Saturday, November 08, 2014

moving out!

We're moving out!!! I'm so excited!! We applied for a place on Thursday and they phoned Hugh almost immediately, then called our bosses, then approved us. I worked from home on Friday and kept looking around at different things in our apartment and thinking, "I don't have to put up with you much longer!"

The house we applied for has been on the rental market for ages and no one has been interested in it. We ourselves viewed it twice, a month ago, and didn't take it. I loved it the first time we saw it, so when we went back the second time, I tried to be really objective and focus on the negatives. But I just noticed more things I loved! We've been debating back and forth about whether we should apply, because the location wasn't ideal. Finally, we decided to go for it.

Here's what we were looking for in a new home: more space, particularly for things like crafting and building, but also a bigger kitchen; a location that would reduce my commute to work; a location that would put us closer to town or in a younger, hipper suburb; someplace we could have BBQs, because an Australian who is not barbecuing is not living the Australian dream; preferably, a house, with no one living above, below, both sides, and with a balcony that looks directly onto ours.

This house has Loads more space. More space even than lots of the other properties we viewed. It has both a front and back garden, albeit small, but neither has a lawn so Hugh is happy about that. He doesn't want to mow. We could have a BBQ out the back. And it's a house. There are neighbors either side, but none of our windows look into their windows, and there is an wide alley separating us from the neighbours at the back.

But the location. It's only two train stations further into town than we currently are, so doesn't cut my train journey down by much. The train station is a 15 minute walk away, and there's no tram on the doorstep, or anywhere near. Our friends are still unlikely to want to trek out there to visit us, so we will still be home-bodies. And the road it's on is kinda busy and noisy. These are the reasons we hesitated to take it.

Then I looked up buses, and realised that there's a bus just down the road that takes me to the train station where my regional train to work stops. I.e. instead of taking a tram, a train, another train, and a third train to get to work, I can just take a 20 min bus, and one train. Boom.

And I decided that I want to take swimming lessons this summer cuz I never learned proper strokes or how to breathe while swimming, and there's a big "leisure centre" just down the road that offers adult swimming lessons!

There is much more that we love about this house, but I might save that for when we move in and I can do a photo tour. Here is a preview:  Isn't it just TOO DAMN CUTE?!?

Sunday, November 02, 2014

the property game

Hugh and I are looking for a new place to live. There is an ad running on TV at the moment that says that Melbourne doesn't have a property market; it's a property game. While I don't agree that those two are mutually exclusive, finding a home here is certainly a game.

[It appears that, after telling everyone we were moving to Sydney in November, we failed to tell a significant number of people that we are NOT, in fact, moving to Sydney at all.]

Here's how finding a new place to rent works in Melbourne: is the most widely used website, and has a pretty good app. You star the properties you want to shortlist, then there's a feature where you can view all the properties being shown on a given day, in chronological order of when they're being shown, so it's easy to plan all your viewings. Here's what that looks like:

I love the little "time to relax" drink at the bottom of the list 😄

That's part of the dumb, game-y bit: real estate agents only show a property once on a given day, and for only 10-15 minutes. They might show a property twice in one week, but usually they'll only show it once a week.

At any given viewing, between 6 and 16 people will show up. Since most people shop by neighborhood, we'll go to one viewing on Saturday morning, then continue to see the same people at subsequent viewings. This could engender some form of comraderie, except that this is a game, and we are competitors. These bastards might snatch this AMAZING property from right under your nose!

The agent doesn't do much. They open the door to let the flood of people in, then stand outside handing out applications to the interested parties. And unless you hate the place, you take an application. When you're only given 10 minutes to see a place, and there are 15 other people there, it's difficult to make a decision on the spot. I'm amassing quite a collection of applications myself.

Of those 16 people you viewed the property with, whoever gets their application in first is considered first.

But most places aren't amazing. This is the other shitty part of the property game: apparently, the landlords have all the power. There is a huge epidemic of "investment properties" in Melbourne, as in, anyone with a bit of cash buys up properties, then rents them out to young people, who can't afford to buy properties because they've all been bought up already. The plus side of this is that, as a renter, there is a wide variety of properties available to rent; apartments, houses, warehouse conversions, you name it.

