Friday, August 31, 2012

Paying more or less.

There are things that I think are worth the money. And there are things where the cheap one is fine by me. Like, I have a cheap chopping board. And lots of cheap saucepans and glassware. It makes no difference to how easy they are to use, the cheap ones work just as well as expensive ones. They break, I throw them out. But I wanted an expensive and good knife, so that I could cut things more easily. Because I was sick of my knife block of fat, heavy, awkward knives. Just one good knife, for life. Not a knife block full of OK knives. One good knife. I wrote it on my Christmas list one year, and my parents went to King of Knives and chose one. And 18 months later it fell on the tiled kitchen floor and broke off. Not like, the plastic handle part, but the actual steel broke. It was super disappointing not to get value out of it, although it can be replaced under guarantee. But now I've been using a knife my flatmate got from Coles for $10, and it's not half bad. It looks weird but it's light and easy to use. She regrets not getting the quantity discount on 2 of them.

Newbie guide to Spotify.

I hate being recommended things sometimes. I don't know if I just prefer to discover things for myself, or I like to be minimalist and stick with what already works ok for me, or just be different. I still don't have a smart phone. But I joined Spotify anyway, with much resentment and doubt. I was hooked by the second day. Luckily the new office bandwidth is large.

Requirements: Internet, a facebook account, thirst for music.

What it does: streams music off the internet. It's like itunes crossed with the radio with a little bit of facebook. In fact, the radio application is what I love the most, you can click on a song that matches your mood and then start a radio station from it, and all the songs fit the style/mood. If you get something dud you click next. But also, you can have playlists, like in itunes. So once I've found a new song I like, I save it to a list so that I can thrash it obsessively for 3 days. The facebook part comes in when spotify occasionally tells all your facebook friends what you are listening to.

Is it fair to artists: well, some musicians opt out, which is fair enough. But I reckon if they get almost nothing from each listen, that's more than many of them would have ever got without spotify, because I'm listening to lots of people I would never have heard of on mainstream radio or anywhere. So now indi folk and folktronica artists from all around the world are getting something where before they got nothing, because I wasn't aware of their existance at all. Randoms go on high rotation for a few weeks, then on to somebody new. And there are songs that I've discovered that I do plan on buying once I get an itunes card, so there will be a percentage of artists that get a return beyond spotify. Because after all, owning is still different from just listening. Frankly, I would buy more on itunes if it was not so expensive in $AU but that's another rant.

Privacy: I used to use the private sessions thing, but then I realised, I don't care what other people are listening to, therefore I bet they care zero about my music taste too. Also, if anyone is stalking, my music taste is 90% awesome (in my opinion), so the bit that is daggy is clearly in an ironic context. (Not really, but that's what I want people to think.) Also, if the artists get more publicity out of it that's a good thing for them, I'm happy to help.

My tip: If you care a little bit what people think, you want to be careful what the last song you listen to is. That is the one that shows up to your facebook/spotify friends as what you were "recently" listening to, forever and ever and ever, until you listen to spotify again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dressing for it.

I always find it interesting to learn how the outside of us affects the inside and then goes back to the outside. Like how apparently smiling, even fake smiling, improves your mood for real. I have a reminder at my desk to smile so sometimes I sit there at work grinning scarily at nothing. Can't hurt. Also, if you dress fancy, you feel fancy, and you act fancy. This is why I have proper exercise clothes, because I want to feel like exercising when I put them on. Some more interesting bits in this article today. Maybe all school and uni students should do exams in those black robes like at Oxford or Hogwarts.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tidying beyond convention.

