Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Pirate's Life For Me

On Saturday I spied a tweet saying that an old ship was going to be docked at Southbank for the weekend. 

Upon further investigation, I discovered it was the Notorious, a replica 15th Century Spanish caravel. 

As I'm a big fan of all things nautical, we headed in to the city to take a look. Apparently it has been part of the filming of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie at the Gold Coast. 

It was so tiny! It blew my mind to think this is the kind of ship those explorers in the Age of Discovery sailed across the world in!

A guy from Port Fairy built it. Imagine that dream. One day waking up and deciding you're going to scratch-build a historical sailing ship!

There's a story there's a ship like this wrecked off the coast of Victoria. If so it would predate most Dutch exploration of this area of the world. What a good mystery! I'm going to have to find out more. 

Have you ever been on a sailing ship? Yo ho!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Crowdfunding Convert

Have you ever backed a project financially? Flashback ten years ago and this would have meant you were an investor with thousands to splash about on things like property development. 

But now, thanks to the magic of crowdfunding, you can contribute even just $5 towards something you think is worthy. 

I must admit I have always been a but sceptical about the begging-bowl aspect of people launching a crowdfunded project. I must have seen it as a bandwagon upon which every struggling artist and tech entrepreneur had jumped. "Give me money to make my amazing app a reality!" "Cash me up & I'll put on an exhibition!" I imagined them shouting. 

And sure, there are thousands of projects out there I wouldn't fund because of disinterest, but also because I judge that the person or group doesn't "deserve" my money. 

Last night, after watching a partially crowdfunded movie, I'm willing to review my opinions. Why? Because I'm always whinging about the lack of original content in film and on tv. Sure, I'll go and watch the lastest sequel in a big franchise but I'm also wanting to hear new stories, about new characters in new worlds. 

And the reality is, tv and movie studios just don't like gambling their money on things they aren't 100% sure will make a profit. Thus, we get a lot of stuff on our screens that has always proved to be a sure-fire hit formula in the past. 

The beauty of crowdfunding is people who normally wouldn't get a cent of studio backing can ask the general public if they'll pay for them to create their content. Genius! Especially when it's people who are already known good performers or creators. 

In this case, I watched the Veronica Mars movie. Previously a tv show that was canned, the star Kristin Bell got a big-screen sequel off the ground with the power of crowdfunding. Without this revenue-raising platform, the project would have been almost certainly dead in the water. Fans were willing to pay to have another story created for their favourite character. 

Another great crowdfunded project I'm looking forward to is Alan Tudyk's Con Man. This is going to be a web series - a medium along with streaming services that I think may eventually 
 kill commercial tv. Funded by thousands of dollars of Firefly (Alan's previous tv show) fans' money, the series is filming at present.

So, I'm a total convert. If crowdfunding can help creative people put great movies and tv shows in front of my eyeballs, I say we should put our hands in our pockets occasionally, instead of paying studios and watching advertisements. 

Have you ever backed a crowdfunded project? What was it? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Scrapbooking Camp at Lake Perserverence

Regular readers (hello!) will know that every year in June my mum and I go to a camp in the bush for the weekend for a scrapbooking retreat. Why? Because we love it!

Not only is it an escape from the busyness of everyday life, who wouldn't like a few days breathing fresh air and being surrounded by nature?

On top of that; someone else does all the cooking and cleaning, you get to share a cabin with friends just like school camp, AND you can spend as much time as you like scrapbooking. And for most of us ladies (yes, it's all female, I wish there were more guys into this hobby), that's nearly every waking moment!

Mum and I like to go for walks in the early morning. It's usually quite brisk! The lake looks different every year. This year it was quite misty. 

We had an ace time again this year, I was genuinely sad to come home on the Sunday. 

Here's a pic of mum brushing up on her photography!

Do you ever "go away" for your hobby? Where and what's it like?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A-Z Guidebook: Ayutthaya

In 2006, I took off on a mad adventure. Inspired by my travels in Europe the year before, I decided a solo jaunt through SE Asia was in order. On my own. When I look back at it now, I can't help but think how worried my parents must have been. Heck, I worry just thinking about how crazy it was!

One of the highlights of my time in Thailand was a day-trip to the ancient capital of Ayuttaya. Never heard of it? Neither had I, but my parents had recommended it having been there on a previous trip. Google maps calls the area Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.

