If You Always Do What You've Always Done...Then You'll Always Get What You Always Got

Friday, 31 August 2012

Outfit #66 - Catch Ups and Old Folks

Outfit details:

Dress: Hot Options.  Cardigan: Jeanswest.  Shoes: Target (from Jeannie).  Earrings: made by me.

I'm really glad I don't work at school 4 days a week.  Not so much for the work factor, but this blog would be rather boring.  I feel like I'm copping out by doing 4 posts in a row of What I Wore.  However, this afternoon my quartet from school (along with other string groups from school) performed at the retirement village around the corner.  I chose today, then, to do some of the catch up lessons from when I was away sick. 

The earrings are really tiny, so you get one photo to see the draping of the dress at the front....

...and a close up of the actual earrings.

Jeannie passed these shoes on to me in January (or maybe December), I wore them to Summer School once, and .... and that was it.  I have trouble finding outfits that suit, mostly I think because they're cream and I have so much white.  But black and cream goes with black, no worries.  They are a little hot to wear though.

Today's photo:

The timing was just right today.  Coming home, I could see the sunset making the clouds all golden while on the train.  Once I was walking up my street, the clouds had turned to pink, and turning around I was met with this sight. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Outfit #65 - Changeover

Outfit details:

Skirt and shoes: Hot Options.  Top and leggings: Ambra.  Earrings: from Mombasa.

One of my 10-yr-olds came into her lesson today and started with, "why are you wearing all black?" and followed with, "oh, and that top totally doesn't go with that skirt... Just kidding".  I had to explain to her the wardrobe changeover.  Summer clothes still in the attic, wardrobe full of winter clothes and clothes that are cool enough for summer but suitable for layering in cooler weather.  Today we were forecast for 28 and showers.

We also discussed leggings and jeggings.  If I wear a skirt with even just a bit of fullness (so, anything other than a straight skirt), the Marilyn Effect takes hold when I'm collecting kids from the junior school.  Leggings keep me modest.

These are the earrings I bought in May.  I wore them for the Mt Isa gig, then one of them got lost in my suitcase so they weren't worn since.  I dug them out on Friday.  Stay tuned for many more wearings.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Outfit #64 - Early Mark

Outfit details:

Skirt: Sinerji (swap).  Blue top: Hot Options.  Black top: Ambra organic cotton.  Stockings: Ambra.  Shoes: Hot Options.  Earrings: gift.

Today had to be one of those multi-tasking outfits.  Warm enough for getting to school.  Cool enough for getting home around lunchtime.  Modest enough for dealing with grade 3.  Layers are wonderful.  I actually wore another black, long-sleeved top of the same brand, my blue scarf, and a cardigan as well to get to school.

Despite feeling a bit drugged when I woke up (late night), I was still ready early enough to take photos before school.  And then, 3 of my kids were away so I got to have a super early mark.  Not the greatest photo of the earrings - they're little silver roses, quite sweet.

Yes, these are the same shoes as yesterday.  One foot is feeling a little precious so I'm playing it safe in flats.

And due to tonight's commitments, this is such an early post!

Today's photo:

Rather uninspired, but I still have little yellow flowers on my tomato plant.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Outfit #63 - I Wonder

Outfit details:

Skirt: Gina Tricot (op shop).  Stockings: Target.  White top: Ambra bamboo.  Purple top: Avocado (from Jeannie).  Shoes: Hot Options.  Earrings: ???

Yesterday, I had a great idea for an outfit.  I had my hands full with shopping and thought it was such a fabulous idea I wouldn't need to make a note.  By the time I got home of course, a crucial part had been forgotten.  I know it involved these stockings and skirt.  As for a top, though - I wonder what it was?

After last week's warm weather I was pleasantly surprised to have a chance to wear some warm clothes this week.  So chilly, in fact, that I wore my pink scarf and Dotti jacket to school.  I'm quite stumped for ideas for the next few days though.

And these stockings - finally I've got a shot to show the in between bits.  On probably their last wearing for the year.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Escape to Melbourne, Part 2

Yesterday's post was just the beginning.  I had another day to 'suck the life out of the weekend'.  To continue, then:

10.  After a hearty and super-healthy breakfast on Sunday, we drove to the Royal Botanic Gardens.  I had a very vague recollection of them from the school trip, but as the weather was stunning on Sunday (blue skies, a few light and fluffy clouds, warm) it was hard to tell.  I went a bit nuts taking photos of not-so-bare branches and black swans.

