Friday, April 30, 2010

Me and my Bavarian stomach

I've learnt that it doesn't matter what time I eat breakfast (e.g. 7:30am, 8:00am) or what I have for breakfast, I will get hungry at 10:30am. In my mind, that's too early! How can I get hungry after only 2.5 hours?!

I have heard people talk about second breakfasts, and apparently it's in The Lord of Rings (which, as uneducated and as uncultured as it sounds, I have neither read or seen completely).

So out of curiosity, I googled second breakfast. And whaddya know? There is a wiki entry on the topic! People in Poland and Bavaria have a second breakfast at 10:30am! There is some more info here as well.

So there you have it. I have a Bavarian (or Polish) stomach.

How often to wash jeans.

I heard a while ago that you are only supposed to wash your jeans every six months or so. If you wash them every time you wear them they fade too young.

I don't wear my jeans every day, so I'm happy to only wash them occasionally, say every 2-4 months. Everyone knows they get more comfy between washes, anyway.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A bounder and a cad!

For interested persons:

Here is some information about Regency romance, which is useful background when reading Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, etc.

If there was an engagement (or a publicly perceived understanding, or obvious display of affection) between a man and a woman, then the man was bound to marry the woman at all costs.
"Has not his behaviour to Marianne and to all of us, for at least the past fortnight, declared that he loved and considered her as his future wife...?"
Sense and Sensibility Mrs Dashwood, Chapter 15.
If he broke off the engagement or tried to back away, his rejection of the lady was seen as a slur against her reputation and her family (was there something wrong with her? was she less than pure?). An insult to reputation and family was disastrous - it might ruin her future prospects for marriage, and the respectability of her family. Therefore, a proper gentleman was bound by honour to his commitment (or a perceived commitment) to the lady. If a man acts the cad and dumps the lady, he could be called out to duel with her father, and settle the matter in public.

A gentleman would always act with honour towards the lady, even if it makes him unhappy: for example, Edward Ferrars gets engaged to the horrid Lucy in his foolish youth; Capt Wentworth incautiously spends too much time with Louisa and everyone thinks they are in love. Neither man would act dishonourably and break it off.

It is ONLY EVER the lady's prerogative to end an engagement and release the man. Fortunately Edward loses his fortune and Lucy dumps him for his brother. Fortunately Louisa falls off a wall and in love with Capt Benwick instead.

The unscrupulous Willoughby, on the other hand, displays a clear preference for Marianne, although not technically getting engaged to her, but then he publicly dumps her for a richer woman. She has no father to defend her reputation. He is a cad.
She felt the loss of Willoughby's character yet more heavily than she had felt the loss of his heart.
Sense and Sensibility Marianne Dashwood, Chapter 32.

"When a young man, be he who he will, comes and makes love to a pretty girl, and promises marriage, he has no business to fly off from his word, only because he grows poor, and a richer girl is ready to have him. Why don't he, in such a case, sell his horses, let his house, turn off his servants, and make a thorough reform at once."
Sense and Sensibility
Mrs. Jennings, Chapter 30.
Which is all to say that there was a lot more at stake in those days.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waist waste.


If you are a person who hates to waste food and will finish food even when you are already full, think of this:

If you overeat and it turns into fat on your body, it's wasted anyway. Might as well waste it in the bin. Bin waste is easier to get rid of than waist waste!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Ahoy, gutsy challengers. This THURSDAY at 6.30 we shall reconvene the Eat Street Challenge, hopefully at a brand new fancy Indonesian place to the right of the Tea Inn, but that place might not be open yet, in which case we shall settle for the Taiwanese Tea Inn, 311-313 Anzac Parade Kingsford. TTI does fried ice-cream! So it should be a good night either way. Really sorry if some of our regular Fridayers can't make it. Will see you at the next one!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jelssie vocab: S&S quotes.

My top five quotes from the Sense and Sensibility movie. These quotes are worth remembering, perhaps to drop into everyday conversation. Even though not all strictly Austen, they are very elegant and useful.
  1. "What care I for colds when there is such a man?" (replace the words "cold" and "man" with whatever you like: "What care I for calories when there is such a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake?" for example)
  2. "Use those insipid words again, and I shall leave the room this instant!"
  3. "How I wish this rain would stop!"—"How I wish YOU would stop." (Although, if it is raining and you are in a different mood you may prefer a tragic whispered "Willoughby... Willoughby...")
  4. "Viper in my bosom!"
  5. "Perhaps Margaret is right... piracy is our only option."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I CAN believe it's not cheese

I was looking at the packaging of the following product I consume on a semi-regular basis. And it struck me...

