Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Dreaded Lurgy Update

By the time Milord got home from work yesterday I was huddled under all the bedclothes and a blanket, shivering in spite of it being a hot day and "the house was like an oven" according to him. I recovered enough to make it onto the couch for most of the evening, and then I had a wretched night, unable to stop coughing for more than 5 minutes at a time. (Milord has been sleeping in the spare room for the last few nights, so at least one of us can sleep!)

Today he dragged me to the doctor. I probably should have gone days ago, but it was Christmas, and then it was the weekend, and then I really thought I was getting better... plus I just don't like going to the doctor. It makes me feel like a wuss. "Ooooh I have a cold, poor me, give me drugs"

So anyway, I went to the doctor today, and whispered to him (I have lost my voice completely now) that I'd had a chest cold for a week and that my husband was worried it was something worse. "Have you been coughing? Open wide - my word you have haven't you?! That's really red." Then he listened to my chest which I reckon sounds like it's full of plastic bags crackling.

I now have antibiotics and a cough mixture which is practically liquid codeine. "It will make you drowsy." Mate, I haven't slept properly in days, bring it on!

On a side note, the streets are full of police pulling drivers over for random breath (alcohol) testing. At 9am. We passed of course (there is very little partying at Chez Saffa right now - wine burns my throat dammit), but I was glad I didn't have to puff at the sensor because I have no puff right now... When I drove home after dropping Milord at work I made a detour to avoid where they'd been!

When I got home I dropped off my overdue library books (due yesterday, I just couldn't make it out of the house) and picked up the post. Hey Kat, I got your Christmas card thanks! And yeah the Aussies do some winter scene cards complete with robins and snow... there are ones with koalas and kangaroos, but they just don't seem quite right!

And sorry all the people who sent us cards, I've not done the card thing this year - it just never made it onto the todo list!

I'm now sitting exhausted on the couch. I may try to have a lie down soon. Where's the sweet sweeeet codeine? mwahahah

Monday, 29 December 2008

Dreaded Lurgy

So how was your Christmas? Mine was... well... as good as can be expected, considering that I was rather ill!

I started coming down with a cold just before Christmas, and by Christmas Eve I was a bit achey so I took vitamins and had an early night. By Christmas morning I was in a shocking state. I was shivering and coughing and felt like I'd been run over by a truck!

Milord got me out of bed long enough to exchange presents and have a glass of champagne, and then I went back to bed and he went to our friend's with prawns and presents but came home before dark to look after me.

And that's what he's been doing since... I've spent four days mostly in bed, occasionally making it to the couch. Milord brings me drugs and food and watches with concern when I try to cough up my toenails. I haven't had a chest cold like this in years - in fact I'm pretty sure the last time was when I was trekking in the Himalayas. I tell you one thing - it sure is nice not to have to hike 10 miles a day feeling like this!!!

I'm a lot better - I haven't had the shivers and sweats for over a day, and there is less junk in my lungs. Sadly that seems to make it harder to cough out, and lying down makes it worse - so sleep is a problem. I also can't talk normally without sparking a coughing fit so I communicate with whispering and gestures... Milord was finding it funny but I think it's getting on his nerves now!

It's been glorious weather. Apparently.

Luckily Milord has had things to occupy him - he's been golfing and working a bit of overtime. When he's home he's happy to read or watch TV. I've been reading a lot, but TV not so much and blog posting was way to much of a challenge!

Today is Monday and I'm supposed to be at work. When I rang in to tell them I wasn't coming no one could recognise my voice! Now I'm watching daytime TV - something I only ever do when I'm ill. Since the last time I was seriously ill we've got cable so I'm hopping around the channels. Sci Fi channel right now - Terminator 2, and now Stargate SG1 - a very early episode.

I'm very tired of being ill.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Xmas Eve

So here we are at the day before Christmas.

The tree is decorated, with a few presents underneath (mine to Milord - he hasn't done any wrapping yet). I have two more things to find and then all the present shopping is done... just groceries still to get.

Christmas food in Australia can be summed up in two words: Prawns and Ham. Both things I don't mind in moderation... Milord can live on cold prawns and cold ham indefinitely - maybe you have to grow up with it.

So what foods mean Christmas to me?

Mom used to always make a big dish of divine coarse chicken liver pate for Christmas Eve, and we'd munch on that with wholegrain crackers while decorating the tree. Bowls of nuts in the shell would occupy Sis and me for ages, and smarties and Quality Street chocolates would be around too. And mince pies, of course.

On Christmas Day we'd open presents in the morning, then for Christmas Day lunch there would be just Mom, Dad, Sis and me with a spread of cold meats and salads, and then we'd spend the rest of the day in and around the pool. On Boxing Day we'd invite friends and family around for a pool party and barbeque which was always tremendous fun. It was perfect - I can't remember any Christmas being stressful.

A lot of South Africans (and Aussies for that matter) do the traditional hot roast lunch on Christmas Day and it's dreadful. Who wants to eat hot turkey and gammon when it's boiling? My ex, Mountain Man's family is into that. 3 generations would gather indoors to bicker while the cook stressed out in a ridiculously hot kitchen, then we'd sit down to a mountain of food you'd never dream of eating on a hot day normally. Ghastly.

I'm having a lot of trouble getting into the Christmas spirit - the people I really want to be with are half a planet away. *sigh*

In a while I am going to sneak out of the office, find the last two presents on my list and hit the supermarket for a range of our favourite festive foods for tonight and after Christmas. On Christmas Day itself we are gathering with 3 other couples, and we're bringing the prawns and oysters. Someone else is bringing the ham.

What are your favourite Christmas foods?

Friday, 19 December 2008

Free Stuff!

A week ago I offered to give away free sketches and I have had no takers. Ok I know it's a busy time for people, and I know I don't get much traffic, but I'm starting to take it personally. You don't want that do you? Do you?!!

I didn't think so.

I'll pay postage and everything - and it'll make me feel good and then you get to give stuff away and so on... It's a like a virus! uh.. a meme! It's like a meme!

