Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Monday – 15/03/10

So I had a shocker last week, and as bad moods usually become obvious in my writing, I didn't want to inflict that upon you. However, as always there were a few things that helped brighten my dark and dreary mood!

Finding Style – I know I'm not usually one to blog about fashion, but Wednesday and Thursday I actually stumbled on a style I love. My usual style, or lack-thereof, is jeans and whatever shirt happens to be on top of the pile, with the occasional hippy-esque moment thrown in. Wednesday it was pretty cold, and I was not at all in the mood for jeans, so I fished out my blue knit dress, pulled on some black tights, my newly super-glued black boots, and my vintage brown leather jacket with a black scarf. Never had so many positive comments on a simple, everyday outfit in my life! In need of a bit of a pick-me-up, I splashed out on some new patterned stockings too, which added some serious oomph to the leg department instead of the tights. Then, having loved the confident, sexy me of the day before, Thursday had me raiding my wardrobe for something equally awesome for my job interview. Enter the outfit to the right! Pretty sure I spent half the time The Muso was trying to get a good photo cracking up. The cream tights and butterfly belt were late modifications, found while walking home. Apparently Mum is proud, having despaired until recent years that I would never be out of jeans, boots & chambray! LOVE having access to the whole of my wardrobe again (at least on my days off)!

Parcels from Far Far Away – I bought a couple of things from the lovely A @ The Glamourous Wardrobe, and they got here Friday morning! A cute ladybird watch pendant, which has barely left my neck since it arrived, a very green beret that will be perfect for winter, and a great book about sewing simple skirts. Looking forward to finding some fabulous fabric, and having a crack, given my desire to stick with this new look. I love this idea of blog-shopping, especially the way A. has set it up, with a portion of profits going to a charitable organisation. Please support her, and others like her in their endeavour to clear the wardrobes, and support good causes!

Op-Shopping – I love having a poke around in op-shops, you find so much in the way of awesome. I spent 20 minutes and $16 in the Lorne Community Hospital Op Shop on Saturday, walking out with a couple of nice tops, and a bright lime green summer dress. I was actually looking for some fitted skirts, but didn't find any. There's also a load of awesome Op Shops in Geelong, which I plan on hitting up next week in an attempt to fill out my wardrobe with some nice vintage pieces, random skirt goodness, and hopefully some colour!

Catching Up – With so much time spent in Lorne, I haven't got to see a lot of my friends much over summer. It was great this week to get to catch up with so many people, whether running into them by chance while out, or actually sitting down over lunch/tea/furniture moving. Hopefully now that uni is back, and with only two more weeks in Lorne, the social side of life might pick up again!

True Blue – I was looking around my room this morning, and suddenly realised that the purple that once dominated the colour palate of my life has been forced out by blue. Yes, there is blue EVERYWHERE! My diary, notebook, wallet, drink bottle, sheets, clothes, pen, towels, placemats, clock, new tea set, toothbrush. What I love even more is that this feels like it snuck up on me! Still love purple, but obviously my mind was telling me it was time for a change.

Notebooks – Something else I noticed this morning is that I have a massive stack of notebooks which I have bought with some specific purpose in mind, that I have never actually used, or have filled only a few pages in. Thinking if I put them all in a stack on my desk, rather than being spread around everywhere, I might actually start using them.

New Phone – I love my new Nokia N97! I changed service providers a few days ago, having had enough of Telstra. 3 seems to be pretty sweet so far, but my old phone wasn't compatible with their network. This may have been a blessing in disguise, because as much as I was surviving with my old phone, it wasn't particularly good at anything except sending text messages. This one not only is insanely easy to use, it actually works as a phone, as it doesn't cut off the first 10 seconds of every call you make! Yeah, I'm easily impressed. Still, awesome phone, awesome plan, and hopefully awesome ability to actually contact people!

Gala on Self-Love – I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but Gala Darling has been doing an amazing series on Radical Self Love. I have huge respect for Gala, and wish she'd written this series when I was going through my rough times in '06-'08. It's all about learning to love yourself for who you are, not who everyone thinks you should be. So if you've been thinking that you're due a mental shake-up, check her out for a breath of fresh air!

Enough of my ramblings for today lovelies, I'm off to soak up the last rays of summer-like sun, with plenty of SPF30 of course!


Signing off to enjoy the sun before another night on the wrong side of the bar!

Neysa xoxo

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Students Guide to Lectures

Picture from

And so O'Week comes to a close. I don't know about how anyone else's week was, but I put all my partying into one night of pure insanity on the DUSA pubcrawl with The Muso, Mentor, and LadyYoung, and a busload of young students, followed by the mayhem of Eureka, an hour long queue wait to get back into Eureka after catching up with a friend somewhere else, and a whole lot of crazy dancing. Aside from running to heaps of people I haven't seen in ages (some months, some years), it was a great way to celebrate my birthday, even if there were way too many 18yr olds making me feel like an old lady at 23. Even got to trial-run the wobbly-boot walk home, as I now live within walking distance of the CBD, and there was no being hit by cars or trains (this may have had more to do with The Muso than my own ability by that time…). Alas alack, O'Week is now over (unless you count Sunday night at Lamby's, which I know a lot of people do), and come Monday, it's time to hit the books once again. To give you a bit of a head start, or just a reminder, I've complied a few tips for handling those all important lectures.

