Saturday, 30 May 2015

Review of Eating House, Rowville

I like breakfast. I like brunch. I like morning tea. I even like early lunch. Most of these things are true because I like the food that goes with it, as opposed to the meal itself. I actually hate eating in the morning, hence my obsession with green smoothies and all things liquid first up. But breakfast food at 2 in the afternoon? Yes, thanks, I'll be doing that.

Eating House does a massive letterbox drop every time they change their menu. We got our first menu a few weeks after we moved in, but didn't get around to trying it until a few months later when we visited it for brunch with TBHE and his girlfriend. It's a pretty sizable joint, with a decent undercover area outside, a well-lit main area, and a strip outside along the front where you can sit with your furchild or pawbuddy and indulge.

The menu initially caught my eye because of their desserts - I'd just had Eton Mess for the first time, and they answered by putting the Rowville Mess in my sights. Le sigh. As the fates would have it, I'm yet to actually try that puppy out. You'd never guess it to look at me, but I usually prefer savoury food over sweet, so their brunch seems to win out every time.

Hash stack, chai, and mixed grill breakfast

Every time we go there, the Khocolateman orders the Eggs Royale (poached eggs and avocado and salmon on brioche with hollandaise). I flip-flop. I've had the Eggs Royale, but I don't like bread very much in general, so the last few times I've been there, I've ordered the Hash Stack (two of their yummy chunky hash browns with poached eggs, avocado, proscuitto, and hollandaise) with a side of Avocado and Feta Smash. The Khocolateman maintains that the 'real' hash browns are the ones you get at Macca's. Not so. Hash browns should be made like the ones at Eating House - crispy on the outside, smooshy on the inside, warm and gooey, but not oily. They have their hash brown heads screwed on the right way.

I've also had their Vegetarian Breakfast (eggs, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado and feta smash) with a side of bacon (!), but I stopped ordering it as the mushrooms were not my favourite. They're quite big (think Portobello style), cut into pieces, and they're not quite my favourite consistency (especially on a hangover, which is when I last had it). Everything else is pretty good. TBHE's girlfriend agreed with me on this.

We always get their chai latte to go with it, but I've had their juices before and those are good, too. They came in those cool mason jars with the handle and straws the last few times; I liked that little touch.

Totes recommend it if you're in the area! Breakfast til 4 on weekdays, and 3 on weekends (but they serve other stuff like their pumpkin gnocchi and pork belly burgers and sweet potato fries and about a hundred other yummy meals til 10pm). No need to book during the day, except maybe for special occasions like Mothers' Day. Definitely do book for those busy nights of the week (Friday, Saturday, Sunday) or if you have a group of more than about seven or eight people coming in. You can also order food online through their website for take away or delivery, and just to make the deal even sweeter for locals, delivery is free to certain local areas, too, when you order over a certain amount.

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Spudly Goodness Part II

The detailing of our household's love affair with spuds continues.

I worked on a sheep station in 2010. Part of my job as the governess was to help with meal preparation at lunch and dinner time, and helping with dinner meant re-learning a lot of basics I thought I already knew - like how to make mashed potatoes!

Mashed spuds, growing up, consisted of spuds with their jackets on, steamed and then mashed with a tiny bit of butter and diced parsley. I assumed that was what mashed spuds were! I will never forget the first time I made spuds, and one of the little girls I taught picked a forkful up and looked at it very doubtfully, at which her father laughed. Needless to say, I was soon 'educated' on the error of my ways, and learned how to make them 'properly' - peeled spuds, boiled and mashed WITH A FORK into a bowl of butter, milk, and Vegeta (vegetable stock powder). These are the spuds the Khocolateman always asks for.

Boil da spuds... smash da spuds

To make sure I have enough, I usually use one medium-sized spud for each person, plus one extra (a bit like how you measure tea into the pot when you're making proper tea). These reheat well and go with pretty much everything, but lamb shank casserole was a favourite on the farm, and oven baked herbed chicken thighs are a favourite at Casa de Khocolate. Give them a try and let me know how it goes down!

Friday, 29 May 2015

Day 30 - Swap-Bot - A Day In My Shoes

So I recently signed up for a swap entitled 'A Day In My Shoes'. The brief was to take a minimum of six photos that chronicled my day. We could either email it, or blog post it and email the link. Two birds with one stone - another day for NaBloPoMo, and a page swappers can visit to see I've completed the swap!

Without further ado, a day in my shoes:

Meet Dalek

My day starts at 4:45am, when Dalek whines to go out. I'm a light sleeper, so I get up to let him out, then go back to bed. He's a bit like a natural snooze button.

Mmmm, green goodness

My breakfast is a green smoothie. This week it was pineapple, baby spinach, ginger and orange juice, Benefibre, and white chia seeds.

Meet Gloria

Gloria is my gorgeous car. I feel like I spend half my life in her, some days - I often leave home when it is still dark and get home after the sun has set - and the traffic and I do battle for nearly forty minutes each way. Still, she has a good sound system, and plenty of storage for a small car.

Kidditch Supplies

On this particular day, I had to swing by Bunnings early in the morning to get supplies for our 'kidditch' match later in the afternoon. These are the beginnings of our six hoops (broom handles and plumbing t-pieces - I also bought duct tape and borrowed six hoops from our PE teacher).

Welcome to 3/4H

My classroom! I have 26 students in years three and four, and we spend about twenty five hours a week together. A lovely group, and I like our space. I am Montessori influenced, so I do tend to keep classroom decoration to a minimum.

The JunkHeap... oh wait, no

My desk, in the corner of the classroom, is where I spend a good hour before school, and sometimes up to three hours after school. I also spend most of my release time here, and some lunchtimes - a teacher's work is never done! Priorities go marking, preparation, then bureaucracy-related nonsense.

A sneaky hand visits the biscuit box

Our staff room is one long room with a big table in the middle. I like spending what time I can there - I have an amazing group of colleagues and everyone supports one another. We have one savoury biscuit box, and one sweet, which live either in the kitchen or on the table, and get replenished up on a daily basis.

Dinner is go

First order of the day when I get home is to get dinner underway. Tonight it is herbed chicken, mashed spuds, green beans, and shrooms. After that, report writing for me as it is that time of year!

