December 2012 Archives

2012 Year in Review

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So 2012.  

The year started with us in Sydney with Stu's friend Kore who was visiting from the USA.  We saw the Sydney fireworks on New Year's Eve, then came home.  Went to River Island with her and D&Y and had another week off just hanging around Canberra.

This year saw us have our biggest ever trips away from home.  Stu had decided to take some long service leave and spent three months in Japan - two and a bit of those studying Japanese, and some travel at the end.  So when the parents said they were going to the Middle East I decided I would go too.  I spent two weeks with them on a tour round Israel and Jordan, then we appended that with ten days in Egypt.  I still had a couple of weeks to fill in before I was planning to meet up with Stu, so took myself off to London and then wandered across the top of Europe from Paris to Copenhagen via Brussels, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Billund.  Finally I flew across to Japan and after a couple of days around Osaka had some time in Hokkaido.  It was an epic trip and I saw some amazing stuff!  I was quite nervous in the lead up to the trip that I'd get sick or something would happen and it would all fall apart.  But fortunately nothing went wrong.  In fact probably the only "disaster" of the whole trip was an airline going out of business while I was on my trip, costing me several hours out of my day in Copenhagen because I had to bus/train it there from Billund instead of fly.

In other travel news, we went to Dave's coast house in July and December, and visited Chay and David in Queensland in August.  Finished off December with Boxing Day in Sydney, then a couple of days in the Hunter Valley.

I got my UK trip photos blogged - finishing up two years after the trip.

At work I came to the realisation that I like doing documentation.  Tragic I know ;)  As always a pretty busy year, although things did let up a bit for me after the trip, as we had several new people getting up to speed so we were able to spread the workload out a bit.  So the latter part of the year gave me some time to do my other favourite thing - tidying!  The year finished with a massive downer though, with one of our team members refusing to do oncall anymore and thereby increasing the work load for the rest of us.  It's been causing me all sorts of stress/anxiety :(

Otherwise my health had a pretty good year, just a couple of short colds (got a flu vaccination which possibly helped).

We had a very social year this year, visiting, being visited and going out with lots of people.  There were several games nights at Mishi's in February, March, April and July, although somehow Stu never managed to meet Lana.  From Stu's work, we saw Josh and Ally a few times, Gaelian and Stephanie, Tristan, and Kirily.  From my work there were a few bbqs at Chris', a Japanese feast at Doc's, a couple of dinners with Tony and Heather (that Stu missed for one reason or another) and some movie/singstar nights with a big group in January and October, and one with just Doc.  Nat and Andrew came over a few times, including a hanami party.  We saw Damien and Amanda a few times - for a birthday lunch (that Stu missed because he was in Japan), a Christmas dinner party, and a war games day.  There were meetups with internet friends - we went out with Fiona and Chrispycon a few times, and Stu's friend Gene came to visit.  From Sydney, we had beer with Luc, had the parents come down to stay for a weekend, although Stu wasn't feeling very well so we didn't spend much time with them, and Peter came to stay with us for a month while on a short term contract.  Hao also came for a conference and we had a good catchup.  David came to stay a few times, and Yvonne came once as well.  All of that socialising meant we didn't have DC over as often, so the Buffy and Angel watching suffered somewhat.

With the fish, a fairly quiet year.  We let the numbers dwindle down before we went away, as we wanted to minimise the number of tanks for Doc to have to look after while we were away.  While we were away my last remaining original fish died - my ten year old angel.  I gave that tank a thorough cleaning and got some danios for it.  I also got five baby angels, but all but one of them died within a week :(  So at the moment there's the "angel" tank with danios and an angel, the two foot with a couple of guppies and the remaining black neon tetras, and maybe a catfish or three we got from Chay and David, the four foot with duboisi, multis, a leleupi and a j.transcriptus (the big catfish died Christmas eve) and the "krib" tank downstairs with the three remaining kribs and a golden panchax killifish.

Not much happened on the Lego front this year (apart from visiting *two* Legolands on my holiday).  Neil and I went to the annual Brick Expo, this time getting tickets to the VIP dinner.  That was a lot of fun, and got to see all the Lego displays without crowds.

