Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Astrology and all that hokum

I don’t believe in the supernatural. Much. I don’t believe in psychics, mediums or astrology. I've never held much regard for the occult in general, and I think this comes from a phase in my childhood when my cousins and I used to conduct ouija boards every day in an attempt to contact The Other Side. All we ever achieved was completely freaking each other out. I am, however, willing to keep an open mind about hauntings – although I spent three months living in a supposedly haunted house with my grandmother, and never saw a thing – experiences described to me by people close to me (and that I trust implicitly) have caused me to not write off the existence of ghosts and specters completely. The major factor in these accounts that persuades me that not all is as it seems is that these are people not given to flights of fancy. Recently on a whim, I started following a Capricorn-centric twitter account. I think it was retweeted by one of my fellow twitizens, and I thought “heck, that DOES sound like me”. And the more it tweets, the more I think that. It’s really eye-opening for me – I’m learning things about Capricorns that I have never heard before, and these character traits are describing me to a tee!


"Although very independent a #Capricorn still needs to feel wanted & appreciated."

"You will more than likely find a #Capricorn kicking back observing everything & everyone."

"#Capricorn likes to be connected with on an intellectual level, once you can do that we will slowly open up to you."

"Most #Capricorn's hate PDA."

"Stability is a #Capricorn's ultimate goal."

"A #Capricorn has good common sense & likes to surround ourselves with people who have the same."

"#Capricorn & chaos does not mix."

"#Capricorn prefers to work alone, we feel we get things done better depending on ourselves."

Maybe I should pay more attention to astrology, because some of these are uncanny. Do you read your stars every day? Or is it complete hokum, as Sheldon would say?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy Moments


My happy moments for this week...

* Having my other half come home after 4 days away in Sydney. I missed him more than I thought I would!

* Baking a cake for the first time since high school Home Economics. Turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

* Finding the most gorgeous cushion covers for my new couch - and they're reasonably priced!

* Spending all day Saturday either lying on the couch, baking or on the computer. Lazy day bliss.

* Gaining more confidence and fashion inspiration from my new favourite tumblr.

* Getting excited looking at herbs - still haven't actually planted any though

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lazy Day

Today has been so divine and relaxing. I've dubbed it our "lazy day". It rained, the sky was grey.

First, C arrived home early this morning from Sydney. We slept in, then I went to the shops and bought apples. I baked a tea cake, which I have never done in my life before, purely because C was banging on about how much he loves them last week. I also did two loads of washing.

Apart from that, we pretty much spent the entirety of the day on the couch. We watched some tv shows together, then a movie with popcorn. Then I cooked dinner and we ate at the breakfast bar together, chatting.

It wasn't until after this, and we were back relaxing on the couch, that I realised that I hadn't even asked C if he wanted to do something today, go somewhere. I said this to him, and he said he didn't want to go anywhere anyway.

If it wasn't Saturday, I'd say it was the perfect lazy Saturday.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I’m learning a hard lesson in loneliness this week, as my other half has gone to Sydney to attend a convention.

I was trying hard not to think about the fact that he was going away and LEAVING ME riiiight up until the day before he left, then I just got really sad. We haven’t been separated for more than two days for quite a while, almost four years, in fact.

There are some good things about having an empty house however. I can cook whatever I want without having to worry about his fussiness. I can watch whatever I want on the TV without complaint (ha ha! Trashy reality TV here I come!). I can go on the computer for as long as I want without him wandering into the office aimlessly looking for attention or for me to make him something to eat. I even have the whole of our king-size bed to myself.

Problem is, it’s a bit lonely. The first day was ok, but now I miss him like crazy. Thankfully, due to the wonders of technology, I’m in constant contact with him via text and phone calls.

Problem is, you can’t send a hug via the phone. Absence is definitely making me fonder of the boy. I have no idea how people in long-distance relationships do it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pukka Tukka

I'm a bit strange when it comes to new things. Sometimes I'm an avid early-adopter - the first one onboard in a new fandom, or buying a book the first day it is out. Other times I'm a lagging late-adopter; only catching onto some new gadget after hearing everyone else's good reviews. But when it comes to the subject of tonight's post, I am very, very tardy to the party. I'm talking about Jamie Oliver.

