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

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Ssshhh... Please

This morning, I was on duty to serve at church.  As it turns out, I was also on duty to do the prayers - I only found out this fact because the person in front of me had a list of everyone who had a job.  Reading it, I started thinking ... why would you have a list of these things... that just seems so... why is my name there... wait, that's my name - for prayers?!  Thankfully, there are ways to do these almost on the fly.  Anyway, after communion - in the only time a server has to themselves (and even then, still keeping an eye out for if we're needed) - the person in front of me came back for a conversation. 

Now, talking in the sanctuary is a no-no.  It's distracting and just not on.  At servers' meetings, we've been reminded of this fact more than once.  However, not everyone in the sanctuary is a server, and obviously this person hasn't received the message.  In this post-communion conversation, I was as brief as possible.  I know this is not the first time this has happened, and the 'no non-essential talk' request has not made it through to this person.  I'm not good at talking, so this evening I drafted an email.  Not sent yet - I want it to be as polite as it can be, and it might need a couple of revisions before I'm happy with it. 

This whole step is new for me.  Previously, I would say and do nothing.  I might gripe about it internally, or to one or two people close to me, but nothing more.  More recently, I've started telling someone about these things - someone who has the authority and the tact to deal with it better than me.  Actually saying something myself to the person involved - this is really new.  The next level is to say something - in person, with words and all.  But for now, baby steps and emails.

Yesterday's photo:

Sometimes the sunlight looks different.  Yesterday it was looking different on the older tomato plant.

Today's photo:

Water drops and kale.  I'm loving kale.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Movie #22 - Shaun of the Dead

Ok, not my most intellectual offering.  But one I felt I should watch.  Having watched it, I feel I have a much greater understanding of certain males - in fact, the male species in general, if left in their native habitat.

If you are considering watching this, be warned - it is a bit gory.  And there is a bit of naughty language.  However, the goriness is not excessive (although I did cover my eyes for a bit, I'm becoming such a girl in that respect); and the naughty language is not as bad as what you might hear in certain areas.  It is very funny, in that "I can't believe that's funny - but it is!!!" way. 

It is also one of those movies you might think you've already seen.  The main character is played by Simon Pegg.  Simon Pegg is also in Hot Fuzz (which I watched earlier this year, as Movie #8), and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, and Run Fatboy Run.  Other things too, but I've seen all the movies just mentioned, and Shaun has references to all of them.

Plot (from IMDb): A man decides to turn his moribund life around by winning back his ex-girlfriend, reconciling his relationship with his mother, and dealing with an entire community that has returned from the dead to eat the living.

Really, it's one of those 'everyday hero' scenarios, in which an ordinary (boring) bloke doesn't want to die, and doesn't want the people closest to him to die either, and so he acts accordingly.   His actions also show up the weak as weak, and expose other emotional undercurrents that would have been left unsaid if, you know, zombies weren't taking over the world.  And just when you are resigning yourself to seeing the last remaining non-zombies (is there a technical term for that?) be zombified themselves, massive firepower saves the day.

On the subject of heroes, though... In one of the verbal dueling matches (the insults in this movie are definitely up there), the twat says to Shaun "For a hero you're quite a hypocrite".  And that got me thinking about heroes.  Some are heroes because they run to the danger.  Others are heroes because no-one else stays to fight, they all melt into the background when something has to happen.  And it's those heroes we give a hard time if they turn out to be just regular humans after all.  It's all about expectations.  If you're doing all this fighting, you must be a hero, which means you need to adhere to my idea of a hero, which means you will now be flawless and if it turns out you're still human after all, then I will tell the world how terrible you are.  Even though you're the one who was brave in the first place and I wasn't.

Speaking of bravery...  I find it interesting that we are so eager to put people in the 'loser' box.  Shaun's childhood friend, Ed (played by Nick Frost, also in Hot Fuzz), is overweight, unemployed, plays video games all day and drinks beer all the time.  The two of them are still acting like adolescents, and the other flatmate tries to convince Shaun to kick Ed out of the house.  Shaun just can't ditch his oldest friend.  Lucky, too, as Ed is a great shot thanks to all the video games, and keeps the humour alive in otherwise dire situations.  So, trust your instincts, keep your friends around, and know that there is a place for everyone.  And maybe practice a video game or two, just in case the end of the world happens...

Friday, 28 September 2012

Soul Searching at Sunshine Beach

If you've been paying attention, you might have realised I was at the beach yesterday (that photo was the main clue).  Well, from Wednesday to today - hence the need for the personal hotspot mentioned on Wednesday as well.

