Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I came out with nothing...

...that's right! Today is Day 1 of the David Jones Clearance Sale. This is the one sale that gets the blood flow pumping on this cold winter's day.

I never miss this sale because it is bloody fantastic.

This week marks the 5th week of "no shopping" for me. Now this is record-breaking for yours truely.

First allow me to set the record straight. I don't need to buy anything when I go shopping or browsing but being a woman, I see it as my responsibility to check out what's in the stores at least once a week (my office is only one block away from the main shopping precinct in the city).

However, since coming back from Singapore, I have no desire whatsoever to shop or even browse! I am all shopped out! Nonetheless, I have to keep with tradition.

The moment the boss walked out of the office for a meeting, I was on my heels. Out of the office and in the middle of David Jones - 4 storeys of retail heaven with a few hundred other women and a few men who were standing around awkwardly waiting for their partners. I looked, touched, tried, looked more, touched get the drift but I didn't feel compelled to purchase anything.

I suppose a sale is only really good if you need something. Since I don't need anything, the sale wasn't much good to me.

Have I turned my back on shopping?

Monday, May 29, 2006

When you get on with the In-Laws...

...the result is nothing short of amazing.

I am very bless and fortunate to get on with my in-laws. This came about after years of learning, understanding and open communication. I have learnt very valuable lessons - what to say or not to say, what to do or not to do, most importantly, to be good friends.

Saturday with the Kings
We were invited to the opening of an art exhibition "Refocus 5: Stirred and but not shaken" which features 5 artists one of whom is our Aunty Carole. I may be biase but I have to say that her works are by far the very best in terms of concept, quality and presentation. The feedback from the gallery and those present were overwhelmingly complimentary. Yes, she not only sold one on opening day but two! None of the other artists' works have sold as yet.

You can check out her latests works on her website - she is the Carole King who cannot sing! Her website was developed by us.

Post Art Exhibition - Dinner with the Kings and their friends
It most certainly calls for a celebration! We headed to Champagne Brasserie, Gold Coast's finest French Restaurant. The food was exquisite. Entrees from $11.50 to $18.00, Mains from $22.00 to $29.00, Desserts at $10.50.

At the table, we shared a $48 bottle of wine. Don't ask me what it is - I was too distracted in the highly infectious conversation to bother about grog.

For main, Jared had Premium Beef Cut grilled. Green beans, Gratin Dauphinois, Bernaise Sauce as for Dessert, he had the most decadent Chocolate Mousse with Kahlua soaked sponge, orange confit and strawberry.

I chose not to have mains but to have two entrees. Pan Seared Scallops on a bed of Risotto with Truffle Oil and Prawns with potato gnocchi and pancetta. For dessert, I couldn't go pass the traditional Cream Brulee with vanilla bean, caramlised top. The entrees were very decent servings and could only stomach half my dessert so uncle Ian, very happily ate the rest for me. No one likes to see good food gone to waste!

I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are ever on the Gold Coast. Check them out on their website

Sunday Morning with The Kings and Reunion Breakfast with MIL
We dragged ourselves out of bed at 6:40am after a late night plus drive back to Brisbane from the Gold Coast. Off to the airport to pick up MIL (mother-in-law) who has returned home for a two week holiday. She is on a two year contract in Singapore, teaching English to toddlers and kindergarten children.

Off to the Kings again. Yes, the same Aunty Carole and Uncle Ian from Saturday. Another hour in the car up the Gold Coast Hinterland where they live. Their home is perched on the side of a mountain and has the most breathe-taking views. We had a most hearty breakfast and wonderful time catching up. MIL brought us all gifts too!As usual, we never leave their home empty-handed. This time we were given a bottle of home-made lemon & brandy jam, passionfruit butter, a basket full of fresh lemons and oranges from their orchard, huge bouquet of lavendar from their garden.

Sunday evening home, at last
We finally made it home - filled with family love and heaps of fresh produce! Some of which had to be put away in the fridge and the rest is now sitting on our dinning table.While Jared went about packing his bags for Cairns (yes, he is off again and this time for 4 days), I went about fixing dinner of baked Tandoori Lamb loin cutlets and Indian vegetables served with garlic chappati.Another weekend over...I am truely bless to have been surrounded by so much love in one weekend. It does pay to get on well with the in-laws. Come home soon, Jared.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Who are better drivers?

