Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fashion emergency! Help required!

Guess what? I have a job interview coming up!

I have so far applied for five different librarian/library assistant jobs since completing my uni study. I have one confirmed interview, and I expect to have others also.

I have written a little bit about preparing for job interviews on my "other blog". If you want, you can read it here. On this blog, we're going to think about what I should wear to the interview.

Put your "fashion caps" on girls (and boys) and help me decide what look says "capable", "professional" and "all round fabulous" to you.

From Country Road, we have a nice conservative pant suit:

Perhaps worn with a colourful top so I don't look too serious?

Or how about a nice dress? I love the shape of the dress below, but it's from a shop called "MrandMrsTallClothes" which I certainly am not!

I love this skirt and top combo from Jacqui E. Does it look right for a librarian? Or too dressy and not professional enough?

Also from Jacqui E is this dress which looks really comfy. Would it be too colourful for an interview?

I looooove this dress from Portmans.

A nice simple top like this one from Katies would be easy to wear with pants or a skirt...

Ok, so I've discovered that I'm not too good at this internet window shopping thing. Please send me pictures or links or opinions or anything else that might be helpful. Here are some guidelines:

1. I'm not skinny. I can't wear stuff that's designed for six foot tall models!
2. I'm not rich. I can't afford designer brands.
3. Whatever I get for the interview, I need to be able to wear again. I can't have anything that makes me look like I the CEO of a company. Then it will be too dressy and serious to wear to work. A skirt or pants and jacket combo might be the way to go because they don't have to be worn together and different tops can create different looks.

Get working fashionistas! Looking forward to your fashion tips :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Southern Feast (or "What I cooked from Ree Drummond's cookbook")

Saturday night I cooked a Southern feast for my family from Ree Drummond's fabulous cookbook The Pioneer Woman Cooks. Readers of my blog will remember that my beautiful sister bought me the book after I waxed lyrical about Ree's blog and wonderful recipes. You can read all about it here.

So, what was on the menu?

I didn't do any starters because I had a feeling that the meal itself would be filling enough!

For main course we had Chicken-Fried Steak with Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy, served with Green Salad. Here's what it looked like on my plate:

How did it taste?

Well, I found the biscuits a bit challenging! They turned out a little crispier and less light and fluffy than I would have liked, but what do I know? Everyone tried some, but no-one went back for seconds. I'm not sure whether it was because the Aussie taste-buds are not accustomed to them or if it was because I just didn't do a very good job of making them! Oh well. Here's a batch of them straight out of the oven. Do they look right to you?

The chicken-fried steak was much more of a success. We all enjoyed the tasty coating and the meat came out tender and juicy, so I must have done something right!

But dessert...well dessert was a triumph!

For the kids I made chocolate brownies. I didn't have time to attempt two of Ree's dessert recipes so for the brownies I used a nice reliable packet mix. Here they are:

(There were more, but I decided that two brownies per child was ample and put the rest in the freezer for later. I'm mean like that.)

For the adults, however, I decided to have a crack at Ree's Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce. I'm so glad that I did. Here are some photos of the crisp in progress:

And here's what it looked like after it had been baked and (mostly) eaten:

It was absolutely, deliciously scrumptious! And the maple cream sauce that went with it (which I shamefully neglected to photograph) was heavenly. Mmmm mmmm!

So all in all, a very enjoyable meal for all concerned! I'll definitely make the Peach Crisp again and I think also the Chicken-Fried Steak.

As for other recipes in the book, I'm keen to try the Red Velvet Cake and the Fried Chicken next.

So what do you think? Do I make it as an honorary Southern gal?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Murder in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

Title: Murder in Plain Sight

Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN
Pub Date: 11/30/2010
ISBN: 9780373774722
Author: Marta Perry
Category: FICTION - ADULT: Other: Religious

"There are secrets buried in Amish country...

Did a sweet-faced Amish teenager brutally murder a young woman? To save her career, big-city lawyer Jessica Langdon is determined to defend him—against the community’s bitter and even violent outrage. Yet without an understanding of Amish culture, Jessica must rely on arrogant businessman Trey Morgan, who has ties to the Amish community...and believes in the boy’s guilt.

