Sunday, May 26, 2013

Over here!

With the end of grad school (though sadly not the end of procrastination), and a new gmail account to match my name, I thought it was a good time to move things over to a new place.

My stories about Australia and newlywed adventures will be over at:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Australia: The first week

Hello everyone! We've been in Melbourne for nearly a week now, and have had a chance to get our bearings. Here's how the first week has been.
On our way to Pearson -- bye Toronto!
The Flight
We left Toronto at 6:40pm Saturday March 16th and flew to Melbourne in 25 hours (with a stop in Los Angeles). The Toronto to LA leg was easy with wifi on the flight, snacks (purchased at Pearson for the mere price of a kidney), and extra leg room on our seats. The flight to Melbourne was long. The in-flight entertainment had a display with Los Angeles time, Melbourne time, and time remaining. I celebrated both when the hours remaining dropped to single digits and when there was less than an hour left. The food was actually really good (beef stew for dinner; eggs, spinach, tomato, and cheese for breakfast), so way to go Qantas.

The Arrival
We arrived in Melbourne at 9:20am Monday March 18th. It was grey and cloudy, but a huge relief to get off the plane. We got through immigration very quickly (I've been asked more questions trying to return to Canada), collected our bags, and met the driver we'd hired to help us get them into the city (we're staying in the neighbourhood of South Yarra, it's very trendy). It didn't take long at all to arrive on the doorstep of our temporary accommodations with all our belongings several hours ahead of schedule.

South Yarra: Airbnb success
At this point, the rain had stopped so it was warm and sunny. Dave guarded our suitcases while we waited for our apartment to become available, and I went to get something cold and caffeinated in the commercial area nearby (Toorak Road, for those following along with a map). At least along Toorak Road, they are crazy for French patisserie. Everywhere has crepes, macarons, and croissants, so it kind of felt like being at home in Montreal, except I've never seen a coiled danish called an "escargot" before. I'd read in advance that Melbourne is very into coffee and cafe culture, but I didn't realize they had new names for everything I thought I knew. The "iced mocha" I ordered ended up having ice cream in it, which was both unexpected and delicious.
The garden with its resident ginger cat.
Settling in to our temporary apartment.
Eventually, we got our things into our apartment, changed clothes, and had lunch at "kanteen" -- a very cool restaurant on the Yarra River. I had the best lamb, green bean, and okra curry ever, and Dave had (delicious-looking) smoked salmon and poached eggs.
The Yarra River from kanteen's patio.
We booked our accommodations on airbnb, partly thanks to a recommendation from Catherine E. We're so happy that we did, we really like the place we're staying, especially because we aren't paying hotel rates.

Since the first day, things have been a bit less interesting, and a lot more like work. We've had to set up cell phones (mobiles) and banking, and find ourselves an apartment (which is an ongoing thing). I've been into work, met a bunch of wonderful people, and begun a lot of health and safety training along with a little bit of science. The weather is lovely (not too hot, not too cold), and all the conveniences we're used to at home are available here.

We bought our first Aussie appliance, a coffee grinder, because most of the coffee in the grocery store is espresso ground, and we need a coarser grind for our aeropress. Of course, we will keep everyone posted on the fun things we do here, but we will need to get past the stage where we are spending our days filling out forms.
Birds-of-paradise, just an everyday garden plant.
All our love,
Liz and Dave

Coffee Glossary
coffee = espresso
long black = americano
flat white = latte no foam
iced coffe = ice cream, coffee, sometimes whipping cream on top
iced mocha = ice cream, coffee, chocolate sauce, sometimes whipping cream on top

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm on my way

Dave decided to give me a gift to congratulate me on finishing my thesis, and he hit this one out of the park.

He was trying to think of things that an academic needs, and thought that I needed worn-in leather satchel:

The wearing in process has to be organic, and the lived-with look earned, so he set about finding the same style of satchel, but new. Right now, it's a lovely pink natural leather colour. As I use it, hopefully the colour will darken and the structure will soften in.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Coco's Salsa

Now that this has happened:
A stack of seven copies of my thesis, ready for a trip to
the Psychology Department and Graduate Studies
I have time to do things I like again. Like make Mexican food.

I can't take credit for much beyond the photos here, because the recipe is a treasure from the Poolman family, courtesy of a neighbour.

