Friday, November 25, 2005

~@ 4 weeks to Christmas @~

Woke up this morning and realised it is exactly 4 weeks to Christmas!!!

It is that time of the year when excessive shopping is not just a good excuse but a necessity.

The retail outlets entices us all with their delectable atmostphere and store specials with gift wrapping thrown in for free. With David Jones, you can even defer paying for your Christmas purchases until end of Feb 2006 (if you have the store card)! I have to admit, I did just that for the last two years.

In the past two years, we celebrated the season with hubby's family and then mine respectively.

This year is different again. We will be on our own.

My family is doing their own thing in Singapore and my mother-in-law is heading to Singapore before Christmas to embark on a new adventure - she has been offered a teaching position there commencing on 2 January 2006. We are very thrilled for her, wish her all the best and know that she will have a fantastic time!

This evening, I will put in my order for Christmas Ham at our local Deli. It's my first time so I am really looking forward to it.

For Christmas Lunch, we are thinking cold seafood as it gets pretty steamy (weather-wise) on Christmas Day. Will head to my local seafood supermarket next weekend to stock up on prawns - yum yum! Accompanied by a few varieties of cold salad and roasted maple syrup laden sweet potatoes.

It's just the two of us along with Tanzetta and Froddo...I think that's ample! Unless friends/family decide to change their minds!

As for Christmas Presents...got to start my shopping soon esp, my family because I have to send it overseas.

Who is on our Christmas Gift List this year? My Mum & Dad, Hubby's Mum & Dad, Hubby's brother and his two children, my present, hubby's present and for a few friends whom we will see during the holiday season.

Well, I better get my act together before it is too late! There is only 4 weeks to go...

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What if...

There are so many 'what if' moments in my life. I often wonder what if this had happened then this wouldn't have happened, etc etc.

Take for example, what if I wasn't the only child in the family - I wouldn't have had the opportunity to travel and experience the world beyond the causeway.


What if my mother never over-fed me and didn't inspire me to cook, then maybe, I would slim and lanky!

What if my father never insisted that I spoke only the english language at home and that I had to read a (english) book every week, then perhaps I wouldn't be writing my blog in english!

What if I didn't undertake my university year in Brisbane and didn't attend the church that I did, I wouldn't have met my hubby. So then, what would I be doing today? Would I still be happily married or would I be single & bored with life?

There are so many questions in life that goes unanswered and the 'what if' types are the worst! So then, will I ever stop myself from asking 'what if'? Probably not...because 'what if' I did, then I will stop questioning the meaning of my being.

Just when I think I am going bonkers, I have just revived myself!!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

It is time to put to kettle on...

For what purpose, you wonder? Well, we have a television that squeals! At present, we have a wooden door stopper underneath the tv - aimed at the back to be specific. Whenever it squeals, we either remove the door stopper or shove it back in! Yes...a bit kinky but it does the job!

I have also threatened it on several ocassions - either it shuts up or I'd pour hot water from the kettle to silence it once and for all.

Yes, I do have a very dark side.

Now, I have to give credit to this television. It has been with hubby for 10 years, now that is pretty "good service" on the part of the television. However, it is not nice to look at. It is your typical black box with a very fat bottom. Heavy and ugly are two words that would sum up my prognosis.

So guess what we did over the weekend? Yes, we bought a new television.

Hubby has been doing a lot of homework on televisions through the various sources and he is very thorough too. We went to 6 retail outlets, checked out specs and prices...kept changing out minds from one to another from CRT to LCD to Plasma (standard definition or high definition?)...why do they make it so confusing? Can't they all agree on the one format?!

To cut the long story short, we bought a Panasonic 42" High Definition Television. We were convinced to buy the high definition version and not standard definition. The sweetner? It was $1,000 off the recommended retail price and it has only been in the Australian Market for 2 months! We even got them to throw in delivery for free.

The purchase doesn't end here - back to the conspiracy theory. All the new formats regardless LCD or Plasma need to be accompanied by a Set-Top Box! Because we bought high definition, we have to get a high-definition set-top box or else, the tv broadcasts will not be in high definition! Yes, you guessed it - more expensive than the standard definition set-top box. Oh man...

Just as I thought that, that was the "end", the salesman then told us that we need to get a special lead (no DIY leads or normal leads), the one that we need will cost of $279!

At that point, hubby put his foot down and said that they were over-inflated and he knows where to get cheaper cables and set-top box. So we have television but no high definition set-top box or cable but I am sure hubby will find us those very shortly and at a good deal too!

