Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Favourite photos of 2011: Volume 2

Yesterday, I forked out $125 for a single textbook. Thankfully, it's the ONLY textbook for my entire Masters degree, so I guess it could be worse? Anyway, having to put that sizeable a dent in my savings on something so unexciting made me want to look at pretty things that are free.

And so I give you my favourite photos from last year: Natural Environment Edition.

January - Cliffs at Cape Bridgewater, Victoria

July - Nice dead tree on Mount Lofty, near Melbourne
Sometimes, you just need to make things monochrome.
I'm pretty sure I could fill an entire art gallery with just the pictures of dead trees that I have on my hard drive. I'm kind of a little bit obsessed with them... (See also: metal statue of dead tree in Part 1 of this series!!)

August - Sunset from the John Hancock Observatory, Chicago
I elbowed a small child out of the way for this shot.

September - Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Complete with insane rock climbers, if you look closely enough!

September - Part way up Pikes Peak, Colorado
It seems kind of Bronte-esque, to me

September - Seven Falls, Colorado

September - Central Park, New York
This is currently my desktop background

September - Guanella Pass, Colorado

September - Aspen trees on the Peak to Peak Highway, Colorado
This was the most amazing sea of trees I've ever seen

Which is your favourite? Does anyone else like dead trees as much as me? And do you know why textbooks are so sodding expensive??

K xx

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Canberra shenanigans, Part 2

If you missed Part 1, it's here. If you've forgotten what happened, Paulie and I drove to Canberra. We stopped at ridiculous sights along the way. I made a Fruit Tingles cake, which was universally declared to be awesome, and then I made a Firefly reference about a cloud and everyone thought I was crazy.

Oh, and this is what I made Matt for his birthday. I meant to include this picture last time and forgot:
Punny, no?

Anyway, on the Sunday, we pottered about the place doing dishes and generally cleaning up from the party  while Paulie went mountain biking at Mount Stromlo because he's much more of a morning person than the rest of us are.

In the afternoon, we went to the Handwritten exhibition at the National Library. Drop what you're doing this minute, go to Canberra, and SEE THAT EXHIBITION. Because it's awesome. You don't get many chances to see documents written by Einstein, Machiavelli, Galileo, Dickens, Darwin and Florence Nightingale all in the one place. Not to mention handwritten scores by Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Haydn!  It was pretty crowded, but we still got to see every single object up close and personal. Sample conversations?

Paulie: Who the hell is Schliemann?
Me and Matt: He discovered Troy!

Paulie: Wouldn't it be nice if you could actually READ these things?
Me: [stares at Dickens' letter] "My Dear Mrs Cattermole, I have just received your three notes together. I answer them very briefly for I am only in town to day..."
Paulie: Show off.

Indeed. (In case you're curious, they have full transcriptions available online. I didn't actually memorise the letter from Charles Dickens!)

After the exhibition, we took a wee jaunt up Mount Ainslie, but ran away very quickly before the quite obvious storm decided to break:

And then we went out for Turkish food. I got so excited about the zucchini puffs (kabak mucver) that I did a happy dance in my chair and everyone thought I was crazy. You know, just for a change... But what can I say? I loves me some zucchini puffs!

Monday proved to be quite exciting, starting with inadvertently locking the car keys in the house. Luckily, it turned out that we hadn't locked the door properly, so it was more of a hypothetical panic than a real panic. We headed to the museum, where Paulie looked around and I hung out with some of my ex-work besties and caught up on six months worth of gossip, before doing a quick run around the gallery saying hello to all my objects. And cleaning showcases with my shirt, because apparently I'm incapable of not doing that...

After a bite of lunch, we headed to Parliament House where I neglected to take any photos because I was feeling lazy. It looked much the same as it always does, unsurprisingly! From there, we headed over to the War Memorial. It was slightly rushed because we were trying to cram the whole place into about an hour and a half. But I think we made it through everything that Paulie wanted to see, along with the added bonus of being there for the closing ceremony.

