Married on the third day of December in our backyard, Canberra, Australia.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Scrapbooked Nans Pic

Hi Nan,

Hope you are having a lovely Christmas! Thinking of you.


P.S. I hope you like the page that I created for you. :)

LouAliopoly from Alison

Alison gave Louise a custom Monopoly style board game for Christmas.

The places and events commemorate things that Alison and Louise did during Alisons visit. Some examples from the "We have a slight problem....."
- Tom the tour guide has lost a member of the group.
- You get soaked on the ferry to Alcatraz.
- Stop what you are doing - Ebony wants to be fed.

Some examples of "Fantastic Holiday News"
- You can sleep in just this once.
- The sealions at Pier 39 don't smell all that bad.
- There's a breezy alternative if you run out of loo paper at Google.
- Your missing luggage turns up.

Making Rumballs

Louise and Dina spent an afternoon baking rum balls and gingerbread biscuits. Dina has never baked before, so this was a new experience for her.
Dina tells us that they don't bake biscuits and cakes in India. Indian housewives are suppose to make two hot meals per day, using the stove, of course, for their husbands. That's a lot of cooking!!!
The decorating was done with special writing icing that comes in tubes (the cheats way :)
In the local lingo, biscuits are referred to as cookies and English Breakfast Muffins are referred to as biscuits. Crazy!

Decorating the Christmas Tree

Sarah dropped in to help us decorate the Christmas tree. Afterwards, Louise and Sarah made gingerbread biscuits.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

No Images?

I just noticed that the images were missing from the most recent two posts, but they seem to be back now? Let us know if you can't see them.

Shopping for a Christmas Tree

We went Christmas Tree shopping today and picked up a live tree.

There are Tree vendors dotted along El Camino Real, in the vacant lots. Louise had one in mind. Their trees were sorted by size, with some already sprayed with fake snow. Once we chose one they put a base on it (including a tray for water).

Ebony's scratching post had to be moved a little to fit the tree.

Tonight Sarah is coming over to help us decorate it. We picked up some lights and a tree skirt from Walmart, since Frys and Target only had one choice each for lights.

Goodwill to Most Men

Would the owner of the Blue Honda please return to your car?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fires in WA, NSW, Vic, Tasmania

We saw on the ABC Broadband News that there are fires in most Australian states. On the Sentinel Bushfire Monitor it looks like the Victorian fire is quite big. Our thoughts are with the poor people who lost their homes, hopefully Santa will find them to deliver their Christmas presents.

No fires over here at the moment, just rain.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

This one's for you John.

I surprised Sean with ice cubes to motivate him to get out of the bath. Thanks for the idea John. :)

First Wedding Anniversary

It's our first wedding anniversary today in America. We decided to celebrate in style, since we were kind of celebrating two great things. One being the obvious, our first wedding anniversary and secondly we've known each other for 10 years. Sean took me to a little French restaurant just down the street from us called Chez TJ (menu). The food was exceptional. The Pork reminded Sean of crackling at Christmas at Grandmas. Louise found the amuse buche divine, it was a slice of raw fish with lime, corriander and a yellow paste.

Back in 1996 Sean decided, unbeknown to me, to purchase a 1996 bottle of Grant Burge Shadrach. Since being with Sean all those years, not once was he tempted to open that bottle, which was still wrapped in it's special paper.

Chez TJ
Well, we've moved numerous times, lived in 2 states (SA and ACT). We've bought 2 houses, sold 1, and had 2 pets. Tango our boxer dog, who is now living on the Murray River with another like minded boxer, and our lovely black cat Ebony who is now an international traveler at the ripe old age of 7.

Things that we both love doing are: driving in the Adelaide Hills, and renovating houses. Who knows we're we'll be in 10 years time. But I do know that we have set aside another bottle (2003 Mont St John Pinot Noir) for when that time comes around and we can't wait!!

