jess knows best

Friday, April 30, 2010

Frogs, Frogs, Frogs

We're having my dear friends Katie and Shane over for dinner tonight and I've spent my lunch break searching the internet to find a recipe that tastes delicious (Martha-Stewart-style-delicious), does not require a trip to the grocery store, and uses up the pumpkin we have in the fridge.  Is that so hard to ask?

Yes, apparently it is.

I think most of my problem is I get sidetracked way too easy.  My mind sets out a clear mission-- pumpkin, preferably vegetarian, possibly pasta based... but my fingers?  My fingers blatantly ignored Central Command Unit and typed in 'World's Best Brownie'. 

Which, by the way, I found

After a brief detour into the wonderful world of desserts, we were back on track.  Sort of.  Except that this blog link kept flashing on the corner of  A link to an article about a lady's experiences cooking frog legs.

Though  frog legs fail meet any of the aforementioned requirements for an acceptable Friday Night Dinner (though I suppose a trip to the pond is less arduous than a trip to the grocery store), I was intrigued. 

And I must say, after careful consideration, I don't think I'm a frog-legs-for-dinner kinda girl.

They just look a bit too...


Does that not look like someone's lower regions, skinned and egged, waiting to be breaded?


There's a reason this is called the 'Frog Leg' pose. 

Because we look like frogs.  Or frogs look like us.  Whatever.  (By the way, don't look too closely at this picture.  I'm not entirely convinced this person shouldn't have been wearing black yoga pants).

So, with Central Command Centre spitting out its warnings and expostulations, my fingers got the best of me once again.

And here's what I learned about frogs:

1.  Skin secretions of some frogs have powerful medicinal and antibiotic properties. Far from causing warts, researchers postulate that such secretions may help repair internal organs post-surgery, mend cuts and bruises, and act as a painkiller 200 times stronger than morphine.  Bonus?  Its non-addictive.  After all, who wants to get addicted to frog juice?

2.  Back in the 1940s, frogs were discovered to be a great pregnancy test.  Scientists discovered that frogs injected with hCG , the human hormone that indicates the existence of a placenta (and thus, a baby), lay eggs within 24 hours.  This led to the development of the wee-on-a-stick pregnancy test that women know and love today.  The Egyptians were clued in way earlier, though.  The Egyptian pregnancy goddess, Hequet, was a frog (or had a frog head, anyway). 

3. Where frog croaks once filled the air, now there is silence.  Apparently the amphibia class (of which frogs are a proud member) is the most rapidly dwindling animal population on the planet.  Much of this is due to a fungus that spread when African Clawed Frogs were shipped around the world to use in pregnancy testing research.  African Clawed Frogs are immune to the fungus.  Other frogs are not.  Fungus aside, Southern-fried Frog Legs probably don't contribute much to the solution, either.

So anyway, there's my trivia for the day. 

And no, I still don't know what's for dinner


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beauty is fleeting

I always knew I should have been a model.

A friend of mine clued me into this face transformer website where you can upload a picture and see what you're going to look like when you're older.

And folks... here I am:

A slightly different picture gave me this result:

Apparently I'm going to be one of those grumpy old ladies from Colarado who has spent too much time in the sun.  As if. 

Rory fared somewhat better.  Here's what we have to look forward to from him:

Does anyone else see a middle aged devorcee with an ex-husband who has a brand new trophy wife somewhere in my future??

Rory, quoting a famous Australian poem, once told me that he'd love me "as long as my eyes were green".  Apparently I should have gotten that in writing...

Here's the website, if anybody else is curious what their future holds.  But be warned... you may not like the results!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Airports annoy me.

I feel like we've reached a new point in world airline crappiness and inefficiency.  One that still has me a tiny bit outraraged.  No, its not the caardboadr, tasteless airline food.  Nor is it the fact that you can't take liquids through security (although I still think this is an utterly stupid rule that always seems to deprive me of half a bottle of of my elixer of life-- diet coke-- for at least 15 minutes and never fails to make me grumpy.  Like terrorists haven't thought to bring their explosives in powder form and mix them with the little glasses of water the underpaid stewardesses  so generously offer (note to would be terrorists: I'm kidding.  It won't work, so don't try it.  At least not on my flight.  Why are you reading my blog anyway??)).

No.  The inane new 'policy' I'm talking about here is the fact that you can't change the name on your ticket once its booked without buying a new one.