In the free time at Engage, I spontaneously helped the friend of a friend tidy up her house for her in-laws to visit on Saturday afternoon. One of those crafty people who see potential in everything and have more inspiration than discipline in their life. I really couldn't sit there and do cross-stitch while she flapped around among the mess and babies saying "I'm just not motivated" so I offered to help her. She said "oh you don't have to" and I explained "I'm that kind of person" (the interfering helpfully sort). And I do believe that other people's mess is a bit easier to work with, because you are undistracted by the sentimental value of the mess, and can get more quickly to the satisfying 'before and after' transformation. Anyway, it was a weird and sort of taking-over thing to do in an almost strangers' house (it was the second time I was visiting), but on the other hand it was a practical and loving way to help, I think... it's hard to know where the boundaries are, sometimes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Flake, Twirl, Twix

I like Cadbury's Flake Chocolate Bar, except that it's quite messy to eat. I recently rediscovered Twirl Bar, which is like a Flake encased in a chocolate shell. That makes it the perfect way to eat a Flake neatly. I also get Twirl and Twix mixed up because they both start with "twi", even though they're different chocolate bars and have different packaging.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Morning quiet time.

I have been trying to find a time to read my bible. I'm a morning person, but I'm also very clock-driven, and I've found that reading the bible at breakfast has me glancing at the time and mentally preparing to hurry off to the bus. Not conducive to meditating on scripture. After work can be a good time, no distractions, except that I do Jillian or am too tired. Then I realised, why don't I do it in the morning while mentally fresh but AFTER I've commuted! Then I realised, that's not my idea, Anna did that first. But now I've invented it too. So I catch a bus half an hour earlier each morning, which actually is faster and more comfortable and less crowded, and get in the office while empty, and I am in the perfect calm and undistracted state of mind.

This morning I was gazing out the bus window and it dawned on me that I was staring at unfamiliar blocks of flats. Looked around and lo, the bus was not in the centennial park bus lane, we were cruising on towards Anzac Pde. Was I on the wrong bus? Was I going to Central? Have I been paying attention AT ALL? But the bus driver was just being cunning and using Anzac Parade to overtake the buses in the park lane and we beat them all into the ED. Can't do THAT at 8.10, that's a 7.30 trick.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Too amazing to think of a title.

On Friday night, just before I went to bed and the house was pretty dark, I opened some mail. I ripped up the glued-down flap, just the corner. And I saw a tiny flash of light. Weird. Must be my eyes. Ripped a bit further, another tiny purple flash of light. Disbelief. Peeled the rest of the envelope open and every rip was another little purple flash. 

So how did I get this far in my life without seeing or even hearing about envelopes having purple sparks and flashes? It was just so crazy that I walked around the house giggling madly because either:
  1. everybody else knew about this and I somehow missed the fact that envelopes have purple sparks, or
  2. nobody has ever seen it before and nobody will ever believe me that it happened. What if it was just that one envelope?
And then my flatmate got home, and when she understood what I was cackling about she got her own mail, turned off the light, and opened it they way I told her. MORE PURPLE SPARKS!!! Proof that I am not mad, I have made an amazing discovery.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mini muffins are better than muffins.

This revelation dawned on me in conversation at a recent birthday picnic.

1. Muffins are massive. I don't want a muffin bigger than a hamburger. They just usually aren't THAT good.
2. Each mini muffin is one or two bites—dainty. And every bite has has access to both the top and bottom of the muffin. No boring middle.
3. You can have two. And it's still a lot less than a normal muffin. In terms of mindless eating, you feel like you've been decadent, but you haven't really. Whereas eating half a normal muffin is wasting half a muffin.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

New baking challenge: cookie #1

Haven't baked much bread this year. Sorry friends I promised baking lessons! I do have the time, just have lacked motivation to organise anything.

I currently have two aims. I want to have a go at baking a 'chimney cake' or kurtosh, because they are delicious and surely can't be impossible. Just a coil of bread covered in sugar, really. Here is the recipe I've found. If it doesn't work, I will probably not try again, I just want to give it one red hot go.

Secondly, I want to make my ideal choc chip cookie. I'm tired of the flat soft cookies, which are easy to make I admit, and yummy. But I want to experiment. I found an American recipe which was a very different place to start, but there were many variables in translating it, so it was a slight disappointment. Is baking soda the same as baking powder or bicarb soda? I guessed baking powder. They did rise a little. But other variations were that the recipe said 1 egg + 1 egg yolk. Whatever. I put in 2 eggs. Also, all I had was fancy sea salt, and it didn't disperse through the dough, it stayed in it's big grains, so every so often you get a salty-chocolate bite. That is less ideal, although some people are really into the salty sweet thing and have been impressed by it, the occasional tangy burst of a salt grain. But lesson learned, sea salt is not a baking salt.

