Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday afternoon

Ah, the blissful quiet of nap time.

I never know what to do with this precious couple of hours. Have a rest myself? Knit? Sew? Work? Chores? Skip out of the house for a little while??

Today I think I'll rest. I just couldn't get up this morning, but I couldn't stay in bed. I hate it when I sleep in and miss my chance to have a peaceful shower and breakfast before everyone else stirs. So I got up, had my shower, breakfast and a cup of coffee (which is extremely rare for me - I'm not a big coffee drinker at all) and then went back to bed for half an hour.

It worked a treat. When I woke I was invigorated. I had an idea of what pressies to make for the quadruple christening (it was going to be a quintuple one but now one of my cousins can't make it) in a couple of weeks' time. We'll see if I can actually do it, though!

Ideas, ideas, ideas.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sydney in Miniature

Saw some incredible scenes of Sydney linked from the Sydney Morning Herald: videos made from time lapse photography - real photos but processed in such a way that they look un-real, like miniatures. Makes me think of the Thomas the Tank Engine TV show!

Keith Loutit

This is my favourite!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


My friend Gina died last night. I found out this morning when I got to work. She'd been sick for a while - had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about 18 months ago and had been fighting it ever since. Not a bad innings for that particular disease but devastating news nonetheless.

She was only 33 - my age. Her daughter just turned two. She was the most beautiful, bubbly, friendly person you could ever know. We got on the instant we met.

I last saw her a couple of weeks ago after she was sent home from the hospital. The cancer had spread to her stomach and she couldn't eat any more. But she seemed like she wasn't too bad that day. I know she made a great effort for our visit. I sort of got my hopes up that things may miraculously resolve, but I think we all knew deep down that she didn't have much time left. We just didn't want to say it.

Two weeks later and she has gone. A wonderful part of this world has been taken away too soon and I can't help but feel that it is ridiculously unfair. I wish I'd been able to do more for her - been to see her more often. But, well, I don't know what there is to say now. I just hope she knew how much she meant to me.

I'll miss you, Gina.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Word cloud

Just found this cute online application. It takes a bunch of text (or your blog feed) and turns it into a nifty word cloud (with the more frequent words being bigger).

"Incredible heart" by Jen

I used this post for my words. Click on the image for more clarity.

Early starts

A month and a half ago I voluntarily got up and went to work early. It was a liberating experience.

Because now I'm addicted.

I've been going in early to work early once a week almost every week since. Mondays, mainly, cause then Dan doesn't have to worry about getting the two younger kids ready (they stay at home with my folks).

I don't know what I like best about it... the grin on my father's face when he takes me to the train station (for some perverse reason he loves that I get up so early now); the relaxed, quiet time when I'm getting ready to go; the stillness of the morning (although the traffic really picks up after 6:30am); or the chance to sit in the dark in my office for an hour or two before phone calls start and my colleague arrives.

Anyway, it makes for a nice start to the week.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Today's lesson

The lesson for today:

Don't eat month-old "fresh" pasta sauce, especially with meat in it.

Did I say a month old? I meant a month past it's Use By date.

After a day in bed with stomach cramps and rushed visits to the bathroom, I think I have learned this one the hard way!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Driving home this afternoon, we got stuck behind a cyclist pulling one of those double kiddie bike trailer thingies. He was going fairly slowly and a little erratically but eventually got off the road and we moved on.

Further down the road we caught up with him again (heavy traffic + red lights). His bike was laying across the kerb on the wrong side of the road and he was several steps away from his bike running after a plastic bag.

At first we thought he might have had an accident or something. We were quite concerned about the child he was towing. His stumbled a bit as he walked and then did the strangest thing. He put the plastic bag up to his mouth and inhaled. Then hopped on his bike and slowly started pedaling off.

It took a minute to register. Dan recognised it first.

He was chroming.

Our first worry was the contents of the trailer. Thankfully we got a good view inside and it was child-free - just some plastic bags (probably filled with cans of inhalant). And, quite frankly, I was shocked. It wasn't really uncommon to see that sort of thing in the really dodgy part of the city near where we used to live, but a little further out (still in the inner-west)?? Whilst riding a push bike in peak hour traffic??

