Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Real-estate is my hobby.

One of my favourite things is to go to SMH, find an article in the property section about property values, or rental vacancies, or anything about affordability really, and read the comments. The home-owning fundamentalists and the doomsdayers all come out and interpret things their way, or rubbish the article on the basis of their experience. You get the every angle on every debate about living in Sydney, all expressed briefly and punchily, in the comments. Rent vs buy, housing crash vs under-supply, North Shore vs Inner West... The articles themselves are usually boring and made of hot air, the comments are where the juice is.

One thing I came across, which I'm going to use in the future, is which tracks changes in advertised rentals and sales prices. So you can see how long a place has been advertised and if they've had to drop the price or not and by how much %. Example of the unit next to me, still empty after a month: now asking $530.
REDUCED by $50 p/w (8.62%) on 26 Jul 2011
Large 2 bedroom apartment
(36) Days Advertised


I want to make a cape. Sort of like this (it's a bicycle cape from rocket fuel). Would anyone else like one? I've always wanted a cape (always at least since Get This on MMM did the month of CApril). I think I'll make it dark blue or charcoal, maybe linen or wool, with some kind of lining. Should be smart, I hope.

This is what I do when I'm going to be a bridesmaid. Essential business like buying a pair high heels I'll only wear twice—AVOID. Optional business like making a cape to wear over my dress if it's cold—obsess about. Oh how lovely to have a cape! I shall wear it everywhere!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

KESC 32...

It been a long time between feasts. I've missed you guys! But I couldn't be bothered. We had a couple of particularly intense KESCs, and although it's good to be real and to share the downs as well as the ups, I for one was too tired. So it was probably a good time to give KESC a rest, stay indoors and keep warm. Elsie is stirring for the next one soon… Dong Dong noodles. Friday 5 August.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Christmas cards and CS Lewis.

I'm designing Christmas cards at work. Yes, it is very off-season, but such is the printing schedule. Not to worry; it's the end of July, and any day now the shops will start selling tinsel and fruitcake.

I wondered if there was a nice quote from CS Lewis to inspire a Christ-focused card design, but instead I found this. Note the comments as well.
"In the middle of winter when fogs and rains most abound they have a great festival which they call Exmas, and for fifty days they prepare for it in the fashion I shall describe. First of all, every citizen is obliged to send to each of his friends and relations a square piece of hard paper stamped with a picture, which in their speech is called an Exmas-card. But the pictures represent birds sitting on branches, or trees with a dark green prickly leaf, or else men in such garments as the Niatirbians believe that their ancestors wore two hundred years ago riding in coaches such as their ancestors used, or houses with snow on their roofs. And the Niatirbians are unwilling to say what these pictures have to do with the festival, guarding (as I suppose) some sacred mystery. And because all men must send these cards the market-place is filled with the crowd of those buying them, so that there is great labour and weariness."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Google stalk letdown

There should be a term which describes the letdown you feel when you do a google search (heh, or stalk) on someone and you find next to nothing. (Not saying anything here about my personal habits, of course...)

Apple slices.

When I cut up apple, I like the slices really thin. The thinner, the fancier. They are like juicy apple chips.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's my fault.

I feel a little bit guilty about the economy. Retailers are in trouble, and it's people like me, stingy people, who are causing it. My op-shop/outlet/mending habits are strangling shopkeepers. Except for shopkeepers who have art and craft shops, cos they are raking it in.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sharing real-estate.

Interesting blog post from Soph over here, and the comments. Amazing that so many people had ALREADY considered sharing a house with another family. I had really never thought of it, even though real estate is one of my favourite topics; I assumed marriage and family would be the one thing to definitely end house-sharing. I reckon it's a great idea and would theoretically love to try it. I have only a casual interest in normality and love novel ideas. But not many people actually do it, actually share a house with another family—we're still held back by our individualism and our wisdom and just what we think is normal—but it's only normal for Australia, when you look at it. Rest of the world lives in bark huts and cardboard slums, but we need our own bedroom and ideally our own bathroom. And the cost of this luxury is isolation and loneliness. I've seen the downs of flat-sharing: 2 out of 6 years have been spent with a flatmate who made me a bit miserable, 2 out of 8 flatmates I have not clicked with. If real estate was cheap, I could have avoided some negative experiences. But I think the relational benefits of flat-sharing are heaps. You don't have to be kindred spirits, you just have to get on, which, yes, does require sacrifice, but basic human interaction is so important. And when you are sick, there is someone to go to the shops for you. So I'd imagine it's not impossible for a family to share a big house with another family, and maybe it'll be the next movement we hear about.

