Friday, 19 December 2008

So long, farewell!

Aussie Adventures is now officially on a break till I return from holidays next year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everybody!

Thanks so much for reading and for being a part of the Aussie Adventures community!

Monday, 15 December 2008

How well do you know the Bible?

A friend sent me this little game that I thought I should share with all of you who believe they are fairly familiar with the Bible.

There are names of 16 books of the Bible mentioned in the paragraph below. See how many you can find. A minister found 15 books in 20 minutes. But it took him weeks to find the sixteenth one. Let’s see how much time it takes you.

“I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible. It was a lulu: kept people looking so hard for facts … and for others it was a revelation. Some were in a jam, especially since the names of the books were not capitalised. But the truth finally struck home to numbers of our readers. To others it was real job. We want it to be a most fascinating few moments for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot. Others may require judges to help them. I will quickly admit it usually takes a minister to find one of them, and there will be loud lamentations when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of herbal tea so she can concentrate better. See how well you can compete. Relax now, for there really are sixteen names of books of the Bible in this paragraph.”

So far, I've only found seven eight, but then again, I've got no patience and only spent about five minutes on it.

How many more can you find? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, 12 December 2008

Paper Flower CD Case

More Christmas presents being packaged!

Seriously, I think I give presents just so that I can gift wrap stuff.

Anyway, this is a present for D's mum and what better way to spice up the packaging than with a Paper Flower CD case, courtesy of Nick and Norah?


It was pretty easy going once I actually found a protractor, which I had to borrow from my workmate.

I felt like I was back in primary school though, working with angles and using a ruler and pencil and what not.

If I were to do it again, I would use slightly stiffer paper - gift wrapping paper is simply too flimsy.

However, I had fun, and once I find some big enough heavier card stock, I'm going to make a template so that I don't have to borrow that protractor all the time.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Solo necklace


Simple, understated, classic.

A real breeze to make, once I found a bead actually big enough for the rope thing to thread through!

I had to throw away another bead because I tried to thread the rope thing with a needle and it got stuck in the hole of the bead. It refused to go through completely and was not coming back out as well. So I ended up with a bead that had a needle sticking out the middle. Probably not too pleasant to wear.

Had fun making up the gift pack though.


The gift bag was made from an envelope that was lying around. (Tutorial here.)

And the gift tag was printed on my computer using alongthedottedline's free template I got ages ago.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Christmas gifts

As with most people, I've been thinking alot about Christmas presents these last few days.

I'm making a list, checking it twice...

But the thing is, I don't want to simply go out to the shops and buy someone something.

I just don't like the consumeristic nature of it (K-Rudd may differ in opinion since my way is technically slowing down the economy...).

You go out there, you buy something without much thought, you give it to the person, the person says thanks and it just sits in the person's cupboard growing mildew or something. Perhaps it'll get recycled as a present for someone else, but then it will just sit in that someone else's cupboard or so on and so forth.

Unless of course the present was honestly bought with much thought for the person, and is actually something that person would love and use. Now that's another story.

But if you really want to give someone a present, why did you have to wait till Christmas to give it?

I like giving gifts, and I may wait for birthdays and such to give them, but that hasn't stopped me from also randomly giving presents to people just because, well, I want to.

And that's why I like making my gifts from scratch.

I like to think I'm creating a unique gift and am having little impact on the environment if I use recycled materials. But best of all, I'm not supporting blind and/or mass consumerism.

The only problem? Hand made gifts take far too much time. If I start making presents now, I think I'll have them in time for Christmas 2009.

But then there are these gift ideas from the Tree Hugging Family.

Giving the gift of experience or a gift of necessity is not only more useful than giving a product gift, but both use fewer resources and thus, are eco-friendly.

Gifts of experience:

  • Tickets to a play, the ballet, a concert, or art show.
  • Season sports team tickets.
  • A trip to the zoo, beach, art museum, or national park for a child.
  • Movie tickets.
  • Enrollment in a class - places like community colleges offer low-cost art, craft, and computer classes that people may enjoy.
  • iTunes gift certificate.
  • A gingerbread house making day.

Gifts of necessity:

  • Pay someone’s mobile phone bill for two months.
  • Offer to change someone’s oil, breaks, or other car issue.
  • Give babysitting certificates.
  • Organize someone’s garage.
What are you giving for Christmas this year?

Link.

101 reasons to buy handmade.

Pensionbook

Facebook for pensioners...


Note: I didn't actually create this. It was sent to me by a friend.

Friday, 5 December 2008

'Tis the season...

...to be a bit strange.

Mildly amusing happenings around the world, being this close to Christmas.

In London, angry people are beating up Santa Claus.

And in Germany, a real baby is found in the manger of a nativity scene.

Funnier that the baby is then named Christian.

On the Melody front?

Not much really, other than....10 days to Christmas holidays (not counting weekends!!)

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

One pretty thing

I love crafting. I cannot draw for nuts, but I love being able to get random scraps of materials, putting them together and ending up with something pretty.

That's why I love knitting.

I don't do it for the relaxation properties other knitters claim it has. I do it because I get to create. I get to take raw materials and transform it into something that is more or less useful.

But yarn and knitting aren't my only vice. I just love hand-making all sorts of different things.

And this website has my absolutely hooked.

Everyday, it comes up with a list of things that you can potentially make. And like its name, every single thing is pretty.

The only problem is that I can't seem to find the time to do all those things!

Between working, knitting, writing, reading, sleeping and going out, how does one find the time to fit in more things?

I don't think I have a busy life. At least I don't feel like I'm stressed or overwhelmed or anything. I just cannot seem to find the time to pursue everything in life that I want to.

Perhaps during retirement?

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Noodle generator

What do you do when you are someone who often struggles when it comes to making a decision for dinner?

Cue the Noodle generator that will give you oh so delicious sounding options. It even has a vegetarian option!

If only it also dispenses the dish out of the CD-drive...

Link via Craft Magazine.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Shonky awards

Perhaps I am simply too idealistic, but it always saddens me to realise that there are evil companies out there selling dodgy products that are made simply to make a profit without care of the consumer.

