Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Push: Self-portrait

I've been wanting to improve my photography skills more lately and when I saw this challenge, I thought "I can do that!".

PUSH is a fun new game all about pushing your photography skills to the limit and always striving to do better and be better, to be more creative and find something exciting in your everyday life.

Each Tuesday a new theme will be posted here on Hello Owl then it's your job to go off in the world and find something unique or quirky you would like to share.

This weeks theme is: Take a {fun} self portrait

I ended up taking this pic with my iPhone. I was lying down for a nap on Easter Sunday and thought - I wonder what I look like when I'm asleep?

First, the original:

Then, with Instragram filter:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Bad Patient

[image source]

My mother has turned out to be the worst invalid ever. Those who follow me on twitter will know that on Saturday morning, she tripped over on her morning walk and fell on her shoulder. She now has a fine break in her humerous, just below the ball-and-socket shoulder joint.

The doctor has put her right arm in a cuff-and-collar sling and said not to move it for two weeks. So far she had abided by this advice (it's been two days) but we still can't stop her doing things around the house. Things that should be far to difficult for her with only one arm.

For example, she's still washing up when we're not looking. And last night she snuck off and had a shower by herself. She's constantly picking up things around the house and tidying and I've yet to see her sit down for more than ten minutes together.

I submit that there is a worse patient that the male down with Man Flu: the Mummy Invalid. Because she just won't act the part, no matter how hard you try to do things for her!

I just hope she isn't over-doing things, but who is the best judge if not her?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Polly Dolly: Glasses

I love aviators. I've never owned a pair and I'm not convinced I can carry them off, but I started this challenge with some and built the look around them.

The dress is meant for an afternoon out, and I couldn't resist the cream shoes. I don't usually wear gold, but this Hermes bracelet is just too lovely not to fantasize about wearing with this outfit!

Cotton dress
$255 -

Woven shoes
$100 -

Hermes jewelry
$165 -

ALDO summer sunglass
$12 -

Play Polly Dolly here at

A Real Holiday

It's Easter time and this year we have a special treat – a five-day weekend. This anomaly is due to ANZAC day falling on the Easter Monday. So some bright spark said – let's have an extra day off! And all about him saw that it was good.

Easter in Queensland means family holidays. People want to take advantage of the last warmth of the autumn sun, and so many people head to those Meccas of sand and waves – the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

Since I became an adult I have never had an Easter weekend holiday. And since I've become part of a couple, I've only been away for the weekend twice – both times to the Sunshine Coast for one or two nights.

Truth be told, I haven't had what I consider a “real” holiday since 2006. That was the year I went to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The year after that I met my fiance and well, it seems the life of a person with a partner is not as conducive to saving money as that of a singleton with no commitments!

Now, the grind of mortgage repayments, electricity bills and grocery shopping really prohibits the kind of holiday I'd like to take. One where the currency is different, you don't really speak the language and everything is old or new or beautiful.

Where you immerse yourself in the local atmosphere and generally forget that you have a boring office job back home, and can drink three cocktails because you don't have to get up early in the morning.

I think my next Real Holiday is going to be our honeymoon. C is happy to go where I want to, and as to that I only have 2 criteria – that there is ocean, and plenty of cocktails.

*[images: all mine]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hobbit Love

When I first heard that the film of The Hobbit was going ahead, I was very excited. To see another Tolkien classic brought to life! I have followed the ups and downs of the greenlighting and pre-production with bated breath. And when Peter Jackson (affectionately known by all his fans as PJ) was finally announced to be taking the reins again, I breathed a very big sigh of relief, then cheered!

