Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's A Pillow!

Now that Browneyedgirl has opened her present, I can show you the pictures of the completed project.

Alaskagirl told me on the phone this evening that when Browneyedgirl unwrapped it, she exclaimed, "It's a pillow!" And promptly laid down on the floor with it under her head.

I was hoping to make a pair of pyjamas for myself out of the material we used on the rear of the pillow but there was only three yards total remaining on the roll. I grabbed it all in case I could make a tank top or something for me out of it in future. (Mine all mine!)

When I got the remainder of her present (bought months ago) together to wrap it all up, I laughed my arse off when I saw I'd managed to colour coordinate everything. LOL

Her big sister, DuoLoq*, liked the pillow too, but was more eager to get her hot lil hands on her sister's bubbles. Especially since HER birthday bubbles were all gone. I might just have to look and see if I can find some more of the same kind as part of their Christmas presents. I bet we'd have fun seeing if the bubbles froze before they popped. And if not, pretty splotches on the snow!

Yeah, I'm a big kid at heart, but you already knew that!

*She talks A LOT, in two different languages = Duo Loquacious or DuoLoq because it's easier to type.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Inside our refrigerator we have so much fresh produce that we have to excavate half the fridge to find the desired ingredients whenever we want to make a meal. Situation normal there, especially after we've been grocery shopping.

However, I didn't realise just how much Alaskaboy and I are known for being...well, I guess gourmand IS the correct word. We're not usually gluttonous, but we do LOVE good food and are prepared to pay a little more for what we like. Case in point, the other day at the supermarket I had successfully wrestled open the painfully thin plastic bag and was making a beeline for the oranges. To be precise, the Riverside brand Australian navel oranges. I passed two well-dressed ladies (this supermarket was in a richer area) who were standing maybe three feet away from the orange display and I overheard one say to the other, "I'm not paying $2.99c per pound!" She made a disgusted sound and her friend murmured some sort of agreeing noise. Then they faded from my attention as I focused on the price of the oranges, realising with a frission of delight they'd been talking about what I was fixated on. "You little bewdy! More for me!"

To me, there are certain kinds of frugality that don't make any sense. If I'm gonna buy something I WANT and LIKE to eat, then less of the stuff is gonna rot due to wallowing neglected in the fridge. Plus, I'll simply buy a few less than I would of the cheaper but yucky tasting oranges. In some ways, I guess to me it feels like the diet mentality or the punish yourself mentality. Don't deserve extra tasty but slightly more expensive oranges, so I'll go without oranges until they're at a price I'm allowed to pay. And when the difference is all of 70c per pound more? C'mon! Well, okay if oranges are on special they can be as cheap as $1.50 per pound, but those are usually dried up old sour oranges, not even fit for juicing.

Several more aisles into the same shopping trip, we stopped in the tinned soup aisle. After the mere mouthful I got, which was half of the appetizer-sized bowl of french onion soup that Alaskaboy and I shared the other night, I was in the mood to make some this week. Only, shock horror, beef consommé has gelatin added to it. Man, I'm gonna have to make my own consommé. Since it's too hot to be farting about boiling stock for hours, I went with my second soup hankering. And stopped by the dairy aisle to get the ingredient for its accompaniment.

Later that evening, I called Dr Kay to natter. When I told her what we'd had for dinner, canned cream of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich made with plastic cheese, she said, "WHAT! Are you ill or something?" LOL Pretty funny considering Alaskaboy and I also realised we hadn't had such an easy dinner in a long time. Even if most nights soup is on the menu we've dug it out of the freezer and heated it up to eat, soups we eat at home are usually home made.

But....see! I may prefer to do fresh, but I can do easy too!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Making it Sew Complicated!

Our youngest niece, let's call her Browneyedgirl, has a birthday this month as well. As part of her present I'm doing a cross stitch piece that I hope she'll like. (The other part I know she'll like and it ties in with the theme in the picture.) Now, considering how young she is, I realised that a cross stitch in a photo frame would be pretty boring for her. So I decided to liven it up a little.

