| Saturday, November 29, 2008
Now that Obamania is in full swing and the country appears ready to proudly wave the red white and blue again, Disneyland’s Main Street is ready to highlight the long neglected ‘U.S.A.’ part of its title in the coming months. Up will go the banners and flags while the Opera House will welcome back a resuscitated Lincoln, now sharing the stage with Barack himself in a supporting role. God Bless America on that one.FANTASTIC. I didn't even think of that. They'll be adding an Obama-bot to the Hall of Presidents. I can't wait to see how it turns out. I predict a renewed interest in that attraction for the next few years, well beyond its current demographic of families with bored kids just looking for a few minutes of air conditioning.
Snook: That's disgusting.
Me: I think you mean AWESOME. It's like moonshine! You should make me some!
Snook: I don't think so.
Me: No, you should! And then we could serve it to somebody who really likes wine, like your brother-in-law Chris, and try to get him to guess what it was!
Snook: And he'd wonder why we were giving him a glass of horrifying sludge.
Friday, November 28, 2008
The Snook and I celebrated last night with Amy and Rob at a special dinner hosted by the Democrats Abroad. As you might imagine, the group had a lot to be thankful for! There were some very hearty toasts and cheers happening. We talked about exactly the type of things you'd expect: why Australians who romanticized snow were CRAZY, how stupid the American healthcare system is, what was wrong with Sydney's public transport, how we all wanted to marry gays and give tax money to druggies. You know, that type of thing. I have to say I was a little surprised at the demographics. The only DA event I'd attended before was the primary, and I remember noticing that everyone there was... older. Well, they were pretty much all older last night too. I'd guess that the average age was probably 50+. Snookums guessed that the younger expats just might not be as politically active. Another random observation: I saw more black people (as in, people of African heritage) last night than I have in the previous eight years of living here, I think. Anyhoo, we had a great time and got to meet some cool people, and none of us had to cook a turkey. WIN!
I did, however, bake on Wednesday night. I made Martha Stewart's Sweet Potato Pie with Pecan Topping for us, and a traditional pumpkin pie to take in to the office. The pumpkin pie was more difficult, mostly because my usual source for Libby's canned pumpkin had sold out! So I had to make this from scratch. (Yes, you can totally make pumpkin pie from scratch. Just cut up pumpkin - I used Kent - boil or nuke til it's soft, then run it through the food processor. Substitute for the canned stuff in the recipe.) They were both a big hit!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
From the moment he wakes up with gum in his hair, things just do not go Alexander's way. At breakfast, Alexander's brothers Nick and Anthony reach into their cereal boxes and pull out amazing prizes, while all Alexander ends up with is . . . cereal. His teacher doesn't like his drawing of an invisible castle, he loses his yo-yo, there is no dessert in his lunch, the dentist tells him he has a cavity, there is kissing on TV, and he has to wear his railroad train pajamas (he hates his railroad train pajamas). No wonder Alexander wants to move to Australia! The book ends with his mother's assurance that everyone has bad days, even people who live in Australia.Even people who live in Australia. Indeed.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I just watched A Room With a View, the recent TV version that I recorded last weekend. I was prepared for it to suck compared to the Merchant Ivory production, but I was pleasantly surprised! It was less arty, but I think the story was simpler to follow. I really, really liked Rafe Spall as George Emerson. (I didn't think anybody could top Julian Sands, but I think I prefer this earthier, sexier George.) But wait - did they insinuate that both Mr. Beebe and Cecil were gay? I could've gone along with that departure from the book... until the surprise ending. WHAT. THE HELL. George dies on the battlefield? Right after we see them triumphantly getting it on in front of the view of the Arno? And the final scene is her in the field with the carriage driver? That was the weirdest thing ever. Weird and depressing.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
For our anniversary dinner last night, the Snook and I finally got to try out Red Lantern in Surry Hills. I've been wanting to go there ever since they were featured on Heat in the Kitchen on SBS a few years back. They do authentic Vietnamese cuisine, and I was in the mood for some seafood. (For those that don't know, I was a confirmed pescaphobe for most of my life. I *never* ate any seafood at all - not even fish fingers - until I moved to Australia. Suffice it to say, I've gotten over myself.) The service was great, friendly and attentive from the start. I was a little disappointed that we couldn't get the tasting menu - it's only available for parties of 4 - but our waiter was able to recommend his favorites from the normal menu. We started out with the Goi Cuon (traditional rice paper rolls). They were very good, with lots of mint and large prawns peeking out. There was a spicy peanut-based dipping sauce too. (Truth be told, I think I prefer the Lime & Garlic from Chop Chop, but this was still very nice.) We also went for one of the entree specials: grilled scampi (i.e. langoustine). I'd really only ever seen these on Iron Chef before. ZOMG, SO GOOD. Sweet, creamy meat - not fishy in the slightest - with luscious butter and black pepper and coriander on top. Between the two of us, we were scraping the shell clean in our desperation to savor all of it. For the main, we had the house speciality Cha Chien Don, whole fried snapper with fish sauce, lime, and ginger. It was BEAUTIFUL. The meat came off in juicy hunks, and I even found myself scrabbling after the crispy skin. (Me. The pickiest child in the world eating FISH SKIN. My mother's head will be spinning, I tell you.) We were too full for dessert, so I finished the night with a Vietnamese liqueur coffee that was so strong it'd curl your hair. So in summary, I had three courses with seafood and I loved all of them. That's pretty much the highest recommendation I can give right there. (Also, langoustine might be the new truffle. I MUST HAVE MORE.)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Edited to add: Snookums just pointed me to this list of six excuses grownups can use for going to see Twilight this weekend. I think Jenny's definitely going for #6. Me, I don't really have any big desire to see it. Robert Pattinson doesn't really do it for me. If anything, I'm only curious as to how it translated from the book... which was trash. Swoony, over-the-top, ridiculous teenage trash.
