Monday, May 31, 2010

The Paradox of Work for a Creative Person.

I hoped to do some more outlining on Karen's comic on the weekend. I got no drawing at all done, but instead read a library book: The Coming First World Debt Crisis (all about how a global economy built on debt is immoral and unsustainable—published 2006, just before the GFC credit crunch, so quite prophetic also).

Which just goes to show that whatever you do for your job is "work", and anything else is a pleasant distraction.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nocturnal leg cramps

Twice in the recent past, I've woken up from my sleep with these incredibly painful leg cramps in my calves. The first incident was pretty bad, bad enough to make me groan aloud in pain. The second incident didn't last as long, thankfully. Both times, I think it's just affected my left calf, but I'm half asleep at the time so I'm not too sure.

I wondered if it was caused by me not stretching enough (I usually don't stretch after my weekday runs, but I try to on the weekend).

With good ol' Google to the rescue, I tried to pinpoint the cause. Basically, no-one knows what causes them, but there are certain factors.

I ruled out mineral deficiencies because I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegies, and I take a multivitamin and mineral supplement. I'm definitely not pregnant (you can trust me on this one). It could be over-exertion (but I do take a rest day from exercise once a week). I think it is more likely dehydration, because I often wake up thirsty (to the point my lips are cracked).

So to prevent nocturnal leg cramps, I will:
  • continue to eat lots of fresh fruit and vegies (I'm eating all the stuff websites recommend anyway, such as bananas, oranges, tomatoes etc)
  • drink lots of water before bed (downside: will have to get up in the middle of the night to attend to the call of nature)
  • Stretch my calves before I sleep.
One website did suggest that those who are more muscular seem to have more leg cramps. Woot! I'll take that to mean I'm more muscular now than when I didn't have nocturnal leg cramps!

On a more serious note, I hope it's not a sign of something dire.

Two new series on jelssie

For those of you who haven't seen me in a while or don't read my personal blog, I joined Jenny Craig right before Christmas last year because I knew I had to lose weight. And I have. And I've got a few kgs to go.

When I first started, it was all about losing the weight. But now, I've realised it's more than just that. It is committing to a healthy lifestyle and all that it entails. So even though much of what I want to say relates to weight loss, I am careful in how I use that phrase because:
  1. In my case, it's not just weight loss, but fat loss that I'm really after.

  2. I want to remind myself it's not just about the weight, but about being healthy in mind and body, and how that makes you feel.
I've learnt a lot during the whole process and I'd like to share with you some of those things. I was most surprised by how much mental stuff and mental change goes on when you're committing to a healthier lifestyle change. I introduce to you, the two new series:

Fight the binge!
The first series I am calling Fight the binge! As I examined why I was living an unhealthy life, I learnt that I have a tendency to compulsively overeat or binge eat. Here I want to share the mental changes I'm making in this area.

Healthy Life/Mental Changes
In this series, I want to talk about the mental changes I needed to make to reach my goal of being healthy.

These two may overlap at times. I hope the things I share will be helpful!

Friday, May 28, 2010


I think I have previously mentioned "Productive Procrastination", when you get really productive and do a whole lot of little things you have been putting of for ages, as a way of procrastinating away from something else. Procrastivation goes one step further.

I spent most of Saturday afternoon not studying for my PTC exam, but instead hanging up pictures and other hooks, fixing my curtain rail, washing and packing my new tupperware, washing and storing away summer clothes and other chores. Finally I thought "I should go for a jog." Ah-hah! At this point, I realised that I didn't really want to go for a jog, and I became more motivated to study—I used PTC study to procrastinate away from jogging! I used one nasty job as procrastivation to do another another nasty job!


Hooray! our time has come! 6.15 pm on Friday 4th June, at the delightful Golden Tower. We might sing happy birthday to jelssie, to mark our first anniversary of blogging.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I don't buy a drink.

I like water. It is free, functional and fluoridated. It is zero calorie. What better drink is there? Green tea comes a close second for health, chai latte is my latest obsession for yummy. But water is the best.

I always feel a bit pov when I ask for water at a restaurant, because it makes me look stingy and unadventurous, like I'm too cheap and I'm not gourmet enough to buy a glass of wine or a bubble tea. That's partly true, but also water is the best.

Here is a blog I found where someone compares the worst non-water drinks. Given the choice between a bottle of sunkist and 6 ice-cream sandwich oreos, get me a glass of water and I'll eat those oreos. That's what it's all about! Value for calorie intake. Delicousness and Nutritiousness per calorie. I like to EAT my sugar and fat. Beware the empty calories, and drink water.

On wearing gumboots

It never ceases to amuse me how many comments I get when I wear my gumboots on a rainy day (granted, they are bright pink and that's probably where most of the comments stem from). To me, it seems like the most logical, practical thing to do on a rainy day, especially if you dislike cold, wet feet (which I assume most people would, but hey, you never know).

Sydney isn't a very rainy city (except for one week in winter), but when it is, most people resort to umbrellas. They don't think about their feet. The only people who wear gumboots seem to be little kids or employees at your local fishmongers.

Gumboots not widely available either. Sure you can get them seasonally at the department stores, but they tend to be a fashion item rather than practical rainwear.