11.  We walked back along the Yarra - again, something previously seen yet unrecognisable.  There was some sort of regatta happening so the whole thing felt rather English, actually.

12.  Off to St Kilda.  So, Melbourne beaches aren't all bad in winter.  With the sun shining, trees starting to shoot out leaves, a light breeze, people out enjoying a Sunday, it can be rather lovely.  We had a bit of a wander down to the sea (actually, all of St Kilda had me thinking England - minus the beach huts, of course!) and had lunch at Beachcombers.

Half a lamb later, I walked to the entrance of Luna Park, back via the 'Public Conveniences' and along the famous pier.

13.  We headed back to the Farmers' Markets we'd seen on the way, in Albert Park (I think) on Fitzroy St.  I found the chocolate.  Organic, and made by the man in the stall, who kept feeding me samples.  Then I had to choose...  Thankfully there was a 5 for $10 special. 

14.  I just missed out on a coffee at the markets (which were a one-off, but part of the Regular Farmers Markets), so we went to Bar Sant'amore across the street.  I kept taking photos of the coffee and the placemat.

15.  And then I had to go home :(  I navigated to the airport, and was actually quite sad to be leaving.  So, I have begun to consider the previously inconceivable.  Last year, I know the consideration would be as far as it would go, but this year is much braver.  You never know.

One last photo - flying into Brisbane at dusk, with controlled (I hope) burning on the outskirts, made for a vivid orange horizon.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Escape to Melbourne

My first visit to Melbourne was a high school music tour.  In the middle of winter.  It was freezing, raining and hailing, and they took us to the beach.  Needless to say, I wasn't a huge fan of Melbourne after that.  My second visit was only as the start of the Great Ocean Road.  I noticed just how flat it is (I like hills).  It was January.  It was freezing, grey and raining.  This did not improve my opinion.  However, when my bestie moved there a couple of weeks ago, I wanted to go and visit.  This was the only wedding-free weekend before the end of this school term. 

1.  I was actually looking forward to going to Melbourne.  Partly to see Jeannie, partly to escape a nasty neighbour situation, partly to learn to at least like this city.  Post-landing required a coffee by the window.  I caught the Skybus from the airport, then bought an actual ticket and caught the train to Jeannie's nearest station.  Later, I bought a myki (like Brisbane's gocard).

2.  Although even the pilot admitted the weather was foul (11C, blustery and raining), it was great to get some wear out of my coat.  And warm cap.  Thankfully, Melbourne knows its weather is horrible and compensates with heating.  This is good.

3.  Dinner was at the Oxford Scholars' Pub, then coffee (this was I think my 5th for the day...) at the Marriott (reasonable).

4.  Bennetts Lane Jazz Club.  Fabulous.  There was no cover charge, and the evening's entertainment was in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Mabo land rights decision.  Not just the music was great, but the vibe, the service - and I noticed that we weren't at the older end of the age spectrum, there were people of all ages there.  The general vibe out and about in the city was so different from Brisbane, much less raucous. 

5.  Saturday morning.  Running.  In a new place.  With no fixed route.  Agh!  I had to remind my brain, this is a good thing.  We ran 12 km around the neighbourhood, nice long straight streets, a few gentle rises, a bit of bike path and oval.  It was lovely seeing the gardens - although not pretentious at all, just the difference between the plants in Melbourne and Brisbane was interesting.  We're both running the Melbourne half marathon, and now I'm really looking forward to it!

6.  A train and a tram and we arrived at the Ceres Organic Markets.  The actual markets were closing up, but they pointed us towards the cafe.  I could spend a whole Saturday there, easily.  90% organic, sourced as much as possible from the surrounding garden farm, recycling as much as possible - just imagine the greenest possible place.  We both had green eggs (no ham), I had my usual coffee and Jeannie had a dandelion latte.  A great place for kids, they were running around and climbing the hill and just generally mucking around.  Nice people, too.

7.  A couple more tram rides, including the city circle tram, to get to Federation Square and the National Gallery of Victoria.  We couldn't find the stained glass (next time!) but we did see the Felton collection (Aboriginal art - some of the red works were wonderfully intense) and the Joseph Brown collection, as well as a textile collection which was akin to ballet costumes, so vibrant and Australian.  In the Joseph Brown collection I finally saw many famous favourites, including The Shearing of the Rams and Lost, and some Grace Cossington-Smith paintings of the Sydney Harbour Bridge under construction. 

