Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas treats

Peanut Butter Balls
Yield: 14-16

1 tsp butter
1/3 C smooth peanut butter
1 C icing sugar
6 maraschino cherries, chopped smaller than 1/4's
4 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 C chocolate sprinkles or ground nuts

Butter must be soft - not melted. Mix the butter, peanut butter, and icing sugar. Make into a paste and roll into small balls. Cherry pieces (optional) can be rolled into the centre of the ball, or incorporated into the paste.
Tip: If dry, add cherry juice.
Melt chocolate and dip or roll balls to coat, then immediately roll in sprinkles or nuts and allow to set on a plate. Tip: A skewer can be used to aid in dipping.
Store peanut butter balls in a sealed container in the fridge.

Cut Out Sugar Cookies

yield 2 dozen

1-½ cup Butter
2 cups Sugar
4 whole Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
5 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
Confectioner's Sugar
Food Coloring

Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla.
In large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt.
Pour cream mixture into flour mixture and mix well.
Chill for at least 2 hours.
Roll out at least 1/4 inch thick and cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 until golden brown.
Ice, decorate and enjoy.

For sugar cookie icing:
(Sorry, I don’t measure the icing ingredients out. I just make it.)
1. Pour powdered sugar into a bowl.
2. Add milk, pouring small amounts in at a time, stirring after each addition.

Recipe can be halved.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

He tries, dear Reader

Text from Jody, the morning following my flight:
I got you a Doctor Who magazine for the plane. It is good.

Conversation with Jody, the evening following my flight:
Jody - Sorry I forgot to give you the magazine. But you should have two Cherry Ripes in your bag.
Me - Not unless they're in a hidden pocket.
Jody - Oh. Then I have Cherry Ripes. Here they are! Dark and milk.
Me - I haven't had the dark cherry one yet.
Jody - I'll let you know if it's good!

He tries.

There were a lot of readers on my flight. I counted three iPads, four Kindles, and several paperbacks (not to mention numerous gossip magazines). Most of the passengers, including myself, ate large sandwiches that claim to be created by a renowned Australian chef. It was tasty and filling, so I had no complaints. I also ate a snack mix. For those readers who are not Australian, there's a saying here that something  yummy is "moreish" - meaning, it leaves you wanting to eat more. A local company has taken its name from the idiom.

The plane was some derivative of a Boeing 747, and fancier than the Boeings of my childhood. There were leather chairs, softly glowing blue cabin lights above the large overhead bins, and an upturned wing design. The view of the clouds was particularly beautiful. Late afternoon sun glazed them in warm, golden light, and some were large and fluffy, others mere wisps.

I did meet up with my ride and hosts for my stay in Perth, despite the hour-long delay at the airport, and I have a room and a bathroom all to myself, a half-hour's train ride from the city. Lovely! The family keeps hens, so we have fresh eggs for breakfast.

The only unfortunate thing is that I seem to have caught a cold. Whether some generous person on the flight passed it on to me, or whether my body has just had enough of the strange sleeping schedules and shifting temperatures, I don't know. In any case, I visited the chemist today and got some tablets and an herbal mixture that's supposed to help, since I'm treating it so early.

So! Tomorrow. Practicum! Watch this space.

Jody would like me to note that his forgetfulness isn't entirely his fault. He was helping me hustle into a taxi. So you see? He tries to take care of me, and I love him very much.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Technology win! Flight fail.

Well, the great adventure to Perth has gotten off to a slow start. Thirty minutes after our scheduled departure, we’re just starting to board. The other passengers in the waiting area have been friendly and talkative, so we’ve been good-naturedly berating Virgin and wondering what the delay is. Hopefully my ride on the other end has gotten my message about the delay.

So, it’s off to WA for two weeks at the State Library! Music, books, marketing and client services are on the agenda. I’ll be staying with friends of friends – the Canadian and library networks have combined to find accommodation for me. It will be much nicer than living out of a backpackers’ for a fortnight.

I’m using my Samsung Galaxy S as a hotspot to send this post through my Mac – while sitting on the plane. Here’s to technology + libraries!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Little piece of Brisbane

Geckos (yes, they make that sound!) and crickets, chirruping up a storm at dusk. Of course they went quiet soon after I started recording, but you get the idea.

Gecko Sounds by Julia Michelle 1

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Night Dance Break!

They're not new, but these are the videos on constant replay in my YouTube dance playlist:

Dynamite - Taio Cruz

Club Can't Handle Me - Flo Rida

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Challenging Creativity

Well, dear readers, I'm back. I haven't really gone anywhere but I thought you might have heard enough out of me in June with 26 posts, and July seemed to slip through my fingers. Now that classes have started again, the next three months are set to be just as busy!

After challenging myself to blog every day in June (and almost managing it) I thought I would give myself new challenges for July - creative ones. I spent an evening writing lyrics to enter a contest for free registration to ALIA's new librarians sympsium, and the following Sunday afternoon and evening recording and editing the resulting music video.

I've since received official word that my entry was chosen as the winner! So, it's off to Perth in September, where I'll be tweeting and blogging and networking with other new grads and librarians. I am so excited!

Doing my little parody reminded me of how much I liked to sing, so I decided to challenge myself even more - I auditioned for a role in an upcoming musical production of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The movie is one of my favourites but I've never seen it staged, so I decided to go for it. Lest you all think I lead a charmed life, I didn't get the part I wanted. I was offered a spot in the ensemble but I turned it down because the time commitment required... If I got one of the Bride roles I might have been more motivated to juggle my schedule, but as it is, I think I made the right decision.

I think my reading and singing went well but the dancing portion of my audition was pretty hopeless - moves I haven't done before, very fast, and very little time to pick it up. I was pretty nervous too. Oh well. The point is, I gave it a shot!

Here's to pushing boundaries!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Silly Lyrics

I've written poetry and lyrics in the past, but it's been awhile. This past weekend I got a little silly - for a good cause - and reworked the first two minutes of Don McLean's American Pie into a contest entry. I'm hoping to win my registration to ALIA's fifth New Librarians Symposium, NLS5.