I've been doing a lot of jigsaws recently, and I did the second section of the 24000 piece one.

New toys I bought this year included a new computer (the previous one was five years old) and an iPhone 5 (Optus data is worse on it than the 3GS but otherwise it's a pretty cool phone).  Had many long hours of stress fighting with iTunes - moving to a new computer, getting the iOS updated on the old phone and moving to the new phone).  I also stockpiled some Buckyballs before they were banned for sale in Australia and got the London Olympics for the wii (not as good as the original).  For the house we bought a purple "comfy" chair for Stu for the study, a new lounge suite and a buffet to match the dining table, and a new printer.

We're still eating out quite a lot, and I've become one of those annoying food photographers.  Our favourites are still Black Pepper for weekend brunches, and the Dumpling Inn.  Other places we went to this year included Sammy's, Gus', Happy's, Alice's, Ardeche (ourselves and for Noah's birthday), Mork's (with Tony, Heather and Jess, and also with Damien and Amanda), Café Essen, Asia Café, Bella Vista (don't get there as often as we'd like, but did go with work and James and George and the kids), Ginger and Spice (for Annie's birthday), As Nature Intended, Kimchi and Zierholz Fyshwick.  With work people there were also visits to Zierholz UC, Samiuz, Bolly Buds, 2 Yummy, Guzman Y Gomez, Chong Co and Mad Mex.  We also got into a semi-regular habit of going for drinks after work on a Friday, at such places as Ha Ha Bar, The Lighthouse and the Labor Club.

I didn't do as much dessert creating this year, but did attempt a blueberry cheesecake, chocolate oranges, and a pretty spectacular layered cherry pavlova (twice!).  Also made hollandaise sauce for the first time.

Shows seen:
Fiddler on the Roof
1927
ACO

Movies seen:
Tintin
Arrietty
Hugo
Excalibur
Prometheus
Brave
Skyfall

Books read:
War of the Worlds
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
(can't remember if I read any more books - didn't read many because of not getting the bus as much in the mornings, and taking a shorter bus in the afternoons and walking)

Other bits and pieces:

Blogged less - less to say during the week
UK photo sorting/blogging
Problems with a fish tank heater tripping the circuit breakers
Back fence latch ripped off by persons unknown
Enjoyed the new donut sculpture in Civic
Watched the new Cotter Dam overflow
Ran a trivia night at work that was "the best organised trivia night ever" (according to a couple of people)
Canberra Airport open day
Got annoyed at a major ramp up in comment spam
DC's dog Benny died
Poultry show at EPIC
Skiing - with Steve in July and twice with Peter in August
Whiskey night
Started getting veggie boxes from Aussie Farmers Direct
Moving Feast Winery tour at Murrambateman with Tony and family
Did a bit of recording of VHS tapes to DVD
Fought with the overgrown garden
Nara Candle Festival
Halloween party at Chris'
Neighbour's goat died
Saw and got some great photos of the solar eclipse
Turned off my PIII 866 computer which had been running for most of eleven years
Exercise bike broke
Go Karting for a work Christmas party
Drinks and pizza at boss' boss' boss' boss' boss' place
Joined a small social club, went to their Christmas party
Sold my iPhone 3GS to Heather
Christmas afternoon tea at Scott and Kerry's

Ended the year with a pool party with Nat and Andrew and Steve over for swimming, dinner and games.

Home

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So we're home after nearly a week away.  

And after having spent just about every Christmas since I left Sydney either in Sydney, or in Queensland, or had family etc staying (except 2009 I think), I had a dummy spit the other day.  I want the week off next year.  I don't want to go anywhere or do anything.  I just want a week at home.  Is that too much to ask?  After sixteen years I still miss my uni three month long summer holidays.  And yet for the past five years I don't think I've had more than four or five days in a block at home since I moved here.  So yeah.  Next year will be going on strike!

Think people are here for our new years eve celebrations!

The last of the three brothers of this family to get married, in an Australian-Greek-Chinese wedding.

Brothers

Bridesmaids

Bride

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Wedding party

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

Andy and Crystal

Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Montage

Reception

Reception

Reception

Wedding cake

Cake cutting

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

Andy and Crystal

 

So quite a lovely wedding, and a good time was had by all.

