31 March 2010

10 things that make me happy

I received this little award from Raising Ruby. This blog got a mention on Blogspot's 'blogs of note' page. It's a great blog, and as I mentioned before, well worth the read.

The rules of this award are to list 10 bloggers who brighten our day and list 10 things that make us happy. The list is both easy and hard, because our community of bloggers is so large and warm and wonderful!

1. Faux Fuschia - I love this woman! I love her style and humour.
2. Sydney Shop Girl - SSG is genuinely a lovely person (via blog) and she gives good recipes.
3. Flair to Remember - Nikki was the first fashion blogger I stumbled upon. She rocks clothes.
4. All Cats Are Grey At Night - wears pastels really really well.
5. So Now What? - Bern always sees the funny side! And she's a wee bit jealous of me meeting Callan Mulvey!
6. Rock Around The Clock - BECAUSE SHE'S SUDDENLY STOPPED BLOGGING!! And I know she's out there...
7. Rellacafa - Someday we will meet.
8. Twink - she and I know the experiences of ichthyosis
9. Not Quite Nigella - her recipes look wonderful, and she is a lovely person.
10. Gathers No Moss - she's my new friend from Canada!

OK, now for 10 things that make me happy.

1. Food. Cooking. Eating. Looking at cookbooks.
2. Shopping. I love it. Clothes and groceries. Am up for either. I'll put fashion in here too.
3. My MacBook Pro and iPod Touch. Apple make the most beautiful products ever. I don't know how to do much on my MacBook but I know how to admire it.
4. Laughing. I love to laugh.
5. My family and friends (including colleagues). They make me feel so happy and loved.
6. Callan Mulvey. He is delightful. Such a lovely personality. So lovely to look at.
7. Bands/live music, especially Angus and Julia Stone, Genevieve Maynard, Bob Evans, The Temper Trap, Darren Hayes, Steve Poltz.
8. Writing. I really enjoy creating something that from a few thoughts in my head. I especially love it when others enjoy my writing.
9. When I feel well and healthy. Not that I feel sad all the time when I'm not well. You do usually see me laughing in hospital, even with a drip in my arm.
10. Having loyal readers following this blog. Thank you all so much! Your comments and respect mean a lot to me :)

I desperately want to blog with some substance. Comment on important issues. Delve into my thoughts. Write creatively. But I am far too tired.

So I've skipped gym, and taking tonight to just flop on the couch and relax before I head home to my parents' tomorrow for the long weekend. I've got some magazines (and uni texts) ready for the train trip. I'm ready to do NOTHING for five days.

Hopefully some R&R brings back the blogging mojo.

Last night a good friend of mine, Jo, took some photos of me. Jo and I met at a band about four years ago and we've been seeing bands and laughing together ever since. She's and awesome friend and an awesome photographer. She took some photos of me to accompany the article of mine that will be published. We laughed a lot.

My skin is not at its best as it was after a long day of work then uni, but I think Jo's photography can make anyone look fabulous. I didn't even need Callan Mulvey with his arm around me to make me look good!

And finally, an update about the publishing opportunity...

Word is, something of mine will be published next week. I'll let you know where you can find it!

29 March 2010

Celebrity sighting - Callan Mulvey

Oh. My. God.

I went for a walk today at lunchtime and I met Callan Mulvey. As you may recall, Callan is my favourite person on TV.

I love the TV show Rush and when a colleague mentioned that there were film crews nearby, I had a feeling it may be Rush as I read they are filming the show again.

There were film crews and trucks and lots of people in day-glo vests. There weren't many passers by around.

I walked up to one of the trucks and saw a character in non 'tactical response' police gear walking around. I also saw a tall guy in tactical response gear and it looked like Callan.

I asked the non tactical response guy whether that was Callan, and he said yes. I asked if I could say hello. He said yes.

Callan was talking to one of the crew and I was pointed out to him.

He smiled at me, came over to chat. He remembered me from last time we met in June 2009.

I've met a few celebrities, and been very excited at most of them, but today my heart was racing and I was shaking. Nervousness is unusual for me!

Callan and I chatted for about three minutes. While I wasn't silly, I am not sure if I said anything coherent because I was actually quite nervous!

He asked me how I am, how my health is, and he told me when the new season will be on TV.