Jessica has threats coming from all sides: a local fanatic, stirred up by the biased publicity of the case; the dead girl’s boyfriend; even from the person she’s learned to trust the most, Trey Morgan. But just when Jessica fears she’s placed her trust in the wrong man, Trey saves her life. And now they must both reach into a dangerous past to protect everyone’s future—including their own."

Once again I have been fortunate enough to receive a pre-publication galley to read and review via netGalley, however I have no obligation to either netGalley or the publisher to produce a favourable review of the book. The following opinions are my own.

Murder in Plain Sight is an enjoyable read.

Jessica Langdon travels to a quiet Pennsylvanian farming community with instructions from her boss to secure a quick and clean plea bargain for a teen accused of murder in what appears to be a straightforward open and shut case. Quickly, however, Jessica becomes convinced that there is more to the case than first appears, and becomes determined to investigate and provide her client with the best possible defence.

A mysterious suicide, a Pennsylvania Dutch hex symbol, death threats and the complicated love-life of the victim combine to make Jessica's job difficult and dangerous. Not to mention the fact that she is finding herself attracted to the infuriatingly bossy Trey Morgan.

This book is not a nail-bitingly suspenseful thriller, or a complex legal drama. It is, however, a pleasant read with a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance.

I was drawn to Murder in Plain Sight because I thought I would enjoy reading a novel set in and around an Amish community. The setting  did contribute to the story, and I learned some things about the Amish that I did not previously know. I would have enjoyed a more demanding mystery or a more heartfelt romance, or both! I felt that the author treated both the mystery and the romance too superficially for my liking. Certainly I prefer my reading material to be a bit deeper and more thought-provoking than this novel.

Murder in Plain Sight is a light, quick read that will appeal to readers of cozy mysteries.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You can be my friend on the "book of faces"!

So, what have you been up to? I joined Facebook.

Feel free to send me a friend request :)

I've been trying to resist for a long time, worried that I will fritter away hours every day foofing around online (which I already do, reading blogs, Twittering, etc). But then a fellow student from uni suggested that we use Facebook's new group pages to set up a networking group for those of us who are graduating from our Master of Education. It provides us with a free platform on which to share links and information and maintain discussions. So I decided to join up.

Here's my profile picture.

I got Chris to take some "arty" head shots of me in the backyard, but now I'm thinking that I look a bit old and wrinkly! I think a bit of photoshopping might be in order for the next one!

In other news, this Saturday I am cooking an American "Pioneer Woman" meal for the family when my sister comes over for dinner. Check this post to see how excited I am about cooking some traditional American fare.

I've decided on the menu - I'm going to cook Chicken-Fried Steak with Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy - mmm mmmm.

Biscuits and gravy a la Pioneer Woman.

I'll take lots of pictures and let you know how it all goes. I think we might need something from the vegetable food group to go with all the fried steak and gravy goodness. Would a green salad go with it do you think? Let me know your suggestions...

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Gathering Storm by Bodie and Brock Thoene

The Gathering Storm by Bodie & Brock Thoene.


Borrowed from my sister.

"As Nazi forces tighten the noose, American-born Loralei Kepler, daughter of a missionary family, flees Brussels ahead of the Blitzkrieg. But is anywhere safe from Adolf Hitler's evil grasp? Loralei's harrowing flight leads her into the arms of needy child refugees, who have sacrificed everything in exchange for their lives, and toward a mysterious figure, who closely guards an age-old secret."

I really enjoyed this work of historical fiction. It's written from a Christian perspective, but does not preach at all, and also introduces a mystical element that is unusual, in my experience, in Christian fiction.

The book opens and closes with the author, Bodie Thoene, writing in the first person as herself. She describes meeting Loralei and being entrusted with her personal diary of wartime experiences in the hope that she could help Loralei to have it published.

As Loralei's story unfolds, we experience a first hand account of the horror and desperation of ordinary people fleeing their homes as the bombs drop and the tanks roll in. The courage required to continue despite the physical deprivation and the devastating losses is monumental. It makes me wonder how I would find the strength to carry on, were I in a similar situation. The resilience and endurance shown by people the world over in times of war truly amazes me.