But it was not until yesterday that I felt the first REAL stirrings of breathless, wriggling excitement. That was when PJ posted the first set video on his Facebook page. I raced home from work to watch all ten delicious minutes of it. From the opening words, I was entranced. I couldn't believe it when PJ said that they had first started building the Bag End set 12 years ago. Has it really been that long? But then I heard it: the hobbit theme music. Followed closely by the Rivendell music, as shots of the rebuilt sets were proudly shown. I got goosebumps. I actually teared up a little because I wasn't prepared for the emotions that it stirred in me. Howard Shore's score combined with the reality of the rebuilt world which I had loved so much – it was just amazingly beautiful.

Perhaps it is not hard for you to guess that I love The Lord of the Rings. Not in a squealing fangirly OMG-isn't-Legolas-cute kind of way (though I have been known to express similar sentiments). But in a deep, abiding, adoring way. I have loved Tolkien since I was in primary school, and my teacher set us The Hobbit as a study one term. We did activities each week. I remember very clearly getting a perfect score on a test of how many Dwarf names we could list from the book. We drew pictures of scenes like the trolls arguing in the forest, or Bard the Bowman's heroics. Only a little later was I to discover the richer, more dense, dark and wonderful journey of Frodo in Lord of the Rings.

I was a child that always asked questions. One day I asked my dad what the longest book in the world was. He said “Well, The Lord of the Rings is pretty long.”. And that was that. Of course I had to read it then. Imagine my joy when I found out it was about Bilbo's nephew! My love for Tolkien's writing grew, and I fell in love with Strider, Aragorn, Elendil's heir. I made myself a vow to read the book every year from then on, a promise I kept up until university.

During the making of the films, I enjoyed a significant and happy time as a LOTR fangirl. I frequented a messageboard, wrote fanfiction, parodies and role-plays, make wallpapers and icons, and even ended up setting up a breakaway messageboard with a couple of my fangirl buddies. It was an amazing time, when set pics would leak out at unexpected moments, but we also enjoyed some marvellous transparency from Weta Workshop and New Line. The official website often featured conceptual art, and would release the most beautiful desktop wallpapers and themes on a regular basis. I read everything I could about the production, and attended every Boxing Day opening of the three films with my dear fangirling friend, Nawl. It was at this time I discovered the amazing illustrations of Alan Lee and John Howe. Their amazing work on the production of the films did so much to bring Middle Earth to life, and I thank the gods that PJ was able to get them to work on the films with him. I also fell head over heels in love with Howard Shore's score - there are just no words here folks. The Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack is still my hands-down favourite score of all time.

Such was the depth of my passion, I even holidayed in New Zealand with a fangirl friend I met online, and we coincided our visit with the world premiere of Return of the King in Wellington. We went to the Ringer party and met John Noble (Denethor). We saw Ian McKellan and Sean Astin in the flesh. We watched the big LOTR parade filled with marching Men of Rohan, Elves, Nazgul and Orcs. And waved madly at the stars as they cruised past in convertible cars like astronauts returned to earth, receiving the adoration of their enthusiastic public.

That was in December 2003. Can you believe it? It doesn't seem so long ago to me. I haven't been an active part of Tolkien fandom for many years but the love has been re-kindled and I can now officially say I am a fangirl again. And I will be dipping my toe back into fandom life again soon – perhaps I will see you there?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Moments

This week was a blur of work and then a quiet weekend, but I had some lovely moments...

1. Starting a Battlestar Galactica re-watch with my fiancee. I was so overjoyed he wanted to do this with me, as watching shows with someone else who loves them is approximately 175 x better than on your own. This series re-watch was inspired by meeting Katee Sackhoff and glimpsing Tahmoh Penikett at Supanova last weekend.

2. I finally bought some conditioner for the new water bed. Not only did I remember, I went to the right shop! Hurray!

3. Putting together The Plan. It's on my fridge now and is kicking off TONIGHT.

4. Cleaning off the kitchen bench. It was a nightmarish pile of junk mail, keys, coins, bills, paper-clips, books and magazines. It's so satisfying to look at it now and see CLEAN SURFACES.

