Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Postcrossing: Russia

At first glance, when I looked at this postcard I was expecting it to be from Egypt - but no, it's from Russia!  I would never have expected to find a monument like this in Russia.  Apparently it is in Leningrad.

On the back:
Hi! I see you love baking and this is good, because I love too.  I can endlessly is our national dish - the pancakes.  "Basketball - not sex, where both win." Good luck and love! Max =)
I didn't realise pancakes were the national dish of Russia!  But of course they are not called pancakes - they are called blini.  I like the quote too but I'm not sure where it is from.

The stamp is a painting of what I think is the Kremlin.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

OOTD: Purple People Eater

Top & Cardi: Jay Jays
Mini: Torrid
Tights: We Love Colors 
(Lavender Plus Size White Striped Tights)

I received my latest order of We Love Colors tights last week and was very excited, as usual.  I probably won't order any more for a while - it's coming into warmer weather here so I'll probably wait and see if they offer free shipping to Oz/NZ again next year before I buy any more.  I hadn't bought the striped tights before and I was a little disappointed when I pulled them out of the bag - the material is different from their nylon/lycra tights and is a bit scratchy, not nice and silky.  Then when I was putting them on this morning I was almost worried they were too small - they were quite tight.  But once I had them on I fell in love immediately.  I'm not sure why, but they just made me feel happy!

I also got lots of compliments from my friends at work, which was nice.  All day I kept looking down at my legs and smiling.  It was the perfect outfit for my "Monday"!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Postcrossing: USA

This is my first advertising card, but I don't mind, because it is baking-related!  It is from a bakery called The Buttery, in Santa Cruz, California.

On the back:
Greetings from Northern California.  We recently went to Santa Cruz and found this nice little restaurant.  It all smelled so good.
The stamps  are 5 more American Clocks, another stamp from the same "American Design" series showing American Toleware (a painted jug), and one promoting the "Go Green" initiative showing a cartoon man checking the air in his car tyres with the message "maintain tire pressure".

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Postcrossing: China

Pandas! So cute.  I remember when Auckland Zoo had pandas visiting, they were so popular.

On the back:
Greetings from China:
I wish you'll like the panda card and these stamps.  I like Koala and kangaroo in your country =D  Happy Postcrossing!
The stamps are beautiful paintings of Chinese architecture and are just exquisite.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Dance With Dragons

This post is going to be totally spoilerific if you haven't read A Dance With Dragons.  You have been warned!

I don't really want to do a review but I did want to mention a couple of things, and also get on record my prediction so in 10 years when the series is finally finished I can turn around and say, "Nailed it."

Firstly, the trend of introducing buckets of new POVs and giving them random stylish names instead of just using their own names has continued from A Feast for Crows, which I didn't like.  I remember when A Storm of Swords was up and coming, George R. R. Martin released teasers of who would be new POVs and it was exciting trying to figure out who was being introduced.  Now, so many people have had a POV it's becoming a little confusing.  Also, I don't understand why they can't just have their name.  I could let Theon/Reek slide for example as Theon is confused about his name himself...same with Sansa becoming Elayne in aFfC.  But Asha?  Barristan?  Quentyn?  Just use their name, for goodness' sake!

Also, while I certainly appreciate that this book's timeline extends beyond the previous one, so the story has advanced, there's still so many holes.  We only briefly see Brienne appear, give Jaime a story the we know is certainly not true, then disappear with him in tow.  We see nothing at all of Sansa or Littlefinger or the Vale in general.  We see nothing of Rickon and Osha and Shaggydog.  We get plenty of new characters, including a random woman we've never heard of before declaring she was supposed to marry Brandon Stark (Ned's brother) and that she bears a grudge against the Starks for that not coming to pass.  Quentyn Martell appears to carry out his father's decades-long plan, then promptly becomes dragon fodder.  It starts becoming difficult to keep track of everyone, especially when each House has a tradition of similar and reused names.