  1. 6 medium-size tomatoes
  2. 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  3. 1-2 cloves of garlic
  4. 3/4 cup cilantro leaves
  5. 1 tsp salt
The recipe recommends getting bargain tomatoes from the old-food section, but I am using the only tomatoes I could find. Test the jalapenos for heat; I ended up using one big jalapeno but because it was pretty mild I threw in some seeds too.

Wash the tomatoes, remove any green stems, and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake at 250˚F for about 2 hours, until they begin to brown.

Allow the tomatoes to cool for a bit, and when they're cool enough to touch remove their skins and cores, working over a bowl so as not to lose any juices. Cut open each tomato to separate the seeds and juice from the meat.
Place the meat in a food processor and gently pulse until it has broken up into small chunks. You could also do this by hand, but I was way too lazy. Add the chunks back into the bowl.

Put the tomato mixture into the refrigerator, and mince garlic and jalapeno. Cut cilantro leaves coarsely.

When the tomatoes have cooled to at least room temperature, add cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and salt. Stir to combine.

It's best with a bit of time in the fridge to let the flavours mingle, but is also delicious right away.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Exactly two months after my last communiqué, here is what I've been up to in reverse-chronological order (most recently first).

Does anyone else see my title font like this?

because I want it to be "Lobster" and the font in the image is definitely not Lobster, but the font is right when I'm managing my blog design. Infuriating. If it's only me, I don't mind quite so much though.

Valentine's day passed without much fanfare. I went to the lab, Dave worked at home, I went shopping after lab work to pick out my gift (Lola perfume by Marc Jacobs), and when the guy manning the sushi booth at the mall said "Happy Valentines" in a pitying sort of way as I bought my dinner was the first I thought that there might be something weird about eating sushi at the mall alone on a Tuesday.
The bottle is only a small part of the reason I like this perfume. 
I made a plan to finish my thesis by the end of march, figuring out what is left to do and putting those things on the calendar, colour-coded of course. This page in my notebook is both comforting and terrifying and feeling both of those things at the same time is very strange. 

Discovering that Sharpie makes felt-tip pens (my favourite!) in lots of colours
has made my semester, easily. I've almost worn the black one out already.
I finally downloaded the Instagram photo app for my phone, and I am completely in love with the fancy pants special effects. My phone camera has never looked so good while having lousy white balance. The previous two photos have been processed with its charming filters. 

My cat caught a mouse in my apartment Monday night. As someone who likes mice and will coo at them in the pet store it was really surprising how deeply this experience freaked me out. I was going to bed, and went into the kitchen for a glass of water when I noticed the cat looking sheepish beside the dryer. Then I noticed the little tail sticking out from under the dryer. I left the kitchen to text Dave (logical!) and then the cat PICKED UP THE MOUSE AND BROUGHT IT TO THE LIVING ROOM IN HER MOUTH AND SET IT DOWN IN FRONT OF ME. 

In case the capslock didn't clue you in, this was when I lost my cool. The mouse was still alive, slightly, and the cat was batting at it as I tried to get her to stop and think about how to get the mouse out. Unable to text fast enough, I called Dave in a panic, and he alternately laughed at me and tried to talk me out of my hysteria. After sacrificing stale cereal to get the box and some tears I nudged the (probably dead) mouse into a box with a broom and tossed it off my back balcony. If it wasn't dead before, a three-storey fall onto the snow amongst the alley cats probably did it in. Then, once I was asleep, my cat the murderer climbed into my bed. Just be glad I didn't take any photos. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Adventures in Wedding Planning

One of the horrible things about wedding planning is all the things that people suddenly try to sell you. As soon as your facebook status switches to "engaged", the ads for weight loss, honeymoons, rings, wedding dresses, and teeth whitening appear on the sidebar. Sites full of dreamy photographs try to convince you that you need professional makeup application, crystal toasting flutes, and mason jars wrapped in burlap with chalkboard paint in a vintage picture frame (or something like that). It's not wrong to want any of all of these things - but the conviction with which people will say that you need them is disturbing.

From this utter ridiculousness, come the websites with "wedding checklists". From these, comes my favourite wedding planning hobby: checking off all the items I have no intention of doing and feeling productive.

"Start working with personal trainer" - check. "Make appointments for spa treatments" - check. "Choose jewelry for bridesmaids", "Schedule engagement photoshoot", "Buy cake cutting set" - check, check, check.

I'm so good at this wedding planning stuff!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Scale model

I found this photo on Huffington Post this morning, from behind-the-scenes at the Victoria's Secret fashion show.

Of course Victoria's Secret models always look slim, but with normal people for scale this girl looks insanely tiny.