Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Washi tape

Lately, I've become slightly obsessed with washi tape. Hmm, more than slightly obsessed. Also with scrapbooking. I've been scrapbooking since high school, collecting magazine clippings that I like and pasting them into a sketchbook. Like Pinterest, except not digital. After my forays into mail art this spring,* I've been wanting to start a scrapbook that's more like a journal/diary and incorporates bits of mail art. I.e., I can paste in the scraps of garbage I keep picking out of gutters. Turns out, someone has marketed this idea (they're called Smash books and you can pretty much buy the whole thing. Where's the fun in that?)

So back to tape. I keep peeking around in every shop trying to find decorative tapes lately, but I don't really expect to find any. I wouldn't even know where to look back home or in London or Edinburgh. But that's not really the problem; there are loads of websites to buy from. The problem is cash flow. Of all the things to be spending my money on at the moment, washi tape ranks fairly far down the list. So Pinterest in my new best friend! Last week, I found loads of tutorials for making your own decorative tape, and today, I stumbled upon FREE digital washi tape from A Vegas Girl at Heart. She even gives a tutorial for adding them to your digital photos with free software! Amazing! Check it:

*I still can't get used to the seasons here. In March through June, I was in the northern hemisphere for spring. And now spring is springing in the southern hemisphere. I've pretty much decided to be as confusing as possible when talking about the season ;-)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Retail therapy

I woke up in a bit of a funk today. I've been sleeping really late for weeks now. I'll wake up at a decent hour, struggle to find the motivation to actually get out of bed, and stay in there for another hour or two. I guess I'm depressed, but I haven't actually felt down until today. And it's stupid what sparked it.

Yesterday, I received an email inviting me for a job interview. This is the third interview I've been invited for since moving here, which is awesome. It's for a job that, in the description, sounds perfect. I would be using and developing the skills that I want to use and develop, working to improve health among disadvantaged groups. But it's in Alice Springs. Alice Springs is pretty much in the center of Australia, surrounded for hundreds and hundreds of miles by absolutely nothing. There would be no job opportunities whatsoever for Hugh.

I don't know why I'm even worrying about it. The university makes it clear that they will not hire temporary residents. They have no intention of sponsoring candidates for visas. So I'll go to the interview, do my best, explain that I can't work for them longer than 6 months, and that'll be that. I guess I'm just in a funk today because the whole thing reminds me of the unsustainable position I'm in. I came into this knowing it would be like this, that I wouldn't be able to start a career here until I somehow become a permanent resident. I willingly chose that path, so I should buck up and remember that I don't actually regret my decision in any way.

Anyway, I couldn't bear the thought of sticking around in the flat, so I went in search of retail therapy, in the form of used knitting needles at the Salvation Army store. It is conveniently located next to an office supply store, and I've been meaning to grab some basic supplies for paper crafts.

It ended up costing more than I expected, because apparently double-stick tape is exorbitantly expensive. I mean, $7? That's outrageous! In fact, everything at the office supply store was more expensive than I thought it should be, and I can't tell if that's just because everything in Australia is more expensive than back home, or if this store is just taking the piss. But I had fun, then I came home and started designing my new scrapbook. And I feel fine now! Funk banished.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Golden Gaytime

This is for real. And very tasty. It's a toffee and vanilla ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and honeycomb bits. Honeycomb! I really do love the food here.

Previously, I grossed out Emily, Rania, and Sara by describing the distinctive South Australian dish known as a pie floater (look it up; TheGoogle has some intensely unappetizing photos.) Hugh has never had one, so we may do a joint taste test soon. I'll let you know how it goes.

In Edinburgh, Hugh and I used to go to the local kebab shop and I would get "chicken meat and chips." Basically, a large styrofoam container full of fries with shaved chicken meat and garlic sauce and ketchup drizzled all over. Hugh says the equivalent here is called an "AB." I asked him and his sis what that meant and he answered, "basically chicken meat and chips." Since he'd already told me it was the equivalent of that, I rolled my eyes and said, "yes, but what does 'AB' mean?" After a brief hesitation, with eyes downcast, his sis replied quietly, "Abortion."

Yes, the South Australians have a dish called an abortion, because apparently that's what it looked like to the person that created it. And as horrendous as that is, I can't wait to try it. Does that make me a bad person?

Monday, August 20, 2012


Hugh and his sister and I went on a road trip last week. We drove three hours east to a town called Loxton. Hugh's sister will be doing a sort of apprenticeship there, so she needed to check it out and meet some peeps. It is a decently-sized town along the Murray River, right near the state border with both Victoria (capital: Melbourne) and New South Wales (capital: Sydney). While she met her peeps, Hugh and I needed to kill some time, so I made him take me to "Historic Loxton."