...I could not find the word "cheese" anywhere on the front. So I turned it over and discovered...
 is not in fact cheese, but low fat cheese spread!

I wonder how one defines cheese?

The hardest word.

My sister Julia observed something I also think is very true for me, and it seems to be universal.

The hardest Christian word to use in conversation is "Jesus". Doesn't matter if you are talking to a Christian friend on Sunday right after church, or if you are trying to mention Christian stuff in normal everyday conversation, or if you are full on cold turkey evangelising. "Jesus" is the hardest word to say. Much easier to mention God, Church or Faith.

Study, study, study

If I've learnt anything about studying environments, it's that what works for you one day, might not work for you the next. I study best taking into account my energy needs and how my body responds to the environment.

Throughout high school and my undergraduate study life, I never studied well at home. Home was too distracting. In fact, I have no idea how I got through most of high school since I didn't really learn how to study until the study vacation period right before the HSC.

During the HSC year, some of my friends studied at the State Library and I tagged along. I found the State Library incredibly effective for me at that time because:
  • It was not home
  • I had energy and I was focussed
  • It was an extremely quiet environment
  • My friends were studying there too, so there was an element of "hey, we're doing this together!"
As an undergraduate student, I found it incredibly difficult to study at home as well, and libraries weren't so effective for me anymore. In fact, they would induce me to sleep. So I would find an empty classroom and study up a storm. I could always tell when I had studied for an hour because the lights in the classroom were motion-sensitive. They would turn off after a while. Quite disconcerting!

After I moved out of my parents' home, I found that I could actually study at home if I were focussed and had the energy to.

Well that leads me to today. I've taken this week off work to concentrate on studying for an exam on Saturday. Today, I felt really low in energy and there was just something about being at home that was making me tired and unmotivated to study.

I realised what I craved was sunlight and a hot chocolate. So I grabbed my lecture notes, and ducked out to a local cafe. I picked one that would not be too busy (otherwise too hard to concentrate and I can't sit there for too long) and one where I would have hope of getting some sunlight. And that worked wonders. Sure, it was a little bit noisy with the traffic, people about and music playing. But something about that sunlight and hot chocolate and being out of home helped to lift my energy so that I could focus and study while at the cafe.

I'm now back at home and aiming going to study through a potential post-lunch slump while my body is still revving from the sunlight.

I know in some Asian cultures, students like to study at fast-food restaurants because it is brightly lit and clean.

If I am ever fortunate enough to have my own study, I will make sure it has lots of sunlight. And if it did have lots of sunlight, I'm sure it will also double up as a drying room for my clothes!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grocery Shopping App

I would like to be an iPhone or iPod app developer. I have a few ideas up my sleeve. Here's one I'm willing to share.

I would like to see a grocery shopping app, where you can view the layout of your most frequented supermarkets and grocery shops. You then upload or select your shopping list, and it spits out the most efficient method of manoeuvring through the supermarket. Or let's say you don't care about efficiency, but you want to shop for all your cold items (ice cream, milk, deli meats etc) at the end. Or you want to buy items in a certain order. It could plan that route as well. And you could tick things off your list/route as you collected them.

Now wouldn't that be a useful app?

The Dapper Gentleman of the University of Newcastle.

The Dapper Gentleman of the University of Newcastle

"This is a fan page honouring the well dressed gentleman regularly seen strolling the grounds of the University of Newcastle. If you to wish to pay tribute to this gentleman's sartorial splendour, become a fan!"

I have noticed a few FB friends joining this group, and I think I remember seeing this man back in my day. (I wonder if he solves crimes? Or collects rare butterflies?)

In Newcastle, a city renown for westies and bogans, 1200+ uni students have united in their admiration of a Dapper Gentleman. It just goes to show! If you make a little bit of effort, wear a waistcoat and carry a walking cane, you will be noticed, respected and even reverently stalked around libraries and bus stops. Although it is a little sad that a smartly dressed man is so out of the ordinary. Well done, that man!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Roast them vegies

How do you keep your vegies exciting to eat?

I find that when I get bored of salad, steamed or raw vegies, roasting them is the way to go. Also keep your vegies exciting by buying something different or unusual, something you would not normally eat or have no idea to cook. Find out how to cook it on the internet ( is a favourite of mine).