But special mention needs to be made of the "professional" photographers.  I haven't been to many weddings that have had professional photographers, so I don't really know what's normal.

But I didn't think walking down the aisle with the bride was

Annoying professional photographers

Or getting in everyone's faces during the ceremony (at one point the priest waved one of the photographers away)

Annoying professional photographers

Or sharing the dance floor during the bridal waltz

Annoying professional photographers

Or getting *in the middle* of the Greek dancing

Annoying professional photographers

Or sharing the exit limelight with the bride and groom

Annoying professional photographers

Personally, I found their behaviour to be not very professional at all, especially at the church.  My cousins agreed, and they even later made a formal complaint.  So when one of the photographers was overheard complaining that he couldn't get "five minutes" alone to work (when he'd just *had* five minutes alone, *and* the shot he was complaining about wasn't even setup by him), well you're hardly going to get any respect or sympathy.  But hopefully the photos and video they get will make it worth it.

Anyways.  Congratulations Andy and Crystal :)

Hunter Valley

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Day 1

The day after boxing day we made our exit from Sydney.  Since we had to be back on the 30th for my cousin's wedding, the options were to stay in Sydney, go home, or have a couple of nights somewhere else.  We decided to go to the Hunter Valley.

We let the GPS guide us out of Sydney, and we managed to avoid the most horrible piece of road in Sydney, which is the five kilometres between Gordon and Hornsby, where it's just stop start the whole way.  The GPS took us round the north of all that, and it was much less stressful.

It's amazing the number of L-platers that were out.  I reckon they should either be banned from highways altogether or allowed to do the full speed limit.  Because forcing them to slow down on the freeways just makes everything slow for everyone else.

Learner drivers

We decided not to go up the Sydney-Newcastle freeway, opting to get off at Peat's Ridge and take the back way.  We mostly had the road to ourself, and it was a much prettier and less stressful drive.

Driving

Bucketty!
Bucketty!

Coming down the valley along the Great North Road was very pretty
Driving

Spaceman in a sculpture park north of Wollombi
Alien

Cessnock is very pretty at the moment with all the trees in bloom
Cessnock

As it turned out, we probably should have gone up the freeway, because we decided to go out to Minmi, which is right next to the freeway.  So it was a bit of a detour, but we weren't in any hurry so that was ok.

Crazy big house on Richmond Vale Road
House

Minmi Courthouse
Minmi Courthouse

Caboose in Minmi
Caboose in Minmi

I want a liqour shelf like this!  Pretty!  Popped in here to get a (non-alcoholic) refreshing beverage
Liquor shelf

Then out to the cemetery to find graves of Stu's rellies

Minmi Cemetery
Minmi Cemetery

Stu hunting
Minmi Cemetery

Found one!
Minmi Cemetery

These guys found their own rellies
Minmi Cemetery

Then onto the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley.  A little pricey, but very nice.

Crowne Plaza reception
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

We got a hotel style room in the main building.  There's a tonne of self-contained units around the place that hold quite a few people.  They looked lovely, and people were out with deck chairs sipping wine, which totally looked like the life :)  They're a bit further away from the main building, and something like $800/night - ouch!
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

View from our room - not that exciting
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

What I did love about the place was the abundance of power points.  Something like 14 of them around the room, in nice useful places, like right next to the bed. 10 points right there!
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Settled in and got ourselves freshened up, then went for a walk around the place

The huge pool.  A bit emptier at this point, but it was full of people a little earlier.
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Giant chess set (there was a checkers set in the main building too)
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Beach volleyball court
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Waiting in the Vista Lounge before dinner
Vista Lounge, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

The Red Salt restaurant (also the breakfast buffet)
Red Salt, Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Our view for dinner
Dinner view

We started with this lovely Adina (a local) Pinot Grigio
Pinot grigio

The sweetie enjoys the wine and the view
The sweetie

Stu's entree.  I think this was "Caramelized Tart, of golden shallot and baked locally sourced goat's cheese, witlof salad"
Red Salt Dinner