I figured this would simply be the older part of town. It was more like a theme park, like the early days of Knotts Berry Farm. Basically, someone collected a bunch of old buildings, a couple of which were once in Loxton but most of which were from neighboring small towns. They put these together with a bunch of 1970's recreations of old Loxton buildings, added narrations by baby-boomers (activated by motion-sensor!), threw in several pieces of farm equipment from days gone by, and plopped a 9-month-old kangaroo named Gemma down in the center.

Gemma followed humans around devotedly, but didn't actually care about them at all. She would permit you to pet her but would not pay attention to you if you were dressed in a kangaroo-food costume. She was like the ultimate cat.

Needless to say, I loved it. It was kind of like the ghost towns we used to visit on camping trips. Hugh got into a bit of trouble, but I managed to get him out.

Of course, we took obligatory photos of trains for Pops.

And I found this particularly amusing. Ah, electricity!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baby Owl creation

Where do baby owls come from?

from Owl Know How

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Food truck(s) DO exist!

Apparently, there is at least one food truck in Radelaide. It's called Burger Theory. So now I will have to keep an eye out for them. I also discovered a cool, hipster-like things-to-do-in-Adelaide (and other cities) blog called The Thousands. Yay! Now I can be informed!

And now, instead of actually getting out and exploring Adelaide like I planned to do today, I'm wasting the afternoon reading about places to go explore...

No, but seriously, I really want to map all the cool shops in this city, because they all seem to be tucked away in alleys and side streets. Some are right there on main roads, but flanked by mile after mile of crappy, run-down, barely-staying-open bathtub stores and rug vendors and sex shops (oh, so many sex shops in this city...)

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Job Front

Not much happened on the job front for a while. Hugh encouraged me to focus on applying for "real" jobs at first, instead of directing my energy into more immediately-available retail or hospitality jobs. And I was surprised in early July when I was invited for an interview at one of the local universities. I didn't think it would amount to much because of my visa situation, until I re-read the position description and realized it was a part-time, 4-month position similar to the one I did in Edinburgh. So that would be great!

But the interview was so far away, and in the meantime, I've been relying more and more on Hugh for money. So for the past few weeks, I've been applying for hospitality and retail jobs...to no avail whatsoever. No one wants me to sell their clothes or wait their tables or man their front desks. I was beginning to think coming here was a bad career move. I don't know what a work-and-holiday visitor has to do in this city to get a freakin' casual job!

So it's a good thing I was offered the temporary research job. Booyah! The interview was on Wednesday. On Thursday, I was contacted to arrange an interview for a different job with the Department of Health for next week. And on Friday, the first group offered me the temp job. Yayyyy! I have prospects! People want me! I'm not completely useless!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Perfect Sunday

I'm having the perfect Sunday. I told Hugh last night that I wanted to go to the farmers market, so at the crack of 8:06 this morning, he forced me out of bed. I might have been a bit cranky about this. I might even have called him an a**hole. But he's not an a**hole. He's a wonderful boyfriend who looks out for my best interests.

So on his way to work, Hugh dropped me off at the Adelaide Showgrounds Farmers Market, which runs every Sunday of the year! There was a coffee caravan in front of the entrance, so I started the morning off right with a mocha. Next to the entrance, a young guitar-and-violin duo played Disney's Greatest Hits. They started with "A Whole New World." Really, guys?

The market was nice. It was like Edinburgh's Saturday market, but bigger. There was lots of fresh food, and jams and chutneys and honeys. There was not a craft booth in sight. Sad, no wool for Kusems. But craft booths at farmers markets are usually crap anyway. I bought some sylvan berry cordial, a chunk of brie, and a pumpkin baguette. Sylvan berry is apparently a hybrid of raspberry and blackberry, according to the nice ladies who sold it to me. "Cordial" is the Australian word for squash, which is the British word for "syrup which you add to tap water to make it more palatable."

From there, I walked into town. On the way, an Aboriginal man wished me good morning. I'm pretty sure he only did it because I'm such a pretty young thing. *batting my eyelashes* But it got me thinking. I'd been at the farmers market just 20 min earlier, and I realized now what I hadn't realized then: there wasn't an Aboriginal-looking person in sight. Sure, farmers markets are havens of a narrow subsection of the middle-upper-middle class. But as a wannabe social scientist, I do feel like I should be paying more attention to places where certain population groups do or don't have a presence, and it can be a matter of a few hundred yards.

Outside a restaurant on Gouger St (pronouncer "goo-djer"). No idea what it is, but I like the green glass.

I decided to check out the South Australian Museum, cuz I haven't yet! It's basically a natural history museum. It's quite small, but very good. They have a great live insect and reptile room, with lots of fossils and animals preserved in jars. Next week is National Science Week, so they've put on all sorts of arty science-y projects for kids. In the foyer, there was a class for felting ocean scenes. Felting is so hot right now! and I have been curious to know how it works, so I passed by a few times as I explored the museum. It was fascinating! It looked like, after laying out bits of colored fluffy wool onto a base of white fluffy wool in the layout you want, you douse the whole thing in soapy water, then place bubble wrap! underneath and on top, and rub the bubble wrap! Genius! I gotta try it.