Mobile Phones – Turn your phone off before or as the lecture starts. If you can't bear the thought of turning your phone off, at least put it on silent/vibrate. While you may have some sweet new ringtone, you can be pretty sure that no one is going to appreciate learning about it in the middle of a lecture. If you're expecting an important call (your grandpa is having heart surgery, your sister is about to go into labour), sit near the door so you can beat a hasty retreat to answer, otherwise let it go to message bank and call them back. Answering a phone during class will result in your being destroyed by the lecturer. Really. Text messaging during lectures is generally frowned upon, but often overlooked, as it's not disturbing anyone else, just try to be subtle about it, and don't do it during lab or tutorial classes.

Lecture Kit – Having the right stuff to take lecture notes can make life so much easier. Make sure you have plenty of lined paper. I use a spiral bound notebook, which has perforated and hole punched pages. This means that you don't have to worry about carrying around more than one book if you have multiple lectures/tutorials in a row, or losing loose leaves of paper, and can pull pages out and add them to a subject folders easily. I also carry at least three different coloured pens, usually black, blue and red, plus something super bright, like green or purple. Makes it easy to highlight important notes, keeps headings separate, and generally makes your page look interesting. It also helps if one runs out mid-lecture as you have a backup. I seriously dislike using whiteout, preferring to cross things out rather than wasting time applying it and waiting for the stuff to dry, but that's a personal preference. If you're in a subject that might require sketching diagrams or pictures, it's helpful to have a pencil or two, or a mechanical pencil to save sharpening every 5 minutes.

Pre-Reading & Printed Notes – Before heading to class, try to at least glance at any recommended pre-reading. If it's been set, the lecturer will deliver the lecture assuming that you have read it, and things may not make any sense if you don't. You might just give it a once over, or you might take down a heap of detailed notes and jot down your opinions and ideas on it, but at least be familiar with what the topic of the lecture is. A lot of lecturers make good use of technology and will provide an electronic PDF copy of the lecture presentation on your student portal (DSO for Deakin Students). DO print these, and bring them along, as the will have most of the key information, and it is easier to see what your own notes are relating to later down the track. DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking that because you have the lecture slides you can get away with not going to class. Lecturers often change slides last minute, or will give you additional information not on the slides. Like answers for exams.

Taking Notes – Don't try to write everything down. Your hand WILL fall off by the end of the first week. At first you will want to write down a lot, from what is on the lecture slides to every word that pours from the lecturer's mouth. The problem is, a lot of the time it's not actually relevant, and you end up with four or five pages of messy notes and a major hand cramp. Instead, try to listen to what is being said while following the presentation, and write down the main points. Use your coloured pens. Keep an eye out for things in the presentation that are formatted differently, as they will more than likely be important. I had one lecturer who would border an important slide with red, and nine times out of 10, that slide would be integral in answering an exam question. As a general rule, it is a good idea to copy dates, diagrams and equations, and to do so carefully. It will take a while for you to figure out what is important to write down, and what you can gloss over, but practice makes perfect.

Label Everything - Make sure you top every page with the date, the subject and the lecture title. If you have guest lecturers, make sure you write down their name too. There is nothing worse than going through pile of paper a week before exams, and having no idea what subject a particular page belonged to. I know we all mean to keep everything neat and tidy in first week, but by study week, things can be an absolute shambles, and making sure you can quickly find the right notes by a quick heading scan will make your life a lot easier in the long run.

For the Techies – Laptops are becoming a lot more popular in lectures, be it purely for note taking, or as part of an interactive online learning environment. However, lecture theatres are notoriously difficult to find power points in, so make sure that you either have a battery that will last the distance, or find a socket early on and stick to it. Make sure to put it on mute (Messenger chimes during a lecture fall into the same category as answering a mobile phone), have pen and paper handy just in case (you may be a wizard in paint, but it will take you half as long to draw and label a diagram by hand), and try not to whoop too loudly when you finally finish that game of Hearts with 4 suits.

Lecture vs. Tutorial – Lectures and tutes are not the same thing. One you are being spoken to by an expert, the other is a conversation between peers. Some lecturers will be fine with questions being asked during the class, especially if it is just clarification, and other students may even thank you for being the brave one to voice what everyone was confused about, but try to keep it short. Wasting 5 minutes on something trivial wastes everyone's time. Try to save most questions, opinions and personal experiences until after the lecture, when you can approach the lecturer one-on-one, or for tutorials, where discussions of the lecture content or anything even vaguely related to lecture content are actively encouraged. 