It's school holidays (yay!) and, while I had a hankering to visit northwest Australia (I feel a pull in that direction at this time of year), I chose to stay closer to home.  I was going to go with a friend from work, I found and booked a place at Sunshine Beach (after the visit about 10 days ago), and then the friend got sick.  Instead of having a few days of beach and shopping, then, I thought it was about time I took stock of my life.  This is something that: a) I feel I should do more regularly, and b) I suspect most people do more regularly.  I felt this was required as: a) I haven't been all that happy this year, and b) the main protagonist in the book I've been reading (rather similar to myself I think), went through a similar part of life.  I haven't done this for a long, long time, and definitely never spent a holiday doing this.  Rather worthwhile, though.

I won't bore you with all the details.  In short, I noted some things about my life that I like, some that I don't like, some that I need to accept, and some things I can do to keep the good things good and improving, and to improve the not-so-good things.  The process is by no means complete - I might need an Escape Day next week to feel I've had enough thinking time.  I am armed with a To Do list, though.

Other perks of this trip:
Thanks to south-east Queensland's integrated ticketing, free transport there and back.
The beach instantly makes me feel better (which made it slightly harder to get started on the soul searching, but improved my mood and general outlook of life considerably).
Really fluffy towels.
Surfer o'clock.
A lot of beach walking means I am feeling super toned from the ribs down.
Saltwater and sand and sun.
Bad hair days are not so disastrous - I thought Thursday was bad, but then Friday happened.
Friendly accommodation staff.  This was possibly the most relaxed place I've stayed, I felt like I was just staying at someone's place.
The quickest way (and, I discovered a little belatedly, the safest) to the nearest shops was along the beach.  It's a tough gig, this one.

Wednesday's photo:
Sunset from the north end of the beach.  I left it a little late for getting back though.

Thursday's photo:

Getting all arty just after sunrise.

Today's photo:

I found a little creek leading to the beach.  This morning it was so peaceful and undisturbed.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Teal the Cows Come Home

I realised after doing yesterday's post that it was rather geeky - I mean really, glasses and technology???  So today is anything but - girly nail polish.  Not that geeks can't be girly of course, but there are stereotypes...

On Tuesday I dropped into the newly revamped David Jones in a nearby shopping centre.  And I had to smile when I saw the wall of OPI nail polishes.  Heaven.  I love the names for the colours for these polishes.  I made an impulse purchase - a 4-pack of minis, featuring this colour 'Teal the Cows Come Home'.  Or, for any straight blokes who may be reading this - metallic blue.  For a teal colour I would normally expect a bit more green, and generally a bit darker, but I am rather enjoying having blue toenails. 

My feet are exceptionally horrible right now, so you get a beach photo.  If you do happen to see anything close-up - sorry. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Glasses and the Hotspot

Over the last couple of years (in which I haven't had an eye checkup) I've noticed my eyesight deteriorating somewhat.  I'm not at the running-into-walls stage yet (except for this one time...) but I knew I needed a stronger prescription.  Last week, I had my first checkup in about 5 years.  Although the optometrist assured me that the deterioration was perfectly normal for that length of time, I still felt a bit low.  However, I decided to consider glasses as an extra accessory.  I've had a couple of pairs of glasses before now, which I wear to watch tv (especially the Simpsons) and read music when I'm tired or the light is poor or the print quality is not great.  The new pair came in at the end of last week, and I've slowly started wearing them more often.

On Sunday, I wore them to church.  For the first time.  Combined with the new haircut, a few people didn't actually recognise me.  I did enjoy being able to see people who weren't in the first 10 rows - it can be awkward meeting people who I've only just noticed but have been coming for months, and sometimes I get a shock thinking someone I wouldn't expect to see is there when it turns out to be someone totally different.  And it's really nice to be able to see again.  Unfortunately whenever I think that, I also think of a totally terrible joke.

The other news is I'm using my Personal Hotspot for internet right now.  About a year ago, a student came into her lesson very excited.  She was one of 3 sisters I taught in a row, so the mum would sit in the car with them while they had their lessons one after another.  One night, they'd discovered the Personal Hotspot in the iPhone - so you can use your phone's 3G to provide WiFi for other devices.  They showed me where to find it too (this girl dragged me to the car so we could find it) and tonight is the first I've actually made use of it.  Handy.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Cartel Coffee

There is a coffee cart on Adelaide St that has often tempted me.  Cartel Coffee has that Havana vibe, I think from the little motif of a hat.  Clever.  I had never bought a coffee from there though, I'm not quite sure why.  So when Aidan said on Sunday that the coffee place outside his work does pretty fantastic coffee, and my brain put together his workplace and the coffee cart that is Cartel Coffee, I was excited.  We arranged to meet for coffee today.