After that, I went to hang out in the library. Though just a tiny room in a larger building, the library on North Terrace has quickly become one of my favorite places in Adelaide. They have some great books for such a small library. I could happily hang out in there for hours...but I got hungry.

Reading the graphic novel about Burma, and having watched lots of food tourism shows lately, I wanted to find a cool little lunch joint or street food vendor. But my previous explorations of downtown Adelaide haven't uncovered any such gems. I could have walked back to the Central Market for hum bao, but that's quite a ways to go on an empty stomach. So I decided with dejection to go the food court in the mall across the road, where my choices would be stale noodles, expensive sushi, or chains like McDonald's and KFC. All of those options would cost at least $7, and after spending lots at the farmers market, I didn't really want to spend more than $5. It's hard to find a meal that cheap, though.

Attached to the stoplight, as I was about to cross the road, I saw this sign. I looked to my left to see an Asian man at a small table with a cafe umbrella overhead. As I approached, he was mincing pork and vegetables on a heat pad.

"Would you like to try?" he asked.

"Yes, please. How much is it?" I responded.

"Four dollars."

Score!! It was the perfect portion size, yummy, within my budget, and just what I needed and wanted. I will now coin the phrase "Sunday mojo."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

T.G.I. Friday

I vacuumed the flat yesterday. It's a little flat with no stairs, so it didn't take long. But there was a casualty.

I'd left my knitting in a tidy pile on the floor the night before, and I got a bit too close with the vacuum. I managed to extract it all, but the bamboo needle didn't make it. It could have been worse. A metal needle might have broken the vacuum!

One of Hugh's friends had his birthday dinner at T.G.I. Friday's. All day, I was excited about it. I felt a bit like I was going to Chuck E. Cheese for someone's birthday. I'm happy to report that T.G.I. Friday's is exactly the same on the other side of the planet, if not tackier than back home. Hugh ate a burger the size of his face and managed to earn the distinction of finishing it before anyone else finished their meal, despite the fact that half the table got their food 10 minutes before we got ours. Ain't he a catch?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Graphic Novels

Having read manga "A Midsummer Night's Dream," I have decided that graphic novels are THE way to absorb Shakespeare. At least for me. I can't follow the language when I read his plays, even if the "modern" translation is supplied on the left page. I generally have no idea what's going on. And watching one of his plays acted live or in movie form, I can totally figure out what's going on, but can hardly catch a word anyone says. In a graphic novel, you get the sort of "video" reel, but you can read the Shakespearean English at your own speed. I love it!

My success with "Midsummer" gave me the courage to give this a chance. Maybe it could be improved??

I've seen the first film, but haven't read the books. After spending May joking with Sara, Emily, and Rania about writing a Twilight-like book, I decided I couldn't put it off any longer. I need to know what I'm dealing with. I need to read it. So when I saw this, I thought it would ease the whole process.

I was wrong. I mean, it's fun. And the pictures are very accurately manga; they're beautiful. But it's all dialogue and meaningful looks, and the dialogue is...well, you know what the dialogue is. Volume One went pretty quickly, but it doesn't look like the library has the other volumes, so now I'm reading this.

It's by a French guy who moved to Myanmar/Burma with small son and wife, who works for MSF (Doctors Without Borders). It's basically short comics about his daily experiences there. This was in 2005, prior to the Burmese dictatorship shutting its borders to all foreign aid organizations.

Here is my crochet bow-tie necklace. It's a bit floppy, but I love this yarn and I really love the "puff stitch," which made the balls on the necklace bit. I'm totally gonna make more necklaces for myself.

And here is today's snack: I decided to try Becky's suggestion of baking brie in filo pastry. But as I'm poor, I bought cheap brie. Bad idea. It's gone all lumpy and greasy in the oven. The chips are really good though! I cut up some pita flatbread, brushed them with olive oil, and sprinkled on a generous helping of sea salt. Mmmm...

Monday, August 06, 2012

Vocabulary lesson

When I was in elementary school, a new fad swept the land. I can't remember what it was called, but it was a national contest that encouraged kids to learn new vocabulary words and memorize their dictionary meanings. We were required to learn so many new words per week, and the words had to be spelled out with perfect penmanship in a particular way on a specific type of card, about a foot long and 3-4 inches tall. Our class was taken to the University of Washington to compete against other elementary schoolers. We were encouraged to read the newspaper in order to find new words, then pull out the family dictionary to determine their meaning.

I had pretty much completely forgotten about all of this until I was reading the newspaper today, and came across these gems. Sadly, there is no family dictionary in the apartment.

I haven't noticed either of these being used in conversation or on TV, but one phrase I hear all the time is "have a squiz," which means "have a look." For example, on the radio, they'll say, "Have a squiz at our website for blah blah blah."