It''s not all bad, don't get me wrong - I still loved the book, although it took me longer to read than I thought it would.  I was dragging it out I think, because finishing it meant that I would have another long wait for the next one.  I loved Tyrion's chapters, as always.  I liked finding out more about what I presume is the Faceless Men, through Arya (although that also left many questions unanswered, and she was another victim of Random Name Changes).  Cersei got her comeuppance and seems on the brink of change for the good, although events in the Epilogue could change that.

Anyway, enough blathering, let's get to my prediction.  Dany keeps reminiscing on the words of Mirri Maz Duur and thinking that it means she will never have another child.  But this is the passage from A Game of Thrones:
"This is not life, for one who was as Drogo was.  His life was laughter, and meat roasting over a firepit, and a horse between his legs.  His life was an arakh in his hand and his bells ringing in his hair as he rode to meet an enemy.  His life was his bloodriders, and me, and the son I was to give him."
Mirri Maz Duur made no reply. 
"When will he be as he was?"  Dany demanded.
"When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east," said Mirri Maz Duur.  "When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves.  When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child.  Then he will return, and not before."
Mirri Maz Duur is talking about Drogo returning, not about Dany having another child.  Just because three of the conditions seem impossible, that doesn't mean the fourth and fifth are also impossible (note that I'm splitting "When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child" into two separate conditions).  And in her final chapter, when she is confused about her "moon blood", it seems that she might be miscarrying.  Let's break down the prophecy one condition at a time.

When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east: House Martell is represented by the sun, and in A Dance With Dragons Quentyn Martell is called "the sun's son" by Quaithe.  The Martell power is rising in the west, while Quentyn dies in the east.  This could be taken to fulfill this part of the prophecy.

When the seas go dry...: In her final chapter, Dany is walking through the Dothraki Sea and thinks to herself that the grass is drying up and dying off due to the change of seasons.  The Dothraki Sea drying out could fulfill this part of the prophecy.

...and mountains blow in the wind like leaves: This could be the hill Drogon makes his lair in, turning to ash as he burns it; or the pyramids that Rhaegal and Viserion collapsed and used for their own lairs; or another event I haven't thought of or that hasn't happened yet.

When your womb quickens again...: If Dany is in fact miscarrying in her final chapter, then her womb has quickened and this part of the prophecy has been met.

...and you bear a living child: this part of the prophecy has clearly not been met, unless you count the dragons, which seems unlikely.

So, three or four of the conditions of the prophecy have been met.  My prediction, then, is this: Dany will bear a living child, and he will be Drogo reborn.  Now I just need to print this out and stick it in one of the books so later on I can refer back to it!

Friday, August 5, 2011

OOTD: Mr Vintage Week: National Parks

According to the Mr Vintage site, the logo on this National Parks t-shirt was last used in 1987, before the Department of Conservation was created.  I like the neutral brown colour and the stylised, retro print.  The fabric is also really soft and comfortable.

T-shirt: Mr Vintage
Cardi: Jay Jays
Mini: Torrid
Tights: We Love Colors (Hunter Green)

This cardi is the lighter grey twin of the cardi from Wednesday's outfit.  I love the colour of these tights, one of my friends pointed out they are quite Christmasy and I might wear them at Christmas with my red Christmas dress.  Don't forget the We Love Colors free shipping to NZ and Oz as well, as I mentioned in Wednesday's post linked before.  I'm really liking the mini-tights-boots look right now and I think I need some more minis for variety!

Here endeth Mr Vintage week.  I do have a few other Mr Vintage t-shirts, including the first one I ever got which was a present from my sister, but I might do another event like this in future, so I need some reserves up my sleeve.

Postcrossing: Spain

Unfortunately another postcard with very little information about what the picture is of. The sender mentions on the back that is modernism art.  Gaudí is presumably Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish architect, and I'm assuming this fountain is from one of his buildings.  If you know more, let me know in the comments!