This is really good coffee.  They certainly live up to their mission: good coffee, good service, good ... um... I forget the other thing.  But it was good.  I even broke with tradition (I know, right?!) and ordered a cinna-cino.  Yummy, but I think I'd stick with regular cappuccino in future.

Apart from having a very cool "I'm in Cuba" vibe (yeah, not the actual cartel association), it's organic, and it's Fair Trade.  I like.  And you get bonus feet in the photo.

Monday's photo:

First thunderstorm of the season.  I love summer storms.  This wasn't the most amazing, but it's still getting into the groove so I can deal.

Today's photo:

Early morning sunlight plus kangaroo paw (plus spider web strands).

Monday, 24 September 2012

White Chocolate, Date and Cardamom Cookies

I have been waiting for a couple of weeks to post this.  2 Sundays ago I felt like baking.  I had 2 spare eggs and some butter, so looked for some cookie recipes.  I very nearly did my usual batch, but I decided to give Jamie's recipe another whirl.  With a slight twist.

I kept the basic cookie dough the same:

125g butter
100g (1/2 cup) unrefined golden caster sugar
1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic
100g plain flour
25g porridge oats
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (well, that's what Jamie says - I can't bring myself to put that much salt in anything, so just sprinkled a bit in the mix)

Take your butter out of the fridge 15 minutes before you start so it has time to soften a bit first (or, use Dairy Soft and the microwave...).  Put the butter in a mixing bowl with the sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until you get a thick, creamy consistency.  Crack your egg into another bowl and beat it with a fork, then add it to the butter and sugar and mix well.  Sieve your flour into the bowl to remove any lumps, add the oats, baking powder and salt, and mix until lovely and smooth.  (Or you can just put everything into a food processor and whiz until smooth).

Then I had to get creative with the flavours.  He suggests citrus cookies - requiring an orange and a lemon (I had orange but no lemon); or double chocolate cookies (I had white chocolate but no dark).  In the little blurb at the top of the recipe, he says you can flavour with dried fruit and nuts as well, just keep the quantities the same as for the chocolate cookies (50g of each).  I contemplated white chocolate and orange biscuits.  Thinking of my pantry contents, I remembered I had dates from making raw brownies (about to happen again tonight).  And I'd just made a cardamom curry so that spice was on my mind.  Cardamom is associated in my brain with Morocco; Morocco equals dates.  Cardamom is also associated for me with white chocolate thanks to a truffle recipe.  I decided to combine all these elements. 

I had thought far enough ahead that I had included a 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom with the flour and baking powder in the basic mix.  I really like cardamom, and I know that jar of spice is nearing the end of its potency.  If you're not such a huge cardamom fan, consider a smaller quantity... 

Chop 50g of white chocolate (I have a new chocolate-block-chopping-for-biscuits technique, almost like shaving it - and then I put the rest back in the pantry).  Chop 50g dates (I chopped them into about 12 pieces each, so they were about 1/2cm square).  Add the chocolate and dates to the mix, spoon onto a piece of clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape with a roughly 7cm diameter.  Pop the dough into the freezer for 30 minutes.  Or 40.  Or 50...  That last step I remember being awkward from last time (the sausage bit, not the resting in the freezer).  It was still a bit awkward.

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/gas 5.  Get your chilled dough out of the freezer and cut it into 1cm thick slices (not my best skill - next time I'm just going to do the tablespoons of dough, flattened, thing).  Place these on 2 non-stick baking trays, leaving a good bit of space between the slices because they really spread during cooking.  Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown.  Let them cool down slightly before placing on a wire rack to cool completely and crisp up.

This combination is (for me, anyway) a winner.  Besides, I prefer my cookies soft on the inside and these deliver.  Best baked when other eaters are around.

Saturday's photo:

Post-run, we had Mexican.  The light-fitting was comprised of Corona bottles.

Sunday's photo:

There is a grevillea by the road, with a new flower in the process of unfurling.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Twilight Half Marathon

Last weekend, Jeannie (who's doing the Melbourne half with me) rang, saying "There's a twilight half marathon on this Saturday by the bay do you want to run it with me?".  Of course I said yes.  However, receiving a confirmation email at lunchtime on Friday pulled it into focus for me.  I promptly started eating toast.

