Friday, June 29, 2012

30 Days of Photography - Day 18

Oh, hai. I bet you thought I'd forgotten about THIS challenge, along with my cookbook challenge! I didn't - I just got horribly sidetracked, what with my camera getting stolen, and then uni, and then...just being a slacker.

But hopefully this will get me back on track, and through the last 12 days!

The theme for Day 18 is shoes. Here's a pair I picked up today. I actually had an identical pair that I bought back in April. But within 6 weeks, the soles had started to come off them. Thankfully, the store where I bought them was kind enough to give me a replacement pair. HURRAH! (I really hope the same thing doesn't happen with this pair, or I'll be super cranky...)

I love them, though. They're a little bit Eleventh Doctor, and a little bit badass!

K xx

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things I Like Thursday, Volume 10

Seen random stuff on the internet that you find hilarious or just want to share? Head over to Gina's to link up!

Another Thursday, another list of awesomeness from the internet! First of all, we have the truly incredible They Draw and Cook. Artists around the world illustrate recipes. Every one is individual, and they're absolutely fantastic. 

Look how adorable!

Seriously, I could spend HOURS on there, just looking at the pictures. I'll definitely be trying a bunch of recipes from there! 

Next up, we have my latest "the Royal Family are my FAVOURITES" thing:

This surfaced on the internet during the Great Internet Drought of 2012, so there's a good chance that you guys have already seen it. But it's still awesome, and it combines two of my favourite things, so I'm posting it anyway.

And finally, we have this enormous pile of adorable. Someone seriously needs to write captions for what the baby otter is thinking. That's all I'm saying.

Found something online this week that you desperately need to share? Head over to Gina's and link up! 
K xx

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ancient History, Volume XVIII

If you missed the last installment, Mrs. Watermelon got publicly humiliated, and I saw the world's most epic rock.

Day 4 of the Inca Trail started with a 4am wake up. Yup. FOUR O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING. Don't these people know that nothing good ever happens after 2am?? (Name that sitcom!)

Anyway. We were dressed, packed and in the lodge by 4.30am, where the porters had very kindly made us pancakes for breakfast to lessen the "OH GOD, WHAT TIME IS IT???" feelings of doom. Then, after a visit to the moth-ridden bathroom (and if you think THAT didn't cause me to have a minor nervous breakdown, you'd be wrong), we set off towards Machu Picchu. IN THE RAIN.

We reached the final checkpoint at about 5.15am, which was something of an issue because they didn't open the gate until 5.30am. Nothing quite like standing around in the rain going "Dammit, I could have had another 15 minutes of sleep..."! *sigh*

Anyway, the gate was eventually unlocked, and we had a delightful hour and a half's stroll to the Sun Gate. I say 'stroll', because there were 200 people walking in a line in the dark, so it was pretty slow going. On the plus side, after the first half hour, it was getting light enough that we didn't need to use our stupid headtorches any more. Such things are always a plus.

The only tricky bit of the walk was the climb up to the Sun Gate, because you have to go up a flight of 'monkey stairs' - really steep and narrow, and basically you had to use your hands to keep yourself moving. That was followed by a couple of steep flights of stairs up reasonably big hills. We finally got to the Sun Gate at about 7.10am.

Now. The idea of getting you up at stupid o'clock and making you hike in the dark is that you get to see the sun rise over Machu Picchu and go "Oooooooh". Instead, we saw this:
Not actually from the Sun Gate. But you get the point.

Yup. More rain. We stopped at the Sun Gate for all of ten minutes before the head guide announced that he didn't think it was going to clear up for aaaages and so we may as well head down to Machu Picchu. That took about 45 minutes, because it was downhill on rocks that were extra slippery thanks to the rain. I MAY have had a couple of little "Oh crap, I'm sliding and am going to fall off a cliff and die" moments. (Obviously, I didn't fall off a cliff and die. Although being the world's first zombie blogger would be quite an achievement..........)

By the time we reached Machu Picchu, it was PROPERLY raining. So we headed for the cafeteria, and spent an hour or so hanging out under patio umbrellas, eating overpriced second breakfast, and waiting for a break in the weather. Our tour leader clearly didn't have high hopes for it clearing up - he took our passports and $20 each, and set off into Aguas Calientes to try and change our train tickets so that we could go back the next day if it didn't clear. But thankfully, by 9am, it had eased to drizzle and we were able to set off on the tour.