I guess that's Sydney for you.

At least he was wearing a helmet.

*reference to Lily Allen's song LDN.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Gettin' fit (or trying to)

About six weeks or so ago, I started going to the gym every Tuesday lunch time. It's a big thing for me... I first joined the gym about ten or more years ago and went twice, I believe. And then again about three or four years ago. I went to about three classes and then stopped.

This is the first time in my life that I've actually regularly worked out (not counting my dragonboat racing days). I'm so impressed with my persistence! I think it helps that I don't go alone. Dan and a friend from work come along as well, and it's great. We encourage each other, egg each other on, compete with each other :) We spend some time on each of the different fitness machines - treadmill, stepper-thing, rowing, cycling.

The best thing is that I think it's actually working. I think I'm getting fitter. I've been trying to work on my running. And rowing. I set some small goals and am bettering them each week. I won't embarrass myself by writing them here, but just know that they are reasonable and achievable while not being too easy! I'm definitely feeling today's effects tonight... my poor aching legs!

I've been thinking about trying to go more than once a week but time is short these days... I'll keep you posted!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A strange flower!

Our carnivorous tube plant has sprouted a flower. What an unusual looking thing!

But I love the colour.

Cup of tea, anyone?

Ooh. Just saw Monica's mug and I am in mug envy.

Thankfully I was able to find its source.

Edited at 22:33: Ack! Too bad about the price! £8.45 + £12.95 shipping = a phenomenal amount in AUD. Too much for just a mug :(

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm going away!

Yay! I've bought my tickets and organised my accomodation. I'm going up to T.I. in November. Yay, again!

I have previously written about that lovely place, Thursday Island in the Torres Strait at the very tip of Australia (between the mainland, Cape York, and Papua New Guinea) and in Nov. '06 I went there with my mother for a very sad occasion.

This time, though, will be nothing but joy. My cousins are getting their children baptised and in true huge family style, it will be a quintuple christening (and they're working on no. 6). That's right. Since February last year there have been 9 great-grandchildren born to the clan, three in Sydney and the rest up in Far North Queensland.

I'm so excited! Yesterday when the plan was initially considered I was completely shocked by how cheap the tickets were! Usually it costs well over $1,000 to fly up there but I managed to get one for $570. I couldn't believe it! (Actually, yesterday the price was $520 but I hesitated and missed out.)

I'll only be going for 5 days, two of which will be spent travelling... 6 hours up, 9 hours back (with a three hour wait in Cairns). To save Dan's sanity I'll take Elora with me since she's free anyway.

I can't wait! I love going up there and seeing all my family. I love seeing the racial mix of my cousins and the next generation. I love the smell of the sea air and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore. I love being on boats. I love the peace and quiet of a small town in the tropics.

But... I'd better get sewing. I've got presents to make for six babies!

Oh yeah, and I was playing around with the camera on my MacBook again. Here's me, grinning like a fool because I'm so excited. Believe me, it's the best of a lot of photos I just took. Plus, you get to see my cosy, cosy dressing gown which I've mentioned just a few times.

Food for the future

By the way, we're going to the Food For The Future fair at Chippendale today. Dante's school choir is performing at 10:35am and 12:00pm. Should be interesting!

Will tell you more about it later.

Secret guilty pleasure

I have a secret guilty pleasure.

Dan found out about it the other day and was horrified and amused. I'm a little horrified and amused by it as well.

It's not as bad as you think. Maybe.

It's just that... I can't resist.

Okay, well, I guess you want to know. Here it is.

When we have a fresh new loaf of soft bread, I have to butter a piece and sprinkle hundreds and thousands on it. Then I fold it in half and gobble it down. All the while hiding it from the kids.

Yes, that's right. I eat fairy bread as a snack... and I don't share it with my children.


What's your guilty pleasure?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Popular pub

As I mentioned earlier, our dear friends Tancred and Evelyn have been home for three weeks and are going back to Edinburgh tomorrow. They asked everyone to come to the pub after work today as a "final farewell".