8.  Food was needed, and I found organic coffee bean yoghurt.  Yum.  We found the Chocolateria San Churro, a Spanish chocolate place and I didn't have anything.  Most likely, only because I had just had the yoghurt.  But still...

9.  We went to a production of Under Milk Wood.  In St David's Welsh Presbyterian Church (of course).  This was a Whistling Vicar Theatre production - still running until September 1st I think.  Both of us were a little anxious about having to listen to words so much, but there was enough acting to help us along.  Plus good singing.  Plus Welsh accents (yet no "but I am the only gay in the village"!).  And, as I was meant to have read this in high school (I admit it, I cheated), references by other family members previously went over my head but now I know what they're talking about.  I would have missed about a quarter of the dialogue still, but that's much better than I expected.

The weather was still quite overcast on Saturday, and the general landscape reminded me at various times of Sydney, Adelaide, and Canberra.  However, it is starting to grow on me.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Outfit #62 - Twentyfive Minutes

Outfit details:

Skirt: Capture (op shop).  Shirt: Miss Shop (from Jeannie).  Shoes: Hot Options.  Earrings: made by me. 

The last 2 days have been not overly cold, but today was forecast for rather warmer than recently.  It took me 25 minutes to find an outfit that would be suitable.  It looks like the summer clothes will be making a reappearance in my wardrobe soon.

I've not worn anything tucked into this skirt before, and it wasn't annoying as I suspected it might be.  Which was a blessing for today.

Today's photo:

There is a rose garden at school which is just beautiful.  This big bloom caught my eye earlier this week and I had a chance to catch it this afternoon after all the children had left.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Outfit #61 - Black and White and Grey Grey Grey

Outfit details:

Skirt: Sunny Girl (op shop).  Top: Reserve (from Jeannie).  Stockings: Target.  Shoes: Target.  Earrings: ?? from David Jones.  Singlet (maybe visible?): Ice.

I thought about naming this outfit after a certain novel, but decided against it.  I have an admission - I didn't cotton on to the '50' part of that title for ages.  I'd read Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey and, while I loved the book, I was surprised to find some of my friends making such a fuss over what I thought was the same book.  I have since worked out that they are different books.  And this outfit has black, a tiny bit of white (the button on the skirt), and a whole lot of different shades of grey. 

I even had a grade 3 ask me if my stockings were grey and blue, or grey and ... um... grey?  I think they're grey and grey and grey, as (if I had longer legs it would be easier to tell) the bits between the stripes are also grey.  And another grade 3 noted my shoes were 'pretty high' but her cousin can wear shoes this high (looked like this high with a platform as well), because she does ice skating.  Not sure of the logic...

Silver is like grey, right?  Just shiny. 

Today's photo:

I had one of those full-on rushing days, so missed out on taking any outdoor photos.  My dog and cat were placed on top of the tv a few weeks ago now, and one of my students commented today ('cute!').

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Outfit #60 - Realisation

Outfit details:

Pants: Hot Options.  Tops: Ambra and Dotti.  Shoes: Pulp.  Earrings: gift.

My realisation?  I don't like pants.  The trouser kind, that is.  I felt frumpy all day, too much bunched up around my middle, not very flattering.  No wonder the cat next door was looking at me funny.

Earrings are those I wear for mariachi... should be another one coming up soonish...

I think I've said this every time I've worn these this year - but these shoes are on the way out.  Truly.  As soon as I find a replacement, they're outta here.

Today's photo:

Walking to the station this afternoon, the clouds looked so interesting.  I didn't catch the smokiness but this type of cloud reminds me of sand at the beach.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The New TV Series

Oh dear.  I have a new thing.  I've begun watching a popular TV series, and I've become hooked.

For several months, I've been seeing posts in my Facebook feed about Downton Abbey.  I had thought maybe it might be something I might possibly enjoy, but had taken it no further.  Maybe, if I ever made it back to the video store, I might try to find it...

On Saturday evening, while enjoying some pre-dinner nibbles at Robert and Aidan's, I turned around to find a fabulous DVD collection.  4 shelves!  In alphabetical order!  Drool.  A much better collection than mine, so I said to Aidan that the next time we had a girly DVD night we should go there.  He was thrilled.  The lower shelves were for series, including Downton Abbey.  Some talk of it ensued (mostly due to the fabulosity of Maggie Smith), and I mentioned I hadn't seen it.  Jaws dropped, I asked if I could borrow it, and season 1 ended up in my bag. 

