not tin or aluminium

Earlier this week I was presented with a rather nice DJs gift voucher from SML to celebrate my 10 years of enslavement.

There was nothing for it but to pretty much immediately spend, spend, spend. And cliched spending at that. I calculated that I’ve been employed by SML for 21% of my life, which really called for something of substance to mark the occasion.

So I went out today and bought myself a very nice and not inexpensive new watch that I am ridiculously pleased with.


giant watch box. newkitty for scale

I’m also thrilled that I actually sucked it up and spent it on an indulgence for myself and not something practical, not something for ThePalace(OfLove), not something for someone else.

This is definitely a positive change! Plus … shiny!

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on the land

After about 9 months, our faux compost bin was making excellent progress – the whole thing was teeming with worms and organic matter was breaking down really quickly. We were so encouraged that we decided to take it to the next level and get ourselves a worm farm. Also because the excellent compost was becoming very full and a bit too … juicy.

The relatively inexpensive worm farm we had in 2008/09 had no legs and a drainage tube that dripped worm juice onto the ground. As a work-around, we propped it up on bricks and placed a bowl underneath the tube and it worked well enough, but wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing.

This time we we learned from our experience and spent a little more to get feet and a tap for drainage. And hey, apparently this worm farm is the classy way to compost:

I know I feel totally classy when I’m up to my elbows in decaying vegetables and worm juice.

The packaging also featured these sexy lady worms, getting together for drinks

Imagine my disappointment to discover my worms were not wearing cute outfits. It was like Sea Monkies all over again.

We still retained the faux compost bin and all was going along relatively swimmingly with the worm farm for a couple of months, though surprisingly not such rapid breakdown of the newly added organic matter as with the bin. At the end of the holiday I decided to attend to worm-farm … ermmm … farming and use the worm juice to fertilise the plants on the lower balcony.

I put a small (about a litre capacity) watering can underneath and Don turned on the tap. Worm juice (ewwww) gushed out … and out … and out … and the tap could not be turned off. So we put one small plant pot after another under the tap and still the worm juice (ewww) kept gushing. Then I raced up to the laundry to grab a large bucket – and we knew we had a problem when the bucket was filling rapidly. We lifted the trays to look at the worm juice reservoir and it was absolutely brimming.

Oh! The running! The shrieking! The buckets! The laughter! It was all like some horrible slapstick.

There ended up being about 20 litres of worm juice (ewwww). The garden was amply fertilised as was the grass on the nature strip.

Lesson learned to purge a little more frequently.

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trying to project some positive body english*

Where did that three day weekend go? It seemed not a great deal was accomplished, but I am absolutely knackered.

Yesterday I spent what seemed like the entire day in the kitchen. The fruit bowl was overflowing with fruit on its last legs, so rather than add it to the compost heap I took action.

Made mango coconut ice-pops with 3 small mangos & the usual coconut paleta recipe


(I had one this evening – delicious! Even better than I had hoped!)

Squeezed a ridiculous number of oranges by hand with the reamer. This took a surprisingly long time, but the output was worth it.

Also used 3 small apples for the ubiquitous Kerry apple cake (unpictured), I’m sure I could have been more imaginative with the apples, but by that point I just wanted to sit down …

because, I also made chicken stock for us, made chicken stock for the kitties (helps NewKitty’s horrid innards), made a lemon infused syrup for lemonade AND a slow-cooked lamb rogan josh from scratch. Yikes!

Today was Don’s turn to earn the horribly aching legs from standing all day – though he sensibly wore shoes, so was quite a bit less achy.

It was about 10oC cooler than Sunday, so he started with beef stock (we should be well set for stock for a while) and then a big batch of gumbo. Rather than use his usual peanut oil to make the roux, he was inspired by
the most excellent Amy and used lard instead (though stuck to regular flour).