I asked for a photo and he was happy to pose.

Jolene Anderson walked by too, and I said hello.

Callan called me darling, and my heart melted.

I am incredibly excited about meeting him, and have been smiling all day.

I feel honoured that he took a few minutes out of his day to talk to me.


He is so very nice. He really made me feel special.

28 March 2010


Here is me last night at dinner at Aja in Albert Park.

The picture was taken with the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone.

I highly recommend Aja. It has great service, and its interior is lush.

Some friends were in Melbourne for Grand Prix duties and they took me out for dinner - Aja was their recommendation after I said that lamb cutlets was the food turned me from being a vegetarian for four years to eating meat again.

We shared:
- char-grilled lamb cutlets with bok choy,
- pork ribs with Asian pickles,
- grilled duck fillet with salad,
- whole steamed fish with, ginger, spring onions and chili
- steamed greens (broccolini, spinach, bok choy)
- black rice pudding and mango
- passionfruit brulee
- banana fritters

Such a great meal. All of the dishes were light and very tasty. I love the sweet-sour-salty taste of Asian food.

It was lovely to see these friends who I've known for many years.

26 March 2010

Angus and Julia Stone concert review - The Palace Theatre, 25 March 2010

Angus and Julia Stone
The Palace Theatre, Melbourne
25 March 2010

It is evident from their new album, Down the Way, that Angus and Julia Stone are maturing as musicians. Their music sounds like it has more body. Their lyrics are still gorgeous, but there's a change to the way their voices harmonise together perfectly; the the depth of their music. It's suddenly gotten more power and less wisp, but still full of whimsy. Angus just soars with his guitar work and Julia's lyrics and vocals can send shivers just due to the directness of her storytelling.

I had never been to The Palace Theatre before (it was previously The Metro) – it reminded me of The Forum, but I felt further from the stage, even though I was in the second row from the front.

The concert reminded me everything about why I fell in love with Angus and Julia Stone on 2006. I absolutely love seeing live bands, but there are only several that have the capacity to make me feel immersed in their music.

The number of instruments they collectively play is also astounding. Julia played the harmonica, keyboard, electric and acoustic guitars, trumpet, and then there's her voice, and her dress, which I class as an instrument in its own right (the way she swishes it around, she gives life to it, like a whole other band member!). Angus played the harmonica, acoustic and electric guitars and keyboard.

Julia has a beautiful child-like way of dancing. She plays with her dress, twirls her hands and dances on her toes across the stage.

What I really like about the Stones is the admiration they have for each other. In one song, Julia knelt on the stage watching Angus sing as though she was in awe of him, as though it was the first time she'd seen him sing and play music. Angus said that he doesn't say it enough but he loves playing music with Julia and he is honoured to be on stage with such an amazing writer. Julia was visibly moved, and the crowd gave a collective awwww.

Angus has opened up on stage since I saw them play last in 2008. He tells beautiful stories of his loves lost, in a soft voice that makes girls' hearts melt. He told a story before the song Big Mercedes Benz about how he was hitchiking to a music festival and he just wanted to get to know the girl in the front passenger seat. It was a beautiful story for a beautiful song. He has definitely become more talkative on stage. And definitely progressively hairier!

And Julia. Sigh. She is just beautiful. Definitely a woman I admire. The stories she tells before her songs, and in her lyrics, are so identifiable. She told a story about how she was in love with a boy and she wrote him the song 'For You' and sent it to him over the internet. He wrote back about a week later, replying with a song that was about death. She finally got the hint he didn't love her back. Again, the crowd gave a collective awwww. She seems too beautiful, too fragile for anyone not to love. Her lyrics are so honest and raw that there is an innate depth to her physical attractiveness. She wore a stunning jade green beaded dress that my photos don't do justice to. Julia Stone is amazing.

While they ave an extensive catalogue of hits to play, and I could truly watch them play everything they've written, they left quite a few of the more well known songs out and played a good portion of their Down the Way album.