5. Trying out our new popcorn maker. I chose it as an engagement gift from my brother and his girlfriend, and it didn't disappoint. 1/3 of a cup of popcorn kernels makes a bowl big enough to satisfy us!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Polly Dolly: Trench

When I hear the word trench - I think Burberry. For me, there is no other. I went to Polyvore with the intent of picking a gorgeous long traditional beige Burberry trenchcoat, but then I stumbled across this navy piece of loveliness... And then I had to punk it up a bit with ankle booties. I would wear this on an overcast afternoon if I was headed to the city. Add the Hermes scarf and hey presto! I'm continental!

Want to play? Head to

My vow to be more organised

[image source]

This afternoon my other half and I were driving home from a spontaneous hot-chip lunch at Redcliffe. It being PM, and me being me, my thoughts were already turning towards what we would be having for dinner.

I moaned about how I never know what we're going to be eating more than a day in advance and secondly how I never seem to be able to keep the fridge, freezer and pantry stocked with appropriate ingredients.

I wondered aloud if there was some app that could turn me into a meal planning diva. I have already tried kikki.K's lovely paper planner with limited success.

C suggested we do what his parents used to do: every night gets designated a meal. Seven days, seven meals and we always know what we're having. He pointed out Friday night was already Pizza Night, so that meant just six other evening meals to pick and assign.

I had concerns this would get a bit boring, but he pointed out that The Plan isn't set in stone. He also pointed out if I write it down and pin up The Plan behind the pantry door, he'll know if he has to get meat out of the freezer in the afternoon before I get home.

So, having no other good suggestions or ideas myself, I agreed. The Plan starts on Sunday, which gives me a night and a day to put it together. To keep it varied, I'm going to try to keep it generic, eg. Monday night is Pasta Night. This could entail simple pasta sauce dumped on penne, a pasta bake or even spag bog.

I'm really looking forward to seeing if this works. Wish us luck!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Let me introduce you to BOB

Last night we went to the local camping store for a few select items. I ended up getting an emergency poncho, some waterproof matches and a whistle.

Are we perhaps preparing to go bush on some sort of boot camp training exercise? Making a home version of Man vs Wild? No. We were stocking my Bug-Out Bag (BOB).

What is a BOB? The BOB is something that C has been talking about for months now. Even before all the natural disasters that occurred at the beginning of this year in Australia, he has been banging on about putting together a bag that in an emergency you can just grab and go, and know you’re prepared for the worst. C jokes that my handbag is already a fairly good example but there are some things that a woman just doesn’t carry around all the time!

I know this sounds a bit nutty. But stay with me here. C’s careful explanations and advocacy, in conjunction with the recent state of the world, have convinced me it’s an idea with merit. It’s actually something that military people and survivalists always have. Some people have what they call a “go-bag” which is more a bag full of clothes they can grab and take with them if they have to travel at short notice. They use these on “Criminal Minds”, I notice. The BOB is a little more hardcore than that – the idea is you should be able to survive for a few days without power if you have to leave your home. And it should be light enough to carry on your back.

Now, I know we are not the only people that have a Zombie Apocalypse Plan. I know for a fact that some of my friends and internet tweeps have discussed what they’d do in the event of a “Day of the Dead” (or even “Shaun of the Dead”) –style zombie outbreak. The BOB is something that would be extremely useful for that, in that I could take it and make my way to our planned rendezvous point on foot if required...

But seriously – if there’s one thing that recent flash floods, cyclones, earthquakes and bushfires have taught me, it’s that sometimes you don’t have time to put the photo albums in the car... you just got to get out.

The BOB is designed for emergencies like natural disasters, but also circumstances like a sudden widespread power blackout (Eastern Seaboard US outage anyone?) or an unprecedented foreign military incursion (think “Tomorrow When the War Began”). Unlikely, yes, but wouldn’t you like to have a working radio and matches ready for when the world goes dark and you can’t charge your iPhone? Mine is going to be pretty basic, but C is determined to make his more comprehensive – stocked with long-term survival stuff like a kinetic-motion power charger, emergency blanket and a tarp.