She has a plush toy named Buddy that she adores. I'm not aiming to replace him, but am hoping this is something she'll like to cuddle, look at, throw around, or perhaps even Buddy might use it for himself. A pillow. Only problem is, I'm not much of sewing-type person and had no idea how to attach a cross stitch to a pillow. I figured maybe I could sew it on with a nice border to help frame it. But, I really couldn't find a pillowcase that looked as good as the picture I had in my mind.

Once I found this webpage, I thought all my problems were solved. I went to the fabric store and had great fun picking out materials for the pillow, but then realised my sister-in-law, Alaskagirl, would probably want to wash the pillow at some point. So, I changed the plan to making a pillow case to go over a small pillow, instead of a stuffed cushion like the pattern wanted me to do. Luckily they had smallish 12"x16" pillows for sale at the shop. :) Score!

Also having NO idea how much material to buy, I ended up with far too much. Oh well, plenty for future products, in three different materials no less since I bought another pretty print to make a test pillowcase. Fortuitously, near the register were a bunch of felt rectangles, so I grabbed one in the only colour that would look good with the material to act as a substitute for the cross stitch part of the equation.

All set. Easy peasy. Right? Wrong! When I typed in the numbers in the pattern maker to allow the pillowcase to be long enough to fit the pillow, it was now two inches too wide. Bugger. So, we were going to have to reverse engineer the pattern. Now, here's where it gets complicated. Not only were we changing it from a tuck cushion pattern to a pillow case pattern, but also making it an Australian-style pillow case.

Australian pillowcases differ from the American ones I've seen in one very basic way. American pillowcases are like a three sided sheath that's a little longer than the pillow, and the excess length you tuck under the pillow when placing it on the mattress. I'm forever chasing my pillow out of the case. I'm used to Aussie pillowcases which have a flap on the inside of the pillowcase to hold the pillow in. Kinda like an envelope when you tuck the back flap inside the envelope to hold the piece of paper inside. (but this flap is stitched so that it remains inside the pillow.)

E.G. This is the flap on the one we made.
I also figured this was a safer way than buttons or press studs or other types of fasteners to keep the pillow in the case.

Finally after much deliberation, swearing, measuring, miscommunication, arguing and generally having a good time working on a project together, Alaskaboy and I had a pattern all worked out. We shared the cutting out and the fusing of the webbing binding stuff. Again, a whole lot of swearing went on because the only iron we have is this and the actual ironing surface isn't even as long as my hand. Took forever! But finally we got it done.

Alaskaboy is a much more patient and steady handed person than I, aka anal retentive and great with fiddly little shit that I do NOT have the patience for plus near enough is good enough for me, so he got the job of sewing it all together. Besides he'd already done a few little test runs on the machine and knew it's quirks. (Aren't I lucky, he cleans AND he sews!)

And this is our finished product.

I couldn't help grinning like an idiot when it was finished and kept remarking in a gleeful kind of voice. OMG, it's so pretty. And we made this. And Oh wow it's so cool! I couldn't figure out why I was so excited over a dumb pillow. (Especially when we forgot to hem one of the side pieces despite allowing enough material TO hem it. Oh well, we'll know for the actual pillow. Hooray for a test run!) Then Alaskaboy said, "It's because you created something!"

"But you sewed it!"

"So? We both still created something."

"Oh, wait, yeah I did create something. I had the original idea, picked the materials, helped adapt the pattern and helped in the assembly."


It may be just a stupid pillow, but it's my stupid pillow. I'm betting that stupid grin and glowing feeling I had is even better when it's my own stupid book I hold in my hands one day. For now, I'm enjoying this creation buzz. And looking forward to actually cutting out and doing all the fusing stuff for Browneyedgirl's pillow tomorrow. I'm really worried now whether the two contrasting materials I got will work together. {fingers crossed}

Hopefully, Alaskaboy will have time to sew it over the next few nights and we can send it off to arrive time for her birthday. :)


Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Celebration of Me.

Don't really have anything celebratory planned for today, other than making myself a steak dinner. Perhaps I'll even defrost some of the cake in the freezer, if I feel like it.

I remember when living at home a birthday was always a special thing. Cake, presents, loved ones gathered to sorta celebrate your day, but mostly to hang out and share their affection with you. Perhaps even a gathering on a different night out with friends for dinner as well. On a good year it was a birthday week! Several nights all celebrating you.

