Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Meet George!

Our new pet bunny, George. I've wanted a bunny for as long as I can remember, and George was my (early) Christmas present from Matt.

Meet George

George is a 9 week old dwarf lop bunny. He's the first bunny I've ever taken care of so I'm still getting used to how to pick him up and cuddle him just right.


I love you George, welcome to our home!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Triple J Hottest 100 of 2010 (updated)

My Votes:
  • The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio (#31)
  • The National - Sorrow (nope)
  • The National - Lemonworld (nope)
  • Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (#58)
  • Tame Impala - Solitude Is Bliss (#33)
  • Yeasayer - Ambling Alp (#51)
  • Vampire Weekend - Giving Up The Gun (#55)
  • Ou Est Le Swimming Pool - Dance The Way I Feel (#3)
  • Underworld - Scribble (nope)
  • Chiddy Bang - Opposite Of Adults (#36)
Would have loved to fit in:
  • Miike Snow - Billie Holiday (nope)
  • Caribou - Odessa (nope)
  • Darwin Deez - Radar Detector (#28)
  • M.I.A - XXXO (nope)
  • Angus And Julia Stone - Big Jet Plane (#1)
  • Cee Lo Green - Fuck You (#7)
(Update) There were some surprises! I was positive that Cee Lo Green would take out #1, and all in all I was a bit disappointed with the top 10. However good on Australia for giving The National, Arcade Fire, Tame Impala and Yeasayer so many entries! And thank GOD that stupid Magic Fountain song was low this year (I'm still sore about Parlez Vous Francaise getting #2 last year).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Toyota Hiace Cake

This weekend I made a Hiace cake (with Matt's help) for Cam and Jean's going away dinner. They're still in Perth for another couple of weeks, and then they're off on a trek around Australia in their decked out Hiace van.

For the cake part, I made a rainbow cake using a square cake tin. I cut the square cake in half and stacked the halves to make the general rectangular prism shape of the van.
Hiace Cake - The Base

Next I cut off a section from the top of the cake to make the slanty part of the front windscreen. To do this I used an un-serrated knife and cut very slowly at a 45 degree angle aiming to finish at the join between the two halves.
Hiace Cake - The Shape

The body paint of the van is (very thick) butter icing. I find that adding a small amount of milk (about a tablespoon for 50gm of butter and 3 cups of icing sugar) to the mixture makes the colour a lot whiter which was appropriate since the Hiace is white. The icing is a lot thicker than usual so that it got into all the cracks and hid the two layers of cake. I used a large spatula to try and get the surface as smooth as possible, but still ended up with quite a lot of icing streaks.
Hiace Cake - Base Icing

The windows were done using the same butter icing made blue with a few drops of food colouring. I also added some strawberry essence just to make it different to the white icing taste. Applying the blue over the white icing is quite fiddly. I found that the most effective way was to put a dollop of icing (about half a teaspoon) in the center of where you want the window to be, and then spread it out radially with a knife. You need to push gently so that you don't go through to the white, but if you do it's no big deal, you can just hide it with more blue icing. After the shape is correct, run the knife horizontally very gently along the blue icing so that the streaks go all in one direction.
Hiace Cake - Windows

For the bumper and all the other details I used chocolate butter icing (same as the regular butter icing but with two tablespoons of cocoa powder). I made quite a large batch (30gm of butter and 1 cup of icing sugar) because the details require a piping bag which always takes up a lot of icing. Adding the bumpers is not as hard as adding the windows, but the technique is similar. The hardest bit is getting the icing all the way to the bottom of the cake because you need to use the tip of the knife to push it down. I also added large chocolate buttons for the wheels.
Hiace Cake - Bumpers

I used the smallest circular nozzle on my piping bag to add rims around the windows, the stripe around the van, and the handles and window wipers. My advice is to spend some money on a good piping bag since I bought a cheapo one that broke half way through (grrrr). This part is quite easy if you have a small nozzle, and it's one of those things that turns out better the less you try! When I was concentrating really hard I went too slowly and the lines turned out wonky. The lines looked smoother when there was a thick stream of fast icing.
Hiace Cake - Details

For the lights and number plates I used sections of yellow, orange, and red jelly snakes cut to size with scissors. If you press the parts of the snake that have been cut they stick together so the lights are nice and sturdy. I think they give a nice effect because they look sort of see-through :) I really like how the back lights turned out.
Hiace Cake - Finished!

For the front head lights I used white chocolate chips. At first I tried using a section of yellow jelly snake but it just didn't look right. Hiace lights aren't actually round, but this was the best I could get it to look. For the side mirrors I used milk chocolate chips with the flat bit pointing toward the "driver".