To accompany the new high definition plasma, we need to get a new entertainment unit. What we have - yes, black again...black tv unit only has space for that black box...very ugly and not appropriate for our new "child".

Off to the shops again before we send instruction for the plasma to be delivered.

It's time to put the kettle on...need a cup of tea to de-stress.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Off to see James Morrison in April 2006

Hubby and I love attending shows such as "Friday Night Fever", "The Producers", etc etc...

So you can imagine our excitement when we found out through the wonderful internet that James Morrison is coming to Brisbane next April!

We most certainly needed no encouragement to immediately proceed with the bookings online.

We got A reserve seats!!! The second row from the stage. Some may argue that it is best to sit at the back but I much prefer being blasted and to see the musician's expressions even though it would no doubt be super duper loud! Beware those who are wearing toupes, best to leave them at home!

2006 is getting very exciting for me - holiday in Sydney in Jan, watch the legendary James Morrison in Concern come April...all I can say is this "BRING IT ON!"

For those who don't know much about James Morrison, check out his website http://www.jamesmorrison.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

5 more weeks to Christmas


Can you believe it is only 5 weeks to Christmas? It is amazing how fast this year has whizzed us by. I have to be honest, it has been like this since I turned 18! Not sure what we will be doing this year, one thing we know - Hubby, I, the cat and fish will celebrate the festive season together.

I can't wait to put up our 6ft tall Christmas tree along with the decorations. Hang twinkle lights on the front and back of the house. Bring out all my Christmas ornaments, etc...all these will happen on December 1st!

It has got me thinking about Christmas Day. What will we have and how will we do it.

We usually start Christmas morning by putting on very tacky Christmas Music CD (as per our tradition, we buy a tacky one every year), open the presents followed by with a "light" Christmas Breakfast - home made egg nog (hubby makes it) and plum pudding. We relax for an hour or so then we start cooking!

We recently found out that our hooded BBQ has a rottiserie function and a few weekends ago, we tried it out with pork and was the pork crispy (on the fat side) and juicy (on the meat side)! So we would probably attempt something similar. You see, the weather is usually very steamy and hot during this period as it is best to confine the main cooking to outdoors. The hooded BBQ is also fantastic for cooking roast vegetables! One thing for sure, we will have a few cold salads in the fridge as well along with heaps of cold drinks!

On the subject of cold, I am thinking of a cold dessert for Christmas Lunch. Yes, I could make a trifle but if there is just the two of us eating - it is far too much trouble. So I thought I might make Tiramisu instead! I have a fail proof recipe guaranteed to turn any novice into a gourmet chef!



Tiramisu "The Magusta Way"
Serves 4
Cooking Time 30 mins





Ingredients

2 egg yolks
200mls hot espresso coffee (or strong instant coffee)
50g caster sugar
200g savoiardi (sponge fingers)
300g mascarpone
100g dark chocolate, shaved
2 egg whites
Cocoa powder for dusting
pinch of salt
Baileys Irish Cream

Instructions
1. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks and half the sugar until thick and pale, then add the mascarpone and continue to beat until smooth. Whisk egg whites with the remaining sugar and pinch of salt until soft peaks form, then fold into mascarpone.
2. In a small bowl, dip half the savoiardi biscuits soaking until just damp (do not soak all the way through). Arrange in the base of four coffee cups. (It may be necessary to break the biscuits to fit)
3. Use half the mascarpone mixture to cover the biscuits in all four coffee cups. Sprinkle with half the shaved chocolate. Soak the remaining biscuits and form another layer. Top with remaining mascarpone and chocolate.
4. Cover and refrigerate overnight. To serve drizzle the top with Baileys Irish Cream and sprinkle more cocoa.
Dessert is best shared with those you love. Bon apetit!

A very Diversified QLD

Woke up to a rather cool morning due to overnight storm activity across Brisbane. Came into work early and it is a most glorious day - cool, clear and sunny. If only summer was like this all year round - wishful thinking on my part, that's for certain!