So, we went, of course. How could we not?

It was great going to the pub - it's been ages since we were last there. And how popular did I feel?? :) Not only were there the twenty or so of us, but another two separate groups of people I knew - a few parents from child care and a group from work!

The pub (the Duck and Swan - isn't it a great name?) has a great beer garden and restaurant and kids are welcome. They have great kids' meals for $5 (anything on the menu in a smaller size!) and happy hour from 5:30 - 7pm each weekday.

We had a nice time. It was so cute watching Atti and Elora share their meal. Atti was so good at making sure that Elora had a constant supply of chips :) I even had a beer. We couldn't stay too long as the kids started turning into pumpkins but it was a great early evening out.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Atti at the park

D: Atti, what are you playing?
A: I'm playing "Cross and Knockers".

Dan took this video a couple of weeks ago while he was at the park with the kids. It was so cute that I couldn't not share it!

We had a quiet day at home today, the kids and I. We did pop out for lunch - my parents took us to the RSL club for lunch (which was a good and bad idea...). Naps after lunch (including me and excepting Dante who played on the PS2 instead). Made a cake to take to work tomorrow - the same Blueberry Butter cake I made for Atti's birthday this year, and also attempted a couple of months ago which really bombed... I didn't blog about it at the time but I should have. It looked terrible, the texture was thick and chewy, but it tasted okay! (We all had a great laugh about it... especially me, utterly embarrassed about it all.) This is the third time around. Still not as happy with the look of it but we'll see what happens when we cut it open tomorrow. Hopefully I will redeem myself.

P.S. Does anyone else adore Ewan McGregor as much as I do? Currently listening to him on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. What a voice!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My cards

On Saturday I went to a card-making party with my ma which my mother-in-law organised.

It was like a Tupperware party - a nice lady called Angela came and demonstrated how to make them, provided pre-cut pieces, stamps, ink, glue etc. and 10 of us sat down and made them (adding our own touches if we liked). It was fairly entertaining... actually, I rather enjoyed doing it. The cards weren't perfect and the hardware was quite expensive (she sells the paraphernalia for it afterwards, which is where she makes the money), but it was good doing something creative... as you probably know by now, I do enjoy my craft stuff!

As I mentioned the other day, I tried very hard not to look too closely at the catalogues with their pretty pictures and inspiring ideas. But in the end I did have a quick look and ended up getting a set of alphabet stamps. Me and my alphabet stamps. I'm getting quite a collection these days!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Dante, Wall-e and star charts

Just before the school holidays began last week, Dante had a massive tantrum at tennis class which involved the teacher coming to get me from Atti's swimming lessons... I was horrified, mortified and extremely cross. (We joke that he did a "John McEnroe").

I was so cross that I told him he WON'T be doing any fun things these holidays - he should have remembered that school was about to finish. He wasn't very happy with this outcome (that's putting it lightly!)

A few days later, when the holidays actually began, he started to pester to go and see some movies etc. "Aha!" we told him. "Remember what happened on Wednesday? When you screamed at your teacher at tennis? Remember what we said?" More crying, whinging and complaining ensued. Until we decided that he could earn the privilege of seeing the film instead.

So Dante sat down and created a star chart for himself:

25 stamps per movie. It was his idea to divide up the page and add the index for ease of use. I thought it was really nicely done. He has been incredibly well behaved since this came into action, with only the occasional lapse. It's quite amazing to see how good he can be when he wants to!

Yesterday we finally got to see Wall-E, the latest delightful offering from Pixar. (Trailer can be seen here).

What can I say? I'm glad Dante earned his stamps so quickly. This was the most entertaining film I have seen in a long time. I don't often laugh out loud but I found myself doing it several times during this movie! I loved Wall-E's collection of human "artifacts" (including the singing fish!) and the unstoppable pet cockroach. The titular character was incredibly charming and cute.

Of course, as is typical with kids' films, the "message" was jammed down our throats but I didn't mind as it's one I've always cared about... "Save the environment!"

Anyway, I highly recommend it to all, not just those with kids. Don't be late or you'll miss the short film beforehand. 4 and a half stars!