I wasn't much good for anything on Sunday evening, and as my current viewing of the long-running obsession (NCIS, treated like the painting of the Sydney Harbour Bridge) was at the end of a season, I started Downton.  So far, I love it.  And I want to be the Dowager (Maggie Smith) when I grow up.

I enjoy having so many characters with interesting, individual lives and interests and parts to play.  And they have such great lines!  Some are really funny, some very insightful, and some just interesting as an indication of general thought at the time.  Plus the correlation of an entailment plot with Pride and Prejudice, but in a slightly more modern context, is always enticing.  The idea of everyone having a part to play, everyone has a place, can be so reassuring but also so suffocating.  You know what's expected of you, but you don't often have a choice as to what your role is to be.  On top of that, watching it from a vantage point of a hundred years you know what has just happened (the Boer war some years prior, and the sinking of the Titanic right before the first episode), and you know what's about to happen.  I'm still only a few episodes in but that question has been hanging around my brain.

Ooh, and great music.  And it's nicely shot, too.  Devouring under way.

Today's photo:

I had to bake a quiche today, using up the silverbeet.  The gardener said it smelt amazing.  My favourite bit about baking with pastry is the blind baking, for which I bought pastry weights specially.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Orange and Almond Cake

...or, the Free Cake.

Going to a dinner party last night, I volunteered to bring dessert.  This had to be free from seafood (well, that bit was easy); not spicy; and lactose-free.  I knew all this before I volunteered and thought it would be a good challenge.  We very nearly had poached fruit of some variety, but in one of my coma days last week (seriously, all I could do was look at a couple of pages at a time of this recipe book), I came across this recipe.  Score!  It's from Cooking from the Market: Fruit.

Ingredients (note the pretty picture this time!):

2 large oranges
5 eggs
250g (9 oz/2 1/2 cups) ground almonds
220g (7 3/4 oz/1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
icing sugar, to dust

Grease a 22 cm spring-form cake tin, line base with baking paper.

(If shop-bought), scrub the oranges under warm running water to remove any wax coating from the skins.  Put the whole oranges in a saucepan, cover with water and boil for 1 hour.  Remove from the water and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 180C.  Using a plate to catch any juice, cut the cooled oranges into quarters and remove any seeds.  Blend the orange quarters, including the skin, in a food processor or blender until they turn to a pulp.

Beat the eggs in a large bowl with electric beaters until light and fluffy.  Add the orange pulp and any reserved juice to the bowl along with the almonds, sugar and baking powder.  Mix thoroughly to combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin.  Bake for 1 hour or until the cake is firm to touch and lightly golden.  Cook the cake a little longer if it still wet.  Remove from the oven, leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Dust with sifted icing sugar before serving.  (This last photo is the last piece, so the icing sugar had all melted in - I wasn't about to re-sugar just for photos!).

I did have a few wet bits at the end of the hour, so turned off the oven and put the cake back in.  I ended up going for a run, and by the time I returned the cake was fully cooked and the oven cool.  I didn't take it off the base of the tin for cooling, and just put the cake and base in a large container for transporting to dinner.  This went down rather well - I served it with mascarpone but nearly made it ricotta, I think either would go equally well.  Lactose free, then, unless you indulge in fatty dairy products on the side.

Today's photo:

Another brilliant blue sky for the morning.  By the time I was home from church it was grey.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Logbook

Last week, I was loaned a book.  I read it over lunch on Wednesday (it was quite short).  Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon, which is the advice he would give to his 19-yr-old self.  He's a creative type ('a writer who draws') but this book is really some tips for living life creatively - something that should be embraced.  Even if you have what you believe is the most boring job in the whole entire world, you can be creative in some way with that job, or try to be creative in some non-job area of your life.

Much of the book was not new to me, but it's good to have it said in different ways.  One of the suggestions was to keep a logbook.  This is something I've been doing sporadically (in the sense of noting thoughts, occasionally, in my phone), but the idea is to keep a log of daily events, daily.  This also ties into the philosophy of a little bit, frequently, adding up to a lot over time (ahem, just like practice...)  Today, I began mine.