The downside is that most landlords can't be bothered to put any money into their investment property, so houses that are in awful condition get rented out in awful condition. We viewed one place in a gorgeous neighborhood, very convenient to the city, which had a breakfast nook with rusty brown marks showing through the peeling, no-longer-white paint. It looked like actual shit smeared on the walls. It would have taken someone three hours to slap one or two coats of paint on that wall before showing it to potential renters, but they couldn't be bothered. And they were asking $410 per week ($1775 per month).

So that's what we're up against. We've gone house-hunting every Saturday for three weeks now. We've applied for two properties and been rejected for both (we viewed on Saturday and waited until Monday to apply, so we were probably too late.) But we aren't in a hurry because we don't have to vacate our current place at any time. So we'll be picky, and keep collecting applications.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

an actual pillow

A long, long time ago, Hugh and I made a map pillow case together. Remember?? Probably not, it was a while ago.

But we sewed it...together. Then we went straight out and bought a pillow to put inside it, and some buttons to fasten it closed. And then, a year and three months later, I attached the buttons!

When we were in Italy, Kasia gave me this super cute owl. He came with little scissors and a spool of twine which feeds through his beak. He helped inspire me to finally finish the map pillow!

I tried to think piratey thoughts as I attached the buttons. When it came to the fasteners, my piratey thought was that the twine wasn't rope-like enough. What would a pirate do? Why, he'd make one of those knotted hair wrap things that we used to make in middle school!

Okay, that sounds a bit absurd, but when I think about, Captain Jack Sparrow definitely had a couple in his hair.

So I got to knotting, and made some little loops to hook around the buttons. And that was it! I finished something! As much as I looove procrastinating, finishing projects feels pretty amazing.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

edinburgh 2014

So, wow, news, right? Hugh and I have been back from our trip for a week now. It was a lot of fun! We went to Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and northern Italy.

I'll always remember Edinburgh as being stunningly beautiful, but it still took my breath away all over again. Every turn you take in the city presents a view or vista like none anywhere else in the world. And the weather was just perfect.

We stayed at the Grassmarket Hotel, which is a new boutique hotel in, well, the Grassmarket. When we lived in Edinburgh, Hugh lived just up the other end of the Grassmarket, near all the strip clubs, so it felt like home being back in that area. The hotel was really nice as well (though super humid and very "cosy"). We enjoyed our stay there. It didn't take long to confirm, though, that I am definitely allergic to Edinburgh. Sad, hey?

At the end of our first full day there, when we were still battling jet lag, Hugh had a surprise for me. It was a little black box with a ring in it! He's such a romantic, and a sweetie, and doesn't he have good taste? It has cherry blossoms all the way around. He's definitely a keeper. The jet lag may have prevented us both from handling the proposal in the best possible way, though, and I'm sure our grandchildren will love hearing about how I shouted "What is this?!" at their grandfather when he gave me an engagement ring.

And here we are at the pub where we first met. It was first week back at university, and the pub was chock full of freshman being hazed, so we didn't linger. We had to make a pilgrimage back to where it all started, though.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

diy travel journal

We travel to the UK in less than a week! Then Italy a week after that! I'm so very excited!

I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on stationery websites lately. Blogs about stationery, websites selling stationery, photos of other peoples' artistic stationery. I stumbled on the Seaweed Kisses blog and her description of how she uses her Midori Travellers Notebook. "What's that?" I asked myself, and followed the link to a shop selling them. That website provided even more journaling inspiration, and before I knew it, I was obsessed with having a new travel journal for this trip! The website provided several options, but I knew Hugh would judge me for buying ANOTHER notebook/journal. I have several in current use, as well as multiple waiting to be used. I have one Kikki.K journal I bought months ago that still has the wrapping on.

Also, I've had travel journals in the past, and haven't used them, or have used them for the first two days, then not the rest of the trip. Do I really need another unfinished journal sitting around the house?