New Furniture

We recently got new chairs to go with our table. They are microfiber suede fabric in olive green. Shona took Sean to pick them up when Louise was in Las Vegas, but the chairs that had been put aside were the wrong colour. We got them delivered a week later. WE JUST LOVE THEM!!!

We also purchased a coffee table. It's a trunk with lots of hidden compartments inside. No more cardboard box for us. :)

This coffee table isn't the one that we are keeping though, since Crate and Barrel managed to deliver a damaged one (just like the first table they eventually delivered to us). They are sending out a replacement which might arrive on the 12th.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Scrapbooking Pages

I've been very busy this year updating my scrapbook. I've worked out that I've completed 40 pages and am now having to start a new album as the current one is getting thicker. Hope you enjoy my pages as I'm truly proud of my creations. :)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rain in Kuala Lumpur

It is quite tropical here. This morning was humid and hot, and this afternoon there is thunder and lightning. A good opportunity to get some work done :)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Our table has arrived

Our new dining table arrived a couple of weeks ago, we are so happy to finally have a nice place to eat. The two long edges can fold down to make it into a side table, and the drawers can be opened from either side.

We ordered it in April. Crate and Barrel missed a couple of delivery dates (but refunded the delivery fee to compensate) and delivered a damaged table. They were not going to be able to deliver a replacement until the end of September.

If you have to deal with a company that cant seem to get its act together, I suggest you read "The Art of Turboing" before calling them. When we finally decided to use it, it saved us a month on the delivery time. Crate and Barrel finally got moving after we called them and used techniques from that guide.

Next time we place an order, we'll check that they have it in stock.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Breaking up with Optus

I love Optus, if you read my previous Optus post you know I do. I wanted to use Optus service for my upcoming trip to Malaysia and Australia.

I called customer service. The first person I spoke to recognised the complexity of reactivating my account from overseas and put me through to their manager. Their manager determined that all I needed was a fresh SIM and I was good to go. I had to have a local buy a SIM at an Optus shop and post it to me. Optus had a happy customer, and some good roaming dollars headed their way.

It took two more phone calls to get the SIM activated and request the transfer to postpay. Postpay is easier than prepay because it won't run out of credit mid trip.

Call four was today. This guy seemed more realistic. Optus don't provide accounts for people in foreign countries. He was in a rush, so he laid out the facts and suggested I call customer service to get my money back.

If only I had met the fourth rep first, I could have saved weeks of setup and gone straight to VOIP. I'll just have to make sure I have Internet access during my travels, which is pretty much guaranteed these days. Now all that remains is to get the money back that I have left in my Optus accounts.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Niels Provos' Sourdough Experiments

It turns out that Niels Provos also makes/made sourdough bread. He made his own sourdough bread from scratch, including making the starter and experimenting with the parameters. Don't buy a sourdough starter pack if you are interested in making your own sourdough, follow his instructions to make your own. It might be best to wait until the weather warms up first, since bread likes constant warmth.

The reason I found his pages is that I wanted to clarify some of the instructions. Our last bread was a bit flat because I left it overnight before cooking and it had well and truly fallen by then. Once you add the yeast and salt the show has started and you have to cook it once it has risen (the second time).

We are making our third loaf today. To make it fit into a normal day we seperated and fed the baby sponge last night, and mixed in the yeast etc. this morning. Last time we did everything except the cooking on the first day, which is where we went wrong.

I wanted to clarify why you have to make it rise twice. You let it rise once, then you transfer it to the cooking container and let it rise again. The instructions I was working from don't make it clear whether you should knead the dough during that transfer, but there are plenty of guides on the Internet that make it clear you should deflate the bread after the first rising, as too much carbon dioxide is bad for the yeast. You should also oil the bread before the first rising so that it doesn't stick to the container, I'll try that next time.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Beach Pictures

We had a look around the rock pools, and found starfish, a crab, some sea grass and a man playing frisbee with his tackle hanging loose. We didn't take a picture of that last one.