Anyway, I was doubtful as I tasted the first results. But actually looking at the photos in the recipe again, maybe I got it pretty right, because they look similarly dense and doughy and brown, and if I make a few adjustments it could be the same but better. The thing I noted this time, other than about the salt, was that the way you put the cookie dough on the tray makes a difference. A round ball will melt flat, but a rough tall pile will make a thicker, chewier biscuit. Also the dough was refrigerated before baking. I would like to apply these techniques to my normal recipe and see what happens.

On a side note, I have also baked a batch of cookies which I added a packed of chocolate frosting mix to. Frosting from a packet of brownie mix. I don't think brownies need icing, they are already chocolatey enough. So I added it to a cookie mix. Not bad, in terms of the biscuit result, soft. Although they looked more chocolatey than they tasted, so each cookie was a little bit of a let down. If I had more choc chips in, they would have been better.

Eat Street: A LOT OF DATES!!!

This may be your only warning re upcoming Eat Dixon Street challenges, we're trying to be efficient here and pick a lot of dates until the end of the year, so that you can put them in your diary and know when you can and can't come.

Friday 31st August
Thus 13 Sep
Monday 24 Sep.
Then Friday 12 October.
Then Friday 26 October.
Then Thurs 8 Nov.
Then tentatively 30 Nov for the last of the year, leaving plenty of room in the stomach for Christmas.

The next one is going to be next door to the Korean Fried Chicken place at 1 Dixon Street. 6.30 pm. I'm not sure what food will be, but it is a very exciting street and there is a lot of fun to be eaten.

Friday, August 10, 2012

How hate grows.

I discovered today that if you google "Todd Sampson Hate" then my jelssie post is the first search result! I'm the biggest hater. Frankly I'm surprised that there aren't more of us out there.

He's a slow grower. At first you think "wow, who is that cool guy in the tshirt, look at his pretty cheekbones, what is that accent—it's lovely". And then you think "He is an image professional. That coolness is carefully honed!". And then you think "Actually, that coolness is kind of a lie, because he's always ripping into the ads and the big companies, but he works for them! How is he any better than Russel? At least Russel looks like what he is, and laughs at it." And then the deceitful hipness is too much and the bile rises in your throat.

I exaggerate slightly. There is no bile. But I have to exaggerate, because so many people are blinded by the cheekbones and the tshirts and the accent.

Watching DVDs in bed

I was bed-bound and unwell a few weeks back. Thankfully, Jess K had lent me Season 2 of Community and I still hadn't finished watching it. I found the only comfortable way of watching it while lying down, was to turn my laptop on its side, like so:

I learnt that if you don't have a tv, it's really important to have some enjoyable DVDs on hand to keep your mind off things or to entertain yourself while you're sick. Hence, a big thank you for Jess K for lending this to me for such a long period :) It's a truly laugh-out-loud series.

I ate two drumsticks.

They are $4 a box of four. I had one while watching Doctor Who. The sort with chocolate ice-cream, chocolate syrup, and solid chocolate in the bottom of the cone. The bottom of the ice-cream is nicer than the top, which is unusual with food, normally the first bite of something is the best and the last bite is the crust or whatever. But, against all my laws of eating, the drumstick gets better and better as you go down. And the last bite was pure moreishness. And there were more drumsticks in the freezer. And Doctor Who was still on. So I had a second one. And afterwards I felt amazing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Being very independent of fashion.

I have two quotes to share re fashion. One was a writer lady on the radio one night who said she often sees a young person coming towards her and thinks to herself:
"that young man's desire to be fashionable far outweighs his sense of the ridiculous."
...a sentiment which I very much like, and I can't wait to use it in public and sound clever.

I am reading Cranford, and quite enjoying it. So many clever observations. About the attitude of the old ladies to their unfashionable dress sense:
"Their dress is very independent of fashion; as they observe, 'What does it signify how we dress here at Cranford, where everybody knows us?'And if they go from home, their reason is equally cogent, 'What does it signify how we dress here, where nobody knows us?'
Quite logical. Not a million miles away from myself.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wow, about fog.