I also love the idea of "smash" journals, or commonplace books as they were known in the olden days. One notebook that I can put everything in. Clippings, to do lists, thoughts, etc.

So I decided to use one of the three journals that I am currently using (and is super cute to boot), and turn part of it into a travel journal. Here's what I did!

First of all, ya gotta have a map of the world, just in case you forget where you're going or where home is. I googled world map pics, and printed this one out. Then what? Why, washi tape treatment, of course! Also, every good travel journal provides an area for your packing list. Some even include suggestions of ten or so common items to pack. The Moleskin travel journal assumes very little, printing only "toothbrush" on its packing lists. Clean underwear be damned!

Then I wanted a monthly calendar spread.

And pages to devote to scheduling each day of our trip. Not that I plan to schedule every moment! Hugh and I are both definitely fly by the seats of our pants-ers.

I wanted an expenses spread. I have absolutely no idea how to budget for this trip, so I'll record how much I end up spending, and maybe that'll give me an idea for future trips.

Then planning pages for each city, which I get to fill out now! Yay!

I also did a page for addresses, and an envelope stuck in to hold stamps and other bits, and more envelopes throughout. I'm pretty proud of how these two turned out!

For a while, I've been wanting a way to print out little daily photos for my daily journal. I thought about getting a Fuji Instax camera, which is basically a modern-day Polaroid camera. Then I was looking at a new Polaroid camera that has a bit more functionality than the Instax. Then Hugh was like, "Why don't you just buy the Fuji Instax printer, then you can print photos off of your phone?" Uh, the what-what? Off my phone? Why yes, that is actually exactly what I wanted. So I bought one! It arrived yesterday and I love it! It's only little, so I can bring it on the trip. And it prints any photo off of your phone or Instagram or Facebook accounts. The photo printed below (which is still in the processing of developing there) is from Valentine's Day 2013.

Friday, August 29, 2014

big news

So yeah...I GOT MY VISA!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohooooooo!!!!

I got it on Tuesday, while I was at work. My boss and coworkers were all really happy for me. I emailed Hugh and then called him, and he was all "Yeah, whatever, I knew you'd get it." Honestly, my friends and coworkers were more excited than he was. Silly boy.

It took 14 months to the day. That's a long flippin' time. And they still took my money for the travel visa, which I now no longer need. But it's a small price to pay, eh?

I've thought a lot over the last several months about how excitedly I would blog about getting my visa. But it's been four days and I'm only just getting around to it. I guess I did feel a bit like Hugh, that it was bound to come soon and it's not that big a deal. But at the same time, I feel more secure. In a way, I feel more like a person. That sounds weird, doesn't it? I don't know how else to describe it. I feel validated. I mean, I had rights to stay while waiting for the visa, and full work rights, and I had a job with a two-year contract. I even had free access to the national health service. Nothing has actually changed now that the visa is approved, except that there's now no possibility of being given 28 days notice to leave the country. And that wasn't even a very likely scenario. But I feel different all the same. It's a sense of security.

Friday, August 15, 2014

I wished for stickers

I was a bit annoyed today. Okay, more than a bit. I might have shed a couple tears.

I was frustrated with immigration. It's been 13.5 months since I lodged my visa application. It cost $4000 to apply. To travel to the US last October, I had to pay another $125 for a travel visa (to allow me to reenter Australia). Well now we're about to travel to the UK, and because my partner visa is still pending, I had to apply for another travel visa, this time $140. I went into the immigration office on Monday to apply, and the woman told me that they wouldn't process my travel visa application until closer to our travel dates, and they wouldn't charge me the money until they did, so that could give my partner visa more time to be processed.

And that's where the trouble started: I started fantasising that my partner visa would be processed before we travel, perhaps even by the end of the week! I wouldn't have to worry any more, my long year and a bit of wondering would be over, and I'd be saved $140! (That's the most important bit 😜)

So I was probably a little bit too disappointed today when I received an email saying that my travel visa was approved and thank you very much for the $140. Grr. Does that mean they have no intention of processing and deciding on my partner visa for at least three more weeks?