I had "Warm salad of lobster, kipfler potatoes & frisse endive, poached quail eggs & black truffle dressing"
Red Salt Dinner

For mains Stu had "Coq au vin free range chicken, braised in Hunter Valley pinot, golden eschalots & smoked bacon, roast garlic puree, fried bread crumbs".  This thing was delicious - and look at that huge chunk of bacon!  Yum!
Red Salt Dinner

I had "Confit duck leg with cassoulet of white beans, lovedale smokehouse sausage & bacon, poached quail eggs".  The duck was nice, but too many beans for my taste.
Red Salt Dinner

We also had a side of "Sauteed mixed mushrooms with garlic and sherry vinegar (Swiss Browns, Buttons, King Oysters, Enoki)".  Omigosh this was so delicious!  One of my favourite parts of the meal!
Red Salt Dinner

We also had an amazing Rosehill shiraz - so smooth!  Yumm!
Red Salt shiraz

For dessert we had some Brokenback vintage cheddar (we were too full to eat any more!)
Red Salt Dinner

After dinner I was so full I went for a little walk around the place.

Took this nice HDR shot from the entrance area on my phone
Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

 

Day 2

We had breakfast the next morning at the resort.  A pretty decent buffet of food.  Was quite crowded though, even though we were there near the end of service.

Breakfast

At 1pm we piled into a little minbus with a family of Swedish people and headed out on a winery tour (stopping to pick up some other people on the way).

Stu in the minibus

Our first stop was Peacock Hill Winery.  This was quite a small winery, and was much like the tours we did at Yass last year with a very small cellar door and crowds of people.  I found it a bit stressful, but the lady was reasonably well organised, so it wasn't too bad.

They have dinosaurs, which kept the two little Swedish boys amused
Peacock Hill dinosaurs

Peacock Hill dinosaurs

Peacock Hill selection of wines
Peacock Hill wines

Yeah being driven around the Hunter Valley tasting wines is a lovely way to spend an afternoon
Winery tour

The next stop was McGuigan's.  Having heard of this winery it wasn't surprising that they had a much bigger cellar door.  And they have this whole room setup for tour groups that looked pretty amazing.

McGuigan's

Tour group wine tasting room
McGuigan's wine tasting

Us at McGuigan's
Us at McGuigan's

This cork stool looked pretty cool (but $249 and not particularly practical)
Cork stool

McGuigan's also make and sell cheeses.  We might have bought some, but didn't have a cooler bag or a fridge at the hotel.
Stu inspecting cheese

Sunflowers at McGuigan's
Sunflowers

Next stop was the Pokolbin village for chocolate and cheese tasting.  The chocolate tasting was ok (half a dozen nibbles of chocolate), but the cheese tasting wasn't really anything special.  First you had to find the store that was doing it, then you had to ask for the cheeses to taste.  Yeah, not ideal.  

I did buy this cute little chocolate penguin from the chocolate place.
Chocolate penguin

Our last stop was Brokenwood.  This had a medium-sized cellar door and we sat around barrels to do the wine tasting.  We even got to taste a wine which was normally only opened for people paying to taste the wines.  So that was very nice.

Brokenwood

Brokenwood

On the way back we got up close to some kangaroos, which I think all the tourists liked :)

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

Kangaroo

So a very nice (although somewhat expensive) afternoon, with half a box of wines and fortified wines acquired :)

For dinner we went to the Grapevine bar for beer and pizza

Beer

The sweetie

This was the "Truffled Mushroom" pizza, which sounded nice on the menu (swiss brown, button and enoki mushrooms, white sauce, confit garlic parmesan, thyme and truffle oil) but was a little bland
Grapevine pizza

This was the "Italian" pizza - pepperoni, capsicum, mushrooms, olives, mozzarella, parmesan & chilli, sour cream, thyme and rocket.  This was much nicer (I think the sour cream was a winner!)
Grapevine pizza

After dinner the pool was looking nice so I wanted to go for a swim.  But a change had come through which made it quite cold.  So we didn't stay in long.

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley

 

Day 3

So our final day.

First stop (after breakfast at the Scottish Restaurant in Cessnock) was a trip to Morpeth to look for more of Stu's relatives in the cemetery.  We didn't find any.  Just some harness horses trotting by.