For me, that was yellow squash (also known as button squash). First time I bought it, I diced them and steamed it in the microwave. It reminded me of zucchini, and I might substitute it in this hotpot recipe I love. Tonight, I cut thick slices, sprayed them with oil and baked them in the oven. It was so tasty! I ate two, just like that.

There is something wonderful about roasted vegies. Spanish onions caramelise, cherry tomatoes collapse and get all juicy - I love it! Plus, it's nearly winter, so its perfect for the weather. And they make the kitchen smell great.

KESC Review: Delicious Satay Chinese Restaurant

The name
Is it Delicious Chinese? Or is it Delicious Satay Chinese? There seemed to be no consistency in name.

The vibe
It had a very country town feel to it. I'm not sure why. Maybe the interiors. They played very very old Jacky Cheung songs! I noticed :)

The food

We got our complimentary pre-dinner soup :) At first I was shocked by the small bowl that was given to us. Then I had to remember, there were only four of us, and the reason I'm used to seeing huge bowls of pre-dinner soup is because I'm used to eating out at Chinese restaurants with a large group of people.

The soup had carrot, potato and chicken bone.

Our entrée for the evening was sang choy bow. It was Jess K's idea to order it. The only time of the year I eat sang choy bow is on the first day of Chinese New Year. My family makes it vegetarian, as it's tradition to abstain from meat on that day.

I think Jess G and George had never had it before (am I right?). I take Chinese food for granted, so I was very surprised by that. I think George called it a lettuce taco? Or healthy taco?

Sang choy bow was hot and very tasty. Even the table behind us said in Cantonese, "Oh look! They have sang choy bow here. They're eating sang choy bow". Yes, yes we were.

We ordered honey pepper pork, prawns with vegies and shan dong chicken (the love of Jess G's food life). George found the taste of the honey pepper pork dish a bit unusual. I thought it was a yummy sweet dish (love anything with sugar). I was pleasantly surprised by the number of plump prawns sitting atop the prawn dish (even if were are frozen ones as Jess K claimed). I think the shan dong chicken didn't quite hit the spot for Jess G.

Last but not least, our complimentary post-dinner fruit: rockmelon! It was tasteless sadly. I would have preferred oranges.

Jess G's thoughts
Food was tasty. Came very quickly.

Also reasonable value, dishes were $11-$14, 3 dishes plus entrée was ample for 4 people, and came to $13.50 each. Plus you get rockmelon and soup, tea and water.

They slapped down our rockmelon before were were finished as a hint to get finished with our table!

Is not as crowded as other places, because of space between tables, and has air-con, so while not attractive it is very comfortable.

I was quite happy with it. 3/5

Friday, April 16, 2010

Really long books.

I bought a book before Christmas, and I'm still nowhere near finishing it. It is the size of a study bible, and has about the same size font. It is not just long, it progresses slowly, so after reading it for 2 weeks and not much had happened it all felt tedious—until I realised I was only 1/8th of the way into it. Insert more patience and continue.

That's kind of the nice thing about a really long book, that it takes a long time to read. So once you acclimatise to the world, you can really soak in it. It becomes a very familiar place to visit, as opposed to short, fast-paced novels where you get in, bam bam bam, get out.

The really long book, by the way, is called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell, and is an obscure best-selling fantasy novel written slightly in the style of Jane Austen and set in the Napoleonic wars. What's not to like?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The fun of clutter.

This blog spins through our various attempts at self-improvement—health, frugality, beauty, manners, godliness, fitness, general discipline, etc. One of our favourites is decluttering. Not just when you move house, but as a way of life; living without clutter is a sort of freedom and we pursue it sporadically.

However. One of the blogs I check every day is unhappy hipsters. I love it because it shows cool, designy people in cool, designy, clutterfree houses—but adds dark, absurd little captions. So I don't really mind that I will never achieve a perfect, funky, soulless interior, because that is a very hollow ambition. Anyway, it's more normal and human to live with a little bit of chaos.

From her plywood perch she surveyed the new, clean world  she’d created for herself. And it was perfect. (Photo: Yoshichika Takagi, via Dezeen magazine)

From her plywood perch she surveyed the new, clean world she’d created for herself. And it was perfect.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Walk: listen, think, or vent.