My dear, lovely, utterly fabulous parents and grandmother, Honey, have generously used their frequent flier** points to secure me a ticket to fly to Texas in November to spend Thanksgiving with my family.  Unfortunately, Honey booked the ticket under the name 'Jessica Markham'.  Nine times out of ten, she'd be right.  Work thinks I'm 'Jessica Markham', my drivers license and home loan are in the same name, and I introduce myself as a Markham to everyone these days.  But according to the US government, at least where passports are concerned, I'm still 'Jessica Rigby'. 

I called United airlines tonight to see if this was going to be a problem.  I've got official, government issued identification indicating that I'm both a Markham and a Rigby***, and have a fairly official marriage certificate indicating the name change, but evidently this is not enough.  No.  Because this is an international, long haul flight, I have to have a passport indicating that I'm 'Jessica Markham'.   Here's how the conversation went:

Me (in cheery, I'm-a-happy-customer-who-just-wants-a-break tones): "Hi, my grandmother just booked me a flight using my married name but my passport is still in my maiden name.  My passport still is in my maiden name, but I've got ids and a marriage certificate in both my maiden and married names.  If I bring them, its not going to be a problem, is it?"

Airline rep (who only very recently learned to speak English and is clearly fielding my call from a center from somewhere United doesn't fly):  "Your passport will need to be in the same name as your ticket to check in"

Me (slightly annoyed):  But my passport isn't in the same name.  Can I change the name on the ticket? 

Airline rep:  Let me get my manager (this exchange is somewhat abbreviated.  Go with it.)

In case you're wondering, 'let me get my manager' is airline rep speak for either 'My command of English isn't good enough to deal with anything other than requesting vegetarian meals or a seat change' or 'I can tell you're an unhappy, pushy bitch and I'm not trained to deal with you'.  In this case, obviously, it was the later.

Airline rep (after an obnoxiously long hold):  We cannot change the name on your ticket, but I can cancel the ticket and re-issue it for a fee.

Me (seriously annoyed):  'But I'm the same person.  Jessica Markham is the same as Jessica Rigby.  I'm actually Jessica Rigby Markham.  How much is the change fee?

Airline rep:  'The change fee for a reward flight is $150.  You said your grandmother booked the ticket?  She will need to call and make the change.'

Me:  'That's outrageous.  The flights were only just booked today.  You're telling me it will cost $150 to change the name on a ticket that was booked less than 12 hours ago?!'

Airline rep:  'United policy states blah blah blah blah blah blah'.

She didn't get much further as I hung up. 

I just googled to see what the process would be to change my passport to reflect my married name. 

Turns out, its easier and cheaper to get issued a US passport in Australia that changes a name I've been known and loved by for 24 years than get a name changed on an airline ticket that was issued less than 12 hours ago. 

My passport was my last bastion that exists to my maiden name.  To be honest, I haven't wanted to change it.  Not that I don't like being a Markham, I do, but I like being a Rigby too, and I quite liked that I could still officially be a Rigby.  I'm not normally an overly sentimental or pedantic kind of person, but changing my name officially for the last and final time sort of gets to me in a fundamental, quasi-feminist, who-I-am sort of way.

I'm still going to get the change made, mostly because the thought of having to pay a hundred and fifty bucks overrides my sentimentality, but still... I'm annoyed.  I think I will change it to 'Jessica Leigh Rigby Markham' instead of 'Jessica Leigh Markham' just to feel vindicated.  But it still burns. 

On another airline related note, I flew to Sydney today for a work conference.  I'm one of those people that, no matter how diligently I pack or how innocent I look, I still get picked for those annoying additional security checks.  I'm the person that always forgot about the nailclippers stashed in the bottom of their purse or the little packets of jam swiped from the airport cafe.  Sure enough, what do you know, I was stopped for an additional security check.  People with turbans, bloodshot eyes and hidden swiss army knives swarm past, but me?  I get stopped.  I'm pretty sure its a ploy.  Like 'look at us, we're not racial profiling.  We stopped the pale, curly blonde girl with the pink cardigan.  Don't accuse us of racial profiling'.  So, a note to all the other pale, curly blondes out there... don't go into drug smuggling.  You'll totally get caught. 

** My spellcheck thinks this word is 'flier'.  I think its spelled 'flyer'.  I've gone with spellcheck here, but note that, in the event that you disagree with my spelling, I disagree too.  Not a reflection on my grammatical skills and abilities, which are fabulous.  

