Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Coffee Culture

The coffee culture in Australia is above and beyond that of anywhere I've been in the U.S. I mean, initially, the lack of Starbucks and other drive-thru style cafes in this region really bothered me. I'm an American after all and I'm very used to my convenience! As far as convenient coffee goes, the gas stations here in town (and also Subway) have these automatic espresso machines that, for $3.50 and a push of a button, will make you a short black, long black, flat white, latte, cappucino or mocha! And you know, the coffees not really all that bad. It's not even instant coffee! Alas, being American, the cup size of these coffees is painfully small for me and I'd have to buy 3 or 4 to equal one venti Starbucks and I just don't think coffee from a machine is worth $10/$12!

So, the lack of convenience out here is, well, inconvenient! But I must say that you can buy an espresso or latte just about anywhere. Even the hairdresser! I do just pine for a brewed coffee every now and again (automatic drip machine style) and the closest I can get to it is a cafe Americano (or long black) which brings me to the final realization of why the long black was called the Americano in the first place: we like our watered down coffee. lol It is really nice though knowing that absolutely any restaurant you go to will have given all their staff barista training and can make you a fresh cappuccino or latte without batting an eyelash. Even steak houses and Mexican restaurants have an espresso machine behind the counter. This is real coffee they make!

To Cream, to Whiten

Coffee creamer--or whitener as they call it here--is not very common. When I explain to Aussies what we put in our coffee, and then the extent to which it is available and the flavor choices, they are more than intrigued. I can find Coffee-mate here, but only in those tiny little cups and it is EXPENSIVE. Not worth it. The powdered version is really easy to come by and, when I first moved here, the powdered Coffee-mate (available only in the original flavor) is what I used to whiten my coffee. Most people just use milk in their coffee, and now I do too. I used to look forward to visiting home and have my creamer again but, honestly, I'm not really a fan of it anymore. When I do have it, I miss the taste of the coffee that gets lost in the French Vanilla or White Chocolate Macadamia nonsense. I like a splash of whole milk, plain and simple, these days. It's an Australianism I think will stick with me for life, right up there with the ketchup on my eggs. lol

Aussie Coffee-isms At Home

  • Instant

Aussies love their instant coffee. I remember the first time I came to visit Chris and we stayed at the family beach house and I asked where their coffee pot was only to be told there wasn't one. REALLY?? Then he pulled out a jar of little black granules: instant coffee. Now, I'm not really a stranger to instant coffee. My grandmother calls it "sissy coffee" in the form of those General Foods International coffee mixes which were a dorm-room staple for me, and I always had some instant Folgers in my locker at work for those Saturday night shifts that would push into the wee hours of the morning. But I always saw instant coffee as something a person drinks out of necessity, i.e. when there is no other option due to space or time constrictions. Not so in Australia! I actually have a few friends who prefer instant to absolutely anything else. God bless them. ;) Auto-drip machines are not unheard of, but really are few and far between. Nescafe is an Aussie staple and, while I appreciate it for what it is, I still can only see it as a backup for when I run out of coffee and the shop is shut. Sorry Nescafe!

  • Plunger

French Press, or "plunger" coffee as the call it here, is actually really incredible in its own right. This was my first go-to coffee brewing method. Now, you may be asking why I didn't just buy an auto-drip machine. Well, I did actually! But the coffee is ground differently here and it just doesn't taste right from the machine, it's always full of grounds. So then I bought my own coffee grinder, but the coffee still just doesn't taste right. I think it might be our machine, it gives a bit of a plastic-y after taste...I've given up either way. Plunger coffee is beautiful. On particularly sleepy mornings, I love being able to just dump 3 or 4 T of coffee into the plunger, cover it in boiled water and then slump on the couch while it brews on the table next to me. No additional effort required! Just push the plunger down after about 4/5 minutes and you're good to go. This is also nice when I have a friend over because I can just set the coffee on the table while we chat and have my little cup of milk and bowl of sugar ready and waiting. There's something intimate about a plunger brew, I actually quite prefer it to drip coffee now. :) You will be far more likely to come across a plunger in an Aussies home as their way of preparing brewed coffee (vs. instant) before you'll find a drip machine.