Here are my tips for buying gumboots:
  • If you want practical, sturdy, less likely to slip and leak gumboots, go to a proper shoe store or camping disposal store. My pair are Bata Shoes. I bought them from a shoe shop in Katoomba for about $30. This is a fantastic price for a great product and I wear them whenever it rains
  • If you're after fashion, I think you will tend to find a lower quality product at the cheaper department stores. I don't know what they're like at Myer or DJs. I bought my first adult gumboots from Billabong. Never again. Honestly. What would a surf brand know about gumboots? Mine leaked and cracked. I got wet feet from them, and they were a bit slippery. I chucked them out in Katoomba right after I bought the pink ones.
  • Think about how you want to wear them. Do you want to be able to tuck your pants into them? If so, make sure you pick on that is wide enough for your calves and pants. Do you want to be able to splash in puddles? Perhaps pick calf high ones over ankle ones.
My tips for wearing gumboots:
  • Check the forecast for the day. If there's a possibility of warmer or sunny weather later on in the day, it is worth carrying a pair of flats. You feel like such a fool for wearing gumboots if it's hot and sunny in the afternoon.
  • If you're wearing them to and from work, make sure you have a pair of shoes to change into at work. Gumboots retain heat so your feet can get hot and sweaty if you wear them all day.
  • You may wish to put comfortable lining in the sole if you plan to trudge around in your gumboots a lot.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to beat cravings. mmmmm.

Apparently cravings are visual. When you crave pie, you imagine pie and you physically want some pie. Some psych study or other has just proven that if you stop imagining pie and visualise a rainbow or something, the physical craving disappears! (Whereas hunger is not visual; you can be hungry and not crave anything.)

I had an opportunity to put this into practise on Anna. I waved some pear and raspberry bread at her at lunch time. 2 hours later, she was craving it. I helpfully suggested she imagine tulips, bay windows, or deserts. In the end, she got the song 'My favourite things' stuck in her head, and that flood of images distracted her pretty effectively.

A gentleman would

Upon hearing a lady ponder about braving the pouring rain and gusty winds in order to fetch a skim chai latte 20m across the road, a gentleman would offer to complete the task for the lady. Should the lady accept the offer, the gentleman will keep his word and fight the weather for the latte.

Such a gentleman is my boss :)

Watch out for the milk!

Me: "Ooh! There's milk in the fridge!"

J (not Jess): "Oh no, don't have it! It's expired."

Me: "Oh, you are a true friend."

A true friend will tell you the milk has expired before you drink it to your detriment.


It is our pleasure to introduce Georgina in her first guest post for jelssie, on the topic of assertiveness. Over to George!

My Jelssie friends, some confuse assertiveness as always getting your own way. But it is no such thing. Assertiveness is politely, with appropriate tone, stating your own position, so that either a compromise or some form of decision can be reached.

I would like to show you the assertiveness progressive line:

Passive aggressiveness>>>>>>>>>>>Assertiveness>>>>>>>>>>Aggressiveness

You can see that on the left is passive aggressiveness. For example, you are upset that you were left to clean up after church after everyone else left. You say on facebook: "Grumpy because I had to clean up by myself". Do you see how this is stating your position, but it is being the victim? "Ah, poor me, so hard done by". And it's not likely to help next time. The people who you are aiming at reading your post will simply get grumpy at you, after feeling guilty (if they're not sociopathic, that is).

The opposite end of the scale is aggressiveness. You may yell directly at someone, as I am prone to do, when you're grumpy because they never clean up, and the house is always a mess. This is also a mistake. Not only does it affect your relationship in a bad way, you look ill-mannered and nasty. Not what a Jelssie reader wants.

In the middle is assertiveness: Stating your position politely, without blame, and asking for change.

Instead of on Facebook (passive aggression) or yelling (aggression), you state:

"I feel upset when I clean up by myself after (event). I would like you to help me next time". The key elements are the I statement: "I feel (feeling) because (behaviour you are unhappy with) and finally what you'd like to change.

A final example happened to me 2 years ago. I went to the hairdresser and asked for them to lighten my nearly black hair. They said it would take several hours, but that I would end up with lighter brown hair. After 6 hours in the chair, 3 bleachings, my hair was orange - burnt orange. Then they coloured it, twice, with the brown dye and it was still orange - slightly brown orange. I had to go to a wedding, and I'd been there for so long, that when they said "Do you like it?" I said "Yes". (Passive aggression, because inside I was seething).

I went to the wedding with this awful hair, and the next day woke up and looked in the mirror. I was so angry and frustrated that I wanted to yell and scream and go and inflict bodily violence on the hairdresser, because after 6 hours, and $300 (!!) the hair was awful. (This would be aggression my friends). Instead, I rang up the hairdresser, and I said "I was in yesterday. I am not happy with my hair. It is orange." They said come in, and they fixed it (another 2 dyes). That is assertiveness.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Most of us are familiar with FYI (for your information). But sometimes, we like to share little snippets of info to encourage each other. So I propose a new acronym:


For Your Encouragement!

You could use it this way e.g. "FYE: Susan thought your sermon was an absolute ripper on Sunday. She found xyz particularly striking".

So take FYE into the world and encourage people!

Roll up for travelling.

Here is a very useful method for space-saving in suitcases, or drawers and closets or storage bags, etc.

Instead of folding towels, and stacking them in my shelf, I fold them in half lengthwise and then roll them up. Laziness? Yes, but also more efficient when you need to pull one out, you don't have to lift the whole pile.

