I Listen To Things

swirls

For many weeks here on Wednesdays I have been doing reviews of movies and television shows. We will return to that yet again in the future, I promise. This week I want to talk about The West Wing Weekly podcast, Google Chromecast, and various images.

For the most part I do not set up technical things up in this house. That task falls to The Other Half. So I mostly just accept the way things are, and when my old tv box which allowed me to watch things on the server began acting up, I inherited a Google Chromecast, or at least I think I did. I truly am clueless about it.

If I watch something on Netflix or on our server, when I am done with it if I do not switch back to Foxtel images begin to appear on my screen via Google Chromecast. Many of the images are quite stunning to look at and I do enjoy seeing them. There are NASA images of the day, images from Google Earth View, and images taken in national parks across America. The image up the top there, Turquoise Swirls in the Black Sea is one of the rotating images, as is the image you see below, which is – Lakes and Rivers Have Ice Too.

lakesandrivers

Here are some of the Chromecast Backgrounds collected together beautifully for you to view, if you like. Here you can view some of the Earth View images. Here you can find the NASA image of the day and their archives.

It may not come as a surprise to you to hear this but a big phrase in my world is “I would like to know more about that” and I love that the NASA images can easily be found by typing in their title to your favourite search engine (eg Solar Evaporation Ponds Near Moab, Utah which you are about to see a part of below, click on the link for the whole photo and story) and you get a page with a story about the photo.

utah

I do not love that the images for Digital Globe have no backstory attached and the images really can’t be found so much online. Most of them just have a location and if you type that location into your search engine of choice, you are going to get all kinds of odd unrelated stuff and I don’t always know what it is I am seeing. I will say though, I did NOT need to look at the location to know when I was looking at Oahu from space partly because I have spent so much time looking at it on Google Maps, and partly because of the natatorium shown.

I was surprised to find that I never listened to any of The West Wing Weekly (TWWW) podcasts. I’m not a big podcast person to be truthful with you. I listened to the Breaking Bad Insider Podcasts and deeply loved every single one of them, I recently enjoyed the Better Call Saul Insider podcasts, and somehow I stumbled onto TWWW. I have been binging like an addict. The good thing is, I know the episodes so well I do not have to watch them, so I can just put my cordless headphones on and enjoy the podcast.

While I am listening, Chromecast is throwing these gorgeous images onto my screen, which I did find distracting to begin with but now I have seen all the images and it is cycling through them, I can just enjoy the beauty of them. The earth is such an amazing and gorgeous place especially when seen from space.

television shows, The West Wing

Fruchoc Me

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Those of you in South Australia can think yourselves lucky. And you are incredibly lucky, but maybe you do not recognize it the way those of us who are formerly South Australian know and understand it. Yes, we can sometimes get a Vili’s pasty. In fact I buy boxes of 12 pasties at a time, from a local cash and carry type place.

Yes, Farmers Union Iced Coffee is available in other states now, even in a 2 litre container in the supermarket. Yes, some Beerenberg products can be found by us on various shelves around the place from time to time.

strawberrydonut

But the list of things we cannot experience unless actually present in your state is long. I would love a proper Vili’s sprinkled donut SO MUCH. I miss the soup of the day at the Vili’s Cafe. I miss my Barnacle Bills. Crazy as it might sound you cannot get anything comparable here in NSW. My go-to was the two in one snack pack. Fishettes, I miss you! And those sweet, juicy prawns.

twoinonesnackpack

Until a year or so ago, I could easily get a Fruchoc here. But with Coles recent booting of many items from the shelves and other stores revising their ranges, it became harder to find them. One recent weekend I tried everywhere I could think of, only to fail. The reason I was looking was because I had found a site with a recipe for Fruchocs and I was hungry for them, but not hungry enough to actually make them myself. Or so I thought.

Once I failed at finding them on the shelves, I had no choice. I had to make them. But even that was more difficult than I expected. The recipe called for dried apricots and pears. Dried apricots are somewhat easy but I did not want ones from Turkey as I find them to be flavourless, I wanted Aussie dried apricots and not a single store I went to had those. Dried pears seemed to be an absolute impossibility. I tried Aldi, Woolworths, IGA, Coles, the local fruit and veg shops, nothing. Though I did find some yoghurt covered fruit bites at IGA which satisfied my craving momentarily.

berrytreatfactory

Imagine my surprise when the answer to all my searching was the Berry Treat Factory. Like many unexpected answers it arrived as a surprise in a local group where someone was looking for some pickling salt, and another member suggested to look in the downstairs area of the Berry Treat Factory.