It's Friday night, warm and humid, I have a cold glass of white wine to hand and some chicken wings crisping in the oven with a marinade of plum sauce, tom yum paste and caramelised balsamic vinegar (it smells amazing!). I'm about to watch old episodes of Friends back to back until I feel like going to bed...

...where's Milord? Not here, obviously! He's at his company xmas do so heaven knows when or in what state he'll be turning up. I've prepped the spare bed just in case...

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Random Chatter

This post over at Loralee's Loony Tunes describes precisely what I went through with my first and only Brazillian Wax. Read, laugh, cry, and feel your girly bits trying to crawl further inside you! (Dad, you may want to skip this one!) The even worse part for me was that Milord found my pre-pubescent nethers a complete turn-OFF and wouldn't come near me until I looked like a grown up again!!! (I'd done it as a birthday present to him... epic fail)

I have great news - I have talked the Bank into letting me come to work for the two weeks over Christmas and New Years! I'm a contractor and if I don't work I don't get paid, so being unable to work would have cost us close to $1500 - we're very chuffed. I've just been on holiday and I have a long one coming up in Feb, so I don't need a break right now anyway.

In sheer coincidence we've just ordered a security mesh screen door and window covers, which will cost about $1500. Huh. I hope we get them soon, as on hot days having the front door open creates a lovely breeze through the house, but I'm not comfortable having the front door open with no barrier. (Every South African reading this just said "You do WHAT?! Are you INSANE?!")

So we've ordered this stuff for the front door and two bedroom windows. It's kick-proof, cut-proof and pry-proof, and keeps flies and mozzies out - bonus! Expensive, but we'll be able to have the door and windows wide open 24/7 without having to worry. Milord really wanted an intercom/tv/buzzer lock too, but it won't work on the screen door and is pointless on a door behind a security door, so we're shelving that idea. I think he just wanted it as a gadget, because it's not like the house is huge!

Our teenie living Christmas tree is up and decorated in the living room. I'll take a photo when I've wrapped some presents, which will be over the weekend I suppose. We are adhering to a strict budget this year, which actually means that I've done all the choosing... Milord gets carried away when he's left to shop alone. Actually it was nice to pick my pressies and I can't wait to "get" them! For friends we've only got gifts for the people with whom we are spending Xmas Day, and they are all getting wine and chocolate. We've hinted strongly that we'd like the same in return, so here's hoping! I don't care if it's "impersonal" - I'd prefer it to "personalised" crap that I will quietly hide/bin/donate to charity.

I'm moving desks again tomorrow, but staying on the same floor. I think I'm changing projects too, but there is a certain lack of communication so I'm not sure... whateverrr. I was at a company do the other day and one of the BA's told me (after a few drinks) that I was a cherished trouble-shooter and the various teams squabble over who gets me. I get moved around so much that it could be true... either that or else they're continually trying to get rid of me! Nice to hear anyway. *pats self on back*

The diet, gym and walking home have slipped badly this month... I'm just not in the mood. December is such a tough month to be "good". When Milord and I are home for a weekday evening we've been sticking to celery and tomato juice (with vodka, and with wine on the side heh heh) which is helping a little! I just went to look at my graphs - we're both the same weight we were this time last year - oops. We lost all that weight for the wedding and now it's back on... ok that settles it, I'm off to the gym!

Update: I ended up in the pub with Milord instead, and picked up a HUGE warm fresh chicken wrap on the way back to the office. oops

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


Today I was sitting at my desk on the 25th floor. It was a lovely day outside, with sunny blue skies over the city. From the corner of my eye I saw something white floast fast my window...

"Gee, that plastic bag is high."

A few minutes later it went by again. And then again.

"Weird. How can that same bag keep passing my window? Am the eye of a whirlwind? Is it tethered? Are there more than one?"

Other people started to notice and we gathered against the glass.

"They're plastic! It's some kind of advertising! That's terrible, how can they pollute the sky like that!?"

"How can plastic float so high?"

"I think they're some kind of soap thingy..."

So I went and googled "soap float" and got flogos - floating logos made of compressed soap bubbles. I went for a walk down the street and found the source: some environmental group swapping eco-cleaner for usual cleaners. (So I suppose the flogos are eco friendly or else that's a very mixed message!)

This is a flogo just rising out of the machine that makes them. A new one popped out ever 15 seconds.

You can't quite see it, but the flogo is a circle with a lower case "m" in the middle. I can't remember the eco-cleaner's name but this was their logo.

Interesting! I wonder who first thought that one up...

There were also these people with cricket ball hats doing something... must be my day for seeing odd things!

Monday, 15 December 2008

Weekend at the beach

This past weekend we were invited to a Saturday night barbeque at the home of friends of Milord. They live close to two hours away from us, in an area on the fringes of Sydney known as the “Northern Beaches” because, well, it’s coastal with beaches and to the north! The logistics of getting to and from the venue were a bit insane (unless one of us didn’t drink… hah!). We half hoped they’d ask us to stay over even though the fact that they have an infant was a bit off putting, but it didn’t happen.

So I thought – we’ll have a mini holiday at the beach! I found us accommodation within walking distance of our friend’s place, and started making plans for walking on the beach, swimming in the sea, and just getting out of the city and our half-renovated house for a bit and doing something different. I read up on the area’s restaurants and markets and walking tracks and was quite excited!

The weather for most of last week was ghastly. Rain, rain and more rain, and on Friday it was particularly bad! We left work early anyway and got into our accommodation at about 4:30pm. We had a dinner reservation at a nearby restaurant, and luckily for us they have a free shuttle service! I’d planned to walk there, but instead we shared a bottle of wine in our room and listened to the rain pounding down and the trees thrashing about until the minivan turned up. Dinner was lovely – we shared a seafood platter and watched the rain lashing the sea through the large windows overlooking the beach. Then back to the accommodation where we snuggled under the covers and listened to the storm.

