Trip to Victoria
There was no Jamie Oliver post this past weekend… because we went to Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula! Eileen had been trying to get us down there for ages, so we figured it was finally time to go. We flew out on Friday night and back on Monday night, and in between we managed to experience: Fitzroy hipsters, Melbourne shopping, blindfolded Rubik’s cube solvers, a lighthouse, Bass Strait, many wineries, a “cheesery”, and a couple beer halls. It was a great little jam-packed mini-break. Photos are here. Thanks for hosting us, RT!
Month: August 2011 (page 1 of 5)
Trip to Victoria
“University of Sydney joins forces with Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food.” Neat! On Friday, October 21, there are going to be cooking classes up on the quad at Sydney Uni. The Snook and I cook quite a lot so I don’t think we’ll be going. But if you have the day free and you’d like to learn to make some tasty meals, you should book in! (Link courtesy of Mary-Helen‘s Twitter.)
Shared today on Google Reader:
- For your confidential information
- Which is more hilarious?
- Woman Finds She Now Has $180 iWood Instead Of iPad – Hahaha… I am reminded of a flatmate I had in London who bought “pot” from a dodgy dude on the street and got a piece of wood wrapped in aluminium foil instead.
- Brad Pitt on Dad Duty in London – Shawl-collar cardigan. I am a TRENDSETTER.
- The 10 Most Ridiculously Difficult Encyclopedia Brown Mysteries
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Fox Faces Socks
These are the fourth socks in the 2011 “Super Special Six Pattern Sock Club.” I’ve caught up! After the stupid Nutkins knocked me two months behind schedule, I’ve finally caught back up to everyone else. These Fox Faces Socks by Nancy Bush were a very quick knit for me, and I’m pleased with how they turned out. The wool is Knitabulous‘s “Ultimate Sock” (which I think has been discontinued) in a beautiful faded pinky-red. I knitted both socks at the same time on a pair of 60cm 2.75mm circular needles. I followed the pattern pretty much *exactly*, which is like a record for me. (I did do one extra repeat on the leg though to add some length.) The toe is a weird one, with three sets of equally spaced decreases rather than the usual two. I actually like how it looks on the top of the sock, with two of the decrease bands emerging perfectly from two of the lace columns. I’m not sure how the third band will wear on the bottom of the foot, but I guess we’ll see. These actually turned out a tiny bit short for me, and I couldn’t be bothered frogging to make them longer. (I was running out of wool too.) So these lovely socks will shortly be winging their way to Chicago to grace the feet of my awesome cousin. She hooks us up with episodes of True Blood; I knit her some socks. It’s a good system.
As usual, more photos and details over on Ravelry…
A bit tired and sore this week. I’m also feeling a little depressed about my lack of speed, especially when CERTAIN PEOPLE have already massively surpassed me after just a few months’ training. (*cough* Snook. *cough*) But I continue to plug away, turtle that I am. Sunday we did a 9:45 Magic Mile around Victoria Park and then jogged a bit through Newtown to hit four miles. Monday I went to Spudds after work. Tuesday I did a lunchtime run around the Botanic Gardens by myself. Wednesday I went to Spudds again. Lastly, today I did a lunchtime run with Raj.
Aug. 21: 6.68km
Aug. 23: 5.92km
Aug. 26: 5.91km
Total this week: 18.51km (11.5mi)
Total in 2011: 785.47km (490.9mi)
To meet my goal of running 1200km in 2011, I should be at 784.6km. I am ahead… but only JUST. I’m just not racking up the miles the way I was on my marathon training! Staying focused to hit my goal for the end of the year is going to be a challenge.
Last month Costco finally opened their first Sydney store, and pretty much the whole city went nuts. There are no other warehouse-type stores here (unless you count IKEA), so there was massive interest. We never had Costco in Indiana; instead we had The Wholesale Club and then Sam’s Club. They’re all basically the same though. The Snook and I were curious to see whether Costco’s prices would justify us schlepping out there in the GoGet car. There aren’t any prices on the Australian website, so the only way to find out was to go there ourselves. We signed up for a business membership online (hooray for having an ABN – saved us $5) and then headed out there Sunday morning. We got there about 10:15am… and there was already a queue of hundreds of people stretching through the parking garage. Wow. Luckily the line moved pretty quickly and we soon found ourselves at the entrance. We were able to get photographed and pick up our cards in less than 10 minutes. (The counter where people were signing up from scratch looked like it would take a LOT longer.) And then we were in! And it was CROWDED.