When I pack my backpack for a weekend, I also sometimes roll my clothes - to prevent fold lines, mostly, and it is very quick.

Well, here is a tutorial on how to pack a carry-on bag for 10 days away. Aside from the fact that nobody needs that many swim-suits, her technique is amazing. She fits an extra 30% in with rolling compared to folding. I've seen this article linked in a few places and I think we all need to give it a burl for our next holidays!

Monday, May 24, 2010

KESC 11 review: Tea Inn

Despite our love of Eat Street Challenge, there was a lack of enthusiasm about Tea Inn leading up to last Friday. Everyone has been there, we know all the food tastes the same despite all the MSG, it's a cheap fill with asian movies on the TVs, and the restaurant is like a cafeteria, blue and yellow.

Having low expectations, five challengers met just after 6pm and examined the ENORMOUS menu. There are 700 or so things to choose from. Jess ordered shan dong chicken and dumplings and Elsie ordered seafood noodles, and Jess K, Sharon and George got a 3 person banquet. The banquet is, unlike most banquets, very good value, with bubble drinks and steamed veg, and the chosen meals: honey chicken, beef black bean and shan dong.The food was actually quite nice! Not the best in town (there were little bits of broken bone in my shan dong, and it was not garlicy enough), but not as bad as I remembered in the past. There is a lot of it, and it's still pretty cheap. The banquet is an excellent feed and was around $11 each. The mains are about the same price, and you can save half for leftovers.

It was a solid 3.5 out of 5. We reckon a lazy susan wouldn't go astray.

From the email archives.

From: Jess Green

Thursday, 7 May 2009 11:58 AM

To: Elsie; Anna

Subject: "I want diversion!"

I complained to Anna just this morning.

And then I read this on Challies (while having a little diversion break after briefing ads.)

"The compulsive search for diversion is often an attempt to escape the wretchedness of life. We have great difficulty being quiet in our rooms. … Cyberspace may be the greatest temptation yet offered to humanity to lose its soul in diversion." This was written 12 years ago. Before even Twitter and "ambient awareness".

Oh no! I knew there was some underlying danger and I was about to form a theory, but this guy beat me to putting it into words.

[from the days before jelssie, when all our profoundness was in private emails. jelssie turns 1 year old tomorrow!]

How to restore power after a blackout

The power went out this morning, as I pottered around, preparing for my day. For the whole of my life, whenever we've had a blackout or power's been gone, I've always just waited for it to come back on again.

My flatmate emerged from her room and flicked some switches on the mains/switchboard (whatever it's called) and power was restored.

Oh. my. goodness. Is that how you restore power? How can I be nearly 30 years old and not know this? I do have some vague recollection of flicking switches on the switchboard when I lived in Cracks on Kennedy, but I can't remember what for.

This is another reason why it's good to live with people other than family: you learn stuff!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Raw vegies not your ideal snack?

When you're thinking of a healthy snack, you can't go past raw vegetables. But I have always disliked the idea of eating raw carrot or celery sticks as a snack. Partly because I've always preferred a carb option (or a fatty option!) over a vegie option, but I suspect it's mainly to do with my Chinese upbringing.

You see, I never grew up eating raw vegetables unless it was part of a sandwich filling or it was mung bean sprouts plonked on top of a bowl of steaming noodle soup. I distinctly remember as a primary school kid and even as a uni student being amazed by people who would eat tomatoes, carrots and cucumbers raw and whole. As a snack. It weirded me out.

Thankfully my palate has changed somewhat and I am able to enjoy raw vegies outside of a sandwich e.g. sugar snap peas, mini roma or grape tomatoes. They do make a great and affordable finger food with yummy dips and spreads.

So if raw vegies as a snack aren't your thing, but you still want a healthy snack, I have an unremarkable suggestion: cook 'em. Sounds pretty obvious doesn't it? The idea came to me as I came home after work one evening, ravenous (actually, that sounds like most evenings), ready to devour something, anything! before dinner was ready. There were some cold roasted vegies in the fridge and to my surprised, they tasted quite good cold. There's no way I would have eaten raw vegies as a snack instead (not without a main meal) - that just doesn't appeal to me. But cooked vegies? Yum! To me, even cold, steamed broccoli tastes great. Way better than raw. Plus cooked vegies are more braces friendly.

If you have a sandwich press, you can also cook your vegies on that. I've cooked carrots this way, with baking paper covering the cooking plates, and they are delicious.

So if you're put off by the idea of raw vegies as a snack, I still say give it a go. You might like them after a while. But if it's not working for you, try cooked vegies instead.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How to dry your wet sneakers

Emma and I were chuffed to be part of Carl's autumn beach run at North Cronulla this morning. Conditions were great, and the ocean breeze was warm (you should join us next time!).

However, we got wet sneakers in the process. I mentioned to her how I'd have to use the hairdryer to dry my sneakers before my run tomorrow morning. She told me to stuff my sneakers with scrunched up newspaper instead. The newspaper absorbs the water from the sneakers. What a great way to save on electricity. I'd suggest you change the newspaper on a regular basis (maybe hourly?), so you can be constantly absorbing the moisture from your sneakers.

If you don't have the time, go the hairdryer. Of course, a hot, sunny day would be ideal to dry your sneakers, but if you got them wet outdoors, it's likely to have been a rainy day.