Four years ago today two silly kids went to Vegas, met Elvis, and got married in a Little White Wedding Chapel.
And I'd do it all over again.
I logged into Gmail this morning and noticed that things looked different. Then a message popped up telling me to check out the new Themes tab. Holy crap! That's awesome! I'm rockin' the Desk theme right now. It appears that some of them actually change throughout the day to reflect the weather in your location. Sooooo cool! (Note: It appears they're rolling this out slowly. Snookums doesn't have it on his account yet, nor does anybody else in my office.)
Edited to add: The Gmail blog has more info and pictures of the themes.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Is the whole "What's the G20?" story getting any airplay in the US? Because it has amused me to no end over here. A month ago, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was hosting a dinner party at Kirribilli, when he received a phone call from George Bush. Apparently, at some point during the conversation Rudd mentioned the upcoming G20 Summit, to which Bush replied: "What's the G20?" A prominent journalist happened to be at the dinner, and soon the story had been leaked to the newspapers. Rudd's staff says it never happened. The Americans say it never happened. The Federal Opposition say it happened, but that Rudd made it up to impress his dinner guests by making the American President look like an idiot. And oddly enough, Rudd himself has refused to answer the direct question of whether he told his guests about it. These politicians have been spending hours of time in Parliament actually discussing how dumb the American President is, who leaked the news to the press, and whether this revelation will damage US-Australian relations. It's all pretty hilarious. And this week we've all been on tenterhooks to see how Bush would greet Rudd at the big G20 Summit. (Verdict: "frosty".) Meanwhile, I bet Rudd is feeling sad that his dinner parties next year won't be enlivened by any calls from Sarah Palin.
It's really unfair of me to make fun of the Snook for playing his videogame all weekend. The truth is, I spent just as much time sitting on the couch beavering away on my knitting projects. I made a start on the Space Invaders socks I'm knitting for the Colony of Gamers Child's Play Drive, and I added several inches to the aran jumper I'm knitting for next year's Easter Show.
I've modifed the bmp socks from the originals a little bit. I'm using Easy Care 5ply instead of a traditional sock wool, and I've gone up to a 3mm needle. I know from experience that I tend to knit fairisle fairly tight though, so I'm hoping they'll still fit without much adjustment. As for the aran, it's my first official Starmore: Na Craga. I'm knitting the front and back at the same time on a long circular, but the pieces are still separate. (Consensus is that the seams will give it some needed stability.) The cable patterns are very simple once you get going and I don't even need to refer to the charts anymore.
While I was knitting, I also managed to watch all of Seinfeld Season 6 on DVD...
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I went for a run this afternoon and soon found myself waiting for a light to change up near Central Station. As I stood there, I noticed a very familiar-looking Asian guy walking towards me. My first thought was that it was one of the Snook's co-workers, and I nearly opened my mouth to say "hi." Then a lightbulb went off over my head: It was Thanh Bui! He stood next to me, waiting at the pedestrian crossing. The light finally changed and we began to walk. I made a snap decision and pulled off my headphones. "Excuse me," I said, turning to him. "Are you Thanh?" His voice was soft and shy. "Yes, I am," he said. I gave him a big smile. "You did really great this year!" He said thanks as I sped off into the crowd. Hey, he wasn't my favorite or anything, but he seemed like a nice guy. He sang ABBA in front of everyone in Australia! That takes some courage. So I was happy to think that maybe my comment lifted him up a bit. (I was also interested to see him sitting in the stands at tonight's live show!)