At first I wished there had not been a two-minute restriction for audio/visual entries because that's only a quarter of the length of the original song - but by Sunday's end, after singing the same two minutes over and over, then cutting different videos together in iMovie, then messing with transitions and tracks...I was glad it was only two minutes. The lyrics are meant to tell the story of my metamorphosis (it's the conference theme) from girl to undergrad to library student, and make my case for why I should win a conference pass.

Unfortunately, some of my better audio runs had blurry or poorly lit video accompaniment. I considered doing a full track of my voice and laying it on top of the muted video, with a third track of music underneath, but heavens, I'd already been singing and watching myself sing all day! I'm a bit of a shy one when it comes to singing, and this is my first-ever YouTube video. Here's hoping it will be good for my professional development (at least until my husband leaks the bloopers reel). Jody recorded my performances and we stitched together the movies as a team. Here is the result:

If you click on 360p and choose 720p, you can even watch it in HD :) The lyrics are under "show more."

Good luck if you've entered the contest too! And I hope to see you in Perth.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recipes of Roommates Past

Roommates come and go, but sometimes you crave the food they used to make.

Brandy's Chicken in Really Good Sauce

1/4 C butter
1 pkg dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
1/2 C white wine
1 can Campbells Golden Mushroom Soup
4 oz cream cheese
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1. Melt butter on stovetop in a saucepan. Stir in dressing mix. Blend wine, then soup, then cream cheese into butter & dressing mix. Heat throughout but do not boil, stirring until smooth.

2. Arrange chicken breasts in ovenproof dish. Pour sauce over chicken. Cook uncovered at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes if fresh, 60 minutes if frozen.

3. Cook spaghetti or other pasta according to package directions. Plate, then top with chicken and sauce.

This particular roommate combo was short-lived, but it gave me this recipe, which is darn tasty. If you're serving more people than you have chicken breasts, just cut it up before cooking. Unfortunately I can't make the chicken here in Australia, because there is no golden mushroom soup, and Campbells cream soups in general just don't taste the same. Come to think of it, I haven't found dry italian dressing mix either. Sigh.

Chris' Rice n Beans

White rice
1 can of black or kidney beans, rinsed
Black sesame oil
Good quality chili powder
Salt to taste
Light flavoured olive oil
Garnish: cilantro, lime and grated cheese

I can't vouch for amounts but here's the basic method:
1. Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside.
2. Heat black sesame oil in large pan or deep electric griddle
3. Transfer rice to pan once hot, then add beans and mix.
4. Shake chili powder and salt onto beans & rice, to taste
5. Add lots of olive oil - chef says "enough light flavoured olive oil to make it kind of oily." Stir, stir stir, because the pan should be hot and the rice n beans sizzling. When it's shiny and a bit crispy, you're done!
6. Top with fresh cilantro (Aussies: coriander), a squeeze of lime, and grated cheese.

The best part of the rice n beans is definitely watching Chris make it, because he's so very happy in the kitchen. He's usually wielding some utensil or another as though it were an extension of his arm. Chris is also the roomie with whom I argued over "small mashy." I did promise to tell this story sometime...

Jody and I started our married life as the roommates of Chris and his talented fiancee Angie. Between us we had far too many utensils. As a newlywed AND a student, wine was scarce - and I had been given a glass. Chris and I were going through the kitchen stuff and deciding what to put in storage. He had the standard wavy potato masher, while I had my round one with holes, and I was trying to argue why mine should stay in rotation. Tipsy from the wine, I was unable to conclude with anything other than,
"Because it makes smaller mashy!"

Danielle's Strawberry Muffins

My roommate Danielle once stayed up until midnight to bake strawberry muffins and take a 20-minute drive to sneak them into her boyfriend's truck. (They got married not long afterward!) Michelle and I got to eat the extras. I don't have her recipe, but this is my fave strawberry muffin recipe, from Eggs on Sunday.

Please consume responsibly, and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Intrepid Bargain Hunter

Fearlessly scouring the sales racks, boldly snatching up discounted merchandise - I am an intrepid bargain hunter. Here are my finds of the week:


Lately I've found myself searching for paper to write a shopping list so I finally got a pad to go on the fridge. I couldn't bring myself to buy one for $10 but when I found this for only $2, I had to have it. The best part is the bottles labelled BRANDY and JAM. Apparently jam, brandy, and a few sticks of cinnamon are life's necessities.

I've been on the lookout for a pencil case or makeup case to simplify moving items from purse to purse and finally I chose this beauty in my favourite colour, only $3.


Lots of things are on sale right now at Target, including 50% off most costume jewellery. These aren't a set but I thought they would go together without being too matchy-matchy. $10!

As an undergrad I did even more bargain-hunting than I do now - possibly because I had more time? Or maybe just because I knew the shops better. Also, I worked for several years in a thrift shop, so I have a good eye for what still has life in it and what's not worth picking up secondhand. Whatever the case, I am more discerning now. As I mentioned in my post last week, I mentally categorize purchases as "good enough for the short term," "worth shipping," or "will be sold/given away when we move."

I tried on an oatmeal-coloured jacket made of lightweight sweatshirt material at Target. It had a full-length zipper and a double-snap closure at the neck and it was cute, but not $30 cute, so I put it back. It will only be cold for a few more weeks, right?

Ten days ago I shopped for vintage dresses and came home with three, plus a luxurious black satin circle skirt. I might do a post on them later, but Jody hasn't seen them yet (he wants them to be a surprise for when we go out) so I won't post pictures at the moment. But they were most definitely good finds, and I can't wait to wear them!

What are some of your best bargains? Or what was one that got away?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It's Official

I received my student ALIA membership card in the mail today!

ALIA stands for Australian Library and Information Association. It's Australia's peak body for libraries and information professionals. Now that I'm a student member I will have access to journals, e-lists, ALIA publications and other benefits. I'm planning to go to the New Librarians Symposium in Perth this September, also.

Hooray for becoming an information professional!

Monday, June 27, 2011

In Which I Am Out-Geeked

Jody came home today and, with a look of glee, announced, "You are doooooomed!" He then unzipped his laptop bag and extracted a PS3 disc - Portal 2.