It's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I have a well-paying job! I've got savings for this trip (finally). I can certainly afford $140. I'm just being impatient.

I had a cookie last night with a birthday candle, and I wished for stickers. So Hugh bought me stickers today because he knew I was upset. Mwaaaaahhhhhh!! He is the sweetest! He also bought me a little journal with a lions face on it! He is really too good to be true.

(I also bought myself stickers today, totally forgetting that I had wished for them last night.)

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

not moving to Sydney

About a month ago, Hugh had a job interview in Sydney, and they offered him the job on the spot! So we were expecting to move to Sydney around November. I told all my friends we were moving, but was waiting, for various reasons, to tell my boss. And I didn't want to blog about it before then.

Now, again for various reasons, Hugh has decided not to take the job. So yeah, the news is that there is no news! Nothing has changed, and we are maintaining status quo, for now.

Which is nice. Melbourne is a pretty nice place to be. Sydney has better weather, but Melbourne was voted best coffee in the world on TripAdvisor, so there you go.

Monday, July 28, 2014


You guys, I found this awesome magazine this weekend! It was at our local newsagent, the one with the post office at the back. I always check the magazine rack for knitting mags whenever I go to the post office, and they have a sort of decent but mostly crappy selection. So I was really surprised the other day to find Pompom Mag, a knitting magazine from the UK which, the last time I checked, was only sold in one or two stores in the whole of Australia.

But there weren't any patterns in the most recent issue that I liked, so I didn't buy it. But this caught my eye:

At first, I thought it was another slightly wanky, self-important artsy magazine. But it came with a little 30-day journal and had an article on Pippi Longstocking, so I was intrigued. I decided to splurge the $15 for it, and I'm so glad I did! I love it! I'm considering buying a copy for everyone I know! It's from the Netherlands, and this is their international version. It's beautiful throughout, and intelligent and inspiring.

It's all about mindfulness. I think Becky and John have been trying to sell me on some version of mindfulness for years. A few weeks ago at the pub, my softball friend, Julia, was telling me about how she tries to live mindfully, and I very rudely rolled my eyes at her descriptions of what's involved. I taught her to knit a couple months ago, and she was describing how she tries to knit mindfully, and it just sounded...boring!

I've heard the phrase "mindfulness" a few times recently, but haven't really known what it was. I just thought it was trying to be a bit more thoughtful and aware. Apparently, it's a whole branch of psychology! Oxford offers a degree in it!

Anyhoo, this magazine has helped me to see the whole thing from a new perspective, and maybe I'll call Julia and beg her forgiveness and ask her to teach me more.

Monday, June 02, 2014

sick day

[Crap, I wrote this ages ago and meant to post it! It's from June.]

I'm taking a sick day today. I've got a bit of a sore throat, which I'm hoping doesn't become anything more than that! So I'm knitting, naturally. I currently have three projects going. That seems to be my average, and maybe explains why it takes me months to finish any one thing :-/

On Friday, I started a bralette using a 4-ply Fiberspates yarn that I bought in Hobart (Tasmania) last year. I'm still working on getting the sizing right, so I've just had to start over, but as I was doing so, our doorbell rang. I had a package!

A package from Izzi and Tim! A birthday package! (I checked the postage date, and Izzi and Tim had sent the parcel well in advance of my birthday. They're so thoughtful! Royal Mail and/or AusPost, however, decided to hold onto it for a little while, so today is almost three months to the day since Tisobel sent it. Lol!)

There was a cute little tea infuser inside, which I took as a hint that I should make myself a big pot of tea, and that has turned out to be a fantastic idea. I bought a tea infuser in Paris that had a little green Eiffel Tower at the end, but the Eiffel Tower came off during one of my many international moves, and we've just been using the infuser without a catcher-thingey, which does not work very well.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

negative nancy strikes again

We had a big meeting today with the organisation that commissioned the big project I've been working on. It was their opportunity to comment on our first draft and provide feedback. They didn't have too much to critique, and the things they mentioned should be relatively easy to fix. They did say that they'll give themselves two weeks to really go through it and make notes of all their concerns. So I came out of the meeting terrified. My boss's boss came out of the meeting really positive and upbeat about it. I had to take a coffee and muffin break this afternoon to clear my brain and figure out why I was being so negative!