On Saturday morning it was still raining, so we stayed in bed and read our books and had bacon and egg sandwiches with champagne. It was all very decadent! By midday the rain blew away, the sky was blue and our room was getting a bit warm. I finished my book, yawned, stretched and patted Milord on the knee saying “C’mon, let’s go for a walk.”

He freaked out. “You tell people that I never read, and now just because you’ve finished your book you make me stop reading mine!” I was shocked. Where had that come from? I had thought we were in a wonderful mood, not itching for a fight! So I stomped out in a huff and went for a drive. It was a glorious afternoon, although a bit humid after all the rain. I drove through tropical suburbs, past orange beaches (the beaches in that part of the coast are orange, because it’s all orange sandstone around there, wierd), along a winding road following cliff edges, and ended up in a parking lot looking out at sail boats and windsurfers enjoying the breeze and the water. I wound the windows down and stayed there for a little while, then turned around and drove back to where we were staying.

We sorted our nonsense out… he apparently didn’t really mean to have a go at me but he was loving his book and didn’t want to put it down – I wish he’d just said that! So we got a newspaper and nibbles and wine and blobbed in the hot room until it was time to go to our friend’s place.

The rest of the weekend was meh, and I never got my mojo back. Bloody men.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Paying it Forward: A Holiday Giveaway

I've put my hand up for this over at Suzanne's, and she got it from louceel.


1. Be one of the first three bloggers to leave a comment on this post, where the first word in the comment is "Yes". By saying "Yes" as the first word, you signify you want to participate in this giveaway. Being one of the first three to say "Yes" will then entitle you to a handmade item from ME!

2. Winners must post this challenge on your blog, meaning that you then must Pay It Forward, creating a handmade gift for the first three bloggers

3. The gift that you send to your Three Friends can be from any price range and you have 365 days to make/ship your item. This means you should be willing to maintain your blog at least until you receive your gift and have shipped your gifts. And, remember: It’s the Spirit and the Thought That Count!

4. When you receive your gift, please feel free to blog about it, sharing appropriate Linky Love!

5. If you are not one of the Top Three Commentors on Today’s Post, you’re still a Winner in this Time of Grace and Giving. Please take this Symbol of the Seasonal Spirit and post it on your blog; start your own Pay It Forward Chain, and encourage your Bloggy Friends to do the same!

Louceel, who's also a computer geek with an artistic bent is giving away framed paintings. Suzanne has skillz in photography, calligraphy and cross stitch so I'm intrigued to see what she gives me! I have limited skillz... I'm going to give away unframed drawings - because they're easier to post international and I think people should choose their frame to suit their house.

The drawings will happen in their own time, and I'll only pick ones I'm happy with, so you might have to wait a bit for your gift, but it will arrive sometime next year! Who wants a piece of me? And who wants to join in with Paying it Forward?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Whitsundays Holiday - Part 5

Final post about the holiday - continued from here.

Day 6 – Friday 17th October

We’d been hearing weather reports forecasting very strong winds arriving on Friday, and as the route we needed to follow would be taking us into the teeth of it we decided to get going extra early in case we had to motor the whole way. We skipped breakfast and raised anchor at 8am (which is the earliest you’re allowed to move in a chartered boat). We were due into harbour at 10am.

Shortly after leaving our anchorage at Chalkies Beach (10) we sailed through the Solway Passage (11) between Haslewood and Whitsunday Islands. While doing so we noticed the water acting bizarrely: the tide being squeezed there created awesome whirlpools and standing waves! It was a bit freaky but the boat glided through just fine.

You can sort of see the water acting wierd here...

The wind was picking up a bit, but it wasn’t quite on our bow and we were able to catch enough to sail along without needing the motor. We emptied our toilet tanks well offshore (gross, but you have to) and tacked back and forth a couple of times to clean the side of the boat… the smell is unbelievable until it’s all gone! We followed the southern coast of Whitsunday Island until we reached Hamilton Island, and sailed widdershins (I’m guessing that’s not the right mariner’s term) around it to reach the harbour (1). It was 9am – we’d made excellent time!

We radioed the marina and they told us to go away until 10 as our berth wasn’t ready. Go away? Go where? It was windy and choppy out in the bay so we headed for the lee of the nearest little island, dropped anchor and cooked our last breakfast aboard. Then at 10 we went back to the marina, found our berth and tied up. The rep from the boat company was there and he debriefed us and made sure we hadn’t lost anything while I scurried around cleaning and packing and trying to figure out what to do with all the food we had left!

Finally we ended up ashore on Hamilton Island with a pile of bags and food, and called for the courtesy shuttle to take us to our accommodation for the next two nights.

Our apartment - very nice!

Day 7 and 8 – Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th October

Hamilton Island is a popular holiday resort. It has a special place in my heart because back in 2005 when I flew to Australia to meet Milord after 6 months of an online relationship he took me there for a few days. That was in late winter (although it’s the tropics so not exactly cold) and we stayed in an exclusive child-free hotel with private pool and restaurant. I was thoroughly blown away and couldn’t wait to go back!

This time we were there in summer during a school holiday and we were staying in a serviced apartment block with awesome views across the sea. Oh, the humanity! Families and kids and screaming babies and teenagers having loud parties (don’t hate me – I’m just not used to it). The experience has put me off resort holidays for the rest of my life (or until we have little kids anyway).

We were utterly exhausted after our trip and all we wanted to do was loll around in a non-rocking environment recharging – which was lucky really because the weather was awful! The high winds arrived bearing rain, but our balcony was in the lee of the building so we could have the sliding doors wide open to the warm wet air and watch the rain pounding down on the soggy families below. We stocked up on beer and wine and read books or snoozed as the mood took us.

The view when the sun comes out.

We generally cooked in the apartment, but for our last night on the island we had a couple of drinks in a pub overlooking the marina and dinner in a very nice restaurant nearby. For our last day the sun came a few times and I attempted to even out my sailing tan, and then Milord and I made our way to the airport and flew back to a beautiful scorching hot Sydney Sunday evening, trying to get our heads around having to go back to the work the next day.