Highlights for me were:

- You're the one that I want – the Grease song, sung by Julia. She made it slow and breathy, which I recall caused a few wolf whistles and a 'Julia, you rock my world' call out.
- Dreams – a Fleetwood Mac cover, again sung by Julia. With support act, Boy and Bear, accompanying the Stones and their band, it sounded fantastic. Fleetwood Mac is one of my favourite bands ever, and it was a delight to see another favourite band play their song.
- And the Boys – this is perfect.
- For you – another perfect song, it breaks my heart to hear the lyrics as they resonate with me.
- Draw Your Swords – Angus singing 'let's not fuck around' is hot. Let's face it.
- Just a Boy – upbeat, and Angus singing it. He looked like he was having fun, and that's what I like to see.

I was lucky enough to get the set-list. I have a huge collection of set-lists now - Angus and Julia Stone, Darren Hayes, Bob Evans and Crowded House (my best accomplishment!).

The crowd was ok – less noisy than last time at The Forum, but still noisier than I liked during Boy and Bear's set. I guess I've been spoilt and seen Angus and Julia Stone many times at small venues when they were lesser known. I want so much for my favourite bands to get a huge following but that also comes with a trade off – more fans that are less devoted. It sounds selfish of me I know, but I hated hearing people talking through the gig. I just want everyone to enjoy the music and not comment on everything that is happening around them or talking to friends on the phone. It wasn't too noisy, but it is an irritant when you hear the person next to you having a conversation when the band is playing. Anyhow, it is a conundrum, I know. More fans with less devotion. More technology, more disruption. How do you police gig etiquette?
(Edit - here is what Angus and Julia have to say on the issue of crowds talking through their songs.)

Here are some photos - I was captivated by Julia dancing. Apologies for the graininess - I need to work out how to use my camera in dim concert conditions!

24 March 2010

Best sleeping bag ever, list of things to do, tee shirt and brooch.

Blah blah blah, sleeping bags won't draw readers to this blog entry. Or will they?? (You may be surprised, given my lack of outdoorsy love, I actually own a sleeping bag and like using it!)

I digress.

Brea pointed this out to me. She found it over at The Blogess.

This is the king of awesome sleeping bag.

Laying in something that looks like a sleeping bear will probably protect you from an oncoming bear.

I love it! And I want one.

You can view more bear sleeping bag goodness here.

In other news, I am busy and worn out just thinking of the things coming up. They are good things though. I wish there were more hours in the day.

Tonight: Body Balance class, then calling into Coles (Showgrounds Village - how I love thee!) to buy some milk, sago and custard powder, then cooking Custard Melkkos with said ingredients for Harmony Day (it's a food from my homeland - South Africa).
Tomorrow: Harmony Day event I am organising at work.
Tomorrow night: Angus and Julia Stone concert - hurrah!
Friday morning 6 am (!!): Nova Comedy Festival breakfast - I go EVERY year and I love it. Wouldn't miss it
Friday: Work
Friday night: Body Balance
Saturday: Uni from 9 am til 3 pm, and then catching up with friends involved in the Grand Prix.
Sunday: catching up with Hayley, finally!
Sunday night: cooking dinner for a friend.

Between those things, I may be seeing another friend to give her the Kurt Cobain book I bought for her on Ebay, and I need to do uni reading, and I also need to work on that writing opportunity.

Phew! Bring on the long weekend next week.

Two more things:

This arrived in the mail today, from Forever 21.

Isn't it cute! I will wear it bellydancing next term.

And my elephant necklace-turned-brooch was shipped from Tennessee. I fell in love with it when I saw it on Etsy, and I bought it straight away. A work friend has also bought the necklace.

The lovely creator and seller, Nikki, has made the elephant into a brooch for me because I worry that as a necklace it will scratch me. The store is called Untamed Menagerie - you should check it out - they have beautiful stuff.

I'm over and out, got to relax before I begin to check things off my to do list.

23 March 2010

There's so much to do in this random food venture!

Week four of the now definitely traditional post uni Asian grocery store random food challenge.

We discussed the reality of me needing to continue this challenge on my blog. It may celebritise me. It probably won't. Especially with my amateur photos.

We enlisted another member into this challenge. She suggested I add another layer onto the challenge and blindold myself. But after last week's crispy seaweed disaster, I need to go into the store fully informed. Plus I hate the feeling of being blindfolded.

It was a bit of a blur in the store. So much to look at. I'm like a Kelpie dog - always excited, always on the go, always looking out for things. These were a few of the items at the front of the store!