This was only my 2nd half marathon (officially), so for most of the time my brain was comparing the 2 experiences.  The rest of the time, it was thinking the line from Anchorman - you just...run... for an extended period of time... (approximately).  My thoughts, in no particular order:

1.  I was really glad my new running shoes had arrived on Thursday evening.

2.  Starting at 5pm was quite warm.  My face felt like a bursting tomato for the first lap.  However, after that it was just like my normal runs and I was back in my comfort zone.  On the other hand, having us run on poorly lit roads with not great surfaces was not ideal.  I spent some time dodging little potholes.  Oh, and this was flat.  Gold Coast was fairly flat - but had rises for the canal crossings.  This was treadmill flat.  No rises whatsoever.

3.  I was impressed with my brain.  For the Gold Coast run, I knew the route, I'd checked it on the map, I'd run it nearly a week before, I knew where the drink stations were and which ones I planned to use.  For this one, I asked Jeannie on the way there if it was an out-and-back loop, or a circuit we would do twice?  She wasn't sure.  When we came to the first drink station I realised I had no idea where they were going to be, either.  As it turned out, it was a circuit of just over 5km, slightly longer on laps 3 and 4, and the 10 km runners started with us too.  And I just kept running. 

4.  The kilometre markings were just weird.  I have no idea what the logic was - for example, we had 16 and 17 about 10m apart, not too far from the Start/turnaround line.  At least it gave my brain something to think about.  Then I just gave up.

5.  With a shorter circuit, run 4 times by the half-marathoners, I would have hoped for more spectator support along the route.  There wasn't much though, except for around the start area.  It was the first time it had been held there though, so maybe in the future.  That said, some of the support was not great... but the kids offering high fives were enthusiastic (I even returned one! but the sweatiness of my hand prevented me getting too enthusiastic about it).

6.  Powerade is really easy to distinguish from water, even at twilight.  This is good.  Especially if you're having those gel things (not that I do) and need to know what you're having.  I ended up having 2 waters and 2 Powerades. 

7.  I had no knee pain (haven't since July).  I did have some foot pain (want to see a specialist about that soon) in lap 2.  If any runners reading this have any tips for dealing with snot (sorry) - please let me know!  The worst though was my heart.  If I'm not careful with my protein or caffeine or water intake I notice it, and I guess I hadn't had enough water, because it showed.  The whole last lap was painful.  The almost-crying level of painful.  However, this did help me get to the end - 'the faster you run now, the sooner you get to the end and can stop moving and have lots of water'.

8.  I was 5 minutes faster than I was in July!!!  I attribute this to a few things:
(i) I stayed relaxed for the first 2 laps, consciously tried to put the pressure on a bit in lap 3, and lap 4 I just had to get to the end.
(ii) I've been doing treadmill runs because they force me to stick to a pace.  I'll do usually 5km, 900m of each at my normal comfortable running pace, then 100m at a faster sprint pace.  I wasn't sure if this was helping, but I could feel my treadmill brain kick in so I think it's paying off.
(iii) I decided to get to the drink stations faster.  Once I'd decided if I was hydrating at the next stop, as soon as I could see the tables I put on a slight sprint.
(iv) Again, the last quarter I was feeling good - which is even better when you can see other people flagging.  Especially when they're really fit-looking.  The last 200m, with heart straining, all I could focus on was getting to water as quickly as possible.  And the commentator called "really strong finish here from Anna"  - yay!  And then I saw the clock.  Crossed the line grinning, nearly knocked over the photographer, then very nearly cried.
(v) Running with a friend.  We didn't actually run together, Jeannie was ahead of me for the first 3 1/2 laps, but our waves at the turnaround points were such a mood boost.

9.  Compared to the Gold Coast run, I felt far less mentally or physically prepared.  Although I wanted to run the whole thing (except for the walk for hydration coordination purposes) I knew this was not necessarily going to happen.  I've done only a couple of long-ish runs lately, and all have been quite slow even when they've felt good.  My expected run time was 2:20 - 2:30.  When I first saw the clock I thought it read 2:17, so a moment later (yes, I blinked) when I saw it actually read 2:13, I was stoked.

10.  Lots of water, an apple, and freebies later, we had a super warm-down walk.  For about 45 minutes.  Neither of us could remember which street we were parked on, and they all looked pretty much the same.  We did discuss the next runs we want to do though. 

