Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jen's Drunken Christmas Fruitcake

I've written about my Christmas Fruitcake before, but I get so many requests for my fruitcake each year that I thought I'd share a step-by-step recipe, with photos and a FAQ!  It's tough making the best Christmas Fruitcake in the world, but somebody has to do it...And maybe, if you follow this recipe, you too will become famous for your Christmas Fruitcake :) So, in honour of Stir-up Sunday, I give you...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Postcrossing: China

Unfortunately this card didn't scan too well because it is solid white with the gorgeous kite picture and the text in the middle.  I assume that the Chinese characters say "Kite".  The rest of the text reads:
Kites were used approximately 2,800 years ago in China, where materials ideal for kite building were readily available: silk fabric for sail material; fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line; and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework.  The kite was said to be the invention of the famous 5th century BC Chinese philosophers Mozi and Lu Ban.
On the back, she shares her contact information and writes my name in Chinese characters, and she also drew a small anime-style smiling face.  I really like the interesting facts and clean style of this card.  The stamp is just a printed postmark stamp.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 10 November

I didn't blog yesterday, and I'm not going to beat myself up for missing a day.  Instead, I'll use yesterday's topic for today's "free choice"!

"If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?"

I know it sounds terribly cliché, but I'm really not sure I'd change anything.  Sure, I'd like to be rich and be able to retire, but if Hollywood has taught me anything, it's that changing things with wishes can have disastrous side affects!  Also, while I'm certainly not 100% deterministic, and definitely not "God has a plan for everyone", I do to a point believe that everything happens for a reason.  Every day we make choices and decisions that have consequences that we may never see or understand.  Looking at where I am in my life right now, and looking back at the path that brought me here, I can see how faint that path is - how there were so many branches and other paths that I could have taken.  I'm content.  No, I'm happy.  And yes, there are things I want to do or change, but those are things I want to change myself, not just wave a magic wand and have changed for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 8 November

"If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?"

I'm the sort of person that really, really likes learning new things.  As a teenager, I decided I wanted to be a high school guidance counselor.  But my Daddy told me to aim higher than that and wanted me to be a psychiatrist.  So I took the subjects I needed to get in to med school, but unfortunately didn't do well enough.  So I fell back to my original plan and started studying Psychology and Education.  Then I didn't enjoy psych.  So I switched to English and Classics thinking I'd be a high school teacher.  Then after my degree and before I got my teaching qualification I got a full-time job and never did my teaching qualification.  Then recently I started studying Small Business Management with the idea of owning a second-hand bookstore.  Then I started studying Creative Writing with the idea of being a novelist.  Then a friend recommended I look into IT so I've been looking at that.  Then I realised it's not as expensive as I thought to return to tertiary studies in Oz so I started looking at other options, like doing my Masters...You get the idea.  I want to learn EVERYTHING.  And do EVERYTHING.

So.  If I could have any job?  It's really hard to choose!  I'm still too young to have decided what I want to do with my life...aren't I?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 7 November

Sorry for the post spam, this is the last one for today!

"Talk about the last compliment you received."

Hmm.  Probably the last compliment I received was on my outfit for our office Melbourne Cup party yesterday - I got a lot of positive comments about my dress and shoes, which was nice.  It's always nice to receive compliments when I put effort in to an outfit.

I can't really think of a standout compliment I've received recently.  I get little ones fairly regularly.  I generally try to not be one of those people who practices false modesty - if I do something good, I'm proud of it, and I'll happily take a compliment.  Something I've been working on though is my habit of justifying my compliments - if someone says "that was good work on that project", while I don't say, "oh thanks but it was really nothing", I do say, "thanks, I really tried to focus on meeting the criteria and while this aspect needs more work I think this part went really well" or whatever.

It's really hard to just say "thanks!".  I think this is partly a female thing - we're always taught to be modest and self-effacing and so on, and it's a really hard habit to get out of.

Postcrossing: Netherlands

On my profile on Postcrossing I ask for rugby cards and this person helpfully sent me this card that she thought met my request!  It's American Football, not rugby, but I still loved that she put some effort in to finding what I requested and I still like the card.  I don't know who the teams are though, they might not even be American.  She wrote me quite a long letter and enclosed the letter and postcard in an envelope so I won't quote her here.  She did say she has seven Jack Russell Terriers, including one named Phoebe, which I thought was pretty awesome!

Postcrossing: Belarus

This appears to be a custom-made card!  There is a Postcrossing message on the front, and the same icon on the back with space for the ID.  I'm not sure if she created it herself.  The picture is cute, in any case.

On the back:
Hello Jennifer! Greetings from Belarus!  Recently I read a quote and I liked it very much: "The one who is out of step, hears another drum." (It's from Ken Kesey Over the Cuckoo's Nest).  Yesterday we had the first snow.  I like snow.  Have a good day!
She drew stars around "I like snow" so I guess she really likes it!  It's been a really long time since I've read One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, maybe it's time for a re-read.  The stamp is an abstract flower design.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 6 November

"If you were President of the United States, what would be your first act in office?"