Trotting horse

Then to St John's College, only to find the whole place has been turned into a retirement village.  So far the historic buildings remain, but who knows for how much longer.

St John's college

Walking around to the chapel
Chapel

The organ is still there, but the chapel is now a little community hall
St John's chapel

And the garden out the back has a gazebo, and the cross has been removed.  A bit different to last time we were here.
St John's chapel

And instead of a nice view out to the floodplain, all you can see is houses
St John's college - retirement village

So that was all a little sad.

Kept wandering.

This is the bridge at Hinton
Hinton bridge

And we found another probable relative of Stu's in the Hinton Cemetery
Hinton cemetery

Next up the sweetie thought it might be nice to head to Port Stevens, and Nelson Bay and Shoal Bay.

Nelson Bay sign

As apparently did the rest of New South Wales
Nelson Bay

It was so crowded it was painful.  We didn't stop anywhere along the beachside.  Couldn't have anyway - no parking!  Just snapped a pic out the window.
Nelson Bay

We did stop at the lighthouse though (only because a super huge 4WD couldn't fit into a half sized parking spot, so we got it)

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Nelson Bay Lighthouse

Nelson Head

Carried on.  Shoal Bay was just as crowded.
Shoal Bay

Shoal Bay

Eventually ended up at Fingal Bay where we stopped for lunch a few streets back from the beach, where there was actually parking.  Fish and chips and potato scallops.  Because that's what you do when you go to the beach.  Even though we were nowhere near the beach.
Fish and chips

So left the craziness behind and headed back to Maitland to meet up with Margie at the Fox Bar.  This a nice little wine bar.  We had the whole front area to ourselves, but it was only when I went to the loo that I saw the lovely little garden they have out the back.
Fox Bar, Maitland

And finally headed back to Sydney.  Would have been uneventful except a horse float overturned on the freeway near Kariong killing two horses and completely closing the road.  The GPS saw it coming and we took a detour around it.  No idea if it worked out faster (it probably did) but it was certainly less stressful and no stop-start traffic for us.
Trouble

Finally made it back to my parent's place and crashed into bed

Sydney Christmas

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Boxing day morning we headed off fairly early, dropping the oncall laptop off at Neil's and stopping at Maccas Watson for breakfast for the sweetie and Maccas Sutton Forest for coffee for the sweetie.

Also stopping at Lake George to see the water

Lake George

The destination: lunch at my parents' place with D&Y and the uncles and aunties.

Christmas table

Christmas lunch

Kookaburra

Dessert included this gingerbread house which we demolished (apparently my lens was all wrong for this photograph #grunt)

Gingerbread house

Took a while in the afternoon to recover.  Didn't need dinner (I stole a bit of Dad's).  Then stayed the night at my parents'.

Christmas 2012

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So after doing a bunch of prep work, we went over to Potty's at 3pm for a Christmas "dessert and drinks" - ie, not a full meal.  So I brought along another cherry pavlova.  But there's a reason they say not to make meringues on humid days - they absorb all the water in the air and go all soggy!  I actually made the meringue layers last night, so they had all day to get soggy.  It wasn't *too* bad, but not as good as the one I made the other week.

Cherry pavlova
Other than that, just hanging out, a fairly stress-free Christmas day.

Christmas
Christmas
Christmas
This house is just around the corner, and has its own radio station you can tune into!

Christmas display

Comment spam

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Just clearing out my RSS feeds this morning.. one that I still haven't marked read is this comment spam gem:

Hello, i read your
blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you 
get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do
you reduce it, any plugin or anything you can recommend?
I get so much lately it's driving me mad so any
support is very much appreciated.

Yes, someone comment spamming me talking about comment spam.  Losers.

I've also had a few more Australian companies paying comment spammers, including Red Leaf Window Cleaning of Sydney (sydneywindowcleaningservices.com.au), Gutter Cleaning Team Brisbane (guttercleaningbrisbaneservices.net.au)  - these two are possibly the same company, having the same contact mobile number, and also Cow Hide Rugs Australia of Taren Point in Sydney (cowhidesrugsaustralia.com.au).  It's really sad that these businesses have no idea about the internet and are paying lowlife SEO companies to piss bloggers like me off with comment spam.  Hate.

