Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pinspiration

A few weeks ago, I decided that I didn't have enough websites to check on a daily basis, and joined Pinterest. For those of you who aren't aware of it, Pinterest is basically like a series of online pin boards where you can bookmark stuff that you might want to go back to in the future. Or a whole lot of shoes that you think are pretty but will never be able to afford. (There's a possibility that I'm stuck midway between the two...) For those of you who ARE aware of it, you can add me here.

Anyway, somewhere in all the pinning of shoes, I came across this:
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After reading that it's just a painted canvas and bits of scrapbooking paper, I got inspired to try it myself. All you need is a canvas, some acrylic paint, several sheets of scrapbooking paper cut into leaf/petal shapes, and a glue gun. I didn't have a glue gun, so I used PVA. Which gave me the opportunity to relive my childhood and paint my hand with glue, let it dry, and peel it off. #sowhatifI'm28 Anyway, if you use PVA, the paper will curl up, so you just have to work quickly and then turn it face down and put a couple of hardback books on the back of the canvas.

Over the weekend, I finished mine:

What do you think? Not bad for my first attempt at non-baking related creativity since high school!!

K xx

Monday, January 30, 2012

Movie Mondays: The Fellowship of the Ring


After guest blogging for Gina last week about why I'm doing Kermit flails of excitement over the forthcoming Hobbit movie (IS IT DECEMBER YET?!?!?!), I decided over the weekend to try and get myself through by rewatching The Lord of the Rings. Clearly, I'd forgotten just how very long each movie is, because I only made it through Fellowship of the Ring before the weekend was basically over. Okay, that may be a SMALL amount of hyperbole. Whatever.
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Anyway, I decided that the next three Movie Mondays are going to be LOTR central around here! (And considering Fellowship is like 85% wandering through the woods, 5% bromances, and 10% actual fighting and whatnot, it can only get better from here) Oh, and for once, I've decided that I'm going to reference characters as well as the actors who played them. Because my brain can separate the two for a change! Without further ado, let's get started, because this is going to be - rather like the film itself - a long one:

Reasons why Fellowship of the Ring is awesome:
1. Andy Serkis as Gollum, even if he's barely in this installment.
2. Ian McKellen. Total badass.
3. The scenery.
4. Merry and Pippin. They're Fred and George Weasley, only not.
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5. Legolas. He's inadvertently hilarious, mostly through stating the bleeding obvious. And has a never-ending supply of arrows.
6. Hugo Weaving as Elrond.
7. Ian Holm as Bilbo. Especially creepy Bilbo when he sees the ring again at Rivendell.
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8. While it was being filmed, New Zealand's cabinet included a "Minister for The Lord of the Rings". AWESOMENESS.
9. Personnel from the New Zealand armed forces were cast as extras for the fight scenes.
10. That they included Tolkien's original maps.
11. Gandalf's fireworks. AMAZING.
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12. The filming. Consistently incredible use of forced perspective.
13. The giant squid/octopus beastie outside the entrance to Moria.
14. The scene where they're all plowing through the snow, and Legolas is all "tralalala!" on top of the snow. It's in the book and I love that they did it that way in the movie.
15. The number of locations they went to solely for the sake of walking a few hundred metres for a montage sequence.
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16. Aragorn throwing a flaming torch at one of the Nazgûl.
17. Rivendell.
18. Christopher Lee.
19. The scene where the hobbits hide in the tree from the Nazgûl.
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20. Epic wizard fights.
21. Billowy cloaks of doom. You really can't go wrong with a billowy cloak of doom.
22. Cate Blanchett.
23. The music.
24. The number of memes it's spawned.
How could I not post this?! Also, source.
25. Gandalf trying to work out the password to get into Moria.

Plus, the following quotes:
- "You have my sword." "And you have my bow." "And MY axe!"
- "Fly, you fools!"
- "My precious."
- "The time would soon come when hobbits would shape the fortunes of all."
- "A wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early. He arrives exactly when he means to."
- "Keep it secret. Keep it safe."
- "One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them. One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them."
- "What's THAT?!" "This, my friend, is a pint." "It comes in PINTS?!?"
- "Are you frightened?" "Yes." "Not nearly frightened enough."
- "I don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip." "What about elevensies? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He doesn't about them, doesn't he??" "I wouldn't count on it..."
- "YOU. SHALL NOT. PASS!"
- If you want him, come and claim him!"
- "They have a cave troll..."
- "I would rather spend one lifetime with you than face all the ages of this world alone."
- "One does not simply walk into Mordor!"
- "Anyway, you need people of intelligence on this sort of mission...quest...thing."
- "This is no mine. It's a tomb."
- "Fool of a Took!"
- "Go back, Sam. I'm going to Mordor alone." "Of course you are. And I'm coming with you."
- "Nobody tosses a dwarf!"
- "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
- "It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep for feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."