And because I don't really remember much of the detail from the tour (BAD ARCHAEOLOGIST), have a bunch of pictures. WHEEEEEEEEEEE:

The tour took about an hour and a half, and then we had two hours free before we had to be on the bus down to Aguas Calientes. So a bunch of us decided that we'd climb the smaller of the two peaks that rise behind the site (the one that's going off the left side of the frame in that last photo). It was only about a 15 minute walk to the top, but the trail was pretty narrow and winding, and there were occasional scrambles over tree branches and rocks and stuff. But the view from the top? Totally worth it.

When we'd finished marvelling at the view, we meandered through the site on our way to the bus.

See that little V in the mountains? That's where the Sun Gate is.

The bus ride to Aguas Calientes was a LITTLE hair raising, due to a millionty hairpin bends. And I'm sure the day visitors really appreciated how delightful we all smelled after four days with no showers. After a lunch of pizza and beer (hey, we deserved it!), it was time to head to the train station.

Oh. AND. The culmination of the Watermelons saga: after she was stretchered to camp on the third day, she declared that she would walk on the fourth day. She made it to the Sun Gate, and basically gave up. The two guides that were with them had to stretcher her down to the medical station at Machu Picchu to get her checked out. Then one of the guides had to go back UP to the Sun Gate to get Mr Watermelon. Because he'd been so worried about his wife over the past three days, that he'd forgotten to drink enough water. And so he'd basically dehydrated himself to the verge of a heart attack. So the guide had to PIGGY BACK HIM DOWN THE MOUNTAIN. And THEN? The SAME guide had to walk back up there AGAIN to get their bags. And the Watermelons spent the whole day at the medical station, and didn't get to see Machu Picchu at all. So yeah. That happened.

(Incidentally? I'm pretty sure that "So yeah. That happened" is going to be the title of my hilariously witty and completely hypothetical autobiography...)

The train ride back to Ollantaytambo ended up being kind of hilarious. Because there were lots of tunnels. And Ness and I were listening to her iPod, which decided to play "Scotty Doesn't Know". So whenever we went through a tunnel, all we could think of was "Mi scusi!" (name that movie), and we'd fall about in fits of hysterics. I'm not so sure it was particularly funny to anyone ELSE on the tour. But WE sure as hell had a good time!

That night, after quite possibly the most welcome shower I've ever had, we all headed out to Inka Grill for dinner. If you're ever in Cusco, GO TO INKA GRILL. Seriously. The food is fantastic, and if you order guinea pig, it comes to the table with a little crown made of red capsicum/bell pepper on its teeny tiny creepy-looking head (We didn't order guinea pig, hence the lack of photos. Someone at a nearby table did though). Oh. And order the warm chocolate tart. You won't regret it.

After dinner, we went out for a few well earned drinks. And several people tried to complete the Machu Picchu challenge - staying up for the full 24 hours and drinking. After one (free poured, and therefore disgusting) vodka raspberry, I caved and headed for bed. At least I got a good night's sleep before the unexpected drama (HI NESSA!!) that was to come the following day... Dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun: to be continued.

K xx

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

In which people are weird

So I've been wanting to talk about some of the seriously bizarre Google searches that have led to my blog for a while now. But I was slightly concerned that putting them all in a post would lead to a whole stack MORE people finding my blog through seriously bizarre searches. So I figured I'd vlog about it.

So of course, I recorded the vlog one afternoon, and the very next day, the internet went "Oh, hai. You have a vlog to upload? Try this suuuuuuuuuuuuuuper slow dial up speed internet for the next three weeks. Lol, sucks to be you!", and it's been languishing on my hard drive ever since.

But the internet is now back, and I've FINALLY been able to upload it!

So here we have me making a fool of myself on camera once again. And as always, I'd like to thank Youtube for picking the most spectacularly flattering screenshot of EVER to use as the cover for this. I have a major case of duckface going on...

So yes. What's your favourite insane search term that's led people to your little corner of the interwebs???