 ***  Interesting factoid:  'Markham' is acceptable to my spellcheck, but 'Rigby' is not.  They want my maiden name to be 'Rugby', 'Ruby', or 'Rig by'.  As if. 


Monday, April 19, 2010

Things you never knew you wanted to know

Sorry for the lack of posts lately.  I've been busy helping develop a website at work, and its not so much fun to come home and blog when you've been doing very similar things at work all day long.  I'll get better, I promise.

If you're a Facebook connoisseur, and you know who you are, you've likely seen the viral postings going around inviting (demanding, insisting) that people post 25 (or 40, or 65, or 112) random facts about themselves.  Depending on who's sending the viral postings, they may or may not predict terrible fates that await you should you not post. 

So far, I've not posted, and as far as I can tell my hair hasn't fallen out, my love life isn't ruined and I haven't been struck down by the didn't-pass-on-a-chainmail god.  But far from thinking this a stupid, childish practice, I actually think its a great way to get to know some of your friends and friendly acquaintances. 

So, without further ado, here are 10 things you never knew you wanted to know about yours truly (not 112.  I make my own rules):

1.  Rory sometimes complains that his Uncle Toby's Plus cereal, which is supposed to contain freeze dried pineapple, mango and apple bits,  actually has very few of those bits in it.  What he doesn't know?  I dig through the cereal box after my weekly shopping trips on Sunday afternoons and pick out all the yummy bits.  Every week.  I consider it a fringe benefit for doing the grocery shopping.

2.  I have a really good memory for things and details that happened ages ago that other people have long forgotten.  But what I had for dinner yesterday evening?  Not so much.  Ask me again in 10 years time.

3.  I still regularly rock out to Ace of Base and the Escape Club in my car.  I just try to turn down the volume when stopped at traffic lights so as to avoid embarrassment and social ostracism.  Sometimes I even throw in a little bit of Spice Girls (which isn't so lame anymore, given their recent comeback.  Except their comeback failed, so possibly its still lame).

4.  I really, really like to be organized.  But I'm a bit lazy as well, so my good organizational intentions get compromised.  For example, all the dry goods in my pantry are organized into tidy little tubberware containers that at a glance look like an organizers dream.  But behind the tubberware is piles of stuff that wouldn't fit.  Not so tidy.  I consider it an exciting adventure akin to Christmas morning to sort through the junk drawers... you never know what treasures you find.

5.  I've never met a board game I didn't love.  I attend a weekly games night that is one of the highlights of my week.

6.  I absolutely, positively cannot tolerate French Onion Soup.  I ate some skiing in New Mexico as a little kid, got sick, and haven't been able to touch, see or smell it since.  Even a picture of French Onion Soup makes me a bit queasy (just tested that theory with google, still holds true).  But I love Green Bean Casserole made with French Onions.

7.  My dream job is to be the Elephant Handler at Sydney's Taronga Zoo.  If ever we move to Sydney, I intend to take continuing education courses to become certified as a zoo keeper or animal handler at the Taronga Training Institute.  My luck?  They'll intern me with the freakin hippo.

8.  In 5th grade, I thought I was a natural-born flute player cause the band teacher brought instruments as a recruitment tool and I actually made a noise blowing it.  Turns out it was a fluke.  I sucked, and once I figured out I wasn't cut out as a first chair flutist I threw the towel in on the whole thing.  I also never really played the flute in middle school band concerts... I really just lip and finger synced.  By 7th grade, our Band teacher had pretty much decided it was a lost cause and gave me credit for watching "Mr Holland's Opus" and "My Fair Lady" in the practice rooms.  The irony of the situation was that once we hit on that arrangement, I quite enjoyed Band Class.  Unfortunately, I wasn't invited back in 8th grade.

9.  I messed up a Band Flute in 6th grade attempting to oil it with grape chapstick (being as I was out of Flute Oil).  I'm pretty sure there's still a flute in the band storage room that smells ever so faintly of purple.

10.  Right now, my hair is the longest it has ever been since my father destroyed my hair in an unfortunate Dorthy Hamill wedge haircut incident at age 5.  Parents, beware.  Not a good look for a chubby 5 year old who already tends towards looking like a boy.  As of today, its also curly again.  Have a look:

Bonus #11.  I share the exact shade of blonde and texture of hair with my dog.  Put us together and you don't know where one begins and the other ends!


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Flowers at Work!

 Short post today, but just wanted to share the beautiful flowers that Mom and Dad sent me at work.  I went to a meeting and when I came back these were waiting for me at my desk.  They are beautiful Australian native flowers... my camera phone does not do them justice! 