The store was just like the warehouse stores I remember from the States. We managed about 2 hours in there before we both started to go crazy. We didn’t actually buy that much; we don’t really have the room for perishables right now so we stuck to things we knew we could stash in the pantry. Mostly we just took photos of prices on things so we could compare back at home. They had a number of American products that I’ve never seen before in Australia, so that was pretty exciting. (Monterey Jack cheese! I haven’t had it in 10 years!!) They also had quite a lot of their Kirkland home brand range. As expected though, they’ve really only got a couple of options for any given product category. Some stuff we could tell was a really good deal; others we weren’t so sure of. Our fellow shoppers certainly looked to be taking advantage! The queue to the checkout was long but it moved quickly. By the time we left the store just after noon, police had blocked off the entrance to the full parking garage and were directing people to park at the shopping center across the road. So if you go on a Sunday, best get there early!
Now for the fun part: our price comparison. This was originally for our benefit, but I figure I might as well put it out there for future googlers. We basically just took photos of things that we thought we might actually buy. (Keep in mind that we eat a fairly low-carb diet; hence the lack of sugary, bready stuff.) Then we looked up those items online to see what they sell for elsewhere. For grocery items, I just compared to Coles and Woolworths online prices. (You may be able to get those items cheaper in the suburbs or with coupons, but I’d likely be paying premium at my inner city supermarket anyway so I just went with that.) Overall I was happy to see that just about everything was significantly cheaper at Costco. (Yay! Means we might be able to recoup our membership fee.) Read on if you want to find out whether you should make a trip out there too.The stuff we actually bought:
- Melamine Bowl Set of 4 with Lids – $23.39. There’s no brand name for me to compare elsewhere, so I can’t say objectively if these were a good deal. I think they were though. They’re big and bright and colourful; and they all have fitted lids and a rubber ring on the bottom. I’ve been wanting some melamine mixing bowls for ages so these made me very happy!
- Polder Slim Digital Kitchen Scale – $23.69. Our old kitchen scale was busted, and all the nice ones I’d seen for sale here were over $40. Even this one is $30 on Amazon. Great deal! I’ve used it several times already.
- Snapware Glasslock 18pc Set – $31.99. I just about fell over when I saw these. The Snook bitches about us taking our lunches in plastic containers All. The. Time. I’d investigated getting glass containers with lids, but they were $10 EACH at Kmart Broadway. These work out to $3.55 each. The Snaplock are highly regarded, and you can’t beat the price. We’ve used these every day this week. Excellent deal.
- Solenatura Diced Tomatoes – 12 x 400g cans – $6.69 – 56c per can. Good deal – Woolies generic brand is 74c per can; Coles generic is 69c per can.
- Kosher Vlasic Dill pickles – 1.8L – $4.69. I’ve never been able to get Vlasic pickles in Australia before! These are the big crunchy American pickles of my dreams. Coles has much smaller jar of crappy dill pickles for $3.20; Woolies is same price.
- Kirkland Canadian Maple Syrup – 946ml – $15.89 – $1.68/100ml. Fantastic deal – Coles has it for $3.83/100ml; Woolies has some for $2.14/100ml and others for $4/100ml.
- Kirkland Signature Organic Peanut Butter 794g – $5.59 – 70c per 100g. This is the good stuff: no added sugar and you have to stir it up because it separates. Good deal – Woolies has Macro Organic PB for $1.43/100g; Coles doesnâ€™t list any organic.
- Kirkland Organic Salsa – 2 x 1.08kg bottles – $8.99 – 42c/100g. Fantastic deal – Coles has Old El Paso for $1.18/100g and home brand for 71c/100g; Woolies has Old El Paso for $1.23/100g and home brand for 78c/100g.
The stuff we didn’t buy but might next time:
- Beef Tenderloin Whole – Vacuum Packed – Product of Australia – $26.99/kg. Possibly good deal – Snook thinks youâ€™d pay more than this in bulk at somewhere like Glenmore, but youâ€™d need to check the quality. We picked up a cheap whole scotch fillet at Harris Farm recently that was tough and tasteless. Costco meat quality in the US is highly regarded, so it’s worth a shot.
- Pork Belly Strips Boneless Rindless – Product of Australia – $9.99/kg. Canâ€™t find comparable product online.
