Thursday, April 30, 2009


for the past week or so i have been making recycled paper with the kids at work. my co-worker found a paper-making kit at savers (the australian name for value village-- its the same company, same font style and colour on their signs, same price tag design, their gift vouchers actually say "value village" and have the u.s. company info on them). funny thing about the kit is i think it's the same one i tried to buy at the same store about a year or so ago but i put it back on the shelf while i tried a couple things on and one of the 3 other customers in the store must have grabbed it. i'm pretty sure its the exact kit and not just the same kind of kit (a weird mark on the box and the contents were still in excellent condition just like the one i missed out on). i think after 2 batches of paper i've got the process down to an art form and batch 3 (which is soaking overnite and will be formed into paper sheets tomorrow) is gonna be pretty close to perfect (i had trouble getting all the paper sheets to be "paper thin" but i think i've figured out the trick). i'm impressed with most of the results so far. much better than anything i've made on my own before (with d.i.y. paper making equipment-- although i now know what to change on my homemade kit to make it work better in the future). i think i'm gonna keep making paper with the kids for the rest of the year. it's a good activity, they're learning lots and we get to have good chats while we sit there tearing used paper and old magazines/newspapers into little pieces (and of course they all love just playing with the pulp we make before turning it into sheets of paper).

it's not supposed to be winter yet

today was the coldest april morning in melbourne for decades (or maybe it was the coldest morning on record-- i can't remember). the graph above says 3.1 but it was less than 3C in the city(by us) and with the wind chill it was below freezing (the dew on the cars today was actually ice). its so cold now in the morning that our stupid computer (which has issues) won't run. we think its something to do with the graphics card. on a normal day we turn the computer on, the screen goes funny after it loads up, we leave it 5 minutes, restart and it works fine. when it's colder we have to leave it longer. when its REALLY cold (like under 10C) it takes 30 minutes or more before it will restart properly (maybe it's time to look into getting that fixed). the last 4 days before today haven't hit 15C (apparently the first time 4 consecutive april days like that since the 60s). the mountains have also had a decent dump of snow this week (i think the season doesn't officially open for 6 weeks). this afternoon was amazing though. warm, sunny-- so nice to be outside (the dog got an extra big walk). hopefully the worst of the cold is over for a while. i don't do well with winter.

Friday, April 24, 2009

pesto pizza

i've been wanting to make this for a while but haven't just cuz it requires a lot of making stuff from scratch which takes a lot of time. i spent an hour or so this afternoon making vegan pesto, 2 kinds of vegan cheese (kind of a mild cheddar style-one and feta) and a pizza crust (i did the quick no yeast crust though). i needed all of that (plus some baby spinach and shallots) to make "tyler and phoebe's perfect pesto pizza" from la dolce vegan. it was sooo good and so worth the effort. the photo above was from before the pizza was cooked. by the time it was ready i was hungry and it looked amazing so it was finished off pretty quickly.
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

i don't know why

i don't know why but every time i see this ad it makes me laugh.

i think it's because they've "australianized" it so well (a lot of american products sold here will just have the american ad dubbed over with voices with australian accents). or maybe its the whole aussie bloke-iness of the tough, meaty soup.
every time the ad ends though i'm left with this weird feeling in my gums. its the feeling i'd always get when i'd have that soup as a kid. i grew up with a lot of canned soup and i have to say that that campbells chunky was my least favourite. the beef chunks took way too much chewing (and even before i went veggie beef was one of my least favourite meats) and my gums would always feel weird eating it(i think from the amount of hard chewing).

Friday, April 17, 2009

i did it!

i've attempted to make bread twice before (one soda bread and one with yeast). both ended up as failures (VERY dense, non-rising loaves that also didn't seem to cook thru). today i decided to attempt "easy french bread" from la dolce vegan. i was worried right from the start that maybe the 1 packet of yeast the recipe called for may be a different size than north american sizes (because sometimes things are stupid like that). i tried to measure it (cuz sarah kramer also put the imperial dry measurement) but some of it stuck to the bowl (which apparently zac didn't get all his popcorn oil out of when he washed it). the measurement i got seemed to be less than the 2 1/2 tsp i needed (even trying to estimate and add in the yest stuck in the bowl). i decided to continue anyway. when i got to the baking part i pre-heated the oven for ages to be sure it was hot. i also set it about 10C higher than i should because i've started to realize our oven is a bit cold (one day i will get a proper oven thermometer to know exactly when the oven is the right temperature). i left it baking for about 5 minutes longer than the 20 minutes called for before i even checked on it. when i stuck the knife in it felt like it was going thru cooked, risen bread and it came out clean!! after letting it sit for 15 minutes i did the taste test. sooooo good. i think i'll be making some vegan "chicken" soup (also from la dolce vegan) for lunch tomorrow and french bread to go with it.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

summer to winter

so yesterday was almost 29C. it stayed warm thru the evening and didn't even get too cold overnite (its actually colder outside now than it was at any point during the nite). today we have a maximum of 18C i don't know if we're even going to get to that with these COLD strong winds (apparently 18C is supposed to happen before lunch time and then its all downhill from there). i woke up to winds banging and rattling everything this morning and then rain. not good rain but rain that would just wet the top layer of soil in the garden (it just kinda sounded like someone was spraying our house with a hose). i'm going from singlet to fuzzy hoodie (as well as socks and shoes instead of flip flops) in less than 24 hrs 8(. at least the rest of the week isn't as bad as today.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

why didn't i try them before?