And a few close ups:

The leaves with these red ones are very interesting... not sure what they are, but they have the most unusual texture:

And a Protea!  (Or I think that's what it is, anyway):

 Right now they're doing an excellent job of brightening up my office space, and I haven't decided if I want to take them home or not... I think I may leave them here until Friday and then take them home to enjoy them over the weekend, too.

Thank you, Mom and Dad!!


Friday, March 26, 2010

An Open Letter to My Wii Fit

Dear Mr. Wii, 

I run a family-friendly blog here, but if I didn't I'd have two words to say to you.

The first rhymes with 'suck'.
The second rhymes with 'poo'.

I should have known the fun wouldn't last.  But when I first stepped on you your delightfully digitized voice exclaimed 'oh!' as if you were happily surprised to bump into an old friend you'd not seen in a while.  We got along like a house on fire with your gently coaxing 'you're doing great's and 'keep up the good work's.  I wanted so badly to please you.  To get that little dot representing my balance into the bullseye on the centre of the screen.  I tried to make our relationship work, Mr Wii.  Really I did.  But your 'keep up the good work's came a bit too infrequently for my taste and it soon became clear that you're too self-absorbed to let other people win.  Has anyone ever had perfect balance when they stand on you, Mr. Wii?  I didn't think so.

I thought I'd give you a couple months to cool off.  To realize what you were missing, so to speak.  Cause, like I said, we could really be great together.  I'm totally into working out in my underwear.  And you?  You, Mr. Wii, let that happen.

So, you're right.  You haven't seen me in a while.  Actually, you haven't seen me since January, but I still don't think that justifies the rather catty remarks you made when I turned you on. 

"Oh, I haven't seen you in a while.  I didn't recognize you!"  your narky digital voice said.

Well hardy har har har.

I really thought you'd be the tiniest bit more excited to see me now that I do show up. 

When I stepped on you yesterday, you groaned.


Like the massive weight standing on you was going to break you in half.  I jumped off quickly so as not to hurt your delicate plastic casing, but not before you had the audacity to inform me (in exceptionally large font) that:
  • I've gained .6 kilos
  • It had been 74 days since I last used you
  • My Wii Fit age is 7 years older than my choronlogical age 
  • I have terrible balance
Now, I get that a .6 kilo weight gain isn't ideal.  But its really not the end of the universe as we know it, either.  It definitely didn't justify the attack that ensued.  You were all 'Now, let's talk about some of the reasons for your weight gain' and presented me with a list of possible answers like too many snacks and not enough exercise.  Next time you ask me something like that and I pick 'I don't know' just go with it, okay.   

"Are you sure you don't know" is totally not an appropriate response.

If "because its Easter and Cadbury is selling those fab white chocolate Easter Eggs for a limited time only PLUS a Subway just opened up right next door to my work" was a choice I would have picked that, okay.  But it wasn't.  So you got "I don't know".  Plus, my clothes were really heavy last night.  You didn't take that into consideration at all.

Regardless, a .6 kg weight gain over 74 days really doesn't make me look like a beached whale.  So why did you change my Mii to make it LOOK like a beached whale.  You made my Mii look all sad and dejected.  I'm not sad and dejected.  Don't  you go projecting your insecurities on me, Mr. Wii.  Give my my svelte, sexy Mii back asap.

This lady's Mii doesn't look nearly as beached as I did... and she weighs more!  WTF, Mr Wii?

FINALLY, what's this crap about me being 31 years old?  Frankly, I disagree.  I just had my 24th birthday, Mr. Wii, and I'm pretty sure my balancing abilities reflect that.  Its freakin hard to stand still and balance when you're trying not to giggle cause you've got two greyhounds sniffing your butt wondering what you're doing.  And you never let anybody win at the balancing thing anyway. 

Look!  You look happy that this guy is 38!  Why give me a walking stick when I'm 32!

I'll give you one more chance, Mr. Wii, but you're on notice.  Next time I turn you on you better be happy to see me.  I want my Mii to look like Heidi Klum (but I still totally want to be able to tell that its me).  And by god, I wanna be so young I get carded.  And get rejected cause the number on my card isn't old enough.

So there. 

All the Best,


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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Easter Just Isn't Easter Anymore

Yesterday I was looking for these:

To make this for my front door:

 But Australia simply does not have plastic Easter eggs or fake Easter grass.  Nobody's even heard of them, although some people have said 'oh, that does sound like a good idea'. 