Cheater's kimchi

I don't know about you but I go through food waves, where I just want to eat a particular dish or food all the time. In the past, it's been smoked salmon and fresh white bread sandwiches, or I've wanted Hainan chicken rice or sashimi/sushi every time I've eaten out. Lately, it's been kimchi and eggplant. I don't know what it is, but I want to eat both of it, a lot.

Kimchi is a great winter food. Sure it's cold, pickled vegies, but the heat from the spiciness really warms you up. Plus, since it's vegies, it's a lot healthier for you than Nigella's chocohotopots as a winter comfort food (though the occasional Nigella dessert wouldn't go astray).

If I were Korean, I'd probably make my own, but as it is, I buy it for $5 per 550g tub. Considering I can finish a tub in four days, this starts to become a treat food at this speed of eating.

Perhaps I am going about eating kimchi the wrong way. Instead of eating it straight, perhaps I should eat it the way I consume cordial or apple juice: diluted. I could extend the kimchi by steaming or stir-frying plain Chinese vegies such as Chinese cabbage or choy sum, and make my cheater's kimchi with a ratio of 50:50 real kimchi and plain vegies. Kimchi is pretty strong stuff anyway, so adding a few plain vegies will extend it a bit and help me get more bang for my kimchi buck.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Old dog. New tricks.

If one describes oneself as an old dog unable to learn new tricks, don't be fooled. Don't underestimate such a person. That person's bag of tricks may be impressive enough.


I have just received my first order of brand new Tupperware*! No more moths in my flour! (although maybe moths show I don't bake much.)

Nothing spectacular, just a basic set of pantry storage. It is really hideously expensive, but since moving out of home I have been given and have bought a few different types of food storage containers. Decor is all right, but it isn't 100% leakproof and air-tight. The few random Tupperware bits I have I use all the time. The price per use with Tupperware is pretty good, because I use it so much and it lasts so long (lifetime replacement). So I have decided, after over a year's thought, to finally buy some. If I am ever going to buy it, I should buy it soon so that I get the most value out of it in my lifetime. Soon I will have lovely organised matching air-tight food storage! It warms the cockles of my pantry.

* Purchasing Tupperware, by the way, is a coming of age experience. It is so much more significant than just pantry organising. It is like wearing make-up, or getting your full license. It is often accompanied by the congratulations and envy of all your friends.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On being a good comforter

In the recent past, I've been quite upset, as have a couple of my close friends (for unrelated reasons). As I've sought to be comforted, to comfort them, and reflected on times when I've failed to be a good comforter, it's made me realise what makes someone a good comforter.

Much of it, really, is being a good listener, a topic Karen covers well in the art of listening, and I commend it wholeheartedly.

I wish to make the following points in comforting an upset woman:

You don't have to solve my problem!
People make the mistake of thinking that when someone shares a problem, they are looking for a solution. In one sense, of course they are. Who doesn't want to get rid of their problems? But if they're upset, and they're not EXPLICITLY asking you for a solution, don't give one. Don't say, "Your situation is x and your solution is y". That is not why they are coming to you.

Don't tell me to "chin up" and "get on with it".
*sigh* I already know that. But that's not how I'm feeling at the moment. You saying that doesn't help. The next point is what an upset person really wants.

Give me your attention, your empathy, your love and your concern.
I want someone else, other than me, to acknowledge the hurt or particular pain I am going through. I want someone else to validate the feelings I am experiencing. I want someone to care that I am hurting. I want someone to give me a shoulder to cry on, and a big hug to make things better. Once again, I direct you to Karen's article on being a good listener. To be a good comforter, you don't need to say much at all. Shutting up is helpful at times. It's not about you when someone is upset (unless you are the cause of it), so don't relate your own experiences then and there. Maybe later. But not at the peak of the upsetness. When someone is upset, it should all be about them.

I might need some perspective.
A bit of judgement call is required here. Sometimes when someone is upset, their thinking is all skewed and they need to be given a bit of perspective (e.g. "Everything's going to be alright"). But BE CAREFUL. Do this the wrong way (i.e. before you've acknowledged what they've said and spent significant time being silent and taking in what the other person is going through) and it doesn't provide any comfort at all. Do it the right way and these few words may be just what they needed to hear.

...but don't correct me.
If the person is upset as a direct consequence of their folly, it is not the time to give a stinging rebuke. They probably already know what a fool or dill they've been. They probably already know what they should have (or should not have) done. Saying something like, "I can't believe what an idiot you are for leaving your wallet unattended" or even "You shouldn't have left your wallet unattended" is not helpful. It is not loving. It does not comfort. It belittles them.

Most of the time when a woman cries, it is to relieve stress. And she will feel better afterwards.

To round off this post, I love what the Apostle Paul says about comfort:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (ESV)

Married people have date night...

...and single people have Kingsford Eat Street Challenge!

We don't exclude married people, but we do seem to draw single people a lot more.

The Gentleman's Arsenal

I am thankful to Karen for bringing The Art of Manliness to my attention. It is superior to jelssie in many ways, but I feel both websites are written in the same spirit.

I have particularly enjoyed reading What to Carry on a First Date: The Gentleman’s Arsenal. It made me realise that this is the kind of man whose company I would like to be in: a gentleman. Thoughtful, considerate and prepared.