Christmas Brunch

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Super quiet Christmas morning for us.  Although not exactly unbusy.  I got up and prepped some cherries for later, as well as making a huge Christmas brunch - muffins with ham, bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.  It was quite a bit of effort, and not really restaurant quality, but I suppose it was decent enough.

Christmas brunch

Caught up on blogging and finished wrapping Christmas presents, and now I have to prepare a bunch more food for later this arvo.

Eve

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Today we went out to Fyshwick after work to do some outdoorsy shopping (directors chairs etc).

Had leftovers for dinner and watched Carols by Candlelight.  Someone might have spiked the eggnog as well.
On a hill very much like this one ...

Bethlehem
Angels appeared to shepherds to say "Hey get this! a new King! born today!"

Merry Christmas everyone! :)

Hollandaise

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Today we braved the mall and did the Christmas shopping for the kids.  So that's pretty much all the Christmas shopping done.

Tonight I had a go at making hollandaise sauce, using leftover egg yolks from the pavlova.  It turned out reasonably well, although could have been a little thicker..

Hollandaise

Bah Humbug

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Today was food shopping day.

Then tonight we had Damien and Amanda over for roast pork (you gotta have roast pork - it's Christmas! ;) ).  Some wine and much noms were enjoyed, as well as heckling of Carols in the Domain.

Bah humbug

3GS

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I very sadly sold my iPhone 3GS today.  Heather had been wanting to get one, and really, mine was just going to sit in a box until the battery exploded, so I figured *someone* may as well get some use out of it.  I'd had it for nearly three years.  Just for fun, I decided to wipe it remotely using the "find my iPhone" utility on my new phone.  Seemed to work!

3GS box
iPhone 3GS
iPhone 3GS

DMU BBQ

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Worked from home this morning (couldn't face going to work).  And then wandered down to Tony's for their section's Christmas party (which I'm apparently an honorary member of, go figure).  Was a lovely (if slightly hot) afternoon, where *much* food was consumed, and a keg of Zierholz german ale.

DMU BBQ
DMU BBQ
100 farts in a squeeze!
DMU BBQ

That

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<snip>

but thank you to the people that did make me feel better tonight
and sorry to those who had to put up with me bawling my eyes out

Clan in town

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Wednesday night various members of the clan were in town, so we went to Bella Vista for dinner (it's tradition after all!).  I haven't seen Thomas and Courtney since probably 2009.  Thomas will be old enough to drive next month - how scary is that!  All the kids are looking much more grown up!  

I had bistecca porcini (steak) which was maybe a tad over cooked, but otherwise nice. 

Bella Vista
Then we all went up to Cold Rock for dessert.

Definitely don't see enough of those guys :(

Hacked

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So apparently my credit card has been hacked somewhere along the line.  The bank called me last night to tell me they'd cancelled it and would be sending a new one after suspicious activity on it (apparently a 2c transaction to a random charity).  It had gone from internet banking so couldn't check for anything else on it.

Blah.  And it was relatively new too.  Although I can't remember if this was before or after my trip this year.  Could have been before.  In which case who knows... dodgy ATM overseas somewhere?  Or maybe just somewhere that I've used it online..
Some weeks ago I saw this recipe in the Coles magazine, and decided I *had* to make it.  The idea being I'd do one straight away, and then another one for Christmas.

Except that it took half the afternoon, and an awful lot of energy and mess.  So don't know if I'll really have the time to make another one.  We'll see.

So I put in all this effort, and it was just the two of us to share it .. but oh my!  Just look at it!

Layered cherry pavlova
It pretty much disintegrates on slicing though, so each serving is really a disaster of meringue, cream and cherries.  But the sweetie couldn't get enough, and we ended up eating half the thing.  I don't think it'll translate too well to leftovers... hrmm..

Edit:  had leftovers the next night - and the meringue layers were that moist bubbly texture of pavlova.

Quiet Sunday

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After the busyness of the past week or fifty, we had a quiet day today.  Didn't even leave the house.  Did some of what I wanted to do (including ten blog posts) but didn't get other things done.