11.  One of the top 10 showers of my life.  Possibly top 3.  I say that because I can only think of 1 other that was in the same category (Singapore airport), but I don't want to close my mind too much.  Trust me, this one was so wonderfully welcome.

12.  Post-run food.  We went to the nearest Mad Mex (it was about 9:30 by now).  I don't think I've ever eaten a whole meal from there and not been stuffed.  Once I got home I had a whole bottle of 'Outback Spirit Rejuvenating Water' and a bit of chocolate, too.  I feel I should have had eggs today.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Movie #21 - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

It's been ages since I saw a new movie.  Looking up my list of posts to see what number this was, I discovered it's been close to 2 months since my last.  On Saturday, I was thinking about weekend plans not involving playing for money, and figured I was due to watch something other than my favourite TV shows.  "Yes," says my brother, "Sam said to tell you - less of the outfits, more movies".  Well, Sam, you're stuck with 3 school outfits a week during school terms, but here's a movie for you. 

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was one I'd hoped to see at the movies, but didn't.  (There were 3 I wanted to see all out at the same time, and Safe House won).  I was rather keen to see this one, as spy thrillers are right up my alley.  I hadn't even realised that Colin Firth was in it - score! 

Due to my exhausted state while watching, this won't be the most in-depth, intelligent discussion ever.  And because I was watching with someone else, I didn't stop to take notes...  Although, I'm not sure I would have anyway.  I really enjoyed this movie, and it's one I would watch again - mostly to work out more of what on earth was going on.  I think I worked it out, but I am rather dim when it comes to plot intricacies.  Often I get to the end of a movie, think "that was great!", but can't explain what happened along the way.  This was one of those.  There is still one scene, just a snippet in a bit of a montage (you gotta have a montage), that is still saying "why???" in my head. 

I was quite proud of myself for working out the culprit before it was revealed at the end.  I'm not sure how I feel about the culprit, though.  He was the only character I actually liked, even after the revelation of his badness. 

The music I enjoyed, it was quite apt without being a cliched 'ooh this is a spy thriller' soundtrack.  And the camera work - well.   The whole movie was so dark, so gloomy, so atmospheric.  You could see the griminess of bureaucracy and secrets, it made me long for sunshine and clean air.  I couldn't help thinking, too, that this was an England in which I'd been, albeit a few years later.

Still, the whole spy thing raises this question in me every time - how would I actually go at working out a spy, detecting a mole?  Finding out who is actually lying to me while giving the air of wide-eyed innocence?  And all this without the help of a script and plot?  Which always gives rise to the other question - how would I go at being a spy myself?

Today's photo:

I noticed that my new tomato plant has grown a whole extra section, and has yet another about to unfurl. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Outfit #75 - So Close

Outfit details:

Skirt: Sinerji (swap).  Top: Ambra.  Earrings: made by me.  Shoes: Target.

So close to holidays!!!  I just have one student at home tomorrow...and a Saturday morning full of them... and then I'm done!  I can't wait.

I also realise that this is an outfit very similar to at least one previous outfit.  After last night's run though (an old running top, sore arm skin), I wanted comfort.  This outfit has it in spades.  Plus, my little grade 2 said "ooh, I do love your shoes".  It was a pretty wonderful day - which included coming home to find my new running shoes waiting at the front door.  I can't wait to run in them!

Today's photo:

Not exciting or artistic.  But I'd run out of yoghurt, so this morning's breakfast was a smoothie and a coffee.  And later, a piece of toast.  I seem to be developing an addiction to toast.  Which makes me feel like Thursday Next.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Outfit #74 - The Sky and The Clouds

Outfit details:

Skirt: Sunny Girl (op shop).  Singlet: Hot Options.  Top: Sportsgirl (op shop).  Shoes: Target.  Earrings: gift.

One of my students used to tell me what my outfits looked like.  I suspect this one would have looked like the sky and the clouds and rain and flowers.

Although it was just drizzling when I was watering my plants this morning (as in, I got maybe 3 or 4 tiny mostly evaporated drops, and didn't feed the plants very much so when I got home they were droopy), thankfully it didn't rain any more after that. 

I was pulling up my singlet all day though.  Very irritating.

Today's photo:

Not as amazing as I was hoping... but when I stepped out this morning, the grey clouds contrasted nicely with the white branches.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Outfit #73 - Five Fifteen

Outfit details:

Dress: Cue (op shop).  Shirt: Hot Options.  Shoes: Pulp.  Earrings: ? Sportsgirl I think?