I mean, I'm not that naive to know it exists. I just get sad when I hear about it.

Why can't we all live in peace and harmony without wanting to take advantage of each other for our own selfish gain?

Anyway, despite the unscrupulous methods of some businesspeople, there are also people out there protecting the interests of consumers.

Introducing the Choice Shonky Awards - a list of the dodgiest of dodgy products out there.

The one I found most concerning?

If you’re concerned about animal welfare, you may have been buying free-range eggs in the hope they come from more cheerful chooks than their cramped cage cousins. After all, some of the cartons show happy hens roaming in lush, green paddocks. But don’t be fooled. The term “free-range” has no legal definition in Australia, found a CHOICE report.

There are voluntary standards, such as FREPAA’s, the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia. However, the vast majority of free-range eggs are certified by the Australian Egg Corporation, the national industry body representing about 90% of producers. Conveniently, its Egg Corp Assured scheme has a more relaxed definition of free-range than the voluntary standards, making it easier for members to use the free-range label and access the shopping dollar from concerned consumers.

Even true free-range chooks spend more time in a shed than outdoors. But while FREPAA restricts the number of hens to seven per square metre of shed area, Egg Corp Assured allows 14 – not much less than the 18 /m² in cage systems. Unlike FREPAA, Egg Corp allows beak trimming and shed sizes on a scale that means many chooks will never find their way outdoors.

More Shonkiness here.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Lelah the debutante


My first ever knitted top!

No, I did not name my top Lelah. The pattern for the top was called Lelah and so I pretty much just ran with it.

It was an incredibly easy knit for a top - I suppose not having to worry about collar and sleeves do that. It took a while (about six weeks of on and off knitting), but it was fun to see it turn out in the end and add the pretty ribbons and finally wear it.

I was rather worried that it wouldn't fit me, but it fits fine. The only thing I might have changed would be to make it slightly longer so that it was kind of like a half-dress. But I like it like this too.

I knitted this with a wool/alpaca yarn, making it rather heavy and warm. So it's nice to actually wear it like a vest over a shirt. May consider knitting it with cotton or something one day, so that it will actually be some sort of summer wear.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree

I don't really see the point of spending money on a Christmas tree that will be displayed for only a few weeks in a year. And it's not just the cost of the Christmas tree. The many ornaments that go on to the Christmas tree is enough to send someone broke.

But I liked the idea of a Christmas tree. And so one day, while walking the dog with D at the back of my flats, I stumbled upon what would become my Christmas tree.


Yes, that piece of branch.

I stuck it into an old juice glass bottle and bought some red pebbles for some Christmas cheer.


Then I gathered the raw materials.


Some photos printed on normal paper, using some pretty pictures from A Print a Day as background. Simply used a needle and some unwanted yarn and poked a hole through the top of the paper and tied it to the branch.


I tried making a wreath as well using some junk mail that was lying around.

However, it was really heavy card stock and made it slightly harder to fold and stuff. Looked good though, and cost nothing. If more junk mail appear in my letterbox in the next few days, I may embark on more wreath making.

Behold, my "Christmas" tree.


Total cost: $2 - for the red pebbles.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Yellow fever

Disclaimer: I am not dismissing the seriousness of body-trafficking and prostitution. It is an atrocity and believe me, happens not only in Thailand, but in your neighbourhood as well. Up to four million people are victims of human trafficking each year - that's the equivalent of exploiting the entire population of Singapore every year and forcing them into slavery, sweatshop labour or prostitution. It is terrible and it must end.

That was the reason why I was researching this article, but then I came across a few remarks that made me smile. And I quote:
Some men - a lot of men - prefer Asians. What lies at the heart of Thailand's sex tourism industry is the way we sexually stereotype Asians; about the way Asian women perform in the bedroom and act in a relationship.

I asked my ex-girlfriend, Viv - brought up in England by parents from Hong Kong - about it. Her words detonated off the screen:"Oh my God, I have so much to say about this." In her opinion, there is "a hell of a lot" of sexual stereotyping. She told me: "We call it 'yellow fever', which I find hilarious, or 'Asian fetish', which is more common. I get it all the time at certain clubs, and you know that guys are only talking to you because you look Asian.

Viv had a number of theories about why Caucasian men are attracted to Asian females. First, there is the physical difference. "Perhaps it's the hairlessness of our bodies and the different feel of our skin due to the extremely healthy diet and the blackness and straightness of the hair," she said. "Everything is completely different."

Cultural differences serve to heighten the attraction. "Girls are taught to bring up a family and to know their place; to take all sorts of shit and still be courteous and long-suffering without a word of complaint.

"Western guys who look ugly as hell and don't stand a chance with strong-minded, selfish, feminist, materialistic, status-driven Western girls can have beautiful Asian girls falling over themselves to be with them."

After reading this, I can't help but feel that I'm a failed Asian.
  1. * I have naturally wavy hair that become quite curly if I don't brush it.
  2. * I started going grey when I was about 14. I have to colour my hair at least once every three months to ensure I don't get mistaken for a grandma (perhaps the fact that I knit doesn't help matters).
  3. * I have no intention of having children at the moment and certainly do not have plans of bringing up a family.
  4. * I know my place - it involves being assertive and not being trodden over.
  5. * And alas, I am somewhat feminist.
  6. * Oh, and I do know a lot of Western girls who are not selfish, feminist, materialistic or status-driven. So much so that they put me to shame.
But the beauty of this is that it proves to me that D loves me for me and not simply because he's suffering from some sort of yellow fever.

Ah, the beauty of stereotyping...how I love it.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The closet activist

I preached a sermon at church about two months ago and it was filmed.

But before I show you the video, I need to say this - man, the camera really does add 10 pounds.

No, not really. I mean, the statement is true, but that was not the point I wanted to make. What I want to say is that there are two breaks in the video where I run off and sit down. It's not because I got tired or got stage-fright. I was showing two different videos.

The first video, I'll embed just below the video of my sermon.

The second video, well, it's actually a powerpoint + music slideshow thing. I can put the powerpoint presentation up, but I don't know how to put music up. So you'll just have to use your imagination as to when the music presentation starts and how it all fits in.






Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Constant trouble

I was recently reminded of this quote by a friend:
Jesus promised those who would follow him only three things - that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble.

The problem is that I'm not sure if I should attribute the quote to Gregg Levoy or G K Chesterton, but that's not the point of this post.

It's a quote that I really like because it says so much about my life as a Christian.

It's not that I'm an anarchist, or consistently finding myself in trouble. But I have discovered that since becoming Christian, I do often inadvertently find myself in some sort of "trouble".

Whether it's challenging the way things are done because I believe it is going against God's moral law and principles, or simply following God's leading and finding oneself in an environment completely unfamiliar with only God to lean on, I have had my fair share of trouble.

But the beauty of it all is the peace you get with the faith you have.

When you trust that God is there for you, looking out for you, you have a sense of peace and the feeling that you can conquer anything.

And that's when you get the feeling of absurd happiness.

And although fear will still exist, it will not be crippling.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Knitted graffiti

I don't know how people can have that much time in their hands to knit frivolous things.

I hardly have time to finish knitting a scarf, what more spend time knitting fruit cosies or stuffed guitars.

But maybe it's simply because I knit far too slowly?

Knitted graffiti is one of those frivolous things that fascinate me though - it's like graffiti-ing a public object, only not with spray paint, but yarn.

Check out this tree:

And this:


Essentially frivolous, but oh so funny. And somewhat akin to random sculptures/art pieces in the city. Imagine walking past something like that, in such bright happy colours - I can't help but think it'll brighten your day. And I suppose the damage is not as permanent as spray paint.

Not that I would ever have time to do something like this. I'm still trying to finish a top I started about two months ago.

More about Urban Knitting.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Rainbow cowl

I had a lot of fun knitting up this cowl, and it wasn't because it was such an easy knit or because the colours are just oh so pretty! Those reasons are all valid, but the real reason for all the fun is because the yarn came from a magic yarn ball.

See the little lollipop stick peeking out? The entire ball of yarn not only had hidden lollies, but a whole bunch of different surprises. I found a pair of earrings, some lovely beads, hair ties and of course, lollies.

These were hidden at random stages of the yarn ball, so after knitting for a length, a surprise would pop out. It was most fun to discover what the next goodie would be!

Unfortunately, I still have half a ball of yarn left after finishing the cowl, so I'll have to look for a new project to embark on to reveal all the other goodness.

The yarn was initially meant to be used to knit up a pair of socks, but a quarter way through, I came to the realisation that I am not a sock knitter. Too fiddly, too slow and I just simply cannot see the point of knitting socks. It's not as if I would be bear to wear what I've painfully hand knitted on my feet anyway.

As for the cowl, I simply love the colour. It was a rather quick knit and is really lightweight as well, which means...perfect for summer!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Photo challenge - wash

I actually quite enjoy xfacta's photo challenges, so here goes another one on the theme of wash.

This time, I couldn't quite decide, so I ended up with two photos.

After wash

The cat on the top of the photo is Checkers, and the other is Domino. I was pet-sitting them last week and they are such adorable and affectionate little kittens/cats. Well, Domino more than Checkers, who is a bit of a scaredy-cat.

But this photo opportunity came up while I was reading in bed. First Checkers came and snuggled next to my legs (which are under the blanket), and then Domino joined us in bed. Checkers started licking Domino on the head, which prompted some rather loud purring. Then Domino proceeded to do the same to Checkers, which caused even more purring.

For the next ten minutes or so, these two cats were licking each other (even in the ear, which grossed me out a bit) and giving each other a wash and purring away. It became a wash/snuggle/purr party. It was the cutest thing.

Then they fell asleep. Domino actually had her arm around Checkers initially, kind of like she was hugging her, but by the time I got the camera and took the photo, they had somewhat changed positions.

Needs a wash

This is Louis. A rather unfortunate looking French bulldog who sounds more pig than dog. I had to turn up the volume while watching TV just so that I can hear it over his snorting.

Despite not being your typical cute puppy, this pig/dog is quite charming in his own little way. He likes company, but doesn't like being petted. He loves going for walks, but only lasts for about a block. He especially loves it when you play frisbee with him, not in the throw and catch way, more of the "I'll grab it with my teeth and we'll see how good you are at prying it off me" kind of way.

I took this photo before the photo challenge came up. But I just had to use it because it's just so appropriate since when the photo was taken, the dog badly needed a wash.

We washed him that very afternoon, but it needed two people. One to hold him down, the other to scrub.

Oh, and if you look closely, you may be able to see my reflection in Louis' eye.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Role models

There was great media attention and debate in Singapore this month, when a primary school teacher decided to join an international competition where contestants had to send in photos of them wearing extremely skimpy bikinis.

The photos are then posted on a website for the whole world, including the teacher’s students, to view.

The controversy wasn’t the fact that she joined the contest, but because she was a teacher.

The Singapore public did not like the fact that someone who taught pre-teens was parading around in barely there, if at all, outfits.

As Faith mentioned on her blog in an interview with a teacher, teachers have no private life. There is a code of conduct that must be adhered to, and permeates all aspects of their public image. Their image and actions are more important than what is taught to students in class.

But this public image is not just something teachers possess.

We have a very public image as well by the fact that we call ourselves Christians.

We are role models to the world in everything we do and say. Do Christians have a private life? Not really. Because by the very virtue of being Christians, people are judging us.

A teacher may affect her influence on her students, but a Christian affects their influence on the salvation of others, and people’s view of God.

So how have you interacted with others and behaved today?

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Happy Halloween


I don't actually celebrate Halloween, but this picture is just too good to let pass....

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Art attack - home

I'm a little slow but it took me a while to take some time to ponder the xfacta's art attack challenge.

I finally found some time this weekend and this is what I came up with for the challenge theme of home.

Craft

It may seem a rather boring photo, but it means a lot to me. Home is the space where I am truly able to express who I am, and part of that involves activities to do with art and craft.

I love taking photos, I love art and being at home allows me to do that. It's where I rest and rejuvenate.