Has anyone seen to extended editions with the cast commentaries? Apparently Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan's is HILARIOUS. I'm kind of tempted to rent them just so I can see for myself! Also, who's excited about Lego LOTR?? 

K xx

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Amazingness

A week or so ago, my wonderful bloggy BFF Kim asked on Twitter if anyone wanted a free blog redesign. I did a Kermit flail in my chair, and immediately stuck my hand up. By which I mean "sent her a reply that basically said "MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" and hoped like hell", because I'm pretty sure she couldn't see me sticking my hand up from all the way across the Tasman.

With the directions "something fun and kind of bluey-greeny. Hey, that reminds me of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey and now my brain's in a David Tennant place, wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, DOCTOR WHO IS AWESOME!!!!!", she came up with a spectacular design that I adore. Which is to say that she's amazing, and didn't get exasperated when I sent her emails that said "HAHAHAHA, I totally didn't realise that greeny bit at the top was a map of Australia! Now can you make the bluey bit lighter?"

So if you're using a reader/subscribed by email, stop by and check it out!

A huge, enormous thank you to Kim for all her hard work, and for also being fluent in Whovian. I think it made things a lot easier for both of us!! ;) <3 <3 <3 Also, if you're not reading her blog about life in New Zealand, you should. Homegirl is hilarious.

Anyone else want Kim to redesign their blog? Go here. Like, right now.

What do you think?
K xx

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Hobbit

"I am looking for someone to share in an adventure"
Gandalf, The Hobbit

I'm guest blogging for Gina over at Fantasy Casting today. So if you want to read about what I'm excited about (DWARFMITAGE!) and nervous about (ALSO DWARFMITAGE!) for The Hobbit movie, you can check it out here:
http://fantasycasting.blogspot.com/2012/01/looking-forward-to-hobbit.html

K xx

Friday, January 27, 2012

Gym bunnies

This morning, I went to yet another Pump class at the gym. And it served to remind me of two things:
1. I will always hate the shoulder tracks in Pump classes; and
2. People at the gym tend to fall into certain pigeonholes, most of which are a little weird.

So here I present you with a (totally not maybe a little very judgemental) list of People You Will Encounter In Gym Classes:

The Grunters
You know, the ones who channel an Olympic weight lifter/Rafael Nadal, and grunt with exertion during everything they do. At my gym in Canberra, the weights room got so bad that they had to put up a sign asking people not to grunt so loudly because they were disturbing other patrons. Apparently that just meant a bunch of them migrated to the Pump classes, because we had an increasing number of grunters there by the time I left Canberra!

The Ones Who Can't Count
This occasionally goes hand in hand with the above. They're lifting more weight than they should, so they can't do the controlled "three counts down, one count up" like the rest of the class. So they go "123...wait for everyone to catch up" instead. But a lot of the time, it seems like people just suck at finding the beat in the song.  And it's not exclusive to Pump. I've seen people doing exactly the same thing in pretty much every class on offer.

The Oompa Loompas
I'm pretty sure there's one woman in every gym class who is not only bright orange from all her fake tan, but who's actually put on a face full of make up just to hit the gym. I've actually seen women standing in the change rooms and touching up their make up before they go into a class. Just a note, ladies: if you wipe your face, and the towel ends up orange? It's probably time to lay off a little...

The Ones Who Don't Listen
Sure, if you have a medical reason to do something different to what the instructor is saying, I completely understand. But when there are people who go "Hmm, that seems a little bit hard. I'll just do my own thing instead."? Hell no. Especially when a lot of them end up doing exercises in a way that'll just result in injury. I've had a couple of instructors who've actually had to tell them to please do what the rest of the class is doing. Awesome.

The Ones Who Stand Too Close
Does anyone else get to the gym, stand around waiting for a class, and then two seconds before the class starts, someone turns up and stands RIGHT NEXT TO YOU? And by right next to you, I mean get-the-fuck-out-of-my-personal-bubble close. I kind of want to make a t-shirt to wear to Combat that says "If you stand in my bubble, I take no responsibility for accidentally hitting you"...

The Instructors Who Don't Need to Breathe
I've found this one applies mostly to Step instructors. They're always indescribably cheerful, and even on days when it's 35 degrees C outside, they insist on doing all ten tracks without a break. At least one has glared at me for daring to require oxygen and a drink of water during their class.