Definitely needed a total day off.

Club Christmas Party

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The club had a small Christmas party last night, so we went along to it.  It was a little too cold to swim, so just sat around drinking and talking before dinner, which was a pot luck dinner (we brought a potato bake), and then a spectacular dessert.

Followed by presents and a trivia quiz, which the sweetie won, and to his dismay the guy running it also started calling him sweetie ;)

Hall
Corny cracker jokes
Dessert
Tree

Zierholz

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The little brother and SIL came to town this weekend to run the booze train out to Tarago.  For Saturday lunch we went to Zierholz.  I have to say the service as MUCH improved since last time we were there.  Probably only twenty minutes wait for food.

Tasting paddle
Depth charge?
I had crumbed risotto balls - cheesy goodness with a lovely sauce on the salad.  These came first, so I may have had some assistance eating them :)
Zierholz food
Stu's kransky
Zierholz food
Dave's pork belly
Zierholz food
Yvonne's fish
Zierholz food
We also ended up with two plates of wedges (instead of one).

All pretty good.

The brewery
Brewery
I even remembered to pick Tony up a keg for the party on Friday :)

Skyfall

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Skyfall
Friday night we went along to see Skyfall.

I really enjoyed it.

It's well paced, action packed, plenty of good chases and explosions.

And a few cool nods to earlier movies.

Definitely one of the better James Bond's of recent years!













Camels

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There's camels and jumping castles in Civic at the moment..

Camels in Garema Place

Ardeche

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Went along with various family members to have Noah's birthday party at Ardeche.  Us grownups enjoyed it, and we think Noah did too, but I have a feeling his expectations were a little different to reality.  He did make a pretty good effort with his food though.

This dude walked past the restaurant and posed when I went to take a picture :)
Dude in costume outside Ardeche
Noah's entree.  He made a pretty good effort at this, then we helped him finish it :)
Noah's party
Snails!  My entree, quite nice, couldn't convince Noah to try one ;)
Noah's party
Noah's duck.  He wasn't so keen on this.  So we helped :)
Noah's party
My main - a "goat" dish that I thought would be goat, but was actually goat's cheese - oops! :)
Noah's party
Amazing croquembousche they did
Noah's party
Scary sculpture in Garema Place
Noah's party

12:12:12 12/12/12

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Another super cool date and time combination today!

121212

The Social Club

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In an effort to be more sociable, the sweetie found a small social club to join.  It's nothing fancy - basically just a private camping ground with a partly heated pool on the outskirts of Canberra.

But it does have a nice setting, and the people there, while a little on the "old" side, are nice enough.

The sweetie
Club house
Ablutions block
Fire pit
Camping area
Camping area

Only other interesting stuff on the weekend - going to the Jamo trash and treasure this morning.  Accidentally bought a pair of antique binoculars.

After party drinks

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After the last Christmas party, volunteers on the day were all invited out for drinks.  I took great delight in saying I was at my boss' boss' boss' boss' boss' place for drinks and pizza :)

They were super awesome hosts, keeping our drinks topped up, and then cooking some amazing home-made pizzas in their outdoor pizza oven.  

So even though we were all hot and sweaty and dirty, it was a thoroughly lovely evening!

Beer in the garden
Pizza oven
Home-made pizza
Home-made pizza
Home-made pizza
Home-made pizza
Cockie
Dessert

Party #4

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Last official work Christmas party of the year.  This was the most time-consuming - 7:15am til 5:30pm essentially, with a couple of hours break in the middle.

The empty truck - fill 'er up!
Empty truck
Neil and Windy loading drinks.  Seconds later half a dozen cases fell off and scattered all over the back of the truck - oops!
Drinks pallet
Chippies!  Because it was so hot, a lot of these didn't get eaten
Chippies
Santa in the calm before the storm
Santa
Drinks fridge
Cool room
Dodgem cars - all lined up before the first run of the day (I got on the second)
Dodgem cars
Carnival
Showground
Disco show.  This ride was surprisingly fun!
Disco show
View from the top of the Disco Show
Disco show view
Babe!
Babe
Moo!
Calf
One of the horse and carriage rides
Horse and carriage
The other
Horse and carriage
Another wedding this year - although this one arrived as we were leaving - not double booked!
Wedding

Party #3

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Another Friday another Christmas party :)

This one has been done to death though - same venue three years running.  Numbers (at least from our branch) were significantly down, and a bunch of people from our floor snubbed the party to have their own (which really annoyed me for some reason).