Home is where I can be during the day, exploring more crafty activities and displaying it around me.

It is also where I read and ponder through writing, and you can see a stack of books/reading materials and notepad on the shelf next to the bed.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Bathsheba

You know, I've always thought that Bathsheba was bathing on the roof when David spotted her, which then started his spiral into real naughtiness.

And I could never shake off the wonder as to why Bathsheba would be bathing on the roof.

At Bible study last week, Daniel pointed out something so obvious that I had never noticed before.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing...

David saw her from the roof, but that doesn't mean she was actually on the roof.

And that made a lot more sense.

He had a bird's eye view. Even if she were bathing in her backyard (which she most likely was, considering there was no plumbing back then), it would be quite difficult to hide from David's view. She wasn't actually trying to seduce him. At least I don't think she was.

I had a look at a few different translations and they all said David saw her from the roof. It didn't specify that she was actually on the roof.

How in the world did I get the idea that she was bathing on the roof?!?!

The Bible verse and various translations can be found here.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Driving

I think I've become a really bad passenger ever since I learned how to drive.

Before knowing about driving, I would very happily sit silently in the passenger seat, oblivious to the various driving conditions that a driver would need to watch out for.

I instinctively trusted that the driver would get us to wherever we needed to go safely and in one piece and more or less made no comments about the driver's abilities.

How things have changed over the last two years.

I don't criticise out loud per se. But I find myself checking blind spots for the driver, making sure the road is clear on behalf of the driver and I have actually caught myself going "er, maybe you should brake now" to the driver.

I actually have an opinion as to whether the driver does hard braking, is tailgating, or driving unsafely.

Except, most of those judgement are actually based on how I would drive, and not the "manual on being a perfect driver".

I hate what I've become because I know how annoying a backseat driver can be.

What happened to that trust I used to have? I miss it.

And somehow, I can't help but draw a spiritual parallel here because it really is somewhat like my relationship with God.

If I didn't know any better, I would simply trust God, like children do.

But because I've had a taste of life, I've lived life so to speak, and I've developed a certain way of doing things, suddenly, God's "driving" may not be the same as how I would drive my life.

And I want control. I make comments. I think He may be doing some things too fast, too hard, or too slow.

Perhaps we simply need to sit in the passenger seat and shut up.

Except when the driver is running through a red light or does not realise there is actually a truck coming headlong or is driving stupidly/dangerously of course.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Poverty

Make Poverty History.

That's a pretty fashionable catchphrase nowadays isn't it?

Bono speaks about it. There are entire concerts for it.

At its core, it has a good message. But sometimes I wonder if we should do more.

The whole premise behind the make poverty history campaign lies in "building awareness" and "pressuring governments to take action", and sometimes, I can't help but wonder if it's a cop out phrase.

It's easy for someone to say that they support the make poverty history movement when all they have to do is "let people know about it".

Don't get me wrong. I realise that there needs to be mass support for anything to take effect. And I realise that governments play a huge role in helping to make poverty history.

But I can't shake the feeling that it's enabling us to feel good about ourselves and yet take the easy way out.

There needs to be more.

If you really want to help make poverty history, you need to play a part in it, not simply tell others that they need to do something about it.

I'm not saying I'm above fault here. I haven't been playing an active role in making poverty history.

I like to tell people I care, and I like to tell people about the horrible situation that the world is in, but have I really done anything? Not really.

I hardly blink when I spend $50 on knitting yarn for myself, but when it comes to helping donate to a good cause, a cause that will help people learn skills to earn a livelihood, I sometimes struggle to even contribute $10.

To make the message effective, we really have to live the message.

And so from today, I'm going to put $1 aside everyday to go into the "make poverty history" piggy bank. One that I will "break" after a year, to donate to an organisation that is helping people break out from the cycle of poverty.

Which organisation?

Maybe this? Or perhaps this.

ETA: This looks interesting too!

Wanna join in this ride?

This post is part of Blog Action Day 08 - Poverty

Selvedge dress

I love love love this selvedge dress (what is selvedge?) and can only dream of the day that I will be able to make one for myself.

In all likelihood, I'd probably purchase one faster than I can make one.

Still, gorgeous dress.


Link via whip up.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Only one colour

Now, it's a known fact that I have a weakness for the colour orange.

I get drawn towards things that are orange. I like to buy things that are orange. I get gifts that are orange. When friends see anything orange, they usually think of me. Heck, I named my car Carrot just so that it somehow has an orange connection.

I wear orange clothes too, but to consistently wear only one colour?

To only be surrounded by one colour?

I like colours a little too much to do that. But it seems that some New Yorkers do.

I'm just not sure if they're doing it for the attention, or because they really loathe other colours. It's odd, and it boggles my mind.

Link via Della.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Band cuffs

What do you do when you have scrap lengths of yarn lying around that aren't enough to make scarves or hats?

Knit band cuffs!

These are great knitting for summer, and amazingly fast and easy knits. I think it took me about 30 minutes to make one.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Cleaning miracles

This may be old news to some, but I have just discovered the cheapest, bestest way of cleaning everything.

Well, maybe not everything, but most things.


Introducing white vinegar and bi-carb. The combination of this stuff cleans almost everything.

I've tried it on stove tops, the bath-tub, the basin, the shower, glass even the bathroom floor and it's just amazing how white and sparkling everything becomes!

Sprinkle a little bi-carb on the surface you want to clean and either pour the vinegar on and watch everything sizzle or wet your cloth with the vinegar and wipe.

Most stuff will simply wipe off. You may have to scrub a little for tougher stains, but it really really works.

Cheap (vinegar costs about $1 and bi-card about $2), chemical-free - best of all bleach free so no headaches, environmentally friendly and just so effective!

I love it.

And yes, I've successfully scared myself too as to how domestic I've become.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Knitting with dog hair

I cannot help but be somewhat disturbed by something I learned from a knitting website.

Apparently, you can knit with dog hair.

Yes, people have made whole sweaters with their pet's hair.


I'm not so much interested in the "how-to" than I am in the "why-would-you-want-to".

