Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Bouncing for charity...

What else is a girl to do with her lunch hour than break a world record for simultaneous bouncing??

Hundreds bounce for charity in Brisbane

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Go Between Bridge.

You just gotta laugh...

Today our wonderful city council announced that a new toll bridge will be named the "Go Between Bridge" in honour of that fine Brisbane band "The Go Betweens".

Now... I love the idea of honouring The Go Betweens - they are a truly amazing band. However... "The Go Between Bridge"... What was the city council thinking?

A couple of ideas why this could have happened:
- A bridge does indeed go between two points
- The Lord Mayor is apparently a Go Betweens fan
- The name was via popular vote and who wouldn't tick the funniest option?

It has generated quite a lot of discussion on news sites etc and it is also generating quite a few funny responses. My personal favourite was the punter who suggested, if we are naming things as musical tributes why not call it "Highway to Hell"?

And all those people who are commenting things such as "I consider myself alternative and I've never heard of them"... Ummm alternative in what universe? Or are you a Gen Y? The Go Betweens have been - and continue to be - a major player in Brisbane, Queensland and Australian alternative music scenes.

So I am currently wavering between:
- shaking my head trying to work out who in their right mind would name a bridge the "Go Between Bridge"
- celebrating the outcome and recognition for a great band
- questioning the sanity of our Lord Mayor
- loving all the hilarious comments on news blogs it is generating.

For those who are still thinking "who the heck are they?" go to www.go-betweens.net

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Aimee Mann show...

Saw Aimee Mann last night - her first show ever in Australia! It was amazing. She played what the crowd wanted to hear and a third of the show was by request. The set list for Mr Benoy's enjoyment!

Can't believe she played so much from Magnolia - I loved it!

Set List.
The Moth (Lost in Space)
Momentum (Magnolia Soundtrack)
Build that Wall (Magnolia Soundtrack)
Nightmare Girl (Lost In Space - 2 CD Special Edition)
Par for the Course (I'mwith Stupid)
Amateur (I'm with Stupid)
This Is How It Goes (Lost in Space)
Wise Up (Magnolia Soundtrack)
I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up for Christmas (The Forgotten Arm)
Invisible Ink (Lost in Space)
Mr Harris (Whatever)
Save Me (Magnolia Soundtrack)
You Could Make A Killing (I'm with Stupid)
Columbus Avenue (@#%&*! Smilers)
Freeway (@#%&*! Smilers)
Driving Sideways (Bachelor No. 2 or, the Last Remains of the Dodo)
Coming up Close (Til Tuesday - Welcome Home)
Today's the Day (Lost in Space)


Voices Carry (Til Tuesday - Voices Carry)
One is the Loneliest Number (Magnolia Soundtrack)
Thirty One Today (@#%&*! Smilers)

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Destiny Kin: White Self-Existing Wizard

White Wizard is your Conscious Self - who you are and who you are becoming.

White Wizard is the Magician, whose powers are activated by wisdom that emanates from the heart. Such wisdom is not the intellectual understanding known in Western culture; it is the wisdom that comes from an alignment of mind and heart. An open, trusting heart is a refined tool of perception. Allowing yourself to 'not know' opens the door of the mind to a deeper understanding of the universe.

White Wizard asks you to fully utilize this aligned mind to participate in magic.White Wizard invites you to step into self-empowerment. Empowerment comes from self-acceptance, integrity, and commitment to your evolution. Self-empowerment is not to be found outside oneself. Anything outside that brings you empowerment also has a divine foundation within you. If you feel a need for the approval of others, look to self-empowerment. When you feel effectively engaged, doing what gives you joy, your energy naturally expands to inlcude more of who you are, and magic flows synchronistically into your life. Claim your alignment with the highest wisdom. Call forth divine action in all that you do!

Align your own will with divine will and your Essence Self. Be transparent, innocently allowing magic to come through you rather than needing to create it. Open to heart-knowing and limitless possibilties.

White Wizard is a tool of the light, a conduit for the work of Spirit. A wise magician is spontaneous and transparent, allowing magic to come in rather than trying to control it or make it happen. A magician dances the dance of love through offering gifts of freedom to others. This is real magic. Freed from the need to use power to manipulate or control, a magician uses wisdom to manifest liberation and love.