K xx

Monday, June 25, 2012

Movie Monday: Robin Hood: Men in Tights

OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS. I HAVE REAL INTERNET AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is quite possibly the most exciting thing of ever. I can use Youtube again! Pinterest! Tumblr! I don't have to tweet from my phone! I don't have to use Gmail in HTML! VISIT *ALL* THE WEBSITES!

I fully expect to have gone through our entire internet allocation by the end of the week, the way I'm going at the moment. Even my computer was excited to have it back - the first thing it did when I turned it on this morning was download 95MB worth of antivirus updates...



I love the crap out of this movie. I think I first saw it in about 1995, and I still quote chunks of it on an almost daily basis. Because it is SPECTACULAR.

Reasons why Robin Hood: Men in Tights is awesome:
1. Cary Elwes. I love him more as Westley in The Princess Bride, but he's still fantastic in this.
2. The rap at the start. I may not be able to do the Fresh Prince of Bel Air rap (mainly because I didn't see Fresh Prince until I was about 25...), but I can rap this. (Really badly, but that's totally not the point)
3. Dave Chappelle as Ahchoo, the foreign exchange student.
4. The entire series of scenes in the jail in Jerusalem. 
5. Roger Rees as the Sheriff of Rottingham.
6. Swimming from Jerusalem to England.
7. Patrick Stewart as King Richard.
8. Ahchoo's Reebok Pumps. They're so spectacularly 90s.
Reebok released these this year. WTF. Also, source.
9. Tracy Ulman as Latrine.
10. The fight between Robin and Little John on the bridge.
11. Robin knocking over all the knights in armour. Apparently that scene took weeks to set up and get right.
12. Mel Brooks. Both as director and as Rabbi Tuckman.
13. The "Men in Tights" song.
14. Isaac Hayes (aka Chef from South Park) as Asneeze.
15. Marian's hilariously enormous hair.
16. Megan Cavanagh as Broomhilde. I think she's quite possibly my favourite thing about this movie.
17. All the 20th century anachronisms
18. Latrine saving Rottingham with a Lifesaver.
19. Robin fighting a guard while drinking a tankard of beer.
20. All the references to The Godfather.
21. Blinkin.
22. The guards playing kazoo.
23. Richard Lewis as Prince John. Although every time I watch this movie, I spent at least five minutes thinking it's Christopher Meloni (aka Elliot Stabler from SVU)
24. Cary Elwes' facial expressions. Priceless!

Plus, the following quotes (seriously - I could just list the entire script in here):
- "Hey, Blinkin." "Did you just say 'Abe Lincoln'???" "No, I did not say 'Abe Lincoln', I said HEY BLINKIN. Hold the reigns, man."
- "A chastity belt? That's going to chafe my willy!"
- "Scarlet's my middle name. My full name's Will Scarlet O'Hara. We're from Georgia."
- "And why should the people listen to you?" "Because unlike some OTHER Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent!"
- "A toll is a toll. And a roll is a roll. And if we don't get no tolls, then we don't eat no rolls. I made that up."
- "King illegal forest to pig wild kill in it a is!"
- "Are you with me? Yea or nay?" "Which one means yes?"
- "Man, white men can't jump..."
- "Blinkin, listen to me. They've taken the castle!" "I thought it felt a bit drafty. Cor, this never would have happened if your father was alive." "He's dead?" "Yes..." "And my mother?" "She died of pneumonia while... [remembers] Oh, you were away!" "My brothers?" "They were all killed by the plague." "My dog, Pongo?" "Run over by a carriage." "My goldfish, Goldie?" "Eaten by the cat." "[on the verge of tears] My cat?" "Choked on the goldfish. [pause] Oh, it's good to be home, ain't it, Master Robin?"
- "Robin of Locksley, where is your king?" "King? King? And which king might that be? King Richard? King Louis? King Kong? LARRY KING?"
- "Oh, if 'twere you, 'twould be...twerrific."
- "On the count of kick!"
- "Ohhh, that happy little bluebird has left a happy little doodoo on your hand."
- "I HAVE A MOLE?????"
- "What are you in for?" "Jaywalking."
- "Pissed off? If I were that close to a horse's weiner, I'd be worried about getting pissed ON."
- "Good people, who have travelled from villages near and far, lend me your ears! [people pull off their ears and throw them at Robin] That's disgusting..."
- "Blinkin, what are you doing up there?" "Guessing. one's coming." "Get down from there! You twit..."
- "Blinkin, fix your boobs! You look like a bleeding Picasso!"
- "Aaaah, toasty varm!"
- "Oh, master Robin! You lost your arms in battle! How terrible... But you grew some NICE boobs."