I suppose you can argue that it's the same as wearing stuff made from sheep's wool, but somehow, it's different.

Is it simply because we're just so used to one form of yarn, and not the other?

I don't know, but my nose crinkles at the thought of it...

The Knitting With Dog Hair book has a rather funny subtitle though - "Better A Sweater From A Dog You Know and Love Than From A Sheep You'll Never Meet."

Link via Core 77.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Nemesis Train

I am a bit of a sucker for postmodern books. I enjoy the lack of traditional structure. I like the fact that in its seeming randomness, things still make sense.

Just finished reading Nathan's book Nemesis Train and there is no doubt about its postmodern nature. Which is ironic in itself since postmodernism is supposed to defy all definitions, but for the sake of this post, we shall not debate that.

Firstly, it's not often one gets to read a book published by a friend. Even more rare to find out that it is good. I'm so proud of Nathan! And have hopes that some of his brilliance may perhaps rub off on me if I hung out with him long or often enough.

Nemesis Train is an extremely well thought out book, and despite its obvious literary strength, is a surprisingly easy read.

But there is a tone of sadness, a tinge of "there really is no meaning in life" in the book and honestly, I was half worried that I would hurl the book across the room by the end of it because I really really hate it when books don't have a happy ending. I was most relieved when I realised I didn't have to do that.

I really liked the book, and I especially loved its very, no wait, extremely, clever ending.

My formal review here.

Oh, and since you're still reading this post, you should buy the book.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Ding in my stash laptop bag

This has got to be the longest and biggest knitting project that I've ever undertaken since learning how to knit at the start of the year.

It felt like it took forever.

Granted, I ended up getting distracted several times and started and finished other projects while trying to complete this, but it still felt like it took forever. I wonder if I'll ever have the stamina to knit clothing. Now that will be a test of endurance.

Pretty happy with this project. The main reason for the exercise was to get rid of yarn in my stash. I was given a bunch of acrylic unlabelled yarn that I really didn't have much use for, so it was a good excuse.

And I needed a bag to protect my laptop from the elements when I made that 2 minutes hike down the road from home to work.

So all in all, although it's not the most brain-stimulating or clever little project, goals achieved!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Making sense

It's a normal tendency to think that if we've been good, we will be rewarded and if we've been bad, we will be punished. It's how most of us were raised.

So naturally, when it comes to a relationship with God, whom most Christians call "Father", we would tend to see it that way too.

The following article contradicts that logic in a very real, dramatic and sad way, but provides meaning and a glimmer of hope as well. A glimmer of hope that we Christians cling on to, when the world doesn't make sense.

As the sun began to set over the Khan al-Khalili marketplace in Cairo, Egypt, the daily buzz of people, businesses and vehicles gave Erik Mirandette, his brother and friends no reason to feel alarmed. Then, in an instant, an explosion knocked Mirandette off his feet and sprayed him with nails as he simultaneously glimpsed a wall of fire engulfing his friend, Kris Ross. Behind Mirandette, his younger brother, Alex, and friend Mike Kiel were also leveled by the nail-saturated blast.

The bomb would ultimately claim the life of Mirandette’s brother, and leave Mirandette and his friends changed forever.

About two years earlier as a student at the Air Force Academy, Mirandette found himself restless. “I was a regular university student in my sophomore year, and things were going rather well,” he says.

Yet he could not shake a sense of discontentment. “I felt like there was just something else out there that I needed to be doing at that point in my life. I really wanted to experience life abroad, and I wanted to make a contribution to my fellow man—to do something to help and serve for a couple years. I thought, What would happen if I just gave two years of my life completely up to doing good things for someone? What would happen with that? What would God use that for?

Five months later, Mirandette was in Morocco with a humanitarian worker his church supported. “I was working with the refugees,” he says. “We had about 1,000 to 1,600 men at any given time living up on this mountain in the direst of circumstances, feeding from a dump, diseased and dying. They needed medicine; they needed food. The Moroccan military was conducting raids; they were getting shot at every week. It was a miserable situation. To go into a situation like that where there is no safety net, there is no comfort zone, it’s real. It’s life and death. And to see how much more serious and important a faith is—my faith got very real very quick.”

After spending more than a year and a half in Africa getting to know the stories of refugees, he wanted to understand more about their plight. “I really wanted to see what they were going through—what was going on in the rest of Africa that would cause them to leave their countries and venture toward Europe,” he says.

So he set out on a journey across the African continent with his brother, who had joined him in Morocco, and Ross. Their goal was to travel from Cape Town, South Africa, to Cairo, Egypt, and to serve with humanitarian groups along the way.

“I contacted a bunch of humanitarians and a bunch of missions throughout Africa, and we started leapfrogging our way up the continent,” he says. “We flew down to Cape Town, got three dirt bikes and started traveling north.”

What followed was four months of exploration, adventure and service to those in need.

“We worked [in Cape Town] and helped those communities, working with AIDS awareness stuff for a couple weeks, and got to know a lot of people there. Then we traveled north through Botswana.”

From Botswana they traveled to Zimbabwe and made their way up through Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Memorable stories outline their journey, from a camp invasion by a bull elephant in Botswana to patrolling with paramilitary rangers and swimming at the base of a breathtaking waterfall in Zambia.

In Tanzania the concrete road became a dirt trail that would bring them through 500 miles of often mud-entrenched jungle. From Tanzania they followed the trail to Burundi and into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Only three weeks prior, that span of the trail had been an active war field.

“When we got to the end of that road, there was this huge volcano in one of the cities outside of Goma, which is in the northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. We climbed the volcano and spent time looking down into this fiery pit.

“That was a significant moment for me,” he continues. “At that point I was more convinced than I had ever been before that I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing with my life. I was out there with my brother and my friends, and things [were] good.”

In Nairobi, Kenya, with 4,000 miles left between them and Cairo, the trio was joined by Kiel, who had just completed a four-year contract with the U.S. Air Force.

Between Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia there were, again, hundreds of tales to tell. It wasn’t until their journey was nearly over that they met their only major roadblock. When they arrived at Sudan’s border, they learned that the country’s border policy had changed just weeks before, and Americans were no longer allowed in without an invitation by the government.