He claims I started it by showing him the XKCD and Portal-inspired wedding cakes on Sunday Sweets edition of this week's Cake Wrecks.

We watched the opening cut scenes, then tried to play co-op mode - one of the reasons Jody was so excited to play Portal 2. He handed me a controller and we tried to run through the training but I kept looking at the ceiling, trying to walk up a wall or getting stuck in a corner, or falling in the water and needing a rebuild. I can't seem to operate both sticks at the same time (one lets you look around, the other moves you). Basically I made myself dizzy and frustrated.

Jody is now laughing because I told him I was trying to find a YouTube video to introduce Portal 2 to non-geeks. This is the best I can do, for the uninitiated.

Also in Jody's bag was a flyer from JB Hi-Fi which announced the upcoming release of a Blu-Ray edition of the Lord of the Rings trilogy - the extended edition. There are 15 discs. That's a lot of hobbits.

Jody figures you could finish Portal before you watched all 26 HOURS of bonus features in the LOTR trilogy. Well - maybe he could, but I think I'd have to choose multiple hours of Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom. And I'm not one of those fangirls who sighed over Legolas.

Now Jody says he can make one of our Macbooks run Portal and the other person can play on the TV so we don't have to share the screen. I am officially out-geeked. And that's not even counting the number of hard drive, SSD drive and DVD drive caddy combinations he has suggested to modify my mac. In truth he is trying to help me, and make my computer faster so I won't freak out during assignments next semester... Anyone have any useful suggestions or comments about how you use your laptop for uni? How do you store or organise your media files?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Some Pig

This afternoon I took the train to Beenleigh to see my friend's directorial debut as a musical director. The Beenleigh Theatre Group is performing a musical version of E.B. White's beloved children's book, Charlotte's Web.

Joining Charlotte and a sweet-voiced Wilbur are the selfish Templeton the rat, the goose and gander (with charming repeat-repeat-repeat lines), and a ewe and her lamb. Fern Arable is believable as the girl who saves the runt of the litter, and her interactions with her family and the animals in the barn are delightful. The song she sings to her mother ("Mama, You Don't Understand Me") echoes what many of us felt at 13.

Songs of summer, the Zuckerman barn, and spinning a web move the action and create a unique experience, even for those who are familiar with the story. Charlotte is particularly notable as she sings and dances in a cleverly designed costume. The duet between Charlotte and Wilbur ("Who Says We Can't Be Friends?") is lovely.

The show is suitable for young children, and there is an interval between acts. Autographs are available from cast members following the Sunday matinee. Programs are $4. Family tickets (2 adults, 2 children) are available for $54. See Beenleigh Theatre Group's website for more details, and to book.

Shows run Saturdays at 2pm and 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2pm, until July 9th.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Superstar at QPAC

This is what I did today.

A friend recommended I go to see the encore performance from Harvest Rain Theatre company, which ends its limited run tomorrow (Sunday). The evening show is sold out but at time of writing there are a few seats left for the 1pmLuke Kennedy as Jesus and Naomi Price as Mary were fantastic. Kennedy's falsetto is superb, and boy, can he hold a note. He sings with emotion and power. Price put a different spin on "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and it was hard to take my eyes off her when she was onstage.

Lionel Theunissen as Pontius Pilate was a standout for me, and Caiaphas' performance was chilling. I can't find the name of the performer, unfortunately, but he had Ozzy Osborne hair and sounded absolutely amazing. The high priest's right hand (wo)man, Annas, was unfortunately difficult to understand through her high-pitched and speedy delivery of the lyrics. As I said to the woman sitting next to me, who had never seen a production of JCS before, it's not an easy score to sing! I'm not sure if the levels weren't quite right in the theatre (I grabbed a last-minute seat in the balcony of the Playhouse at QPAC) or what, but sometimes the musicians drowned out the soloists' quieter notes.

My friend and I both saw a production with Shaun Kohlman as Judas, and in today's performance there were a couple of cracked notes in his first song. He did very well in what is an extremely demanding role, but I was disappointed not to have seen the much-hyped Tod Strike as Judas. (He's the one in the video.)

For a production of this scale, you can't get much better. There were 15 musicians tucked into the edges of the set, plus the apostles and their women, plus the priests, Mary and Jesus - there were often 40 to 60 performers onstage at one time! Incredible. The choreography was tight but not full of perfect lines, which suited the mood and energy of this rock musical. The costumes used similar hues to make a pleasing patchwork across the ensemble, and the set - the interior of an ageing cathedral - had enough stairs, doorways and platforms to make it interesting.

I love the rock musical theme throughout Superstar, and I remembered the music well enough that I didn't lose the plot if I missed a line, but not so well that I could anticipate every phrase. In my last year of high school I played one of the apostles, so this musical will always have a place in my heart. Harvest Rain Theatre produced a vivid and confident production of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice's classic, and I look forward to seeing more from them while I'm in Brisbane.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Future of eBooks has been delayed by a GIANT METAL CHICKEN

This is a guest post as julia does not want to write this evening. However in honour of one of her favourite bloggers making her chortle I am using this opportunity to present to her a GIANT METAL CHICKEN.

   <o \       __
      | \__| | \_\_
      |______/   \\_
         | |      |_
         | |      |
         | |
         > >

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Future of eBooks Forum - part one

Today I attended a forum at the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) that was all about ebooks. Librarians and student librarians were tweeting throughout the event, and socialising over morning tea and lunch on the slightly chilly terrace.

Presenters included:

Martin Taylor - founding director of the Digital Publishing Forum for digital publishing in NZ, publisher and managing director at Addenda Publishing.
Kate Eltham - CEO of QLD Writers Centre since 2006, founder of if:book Australia.
Sherman Young - Assoc. Professor and Assoc. Dean of Learning & Teaching in Arts at Macquarie, author of The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book.
John Scott - Burdekin Library Services Manager (via recorded video)
Jacinda Woodhead -  associate editor of Overland literary journal, runs blogs Overland and Meanland.
Jennifer Moran - panelist and contributor to Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian.