That’s funny, I thought. I did not know they had a downstairs area. It turned out after over 10 years of living here I had never been to the REAL Berry Treat Factory which is off the main street and hidden away behind the train station, at the very back of some commercial units.

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Did they have Fruchocs? No, that would have been too much to hope for. They did have a lot of chocolate covered items like sultanas and nuts. Most importantly in the famed downstairs area they did have Aussie apricots AND dried pears, which I had almost feared I would never find anywhere. They also had a huge range of all kinds of awesome treats. We will be going back, time and again.

This recipe seemed easy but it is the most difficult thing I have ever made. There are no photos of the process, I was too busy! I need a better food processor. I need something that can chop up dried fruits without needing liquid added. I ended up giving up on my food processor and using a blender. Unfortunately this did not work especially well, even with melted coconut oil added. I tried adding water to get these two ingredients to blend together and all that happened for the most part was the dried fruits soaked up the water. This was a happy accident to be honest because the end result is so deliciously juicy. I would definitely add water to the dried fruits again!

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I also used Nestle dark cooking chocolate mixed with some Aldi dark chocolate with sea salt, melting the two together to make an unbeatable combination of awesomeness. Next time I would double chocolate coat them. And once we were done coating fruchocs, we coated some caramel peanuts and some of my Wasabi and Seaweed Macadamia nuts which turned out great.

fruchocs1

It would have been easier and probably cheaper to just order some Fruchocs and have them shipped to me. It seems you can now get them in a dark chocolate coating and that would be my pick I expect.

I did once try to enquire if it would be possible to purchase some Barnacle Bills prawns in a frozen state so I could cook them for my mother, for her birthday. Nobody ever replied to my email. This is probably a good thing because if I could get them I would order several trucks worth.

recipes

Line Of Duty

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When I heard that Thandie Newton was guest starring in Season 4 of Line Of Duty, I had a choice to make – watch the previous three seasons, or just watch Season 4 and see if I liked the show. I chose the latter and I think I made the right decision at the time, but my advice to others would likely be, watch the whole series in order.

Due to my deep love for Thandie thanks to her previous works and especially recently, her work in WestWorld, I was on her characters side from the beginning. If I had watched the previous seasons I would probably have been suspicious of her character instead.

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I watched season 4 in two sittings because it is the kind of show that you need to watch the next episode right away – better to stop mid-episode than wait till the end if you have things to do because most of the time they have cliffhangers at the end of the episode. There were only a couple of times where I missed some connection due to not seeing previous seasons.

After watching season 4, I discovered seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix here in Australia (check Hulu and Amazon in the USA), and it was a fast gallop through those seasons. Season one I watched in one sitting, it was just 5 episodes long.

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So what is this show all about? We begin with the following – DS Steve Arnott is in charge of an operation that goes wrong. His fellow police officers try to cover up their mistakes but he refuses to lie about what happened.

He then is a bit of an outcast among his colleagues and ends up being transferred to an Anti Corruption unit, led by Superintendent Ted Hastings. Meanwhile DC Kate Fleming is already working undercover on the case he is about to be assigned – checking into DCI Tony Gates who has a suspiciously high arrest rate.

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This show is sometimes like being strapped into a rollercoaster and launched repeatedly from a standing start to travel instantly at enormous speeds as a surprise to yourself, in the dark, with no idea of what is coming next.

You think you know where things are going, and the rollercoaster lurches in a totally different direction. You think you know who the good guys are, you are probably going to be wrong, and even the good guys have flaws and can bend like the branches of a tree when required.

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Seasons 2-4 of the show were filmed in Northern Ireland and for fans of The Fall you might occasionally spot a familiar location. Each season has a different main guest star character, and you never know who might show up in a supporting role.

Seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix here in Australia, season 4 just finished playing on 13th Street on Foxtel, and sometimes this show can be seen on the ABC as well. If you enjoy police drama, this is a great show to watch. If you enjoy complex plots and twists and turns, this is definitely a show you should seek out. I’d go so far to say, I have never seen a show twist and turn as much as this one, and even the interview scenes with the actors sat round a table disputing “facts” can be incredibly gripping and occasionally shocking.

I am now a huge fan of the main cast which includes Martin Compton as Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure as Kate Fleming, and Adrian Dunbar as Ted Hastings. I loved this show! :)

television shows

A Dress Moment

Booradley

Some dress moments are months in the making, like my Noni B $20 bargain. Other dress moments happen a little bit quicker and sometimes there is a bit of a story behind them. This is one such time.

I love the Boo Radley brand. They tend to take different fabrics and mix them together to create something awesome. I am lucky because a local boutique stocks this brand so I can go in and look at the items whenever I want. Having said that, they also sell via TVSN and sometimes I am lucky enough to find a piece I love in the clearance section.