The Ones Who Dress Inappropriately
At the gym in Canberra, there was a woman in her 60s who used to come to a few of the same classes as me. She was an Oompa Loompa type, and every week without fail, she would turn up in short shorts. My former work wife and I had a nickname for her: Vagina Shorts Lady. Because when she bent over for any reason, NOTHING was left to the imagination. People would actually pick up their stuff and move across the room when she stood in front of them. And today, a woman at the gym had shorts so short that her undies were sticking out the bottom of the leg holes. Similarly, there was a woman at the gym in Canberra who always turned up to Zumba in jeggings. And there's one here who turns up in a leotard and a lace top. No. Just...no.

The Pains in the Butt
The ones who hold everyone else up because they decide to put half their gear away in between tracks. And who basically stand on your face to do so. I always feel slightly smug when they pack up while everyone else is getting a drink, and then the instructor says that you'll still need that piece of equipment that they just put away. They're also the ones who get there half an hour early, set up their stuff in the primo spot under the air conditioner, then go off and "warm up" by walking at 4kph on the treadmill, and then run into the class at the last minute.

The Conversation Joiners
We had one of these in Canberra too. We called him Talks-Too-Much-Navy-Guy. You'd be in the middle of a conversation with a friend and he would appear out of nowhere and join in with bizarre personal details that no one asked for. I'm all for striking up a conversation with the person next to you. About *gym* related things, until you know them better. Not about whether or not you think your boss is going to give you a pay rise.

The Instructor Who You Think Is Hot...For a While
We had one of these in Canberra. We called him Hot Scott. There may have been quite a lot of giggling from our corner of the room when Hot Scott was teaching. And then I realised that he checked out his own muscles while doing bicep curls, and it was all over. He was officially resigned to Douchebag Land...

And finally, we have this:
The One Who Sings Along Under Their Breath To All The Really Awful Pop Songs
Um. Guilty as charged... It doesn't help that a couple of the instructors I've had over the years have encouraged people to sing along. Once you've started, it's really hard to make yourself stop...

Which of them have you come across? And - more importantly - have I missed any?
K xx

Thursday, January 26, 2012

30 Days of Photography - Day 15

Happy Australia Day, kids! I've celebrated by going for a bush walk, complete with a mob of kangaroos, and will shortly be having barbequed lamb for dinner! #giantstereotype #onlynotquitesoboganasmostofthestereotypes #stupidlylonghashtags

Ahem. The theme for Day 15 of the challenge was 'silhouette'. I've been trying for about a week now to take some silhouette photos, and have failed miserably every single time. So I'm abandoning ship and delving into the archives again, otherwise I'll never get this bloody challenge finished!

So, in honour of Australia Day, have a silhouette photo of Uluru and Kata Tjuta that I took in 2010.


K xx

Monday, January 23, 2012

Movie Monday: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert


This Thursday is Australia Day, which marks the arrival of the First Fleet to Botany Bay in 1788. And so in honour of all things Australian, I decided that this week's movie would be one of my two all-time favourite Australian movies:
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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Between this and Muriel's Wedding, 1994 was a pretty awesome year for the Australian film industry!! I love this movie. It's so ridiculously over-the-top. And despite quite often being total douchebags, the characters still manage to be lovable.

Reasons why Priscilla is totally awesome:
1. Guy Pearce. If for no other reason, you have to watch this movie for Guy Pearce. He's completely amazing. And a very convincing drag queen!
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2. It won an Oscar.
3. Hugo Weaving. He's Elrond, Agent Smith, and the voice of Megatron. Basically, he's a badass. And brilliant in this.
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4. It spawned a Broadway musical.
5. Bill Hunter. Apparently he was filming this and Muriel's Wedding at the same time. And he's awesome in both of them.
6. Hugo Weaving trying to repair the bus with face cream.
7. Terence Stamp.
8. The scenery. Especially Kings Canyon.