  • Espresso

The cultured Aussies have espresso machines in their homes and they know how to use them. I'm joking about the cultured part, but really, it's not unusual for people to own an espresso machine here and use it regularly. I love going to a friend's place and, when they offer me a coffee, it comes out as this cafe-worthy creation complete with a dusting of chocolate powder across the micro-foam. I LOVE that! This is by far my favorite at-home brewing method because the result is something worth savoring. It feels special and expensive even though it costs the same to make as a regular coffee with milk, it's a really beautiful thing.

The Art of Espresso

I was considering why espresso machines aren't as common back home and I've come to the conclusion that it's because Americans do value their convenience so much. We want things as fast as possible with as little effort as possible. I also think there's this misconception that you have to spend thousands of dollars on a machine to make a good espresso or, worse, that all espresso machines actually cost thousands of dollars. (false, btw ;) ) So, in the mind of my fellow Americans, it must take more effort to brew a latte or cappucino than it does to fill the machine with water and walk away. Plus, it's got to be expensive.

In reality, I can make a latte faster than I could wait for a plunger or drip machine to brew a cup of coffee. It takes 20 seconds to pull a shot of espresso. It takes a further 30 seconds to steam the milk. So, really, it takes me less than a minute to have a latte in my hands. Cost-wise, per cup, my latte is exactly the same as my coffee with milk. The milk expands when you steam it so it feels like there's more milk there than there really is, but it's no more than you'd use to whiten a typical brew and, if you're someone who uses creamer, the milk is even cheaper than that stuff.

Effort-wise? It does take more effort to brew an espresso-based coffee. It may take less time, but, if you have a cheap machine without automatic shut-off like I do, you have to turn the dial off to stop from over-steaming the grounds and then you have to hand-steam the milk which does take practice. I used to think making espresso makes a mess, but if I clean the milk jug and wipe down the steam wand straight away, it doesn't really. I know I can't dream of converting everyone to a latte or two every morning, but I myself am really thankful that I've expanded my horizons and am able to partake in some beautiful espresso every morning. If I hadn't moved here, I'd still be drinking auto-drip Folgers with a splash of French Vanilla w/Splenda creamer every morning. I think I've come out on the better side of things. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fun fun fun

It just occurred to me why I booked my flight from Mackay to Brisbane in the middle of the week! I'd been sitting here thinking I was an idiot, and wracking my brain trying to figure out what the HELL I was thinking! When it dawned on me: Wednesday is Australia Day. A public holiday. A day Chris has off from work! So, he can drive me to the airport and all of the previous stress and drama surrounding how and when I'd be able to get to Mackay are forgotten. That is such a relief, I can't say it enough!

So, I'm on the third day of Operation: Defy Jetlag. The way this works is that each day, for the week leading up to my flight, I slowly flip my body clock so that I'm on Texas time. It's been tough because, unlike if I was resetting in Texas, it's still daylight here while I'm trying to sleep at the moment. So I keep waking up after 4 hours sleep wide awake and ready to go, not so good. I've had 8 hours sleep in the last 48 and feel fine! Crayzay. lol So, I've been awake since 4:30pm yesterday and it's now 10:30am. I'd like to make it to noon (8pm CST) before I go to sleep and hopefully I'll be able to stay asleep until 6 or 7 tonight (2/3am CST.) I know, 8pm-3am are still weird hours to be sleeping, but it's better than my usual schedule which would be 8am-6pm!


On a random note,on date night a few weeks back, Beebs surprised me with a gift certificate to the spa for a neck, back and shoulder massage! So I'm going to cash that in on Monday and I also booked to get gel nails and toes! I haven't had a pedicure since October, so I'm REALLY looking forward to it. :-D Just had to share that cause I'm so excited!


