11 November, 2012


The wonderful Web Goddess and others decreed November become #sewvember, where everyone should get into this whole sewing thing and GET THINGS DONE.


So I dusted off my (not-so-old-but-very-neglected) Brother 2100 (Project Runway edition AND pink, thankyouverymuch) and decided I should probably reteach myself some basic skills before trying to sew something complicated.

I have to say I was glad I decided to sew some simple things first. I learnt some very important things:

1. Threading the bobbin thread into the machine properly is important. Failure to do so will result in your top tension being way, way too tight no matter how much you loosen it. It will then result in having to resew an entire long seam.

2. Any sticky glue residue on the fabric, no matter how minor (thanks fat quarter label glue that survived through a serious wash and a heat removal process) will cause the foot to stick and jam. It will then leave sticky residue on the foot, which you will discover after trying to sew a clean bit of fabric.

3. A sewing gauge is quite possibly the best tool EVER for turning and pressing a hem allowance before stitching. This little thing was in a sewing kit I bought years ago. I had no idea how to use it, so it sat in my sewing box. Now I've finally learnt how it works, I never want to be without one again. (To see how it's used, check out this Coletterie tutorial on belt loops.)

The end result of all this? A few bits and pieces, and some more sewing confidence. I think I'm ready to tackle a garment now.

So what did I make? First up was a tissue holder:

Need a Tissue?

(I actually made two of these - the first I rushed a bit and as a result it wasn't too flash. My second attempt was much better.)

Then a pin cushion, because my pins needed somewhere more convenient to live:

Pin Cushion. Literally.

And lastly a small boxy pouch, to use as a makeup storage bag in my handbag. I lined it in Surprise! Yellow:

Surprise! Yellow

Zippered Pouch is Zippered

11 August, 2012


Crowdfunding has certainly enjoyed a bit of time in the sun recently. While the idea has been around for quite some time (think of charity drives - they're essentially a giant crowdfund initiative to fund something with a massive budget), it's only really recently with the rise of social media that they've kicked off as a popular way of raising money.

They're used for many things - the arts, charitable works, startup funds (or top up funds) for profit-driven entities.

As anyone who has used one of the popular crowdfunding websites (Kickstarter or Pozible, for example) knows, usually what is offered in return for the funding is a reward. These rewards usually increase on a sliding scale - the bigger the investment by the user, the bigger return they should see once the funds are raised and used.

And this, I think, is key.

I've been quietly watching a story unfold in the Australian knitting world. Without going into too much detail, people who invested through the crowd fund are being told (by the person who was raising this money) that they weren't investing in a business venture, but an idea. That because of this they have no right to complain that they haven't received their finished product, even when the finished product was being sold to the public at a recent agricultural show. They're being told that they have no recourse to complain to the site that hosted the crowd fund.

Well, I can't speak for those affected, but I can say for sure that I would be pretty peeved if I was in that situation.

It has certainly gotten me thinking about the risks of crowdfunding. As a user investing into someone's idea, you'd have to assume that they'd created a comprehensive plan, had costed everything out and had determined that they were capable of running/producing/doing whatever they're promising. It's worrying that it appears that there are people out there seeking money for ventures without having put the idea through what I would call an appropriate amount of scrutiny.

At the same time, I don't want to hold back from putting money into a crowd fund for a reason or product I believe in... (hah, fencesitter much!)

Does anyone have any ideas on how to handle this sort of thing?

01 August, 2012

Olympians, Women and Internet Trolls

*WARNING WARNING WARNING* Angry McRantyPants post ahead.

Important lesson: Don't insult an Olympic diver on Twitter. You'll end up on the news and get arrested.

funny facebook fails - ROFLympics 2012: People are Horrible

Yes, after that charming exchange above (which is pretty tame by troll standards, even though it is still abhorrent), that teenager found himself arrested.

Good? Yes. About time? Sure. Make threats on the internet, and you should be prepared to face the consequences. (Let's overlook the fact that there doesn't appear to be much of a threat made in those tweets though, okay?)

How many women (or indeed other men) have been abused and threatened over the internet? I'd hazard a guess and say millions. How many of those have had actual threats of violence and death made against them, simply because they exist? Too many.

Kathy Sierra stopped blogging, tweeting and doing public speaking events because of threats of violence against her. This New Statesman article outlines the experiences of several female bloggers, not all of a unanimous opinion, but all sharing in common the threats of death, rape and violence against them. One that struck me the most was Dawn Foster's account:

The emails rarely mentioned the topic at hand: instead they focussed on my age, used phrases like "little girl", described rape fantasies involving me and called me "ugly" and "disgusting". Initially it was shocking: in the space of a week, I received a rabid email that included my home address, phone number and workplace address, included as a kind of threat. Then, after tweeting that I'd been waiting for a night bus for ages, someone replied that they hoped I'd get raped at the bus stop.