How upsetting is that?  They hunt-- get this-- chocolate eggs.


SO, will somebody in the States PLEASE go to Walmart and buy me a couple bags of those peralized plastic eggs and green Easter grass?

These Australians don't know what they're missing!

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Friday, March 5, 2010

In a Thrifters Dreamworld

If a person knows me at all, they realize that thriftiness is a major part of who I am.  I get absolutely no kick out of paying full price for a top at the mall, but if the same article of clothing happens on sale at Salvos my fingers get all tingly and I get a hit of shopper's buzz.  I haven't paid full price for any article of clothing for years and I'm really very proud of that.  Call me materialistic, that's fine, but I'm quite comfortable in the knowledge that my wardrobe contains appropriate attire for literally any occasion.  And I couldn't do that full price.

I don't even buy groceries unless I can get a good deal.  The local Fresh Food Markets are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, so if you go at 5pm on Sundays you can clean up.  We're talking half price lunchmeats, 60% off meats, bags of veggies for a dollar... its really quite fabulous.

I'm not a tight-wad, per say.  I'm as happy as the next person to spend money.  But I just like to get as big a bang as possible for my buck.

I'm also a great lover of anything craft.  

I've also recently discovered something that combines my two loves-- thrift and craft-- in a nice, neat little package.

Pottery Barn Knock Offs. 

Who doesn't love Pottery Barn?  Their products are chic, classic, and elegant and add a touch of class to any room.  Often, I find the 'shabby' look to be a bit-- well-- shabby.  Looking more like something you'd find at the dump than something worth having.*  But Pottery Barn puts the chic into shabby in a big way.

I mean, how many companies can sell a wreath made out of book pages for $50+?

I'm still not 100% sure I'm a fan of this particular decorative gem.  It still seems a bit recycled-trash to me, even if it is Pottery Barn.  But my point is, I could totally make that.  For about $2.

In fact, I can totally make a lot of the stuff I've been drooling over from the Pottery Barn website.  And other people have and have provided tutorials, which makes it all the easier (and all the more unjustifiable to spend lotsa bucks on the real thing).

There's a great website called Knock Off Wood that provides the patterns to make loads of the cabinets, beds, desks, etc that you see at Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma and lots of other places I can't afford.  If you're clever and crafty you can make this:

or this:
Plus much, much more.  These may be above my level of expertise at the minute (although I did successfully hang shelves in my laundry room that don't even look uneven when you put lots of bottles on top of them), but I'm thinking of taking a woodwork class and learning how to do stuff like this.  How cool would it be to have people come over and sit at my table and be able to say 'oh, yeah, I made that'?
Here is my list of high-class-store-inspired projects I want to complete this year:

1.I am a big huge fan of this from Pottery Barn...
...But am not such a big fan of the price tag (shown here is easily over 1k).  

We have this pantry that has an exposed side that you see when you come in from the laundry that I want to paint with chalkboard paint like this...

But instead of drawing weird flowers that look more like weeds I'm going to add a chic looking calendar, some hooks to hang keys and, in keeping with my New Years Resolution to reduce our food waste (Not for the environment. Because I'm sick of paying for food we don't eat.) a weekly 'what's for dinner' section.  I may even make one of these puppies for sorting our mail:

The whole thing will look like this, except a lot more chalkboard-y and exciting:

2.  Pottery Barn makes this 'EAT' sign for $49, which is a total ripoff, cause I can make it for under $10.

But I do like it.  I may add this to the top of my cabinet chalkboard. 
3. How fabulous is this mirror?  We need things hanging on our wall and this would be perfect in our living room:

But at $700, its just not happening.  Someone else in Blogland made this version for a mere $60...
...but I think I can do even better.  Plus, I'm more a fan of Pottery Barn's more-mirrored look. 

4. I don't know why, but I'm a big fan of these number pillows, which Pottery Barn is selling for $29 each:

My goal is $15 for the lot, which I think is very generous.  All I need is some fabric from the discount section and some printable transfers!  There's a website called Graphics Fairy where you can download tons of great vintage-inspired stuff free.  Perfect for fabric transfers and a whole lot more!

I want to make these into pillows:
Aren't the ABC pages cute?  They're from an old Victorian children's book,  and she has each page. A-Z.

5. I love this wall art, also from Pottery Barn:
Its folk-artsy meets abstract and made from planks of color-stained wood.  At over $700, its something I think I can replicate... but probably with paint instead of stain.  I doubt I'll actually get around to this one, but its good to have a goal project, right?