- Pork Belly Whole – Product of Australia – $8.99/kg. Good deal – Coles has for $12.50/kg.
- Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Regiano matured 24 months = $31.99/kg. Good deal – Coles has for $49-58/kg; Woolies for $45/kg
- Luv-A-Duck Duck Fat 330g – $4.89. Good deal – Coles has for $5.95. Woolies doesn’t list.
- Beechworth Pure Honey 2 x 1.5kg tubs – $19.99. Good deal – Coles sells a single 1.5kg tub for $13.36; Woolies is $13.75.
- Speedy Berry (frozen) Raspberries 1kg – $6.89. Good deal – Coles has ranging from $10-18.50/kg; Woolies has $17-19/kg.
- Borg’s Puff Pastry Sheets 1.7kg – $4.39 – 26c per 100g. Good deal – Coles has cheapest for 43c per 100g; Woolies has Borgâ€™s for 34c per 100g
- Johnny’s Ranch Dressing 1.4L – $9.29 – $6.64/L. Ranch dressing is hard to find in Australia! Good deal – Coles has for Newman’s Own for $17.90/L; Woolies has two kinds for $10/L and $18.60/L.
- Kirkland Signature Whole Almonds 1.36kg – $12.49 = $9.18/kg. Possibly good deal – http://thenutman.com.au/ sells raw for $14/kg and roasted $18/kg; Coles has generic brand for $15.97/kg; Woolies has for $20+/kg. (Need to check bulk prices.)
- Kirkland Signature Pecan Halves 908g – $18.99 = $20.91/kg. Possibly good deal – http://thenutman.com.au/ sells $30/kg. Coles has for $27/kg; Woolies has for $26/kg. (Need to check bulk prices.)
- Maille Dijon Mustard 865g – $8.39. Good deal – Coles sells 215g for $3.77, so 4 x 215g = 860g for $15.08. Woolies is even more for that size jar ($3.86).
- Strawberries – 1kg – $9.99. Good deal – Coles has fresh strawberries for $11.92/kg; Woolies is same price.
- Cucina Chickpeas 12 x 400g cans – $8.69 – 72c per can. Good deal – Coles cheapest is $1.07/can (on sale now at 80c/can)
- Kirkland Signature California Pistachios 1.36kg – $19.79 = $14.55/kg. Possibly good deal – http://thenutman.com.au/ sells for $25/kg. Coles has for $24.58/kg; Woolies has for $25.31/kg. (Need to check bulk prices.)
- Kirkland Signature Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts 680g – $17.99 = $26.46/kg. Possibly good deal – http://thenutman.com.au/ sells for $32/kg. Coles has for $37.09/kg; Woolies cheapest for $32.69/kg.
- Glad Wrap 600m x 45cm – $23.99 – 4c per meter. Good deal – Coles and Woolies both have cheapest price as 7c per meter.
- Western Star Butter 1.5kg – $9.99 – $6.66/kg. I actually did a double-take at these humongous, oversized blocks of butter! Good deal – Coles sells for $10-11.60/kg; Woolies has for $10/kg.
- Skippy Peanut Butter 1.36kg – $5.69 – 42c per 100g. I’ve never seen Skippy for sale in Australia before! Good deal – Coles has generic PB for 60c/100g; Woolies has generic for 57c. All name brands more expensive.
- Kirkland Signature Monterey Jack Cheese 907g – $6.29/kg. Never seen it anywhere else in Australia EVER!
- Mainland Tasty Cheese Block 2kg – $21.39 – $10.70/kg. Good deal – Coles has for $13.90/kg; Woolies has for $13.75/kg.
- Kirkland Signature Raw Pine Nuts 680g – $27.98 – $41.15/kg. Good deal – Coles cheapest are $55.92/kg; Woolies cheapest are $53.20.
- Queen Vanilla Bean Paste 320g – $24.39 – $7.62/100g. Good deal – Coles has it for $16.45/100g; Woolies has it for $16.52/100g.
- Head & Shoulders Shampoo 2 x 750ml bottles – $22.99 – $11.50 each. Good deal – Coles has a single 750ml bottle for $17.11; Wooles for $17.19.
- Kraft Vegemite 950g tub – $11.49 – $1.20/100g. Good deal – Coles has for $1.44/100g; Woolies is same price.