Slightly more explicitly threatening than "your just a diver anyway a over hyped prick", right? It's certainly the kind of threat that I would hope the police would take note of, and possibly even make arrests over if it was made towards me.

But then, I guess the countless bloggers, columnists and journalists who get threatened in this sort of way aren't a famous diver whose father died recently. Who also has a massive following on Twitter.

Will this latest troll arrest make a dent in the threats posted by trolls on the internet? We can only hope so. Somehow though, I don't think it's going to make much difference to many out there who continue to get abuse over the net. What do you think?

The full content of the article referred to in my reference to Kathy Sierra above can be found here.
Another good article for anyone interested in reading further about this topic is located at The Guardian.

30 May, 2012

Dining out

Because the incredible Fooderati is so much more eloquent on this subject than I, here's an article that I thought was actually quite interesting, entertaining and highly relevant at the moment.

This post originally appeared on the Fooderati blog.

I've decided to go all Emily Post on your arses. Far too many times over the past few months have I been privy to crazy dining stories. Working in the restaurant industry gives you an insider's perspective to diner behaviour - the good, the bad and the really really stupid.

The following is a list of essential knowledge for anyone who likes food... and consuming it, er, not in your home. i.e. Everyone.

1. DO NOT book multiple restaurants for the one event and then decide later which one you want to go to

Restaurants are lean businesses. It may surprise some people to know that restaurants aren't cash cows with shedloads of money churning out like so much sweet, sweet dairy product.

Booking allows businesses to plan ahead when it comes to staffing, food ordering and general financial management. By booking and then cancelling multiple restaurants, you're really screwing the pooch, especially if it's a small restaurant that relies even more on each and every seat that's booked and filled.

It's been a hot topic of discussion within the restaurant industry for some time, but like any issue, rather than bitching about it, it can be dealt with successfully through communication. If you know someone who does it, tell them why it's not ok. Simple.

2. DO NOT book a restaurant and then not turn up

For the same reasons above, if a restaurant is expecting you, it isn't simply a case of calling someone else to replace you. Deciding you don't feel like eating out that night isn't an adequate excuse. In the same way you make a dentist appointment and stick to it, however much you wish you didn't have to - you're making an agreement with a business that you should honour.

If you are ill, have an accident or some other kind of last minute emergency - call the restaurant at the earliest opportunity and give them a heads up. Ignoring follow up phone calls or messages is a great way to get you black listed and restaurant folk have long memories. Not to mention the fact that it's bad manners and just plain rude.

Some restaurants have started to address this issue by taking a credit card deposit at the time of booking, with no-shows charged a cancellation fee. You'll see this become more prevalent if this type of behaviour continues to grow.

3. DO give plenty of notice if you have dietary requirements

While most restaurants these days do their best to ensure there are adequate menu options to cater for all manner of dietaries, don't assume this is always the case.

If there is something really specific you can't eat, call the restaurant and tell them. Even if it is a restaurant that doesn't take bookings, it always pays to ask whether they can cope with your request, rather than turning up on the night and getting pissy because they can't help you. You'll be surprised that given enough notice, how easily a polite request will be catered for.

4. Don't be a douche bag

Restaurants sell booze. You might get drunk and have fun. Weird, huh? But there's a line between enjoying the company of friends and pissing off the people around you. Whether it's loudly recounting last weekend's loose bender to anyone within earshot, pulling out a fuck-off DSLR in an inappropriate environment, or banging your cutlery on the table because you feel like pretending you're 5 (Bentley Bar, last Saturday night, no joke) - have some respect for those you're sharing a room with when you're out and about, it's really not that difficult.

There are plenty more gripes had by restaurants and I could go on, but at the end of the day it's about manners and respect. Restaurants are in the pleasure business, that much is true. That by no means, however, delegitimises their role in society or importance in the economy. As financial times get tough, we owe it to ourselves whether as diners or restaurants, to behave decently towards one another so we can see through to better days.

23 May, 2012


I recently started carrying around a little point and shoot camera again. I know, I know. I have a camera on my iPhone, but sometimes I feel like I need better quality than what that can give me, even with the funky filters of Instagram. Yep - wannabe photog right here. I blame my photography-obssessed father.

I was feeling quite chuffed with myself about having this camera in my handbag today, as I decided I needed a photo for a work project I'm doing. I set up the photo, pulled out my camera and... the lens got partway out and stayed there, even though the activity light was working when I pressed the power button. CRAP.

A quick trip to the marketing team and some digging around for spare batteries quickly diagnosed the issue: it was the batteries running really low, not the camera*. Which led to my face looking something like this (but with more work-appropriate clothes on at the time):

Thoughtful Red

I mean really, what is the point of carting around a camera in my handbag if the batteries are going to be flat a mere week or two after a charge?

(*Marketing did try to convince me that I just needed a new, more awesome camera. I quite like my little "wooden spoon" PowerShot A480 as my just in case portable camera. Thoughts anyone?)