On the radio today I learnt about humidity. It started as a question about why it can be raining, but only "50% humidity", not 100%. Answer: humidity is the amount of water in the air. In the air, not in raindrop form. When a cloud reaches 100% humidity the conditions to make raindrops are ripe. Warm air can carry more water in it than cold air. And this is the beautiful part: fog is the water coming out of the cold air and forming droplets and hanging around. Like magic. I love fog.

Nail challenge

I've been a nail-biter for as long as I can remember. I managed to wean myself off nail-biting during high school, but because I had had short nails for so long, I never got used to having longer nails. They just felt weird.

I don't bite my nails anymore, but I do tear them when I get nervous. Given my dry hands and ezcema (or x-ma as Jess likes to call it), my nails and my hands end up looking very ratty.

So, I have embarked on a nail challenge. I will do my best not to tear at my nails (although I did twice after starting this nail challenge) and at the end of about three or four weeks, Jess and I are going to get a manicure together! Something fun to do together.

I'm a bit hesitant to go to those big nail parlours - I have heard they're not very hygienic. You're more than welcome to join us for a mani and we would love to hear any recommendations for where to go for a hygenic one!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Skin care update

I've talked about treating dry facial skin here and here before. I read Paula Begoun's articles: Winterize Your Skin and What To Do When Climate Change Affects Your Skin. I think my new skin care routine is working - I just need to give it time to heal.

Here is my tweaked routine:

- Changed to a milky/creamy cleanser (found a travel-sized LancĂ´me cleanser, probably was a gift)
- Organic rosehip and/or argan oil for the face (got a great deal at The Rocks Market)
- Sunscreen
- Moisturiser as needed throughout the day

- Milky/creamy cleanser
- Chemical exfoliant about 2-3 times a week
- Rosehip and/or argan oil
- Moisturiser if still needed

I don't know if it's the rosehip oil doing magic overnight, but each morning following the night that I use it, I wake up to really soft and smooth facial skin. I love that stuff! Can't rate it highly enough! It's definitely worth giving it a go. I'm even sending some to my sister in Japan, and getting my family to try it.

Talk to Facebook.

Someone at work saw my lying on the floor stretching my neck and suggested I try a supportive pillow at night. I thought about it, and finally asked on Facebook to see if there were any other recommendations for them, or whether expensive pillows were just expensive. Lots of people raved about them, including a girl who broke her neck, so it turns out they are a real thing after all. Facebook is brilliant for polls and reviews! I bought a pillow on Saturday. Still getting used to it, I miss my feather pillows, but waking up has been nicer.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Talk to your pharmacist

I've been having some winter ailments: dry hands, dry facial skin and brittle nails. Georgina and a high school friend of mine made a very good suggestion to talk to a pharmacist about it, and ask him or her for recommendations. It's a great idea because a pharmacist is well-trained and easier to see than a GP.

For my dry hands, the pharmacist recommended Ego Silic 15 barrier cream. I currently have three other hand creams, not sure what I'll do with those...

For my brittle nails, the pharmacist recommended a supplement. I'm giving Planet Health's Qsilica (a silica supplement) a go.

Of course, I forgot to ask about the dry facial skin -_-

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bus surfing.

I used to get a seat on the morning bus about 50% of the time. Now I think it's about 1 in 10. But I have a pretty short bus ride usually, 15-20 minutes, so I have embraced the standing up. Standing up is good for you, and I sit at a computer all day, so this is a good opportunity. Also, there are certain things about standing that I enjoy. I don't mind the way you have to brace against the brakes. It's sort of like standing in the sea and bracing against waves. You stand sideways and lean. I try and rely on my balance as much as possibly, rather than my arms. Try and engage the core muscles. Also, if I'm standing, I can face directly into the morning sun, which makes me feel good. And finally, if I stand on the bus, I jump off at the first stop and walk a bit further to work. It's quite refreshing after a packed overheated bus. If I don't tussle to get ON the bus first, then I can often get a better standing position near a door and get OFF it more quickly. The last shall be first.