A quick Google tells me he was first on our television screens in 1999 - can you believe that? Over ten years he's been part of the culinary landscape. I vaguely recall people rabbitting on about him whilst I was at university, and one of my cousins in particular was a bit obsessed, collecting all his cookbooks. I, meanwhile, had watched the odd episode of School Lunches or Ministry of Food and not thought that much more about him. Until recently.

The reason for my late, great obsession with Jamie is solely due to one thing: his show Jamie at Home. It's being (re?)-run on two different channels here at the moment, and it has bewitched me. I am not even clear on why, but let me tell you all the things I think are wonderful about it.

- Brian the hairy gardener. At first I was like "who is this homeless begger who has wandered onto the set?" but now his taciturn nature and boundless knowledge about organic gardening have won me over.

- I'm learning things. Like how to roast a capsicum. Or blanch things. I'm pretty sure noone in my house or my mother's has ever blanched a vegetable. But should I want to, I now know how.

- Jamie is not fussy. He just chucks stuff in a bowl or pan and mixes it up. He hardly ever seems to measure things, but when he does, he uses an old kitchen scale that looks like my nannas.

- He doesn't use strange ingredients. Sure, there's a few herbs I've never encountered before, but I chalk that up to my own ignorance. There's nothing too complicated about the recipes on this show, and I LOVE that fact. It makes me feel like YES, I COULD MAKE THAT TOMATO SALAD. And is that not the mark of a good cooking show?

- He makes me want to eat vegetables. I am dying to try to make his Zucchini Carbonara. Did you know zucchinis are also called corgettes? Another thing I learned!

All of these things are great, but the best (and possibly most disasterous) thing that has happened from my new devotion to this show is that I have become inspired to plant a herb garden. I am positive if I have a basil plant or some parsley or mint at my immediate disposal I will use them in my cooking more.

Watch this space...

Monday, August 22, 2011

That's when neighbours become good friends

Everybody needs good neighbours, yes? Ours are pretty good. They keep their yard clean, haven’t undertaken messy renovations and play their music at a normal volume. But here’s the thing – I never speak to them. I’ve lived in our house 4 years now and the only reason I know their names is because C told me.

I’m just not an overly-friendly person I guess. Sure, I’ll wave if I see them pulling in the driveway, but it really highlights to me just how stand-offish I must be when C’s mother visits. She never fails to speak with either of the neighbours within a day of arriving. I don’t know what she does – sometimes I’m convinced she hollers over the back fence at them. But then again, this is a woman who is so chatty, she will tell supermarket cashiers and strangers she’s in line with her most personal stories.

A few days ago she asked me if our right-hand side neighbours had gone on their cruise yet. Not only could I not tell her if they were AWAY ON HOLIDAYS, I didn’t even know they were going on a cruise. Goes to show what a little bubble I live in.

But at the end of the day, I don’t talk to our neighbours because a) I’m always working b) when I am home I’m doing housework or chilling out, and c) I don’t really care about them. Sad to admit, but brutally honest. I don’t care what their dog’s name is, or when they are going on a cruise, or when their daughter is fighting with her boyfriend.

Are you friendly with your neighbours?

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Customer Is King

I love giving good customer service. I enjoy helping people and also solving complex problems for them. Most of my professional life has been spent in call centres, and a good proportion of that in roles where I did individual customer management on a case-by-case basis. I developed relationships with my customers, as often I would be dealing with them for stretches of weeks or months at a time. Everyone I worked with had a customer service-driven work ethic, and thrived on getting good feedback and compliments. My last position at a very large telecommunications company was as part of a team of results-driven high achievers, and it was very competitive in that respect.

So when I changed jobs and moved to a finance department, I was in for a rude surprise. I went from being in a place where the Customer Is Always Right and compromises can always be reached; to a team where frankly, they all HATE customers. And they’re not backwards in coming forwards when expressing their opinions. I was extremely shocked to hear some of them refer to their customers as “idiots” or complain about their complaints. I’m not sure if it’s a company culture thing, or something unique to accounts, but I’m used to it now. I just try to give the best customer service I can anyway.