The Gathering Storm focuses on Loralei's work with men, women and children displaced by the war and needing refuge, and the descriptions of her work with the refugees is inspirational. There is also a romantic element to the story, which I don't want to give away here.

The Thoenes introduce a story from Jewish mysticism - The Thirty Six Righteous Ones. I had never heard of it, but found it intriguing. As for the end of the story...well in some ways it raises more questions than it answers.

I recommend giving this book a look if you like historical fiction set in World War II. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Feel Good Friday - funny and cute

My mother-in-law is the queen of email. She's always sending on the cute, the funny and the just plain naughty ones.

Here are a couple of photos from one of this week's selection.

All together now... Awwwwwww!

Dachshund mum adopts piglet - if that doesn't make you feel good, I don't know what will.

Anyway, these pictures have probably been circulating for ages, and you might have already seen them, but I hope that they still give you a smile.

Now, over to you.

1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.

2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to my blog if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)

3. Use the Linky below to link your post to mine so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.

4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!

I know I've been saying that I'm "working on a button" for ages. Now I've got a confession to make. I know how to make a button. If you check the sidebar of my blog you'll see that the pictures for the challenges that I'm participating in are buttons. When you click on the picture, it takes you to the blog that is hosting the challenge. All good.
Here's what I don't know how to do. I don't know how to get the little window with code in it so that all of my lovely followers can copy the code and when they paste it into a blog post, my button appears. How do you do that?
I hope you can understand this question and if you know the answer then please leave me a comment!

Powered by Linky Tools
Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

TTT - Leo the Lion

I'm ba-ack! Yes, that's right, having finished all my coursework for uni, I am participating again in Shannon's Table Topics Tuesday. Hooray!


Today's topic:

do you possess any of the qualities of your zodiac sign?

I'm a Leo, born on August 23rd. I've always thought that Leos like luxury, like to be the centre of attention and are generous, but I thought I'd do a bit of research in case I've got it all wrong!

The first hit on Google gave me:

The Lion July 23 to August 22 What?!? This means I'm not even a Leo! Talk about identity crisis!

Traditional Leo Traits
Generous and warmhearted True
Creative and enthusiastic True
Broad-minded and expansive True
Faithful and loving True

On the dark side....
Pompous and patronizing No, I really don't think so.
Bossy and interfering Bossy I'll take but definitely not interfering.
Dogmatic and intolerant Isn't this the opposite to broad-minded and expansive???

Hhmmm...Let's try again...

The second hit on Google:

Leo July 24-August 23 Whew! I'm back to being a Leo again.

You are a ball of dynamic energy. You are warm, bright and self-motivated, and you want to make an impression in everything you do — your work, your love life and your social life. I'm not so sure about the energy but I am warm, self-motivated and I do like to make a good impression.

Because you are extremely generous, you expect others to be just as big-hearted. You want to see everyone giving to the best of their ability. To other people, you can look like a bit of a tyrant. I guess this could be true, I do expect a lot of others.

When you are feeling upbeat, you carry people away with your energy, and they love you for it. You love sharing your joys and successes with the people you love. Some people think you are a show-off, but this is a mistake. Your dramatic flair is part and parcel of your zest for life, your love of people and your optimism. For you, life is a stage on which you can perform and express your talents. A show-off? Me? Well maybe a little...

Your physical appetites and general level of energy are extraordinarily high. You need to be physically mobile and fully engaged in meaningful work and social activities to feel good. Again with the energy! I must be doing something wrong, I don't think I got that part...however it is true that I'm happier busy than not.

Seriously, though, what do I think of astrology?

I'm not a believer. I think that we all could find qualities from each of the zodiac signs that resonate for us. And I think that reading a daily horoscope, rather than being useful for planning your life or making decisions, is more about taking the time to be mindful about the day ahead.

So what about you? Do you think that you possess the qualities ascribed to your zodiac sign? What do you think of astrology in general?

If you'd like to play along, click on the button at the top of this post, it will take you to Shannon's NutHouse so that you can link up.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy.

Borrowed from my son Josh.

"With his sunglasses gone there was no denying the fact that he had no face. All he had was a skull for a head."