Saturday, October 04, 2008


The day started off unhappily with the 19 month old howling blue murder at 4:30 in the morning (I got back to bed 45 minutes later - too tired to stay up, unlike the previous day). Then just an hour later the 3.75 year old came into our room needing help with his pants. Time to get up, and I was so very tired.

If you recall from my last post, tired Jen = cranky Jen. Not a good start with a seven year old who is whingey, sullen and argumentative when he is tired (and he was this morning).

After some time (10 o'clock!) I decided a nap was very much in order. I kicked Dan out of bed (Elora, amazingly, slept in until 11:30am today!) and was virtually asleep by the time my head hit the pillow.

A good hour and a half later, it was like a different person emerged from my bed. Cheery, energised (but still in need of a cup of tea) and calm. I'm worse than a toddler, it seems! Or perhaps I've just absorbed the trait from hanging around them so much. (The trait of being terribly moody depending on whether I'm tired or not.)

Gave Elora her Rice Bubbles just before midday (which she immediately followed with lunch) and then my mother and I went to a card-making party hosted by my mother-in-law... something like a tupperware party but a bit more interactive. It was pleasant enough - I refrained from looking too closely at the catalogue for fear of getting spendy, but succumbed in the end and got a set of mini alphabet stamps. I'll show you when I get them!

The evening wasn't too bad when I got home - after dinner we (all five of us) played Hide and Seek around the house... the kids had a grand time. Atti and Elora haven't quite got the concept of "being found" - rather they jump out with a "Boo!" when you finish counting - but the house rang with laughter, running and squealing and it was nice.

A quick cat nap while waiting for Elora to stop protesting about being put to bed, and I suddenly had enough energy to start building some Lego! I bought the set for Dan yesterday at lunch time but liked the look of it so much I cracked it open. He didn't mind that I was taking over his Christmas present. I guess it's mine now! I'll take a progress shot tomorrow. (I didn't finish - it's a big set!)

Well, this is a mighty boring, narrative post. No pictures. No interesting tales. It will be better next time, okay?

Friday, October 03, 2008

To be friendlier

I was up at the crack of dawn again this morning. 5:40am. That's even after a late night last night*! I don't know why I can't stay in bed any longer these days. My body knows that daylight savings is coming.

Dante was also awake around that time. I heard him use the bathroom and then go back to bed. I popped my head into his room to close his blinds and tell him to go back to sleep.

He said to me, "Mama, can you go back to bed, too, so you will be friendlier later?"

Huh. I guess I do get pretty cranky when I'm tired. Bit of a wake-up call coming from one's seven year old!

* We went to dinner and the theatre - more on that soon.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My first Japanese craft book

A spontaneous lunch-time trip into town in search of origami paper yesterday ended up with me finally purchasing a much-coveted Japanese craft book.

"Little Girl's Dress Book" ISBN 978-4-579-11091-9

I've been eyeing this one for a couple of years, ever since I saw this delightful picture on 6.5st's photostream. But the price put me off a bit and I didn't get it. I considered buying it through Japanese Amazon but never got around to it and couldn't justify the cost especially as I would have bought a few books at once to save on shipping!

But yesterday, I had to have a quick browse through the Japanese language sewing section and the little girl on the cover just called out to me. "I'm cranky because you haven't bought me yet!"

I figured I'd contemplated it long enough, so I splurged and bought it :)

I love how the models aren't all smiles like a Kmart catalog.

I love the simple designs - there are four basic dress patterns, embellished differently (sleeves, ruffles etc.)

I can't wait to get sewing for Elora, after I work out what size to make and how to interpret the patterns.

One more exciting thing to share with you this day - I enrolled myself in a community college sewing course! I wanted to do the Dressmaking course, but you had to know all the basics and finishing techniques from their other two courses first. I've enrolled in the not-so-basic one. I figure that I do have a general idea of the theory and basics of sewing. I'm very excited about this. It doesn't start for another 6 weeks so in the mean time I'm going to try and do some more sewing to get my basic skills up. Yay!