This joke is just *dumb* - bulls are *boys* sheesh ;)
Silly christmas cracker joke
Keira and me in matching tshirts
Keira and me in matching tshirts
Numbers were so down that we only had four people to our branch team.  So I subbed in on the soccer game.  As goalie to avoid having to run around.  I still got super hot.
Goalie
Hi!
Hey
A bunch of us hung around for some more drinkies (until the sweetie picked me up).
Champers

Sentinel

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Also today they raised the Sentinel another level.  But instead of "10" there was a whole stack of cool graffiti!

Sentinel Graffiti
Sentinel Graffiti
Sentinel Graffiti
Sentinel

Not a good day

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The little brother arrived in town fairly late last night.  

But then I couldn't get to sleep.  And there was the whole not being able to sleep thing.  And the uncomfortable spine thing.

So today was zombie day.  And guess what I had to do all day?  Yes, fight with my favourite proxies in the whole world.  uuurggghhhhhh.  Nightmare of a day.  These things just aren't logical.  And they're crap and don't work properly.  

Le sigh.

I did however feel slightly better after a couple of free drinks courtesy of exec, and a nice chat to Lyn and the others.

Also got a chance to catch up with the little brother tonight which was nice.

Pantry

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So I've been looking through the Christmas recipes and needed to know how much *stuff* I have - things like flour, sugar etc.

So I open the pantry and see this..

Pantry - before
Yeah can't really see what's going on in there.

So emptied the whole shelf out..

Pantry contents
Cleaned it, rearranged, threw a few things out, and put most of it back in..

Pantry - after
Taking note of what stuff I need to get more of, and how many more decor containers I need!!

Saturday morning while we down the coast, we headed down to Dalmeny to pick up DC's new puppy.  OK she's not exactly a puppy - she's two years old and already had a litter of puppies of her own!  She's a shy little thing, so not as excited and doesn't feel the need to jump all over you, which is a good thing heh.  Basically a little black version of Benny.  Only quieter.  And with an adorable little flag of a tail.

Salzuflen Ruby Slippers
Salzuflen Ruby Slippers
Salzuflen Ruby Slippers

Coast Weekend

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Friday night after the party, we headed off down the coast.

I always love coming down this bit of road
Heading down the hill
This spider terrorised me in our bathroom.  The next morning it ran up my arm. I screamed a bit.
Spider
Had a bit of a go in the spa Friday night, but was pretty tired after the party so didn't stay up late.

Saturday morning I started a jigsaw.  Someone had mostly separated out the sections into baggies, so I emptied the baggies and sorted them one at a time.  The pile at the left there is all the trees.  The pile at the top is the lake.  The pile at the front is all the edges.  The stuff on the right is the "interesting" pieces - ones with bits of building etc in them.  The one small thing missing?  All the pieces for the castle!! Fail!!  So had a look for the missing bag in the other boxes of jigsaws that came with this one, but it was nowhere to be found.  So threw it out :(

Jigsaw fail
Saturday afternoon went up to Myrtle Beach.  It was pretty hot, although not sunny.  But the water was a bit chilly.  And it was the calmest I've ever seen the place.

Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach
Myrtle Beach
Kangaroos on the road on the way back

Kangaroos on the road
Saturday night's dinner was three medium pizzas - a puttanesca, a big mama, and their meatlovers.  There was basically one whole pizza leftover, which got eaten at breakfast and lunch the next day.

Pizza
Aftermath

Beer
Finished the other jigsaw on Sunday morning.

Jigsaw
Then packed up and came home.

Clyde Mountain mist

Kazza's "Boring Life Of a Geek" aka BLOG

IT geek, originally from Sydney, moved to Canberra in 2007. Married to "the sweetie", aka Stu. Prolific photographer, Lego junkie and tropical fish keeper.

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