Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Airport Bound!!

Yes, that's right kiddies. I'm off to Thailand!! At 1.00 tomorrow morning... *groan* God knows how I'm going to stay awake long enough to get on the plane. I might have to break my not drinking Coke rule *gasp* In the meantime though, all my bags are packed and I'm ready to go (aaah, memories of Year...10, maybe???...house music!!). Now I just have to make it through eight and a bit hours of the colonial histories of Melbourne and Hobart, and attempting to write text for objects I've never seen before that were owned by people I've never heard of before (well, except for good ol' Batman and a multitude of Hentys. Thank you, Grade 4 history!!). Should be fun!!! *has a small panic attack and hides under her desk in the foetal position*

I also have the fun task of deciphering Anthea's abbreviations on all the notes she's left me. Okay, so I could just call her and ask what they mean, but where's the fun in that?? Although I might have to cave and do just that - it took me a good couple of hours yesterday to work out that 'phy' was an abbreviation for photography. And here I was wondering what physics had to do with colonial objects from Port Phillip and Van Diemen's Land...

Anyway, I'm off to have a small case of OCD and check that I have my passport with me 45,000 times (you know, just in case it's escaped from my bag since the last time I checked). Wish me luck not falling asleep at the airport!!!

K xx

PS. Having spent months last year complaining about how ugly it is, last night I took my electric orange Gecko's luggage tag off my pack and put it onto my suitcase... I think I've offically gone insane... Although it *does* make your suitcase easy to spot on the carousel!! ;)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Tale of Two Mannequins

There's a temporary display up in the Main Hall at work at the moment about Australians in the Himalayas. It basically consists of a whole lot of camping equipment, some ice picks and crampons, a mannequin wearing a trekking jumpsuit thing, and a couple of text panels. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, the mannequin suddenly disappeared over the weekend. We didn't think much of it, seeing as how we were on our way to get our morning caffeine fix and our brains weren't properly functioning yet, but that all changed in our team meeting in the afternoon.

"Some of you may have noticed that the mannequin in the Hall has disappeared," our section head said. "That's because there was an incident at the weekend." The incident was this: a text panel had fallen off the wall (or at least I *think* it was a text panel. It might have been an object label on a stand... Either way, the outcome is the same). This had fallen in such a way that it knocked the mannequin over. And the mannequin met an unfortunate Trotsky-esque end - he landed on an ice pick and was impaled. What I wouldn't pay to see the security footage of THAT...

The ice pick came off unscathed - apparently they're tough enough to impale mannequins regularly without suffering any ill effects - but the mannequin didn't reappear. It would seem he's gone to that great department store in the sky, along with all the poor unfortunates who feature regularly on Mythbusters. But this week, they finally managed to track down a replacement mannequin.

Well, the replacement is seriously creepy. The last one at least looked human. This one? Well, this one appears to be some kind of foam based mannequin. His sole facial feature is a nose, and to compensate, they've pulled the hood of the jumpsuit as tight as it can go. I suspect he's actually a bunch of separate parts, because his hands look like they've been severed and then stuffed up the sleeves as an afterthought. And he has a serious hunchback thing going on. I'm wondering whether the good folks out at Registration and Conservation have wrapped him in bubble wrap before dressing him in the suit. Oh, and worst of all - his head is a really weird shape. It's oval shaped, but the long side of the oval is horizontal rather than vertical, so his head is really wiiiiiiiiiiiiide... The overall effect is disturbing. I suspect the display should be renamed "Quasimodo goes mountain climbing"... Hmm - I wonder if Sam and Dean Winchester can take care of the creepy mannequin when they swing by to take care of the ghost on the mezzanine??? ;)

K xx

PS. I'm not serious about the Sam and Dean thing (well...maybe a little...), but yes, the Museum is haunted. Apparently...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cheesecake brownies

Yes, that's right. I made brownies twice in one week. Although these ones were for Anthea's farewell, and I thought I'd better butter her up so that she's inclined to reply to all my panicky emails when I take over Hobart and Melbourne next week. He he he - if you didn't know the backstory here, someone might think I was plotting world domination... Anyway, onto the brownies - they're part brownie, part cheesecake, all awesomeness.

Start with dark chocolate and butter. Why is it that so many of my recipes start like this???

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler and set aside to cool. While that's cooling off, put caster sugar and an egg in a mixing bowl, thusly:

Then beat it until light and fluffy. The electric mixer is your friend. Totally worth the $40!!