the other nite i decided to make fajitas. i based them on this recipe but replaced the beef/chicken with tofu (i did intend to use vegan "chicken" but the asian grocery store near us that carries it was out). i marinated the tofu in the sauce for an hour or so (only cuz i cut it up then remembered that zac was coming home late). i also wanted some vegan sour cream but we couldn't find it the other nite and i couldn't remember which supermarket carries it (not sure if the one we were at was just out or if i usually get it from one of the other 2 that we go to). i did make some great guacamole though and we had a bit of cheezely and chopped tomatoes. after we started eating them i thought: i don't think i've ever had fajitas (maybe once but considering how much i LOVE mexican food i don't know why i don't have them often). they were really good. unfortunately no pictures because i was really hungry by the time we ate and i didn't realize how good they were gonna be.

Monday, April 06, 2009


i decided to bike into the city today. i have only done that once in the last several months (and it was only the the top corner of the city near the market) because it can be kind of scary. i had an appointment in carlton and thought about just parking my bike at the museum and walking from there but then when i looked on the map to see where else i could leave my bike i remembered swanston st has copenhagen bike lanes now (they've been there for ages but i've only used them twice before). as i started riding down swanston street i remembered that my first experience with the copenhagen style lane wasn't very good. i think i had at least 3 cars pull out in front of me (after looking and seeing me and other riders coming and knowing that traffic was backed up and they were going to have to sit and block the lane until traffic moved). today was good going in. the only issue i had was a group of international uni students j-walking (and that was after the copenhagen lane ended). half the group looked and saw me and another cyclist coming and ran across. the rest of the group just slowly made their way without looking. i yelled out "excuse me" (i was very polite) which made them jump and pick up their speed (except the last one in the group who just stopped in the middle of the road until i passed).
on the way home a vic roads guy asked me if i had a minute to do a quick survey while the light was red. i was happy to stop for a minute so i answered his questions about how i liked the bike lane and how safe i felt on it. i said my only issue was cars pulling across the green painted lane in and out of driveways and sidestreets and cutting cyclists off. i was gonna point out that it looked like there was a van doing that half a block a head of me. i didn't. it was still there when i went thru the lights. it wasn't just going in or out of a driveway. the van was completely illegally parked across the green bike lane! i managed to get up on the footpath, squeeze past some pedestrians and then hop the kerb (yes, i spelled kerb right. in oz it's that way, not c-u-r-b) and get back in the lane. less than 2 blocks later a guy was parallel parked on top of the bike lane (cars should never even be in the bike lane other than to cross over it-- cars park on the other side of a raised kerb, next to moving traffic with copenhagen style lanes). just as i approached and got up on the footpath again the guy walked up to the back of his van. for a second i thought about asking him if he knew it was illegal to park there and that it was making things dangerous for cyclists but i really didn't feel like getting yelled at if he decided that he had some right to be there because he was servicing something (he had a bunch of wires and stuff in his van so i figured he was probably servicing some electrical or phone box on the street). he still should be parked in an actual legal parking spot and not in a traffic lane (even if it is a bike traffic lane).
i'm glad i don't really go into the city much any more (and i usually endure public transport when i do). at least for the most part our local suburbs have some good bike lanes and nice side streets for cycling on (although it was in a nice bike lane on a side street that i got doored).

wet and cold

i know it's not actually cold but it feels SOOOO cold (especially overnite). we had some REALLY good storms on friday. i went home for lunch a bit early because a storm was heading in (i had no rain gear with me and i really didn't want to be out with lightning). the rain started coming down a couple minutes after i got home. after i ate the storm got going with LOTS of thunder and lightning. me and wombat sat in the laundry room with the back door open watching the rain POUR down and the flashes of lightning. some of them were pretty close. there was one point where a HUGE flash of lightning went and less than a second later a MASSIVE crash of thunder came. both me and wombat looked at each other with wide eyes-- it was kind of scary. funny that she's not really scared of thunder storms (she continued to watch with me after that). she's scared of the wind, doesn't know how to react to other dogs..... but big bangs and flashes of light from nowhere aren't a problem. meanwhile, my coworkers were trapped in the covered area at the back of the yard (they had gone outside just as i went home for lunch). the main teacher just huddled all the kids in close and started singing songs with them (and she did pretty well at hiding her own fear when the storm got really close and loud). fortunately the kids did well (most of them wouldn't remember any storms like this one) but apparently the 2 assistants with her were pretty scared. we had another storm pass thru during rest time but again the kids did well (i did sit with one little girl who was huddled under her blanket on her mat with her hands over her ears-- she fell asleep a couple minutes after i sat with her). unfortunately i don't think much of the rain actually made it into the catchment areas but maybe we'll have lots of good rain storms this winter and get the water levels up(?)

Friday, April 03, 2009

one last time

i think summer decided it needed one last send off. the last week has been cool mornings (especially when i get up) and then warm-hot afternoons (and then cools pretty quickly most evenings as soon as the sun is gone)-- very early atumn-y. today's high was originally forecast as 23C. i think we hit that sometime around 4am. it feels so weird to be up at 7 and be almost too warm in a tshirt and jeans (and i'm pretty sure we're not gonna get back up to 25C today since we were at it before 6am) tomorrow's high is 18C-- that's 3C colder than it got overnite last nite!!!!! autumn is on it's way to kick summer out (and just in time for my week off). hopefully the change in weather will bring some good rain.