We had 13 minutes between getting out of class and catching the train. I desperately wanted Lord of the Fries but it would compromise the random food challenge.

So instead I thought long and hard about wanting ikin billis. I had the vision, I had the drive, and I came out of the store with ikin billis chips. Ikin billis are fried anchovies. Absolutely wonderful!

I made a grand statement: 'I want to go to a costume party as anchovy woman'. I don't really. Because it means I won't get to wear my bear suit. We all know bears don't eat anchovies.

I also bought Pocky. It's like a skinny biscuit, looks a bit like a sparkler (fire cracker thing) that has crushed almonds covered in chocolate. A bit like a sweet pretzel. I was assured that Pocky is 'actually really nice'. And it was! Chocolate i not really my thing, but Pocky was tasty and pleasing.

And lychee juice. Better than dragonfruit. A million times better than young coconut drink. Best drink so far!

Three out of three deliciousness!

The regular member of the food challenge bought boring, conservative yet tasty food. Peanut crackers. And sparkling water.

The peanut crackers had 41% fat, 29% transfats.

Quote of the night: 'I can't open your anchovies, there's too much transfat on my fingers'.

The new member bought Hello Kitty biscuits dipped in strawberry candy.

There's so much to do in this venture that I was finding it hard to juggle the wonderful finds with my taking photos on iPhone in the midst of so much laughing.

I tried to recruit a new member into our challenge - my fellow train passenger who I asked to open my ikin billis (but he couldn't) and he said NO! He's missing out of the fun.

Again, I laughed and laughed.

Next week our uni topic is qualitative and quantitative research. Our method of choosing the Asian grocery foods will be completely random!

22 March 2010

Ethics and social research assignment

I have just completed the first assignment of the semester.

The task was to do a summary/abstract on a prescribed chapter in my course reader.

There were a few chapters to choose from, and because I have only briefly touched on ethics in my Masters course in an assignment for journalism, and I believe ethics will play an important role in successfully completing my thesis, I focused on ethics.

I chose to summarise Ethics and Social Research by Allan Kellehear.

You can find this paper by Kellehear in the book Doing Fieldwork: Eight personal accounts of social research by John Perry.

The paper is an account of the ethical dilemmas of 'interfering with people'. It reminds us that research is not just about gaining data to obtain a degree or to get published. Research affects the participants in positive and negative ways. It can be traumatic for participants to share their story with the researcher. And there is a responsibility of the researcher to minimise harm to the participant. It was also interesting to read that an ethical dilemma for the researcher is to responsibly disseminate the research findings, often to honour the wishes of the participants.

The research that Allan Kellehear undertook was aimed at understanding the way the lives of people altered when they found out they were going to die very soon. He wanted to understand and document the varied social experiences associated with dying.

Kellehear interviewed 100 terminally ill cancer patients with less than 12 months to live.

He not only encountered traumatic situations when interviewing the cancer patients, but also he received personal criticism from hospital staff - accusing him of being cruel and voyeuristic.

I'm not going to rewrite my full summary here (though here I summarised the entire paper in about one quarter of the words that I used in my assignment!) - I recommend you find this paper online and read it for yourself. It really is interesting.

We were only required to concentrate two chapters for this assignment - summarising one and situate it in a scape of research by mentioning the other - so I have not looked up the actual research findings. I'm really keen to do so, and think it may be relevant to my thesis. I am really pleased I did this assignment.

I so enjoy the way study opens up my eyes to the world and challenges me to think about concepts differently.

21 March 2010


I am very excited because a friend of the family featured in this story that I linked to last week contacted me on Facebook telling me about the family, and I have now written to the Oldacres.

Jack is 19 months and has Netherton's Syndrome like me.

I really hope they write back so I can give them some advice and share stories.

Little Jack is very cute.

Also, I had a really positive comment on this entry from a guy called CanaTukker in Canada. He told me he used to be married to a woman with ichthyosis. He looked beyond her condition and loved her.

He wrote, 'My parents always told me growing up, "op elke potje, past een dekseltje". Loosely translated it means, "for every pot, there is a lid that fits." I believe the same will be for you'.

I am not sure if this will be the case but I remain hopeful.