And used some of my freshly made stock. Sadly no photo of the finished product either. Needless to say, it was outstandingly outstanding. We will definitely be using lard again. Best of all because the batch was large, we have a couple of containers of leftovers freezing for future dinners.

And me? Today I decided it was time to attack the temporary IKEA block-out curtains and add pinch pleats to the headers to replace the very didspleasing gathers – which were a bit too froofy and unstructured for my liking.

Because I am an idiot, I sewed them by hand – this took a REALLY long time and I still have one panel of four to go. I could have done the whole thing on the machine which probably would have taken about half an hour for the entire four, but I think it in this case the hand-sewing made for a better finish. I could also have used those metal prong pleaty things, but hey I’m all about the using what I have on hand and possibly giving myself RSI in the process.

I’ve hemmed two and the others are clipped with bulldog clips (my new favourite haberdashery sewing accessory – brilliant to hold please in place).

They do look infinitely better with pleats. They will do until we can decide what we actually want there and I won’t be hating them every second. But really, even in the froofy state they were better than the ugly off-white(ish), weirdly textured, bargain-basement vertical blinds that were here when we moved in.

I was supposed to do a little SML work this evening. I don’t feel in the least remorseful that I haven’t.

* heard on australian open tennis commentary: wawrinka v garcia-lopez

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to ert is buman to forgive divine*

As is invariably the way at the end of January in Sydney, it is disgustingly hot – bordering on tropical. So of course there was nothing for it but to go out for a quick run this morning.

The garmin told me it was 25oC when I set out at 8:46am and I believe it. I must have lost about 2kg in sweat. The idea that I run much better in the cooler weather was disproved again because I did much the same time as the last two runs, one hot, one cold.

I was hoping to get to 4 or 5km tomorrow, but it is forecast to be hotter. Ugh.

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A couple of weeks ago we took the old television out of our bedroom where it was doing nothing apart from gathering dust and gave it to Joe/Frank. We didn’t have anything appropriate to sit it (or the dvd player) on, so there was a quick trip to the big blue and yellow store this morning for an insanely cheap tv bench, and a lamp for his room, and some batteries, and a sisal rug, and NO ikea chocolate.

On the way we dropped a couple of bags of cast-off items to the charity shop and then were side-tracked by planes and industrial things:

After we shopped, I took what I think is my favourite photo ever:

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We then stopped into the cat protection society (don’t get excited) to buy the kitties a new scratching post.

NewKitty was pretty happy about it:

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It was such a sparkly day that I was forced to take more photos:


can’t say this looks entirely safe


power pole installation 1


power pole installation 2

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We stopped off for supplies for dinner – chicken legs for BBQing and salad fixings – and a giant bit of ginger for booze-free drinks. Today marks a month since we have patronised any Coles or Woolworths (or subsidiary) stores. I feel pretty good about this and hope we can keep it up for as long as possible. We’re pretty fortunate to have alternatives, though I will admit that it can be more costly to purchase from them.

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We spent the remainder of the afternoon hibernating in ThePalace(OfLove) There was beer making, there was cleaning, there was pottering on the InformationSuperhighway, there was a good deal of complaining about the heat.

*spotted in Hong Kong on a tee shirt sleeve.

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there are several excellent online dictionaries

In Hong Kong two of the most amazing drinks I had were non-alcoholic: a fabulous proper lemonade from Classified in the Mid Levels; and a wonderful pureed mango drink at saigon saigon in Causeway Bay.


lemonade in Hong Kong

I came back all enthused to try new drinks and somehow came across a 38 things to drink instead of booze buzzfeed article (yes, I know), with pix and links to recipes. And surprisingly the drinks all looked pretty gosh-darned excellent.

I was particularly dazzled by no. 31: pineapple mint punch, so I clicked through to the recipe to add the ingredients to the shopping list. As an aside, the recipe source (love food eat) is a really lovely blog.