So, are you with me? Yea or nay?

K xx

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Challenge recipe 19: Curried vegetables

Oh, hey. Y'all probably thought I'd forgotten about this, seeing as I haven't posted a challenge recipe since LAST YEAR. #uberfailcake

Anyway, for those of you who don't remember/weren't here back in the day, the challenge is to make two recipes from each of my cookbooks. At least one has to be savoury, and they have to be recipes I haven't made before. To check out the full list of recipes I've made so far, click here.

So. Now that I'm on uni break and have a bit more time, I'm determined to cross at least a few recipes off the list!

Here's the book:

And here's what you'll need:

Just go ahead and ignore that packet of beans at the front. I had every intention of using them, but there was insufficient room in the frying pan, so...yeah.

Start by slicing up your eggplant:

Then place it on a tray, and sprinkle it liberally with salt.

Put it to one side for half an hour while you chop up the rest of your vegetables:
Butternut pumpkin


Red capsicum


Two potatoes

After half an hour, the salt will have drawn a lot of the moisture out of the eggplant, so you can rinse it off, dry it thoroughly, and chop it up too.

Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan (or, if you're actually following the recipe, a cast iron casserole dish. But my beloved Le Creuset is in a box in the depths of the garage. So an electric frying pan it was!). Once it's heated, add the onion along with two cloves of garlic, two teaspoons of curry paste, one teaspoon of mustard seeds, a cinnamon stick, a big chunk of ginger, and half a teaspoon of turmeric.

Stir it all up and cook for a few minutes, then add in three curry leaves (there's a third one there, I promise).

Cook for a couple more minutes, then dump in all the vegetables.

Stir them well to coat in the paste, then take a 400mL can of whole peeled tomatoes, blitz the crap out of them in a food processor, then add it into the pan and stir it all together.

Put the lid on, and simmer until the vegetables are soft. Add a can of coconut milk, put the lid back on, and simmer for another ten minutes:

Salt to taste, take out the curry leaves, the cinnamon stick, and the big lump of ginger (small problem: we couldn't find it. It's somewhere in the leftovers...) and serve with steamed rice:

Verdict: It was good. And it was really easy. But considering how many spices went into it, it wasn't all that flavourful. If I were to make it again, I'd probably use a medium or hot curry paste rather than the mild paste I used. Because really, 2 teaspoons isn't all that much in the grand scheme of things! I'd also probably use coconut cream instead of coconut milk for a stronger flavour. And I'd also fry the vegetables for 5 minutes or so before adding in the tomatoes. I think it would let them absorb more of the spices.

According to the recipe, you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, as long as it includes potato. So it's pretty adaptable!! And, depending on the contents of your curry paste, it's vegan (unless you dump a spoonful of plain yoghurt on the top, like my dad did...)!

Do you have a go-to curry recipe (one that doesn't involve a jar of sauce from the supermarket!)??

K xx

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ancient History, Volume XVII

If you missed the last post in this series, you should probably go read it. Because Day 3 of the Inca Trail won't make a whole lot of sense if you haven't read about Day 2. Just sayin'...

Day 3 started much like Day 2 - coca leaf tea in the tent at 6am, and me attempting to convey that the smell of it was making me gag, so could they pretty please take it away now? Day 3 also started with the liberal application of Dencorub in an attempt to make my legs actually work. This had the downside of meaning that I spent the day smelling like an arthritic old lady. On the UPSIDE, it masked the fact that I'd hiked about 25 kilometres in the past 56 hours, and hadn't showered in that time...
The less than spectacular view from our tent. Those tufts of grass in the front?
That was a ledge. It was really fun trying to get out of the tent without falling off.