Bugler playing The Last Post at the Memorial closing ceremony

Then came the super exciting part of the day. We headed over to Tongue & Groove to meet up with Vanisha and Louise. And it was so lovely to finally meet them both! I mean, how can you go wrong with bloggy friends, cider and $5 tapas?? ALL AROUND WIN. (And if you go to Tongue & Groove, I highly recommend the southwest chicken tapas! Also, the pizookies are AMAZEBALLS, from past experience)

From there, we headed to the supermarket to get some stuff for dinner. And it wasn't until we were going through the self serve checkout that I remembered that plastic bags are now banned in the ACT. So we got to walk through the Canberra Centre juggling the following because they don't sell the reusable bags at the self serve checkouts:

  • 2 bags of rigatoni
  • A large red capsicum
  • A bag of baby spinach
  • Half a butternut pumpkin
  • A packet of chicken
  • A punnet of cherry tomatoes
  • A jar of basil pesto
  • A bag of romano cheese
  • A tub of Belgian chocolate ice cream
  • A bunch of asparagus
And I was in three inch heels, and had to walk down a non-moving travellator. Fun times all round! O.o 

The next morning, we threw all the stuff back in the car and bid farewell to Canberra. One of the cats decided that my bag looked interesting and tried to come with us:
Oh, hai... I can haz trip to Melbourne?

The drive back wasn't particularly exciting - I mean, we'd seen all the spectacular sights on the way up!! - other than that the bag of jelly snakes we'd brought with us had melted into a giant blob in the back of the car, and I had to rip it into chunks before we could eat them. There was one disgustingly memorable moment in which we got stuck behind a truck carrying some kind of sewage. Paulie thought I'd farted (uh, thanks??) and not said anything. I thought there was a massively stinky dead kangaroo somewhere nearby, and that it was coming through the air conditioning system. But no. Sewage truck of chokingly awful stenches. 

And that about sums things up, really. What more could you want from a long weekend than good friends, good cider, delicious cake, awesome historical documents and entertaining stories to tell?!

K xx

Monday, February 27, 2012

Movie Mondays: Ocean's Eleven

After blogging about Mean Girls last week, I felt the need for something equally comedic but with a bit more of a plot to it. I ended up with this:
I mean, how can you go wrong with a movie that stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt AND Matt Damon? (Let's just not talk about Ocean's Twelve, okay??) It's slick, it's witty, and I love it forever.

Reasons why Ocean's Eleven is awesome:
1. The casting is completely flawless.
2. Rusty (Brad Pitt) reminds me of Dean Winchester. He's always eating, he has an old car that he refuses to replace, he's constantly pretending to be someone he's not, and he's kind of hilarious. Okay, so it only works if you ignore that whole demon hunting thing, but apart from that it totally works! Also, Brad Pitt is BRILLIANT in this.
Okay, Dean would never wear this outfit. But you can see it, right? Also, source.
3. The music. It's reminiscent of the Rat Pack era without sounding dated.
4. Rusty teaching celebrities to play poker. Hilarious.
5. Celebrities playing dumb caricatures of themselves.
Here, have some gratuitous Joshua Jackson playing poker. Also, source.
6. The scene where they're all silhouetted against the Bellagio Fountain at the end.
7. Don Cheadle as Basher.
8. Because I love a good heist movie.
9. Matt Damon as Linus.
10. Because sometimes you need to see the Vegas Strip without dead bodies and Who Are You playing over the top of it.
11. That the full genius of the heist and how it comes together is hidden from the audience until almost the very end.
12. George Clooney in a tuxedo.
13. The thug guy hurling himself around the room pretending to bash Danny (George Clooney).
14. Basher covering his groin before setting off the pinch.
15. Casey Affleck and Scott Caan as the Malloy brothers.

16. The truck vs remote controlled car race, as above.
17. Danny's conversation with his parole officer.
18. Elliot Gould as Reuben. He's perfect as the disgruntled former casino owner/bankroller.
19. Stephen Soderbergh as director. He's done some awesome stuff.
20. Shaobo Qin as The Amazing Yen. He'd never acted before, and I think he's amazing in this!