The harmonic wisdom of White Wizard is melody, the progression of signle tones within a composition. White Wizard symbolizes the sacred journey of your individual life. As a harmonic magician, you are a novel yet universal container for the expression of the Divine. While you play the melody of your journey's spirit song, the Creator provides the harmony.

Melody is to music what story line is to story. Utilize the elements you have chosen for exploration in your life - your gifts, talents, abilities, motivations, circumstances, and the other characters in your play. Orchestrate the most interesting and growth-engendering story line from this combination of possibilities. Understand that you are the player and the played in the melody in your life.

Your Tone is Tone 4 - Self-Existing

Order, definition, discrimination, natural cycles, meaningful alignment.Four is the ray of measure, the alignment with natural cycles. It is the square, the base of the pyramid, the solid foundation that unifies the lines of directional force. Four is the diamond asking you to utilize tools of discrimination.Now is the time to manifest your dream or vision. Look to natural logic, order and definition - these gifts support the whisperings of your creative spirit.

You are the architect who manifests your dreams! Open the door and call forth the sacred Four. You are being brought into meaningful alignment, bringing healing into this cycle of your life.The four directions offer you assistance in understanding universal physical laws. Use measure as a tool of consciousness to mold time, form and space. Now is the time to focus, to connect tangibly with the undefined. Take your ideas and give them discipline and form. Develop the ability to discriminate without creating separation or judgement. Channel your creative energy constructively, generating the power for practical manifestation!

Taken from: http://www.astrodreamadvisor.com/M_white_se_wizard.html

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Pizza Bases

A few people have asked for a quick pizza base recipe I found recently.

Makes 2 bases - small to medium in size.

2 cups plain flour
8g sachet dried instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
good pinch salt

- Sift the flour
- Add yeast, sugar and salt
- Mix in water and oil in a seperate bowl and then add to flour mix
- Remove wedding ring
- Mix with hands until it all comes together
- Place on a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes (or until it is elastic and springs back when you poke at it.)
- Cut in half and roll into a ball.
- Rest on bench for 15-30 minutes.
- Roll onto a floured board or pizza stone or whatever.
- Top with all your old favourites.
- Cook in an oven at the hottest possible temp, pizza oven, on a stone or whatever floats your boat.

Note: If you are using a Pizzamaker Pizza Oven the temp needs to be on the cooler side when you first pop the pizza in.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Getting to Know Each Other - a mememe thing from Leah.

1. Did you want to get up this morning?
Yes. I was actually out the door at 5:45am this morning and off to a Nia class before dawn!

2. How do you like your steak?
Medium rare

3. What was the last movie you saw, and what grade would you give it?
At the movies... Disgrace with John Malkovich. Oh man... that movie was a downer and a half! Give it a C-. It was worth watching, but only just.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
Currently it would be a toss up between True Blood and Dead Like Me.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be, and would you have servants?
Anywhere in Asia. Servants? Probably not but maybe a cleaning lady. Sheesh! I would have that here if I could!

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Coffee + banana bread

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
I really love most Asian foods.

8. What foods do you dislike?
Deep fried.

9. Least Favorite Place you have to dine at, because your mate/friend likes it?
Anything takeaway like Macdonalds or KFC or Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King)

10. Favorite dressing?
Balsamic or red wine vinegar.

11.What kind of vehicle do you drive and is it junky inside?
10 year old Toyota Corrolla. Its pretty messy inside, but not too bad overall. Lots of scratches from the previous owner.

12. What are your favorite clothes?
Gym pants, tank or tee and a tie top.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
Portland Oregon.

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full ?
At the moment 1/2 empty.

15. When would you want to retire?
As soon as I have kidlettes to keep me busy.

16. Favorite time of day?
Early morning, just before dawn - when I get up in time!

17. Where were you born?
Ipswich, Queensland.

18. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Soccer or - embarrased to admit this - cheerleading.

19. What is your least favorite household chore?
All of them! But probably dusting.

20. Person you expect to tag you back first?
Don't want to pressure anyone!

21. If you could be an animal, what would you be?
A cat - man Max has a charmed life.

22. Do you like spam? The food?
Never eaten it - although maybe as a kid with my Grandma...

23. Are you a morning person or a night person?
Morning - I get cranky and sleepy early.

24. Do you have any pets?
Max the wonder cat.

25. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?