To those participating, I hope you enjoyed seeing a day in my shoes through my blog!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Review of Nando's, Lysterfield

It's no secret that we love our spicy food here. Growing up, we always had a bottle of chilli sauce on the table at meal times, and Dad used it liberally in a lot of dishes he cooked, so I got used to it pretty early. And the Khocolateman, well, he's been eating death sauce pretty much since birth.

Therefore, no surprise that we love our Nando's.

Nando's Lysterfield is our Nando's of choice. The drive is quick, the parking is easy, the service is good (there is one particularly lovely young lady who has taken my order every time, and is unfailingly polite and pleasant and has a smile for everyone who comes through the door), takeaway is quick, and it's healthier than going to KFC (the chicken is flame grilled to order, in a kitchen open to the public view). Our standard order is a whole chicken, triple basted with extra hot sauce. Enough for dinner, plus lunch the next day, and it clears your sinuses like a dream during the cold weather!

All the chilli goodness

The other favourite I have from Nando's is a phenomenal breakfast only found at Melbourne Airport (so far). Spicy chicken, bacon, eggs, etc. Anyone know where to get it from in the suburbs?

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NaBloPoMo Review of Steak Ministry Bar and Grill, Glen Waverley

Let me preface this by saying - I was never a big beef eater growing up.

We ate a lot of chicken, and lamb on special occasions, and very occasionally pork. Beef never really featured that much - except for mince. And then I went vegetarian for quite a long time, so beef was definitely off the menu.

Fast-forward to some time after I started eating meat again, and I met the Khocolateman, the most avid carnivore on the planet since T-rex. All of a sudden, meat began to feature much more prominently in my life. In late 2013, we started hearing whispers of a steak joint opening in Glen Waverley, where the train station complex was being redeveloped - and the countdown was on.

When you visit Steak Ministry, the first item on the agenda is to order a drink. The gentlemen and ladies behind the bar (Evan in particular) make a mean cocktail. If you're not in the mood for anything on the (EXTENSIVE) list, tell them what you like, and they'll make you something special. They mix, they stir, they muddy, they light things on fire - and voila, you have your very own cocktail like no other.

These glasses were on fire a few seconds earlier.

The second thing you MUST do is order food. Do this early, because the steaks take a while to cook. Be prepared for a wait of half an hour or more for your mains. In the meantime, you will be served bread with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and rock salt, plus any entrees you order. My favourites so far have been the sliders (moist little buns of tender meat and teasers of sauce) and the lamb ribs (soft and sticky and SOOO GOOOOD).

When your main comes out, it will be presented in one of two ways. If you ordered something not steak, or if you ordered a regular steak (anything up to about 600g), it will come individually plated, with a small palate cleanser on the side. Any sauces you selected will come as an individual serving on the side, and you'll also be offered horseradish, dijon, seeded, or hot English mustard on your plate.

If, like us, you order a super steak (usually between 1 and 2kgs), it will be brought to your table on a wooden board for photos before being returned to the kitchen to be cut up. Your plates (and your palate cleanser, and your sauce, and your mustard) will be served, then the steak will take pride of place in the middle of the table, with any side dishes you've ordered nestled close by (we recommend the smashed spuds and anything involving kale).

Silence reigns supreme for about twenty minutes after that. Between the cocktails, the warm ambience, the awesome waitstaff (who are ALWAYS happy to have a bit of a chat and a joke, without sacrificing service), and good company, the conversation usually gets pretty noisy until the food hits the table. Then ravenous hunger takes over and everyone shuts up and eats.

Here is a visual to give you some space to imagine us not talking.

Steak Ministry selects their steaks carefully. Every cut has a history, and their staff know it back to front and inside out. If I'm eating just with the Khocolateman, or I'm not that hungry, I like the rump cap. The Khocolateman usually goes for a rib eye. Our favourite super steak, and the one we get nine times out of ten, especially if we have company with us, is anything from their Sher Wagyu range. We like a marble score of somewhere around five. Done medium rare, this goes pretty well with any sauce on their menu (I think we've tried all of them - my favourite is the blue cheese and bacon crumble, and the Khocolateman likes the mushroom sauce), and is cooked well enough not to be too bloody in the middle but not dry on the outside.

By the time we've finished our steak, we're too full for dessert, but the one time we did stretch ourselves (and our stomachs) to accommodate it, we were treated to an amazing confection atop a dish of dry ice. Presentation = always 100% spot on.


In short, if you like good steak, and don't mind paying for it, and want amazing service and cocktails, go to Steak Ministry at the Ikon building in Glen Waverley (park at Eunova). Book ahead - they get very busy, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Spudly Goodness Part 1

We have a thing about spuds in our house.

Mostly, I do them mashed. I'll do a post about that another time, as I have been told 'my' spuds are pretty awesome (but I can't really take the credit). I've already explained how to make the world's easiest potato and leek soup. I like oven-done spud bits with roasts, and homemade bubble 'n' squeak made out of leftover mashed spud and whatever else is going.

Recently, there's a gif getting reposted by SOMEONE on my feed each day, detailing how to make 'Tezza's Taters' - spuds sliced almost to the bottom, drizzled with oil, salt, and pepper, and then oven baked at 180-200 for forty minutes. A friend made them, and raved about them, so I decided to do them in place of mash one night this week.

Before and After

The verdict: they're not bad. I still prefer mashed spuds, but these aren't bad. They were yummy when done, and yummy when microwaved as leftovers, though they initially took a lot longer than recommended to cook beyond being tough in the middle. Dalek liked them, and stole mine off the counter to eat the middle out of it, so they have to be pretty good!

Have you tried Tezza's Taters? What do you think?

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Go Zigote Go!

Meet my zigote.

Zigote says hi

This was a gift from a very good friend and colleague one year ago this week, when I was admitted to hospital for my discectomy. I have watered it, and put it in a bigger pot, and been very very careful with it, because the person who gave it to me assured me even I shouldn't be able to kill it, and I didn't want to prove her wrong. And voila! All my hard work for the last twelve months has paid off. This bloom very slowly unfurled on Saturday as I was writing reports. And there are at least two dozen more to follow!

I'm not saying my thumbs have gone totally green - Fang, my Venus Fly Trap, has unfortunately gone to plant heaven after I repotted him last week. Well, you win some, you lose some, I guess!

Stay tuned - my orchid, given in the same week by some lovely mothers from last year's class, is also budding!