I walk a lot, and since I walk alone around some dodgy streets, as a rule I do not carry valuables with me, including my ipod. Since the iphone, however, my 3-year-old ipod is probably not going to turn the heads of muggers, so now I walk with it a bit more.

Walking with an ipod makes it feel like you are in a movie—you have your own soundtrack. I never get that feeling when listening to music at my desk or at home. But when I'm walking around music feels like a soundtrack.

But, I like to walk without music as well, because when you do something rhythmic and mindless with your legs, your brain can spin away and think think think. "Walk. The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird." (Jules Renard) A 30 minute "thinking" walk after work really clears your head.

Walking with someone is a whole nother lovely thing. You can vent opinions while venting energy. It is just as companionable a thing as eating together.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to walk.

In Pride and Prejudice, walking well is a sort of accomplishment. Elegant walking is also a lot better for you than ordinary slumpy walking. Good posture is important for a straight, healthy back, you project vitality and confidence, and you will probably feel better. Here are the things to notice when you are walking.
  • Feet roll from heel to toe
  • Pelvis balanced (not swinging with each step)
  • Stomach held in (core muscles engaged)
  • Shoulders down
  • Head up
  • Breath through your nose.
And then keep it going, up hills and over fields, until your skirt is six inches deep in mud!

Winter beauty tip

Winter must be upon us because I am now thinking about blow-drying my hair instead of stepping out in the cold with wet hair, and the skin on my face is starting to get dry and flaky.

This is what I'm doing to treat my dry, flaky skin. I squirt a small amount of a colour-free and fragrance-free moisturiser into the palm of my hand. The amount I squirt is the amount I would use on my face. I then add a drop of jojoba oil to it and use my finger to mix it up in my palm. I then apply it all over my face.

This is what Paula Begoun says about jojoba oil:
A non-fragrant plant oil whose chemical composition is similar to human sebum (oil). Although that may make it seem like an ingredient to avoid by those with oily, acne-prone skin, research has shown that topical application of jojoba oil can reduce oil production in skin that’s been irritated by drying acne treatments. Jojoba oil also has the ability to dissolve excess natural oil in the pore, allowing it to be washed away (Source: Cosmetic Dermatology, April 2008, page 213). For those with dry skin, jojoba oil is an excellent emollient to consider when shopping for moisturizers. Little is known about the antioxidant content of jojoba oil, so it is not preferred to antioxidant-rich plant oils such as olive or grape seed. However, it certainly has benefits for oily/acne-prone and dry skin that make it worth considering.
(Source: Ingredient Dictionary)

So jojoba oil is great for dry skin as well as oily/acne prone skin - win! Also check out what Daniel Kern has to say about jojoba oil on his website.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not just a personal trainer

I am such a fan of the current season of The Biggest Loser. I have noticed that the personal trainers on the show aren't just personal trainers - they are also quasi-therapists and counsellors. I wonder if this will set up the expectations for personal trainers to be more than a fitness expert.

Jillian Michaels
, the trainer in the American version of The Biggest Loser, says in this feature article from Success Magazine:
Underneath every self-destructive behavior is a self-esteem issue. Period. End of conversation. Those are symptoms of a deeper problem, and understanding the root of your self-esteem issues will help you rectify that symptom. Obesity is never because somebody wanted an extra margarita on their vacation. It's about some sort of, 'I was never good enough,' 'I was never worthy,' 'I'm afraid that if I do embrace life, I won't have the ability to achieve or succeed.' And until you get to the root of the problem, you'll never be able to remedy the symptom. That's why self-exploration and self-awareness is a critical first step when it comes to achieving any goal.
Michelle Bridges, one of the trainers for the Australian The Biggest Loser, also subscribes to a similar philosophy in her book Crunch Time.

It's not just personal trainers either. It's professional organisers as well. I've seen a few episodes of Neat TV, where Canadian professional organiser Hellen Bettegieg steps into someone's home to get it into order. It's never just about the stuff or the clutter. The underlying issue causing the clutter always comes out e.g. "We lost everything in our last home in a fire and now we're holding to everything we've got in case we lose it all again" or "I really like having my kids close to me and that's why the air hockey table, the tv, the computer, the treadmill are all in the master bedroom".

I don't know if this applies to everyone, but definitely for some, decluttering will uncover underlying issues (I know it did for me).

My point is this: what seems to be the initial problem (obesity, clutter, whatever) might actually be sign of a deeper issue that is causing it. It does make me wonder: we all know about the sex scandal a famous golfer is currently embroiled in, but what is the deeper issue that is causing it?