Ebook lending may be the way forward for libraries, but there are many challenges along the way. Ebook channels are still evolving and the lifecycle of the ebook is not yet stable, so although there is room for error, there is also room for experimentation.

Martin Taylor had a tough job today - speaking from the publishing side. If you're unfamiliar with the cloud over publishing lately, Harper Collins USA has been very unpopular with libraries and librarians since they changed their terms of service to allow only 26 checkouts per ebook before requiring the library to repurchase the title. They say that is the average number of checkouts a paperback can withstand before it needs replacing. Some librarians have responded with an intention to boycott, and others are fighting to increase the arbitrary number of loans.

Taylor expects that ebooks will eventually follow a model not unlike the movie industry, where cost to the user decreases post-release, and the publisher makes more money in the long run than in the opening days of a release. He says public libraries will face new challenges for patrons' time, and that the greatest threat to libraries' digital success will be a bad customer service experience. He adds that terms are needed to manage channel conflict (ie; publishers-authors-libraries-schools), and that libraries will face new competition.

A partnership between publishers and libraries is Taylor's hope for the future. Within this partnership, they would talk directly to authors and publishers, challenge traditions by "opening the door" to a hybrid paid/free model, and help the public understanding of the need to experiment and change. As to the libraries themselves, they should consider and trial several access models, creating options that work at each point in a book's economic lifestyle.

Kate Eltham discussed ebook lending, both in libraries and peer to peer. New consumer models include commercial peer to peer services, which she likens to 18th century private libraries, where chosen members could borrow books. The Lendle (Kindle) and Lend Me (Barnes & Noble) "matchmaking service" style services available to US ebook readers is a step in the right direction, but it's limited by geography and a single-loan model, neither of which helps Australian libraries.

Eltham notes that the library sector is shackled with policies at the moment, but believes that libraries will deal directly with self-published authors in the near future. She thinks the internet can tackle issues of geography, access, and convenience, and that we should think about the book as a service, not as a product.

More tomorrow... if you follow me on Twitter, you can read my feed from today, or other public Twitter feeds by searching for #slqteb

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SLQ Labs Tour - part two

Part Two: Storage, Pest Prevention & Environmental Monitoring

The preservation lab staff at SLQ take great care in storing and exhibiting artefacts, but before anything can enter the lab, it goes through quarantine. It is carefully checked for pests that could spread to other items, or do further damage. No harsh chemicals are used. Freezing temperatures and oxygen deprivation are the safest and most reliable methods of controlling pests and fungal growth. Staff check each box afterwards to remove any pests that have surfaced during treatment.

When an item is stored, two considerations are paramount: the packaging, and the environment. The SLQ team makes custom-sized boxes and sleeves to suit the item or document to be stored. An encapsulation machine uses conservation-grade plastic to create sleeves, cut and sealed to size. The encapsulator leaves one corner unsealed to allow for airflow, and a small amount of space at the top that can be cut open. The sleeve can then be reused and resealed with a smaller document inside. The paper and cardboard used is carefully selected to meet conservation guidelines.

Optimal light, temperature relative humidity are also factors in storage and exhibition. The environment around art objects, documents and other artefacts is carefully monitored and controlled.

For more information, see SLQ's website.

Monday, June 20, 2011

SLQ Labs Tour - part one

Under the better-late-than-never category... library labs tour, May 31st.

Part One: Cleaning, Repair and Digitisation

The State Library of Queensland preservation labs are a study in ordered chaos. Everything is catalogued - twice - with an exhibit reference and artefact number. Team members are responsible for particular artefacts and they keep their stations prepped with tools of the task. Rolled-up maps await repairs and flattening, many of them already drycleaned and ready for the more meticulous restoration processes. Japanese paper is in regular use to "infill" tears and holes, where more similar paper cannot be found. The paper is coloured to match as closely as possible to the original document. If pieces survive, they are kept with the document to ease repair work.

Drycleaning paper is just one of the processes the SLQ's donated maps will undergo, and it's hard on your hands so task-switching is a must. Too much drycleaning can also be bad for the artefact, obscuring or erasing pencil marks. Graphite smudges, though, get special treatment. A Staedtler white eraser is grated, then brushed over the surface of smudged paper with a lightly weighted bundle of lead wrapped in cloth, which cleans without rubbing out intentional pencilled notations. Often these notations are the most interesting part of the map or plan - signatures, notes, measurements, dates. An old-fashioned shaving brush is used to gently sweep away the eraser.

Digitisation is another important part of preservation, and the team at SLQ have recently acquired a large scanner to handle poster-sized maps and other ephemera. It looks rather like a keyboard, with the scanning bed where the piano keys would go. It can scan approximately one large map in 5 minutes, and the resolution is high enough that browsers of the digital archives can plainly see the paper, not just the content. It is intended to provide as much accuracy as possible for those who cannot view the original document. Only true black and white pictures are scanned in B&W - most have colour enough, even if it is present only in the paper used, to warrant colour scanning. The IT department was very surprised at the specifications ordered by the digital archivists!

Our group asked many questions in the little scanning room, and we were very grateful to the enthusiastic and patient staff who answered them. Actually we asked many questions throughout the tour...

More tomorrow, on storage, pest prevention and environmental monitoring.

**Any errors are my own, as this post was written from photos, meagre notes and my memory.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Random Objects

As the daughter of a naval captain, I'm no stranger to packing up and moving on. Every few years, I'd go through my possessions and separate them into piles for packing, my suitcase, and to give away. Moving to Australia (on our own dime) was rather different, but as we had very little time to get organised, I had a lot of help - and offers of storage space from family. Thanks, family!

It's funny, the things you take with you, the things that you know will make your new place feel like home. Here are a few of the odds and ends that, for one reason or another, made the trek down under.

Cat-Duck and friend. Cat-Duck was a birthday present from my roommate who insisted I had everything. I figured I'd need something ridiculous to unpack.

The only books I brought with me (minus two novels I've since given away).
On top is the "Julie" book that's been everywhere with me, and on the bottom, my university writer's guide and Canadian Press Stylebook. I was sure I'd need those in my new role as sales & marketing coordinator, and I have used them many times! In the middle are devotionals and my Bible, followed by two of my favourite novels, The Birth House and The Law of Dreams (a gift from my sister).