It was an amazing holiday. I felt like we’d been away for a month rather than a week! Expensive and exhausting, but a real change of pace and scene. I look forward to doing it again in a couple of years (unless we have kids of course – I can’t imagine having a baby or toddler on a boat).

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

New Years Resolutions?

In January I made my first list of New Years Resolutions ever. How did I do?

1. Buy a house. tick
2. Change jobs. tick
3. Start a family. I'm trying dammit!

1. Save more water - turn off the shower when I shave my legs. tick
2. Recycle more - rinse and recycle tins in addition to the paper, glass and plastic we already recycle. oops, been slipping on tins, they're such a pain to wash
3. Stop expecting Milord to propose - it's making me cranky. married since, woohoo! tick
4. Attempt to live on one salary so that when the babies come it won't be such a shock. not a hope in hell!

So, a new list for the New Year...

1. Finish renovating the house.
2. Start a family. if this is still on the list in December 2009 I'll scream!
3. Pay off the credit card.

1. Save more water - catch "pre-hot" cold water in a bucket in the shower and kitchen and use it to flush the loo and water the garden.
2. Recycle more - tins again.
3. Telephone my friends - the ones with kids (most of them) are too busy for email and I'm losing touch.
4. Do at least one sketch per month.
5. Rediscover another hobby - maybe jigsaws or crosswords - to activate my brain.
6. Stop correcting Milord's English when it doesn't matter.

I may add to this over the rest of December... what are your resolutions, and how did you do on last year's?

Tuesday, 9 December 2008


Pinched from Better and Better
I'm not sure if these are supposed to be life goals (because some of them I really don't want to do!) or what. A few are very American, but hey, I might get to do them someday.

1. Started your own blog. duh.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4. Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower. I wouldn't say a "shower"
6. Given more than you can afford to charity. define "afford". I gave more than I wanted to to the work charity drive this year...
7. Been to Disneyland. not on the to-do list
8. Climbed a mountain.
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo. does karaoke count?
11. Bungee jumped. never again
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. "from scratch"? I was taught to draw and paint, so do they count? I learned to cook without formal teaching...
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. as opposed to the Mona Lisa in...?
20. Slept on an overnight train.
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked. neverrrr
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse. only a partial...
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. this one is silly unless you live in a tomb
31. Hit a home run.
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. why "in person" specifically?
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. define ancestors - I've been to Amsterdam and England, so I guess that covers a lot of them!
35. Seen an Amish community. not "in person". heh heh heh
36. Taught yourself a new language. I can ask for a glass of wine in French, Spanish and Italian!
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied. not anymore though
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person. "in person" again
39. Gone rock climbing. without ropes, but definitely in person
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David. in marble, heh heh heh
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa. yathink?
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance. not a life goal either
47. Had your portrait painted - drawn, but not painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies.
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason. and given them for no reason...
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving. no effing way - not after the bungee jump!
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. I don't think there are any left, but I suppose you mean "the site of" one.
67. Bounced a check. well, a direct debit, but that's the same thing these days
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job. redundancy doesn't count, right?
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone. pretty sure I've cracked a toe
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. as pillion passenger - it sucks
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. Never killed anything apart from bugs, but if I was hungry enough I would do it
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life. I am a blood donor... ?
90. Sat on a jury. I hope I never have to do that again!
91. Met someone famous. Does it count if they're only famous on Australian tv? I didn't think so!
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby. working on it
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a law suit.
98. Owned a cell phone. geez, who says no to this one? is this a very old meme?
99. Been stung by a bee. and I'm allergic
100. Read an entire book in one day. read more than one sometimes!

Monday, 8 December 2008

Murky Monday

It is the middle of a summer's afternoon, but sitting here on the 25th floor of an air conditioned office block you'd be forgiven for thinking it was a winter evening... A thunderstorm is advancing on the city and it is very dark outside, apart from the odd lightning flash. It's actually warm and muggy out there, but the aircon is confusing my senses!

I don't seem to have much to say lately. I don't think I'm blogged-out, I've just been a bit busy at work, and a bit tired, and a bit cranky with PMS and money stress. Milord's tax return came back last week and we owe another $10,000. Yes, that is four zeroes.

Oh well, it's probably a good thing I can't seem to fall pregnant. Cloud, lining, silver... growl.

On the bright side, we went xmas present shopping at lunchtime. Milord knows I like books, but his selections tend to be a bit random so today I pointed out the books I'd really like. We got the "His Dark Materials" trilogy (on special, 3 for the price of 2 woohoo). I've read them before, years ago when I borrowed Kat's copies, but I want to own them and re-read them slowly. They're the books the "The Golden Compass" movie is based on. If you're into fantasy they are truly awesome - don't be put off by the "young-adult" labelling. Also "Twilight", because everyone is talking about it and it sounds right up my street (young adult again - hmmm - am I regressing?). Plus if I like "Twilight" there are several books in the series and I love finding a good series.

I bought Milord "Mort", because I've been getting him into the Terry Pratchett multiverse. Dad sent him "Guards Guards" a while back which he really enjoyed, and currently he's reading "Reaper Man".

Now maybe a couple of music CDs and our presents are done. I still have to get presents for the friends we are with on Christmas Day, but we're going budget for them this year too. A good bottle of wine and good box of chocs per couple I think. No worries.

Monday, 1 December 2008

House - 3 Months on

I realised that I haven't posted about our "renovater's delight" of a house since the week we moved in, apart from a snap or two of the backyard on a sunny day.

We haven't been able to do much since we moved in back in August, because our cashflow dried up and we've just been paying off the builders in installments! Now that they are out of the way we're trying to get the credit card back to a sensible figure. We are camping, but it's warm and dry and so on...

This past weekend Milord went away for his quarterly boy's golf and drinking weekend. I woke up to the sound of rain on Saturday morning, sprawled in the middle of the bed after a fabulous night's sleep. I fetched the newspaper from the front step, made a cup of coffee and went back to bed and read the paper for a while.

