Snapshots of 2010

I can see a rainbow

I can see a rainbow

 
While backing up an SD card from last year I stumbled across this photo taken in July, the middle of winter in Australia.
 
It was actually a double rainbow but this is the only one I had of the whole rainbow.
 
I love rainbows. Not unicorns, though 🙂
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sunset, Perth, Summer 2010

Sunset, Perth, Summer 2010

 
I also came across this photo taken as the sun set over the Indian Ocean on West Coast Drive, around North Beach. I’ve often tried to capture the sun setting on my iPhone while a passenger, usually with little success.
 
This time I actually pulled over and took the time to take some photos on my camera and enjoy the view.
 
It was a moment for quiet contemplation; my family had left for Tasmania for a week, my dog had just been dropped at my sister’s and I was , having only just recovered from bronchitis bordering on pneumonia, getting ready to head to Sydney to see Oprah.
 
My photographic skills are average, my eye for a photo and composition is ok and my camera is probably below average but I never leave home without it.
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Online shopping

Many years ago, after the birth of my first child, I used an online grocery shopping service in Perth called Electrolley.

The food was fresh but it didn’t do many deliveries to my suburb. It no longer operates and I always presumed it had been too ahead of its time.

A year or so back I started to use Coles Online and have found the service to be very good, complemented by a Twitter account where shoppers can and receive give instant feedback.

The advantages to shopping online are numerous – not having to take the kids to the shop, only buying what you need, being able to use shopping time to do something else, like, erm, washing the car.

The service also has its drawbacks  such as  out of stock items and not being able to check nutrition and ingredient information.

One of the main reasons I didn’t use the service every week was the delivery charge and the delivery windows. Sometimes by the time I had decided to shop online that week, there were no convenient delivery times left.

Coles has recently addressed this by introducing free delivery and also increasing the delivery windows to include Saturday afternoon to early evening.

I also discovered quite by chance that part of the underlying motivation for free delivery throughout Perth was probably the arrival on the scene of Woolworths Online.

The arrival of Woolworths a month or so ago has been very low-key. No TV ads, no email alerts, nothing in the sale catalogues. I even asked the Woolworths Everyday Rewards team on Twitter and got no response.

Today I got a flyer among some sale catalogues but there still wasn’t anything about the service in the weekly sale brochure.

I have also tried registering for Aussie Farmers Direct to no avail. Although I have seen them delivering in my suburb, I must live on the wrong side of it. I have entered my postcode, been told computer says no, been referred to customer service, only to get an email five days later to say computer still says no.

I discovered Woolworths had started delivery to my area simply by creating an account and entering my postcode and address. When it was approved and I got to the delivery window screen I was still doubtful so-called the customer service line to check.

Excited, I tried for about three weeks to use the service to no avail because I couldn’t find a suitable delivery window. So I continued to use Coles or physically go to the shops.

This week I have secured a delivery window so will be trying the Woolworth service for the first time. Already there are things about it that are inferior to Coles. Like selling brocoli by the piece? What’s with that – why can’t it be by the kilo? And bananas are sold by the kilo in the shops, not by banana like online.

Also, once the order is placed there doesn’t seem to be a way to add to it or change it. Coles lets you do that up to about 11pm the night before.

Coles gives a price estimate based on the fact it can’t tell you online exactly how much your fruit, veg and meat with weigh. I have an apparently exact total from Woolworths and fear I’ll probably get about 400g of gravy beef rather than 500g.

So why don’t I stick with Coles all the time? Good question. Dumb answer – I like collecting Everyday Rewards linked to Qantas Frequent Flyer. No matter how much I buy, I  just don’t ever seem to accumulate Flybuys points from Coles – reminding me of a certain amusing bank advert.

Like many working parents, online shopping is going to become an  increasingly invaluable part of keeping my sanity and my pantry stocked.

But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shop in one store alone, simply because not one store stocks everything I need.

Only IGA stocks Billington’s dark muscovado sugar, Nemar’s natural coloured 100s and 1000s and Eta 5 Star margarine – a staple for my daughter who has dairy allergies. IGA also usually has the best milk specials.

So my independent grocer really doesn’t have too much to fear from the multinational with the fleets of refrigerated trucks.

Disney Promotion – Movie Giveaway!

Choo-Choo Express

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express

Parents often complain there are no suitable movies to take children to outside the school holidays. 

Complain no more because from May 6 the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express is pulling into Greater Union and Event Cinemas in Perth for a series of special $6 screenings aimed at pre-schoolers and their families. 

Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express sees Mickey and his pals putting together the Clubhouse Choo-Choo Train to help Professor Von Drake deliver his special non-melting Easy Freezy Snow from Mistletoe Mountain so they can play in the snow year-round. 

Choo-Choo Express aims to inspire children with messages of teamwork, problem solving and adventure. For many children it will also be the first time they have seen Mickey Mouse on the big screen. Joining him for the adventure are old favourite Pluto, Goofy and Donald Duck. 

As a special bonus, a never-before-seen episode of Playhouse Disney favourite Handy Manny will screen before the film. 

The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express will also screen on Foxtel’s Playhouse Disney channel on Saturday, June 26 and be available for purchase on Disney DVD on June 30. 

For the chance to win one of three family passes (admit four per family pass) courtesy of Disney to a special preview on Sunday May 2 at Event Cinemas Innaloo at 10am, visit my Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/sueyeap  for details on how to win by answering a simple question. 

*Trivia: Trivia – Walt Disney originally wanted to call Mickey “Mortimer Mouse” but it was changed to “Mickey Mouse” when his wife Lillian said she felt that “Mortimer” sounded too pompous and suggested another name that personified the qualities of fun and humbleness. 

Visit Mickey House at Playhouse Disney Australia here 

Or click here for more information about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Choo-Choo Express. 

You can even get an idea of what Choo-Choo express will be like by watching this video from IMDB.

Perth’s best kept secret?

I am surprised by the number of people who have fond memories of Perth’s drive-ins – who don’t realise we still have one.

As mentioned in a previous post, we recently went to the Galaxy in Kingsley to see Avatar. That’s north of the river for you south siders.

This week the feature is The Tooth Fairy and at the weekend (until Feb 3) there’s a double feature of The Tooth Fairy and 500 Days of Summer.

You can read my review of The Tooth Fairy here at The West.com.au.

500 Days of Summer was one of my favourite films of 2009, so I’ve also dug up the link to that review here.

Pack a picnic, the Aeogard, the doonas, pillows and Thermos and have a great night out.

Kid-friendly summer movies & fun at the drive-in

I’ve had a lot of parents asking me in the last week or so which films I would recommend they take their children to this summer.

Probably my least favourite family film this holiday season has been Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel.  Yet another sequel that fails to live up to the original and comes across as little more than a dash for box office cash. I gave it a 2 star rating, as you’ll see if you click on the link above to the story in The West.

Most of the parents I follow on Twitter have echoed my opinion.

The Princess and the Frog, on the other hand, was an old-fashioned delight. It should appeal to girls from about four to 10 and maybe some of their younger brothers. This is a classic Disney tale, in the hand-drawn animation style I grew up with.

Start with a familiar story,  add a twist, well-drawn (literally) characters, humour and catchy music and the rest falls into place. You can read the full review at The West here.

Adults will particularly enjoy Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox with George Clooney giving voice and life to the title character. The clever use of cuss for cusswords (cuss that!) was particularly amusing.

Although Avatar is rated M in Australia, we took the kids (9 and 5) to see it at the drive-in last week. Having already seen it without the kids in 3-D, we figured the five-year old would probably fall asleep and if he didn’t, he had come through all six Star Wars movies unscathed – even watching Anakin writhing in fire and molten hell before his rescue and resurrection as Darth Vader.

Interestingly it was Ms 9 who fell asleep several times in the home stretch and Mr 5 who stayed awake. He now likes to boast he has seen two rated-M movies ( I think Star Wars ep III is the other one).

While I generally wouldn’t recommend Avatar for under sevens, if you have children who have enjoyed and understood the earlier Harry Potter films, LOTR or The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, Avatar shouldn’t do them any harm.

If you live in Perth make sure to take the family to the Galaxy Drive-In in Kingsley this summer. It is Perth’s last surviving drive-in and looks as though it hasn’t changed much in 20 years.

Grab some rugs, chairs, doonas and take-away and you’re set.  Best of all, it will cost you about half of what the cinemas do. Tuesdays are a bargain at $15 a car.

Avatar is screening until January 13 and at weekends there’s a double feature with Aliens in the Attic – although I suspect not many kids will stay awake for that one.

The drive-in is particularly popular with family groups and owners of 4WDs, station wagons and utes for the obvious reasons of comfort – just park backwards and leave the tail open.

Cooking up a storm

The inclement weather in Perth over the weekend and general malaise of the week offered the perfect excuse to not leave the house all day Sunday and instead, spend it in the kitchen.