Davey and the First Christmas
My family reads this every Christmas Eve, and it wouldn't be the holidays without it. A couple years ago, when my Mom realised we all had our own houses and hers would be in Italy and her daughters' in Canada, she looked EVERYWHERE for more copies of the book, but there was only one to be had on eBay, and it seems to have gone out of copyright. So she carefully took the original book apart and had it colour-photocopied, pop-ups and all, and assembled one for each family. The book has been a tradition since my Mom and her three siblings were small, so it means a lot to me.

Pudding Squared
When Jody and I were dating we spent three months working together in South Africa. I was a bit homesick - it was the first time I'd left Canada in five years. At the mall one day, he saw this adorable moose with its fuzzy ears and scarf. I named it Pudding, because it was the colour of chocolate mousse (ha ha) and dessert in South Africa is known as pudding. When I left Johannesburg three weeks ahead of Jody, Pudding was stuffed into my carry-on, which was so full, the airline check-in host asked to see what was inside. (This was in late August of 2006, just as airport security was starting to allow carry-ons again, in the wake of the liquid explosive terrorist plot.) She didn't quite know what to say to a 20-something with a stuffie in her bag.

One of two Batiks bought in a South African market.
We brought them over flat and I had the fabric mounted on wood frames in Sydney. I've bought or framed art on every anniversary we've spent in Australia (that's three!).

KitchenAid grater, jewelled pie server, and "Small Mashy."

The last time I left a grater in storage it rusted, and the weight was negligible, so we packed the KitchenAid one in our air freight, along with the other items in the photo. The pie server - I'm not sure why we brought it, except it was a wedding gift (as was the grater) so it was new and it's always nice to have something pretty to serve guests with. Unfortunately it is underused. We brought Jody's good knives too but left the block behind. "Small Mashy" is the best potato masher ever, and has already survived two roommate purges. But that is a story for another time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's no Central Perk

Cafe Che Co Cho is for hippies, and West End-ers. It's one of those rare Brisbane beasts, the late-night cafe. Monday is raw food night, the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month are set aside for poetry, and Tuesday is chess night.

Che: Chess
Co: Coffee
Cho: Chocolate

They have delicious hot chocolate, which is what Jody and I opted for Thursday night. We also shared a slice of blueberry cake. The bill was just over $15 and we had to wait at least twenty minutes for a place to sit, but we didn't really mind, even when our seats were outside. A young woman was singing and accompanying herself on guitar, so we listened in the doorway. A few girls sat cross-legged on the floor with their beers.

When the singers and poets took a break, the patrons broke out a harmonica and piccolo. Dreadlocked heads nodded along. A guitarist started strumming not long afterward, and soon three or four locals - including the singer - huddled around him, adding scat-style lyrics and sounds. There was no showing off, just a relaxed group making music together, soaking up life in the West End.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some Riot, Others Bake

I was hoping to write about the triumphant win of the Vancouver Canucks over the Boston Bruins in this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, but alas, the Bruins won,  4-0. The Canucks had more shots on net than the Bruins, but Boston's goaltender Tim Thomas is freaking amazing. (Also there were a lot of shots off the post.)

I was embarrassed when Game 7 ended in a shutout (ie; one team prevents the other from scoring), but not nearly as embarrassed as I came to be in the aftermath. Some people are ruining the end of the playoffs for everyone. Some people are rioting in downtown Vancouver.

As most of you know I'm a proud Canadian, but this breaks my heart. I want to disassociate myself from these hooligans. I want to assure you that we aren't all like this. Yes, we love our hockey, at least as much as Australians love footy and cricket and the Melbourne Cup. But most of us understand that it is sport. It is not something both teams can win. It is something to get excited for, be passionate about, make some noise over. It is not worth a riot. Hopefully those idiots responsible will be identified, arrested, and fined for the damages.

As for me, I was sad, so I commiserated with some friends online, then went into the kitchen. I pulled out Craisins and white chocolate chips, and set out to make Canadiana Choc Chip Cookies.

note: you can see baking powder in the pic, but don't use any! Only baking soda.

1 C butter or margarine, softened
Scant 3/4 C white sugar
Packed 3/4 C brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the above ingredients until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift together:

1 1/2 C whole wheat or plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 C oatmeal
1 C chocolate chips
1/2 C toasted walnuts and/or Craisins

Combine the dry ingredients with the wet, a little at a time. Because of the oatmeal the dough won't stick together as much as a basic choc chip recipe, but don't worry - they'll work.

This recipe turns out better as large cookies, though, so use about 3 tablespoons of dough for each one. Bake on trays, about 6 to a sheet (they spread out!) for 10-12 mins at 190 C. I used parchment paper. If you're in Canada or the US, your oven is probably larger and you can fit 8 to a sheet, and bake at 375 F.

If using two trays at once, rotate on the racks halfway through baking. Take them out when the edges are brown but the middle is still soft. Serve with milk or a cup of tea.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Balboa vs. State of Origin

Once again I've missed State of Origin - I was at a dance class! Tonight we learned beginner Balboa, which was great because I haven't done Bal in years, and nothing beyond the basic step. It goes something like this, but usually, much faster once you get the hang of it. It's great when you're tired from too many fast lindys in a row, or when the lights are low. If you're doing it right, it feels like you're floating.

Once you've got a handle on the basics, you can also combine it with swing, and dance...wait for it...bal-swing, where you get more moves to play with, and can let go of your partner.

Am I the only dancing librarian? If there are more of you out there, what styles do you do, and do you prefer partner dancing or solo? I've taken hip hop when Jody wasn't free to take swing or ballroom with me. Do you kick it in the club with whatever the music tells you to do? Or do you stay far away from moving to the music (at least before a few drinks)???

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Photo: The Popcorn Board

I'm not being clever - this is a blog post about popcorn. To be more precise, popcorn is the answer to my question for readers today: what is your favourite snack while watching TV?