As for the Final 3, is there really any doubt? I loved it when Dicko said "Holden hates me anyway" and gave Wes a touchdown. For second place, I'm going to have to go with the shearer. Spano's good, but I thought he really boned it tonight. His first song was one nobody recognized, and his second one (Santana's "Smooth") was one everybody and their mom recognized, but he sounded awful on the low verses. Luke still moves around a little awkwardly, but both of his songs were solid and he deserves to get to go to the big show. But seriously, WES ALL THE WAY. I'm totally voting.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
In other garden news, we got a bag of lucerne mulch (basically munched up hay) today and I spread it over the weed matting in my veggie patch. It looks much nicer than the ratty old newspapers I had before. It also has a pleasant "barn-y" smell. We've also declared war on caterpillars, which are eating our basil to bits. We got some Pyrethrum spray, but actually picking them off the plants seems the most effective strategy. Plus it's very satisfying to chant "Die, die!" as you stomp them on the pavement.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Oh great. Another mystery ailment. I've had normal skin for most of my life, but this year I've just felt super-sensitive to any irritation. I started noticing that wherever my clothes touched or rubbed me, I developed itchy red welts. In times of stress - like when I flew to LA - I broke out in red blotches. I mentioned it to my doctor a few months ago, but he was only able to diagnose "contact dermatitis"... which is basically saying, yep, your skin is irritated. Well, duh. Last night things took a turn though. It was still light when I got home so I headed out to check on my veggie patch. We had leftover weed matting from the path so I decided to lift my newspaper "mulch" and put it down underneath. Half an hour later I was in the kitchen cooking dinner, when the Snook got home and saw me absent-mindedly scratching my arm. "Dude, what's wrong with your arm?!" he asked. (You know it's serious when he uses an American-ism like "dude.") I looked down, and my left forearm from elbow to wrist was covered in puffy red welts. "I... don't know," I said. "Did you rub up against a hairy caterpillar?" he asked. "I don't think so." I headed to the shower, thinking that washing off the irritant was a good start. I noticed at that point that I had some soil on my knee (from kneeling in the garden), and when I brushed it off my knee was similarly irritated underneath. I showered and started applying a cortisone cream. Then I had a brilliant idea - I'd take photos of the rash so I could show my doctor the next day! I managed to get a few shots before the cream got it under control.
Tonight I went to the doctor (I was due for my normal allergy shot anyway) and I explained about the weird reaction. Then I whipped out my camera. He was impressed! I think that's the first time anyone's described their symptoms to him with actual photographic evidence. He took one look and said, "Urticaria." Hives. Huh. (I always pictured hives as being more dramatic, like giant red buboes or something.) But anyway, there doesn't seem to be any doubt about it. So what's the trigger? Apparently there's really no way of knowing. It could've been a caterpillar, but the fact that I had it on both my knee and my arm doesn't support that entirely. Plus I've been having isolated welts and itchiness for many many months now, so a single irritant can't account for all of it. There is a definite heat/sweat component ("cholinergic urticaria") and definitely pressure as well. So great. I'm 31, and I've suddenly developed hives.
Well, we certainly have been eating our vegetables this week! Last night I made a very green stir fry. I started with tofu, chilli, and ginger; then I added choy sum, zucchini, and broccolini. I added a "honey and coriander" sauce packet from Coles and splashed on some soy sauce as well. We had it over rice with fresh coriander on top.
The previous night, Snookums made us Beef Wellington using the mushrooms and some excellent paté with a beautiful Scotch fillet. We had zucchini and sweet potato mash on the side. That means our "To Use Up" list is down to: red cabbage, pumpkin, beetroot, fennel, sweet corn, rhubarb, capsicum, onions, and potatoes. (The pumpkin, beetroot, and fennel are currently roasting in the oven for dinner tonight.) By George, I think we've just about done it!
Edited to add: I can't believe I forgot to mention the amazing Resurrection of the Oven! Last night I turned the dials just to see what would happen, and lo and behold the damn thing started working! I don't think it was a timer issue, as we'd flipped the circuit breaker several times. Now we're wondering whether something inside overheated. But at any rate, hooray! Oven!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Update: I bit the bullet and asked Metafilter.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I just realized that I forgot to properly document my most recent Finished Object! "Blockhead" was designed partly as a Halloween costume and partly just as a jumper I thought the Snook would like. The pattern itself is from Wendy leaflet #5101, which is the exact same one I used for the Long Sleeve Cotton Polo. Because the zig-zag would be done as intarsia, I couldn't knit the body in the round as I normally do. So the front and back were knitted separately to the armholes; then the whole thing was joined up on one circ for the yoke and collar. The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% merino) that I ordered direct from the mill in the US. It was ridiculously cheap (luckily I got it before the Aussie dollar collapsed) and I used less than 7 skeins for the whole jumper. The yarn was wonderful to knit with, much less splitty than the Jo Sharp cotton, and I think it'll be a good weight for our climate. Snookums actually graphed the zig-zag for me (after much analysis of the comic strip) and it's available for download as a PDF here. Now all I need are some buttons and it's done!