26. What did you want to be when you were little?
A social worker.

27. What is your best childhood memory?
Sleeping with my head on my mothers lap and feet on my Dad's in the front bench seat of our old Falcon.

28. Are you a cat or dog person?
Thought I was a dog person, but I love my cat.

29. What age do you think marriage should be legal?
18 or so.

30. Always wear your seat belt?
Its illegal to not wear it!

31. Been in a car accident?
Yep - wrote off my first car.

32. Any pet peeves?
People talking to me like I don't have a brain...

33. Favorite Pizza Toppings?
Lamb, zuchini, fetta, tomato and spinach.

34. Favorite Flower?

35. Favorite ice cream?
Caramel turtle from Baskin and Robbins.

36. Favorite fast food restaurant?
Anything vietnamese - quick, healthy and yummy!

37. How many times did you fail your driver's test?
None - got it first go. Short skirt worked a treat! hahahah! If only!

38. From whom did you get your last email?

39. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
I hate my credit card and try to never use it... So nowhere really. If it was one I didn't have to pay off? Ummm... Myer department store so I could buy something from everywhere.

40. Do anything spontaneous lately?
Me? Spontaneous? You have to be kidding!

41. Like your job?
Most days.

42. Like your coworkers?
Its what keeps me coming back each and every day.

43. What was your favorite vacation?
Vietnam with Mark or Laos with Andrew. They were both pretty awesome.

44. Last person you went out to dinner with?
My husband. Malaysian food for his birthday. It wasn't that good.

45. What are you listening to right now?
Max meowing and the train going by.

46. What is your favorite color?
Red, red and more red.

47. How many tattoos do you have?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mark's Mocha Birthday Layer Cake.

Mark's Mocha Birthday Layer Cake.

Inspired by the Crabapple Bakery's Dinosaur Rock Cupcakes.

3 cups plain flour
2 tsp bi-carb soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tbls instant coffee
1 cup hot water
1 cup cocoa
1 cup cold water
200g room temp butter
2 1/2 cups caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tbls good quality vanilla extract

How to...

Preheat over to 170 degrees C.

Grease and line 3 x 20cm round cake tins.

Sift into a mixing bowl the flour, soda, baking powder and salt.

Into another bowl mix the hot water, cocoa and coffee. Blend until completely smooth. Mix in the cold water and whisk until smooth.

In yet another bowl - hang in there its worth the washing up! Cream the butter for at least 2 minutes. Add one third of the caster sugar and beat for another 2 mins. Continue until all the sugar added.

Beat the butter / sugar mix for between 2 mins and 5 mins - until sugar has almost dissolved and is light and fluffy.

Add eggs one at a time to the creamed butter - beating for at least 1 min each time. After all 4 eggs added beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and beat well.

Alternate addition of 1/4 flour mix and 1/4 cocoa mix. Beat slowly between each addition - don't over beat at this point or the mixture stiffens.

Divide mixture between the three tins.

Bake for around 30-40 mins - check often as every oven will vary!

Chocolate Fudge Layer Filling

NOTE: This makes 3 cups which is quite a lot of filling.

1 1/2 cups cream (don't even think of low fat!)
400g chocolate (dark or milk - your call)
1/2 cup whipped cream

In a heavy saucepan bring the cream to boil gently. Add cream to the chocolate in a mixing bowl.

Leave for 1 min to soften the chocolate and slowly blend with a wooden spoon. Try not to incorporate any air to achieve a silky ganache.

Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature fold the mixture with a fork to open up the texture.

Using a silicone or rubber spatula fold half of the whipped cream. Add the remaining cream and fold lightly.

If you want a lighter mousse add more whipped cream!

Assembling the cake.

Once the cakes are cool cut the dome off the cakes to flatten them.

Cover the bottom tier with the Chocolate Fudge Mousse and strawberries.

Add the next tier, press down slightly and move up to the second teir. Cover in fudge mousse and strawberries and pop on the top layer. Press down slightly.

Crumb coat the cake in your frosting of choice.* Make sure your crumb coat gets right into the layers so there is no lines on the outside of the cake.