Plus, the following quotes:
- "I hope you were the groom."
- "Shane, you've got three pairs. You can't have six cards! You can't have six cards in a five card draw."
- "Now, they tell me I paid my debt to society." "Funny, I never got a cheque."
- "Tess is with Benedict now? She's too tall for him!"
- "Did someone call for a doctor?"
- "You're a thief and a liar." "I only lied about being a thief."
- "We need to get Rusty a girl!" "There's a women's prison just down the road?"
- "Ten oughta do it, don't you think?... You think we need one more?...You think we need one more... All right, we'll get one more."
- "Thirteen million and you drive this piece of shit cross country to pick me up?" "Blew it all on the suit."
- "Why do they always paint hallways that colour?" "They say taupe is very soothing."
- "I always confuse Monet and Manet. Now, which one married his mistress?" "Monet." "Right, and then Manet has syphilis." "They also painted occasionally."
- "It'll be nice, working with proper villains again."
- "Unless we intend to do this job in Reno, we're in Barney. [gets confused looks in response] Barney Rubble? [Danny shrugs] TROUBLE!!"
- "Why do this?" "Why not do it? [Rusty shakes his head] Cause yesterday I walked out of the joint after losing four years of my life and you're cold-decking Teen Beat cover boys. Cause the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet, and you bet big, and then you take the house..." "Been practising this speech, haven't you?" "Little bit. Did I rush it? Felt like I rushed it." "No, it was good, I liked it. The Teen Beat thing was harsh."
- "Smash and grab job, huh?" "Slightly more complicated than that." "Well, yeah."
- "Apparently he's got a record longer than my.........well, it's long."
- "You're Bobby Caldwell's kid. From Chicago. It's nice there, do you like it?" "Yeah." "That's wonderful, get in the goddamn house."
- "What happened, Benedict? You get robbed or something?"

And my all time favourite line,
- "Ted Nugent called, he wants his shirt back."

Anyone else love a good banter-filled heist movie?
K xx

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yesterday afternoon, my grandmother passed away. It wasn't wholly unexpected - she was 87, and had been deteriorating slowly for a long time now. But it's still surreal to think that someone who's always been there, through your entire life, is suddenly gone.

Various old photos have appeared out of the woodwork last night and today. I seem to have inherited her hips, along with the gap between my front teeth, my inability to stop eating sugar, and my fussy food preferences.

As a child, I spent hours rummaging through the drawers in her wall unit, playing with magnifying glasses, loupes, and miniature screwdrivers. Quite why she HAD any of that stuff, I still don't know. I learnt to rollerblade (very gingerly) in her tiny back garden. And I spent what seemed like years playing the cassette of the Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat soundtrack in her living room when we moved back to Australia in 1995.

She never complained when I played with the bass pedals on the electric organ until the windows rattled, or when I phoned her in tears at the age of thirteen because the soup I was trying to make had boiled dry and burnt, and I didn't know how to clean the saucepan and hide the evidence before Mum got home. (It boiled dry because I was watching The X-Files on video, and forgot all about it) Or when Puppy Domino stole her bra out of her suitcase on the day she got remarried and ran around the house with it. (Although it's possible she didn't know about that one...)

She wore dresses with liquorice allsorts patterns on them, always sang On the Good Ship Lollipop at bedtime, and made the world's most amazing yoyo biscuits. In a childhood that was spent regularly adjusting to new countries, new friends and new schools, she was one of the few constants in my life. And I loved her dearly.

So goodbye to my darling Gran. Be at peace. I'll miss you forever.

K xx

PS. A massive thank you to all of you who sent love, prayers and thoughts on Twitter yesterday. They meant the world <3

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Favourite photos of 2011: Volume 1

I realised the other day that it's been a while since I did any photography posts. I am actually planning on FINISHING the 30 Days of Photography challenge at SOME point, I just need to remember to leave the house after dark to take some long exposure shots first! Hopefully I can get some taken in the next week or so, seeing as all my classes for uni are in the evenings.

Anyway, for now, I'm copying my BFF Kat and posting my favourite photos from 2011. Unlike Kat, I'm indecisive and unable to limit myself to a handful of awesome photos. (Mostly because she's a much better photographer than me!!) So to save you an insanely picture-heavy post, I've divided them into the following categories:
  • Macro
  • People
  • Animals
  • Natural Environment
  • Built Environment
I'm going to start off with Built Environment, because I'm a rebel that way. And they're chronological because it hurts my brain for them not to be.