The group was forced to travel the last leg of the journey by plane into Cairo.

“Once in Cairo, we’d accomplished our objective; we had finished our journey,” Mirandette says. “We had braved 9,000 miles across this continent of Africa, through two civil wars and about five different rebel groups. We’d finally reached the end of our journey.”

Mirandette and his brother Alex planned to go back to the States to celebrate Alex’s birthday in just two weeks. However, on their second day in Cairo, a suicide bomber with “the equivalent of 20 kilos of TNT” walked up in the middle of the band of friends and detonated his bomb.

“It was absolute hell,” Mirandette says. He recalls seeing body parts everywhere as he lay on the ground. “All my clothes had been blown off me. I’m lying naked in the street. My body’s full of hundreds of nails, and the nerves in my leg are severed. A good chunk of my left tricep was blown off.

“You’re lying in the street just trying to make sense of it all. I look over, and I’m pretty sure that one of my friends is dead. My brother is nodding in and out of consciousness, and my other friend looks like hell, but he’s walking, and he comes over and helps me tie tourniquets around my bleeding appendages and then goes over to deal with my brother. I mean, the smell, the choking smell of smoke with all the body parts. It was a complete and utter hell.”

After hours of pain, panic and fear as they were transported and tended to, Mirandette, who had been sent to a different hospital than his brother, received a phone call from his mother.

His little brother didn’t make it.

It was the worst thing Mirandette could have imagined. “I would have, in a heartbeat, given my life to save my brother,” he says. “I even tried: He was the first person on the ambulance, and we were sure that I was going to die. And then he was taken, and I live.”

It is a chapter in their story that left only confusion, pain and doubt.

“It really caused me to question the nature of God,” Mirandette says. “How could He reward a group of guys who are following His plan with such an unspeakable hell? It’s hard still to try to wrap my mind around all that.”

In the months that followed, Mirandette’s body began to heal, but inside he remained “a real wreck.” Even after returning to his home in Michigan, he was surrounded by reminders of Cairo.

“In Grand Rapids everybody knew my story,” he says. “Everyone knew my name. Everywhere I went somebody was there to say something about the whole thing. I just needed to get away for a while.”

From Grand Rapids, Mirandette and Kiel moved to Kauai, Hawaii, where their internal healing could really begin. Mirandette found a job bartending, but more importantly he found anonymity and peace. “It was there that I wrote The Only Road North (Zondervan), which was really cathartic—just sitting down, telling the story and trying to make sense of it all.”

In his book, Mirandette recounts his journey, from his days as a discontented college student to a seasoned African traveler—a man whose faith was more real than when he began. But he does not propose to have any answers.

“It took us four months before we felt ready [to simply live again],” Kiel says. “The dream of one day waking up and being the way I was is gone now. It’s a continual process that I’ve accepted, and I have come to embrace the new me.

“We still fight our inner battles, but we know that we have two other guys who can help us through it,” Kiel continues. “We have gone from adolescent friends to three brothers who will always be there for each other no matter how life decides to mess with us. A bond has been formed that is difficult to describe in words.”

For Mirandette, the end of this story requires the beginning of a new one. “The conclusion that I came to was either everything that I had believed in up until that point—everything that I had stood for, everything that I had lived for the last couple years, everything that my brother died for—either that was true, or my life and his death were completely in vain. I wasn’t willing to accept that.

“I have to believe that someday—I can’t imagine that it would be in this life—it’s all going to make sense, and it’s all going to be made right. Until then my responsibility, my job, my obligation is to do the good that I can do and to make the difference I can make.”

The original article was found here.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

God's plans for being better are better

Heard this phrase during worship this morning and it made me chuckle because of the way it sounded.

What it meant however, is a good reminder that I need to trust in God and know that he is good and that he only has the best intentions for me.

So all that praying to God asking for xx so that my life will be better, all that requests to God for xx so that I will feel better...

I should simply be letting go of control and trust.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Curfews

I'll admit it. I have become a fan of trashy TV lately. First Taken Out, then 90210. (I'm going to claim the fact that I still haven't become a fan of Home and Away or Neighbours as my saving grace.)

They're just such good shows to knit with! Completely brainless fodder that you don't really have to pay attention to in order to know what's going on. It's perfect for when you need to concentrate more on the knitting and less on the TV.

But that's not the point of this post.

The point of this post is to wonder about the bane of all teenagers' lives - the curfew. (And it's related to trashy TV because I started thinking of it while watching 90210.)

I remember when I was a teenager (it was not that long ago). I hated my curfew, even though it was a very generous one.

I wanted to stay out all night, hang out with friends, be cool, or something or other. And even if I weren't out, I simply wanted to stay up all night. I'm not sure doing what anymore, but going to bed meant the end of the world or something.

It's funny how now that I'm living some 6000kms away from home, without my mum to actually find out what time I get home or go to bed, I find myself usually home by 8pm, and tucked into bed before 11pm.

Maybe it's because nothing stays open past 6pm in Australia except restaurants or supermarkets. But I think it's mostly because I just don't see the point of being out or up all night.

I have a comfortable home to relax in, with almost everything I could possibly want. I'm usually sleep deprived (mainly because although I'm tucked into bed by 11pm, I'm actually reading and not asleep) and so getting an early night's sleep is always a luxury.

If I were a teenager now, my parents would be so pleased with me for adhering to my curfew, and then some.

But why is it that when I was a teenager, it just did not make sense to me to be at home?

Why did I hate my curfew so much?

Maybe I'm just a big nerd.

Or maybe I'm simply getting old...but that still does not answer the question of just what is so alluring about being "out there" past your curfew.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Unintentional terrorist?

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that:
Benbrika, 48, of Dallas, was found guilty of intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organisation and of being a member of a terrorist organisation.
What I'm wondering is, can you actually
  • unintentionally direct the activities of a terrorist organisation; or
  • unintentionally be a member of a terrorist organisation?
Can you actually unintentionally direct someone to kill hundreds of innocent people? What about unintentionally joining an organisation that gives members weapons and military training, with the sole aim of terrorising people?