On a day like this, I'd rather be at the hill top cafe at Mt. Glorious eating Pumpkin Soup followed by Devonshire Tea and scones but it is Wednesday, so I am here at work and not there!
Talking about work, hubby went to Weipa yesterday morning. Weipa is located 838km north of Cairns with a population of over 3,000 people and is a 6 hour flight from Brisbane! If hubby flew another 1.5 hour north, he would reach Bali!
I couldn't reach him the entire day because there is no mobile signal - that is how isolated it is! He rang from a public phone (he hasn't used one in years) last night with his last coin to tell me that he was very hungry and the only accommodation available (his company booked it) is at a camp site in the form of a demountable with a crappy air-con unit and no ensuite (he has to use a common bathroom and toilet - talk about culture shock)!
To make matters worse, the only food place aka pub was shut (bloody pub - what time zone are they on, it was only 8pm!) ... not surprisingly, he vows never to take on a job in Weipa ever again! I dare not tell hubby at the time of call that I was having a juicy pork loin chop and a huge serving fresh salad for dinner.Poor hubby went to bed grumpy, tired and hungry!
It brings to mind how vast this state of QLD is let alone the country. Hubby's encounter reminded me of my own experience when I went to North QLD for the first time.
Mackay is the place - only 2 hours flight north of Brisbane. A principal was to pick me up and my recollection of him when he was in Brisbane - a humourous chap with good dress sense (pants and shirt). I could hardly contain my shock when I saw him in the Mackay Airport - he was so different. Still humourous but instead of pants and shirt...he was in shirt but shorts and socks pulled up to his knees and shoes. No joke. I looked around me and I am not kidding - most of the men his age (late 40's) were dressed in the same fashion!!!! Talk about dressing appropriately. One way for the city and another way for the regional towns.
Queensland. A melting pot of cultures! I love it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bomb Threats "hit" Brisbane City

An unprecedented shutdown of southeast Queensland's public transport network was yesterday sparked by threats that a small package would explode on a bus or train.

Queensland Rail and Brisbane City Council buses ground to a halt at midday and again during peak hour yesterday afternoon after emergency services received three separate threats.

A special hotline set up yesterday received numerous tipoffs about the threats, which included concerns about suspicious parcels and people.

I was oblivious to what was happening around me as I worked away in my city office until the receptionist came into my office at 3pm and asked how I was getting home (I take the train at 4:40pm). Naturally, I was puzzled to why she had asked that question and she proceeded to tell me what had gone on in the last 3 hours!

Just before 11am police received the first threat that eight bombs - four on Queensland Rail and four on council buses - would detonate at midday.

Another call warned emergency services of an explosion on buses and trains at 5pm. Police were concerned about the caller's persistence, prompting them to take the threats seriously in the wake of yesterday's terror raids in Sydney and Melbourne.

Late yesterday, the bomb squad evacuated some residents and cordoned off Pinelands St at Sunnybank Hills for about two hours when a bus driver alerted police to a suspicious package just before 5pm.

I promptly checked the websites of Queensland Police Service, Queensland Translink (for rail, bus and ferry) as well as Brisbane City Council. All three websites confirmed the situation. I then rang the City Council to confirm the stoppage of bus and rail at peak hour, that they confirmed too.

At that stage, it was 3:20pm. I was determined not to hang around the office and be part of the mass exodus leaving the city. Grabbed all my belongings including the laptop (thought I'd work from home on Tuesday) and rang my boss in Canberra while walking to the bus-stop. I have never seen so many people at the bus-stop at 3:30pm on a Monday afternoon and all five cab ranks around me were void of taxis! Hubby rang to say that he would come into the city to pick me up at 4:30pm which I declined because by that stage, the roads would be in chaos as people scramble to get home from all sides of the city.

As I waited impatiently at the bus-stop, police cars and ambulances were blarring their sirens and heading towards the train station which is 5 mins from where I work. There was also a deadly silence in the city like the calm before the storm. I thought to myself - this bloody bus better show up! It did and the bus was packed like a tin of sardines for the first time, ever! Anyhow, to cut the long story short. I got home 5 mins before hubby did.

According to reports, thousands of passengers on more than 700 buses and trains were evacuated, throwing peak hour travelling into chaos as trains and busese came to a stand still between 4:45pm and 5:15pm.

It's (terrorism) not something that we think much here in Brisbane but when something like this happens it does make you feel unsafe.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Home + DVD = Bliss

I no longer enjoy going to the cinemas like I used to. Recalling back on the good old days - going to the movies were a weekly occurance usually on a Friday night after work with girlfriends or on lazy weekends with the hubby. So what brought about this change?

Well, I think it started 1.5 years ago when we moved into our "new" home coupled with regular absences from home due to work related travels and affordable DVDs, etc.