Once the crumb coat is dry frost with your choice of frosting. I used a chocolate butter cream and decorated with more strawberries.

* Crumb coating is a preparation layer - a very thin frosting layer that you allow to harden. Almost like a primer when you are painting a wall.

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Dark Chocolate Goddess Cake Recipe (gluten free)

This recipe was from an amazing gluten-free website I found called Karina's Kitchen. I made this for a friend's BBQ and served with strawberries and Karina's Mexican Hot Fudge Sundae sauce. So good!

Dark Goddess Cake Recipe

Note: adding blanched almond flour will produce a sturdy, dense chocolate experience. Apparently this cake only gets better as it sits overnight but the one I made didn't last that long!

12 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces (6 oz. butter)
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract
7 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup almond flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch Springform pan with a circle of parchment paper and grease.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium to smallish saucepan, and set the pan into a slightly larger sauce pan filled with two inches of hot water; bring the water to a simmer and slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate and butter are melted together.

Remove the pans from the heat, and set aside the pan of chocolate and allow it to cool a bit (to warmish). Stir it often to keep it smooth. (Or you could do this melting thing the postmodern way and heat it in a glass dish in the microwave.)

Using an electric mixer, beat the heck out of the eggs until they appear light colored and frothy; add the sugar and beat it all again until the mixture is thick and flows in ribbons, about 5-6 minutes.

Very slowly - pour about half of the warm chocolate into the egg-sugar mixture (to gently temper it). Beat on low to combine. At this point switch over to a wooden spoon, and blend in the remaining chocolate by hand. Add the vanilla.

Sift the cocoa into the batter and gently mix. If you're adding the almond flour, do the same. Lightly combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and bake at 350 degrees F. for about 50 minutes. Ovens vary! Err on the near side if you like a fudgier texture; bake it longer and it becomes drier, more cake-like.

Note: the top of the cake may be cracked - that's fine. A toothpick inserted into the cake’s center will emerge clean with a few moist crumbs when done.

Cool the cake in the pan, on a wire rack. Loosen the cake from the edges of the pan with a small flexible spatula, and release the spring clasp.

You may serve the cake right side up or invert it onto a 9-inch serving plate and peel off the parchment. Mine domed and needed to be serve upside-down.

Dust the cake with cocoa powder or powdered sugar and garnish with a few scattered raspberries or mint leaves, if desired.

Serves 10.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

10 more sleeps....

Then I get to go here for a weekend away...

Monbii at Montville

I cannot wait to get away, relax, drink lots of wine and go hiking - not in that order of course!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nia journeys.

So... I'm working on the Nia routine Sanjana at the moment and I am really enjoying it. Its funny but every time I learn a new routine I tell my students "this is my FAVOURITE one yet!" I didn't realise this until one of my students said "but you said that about AO as well last month!" Let's just say that every new journey uncovers a new aspect of Nia and my body's way.

I found that Sanjana was "in my body" within the first two or three times I danced it through. I have base move sheets which I do up to learn from and I haven't really used them much this time at all. I know a large part of that is due to that fact that I have danced this routine with other teachers more than a few times in the past but it is a great sensation to learn a routine and have it "in my body" so soon. Muscle memory is a great thing.

Can't decide which song is my new favourite but I am loving "Sol Tapado" by Theivery Corp and "I'm in Heaven" by Universal Funk most at the moment. The groove, the elbows, the jumps - everything just resonates through the body in a warm and welcoming way - feels like home. Loving it!

Sanjana has been my first Debbie routine as well which has been a cool learning process - having learnt all Carlos routines in the past. I have favoured Carlos routines in the past but have made a committment to myself to setp outside the comfortable and learn Debbie routines for the next little while. I may make an acception with Passion however... I have danced that once or twice and I really enjoy it. May have to make a special order of that one soon.

And I really want to learn Earthsong as well which I am dancing with the ever lovely Tracey as she starts out on her Nia teaching journey. Joining her 6am classes is AWESOME! I am loving starting the day with Nia. If only the Friday morning classes were 10 minutes closer to allow me to attend them as well... maybe if I started work later on a Friday morning... Hmmmm...