- Ivory Bath Bar 16 x 127g bars – $7.99. Good deal – hard to find in Australia – this site has 16 for $9.99.
- Herbal Essences Shampoo (or Conditioner) 3 x 400ml bottles – $14.99 – $5 per bottle. Good deal – Coles sells 300ml bottle for $6.58, 400ml bottle for $7.48. Woolies has 300ml for $6.44.
- Pantene Shampoo (or Conditioner) 1.2L – $15.79 – $1.32 per 100ml. Good deal – Coles biggest bottles work out around $2.14/100ml; Woolies are around $2.42/100ml.
- Opti-free Replenish Contact Lens Solution – Economy Pack 300ml + 120ml (and free case) – $12.99 – $3.09 per 100ml. Good deal – Optometrist charges $29 for 2 x 300ml + 120ml (with 2 cases) which is $4.03 per 100ml.
- Finish Quantum Powerball Dishwasher Tablets 3 x 30ct boxes – $39.99 – 44c per tablet. Good deal – Coles normally has for 80-86c per tablet (on sale now for 50c per tablet). Woolies normally has for 81-86c per table (on sale now for 59c per tablet).
- Kleenex Cottonelle Toilet Tissue 60 x 190sheet rolls – $26.99 – 45c per roll. Good deal – Coles normally sells for 74c per roll (on sale now for 58c); Woolies normally sells for 76c per roll (on sale now for 42c per roll) – might be unwieldy to store 60 rolls of TP though!!
- Janome Overlocker 8002DX – $314.99. Good deal – listed at $799 on Janomeâ€™s site (PULL THE OTHER ONE, JANOME), but selling for $399 from all retailers I could find.
- Riedel Vinum Shiraz glasses – set of 4 – $74.99. Great deal – prices from online retailers ran from $115 – $180.
Stuff we will probably NOT be buying anytime soon:
- Steggles Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – “Saddle Pack” – Product of Australia – $10.79/kg. Not a great deal – Coles deli has for $10.90/kg, and you can often get cheaper on sale or from Lenards or Harris Farm. Woolworths is $15.50/kg though.
- Pork Spare Ribs – Product of Australia – $13.99/kg. Not a great deal – Coles has for $13/kg. Woolies has for $15.47/kg.
- Kirkland Signature Whole Fancy Cashews 1.13kg – $21.99 = $19.46. Not a great deal – http://thenutman.com.au/ sells for $17/kg. Coles has for $19.02/kg; Woolies has for $19.97/kg. (Need to check bulk prices though.)
Incidentally, if any of my Sydney friends want to go out there on some weekend, if you provide the transport I can do the purchasing! (You have to be a member to buy anything.)
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File this under “Meaningless but Still Momentous”: This is officially my 10,000th blog post. Yes, really. It’s taken me just shy of 11 years to hit that milestone. Obviously my posting frequency has dropped off a lot in recent years, but I still can’t see myself ever stopping completely. I was never able to keep a proper diary, so this blog has become the record of my life for the past 11 years.
As a fun little project, I went back to the beginning and made a list of the Old School Bloggers that I still read and follow to this day. There aren’t many of us still chugging along after so long!
- Brigita – Her original blog was 13 Days from Monday. At the end of 2007, she switched to My Cancer Deployment to document her battle with rectal cancer. She’s also got Sugarmouth, but she doesn’t update it much anymore. She’s pretty active over on Facebook and Twitter though.
- Gael – Her Pop Culture Junk Mail is still a daily visit for me. And she even wrote a book! She’s active on Twitter too.
- John – His original site was decommissioned in 2002, but the new one has been going strong ever since.
- Kevin – His original Geocities blog went away in favour of his own domain, where he’s been posting regularly ever since. He’s also pretty active on Facebook and Twitter.
- Kristen – Still blogging at her original site. The updates have slowed a little now that she’s got two kids, of course! She’s also active on Twitter and FB.
- Matt – Always and forever at Scrubbles.net. And he designed my current mast-head! He’s also active on Facebook and Twitter.
- Max – Max’s original blog was a Tripod site (which hilariously now appears to be an N’Sync tribute site). He’s got a Tumblr site and Twitter now, but he doesn’t post to them that often. He’s really active on Facebook though.
I’m surprised by how much these folks feel like a regular part of my life. A few of them I’ve met in person, but most of them I only know through these digital connections. Isn’t that amazing?