And there you have it! A Toyota Hiace Camper Van.
Hiace Cake - Front Lights

Bon voyage Cam and Jean :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The 2010 Perth Royal Show

Rainbow EyeshadowIt's my favourite time of year again, when the Royal Show comes to Perth! Yesterday I spent a whole day at the show. My parents and Mina hung around until just after lunch, and then we met up with some friends and stayed until the fireworks at night. Matt and I arrived at 10am and stayed until 8.30pm and I still didn't get to do everything I wanted!

I pretty much had to force my parents and Mina to come, and I was sure they'd have a good time. They complained the whole time they were there, but each of them had one thing that they really enjoyed so hopefully that made it worthwhile! Having said that I don't think I'll manage to convince them to come again next year...

Fairy Floss!

First up we went to the Food and Cooking pavilion to see some cake displays. Despite Mina's insistence that everything she baked was a million times better, I found it amazing what some people manage to make out of icing. It's both inspiring and very very humbling.

Next we went to see Jack and Molly the Wonder Dog at the Entertainment pavilion. We somehow found seats next to a very excitable lady who managed to singlehandedly be louder than all of the kids combined, and was violently bouncing around in her chair the whole time. This was much to Mina's horror who scored the seat right next to her, and poor Mina spent the whole time giving me worried looks and clutching her purse tightly. However the show was really cute with the highlight being when Molly shut herself in a little suitcase, exasperated at Jack's impossible requests for her to jump through a 3m high hoola hoop.

The Poultry and Pigeon PavilionThe Dog and Poultry pavilions were next which is where I think my parents and Mina had the most fun. The dogs were awesome as always, and my dad looked like a little kid giggling at all the dogs being prepped for show with their clips and bows and all. The Poultry and Pigeon pavilion went down a treat as I knew it would, being chicken owners ourselves. Mina had heaps of fun, and her favourite birds were the pigeons with the tails that looked like umbrellas.

After this Mina and my parents got a bit showed-out and decided to give up. I'm actually surprised they lasted that long, but was a bit disappointed they didn't get to see more things. We then met up with some friends and had some sushi lunch (I brought some sushi to try even out all the sugar with some healthy stuff) and hit the pavilions again.

Bride and Groom DucksAt 3pm was the highlight of my show day; an event called "Dancing Ducks". We'd seen this before a couple of years ago and I couldn't wait to see it again. I can't properly describe the show, but it certainly did not involve any ducks dancing. To sum it all up, a crazy old farm guy has made a duck fashion parade with ducks wearing different dresses (including a bride and groom duck), and he's decided to toss in a strange pig race, a weird sing along, and an even stranger game of pig musical chairs (that also has a dog for some reason). There's also a bit where a strange ghost thing inexplicably pops out of the runway and he gets all the kids to yell at it. Anyway... it is strange. The strangest bit was during the pig musical chairs thing where he lost control of the broom he was using to push the pigs away with and fell head over heels as a pig trampled him to get the food from his bucket... so, so strange.

Next we saw Clive Lotah and his Sway Pole, which was an acrobatic show where Clive, a 75 year old in a red spandex suit climbs a 9m pole and does a bunch of crazy tricks at the top. He (literally) seemed on top of the world and I couldn't clap loudly enough especially since Clive was sitting in a wheel chair before and after his amazing performance.

Clive Lotah on the Sway Pole

We filled in our time until the fireworks with more patting of cute animals, buying of candies, and a couple of rides. I went on the Gravitron (a spaceship like ride where you stand up and get stuck to the walls as it spins around really fast, definitely my favourite ride of all time) with Kristy, and the Mega Drop (a 45m, 5.5g force fall) with Andrew. To top off a perfect day we went out for a relaxing dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant. I love the Royal Show so much!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Incident Celebrations

The Incident Cupcakes!Last Saturday we had a few people over to celebrate Matt's final week of (salaried) work and all the success of his awesome game, The Incident. To mark the occasion, we decided to make some The Incident themed cupcakes, and I tried my hand at a rainbow cake that I iced with The Incident icon.

Balloon Cupcakes
We had a great idea about making cupcakes themed with all the "balloons" you can get in the game. There's health, health boost, shield, up/down and curse balloons which we captured with coloured icing and ready rolled for the icon. Matt is really good at ready rolled icing! The curse balloon with the skull was my favourite, and he did an awesome job with it!

The Incident Cupcake Tree!