When we first walked past Mr Tackle Happy, he was sitting on the beach looking suspiciously at my camera. I gave him my best "stay where you are camera thief or I'll take you down Aikido style" glance. We didn't realise he was wearing no undies until we had walked past and he resumed tossing his frisbee around.

Pelican Inn

The Muir area includes a forest and a beach. The forest has limited parking and as we drove towards the beach we saw signs stating that the forest parking was full (it was about 11am). There is a bus service, so if you get there too late you can take the bus to the forest.

Apart from the beach and the forest, there are a few attractions (see also) including the Pelican Inn. The Pelican Inn, as you would expect, has a pub and a few rooms available for people who would like to stay ($200-$300/night). We stopped there for lunch. The restaurant is very "English Pub" with a big fireplace, English menu and a waiter with an English accent. The smokey smell also makes it nice and homely. I had bangers and mash whilst Louise had fish and chips. The sauce was called ketchup and the mustard tasted American, but apart from that it was great.

If we ever stay at the Pelican Inn, room 7 looks like the best. It has direct access to the Snug (private bar for guests) and good views.

The Pelican Inn also had some nice cars in the car park.

Muir Beach Overlook Mystery

Today we visited Muir Beach. The Muir Beach Overlook overlooks Muir Beach. It is the home to a number of Base Ends, which were designed as observation posts where observers could report enemy vessels as they approached San Francisco. If base ends at multiple sites observed ships simultaneously the ship positions could be triangulated for bombardment by guns near the Golden Gate bridge.

The base ends are built into the hillside facing the ocean. On the back of the hillside we found a small room with a chimney, which might once have been a bunkroom or a kitchen. If you look carefully you can see a smiley face simulacra on the ground in the upper right.

Since the overlook is a point, you can see beach from the bunkroom side of the hill as well. I tried to take a photo straight through a break in the trees, but my camera would not take it. I pointed it up and to the left, and it took a photo there, I tried down and to the right, and it took a photo there, but not in the centre. That is a bit of a mystery. I guess it couldn't find anything to focus on when it was centered, or the batteries were a bit flat, or it just plain malfunctioned. Below you can see the shots I took pointing to the top left and bottom right.

Notice also the similarities between the angles of the photos on the web site and the photos I took today (before I saw that web site).

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Scrapbook Pages!

Louise has completed two new scrapbook pages. One of them features her QUT graduation photo, and the other is the driveway that we had built on our Adelaide house.

We saw a fire

On my ride home tonight traffic was backed up on Shoreline for about 1.5km. One of the apartments with the brown roofs [1] was on fire. The outside walls of the apartments are clad with wooden tiles. As I rode past there were flames climbing the outside of the chimney.

After I got home Louise and I walked back to have a look. There was plenty of smoke, and possibly the whole complex had been evacuated because there were a lot of people out in the street. At least 6 fire units turned up (more were arriving when we left) and 4 helicopters were up getting news footage. By then the chimney was just a skeleton, as you can see if you look carefully at the top photo.

[1] Roofs or Rooves?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Half Moon Bay

We went for a drive to half moon bay. It was a bit cold and foggy so we didn't see the beach. Instead, we had a look around town.

There are all of the usual tourist shops; trinkets, antiques, candles and soap, books. There are also an unusually large number of hotels on main street above the restaurants. Off the main street we found an interesting looking old jail (built 1911) and church.

Most of the beaches are state parks with entry fees. While we were looking for a beach that didn't have an entry fee, we found a place that you can hire horses and go for a ride on the beach. When we have visitors next, we intend to go there for a sunset beach ride.

There are some the shops on the highway, so we stopped and had a look on the way back home. One of them had iron statues of dinosaurs out the front, which we got photos with.

One of the shops had old ornate doors imported from Egypt. I can't find a reference, but a friend once told me that in some countries (inc. India) people spend a lot of money on their front doors. It is a kind of status symbol. Anyway, old ornate doors are salvaged when the house is torn down or renovated, and are often exported.

One of the shops also had 900 year old pots for sale.