Review of Hog's Breath Cafe, Knox Ozone

The Khocolateman and I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road on Sunday to get me out of the house and take a break from writing reports. Usually we go to the movies after work on a week night, and we know where we like to go for dinner, but today we were on a tight timeframe and NEEDED FOOD as we'd foregone breakfast and would've waited til dinner time to be fed if we'd left it til after the movie. We decided on Hog's Breath Cafe.

We've been here a couple of times before. Their ribs are pretty good, especially if you get a big plate and share it amongst a few people. Likewise their appetiser platter. I almost ordered that today instead of getting a main, but then figured maybe something that wasn't comprised ENTIRELY of fried food might be a good idea.

The waitress assured us that she would let the kitchen know that we had a movie to make, and that we'd have plenty of time to eat. I went with a lite serve of the Calamari Prime Rib with veggies and curly fries. The Khocolateman went with the Natural Prime Rib with curly fries and mashed spuds. We got a side of the curly fries to share to start, too, because let's face it - you go to Hog's Breath Cafe, you get ALL the curly fries.

The curly fries rocked up in a little bowl. I seem to remember the servings being a bit bigger, but it might just have been a difference in how they were plated as I think last time they came in a paper cone in a holder. Regardless, we finished them in about three minutes flat, and fortunately our mains rocked up just afterwards as our time was running out.

My main, and the Khocolateman's main

The calamari was pretty good. Not chewy, the sauce not too overpowering, not too oily. The prime rib itself, not bad either, but it could have done with a smidge more sauce or marinade as I could get a hint of it with each bite, but not quite enough. I made the mistake of ordering bearnaise sauce to go with it (should've done the jalapeno jelly, I knew it) which was a bit overpowering and didn't really help. The corn was good, the broccoli was good, the carrots a bit dry. Filling, not too unhealthy (except for the curly fries... they never disappoint, though, so I'm okay with that!), not too expensive (about $30 a head, including our entrees and soft drinks).

Fills the spot when you're not feeling too fussy and you want something quick and reliably satisfying.

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Soup, Magical Soup

I love soup. It's so easy to make, and not very expensive, and it's good to freeze, and you can have it for lunch and dinner, and it's healthy... the list goes on. Safe to say, during winter, I consume quite a lot of it.

Usually, the Khocolateman does not share my love of soup or soup-like creations. However, he hasn't been feeling too great this week, and neither have I, so I honoured a request from him to make my stand-by easy recipe for potato and leek soup.

Steps 1-? - Cook everything in a pot

World's easiest recipe - clean and cube 8 medium potatoes, clean and slice two large leeks, add them to a pot of roughly a litre and a half of water and two heaped table spoons of stock, boil til the spuds are soft, then liquify in the blender til there are no large lumps. This will fill roughly five large takeaway containers, plus a bowl for dinner.

The finished product, seasoned with pepper

Yup. It's that easy, and that good.

A Field Guide To Selected Shorties

It's weekend morning, and we don't feel like getting dressed up to go out, but we don't want Western breakfast either. And we're on a limited budget, cos it's pay week this week. What to do? The answer: shorties!

Shorties, an abbreviation of short eats, is a reference to a bunch of different Sri Lankan snack foods. Not prepackaged stuff, but proper cooked snack foods - a bit like a Sri Lankan version of a toastie or pikelets as a quick bite.

The shorties we get can be split into two main categories - fried and baked.

Fried Shorties

Fried shorties come as pan rolls or Chinese rolls, cutlets, or roti. Inside you'll usually find vegetables, chicken, beef, or fish, plus maybe an egg. My favourite pan roll is a lamb one we can get from one of our local places, and my favourite roti is the vegetable one. They are quite dense, and if done properly, have a crunchy outside layer and a warm, moist filling.

Baked Shorties

Baked shorties usually comes as buns filled with fish or different vegetables. This is the Khocolateman's favourite - namely, the seeni sambol (spicy onion) bun. It's a sweet, fluffy, white bread wrapped around a little bit of filling, glazed and baked until brown on top.

INNARDS SHOT! Vegetable Roti, Fish Pastry, and Lamb Pan Roll
Other shorties readily available that we sometimes get include ulundu wade (which look a bit like donuts), masala vadai (which look a little like fried flying saucers), and paratha (a bready pancake, often stuffed with onion, cheese, egg, chilli, etc.).

Roti Paratha with egg and onion. Awesome hot, cold, and anywhere in between.

We get our shorties in Dandenong, as there are three places within a quick drive of each other, and they all specialise in different kinds. I'll review each place in turn another time, but safe to say if you're near the main drag, anywhere you go will be good!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Swap-Bot - Top Five Favourites from the Me A-Z Swap!

I recently joined an electronic swap group, and took part in this swap. It asked you to come up with an alphabet of yourself! It was a lot of fun coming up with unusual ones. I won't post the whole thing here, but here are a few letters that might tell you a few things about me that you didn't know.

E is for eggs - probably my favourite base food in the world!

L is for languages – I love learning them! I speak English, some French, and a little Japanese and Korean. I have tried learning Sinhalese but it is hard without a teacher.

P is for pearls. I love them. I have a string of Mikimoto pearls and matching earrings that belonged to my paternal grandmother which I wore on my wedding day, but I also have numerous strands of fakies in different shades and sizes. I did have a couple of awesome hairbands and clips, but unfortunately Dalek has eaten at least two of my favourites.

U is for the USA. That’s one of my last two real ‘I HAVE TO VISIT THIS PLACE’ destinations (the other is France). In particular, I want to visit California, Texas, Mississippi, and New York. I’d love to pop up to Canada while I was there, as well, to visit people I knew while teaching overseas.

W is for Wasabi Cheese by Ashgrove Cheese in Tasmania. It is awesome, and I love it, and anyone who disagrees needs their tastebuds recalibrated.

If you had to pick five letters of the alphabet and list a favourite thing for each, what would they be? Leave a comment below!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Swap-Bot Pinterest A-Z Scavenger Hunt

Earlier this month I set up another Pinterest swap here. This time, swappers/pinners were asked to start a new board and pin something for each letter of the alphabet to it.

These were my favourites of the pins I put together.

H is for Heels - I love high heels. The Khocolateman tops six feet, so at my much smaller height I can wear pretty much any heel and still be much, much shorter. These fan-style ones look awesome, and I love the buckle over the top. They make stilettos so much easier to walk in.