08 May, 2012

Three months is a long time

I mentioned a shopping ban recently. Oh yes.


Well I do want, really. But my shopping-loving self is screaming inside.

I was inspired by the lovely Cclarebear, who fairly recently went through her own shopping ban. In her case, her lovely other half had promised her a high-stakes prize.

I, foolishly, organised no such thing.

On the first day of health kick (which I am still doing, thank you very much... except for the exercise as I currently have a sinus infection AND tonsillitis), I decided on a whim that I should immediately address the shopping habit I'd developed while I was forbidden from maintaining my usual routine. I can be so spontaneous sometimes.

Being on myriad antibiotics on and off for several months, no exercise, feeling sick and unable to cope left me eating a lot of junk food and resulted in me feeling (and looking) a bit of a mess. As a defence mechanism, I started going to the shops and buying little things. Lip glosses here. Eye shadow there. Nail polish too. I was amassing more makeup and skincare products in an attempt to perk myself up and feel better about the fact that my skin and body were protesting to this cruel and unusual punishment. It was starting to add up and it was stressing me out.

After being given the all clear and giving myself another month to recuperate, I decided enough was enough and started the initial health kick to rebalance things. And to make it twice as hard, I also imposed the following shopping rules on myself to try and break the old habit:

1. 120 days. 30/04/2012 - 28/08/2012

2. No new beauty, hair, nail products or homewares.

3. Two exceptions: If the MAC palettes I have on order at the Chatswood store come into stock, I am allowed to go pick them up. I am also allowed one nail polish order in May after the Spiderman OPI collection comes out - that's something I've been planning for the past month!

*Note - this was written before I found out about MAC's changed animal testing policy. I'm currently deciding what to do about my backorder.

4. If I run out of something and need a replacement I am allowed to purchase it... only if there are no similar products that I already have that I can use instead.

5. If an appliance breaks I am allowed to replace it if it used regularly.

6. If I break the ban, I have to pay a $150 fine into my savings account immediately.

I hadn't thought about giving myself a prize if I make it through to the end of the ban unscathed. The question is... should I even do that, or does it defeat the point?

One awesome thing though - well before I started my shopping ban, I placed a pre-order at Darling for some of their AW2012 nail lacquers. They're due to ship sometime this week... so I'm going to get a nice little package of pretties while not breaking my ban! If that's not cause for a happy dance, I don't know what is...

07 May, 2012

Goodbye MCA

My return to blogging here used the title of a Beastie Boys album as the post title. An indicator, if you will, of where they sit in my head.

This weekend the world had to farewell part of the act that influenced my musical taste through my childhood, up until now. Goodbye MCA, we'll miss you. But you know you can't, you won't, and you don't stop.

04 May, 2012

A Return to Animal Testing?

It would appear I'm a bit behind the times on makeup news, but today I received a shock.

MAC 219 brush detail

Estee Lauder (Who own MAC, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Clinique and many other well-known brands) have recently changed their stance on animal testing, after many people began to notice that many of their brands are sold in a region that requires animal testing on cosmetics by law... but they themselves said they never test on animals. Their policy has now been revised to "[insert EL brand name here] has a longstanding policy to not test on animals, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law." Logical Harmony received this response both from MAC and Smashbox.

To be quite honest, right now I am pretty furious that several brands that had touted themselves as cruelty free to their consumers were actually secretly testing. On the flip side, if what they are saying is true, then they are only conducting those tests required to pass their products for sale in the particular region that has animal testing as a legal requirement.

I'm actually quite concerned about this, and I think it's going to take some time to consider what my next actions are. Do I stop supporting the brads as a whole? Do I just scale back my use of products made by them? Do I do nothing about my purchase behaviour and simply continue to petition them to do all they can to get the government of the region that requires testing to change it's policies?

I'm on a three month beauty shopping ban anyway (more about that coming soon), so I have some time to consider my decision. Any ideas?

If anyone wants to read more about this issue, you can also head over to read Phyrra's blog post, and also this article in the Independent.

23 April, 2012

Ill Communication

Sometimes, life gets in the way.

Here's me bringing you up to speed as quickly as possible. Imagine it's being done in 30 seconds by bunnies:

Flu coughs moving house volunteer job two changes to paid job projects work travel more volunteer work pneumonia sinus infections volunteer work with cats more flus coughs colds suspected bronchiectasis claratyne eye injuries two relatives passing away car spraying petrol into the engine cavity car battery dying car headlights dying cats

I think that should do it.

I've had quite enough of my life being like a bad 90s daytime soap, and quite frankly I've told it so. I'm hoping that it cleans up it's act in time for next week.

Now, if only someone can find my inspiration and motivation. I'd be happy to pay for the postage to get it back.

I'm watching Bob Brown on Q and A on the ABC while I write this. He's leaving a huge hole in Aussie politics, and is one of the pollies I admire most. So calm, collected and rational.