I went to the pub for the first time in 3 months last night and, you know, I think that I've officially had my fill of the Moranbah pub scene. All the things that I used to hate about bars are bugging me again. Mostly the loud music, the smoke and the creepy men. Add to it that they serve approximately ZERO of my favorite drinks (can't even make a martini) and going there is just a waste of my money. Next time a friend wants to go to the pub, I'm just going to invite them over here or maybe to a restaurant instead. The only reason I started going to the pub in the first place was to meet new people and try to get some social time in, but I have good friends now that I get to spend a lot of time with outside of the pub and I feel like I've met just about everyone I care to at this stage....so my pub days have come to a close. I'm just a little bit over it, and that's ok. :)

Only 4 days til I visit home!

Astrological Signs

So, based on all the Facebook status...statii? Anyways. ;) Based on all of the updates by my friends, they have apparantly decided to officially update the astrology calendar thing to reflect the actual constellations of today. Why am I the only one for whom this is not news??? I've been reading/hearing for years that the current calendar was outdated by something like thousands of years which means that anyone who actually believes in their horoscope is most likely reading the wrong one. That said, if you believe in astrology, your sign has ALWAYS been whatever the new calendar says it is. Nothing has changed, you've just been educated. If you feel like your previous outdated sign really described you spot on, I think that's just further proof how little stock you should place in star signs. I'm just sayin.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Future

I know! 3 updates in as many hours! But I keep thinking of things to update about :P

As you all may or may not know, I only finished 3 semesters of college and only 2 of those were remotely successful. While I have always thought out-of-the-box somewhat when it came to living a cookie-cutter life, living in Australia has redefined my attitude towards the necessity of a degree even further. Unlike in the USA, Australians are made well aware that they can be as if not more successful in life by learning a trade as they could by going to school and getting a 4 year degree. They have a multitude of options and trade schools are very common. Almost everyone has a certificate in something or another and, while I know it has a lot to do with the area in which we live, I only know maybe 3 or 4 people here who actually have degrees. I'm not exaggerating! I actually think I'm being generous because I can only think of 2 off the top of my head but I know there must be more than that....lol

So, I've always meant to go back to school and finish my degree, I just never saw the point in wasting thousands of dollars on classes I'd never need while I changed my mind a million times (I know of few people who actually graduate in 4 years for this reason) and my situation has been complicated by the fact that I live thousands of miles from any substantial universities. This has given me plenty of time to think about the things that interest me. On a responsible and purely money-hungry level, I think the most practical degree for me to pursue would be one in HR management. There are so many jobs out there in HR, the money is good and I think I'd be good at it and enjoy myself. On a "you're-dreaming" level, I'd really like to study Psychology more than anything else. I would love being a psychologist and really helping people. I have always been fascinated by human behavior and I know the course work would really intrigue me. However, I don't think I have the time or dedication to finish such an intense degree program with plans of babies in my future! I am really interested in digital graphics and I'm adept at communications, but would I want that to be my career? My head is spinning!

With all of these options and more and my fingertips I have to pull back and say STOP!! What am I truly excited about and interested in? Fashion. Beauty. Arts. Food. Culture. I LOOOVE! So, why NOT? Why not open my own fashion boutique? I've always wanted to. I could be happy for the rest of my life just running my little store and burying myself in all things lovely for all time. I've dreamed of owning my own business since I was about 18 I think. The details of the business have changed since then, but the passion burns nonetheless. I'd love to marry a fashion boutique with a full service espresso bar. There would also be a play-pen area for small children that would be un-supervised but well stocked and gated so perfect for toddler aged children. And the shop would be small enough that mom could peak over at her kids from time to time without having to stop browsing. Those are the only details I've got. I don't have a real business plan or anything but I think that, if this is my goal, I'm definitely going to have to study business. ARGH! I know, in order to run a business I have to know something about business?? lol

After managing Prices Plus, I've had a window into business management and, while I didn't have to create the budget or anything, I did have to stick to it and meet sales goals and so on in order to keep the store running. In other words I learned a thing or two about what it means to run a business. That store was a good 4 times as big as anything I would ever want to try to run by myself though. I'd rather have a small maintainable shop with great products than a large shop with hit-or-miss stock that goes to clearance more often than not.