I'm going to be teaching morning wake up classes at a women's conference in September and it will be wonderful to dance Sanjana with them. The Queensland Rural Women's Network will be embracing the joy of movement by the end of their weekend! The conference theme is "Reigniting the Passion - Passing the Torch of Creative Energy" and I can't wait to share Nia with these women. the classes will be outdoors so there will be a wonderful Spring energy to the classes as well. So exciting!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

End of a sad and generally crappy week.

A work friend died from a heart attack - the least likely person to ever expect as a heart attack candidate. Younger than my parents, fit and active. Certainly makes you more aware of mortality and that it can honestly happen to anyone.

Here at work it was quite emotional - a number of people having worked with him for over 30 years. I have shared a desk space with him for the past 18 months.

Then on Thursday... Another workmate was rushed into hospital for surgery on his leg. Which ended up being worse than first suspected - he will be in hospital for at least another 4 days or so to fight off infection.

It's been a crazy, sad and eventful week so I am looking forward to a weekend that is quiet...

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Bring on the holidays!

In the process of wrapping up work for the month...

I have actually never taken a month off work on "official rec leave". I think in 2001 when I went to Canada I can close to a month off - think it was about 3 weeks or so. Then in 2004-2005 I took 3 weeks off when Mark came to visit in Cambodia.

As of mid-afternoon today I am a free woman for a whole 4 weeks... Bliss! Scary, but I am slightly more excited about this prospect than my wedding the following weekend...

Bring on Malaysia and Borneo!

One of my Cambodian girlfriends will be arriving on Tuesday and I am over the moon about this. I havent't seen Theary since leaving Cambodia and am so excited about this prospect. I received an email from her yesterday saying how excited she is and that there is a high likelihood of tears at the airport. I assured her that the tears would be freely flowing on both sides!

The list is being checked and double checked but it looks like we are all set to go. Only one week to go now and I get to become Mrs Denman - sounds kinda strange!

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Obama's Rural Policy.

For anyone who hasn't read the agricultural policy for the new US government it is quite interesting... Now really people why wouldn't you have read the rural policy? It is REALLY interesting...

That said… I’m torn… Natalie Imbruglia style… It appears that there is a lot of “utopian” view of small country markets direct selling to consumers or direct supplying supermarkets in these policies - "gettting back to the roots" - which is just not possible with our current populations. It is a very populist view to have a "weekend getaway" or "build a vegie patch to feed the family".

I think grow what you can, but buy the rest is a good option for many. There is also a trend recently reported in the “do it for me” culture. So people - far wealthier than I - who pay gardeners to develop and tend a vegetable garden in their yard. They can pick their produce and “feel good” but never tended the garden. Very strange!

Let Steph's rant begin...

One of the reasons small family run farms in the US are still in existence is due to the substanital subsidies offered to farmers. I agree with the comments made by a number of commentators that, in opposition to common thinking, family run farms are not being smothered by the larger commercial operators. The larger farms, in a lot of cases, started out as small ones and became more and more productive - requiring fewer and fewer operators, so the poorer operators leave. No different to a restaurant strip where you have competing operators - the poorer operators have to get out as they can't compete. Farms are a business like every other and if you are not competitive you will exit the industry. Develop a niche, increase productivity or get out.

This is what the Green Revolution was all about - producing more on the same land. I am not saying whether this is good or bad, however put simply if we want to feed the masses (and don't get me started about the large amounts of food grade staples going into biofuels) we need to produce more. Small operators simply don't get the production levels needed to sustain the ever increasing populations.

Another thing… I cannot believe that the US doesn't already have Country of Origin labelling in place. In Australia all imported fresh produce - fish, meat and fruit / vegetables etc all have country of origin labelling to allow consumers to make the choice. Sometimes the only option you have - due to seasonality of produce - is to opt for the imported alternative. I have to admit last night I was shopping for lemons and I could not purchase Australian grown lemons much to my disgust. I had to purchase the US imported option and the quality was quite bad really. However, at least I knew the origin of the product and made an informed purchase.

As far as seafood is concerned I never purchase imported seafood - my theory is that I live in a country surrounded by water... Why the hell would I purchase seafood sourced from overseas? In some cases with meat labelling it even goes as far as processor - so with chicken I can select which chicken processor I purchase from. I always try to buy from the company I used to work for as I know their operating standards inside and out!