Psychedelic Icon Cake
I'm pretty sure this is the best thing I've ever baked in my life, and I probably should just stop now at the height of my baking potential. I was inspired by a layered rainbow cake that someone brought in for their birthday at work, but decided to go for the full mixed rainbow cake after googling some amazing pictures of other people's creations.

Colourful Cake MixI decided to stick with 6 colours and repeat the sequence twice (yes, to make a double rainbow). I bought a square cake tin for the occasion (since the app icons are square) and filled it with a double batch of vanilla sponge cake mix. To the lighter colours (red, orange and yellow) I added some strawberry essence, but it turned out really subtle so you couldn't taste the difference between the colours of the rainbow.

It may surprise you that there's no manual mixing involved to create the rainbow pattern (it surprised me!). The effect is achieved by scooping concentric circles of coloured mixture on top of one and other. The mixture will spread out under the weight of each new colour application, and the result is the perfect amount of psycadelicness!

I documented each spoonful of mixture I added (I'll skip every second addition here for brevity). Because I wanted to go through the spectrum twice, I used about half the amount of each colour each time.

Colours 1 and 2

Colour 4

Colour 6

Colour 8

Colour 10

Colour 12

It Teases MeWhen the cake came out of the oven the surface was a lovely brown, but there were little cracks where you could see the magic shining through! It was huge tease that I couldn't find out what was inside! I couldn't wait, so I managed to convince myself that I needed to cut the top off the cake so that it could be properly iced as a perfect icon prism. It was... SO EXCITING to see this:

Flattening the Prism

Spot LightNext I mixed up 6 shades of purple and a bright yellow in vanilla butter icing. I iced the cake as best as I could, and used cashous for the stars. I think that the colours came out really nice, and I managed to get the sky a really nice deep purple. I used cocoa powder as well food colouring for that part.

FrankI decided to use ready rolled icing to capture Frank in all of his pixely detail, and managed to do a pretty good job with the colours! I didn't think I could get the colour dark enough for his hair, pants or shoes, but it came out quite accurate.

The Incident Cake

Cutting the Cake
When we brought out the cake I was SO excited to find out what was inside. I had no idea what to expect even given the sneak preview of cutting the top off. Matt did the honours, and it was more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

I love you, rainbow The Incident icon cake. You are the best thing I've ever made.

Rainbow Cake

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cuddly Animal Farm

This Duck Loved MeToday I had an awesome time at the Swan Valley with my friends from uni. As a (late) birthday present, they decided to take me out for breakfast at the Margaret River Chocolate Company, followed by a visit to the Cuddly Animal Farm and finishing off with lunch and drinks at Oakover winery.

I loved that BunnyOK so the whole day was great, but Oh My God the Cuddly Animal Farm is the best place ever! Despite the fact that we were obviously not the target audience (and apparently I'm too big to ride the pony... yes I asked) we all had a really great time! I patted so many things!

Look at his NoseMy animal highlights are cuddling the baby bunny with the white nose (I want it), seeing a turkey (I had no idea they actually said 'gobble gobble' and their face looks like chewing gum), feeding a piglet (but he went a bit crazy and I got milk everywhere), and hanging out with my duck buddies (I was the duck whisperer today, all the ducks and me go way back).

Lunch at Oakover

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cupcake Month

Well it seems like August has been a month of cupcakes! It was my birthday earlier this month and I decided to have a crack (well two cracks) at Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' cupcakeified. Then Amy and I decided to do 'Cupcake day for the RSPCA' to help raise funds for all animals great and small :)

Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' in Cupcakes
As a tradition, I always make cupcakes (instead of having an actual cake) for Matt and I on our birthdays. I try to keep it cute and geeky (e.g. last year I made Mario Mushroom cupcakes for Matt's birthday), and this year I came across an amazing idea that immediately stole my heart.

It turns out that Van Gogh has been translated in to all types of sweets (I found a great summary of a bunch of different attempts) but since we have a print of Starry Night hanging in our lounge room I thought I'd give that one a shot.

I did a practice run before my birthday and took them into work as an early birthday cake. Everyone loved them! Only one person guessed what the painting was without any hints, but that certainly made my day :)

Finished Painting

For my actual birthday I asked for Amy's help and managed to do a much better job with help from her infinite cupcake knowledge! It took us about 3 hours to ice the whole lot (I baked the cupcakes the previous day just to rush things along) but it was great fun! So much better with two people.