(Though I can't say that the comments are as gentlemanly as the article!)

Creating a wee bit more room in the freezer

My flatmate and I are avid bread collectors. The top shelf of the freezer section of our 480L fridge is currently devoted to bread alone (the special on B├╝rgen bread at the local supermarket might have something to do with that). It can make rearranging items in the fridge a bit like a game of Tetris.

So here's my tip on creating that little bit more room in the freezer. When you have a few half eaten loaves and you want to keep them separate from each other, the rest of the bread bag is a bit useless and hogs up precious space.

So I get out my scissors and give them all a lil snip.

And now, they're easier to fit in the freezer, and you don't have the top part of the bread bag taking up space.

I apply the same principle to big chip packets. When you're 3/4 of the way through a large packet of chips, why reach all the way down it and risk dirtying your sleeves? Just snip across it, and you have a shallower packet to eat from :)

Single person eating bulk food

Some fresh vegies are often cheaper in bulk or sold cheaper per kg in bulk. So how does a single person who cooks for one eat cheaply? You've got to be prepared to eat a lot of it in a short amount of time.

There are certain vegies I've worked out I can get away with buying in bulk (and by bulk, I mean larger than normal quantities for one):

If you store them properly, they should last a while. I often have about half to a whole onion a day. It's a great food for bulking up meals. I just add it to whatever I'm having.

Bean Sprouts
Specifically mung bean sprouts. They only seem to be sold in packets of 450g. That's a lot for one person. So I add a handful to nearly every lunch and dinner when I've got a packet.

This comes sold in a 500g tub. I've only gotten it once, and I ate it within four days I think. Seriously addictive. It's a great late night snack as well.

Button Mushrooms
To be fair, I do pick the smallest prepacked box that I can find. Once again, I chuck it into everything I eat (bar breakfast).

I cannot do a 1kg bag of carrots. They seems to turn black before I even get around to them. It's better value for me to buy one at a time and pay more per kg for it.

I'm currently working through a 1kg bag of green beans. I'm not sick of them yet. Let's see how I go!

I will also need to experiment with Asian vegies (i.e. choy). I suspect I could get away with eating a lot of them.

The other option is to start a food co-op kind of thing with other single people. You buy in bulk, share it with other singles and laugh all the way to the bank with your savings. But I'm not going to start one :P

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Talking books.

Audiobooks are awesome! I just rediscovered the joy of them. I found the section at Randwick Library and have been working through the crime stories, by people like AA Milne and Arthur W Upfield. This is excellent because like DVDs they are free to borrow, and to actually buy they are exorbitantly pricey - even on itunes, unless it is a public domain classic recorded by a volunteer, but I am fussy about the quality of the reader. Anyway, audiobooks provide hours of gentle amusement, and you can enjoy them with your eyes shut, or while doing craft, or walking, or at work.

By the way, libraries are completely awesome in their own right. They are full of books, DVDs, and other cool things, which you can borrow for FREE, and return them late for a very small fee. And winter is the perfect time to make the most of the library.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Turning a fail into a success

I made up a recipe in my attempt to make a peanut butter and oat slice. It didn't turn out the way I imagined it. It was very crumbly, not firm as I had hoped. In my mind it was a fail. Not good enough for Bible study.

"It's more of a peanut butter crumble," my flatmate said.

"Ah!!" I thought, "It is now a success. Now it is good enough for Bible study."

(Apologies for the appalling grammar. It's been a while.)

KESC 11 - Tea Inn

Taiwanese Tea Inn, at 6pm this Friday. Due to public transport time restraints we had to move the time forward. But the food is quick and huge, so don't stress if you can only come a little later.

Genius invention for holding your pyjama legs down and simultaneously finding a use for socks with holes in them.

If you like to sleep sockless all year round, so that your feet are free, BUT like me you get annoyed when your pyjama legs ride up to your knees while you sleep, I have the perfect solution.

1) take a pair of socks which have faithfully served you, but have become thin or holey.

2) put them on, and draw around your heel, and around the front half of your foot. Make sure there is a decent strip left around the middle of your foot.
3) remove your socks, and with scissors cut off the heel and toe where marked.
Tadaa! Now you can wear socks to hold your pyjama legs down, but your toes can wiggle freely in your ugg-boots or under your flannelette sheets.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Music of the Carpenters.

I'm a fairly musical person (piano playing, knowing the words to lots of songs), but I don't have cool taste in music. I'm a fraud. I don't bother to listen to commercial radio because it is annoying, and I find the world of triple J foreign and bewildering. This is a summary of the journey of my musical upbringing.
  1. Singing happily along to the Carpenters on cassette at home.
  2. Thinking that boy bands are cooler.
  3. Finding out that neither the Carpenters nor boy bands are cool, and nobody my age has heard of the Carpenters, so forgetting about them.
  4. Remembering those great Carpenters songs, and enjoying them ironically.
  5. Singing happily along to the Carpenters on itunes at work.
Don't ever knock Karen Carpenter!

Need your brain to work? Eat carbs.

I've been re-reading The New Glucose Revolution (3rd Ed) by Prof Jennie Brand-Miller, Kaye Foster-Powell and Prof Stephen Colagiuri. It's all about the glycemic index (GI). If you are unfamiliar with GI, I highly recommend you read it and consider the foods that you eat.