N is for Ninjabread - Because in the question of pirates versus ninjas, ninjabreads sway the vote every time. Seriously, though, they'd make a great addition to any cookie cutter collection.

D is for Dalek - Finding this straight off the back of a Doctor Who marathon here over the weekend, this take on the 'Soft Kitty' rhyme is pure genius.

Y is for Yankee Candle Company - I've had one of these, way back when I was living at the Ridge, and it smelt DIVINE. I can't remember the name, but I remember it made the whole house smell good (and during a mouse plague, that's no mean feat). Now they have Man Candles - my mission in life has become to procure a bacon-flavoured candle for the Khocolateman!

Q is for Quidditch - I'll do a full post about this another time, but Muggle Quidditch is an awesome sport. I coach 'kidditch' (the non-contact, child-friendly version) at school, and the players LOVE it. Everyone should give it a red-hot shot.

E is for Eggs Benedict - It's no secret that I love brunch. Brunch foods, as a rule, should include eggs, bacon, and avocado to receive my thumbs-up. This recipe has all three and costs less to make than it does to go out and eat it.

G is for Gardening - I saw this pin and went OOOH SPINACH! I love my baby spinach plants - they have been lovingly tended for three months now and are growing beautifully, even as the cold weather approaches. This pin will hopefully get them going again once they go to seed and have to be pulled out for the year.

If you'd like to have a look at the whole board, you can see it here. If you'd like to do the scavenger hunt yourself, you're welcome to join the swap or simply post a link to your board in the comments below.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Right Way to Eat Hotdogs

Recently, we had an impromptu Doctor Who marathon at our place with a couple of friends. The first I knew about this was on the way home from Saturday work, when I was asked to scratch initial plans to grab takeaway for dinner, and instead get the ingredients for hotdogs.

Awesome. I love hotdogs.

Let me clarify that I am indeed talking about the frankfurt variety, not the good ole Aussie sausage sizzle (though that has a time and a place, too), and stipulate that I don't eat hotdogs the American way, with onions and barbecue sauce, and perhaps a bit of cheese. Oh no. No no. Blergh.

Mum taught me to eat my hotdogs the fancy European way.

Behold the beauty which is a properly assembled hotdog

See that? That is the perfect hotdog. Skinless franks (though this time, admittedly, that was a mistake due to me cooking them a bit too long - did you know the ideal time for cooking franks is only six minutes?? who knew), nestled in a soft white bread bun (though wholemeal bread is just as good). The condiments you see include hommus, tangy mustard, tomato sauce, and sauerkraut. In an ideal world, it would have also had diced cherry tomatoes on it, but the Lindemann's Porphyry I had to drink with dinner ensured no knives would be used in the preparation of this meal.

Next time you're looking for a quick and easy (but FANCY) meal, with a little bit more nutritional value than the modern day dog-in-a-bun - try them this way. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Swap-Bot Digital Photo Scavenger Hunt

I'm really getting into these online swaps on Swap-Bot. I was never a big fan of the email/link/message based swaps as it kind of seemed like an easy way of getting your ratings up, but I'm coming around to thinking some of them actually take as much (if not more) investment time-wise as a snail mail swap.

I spotted this Digital Photo Email Scavenger Hunt swap a while back. I'm not great at taking photos as I mainly use my phone or my iPad. I do have a pretty decent DSLR but it's quite bulky, and I worry about damaging it. Plus, being as it is that I am a true amateur, it seems a bit pretentious to have an enormous camera out at every opportunity. Point being, this swap doesn't care! I can be creative and do well that way. There are six photos to take - something I personally created, something in motion, something tarnished, a mismatched pair, a landscape or cityscape, and a cartoon or anime item.

Here are my submissions:

1 - Something I personally created - DINNER! Roast chicken (done perfectly!), steamed green beans, corn, and the best spuds ever made.

2 - Something in motion - even if I wanted to get Dalek to sit still for a photo, he'd be in motion. Here, it's his head and his body.

3 - Something tarnished - A beautiful silver-and-pearl necklace I was given by my cousins for my 21st birthday. Am trying to work out how to clean it without ruining the pearl insets on the main part of the pendant.

4 - A mismatched pair - My kitchen potplants (a zigote and an orchid). One is short and squat, the other is tall and slender. One is resilient, the other delicate. One is budding profusely, the other more discriminately so.

5 - A landscape or cityscape (not a close-up) - the wetlands on Sunday morning, with beautiful spiderwebs spread between the rushes on the banks. I captured only a few; there were dozens upon dozens around the pond.

6 - A cartoon or anime item - My books arrived through book club at school! Cartoon versions of Ultron and a story about Hulk for my library of children's books.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 17 - The White Wine Playlist

Previously, I had a bit of a whinge about the background to my Red Wine Playlist

For those in need of a kick in the butt to get themselves OUT of the rough-day-rut, I present the flip-side solution - a cheap bottle of sparkling 'scato, and my White Wine Playlist! I'd like to introduce you to the top six entries for when I need a much more upbeat soundtrack to getting out of a slump.

Note: I also recommend getting takeaway on nights like this, as using the stove or oven after the bottle of wine is not usually a wise move!

6. Soggy Bottom Boys - Man of Constant Sorrow

Because why not some fake old-timers fake old-timing an upbeat toon?

5. Meagan Trainor - Title

I like most of her stuff, but this in particular has tickled my fancy recently.

4. G.R.L - Ugly Heart

I listen to this on repeat, loud, both at home and at work, on a regular basis, and may have tried to do the dance standing on a chair in my classroom.

3. Vengaboys - Shalalalala

This used to be my 'getting ready to go out' song when I lived in Seoul, usually accompanied by a sickeningly sweet cocktail

2. Christina Aguilera - Candyman

An oldie but a goodie; makes me want to get up and dance around the dining room (which usually ends in Dalek chasing me around the dining table)

PSY and Snoop Dogg - Hangover
I love pretty much anything by PSY. This is no exception.