I have a LOT to learn, but at least I know what I want to study! I'm going to have to do research to find out what steps I need to take in order to insure my success. We are already making plans for future investments to further strengthen our portfolio so I'm hoping that, by the time I'm ready to get started, I could pay for my shop site in cash and not have to worry about selling myself to get some kind of small-business loan. Other than that, nothing's certain! I'm just glad I have a direction to move in now. :)

A real life update!

Since my last update was just a store review (and a chance to show off my cute new stuff) this one will be a real update on my life. :)

Cesar's Way

The best thing about being out of work right now is Eva! She is a handful and a half to be sure, but Chris and I are avid Ceaser Milan fans and have had a lot of fun trying to remain "Calm and Assertive." It's funny how much I have misunderstood Cesar's approach towards dogs until now. There are so many little nuances of his discipline that I didn't grasp until I tried to apply them to Eva and realized they weren't working for me. Here's what I've learned:

  1. Remain calm and assertive towards Eva all the time.
What does that mean? I actually have to BE calm and assertive. I can't be pissed off and irritated and try and correct her in a calm voice because she knows I'm faking it and won't respect me. How crazy is that?? I always thought that, so long as I sounded calm (i.e. not yelling) that I was being calm, but it's so not true. I have to feel calm and assertive. The assertive part, to me, translates as a feeling of being in control of the situation. Which brings me to my next lesson Cesar taught me:

  • 2. Expect the reaction you want, not the reaction you are most used to receiving.
What does that mean? For an example, say that Eva is chasing Bean and I want her to stop. I correct her by making a loud "ah!" sound. I always thought from watching Cesar's show (he uses a "tsh" sound) that it was the sound that made the dog stop. Now I know that it's not the sound at all. It's the energy you are channeling through the sound to the dog that makes the dog respond. So, if I say "ah!" or "no!" to Eva but believe that she will ignore me, that doubt transfers through my energy to Eva and she knows. I don't know *how* she knows, but she definitely does! If I approach her as if I am in control of the situation and I absolutely know she is going to stop, she does. It's like a miracle. :)

  • 3. Eva is a dog, not a child.
This is a hard one. It's my impulse to baby Eva and so, when I've been away for a while and come home and she is SO excited, I greet her with equal excitement and pet her and want to give her a treat. Apparantly this is the WORST thing I could do. Now, every time I come home, I have to completely ignore Eva until she calms down a bit because my excited energy only feeds her hyperactivity and my petting her simply nurtures that state of mind and makes her believe that she is right to feel that way.

  • 4. Do not pet Eva when she is behaving in a way I do not approve of.
If Eva is nervous or barking or over-excited, it was my initial instinct to have her sit down and then I would pet her and make a soothing "shhhh" sound, like you would for a child. Cesar says that all this does is positively reinforce whatever behavior she is displaying rather than discouraging it. Damn. So now, if she is nervous, I just have to correct her in the same way I would if she is chasing the cat or galloping through the house like a crazy dog.

Those are the biggest things that I think have made the difference in Eva for me. She is a VERY hyperactive dog and gets excited really easily which is why it's such a chore to be around her at times. But we learned the funniest thing on our walk today; I am the alpha of the pack. Ha! I had no idea!! Chris was always talking about how badly Eva behaves for him on walks and this confused me because she really is like the perfect dog for me about 80% of the walk. So I went walking with him and Eva today and she like, nearly chokes herself trying to pull Chris ahead when he's walk her but, when I walk her, she creates no tension on the leash and walks behind me instead of trying to pull in front. hahahaha I'm the alpha! woohoo!

This experience with Eva is going to make it so much easier with future dogs, so I'm really thankful to know her! I'm planning on buying Cesar's books and leash when I visit home next week so that I can figure out what to do in depth.


I found out the details on how this move is going to go when our lease is up. We are allowed to move a maximum of 2 weeks before our lease ends on February 28th, which happens to be Feb 14th: the day after I get back from Texas. ha! Why do we do these things to ourselves? That means that, realistically, we won't get approved to sign a lease on a new property until Feb 14 either. Kind of frustrating, because I have visions of being turned down for every house we like! They won't pay more than $1000 p/w for any house and the house must have all built in closets (the original mining houses in Moranbah didn't have closets including the house we are in now. They put in detatched wardrobes instead. "built-ins" are wardrobes that have been built into the wall. Walk-ins are just about non-existant! ::tear::) and either a refurbished kitchen or bathroom. I think this is great! It means that BMA is really pushing property owners to improve the quality of their homes rather than charging $800 p/w for a 30 year old house that hasn't been touched in as long.