It has been good to receive a comment from CanaTukker - not that the other comments weren't supportive and kind - but I felt it difficult reading encouraging comments that were more about me focusing on not having a boyfriend, rather than my experiences of rejection. Rejection and questions about my appearance are real for me, and I believe that while it is easy to suggest I put myself out there in the dating scene, many people may never have had to justify their appearance to someone.

I really hope this post didn't come across as negative or critical to those who did comment. As you know, I appreciate all of your comments, but I wanted to have the chance to respond.

Fish pie

In the words of Faux Fuschia, this morning 'the universe directed me' to make fish pie. I woke up feeling like I just had to have it. I just had to make it.

So I added the ingredients I needed to my grocery shop.

How I love you, Coles Showground Village. You are so beautiful and have everything I need to get me through a fortnight, but your beauty makes me spend!

I sliced onion, leek, garlic and cooked them until they were soft with a bit of olive oil.

Then I added mushrooms, snow peas, celery, carrot and parsley. I cooked these until soft.

I used seafood mix and salmon.

Look how beautiful the pink salmon flesh is next to the silvery skin.

I added the salmon and seafood mix to the vegetables, and let it cook further for about 15 minutes.

Here are the remaining ingredients needed for the pie. I only used a smidge of cream, and the butter was for greasing the dish and brushing on the pastry.

The pastry was low fat, and I think this meant it didn't turn out as flaky and crispy as full fat pastry. Still it was delicious, and very rich!

I love pie.

20 March 2010

Garfield Comic Creator - not as good as the original...but it will do for now...

So I googled the Garfield comic strip game I used to play in hospital.

It was called Scholastic's Comic Book Maker featuring Garfield. You (I) can buy it on Amazon!!! Is this not the most exciting piece of news you've heard all day?!?

I did some more googling and found this website that has a technically superior version of the program I used as a kid, but the options are far from the vast range I remember the program had. I remember I could add a lot more props, and many different scenes to my comic strip. I would add lasagne and outdoor scenes and funny props. But this poor=man's version is limiting my imagination.

Here's what I made tonight.

I need to investigate and play further. I need to.

Hospital badge

When I used to stay at the Royal Children's hospital, there was always such great things to do.

I went to school there - I did maths and English, but I also made a lot of crafty things.

I remember doing heaps of Garfield artwork on a very advanced computer program for 1989. I think it may have even been on an Apple Mac. I'd make a lot of comic strip type stories cutting and pasting pictures of Garfield and friends into scenes. If anyone remembers the name of the game, please let me know.
(Edit - Wikipedia - the ever reliable source - says: 'There is a computer program called "Scholastic's Comic Book Maker Featuring Garfield" which allows users to make their own Garfield comics by using different characters, objects, and scenery from the strip'.)

I went to the zoo once, all bandaged up and in a wheelchair.

I watched a lot of Lift Off and Round the Twist. Brilliant ABC kids TV shows.

Mum bought me Paul Jennings, Roald Dahl and Pollyanna books, and she and I would read them.

And I met children's author Morris Gleitzman.

I learnt a lot in hospital, and despite the pain of it all, I enjoyed it there. I felt safe away from teasing, and I enjoyed being around people who seemed to value me. As mentioned, school was difficult for me so hospital was a bit of a safe-haven and a chance for me to be myself. I even made some lifelong friends there.

Each stay in hospital, I'd make a badge. The pink ladies would have a badge making machine set up occasionally, and we could choose any picture in the world to put inside the badge.

I found this tonight when I was hunting for things to make into brooches.

(Excuse the photo quality - my Canon Ixus is flat from all the dinner/brooch photos so it's another iPhone not-so-special.)

I used to treasure this - my May Gibbs blossom babies name badge.

I know the hospital has changed a lot. There are laptops for kids to use - with internet access! I used to queue for the pay phone! Adolescents are allowed to come and go. And there seems to be a lot more social support services.

But I really hope they still have the badge making machine. I know it was the best part of my stay.

I like rediscovering things from years ago.

Superglue, brooches and Ethiopian food

I wanted to share a few of the things I have done so far this weekend. It's been busy but nice.

My Mum was down to stay last night and we went for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. It was wonderful! Excuse the quality of the photos, I only had my iPhone.