I won't be writing much tonight as I am still recovering from staying up so late to edit and format a paper, so I have what I call "assignment brain." I've had to look at my text carefully to make sure I'm not making typos all over the place, because I am tired. I think snacks are just my speed.

Tonight I finally got to watch the mid-season finale of Doctor Who - A Good Man Goes to War. I won't spoiler you but gosh it was a good episode and I need to watch it again.

Popcorn is my snack of choice when I want to treat myself while watching TV or a movie, and stove-popped wins every time. It reminds me of when I was a girl and would go to my friend Rachel's after school. Her house was literally next door to my middle school, and her mom made us popcorn in this massive old cast iron pot, and I was sure it was the best popcorn I would ever taste.

Leave your fave snack in the comments...

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Last

Unfortunately I'm not going to be able to post anything brilliant tonight because I am using up all my brilliance in the last assignment of my first semester in library studies... Fortunately this means I am FREE tomorrow! I will catch up on last night's missed post and today's as well :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Penguins are Adorable

I mean really, who can argue with that? My husband might add that I am adorable, but that's probably because of the time he and I were in South Africa, and there were penguins, and I was completely unprepared for their adorableness. Actually I was unprepared for their existence. I mean, Africa - it's warm, like Australia, and there's no penguins there.

My first clue that there were penguins in South Africa:

And me, in disbelief at the tiny, not-from-Antarctica penguin:

Since that 2006 trip I have learned a few things, including that penguins also reside in Australia. My sis and I travelled to Melbourne when she came to visit in early 2009, and we went to see the Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. It was fantastic! I would totally recommend it.

The lovely people of Phillip Island were just as protective of their "fairy penguins"

Pam and I were not allowed to take photos of the penguins because the flash in the dark harms their little eyeballs, so we bought each other cute stuffed ones instead:

If you do go, "rug up" or dress warm, because sitting on the wooden risers in front of the water, waiting for tiny penguins, gets chilly. We bought ourselves the visitor packs with a foamy to sit on and a fleecy blanket. The blanket is still in use (it's been cold lately!) and reminds me of a happy trip with my sister. And penguins, of course.

Friday, June 10, 2011

I. Am. Canadian.

Things that make me feel not-very-Canadian:

Being cold, in Queensland.
Near-inability to ski (I've done it twice!)
Knowing Australian wines better than Canadian
Using Australian terms instead, like capsicum
Not knowing which lake was the largest, completely within the Canadian border, on trivia night (it's Great Bear Lake)

Canada flag halifax 9 -04

Things that make me feel Canadian:

My accent
Previous homes in 3 provinces
(Slightly rusty) French
Pancakes, bacon & maple syrup
The national anthem, and flag
Poppies and Remembrance Day
My dad, who serves in the Navy

The Canucks have just GOT to win the Stanley Cup. Or we will never live it down. GO CANUCKS GO! Or alternatively, COCONUTS GO!

This parody is the best thing I've seen all week. I could not stop laughing. And it's Friday, so this is perfect! I've already tweeted it :)
Game Day

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wikimedia Workshop

I was chosen as one of two QUT students from IT43 to attend a Wikimedia workshop at the State Library of Queensland on Monday, May 16th. Craig Franklin, QLD representative, and John Vandenberg, Wikimedia president for Australia, taught the session at The Edge.

We began with an overview of 10 Simple Rules and the 5 Pillars of editing, then learned how the Wiki family of sites is interconnected. There's a single sign-on, so once you've registered, you can add content across all the wikis.

During the training session we edited some scanned text. The Wiki software uses OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to read and interpret scanned documents, but it's not perfect. Faded or antiquated fonts are more difficult to process, and human eyes are needed to proofread, with a second volunteer to verify the initial proofread. In these types of content pages, the "original" copy is retained alongside the plain text, for reference and as added value. A historical document or early print edition of a book, for instance, is notable for its format and not just its content.

What do you think of WIkipedia? Do you use it or run in fear? Craig and John assured us that Wikipedia's collective knowledge is growing and has become more reliable than when it was first started up. Some high-profile pages, for example Katy Perry's entry, are locked so that only certain accounts can make changes - this has cut down on malicious edits. The upload and naming policies aren't exactly strict (in fact, you're encouraged to BE BOLD!) and it seems more people are becoming part of this amazing worldwide knowledge network.

What astounded me was the woman in the workshop who had no background knowledge or Wikipedia at all. It's certainly not new, so I assumed anyone who'd spent any time online would have come across it and known its basic principles. But when we were editing pages of the scanned book, she noticed an earlier edit and asked, "Who is that?" and I just shrugged and said, "Some guy." She was astounded that he wasn't a professor, or a writer, or a vetted expert in the field. She just didn't understand, until that moment, that Wikipedia was literally the encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. I'm glad she came to the workshop and hope she is able to use her new skills in her work!

It was neat to edit the scanned book and learn more about OCR. I wish the workshop had been more advanced because I might end up teaching a session on wiki editing myself, along with Katya, the other participant from QUT.

So, Wikipedia, Wikimedia, etc... bane or blessing of your existence?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Blurb and a Beat

Not much from me tonight, just a blurb. Today I've been busy "assignmenting," to borrow a friend's term for paper-writing. I hope I'm as on track as I think I am because it's due at 5pm tomorrow!

I gave my mind and my muscles a stretch tonight by going to a swing dance class. It's been ages since I've taken a class, or danced with anyone other than Jody - and that's mainly been in our living room when the mood strikes. (He and I met at a dance class.) So! My little feet were triple-stepping and my ears were treated to some swing as I did some gentle, slow-paced lindy hop.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

All About Books

1. Which book has been on your shelves the longest?
Aside from my name-stamped, white leather bound KJV? Probably my Anne of Green Gables set.

2. What is your current read, your last read and the book you'll read next?
I just finished The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I'm still in the middle of Colony of Unrequited Dreams by Wayne Johnston but I only pick it up from time to time. After I get through my last assignment I will greedily dive into Room by Emma Donoghue.