Today, for the first time in years of Tuesday morning rehearsals, I did not wake up at 5:20.  Knowing how long it takes me now to water my new garden (9 minutes last time, with new seedlings planted yesterday), I set my first alarm for 5:15.  As Hawaii Five-O started again last night, I didn't get to sleep until about midnight, so I also had about 5 hours and 15 minutes of sleep.  With many students away (without notice), it felt like I only taught for 5 hours and 15 minutes, but this wasn't actually the case, thankfully.  I did manage to read a whole book, though, and I'm not a fast reader.

Ooh, and apologies for the photo.  Not sure what the spots are... Despite waking earlier, I didn't have any time for photos this morning, nearly had to run for the train, and then my after-school students arrived 14 minutes early and nearly caught me in the act.  And apologies, too, for the hair - still adjusting to the whole dealing-with-short-hair thing.

Today's photo:

Actually, a photo from yesterday.  Water droplets in the sunshine on the basil.

Monday, 17 September 2012

New Food - Kale

I first heard of kale in May or June last year.  It was one of the options in the Zone eating plan, but not readily available in the local supermarkets.  Nor was it included in the organic fruit and vegetable delivery box.  Fast forward to last weekend, when I did lots of gardening - including edibles (lettuce and spinach).  Trainer Dan then told me about the kale his mother is growing, and then kale was listed in the specials for the delivery box.  I took a deep breath, and ordered some. 

As it turns out, a bunch of kale is huge.  When I open the fridge, it feels like all I see is kale.  (Well, all right - it takes up more than half a shelf).  So last night I included it - as well as tonight - and it's on the menu for tomorrow night and, most likely, Wednesday night as well.  Good thing it's just about the healthiest green thing out there.

So right now my dinners are consisting of stirfried kale, bok choy, and some protein source.  And herbs from my garden.

Speaking of protein sources - I've finally found a tofu I actually like.  Previously, I've either used firm tofu and reminded myself that it's good for me, it's good for me, it's good for me... or silken tofu, and have it spread itself all over the meal.  Not attractive or suitable for guests.  But now I've found this tofu listed as firm tofu, which is just firm enough to hold its shape when cooked but silken enough that it tastes beautiful. Win.

I actually first bought it 2 weeks ago but didn't think it would be such a win.  Now I have a photo though.

Today's photo:

Needing a bit more in the carbs department, I had half an orange then snacked on blueberries after the tofu-kale stirfry.  Obviously, feeling super healthy right now.  More chocolate required.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

El Violin Y El Sombrero

Today was the second mariachi gig.  We played for the Independence Day celebrations for, pretty much, all of South and Central America.  For our publicity shots in June, we got to wear sombreros.  I found it so awkward, like I had a mega weight on my head... which is, in fact, the case.  Sombreros are heavy!  However, for the first gig (for Columbia's national day), we didn't wear them.  Today, we did.

On the upside, it meant I didn't have to worry about how to deal with the flower and newly short hair (although Elisa, our wardrobe consultant, did a wonderful job).  On the downside - and this is a huge downside - you can't play violin and wear a sombrero at the same time.  Unless you play solely on the G and D strings.  After our 3rd piece, I had to take mine off, I kept missing the string and making awful sounds. 

It was just slightly crowded in the 'backstage' area.  Apart from all of us (7 plus a singer plus Elisa), there were Christmas decorations (as seen in the photo), and about 10 sombreros, and big plastic bags of I have no idea what.  Awkward for photos, among other things.

Today's photo:

After we'd performed, my flower was sitting on one of the other sombreros.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sunshine Beach

We often play for weddings in great locations.  Yesterday the daily photo was a superb view of the Glasshouse Mountains.  Today's gig was at Sunshine Beach, north of Noosa.  Substantial travel time, but it was worth it.  Often, when we have a gig near a beach, we say beforehand that we'll go to the beach once we've played.  The only time this has come close was October last year, for a wedding in Byron Bay.  It rained most of the way down, and when we were done (for a wedding in which I didn't actually see the bride), it was about to rain again.  We spent about 5 minutes on the beach.

Today, however, none of us had anything pressing.  The weather was gorgeous.  We finished playing at 3:30.  We went to the beach.  YAY!!!  Admittedly, not for a super long time.  And 2 of us were still in gig blacks.  But I still went in the water up to my knees, gleefully.

I don't think I'd been to Sunshine Beach before, either.  Rather lovely.  It reminded me of Lorne, in Victoria, actually.  I know it often won't be possible, but my goodness it was nice to get to the beach after today's gig.