Monday, July 18, 2011

End of a magical era.

I'm going to see HP7b tomorrow!!!

A few things strike me about the grown-up kids of Harry Potter.
  1. Emma Watson is lovely. She has so much poise. 
  2. The boys could have careers getting interesting parts as weird short guys. And they shouldn't be depressed about that, acting a hero is probably one-sided experience of humanity. Ironically, the lad who played Neville Longbottom wouldn't qualify for the dorky roles anymore.
  3. What is that on the front of D-Rad's suit? Is that a male sweater guard?

Haircut effect

One thing I love about short hair is that you can have a new style every three months or so. Even without cutting it. So I haven't had a haircut in three months, but lately I've received compliments of "nice haircut" from family and friends. Ah, no, just my short hair growing out, but thank you for the compliment nonetheless!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The storage bug.

I realised one day last week that I don't have to live with a mess corner. All the things that don't fit in our tiny kitchen, like green bags and the food processor, or should be kept in my bedroom but I use it in the living room all the time, like my sewing machine and overlocker, are all piled around the fridge and under the dining table. Above is the 'before' photo.

I am opposed to buying big furniture like cupboards and shelves, because I have to move house with them, and ideally I should get rid of stuff, not store it. Buying storage furniture is a slippery slope which leads to hoarding.

However, I don't have to live with a mess corner. So I found some cheap and very strong garage shelving on the Bunnings website, and asked my parents to buy it for me before they visit (Bunnings is more a Dad place than a Jessica place). $20 will transform the mess corner into something cool and functional.

Oh boy, I am so unnecessarily excited about these shelves.

It won't look like this, but I can't wait to show you an 'after' photo.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My SMART goal.

I forget what all the letters stand for, but I'm setting a goal that is inSpiring, Measurable, Amazing, Realistic, and Timed. I'm doing some fitness training from a workout DVD with Anna, and one of my goals is to be able to do a push-up. I am pretty fit from the waist down because I walk everywhere, but I am completely feeble in my upper body. The hardest thing I do with my arms is braid my hair. Which is really tiring, I'm not joking.

I'm writing it here: One real push-up, nose to the floor with no knee rest, by the end of September.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Buying guide to old dress patterns.

I have won a couple of sewing patterns on ebay. Sewing patterns are not cheap (although you get multi-buys often), but second hand ones are OK and unusual. Including postage, I got an 80s one for $5, and a 70s one for $11, and a 40s one for $3.70, which hasn't arrived yet. Took me a while to remember to check if I won it. The other item in the photo is a book Jess K gave me, The Pictorial Guide to Modern Home Needlecraft, which I've had a good look through and it is interesting and potentially even useful.

Tips for buying sewing patterns second hand:
  • There's strong demand for anything "Vintage". The quainter it looks, the more it will cost. But it could still be cheaper than a quality new pattern.
  • Prefer uncut to cut. It's best to trace a pattern so you keep the original uncut and if you want to make a different size you haven't lost it. Some people don't follow this rule and are selling cut patterns which are one size only.
  • Vintage sizes can be smaller. People have gotten wider and bigger over the last generation or two. So check your bust size. Often a vintage size 16 is smaller than a modern size 12.
  • A good price for a second hand pattern is $5 - $12 (including postage), unless it's vintage Vogue from the 50s with a big puffy skirt or something. The older it is the more expensive, really.
  • Don't get too tricked by the illustrations. This rule applies to modern patterns as well, illustrations are illusions. They are darling, but you have to imagine the clothes on a real person, not a retro fashion illustration person with a tiny waist and high heels and and curled hair.

Real estate alert.

TWO units in my block are for rent RIGHT NOW! You could be my next door neighbour or upstairs neighbour for either $500 or $560 a week. Both are 2 bedrooms and a garage and are rather better on the inside than my place. Come and be my neighbour! This is the closest thing to a big mansion with separate apartments we'll ever find.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Casting call.

Is anyone interested in making a dress form / dressmaker's dummy? I've wanted one forever, and there are several ways of making your own by casting your own body. But you need someone to help you, otherwise your cast is hunched and twisty. So if you do me I'll do you. Otherwise, if nobody else wants to make one I'll just recruit someone randomly to help me make mine!

If you don't want to make clothes, you could use it to assemble outfits and look at them from the back.