On the back:
Dear Jennifer!  Hi! How are you? Fine I hope so!  I'm Lluna a Spanish woman who lives in Barcelona city.  And here I sent you a pic of our modernism art.  Hope you like it.  Saludos desde España.
My rudimentary Spanish (the benefits of working in a heavily multilingual office!) tells me that the Spanish sign-off means "greetings from Spain".

There are two stamps: one is a stamp commemorating renewable energy and depicting the process of creating geothermal energy in a colourful diagram (yes, really).   The other is of an unnamed dude, who looks vaguely familiar but I'm not sure who he is.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

OOTD: Mr Vintage Week: O For Awesome

This O For Awesome t-shirt probably doesn't make much sense to non-Kiwis, or even a younger generation of Kiwis.  It refers to the legendary NZ boxer David Tua's appearance on Wheel of Fortune, when he asked for an "O for Awesome".  Over the years, there's been much controversy over whether he was actually asking for an A, or whether he said "Ocean" or "Olsen" or something else...But "O for Awesome" entered the Kiwi lexicon, and there it stayed.  I love the bright blue of this shirt - it's a really electric blue and this pic doesn't really do it justice.

T-shirt: Mr Vintage
Jeans: JeansWest
Sneakers: Converse at Platypus

At least I'm standing up straight in this photo.  I always stand the same way though.  I need to come up with some poses or something.  I'm not really a camera lover.

The Converse sneakers make another appearance!  They're so comfortable.  I'd never had a pair before but I wanted an alternative casual work shoe to my Dr. Martens boots, so I picked these up from the same store I got the boots from.  They fit my long, narrow feet perfectly and even though they have quite thin soles, they don't feel flimsy.  I think I need another pair!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

OOTD: Mr Vintage Week: Tea For Tui

I saw this t-shirt when it first appeared on the Mr Vintage site a few weeks ago and knew I must have it immediately.  It's called Tea For Tui and the print is a beautiful one of a Tui perched in a tree with an old-fashioned tea cup.  Tui are native NZ birds and have the most beautiful and unusual call - no two are alike and they are excellent mimics.  Their colours are beautifully iridescent and impossible to do justice in a picture, but the print does a pretty good job of showing the sheen on the wings and tail.

T-shirt: Mr Vintage
Cardi: Jay Jays
Mini: Torrid
Leggings: We Love Colors (Rubine)

Why can I never stand straight?  I realised after I had put this outfit together that I'm channeling the style of my friend Sonja, which is awesome because she is fabulous and quirky.  I think I need to get some more minis to wear over leggings.

I picked up two of these hooded cardis at Jay Jays a couple of weeks ago on special (one dark grey, one light grey) and I've barely been out of one or the other since.  They go with everything and are super soft and comfortable, and the perfect weight for the mild Gold Coast Winter.

Don't forget We Love Colors still has free shipping to NZ and Oz for orders over $30 until the end of August!  Just enter the code WELOVENZAUS at checkout.  I saw a few months ago that they had introduced leggings to their range, but looking at the size chart I didn't think they would fit me.  Then I read a post from Lesley at Two Whole Cakes (which I now can't find) where she mentioned she had got some, so I decided to give it a shot.  I'm so glad I did, because I love them - the fabric is smooth and thick and super-comfortable, the colour is as vivid as their tights, and they feel really high quality.  I'm going to order some more before the free shipping runs out!

Postcrossing: Portugal

My second card from Portugal, and very different from the first.  I love the vivid colours of the flowers and the beautiful butterfly.  Unfortunately, the card doesn't include any information such as the name of the plant or the butterfly.  If you know, please share with me in the comments!

This was also my second card in an envelope, although it didn't come with a big long letter.  The message is written on the back of the card as normal.