I have a couple of issues with the grow organic, buy local campaign. I agree, buy local and organic where possible, but for me it is more about the opportunity to purchase from the farmer - it is a relationship decision. I also look at it from an input basis - this took less inputs to grow. Less fertilizer, less chemicals and better for the soil - so, in theory, the land will be handed on in a better condition. The health, quality and taste never really enter into the equation. I have read mountains of scientific, sociological and public interest documents and there is very little evidence to convinve me that organic has many - if any - health implications. I think my decision to purchase organic - and I don't all the time due to the fact that financially it costs significantly more - has more to do with fingerprint on the environment than a personal health implication.

I do believe that the "buy local" is a really important factor. Purchasing locally you are purchasing seasonally - whatever is in season and available. To me this is an important part of lifecycles and living how nature intended us to. I try, try, try to only eat what is in season.

Another aspect that I don’t quite understand is the renewed push by the US government to encourage young farmers onto the land. Come on... The US has had the some of the best agricultural education programming for generations. The 4-H and Future Farmers of America programs has been replicated internationally and it is all about putting young people in touch with the rural communities and farming practices.

The dream of an idealised rural life is far from reality of getting up at dawn to milk cows / check on livestock etc. Farming is freakin' hard work and most young Gen Y's opt for a more transferrable profession that gives a more balanced lifestyle and family balance. It is no wonder that my graduating class in 1997 was approximately 30 across plant and animal industry majors. My degree has since been dissolved due to a lack of students in successive years.

The industry needs bodies - agreed - but industries also needs to question why people haven't chosen it as a career; it needs to adjust its practices and mentality to make it more inviting option to new entrants. That is both financially and socially. The dairy industry is one such example - instead of buying a farm, which is nearly impossible for a young farmer, there should be options to co-farm, rent or similar type of thing. It is about changing the mind set of older generations on "this is how we farm".

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Monday, January 12, 2009

21 pieces of advice...

21 pieces of advice...
...your mum should have told you

There’s some life advice you’ll only ever learn from your mum, bless her! But we’re not always listening when she shared it. Here’s a quick refresher…

1. Got the hiccups? A spoonful of peanut butter will stop them in their tracks.

2. Avoid chipped nail polish by dipping your nails in cold water when you’ve finished painting them.

3. Pouring white wine over a red wine stain will save your clothes from a messy death. We’re serious! Rinse the white wine out then machine wash as normal.

Hit the link below for the remaining 18.

4. If you sit in gum, pop your pants in the freezer for a few days. This freezes the chewy solid and it should peel off easily.

5. Chill your used tea bags and use tem to get rid of eye puffiness.

6. Leftover takeaway does not improve with age. Store your Chinese/Thai/Indian leftovers in a glass or porcelain dish (seal with cling wrap) and eat within 24 hours.

7. At a barbecue, put some freshly chopped mint in a vase to keep the flies and mozzies away. They hate the smell.

8. For brighter clothes, add about 1/3 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle when washing.

9. Keep two chopping boards in your kitchen (one for meat, one for vegies) and as they become overscored (with cutting marks), replace them. Bacteria breeds inside the scores.

10. Stop your mirrors from fogging up by applying a thin film of shaving cream or liquid soap. Use a lint free cloth too.

11. Stop your potatoes from sprouting green shoots by storing them with an apple.

12. Got ants? Find out where they’re coming from, then sprinkle a trail of sage, cinnamon or pepper around these areas.

13. Constantly talking on the phone will clog your pores.

14. Possums on the roof driving you nuts? Mix a little olive oil and chilli powder and sprinkle it around the gutters. They’ll soon vacate the premises.

15. Seal bananas in a brown paper bag if you want to speed up the ripening process.

16. Onions won’t make you cry if you store them in the fridge and peel them under cold running water.

17. If you spill wax on the carpet, place a piece of brown paper on it and iron lightly on low heat. The wax will stick to the paper.

18. Microwave lemons for 30 seconds before squeezing to get more juice out of them.

19. Clean up rusty pots and pans by rubbing half a potato dipped in baking soda over their wet surfaces.

20. The key to cooking the perfect steak is to only turn it once.

21. Your candles will burn a lot longer if stored in the fridge until just before use.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

My kid could paint that: toddler's art on show

Yes but does this exhibit have a guy pooping on a toilet? I think Freeman Davis could teach this little artist a thing or two...