Monday, July 11, 2011

ABC adventures.

This is not the ABCafe, sorry if you were getting excited. Elsie and I and Wendy and her friend Ingrid were in the audience of TGIF on 702 radio on Friday arvo. My radio hero James Valentine played with his jazz quartet, which I had mixed feelings about because my adoration of James Valentine is matched only by my loathing of saxophone. Fortunately I had a good view of the drums.

The other fun part was WATCHING a radio newsreader in real life, seeing the voice. And the ABC TV news weather man Graham Creed was even more wonderful. He didn't read from anything, he just told us the weather in conversation style. Elsie and I are a little bit smitten.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Winter cheap cooking.

Buy up those tins of soup when on special. For $2 you get a good base to which you can add whatever you happen to have (like lentils or 4 bean mix) and stretch it to several meals. Last night I had Tex Mex soup (which is thick and spicy) with slices of sweet potato fried in garlic on the side (cos SP was also on special, $2/kg) and avo (which is cheap if not free).

I'm noticing "cost of living" increases in the supermarket. Obviously bananas, but have you noticed tomatoes?? $2+ for a fresh tomato! That is not a cheap lunch filler. That's luxury. And it's been very sneaky about it, hiding behind the banana price, so people still expect you to put tomato in the salad when you have to bring a salad, but you don't get the gratefulness you enjoy if you spend $2.50 on a banana. The fried tomato probably now costs more than the fried bacon in a cafe big breakfast.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I love expecting goodies in the mail, even if I have to pay for them myself. Last week I won two 2nd hand sewing patterns on Ebay and ordered a Jillian Michaels workout DVD on JB Hifi. I was a bit worried about the DVD because my interest in hard exercise is fickle, and it took a week for JB to get it in the post. What if it took 3 weeks to dispatch and my whim had changed? I'd already bought a yoga mat, too! But if all goes well with Australia Post I shall have sore guns before too long.

That's a photo of my letterbox. I made it look all arty, and I do think these old ones are pretty quaint, but they are the most USELESS things ever designed, manufactured and installed on a massive scale. The minimum requirement for a letterbox is to fit a business envelope through the slot. They must be the bane of postmen.

I heart oven bread.

Or, Why you don't need a breadmaker.

I heart bread made in Maitland with olives, shallots, chives and garlic.

The main perceived advantage of the breadmaker is that you can set it up at night on timer and wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly-baked bread. Which is surely pleasant and convenient. It also creates less washing up. But I shall now explain why I don't have a breadmaker.

1. If you are the sort of person who is convinced to buy a breadmaker on the basis of convenience, then you will probably quickly find that shop bread is still more convenient. It comes sliced. In a bag. The saying "best thing since sliced bread" is true for a reason. Because I don't eat a whole loaf in one go, I have to cut up the remains and wrap them in glad wrap and freeze them. My slices are fat and squashed, so are not good for sandwiches, only for piling cheese on or dipping in soup or hummus.

2. Breadmaker takes up space. If you don't use it for a long time you'll feel guilty about owning it.

3. Breadmaker is mysterious. You won't actually know how to make bread. After using a couple of recipes I now know the basic combinations and I can throw a batch of bread together pretty carelessly, and as long as I remember salt it works fine.

4. You get a hole in the bottom of the loaf.

5. Breadmaker bread isn't as nice as oven bread. I don't know why, but it's soapy tasting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

KESC 30+31: Reviews (Yong Jing's Kitchen Enlightenment.)

First, I shall fill you in on KESC 30. It was a Thursday night at Time for Thai. 3 of us came, it was nice and relaxed, or at least Denise was relaxed and she relaxed Elsie and I, and we decided to take a weekend away together in Maitland to relax further. We ate regular thai food: Masaman beef, and chicken cashew nut probably. It was nice normal thai, they have good decor and good prices and good serving sizes. I'd go back. Mainly for the bigness of the restaurant, because at all the tiny places you feel a bit squashy.

Now this is last Friday, Yong Jings Kitchen Enlightenment. What a name! The menu is also impressive, lots of colour pictures so it was hard to choose.

The tables and chairs are way fancier than anything we've seen before. There are special menus under the glass on the tables which is a little un-classy, but still—very nice.

Honey prawns.

Slow marinated pork.

We didn't order very adventurously, and the food was plain and sweet. We wished we had ordered a sizzle plate, but we didn't see the big menu for that. Tempting to go back!