Rory wants to knock down some walls in the house, get rid of the hallway and re-arrange some rooms, so I'll have a lot of decorating to do.  I want to take that woodworking class before he does that in the hopes that I can create a few pieces from scratch.  I'll get new shiny flooring out of the remodel too, which I'm really looking forward to.  When we moved in we put in some cheap faux-wood flooring instead of sanding and shining the pine floors that are throughout the whole house-- the only remodeling mistake I think we've made so far.  I will be excited to start again! 

*NB:  Not everything at the dump isn't worth having.  Not at all.  Here in Aus, we have the 'Recycling Centre' which is where people throw away their not-quite-dump-worthy goods... and where I pick them back up again.  Its owned by the dump-people, and is oh-so-cheap.  We got a brand spankin new glass paneled door there a few weeks back for $10.  TEN DOLLARS.  Its brothers and sisters are still sold at Doors Plus for $200.  Makes me regret a very similar door purchase we made for $150 at the hardware going-out-of-buissness sale.  Litterally, the same door, except the hardware store one has frosted glass.  The Dump-- Don't knock it till ya try it!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our day at the beach

Although the worst of the summer heat has thankfully passed, we were still keen for a break and so on Saturday packed up the dogs for a day-trip to the Southern Coast, about 2 hours' drive away.

We always go to Tomakin Beach, which is a great off-leash public beach that has sand-dunes to protect the dogs from the main road, a beautiful stretch of regular beach and a lovely inlet area that tends to be more like a wading pool than a beach. Its always a great day, and one of the nicest things about it is that we're always close enough to pack up at the end of the day and sleep in our own beds at night!

Our Day at the Beach in Pictures:

Before we went swimming we had a picnic lunch at the overlook area adjacent to the carpark. The views from here are lovely, and it would have been worth the trip just for the picnic!  Rory blew up a big, huge float that he bought on sale at KMart for $ ended up being a ton of fun to play with in the waves.  It looked a lot like this one, except possibly not quite as fancy:

After our picnic, we headed down to claim our spot at the beach (see the floatie in the background):

Within seconds of sitting down, Alfie had begun to dig his hole in the sand, which he does every time we go to the beach.  He's not so much a fan of the water and can't quite figure out the waves, but he LOVES the sand.


Harry is pretty much indifferent to being at the beach, and treats the experience in much the same way as he treats every other thing that happens in his life-- as an opportunity to be on somebody's lap.  

Lilly, though, really seemed to love the beach and the water, which surpised me because she really didn't seem to like it last time we went.  In fact, we almost didn't take her but decided she'd bark all day if left alone at home.  We even had a swimming lesson, which she actually seemed to enjoy!

After the swim lesson, with Harry in front trying to 
steal the attention, as usual! 
After we'd swam, read and gotten suitably sun-burned we decided to take a walk to the far end of the beach to the inlet.  

This is the inlet, but it is not my picture.  It was shamelessly stolen
from elsewhere on the internet.

And then, after a fabulous day, we arrived back home, tired and a bit pink, but having had a ton of fun. 

The problem with white dogs is they get just as sunburned as you do!!

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Our dogs are lazy.  And I do mean LAZY.  When we're home on the weekends, they're pretty much happy to lay around on the couch all day long, and they're totally excited when we get home from work each day, but only really because we provide access to the beds. 

They can also be a bit disgusting.  I call this picture 'the world's longest drool':

She actually managed to get it to touch the ground and start to form a little pool of wetness before the flash to my camera startled her and she moved her head, breaking the fragile links of drool.  In case anybody's wondering (and I don't blame you if you aren't), that's a 2 1/4 ft dribble of drool. 

This week, I'm going to try to raise all of the couches... see if we can get that drool dribble to three feet!

And here's another thing that's totally droolworthy:


I'm wanting to get a fancified digital camera to be able to take more professional looking pictures.  Not that I don't love my camera, I do, but I want to be able to do more manual focusing and mucking around with settings and such.  The camera that I have is awesome... it takes pictures underwater and in the snow (not that I've ever really tried it out in the snow, but the function is there), it can take a drop from several feet... its a trooper.  But I would like something a bit more high-tech to mess around with.  

SO, does anybody out there have any camera recommendations? I'd love to hear which cameras you use. 