9. The scene walking down the street in Broken Hill.
10. The flashback to Hugo Weaving's wedding.
11. The little songs Guy Pearce sings.
12. The random woman who's running across Australia for charity and who keeps popping up randomly along their trip.
13. Terence Stamp waking up with a cake as a pillow.
14. The completely bonkers wigs and outfits they wear while doing "I Will Survive".
15. The Mamma Mia routine.
16. The fact that it can be such a hilarious movie while simultaneously dealing with incredibly serious issues.
17. Guy Pearce lip syncing to opera sitting in a giant silver shoe on top of a bus in the middle of the desert.
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Plus, the following quotes:
- "I hereby christen this budget Barbie camper... Priscilla: Queen of the Desert!"
- "Great. That's just what this country needs. A cock in a frock on a rock."
- [regarding sausages] "How do you like your little boys, girls?"
- [to a bogan woman in the Broken Hill pub] "Now listen here, you mullet. Why don't you just light your tampon and blow your box apart? Because it's the only bang you're going to get!"
- "Oh, Felicia. Where the fuck are we?"
- "What are you telling me? This is an ABBA turd???"
- "Is it true when you were born, the doctor turned around and slapped your mother?"
- "What a nice dog. What's its name?" "Herpes. If she's good, she'll heel."
- "Oh, you CAN'T do that with a ping-pong ball!" "Do you wanna bet?"
- "If you don't mind me asking, what kind of cabaret act do you do?" "We dress up in women's clothes and parade around mouthing the words to other people's songs."
- "Do you know why this microphone has such a long cord?" "Why?" "So it's easily retrieved after I shove it up your arse!"
- "[sings] A desert holiday, let's pack the drag away! You pack the lunch and tea, I'll pack the ecstacy. Fuck off you silly queer, I'm getting out of here. A desert holiday, hip hip hip HIP hooray!"

Here's to patriotism at its most ridiculous!

Has anyone seen the stage show as well as the movie? How do they compare?

K xx

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Year of the Dragon

Happy Lunar New Year, everyone!! Tonight may officially mark the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, but the celebrations began in Melbourne over the course of the past few weeks. So last weekend, we went on a little family excursion to the Victoria Street Lunar New Year festival.

It was a really novel experience to be walking down the middle of one of Melbourne's busiest streets, and there were an INSANE number of people there. But it was totally worth it - it was so full of colour and life and fire crackers and delicious smelling food.

Plus, Little Miss A had an absolute blast on a giant slide that was shaped like the sinking Titanic. In bad taste? Definitely. Tons of fun? Apparently.

Anyway, I suspect my photos can sum it up better than I can, so I'll give you those instead:
The crowds

A spiralled potato on a stick. Battered, deep fried, covered  in salt. DELICIOUS. And apparently Korean...

Lion dancers



Giant slide shaped like the Titanic. You climb up the middle and hurl yourself
down either side like an aeroplane evacuation slide!

Fire cracker residue in the tram tracks

More lion dancing

Has anyone else been celebrating the Lunar New Year?

K xx

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dessert Day #2

Yesterday, the lovely Deidre of Decoybetty came over for another installation of Dessert Day. And it was just as much fun as last time, although slightly more traumatic.

As I suggested here, we started off making crème brûlée. I think we were both a bit terrified that we'd end up cooking the eggs when we poured the hot cream in. But by some miracle, we didn't. GO US!

Once the crème brûlée was chillaxing in the fridge, we decided to do the same. (Only not in the fridge. Obviously.) Instead, we ate cheese cut with a miniature cleaver, because we're classy like that:

And we ate baked Camembert, which I neglected to take a picture of but which was delicious. And we watched this, because IT'S AWESOME:
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That led us to the conclusion that Bill Pullman was the 1990s version of Patrick Dempsey in that his hair had magical powers. It also led us to the conclusion that Sandra Bullock wore some truly APPALLING clothes in the 1990s.

We also discovered that pretty much every rice cracker in my house was stale. So eventually we abandoned ship and just started dipping the cheese directly into the spicy capsicum dip. Because we're classy like that.

Anyway, eventually we decided that it was time to brave the butane torch. DO NOT BRAVE THE BUTANE TORCH. Those things are freaking scary. First of all, they were rather temperamental in terms of getting the butane *into* the torch in the first place. So I ended up with my hands covered in butane on several occasions. And butane is REALLY COLD. #firstworldproblems Eventually, we got it up and running, and came out with this:

It was pretty good, if a little bland. In future, I'd probably make the recipe I found for passionfruit and coconut crème brûlée that I found on the following page of the recipe book! 

We then moved on to this recipe for gluten free peppermint Oreos. I think they turned out pretty well!

Okay, we may have gotten a LITTLE carried away with the amount of frosting in some of them. But it was just going to go to waste otherwise. And they tasted pretty damned good. They got the seal of approval from Inspector Climate (Deidre's husband) and everything!! 

After Deidre left, I ended up putting a couple of the other crème brûlées under the grill because I didn't want my hand to drop off from butane poisoning I'm a chicken I was curious to see if it was easier than the butane torch. 

It was. It could just because I didn't really know what I was doing with the torch. But pffffff, whatever. 

We already have our next Dessert Day scheduled. For World Nutella Day. You're welcome in advance. 

Has anyone else had a Dessert Day as a result of our totally awesome should-be-copyrighted-so-we-make-our-fortunes idea?