Current Temperature/Countdown to Winter: 11C, 5 days

It has finally happened! I blew smoke out of my mouth this morning - no, not with cigarettes but with the "aid" of the cool air. 5 more days to winter!

This week, the radio station I listen to on my way to work has generated much heated discussion and amusing stories about driving. Specially: Are Men or Women better drivers? Are 4WD drivers the worse of the lot? and the list goes on and on.

I believe the ability to drive well is not about gender but on experience, respect and consideration for others on the road. That means, if a driver cuts into your lane, it doesn't mean you have the right to return the favour and/or tail gate them for as long as you can without missing your turn off! If the car in front is too slow because either the driver left his/her spectacles at home or is super duper cautious, it does not give anyone the right to honk at that driver until your palm is sore! Two wrongs don't make it right.

We have all seen and experience our fair share of "idiots" on the road especially on rainy days. Go figure! And at some point, I am sure we are "idiots" ourselves when we are in situations beyond our control like rushing from one appointment to the next because the traffic's insane or when we really really need to use the toilet and the one at MacDonalds won't do or when the child/children are at their worse behaviour, etc etc.

Human beings never fail to amuse me and the following is an account from a male driver who rang into the radio station this morning:

"I was driving along the freeway and all of a sudden, I see this 4WD speed past me with a woman driver in it and guess what she was doing on top of speeding? She had her Macdonalds foam plate balanced between her legs and the steering wheel and she was cutting up her pancakes!"

She must be one hungry woman.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Aus = Sports Mad = TOO RIGHT!

Current temperature/Countdown to Winter: 8C, 7 days

It's the one of the coldest autumn temperatures on record but the heat is on as the state of QLD clash with the state of NSW in the STATE OF ORIGIN. The State of Origin celebrates its 25th Birthday this year.

Both States will be at standstill at kick off while rival tv stations (who did not get rights to broadcast) will rely on their re-runs and keep their prime-time program in storage till next week because they know it is a lost cause!

This is a game of pride and honor equivalent to that of Singapore vs Malaysia, England vs Wales, etc.

Back to the State of Origin: They will play three games (rugby league) in total.

Game 1: May 24th (tonight), Sydney
Game 2: June 14th, Brisbane
Games 3: July 5th, Malebourne

The sporting clubs and pubs will no doubt be opened till late. There will be quite a few sore heads tomorrow morning and I won't be suprise if people have already taken annual leave for these games or those who have not, will throw in a sickie (MC) tomorrow, all in the name of sport and recovery.

To demonstrate loyalty to the Maroons (state of QLD), Castlemaine Perkins who produce XXXX Beer (the beer of QLD) have spent weeks perfecting the specially dyed beer for this year's game! Yes, Maroon coloured Beer! It will taste like XXXX and it will pour like XXXX - but this liquid gold will be as maroon as the jersey!


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's all in the LAYERS

Current Temperature/Countdown: 15C, 8 days to Winter

Layers is what I am wearing today. It is overcast with looming rain - a bit depressing I must say. The city is washed in a shade of grey and the chirpy birds are silent, probably asleep and keeping warm. Winter is on its way.

After a work week of back to back meetings, the weekend was a welcome change. It was spent indulging in activities that put a smile permanently etched on my face:
  • Slept in and woke up to native birds eating native fruit from our banksia bushes outside our bedroom
  • Made meals from autumn produce - ham hock & pea soup, my very own autumn salad comprising of Bosc Pears, Smoked Salmon, Spinach and other good stuff and Chicken & Mushroom Risotto dressed in leomon zest.
  • We re-organised our ever growing DVD collection and kitchen with items bought from Howards Storage, much to our satisfaction
  • We planted a Passion Fruit cutting which will grow into a vine. We look forward to the day where we can pluck fresh passion friut off the vine and add that to our ice-cream or yoghurt in the morning

It will be another month before I will revisit this weekend model. I am missing it already! The next few weeks will be a blur of events, starting this weekend:

  • An Invitation to Art Exhibition opening this Saturday on the Gold Coast
  • An Invitation to Dinner at the #1 French Restaurant this saturday on the Gold Coast
  • Mother-In-Law returns for 10 day holiday this Sunday. Pick her up from Brisbane, drive her to Canungra (1.5 hours south in the Gold Coast Hinterland) for Breakfast with family and family will drive her back to her home in Beaudesert (1 hour from Canungra)

On the road again....