Friday, 14 September 2012

The Haircut

Today was hair day.  I've mentioned before that I usually think about my hair on my way to have it done...and that's about it.  Last night, I was thinking I really want long hair.  When I got to my hairdresser, she asked how it's been.  I said it's been fine...but I'm a bit bored.  Quick as a flash, she said, do you want to go shorter?  And then she played around with my hair a bit.  I'd been thinking about this style for a little while - a little while, as in a few years - but having done the growing out thing for so long, I still had a little part of me that wanted to have Mrs Smith's hair.  (Ok, Angelina Jolie's hair.  Or Ziva's hair.  Or - you get the idea).  I decided to be brave.  And accept that I don't have a team of hairxperts, nor the patience, to volumize my hair on a daily basis. 

As my hairdresser began, she took a deep breath too - she'd never cut my hair this short. 

It's always nice, though, when the hairdresser says they think it looks fabulous.  I'm very happy with it, too.  And there'll be a neater, less windswept, photo later, I'm sure. 

Today's photo:

The first gig today was in Maleny, at Tiffany's Chapel.  Amazing views of the Glasshouse Mountains.  We stopped on the way home to take a photo.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Outfit #72 - Super Dooper

Outfit details:

Dress and shoes: Hot Options.  Cardigan: Portmans (op shop).  Earrings: made by me.

Today, I had a super dooper day.  A little sleep-in, a wealth of student quotes (have you checked out my other blog yet?), great teaching, gardening, mariachi rehearsal (our next gig is this Sunday, at the Spanish Centre in Acacia Ridge)... Plus happy music on my iPod.  Of course, wearing my favourite colours (black and white and green) helped too.

I even had a bear hug from a 10-yr-old. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Outfit #71 - Group Photos

Outfit details:

Skirt: Spicy Sugar (from Jeannie).  Blouse: Jacqui E (op shop).  Shoes: Zoe & Zac (from Jeannie).  Earrings: also from Jeannie.  Tank (not visible): Jeanswest.  Flat shoes (not shown...): Hot Options.

Yesterday, I mentioned I'd forgotten today was group photos.  Today's outfit was originally intended for yesterday, but I thought it would look better in photos than today's original plan.  I'm not sure if that's actually the case, but the girls all liked it.

This is the closest I've come to a 100% recycled outfit for school, too.  All the visible bits are either from Jeannie (really, my biggest clothes source - thanks Jeannie!) and an op shop.  In fact, the visible content cost a whole $9.50 (bought in January).  I must admit, though, that the shoes were just too much.  I have a blister on a toe so after walking down to strings, then up to one courtyard then staffroom then other courtyard then back to my teaching room then down to strings and back, I gave up.  I put them back on for the second photo, and then reverted to my black flower flats. 

I chose this earring photo (although not the greatest shot of the actual earrings) because of the background.  I hadn't noticed it until I was looking through photos.  A couple of weeks ago, I had to take a little one back to class and the next child was already there.  She had some theory questions, so I asked her to write them on the board.  I came back while she was writing the first question: 'How come when we use' and I can't remember the rest, but we worked out a few answers that day.

Today's photo:

I had a dental appointment this evening, and this was the sunset that greeted me as I headed in.  Very smoky.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Outfit #70 - Soft

Outfit details:

Skirt: Sinerji (swap).  Shirt: Mischief (from Jeannie).  Singlet: Hot Options.  Cardigan: Jeanswest.  Shoes: Hot Options.  Earrings: from Mombasa. 

This was originally intended for tomorrow (longer skirt suitable for grade 3s, basically).  A chance message from a parent last night reminded me that tomorrow is group photos, so I changed my mind.  These photos happened really quickly once I got home from work, before the next group of students arrived.  None of the miracles that happened last Tuesday, that's for sure!

I don't wear these shoes enough - I do really like them!  I was very glad of the softness of this outfit today, I just felt a bit wobbly all day.

These seem to be the earrings for this skirt.  This photo is actually from a previous outfit - isn't recycling wonderful?  Despite my frequent wearings of this skirt, today received many compliments.

Today's photo:

New growth on the camellia.  This is exciting.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Ordering Running Shoes Online

A few months ago, I was in need of new running shoes.  Having bought the same pair 4 times in a row, I thought buying online might save me a few dollars.  I had some recommendations from people in the know, and had a look.  This was going great until I realised I had no idea of size conversions.  Strangely, the internet did not provide me with all the answers.  So I didn't buy any, and shortly after the need was dire.  I bought in-store.  A different sort, incidentally.