The ingredients are listed as follows:
1 cup sugar syrup
2 cups fresh pineapple
5-6 springs of fresh mint
2 cups of club soda
1 cup of white rum
Juice of 1-2 limes

Clearly buzzfeed and I have rather different definitions of booze!

I’ll be making that when I’m back to the drinking, in the interim, I think I’m going to have a crack at spicy ginger soda.

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only 235 working days to xmas


heart: enmore

The return to SML wasn’t too horrific. In a burst of pre-holiday enthusiasm I’d stupidly scheduled a workshop (with me facilitating) on my first day back – this was very quickly rescheduled. MrT is all about easing me back into it, though I imagine this will be short-lived. Fortunately Vincenzo held the fort very well while I was gone, so there’s not a huge amount outstanding.

Anyway I returned in my usual typhoon of positive energy and enthusiasm (my past-self wonders just who this person is and would undoubtedly have complete disdain for present-self) and have whipped a few things into shape.

Interesting having been gone for so long – you kind of forget how unnecessarily hysterical and catastrophising some of my close colleagues can be. Frustrating. I just need to not allow myself to get caught up in it.

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The slow culling continues. The plastic tub was acquired, so I was able to rid myself of a purple faux-crocodile vanity case (no, I don’t know what I was thinking either). I also added rather lovely vintage-style cake and biscuit tins to the charity pile – nice to look at but don’t quite seal properly. And I’m taking two bottles of spray cleaner we don’t care for to the SML kitchen, where at least they will be used rather than sitting in the cupboard for two years.

I really promise to cease the decluttering minutiae. Oh who am I kidding?

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I have a load of very pedestrian Action Items for the THREE DAY weekend.

The prospect of more days off is very exciting.

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holiday: *sob* last day

I must say that having almost a month off work (and not due to illness / operations) is pretty gosh-darned fantastic. Supremely relaxing. So relaxing the brain is a little mushy – next time (and be assured there will be a next time!) I need to include some mentally challenging activities.

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Don was back at work today, but I took an extra day because I wanted to ease back into it. Three days will be a little easier to handle than a full five and then the next week will only be four because of Monday’s public holiday.

We’d communicated badly about recommencing 5:2, so while I went about rather peckish today, Don was enjoying ramen for lunch and chippies as an afternoon snack. He’s now trying the start the fast day at dinner experiment.

We’re definitely seeing the results of stuffing ourselves stupid for a month. There is much pudge. But I’m pretty confident we’ll budge it fairly quickly given the success of last time.

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This morning was a little rainy and overcast – much more pleasant conditions for a 3km run. And I found this one much less arduous than the last because it was around 10°C cooler, though it was interesting to arrive home and compare the results of both – there was only around 30 seconds difference.

I’m hoping to slowly ramp up the distance in the coming weeks, but need to sit down and come up with a plan.

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I also decluttered a little – hair wax that I was unsatisfied with, but had been in the vanity for about 2 years rolls eyes, cleanser that did not suit my skin that had been there for a similar amount of time, some weird grey strap for a mystery electrical device.

I figure that if I combine some heavy blitzing with chucking at least one thing every day, we should be much less cluttered, dare I say even minimalist, by year end.

Also, I avoided buying a plastic tub which didn’t quite meet my requirements. I know I can find something suitable elsewhere and it was pretty satisfying not to bring in something sub-par. I felt quite smug (smug, but still in need of a tub).

And I brought Mom’s good silver up from the garage. I think we should start using it for every day, rather than having it sit down there doing nothing, or saving it for the once-every-couple-of-years celebrations.

I briefly opened the box and I’d forgotten just how nice it all is! Don and I need to sit down and unpack. And then decide where we are going to put it all.

I’ve been reading a lot about not saving lovely / special things for best and actually using them and I very much want to do more of that sort of thing.

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Joan sent me this photo of BabyKitty and NewKitty dopplegangers she’d spotted in a store in her neighbourhood:

This is rather a bit closer than they’d get in real life.

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