31 July, 2006

wedding guest dash

yesterday we celebrated friends Si and R's wedding, although we almost missed the ceremony. Somehow we had it in our minds that the ceremony commenced at 3pm, when it was actually 2pm. We discovered our misconception at 12.30pm just before tucking into lunch. We left our house at 1.44pm sure we would be dashing in late. Lucky for us, we discovered to our suprise that we are only 6 minutes from the Auburn Botanic Gardens and were lucky enough to get an immediate carpark, arriving just before the brides official arrival (apparently she was half an hour early and had done a few laps of the block prior).

It was a beautiful day, and a very moving ceremony, in lovely surrounds. The geese were well behaved, and no one disgraced themselves by falling in the reflection pond.

We managed a cup of tea back home in between the ceremony and reception, and more importantly wrapping of the present.

Lotsa luv and good luck you two..... may the dance continue for the rest of your lives.

29 July, 2006

scarfing maddness

BH&G May 2006 SCARF
In the May 2006 copy of Better Homes and Gardens, I came across this scarf, it said it was for beginners and looked pretty impressive, I was inspired. My relatively recent trip to Albury and surrounds, Beechworth to be exact, and The Ardant Alpaca was the final motivation. They had the balls of 4ply Alpaca and it was soooo soft, and the shop so inspirational, the scarf felt all but done....

A review of the archives puts the purchase of the wool towards the end of May, so the production of the scarf has been approximately 8 weeks. 6 weeks was a fairly solid effort with a couple of weeks away from this project due to my grandmother being in hospital. The scarf is actually for my grandmother for her birthday which is in a couple of weeks, and given she has been so sick I was beginning to wonder if I would have the opportunity to give it to her. Now that she is on the mend though I was remotivated, and ta da!
scarf model
enough already
The scarf is finished, complete with embellishments. It is not quite like the one in the magazine, it is longer, and has a few mistakes. The mistakes bother me a bit but the pattern wasn't as easy as I expected a beginner patter to be. If I lost concentration I couldn't remember what order of passing over, slipping stiches, forwarding and goodness what else was required for the end product to look like lace. There was many an expletive made, family disharmony, throwing down of knitting needles, and unravelling that took place before we even finished the first ball of wool. So much so that the first ball required B's assistance to unroll and reroll so that I could start from the other end, as the wool had become fuzzy. But if I do say so about myself, I am determined/pig headed, although when it came to picking up the needles this last week to finish the scarf, I once again stuffed up the pattern and rather than persist, as the scarf was longer than the patterns prescribed length, undid the stitches slowly the couple of rows I had just done and immediately cast off. So pleased with the finished product, I have decided to have a go at this one, from Notebook.
patons scarf Notebook Magazine August issue
I really like the colour of the wool, however, Spotlight didn't have that colour and as I couldn't be bothered in trawling the stores, I have this wool instead.

next project

28 July, 2006

cultural exchange update

our guests shopping list goes something like this: opals, pearls, lanolin, leather belt, and must be australian made. Opals no problem. Pearls, well the pearls they want them cheap and cheap pearls they come from China. Lanolin, seems to be made in the UK, although a trip to Westfield and a tourist shop and we finally sorted that one. Leather belts, the tip is the Myer, Reserve brand, otherwise its the Aussie favourite Made in China.

Their tourist must sees, the harbour bridge & sydney opera house being the hottest spots, followed by the QVB, darling harbour, art gallery, Hyde Park, Bondi Beach, and Royal Botanic Gardens.

Their expanding vocabulary: brussel sprouts, zucchini, spaghetti, bloody hell, chinese laundry, hairdryer, powerboard, blah blah blah,

Our expanding vocabulary: Way, ne home r = Hello, how are you. Doaye = Yes. Boo = No. Jol sun = goodmorning. Sek Fan = dinner is ready. Zoo sian = thank you. The Disclaimer being that I have spelt "phonetically" and even still much laughter ensues pronunciation.

27 July, 2006

chinese laundry

we have had a fair bit of rain of late. In fact pretty much from the day Linda and Celia arrived it has been raining. So, with clean clothes running out the girls requested to do some washing. No problem, or so I thought. With jokes being made about how the house would look like a chinese laundry, I set about explaining to Celia how to use the washing machine, although it would not be a good idea to wash her woollen jumper in it. So far so good, the clothes got washing machined and hung out on the clothes horse in front of the heater, and the jumpers handwashed... all was going well in the Chinese Laundry.

Until, mid phonecall to the chemist to find out whether they had Lanolin, Australian made of course (which they didn't), I heard a yelp from the loungeroom.

Apparently, whilst I was getting the number for the chemist, Celia had asked about rinsing her jumper and B had told her that it could be put in the washing machine on the rinse cycle (such a male suggestion). So into the washing machine went the two jumpers, however our washing machine drains to the basin and the plug was not removed following the handwashing process. You can see where this was heading, we had a flooded laundry, and of course our laundry doesn't have a floor drain, so..... a dozen towels later the problem was under control. That is until a guilty B, decided that washing the towels might be a good idea. Let me remind you it is wet here, I don't like the clothesdryer - for environmental reasons, and it is now 10pm at night. I was not aware of the towel washing decision, until you guessed it the water was flowing into the loungeroom, someone (uhm one of our guests) had left a sponge in the sink, which had a plug effect and we were going for a repeat of the earlier flooding. More towels were required ....our place really does look like a Chinese Laundry.