This is what I have learnt in regards to brain food (page 18):

Except during starvation, carbohydrate is the only source of fuel which our brains can use.
Intellectual performance is improved following the intake of a carbohydrate-rich food. Demanding tasks are most improved, while easy tasks are not affected. Furthermore, blood glucose levels decline more during a period of intense cognitive processing.
Improved mental ability following a carbohydrate meal was demonstrated in all types of people - young people, university students, people with diabetes, healthy elderly people and those with Alzheimer's disease.
What does this mean for us wishing to keep our brain functioning at peak performance? Avoid low-carb diets and load up on carbs if you are doing intellectually demanding work.

I know what I'll be eating in the lead up to my exam.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Warning: Do not eat slugs.

We have received a public health warning not to eat slugs. Why? It seems some guy is in hospital with a rare meningitis after eating a slug for a dare. I think a general public stupidity warning not to do stupid things for stupid dares would cover all eventualities.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'm stressed out. Give me a knife.

After a very tiring weekend, and some continuing emotional fragility on Monday, I went home from work a bit early and made pumpkin soup.

It was really quite therapeutic. Rather than watching TV (that's another post), slow* cooking is actually calming. You're using your hands, it's so tactile; you get messy, the house starts to smell yummy, you get warm from the oven, you turn chopped pumpkin into baked pumpkin, you pummel it with a masher and it turns into soup.

Our hands were made for touching and working things, and I think modern life is too smooth, glassy and clean. My magic mouse is very convenient and clever, but it doesn't release stress like a big knife, a wooden chopping board and a butternut pumpkin.

* Slow as opposed to my normal fast lazy cooking.

Exercise: the good and bad news

This is what I've learnt about regular exercise.

The good news: you get fitter.

The bad news: it's always hard work, especially if your aim is to work at 70-85% of your maximum heart rate. It doesn't get easier, because you're pushing yourself. It's always hard work.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Too expensive? Substitute!

I really wanted to buy a red capsicum the other day, but I felt it was getting expensive. Then I noticed bullhorn peppers were $2/kg cheaper! I haven't eaten bullhorn peppers before, so I don't know how they differ from capsicums. I think the taste is quite similar.

So if you're being frugal and you want a red capsicum, go and grab the bull by the horns and check the price of bullhorn peppers first.

Tip of the day: use your low voice

If you work for an organisation or company, you will probably have dealings with other organisations. Sometimes these external organisations are less than satisfactory in their dealings, problems drag on and do not get resolved in a timely manner. So much so it drives you to being upset, shrieky and hysterical. But shrieky and hysterical are unprofessional. So what does one do? How does one convey how upset they are to the offending organisation?

I have employed the low voice tactic. That is where I get on the phone, and use my low voice and express my displeasure in a measured pace and tone. And I repeat myself several times at various points in the conversation letting them know that I am upset. I use my low voice because the opposite of low is shrieky and hysterical.

Unfortunately, I am learning that the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I have been civil and polite, and I hope that I continue to be. I want to respect the other person because I'm talking to a real, flesh and blood person made in the image of God on the other line. I understand it's not wise burn your bridges because you will probably need their help in the future. But darn it, sometimes, unless you kick up a fuss, being nice won't get you what you want. Sometimes you need to tell people you're not happy or nothing will be done. I really hope I don't have to resort to shrieky and hysterical. It's unprofessional and un-ladylike, but I am getting desperate.

(And you don't want to be too mean, because you could be the reason for the high turnover of staff there, and then you get stuck with newbies who can't help you much at all except to increase your stress when something goes wrong)

Other wise words about low voices from friends:

I think the low tone voice is very effective. I have seen others put it to good use – it gives the impression of being in control and conveys a sense of power! It says “I will not back down, but I am in control of the situation”. The shrieky and hysterical can convey too much of being an “emotional woman” to others, and they just think you’re whiney and annoying.
Speaking in a low voice is also good for voice projection in large echo-y halls. :-)

Monday, May 10, 2010

How to look more Asian

Note: this post only applies if you already look Asian to begin with (i.e. like me). If you don't, then it probably won't be much help.

If you want to look more Asian (and you already have the requisite black hair or coloured brown/reddish hair), get a blunt fringe. One right across the eyebrows. I think my new blunt fringe has made me appear more Asian or more fob*, for better or for worse.

I only got this fringe a week ago and already I see the evidence here:

Exhibit A
In the year or so that I've known my orthodontist, he's spoken in English to me, except once where he started speaking in Cantonese, but quickly reverted back to English. Well, last week, he spoke to me in Cantonese for the entire duration of our appointment. It could have been he forgot he usually speaks in English to me, or it could have been the fobby fringe. Note: his receptionist/admin assistant knew to speak in English to me.

Exhibit B
When I was in Beijing with my family, my mum bought me a teal dressing gown with an oriental design. I wore it last night and Noz, my flatmate, burst out laughing when she saw me in it. "You look like...a geisha!" she said. Never gotten that reaction before.

Exhibit C
As I passed the Roundhouse after class today (and note, my uni is well-known for its high level of fob students), the Roundhouse promo guy didn't approach me, but the people behind me to tell them about the free Bluejuice gig in the Roundhouse. Hello! I would totally go to a free Bluejuice gig in the Roundhouse!