Because the market here is so liquid, the properties that are up for rent today most likely won't be the same properties up for rent 3 weeks from now but you can't blame a girl for looking! The office does pre-approve some properties, but the most they would approve us for if we applied through the pre-approved properties is a 3 bed/1bath. I know this may sound fair to you, but all the new homes are at least 3 bed/2 bath and we really want to move into a newer house (maybe one that actually has a foundation and sealed floors?) so we are choosing to look independantly.

ha! So remember how I said the market is liquid? The house I was going to show you that was on the market this afternoon is already leased. haha! Here are a couple other ones I'm looking at though:


-This is a new house! I like that it has a real garage instead of just a car-port and the interior pictures look really fresh. The colorbond fence would be really good for Eva! I don't like that there's absolutely no landscaping to speak of other than a green lawn (which is nothing to wink at in this climate) It's listed at 1200 p/w but the office said not to go by listed prices and that, if we tell people that we're only approved for 1000 p/w and will move in immediately if they drop the rent, most people will move it down. The trick *then* becomes whether the office thinks the house is worth $1000 p/w becaue they'll only approve homes they believe are at a fair market value.


-this is an older property in town but the renovations are unbelievable. This is my favorite house but it's really expensive!


I looooooooove this house!! It has the garage and colorbond fence but, in addition to that, it has a HUUGE kitchen! I love the open-plan set up. This is the most expensive house on the market at the moment though and I don't like our chances of talking them down from $1350 p/w to $1000. I'm pretty sure I'm dreaming. ;)

Soo those are the houses on the market that I like. Don't you love how they're ALL over $1000 p/w? The thing is that the house we are in now is just as good and better in some ways than all the houses on the market for less than $1000 p/w. I really don't want to move again after we find this house so I wish there were more new houses up. There used to be TONS when we were looking 2 years ago, so hopefully some more will pop up over the next couple weeks. If we don't see anything we like, then I'm thinking we'll try to negotiate an at-will or 4 month contract to try again in a few months time or, if we can get an at-will contract, then we'll just stay until we find the perfect house.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Evans.co.uk Review

My Curvy Revelation

I never thought I'd identify as a "curvy girl" because, to this day, my bra cups don't exactly runneth over! But, whether I like it or not, my hips and booty most likely make up for what I'm lacking on top thus defining me as a "curvy girl."

I've lamented several times over the difficulty I've had finding clothes that fit me in Australia. I'll remind everyone that a size 12 U.S. is equivalent to a 16 AU meaning that, by Australian standards, all women size 12 (16) and over are "plus size." This means that (excluding a short window of time from 2005-2007) I have been "plus size" by the Australian standard for 10 years, even though I only recently broke into the plus size market in the U.S. in the last year.

This new plus-size territory, has left me feeling more lost than I ever have when it comes to finding a good fit. My measurements at the moment are 41-35.5-47. (I've lost 2 inches in my waist and 2 in my hips since June so I am EXCITED to share this news!!) According to the Lane Bryant size-chart, my bust and waist measure right smack dab in the middle of a 14 & 16. HOWEVER, my hips measure right smack in the middle of a 18 & 20. Do you know what the bust measurement of a 16-18 is? 45 inches. When I measure at 41 (on a good day.) This is the equivalent of a women with a size 2 bust having to buy a size 10 dress in order to accommodate her hips. Admittedly, the woman with the size 2 bust would also have a size 8 waist based on my proportions but I digress.

Buying clothing that fits me all over just doesn't happen. Clinton and Stacey would say "So see a tailor!!" but, hello, so much easier said than done in this town. This is not such a big deal when I buy shirts. I can still buy t-shirts in most shops in Australia, but tailored shirts are always out of the question because my arms are so large. I had the same problem with my arms when I was a size 10 though, they're just big. What can I say? Dresses are a whole different ball game. I can usually get away with finding something that fits okay if it has an a-line skirt and the lining isn't too fitted. But if I ever want to pick up something more figure hugging that doesn't also have a lot of stretch? Never. Gonna. Happen. Nothing will fit me, ever. Anything that fits my hips is absolutely gaping in my shoulders.