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I had been eyeing this dress off for a while in clearance because it is essentially the essence of me wrapped up into a dress. The other half claims I say that about all my dresses – and that is true! Why would I buy a dress if it was not the essence of me?

I saw it in the local boutique in my size back in early June and it was even more beautiful than I suspected. The different materials are so gorgeous together and the black part was silky and gorgeous. I was tempted to buy it for myself for my birthday. No, be good, Snoskred. Do.Not.Buy.

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I survived No Buy July partly by not going anywhere near this boutique, which was having a huge sale. On the 2nd of August I needed a haircut and I had *absolutely* no intention of going to that boutique – but my hairdresser was busy and I was told to return in 30 minutes. I thought I would stroll over and of course this dress would be long gone by now.

When I arrived at the shop, there was a busload of Chinese tourists attacking the store. I mean grabbing things off the shelves, trying them on, and then approaching the sales lady to try and haggle with her. The poor sales lady was actually on the phone trying to organise insurance for her new store – seems they are moving to a slightly smaller and more energy efficient place.

I quickly scanned every single rack, dodging the tourists like a bizarre interpretative shopping dance, but I did not find my dress in my size or in any size, for that matter. Ok, looks like it was not meant to be. I started looking at a couple of other Boo Radley things when a lady appeared out of the changing room, holding my dress! Then she put it back on the rack. Could it be my size? No, there is no way it could be.. but it was. She talked with the sales lady about it but decided not to buy it.

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I patiently waited for that lady to leave the store before grabbing the dress and heading to try it on. It was perfect and I loved it, so I bought it – and it was cheaper than it would have been buying it from TVSN, too, because the store was having a moving sale. And this past Saturday I took it for an outing and was instantly the most fashionable person in every location we attended. I do not think the pictures do it any justice at all. It is so silky and the skirt moves in such a great way.

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Click here for a slightly larger version of this so you can see the details.

It almost feels like it belongs in medieval times or at a renaissance fair hanging out with knights in suits of armour.. The gold animal print fabric is velvety and smooth and I found it impossible to stop touching it.

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Lucky for me there is a perfectly placed animal print panel in the skirt for car travel.

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I cannot tell you how much I love this dress. No combination of our human words or numbers will suffice. Clearly it was meant to be.

I’m sending this over to LoveLeahXL for her Outfit August challenge.

Fashion

Check Your Speed

speedo

In Australia, before the year 2006, speedometers could legally be plus or minus 10%. This means that a speed of 100km/h the speedo could indicate anywhere between 90km/h and 110km/h.

Some of those 2006 cars are still on the road. Many of them have had tyres replaced, which can put the speedo out even further. Most states with roadworthy inspections do not test the accuracy of the speedo at all.

After 2006, the law was changed to read – The speedo must not indicate a speed less than the vehicle’s true speed or a speed greater than the vehicle’s true speed by an amount more than 10 percent plus 4 km/h. However this law applies when vehicles *arrive* in the country – once they are sold, nobody checks any of this again as far as I am aware.

So when I got my car in 2010, I tested the speedo with satellite apps and GPS. My car was officially 10% out. If I was doing 100 as seen on the speedo, I was really doing 91. And I adjusted my driving accordingly so that I was not constantly being overtaken by everyone.

After 5 years, we noticed my tyres had begun to craze. So we replaced them. Not long after that I tested my speedo again and it was now correct instead of 10% out. So I had to unlearn all my adjustments.

How many people reading this have done any checks on their speedometer? Does anyone reading this know for certain whether their speedo is accurate? Do you test it regularly? Did you know about these laws especially the one before 2006 if you have a 2006 vehicle? Did you know that you could be driving 10% slower than you expected in a brand new car you just bought and drove off the dealers yard, and that by changing the tyres you could suddenly be doing a new speed as a surprise to yourself, even though the speedo shows you the same speed?

I am guessing the answer to all of those questions is no. And this is how a lot of people get fined and accidents get caused because people are going slower than they think they are, and the person behind gets frustrated and road ragey.

driving

No Buy July

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When I read about No Buy July over at Almost Posh I thought I would get on board and see whether I could go an entire month without buying any clothes, jewelry, accessories or shoes at all. I’m not going to lie and say it has been easy, and I have had to resist temptation many times. But when I decide to do something, I JUST DO IT, folks. Here are the things I likely would have bought, if not for No Buy July.

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This top is incredibly me. If you looked Snoskred up in the dictionary, there is a photo of this top. I mean, red leopard print, need I say more?

leopard

The price was excellent, and it sold out before the end of the Cordelia St show. I did not buy it.