Birthdays are another day I feel kinda lonely. All the ones I want to celebrate it with are elsewhere. I miss the people and the conversations and hugs, and I miss the glee of fondling wrapped presents that are just for me on my special day. I love everything about presents. Taking the time to select just the right one for each person, wrapping it in paper and ribbons they'll hopefully like, and then watching them open them. Or at least knowing they'll open them full of excitement at the promise of what's nestled inside.

Alaskaboy truly believes that one of my Talents is presents. Whether buying or making something, I'm usually pretty good at getting what a person will at least like, if not love. And I think that's part of the reason why I love getting wrapped presents in return. The promise of something chosen with forethought for me by those I love. And of course wrapped goodies allow for fondling! The sheer joy of the pretty paper is even surpassed by the ecstasy that is fondling my gift and trying to figure out what's inside. (How about you, are you a fondler?)

This year, as usual, the present from my parents will be late. I received a card from my in-laws, with a cheque inside. And the cheque, like a gift card, is always fabulous to receive because then it can translate into books which I'll have a blast picking out and reading. I fully appreciate the love and respect that comes with the giftcard and/or cheque because it's acknowledging they know me well enough to get me something I'll love. But sometimes? I still miss an actual wrapped gift and all its attendant pretties/thrills.

One gift I'm getting this year is Dr Kay's presence here for a convention in a couple of weeks. So that drags the birthdayness out for over two weeks. Woohoo! I guess what brought this post up is at the writing group I belong to is the girls there wished me happy birthday in cute ways, and I realised that's the sucky thing about working from home alone. There's not even an office party.(Not that I could eat the cake anymore anyway, but still.) No drinks after work. No face to face socialising. My usual gripe. And another way in which I guess being grownup wasn't what I expected it to be.

And so today I'm going to spend my birthday doing something that's a little unexpected for me. I'm going to spend the day like a lot of Chinese people do. Not as a day of celebration, but as a day of reflection and introspection. A quiet day doing what I want to do in my own home, enjoying my own company. And appreciating all the wonderfulness I do have in my life. Presents and pretty paper are lovely, but I have some pretty special gifts that money cannot always buy. My health, my friends and family, a happy home, easily accessible food and clean water, and my life. And I'm thankful every day for them.

How about you all. Are birthdays a special day or a day you'd rather forget? What does the anniversary of the day of your birth mean to you?


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

San Diego and Food: Part 1.

I didn't sleep well last night, as per usual when I'm travelling the next day. Consequently, I was slow getting going despite getting up an hour earlier than planned. The day was also Very Hot and Very Dry, my second most loathed weather condition behind hot'n'humid. Dishes had to be rewashed, laundry had to be done, lots of maps and directions to be printed...just one more friggen thing after another had to be completed.

And everything seemed to take twice as long to do as I'd expected. e.g. My laptop hadn't been turned on in over twelve months. What should have been a simple upgrade of my wordprocessing software became a nightmare of updates all trying to happen at once. Virus scans, Windows, hell, nearly every single bloody program wanted to stick their finger in the update pie. It was a mess! 2 hours it took me to get it all sorted, and that was hovering at the machine, endlessly clicking closed update windows as they tried to happen and restarting my laptop whenever it got overloaded.

Halfway through the morning Dr Kay called for a natter, which was fine, it allowed dishes to soak, laundry to dry and me to decompress a little. By midafternoon--the time I wanted to be arriving!--I'd got everything in the car. I didn't want to have takeaway food for lunch, 4th time for burger in ten days yeesh, but there really was nothing left to do except get something to eat on the way. In'n'out seemed the fastest, easiest and safest option. Especially since there's a petrol station right nearby.

I didn't take the time to take a food photo but here's a nice example of what I had. The burger on the left is an animal style cheeseburger. As well as the root beer that came with my meal, I got a strawberry shake because I realised it was a long time since I'd had breakfast, and a fair while before dinner as well. The caffeine in the root beer helped keep me awake on the trip, but I only finished about a third of the shake. (yes I drank water too. I can't get by without my water!)

Arrived in San Diego and got my bearings. Checked in at the hotel, peed for what seemed like an hour, unpacked my work stuff and realised I'd forgotten both my antihistamines and any drawing paper. So, after sneezing my head off and reattaching it then turning the A/C on, I headed out to ask where the nearest drugstore was located. Conveniently, there was one at the hotel. Inconveniently, they didn't have the kind I could use. At least they did have directions on how to get to somewhere that would sell them.