My friend (the same one who will be whinging about Obama for the next four years if he wins, as mentioned yesterday) suggested "stop broadcasting military plans" and just shutting up in general about and not telling everyone everything you want to do and when, which is probably a good plan but is more of a acting-by-not-acting deal.  So I looked up what the President can actually do, and the short answer is "not much".  The Wikipedia article on presidential power lists "numerous powers" but they are mostly things like "receiving other foreign heads of state" which is a formal way of saying "throw a party".  So that's what I'd do.  I'd throw a party in the White House.

Postcrossing: Hungary

A baking card, of women baking bread, and my first card from Hungary!

On the back:
Hello Jennifer, My name is Zsolt, I'm 34 years old boy and I live in Budapest, Hungary.  I work in a sales of car parts as an administrator.  I hope you like this card.  Nowadays village women bake their breads.  Happy Postcrossing!
He also had a personalised Postcrossing stamp with his details and a space to write the card ID, so he's clearly been doing this a lot!  The stamps are of Budapest architecture and an antique chair.

Monday, November 5, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 5 November

"What are your thoughts about tomorrow's election in the United States?"

I'm not from the United States, nor am I a political pundit, but it's impossible to avoid election talk even in Australia.  I haven't really read a lot of election coverage - most of what I've read has been in the form of memes.  I do know who the candidates and their running mates are and that it's going to be close.  I also know that US politics do have far-reaching international consequences.  But ultimately, it's not an election I have a specific vested interest in.  Unless you count my friend whinging about Obama for next four years if he wins ;)  Frankly, I'm more excited about the Melbourne Cup tomorrow (more for the party than the race itself) than I am about the election.  On that note, I'm going to leave this remarkably short blog post as it is and go figure out my outfit for tomorrow's party!

Postcrossing: Portugal

It took a bit of digging, as most of the information I could find was in Portuguese, but I finally tracked down where the quote on this card is from.  Delmar Domingos De Carvalho is a Portuguese philosopher and member of the Rosicrucian Fellowship, an international association of Christian mystics.  The highlighted quote on the left reads
Solidarity? No and yes.  Fraternity? Yes.  
The smaller quote text reads (according to Google Translate):
The time shall come, sooner than many think, when the word fraternity and brotherly dynamics will be increasingly widespread, and in time universal, with a force and activity that definitively replaces solidarity.
It's a really interesting choice of card to me, and I enjoyed doing a bit of research into the source.

On the back:
Hello greetings from a very hot autumn Sunday afternoon in Portugal.  My favorite quote is from a poem by Fernando Pessoa: "Oh sacred sea, how much of your salt are tears from Portugal?" Happy Postcrossing.
Bonus quote!  I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't heard of Fernando Pessoa, who is apparently one of the most famous Portuguese poets and philosophers.  I really liked that this card made me think and research and wasn't just something cute, and that the sender had read my bio and sent me a quote like I ask.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 4 November

Today is "free choice" so I'm going to tell you about a dream I had last night.  I dreamed that Dave and I had a water cooler, one of the types with bottles that you have to swap over, and there was a service you could arrange where a guy would come and refill your used bottles with the special water, instead of swapping them over for new ones.  So I called the guy to arrange it, only to find that he would only accept cheque payments, and that there was a $100 "cheque processing fee".  Well, I don't even have a chequebook, and the fee seemed bullshit to me, so I refused.

The night before last I dreamed that we went to Melbourne and found these amazing houses for sale for only $30 a week!  The catch was that they were still being wrangled over in court so we had to wait until that was cleared up.  Also one of the houses was on a fairly big section on the outskirts of the city next to a farm, but the house itself was really tiny because the owners had wanted to position it so they could see the cows on the farm, and you weren't allowed to build a bigger house or move that house or anything like that - you had to keep the tiny house on the huge section.

That same night I dreamed that Dave left the garage door open about a foot and both our cats escaped - they're 100% indoor cats so this was a Bad Thing.  We had to go out and find them and chase them down to catch them and bring them home and they were freaking out.

I dream a lot and they are always weird.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 3 November

As I mentioned in yesterday's OOTD post, I'm going to do the second NaBloPoMo prompt today after a bit of reshuffling.

"If you could live anywhere, where would it be?"

This is actually a tricky one, because I'm torn between three different places.

My parents live in Kawakawa Bay, east of Auckland and nestled between the Hauraki Gulf and the Hunua ranges.  At first glance, on a bad day, if the tide is out, the bay is nothing special.  The beach isn't nice and sandy and the bay is very shallow and flat, so when the tide is out it's one big mudflat.  But on a good day, when the tide is in...You drive out past Clevedon through the hills, steadily climbing, and then suddenly you come around a bend and over a crest and the bay is just there, all of a sudden below you, like a blanket of jewels.  I can't express how beautiful it is in words, it really has to be seen to be believed.  It's one of my favorite sites in the world.  We've had a beach house in Kawakawa Bay since I was a child, and we used to go out there a lot on weekends to go fishing.  It's taken a long time, but my parents have finally built their beautiful Lockwood dream house on a huge section at the end of a street a couple back from the waterfront.  I'm yet to get over there to see it but I will at some point in 2013.  The Bay is where my parents are, and so that will always be home for me.