At about 9:30am I threw on some scruffy clothes and entered the spare bedroom. Well, it was more of a box/junk room - and I could hardly get inside the door! Why does that always happen with junk rooms? The stuff slowly but surely advances towards the door until it becomes a form of barricade! We'd had to dig through dozens of boxes a month ago to find our sailing gear, and the boxes had been left where they ended up.

I had decided to move as many of the smaller boxes as I could into the laundry dungeon to give us a bit of leeway, so for over an hour I repacked and taped up boxes of books, cds and dvds, hoisted them into my arms, carried them the length of the house, down three steps and into the laundry. I managed to move 9 boxes out. By this point the rain had passed, the sun is out and I'm sweating like a labourer! I turned on the ceiling fan in the spare room and continued...

We have a number of plastic storage boxes, and I stacked them from floor to ceiling at one end of a wall, climbing a stepladder to get the top ones in place. Then I made a start on the big boxes - repacking, taping and stacking them as high as I could with the really heavy ones at the bottom. On top of those I put empty suitcases and light bits and pieces, climbing up and down the ladder.

Now I could actually reach the queen-size bed which was propped on its side against the other wall. I moved an armchair and three portable heaters out of the way, screwed in the bed legs, and gently lowered the base to the ground. Then I wrestled the mattress on top of the base. I was knackered, but I was almost finished so I kept going! I moved wine into the winerack, stationery to the desk, and tried to stuff any remaining items into gaps in my wall of boxes...

Finally I was done... and I ached all over. I took a shower and sat down to a much deserved late brunch - at 1pm. During the afternoon I did several loads of laundry, took a trip to the hardware store for some bits and pieces, replaced most of the floor-protecting sliders under the sofas and beds (which meant I had to keep lifting the damn things), and while I was moving sofas and beds I gave the rooms a good vacuuming. Then I made up both beds with clean linen and collapsed on the couch at 5pm with a bottle of wine, cold roast chicken, blue cheese, avocado and fresh bread.

Two days later I still hurt, but the house is looking ok!

So, I took a few pictures:

This is the spare room. It is surprisingly big now that the bed is down. We can also fit in a big armchair, and a hanging rail thingy.

This is view from the bed! Eeep.

This is our bedroom. Nothing much has changed in here.

Bathroom. I am still in the process of getting the grout smudges off the tiles. No one told us you had to wash the grout off the tiles within a day of the tiles being set. If you don't then the stuff goes rock hard and won't wash off - I don't want to tell you how much scrubbing and cursing has gone on in this room! I have now discovered that an application of vinegar and a gentle scraping with a blade is the only way to shift the stuff, and I am doing a handful of tiles a day. Bleah.

Lounge room looking towards the back door. Note the camping kitchen... the blue bucket catches the drips when it rains hard.

And towards the front.

This is a kind of alcove between the kitchen and laundry, where we keep the bikes and stuff.

Laundry dungeon. I hate hate hate this room. Can you believe this used to be the only bathroom in the house? It gives me the creeps.

Oh well. It can only get better!

Friday, 28 November 2008


I've been catching up with my blogroll, and all the Americans are posting about Thanksgiving (The Canadians had Thanksgiving a while ago, which confuses me - why a different date?).

None of my 3 countries celebrates Thanksgiving. In a way I'm pleased because family gatherings can be annoying, and fattening, and stressful, plus I just know being so far away from my loved ones would make me sad... Christmas is bad enough!

Conversely, what we don't have in my countries is a day when we take a big step back and consciously list the things we have to be thankful for.

Some of my bloggers have had the most horrible year, and they still have the grace to be thankful for things. It's inspiring. And humbling.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving... I am grateful for:

  • My family

  • A loving husband who wants a family with me

  • My excellent health

  • Having a good job during this recession

  • A house that I own

  • Not having to struggle to pay the mortgage

  • Friends around the world who care about me

  • Being a whole lot fitter and thinner than I could be

  • Living in Sydney

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Sydney - Botanical Gardens

The other day it was just too nice to go to the gym, so I went for a walk at lunchtime instead. What can be hard to believe when you are surrounded by high rise buildings in the centre of Sydney is that there are acres of trees and gardens nearby - the Botanical Gardens.

How big is that tree?!

It took me about 15 minutes to reach the closest gate and step inside the gardens (entry is free). Immediately I could feel my spirits lifting as I moved into the shade of an enormous fig tree. There are indigenous plant areas, rose gardens, herb gardens, Chinese gardens, ponds and fountains, reached through beautiful avenues of trees. Rolling green lawns all sport "Please walk on the grass" signs, and are populated with tourists, schoolkids and suits picnicking, socialising or quietly reading a book.

I was listening to a dramatised audio book on my mp3 player (The Chronicles of Narnia. I've got the lot and am working my way through them - I think I was listening to Prince Caspian that day) and I let my feet take me where they fancied.

I meandered along in a general downhill direction until I reached the sea (the gardens are on the edge of a bit of Sydney Harbour) then headed back towards the city. It was glorious and I could have relaxed under a tree for the rest of the day! Sadly I had to go back into an air conditioned office, but it had been a lovely break.

These are "flying foxes" - big ginger fruit bats - which hang out in many of the trees of the gardens.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


When I was in school I knew that I wanted to make my career as an artist. I took Art to the end of school and when I left school I went straight to art college.

It didn't work out for me - I didn't have the self discipline for Graphic Design, and I realised Fine Art was not a good career choice! So I dropped out and today I'm a senior software developer which I'm pretty good at. And it pays very very well!

Art has remained my hobby. When I lived in South Africa I always had my easel up with a sketch or painting in progress. I thought I was rather good at my hobby and I'd give the best ones away as gifts.

Then I moved to England and I didn't have space for my easel for 5 years, and once I had the space I'd lost my "touch" and my drawings were a little embarrassing! I briefly dated a bloke who was a graphic designer and he was very unenthusiatic about my art which was another blow to my confidence.

Now I'm in Australia. I have the space, I have the light, and I have a gorgeous husband who encourages me to indulge my hobby. It has been nearly 10 years since I drew regularly, and I'm very nervous!