First meal of the day, crispy bacon and scrambled eggs with fresh chives. Surprisingly, my son didn’t try to pick out the greenery.

Leftovers and not so great freezer fare for lunch so we’ll skip that part (Friday night had been home made chicken soup and beer bread, Saturday Justin slow roasted fillet steak with garlic and peppercorn sauce).

Had hoped to contain all the baking and cooking to about two hours but it stretched to three of four and yielded:

Anzac biscuits and chocolate slice (for the kids’ lunch boxes), Nigella Lawson’s orange baby bundts (to use up yoghurt), zucchini slice (for my lunches)…

part of Sunday's bake-fest

part of Sunday's bake-fest

But wait there’s more. No pictures, though.
Husband made chocolate eclairs (for my book club) and lamb biryani (his lunches) and I made veal and pork bolognaise, chicken meatballs and bangers with mash, veg and caramelised onion.
That should keep us going til, mmm….Tuesday!

What’s on the Box?

Since the end of MasterChef on Sunday, a lot of people have been left with gaping holes in their lives. Many chose to fill the void with Dance Your Ass Off, if tonight’s Twitter trending topics is any indication.

What a spectacle; the fishnets, the spandex, the big hair…and that was just the host. Just kidding. Real car-crash stuff – can’t wait to see tomorrow’s ratings.

Speaking of ratings, boy did I get it wrong on the finale of MasterChef. I blame Matt Preston. I thought it would do more than 3 million, he wasn’t so sure, so I revised down to 2.6 to 2.8.

Should have stuck with my instinct – an average 3.72 million tuned in with a peak of 4.11 million – making it the most watched non-sporting event ever and Ten’s highest rating show. It was the third most watched show ever behind the 2005 Australian Open men’s final and 2003 World Cup Soccer Australia v England.

There are several new shows premiering tomorrow (Wednesday) with World’s Strictest Parents on Seven competing against Australia’s Perfect Couple on Nine. The latter is cringe-worthy, unless you think blindfolded kissing and an electric shock test will help determine who makes a perfect match. And host Jules Lund looks a bit like he has spent too much time on a Getaway sun and surf story.

Pick of Wednesday night is Fox8’s new drama The Secret Life of an American Teenager, a surprisingly poignant and humorous family/teen drama. Everyone’s favourite 80s teen flick star Molly Ringwald is the mother of a pretty, polite, all round nice girl who shocks her friends by getting pregnant at band camp.

Secret Life was created by Brenda Hampton of 7th Heaven fame but don’t let that deter you. The show’s second series recently started in the US so it has legs.

Seven has a big Thursday with the belated return of The Amazing Race, plus new Aussie shows TV Burp and Double Take. If the latter two programs can live up to the promos, we should be in for a laugh-filled night, even if a lot of the comedy in Double Take seems to rest on the shoulders of Paul McCarthy.

I’ve somehow managed to steer my eyes away from finding out the winner of TAR (series 14 ended in the US in May) thus far but am sure I will inadvertently see a spoiler soon. The first episode moves at a cracking pace and has two of the best challenges ever – a 70 storey bungee jump off a dam and a Swiss cheese challenge in which the giant wheels of cheese escape and cause mayhem. Hilarious!

 Add that to  the usual weird and wonderful mix of hillbillies, bimbos, bickering couples etc.  You can read more about TAR in The West on Thursday.

This Saturday at 7.30pm there’s the second season premiere of East of Everything on the ABC with Susie Porter and Richard Roxburgh (who has just been cast by Ten to play Bob Hawke). Meanwhile on SBS, those Mythbusters will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing with a special where they put conspiracy theories to the test to see whether the whole thing could have been a hoax.

I’m reserving judgment on Ten’s The 7pm Project which like any new live/news-panel/talk show needs time to find its feet (and audience).  It has had good and bad moments so far.

James’ opening night assessment of the 60 Minutes Jamie Neale story was pretty funny but Carrie’s blank moment this evening and the cross to MasterChef’s Julie cooking for a winner’s family didn’t quite cut it.

Had no idea who the entertainment reporter was so looked it up on the program website and eventually worked out she is Aleisha McCormack, a TV producer and standup comedian. 7pm Project site actually called her MacCormack but Google helped me anway. According to IMDB she was also a researcher on Glenn Robbins’ series Out of the Question.

If 7pm Project could just drop the use of the B word rhyming with witch, I think I’d be quite content. Although it’s not as family-friendly as MasterChef (which come to think of it did drop the S word a lot) it beats Home and Away and 2 1/2 Men.