When I found Torrid, I breathed a sigh of relief. While I found a few essentials that I liked in Lane-Bryant and Avenue, they are so obviously geared at a market more along the lines of women aged 35-55. However, the fit and quality of products at Torrid left me wanting in a bad bad way. The embellishments on several products in my past orders with this shop have been already falling off upon reciept requiring me to pull out the needle and thread. The stitching on a dress started coming unravel after a single wear. And, the most dissapointing thing: the shoes fit horribly. I own two pairs of Torrid shoes; a size 12W and 11W. The size 12s I've never actually worn in public because they are so HUGE. They feel at least 2-3 sizes too big. I wore the size 11W pair once to a cocktail event, and I think the only reason they worked is because they are a cuffed sandal so the cuff prevented my foot from slipping out of the shoe. Regardless of my ability to wear them without them falling off, the fit was just awful and my foot slides all around in the shoe giving me the feeling that I will fall off of the shoe even if they aren't falling off me! I'd liken the quality to anything you'd find at Payless even though they cost about twice as much. So, with great regret--because so many of their clothes and shoes are so HOT--I've decided the only thing I'll allow myself to buy from Torrid in the future is jeans. I do love my Torrid jeans and the quality is not bad. :)

And then I found Evans.

I am so completely blown away by this shop, I cannot express it enough! Evans is a plus size retailer based in the UK who offers women's clothing in sizes UK 14-32 which would be US 12-30 or AU 16-34. They also offer shoes in sizes UK 4-11/US 6-13 in wide and double wide widths and boots with extended calf sizes. As much as I liked the younger vibe of the products at Torrid, it's owned by Hot Topic and that shows in the collection. Sooo much of the Evans collection is exactly my taste, especially in the shoe department. I was initially drawn to the store because the shoe collection is so incredibly on-trend, and not in a watered-down-for-the-masses way, but a I'll-hold-my-own-on-the-runway way. But then, when I started looking at the clothing, I realized that these guys really know their stuff! I'm a person that LOVES trying new trends the first season they're introduced which can be tough when a lot of shops won't commit to offering new trends in larger sizes until the trend becomes more of a mainstream expectation: skinny jeans, ankle booties and "power" shoulders are all case-in-point. (I'm still struggling to find a nice power blazer in my size!) So, I made an order.

I have NEVER been able to wear tailored shirts. This has been a problem all my life, even in skinnier days, but I took a risk and decided to order two shirts from Evans. I also ordered a sweater coat and a pair of interesting brogue/oxford/boot hybrid shoes. The package arrived on my doorstep today, the 8th business day from when it shipped, which is incredibly fast especially considering shipping was only $15 or somewhere around there.

First, and the thing I was most nervous wouldn't fit: my brogue/boot/oxford thingees (can you tell I don't know how to define these shoes?)

After my shoe experience with Torrid, and also with Avenue's Cloudwalker line, I don't have a lot of faith when it comes to integrity of fit in shoes from plus-size stores. My first impression was how soft the leather is and, with a hint of panic, that they looked a bit small. See, I had to order a size 10 UK based off a size chart and --since every Aussie size chart says a US 12 is an AU 11 which I KNOW is not true-- I was afraid these would not fit. So...I slipped my foot in...and.....TADA!! They fit! and They fit great! They feel great, not stiff, not too big, no slippage, just overall incredibly excitingly perfect. For only $80, I know these shoes will be by my side for years. I'm ecstatic.

So then I start unwrapping my other purchases from their protective plastic. First, a tailored plaid shirt:

I took a risk on this shirt because I knew that the way they've sewn the pattern on an angle would be very flattering. This is the first button-down tailored shirt that has fit my arms without pulling and has buttoned at my hips without gaping. It's also the first shirt like this that hasn't made me look 2 sizes bigger than I am. I'm so relieved! The quality of the fabric is great. It's been doubled over at the button panel to be nice and thick, I really think this one will withstand the test of time. I only took a risk on this top because it was on clearance for $15 and I'm so glad I did because I won't be shy ordering similar cut tops from them in the future. Gotta love that!