Then sift in a mixture of plain and self raising flours:

And pour in the cooled chocolate/butter mixture:

Then mix it all together until it looks like this:

Then you pour it into a greased and lined tin and bake for about 10 minutes. It'll look like this:

Leave the brownie base to one side to cool off a little, and start on the cheesecake topping! First you cut up a block of cream cheese, then add caster sugar, an egg, some vanilla extract (essence is the Devil), and cream. Except in this case, I forgot to buy cream and substituted sour cream instead. It didn't make any difference to the end product, and I just added a little extra sugar to counter any possible sourness. Anyway, it'll look like this:

Then set at it with the electric mixer again (I *told* you it was your friend!) until smooth. Or mostly smooth. I didn't leave the cream cheese out to soften for quite long enough, so it's got some little lumpy bits in it. But it really doesn't matter!!

Then you spread the cheesecake batter on top of the brownie base, and stick it back in the oven for 15 minutes.

And then you leave it to cool in the oven with the door ajar. Once it's cooled, stick it in the fridge for at least three hours. After the three hours (or, in this case, at 6.45 the following morning while frantically trying to eat breakfast and make lunch - are you impressed that I was dedicated enough to still take photos? Because you should be...), take it out of the pan, and cut it into squares. The recipe claims that it makes 16, but the way I cut it makes 30. Frankly, I prefer my way!!!

A nice close up of the side, post-baking and cooling and refrigerating.

Mmmmmm, deliciousness...

And here we have the final product. Solid brownie base and light fluffy cheesecake top. They've been a huge hit every time I've made them. I dare you to be faced with these and not go "Omnomnomnomnomnomnomnomnomnomnomnom" ;)
K xx

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How times change...

It occurred to me today that a mere 18 months ago, I was working in the fascinating world of beverage manufacturing (okay, that may have been mildly sarcastic. Sorry guys, but to me it was never particularly fascinating... Although I suspect you may just have guessed that!), where I played with dead bugs and slime, and attended meetings where I took notes that said things like "CNCL spec due pubn 2/5" and "CO BWO up 17% on F07" and "Phosphatase neg 209583".

Somehow in the past 17 months, I've gone from that type of thing every day to spending nine weeks in South and Central America, moving not just out of home but 800km up the road from home, gotten a post-grad degree, and wound up working full time in a museum. And today I attended a meeting where I took notes that said things like "Tas - 3 tax'd kangaroos. 1 standing, 1 sitting, 1 crouching." and "Wildlife import permit required to transfer to ACT - Reg. to handle?? Check if G knows re dingoes" and "Cons. to test using light machine?"

And while it may still all seem cryptic and acronym-y, it couldn't be more different. And frankly, I'd rather play with taxidermied Taswegian kangaroos than with dead bugs and slime! They don't smell as bad for starters ;) And for THAT, I am eternally grateful. Now if only I could find a way to pick up the whole institution and relocate it to Melbourne... Hmmm...............

K xx

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rainy Sunday afternoon

So, when the weather looks like this on a Sunday afternoon in Canberra:
(Pouring with rain in case you can't tell from the photo), what's a girl to do?? That's simple - bake. I decided to make my trademark triple chocolate brownies, but try using chopped chocolate instead of the chocolate chips I usually use (purely through laziness!) First you start with this:
Mmmm, dark chocolate and butter... Then you melt them together in a double boiler and set them aside to cool. Next take caster sugar and eggs and your handy electric beater, and beat them until they look like this:
Then once the chocolate and butter mixture has cooled (otherwise it cooks the egg, and that would just be grooooooooooooooooooss), pour it into the egg and sugar mixture, and fold it through like this:
Then you add plain flour and cocoa:
And chopped milk and white chocolate:
And then you mix it altogether and pour it into a pan and stick it in the oven, and after about 40 minutes, you get this:

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm, brownies... And, while you're waiting for the brownies to cool so that you can cut them, you can watch Life of Brian - "He's not the Messiah! He's a very naughty boy!!" It's not quite "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!", but it'll do... ;)

K xx

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why I hate birds

It's spring in Canberra at the moment (well, APPARENTLY... Considering it's barely been above 12 degrees C for the past week and a bit, it sure doesn't feel like spring), and that means one thing - the swooping magpies of the Apocalypse. While said swooping magpies have always been an issue in Melbourne too, the vast amount of parkland and native trees seem to mean that Canberra's bird life consists primarily of native species. Especially magpies. Now, for those who aren't aware of it, Australian magpies are a wee bit different to the European versions. For starters, they're mean. Really mean. During spring, they become convinced that anyone within a ten metre radius of their nest is going to harm their evil little offspring, and so will divebomb you from a branch waaaaaay off the ground and fly straight at the back of your head. With painful results. Magpies take a particular dislike to cyclists for some reason, and as Canberra is a cycling mad city, people have adapted in a rather peculiar fashion - they put cable ties on their bike helmets. It tends to make them look a little like they've escaped from an episode of Third Rock from the Sun, but if it keeps a magpie from hitting you in the back of the head, so what.

