The Twelve Apostles

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This photo is not exactly awe-inspiring.

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This says something about my steadily declining photography skills, I suppose. But from that Great Ocean Road trip, this has to be the location that gave me the most awe. I felt so amazed at how grand and majestic it all was, even with the hordes of tourists there (and their selfie sticks).

Later, we had the chance to go down to the bottom, and this is what it looked like down there:

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Wide expanses of sand and water. The biggest beach I had ever seen, fronting a wild and angry ocean.

I found my juggling music!

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Last Wednesday, I had to work late for an impromptu project. My co-worker put this song on, and I thought: “this is the perfect juggling music!”

Wednesday is my juggling night — I had brought my gear then, but obviously could not go any more. The itch to juggle was strong, so I whipped out my pink and gold balls and started juggling. Heehee. My club-mates usually play this kind of music, but I never knew what style it was!

Melbourne graffiti

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I finally got around to editing the photos from the November trip! I miss posting (and taking!) photos. I think this blog needs a few more, hey?

These were taken in Hosier Lane.

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Hosier Lane isn’t that huge — but the amount of graffiti on the walls is overwhelming (but in a good way!) It’s not like Sydney, where there is a lot of street art, but most of it is spread over the neighborhood, so you’d have to walk around a bit to see them.

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Spent some time taking goofy photos with the graffiti… heehee.

On rather inconsequential curveballs

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I had been mentally congratulating myself for keeping well within my budget in February. I’d had several high-expense months — I was still fixing up my new place, see, and it was the Christmas and summer holidays, so definitely a time to enjoy things. 😛

But I’d more or less gotten everything I needed, so I resolved to get back into my usual budget. I was also panicking a little bit inside, thinking I was now a spend-a-holic and would no longer be able to get back into (my relative) frugality.

I had just gotten home from work drinks this past Friday night, and was on the way to dinner, a mere 2 KM away.

I started up my car.
A few grinding noises. Then nothing.
Incredulous, I tried it again.
And again.
Same result.

I’d last used my car 2 weeks before. It had started as usual. I drove as usual. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. I was positive I’d turned all lights off (I’m usually obsessive about that kind of thing.) I quickly messaged my friend I couldn’t make it. After the initial hysterical panic calling/texting about what I was supposed to do next, there was only one option: sign up for a certain roadside assistance program and request for a new battery ASAP.

As a friend advised, if the battery was really dead (and that seemed like the probable case, since I hadn’t changed it in years), jump starting the battery would fix it temporarily, but then I’d have to take it to a mechanic ASAP otherwise take the risk of getting stranded somewhere. Since I had an appointment early next morning, which would cost me $110 to miss, I didn’t want to take the risk of not finding a mechanic in time.

Total cost? $508.
$211 for the battery.
$109 for the roadside assist program.
$55 for the joining fee.
$133 for the immediate assistance fee.

Sigh. There goes my budget.

But then I try to think about it in a more reasonable manner. The $211 is for a product which will last me several years. The joining fee and roadside assist program fees were inevitable, because I’d already decided that I needed to get my car fixed before morning. Plus, it would give me additional peace of mind for the next year. The annoying thing was the immediate assistance fee — if I could’ve waited 48 hours, I wouldn’t need it — but then I reasoned that if I had missed my appointment, I would’ve had to forfeit $110 anyway. And if I took public transportation, I would to allocate around an hour each way. And having a busy day ahead of me, I didn’t want the trouble.

So yeah. That took a little bit of the sting off.

But still! $508! Argh! Haha. I’m a little bit annoyed because during my last car checkup, around 6 months ago, they said my battery was still OK. It’s probably because of me moving, and not using my car as much. Sigh.

Also reminded me — sometimes life really throws you unexpected curveballs, eh? Just when you’re mentally patting yourself on the back for keeping within your budget — bam. Bye, bye, $508. Well, I hope life has better curveballs for me this March. (And can you believe it’s already March?!)

Back to baking

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I finally have baking gear again! :) Back in the Philippines, my mom (who runs a small, home-based bakery business) would let me play with her stuff all the time. So I baked to my heart’s content — cookies, pies, cakes, cupcakes, muffins, breads, cookie bars, etc. It also helped that I had access to her pantry. (In retrospect, the stuff I made probably wouldn’t have tasted half as good without her top-of-the-line ingredients, haha.)

I didn’t do much baking when I moved overseas. I remember trying to make cookies at my uncle’s place in San Diego, then learning in horror that they didn’t have any kind of mixer whatsoever. It was then I realized that no, not every household has a mixer. My uncle tried to help me out by mixing my cookie batter by hand. Thank you, Tito. But I didn’t want to subject him to any more unnecessary labor, so that was the end of it.

When I moved to Australia, I asked my brother if he had a mixer — he said yes, he did. It turned out to be a hand mixer. I didn’t know there was anything other than a stand mixer. I was used to my mom’s professional-grade KitchenAid mixer (not to mention her assortment of baking tools), and the hand mixer wasn’t particularly powerful… so I made one loaf of banana bread and promptly gave up.

So anyway, I finally decided to get back into baking this year! Some things I noted:

Baking gear is expensive! The KitchenAid stand mixer I thought was a kitchen staple? Apparently it’s at least $600. I ended up buying a hand mixer for a fraction of the price. But even then, all the other things I needed — mixing bowls, cooling racks, baking pans — added up to a pretty substantial amount. Ah, well. But now I think I pretty much have everything I need, so no more baking expenses, hopefully!

I’m supposed to be cutting down on sugar this year. One of my resolutions in my quest to become super-fit is to cut down on sugar. So yeah, um it’s kinda at odds with this hobby, haha. I resolved to find healthier alternatives to my favorite baked goods. Maybe. And a girl can indulge sometimes eh? Er, wish me luck. 😛

I still really enjoy baking. :) So far, I’ve made my chocolate revel bars* and chocolate surprise cupcakes. They both turned out well, all things considered — apparently my oven is a convection oven, which I’ve never had before. This coming weekend’s experiment: oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

* The main photo they’re using for the recipe is mine!