My kid could paint that: toddler's art on show
9:00am AEST Thu Jan 8 2009 (Clare Kermond, The Age)

IS THIS a story of a child prodigy or a deliberate joke at the expense of the art world? In the curious case of Aelita Andre, it could be both of those things — or neither.

Back in October, Fitzroy commercial gallery director Mark Jamieson was asked by a Russian-born photographer whose work he represented to consider the work of another artist. Nikka Kalashnikova showed Jamieson some abstract paintings by an artist called Aelita Andre; Mr Jamieson liked what he saw and agreed to include it in a group show, alongside work by Kalashnikova and Julia Palenov (also a Russian) at his Brunswick Street Gallery later this month.

Mr Jamieson then started to promote the show, printing glossy invitations and placing ads in reputable magazines Art Almanac and Art Collector, in which the abstract work was featured. Only then did he discover a crucial fact about the new artist: Aelita Andre was Nikka Kalashnikova's daughter, and she was then just 22 months old. She turns two tomorrow.

More to the story - follow the link below.

"I was shocked and, to be honest, a little embarrassed," Mr Jamieson said of his response to the revelation.

He thought hard about whether or not to proceed, and talked it over with his colleagues. "And then I thought, 'Well, we'll give it a go'."

Mr Jamieson says the Brunswick Street Gallery has a policy of supporting emerging artists, though that policy doesn't usually extend to artists quite so young. He stands by his decision to show the work but concedes some people will think the gallery is doing the wrong thing.

He argues it is difficult to judge abstract painting. "There are different approaches, there is a formal approach and then there is a free-form approach that comes off a more intuitive base. And if you're thinking about the latter, perhaps a two-year-old can do it as well as a 30-year-old."

Nikka Kalashnikova says she and her husband, Michael Andre, did not set out to mislead the gallery. They simply wanted Aelita's work to be judged on its merits. "Of course, every mother is proud of their child. I didn't tell him (Jamieson) because I had all these feelings going through my head — fear, embarrassment."

Kalashnikova says Aelita began painting shortly before she could walk. Both parents are artists and Aelita was used to seeing them work on canvases on the floor.

Kalashnikova at first dismissed Aelita's painting as "just mucking around" but by August last year she'd seen enough potential that she provided her with a canvas painted red (by her mother) and let her get to work. The image that resulted is among those on display in the exhibition, which opens on January 16.

Despite being a typical toddler in other respects — she is a fan of Hi-5 and Care Bears — Aelita often pesters her mother for the paintbrushes, and her parents have set up an area where she can paint, using mainly acrylics on canvas.

Andre said that as soon as his young daughter began drawing in her Montessori play group, he could see her creations were quite different to other children's. "It immediately leapt out as a defined representation of something in an abstract form," he said.

But Andre admitted that most young children never had the opportunity to create art using proper materials and if others were given the chance, there likely would be more art like Aelita's.

That's a view shared by The Age's art critic, Robert Nelson.

When shown the works without any information on the artist, Nelson said his first impression was of "credible abstractions, maybe playing on Asian screens with their reds. They're heavily reliant on figure/ground relations."

Later, after learning Aelita's age, Nelson said he was not particularly surprised. "I have kids and when they were little, I used to do lots of painting exercises with them. If it is a child's work, it's not a child alone. We're happy to credit the child but it begins with a parental concept," he said.

Nelson said that he could go to any primary school and pick out some credible work from among the portfolios.

While there have been plenty of hoaxes in the art world and some critics of modern art have used the argument that a child could do better than some of the big names in the genre, nobody involved in the Aelita Andre saga has set out to belittle abstract art.

"No one's been tricked here," Nelson said. "You can't really trick a commercial gallery, the process of authenticity is too strict. The gallery probably thinks this is fun and I do too. I love it."

Aelita's paintings are priced between $350 and $2000. Her parents said they would likely place the proceeds of any sales in a trust fund for their daughter.

But Mr Jamieson said that he would not be "making a habit" of displaying other child artists.

Aelita Andre's work is part of the exhibition Soulcatcher X 3, at Brunswick Street Gallery.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Job offers.