25 July, 2006

spaghetti bolognaise with chopsticks

The first night of Linda and Celia's stay we had lamb chops, B thought that would be a fitting Australian dinner, it wasn't. Knives and forks were a problem, and the flavour possibly to rich/fatty, although they liked the mashed potato. Each dish from then on has been a hit, chicken pasta, beef terryaki, and the biggest hit of all spaghetti bolognaise. But, how do you eat spaghetti bolognaise? with chopsticks of course when Linda and Celia visit.
spaghetti chopsticks

23 July, 2006

kangaroo pause

our visitors suffer very badly from motion sickness, and boy didn't we find out exactly how bad. Linda and Celia inform us that they do not often ride in cars, instead they get about by bicycle. So, although it seemed like a good idea to take a drive to the Blue Mountains, about an hour from our place by car, we were beginning to rethink this when it took about two hours with the pauses required to settle stomachs, and the drive required the windows to be down. It is winter here! and oh the ears from the wind rushing in. The smiles made up for it though when we met up with this fellow,

kangaroo pausing
not quite as good as a kangaroo with its joey. But a kangaroo in its natural environment certainly impressed the girls. We had to remind them though that although they look quite friendly they can scratch and pack a mean punch, so anything closer than 2m distance was taking a real risk.

We didn't spend too long at Euroka as there were only a couple of Kangaroos. In the past when we have visited there has been a large mob. I am guessing the campers probably had something to do with this and of course that we had some international visitors to impress.

The views from Mt Portal and Tunnel View Lookout were a hit with the girls as was the pause at Glenbrook Nursery for a look at some Australian Natives, in particular the Kangaroo Paws.

Kangaroo paws

21 July, 2006

an afternoon of surprises

when we got home from work today, we had this from an american angel, thank you heels!

gifts from the USA

And this was taking place in our kitchen.

asian cuisine

We were treated to an authentic chinese dinner, and it was delicious.

how to boil an egg

our guests like breakfast to go. That is they like a boiled egg they can take with them to eat when they get to university. Now this has presented me with a dilema - how do you boil an egg? You see I like my eggs well done so am happy to let it boil away till the pot is almost dry, whereas B likes his runny so it is in and out of the pot for him. B's however, is not a good way for an egg to go. Sooooooo, for an egg to go (ie not runny) would you boil the water and drop the egg into the boiling water or would you put the egg in cold water and bring to the boil? and how long do you boil????

And you can stop rolling your eyes, because even the experts have difficulty coming to a consensus on cracking the formula on boiling eggs.

And then there was this.

Thank goodness for Burkes Backyard the authority of everything and anything who had this to offer "If you’re boiling eggs for a salad and you want the yolks in the centre of the white, stir the eggs as they come to the boil. For perfect boiled eggs, bring the eggs to the boil from a cold water start. As soon as the water simmers tip out the hot water, and cover with cold water to stop the cooking."

Phew, now I can relax and enjoy 'the food palate'. Although it didn't have how to boil an egg it does look like it could be an interesting read. I especially like the sound of the malt milk muffins.

20 July, 2006

The Asian invasion...

Well, yesterday our 'Asian Invasion' visitors arrived, albeit exhausted!
L was lucky enough to get the day and arrived at the "pick up point" as advertised in the paperwork we were given when the minders arrived last Friday evening for the inspection.
We have 琳达 (Linda) and Celia (Celia*). L said that they were feeling quite ill after their flights from Beijing to Sydney via Soul. So after an afternoon nap they felt quite a deal better.
When L came to the station to pick me up after work (bloody car still not fixed...), we had our introductions and located their city Tianjin on google maps (just zoom in or out using the tool on the left side).
L and I then went to do some shopping and when we got back, I cooked some dinner, watched some TV before going to bed around 10pm. In my usual midnight walks to stretch out my back (not to mention have a glass of milk and raid the cookie jar) I noticed that they were still awake as the light was shining through underneath the door, but when I went back to bed, it had gone out... But, as they needed to be at UTS at 7.40 this morning, the 5.30 alarm went off too early I thought, but the alarm clock that we used in their bedroom (my PDA) didn't go off resulting in a knock on the door and a very rushed morning.
And to top it all off this morning on the train in (bloody car...) the train, whilst not very many people on it, had to have the last carriage emptied as there was a window missing which made us then go into a very cramped carriage. We arrived with 10 mins to spare!
We will keep you posted as to how things progress, but we are also off to Euroka Clearing in the Glenbrook National Park to see some kangaroos, and to see the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and maybe even up the Centrepoint Tower to see the city from above this weekend.
* Celia translated via Babel Fish is just Celia

19 July, 2006

how to have an outstanding life

Last weekend I started reading a book by sports psychologist Paul Smith 'How to have an outstanding life'. It is an easy read and quite informally written. I won this book a few weeks back through a lucky door prize at a seminar for women who are aspiring to senior management. It was a fantastic seminar, and I was able to participate in a workshop facilitated by the author Paul Smith. When I attended the seminar, I was already feeling a little low, and the seminar really picked me up however, the last couple of weeks*.....