I'm approaching the new running shoes time again.  Probably next week it will be dire, so today I ordered my first pair of running shoes online.  This time, I was prepared.  The box in which the last pair came also listed what size they were in other systems.  Phew.  The only name I could remember for ordering was wiggle so that's where I went.  And discovered they have free delivery for orders placed this month.  Score!  They should be here by the middle of next week - I can't wait.  Oh, and price - it's so much cheaper.  Like, $90 cheaper.  The rate at which I go through running shoes, this will add up considerably.

Today's photo:

The new Kangaroo Paws are beautiful.  The fuzziness catches the sunlight beautifully.  This is the first of, most likely, many more photos to come.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Music and Cooking Class

A couple of weeks ago, a friend sent a message to a few of us - would we be interested in a music and cooking class?  Once I'd checked the gig schedule, I was keen.  Cooking classes were on my list of New Things To Do This Year, and after a brief search earlier in the year, nothing had come of it.  This was too easy.  And, what could be a better way to spend a Saturday - music and cooking?!

On our way in, I had to ask: what exactly is happening tonight?  Details were still a bit sketchy...  Canapes.  The a cappella choir, 'Fusion'.  Cooking class with Danielle Dixon (from Masterchef last year).  6-8pm, at Taste in the Valley.  I was suddenly a bit dubious - what if the choir was, you know... not amazing?  Would I need cooking skills?  How precise and dictatorial would this cooking class be?  Agh!!!

On arrival, we could see some of the choir inside already, and I breathed a sigh of relief - I recognised a few, and when I spotted their conductor I knew we were in for a treat.  My favourite choir conductor in Brisbane (Debra Shearer-Dirie), with whom I've worked a couple of times.  The champagne on arrival also helped, and then we had a wander around the store to look at all these (largely unnecessary) gadgets before heading to the loft area.

A beautiful space, set up as a kitchen - the sort of kitchen you might find in a very large house, with a couple of huge tables and seating for many.  Rustic.  And a bench set up with many pasta-makers.  As it turned out, we were making pasta.  But first, music.  We were surrounded by the choir, who sang some early food-related songs before forming an arc behind us, and moving on to more modern food-related songs.  All the music was food-related, although some rather tangentially.  They even included us in one of the songs (when we weren't eating our delicious canapes).  By far the hit of the evening was Fields of Gold, which had a few of us getting sweaty eyes.

Cooking.  But first, explanation.  I was relieved that Danielle cooks the way I do - experimentation.  Recipes are more like guidelines.  Some pasta variations were discussed ('my nonna said...' etc), and pasta-makers as well as what to do and why.  And that was it!  Come and try.  The choir came and chatted with us too, so I got to meet one of the faces I've seen in many choir things.

So, 100g plain flour and 1 egg.  Mix it together until it forms a play dough sort of consistency (ooh, when was the last time I was in contact with play dough?!), knead it a bit.

 Divide it in half, squish it a bit.

Feed it through the roller bit, fold in half, and repeat for 3 goes. 

Then move the setting, one step at a time, up to 7.  It will be quite long...

Slice into 3 bits, and feed through the fettuccine end (or thinner option if you wish).

Take over to large pots of boiling water - it needed about a minute in the water before being removed with a big broad slotted spoon/ladle thingy.

Top with sauce and basil and parmesan, and enjoy while listening to the choir singing again.  Try not to slurp or slop sauce all over yourself or others around you. 

Dessert from Danielle was tiramisu with berries (yum!) but one of the choir, Bec (we go way back) had also made a dark chocolate and pretzel tart.  I think I've missed a word in that, but it's from the Donna Hay magazine and it was ... just... oh my.  The sort of rich chocolate-y goodness that makes you want to take the whole lot somewhere private and just gorge yourself.  I didn't, though.  I am getting the recipe, mind you - watch this space.

As originally hoped, this was a fabulous evening.  We could have paid the same amount for just a concert or just a cooking class, but to have them combined was superb.  The intimate, kitchen setting made it far more special than any vibe you get in a normal concert, and getting expert cooking tips from, well, experts, was handy.  Although I don't see a pasta-maker in my kitchen any time soon.

I would quite happily do this once a month, it was so good.  Fingers crossed for the next one!

Today's photo:

Walking down Ann St this morning, the bougainvillea were just so spring-like, bright pink against a blue sky.