Van Gogh Cupcakes Take #2

Cupcake day for the RSPCA
After how much fun we had making the Van Gogh cupcakes, Amy suggested that we put our baking to a good purpose and take part in Cupcake day for the RSPCA. The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is a really great cause, so we were happy to do whatever we could to help, and thought it would be great fun having a go at some animal themed cupcakes!Mini Cupcakes

Amy signed us up and the RSPCA set up a fundraising page for our team, and set our fundraising goal as $500AU. I personally thought that was very ambitious, and didn't think we'd get anywhere near that amount. Turns out we're currently the 6th top fundraising team in WA (we actually got up to #3) and we've raised $729.35AU! Go team! Paw Prints and Mini Cupcakes

We each baked a huge amount of cupcakes and got together for a marathon icing session. We had some really big ideas to start, but because we had so many cupcakes to ice we thought we'd keep it simple so that it wouldn't take us all night. Cupcakes Galore

We had paw prints (big and small), gummy bears, sharks, and (everyone's favourite) kitties. People at both of our work places were really generous, and my books actually overbalanced! I guess who can resist cupcakes or helping animals in need.

Cup Cats!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Europe Trip 2010!

Last night we got back from a 5 week trip to Europe, and I'm feeling so good after a night's sleep in my own bed! It was the family vacation that Matt's dad wanted us to have to meet his relatives in Italy, and we also had a chance to do some detouring while we were there.

Paris was lovely as always! After almost missing the plane to Europe (Matt's mum has a talent for being late for everything) we arrived at our Paris apartment in the central 7eme district. Matt and I had been before but this time we had a solid 5 days to look around. We managed to see:
  • The Eiffel tower - First time we went to the top, the view was amazing at night! Worth the 3h wait for sure
  • The Louvre - We took it a bit slower and saw heaps more this time
  • Musee D'Orsay - Van Gogh's galore, our favourite artist
  • Musee Rodin - The most fun museum, we spent a lot of time eating icecream in the gardens
  • Musee L'Orangerie - The Monet rooms were breathtaking
  • Versailles - The hall of mirrors was beautiful, but the gardens were the highlight
  • Notre Damme - I guess church can be fun!
Obligatory Eiffel Tour Shot

Geneva is a wonderful city that felt like home, probably because we stayed with Yvonne (my cousin) and Stefan! It was so great to finally visit Yvonne and see where she's been living for the past 3 years :) We were happy to just hang out with Yvy and Stef, but managed to see the Jet of Geneva, Saleve Mountain, Saint-Pierre's Cathedral, and even ate some horse (it's a common cut of meat there, ick).


Matt and I spent one night in Rome in the Oxford Hotel before heading off to Calabria. It was a nice break, and prepared us for the loooong stay with family to come!

This was the purpose and heart of the trip, which is where we met a whole lot of family from Matt's dad's side. We stayed with Matt's Nonna's brother in Girifalco, but spent a lot of time visiting Caraffa di Catanzaro.

It was really nice to meet so many people that looked like Matt! Unfortunately almost no one spoke english, but this was an opportunity for everyone to learn a bit of Italian, and we all did pretty well. By the end of it we were understanding almost everything and managing to put some words together ourselves.

As well as meeting family, we did some things around Calabria. My highlights are:
  • Eating a mountain strawberry (a fragolina)
  • Seeing "Comi alley", where all the Comi family houses were and where Matt's dad grew up
  • Feeding a reindeer
  • Tropea beach
We had a nice time, but got a bit bored, and got a lot fatter. They eat like maniacs there! I packed on 4kg so I have my work set out for me for the next couple of months :(

City Lights

At this point in the trip, I took a detour and went to Romania while Matt and the rest of his family went to Northern Italy. I stayed in a beautiful pre-communist era house with my dad's friend Mitica and his family, and spent some time in the city where my dad grew up.

Entry Stairwell

Mitica used to be a tour bus driver, and his son Catalin is studying tourism at uni, so I had a pretty good set of guides! We did a lot of sight seeing around Bucharest (the obligatory stuff including the Village Museum and Casa Poporului), and they took me to the most wonderful places where I really got to see the beauty of Romania:
  • Brasov - "Probably the best place in the world" as is written on umbrellas all around the city, and they're "probably" right! It was a stunning city which was right near Bran Castle, the (fake) Dracula's castle where Vlad Tepes apparently spent some time (but probably not).
  • Sinaia - The place where Peles castle is. Peles was the most beautiful rich place I've ever seen. It was extremely well preserved, and the riches were mind boggling. I also had a taste of mountain raspberries!
  • Snagov - The island on Snagov Serpentine lake is where Vlad Tepes's remains are said to be. We had to row there on a crappy little row boat we hired from a gypsy, and I strengthened my arm muscles by rowing all the way back.
  • Comana - Where I met my grandparents (from my dad's side) for the first time in my life! It was such an amazing experience. Our family in Perth is so small, and it was very strange to meet other people that looked like me. For the record, I look exactly like my grandma :) I also met my dad's brother Cristi, who laughs exactly like Tati.
Bucharest was an amazing place, and all the bad stuff I'd heard about it was really wrong (even the stray dogs were so cute!). Family stuff aside, it's really a place I'd love to go back and spend some more time.