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Lilly's Adoption Tail

Friends of the Hound (the greyhound group we 'fostered' for) contacted us and asked us to write an 'Adoption Tail*' for Lilly to use on their website and I happily obliged.  You can view the Adoption Tail here or you can just read it below (but you really should check it out on their website).

If you're an Australian reader, you should have a look at the Darlings who are still waiting to be adopted.  Don't you want one?  Or two?  Or three?

* This is not a typo.  It really is Adoption TAIL instead of TALE.  Get it?  Like a dog's tail?  For some reason (possibly cause I'm a dork) I didn't get that right away and it really, really annoyed me that they'd spelled it wrong. 

Lilly is enjoying her new life and the veggies!

In November, I contacted Friends of the Hound to become a temporary foster carer.  We already had a greyhound (Alfie) and smaller dog (Harry), and although I wanted to help the organization out and trial having three dogs around the house, I didn’t want to make a long-term commitment to having a third dog. 

Until we met Lilly.

From day one we had sneaking suspicions that ‘temporary’ might become ‘permanent’ in her case.  While some dogs are wary of strangers and new surroundings, Lilly seemed to find her place in our mould immediately.  In fact, by the time we had driven home from picking her up Lilly had her head snugly fit in my lap.  And it just got worse (or better) from there!! 
Lilly is the first to greet us in the morning with an enthusiastic kiss, and is always at the gate waiting when we arrive home at 5:30.  She can fit in the smallest of places… no cushion is too small or couch too full!!  She’s even worked out how to get up into the hammock in our backyard—there’s nothing like trying to watch a greyhound maneuver herself into a swinging object… especially when you’re already in it!  There’s also nothing quite like watching a greyhound try to sneak oh-so-quietly up onto the bed after she thinks you’re asleep.  Once you tell her no she gets down with a great big sigh, giving you this look like ‘well, I had to try!’

So… my tomato crop may be failing (Lilly eats them right off the vine!), our dog food bill is growing, and its not quite as easy to walk three dogs as it was to walk two, but we couldn’t be happier with this new quirky, unexpected addition to our family!!

 Kinda cute,  huh?  Even though that last picture kinda makes them look like the Dogs of the Corn.  

The frosting's worn off of this love affair, though.  I'm totally returning Lilly after our most recent vet bill.  We took Alfie and Harry to the vet for their yearly vaccinations and it was a whopping.... actually, I'm not even going to tell you.  Its too earth-shatteringly shocking.  Suffice it to say that I'm seriously considering the possibility of seeing how it goes next year.  And that wasn't even Lilly's bill!  

How do people without vet-dad's cope?!  In the past, I've easily slipped into the 'finders, keepers' mentality when it comes to animals... with my love for great deals, combined with the knowledge that there's a vet-dad around to fix anything if the deal turns out to be a bit frayed around the edges, its mighty hard to pass up those sharpie and cardboard 'Free Puppies' or 'Free Kittens' ads you see on the sides of roads.  Even better if the handwriting's a bit bad or the spelling's off.  A 'Free Kiten' or 'Free Pupee' ad is a god-send, cause you KNOW you're saving whatever little bundle of cuteness you pick from an almost certain hell.  

But these days, I can't adopt everything I see on the side of the road.  Some of you might be saying; "But Jessica, don't you have three dogs already? Isn't that enough?" Yes.  I do.  But trust me, with our big backyard, if I had a vet-dad around, we'd have a whole heapin zoo full of animals.  Most unfortunately, we don't.  And I have to pay my vet bills.  I guess this is all just part of growing up.  Blah.*

*The vet DID tell me, though, that I can legally bring meds and vaccines for animals over from the States.  Which means that I'm loading up in April. 

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Monday, February 1, 2010

Coming Soon to a Country Near You (unless you live in Australia)

Good news everybody!

A proposal I wrote has been accepted for presentation at a conference in Monterrey, Mexico (the 6th Global International Internship Conference, which, if you're particularly bored and have run out of paint to watch dry, you can read about here).  I'll be presenting a paper on the 'Centrally-based Organization and Management of  Internships with Established International Organizations'.  Which, as a matter of contention, presents a problem as I can't be relied upon to remember the title on a consistant basis.  I had something nice and succinct, but my boss is one for diarrhea of the mouth so it got changed.  I thought surely it was going to bomb with a title like that, but, alas, somebody must have liked it.

Which means, in April, I'll be in the Northern Hemisphere.  Not just in the Northern Hemisphere, but only a short plane ride away from Houston!