How do you feel about good or bad customer service? Do you speak up if you are on the receiving end of either? A compliment can go a long way towards brightening someone’s day, and for some, there are even job rewards. Likewise, a complaint about bad service can help the next person in line behind you – sometimes it’s just about coaching a person to do better. I get really riled up about rude service I receive in person or on the phone – probably because I always go out of my way to be helpful and I don’t like it when a customer service person isn’t. I sometimes have to remind myself that it’s a human on the other end of my barrage of words and try to keep any critique constructive and not personal.

The best service of my life I ever received was in a little bar in Bangkok. The worst was over the phone from Elgas. Both these incidents stick in my memory due to the attitude of the person serving me.

Where have you gotten the best or worst customer service?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Big Move

My work recently moved to new digs. This was a big upheaval for the company, as they had been based near the airport for about a million years. For me though, it was a blessed relief.

Whilst my co-workers were whinging about having to use public transport (some for the first time in their working lives) to get to the new city office, I was thanking the gods that I never have to drive through rush hour traffic to get to my office again. Also, our old office was daggy, let’s face it. The place was falling apart at the seams. When I first got there, to my eyes it looked like a health and safety incident just waiting to happen.

The building was old, and had been used as passenger terminal way back when. The carpet had lumps in it, the roof had holes. The air con was always too hot or absolutely arctic. The pin boards had posters about 10 years old and the fire warden list had people on it that hadn’t worked there forever. Overall, it was pretty dingy, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of dust that got kicked up when we started packing up to move.

So this week we made the move to the Big City. We now have a refitted highrise office, with nice new everything and even better, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump from the trains and buses. But there are still a few things bugging me about our new office. I know, I know, I’m hard to please. But I’m worried – the ladies loo is very far from my desk. How much productivity time will I lose making the trek several times a day? And we’re not allowed bins at our desk. Where am I going to put my dirty tissues? Am I expected to get up and walk to the big general waste bin in the corner every time I blow my nose?

But to focus on the big positive: I get to read again. A blissful 45mins on the train means I can read, something I couldn’t do with my car commute. Hello, books. I missed you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ekka time!

I have never been to the Brisbane Show before. The Toowoomba Show, yes, many times. I was very small on these occasions and don't remember much about it except the animal petting zoo (always puzzled me, why were these kids so excited about baby chickens? We have them at home on the farm all the time!) and fairy floss and the Gravitron. Anybody else get that ride at their local rural show? Man that thing was the scariest ride ever. I remember going on it once and the girl next to me threw up and the vomit flew sideways before plastering itself to the clothes of some other poor sucker. But I digress...

This year, after four years of putting it off, C agreed to take me to the Ekka. I have no idea why the Brisbane Royal Show is called this, I should Google it probably but that is boring. On with the show!

The first thing we did was visit the dog pavillion. There were big dogs, little dogs, skinny dogs, fluffy dogs and noisy dogs! It was great. C was disappointed he couldn't find any German Shephards. Maybe they were all out the back feasting on some prize cats and birds, who knows. This one dog decided to go to the loo right in the middle of his judging. The poor teen leading him looked like he just wanted to curl up and die. A lady came out and cleaned it up with a broom and pan. What a job.

We wandered around until we found the beef cattle. I must say this was a highlight for me. Though I grew up on a farm that raised beef cows, these were truly amazing animals. All perfectly formed, beautifully shiny and HUUUGE. The really big ones were sitting down, I think I would have been scared if they were standing up. One weighed 1.2 tonnes! There were Angus, Blondes, Limosins, Brahmans, Santa Gertrudus and Charolais and breeds I'd never even heard of. It was great. I didn't even mind the cow poo everywhere.

Then we hit sideshow alley. What a place! So much bigger, gaudier and carnier (that's a word I made up) than anything I have ever seen. We spent $10 at the shooting gallery. Once again, as when we use REAL guns, I shot better than C. Ha ha.