After an early morning drive in a packed minivan from Bangkok, we arrived. What a place! The complex of ancient ruins is vast, and you could spend hours wandering around. As my tour guide kept repeating - "many stupa, many temple!".

I took this photo with the timer on my very new digital camera, and is one of the very few of me on this trip. The price you pay for traveling alone BEFORE the advent of the Selfie Stick! The headless Buddhas were damaged in one of the wars between the old kingdom of Siam and their neighbours the Cambodians.

Many statues are smashed and the heads thrown to the ground, but the Thai still venerate them by draping them in cloth and flowers. It was a hot day but I bought a palm fan from a roadside seller and pressed on, taking in the history and spending a lot of time looking up at tall ruins.

For the purposes of this post, I'm only sharing one photo but if you're interested in SE Asian history, I recommend googling some more. The city ruins and stupas are truly amazing, as are the massive statues, still standing after so many centuries have passed.

This post is for the A-Z Guidebook linkup on Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures. Be sure and check out the other posts!

TIFFIN - bite sized food adventures -

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Something to look forward to

Today I would like to impart some of the wisdom I've gained from my years as a cubicle-dwelling office drone. I like to think,however, that no matter whether you're a microscopic cog in a vast organisation or working for yourself or something in between, this may be of use to you!

Sometimes life gets you down. I'm not talking about depression, which is another issue altogether. I mean that the daily grind can sometimes wear thin. Positivity is harder, and you tend to focus on negative things. When this happens, it helps to have something to look forward to. 

For myself, I've always found that having some future annual leave booked helps. It gives you a sense of perspective when you're having a bad day. "Oh well," you mumble to yourself, "only X days/weeks until I'm on holidays!"

If holidays are not possible, you could also focus on an event. Like a birthday or even just the weekend if you're planning something interesting or fun. Small things can bring great joy, after all!

This last month I've been solely focused on battling through to this Friday, because I'm going on scrapbooking camp again. Regular readers know that every year my mum, my scrapping buddies and I go out to a place with cabins by a lake and just scrap the whole weekend. It's bliss. And it's a cheap holiday!

It has really helped me get through some tough days at work lately, having this to look forward to. 

What about you? What are you looking forward to soon?

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Winter Woes

(Photo credit: @globalfarm on Instagram)

This week, it finally got cold. I know, I know. Brisbane is only truly "winter" for about 6 weeks of the year, but we like to make a big deal of it. 

For example, today I pulled my winter coat out of the wardrobe for the first time in 10 months. I silently congratulated myself on remembering to get it dry-cleaned and immediately accessorized with a scarf. 

It occurs to me for someone who lives where I do, I have a lot of scarves. Oh well. 

I've probably written before about how I dislike cold weather. The pic above was taken at my parents' farm on the Darling Downs last week, where they are already getting frosts and hitting zero. I have less than fond memories of walking to the school bus in minus temperatures. 

Here in BrisVegas, the first bite of winter means running noses and endless, bronchial coughing on public transport. But it also means lovely things like coats, scarves, boots and wooly hats. And fireplaces (if you can find one) and snuggling under a granny blanket in front of the tv at night. With a cup of hot Milo. Or is that just me?

My British workmates LOVE it. Winter here is normal temperatures for them. Weirdos. 

And so, I reserve the right to whinge about the cold all the while secretly loving being cosy. I think I'm going to need a few more pairs of fluffy socks this time around. 

Winter - love it or hate it?

Monday, June 1, 2015

Baking Fail

I find baking can be therapeutic sometimes. On Saturday I decided I wanted some scones for afternoon tea. I've made them before, never had any major issues. Sure, they weren't country show winners but my scones were ok. 

This time I even googled tips for light, fluffy scones. I read about the importance of cold butter, warnings against over handling the dough, making sure the rounds are touching on the baking tray  etc. I thought I had it. 

Except I didn't. After 20 mins in a hot oven they had hardly risen. I pulled them out to find then mostly hard on top and doughy almost-raw in the middle. 

And you know the worst part? I was so determined not to let all that time, effort and ingredients go to waste, we ate some of them anyway. Smothered in butter and honey of course. And regretted it later. 

Next time I'm trying the never-fail lemonade ones I think. 

Had any major baking fails lately? Got a good scone-making tip for me?


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