Saying Bye

The largest city in Transylvania, and where my Mina grew up. Here I met some more family on my mum's side including Mina's brother Silvi (he's hilarious and a little bit insane) and my cousin Vlad (I have a cousin that's not Yvonne or Simona!). Until Matt arrived in Cluj, I spent some time with Mina and Licia (my mum's cousin) and took it easy for a little while. Cluj is lovely, but it's small so I spent a lot of time at the apartment and at the Mall.

Japanese Garden

When Matt arrived, we took a trip to Turda to see a beautiful salt mine. It was extraordinary, and not just because I'm obsessed with salt. I don't know what you think of when you hear the word salt mine, but I was certainly surprised! It was a beautiful 13 story cavern carved out of salt, with walls made of swirling grey patterns, and a salt lake with row boats at the bottom. Isn't salt wonderful?

We took another day trip to Lita; a quaint small town where everyone knows their neighbours, and is the place where Mina grew up. We had a barbeque at Mina's cousin's house, complete with plenty of visinata and tuica, the national moonshine of Romania.

As well as meeting with family, my highlight of Cluj was going to an underground "club", Janis. The club was a converted wine cellar filled with candle lit tables and red spot lights. The music was pretty awful, but the place was amazing, and my god do Transylvanians know how to drink! We gave up at around 2am and left blind drunk, but Vlad and his friends went on until about 5am. Needless to mention none of us could stomach any visinata the next day at lunch!

New Suit

Back at Home
So now we're back at home (after 35h of travel!), and I'm back at work on Monday, but I'm actually looking forward to it! Being away for 5 weeks really makes you appreciate being at home, especially your own bed :)

I've feel like I've got a lot more stuff in perspective now, and I really appreciate how my family (and Matt's family) came to be where they are now. It was very strange to see the places where my family grew up, and meet the family that is still there now. I've always been proud of being an Australian with Romanian blood, and it's so great to know where that blood came from!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Last night was hands down the best concert I've ever been to; Phoenix played in Perth at the Belvoir Amphitheater on their Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix tour. I've never seen anything like it before! I guess I knew that they're meant to be stunning live, but I certainly didn't expect this!

Phoenix in RedThe Belvoir venue is kind of like a big semi-circle crater with wide steps (where people can sit) leading down to the stage. There's also a wide open area directly in front of the stage where people can dance. When we arrived the crowd seemed pretty tame and most people were sitting down on the steps, but we decided to stand at the front for Miami Horror (the support act) anyway just in case it got crowded. Well that's an understatement! Toward the end of Miami Horror's set everyone started pushing like crazy into the dance area. We were actually in the 2nd row from the front, and being vertically challenged as I am, I was getting really pushed around and could barely breathe most of the time!

Phoenix on FireWhen Phoenix finally came on stage (about 40min after Miami Horror's set) the crowd went ballistic. They started with Lisztomania which created a huge mosh pit - yes a mosh pit for Phoenix! Well the mosh pit didn't let up at all throughout the set which was absolutely amazing, with my highlights (from the main set) being Love Like a Sunset and Too Young. After finishing Funky Square Dance they said goodbye to the crowd and left to huge cheers for encore. After a couple of minutes of leaving us hanging and teasing us by taking their instruments off the stage, they came back and did acoustic slow versions of Everything is Everything and (OMG) a cover of Air's Playground Love which was INCREDIBLE. They then brought back all the gear and played If I Ever Feel Better and 1901, which (along with Too Young) is my favourite Phoenix track ever.

They're such amazing performers. Thomas is such a show man, climbing on the set scaffolding and on various occasions coming up to the barricades and performing while the crowd (yes including me) touched and grabbed him. It was hilarious watching security try and keep a handle on him, they certainly had their work cut out for them last night!

In conclusion, if you ever get a chance to see Phoenix, my god please take it! It's a night I'll never forget, best performance ever! (Oh and also because I touched Thomas and managed to get Deck's guitar pick)

Phoenix in Blue Again