The thing is, I don't even dress like a fob (unless they've started shopping at Kmart and Vinnies). However, I have started using the bag my aunt got for me from an Asian country, and it is a very fobby bag. Maybe that has added to it.

And while we're on the topic, here's a couple of pics of my favourite Chinese person with a fringe: Faye Wong!

And while we're on the topic of Faye Wong and fringes, she does this really cool assymetrical fringe which I'd love to copy one day. I probably should do it sooner rather than later, when I have to look a bit more proper.

*fob means fresh off the boat i.e. you've recently arrived in Australia from a foreign land and you haven't lived in Australia previously. I don't mean to use this term in a derogatory way, please don't take offense!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cooking for one

I'm reading an article about the art of cooking for one (and kudos to Jess K for writing about dinner for one). There are some good tips there and I've experienced some of the things they write about (e.g. overestimating how much fruit and veg you will eat). The article features a cooking teacher who teaches a cooking for one course in a community college. What a great way to pick up some relevant cooking skills...and meet other single people!

Perhaps jelssie should run their own cooking for one course...

Friday, May 7, 2010

How to shower (like a lady).

Inspired by the James Bond shower.

1. Start off with the hot water.

2. Wash your hair: two shampoos is usually required. Take the opportunity with either or both shampoos to twirl your frothy hair into a stylish bubbly "up" do.

3. Condition your hair. Allow it to soak in for 2 minutes. This is a useful time to shave your legs, use fancy bath products (gifts from Grandma), and sing in a trilling falsetto.

4. Turn the water to cool and rinse your hair. I have heard from several hair-experts that a cool or cold rinse is good for your hair. Pocahontas probably washed her hair in a cool, fresh, waterfall, and she had lovely hair.

5. Wrap yourself in warm towels and dry your hair by the cosy little fire your maid lit in your bedroom fireplace.

* Hair-washing is optional. I find every 3rd day is as long as I can go, but this varies from lady to lady.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Haul! Part 2

I said it wasn't all just clothes.

I wanted a laser printer and Bec kindly gave me hers (on a related note, I must remember to post something on how God wonderfully provides for us through other people). It was hogging up space on my study desk and I needed to get some stuff off the floor. So I popped into my local Vinnies and found this metal shelving unit on castors. Perfect! It was $10. I'm thankful to God for his provision in things big and small. Thankful I got a printer when I needed one, and was able to buy this unit so soon after. There were other people after it, but the good people at my Vinnies kept it for me.

This dinner plate caught my eye and was an impulsive buy. It was $2, which is a bit much for a op-shop dinner plate, but I quite liked the design and the retro feel. Plus it was made in Japan. My flatmate groaned, "Not another plate!" when I brought it home.

This next purchase was another impulsive buy. It caught my eye as I walked past it.

I thought it was a cute bag, nicely sized for days you don't want to carry too much (I have placed my mug next to it for size comparison). I peeked inside to check the label.

When I saw the label Fossil, my heartbeat quickened. A genuine Fossil leather handbag for $8?? It looked genuine enough to me! Fossil's the kind of store where I go, "Ooh pretty bags", take one look at the price tag and walk straight out again. I had to admit the leather looked faded, but other than that, it was a great size and in good condition. I was motivated by the thought of owning a Fossil leather bag for $8! I couldn't let anyone else buy it! My flatmate is not a fan of this handbag. I have to admit, I need to stop accumulating bags. I have gone from zero handbags to too many in the space of two years. I really have enough bags now. I don't think I could buy another one, except maybe a sensible black leather handbag if I head into the business environment.

There is that tension of not wanting to be materialistic and clutter up my life with stuff vs seeing nice things at a bargain price. I know it's not a bargain if you don't need it, if it doesn't add value to your life. I think I need an objective friend to help me declutter my stuff.

Haul! Part 3 to come.

A manly proposal.

Start with a mantlepiece.
Greet the woman you love with perfect politeness.
Add some smoulder.
Some unnatural nervousness.
A declaration of your feelings.
A few insults each way.
Purse your lips.
Pick up your top hat and stalk out.

I've been watching North and South a lot. The train-wreck style proposal seems heavily influenced by Pride and Prejudice, so I have provided this brief summary for anyone else who might like to write a book I would read a lot, or make a movie I would watch a lot, or propose badly.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Haul! Part 1

I've done a bit of spending lately (most of it justified, I think!), and there's nothing I love more to do than sharing my good finds with friends, so we can all squeal with excitement and agree or disagree with one another.

Okay, first up.
Item: Red jacket
Price: $30
Store: Local Vinnies
Material: Unknown
Brand: Chelsea Fashion
Verdict: The things it had going against it were:
- material: no idea what it was, didn't feel natural or breathable, no washing or care instructions inside
- size: it was just that wee bit tight on me
- price: $30! for a second hand jacket from Vinnies!
- brand: never heard of it before, but it did rhyme with my name

The things it had going for it was:
- colour
- size: well, it's good incentive for me to keep up the healthy lifestyle in order to fit into it!
- cut: very well constructed, made up of different panels
- look: it's got that retro look about it and I love retro, plus not very many people would have something similiar
- care: there is a label inside that says "needs no ironing"
- made in Israel: sounded exotic!