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

QLD Graduates are earming more!

Current Temperature/Countdown: 20C, 14 days to winter

Today is one of those days where I am overwhelmed to the point of adopting a "cannot be bothered, work will never finish" attitude. I am not usually like this but when I am, I know it is time to leave work a little earlier than usual for a recharge and that is exactly what I will do.

Buy one of those tabloid trash magazines, hop on the train and leave the hustle & bustle of city life behind me while the train transports me home to a cat who misses me and a husband who goes with the flow. Then I will make us (husband and I, not the cat) a glass of Gin & Tonic each while we relax the rest of the evening away.

I came across a news article about new graduates from this State being at the top of the salary tree as compared to their counterparts interstate! E.g. newly graduated mining engineers starting pay is $70,000 per annum!

The article also further adds that graduates in this state are getting jobs more easily than those from interestate, with 100% job success rates among vets, doctors, mining enginners, civil engineers, surveyors and nurses. Professions in which 9 out of 10 job seekers find full-time work include accounting, architecture, building, urban planning, nursing, postgrad teaching, dentistry and law.

Earlier this year, I read also that the so-called "blue collared" workers i.e. plumbers, electricians, etc are earning a minimum of $100,000 per annum! They are the ones driving their shiny V8 utes, their wives aka mummy taxis drive around in Porsche 4WDs and their homes resemble that of mansions!

A career change, perhaps?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Walk In The Park

Current temp/countdown: 20C, 15 days to winter

Although it took 30 minutes on foot from my office to my appointment at Parliament House, it was the best 30 minutes of my day as I took a walk in the park. This is no ordinary park, it is in fact, The Botanic Gardens, nestled in Brisbane CBD.

With the cool autumn breeze caressing my face and the sun following my every step, I feel like the luckiest girl alive. It was a breatheless moment, for me.

Life is not measured by the breaths we take,
but the moments that take our breath away

I stood quietly with eyes closed first and then opened them to take in the serenity and beauty of nature around me. Time stood still. PERFECT.

Yes, I always have a digital camera in my handbag. You never know when it might come in handy or when you would like to capture those special and unexpected moments in your life. If you would like to check out the photos I took today, check out my online photo diary at Magusta's World

Monday, May 15, 2006

Investing in myself

The previous work week got progressively worse as the days rolled by. It was one of those weeks where I could not get anything done because people were "hunting" and "tracking" me down for all sorts of things. It culminated on Friday with five back to back meetings. As you can imagine, my mental state was in a state of disarray!

Saturday was spent investing in my well-being. Jared had to work so I enjoyed being home on my own with the cat. I did absolutely nothing strenuous or anything that resembled work in any shape or form. Instead, I watched two movies on DVD with the blanket around me and the cat between my lap. It was blissful, exactly what I needed.

On Sunday, I indulged in my favourite past-time. Cooking. It was highly enjoyable and satisfying to say the least. I made Chicken and Vegetables soup and Beef Rendang. Enough for lunch today and dinner on another night.
Yes, we enjoyed them and I am recharged for this week! I love weekends.....the moral of the story? Invest in yourself - for the sake of everyone around you. No one wants to be around grumpy farts!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Another Baby is Born

I met Alicja in Sydney 7 years ago and we instantly became friends. We are similar in our outlook for life - making the best out of every situation and everything happens for a reason.