May - Reflection on the side of the museum

July - Melbourne from the roof of Council House 2
I like the juxtaposition of old and new buildings

August - Millennium Park and Cloud Gate, Chicago

August - Downtown Chicago
I like the light. Also the old/new combination
[Do you guys have any idea how hard it is to write 'Downtown' when you're a fan of Downton Abbey??]

September - The Capitol Building, Washington DC
It's kind of postcard-y. But I don't really care.

September - Metal tree in the American Art Museum Sculpture Garden, Washington DC

September - Enclosed courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
Okay. Apparently I *really* like old stuff and new stuff close together...

September - The roof of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Because sometimes you just have to point your
camera straight up in the air.

September - Statue of Liberty, New York
I love how it looks like her torch has gone out
because of where the cloud is!

September - Flowers at the 9/11 Memorial, New York

September - 9/11 Memorial, New York

September - Manhattan from Top of the Rock, New York
It's a little overexposed, but I like that it incorporates New York's three most
famous skyscrapers - Empire State Building, Chrysler Building and 30 Rock!

September - The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park, Colorado
For such a (supposedly) haunted building, it's very pretty!

December - St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne

So there you have it! Well. The 'Built Environment' photos, anyway. I'm not convinced that my photography is getting any better over time, but that's completely my own fault for not thinking about the shots more before I take them! 

What do you guys think? And does anyone else love the juxtaposition of old and new like I apparently do? (Hell, does anyone else love the word 'juxtaposition' like I do?!)

Next instalment coming soon, whether you like it or not ;)

K xx

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Abandon ship!

Yesterday, I did something that I've never done before in my entire life. In a way, I'm quite proud that I've made it to the age of 28 and 10 months without doing it before. In another, I wonder how much of my life I've wasted by NOT doing it until now.

And no, it's not something dirty. 


It was officially the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. And based on how much I read (Goodreads tells me I've read 28 books already this year), that's saying something. 

The book? THIS:

I picked it up at the library recently. The cover was fun, the blurb sounded intriguing. I mean, you'd think with hidden treasure and ancient mysteries and evil dudes, you couldn't go wrong, right? Yeah, not so much. 

I came across the first mistake on page 5. Initially I figured it might be just a typo, and ploughed on. By page 14, I knew I had to start taking notes. By page 35, I had a full A4 sheet of notes. I tried, I really did. I made it as far as page 115. But when I realised the book had 479 pages, meaning I wasn't even a quarter of the way through. I flipped through the rest and found at least one mistake on every page I passed. 

Without going through the full SIX pages of notes I made in the 115 pages I did read, here's some of the things that made me want to scream:
  • Archaeologists are not world-wide experts. No one would specialise in Egyptology AND Mesoamerican archaeology, let alone being fluent in translation of Mayan hieroglyphs. 
  • "It took six hours longer then if they had flown."  Then. THEN.
  • Missing full stops on numerous pages.
  • "There's no time like the current."
  • An American character refers to someone as "a good bloke".
  • "The house was deathly quiet with the only sound being the regular ding of the grandfather clock in the hall." WASN'T deathly quiet then?
  • The characters type "ancient jade disk" into Google, and the exact thing they're looking for pops up on eBay? Uh, sure...
  • There are FIVE adults trapped in a room that's "less than ten feet square". Um. NO. That's a physical impossibility. (10 feet square is less than 1 metre square for those who aren't so great at Imperial...)
  • One character inherited three paintings of Mesoamerican pyramids from his grandmother. Apparently it took him "months of determined research" to work out that two of them were Teotihuacan and Palenque. Flip through ANY book on Mesoamerican civilisations, and pictures of those two, plus the pyramids at Tikal (which I'm guessing was the third one, seeing as the tiny room with the five people apparently trapped in it is at Tikal), will appear. Also, I found pictures of all three of them in five minutes on Google Images.
  • "...speeding off in excess of 94 miles per hour." Is it just me or is that strangely specific?
  • An eight year old becomes a Mayan king's trusted physician, even giving advice on INFERTILITY PROBLEMS. I thought perhaps I'd missed something and there was a "several years later" element to it. But no. A child. As a physician. Giving advice on infertility... *head explodes*
  • Repeated examples of American characters using British and Australian words. One takes "paracetamol tablets". Another uses the word "lift" instead of "elevator" numerous times.
  • All the characters talk like robots. Example: "There is no possible way they could know about the obsidian. Even if they did, what is the chance that they are aware of the condition of the rope? We will die in this hellish place." (How I would write that: "There's no way they could know about the obsidian, and even if they did, they couldn't know about the rope's condition! We're going to die down here.")
  • One character knows that another is carrying the ancient disc because he needs to stop frequently to catch his breath walking from a plane to the terminal building. Later, the disc is referred to as the size of a small dinner plate, and "quite light in weight". #CONFUSED
  • "For shit sake." <-- I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.
And finally, we have my two favourites, which is what really tipped me over the edge into not reading any further:
  • "She wriggled her hips, juggled her breasts and waltzed back into the mess hall..." Wait. She JUGGLED her breasts? JUGGLED????????? Now THAT is an impressive life skill, kids.
  • "It's true, then. I am [Mayan priest from 300AD]'s ancestor." ANCESTOR. Unless there's a TARDIS involved, that's - as Ralph Wiggum would say - unpossible. 