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant: wise-cracking detective, powerful magician, sworn enemy of evil.

Oh yes. And dead.

Josh labelled this 'the best book I've ever read' and has been working his way through the series. He got the fifth book Mortal Coil for his birthday and is really enjoying it.

He's hinted a few times that I should read it. "It's got supernatural themes, Mum, you'd like it," he helpfully told me.

Who can refuse when their own son is suggesting a 'must read'? Not me!

Stephanie Edgley is sad when her favourite uncle Gordon dies unexpectedly, and is surprised to find that she is the beneficiary who inherits the bulk of his estate. She meets the mysterious Skulduggery Pleasant at the funeral and then again at the reading of the will. Before long, she finds herself searching for a missing key, meeting an array of unusual people, and fighting for control of an ancient weapon. And trying to do magic.

I completely understand why Josh likes this book so much.

First, Skulduggery has a lot of great funny lines. It's a little heavy on the sarcasm, but Josh is mature and clever and is able to appreciate the humour. For example:

Skulduggery to Stephanie: "You know, I met your uncle under similar circumstances. Well, kind of similar. But he was drunk. And we were in a bar. And he had vomited on my shoes. So I suppose the actual circumstances aren't overly similar..."

Second, there's plenty of action. I don't really enjoy reading blow-by-blow fight scenes, but I'm guessing that ten-year-old boys do!

Third, there's magic, and a whole mythology surrounding the Ancients, the Faceless Ones, Elementals and Adepts and Necromancers. We learn just enough about the alternate universe that Landy has created as the plot unfolds, with hints that there is more to come in future books.

Skulduggery Pleasant won the 2008 Red House Children's Book Award, which is voted for entirely by children. This year's winner is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Recommended for both boys and girls who enjoy adventure stories. I'd describe it as Nancy Drew meets Harry Potter. Landy has cleverly created a team composed of a young female protagonist and a male mentor figure who is just irreverent and immature enough to not seem too much like an adult. Landy has used a balance of male and female energy and characters to create a story that will appeal to both boys and girls.

I'd love to hear from you if you or a child you know has read this. What did you think of it?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Welcome to the world Callum Douglas Watson

This is my Mum holding her newest grandson. Isn't he gorgeous!

My heartiest congratulations to my brother Stuart, his wife Michelle, and their two daughters Emelia and Keira on the birth of their son/brother Callum.

This is Callum's oldest sister Em having her first hold.

Have you had any happy news lately?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Feel Good Friday - Can't Live Without...

Happy Friday everyone!

Guess who has finished and submitted all her uni assignments?

...and is just waiting to get her results to make sure that she has passed everything before she declares that she has officially finished her Master of Education?

Who me?

Yesterday I went out to run some errands and while I was at the shops I bought myself a little celebratory present...

...some new fragrance!

I can't live without fragrance.

Firstly, I'm a sensual person. I love scents, and tastes and beauty.

Secondly, I like to make the most of what I've got. I like to be well groomed and part of that, for me, is always smelling good!

For a couple of years now I've been wearing Jean Paul Gaultier 'Classique'.

LOVE IT! Love, love, love it.

But yesterday I decided to try some of Jean Paul's other scents for a bit of a change. After walking around the shopping centre with a scent on each arm for a couple of hours, I decided to get a bottle of 'MaDame'. It's quite different to Classique, but still from the same general fragrance family - floral top notes with a vanilla base. Time will tell whether I go back to Classique or if MaDame becomes my new favourite.

By the way, have you noticed that fragrances smell different on different people? You should never get a fragrance sample on a little card from the store - always try it on your skin. And always wear it for a while to allow the scent to develop. The 'top note' evaporates quickly, and you have to be sure that you like the way the fragrance smells as the middle note, then base note take prominance.

Anyway, enough of my little lesson on buying fragrance!

So, do you have a favourite fragrance that you can't live without?

Over to you. Please consider participating in 'Feel Good Friday'. You don't have to write about fragrance - just anything that makes you feel good!

1. Write a post on your blog titled "Feel Good Friday". Make it uplifting, or funny, or cute...basically anything that makes you (and hopefully your readers) feel good.