I've had a long standing fear of birds. I think it started with seeing Jurassic Park - after noticing that birds walk exactly like the velociraptors, I could never look at birds without thinking that some day they were going to revert to their roots, turn into enormous carnivores and attack me. Season 8 of Red Dwarf did nothing to calm these fears. Neither did The Birds, especially when the viewing was at a sleepover when I was 15, and the following morning there was a giant crow (one of those creepy ones with the blue eyes, you know?) sitting on the windowsill staring in at us. Long story short, spring in Canberra is not my favourite time of year.

But this year (and last year for that matter), I haven't been swooped by a magpie. No, I've been swooped by something far more embarrassing. On Monday, my housemate and I were on our way to the gym when she pointed out to me that there were little swallows nesting in the parking garage of our apartment block. Only then one of these birds (which were no longer than your hand) started looping in circles, getting closer and closer to us. It was rather like the scene in Jurassic Park where Dr. Grant says that the herd of dinosaurs wheels in formation, like a flock of birds evading a predator, and the kids go "They're...uh, they're flocking this way" (Yes, I've seen Jurassic Park waaaaaaay too many times. Deal with it.). Basically, I wound up with a stupidly tiny bird diving at my head while I screamed "Unlock the door!!! Unlock the door!!!" to my housemate, who was already in the car. Like I said, spring is not my favourite time of year.

Oh, and to prove that this wasn't an isolated incident, I offer you this:

A month or so ago, a massive cockatoo flew into the window of the apartment while I was sitting at the table right next to the window. It left behind a delightful grease mark (as you can see in the picture - you can clearly make out the wings, the crest, the beak etc...) and a couple of feathers (which thankfully fell off, because they were incredibly creepy). The bird, for the record, flew away uninjured. And we were left with the wings and body of a cockatoo imprinted on our window. It's still there, a month later. It's like a little ghost cockatoo, watching our every move... So my point is this - I hate birds because they're out to get me. Even through plate glass windows...

Friday, October 9, 2009


So... Hi. For anyone who doesn't already know (which I seriously suspect will be no one, but that's completely not the point), I'm Kirsti. I'm a Melbourne girl, born and (partly) raised, but for the past year and a bit I've been living in Canberra, Australia's backwater/capital city. I've been thinking about doing this blogging thing for a while for reasons that will be explained shortly, but it's only within the past couple of weeks that I've thought about it seriously. A couple of months ago, I discovered the joy of Cake Wrecks. Honestly, what's not to love about the hilarity that is to be found therein?? Anyway, through Cake Wrecks, I recently discovered the wonderful world of The Pioneer Woman, which is officially my new favourite thing in the world (Well, besides Twilight snark, but that's a whole different kettle of fish...). If you've got a spare hour or five hundred, check it out. It's disturbingly addictive. And then tonight I went to see Julie & Julia at the movies with a couple of friends, and suddenly creating a blog seemed like the most logical thing in the world. Although I doubt I'll be working my way through 500-odd French recipes any time soon...

Having said all that, I do have another reason for creating this blog besides rambling on in a narcissistic fashion. And that is this: I have a bunch of friends and family in Melbourne (and elsewhere!) that I used to see or talk to or hang out with every day, or every week, or every month. And now that I'm in Canberra, it means I only see these people every three or four months, and that officially sucks. Because it means that these people that I used to see/talk to/whatever with great regularity are now out of the loop on the random day-to-day stuff that happens in my life. In some cases, there are extenuating circumstances, like jobs with crazy hours or recent additions to the family. In others? Well, life just gets busy... So my reason is this - I want to give these people - family and friends, all of whom I miss - a chance to stay in the loop in a non-SMSing, two line emailing, "Blah blah likes your Facebook status" kind of a way. Speaking of which, why is there still no "does not like" button?? It bugs me...

Oh, and just to get it out of the way, I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to write about, how often I'm going to write, or what I'm doing. Hell, at the moment I seem to spend my entire life not knowing what I'm doing... But more on that later. And apologies to Jane Austen for stealing a line from Mansfield Park as my title. But 99% of the time, that's all life is, so it seemed entirely appropriate! So welcome to my random rambling ravings - I hope they don't encourage you all to avoid me next time I'm home... ;)

K xx
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