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I had been eyeing off this similar top which is in clearance for a while now, waiting for the price to go down again, but it is sold out in my size.. Sometimes the Fashion Gods have other plans. ;) If you want to check out TVSN clearance I recommend using the drop down box and choosing lowest to highest price.

drusy

As a result of all my hard work weight loss wise, none of my rings fit me anymore. Even one that used to fit on my pinky finger only now does not fit on my largest finger. I will have to bite the bullet and get them resized soon. This ring tempts me because I love Drusy and it reminds me of my mystic topaz triangle ring.

kellyskloset

A huge temptation for me this month was the gorgeous jewelry of Katherine Kelly Lang. Yes, Brooke from The Bold and The Beautiful has a fashion and jewelry side business. Unfortunately I did not take any photos at the time and once it is sold out it is taken off the TVSN website, so here is a screenshot of a page from the July shoppers guide.

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I saw this denim jacket in person when passing by a Rockmans earlier in the month. It is definitely on my to-buy list, this colour is one of my favourites. And I could have had it for $20. But, NOPE.

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I need a pin like this for a multitude of reasons, mainly in order to close cardigans stylishly. This one from Noni B is now on my wishlist, I had been looking for a little while and not finding anything.

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Noni B also had a clearance sale and these tops had been on my want list for a while. I felt like $20 was good value. But they did not get ordered and shipped to me, because No Buy July.

I also avoided my favourite little boutique in town which happened to be having a huge sale this month. I might head in to check out what is left over. I was tempted by socks at Costco but I was determined to stick it out and not buy them.

Happy moments, I made it through the month of July without buying any clothes, jewelry, accessories or shoes.

shopping

Animal Kingdom – The TV Series

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There is no question about it – we are living in the days of peak television. How else could I have let this fantastic show sit on my “to watch” list for nearly 2 years?

I have been a huge fan of Scott Speedman since the Felicity days. So when I heard they were making a TV series based on the Animal Kingdom movie and Scott Speedman was set to be one of the main cast, I added that to my list of shows to watch. And just recently – having finished Line of Duty which is another show I will be writing a post about soon – I spotted it on Netflix and dove in head first. Wow, what a ride!

speedman

Having completed all the episodes presently available, I went to watch the movie again. I had seen it a while ago but the main thing I remembered was Ben Mendelsohn and his dark, malevolent presence in that film.

If you have seen the movie do not think of it as a spoiler for the TV series – almost none of the events of the movie appear in the TV show as yet and I have seen season 2 episode 7.

The main thing the movie has given the TV show is the cast of characters and their backstory. The show begins in a very similar way to the movie, but then the TV show moves off onto a different path and what a delight it is to travel with it.

If I had to describe this show, it would be a longer version of Point Break. The surfing is there, the jumping out of planes, the robberies, the crime planning, the California setting, virtually everything that was great about Point Break is present here. However they have added to it a fantastic cast and some highly talented and experienced crew.

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I love what they have done with Smurf – played by Ellen Barkin – in particular her costumes are great but they have taken her character from the movie and stepped it up like 300 notches – not only is she the matriarch of this crime family but she is a huge part of it, basically the ringleader of it, choosing the jobs, allocating the work, laundering the money, making big decisions. I loved the scene where she is ironing male underwear, too. This role in the movie gained Jacki Weaver an Oscar nomination. Due to so much excellent television Ellen Barkin has not received any nominations for her portrayal of Smurf and that is a great shame.

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Shawn Hatosy is playing the character of Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody – played by Ben Mendelsohn in the movie – and Shawn is really amazing in this role, SO CREEPY. Before I saw this my one question was who could possibly do justice to that role and now that question has been answered. It is very interesting that in the first season I felt quite scared by his character but in the second season somehow they turn the tables a bit and I found myself cheering him on and hoping he might find what he is looking for.

There is a lot of shirtlessness and nudity which you will either love or dislike. I’m totally fine with it myself. There are some other aspects to this show which people might not enjoy – definitely some violence but it is not pointless, it fits in with what is happening on the show and it is not done just for kicks, there is always a reason for it.

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Me personally the one storyline I did not enjoy was the detective trying to get info on this crime family by whatever means necessary. I think that went a little too far and by the end of the first season I wanted to slap that detective for about an hour. I was truly grateful when she did not show up in Season 2, at least she has not yet, though there are still a few episodes left to watch.

Some interesting names popped up in the directors chair – in particular Regina King, Laura Innes and Emmy Rossum have all directed episodes of this show.

Where can you see this in Australia? Netflix only at this stage, I am afraid. :/

television shows