Friday, September 26, 2014

A Growing Sense of Dread

It's been gradual, but I have this growing sense of dread lately. It's to do with feeling safe in my own city.

There's a lot of hoo-haa about the G20 summit in Brisbane at present. Although the actual event itself is still weeks away, changes are already being felt. Measures are being taken. Processes are being put in place.

I see police standing around at strategic places, in pairs or trios. They're watching.

I hear train announcements that have changed from the familiar "mind-your-step" to instructions on what to do in an emergency situation. And please don't leave your belongings unattended.

Bins at various places have been boarded up - no bombs please.

I feel uneasy travelling on the train, and walking to work.

Nationally, there have been multiple arrests connected to alleged terrorist activity. Every day there are "incidents". The National Threat Level has been raised to "High".

I do genuinely want to believe that all these security measures are warranted, that they aren't part of some giant PR exercise to a) distract the public from other important issues on the politial landscape at present, both at state and federal level; or b) an exercise in making it look like something is being done to protect the public from a perceived threat, when there actually is little likelihood of anything happening.

I'm not overly cynical, and I do genuinely believe that bodies like ASIO do not muck around when it comes to these types of security issues.

But it is interesting that the result of various bodies taking steps to make me feel more protected are acutally making me more fearful. And then a part of me wonders if they want us to feel that way...

Do you feel afraid lately?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Op Shops of Brisbane: Save the Children Kallangur

Op Shops of Brisbane is a series where I talk about charity shops I go to. Feel free to suggest a good one to me - I live on the north side but have been known to drive great distances for a good browse!

This week we're looking at Save the Children Op Shop in Kallangur. It is a relatively new store to me, having only noticed it a few months ago. Either it has always been there and recently gotten a facelift, or it's new in the premises. Either way, it's great!

Parking tip - if there's no space out the front on the main road, turn into the shopping centre and park in front of the Salvos store next to the Red Rooster. Then you can hit both op shops at once!

What struck me when I first entered the shop was the extraordinary level of neatness and organisation. Although since this visit I have seen it in a few places, this was the first op shop I'd seen where clothing was organised by colour. It's very striking and so wonderfully convenient if you're looking for a particular shade!

There is a plus size clothing rack too (always an extra brownie point in my book) and a wide range of clothing for the whole family. I have found upon subsequent visits the clothes are mostly of the modern chain store variety, with a wide range of low- and high-end labels represented.

There is a wall of books and mags, and a few shelves with a small collection of bric-a-brac. I've seen Johnson of Australia there, along with some other nice crockery but not many other collectables. The majority of the shop is clothing.

I love visiting this shop because it is invariably clean, tidy and bright. Although small, I can often find something to buy. It's also one of the only two op shops within a half hour drive of my house that are open Sundays!

Save the Children Op Shop is at Shop 1, 1469 Anzac Ave, Kallangur QLD and is open Mon-Sat: 9am-4pm and Sun: 10am-4pm.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Living a Bloggable Life

Pinterest is a great place to find out stuff about blogging, and last night I stumbled across a little list of tips for beginning bloggers.

Most I had read before, some were just common sense, but the one that really struck me was "LIVE A LIFE WORTH BLOGGING ABOUT".

Wow, pressure.

Ok, ok I get what the author is saying. It's probable that people don't want to read about your mundane daily life - but then again look at bloggers like Mrs Woog of Woogsworld. The mundane, if I may be so bold, is her bread and butter - it's where she finds inspiration and really connects with their blog community. It's even in the blog tagline.

You only have to look at my instagram feed to know that I don't lead an exciting life of travel and intrigue. Nor do most people, actually! I thought about my life a bit and realised that I don't only blog about "things that I do", I also write about "things that I like". Subjects I'm passionate about or find interesting. I don't need to travel to garment sweatshops to blog about supply chain slavery. Similarly, you don't have to be a sufferer of a given disease to write about a charity that focuses on it. If experiencing something was a criteria for writing about it, there would be far fewer writers!

I'm going to this blogging mantra and expand it a bit. To something like "LIVE A LIFE THAT'S CURIOUS AND INTERESTING." Not as catchy, but possibly something that's a bit more do-able.

 Be passionate about things. Go forth and do things that excite you. But also research and read. Explore the world from the comfort of your own home and in your imagination if you like. You don't have to spend a lot of money or be a professional photographer to capture these moments of inspiration - just write.

And share - if you want.

What do you think? What is a "bloggable" life like?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Op Shops of Brisbane: Footprints in Bracken Ridge


Op Shops of Brisbane is a series where I talk about charity shops I go to. Feel free to suggest a good one to me - I live on the north side but have been known to drive great distances for a good browse!

"Footprints" is my little charity shop secret. I overhead some women in another op shop talking about it once so I drove over to Bracken Ridge and managed to locate it behind the strip of shops on Gawain Rd. I think it is run by the Uniting Church, as part of their Uniting Care program.

And it is pretty gold. Chockers from floor to ceiling with stuff, actually. I used to just look at the bric-a-brac (mostly standard throwaway stuff but you can find the occasional Pyrex gem) but after I evolved into op shopping for clothes I started buying quite a bit of stuff here. The brands are of the middle-aged lady kind - ie. lots of Millers, but there are plenty of other labels to be found and the odd vintage piece too.

They have a large kids and menswear clothing, toys and a small range of tupperware (at the usual exorbitant prices) too.

I like this shop because the lady volunteers that man it are always lovely and chatty, and it feels like a little Aladdin's cave tucked away in the suburbs.

I hope you appreciate me sharing my secret shop with you all! Do you have one? Do tell!

Footprints Bracken Ridge Thrift Shop is at 57 Gawain Rd, Bracken Ridge QLD. I could not find the opening hours but it is definitely open Saturday mornings.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fighting Food Waste: Vegetable stock

It's one of those things that I have always meant to do but never really got around to it: making my own stock.

I got the idea for this stock after chopping a truckload of vegetables to go into a beef stew. I had so many scraps it really seemed a shame to bin them all.

So I googled a bit and came up with the idea to make a stock out of them! You can virtually put anything in this that's a vegetable - I had the ends of carrots and onions, celery stalks and various peelings.

Essentially, I just put all the vegetable scraps into some water and brought it up to the boil. I didn't add any salt because I prefer to add it when I'm cooking a meal.

I skimmed the scum that rises to the top after a few minutes and then left it to simmer for about an hour or two.

Then I strained the whole lot with a fine sieve twice, to make sure I got out all the solids. THEN I binned the leftover veges!

The remaining stock was a lovely dark colour. I froze it flat in a sandwich zip-lock bag for use in a future cooking endeavor! It made about two cups.

Do you ever make your own stock? What kind and how often?


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