3. What book did everyone like and you hated?
I remember in middle school everyone but me liked Goosebumps.

4. Which book do you keep telling yourself you'll read, but you probably won't?
War and Peace - I mean, really...

5. Name three authors who feature strongly in your reading history:
Robin McKinley, Robin Jones Gunn, Jane Austen.

6. Last page: read it first or wait till the end?
I never read the last page first. Ever.

7. Acknowledgements: waste of ink and paper or interesting aside?
I don't always pay a lot of I read recently, though, dedicated the book to women who were abused, and urged them to get out of their situation. The book was about a woman who had created a new life for herself after running from an abusive husband.

8. Which book character would you switch places with?
(I answered this last - it's so hard!) It would be fun to be Thursday Next! My second, more serious choice is Christy Huddleston from Catherine Marshall's Christy.

9. Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time)?
Oh gosh, this is hard with 90% of my collection in boxes in Canada. I collected two series by Robin Jones Gunn, "Christy Miller" and "Sierra Jensen" - those are very evocative of my teens.

10. Name a book you acquired in some interesting way.
When I was 18 I was published in a poetry anthology, and received two copies for me and one copy for my high school library. It's called Bytes of Poetry: a Anthology.

11. Have you ever given away a book for a special reason to a special person?
I *got* a book from my sister as a gift when I graduated with my undergrad - The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens. I'm sure I've done the opposite but can't think of an example just now.

12. Which book has been with you to the most places?
Julie by Catherine Marshall. Three provinces, three countries, 17 years. And the first time I finished it I was on a plane, and I bawled. Thankfully I was the only one still awake on the flight.

13. Any "required reading" you hated in high school that wasn't so bad ten years later?
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

14. What is the strangest item you've ever found in a book?
Nothing comes to mind, which is odd considering how many years I worked in a thrift shop. Too bad, this is a good question.

15. Used or brand new?
Depends how badly I want it! I love browsing in used bookstores and used to work in one. But I will buy new if it's just come out and I can't get it for Kindle.

16. Stephen King: Literary genius or opiate of the masses?
I haven't read any Stephen King. Except a few chapters of "On Writing."

17. Have you ever seen a movie you liked better than the book?
I'm leaning toward Time Traveler's Wife, but if I could count a musical instead of a movie, I LOVED the musical version of WICKED and barely slogged through the book.

18. Conversely, which book should NEVER have been introduced to celluloid?
Alex Rider: Stormbreaker. I caught the last half on TV and it was terrible. Bill Nighy was its only redeeming quality. I haven't read the books.

19. Have you ever read a book that's made you hungry, cookbooks being excluded from this question?
Oh yes. In fact I remember two:
Sunshine by Robin McKinley - had me craving cinnamon rolls
Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie - there is no way you can read this and NOT make chicken marsala

20. Who is the person whose book advice you'll always take?
Probably my best friend's, but she doesn't read fantasy or regency romance, so she won't always take my advice!

21. What's the first book you remember really loving?
Oh What a Busy Day! My sister and I wore it out.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Waiting for...

Season 2 of The Vampire Diaries

Season 4 of True Blood

The last episode of Doctor Who before the series takes a 2-month hiatus

Book 4 of The Parasol Protectorate, Heartless, by Gail Carriger


Jane Eyre

Even though the above point to a preference for vampire stories, under no circumstances will I be watching Breaking Dawn. Nope, not gonna happen. Also, I saw a trailer today on Youtube for a Rachel McAdams flick that comes out in February of 2012. What's up with that? Why make us wait so long?

I don't watch much TV because I can't stand all the ad breaks, but lately I have been enjoying Sunday nights - Downton Abbey at 8:30, followed directly by Castle. Maggie Smith is fantastic as Lady Grantham, and although the show has haters who say it's boring, I say they just don't appreciate period drama. I quite enjoyed the first two episodes - they're like a comedy of manners, but with blackmail.

With final assignments due over the course of the coming week, today you get a relatively mindless post from me - I thought Mindless Monday sounded like a perfect tag. Bonus post, though, if you're intrigued by the sound of the Parasol Protectorate - it's a clever and fun steampunk+supernatural series, and you can check out my (mostly spoiler-free) review here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tea for Two

I am a big fan of tea. I don't know whether it's my British ancestry or the ceremony of making the tea, or if it's simply having a few minutes to myself to regroup, with a warm cup nestled in my hands.

My husband Jody is also a tea drinker (unless it's morning - then he needs his espresso!) so recently, we  had a mini date in Southbank at Tlicious. They offer Devonshire Tea for $7 - a scone with jam & cream, along with a personal pot of loose tea. Sweet deal!

The tea was lovely and the china wasn't too pretentious, which suited the relaxed vibe of Southbank. I had Darjeeling and Jody, Assam. The server brought a very unique timer to our table, which you can see in the photo. Depending on how strong you like your tea, the sand will tell you when to pour.

It must have been busy that day because there were no plain scones left, so we opted for chocolate chip for Jody and pumpkin for me. Usually I adore pumpkin scones, but these were too literal - plain scones dotted with soft nibbles of pumpkin. The choc chip is reportedly yummy but messy...

If you like the tea you chose, it's available inside the shop to take home. The perfect tea timer was a nice touch, and the tea and scone were of good quality. Bottom line? Recommended: for girl time, a mini-date, or a solo time-out.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Missed Connections

I feel like my academic side could have an entry in mx's Missed Connections:

Keen student seeks motivated, talented assignment partner. Last seen week 11, attending classes and perusing books and journals in the library. Please come back. I can do this without you, but I'd prefer not to.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Express Fish Tacos

I had a paper to write today so lunch had to be fast, but I've been trying to eat healthy. I remembered I had some basa from the market to use up (two pieces were pan-fried in spices, like so), some veggies and some tortillas, so I decided fish tacos would fit the bill.

I whacked some tinfoil into my Pyrex to make clean-up easy, then added the fish and squirted on some lemon, with a few dollops of salsa. Into the oven it went for 25 minutes at 180 (give or take - my oven's off). While it was baking I chopped up an eschallot, a bit of red pepper, and the corn off a cob. Cilantro* is what makes fish tacos delicious though, so I didn't skimp on that - and, tip from Jaime Oliver, you can chop the stems and throw them into your stir fry!