Do you have any songs you recommend for white wine nights? Comment below!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 16 - Review of Popula Japanese in Ivanhoe

It's no secret that I'm a fan of sushi. My favourite is negitoromaki, minced fatty tuna with chopped spring onions wrapped in rice and seaweed, which I can't get here. When I lived in Japan, aside from konbini (convenience store) sushi, I also had the chance to eat handcrafted sushi at a tiny restaurant a student took myself and the other native-speaking English teacher to. The sushi there was made to order by a chef in the traditional yukata, and served straight onto the counter in front of us. There was a sense of ceremony to it, and a sense of formality seldom seen in places that sold sushi in Toyohashi.

That was what the chefs at Popular reminded me of when I visited them in Ivanhoe.

Every piece of my $8 lunchbox was hand-crafted. It wasn't pulled out of a fridge and loaded into my box, nor was it made en masse with sushi to be put in a display case until sold. In fact, there was no real sushi on display at all. The chefs stood behind the counter, gently but deftly pressing the rice into the perfect shape, then securing the sashimi on top with a thin layer of wasabi. The makizushi (round rolls with seaweed and rice) were similarly prepared. I also got pre-made seaweed salad to go with my lunchbox, so all up it cost me $10.50.


The lunchbox was good. The only roll I wasn't a fan of was the one closest to the camera in the picture - the texture was a bit rubbery and dry for my liking, and the taste wasn't as distinct or as pleasant as the others. The salmon and tuna were definitely my favourites, and overall, I liked the wasabi-to-roll ratio (higher than most places). The seaweed salad was good, too - not too chunky and not too sour. I'd like to go back another time to try their signature roll which looked interesting - it contained minced beef which sounds unusual.


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NaBloPoMo Day 15 - The Ugly Blanket

I'd like to introduce you to a feature of our bedroom every winter.

Meet The Ugly Blanket 2.0.


During the summer, this lives folded up in the cupboard, or in the underbed storage. During winter, though, it gets shaken out, draped across the foot of the bed during the day, and then pulled up over the top of the other three layers of bedding for warmth and to snuggle into at night.

It is, as the name suggests, a mismatched hodge-podge of almost-squares crocheted together.

It is also one of my most treasured possessions.

The Ugly Blanket idea was launched in Seoul on WWKIP (World Wide Knit In Public) Day in 2009. We sold tickets to raffle The Ugly Blanket 1.0 off before it was even finished, and gave the money to the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Centre, which supports women in recovering from incidents of sexual violence, regardless of their ethnic background or socio-economic status. Given that we were a group of women from half a dozen different countries, some diplomat wives, some army wives, some teachers, some entrepreneurs - we felt this was appropriate. The winner of the blanket was drawn at a Tuesday night SnB at Starbucks in Itaewon, and it went home with Camo.

Ugly Blanket 1.0

Before I left Korea, we began work on a second one. While I was working in Lightning Ridge, I knitted a few 'squares', as did my boss. We, the Tuesday night SnBers, started to drift across the globe... but the squares made their way back to Seoul. cinamongirl put the blanket together and did the draw this time... my name came out, and it did the long trek to Australia.

I think this is where my love of knitted blankets comes from. Women come together to make them, to help other women. They are made to be loved and treasured, just like the women who make them should be.

WWKIP Day is coming up. Anyone in for making another one?

NaBloPoMo Day 14 - Vegemite Chocolate: the Best of Both Worlds

I am a typical Aussie girl - I love my Vegemite. I also love Dairy Milk chocolate.

You can imagine what happened when I found out they were releasing Vegemite Dairy Milk Chocolate.


I grabbed a block for knitting on Thursday. The ladies, when they saw it, were split - would it be the most awesome of all the awesome things, or would it be too hideous to even contemplate?

So we unwrapped it. The label said chocolate, Vegemite, and caramel would be involved.

The Unveiling

Then the moment of truth.


The knitting ladies had different opinions. Some felt it was the greatest travesty ever committed against Dairy Milk by Cadbury. Some felt Vegemite chocolate was nice for a try, but they wouldn't go out of their way to buy it. My verdict? Awesome. All of the awesome. The block shown in the photos is no longer, so that gives you an idea of just how awesome we're talking. The chocolate was slightly salty, and the caramel innards were not quite full-strength Vegemite flavoured, but pretty close to - they achieved a really good balance of flavours; imagine salted caramel with yeast extract.

Vegemite chocolate is the best move Cadbury have made in... forever. Great marketing gimmick, if nothing else. And, at the moment, it's on special for $3.50 at Coles. Get on it.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Red Wine Playlist

Everyone has them. You know - those days when you're tired because your partner snored last night, and someone at work decides to have a go at you, and then you get an unexpected bill in the mail, and then you drop the spuds making dinner. The kind of day where curling up and having a damn good cry seems like the only therapeutic thing to do.

It's report-writing season for teachers here in Australia, as we approach the end of first semester. It's also freezing cold, wet, and generally disgusting outside as autumn speedily vacates the premises for winter's long residency. The Khocolateman is often busy, and Dalek can only play so much before he decides chewing the kong is better than chasing it for Mama. Needless to say, those days seem to be popping up frequently.

The best way to get it out of my system, I find, is to blast one of two playlists. One is for when I'm having a glass of white wine, and the other for when I'm having a glass of red. Tonight is a red wine night, so I'd like to introduce you to the top five of the more mellow of my two Disaster Day playlists - aka my What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted Playlist.

6. Lana Del Rey - Young and Beautiful

Low and powerful, Lana del Rey's voice is like a very early-20th-Century-siren

5. Straight No Chaser - Insomniac

A great piece of a cappella from the 1990s, by a well-known then-college group from Indiana. Today they are world famous. I feel a particular kinship with this particular piece, and have listened to it many times at 3am.

4. Lydia Denker - One Perfect Day

This is a beautifully arranged song, and was remixed very effectively from the original in the movie from 2005 (One Perfect Day).

3. Labyrinth featuring Emeli Sande - See Beneath Your Beautiful

Equal parts melancholy and mellow - a slow and slippery duet

2. Kate Miller-Heidke - Last Day On Earth

Because who doesn't want to be with the one they love during the apocalypse?

1. Straight No Chaser - Man That Can't Be Moved

Another hit by my favourite a cappella studs, this time from their recent reformation

NaBloPoMo Day 12 - Review of T.E.A. (Tea, Elegance & Aromatherapy) at Stud Park

I love high tea almost as much as I love brunch. Any time of the day, for any occasion, by myself, or with friends - it doesn't matter. There is something about doing high tea that just shrieks femininity.