I drew this on Saturday while Milord was playing golf. It is from a photo we took at the Sydney zoo earlier this year...

I'm not entirely happy with it, but Milord went "Wow! That's fantastic!" when he came home. He's a lovely man!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Whitsundays Holiday - Part 4

Continued from here.

Day 4 – Wednesday 15th October

We got underway shortly after breakfast and our morning “sked” – a pre-determined radio call from our boat provider checking on everyone’s plans for the day. They’d call every morning at 8:30am, and again at 1pm in the afternoon to see what we were up to.

We were on our way to Chalkies Beach (10) on Haslewood Island, where we’d had brilliant snorkelling on our last trip. Chalkies has a challenging anchorage because the bottom plummets away to 100m not far away, but provided you are among the first few boats to drop anchor you’re ok. We sailed there passing Whitehaven Beach (9), a beautiful, long, perfectly white expanse of sand – and a popular day trip from the nearby resorts by boat, helicopter and sea plane. We got to Chalkies by late morning and at high tide, threw on our masks and fins and swam towards the reef.

And swam, and swam and swam… where was the reef? Milord got fed up and headed back to the boat to pick up the dingy and I carried on. After about half an hour I still hadn’t found the reef and I was getting a bit freaked out so I turned and swam towards shore, navigating around a rocky headland. Around this point I realised I was swimming into the current too, which while not very strong was still unpleasant. Milord finally returned with the dingy as I staggered angrily onto the sand, and we went back to the boat for lunch and a rest.

Low tide happened at about 2pm, so we buzzed across in the dingy and found the reef right where we thought it was – it had just been too deep to see! We snorkelled around for a while complaining about the visibility… and suddenly it got so bad that I couldn’t see anything at all – not even my hands! We got very uncomfortable and high-tailed it back to the dingy, dodging corals that loomed out at us at the very last second. Brrr - creepy. That was it for me, I’d lost all desire for snorkelling, although Milord had another go the next day.

We had a glorious sunset over the sea, and cooked steaks with salad.

Day 5 – Thursday 16th October

A lazy start and a gentle sail over to Whitehaven Beach (9), where we had bacon and eggs sandwiches before taking the dingy to the beach. Commercial day tripping boats are restricted to either end of the beach, but as a private charter we could anchor anywhere so we picked a secluded patch. We buzzed ashore, anchored the dingy in the sand and took a long walk on squeaky clean bright white sand. They say the beach is pure silica, and it certainly is stunning. We put our towels down in a patch of shade under a scrubby pine and went for a swim in the crystal water, followed by a bottle of cold champagne. There was enough breeze to keep the flies away and to stop it being too hot.

After about half an hour we walked back to our dingy, just in time to stop it floating away on the rising tide! Luckily the breeze had been on-shore! Then back to our boat and back to Chalkies (10), where we dropped anchor almost exactly where we’d spent the night! We grabbed our books and relaxed in the shade of the awning.

I read several books on our trip. Kat had sent me a novel set in Venice (she and I travelled there together a few years ago and loved it) which I enjoyed – the author managed to really evoke the spirit of the place. As much as I tried to eke the book out I finished it in a couple of days and I would have gone insane but happily the boat had a small library on board. What a bizarre collection! A Shakespearean play with handwritten notes all the way through. The “Backpacker’s Bible”, which I thought would be a travel book but turned out to actually be a Bible… for backpackers. And a few novels. Kat, I left your book aboard in the hope that someone enjoys it!

During the afternoon I got very hot and decided to go for a swim. As I was about to dive into the water I looked down and did a double take. The sea seemed to rushing past like a fast river! I dipped in a toe: yep, the current was wild! I gently lowered myself down the ladder and laughed as my body was pushed horizontal in the water. Milord brought me my fins and I powered up to the front of the boat and hung onto the anchor line letting myself flutter in the current. Then I let go and the water swept me along the side to the rear where I grabbed the dingy line before swimming to the front again – it was great fun! Milord put his fins on too and came to join me and we played in the current for ages. I wouldn’t have liked to have been in that current without my fins though!

For our last night aboard I tried to use up as much food as possible by making a spicy pork stew with lots of vegetables, and we drank the last of the wine. Sadly I’d got the catering a bit wrong and we ended up with lots of food left over and ran out of booze – we had to ration ourselves over the last couple of days! Milord was quite indignant.

I love this pic of me. I look so tanned and relaxed and ungroomed... even the scar running down my cheek doesn't bother me too much.

continued here.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Desk yet again

Oh and now they tell me I'm not moving to level 9 after all... ridiculous bunch!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Desk again...

Darn, I've just heard I'm about to move to level 9, which I know is surrounded by highrises... I'm about to lose my view.


Tuesday, 18 November 2008


So where do I spend most of my life? Behind a desk... wanna see?

(Looking at someone's desk you can tell a lot about them. Even the completely bare desks say a bit about the personality that has to be so ordered!)

From the left:

  • Pot plant (belongs to the office, but there's a good chance I'd have brought one in if there wasn't one).

  • Wedding photo.

  • Phone.

  • Printouts, pad and pen: this is whatever I am currently working on. Completed/upcoming work is in the tray on the right of the desk.

  • Mug (tea usually).

  • Litre bottle of water and a glass: I try to drink the whole thing every day. Yes I do visit the bathroom a lot!

  • Computer... of course.
    On the PC is my glasses case (sigh - getting old), a DVD I need to return (Horton hears a Who), raffle tickets for Surf Life Saving (the draw is in Feb), a highlighter pen and a couple of post-it notes with my user id, the helpdesk phone number and a test system login.
    Plugged into the front of the PC is a USB connector that I use to charge my mp3 player and download photos from my camera.
    And a mouse and wrist-rest thingy.
    And that's a mobile phone charger next to the mouse.

  • To the right of the PC is hand sanitiser, hand cream and a box of tissues.

  • A bowl of fruit. I eat lots of fruit.

  • Tray of paperwork that I'm not working on right now, and a file with manuals and so on.

  • Ugly but very functional handbag.