After the success of the first two products, there's no way I could be disappointed by this next shirt:

I bought it because I loved the cut and color. I knew that, if the first shirt didn't work out, this one would definitely because of the room in the hips. I didn't know it had a tie in the back but it's good it does because it allowed me to adjust the fit to my taste. What you can't see in the pic is that there's a very slight shimmer to the fabric giving it a bit more of a smart-casual feel than I expected so that was a nice surprise. It fits beautifully and is unbelievably light and comfortable. It's the perfect weight to wear under a sweater because it's so light. I couldn't be happier! This top was $47.50 and, because I think it's light enough to wear in almost any season, it was worth it.

Last but not least, my ivory sweater coat:

I loved the vintage feel to this sweater. It reminds me of a sweater I used to have as a kid with the little bobbles on it. I liked that it doesn't have buttons because I purchased it specifically to belt over long tops and the buttons would distract from the effect of my belt! The sleeves are long enough which is a relief because I have issues with that on sweaters and the knit feels very soft and expensive to me. I bought this sweater because I thought it would work really well with alot of the tops I already own and help my light Queensland wardrobe translate into the cold Texas winter next week. I think I'll have this one on the plane with me, it's so cuddly! At $80 this was more than I'd usually pay for something like this but I've been wearing my $20 Old Navy cream cardigan for 5 years now and it's starting to show so I think it's worth investing in a worthy replacement and maybe I'll have it for the next 10. :)


In summary, Evans is my new go-to shop. You may have noticed I didn't order any bottoms from them, so I can only hope that my skirt and trouser experience is as nice as my top, sweater and shoe experience was with them. :) If you fit in their size-chart, I'd highly recommend giving them a go. Their stock is so different than anything you can get in a plus-size shop here in oz so I can't wait to deepen my relationship with this company. Even though I'm losing weight, I doubt I'll ever be smaller than a size 12 again, so hopefully this is the beginning of a beautiful life-long relationship between Evans and me. :):):)

I can't wait to order some boots with the extended calf!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Neighborly love

Our next door neighbors have six kids, several cockatoos, chickens, dogs, cats and other various wildlife. I'm not exaggerating. Every morning at about oh, say, 4 am, the cockatoos start squawking. If a wild cockatoo's squawk wasn't bad enough, these cockatoos have been raised in a chicken coop so they sqwak-a-cluck. Like a bee-awk-a-squawk. A cockachicken. A pain in the ass.

It's still summer vacation for kids in queensland, so all of their kids make as much noise as possible during the day. Running back and forth through their house (echoes across and sounds like people are running in our house. it's weird) Screaming.

They like to find any excuse to use a chainsaw, woodchipper, leaf-blower or any other kind of loud power tool spontaneously at 8am on a Saturday, or 8pm at times (which is almost as bad.)

Every other night their dogs woof-woof-woof and bark-bark-bark and woof-bark-woof for hours.

To add insult to injury, as soon as they moved in they proceeded to hack and cut back at all the vines, trees and foliage that would have created any kind of noise barrier or privacy screen between their yard and ours.

I have come to conclude that our neighbors must be deaf.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Looking back on my previous posts, it's unbelievable to see what a negative change occurred over the past 5 months. It's obvious even in my blog how emotionally shattered I was by the pressures of that job and I'm so glad to be out of that environment! I feel like I'm getting back to me now. :)

Chris had 10 days off for Christmas so today was my first day at home by myself since I left work. It's so nice to not be stressed any longer! I have SO much to do around the house that it's overwhelming (it's gotten in such a state!) but I'm just going to have to chip away at it a bit at a time. I have about 12 baskets of dirty laundry to wash (it's already sorted so at least there's that) a mountain of dishes and our bedroom looks like a bomb hit it. ahh! Boy do I miss the days where, when you let your mess get bad enough, your mom came in and cleaned it all up for you. ha!