Snook: There's something going on in the city tonight that you're going to be mad you missed!
Him: They closed off the George Street bus stops in front of the cinemas because of a special event...
Me: Ooh, a movie premiere! Is somebody famous in town?
Him: Teenage girls EVERYWHERE.
Me: Oh, man! It can't be Twilight yet...
Him: Nope. But you're close.
Me: OH! High School Musical 3??
Him: Zac Efron is here.
I went to pick up our veggie box last night from Michael at the Sustainable House. He let me swap a few things (I know from experience the two of us can't get through a whole cos lettuce in a week) and he even gave me an extra jar of this week's special treat, a hot Sri Lankan eggplant pickle. Anyway, I got the box home and started unpacking... and HOLY CRAP, we have a lot of vegetables! I put a list on the whiteboard so we would be reminded to work our way through them. It reads: red cabbage, pumpkin, zucchini, mushrooms, broccolini, beetroot, fennel, sweet potato, sweet corn, rhubarb, choy sum, capsicum, onions, and potatoes. Note: For most of these items, we just receive a small amount suitable for two people. (Personally I like this, while the Snook feels he'd rather have more of a few things and less variety.) Anyway, here's the kicker - our oven is broken! Friday night I was pre-heating it for a pizza when it tripped the circuit breaker. We flipped it back on, and nothing. No fan, no heating element. Thank God the stove still works. So we're ovenless until we can get it repaired, which makes using up all this veg that much harder. Any suggestions?
I used half a dozen potatoes, a quarter of the red cabbage, and a carrot from the fridge in last night's dinner: Veal Schnitzel with Coleslaw and Rösti.
It was fantastic! That was the first time I'd ever made rosti (using this recipe) and it turned out really great. Who needs Una's when you can whip this up at home?
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Check it out... We got a path! Ma and Pa Snook were in town this weekend so they came over today to help us with a few projects. After Snookums and his Pa made the necessary trip to Bunnings, they got down to work. We now have a shiny new tap halfway along the side of the house, which will make it much easier to keep all the plants watered. They also brought us loads of plant cuttings from the Snook homestead, including four elkhorns which they wired to trees. (Evidently we're supposed to stuff banana skins behind them for food? This Midwesterner sometimes finds rainforest plants a little scary.) After the in-laws headed home, Snookums and I headed out to do some hard labour. He finished digging out our path while I hauled rocks and bags of sand. We lined the path with a fabric weed mat, then covered that with river sand. Then we laid down pavers reclaimed from the back garden. A couple bags of white gravel were added to fill in the gaps. I think it looks nice! Much better than the old tree trunk discs rotting in the grass.
My veggie patch is going gangbusters. I took some photos... [more...]
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Three hours later: Good grief. Still waiting on final results from Indiana. But with more than 99% reported... we've so got it. I'm so proud. I have to call my Grandma.
Five hours later: Well, CNN may not have called it, but 538.com did. INDIANA GOES DEMOCRAFT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 44 YEARS! I wouldn't have guessed it at all. I was telling people all day that I considered it a moral victory just that it wasn't a blowout. (After all, Bush did carry the state by 20 points in 2004.) I'm so happy to be wrong, and I'm so, so proud to have been part of this. It would've been easy not to bother this year. It was tempting to say, "My vote won't count anyway." The cynical voice in my head told me that absentee ballots are rarely matter. But you know what? 23,000 of us Hoosiers made the difference. We did it. Way to go, everybody! Somewhere my great-grandpa Tony is smiling.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Rob has outdone himself this time. I think this is honestly my favorite photo ever taken of the two of us. I really need to have it blown up and framed, I think.
Yeah. That was me yelling to the Snook. Needless to say, I thought tonight's Idol rocked. Wes doing the moonwalk was the most kickass moment since Dean Geyer did that backflip. Everyone else's performance was just utter crap by comparison. Wes is walking away with this thing!
Great party! It's 1:15am and the last of the guests has left. We've stored what leftovers we can and put the rest in the bin. It's time for a much needed sleep... Photos when we finally get up again!
Sixteen hours later: Okay, the photos are up! As usual, I spent too much time socializing and not enough time taking pictures of the guests. You can see more (and better) photos of the festivities at: Andrew's site, Rob's Flickr page, Bex's Flickr page. I'm sure there will be more as people get them uploaded. Incidentally, I think we set some kind of a record with this party. More than 50% of the guests were bloggers! (Links on the photo page.)
SPECIAL THANKS to: Miss Fee for helping me with my dress, Emily for carving the scary jack-o-lantern, Rob and Amy for their last-minute decorating assistance, and to all of the guests that brought special treats. It's actually very humbling that so many of you are willing to come and share in our craziness with this event every year!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Cutest. Cookies. Ever. (Special thanks to Emily for carving the very evil and Voldemortish jack-o-lantern.)
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