First - a little background to this story. About 3 months ago I got a phone call from a recruitment agency asking me to apply for a position in Canberra. It is a dream sort of job for me and it offers a HUGE salary increase. The sort of salary increase I would never achieve in my currrent organisation. Everything about it is exciting - apart from the location which is crap!! That... and I am getting married in 4 weeks and would spend the first year of my married life living in another state from my husband.

I applied for the job thinking there is not a hope in Haiti that I will get an interview. I apply for a bit of a lark. Wonders never cease - a week before Christmas they fly me down to Canberra for an interview. Again... I head down for a "bit of a lark"thinking there is no hope of getting the job.

Today I get a phone call offering me "a position". Not the position I applied for however - I was quite correct in my assumption that I am not even remotely qualified for it. But it is a really good offer all the same. They didn't appoint anyone to the Senior role I applied for. Instead they restuctured internally and promoted from within. Then swapped around portfolios and created a suite of portfolios that matches my skills and passions. We are talking project managment in the areas of rural women's issues, leadership, rural vocational training, farm safety and regional mental health programs - perfect for what I love... This is the sort of job that would be amazing - travel, interesting work and great salary.

Mark had 12 months left on his uni degree so there is no chance we would be able to both live in Canberra. We want to start a family and I currently have a permanent position - so that means materinity leave benefits etc. Such a big grown up decision...

I am quite conflicted and it is soooo tempting... However I think I am going to have to turn them down. This is such a hard thing to turn down - the first time my personal life has really taken a front seat to a professional advancement. Wow... It is really blowing my mind.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009


4 weeks from today Sotheary arrives from Cambodia for my wedding!
4 weeks and 2 days from today Andrew arrives for my wedding!

One month from today most of my friends will be together for my wedding.
One month from tomorrow I will be getting married.
One month and one day from tomorrow I will be going to Borneo for my honeymoon.

Its all happening now!

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A few of my favourite things...

Oh my goodness... Just tasted Yogen Fruz for the first time. Amazing! I am in love with this product. At only 150 calories per serve it is a gift from the gods I tell you...

Banana and mango yogen fruz is set to quickly become my favourite tasty treat.


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Cute story from the news today...

Children, aged six and seven, try to elope
07:57 AEST Tue Jan 6 2009 - AFP

Two childhood sweethearts, aged six and seven, eloped from Hanover in northern Germany on New Year's Eve, determined to tie the knot under the African sun, police have said.

The pair identified as Mika and Anna-Lena "are very much in love and decided to get married in Africa where it is warm, taking with them as a witness Anna-Lena's little sister, aged five," police spokesman Holger Jureczko said.

The idea for the romantic trip began when Mika told the two girls about his recent holiday in Italy, while their families celebrated New Year's Eve together. "From this, the children began to make plans for the future," Jureczko said.

As the first dawn of 2009 broke, the trio started to put these plans into action, packing all the essentials for the journey, including "sunglasses, swimming trunks, a lilo, summer clothes and provisions."

According to The Guardian newspaper, Anna-Bell told the German television station RTL: "We wanted to get married and so we just thought: 'Let's go there.' "

Mika said: "We wanted to take the train to the airport, then we wanted to get on a plane and when we arrived we wanted to unpack the summer things and then we wanted to go for a bit of a stroll in the sun."

So while their parents slept, the trio left their house in the suburbs of Hanover, walked a kilometre up the road to a tram stop from where they took a tram for the central station.

Waiting for a train to the airport, they aroused the attention of a guard who contacted police.
Two officers managed to convince the young lovers that they would struggle to get to Africa without money or a plane ticket.

As a consolation, the children were given a special tour of the police headquarters at Hanover station where they were especially taken with the detention cells.

Their relieved parents picked them up from the station, the spokesman said, adding: "They can still put their plan into action at a later date."

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Friday, January 02, 2009

New toys...

For Christmas Mark and I bought a new camera as a shared Christmas present... I am in lust with my new camera. It is amazing and so much fun. Mark likes it because it has really easy point and shoot functions so he doesn't have to think about it too much.

I got a Canon Powershot SD990 IS (a new model in the Elph series). Here she is... Isn't she a cutie? So tiny after my old Powershot Pro I purchased over 3 years ago - I can fit this into my handbag!

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