You wouldn't catch me on this thing. Who knows what bolt may have been missed??

We then visited the dairy cows (much less exciting) and the birds. Man, there are some big chickens out there. I was glad some of the roosters were in cages. Those suckers were MEAN. I'm not scared of chickens, but I felt very uneasy when one that came up to my waist was eyeing me off. In this section were also pigeons (very fancy ones too!), ducks, geese, turkeys, budgies, finches and parrots. I'm trying to convince C to let me get a finch. We'll see.

Then we sat down at the main arena. We watched the non-hackney in harness section (little buggies! So cool!) and some show jumping. That was pretty spectacular to see close up.

And lastly, the pavillion I had been looking for all day - the arts and crafts. Everything from weaving to scrapbooking, photography to decorated eggs - it was all there. The cakes were by far the most popular of all.

And then we had gelato, and then we went home. I don't know if I'll go again next year. My feet still hurt two days later!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beauty School Drop-out

I have only ever had a passing acquaintance with make-up, and all things beauty. Oh yes, I used to read the beauty articles in my copy of Dolly or Girlfriend, and later New Idea or Woman's Day (I never bought fashion glossies, too intimidating). My mother only wears minimal make-up, and when she does it looks a little... strange. Pretty sure her mother never taught her how to put it on either.

I'm aware that I probably should be more interested in things like lipliner, eyelash curlers and primer, but recently I realised I don't actually have to be. One day I was reading some boring article comparing different mascaras and it hit me – I don't have to read this. I'm not interested in it AT ALL. Turn the page and move on, dear.

And so since that day, I completely skip the beauty section of any magazine I'm reading. I'm sure there are some beauty editors out there that would faint to hear me say that, but I just can't bring myself to care about different ways to apply your eyeshadow, or what this season's trendy lipstick shade is.

This lackadaisical attitude does have its problems however. Interested, or not, I do feel the need to actually wear make-up to work. Having had no-one ever show me how to put it on properly, I have over the past years developed a slapstick morning routine involving sunscreen moisturiser, foundation and a lick of mascara. I've bought multiple different foundations over the years and am never quite sure if I've got the right shade or if I'm applying it correctly.

I've decided though, that I need to learn. At least, learn the basics of a “going-out” look. Why? Because I think it would make me feel a bit better about myself. Dressing up always boosts my confidence, but I'm always thinking that my make-up isn't half as good as anyone else's. How do you get that liquid eyeliner on without painting your entire lid with it?

So, now I'm wondering where to begin. Should I go to a department store and ask one of those startlingly thin, perfectly made-up young whippets to give me a beauty makeover? I'm convinced they'll just tart me up like a two dollar hooker and try to sell me as much product as possible. Eep!

On the other hand, Carly from Extremely Hyper recently went to Napoleon Perdis and gave a positive review, so I'm also thinking of doing that.

Help me out here, folks?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Polly Dolly: Hippie

Haven't done Polly Dolly in a while, but this was fun!

I started with a tie-dye shirt I liked and built the outfit around the pink and purple colours. I particularly love the rose ring, I'd wear that with anything!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

That Terrible TV

Just wrote nearly a whole blog post about ways to creatively slack-off at work then deleted it. It's been done, my suggestions were boring and hatched from some not-very-original ideas.

Truthfully, I thought I would get more time to blog this week but every night has me coming home, cooking and collapsing. I think I'm still recovering from the lurgy that I had earlier in the week and all I want to do is laze about in front of the telly all evening.

I've been watching some new shows too - trialling "Lost Girl" on SciFi, seems harmless and kinda kooky, so will continue with that one. "Game of Thrones" is something I've been looking forward to for a long time and I've dragged C into watching it as well. I love how it's so political and confusing. And in the trashy TV stakes, I'm totally into "Ice loves Coco". Now I've watched a lot of celebrity reality shows, and I believe this is one of the best. Ice T is a funny mofo, and I think I've tweeted more than once that he is an amazingly supporting husband.

What are you watching right now?


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