A bit of oil and heat plus a frying pan and I was in business. In went the veggies, except the leaves, for about five minutes. Next I took out the fish and chopped it roughly with a fork, then spread half a fillet on a whole wheat soft tortilla. The hot veggies and a spoon or two of salsa followed, along with a generous bunch of coriander.

Fold and place back in the Pyrex (having removed the tinfoil) to warm, then add salsa & sour cream to your plate, and enjoy! I swear this whole thing will take less than 40 minutes once the oven is up to temperature, and most of that is waiting for the fish to bake.

*Aussies call it coriander, whereas we Canadians differentiate between the leaves - cilantro - and the seeds - coriander. Don't ask me why. Eschallots and scallions and green onions are equally confusing but Donna Hay has an answer. Basically you can use any onion you have around; I had the little reddish ones that grow in clumps like garlic, which I know as eschallots.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Controversy at the Bus Stop

I know of two things that are sure to get librarians talking - censorship and social media.

Adshel pulled down these bus stop campaign ads after receiving about 30 targeted complaints from the Australian Christian Lobby:

ACL Queensland director Wendy Francis deemed the ads inappropriate for the space, but conceded the message was OK. Josh Thomas (comedian) tweeted, "Wendy Francis thinks hugging is foreplay. Remember that if you see her hugging her kids."

The gay couple pictured in the ad, supported by about 30 people, organised a protest via Twitter and Facebook in a "matter of hours" ( and made their voices heard outside Adshel's Fortitude Valley office today. The company has since reversed its decision to pull the campaign, concluding that they had "been the target of a coordinated ACL campaign." (Steve McCarthy, Adshel chief exec)

Honestly, there are more provocative ads on daytime TV for perfume. I think the campaign is tasteful, and timely (according to Healthy Communities, more men were diagnosed with HIV in 2010 than in the mid 1980s) and there should be more safe sex messages like it, for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Sure it's awkward to explain to kids, but that's assuming they recognise the little red packet - they might just see a couple embracing. I've certainly seen more PDA than that, live at the bus stop!

One of the hot topics in my collections development lecture was censorship, and LGBT literature - and literature about sexuality - are just as deserving of shelf space and circulation as other publications. The key is to balance to collection to represent varying points of view, and don't hide the more controversial texts in the restricted area.

I know it's something I'll be paying attention to when I go to work, and when I receive requests from clients, I'll do my best to abide by ALIA guidelines, not make judgments, and provide access to requested materials. I'm a librarian (in training), and I find stuff!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Perils of Poor Word Choice

I'll start off #blogjune on a lighthearted note. There may be no stupid questions, but there certainly are poorly worded ones. I can imagine that I'll be asked some strange and wonderful questions when I become a librarian, but hopefully no one will run screaming from the reference section at gunpoint.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what kind of librarian I'd like to be. When I spoke to @katiedatwork back in January about the MLIS program, she said I could figure it out as I go. Thank goodness! The more I learn the more there is to learn. Over the past three months I've discovered professions I didn't know existed, and am now able to give friends less vague answers to the question: "What do you learn in your library degree anyway?"

I am so excited about the possibilities! I've been to lots of library tours and workshops to explore the profession I'll soon find myself in. Yes, I'm a bit of a nerd. And yes, the tours only made me more excited, and more intrigued by how many industries need librarians and information professionals. Unlike the career paths of my grandparents, mine won't follow a straight line.

Libraries Interact is hosting a challenge to blog every day in June! We'll see how I go. You can follow the 60 bloggers here - - if you understand how. I'll try to make sense of it tomorrow!

Monday, May 23, 2011

French Elegance

Author: Muriel Barbery
Book: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Language: Translated from French
Publisher: Gallic Books, 2008

A writer friend of mine urged me to read this book, so when I saw it in the airport bookshop I decided it would keep me company for the flight home from Barcelona. My copy has a beautiful cover, with dreamy-coloured French houses in twilight, a stained-glass window effect and (appropriately) elegant text. Humour and levity balance the profound thoughts of life,  culture and the delicacy of human interactions.

The hedgehog of the title is the book's main character, Renee. More cultured and observant than any concierge ought to be, Renee is a clever but understated woman who conceals her inner elegance. She is known as Madame Michel to the residents of the prestigious Paris apartment on the Left Bank. The novel is propelled by two narratives, one from Renee and the other twelve-year-old Paloma, who lives in the apartment where Renee is the concierge. Paloma is not your typical preteen. She is determined to escape what she believes is a 'predictably bourgeoise future' (Gallic, back cover copy) and is intent on writing 'profound thoughts' in her journal prior to committing suicide on her thirteenth birthday. She is one of three people who sees glimpses of the intelligence Renee tries to hide.

The characters' speech is nuanced just so, and the travails of everyday life are expressed in sure, deliberate prose. Barbery's supporting characters could easily have been empty caricatures, but each contributes to the atmosphere of Renee's Paris. The book is charming and accessible, and French down to the spine.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Wedding, as Tweeted by Me

I never would have thought I'd be on Twitter, much less tweeting about the royal wedding of Wills and Kate - but it was nice, given that I was at home with Jody on our couch, to feel like we weren't the only two people watching. I made tea, cucumber sandwiches, and curried egg sandwiches, and we toasted the couple.


Nearly missed the first glimpse of  in her dress b/c Jody chose tonight to rip apart TV and other cables 

In reply to my friend KF, who tweeted: Advanced Hair Pro William. Speak to Warney after,  Better a balding husband than one with big ears. 

John Rutter has composed a song with lyrics from Psalms for the Westminster choir - what a lovely wedding gift

It's ok to transform your partner, but don't try to reform them - wise words. This address is very nice. # royalwedding

In reply to my friend KF, who tweeted: YEE. I heard the word YEE. And now doth. THIS WEDDING IS THE BEST. Thou! Oh man. THEE.Don't forget TROTH

What is up with Princess Beatrice's hat? 

Now that's what I call a carriage  

Waiting for the balcony kiss. It better not be on the cheek,

Two little kisses, and now the flypast.  

 couple interviewed by ch 7 - he flubbed his words, "It's a once in a moment lifetime."