Well, I didn't want to hang around the base of the mountain I felt required climbing, so the book has come out, and given that B has been depressed due to his back (good pair that we are at the moment) I have been reading it to him, and we have been discussing it together. Whilst B was a bit resistant to this, the anecdotes and thinking exercises have certainly got the dialogue going, and I think I am going to look out for a more in depth workshop to attend in the future.

The message so far from the book is positive thinking, and really I do have an outstanding life already, the weekend really reminded me of that; great friends, thank you to A, B & C you really cheered me up; the next sister down; favourite (and only) brother; and of course my B.

And on another positive note I am at home today waiting for some house guests, more on that next time.

* My nan has really picked up and is now at home

15 July, 2006

meet the neighbours III

Our neighbours kitchen window
Lynette and Denis are our immediate neighbours to the left (if you are facing our house that is). They are a retired couple with grown children, reminding me a lot of my parents, actually.

When we first moved in they introduced themselves to us with a letter about their children and their childrens partners, a photo of the family, and contact numbers. It was really lovely, and made us feel instantly welcome in our new street.

Last week, Tuesday night to be exact, we were the recipients of their neighbourliness, by way of a sample of Lynette's baking. It was on our doorstep when I got back from dropping B in Parramatta that evening. At first I was a bit suspicious of the warm, foil wrapped package, with no note. Lynette, however had left a message on the answer machine which explained that she had done some baking and that it hadn't gone unnoticed that we had been mowing the nature strip out the front of their place, and this was their way of saying thank you. It should be noted here that Denis also gives our nature strip a mow when he does the lawns, so that the home baked sultana poundcake was quite unneccessary, although greatly appreciated. And given the week I was having was a truly priceless gesture, that I shall repay with ..thinking.... a bag of lemons, because we all know I can't cook.

14 July, 2006

how time flys

and I haven't been having fun. I was not going to post any of this but my mum gave me some advice this morning and I am going to give it a go. The suggestion was that I write down what is bothering me in a notebook, and not worry about it for a week or so, refer back to it in a couple of weeks, and if the same things are still bothering me then worry.

I am sure she didn't mean for it to be done here, but here goes. Work, has really been stressing me out, This has been on top of a lot of other things that have been going on; my grandmother has been quite sick, she is 87, and went into hospital a week and a half ago to have her gall bladder removed. This was very traumatic for her (and the family) she became anemic and required a blood transfusion, ended up in the cardiac ward, and suffered a collapse of the lung. It didn't seem good. At the same time my dad is having heart troubles and a procedure he had early in the month was not successful which was really disappointing, and again the uncertainty has plagued me, and all of this has been on top of B's back, which has given him six years of pain, loss of mobility, uncertainty as to whether his work would keep him on, or not, and the constant joy (not) of having to deal with insurers (because this was a workplace injury) for approval to receive treatments and reimbursement of costs. I think this has caused me to get into the habit of worrying about things that might not happen. I have become anxious and depressed, well at least very fragile and teary. Things have definitely got on top of me.

There! Let's see if there is no more worrying.

The naturopath has also suggested Executive Stress B and Withania (something like St Johns Wort).

Funnily enough having put it down 'on paper', why wouldn't I be feeling a bit low. A happier me next time. News this morning from mum was that my Nan was on the mend, and looked really good, yesterday. I think a visit to the hospital tonight to see for myself might also help.

02 July, 2006

always look on the bright side*

Leunig cartoon, from SMH Leunig 2006 calendar for July
yesterday we celebrated mum's 64th birthday, it is not her birthday till later in the week, but nan is going to hospital on Wednesday to have her gall bladder out and she didn't want to miss out, so this weekend it was to be. B and I were the hosts for the celebrations, and commenced preparations Friday night, with shopping, cleaning, and preping of the food. The main course was African Chicken, I haven't made this for a few years and it took me a few hours on Thursday night to find the recipe, I am going to scan the scrap of paper with the recipe on it into the computer, this might also prompt B to resurrect the recipe page that was linked to the now no longer website. Although, you are meant to marinade for an hour, I marinaded over night, it has about a dozen spices which takes ages to chop, measure out and mix.

I also made the birthday cake, which was almost a burntoffering although once decorated (after scraping off the black bits) you couldn't tell, that is until it came time to cut (it was a bit dry). Thank goodness nan had made jelly (with cherries in it) and pineapple delight (a marshmellow, pineapple and cream concoction that is just delicious), along with the lemon butter I had made to join the cakes together they provided enough moisture to assist with swallowing.

It was a great day, the weather was perfect, the only dampner being that dad had received news that his irregular heartbeat had returned, Tuesday's procedure hadn't worked. Mum was a bit fragile as a result, it was a good job the family could be together to support one another.

mum opening her pressies
Thank you Leunig for your advice.

It has also helped that the gas heater got connected today, thank you to the plumber who was here from 8am to 4pm, it was a big job.

*heading care of Leunig