After I bought the jacket, I took it to the seamstress next door and asked her for her opinion on how to wash it. She suggested gentle, warm, liquid wool wash and hand wash. She advised using towels to roll up and squeeze moisture out of it. I figured I could get some free advice since I've paid her for some alteration recently (that's a bit of elsieconomics for you: pay for some work -> be friendly -> build a relationship -> get free advice)

Item: Jeans
Price: $12
Store: Local Vinnies
Material: 98% cotton, 2% elsastometric
Brand: Marcs Baby Doll
Verdict: I remember in my late teens and early 20s, Marcs Baby Doll were quite the brand. Don't know if they still are now. At least I'm catching up :P They were 16cm too long for me, and I've hemmed them up (without chopping anything off). So now I have two pairs of denim jeans, and I don't have to live from wash to wash :P

Item: Watch
Price: $6
Store: Katoomba Vinnies
Brand: Zico
Verdict: I bought this watch about two Summer Schools ago. I had to spend more money putting a battery in to get it to work, but I love it. Small, very simple design and has that retro look to it.

Next up:

Price: $15
Store: Local Vinnies
Material: 80% Wool, 20% Polyester
Brand: Unknown
Verdict: Once again, this is a wee bit too small for me. I feel like seams are going to burst when I get in and out of it. It's especially tight across the shoulders, but I figured it was good incentive to keep up the healthy lifestyle, and if it's still tight a few months down the track, I'm sure I could find a smaller friend who would appreciate it. I'm not going to let a good find like that get away easily! I'm not a fan of the puffy sleeves, and it's a hand wash garment.

Moving on...

Item: Blue cardigan
Price: $15.99 (reduced from $35.99)
Store & Brand: Paper Scissors
Material: 100% Cotton
Verdict: This is the kind of top Trinny & Sussanah would have me wear. Great for the office. Hand wash too though (darn, didn't check that!).

Item: Black jeans
Price: $10
Store: Local Vinnies
Material: 98% Cotton, 2% Elastane
Brand: Witchery
Verdict: I don't really have any long pants except for jeans, so I decided I needed a non-blue-denim pants option. So now I have three pairs of long pants I can wear! This pair is 13cm too long for me, but I am hemming them up.

And next we have...

Item: Grey Jacket
Price: $27.99 (reduced from $39.99)
Store & Brand: Paper Scissors
Material: 60% Cotton, 30% Polyester, 5% Spandex
Verdict: I really ummed and ahhed over this one. I thought the price was okay (I would have liked it to have been $20), and I wondered if I really needed another coat-looking jacket. I already have two: my favourite blue Dangerfield coat which I wear quite a lot, and a black Crossroads one which was bought last season, but is too big for me (but I could still wear). I thought I couldn't wear my blue one all the time (or can I? Does it really matter? Probably not), so I decided to buy this one. It feels quite fleecy and warm.

I may or may not have been influenced by Frocks and Frou Frou. Stay tuned for Haul! Part 2. And it's not all clothes!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Reading out loud.

A particularly positive post, I think, and carey-sharey.
I love reading out loud. I sometimes read aloud to myself, either fiction or the bible. I tend to hog the readings at bible study (we are doing Jeremiah, which is very good for reading aloud). I really wish I had children, so that I could read them the books I still enjoy from I was little. I would quite like to meet up with a friend or two occasionally to read with them for an afternoon. It would be such a pleasure.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Badly stacked basket rant.

You throw your shopping onto the conveyer belt, and drop your empty shopping basket into the pile beside you. And it wedges at a crazy angle!!! Because the "Person" before you left their handle inwards!!! not outwards!!!!!

And sometimes a stack of baskets has been visited by several Bad Stackers. The angle caused by the first basket causes the handle of the next basket to flop inwards, causing the next basket to tip the other way with it's handle inwards, and so on and so on in an Escalating Bad Basket Stack, until no more baskets fit under the counter—because 5 baskets are taking up the space of 50!

It's just wrong. So wrong.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

KESC 10 review: Indo Rasa

Elsie and Jess walked to the Tea Inn, but we checked the new Indonesian place next door and it was open and bustling! Indo Rasa is a large, spacious nicely decorated interior, fancy lights and everything. There were lots of people there but the seating isn't squishy and the noise isn't too bad, although we were near the door so heard a lot of traffic.

So we sat and enjoyed the new, crisp menus and the new, clean cutlery holders. It is nice to use things that haven't been handled by a thousand greasy students before you.

The prices are very good, small things for $6, mains for $9, or $16 for a seafood main. Jess got a sort of combination plate and Elsie ordered grilled chicken thigh and turmeric rice, and we went halves in some sweet chilli stir-fried eggplant. It was plenty. There was some really hot chilli on the side, which made us both cry a little, but everything else was delicious: the peanut sauce, the rendang, the turmeric rice. Elsie particularly loved the turmeric rice ("Where have you been all my life?!") and the eggplant, but could have done with some greens. The chicken was nice but perhaps a little dry, which I like anyway. I only noticed because of the braces.

Then Felix and Andrew joined us, and we finished our meals while they ordered theirs. This was the only unfortunate part of the night, that the boys' meals took rather longer to come out then ours. But they ate quickly anyway. Felix ordered a meal which included some giblets, Andrew ordered a soup, which looked pretty boring.

Felix's meal:

Andrew's meal:

So this is an excellent new restaurant and it is possibly my favourite now, except for no Shan Dong Chicken. So it's a dead heat with Golden Tower.

Summary: 4.5/5!