The sun had gone down by now, but there was still no relief from the heat or the dryness. To make things even more fun, night driving in an unfamiliar area. Ohboy, ohboy! I reined in my temper, my sarcasm, and my negativity and tried to look at it as a kind of research. Travelling business types need to do this all the time. Grown ups of all persuasions too.

Supplies procured, I had to go BACK to the hotel to get the directions to the grocery store as it was nearing time for Alaskaboy to finish and I was making dinner tonight. I soon came to feel almost like I was coming home within a very short period after all the to-ing and fro-ing I did outta that hotel.

Again with taking longer than expected. Whole Foods was laid out unlike ANY other Whole Foods I've EVER been in. So illogically that I did more than ten laps of the shop before finding everything I needed.

And my list was NOT a long one:
mini wholewheat bagels, trail mix, cereal, can tuna in ginger oil, spring water, can salmon, 4 bananas, 6 lebanese cucumbers, lettuce mix, 3 limes, 2 lemons, 4 tomatoes, 4 nectarines, edamame, uht milk, corn thins, large waters.

Back at the hotel, I gave up on the idea of getting any work done that evening and took a shower to cool off and just relaaaaaax. And I needed it, I'm not so unorganised usually, it was just one of those days.

Feeling much better, I played around with the ingredients for dinner and came up with this shot:

When Alaskaboy got home I helped him unload the car and chatted to him while he showered. Well, okay, ranted and THEN chatted. ;) My mood improved considerably further, we made the asian-flavours-inspired dinner together. Both of us were pleasantly surprised at how well the ginger oil from the tuna plus a squeeze of lime juice worked as the dressing. (Liked it so much that on a subsequent trip to WF we bought 4 tins of the tuna to take back home. LOL)

I ate:
1/4 pack lettuce: 92c
1/2 tomato: 45c
1 cucumber: 36c
1/2 can tuna slices in ginger oil: $1
1/2 nectarine: 47c
1 mini bagel: 29c
1/2 lime: 24c
1 vanilla milk: 99c
1/2 packet edamame: $1.55c

Total: $6.27c Even with the in'n'out meal, well below my per diem of $25. (Alaskaboy actually got 32.50, but they assume they're eating at a restaurant.)

Tired from my frustrating day but now relaxed after a lovely meal and nice evening conversing with Alaskaboy, I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Still Sick.

I can see why dieters get excited about juice fasts or liquid diets. Woke up today and weighed myself and there was 10lbs of water weight gone since Wednesday morning. Sheesh! No wonder I'm starting to look flaccid, instead of nicely plump in all the right spots.

I probably would have been an order of magnitude better today, except I got a little carried away with my reintroduction of solids yesterday. (Yeah, Mum, I now get WHY you made me wait a little longer all those times even though I was STARVING for more food.) All good, bland and easily digestible foods, I merely ate too much and so relapsed last night in a fashion reminiscent of Linda Blair in The Exorcist.

Famous last words, "Oh, man, my stomach HURTS!"

Today I stuck with even blander things, (plain toast no vegemite, broth and none of the chunky bits from the chicken soup I made yesterday). I even thought to cook the rice into a congee so it was easier on my stomach. Also had success this evening making some jelly/jello out of orange crush cordial plus agar agar. Hooray! Jelly's back on the menu! Was so nice to have a different mouthfeel than rice, toast, herbal tea, broth or bananas.

Here's hoping that excretory output almost completely halting is a happy sign and that I've done a good job today, no Lindaesque performances once I go to bed tonight!

Oh and I'm PISSED that when I switched from unflavoured pedialyte to grape flavoured, I'd already opened and taken a sip before thinking to read to the bottom of the ingredients list. Sucralose! Whyinhell put artificial sweeteners in something infants are supposed to drink, especially when there's already dextrose and sucrose in it? WTF! It's like giving Splenda water to hummingbirds.
And for me, just goes to show I really must learn to read to the bottom of the list, even if I assume there couldn't possibly be artificial sweeteners in it. {shudders} I hate to think of the headache/effects I'd have from drinking a liter of that in my already depleted state.