Under the desk:
  • A backpack for the gym: this lives at work, I just take sweaty clothes home and bring clean clothes back.

  • A backpack for walking to or from work.

  • Running shoes, airing between gym and walking home.

  • Bin.

  • Drawers: mostly containing packet soups, tins of tuna, herbal teas and work socks. And a few bits of office paraphernalia.

And if I turn to the right this is what I see:

Very nice.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008


So I've already told you guys about Ocsober : an Aussie month-long sponsored sobriety challenge to raise money to educate kids about the dangers of substance abuse.

Well, now we're well and truly into Movember: an Aussie month-long sponsored [mo]ustach-growing challenge to raise money for men's health issues, specifically prostate cancer and depression research.

Now, while I don't know of anyone who took up the teetotal month, there are a few boys in my office doing the "mo-grow".

Gawd it's nasty!

Of course they're having fun with the idea so it's all a bit porno, with sideburns and handlebars and... ugh. Sooo unattractive! Did men really wear them as a matter of course back in the 60s? I'm finding it hard to believe.

One particular bloke in my office, a stunningly attractive American who is usually the epitome of clean-cut, well dressed, nicely built easy-place-to-rest-my-eyes-ness (hey, I'm allowed to look, right?) has started his mo. And overnight has become the epitome of sleazy, unwashed would-cross-the-street-to-avoid! Very sad.

If you feel like a giggle then google images of "movember". And be very very grateful that the mo is out of fashion!

Monday, 10 November 2008

You want me to eat what?

I've mentioned before that the area we live in is a bit of a melting pot, with a strong Asian influence. Every time I walk into my nearest little grocery store I spend a lot of time thinking "What on earth is that is that and how (or why) would you eat it?".

About once a week Milord or I take the plunge and buy something we've never tried before. Last week he came back with 5 little parcels of banana leaves.
"What are those?"
"I don't know but they looked interesting!"

(image nicked from here)

Luckily there was a label on one saying "sticky rice", so I googled for a while and discovered that this is a snack of pre-cooked sticky rice usually with some sort of addition (which can vary wildly). We boiled them for half an hour, peeled the leaves off and nibbled at the compact rice cake revealed. Turns out there was a kind of bean paste in the middle.

Verdict: bleah.
We won't be bothering with these again!

Yesterday I came back from the store with these:

Salted Duck Eggs. You should have seen Milord's face!
"What are you trying to do to me?!"
(this from the man who is still munching his way through the jar of dried anchovies coated in wasabi)

Take a duck egg and soak it in very salty water for a couple of weeks. The egg absorbs loads of salt and will keep for many months, plus it now tastes rather different.

I sat down and googled for recipes for ages. Sounds like one generally uses the yolk in cooking, or else you hard boil the egg (like a normal egg) and use it in salad.

So I boiled a couple of eggs, let them cool and peeled them. I lined up a few crackers, topped them with a slice of tomato, added a slice of yolky boiled egg, sprinkled some pepper, and handed a plate to Milord. After a long hesitation he took a bite.

"Hmmm. Not bad. Guess we don't need to add salt though!"

The white of the egg is incredibly salty - I discarded any that didn't have hardboiled yolk in the middle. The bit left on the cracker was deliciously salty, and the yolk was rich and, yes, a bit salty too!

Verdict: yum.
Now I need to think of something different to try with the 4 eggs left over!

Friday, 7 November 2008

Sick Puppy

I'm at home with a nasty cold...

I woke up on Wednesday night with bad hay fever and kept Milord awake for ages while I sneezed and snotted and waited for the meds to work. I get the sort of hay fever where it feels just like a couple of thousand ants have taken up residence in your sinuses and pharynx and are running around. It's mind bogglingly uncomfortable and all you can do is wait for the antihistamines to kick in.

On Thursday I still felt a bit rough but assumed it was a hay fever hangover... until the afternoon when I realised I probably had something else because the tickle was gone but my head was still clogged and running.

We had a another horrible night last night (we have GOT to sort out the spare room soon, so that I can give Milord some distance at these times!) and there was no way I was going to work today.

I got up in the afternoon to wander around the shops for food, but that was actually very difficult. It is impossible to food shop when you have no sense of taste and no appetite and have a head full of cotton wool! I'm thinking of steak, salad and baked potato tonight, but I'm not bothered...

I almost paid $40 too much for something because I handed over a $50 instead of the $10 I thought I'd taken out of my wallet. (10s are blue and 50s are yellow. yeah)

Some nutty old lady with her spectacles held together with a sticking plaster cautioned me about showing too much skin (I was in a tank top and jeans) and said god wants us to be modest. I congratulated her on looking like she'd come in from a snowstorm.

I stumbled back into the house needing a serious lie down. The drugs have the cold under control but I still feel particularly rotten.

I'm on the couch with a glass of wine, reading a medieval drama set in ancient Sicily, and MTV on the telly. Some of the videos are utterly mesmerising after a couple of codeine!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Whitsundays Holiday - Part 3

Day 3 – Tuesday 14th October
...continued from here.

It turned out our anchorage in Stonehaven (3) did not settle down much in the night! We rolled and swung in the current, and bullets of wind hurtled down from the surrounding hills to tear at the boat. Oddly enough I didn’t sleep too badly, as the night was cooler than the one before and with Milord in another cabin I was able to lie across the bed so that the rolling was feet-to-head instead of side-to-side. The sound of our anchor chain scraping across the seabed as we were pushed around was a bit disconcerting, but I got used to it after a while. Milord reckons he had a horrible night though – he hates high winds at anchorage.

We were up early and cooked breakfast in spite of the rolling, as well as coffee, orange juice and champagne (there is something really decadent about champagne for breakfast)! Then we raised anchor and went along to Luncheon Bay (5). The plan was to spend most of the day there and snorkel 3 bays (Luncheon, Manta Ray and Pinnacle Bay).