My boss has kindly allowed me to fly up a bit early so that I'll have the weekend before the conference to spend in Houston, and has also suggested that I try to arrange some visits to Texan Career Centres so that I can spend the week after the conference at home as well.  So, its looking like I'll be home just after Easter.  Save me some Easter Eggs!

I can't wait to see everybody, and I'll be brushing up on my Spanish with the Rosetta Stone thing Dad lent us!

See you soon!

***On another note entirely, Rory and I are going to be a part of the studio audience for Q&A next Monday, on their 'Kevin Rudd Special Edition'.  The audience gets to ask the special guest (in this case, K Rudd) questions, and I'm thinking I might ask him why he hasn't repealed the law that requires Greyhounds to wear muzzles in public places.  You know-- the hard hitting issues in my life.  (Not that my dogs wear or even own muzzles-- we don't follow that law, Gandhi Civil Disobedience style)***


Friday, January 29, 2010

Katie's Nappy Cake

We had Katie's baby shower on Sunday, and as promised, I made a diaper cake.  It turned out really well, but the whole experience was fraught with frustration, starting from the Kmart where I bought my materials.

Me:  "Hmmm, I've got diapers, wipes, stuffed animals, and bottles.  What I really need is a pacifier." (to shop attendant) "Excuse me, where are your pacifiers?"

Shop attendant:  "Uh, I don't think we have any pacifiers."

Me:  "You must have pacifiers."

Shop attendant:  "Uh, I really don't think we have pacifiers."

Me:  "Seriously?  You have this huge baby section and you don't have pacifiers?"

Shop attendant:  "Oh, are they for babies?"

Me (adopting a explaining-something-simple-to-a-toddler kinda voice):  "Yes.  Pacifiers are for babies.  A  pa-ci-f-ier.  The thing you stick in their mouth when they're crying.  They suck on them...  You know....  A pacifier."

Shop attendant:  "Oh!  Do you mean a dummy?"

Sure enough, I did. 

But I can't help being a bit exasperated.  Dummy, Australia?  You're calling a good old-fashioned pacifier a dummy?  I like a lot of the names Australia has for baby stuff-- our stroller is a pram, which is not only shorter (why waste your time with that extra syllable) but also sounds rather chic.  Diapers become nappies.  Somehow 'dirty nappy' sounds a good bit cleaner than 'dirty diaper'.  But dummy is a word I don't particularly care for.  My children will be sucking on pacifiers, Thank You Very Much.

Anyway, cultural misunderstandings aside, I got all my materials and made my nappy cake!  Here's what I used (and what you will need, if ever you decide to make one too):

- 72 nappies/ diapers (use smaller sizes so Mom can use them when baby is born)
- 2 large bottles
- curling ribbon to hold things together
- decorative ribbon for finishing touches
- rubber bands
- a cake plate or cardboard
- decorations (I used bibs, a burb cloth, socks, baby face washers, baby powder, several kinds of travel sized wipes, lotion, pacifiers/ dummies and stuffed animals)

And here's how you do it:

1. Wrap each diaper tightly and secure with a rubber band  (this is the most time consuming part)

2. Using the bottle as a base, arrange the nappies around it in a circle so that you have your inner ring.  Secure with curling ribbon and carefully remove the rubber bands once secured (or leave them; it probably doesn't matter).  Repeat until you have at least 3 rings.  

I stole this picture from the internet.  

3.  Once you have at least three rings, you've got your bottom tier made.  Repeat the process to make your second tier, just create one less ring.  By the time you get to your top layer, you should have a single ring of diapers around the bottle.  * You will probably have to use two bottles stacked on top of each other as your base.  Not a problem.

This one, too.

4. Now decorate!  Add little baby items like pacifiers, socks, booties, stuffed animals, washcloths etc.  You can tie them on with curling ribbon (that's what I did), tape them on, hide them in the folds of the nappies... whatever!

Here's how mine turned out:

 The front.  6 facewashers, 2 stuffed animals, 2 pairs socks,
1 bib, one burp cloth, one pacifier, one teether and a whole lot
of string and bows.

The back (aka, the side we don't like talking
about).  Not nearly as pretty to look at as the front... you
can see all the strings I used to hold everything together.
There's changing mats, baby powder, lotion, another pacifier, 2 
kindsof wipes and a whole lot more ribbon on this side.

Katie at her shower, with the cake.

My cake was made on Friday afternoon, and stayed together perfectly... until about 30 minutes before the shower, when the top layer fell off.  That's why its leaning in the photo with Katie! 

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