Friday, October 10, 2008


We're home a day earlier than expected. Ironically because I got food poisoning yesterday from the ONLY meal I ate at the hotel's restaurant.

Too tired and blah to write more. Off to bed now.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Travel and Food.

Tomorrow we're off on a location shoot to San Diego. Since I need to research for a story of mine that's set in and around San Diego and Coronado I'm treating this like a business trip instead of my more usual attitude, “Let's swan around on the pool deck, and view the sights while he's working!” But, I realised today that it also means I need to rethink my food for the trip. Especially since this trip is also longer than I've done before: 5 days instead of 2 or 3.

Usually I take a rice cooker, esky/cooler, picnic set and food along with me, so that I can make meals. This time I'm trying something different. Alaskaboy gets a daily allowance for food as do most business people when they travel for work purposes.. I'm going to try and stick to a food budget for myself as well. I'm treating it as though I've had to get on a plane and fly to a distant destination. All I'll have on hand are the shops around plus whatever is available in the hotel room. (which seems to be a coffee pot and an ice bucket.)

Is it possible for me to travel and work plus keep up a healthy diet on a budget? I hope so! I've researched what grocery stores are available in the area. Which does include a Whole Foods and a Ralphs, two stores we generally frequent. I'm really happy about the Whole Foods because they usually have a hot buffet so if I feel the need for a hot evening meal, I can get something from them which is a more reasonable serving size than what I'd get at a restaurant.

Speaking of reasonable serving sizes. I've discovered these recently: Individual serving size UHT milk. They come in plain, strawberry, and vanilla as well as the chocolate. I have tried each kind over a few shopping trips lately when I've fancied a flavoured milk while out and about. I've enjoyed being able to finish my milk drink instead of having a bottle that's more like 2-3 servings. (Which, of course them I'd either drink or throw out.) I've also REALLY liked that it's naturally flavoured and naturally sweetened milk. Can't stand HFCS sweetened and artificially flavoured milk drinks.

Most importantly for this trip, Whole Foods sell the milks and they're gonna work brilliantly for breakfast. They're small enough to fit in the icebucket over night to chill for my cereal. Woohoo! Breakfast was the one meal I was kinda stuck on what to eat. Alaskaboy is lucky; he gets breakfast and lunch provided. I'm gonna have to think about each meal as I want it.

{grin} Since I have to make extra meals I'm thinking of taking along one set of everything from the picnic set, as well as the teensy sharp knife and chopping board. If I was travelling I could fit them in the suitcase....but do you think that's cheating and should I only go with what I can buy on site?

Any of you travellin' types got any hints/tips for how to do this? I really want to avoid eating at a restaurant if I can.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

New writing blog post is up.

Over there, if you're interested.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Family, Part 1.

I've gained a lot of understanding about myself this year but I've also gained a lot of weight. During the first several months it was comfort eating while using self help books to work through a lot of my issues. The next couple of months after that it was avoidance/denial eating.

For so long I denied how jealous I was of my cousin...oh, let's call him, Joat. (JOAT: because he's a jack of all trades.) I avoided mentioning anywhere but deep in the secret parts of my psyche how hurt I was that my family were heaping praise on him for going to therapy. He went for anger management and for alcohol abuse. And now, all of a sudden instead of the long held concerns they'd about him, he was wonderful and doing great.

Joat this, and Joat that, and Joat and family are sorting through their combined issues too! Hard to take, when in some ways he'd been a bigger screw up than me and I was STILL feeling like I was going around in circles. He's always been like an older brother to me, and I felt like HE was leaving me behind. And that led to wounded pride on my behalf. I also felt like all of a sudden HE was the favoured child of my parents (despite being a nephew), always popping in to see them, when I couldn't. (Which also tied in with a much earlier issue where I'd felt, at the time, like they'd chosen him over me.)