The worst part? It was produced by a PUBLISHING HOUSE. With the apparent lack of editing and proof reading, I was sure it would be the most awful kind of self-publishing. But no. It makes me sad that there are so many awesome authors out there (like Lissa!) trying their hardest to get publishers interested in their work when there are books like this available on the market. 


What books have you guys given up on? Also, has anyone else read this piece of tripe? 

K xx

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Canberra shenanigans, Part 1

At 9.15 on Friday morning, Paulie and I loaded up his car and set off for Canberra. I was slightly apprehensive about it, as Paulie has a...somewhat limited?...attention span at times, and I once told him that I'd never EVER set foot on a plane with him. Which of course he reminded me of as we headed for the Hume Highway and the seven hour drive to the ACT...

But with the help of Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone and a number of stops, we managed to avoid killing each other. We saw all FOUR of the sights the Hume has to offer between Melbourne and Canberra:

1. The chicken tree just past the exit to Clonbinane:

2. The giant-ish fibreglass Ned Kelly statue at Glenrowan:

3. The HMAS Otway in Holbrook (which is at least 2 hours drive from the ocean):

4. The Dog on the Tuckerbox outside Gundagai:

Holbrook is also home to three of my favourite things about the drive from Melbourne to Canberra.
1. The Holbrook Bakery, which features many tasty noms.
2. This sign:
3. A clothing shop with the following range:

Basically? You need to stop in Holbrook, because it's AWESOME.

We also had a few little incidents with Sparkles, the GPS. Sure, you don't really need a GPS to get from Melbourne to Canberra (get on the Hume, drive straight for 600 kilometres, turn off at the Barton Highway), but it was fun to watch Sparkles have little "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???? YOU'RE DRIVING IN A PADDOCK AT 110 KPH!!!" panic attacks when her software didn't know that the Tarcutta bypass had been opened.

The trip itself was fairly uneventful, with the exception of hitting an ENORMOUS locust, which created a delightful splatter of lumpy bug guts half way up the windscreen, and which felt the need to hang out on the windscreen wiper for a little while so we could appreciate what it had once been. We then spent the next hour of the drive marvelling at how disgusting its remnants were. I'll spare you the photos.

As we came down the Barton Highway, it started to pour with rain. And just outside Murrumbateman (spell check options for Murrumbateman? Guatemalan, masturbation and Northumberland. WHAT.), the rain reached a level of ridiculous where we couldn't even see the road any more.

And of course, that was right about the point where some moron decided he needed to overtake us. Fun times!

Thankfully, we made it into Canberra and to Em and Matt's without any dramas. Although I suspect if Sparkles had said "Continue straight through the roundabout" one more time, she would have been thrown out the window!