Can you actually be part of something that devastating and not know that you actually are?

Or maybe I'm just thinking too much and reading too much into things...

Full article here.

Rainbow promises

Photo from zmescience.

There was an extremely heavy downpour that lasted a brief few minutes when I was at the gym yesterday. I didn't see it, but I certainly heard it.

And then, driving the 4km or so back from
the gym, I was assaulted by no less than four rainbows.

I'm not sure what it is with rainbows, but my heart sings every time I see it. It brings a smile to my face and I immediately feel happy.

I also have a dream of one day being able to reach the end of the rainbow (not so much to find the pot of gold or the leprechaun that might be there, but just because it would be a cool thing to do. And before you tell me, I know it's not possible).

But anyway, driving that 4km back was possibly the most joyful thing I did yesterday. Just being able to see those rainbows and being surprised by another when I turned the corner was simply amazing.

It's funny how something that essentially serves no purpose can make one so happy. And I cannot help but wonder if it's somehow related to God's promise to Noah.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Homemade sugar body scrub

Amazing what "pamperific" things you can make with things you can find in the kitchen!

Tried making this homemade sugar body scrub a few weeks ago and it was really simple. But the best part of it was how smooth and soft it made my skin feel after my shower/bath.

The main ingredient is of course, sugar, followed by either baby oil or almond oil. Then there's the vanilla extract and the lavender essential oil.

I loved it so much I had to make another batch just for a friend and I think there'll be many more batches to come!

Full recipe here.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Daddy, I'm in love ... and he looks just like you

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that "Men tend to wind up with life partners who look like their mothers, while women are lured to partners who look like their fathers, scientists report."

Those who know me will know that I have a vested interest in asking, what about multicultural relationships? How do you explain that?

Article here.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Phonicible


I'm not exactly sure what the word Phonicible means, but to me, it is a very pretty slouchy beanie thing.

My very first hat knitted in the round and one that actually fits me! All because I finally bothered to knit a tension square first to ensure that the sizing is correct.

Love the colours on this hat. I especially loved knitting with the bright yellow yarn, which is 100% pure merino and incredibly soft and smooth. I couldn't stop rubbing it against my face initially, which could worry some.

It looks complicated, but all that is involved is plain old knitting (you don't even have to purl) and the ability to juggle two balls of yarn, which is not difficult at all.

Managed to finish this in super fast time for me, because I had a lot of free time last week at Jumbunna Lodge while trying to be a TV star.


Have a look at the better looking photos from the designer (who is one of my favourites).

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Hearing from God

Been going through the book of Acts in my Bible study group these last few months and yesterday, we came across something that really struck a chord with me.

Since converting to Christianity, I have had constant struggles with trying to figure out God's will for my life.

You stand at the crossroads of life and it's about choosing do I go here, or do I go there?

And the answer is usually: actually, you can go here or there.

But why can't God just tell me exactly where he wants me?! In fact, it would be rather nice if God can just talk to me and tell me what kind of direction I should head and what path I should take.

Alas, no.

But it made me feel so much better to know that even Paul, one of God's strongest advocates in Bible times, the one who spent more than 20 years of his life wandering around the ancient Roman empire, did not have that much more access to God.

True, he had extremely close encounters with God. But when you read the Bible, you realise that out of his 20 odd years of being on the very front line of God's work, God really only directly spoke with him, well, five or so times?

It's not a very good average, when you think about it. That's like having God talk to you only once every four years.

But it helps to encourage me. It tells me that I can keep living life, doing the best that I can to glorify God and walk with him, and when the time is necessary, he will talk to me. Not everyday, not when I want it to happen, but when the need arises, I will hear from God.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Recycling refunds

The South Australian refund on drink containers will double from 5c to 10c today, its first increase since the recycling scheme was introduced in 1977.

A few things popped into my mind when I read this news article.
  • Good on South Australia for encouraging and "incentive-ising" recycling.
  • How forward thinking is the South Australian government to introduce the scheme more than 30 years ago?
  • Why can't the rest of Australia do the same?
  • Maybe I should move to South Australia.
It's not like the rest of the Australian states do not recycle, or encourage recycling.

Almost every lunch time when I go home for lunch (yes, I'm one of those lucky ones), I'd almost religiously make the trek to the recycle bin with my stash of plastics, tin cans and what nots. I just don't get paid for it.

Or maybe recycling doesn't come naturally to South Australians, and so the government actually needs to pay them to do it? dodges blows from South Australians

News article here.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Blog Action Day - October 15



Blog Action Day is an annual nonprofit event that aims to unite the world’s bloggers, podcasters and videocasters, to post about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion.

This year's issue is Poverty.

I'm planning to take part. Are you?

Find out more.


Thursday, 21 August 2008

What I really want to know

The following poem from X facta reflects my thoughts and sentiments exactly.

I want to know

I don’t care which denomination or religious community you align yourself with.
I want to know how spiritual you are as a singular person in the daily movement of life.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care how many fundamental beliefs you cherish in your head.
I want to know what your heart cherishes, for that is what your hands will ultimately do. Show me what you do with your time and how you spend your money and I will know what your real beliefs are.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care what doctrinal knowledge you possess, or how many times you’ve proved your position through the selective use of scriptures.
I want to know how many times you’ve proved God exists by being His helping hand to the lonely, the sick, the poor, and the unseen, unheard voices.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care if your church building has fancy stained-glass windows, cushions on the pews, or beautifully landscaped gardens.
I want to know about the people inside. Do they act differently when inside those four walls than when outside? Do they use different words, put on different mannerisms, or even dress differently? Do they have any friends outside those four walls?
kh copyright 2006
I don’t care if you pay tithes and offerings to your local CSP [church service provider], or how much you donate to charities or other tax-deductible organisations.
I want to know how the other 90 percent of your income is spent. Your generosity in all of life speaks more to me of who you are and what kind of God you serve.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care where you are on the ladder, or what your title is.
I want to know how much family time was sacrificed to get there and what you will sacrifice to stay there. Show me how much family time and personal time you spend with God, and I will have a clearer picture of where you are spiritually.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care which food you choose to eat, or drinks you choose to drink.
I want to know how often you share that food and drink with others. If you practice hospitality - whether your table is groaning with gourmet delicacies, or simply bread and water - that tells me more about your “inner health” than any dietary preferences.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care what special days, seasons or festivals you observe.
I want to know how you live sunset-to-sunset every day of the year. Your daily pace, rituals and observations reveal more to me than your beliefs about specific days.
from xfacta.blogspot.com
I don’t care which books or magazines you read, conferences or seminars you attend, or even how much Bible study you do.
I want to know how all that information is making a difference to your ability to live in such a way that I might be attracted to That Story as my own Truth.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