A @ The Glamourous Grad Student has written some great advice pieces in the past for those just starting out at uni, my favourites being Etiquette tips for the charming college gal, More etiquette tips for the charming college gal, and
Grad Student Musings: Advice for the undergrads
. She has fairly hit the nail on the head in my opinion, and is a great read to boot!


Have you got any advice for cute little JAFFYS for their first week of university lectures? How about funny O'Week stories? Perhaps we have all had too good a time, and have holey memories!

Oh, and my brother is now officially a uni student. Finally!


Signing off for an early night,

Neysa xoxo

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Tea Chest - My History with Tea

"Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world" – T'ien Yiheng

I never liked tea as a kid. Perhaps it was because we were running around making so much of a din that we didn't want or need to forget it. Whenever someone tried to introduce me, it was this super milky, bitter concoction, forever turned down in favour of Quick or Milo. My paternal grandfather always intrigued me with his little ceremonies for making a pot of tea - a level teaspoon of leaves for each cup and one for the warmed pot, heat the whistling kettle until it's just starting to whisper, leave it to steep for exactly 3 minutes, no more, no less, then turn the pot three times clockwise, and pour though a tea strainer into the waiting warmed cup. Maybe if Pop has not died while I was still so young, my discovery of tea would not have been so long coming. As it was, the only other regular tea drinker in my family was my maternal grandfather, whose tea drinking habits were most likely what drove me away at an early age – rapidly boiling water poured over a stale teabag in a cold, thick -lipped mug, sit for however long, jiggle a few times to spread the colour, then add sugar and milk.

My tea story really started on my 19th birthday. I had gone to visit a friend, who gave me a beautiful bright red teacup and saucer, a mesh infuser, and a packet of black tea flavoured with berries from T2 in Melbourne. I remember the moment well – the sweet, fragrant scent of the dry leaves, the burst of juicy deliciousness rising on the steam of the boiling water when poured over, and that first, hesitant sip from the still steaming fine china, the smooth, slightly woody taste over the tongue. It was a revelation, and one that would lead me to discover my tea obsessed self. That first introduction quickly led to acquiring T2's Chilli Kiss, and the two assisted me on many a late night during my first year of uni. Unfortunately, I was still a novice to tea drinking, and aside from developing a habit of brewing horrendously dark, strong tea that you could barely see the bottom of the cup with, I probably burnt many a tea leaf from using rolling boil water. We live and we learn, eh? I have since learnt to appreciate a delicate brew, lightly steeped to allow the various flavours to evolve without being overpowered by the main player – the tea. Whilst occasionally adding honey or fruit to tea, I cannot abide milk, or the strange, over-sweet quality given by sugar.

Fully embracing my new found passion, the next time I was home in Alice Springs, my Mum and I popped in to The Tea Shrine, which was our local tea shop. After spending a good half hour sniffing various blends, I'm sure we spent a huge amount on starting our small collection. I was quick to discover that just because something smelt delicious dry did not mean it would be 'my cup of tea' once wet in the cup. This is particularly true of many of the fruit tisanes that dominated the early days, many better suited to punch bases than cup-sipping. A trip to visit family in Canberra yielded a trip to The Tea Centre, and another, much more successful, expansion of our stores, from the 'Earl Grey Special' with beautiful blue cornflowers, to the all-time favourite 'Carlton Ritz', with its citrus zing and warm caramel tones. Good thing that as a teacher, Mum drank a ridiculous amount of coffee, because the Moccona jars quickly became the perfect size storage for each new bag bought home. Whilst the acquisition of tea has slowed greatly while we strive to get through what we have before it goes stale, our combined collection currently stands at 30, with black teas, fruity tisanes, and rooibos all gracing our collection. I am looking to soon rectify the sad lack of green teas, with some prime candidates in mind.

Along the way, I've become familiar with all sorts of tea paraphernalia, become hugely interested in the traditions of brewing and drinking different teas, and have had people complain extensively about the weird brown staining on the inside of the majority of my mugs (please don't judge, I'm a uni student, and fine bone china can be quite expensive!). Whilst I apparently make an alright coffee (required skills for my job), and don't mind making them for others, I avoid the stuff like the plague. I just don't understand how people can abide the burnt, bitter taste, but then, perhaps one day I will learn to appreciate it as I have tea. In the meantime, coffee drinkers in my house will have to make do with the rather stale jar of Nescafe while I'm tenderly preparing my loving cup.

Now that you know a bit of my tea background, you will note that I have no qualifications for blogging about tea except for my avid interest and love for this amazingly yummy, insanely diverse drink. Forgive me if I stumble around in the dark for the first few weeks trying to get a handle on the correct lingo (I'm working with my knowledge of food and wine, and an rather untrained palate over here!). Who knows, if I somehow get the hang of it, and get some more followers, we could be doing giveaways and guest blogs by Yule!

Signing off for another night on the wrong side of the bar,

Neysa xoxo