She's from Poland and I'm from Singapore. We'd laugh and cry over the same things and the little time we shared with each other was always precious. She'd visit me in Brisbane and I'd return the favour by visiting her in Sydney. We were hard strapped for cash as students but we knew how to have a real good time! (e.g 50 cent cone of ice-cream from maccas)

She returned home to Poland a few years later and the distance has definitely played a part in the breakdown of our communication. The phone lines over her end was always dodgy and emails to her were often undelivered but somehow, we'd always think of one another at every New Year. I'd ring annually and for some reason, I stopped trying this year.

Today, I received photos of Alicja - I haven't seen her in over 5 years. She has just given birth to a most exquisite little girl. Motherhood looks good on Alicja - the smile and contentment over her face is all I need, to know that she is happy and well. Congratulations to Alicja and Sebestian!

Zusanna Pajak

Monday, May 08, 2006

I found "my twin"

Have you ever wondered if there is someone out there who is just like you? Occassionally, I get the "you look like so and so" but I never knew who that so and so is.

Today must be my lucky day. I found " my twin". She comes in the form of a business associate who manages Brisbane largest venue. She is petite, has blonde hair and is of english nationality- everything I am not.

We have never met and only spoken on the phone twice but we spotted each other across the busy foyer. Why? Because we were wearing the same outfit! This gets better, the so-called same outfit is actually made up of 3 separates mix and matched from other "business outfits"...yes, we were wearing the same mix and match, down to the shoes! How uncanny!

After we had overcome our initial shock, we went on to talking business as usual before concluding by having lunch. Over lunch, our conversations moved from business to personal. The similarity is ASTOUNDING!
  • We shop for clothes at the same outlets. Only she buys her from the UK and I buy mine from Singapore! (Top Shop, Zara, MNG and Dorothy Perkins)
  • We buy our lingerie at the same outlet. Only she buys her from the UK and I buy mine from Singapore! (Marks & Spencers)
  • We wear similar engagement rings. Trilogy style - hers are 3 gorgeous pearls and mine are three sparking diamonds
  • We are both left handed and write at the same slight angle
  • We both sent out "Save The Date" wedding momentos to our guests one year prior to our wedding
  • We share the same wedding arrangments being the "one stop" venue for wedding and reception. I had my wedding ceremony by the pool of a boutique hotel and booked out the only restaurant in the same hotel for reception for 55 guests. She is having her wedding on the beach by the water and booked out the only restaurant next to the water for reception for 55 guests!
  • We are both in the event and sponsorship management business
  • We have the same necklace and diamond pendant which she was going to wear today but decided against it
  • We were in the same place yesterday. Hubby and I were walking along the Manly Esplanade while she was in a sailboat in Manly!

Now I don't believe in reincarnation but this is much too coincidental. Perhaps she was my twin in another life time...she is the english version of me and I am the chinese version of her.

This is so uncanny. I have finally found "my twin".

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Eventful Saturday

Saturday was truely eventful for us. For starters, we had family coming over for lunch - Jared's uncle and aunty. We had already decided that we were to have a roast lamb lunch so we headed off to the supermarket in search of a 2kg leg of lamb and the prices jolted our eyeballs out of our eye sockets! When did lamb become this pricey?! Oh well...we were determine to stick to our plan so we did what we had to do, buy that leg of lamb.

Off to home we went and Jared decided that it would be fun to make a video of him making coffee ala Jamie Oliver style. We were kicking ourselves laughing throughout the entire process. To have a laugh and to "learn" how to make the perfect cuppa, view the presentation. It comes in two parts, for maximum effect - you must watch both. Click here to view PART 1 and click here to view PART 2

After that, I went about my preparation - marinated the lamb, cut up 1 pumpkin and 6 potatoes, pushed them all into the oven for 2 hours, making sure the trays were rotated every 30 minutes for even cooking. While the aromatic smells of herbs and meat permeated through the home, I set the table for lunch.

Then I saw Tanzetta looking rather perplexed, so I went over to her - stooped to her level and followed her gaze. COLD BLIND ME! There was a wasp in our home! I cried out for Jared and he came running armed with his weapon of mass destruction "Home Brand" Fly Spray!

Bear in mind that all these happened before family was due to arrive! It was incredible hilarious!