In my BOB so far are things like: battery-powered FM radio, cigarette lighter, small screwdriver, cord, nail file, paw paw ointment, bandaids and nail scissors. I’ve added last night’s purchases but still have a few more things to add like MREs (meal-ready-to-eat), a multitool, hand sanitiser, a pillbox with paracetamol and water purification tablets, a compass/mirror and underwear for 2 days.

So are we paranoid? Crazily too prepared for disaster? I don’t know, but having a BOB even half-assembled seems like a logical thing to me. During the floods, when we lost power and the water was rising, I know I would have loved a bag ready and packed, sitting by the door that contained everything I needed if I had to evacuate suddenly.

Do you have an emergency evacuation plan? Or a BOB?

*After reading this post pre-publishing, C insisted on pulling out his BOB and showing me all the things he has in there. Frankly I was astonished. A few things I haven't yet mentioned that are in his BOB: a wire saw, water bottles, a filtered water bottle, fishing line, duct tape, insect repellent, plastic zip-lock bags, chem-lights and a small two-way radio. Not a word of a lie.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Supanova Brisbane 2011

Supanova is a large pop culture convention that has been going in Australia for a number of years now. In the past, my friend and I have been about 3 or 4 times. The last, however was over 3 years ago. That was when it got bigger and more expensive. Additionally, the guests hadn't been enough enticement for us to brave the heat, the crowds and the general unpleasantness of a large congregation of, well, nerds.

I use the term affectionately, believe me. Because I am one! But nerds in great density are a special kind of difficult - you get obnoxiousness, one-up-manship and snobbery combined with the challenge of pungent body odour. The latter isn't really anyone's fault I guess, as there's not much else you can do in a full superhero costume on a hot March day in Brisbane except sweat.

This year, however, I decided to go due to the lure of some Battlestar Galactica actors - namely Katee Sackoff ('Starbuck') and Tahmoh Penikett ('Helo'). I loved this show with all my heart and wanted to hear them speak, answer fan questions and maybe get an autograph. My usual con collegue being overseas, I convinced my darling other half to accompany me. Him being a bit of a BSG fan himself, this wasn't too hard.

I warned him there would be crowds and lining up. But neither of us was prepared for what faced us there yesterday morning.

My original plan was to get there about half an hour after the doors opened. I had my comfy sneakers on and a backpack with two bottles of water. I knew that at 10am, people would have begun lining up a few hours beforehand, and was hoping that the doors would have had a chance to clear. This turned out to be a complete fantasy. We walked from the Valley train station towards the RNA Showgrounds, where the event was behind held - only to spot a line outside the Jubilee Hotel. C freaked out. "Is that the goddamn line??" "Can't be," was my insistence - but lo and behold, it was. It was at least a kilometre long, stretching from the entrance on the corner of Gregory Tce down Constance St around the corner of St Paul's Tce, and into a small lane behind the hotel.

While we were standing there bewildered (at this point too overwhelmed to take much notice of costumes) a guy dressed as an Umbrella Corporation goon from Resident Evil came along and told us all that this was the prepaid ticket line. Was he kidding?? He told us to go around the block the other way (ie. down Alexandria St) and find the end of the purchase tickets line. So off we trotted - only to find that the line extended all the way down Gregory Tce, and couldn't see the end of it because it wrapped around the corner into Brookes St. CRAZY. By this time it was nearly 11am and the BSG seminar with Katee and Tahmoh was about to start. There were still hundreds, possibly a thousand people lined up outside. What the heck was going on? I really didn't want to stand in that hot sun for long.

At this point C suggested we go sit down, get something to drink and eat, and reassess. I made him a bargain - I'd buy him some brunch and we'd come back at 12pm to see how the lines were. We walked back to the valley and went for breakfast at a lovely place in the mall called Cosmo's. I'm sure it's a local institution because the food was amazing.