I've been to the TEA (Tea, Elegance & Aromatherapy) Company at Stud Park several times. The first few, I went by myself to suss it out, and make sure I was bringing people to a place I'd really recommend. I'm not the only one who considers themselves to be a bit of a high tea connoisseur in my connexion, so it had to be a sure bet before I brought a friend. The problem was, I fell in love after my first visit, so it was hard to be impartial in my judgement after that!

My top three picks from here:

3. Brunch Food (as always) - The eggs were nice and runny, but super warm, just the way I like them, and that is really the make or break of an eggs benny for me. The rest is pretty easy to put together.


2. Blooming Tea - This is BEAUTIFUL! They put a ball of tea into a clear glass teapot, and pour water over it, and the ball slowly unfurls to reveal a blooming flower as the tea infuses.


1. High Tea - A truly unique approach. Who wants a generic, same-as-everyone-else-or-even-worse-have-to-share high tea? No-one, that's who. T.E.A. Company gives each high tea customer a menu, and you tick off what you'd like. You can choose from petit fours, warm savouries, and sandwiches, and you get a scone with jam and cream too. It comes with tea (but not the blooming tea) or coffee, and it is all presented on a classic tiered caddy at your table. AWESOME.


Also, their mini cupcakes are gorgeous, and largely guilt-free as they are not more than a mouthful or two. I totally recommend their chocolate-mint ones - they are sparkly and moist and have balanced flavour and are JUST ABOUT PERFECT which is a really big call for me cupcake-wise.

I've studied in a corner here, treated my mother to high tea, had brunch with a friend, and had afternoon tea with Auntie Spanx. It's the perfect place to relax by yourself, or have a natter with someone fun. It would be a great place to have a tea party for a special occasion, and won't break the bank. They also sell candles, essential oils, teapots, tea sets, and tea. No matter what your reason for visiting, the service is impeccable, and they go out of their way to keep you there a little longer by re-filling your teapot with hot water without you having to ask (!) which is almost unheard of. Visit their website, or learn more about them through their Facebook page but seriously, get your femininity on. Hit them up. Soon.

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Monday, 11 May 2015

Review of Corner House at Rowville

It's the end of a long, tiring day at work, or it's 40 degrees outside and 45 in the kitchen, or four people have just dropped in at 6 and show no signs of departing any time soon. It's times like these that everyone needs a local go-to place for easy takeaway that ISN'T one of the Big Five (Maccas, KFC, Red Rooster, Hungry Jacks, and Subway).

The problem is, I'm a fuss-pot about corner store takeaway. I've had food poisoning before from another place locally, and once bitten twice shy, but like I said - you gotta have a go-to, so I went on a quest to find somewhere new that had a clean, open kitchen, a high turnover, and good un-dodgy staff - AND made good takeaway.

Corner House Cafe fits the bill for us on all of the above for us on most occasions, like Saturday night, where I'd been writing reports most of the afternoon. It's a short drive, the food is fresh, and they do breakfast takeaway if you're driving to work towards Dandenong or on Bergins Road. Even though they're always busy, I've never had to wait more than 15 minutes for my order - and that was on a rainy Friday night!

My favourite is their lamb souvlaki. They do the proper charcoal spit roasted lamb, and serve it with good quality pita bread, crunchy lettuce, ripe tomato, slivers of onion, and awesome garlic sauce. I love anything lamb, as long as it's cooked properly, so this was a winner for me.

Corner house cafe souvlaki
Compulsory innards shot

Dalek's favourite thing to steal from me when I bring home dinner from Corner House is their chicken strips. They're a good size for their price, taste slightly tangy, and have that hard-to-balance crumb-to-chicken ratio just right.

Corner House Cafe is also known for their pizzas, and have a menu of traditionals to choose one as well as gourmet toppings (my favourite is the salmon one).

Support an awesome small businesses. If you're local, hit them up next time you're considering one of the Big Five. They're closed on Sundays but any other day you're good to go.

Corner House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 10 May 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 11 - Swap-Bot Pinterest Baby Scav Hunt - My Top Five Picks

I'm currently working on NaBloPoMo, so prepare for the inundation of posts to continue over the next few weeks. Today, however, is about something totally different - Swap-Bot!

You can see my explanation of how it all works in this entry. Recently, I got back into swapping letters and journals, and now, Pinterest boards!

The swap I joined is based around the idea of a scavenger hunt for baby things. You had to pin at least twenty of twenty six items under heaings that kind of fit things to give as gifts, things they may need as gifts, advice, information, and links. It was a lot of fun!


Clockwise from right, my five favourite pins for this swap:
#1 - Something sporty for baby to wear - Wallabies Girls Footysuit. Perfect for a household like ours which follows the Rugby Union!
#14 - Something for baby's aunt - 'I get my ninja powers from my aunt' onesie. How could an aunt not love someone wearing that?
#24 - Something to help with organising the nursery - Nesting - Not Just for the Birds! A great all-round post on how to get the nursery organised on the My Sweet Nest blog.
#12 - Something for baby's brother - Batman and Robin costumes from JustKidnDesigns. The link is now dead, but you can see some other ideas that are similar from other sellers. I really, really hope they post more for sale soon!
#19 - Something for baby's dad - New Dad Survival Kit as seen on AspenRayne's Tumblr, because - let's face it - who doesn't lovely a nicely presented hamper with a touch of humour to it?

You can see the rest of the pins on this board here, and you can sign up for the swap here (you will need to make an account if you weren't inspired to do so by my previous post!). I'll post again with my top picks from others' boards after the swap has finished.

If you haven't used Pinterest before (on the off chance you've been living under a rock for the last two years), you can sign up and download the widget here. I totally recommend both the Android app, and the iPad app - I use both regularly.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 10 - Return of the Fish Blanket

The Fish Blanket: WIP since 2010

So back in 2009, I was living in Seoul, and I went to this amazing SnB at a Starbucks every Tuesday night. I'd go straight there from work, sometimes, and knit from 5 in the afternoon to 11 at night when the staff would kick us out. I started on dog and cat blankets, hundreds of rows of garter stitch with truly hideous acrylic. I graduated to sock monkeys so I could learn to knit in the round, then sock puppets so I could learn how to turn heels and three-needle bind-off. Some of the ladies I knitted became valued, very dear friends with whom I stay in touch with on Facebook. We are now scattered all over the globe.