Routines are not just for babies

Mothers are often very precious about their child's routine, because young children need routine to function properly. I have since learnt that routines aren't only good for babies - they're good for me too.

I used to prize flexibility over routine, because I thought flexibility allowed you to maximise opportunities. I wasn't smart enough to work out what a flexible routine might look like. Instead, I thought flexibility meant not having much routine at all.

I now know that having a routine helps me to achieve my goals, to do the things I want done.

So here are some of my preferred routines:

Saturday mornings
I'm a slow observer, but it's dawned on me that most people don't schedule social things on Saturdays mornings (unless it's a wedding) because they're usually sleeping in. Because I am a morning person and I generally don't sleep in, Saturday morning is a great time for me to knock off some major things before 10:30am. My Saturday morning routine varies, but at the moment, I enjoy doing the following in this order:

- morning exercise (it's a cool part of the day and there aren't too many people around)
- stretch while watching Rage
- breakfast while watching Rage
- morning grocery shop (and beat the crowds and the long queues)
- household chores

If I can get all that done while watching some Rage or Poh's Kitchen by 11am, I feel fairly chuffed. I feel as if I've had a productive, cracker of a morning and I know can enjoy the rest of my Saturday as I please.

Weekday nights
My one routine is to pack my bag and lunch the night before. I write out a to do list for the morning and next day as well if I know my brain can't handle remembering stuff. This is so helpful! It helps me to mentally prepare for the next day. I also usually spend one night of the week planning meals and planning my grocery shop. I also aim to be in bed by 10pm if possible, most nights.

Weekday mornings

My routine is to wake up at the same time most mornings, do some exercise, have brekkie, read my Bible, shower and then conquer my day!

I am such a fan of routines.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Time for another gastronomical adventure. We "officially" cross our first street! Block 2!

Next Friday, 6.30, Kingsford Delicious Satay Chinese Restaurant. It's regular chinese food, not just satays, but there SHOULD be soup before and oranges after, or else Elsie will be quite cross.

See you there!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quotes to motivate yourself to go for a walk.

Depending on your mood and the type of walk you will attempt.
"There are no gains without pains."
Benjamin Franklin
"Let's hunt some Orc."

"Miss Eliza Bennet, let me persuade you to follow my example, and take a turn about the room. -- I assure you it is very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude.''
Caroline Bingley

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kingsford Cafe Culture.

Kingsford has a reputation for cheap asian food. All of a sudden, it is sprouting new cafes! Here is the ABC afe, a place to get dessert after a KESC:
Here is Papa Joes, a place to buy delicious fresh loaves of turkish bread and slices of banana bread while you wait for a bus:
And here is Westpac, a place to sit and read a newspaper while you wait for your banking:
They even have a chalkboard menu.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why we are all single, or, What boys don't really like.

Warren once asked me if everyone who came to KESC was a girl, and I said yes. Except once, which was a boyfriend dragged along. So KESC is 95% girls (I didn't do any maths to find that percentage, it just means that KESC is nearly all girls).

Either the fear of the Single Girl Ghetto is frightening men away, OR, it's just not true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Food is definitely the way to a girl's heart. "Food is the food of love", or "Love of food is the food of love" if you like a chiasm.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Breaking rules

When it comes to buying storage containers, one of the golden rules of decluttering is:
  1. Cull the stuff you want to store, so you're left with stuff you want or need, not junk
  2. Assess your stuff and work out what kind of storage you need
  3. Buy the storage containers according to your need
This means you don't end up wasting time and money buying containers to store junk.

However, I broke all the rules today. I have a pile of stuff on my desk I can't deal with at the moment but I need the desk space. So I bought some containers. It occurred to me: in the time it took me to get to the shopping centre, look around, buy the containers and come home, I probably could have dealt with the stuff. Eh, I'm sure I need the containers anyway :P

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Things I never learnt as a child

  • How to ride a bike
  • How to do a handstand
  • How to do a cartwheel
  • Play a musical instrument (the recorder doesn't count!)
Yet my sister learnt to do all these things (except for the musical instrument). How come I missed out? I still can't do any of those things. However I can:
  • Swim
  • Rollerblade
  • Ice-skate
  • Ride a scooter (a Razor scooter, not a motor scooter)
  • Drive a car
Yet, I do not feel like an accomplished lady at all.