be philosophers, Mary," and make our own blog fun!

Here is some sensible advice you girls might like to remember:
"It is face powder to catch them, and baking powder to keep them."
So simple! Things were perhaps much easier in the 50s.

Stay tuned for more!

*although I have spent this year spurning the poems and tributes of an unwanted weirdo admirer, so if I did receive something anonymous I would be cross and suspicious.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Exercise theory.

I think there are 2 schools of thought. Not counting people who avoid exercise.

1st group are all about goals. Exercise is intensive, because you are trying to lose weight, or run a marathon, or something. You do hard exercise because you want results. I sometimes try this way but I can't sustain it for long because it takes a lot of willpower.

2nd group are about being generally active. I can easily say that I am an active person, because I walk to work and stuff, do a little bit of swimming, carry my groceries home from the shops, etc etc. Being active is good for your health, keeps you in good shape if you eat lightly, and I find it is easily sustainable— you just don't get peak fitness or any other measurable results.

Monday, February 8, 2010

5fifty5 challenge.

Elsie has been inspiring us with her motivation! I'm going to follow her lead and get motivated.

I want to read my bible EVERY DAY as per my NYR, and to do that I realise I need discipline and routine. Unfortunately, evenings are not a good time for routine, because I'm always either busy or lazy. So that leaves mornings.

I have blogged about the beauty of the early morning weekend. And then I came across this post at girltalk...

And I thought: what if I got up early on weekdays? What if I woke up at 5.55am? I could do my quiet time, drink tea, watch the sun rise, and be undistracted. I could get to work calm and organised and on time.

So I started this morning, but slept in.

It's my 5fifty5 challenge. Everything is more fun if it's a challenge!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Get over it

I've recently started exercising regularly again. It's taken me about six or seven years to reach this point (i.e. the last time I can remember exercising at this level of intensity and regularity was about six or seven years ago). I know it has to be a lifestyle change, so I was getting a little freaked out by the fact that I will be exercising nearly every day for the rest of my life IF I want to stay healthy (God willing).

Then I read this tip from Michelle Bridges (a trainer in The Biggest Loser Australia) in a recent Sunday Life:

Get it in your head that training is something that you do every day. You make your bed every day, you take a shower every day, you train every day. Big deal. Get over it.

Okaaaay. I've started making my bed every day now.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Heart-shaped box

I made a Mars Bars slice* using my recently acquired heart-shaped tin.

First I lined the tin with baking paper. Then I firmly pressed the base in.

Next was the chocolate layer.

And this is the final product:

*Technically speaking, since I bought the ingredients from ALDI, it was a Titan slice.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Early to rise

In the past few years, I've really struggled with my sleep. I struggled to go to bed at a decent hour, which meant I didn't get enough sleep, and hated waking up. I would usually wake up around 8am (ah, the luxury of living close to work). I would wake up tired, not rested. I would be in awe of Karen (and others), who would wake up at 6:15am to get to work early. The thought of waking up at 6-something really freaked me out. I just don't know how people did it.

This lack of sleep meant I would yawn all morning (and probably all day) and just generally be lethargic.

Just before Christmas, I made a commitment to my health. I was going to eat health-fully and exercise five to seven times a week. I worked out the best time for me to exercise would be first thing in the morning: before work, before breakfast.

I don't know if you can call it a habit yet, but to my great surprise and delight, I've been able to get up at 6:00am most of these past few mornings to exercise. This is how I did it:

Gradually wind your clock back
I think I started at 6:30am. After a few days, I wound it back another five minutes. And another five. And another five, till eventually I was waking up at 6:00am.

You gotta have a reason
To be able to get up at 6:00am, you must have a really good reason. Something that you really want. I really really really wanted to exercise. I was making all this effort to eat health-fully, therefore I was going to take advantage of it by exercising. Later on, my motivation became comfort: in summer, 6:00am is a much cooler part of the day to be exercising. It meant I could jog, whereas if I exercised later in the morning when it was warmer, I would only walk.

Lots of positive self-talk!
At first it was a struggle. It was hard. The first few times, it took me 10-15 minutes to get out of bed. I would chant in my head, "Come on Elsie, you can do it! Come on Elsie, you want this! Come on Elsie, you want to be fit and healthy!" over and over again until I got up. You've really got to remind yourself why you want to get up in the first place. This morning, I think it only took me a couple of minutes.

Allow yourself to struggle
It's okay that it's hard to get up and you feel worse for wear for the first couple of minutes. But once you get dressed and get out the door to exercise, half the battle is won!

Getting up at 6:00am on a regular basis to exercise has improved my sleep quite a bit. I don't yawn at all in the mornings anymore. Imagine that! No more loud yawns from Elsie! I get really tired at night and most of the time, I will go to bed because I want to sleep enough so I can wake up at 6:00am. I've had a few late nights, but they're now the exception rather than the norm.

I do however, allow myself to have naps on the weekend (one for each day) if I need them, while I'm adjusting to this new routine.