K xx

Thursday, January 19, 2012

30 Days of Photography - Day 14

I swear, one of these days I'll actually get better at remembering to take photos for this. And, you know, FINISH the challenge...

Anyway, today's theme is 'eyes'. If you were one of the handful of people who read my blog a year ago, you'll know that I have eyeball phobia. So I've kind of been putting off taking photos for this one. It's totally not because I'm really forgetful. Anyway. Here's a close up of my eyeball.

You're welcome.

K xx

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

101 in 1001 #66

On Saturday, I realised that I hadn't done any baking since New Year's Eve. Okay, so it's only like two weeks - hardly the end of the world. But I felt the need to rectify the situation all the same. And for some reason, I got it into my head that I wanted to make a lemon and poppy seed cake, and put cream cheese frosting on the top.

For once, all my cookbooks failed me. The only lemon and poppy seed cake recipes they contained were for syrup cakes. And making a syrup cake without the syrup seemed risky. So I turned to the internet. The recipe I ended up using (which I've since lost the link for. I AM SO SMART, S-M-R-T!) said something at the bottom about how you could double the frosting recipe and use half of it to fill the cake. Which is how I ended up crossing #66 (make a filled cake) off my Day Zero list.

I've attempted to make filled cakes numerous times in the past, and they've always ended up looking something like this:

Clearly, my MS Paint skills are spectacular and Google failed me with decent pictures, and my cake cutting skills in the past have been...squiffy at best. (The candles were to make it look more like a cake and less like a cylinder with a crack in it.) Anyway, I figured it was about time to see if I could do any better. Oh, and technically, this recipe is for an orange and lemon poppy seed cake. It worked out much the same, really!

Here's what you'll need:

(Plus, 250g block of cream cheese, a ton of icing sugar, and some lemon juice for the icing, all of which I forgot to put in the picture. #FAIL)

Start with 1/3 cup of poppy seeds and put them in a small bowl:

Add 1/4 cup of milk:


And leave them to soak. Meanwhile, grease and line a 20cm round tin.

Chop up 125g of softened butter:

Add 1 cup caster sugar:

And cream them together.

Try not to just eat it with a spoon. Then zest one orange and one lemon:

Add the zest into the creamed butter mixture, along with 3 eggs, added one at a time. Beat in between each egg.


Then add in 2 cups of self raising flour (If you're doing what I did and using gluten free flour, don't dump it in like you would with regular flour. Because it will go EVERYWHERE)...

...1/2 cup of sour cream...

...1/4 cup orange juice (I juiced the orange that I'd zested)...

...and the milk/poppy seed mixture:

Beat it until it's just combined:

And then pour it into the tin.

Now, the recipe said to bake it at 160 degrees C for 40-45 minutes. I'm not sure if the recipe is CRAZY WRONG or if it was the gluten free flour that did it, but after 40 minutes, it was still about 40% liquid. I think all up, it took an extra 15-20 minutes before a skewer came out clean. So basically? Don't be surprised if it's not done after 40 minutes!

Here's the (FINALLY) cooked cake:

Let it cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out of the tin. Once it's cool, slice the cake in half. One of my cookbooks has a double page spread on cake splitting techniques. Considering how poorly I've faired in the past, I thought I'd avoid just using a knife. So I got some thread and used that instead. It took a bit of effort to get started, but after that it was SO much easier to keep it straight! And I imagine if you used dental floss instead of thread, it wouldn't be as hard to get going.

I'm not sure I'd use this frosting recipe again for reasons that will become apparent. But here it is anyway.
250g block of cream cheese, softened:

1 cup icing sugar:

4 tablespoons lemon juice:

Beat it all together. Use half as filling:

And half as icing, then sprinkle the top with poppy seeds so it doesn't look really boring:

Okay, the reason I wouldn't use this recipe again? It was INSANELY runny. I had to use an extra 1/2-3/4 cup of icing sugar just to get it to a consistency that would stay on the cake. Even then, it was kind of...custardy?...in texture. And then I had to transfer the entire cake to a cake carrier rather than just covering it with cling film because the ICING DIDN'T SET. EVER. So if I'd cling filmed it, the icing would have just stuck to the cling film and not the cake.

So I think in the future, I'd use a different frosting recipe. One that had at least a small amount of butter in it so that it would set.

ANYWAY. Despite the baking time debacle and the frosting dilemmas, this cake was pretty damned good. As evidenced by the fact that we demolished the entire thing in two days!

So there you have it. I'm pretty sure I'll be attempting filled cakes more often in the future!

K xx
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