2. Make sure you mention my blog "a reader's random ramblings" somewhere in the post and include a link to my blog if you can. (I'm working on a button for future weeks, but for now you'll just have to copy and paste the URL.)

3. Use the Linky below to link your post to mine so that all my followers can visit your blog and read your Feel Good Friday post. Make sure you use the URL of your post, not just the home page of your blog.

4. Visit the other participants, read their posts, and FEEL GOOD!

Oooops! For some reason Mr Linky is not cooperating. If you decide to participate, then just leave a comment with the link.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

8 for 8

I've been tagged! My mate Shannon at the NutHouse tagged me for this game called 8 for 8. You can read her post here. I have to answer the 8 questions that she posed, then tag 8 more bloggers to answer 8 questions that I pose. Easy and fun. 

1.What was the 1st car you drove?

The first car I owned was a 1969 Toyota Corona called "EPI" from the number plate (pronounced "Eppie").

Older than me, and with a speedo that showed miles per hour instead of kilometers per hour! Luckily I never got a ticket for speeding so I must have been good at converting the measurements! I bought it from my sister's in-laws (at the time, they were just a family I knew from church) - it had belonged to my now-brother-in-law's grandfather.

A great, reliable little car. Chris lowered it for me and it handled great, hugging corners like a race car!

(This isn't my car, but it's the same model.)

2.Who is your favorite author?

OK, this one's hard. I read a lot, and like different authors for different purposes. I've got to say, though, I do love Michael Crichton. His special brand of science-fiction-turned-fact ticks a lot of boxes for me.

3.Do you collect anything? If so, what?

Hahaha I'm reading a book at the moment called Unclutter Your Life. I've got to admit that the only thing I really collect is clutter and the guilt that goes with it!

4.What is your favorite vacation destination?

"Favourite" implies that it's somewhere that I've been, and really enjoyed. In that case, I'd have to say Fiji. Chris and I went there for our honeymoon, and it really was idyllic. Tropical island destinations feature high on my wish list too - I'd love to visit Tahiti or the Maldives.

5.What season is your favorite? What is it about that season that you like best?

I love both Spring and Autumn, because I love the change of season. I get sick of winter after a while and wish for warmer weather, similarly I get sick of summer and wish for cooler weather. The change of season always feels like a fresh start to me, and I love to see the new season's fashion in the store too!

Between Spring and Autumn, Spring is my favourite. I love the smell of flowers.

6.What song can you listen to over and over and never get tired of hearing?

Hmmmm... I'm not really an over-and-over-and-never-get-sick-of-it kind of girl. I'm more of a top-forty-love-it-for-a-while-and-then-I'm-over-it person. At the moment I'm listening to Save Me San Francisco by Train.

7.At what age did you receive your 1st kiss?

Hmmm...either ten or sixteen, depending on how you define 'first kiss'!

8.What fast food restaurant is your favorite?

McDonalds. Looooove McCafe!

Now - you're it!

If your name appears below then it's your turn.

1. Meg @ Life of Meg
2. Vivienne @ The V Spot
3. Monica @ Blessed Mama
4. Casey @ Poodleism
5. Heather @ Lost in the View
6. Dillypoo @ Dillypoo Chatter
7. Colette @ A Buckeye Girl Reads
8. Keely @ The Un Mom

Here are your 8 questions:

1. What's your favourite thing to cook?
2. Do you play an instrument? Which one? How well?
3. What's something that you've always wanted to try, but were too afraid?
4. What's your opinion on natural therapies? Do you use any?
5. If you had $100 and could go out and buy yourself anything, what would you buy?
6. Do you have any siblings? Brothers or sisters? Do you get on?
7. Do you support any charities? Which one(s)? Why?
8. Why do you blog?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Nearly there!

Oh happy, happy day!

My Dewey assignment is done and dusted. I now have only one more assignment left to do. Did you get that?


My darling hubby has taken a week off work so he can spend some time with the kids during the second week of the school holidays. That means that he will keep them entertained while I am writing my portfolio. Genius!

I'm feeling energised and ready to go.

I will now unleash my brilliance!