Added to this mess was me also denying how I really felt about our Christmas holiday to Australia last year. Seeing nearly everyone that I consider as my immediate family there for Christmas dinner; Alaskaboy; my parents; my brother; Joat, his wife and kids; Joat's Mum(my mum's sister); my parents-in-law; my brother- and sister-in-law and my nieces; and of course Scruffy, brought it home HARD how much it hurt having my family so far flung. The hurt only increased when my USA best friend showed up for her two week stay and my all time favourite Aunty cut short her Outback trip to stop by “on her way home”. (yeah, Melbourne's really on the way from Alice Springs to Newcastle!). And once again when my best AUS friend and my best USA friend got to meet each other when we all went out for dinner one night. (Gah! I hate the term best friend. It sounds so primary schoolish, but I don't know how else to easily, simply and quickly describe those two women I love like sisters.)

I really couldn't reconcile how much love I have in my life with how much hurt that love was causing me. I couldn't believe how much my parents home had changed in the three years since I'd been back. How it was all of a sudden THEIR home and not mine anymore. How much the whole town, and all of the people dearest to me, had changed. With how doddery both Nan and Scruffy were. I couldn't cope with the consequences of moving so far away finally come home to roost. I had great difficulty fitting my newly changed outlook in with old behaviour patterns. So I ate.

And I ate. And I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what. Or more importantly didn't want to admit what was wrong. I knew it was something big. Something hugely scary that I couldn't deal with on my own. In so many ways, for me, coming to terms with relationship breakups, friendships ending, sexual abuse, and all those other issues from my past were easier for me to deal with than the ones I was now ignoring. I ignored and denied everything until eventually I was a few pounds HEAVIER than my initial start weight two years ago.

So much of my weight gain I blamed on my body still recovering from the effects of the antibiotic poisoning, but when I took a realistic look back at what I'd been eating and the exercise I was slowly adding back into my life, I could no longer blame that entirely. I was back to the same level of comfort eating I'd been doing right before I started on this intuitive eating journey. And me and my body said, “Enough!”

Whatever big, bad and scary was going on, we needed to fix it. When I broached the issues I thought I was dealing with in my intuitive eating group, they unanimously agreed it was something I needed to talk with a therapist about. Taking down the number of one of their therapists, I summoned up my courage and went.

Expecting to deal with perhaps lingering stuff from the issues I'd already confronted during the past two years, I never expected to hear the therapist use the word enmeshment. I've talked a little bit about my therapy on here and how I've coped with the enmeshment, but what I didn't deal with for the longest time was how I felt about going to therapy and talking about my family.

To be blunt, I felt like I was betraying my family and that I was telling myself and the therapist that I had a bad family. While I know I have a good family, there we came up against my perfectionist thinking again. My family wasn't just good, it was perfect! All my friends told me so! I had the best and coolest parents in the world. And by talking about them and how we have interacted with each other in the past and the present, I was ripping away my girlish ideas of perfectionism.

Not only that I was coming up against emotion, thoughts and memories I either suppressed because nice girls don't get angry, or I felt I was the dutiful daughter, or because I wasn't able to cope with what I was feeling at the time. The other big reason behind the suppression is there were instances where MY thoughts at a very young age had led to behaviours that I was blaming on a lot of other people. Not perfect and WRONG on several accounts? Holy shit.

Nothing brought that home harder than the conversation I had on the phone with Joat earlier this week. We actually had a conversation about emotions, our childhoods, our differing therapy treatments and the reasons behind why we went into therapy in the first place. It was a real eye opener. I could hear the man he'd become instead of the angry boy-man I remembered. It was astounding to hear his side of the story. His explanation, that all he could feel and express were anger and negative emotions because, as a boy, that's all he was taught to feel, made complete sense to me. It was like we were the flip side of the same coin and society and family had made us that way.

He chose alcohol to cope with all the feelings and words he didn't know how to express, I chose food, but it was the same problem at its heart. Our family had broken us. But, it had also made us strong enough to seek out help when we truly needed it. I'd made the mistake of seeking help FROM my family. Again the God-like perfectionism of my parents meant they should have been able to help me through all the things I was trying to sort through. But no. An uninvolved third party trained to help me through my crisis was what I needed. She helped me deal with my past issues without compromising my current good relationship with my family.

In fact, our relationships are better than ever. Mainly because I'm now interacting with them as an adult instead of a child. But more about that later.


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

For Those That Were Interested.

My writing blog can be found over here. Am hoping to post over there more regularly since therapy is over and now that I've caught up on my coursework.

Thanks, Raina for the lovely blog design.