Back to the RNA Showgrounds again and this time the line wasn't too bad. I was about to faint in the hot sun after 20 mins, but luckily a savvy ice cream truck vendor had set up shop right next to us so C went and got us ice blocks, and we chatted with the kids in front of us in line.

I'm not sure what time we managed to get in, but it was crazy packed. So packed that I said to C just to go and make a path, and I would put my hand on his back and I would follow. C is over 6 ft and built like a brick wall so he managed to push his way through the throng and we made our way through to the other building, where the signings and seminars were. Unfortunately, I realised I'd nearly run out of cash (what with breakfast, ice creams and entrance fees) and I was pretty sure the autographs were cash only. So I lined up for the ATM. Then the autograph tickets. And finally for Katee Sackoff. It was a lot of lining up, and whilst I was doing this C went around the stalls in both buildings and poked about. We'd missed the only talk I did want to see, although I would have liked to hear Charisma Carpenter and Clare Grant (Buffy peeps) their seminar was starting whilst I was in the autograph ticket line.

Then the strangest thing happened - I ran into a friend of a friend who was just leaving Tahmoh Penikett's table. He actually ended up getting in line behind me for Katee's autograph too. We had a chat, he introduced me to his baby boy (who brings a baby to a con? what a nightmare) and told me how much he hates Supanova. I could only concur at that point. It had been a long day of standing and waiting, without even the highlight of being able to hear the invited celebs talk. It was at this point a volunteer came down the line and said that Katee had gone to meet her obligations for fan photos (you could pay $40 to have your pic taken, posed, with a star), and would be back in half an hour. Swallowing a groan, I resigned myself to more waiting, because at that point I couldn't bail - ticket and glossy photo in hand, I couldn't go home without that signature!

And then there was the other reason - the autograph was really for my con friend, who loves BSG (and Starbuck) as much as me. She suggested it as the perfect birthday present and I had to agree. C was getting quite cranky at me by now, as his nerd-tolerance level was nearly breached. He cheered up though when he noticed the girl in front of us had a Richard Castle ("Castle") tote bag, and then I told him about the guy I'd seen dressed as Jayne from "Firefly" earlier.

So we waited, and then Katee was back! Another 10 mins and we were at the front of the line. Whilst creeping closer however I managed to take a few sneaky pics of her and the other actors nearby. Poor Clare Grant was sitting there for quite a while with nobody asking for autographs, as was Colin Baker. The biggest line by far was for Tom Felton. He seemed nice, chatting to people and smiling, but he really wasn't close enough for me to take a pic. I wasn't sure what the policy on photos was when getting autographs, but as I didn't see anyone else in front of me ask for one, I was content with my sneaky pics.

It is worth noting at this point I wasn't nervous. Not even one little bit. The first time I'd properly met a celebrity was Sean Astin at the same con a few years ago, and I remember feeling like I was about to be executed, I was that nervous. I have no idea what has changed since then, but I was totally relaxed about it. Have I matured? Maybe. But then again at the time I met Sean I was a complete and total Lord of the Rings obsessed fangirl. The year after that we met Summer Glau, and I was similarly about to lose my shit when we got her autograph.

We stepped up and said hello. Katee was looking gorgeous in a simple black top, and her smile is just amazing. I remember that her American accent really stood out and I honestly can't even remember much of what was said but I did ask her to make the autograph out to my friend's name, and to put Happy Birthday on it. She had done this, then had just written the "K" in her signature when she stopped. Tahmoh was getting up from the seat next to her. She grabbed her water bottle lid and threw it at him hard. It hit him in the back, and he immediately turned around and ran over. "Stop writing! Stop signing that now!" he ordered her, then proceeded to tickle her in the ribs. She laughed mischievously, then he let her go and walked away. Meanwhile, I'm standing there with my jaw on the floor. Did that really just happen? And how freaking cute was that? C mentioned to me later he thinks that they're in LUUURRRVVE, but to me it seemed more like sibling pranks.