You see, hubby is your typical male who has exquisite "taste" when it comes to Home Entertainment Systems specifically in the Surround Sound Arena. Hence watching movies at home is a pleasure minus the yucky seats, left over pop corn on seat, sticky soft drink stains on floor, coughing and sneezing patrons (never know what you might catch), the occassional screaming kid, chatty patrons (why can't they just shut up!) or weird smell aka fart...

We have taken to purchasing DVDs on a monthly basis. Our favourite retail outlet is JB Hi-Fi - it has a fantastic range and great prices. None of our DVDs are priced above $17.00 (some are as cheap as $9.95 - yes all original not pirated). Last week, we bought 3 DVDs and finished watching them in 2 days! It was fantastic!

It is simply wonderful being in our daggy dags, perched comfortably on the lounge and roller blinds down. No need to worry about going to toilet because we can pause the movie, no need to worry about movie being crap because we wouldn't have bought it, no need to worry about not having spare change for the snack bar because all we have to do is walk into the kitchen and raid the pantry or fridge! No need to worry about watching a late movie and then having to drive home because we can fall asleep on the lounge or stagger into the bedroom!

That is why, Home + DVD = Bliss

Recharged from the weekend

Truely one of the best weekends I have had in awhile. Best because it was a combination of social, indulgence and relaxation.

One of my indulgences is a freshly brewed pot of tea (not tea bags but proper tea leaves!) anytime of the day esp. on the weekend. It is sheer bliss as it warms the body, clears the mind and puts a smile on my face.

Back at work today - a little slow in getting started as usual.

Spoke to my cuz from Sydney and shared our "battle" stories - so relief to know that I am not alone in this! While chatting with her, I booked myself a one week holiday to Sydney in Jan to catch up with her and another girlfriend. Talk about spontaniety! I am so looking forward to catching up with them! What a fantastic way of starting 2006 - with a holiday!

What will 2006 bring, I wonder? Continued stability and more holidays I say!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A full on "off" day

This pic was taken last year when I made Roast Chicken for the first time (in winter, of course!).

Back to my entry re my day off:

It was one of the best "off" days I've had in a long while. You seem my stereotypical off days usually start off with a late wake up call follwed by endless DVD movies and regular intervals of snack.

This day off was very different indeed. For starters, I woke up at 6:30am (the time I wake up to get ready for work), had breakfast, changed and was ready to head out of the door with hubby at 8:30am. The plan was for him to drop me off at DFO (which is only 10 mins drive from his work) so that I could explore this new shopping extravaganza that never fails to attract crowds on a daily basis!


When we got to DFO at 9:00am, to my horror - DFO didn't open till 10am!!! I thought, there's got to be a coffee shop somewhere in this building. I walked around the building and found a loading dock so I gingerly walked in...lo and behold, there's Gloria Jean at the far end! To cut the long story short, I sat at Gloria Jean with a cold drink, Sudoku book and waited...

The crowds started pouring in at 9:30am - doesn't anyone work on Friday? I couldn't believe it. Come 10am - I was a woman on a mission.

There were heaps of shops and I was careful not to be swayed by the many bargains...it was fantastic! I walked, looked, searched, tried on oodles of clothes...the best part? It is air-conditioned! Just sheer bliss...

Anyway, I set a budget before heading out of the home and I was determine to keep to it. I am proud to say that I did. Here's what I bought:
- Green top (Retail: $45.00, bought it for $19.90)
- Lingerie (Retail: $70.00, bought it for $40.00)
- Royal Doulton Oven Gloves (Retail: $35, bought it for $14.00)
- Royal Doulton Glass Chopping Board (Retail: $50.00, bought it for $17.00)

I have to stop here...Hubby is calling me to the car. We are heading off to Aunty's for dinner. As you can tell, heaps of bargains to be had!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

One more day to Friday

It has been a full on 2 weeks and I am over-the-moon to have Friday off! On top of that, tonight is the last episode of "24" - I can watch it to my heart's content without having to record it to VHS and watch it the next day.

So what will I do on Friday? Well, one thing for certain - I will wake up with a big smile on my face!

Instead of a much needed hair appointment, I have decided to make it my personal responsibility to check out the latest shopping outlet in Brisbane next to the airport call DFO aka Duty Free Outlet.

When we drive pass on the weekends, there is always a huge line of cars getting in and traffic comes to a stand still. In fact, there have been incidences where passengers and crew have missed their flights because of the traffic! So I am keeping my fingers cross that it will be a breeze tomorrow.

Shopping, Shopping...here I come!


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