RAK ten

I got some lovely yarn from the Random Acts of Kindness group on Ravelry a couple of weeks ago. They weren't enough to make much of anything in one colour, but I managed to combine two of the yarn colours to make this fabulous neckwarmer (pattern by Yarn Ball Boogie - I love his designs).


I initially thought the project was cursed or something. It's a real easy pattern, but it took me about ten false starts before I got anywhere.

The pattern is done in what he calls brioche rib, although some have called it fisherman's rib. I'm not sure which. Either ways, I absolutely love it.

And the most amazing thing was that I had just the right amount of yarn. Nothing left over.

Love the star buttons.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Car rego YAC 477

If you are the owner of car with registration numbers YAC 477 (NSW), YOU ARE AN EXTREMELY RUDE DRIVER.

Parking across a driveway used by eight cars is not cool.

I have had to cancel my plans this evening simply because I could not get out of my driveway.

The hospital across the road does provide a car park. Don't inconvenience eight other people just because you are too cheap to pay the fees.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Depicting reality, or just being too graphic?

Maybe old age is making me more sensitive, but I've been feeling more and more sickened everyday by the time I finish reading the newspapers.

The number of wars and violence probably hasn't changed much over the last few years, but I think the number of graphic images is ever on the increase.

I feel that I'm viewing more and more photos of actual dead bodies, or dismembered body parts, of blood and gore, and whatnot. And I'm talking close up shots of blood oozing from people, or of dead bodies lying on the ground, with their eyes staring vacantly and mouths open.

If memory serves me right, if a photo of dead bodies taken a few hundred metres away used to be considered graphic. But now everything is brought much closer.

Do photographers simply have more powerful zoom lenses than before?

Or are we on the brink of getting (or have already gotten) disensitised by such violence?

I'm not saying we should paint life as filled with sunshine and happiness where violence doesn't occur. I'm all too aware of the many atrocities that we happen to like inflicting on each other. But do we really need to have 10cm high colour photos emblazoned on a page?

I've just seen a photo in the newspaper of an injured journalist trying to hold up his dead comrade. Both have blood everywhere, and honestly, the only thing I feel like doing now is throw up.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

One moose, two ??

If one mouse, two mice; and

if one goose, two geese; then

is one moose, two meese?


Photo credit.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Murphy the travelling gnome

A very amusing news report on the travels of a garden gnome.

Yes, one of those clay ones that stand in a garden.

I wanna find a gnome and travel with him too.

Link.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Languished fingerless gloves



So, I've been waiting forever to own a pair of fingerless gloves. I've made two, but I've given both away, so it is with much gladness that I finally have my own pair.

Never knitted a striping pattern before, but I loved the idea of one, so how better to experiment than on my pair? It was a bit of a hassle, changing yarn every six rows, but I love the end result. I'm going to do more striping patterns from now on.

I wanted to embellish with like a cute little flower with leaves, but the knitted flower turned out gigantic, so I'm not sure if the gloves now look pretty or more like I have a strange growth. I'm contemplating putting the leaves on the right hand, so that when my hands are together, they look like a joined plant. But we'll see. I've moved on to my next project now.

The weather is still fairly cool, so I'm looking forward to finally having warm hands without needing to stuff them under my armpits or something.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Making plans

What do you do when you know you have big decisions to make that will change your life, but no idea which way your life should exactly go?

It's really easy to give a knee-jerk reaction when you feel that you're at the crossroads and either need to make a choice, or simply desperately need a change in your life.

You want to plunge in, and do something completely different and go in a totally opposite direction to where you initially thought your life was headed.

But what do you do?

I've had to make those kind of decisions once too often in my life, and often, I realise that all I needed to do was to practice a little patience. And it's usually easier said than done, particularly when you're sick of what you're currently doing or the situation that you're in.

But we need to remember that our time lines are often very different from God's time line.

Everything has its place and time and just because we want something to change does not necessarily mean it is actually time for a change.

What we need to do is to put our faith and trust in God that something will work out, keep praying and keep hoping.

It's not going to be easy, but it will soon become clear.

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Sabbath

If I were ever to give up God and my religion, one of the things that I'll continue to observe would have to be the Sabbath.

Those who aren't Seventh-day Adventists often see us Adventists as rather legalistic when it comes to the Sabbath - no buying, no shopping, no swimming, no watching movies, no going out, no, well, basically, no having fun of any sorts, or something like that.

And maybe that's what it's like for some people. But the Sabbath is a completely different thing to me.

It's not about reading the Bible, praying or being at church all day. Not that it's bad, but I'm also realistic and human and possibly not as religious as I should be. But I digress.

I love the Sabbath for what it stands for - a day of rest.

And maybe my interpretation of it is wrong, but I do understand it rather literally.

It's usually a go-go-go existence for me for most of the week. Working Mondays to Fridays, with evening gym/Bible study/shopping/movie/lounging in front of the TV sessions. Sundays are usually rather hectic as well, consisting of either household chores, errands or general social activities which tend to wear me out.

Which leaves Saturday, the Sabbath day that I observe. And it's beautiful.

It's the day where I feel that I can legitimately slow down, not rush and basically relax. I go to church, I have lunch with friends from church, I go for a walk, I knit, I read, I surf the internet, I nap, I unwind. And I don't feel guilty about it. I don't feel I have to accomplish something. I simply relax.

You should try it someday.
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