I spent Saturday morning making an epic mess Fruit Tingles icing for Matt's birthday cake. But it was so very VERY worth it:

(If you want to make your own Fruit Tingles cake, the recipe is here) The cake disappeared in about five minutes flat after the obligatory Happy Birthdays had been sung, so I guess everyone thought it was pretty good! (Let's just ignore the fact that half the population of Canberra will now develop diabetes thanks to my cake...)

As people were leaving the party that night, a bunch of us ended up standing outside watching a cloud in the distance. There was no rain from it, and you couldn't hear any thunder. But there was CONSTANT lightning, which was very cool indeed. And so of course, this happened:
Guest 1: Wow, look at all the lightning in that cloud!
Guest 2: That's pretty impressive.
Me: I know, right?! It reminds me of that scene in Serenity when the Reaver ships appear out of the ion cloud.
*crickets chirping*
Me: Crap. That was too nerdy, wasn't it?
Guest 1: I've seen Star Wars, does that help?

Look out for my book, How To Avoid Making Friends Through Nerdy Comments, soon to be available in all good bookstores! (Okay, not really. But I'm definitely a subject matter expert on that topic...)

Part 2 of the Canberra trip coming soon. If I tried to cram it all into one post, you'd all die of Kirstiisreallylongwindeditis! And we can't have THAT, now can we?

How was everyone else's weekend? (Also, please tell me that SOMEONE knows what I'm talking about with the whole Reavers/ion cloud thing??)

K xx

Monday, February 20, 2012

Movie Mondays: Mean Girls

After three straight weeks of The Lord of the Rings, I figured I'd go for something that's basically the complete opposite.

Yup. Mean Girls. Oh my God, I love this movie. It's completely and utterly ridiculous, and totally brilliant.

Reasons why Mean Girls is awesome:
1. It was written by Tina Fey, who I LOVE.
2. It's basically like watching Lindsay Lohan act out a prophesy of her future.
3. That said, it stars Lindsay Lohan before she became a drugged out skank.
4. Rachel McAdams is brilliantly evil.
5. The gym teacher teaching health classes.
6. Amanda Seyfried is absolutely perfect and her role in this ALMOST makes up for the abomination that was Red Riding Hood.
7. Neil Flynn (aka The Janitor from Scrubs) as Lindsay Lohan's dad.
8. Lindsay Lohan falling head first into a rubbish bin. Comedy gold.
9. Amy Poehler as Rachel McAdams' mother.
10. Lindsay Lohan's Halloween costume
11. The supporting cast. They're universally brilliant. Especially these two:
12. The three-way-calling scenes. Makes me really glad we didn't have that shit in Australia when I was in high school.
13. The number of memes it's spawned.
I'm sorry. But I couldn't not use it.

Plus, the following quotes:
- "She doesn't even go here!"
- "Everyone in Africa knows Swedish."
- "Ma'am, do you have this in the next size up?" "Sorry. We only carry sizes 1,3 and 5. You could try Sears."
- "Are they not supposed to be let out when they're grounded?"
- "The limit does not exist!"
- "Grool!.......I mean to say 'cool' and then I started to say 'great'..."
- "There's a 30 percent chance that it's already raining!"
- "Too gay to function??" "That's only okay when *I* say it!"
- "That is SO fetch."
- "Oh, I LOVE seeing teachers outside of school. It's like seeing a dog walk on its hind legs."
- "That is the ugliest effing skirt I've ever seen."
- "Get in, loser. We're going shopping."
- "You smell like a baby prostitute."
- "Four for you, Glen Coco, you go Glen Coco!"
- "And none for Gretchen Wieners."
- "I can put my whole fist in my mouth. Want to see?"
- "Nice wig, Janice. What's it made of?" "Your mom's chest hair!!"
- "That's why her hair's so big. It's full of secrets."
- "On Wednesdays, we wear pink."
- "I can't go out. *fake cough* I'm sick." "Boo, you whore!"
- "It's like I have ESPN or something!"
- "Oh my GOD, Karen. You can't just ask people why they're white!"

Basically, you're lucky I restrained myself from typing out the entire script!

What say you? Is your hair full of secrets like Gretchen's? Do you have ESPN like Karen? Or are you going to get hit by a bus, like Regina George? ;)

K xx
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