We anchored in Luncheon Bay and took the dingy over to the reef for a snorkel, after which we buzzed to the next bay, Manta Ray Bay (6), for some more snorkelling. It was pretty good, but we decided we were cold and had had enough, so we skipped Pinnacle Bay and headed back to the boat for a hot shower. The sea was really rolly back at the boat, making the shower a bit interesting! We decided to move on to our next anchorage, Cateran Bay on Border Island, in the hope that it would be more comfortable.

As we came around the northern tip of Whitsunday Island we realised why the water had been so rolly in the bays – the sea was very rough and lumpy as we rounded Pinnacle Point (7)! We had a bit of fun sailing through it, tacking[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacking#Maneuver] a couple of times as we were heading almost straight into the wind. I learned quickly to move across the boat while Milord brought her around on the new heading, otherwise I’d end up practically in the water as the boat lay on her side and I would have to “climb” to the upward side!

You also learn very quickly to have everything on the boat well put away before sailing like that, as all loose items leap from one side of the boat to the other!

We came into Cateran Bay (8) at mid afternoon and picked up a permanent buoy mooring. Finally we were in calm water, and I produced a feast of cheeses, pates and biscuits, which we helped down with gin and tonics while stretched out in the shade with our books, listening to the Café del Mar cds[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caf%C3%A9_del_Mar] Milord had thought to bring along. A nap may have ensued, and as night fell we cooked salmon steaks on the barbie and had them with avocado and salad and white wine.

Continues here.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Weight Update

It's been a while since I did one of these, and that's because I do not have any good news...

Septsober did nothing for me, and last month spiraled out of control with weddings and holidays. Bugger.

I need to get back into exercise, as I seem to be doing less and less. Milord and I have done nothing for exercise on the weekends since before our wedding, and I couldn't run a 6min km right now if my life depended on it!

Look at this:


Can you see my holiday week? Oh yes.

Grump grump grump...

Milord is in the pub after watching the Melbourne Cup all afternoon. He sounds half-plastered. We are supposed to be going out to dinner together tonight but now I don't much feel like it...

Or maybe I should get over myself and go and join him and play catch up? Hmmm.

If you can't beat 'em join 'em eh! Byeeeeee blogees!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Whitsundays Holiday - Part 2

Day 2 – Monday 13th October
Continued from here:

The sun finally rose after an interminable night in Cid Harbour (2). It had been a very hot night, but because it kept raining we were unable to have our hatches open so it was rather stuffy in the cabin. Milord snored and twitched until I was ready to kill him and I had managed to get sunburnt the day before which didn’t help, as every time I moved in my sleep that woke me up too!

(How silly is that? Lily-white after a Sydney winter we walk into the tropical sun without any sunscreen or even a hat. Born in Africa, living in Australia – I have no excuse! Milord also has no excuse, and his burnt baldness was bright red for days until it started to peel. Nice.)

Milord volunteered to move into another cabin for the rest of the trip, which made a great improvement and will go on the to-do list for next time! The beds on a boat are just too small to share with a large man.

Apart from that our anchorage had been perfect – out of the wind and practically no rolling.

I made coffee and orange juice and unearthed provisions from the bottom of the chest fridge, and Milord cooked us bacon and egg sandwiches on the deck barbeque. Although we had the occasional rain shower it was pleasantly warm and we were sheltered by our awning. We tidied up, consulted the charts, packed away the awning, raised the anchor and headed north again.

We were headed to Butterfly Bay on Hook Island for a spot of snorkelling, which involved us sailing past our proposed night anchorage in Stonehaven (3) on the way. We got to Butterfly Bay (4) a couple of hours later, took the dinghy to the reef and dropped its little anchor on a patch of sand, and slipped into the sea.

Diving in the Whitsundays is horrible. The islands are close to the mainland so there is plenty of runoff carrying silt, plus the tides get compressed and churn up a lot of muck too. The visibility is not great – probably about 5m (15ft), so once you get to 5m it’s pretty murky down there! We dived on our last trip and didn’t enjoy it, so this time we had decided just to snorkel.

The reef and fish are superb, although the visibility isn’t very good. The water was 26C which is a little chilly – we didn’t wear wetsuits but a shortie wetsuit would have been nice - I might have to buy one! I did wear a “stinger suit” which is a full-body swimsuit that protects you from sunburn and coral. I’m glad I had that, because whenever I went swimming without it I came up in little incredibly itchy welts on my body that lasted a week, possibly caused by bits of jellyfish or nymph anemones. Luckily I’d thought to pack antihistamine ointment and pills.

We snorkelled for about an hour and we saw huge napoleon wrasse and a school of baby barracuda in addition to the normal oodles of fish among the coral. It was pretty good.

Then back on board for a shower, and we headed back to Stonehaven with a ham and cheese roll and a beer in hand.

Dinner was barramundi (fish) on the barbeque with salad and white wine, watching a spectacular sunset. Our anchorage was a bit rolly and gusty, but we hoped things would settle down in the night.

...continued here.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Lazy Weekend

I'm busy busy busy at work... so busy in fact that I decided to come in for a few hours on the weekend to get ahead. Milord dropped me off just before 10am on Saturday and I bleeped my way into the building, then hopped in the lift and waved my pass across the sensor to go to level 25.

*bleep* Lift ignores me.
*bleep* Lift ignores me.
*bleep* Lift ignores me.

Aargh - my access has not been updated since I moved floors! I manage to get to level 21 where I used to sit, and wander the floor asking people if they can get me to level 25. No luck. I ring my manager at home and she tells me no one else of my team is in and she can't help me.

So I went back to the ground floor, crossed the road to the supermarket and did my weekend shopping, and caught a bus home after ringing Milord to tell him I didn't need fetching.

The rest of the day was spent like this:

Sipping wine on ice under the big umbrella while reading the newspapers. This is the best angle of my backyard.

Sadly it actually looks like this.

And this. Rather revolting really, but we can't do anything about it until our finances recover - probably next year!

Most of the planes pass to the side of our house.

But the odd one comes right overhead!

And this is what happens when you send your spouse out shopping for nibbles at the asian supermarket:

Rather peculiar!