On the back:
Hi Jennifer! I am Maria and I am from Portugal.  I also love to read and learn new things.  Here's a quote I particularly like from Shakespeare: "Love all.  Trust a few.  Do wrong to none."  Hope you like it! Oh...And cuddle your fur babies for me!  I have 3 dogs and 5 cats - just love them!
Happy postcrossing! Adeus! (Bye!) Maria
5 cats!  Wow!  I recognised the quote but couldn't place it, so I'm ashamed to admit I had to Google it (and I call myself an English major).  It's from All's Well That Ends Well.

The stamp is of a hummingbird and flower and, if my rudimentary Portuguese is correct, seems to be commemorating the International Year of Biodiversity.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

OOTD: Mr Vintage Week: Mr Whippy

I ordered another trio of t-shirts from Mr Vintage last week and they arrived yesterday, so I decided to do a Mr Vintage-themed week of outfits!  My normal work outfit is jeans and a t-shirt so I will try to mix it up a little bit, but I thought it would also be interesting to show my regular outfits instead of just the fancy ones.

Today's t-shirt, which you've seen before, features the classic Mr Whippy ice cream truck.  We used to get Mr Whippy coming down our little cul-de-sac all the time, and we would always rush out to get an ice cream when we heard the music.  It reminds me of my childhood and the t-shirt is on high rotation in my wardrobe.

Also, new hair!  It's not quite the colour I was going for, which was more red and less orange, but I'm still happy with the result.  It ended up being very close to my Daddy's natural hair colour.

T-shirt: Mr Vintage
Jeans: JeansWest
Sneakers: Converse at Platypus

I look pretty uncomfortable in the photos.  I wasn't really feeling it today, but I'm determined to get through my mini-challenge of a t-shirt post a day!

Postcrossing: USA

I'm not sure why, but for some reason the scan cut out the line that is displayed on the top of the card, which said "I've learned that..."

I adore this card.  The quote is beautifully inspirational.  It is credited as from Live and Learn and Pass It On by H, Jackson Brown, Jr.

On the back:
"Have a heart that never hardens, a temper that never tires, a touch that never hurts."  Charles Dickens
Bonus quote!  Another inspirational one.  This was exactly what I needed today, and the thing I am loving most about Postcrossing: I can have a terrible day, then come home to a little ray of sunshine in my mailbox.

There are five stamps on the card:  the American Clock one I've received a few times now, a butterfly, a red and white star, a Tiffany lamp, and a portrait of George Washington.

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Recipe Monday: Chicken and Chickpea Pilaff

A little while ago we got iPhones, and one of the first apps I got for mine was the Nigella Quick Collection recipe app.  It contains recipes by Nigella Lawson that are quick and easy, ranging from snacks and baking to meals for a group.  I've used several recipes out of it so far and they've all been fabulous.

Chicken and Chickpea Pilaff
Serves 6-8

4tsp      garlic oil
4         spring onions, finely sliced
12 (900g) chicken thigh fillets, each cut into 4 bite-sized pieces
1tsp      ground turmeric
1tsp      dried dill
2 1/2C    basmati rice
2 cans    chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3C        hot chicken stock
chopped parsley, chives, dill or cilantro (coriander) to garnish, optional

Pour the garlic oil into a wide, heavy-bottomed pan that comes with a lid and put on the heat.

Add the spring onions and stir for a couple of minutes before adding the bite-sized pieces of chicken.

Turn the chicken in the heat, then add the turmeric and dried dill and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add the rice and stir well, so that the chicken and rice are combined, before adding the chickpeas and stock.  Give another good stir before bringing to a bubble.

Clamp on the lid, then turn down the heat and leave for 20 minutes, by which time the chicken will be cooked through and the turmeric-tinted, golden-hued rice will have absorbed all the liquid.

Season to taste and fluff up with a fork before serving.


I guess chicken thighs are much bigger in Australia, because we bought 12 and it was nearly 2kg, so we only used 6 and had to cut them into 8 pieces to make them bite-sized.  We made this in our Chasseur casserole dish.  We didn't have any herbs so left off the garnish.  This was quick and simple and delicious, and gave us a couple of days worth of leftovers to boot.