Breakfast was at 6.30, and we were back on the trail by just after 7am. We were heading for the second main pass, which was thankfully not a millionty kilometres uphill, like Dead Woman's Pass on Day 2. At about 7.30, we overtook the Watermelons. They'd been made to start walking at 4am again. Can we all just stop and marvel at the fact that within 25 minutes, we overtook the people who'd been walking for nearly 3.5 HOURS????? Yeah. That happened...

About half way up the pass, we came to an archaeological site. It wasn't the most fascinating of locations, but it was conveniently located at the "If I have to walk one more step, I will cry/scream/collapse" point, so the half hour break there to explore was much appreciated!
I may have gotten all "The canyon of the crescent moon"-y when I saw the shape of this.

From there, it was a fairly hard slog up to the second pass. But our tour leader conveniently located himself behind me, and may - at times - have actually resorted to pushing me towards the top. Between the crescent moon temple-y thing and the summit, we passed into the cloud forest and things gradually became foggier, which was kind of fun. Somewhere along this second slog, I located the most amazing thing I saw between the start of the trail and Machu Picchu:
"Fuck you all for walking on me" (my boots for scale)

Yup. It's a rock that looks like it's flipping people off. (No one but me noticed this. I'm so glad I took a photo.)

Eventually, we reached the top, and the head guide informed us that there was an archaeological site a few hundred metres down the other side of the pass. It turned out he meant a few hundred metres in ALTITUDE, not in distance. So it took a little longer than we anticipated to reach the site. But it was totally worth it when we got there. 

To get into the site, you had to climb up a really steep, narrow set of stairs cut directly into the rockface. We had about half an hour to explore on our own, and then the head guide gave us a talk about the history of the site. I remember it being fascinating, but not a single thing about the content. Whoops?

From there, the trail passed through a campsite, where the most spectacular thing of ever happened.

I wish I'd been brave enough to take pictures of it like someone in the group did. But I was too busy marvelling at what was happening: Mrs Watermelon - the bane of everyone's existence - was carried through on a stretcher by four of the porters. Not, you understand, because she'd injured herself. Just because she was so far behind that she was physically incapable of catching up. The porters thought it was HILARIOUS. And we, to be perfectly honest, did too.

As we finally contained our "OMG DID THAT JUST HAPPEN???"-y behaviour, the head guide told us that it was about an hour's walk from where we were to the spot where lunch would be served. And that lunch wouldn't be served until 12.30. As it was only around 10.00, there wasn't much point in walking quickly. So we took our time, enjoyed the scenery, took lots of photos, and got super excited when the trail tunnelled through a rockface.
Yup, Ness and I are wearing three day old clothes. Whatever.

After a lunch of quinoa soup and alpaca spaghetti, we were relieved to learn that the afternoon was almost entirely downhill. And rather a LOT of downhill - we dropped 800m in altitude between leaving the lunch spot and arriving at camp! The afternoon took us, for almost the first time, along old Incan roads. So that was amazing. Even more amazing, but somewhat demoralising, was the fact that you were constantly being overtaken by porters, who were carrying 25kg loads, and RUNNING along the trail. Usually wearing sandals... 

Our campsite that night was just near the Incan site of WiƱaywayna, so when we got into camp, we headed along a path to check that out. It was pretty awesome, although I didn't go down to the bottom for fear of not being able to walk back up the stairs again! 

The campsite that night had a lodge (PROPER INDOORS!!) and a bar, so we made the most of that while we were waiting on dinner. After dinner, we had a thank you presentation to the porters, in which we all had to introduce ourselves. Each of the unmarried women got a huge cheer, which was kind of hilariously awkward.  The porters who'd had to lug Mrs. Watermelon down a million flights of stairs got an extra large round of applause. 

And then it was off to bed for some well earned rest before our 4am wake up call and the final trek into Machu Picchu. But that's a story for next time.

Questions of the day: would you rather walk uphill for a million hours or downhill for a million hours? (One kills your thighs, the other kills your knees and ankles) And would you have laughed at Mrs. Watermelon being carried past on a stretcher? Or am I an evil bitch who's going to hell for laughing?

Oh, and most importantly: have you ever seen a rock making inappropriate hand gestures????

K xx
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