Anyway, Katee then signed the rest of her name, handed me the photo and we wished her the best. I think I said something about enjoying the rest of her time in Australia.

Then, clutching the precious glossy photo, we made our way back to the main building and had a glance around the stalls. C showed me some cool Predator stuff he had his eye on, and I just wished for the 50th time that day that I understood comics and anime. We ended up at Kings Comics, and I bought Serenity: Better Days, whilst he bought Predators (movie tie-in comic).

And then we went home. My feet hurt a lot. I am not sorry we went, because I achieved my goals, but I have agreed with my other half that any future trips to this event will have to be planned with military precision. And I think if we are going to be bothered to go again, it would have to be to see someone amazing that we both love - like Nathan Fillion (omg can you imagine?) and we would line up early.

I would also like to make a note about the costumes. I have to give cosplayers some props. These guys do amazing things. The outfits are just fantastic - and they all look like they are having such a great time. Sure, I have no idea who you're supposed to be, but you all looked amazing!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Polly Dolly: LBD Challenge

My first Polly Dolly. Very interesting - and fun. I aimed for simplicity and a few sparkles - I would totally wear this outfit "out". Doesn't matter where. Just "out".

Want to join the Polly Dolly challenge? Visit Danimezza

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Motion of the Ocean

This week, I was tweeting about my water bed and found out some very interesting things.
1. People think water-beds are either "so 70s" or "so 90s"
2. NOBODY else has one

The reason for my tweeting was simple - ours sprung a leak. At 6am. On my day off. As my day off had included some Big Plans for Sleeping In, I was not impressed.

Tell you what though, I am damn glad my fiancée noticed it when he did, because that water was pissing out. It was basically streaming out of one corner of the wooden frame at an alarming rate.

C knew just what to do. Whilst I stood about, bleary-eyed and stupid, he leapt into action. He grabbed my nail file, and inexplicably stabbed a hole in the window fly-screen. Then he told me to go grab a bucket, which I fetched from the laundry. Whilst I wedged this under the leak, he ran outside, grabbed the garden hose, unhooked it from the tap and fed one end through the newly-vented window mesh. He then proceeded to insert it into the water bed before dashing outside again. I don't know what he did, but within a minute the water was flowing out the hose, instead of onto my bedroom floor.

To the next problem, then. Before I could breathe a sigh of relief, we noticed that EVERYTHING that had been on the floor was soaked. In our bedroom, this means clothes and magazines. Lots of clothes, and lots of magazines.

Perhaps I should explain about the latter. No, it will take too long. Let me sum up. C had stacks of car mags on the floor at the end of the bed - and he will be throwing more than half of them out.

So we cleared away everything we could and then started putting towels down to try to soak up the water from the carpet. Luckily it was only into a few small patches around the bed. Carting piles of wet clothes and bedsheets into the laundry though, I wondered when we got such a heavy wardrobe.

At this point, I decided there was nothing more to be done for the present, went and lay down in the spare room and promptly fell asleep again for 2 hours. I think C got a little shitty with me about that. He stayed up and started putting on loads of washing and researching water bed repairers out of the Yellow Pages. He's so goddamn helpful in a crisis, it kills me.

Anyway, the water bed man (yes, Virginia, The Water bed Man does exist) came very late in the evening and assessed the damage. Nothing for it but to put in a new bladder, he pronounced. So out came the old one, to be unceremoniously gutted with the kitchen scissors in the ensuite shower -

- and in went a new one. $240 and an hour's worth of water later, we had a new water bed. Pity they take 24hrs to heat up enough to sleep on. Spare bed it was again for me - and C this time - that night.

Since sharing some of my saga on twitter, several people have told me that they get sick on water beds. I say I pity those people. Because they are such fun. To sleep (and do other things) on.


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