I had a little notebook given to me by a past student, beautiful quality paper, and blank inside.  It's A5 size which is perfect for all my bags.  Mostly today I jotted notes while on the train, so I'm not going to share my already-messy-but-even-worse-due-to-public-transport handwriting.  Some notes from today include 'brilliant blue sky', 'music folders flying off stands' and 'why do people put bananas in plastic bags?'. 

I'm curious to see what effect this has on my creativity, my mood, and my Crazy Lady status.

Today's photo:

It appears that spring has had second thoughts, and we were back in winter mode today.  This came with mega winds (not fun for outdoor performances!) and the brilliant blue sky.  I found the clean lines of the fence and chimney against this backdrop, with some high sparse clouds, quite pleasing visually.

Friday, 17 August 2012


...or, Going Berserk.

...or, Dealing with Plants as if They are My Hair.

...or, Getting a Gym Workout in the Backyard.

...or, Turning Into My Mother (part 347).

For those of you who like me to cut to the chase, the end of this story is this:  I started to trim the hedge.  Realised my limitations.  Called a gardening service for help.

For the rest of you...
Part 1 of the story goes like this.  I like shade.  I like green.  Whenever someone would 'help out' with the garden and end up demolishing it, I'd get a bit upset.  Well, a lot upset, but I would console myself with the knowledge that it will grow back.  I do remember years ago thinking I should trim the top of these hedge plants, but they were too tall, and I never asked anyone for help.  Eventually, of course, they grew way too tall, and I gave up even thinking about it and just enjoyed the shade and the green.

Part 2.  I saw a blog post recently about a friend's kitchen garden.  It is stunning.  Gorgeous photos help, but the amount of produce growing on a balcony in Switzerland is inspiring.  I felt a little ashamed of my meagre selection of basil, mint and occasionally tomatoes (parsley is still going strong too!), especially as I live in subtropical Australia with a decent-sized courtyard.  Shade is a problem, as well as the fact that it is east-facing so only gets morning sun, sometimes only for 3 hours if that. 

Part 3.  I popped into a bookshop while I had 10 minutes to wait last week and checked out their gardening selection.  I didn't buy any (nor any of the cookbooks tempting me), but had a bit of a browse.  Some brought back memories of primary school science experiements - anyone else remember growing sprouts in a plastic cup?  And I thought, if I was nearly anywhere else in the world, what I have to work with is luxury.  Better find a way.  In one of my extended nap/doze sessions later last week, I had a brainwave.  That brainwave will be dealt with later.

Part 4.  On Wednesday, it was a public holiday in Brisbane and we had beautiful spring weather, so I pulled out some weeds.  I also noticed that an animal (or maybe more) has eaten the berries on the bushes and it hasn't been a good mix.  Evidence of this can be found all over the courtyard.  Then I had this urge, which reminded me of how I often feel on the way to the hairdresser (which is usually when I start thinking about what I want done to my hair):  I felt like trimming these hedge plants - but knew I didn't have the right tools. 

Part 5.  Today I went to Kmart and bought a lopper.  I came home, and I lopped.  This was harder work than I anticipated (hence the gym reference above).  I lopped anything I could reach that was about 2cm wide or less.  This turned it from overgrown and bushy to sparse and ugly.  With half a hedge in the middle of the courtyard.  Some of those bits were really heavy! 

Part 6.  I thought about it for a couple of hours - how should I deal with the hedge debris?  Should I leave the remainder looking horrible until bits grow back?  I needed help.  Hello Google.  After looking through a few options (how do you choose, really?!) I went to the company I see around here all the time.  Option for a free quote - yay!  He could swing by within half an hour, and he talked me through what he saw needed to be done.  By the time he arrived I was at the 'just rip them out' stage but he thought that was crazy.  A decent trim to a manageable height, and then dealing with the ornamental vine that didn't originate on this property, and removal of the randoms that have sprung up as well as all the stuff I lopped today.  Knowing what I'm like, I figured if the quote was reasonable (not that I had much idea, but within my immediate means) I would book the job - and it was.  So much cheaper!  He comes back early next week, so I have a courtyard looking like it's been hit by a cyclone for the weekend.  I think I can deal with it though.

Lopping time:  about 45 minutes.
Booking of quote until departure of gardener:  about 1 hour and 45 minutes. 
I'm pretty happy with both these times.

Today's photo:

In the shade of the overgrown hedge, the troublesome berries, still unripe here, looked so tropical and slightly tempting.