How was my Christmas? As good as could be expected. The only way I could get through it without being completely depressed was to pretend that it wasn't actually Christmas and we were just at Chris's family reunion-- silly, I know, but it is what it is. Since this is a public blog I'll keep the rest of my potential whinge-fest to myself and just say that I'm glad it's over. I was really glad to be able to talk to my sisters heaps and my parents for a little bit. The best thing that happened was when a package arrived the morning of Christmas Eve and it had all the presents from my mom and dad in it. Chris made us coffee and breakfast and we opened the package and it was like our own little Christmas morning. Next time I think what we'll do is go spend Christmas eve and Christmas morning with Chris's family and then leave to spend that evening of Christmas day as just the two of us and have the morning of Boxing Day be like our Christmas morning at home. That's when we'd open any gifts from my family and exchange the gifts we gave to each other and just pretend it was Christmas. Because why not? I wish we'd done that this year, but I hadn't fully though through how everything was going to work yet. Our next Aussie xmas is going to be infinitely better, guaranteed. Life is too short to be miserable over the holidays. :)


I am SO excited to be able to bust out some cold-weather fashion in a few weeks. I haven't had an excuse to really fix my hair, let alone plan a real outfit in a loooooong time, so color me ecstatic. :) I've started a style file on my desktop (it lives next to my hair file. They're bffs.) and have started to accumulate a lot of cool looks I'd love to try. I made two day time and night time looks just for fun. I got the idea from the Polyvore website and just dragged each clothing item into photoshop and pasted it all together. It's really cool how easily you can fit a picture of a sweater from one designer onto jeans from an entirely different website because all the mannequins are the same size. It was fun! Here they are:

I'm in love with this look! I've seen a few different version of it now with the denim style shirt and ivory cardigan but this one I've put together is my favorite. I need to find a Chambray shirt, stat! And oxfords in my size. Wish I could have the green Balenciaga too but I don't think that's happening in this lifetime. :-D

I'm also loving the top-knot hair right now. I started seeing it two years ago in Brisbane (I swear Australians are more up on fashion trends than Americans on average, they're always two years ahead!) mostly on teenage girls, and I thought it was so cute. I called it the "brisbane bun" because it was literally everywhere. And now it was one just about every runway this fall and so I've been trying to rock it out lately. My hair is kind of short to make it as pretty as I'd like, but I still think it's working for me. I'm so relieved that something so incredibly easy to style is on-trend at the moment. You don't have to straighten or blow dry your hair for this one!

I love this look equally as much as the first one even though they're so different. :) This look is kind of technology/ space inspired. Definitely a modern 80's vibe. I think those hinged rings are so cool, they would make me feel like a robot. In a good way. I hope I can rock out something similar to this when we go out for my bday drinks next month. :)


We bought a Wii back in November and it's our first gaming system. I love it! My fave game is Epic Mickey. ^^ I play it all the time now when I'm avoiding cleaning the house. I think maybe I'll buy one of those Wii fit things or those personal trainer game things tomorrow to see how I like it because they're supposed to be really good. I need to get back into the swing of exercising again now that my job isn't going to be so active and I think using the Wii could be a fun addition to the gym. What do you think?


Tomorrow When The War Began (Theatrical Trailer)

I saw the movie "Tomorrow When the War Began" a couple days ago with beebs and it's REALLY good. I'm shocked at how well executed it was because, frankly, most Australian films I've seen have a painfully low-budget vibe and are full of bad acting. This movie was so good though! It's based on a book from one of Chris's favorite child-hood series by John Marsden so I'm really excited to read the series now.

I think Inception is my favorite movie of the moment though. If you haven't seen it, go rent it now! It reminds me of the Matrix in some ways (so of course I love it) but it's executed in a new way. It brings to life the fantasy of "what if I could control my dreams" or, if you've ever had a particularly fantastic dream, "what if I could make this last forever?" I really hope there's going to be a sequel because the way it ends would be INFURIATING without a sequel! Such a good ending, but I don't want it to be over yet.

That's all the blog I have for now! Hopefully it was enjoyable. :)