I know it's no surprise to any of you that I'm a pessimist. Part of my negative feelings relating to this meeting have to do with my own insecurities about the quality and completeness of my work, and the worry that any minute now, someone is going to point out huge flaws in it. I realised that I was assuming this was an iceberg situation: the feedback they gave in the meeting today was just them scratching the surface of the tip of an iceberg. They were just being polite, surely! Two weeks from now, I'll receive pages and pages of comments and the whole bloody thing will need a complete overall!

My boss's boss, on the other hand, heard their few criticisms and assumed it was the worst they could possibly muster. As far as he's concerned, if that's the worse, then we're doing great! They failed to congratulate us on what an awesome job we did, but if they didn't come right out and say, "The document you have submitted is a massive disappointment and not what we were hoping for at all," then they must be relatively happy with it, right?

Yes. Yes, I think so. I need to go home, look at myself in the bathroom mirror, and remind myself that I'm awesome.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

busy bees

We have been busy little bees lately!

My boss and I turned in a big project last week (55 pages in Word and nearly 200 Excel tables and figures). It's a big relief to have it completed, and now I'm coasting a bit until we get feedback on it ;-D

I haven't finished any knitting projects lately, although my grey sparkly sweater isn't far off done.

Hugh and I are *hoping* to book tickets for the UK soon! We want to go in September for a distillers conference and to catch up with good old friends with whom I have been a bit crap about keeping up. (nudge nudge, Tisobel)

This is from a couple weeks ago when we took a couple friends to the Yarra Valley for wine and cheese. They are hand-painted paper flowers. Lovely!

This place serves milkshakes and nachos and hot dogs with toppings. We've been there a few times, and I never noticed this sign before!

We went to a Eurovision party! Despite living in the UK for three years, I had never watched Eurovision. The Aussies are crazy for it, though! It was good fun. The hosts didn't ask us to dress up, but Eurovision is all about the glitz and glam, right? I couldn't pass up an opportunity to wear head-to-toe sparkles!

This weekend was kinda big. I took the day off Friday, got my hair done (I don't like it 😕) then met Hugh and his coworkers on a pub crawl. They started at noon. 😬 So by 8:30, I was struggling to stay awake! On Saturday, there was another beer and whiskey event (it was Good Beer Week), where I had a very small serve of Scotch ale, which I nursed for about two and a half hours. Sunday was softball, then dinner and dessert with James and Emma. They took us to The Lab, which serves gelato made (somehow) with liquid nitrogen. Hugh and others are a bit concerned about the lack of protective gear and the fact that the place has two huge liquid nitrogen tanks sitting right there between the bar and the customers. When I worked in a lab, we had to wear full face masks and heavy duty gloves when handling liquid N2. Ho hum! In the end, the gelato was pretty gelato-y. It's all about the spectacle, isn't it?

Friday, May 02, 2014

birthday wool

Hugh had to go to Adelaide for work two weeks ago. Since we were planning to spend Easter there as well, he decided to drive to Adelaide and stay there until James, Emma, and I flew over. Then we all drove back together. So I had to spend a week and a half without my man! Eep! It was hard. I really like being around him!

Anyway, Hugh picked us up from the airport first thing Friday morning. His parents were staying at their vacation home so that we could have the house, but his dad stuck around in town long enough to say "hello" and to give me a birthday present. What a sweetie! And guess what? It was a huge lot of gorgeous wool! What a triple sweetie! (There were five balls in total.)

It's hand-spun and hand-dyed wool from the Handspinners and Weavers Guild of South Australia. I'm not sure yet what I'll make with it. It's a bit on the stiff and scratchy side, so wouldn't be ideal for a sweater, but I'm thinking maybe a vest? Like this one from Brooklyn Tweed, called Huxley? Or maybe a shawl. Dunno.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

wish I was a mermaid

I really really want a pair of these. Then I can really be a mermaid! No matter that I get freaked out holding my breath underwater (I think it must be an asthma thing).