Ethiopian food is to be eaten with your hands. I've never eaten a hot meal from a plate with my hands, other than a burger or a toasted sandwich, or if I pick up a bone to scrape. You wrap the food up with pieces of bread.

For entree we had grilled eggplant that was marinated in lemon and spices.

The eggplant was served with Injera bread.

Injera bread looks like a giant flat crumpet. It's a bit lemony, very soft and delicious.

Mum ordered slow cooked goat cooked with cinnamon and cardamom. It was like a home cooked meal in a slow cooker - so full of flavour. Very sweet and rich.

I ordered raw beef marinated in paprika, onion, lemon and chili. I like my steak mooing, so this meal suited me. Raw beef is nothing to be afraid of if it's done right.

The food was so flavoursome and I will certainly be going back to eat there or get takeaway. Cheap too. Highly recommended!

Today I did TWO HOURS of bellydancing and my calves are tired! So. Much. Shimmying. It was my last week of the term as next Saturday I have uni all day. I will miss class, but I will go again next term.

For the rest of the day, I went to a meeting/BBQ for my volunteer work. It was great to see everyone.

And tonight, I cooked a meal - pasta with seafood.

I wouldn't normally get Weight Watchers pasta, but it was the only egg fettucini in the fresh pasta section at Coles and it was only $3.

I cooked up some of Mum and Dad's homegrown greens, a few halved cherry tomatoes, two cloves of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, plus seafood marinara mix, salt and pepper.

These are two of my favourite pots. The green one is from my Nanny. It is very old and a bit battered, but it cooks pasta well, and also good for soup. The black one is from a little store in Brunswick - it can go in the oven and microwave and on the stove. I cook a lot of things in there - stews, Asian hotpots and rhubarb are my favourite things to cook in this pot - it seems to allow foods to develop great flavour. I have a taller one too. It was only about $14.

I served it the the pasta.

Really easy, really cheap. And it took about 20 minutes.

I had a glass or two of the best cheap wine you will ever taste - Banrock Station pink moscato for $5.25. I love this glass too. It's a champagne flute, but I use it as a wine glass because it's pretty. I bought a set of six from an opshop for $6.

I decided to watch Mrs Doubtfire for the 4858th time and make some jewellery.

For some reason I can't find my pliers so there was no chain and charm action happening. Glue it was.

Woah. What an adventure.

I have a heap of little things that are pretty but I don't use or are broken. Like hairclips, pendants and charms. I want to use them again, and show off their beauty and cuteness.

I didn't know superglue was so dangerous.

As soon as I managed to open it, it squirted out, over my hands. Then I felt my eyes burning from the fumes. I rushed to the bathroom to wash it off, but it dried quickly. Fortunately my eyes only stung for about 30 seconds.

Dad wasn't home to seek advice from. So I googled it.

Acetone gets superglue off skin. What has acetone in? Nailpolish remover. Guess what - the nailpolish remover I use is acetone free. Because acetone hurts my skin.

So I've just been soaking my hands in warm soapy water, which also does the trick according to Google, but it takes several applications. My fingers are less rigid now, and I've managed to peel some dry superglue off. It doesn't hurt, and I didn't have to go to hospital like I imagined.

I digress.

I had to make my jewellery wearing vinyl gloves and sunglasses. Hah!

Tonight I have made four brooches. I love brooches and have quite a few. And my little thingies from previous accessories were perfect for brooches.

The heart is a clay pendant my Mum bought me from the Henty Field Days (as the song on the ad says, 'go to the Henty Field Days, there's nothing like it anywhere...'). It has a little girl with a bonnet on, watering flowers. I have had it since I was about eight years old and I love it.

The flower is a gold, green and clear plastic clip-on earring. I bought the pair of clip-ons from an op-shop and I've been meaning to make one into a brooch. Not sure what I'll do with the other one.

The dog is a hand-made resin cut out that used to be attached to a hairclip.

And the panda was from a belt I used to wear when I was three years old. The belt was purple and had little pandas printed on it, with the plastic panda as a buckle. I think it's cute.

And that's it so far. Tomorrow I am writing a paper for uni summarising a report about the ethics of researching people who know they are going to die. It's pretty interesting.

Hope you are all having a good weekend.


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