It was here, in this chrysalis stage of my knitting life, that I heard the whisper of the fish, a legend told by a fellow expat knitter.

The fish blanket, pattern by April Broken, is a big-or-small-as-you'd-like-it-to-be project. After working up the courage to cast on, I started my first fish in 2010, with yarn from the Dongdaemun fabric market, when I was living in Lightning Ridge and visiting the Walget Quilters (because there was nothing else that remotely resembled an SnB for about three hundred kilometres). By the time I left there, having spent many weekends rained in with not much else to do, I had about thirty fish finished.

Turns out I can knit on buses and in cars without getting sick, whereas reading a book (or a map, or a text) is enough to make me nauseous if the road is windy or the journey bumpy. Every time I travelled to Melbourne to visit the Khocolateman, I knitted a few fish. By the end of my first semester, I was bordering on about sixty. I sewed them together and submitted them as an assignment for our learning symposium and art exhibition (entitled A 'School' Of Fish: a commentary on the collaborative and female driven parallels between education and knitting), and then promptly put them away for quite some time.

Last year, I pulled them out again when I started hosting Thursday night SnB. Since then, I've knitted approximately 40 fish (thanks to a long road trip during which all I did was knit). I'm starting to see the end in sight! I have set a target - 154 fish (making a 14 fish by 11 fish blanket), of which I have already knit 114. Only 40 more to go! Goal is to finish it before our road trip next summer.

When it is done, I'm looking forward to writing an entry about the story behind the yarn it is made from. Every ball is significant; every fish has a history. This will be a very special blanket.

What are you knitting at the moment?

NaBloPoMo Day 9 - Wetland Walkies


I've mentioned before that much of my exercise comes from walking Dalek. When we first adopted him, we lived fair and square in the middle of the suburbs. There was a dog park nearby, but it wasn't fenced, and he has a mind of his own insofar as where he likes to go and when he likes to come back, so that wasn't really an option for exercising him. Instead, we got him walking on the lead (more about that another time), and we explored the neighbourhood together.

When we moved last year, we moved within walking distance of two beautiful nature reserves. If we walk both of them in a circuit, it's a very pleasant couple of kilometres on and off sealed ground, and with Dalek having an exceptional sense of smell (as lab retrievers are wont to have), the birds and the rabbits and the wind making things rustle in the bushes make sure he has a good time sniffing around and trying to make their acquaintance!

Over the holidays, I noticed the wetland we walk around was starting to dry out. The edges, previous covered by a few inches of water, were just mud. There were fewer birds. The rushes were starting to go yellow and crispy. I wondered if it was just the way it looked in autumn and winter, but then we had two weeks almost straight of rain every day, and when I walked it again this morning, it was very different. The measure showed that the water in the middle was nearly half a metre deep again, and the edges were covered by at least two inches. All of a sudden, there were birds aplenty. The colours in the landscape are not so vibrant as in summer, but it was still looking much healthier.

How many birds can you see in the bottom photo? Comment below!

Friday, 8 May 2015

NaBloPoMo Day 8 - Review of Yum Cha at Shark Fin


I think I've mentioned (maybe just a few times??) that going out to eat is a favourite pastime of mine. In that vein, the Khocolateman and I really enjoy yum cha. We used to go to a great place in Glen Waverley, but since we moved further south, we've started going to Shark Fin in Keysborough instead. We've taken various friends with us, but so far no-one else has shared our love of chicken feet in black bean sauce. Funny that!

Last Sunday, we booked a group of four of us (us Khocolates, plus Auntie Spanx and her sister) for the 1:15pm sitting. They also do an 11am sitting, but that was a little early for us today. We arrived a few minutes early and had to wait to be seated, but because we had a booking, at least we didn't miss out!

The first trolley to come out had our favourite! We took two dishes of chicken feet. They were soft and squishy without being slimy, and the sauce was salty without being overpowering. There's no neat way to eat chicken feet - while the Khocolateman eats his with his fingers, I like to hold the top of mine with with chopsticks and eat bit by bit, but both of us always come out with sticky hands and faces! Auntie Spanx and her sister declined to try this dish - I can't think why!

The other highlight for the Khocolateman was the barbecue pork buns. These are the steamed ones with the rice paper on the bottom, and which break nice and neatly into quarters. They were soft and fluffy on the outside, and the diced pork was nice and sweet. We also tried the more bready version, and the bread in that was great, but the innards weren't quite as 'porky' as the steamed ones.

To finish off, we had sweets from the dessert trolley. Auntie Spanx and the Khocolateman each had a creme brulee and a coffee pudding, as well as a bowl of jelly, while Auntie Spanx' sister and I both had the mango pudding, which was really good (a really distinctive mango taste - yum!). I didn't get photos of our desserts (which I will have to do another time, as those trolleys are a whole new ballgame in pretty presentation!).

All up, the food was good, and the price very reasonable. I will reiterate that if you are predicting you'll feel like you've got the yum cha munchies, you should definitely book ahead of time as it was very busy, and I didn't see any vacant tables until around the time we got up to leave. Oh, and don't plan to eat for the rest of the day!

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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Green Thumbin'

Most people who know me would say I am not a gardener. An ex-housemate used to laugh over the fact that I killed a cactus I was given for a housewarming present. The only thing I used to be a total gun at growing was rosemary because, let's face it, nothing can kill that stuff, and there's no better encouragement to make something work than being able to envisage a lamb dinner garnished with rosemary YOU GREW YOURSELF.

Except maybe being able to say you grew HALF THE MEAL yourself.

The Khocolateman, being his ingenuity-riddled self, found that our local council has a Gardens For Harvest program. They send you out a little starter pack, which contains information about local resources, and what grows well in our area according to the time of year (this went straight on the fridge, and is much loved!). They also have a Gardens For Harvest Facebook page which is really exciting to be a part of - tapping into local knowledge is a great way to learn about better gardening skills.

When we had The Best Housemate Ever (hereby known as TBEH) living with us, the guys spent a weekend knocking together some big planter boxes, and digging trenches so they sat level on our slopey backyard. 3 cubic metres of soil filled up five of the six boxes (the sixth was a leftover from the previous occupants). We sowed our seeds, and and hosed them through the hot weeks of February and March, until the rains rocked up recently and started watering them for us.