Everything went about without a hitch and we had a wonderful afternoon with family.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Salute to the Human Spirit

I see it fitting to pay tribute to the residents affected by Cyclone Larry. Their resilience is testiment to the Human Spirit - ever unwavering.

Cyclone Larry unleashed its category 5 fury on the terrified residents of Innisfail, north Queensland on March 20 with winds up to 290km per hour. The tempest tore the roofs off buildings, uprooted trees, states forests, infrastructure, businesses, flattened crops (million of dollars worth of crops like cane, papaya and paw paw) and left about 120,000 people without power.

The town is recovering slowly but surely with help around the clock and money from government, donations across the country and on ground help from anyone and everyone who is willing.

One month on and hundreds are still without power, thousands of homes still covered by tarps. It has cost $30 million (to date) to reconnect power and most homes and businesses in remote parts of the Atherton Tablelands are still without power.

Good news - Farmers and workers devastated by Cyclone Larry will receive a further $19 million under a new jobs and training Package. The Cyclone devastated about 12,500 hectars of prime agricultural land which has left thousands of farm workers unemployed.

Despite the challenges facing the residents every minute and second of the day, I am impress by the stoicism and courage. A lot of people obviously has nothing but they are still smiling. They are grateful to be alive.

I believe the following quote sums it up:

Learning from yesterday, live for today and hope for tomorrow

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Cold Blind Me!

Far out! Cold Blind Me!

Winter is still three weeks away but we woke up to 5C! I dread to think what sort of winter temperatures we will get down to this year as compared to last.

You see, we didn't get much of a winter last year and feel kind of "cheated". In fact, it was so nice that we never turned on our reverse cycle air-conditioning (the heat aspect, of course) once and though the weather was cool-ish, the extensive winter wardrobe never saw the light of day.

I have a hunch that we might just get that cold winter this year. As much as I love the cold, I don't enjoy waking up in the mornings to cold temperature! It is such torture and struggle.

I love winter days through esp. here in Brisbane. There is a chill in the air and the heat from the sun puts a smile on everyone's faces. No wonder, many of our counterparts down south always come up to Brisbane, Gold and Sunshine Coasts for the holidays! In fact, winter is our peak season!

Yes, our ensuite resembled that of an oven this morning...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My definition of a weekend...

This is my definition of a weekend. No fussing, no housework and no deadlines. How perfect that would be!

Instead my wish for weekends is to be surrounded by good company or just the husband and no one else, endless canapes and a good drop or two! Considering this is a so-called short work week (4 days), you must be wondering why I am already thinking of the weekend. Well, it is never far from my mind.

What are you doing this weekend?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Man's Search for Meaning

I am reading Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning". Frankl talks about the importance of a purpose in one's life. He talks about individuals who died in concentration camps as soon as they lost hope, as soon as they lost their reason for being. For example, this hope was the possibility of seeing a loved one, for others it was going back and telling the world what they had gone through.

While Frankl talks abut the concentration camps, I believe the same applies to normal everyday life. Too many people die while still alive because they lack a sense of purpose. It is then that no material comforts can alleviate the suffering. A new ship, similar stories with a world of difference. The same sea, with different waves, the same spot, never the same river...

We are living in a whirlpool of information. We are bombarded with news (what others do), views (what others think) and cues (what others think we should do). We are convinved that the vastness and complexity of it all is the sea which we need to conquer and cross. But a calm sea whispered to me, that the sea resides within.

Why do we become slaves to the number of degrees we have accured, the number which associates our ranking in class, the number of accolades which we receive, the final number in the right column of our balanced sheet, the number of rooms in our house, the number and size of cars we own? Why? Because we subscribe to the maxin: If it can be externally quantifiable, it is. Materialism, the God of the 20th century, the opium of the masses. How empty, how impoverished.

The modern man has lost perspective of the truly important things in life. Often, these are the very things which cannot be quantified and measured. Can I put a number on the wonderful emotions which I experienced today? Can I rank that which I feel when helping other people? Can I measure the value of a conversation with a friend? Can I quantify the pleasure and meaning I derive from spending time with my family? How full, how rich.