Anyway, this is to give you hope! Even I, who was terrible at waking up in the mornings, can wake up at 6:00am on a regular basis and not be fazed by it!

Advice for a post-grad

God willing, I'm looking forward to starting post-graduate studies this year. Here's some advice from a couple of friends:

You want to go to the class with the most number of English speaking students!!! Trust me, there will definitely be group assignments! Bond with the nerds now!
Friend 1

In your first lectures and tutorials (you need to act early) observe who asks questions, prepares for tutes etc - you want to see who is conscientious. It's good to see who is dressed up/mature age, they are likely working and studying part-time so they're pretty motivated and organised.

If you want to be really keen, look up last semester's course notes to see which subjects have group assignments so you can chose your group members in the first or second tutorial. Don't be shy get in early, approach the good students, exchange email & mobile no.s. If you're not pro-active you may end up in a group where poor communication/ English will make assignments even harder to complete.
Friend 2

Well, I've enrolled into the Monday morning class. I figure anyone who's up for class on Monday morning has got to be fairly serious. I shall be on the look out for conscientious nerds with excellent communication skills. I wonder if I should nerd it up too...

Windows at work.

This is the window at work where I take a little break and do my eye stretches:

On a rainy day, Anna and I call this our bay window, as per the BBC P&P where Elizabeth sits on a wet day to read letters from her sister, while English rain splashes gently against the glass. Sigh.

This is the view from the bay window. You can imagine that park is "a prettyish sort of little wilderness", if you like. Life would be boring if we had no imagination.

This other window is exciting for a different reason. It has a very dull view out onto what I call 'The Prawjects', after Bill Cosby. But this week a Fed used it to take photos of drug deals! So I have a new respect for it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

KESC 4 review

Well, this was my disappointingest challenge yet. But I will try and be fair and balanced.

It was a pleasant, cool evening when we met at Erica Indonesian last Friday. We decided to sit outside, since this is the only place you can eat outside in Kingsford at night, other than Maccas. So that is a plus.

There were eight of us! Biggest challenge ever. We were therefore able to cover a lot more food... noodles, fried chicken, and I had deep fried sweet and sour beef.

Prices are good, around $9 per meal, although you can get lots of small things.

Serving portions good, but there was often a lot more filler (noodle) than meat. That's common for Kingsford though.

They are helpful in how they serve the food, eg sauce on the side if requested.

Taste was average. Fried chicken was well liked, but some other stuff wasn't special.

Temperature was a problem - mine was almost cold, others were also getting cold. So that was quite annoying.

One of our meals was forgotten.

So, if I wanted to eat a cheap Indo cold dish outside, I might go back. But if I wanted something hot and delicious, I would not go there.

Next challenge, Italian!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scraping the barrel.

I feel I've been posting some pretty thought-provoking stuff recently. So all you get from me today is this:

I hate moonpig.

I hated it the first moment I heard the jingle and saw the logo swoop in. By the third time I had to shut my eyes and mute the TV. I hate moonpig with every particle of my being.

Consider this a warning. Don't go looking for it! Escape if you can! Although moonpig will find you, maybe while you're watching The Mentalist, maybe while you are eating breakfast with the Today Show... moonpig will find you.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Handbag v backpack

Handbags are the correct way for a lady to carry around her purse and other lady business.

They are fun to shop for, because you don't have to go into a change room. They can be very pretty. They can have secret pockets and special lining and hidden compartments. Who can resist?

However, handbags and satchels are usually carried on the one side all the time. It's like crossing your arms the other way, it feels all unbalanced and wrong to tuck your bag under the other shoulder. Carrying something heavy on one side means your back is twisting to the other side to compensate. Not good for you. One day you'll bite into a carrot and your jaw will get stuck, and you'll have to undo all the contributing factors.

So, backpacks. They are all basically sporty, ugly, and comfortable. Not ladylike at all, but when you walk a lot and carry heaps of stuff around, the backpack beats the handbag.

I wish there was an in between way.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good ideas for presents for women.

There are some dreadful ads on TV about obnoxious women who aren't satisfied with their Valentine's Day presents, they're all "flowers aren't good enough! I want diamonds!". Presents are lovely in any form and I wish I was more thoughtful and gave them more often.

However, even though presents are always appreciated by sensitive women, I have a green bag full of soaps and smelly things and candles. These things build up faster than any woman alive can possibly use. Women know this, and still give them to each other! Not to mention trinket boxes, teeny tiny photo frames, and figurines of teddy bears. If you want to buy a woman a small gift, for a thankyou or something, these are my suggestions off the top of my head. They are low clutter as well as special treats.
  • Gourmet tea, or hot drink equivelant
  • Gourmet chocolate
  • Movie tickets
  • Earrings (I plan to make a list of all my pierced friends)
  • Flowers
Small and special is better than lots of tacky. And usable is better than ornamental, because it is hard to know a woman's particular taste, and ornamental presents are dreadful for clutter. Flowers are the exception to the ornamental rule, because they are always pretty and they are short-lived.