On the other hand, I've always called Wellington my "spiritual home".  I left Auckland and moved to Wellington when I was 18 and stayed there for 6 years.  I grew from a teenager into an adult in Wellington.  I love the cafe scene, the compact CBD, the culture, and the people.  I support Wellington sports teams.  I have plenty of friends in Welly and I miss it a lot.  Wellington is so pretty and has some fantastic sights.  It's definitely my favorite city in New Zealand.

Finally, the Gold Coast is where I currently call home.  When I first moved to Australia, I fully expected it to be a permanent move.  But I quickly realised how homesick I was and how much I missed New Zealand, and I went through a phase of hating Australia and wishing to just be gone.  When we moved from Hobart to the Gold Coast, we always agreed it would be a temporary thing - just a few years, until we were financially ready to move to New Zealand.  Well, we're still not financially ready, and the Gold Coast has grown on me.  It's tacky and flashy and cultureless and touristy, sure - but it also has great weather, great friends, gorgeous beaches and hinterland, a pretty good standard of living, and easy access to the rest of Australia...or back to New Zealand, or to South East Asia.  I've now been on the Gold Coast longer than I lived in Wellington, and picked up some Gold Coast sports teams to support too.

I finally realised this year that I really am a product of two countries, not one - and while I still describe myself as a New Zealander, I'll happily claim Australian in some situations too.  When I'm talking about a national "we", Dave sometimes gets confused which "we" I'm referring to - although of course, in New Zealand vs Australian sporting competitions, it's  always New Zealand!  Both countries have their good points and bad points - no country is a perfect utopia, and I'm not going to get into the institutionalized rivalry between the two countries here.  I guess the answer to the blog prompt question is, "I can't choose!"

Friday, November 2, 2012

OOTD: Swan Lake

I'm going to cheat a little with NaBloPoMo, because weekends are "free choice" and I want to do an OOTD post today because I was wearing the cutest outfit I own!  So the second NaBloPoMo prompt will become tomorrows post.

Dress: ASOS
Clogs: Wittner
Belt: Free with a dress from Best & Less

I bought this dress last week after some enabling from @mimbles and @shonias on Twitter.  The print is tiny swans and it has a crossover front like a ballet dress and I love it.  The fabric isn't too hot and doesn't crush, and it was comfortable to wear all day.  The only issue is that today was extremely windy on the Gold Coast and the skirt is quite full, so I had to hold on to it pretty tight when I was outside.  The shoes are my favorite Wittner clogs which I really should wear more often, and the belt came with a different dress but coordinated great with this one.

You can't really see the gorgeous print or the bright color of the shoes, so here's a different angle:

The reactions I get when I wear a dress and heels, even a fairly casual outfit like this one, are always amusing.  Because I'm so much a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, people always assume I have some reason for dressing up.  Usually I don't though - I just want to wear a cute outfit!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaBloPoMo: 1 November

Inspired by Miss RBit at Legally Alien, I have decided to do NaBloPoMo (aka National Blog Posting Month) this month.  Every year as November approaches I think to myself, "I'm going to do NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) this year!" - but I never do.  So I figure if I can do NaBloPoMo, at least I'm writing something, right?

I'll be (loosely) following the prompts from BlogHer.  So, let's get this started, shall we?

"Tell us your favorite quotation and why."

I've always been a bit of a quote freak.  I have dozens of notebooks filled with quotations, several quotation books, and whole libraries of movie and book quotes in the shadowy recesses of my brain.  So it's a bit hard to choose a favorite.  At first I thought of
For in dreams we enter a world that's entirely our own.
which is of course a Harry Potter quote.  Then I thought of
Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die.
which is of course a Princess Bride quote.  Then I thought of
Our galaxy has billions of stars.  Each of those stars could have many worlds.  Every world could be home to a different form of life.  And every life is a special story of its own.
which is of course from the Mass Effect 3 epilogue (and spoken by Buzz Aldrin, which makes it even more awesome).  Then my brain kept helpfully coughing up dozens and dozens of quotes from all over the place...You get the idea.

Finally, I settled on the quote I want to get as part of a grand plan for a full back tattoo piece, which is:
Nature laughs last.
This is my favorite quote because it speaks to me on a lot of different levels:

  • Ultimately, us humans are really very small
  • Don't get caught up in every day minutiae, just enjoy what we do have, because eventually it will be gone
  • No matter how much we think we have conquered the world, nature has far more power than we do
This quote is featured in the second X-Men movie, X2, on the wall outside Nightcrawler's church, where it's also particularly appropriate given that nature has given humans super powers with which they are attempting to destroy each other.

For such a short quote, it sure packs a punch.