The best part was when we started seeing things grow... and grow... and grow!

Baby spinach was the first to be ready for picking. For those of you who remember my thing about green smoothies, you'll know that this was a big priority. We have a whole box just for our spinach. Similarly, one just for chillis and jalapenos. We have one for beans and peas, one for tomatoes, one for eggplants, and one for everything else (cos lettuce, butter lettuce, chives, and carrots). My salad jars feature home-grown lettuce from that particular beauty.

They grew so well that on one weekend, we picked all of this:

Received moments of happiness journal
The Haul!

At about that point, just before the school holidays, all the garden beds looked like this:

Received moments of happiness journal
The 'Everything Else' Box - everything else obviously including weeds as well!

This total black-thumb managed to get in there for several hours and got totally gung-ho protecting her precious spinach and lettuce. Now, in the middle of autumn, they look more like this:

All weeded and pretty and already, three weeks later, growing like crazy!

Oh, and the rosemary? That's out the front. I'll show you the changes that have taken place out there another time! Suffice to say, the satisfaction of the last few months have made me a reformed green thumb! What would you plant next? Suggestions welcome!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

NaBloPoMo - Day Six

Today's photo prompt is an easy one for me to show and tell about:

Your Love

Two years, three months ago (give or take), I married this awesome guy. Online, I refer to him as the Khocolateman.

I have hundreds of photos of him, but these are bits of him from recent photos that sum us up pretty well - the first and third come from our last road trip, the second is from our spontaneous renovations last Saturday, and the last is from our Fat Duck experience. Full photos another time.

We're a very normal couple, which is slightly ironic, because some people would debate whether we are particularly normal individuals (to which I say normal is boring, and who wants to be boring?). We're both geeks (albeit in different spheres of geekdom). We're both foodies (life is too short to eat crap food). We both love to travel (our road trips are epic). We're both hard workers (both have more than one job), both very determined to succeed (read: stubborn), and have similar goals in life (some of which we have already achieved together). We tolerate each others' foibles and failures (!), and celebrate each others' successes.

He is a good man. I am proud of him, and I am proud to be his wife.

Love you, Khocolateman.

NaBloPoMo - Day Five

Appropriately, today's photo prompt is:
Your Style
Disclaimer: these are not my photos - just photos of me from Facebook!
Thanks to Auntie Spanx and Akki for taking them.

I have two very good friends (with impeccable taste) who have agreed to take me on as a bit of a personal style project. To be blunt, I'm not the most stylish of people. I weigh more than I should, which makes it hard to find clothes that fit well and look good (and won't break the bank). I also have an unhealthy love of my pyjamas (my favourite ones of inebriated owls are in the photo above). I don't wear a lot of makeup, mostly because I've never learnt how to apply it properly, and underneath what I do put on, I could take better care of my skin. My hair I have either in a ponytail for work, out when I'm at home, or half up/half down for special occasions.

As far as fashion goes, I figured that at 30 I was a bit of a lost cause.

The first step in my transformation, I've decided, is to do the Dressing Your Truth seven-day online tutorial (the freebie). I've had a few friends at work do this, and they say they've got a lot out of it. The whole concept behind it is to find your 'type' from their four beauty styles. Type 1 is the 'bright, animated woman', fun-loving and the kind of person who brights up others' days. Type 2 is the 'subtle, soft woman', who brings calm to the world around her. Type 3 is the 'rich, dynamic woman', very driven and determined to inspire others to action. Type 4 is the 'bold, striking woman', who is reflective and as a result into improvement (of themselves, as well as others).

None of these strikes me as being totally me right off the bat, so I guess we will see where the course takes me, and what my stylists think at the end!

Have you tried 'dressing your truth'? What type did you turn out to be?

Monday, 4 May 2015

NaBloPoMo - Day Four

The photo prompt for today:

My Energy

My energy at the end of the day is pretty depleted, but I try to keep it going for two reasons.

One is my puppy dog, Dalek. When we lived at our last house, he had a tiny little yard to run around in, so we made sure we walked him at least three to five kilometres per day. On a really good day it might have gone up to nine, especially in summer, when it got dark later, and during holidays, when I had time during the day to walk for longer. Now, we have a giant backyard, but he doesn't get socialised from plants, so we still try to get out as often as possible for a walk. Our favourite walk goes into our local wetlands, and then to another smaller park to do some laps.

The reason for the laps? My second motivation to find energy at the end of the day! I play Ingress, which is like a GPS-based, digital version of 'Capture the Flag', played by millions of people on their phones, all around the world. At a later date, I'll write a longer post about how to play, and what adventures I've gotten up to during my time playing, but it keeps track of how many kilometres I've walked while playing (327km as of yesterday, which, and I have something to concentrate on while I walk (playing, as well as making my GPS behave, as my phone is on its last legs).

Let's hope I have some left at the end of today to play!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

NaBloPoMo - Day Three

The photo prompt for today is 'Your Feelings'.

I have two settings. Left: manic (aka ON). Right: thoughtful (aka OFF).

Manic mode results in giggling, running around the dining room table with the dog, the kitchen and bedroom being cleaned obsessively, and school work, writing work, or assignments being blitzed at a rate of knots. I am most sociable at this time.

Thoughtful mode results in lots of time spent curled up in bed with my phone, either surfing the net or listening to music while dozing or reading. I prefer to be left alone or be in quiet company at this time.

Enjoy what's left of the weekend!

NaBloPoMo Day 2

No writing prompts for Day 2, but there is a photo prompt, so here's my submission:

My Passion

The prompt today is 'My Passion'. Aside from the Khocolateman, and my family - my number one passions - I have three biggies.

1. Food
I love to cook, I love to eat, I love to go out. Life is too short to eat terrible food, so aside from the occasional meal of instant mi goreng (comfort food when tired or stressed), I choose wisely.

2. Dalek
I love my puppy dog! He's not really a puppy any more - he's two and a half - but he enjoys company so much and is so sooky with me that I still call him my puppy.

3. Knitting
I love to knit! I'm not very good at it but it is SO relaxing, and I am a much nicer person when I get my fix on Thursday nights. Yup, I have a knitting night. As a matter of fact, I host it! The Khocolateman loves to walk through the door and greet us with "Whassup, ma knittaz!!"

This is a few hours late, so stay tuned for Part Two of the weekend's NaBloPoMo posts!