Also, I have a new mermaid phone case :-D I've been eyeing it up for months, and it finally went on sale. (I'm sorry, but $20 for a plastic phone cover? No, thank you. $8.46 is much more reasonable.)

She has a tiny star for a nipple! Love it!

Oh, and I bought most of the new mermaid range from kikki.K. Everyone's mermaids at the moment!

Monday, April 28, 2014

fire in the night scarf

Another sunny day, another distillery photoshoot.

I finished the very soft, very long scarf for Hugh on Saturday night, wove in the ends Sunday morning, and then dragged him out of the apartment to pose for pictures in it!

There were several grumpy faces before he finally smiled. Then there were some more grumpy faces, lol! He's so cute when he tries to be grumpy!

Hugh has been begging me for a Doctor Who-length scarf for ages. I keep buying him really pretty, really expensive wool to make a scarf, and then the scarf ends up too short because I can't afford to buy much. Hugh bought me this wool in Seattle, when he was exploring Capitol Hill one day on his own. It turned out to be the perfect amount for a nice long scarf! It's three skeins of Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky Paints, which I assume he spent a fairly significant amount of money on! It's soooo soft and wonderful.

I used the Cinder scarf pattern from Brooklyn Tweed (they have THE MOST BEAUTIFUL knitting patterns you will see ANYWHERE.) I modified the pattern, though, cutting the number of stitches in half because my wool was pretty chunky and it would have been a much wider and shorter scarf. This had the effect of making the cables much more subtle, just curvy bumps along the way, which I really love in the end. I think it was defos the right choice.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

finished object: silky salmon hat

You know that GORGEOUS silky, soft, salmony wool that Becky sent me? I made it into a hat. It is now autumn down under, and the weather has been getting a bit cooler. I've been bundling up in the mornings (especially since I leave the house before 7am) and this hat has come in very handy.

So has my new Zara puffy vest (with hood and faux-fur collar!), which is my new most favorite possession!

Guess which talented looker made this sign for his work?

Selfies in the car (Hugh was begging me to stop):

Practicing my Blue Steel:

Friday, April 25, 2014

what I'm doing right now

Right now, I am knitting a scarf and catching up on other people's (crafty) blogs.

This is the scarf, though it is now much longer. It is very soft. It will be for my handsome and stylish boyfriend.

That's all I wanted to say. Plenty has been going on lately, but I find it overwhelming to sit down and write about the events of the weekend, etc. This weekend was a particularly big one!

Here in Australia, they do Easter right. You get the day off on Friday, then technically Easter Sunday is a public holiday, too, but because it's a Sunday, and most people don't work anyway, they have to give you the public holiday another day. So you get Monday off as well, a four-day weekend. But for some reason, the universities here give you Tuesday off, too, so I had a five-day weekend!

But's that not all. Easter just so happened to fall this year on the weekend before ANZAC day, which is a day where Australians commemorate the soldiers (known as the Anzacs, or Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), who have fought for their country over the years. It particularly marks the day in 1915 when Australian and New Zealand forces landed in Gallipoli. Australia had not been a sovereign nation for long, and this was the first time Australian soldiers fought in battle as Australians. Many died in the 8-month Battle of Gallipoli, and the young (and vastly unpopulated) nation of Australia felt their loss dearly.

Anyway, all that to say that tomorrow is ANZAC day, a holiday, which means I went to work all of two days this week. A five-day weekend followed by a three-day weekend. And it's good, because I need the three-day weekend to recover from the five-day weekend!

We went to Adelaide for Easter weekend with our friends, James and Emma, and there was lots of wine-tasting, a couple very large sausages, and a rather disturbing incident involving a drunken (and possibly high) cyclist knocking herself unconscious on the side of the road in front of us. Fun times!

That's me, "bitey and an intense, long-lasting sweetness."