Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Incoming: Blog-Off for Babies!

One topic, one week, several blogs... multiple possibilities. Rinse and repeat each week in July.

It's a blog-off! Organised by Nathan of PhilosYphia, the event is threefold:

1) It raises awareness and money for a charity - in this case, the March of Dimes.
2) It encourages expression and a sense of community in the blogosphere.
3) It's fun - and if you participate, you'll 'meet' new people, and you might win some cash!

That's right - we split the entry fees, with 50% raised going directly to the March of Dimes. 50% of the pot, equal to $10 USD x the number of participating bloggers, is prize money - 10% to the runner-up and 40% to the person with the highest total of votes, as determined by the participants.

How does blogging raise awareness, do you ask? It's simple! The more participants, the more readers - and with links between all the blogs, someone who normally reads just your blog might hop on to someone else's. The important thing is, each participating blogger links their weekly post back to the March of Dimes info on Nathan's blog, highlighting the reason for all this writing and voting madness.

Check it out - it's a great opportunity to share your thoughts, get into (or back into) blogging, and encourage someone. The March of Dimes is a U.S. organisation that supports moms and babies, whether they're born healthy or needing special care.

Join us in the Blog-Off for Babies!
Visit Nathan's page for the PayPal link and instructions, and get ready for the first topic to land in your Inbox the first week of July.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Who Says You Can't Have Fun On Your Own?

I've been solo all week, and admittedly it's not my favourite - especially when I didn't feel well Tuesday and Wednesday. Tonight, however, I decided to stroll down to the harbour for an hour with my fledgling novel and a chai, but found considerably more than that. Apparently it's Australia Post's 200th birthday, and it called for a free concert in the Aquashell (seriously, that's what they call the floating stage) with fireworks!

On the bill tonight was Jessica Mauboy, whom I accidentally listen to when my coworker's radio is on. But honestly? She wasn't bad. A little nervous I think, or maybe she just needs time to get the audience chit-chat right - but the singing was pretty good, despite how my video sounds. If I'd known about the concert I might have brought a proper camera, but as it was I was already lugging a paperback and my EeePC in my purse. Unfortunately for Jessica, the sound didn't come out so well - either it was the fangirls making noise in front of me, or my finger might have been muffling the microphone. Oops.

Jessica looked really cute - yellow dress with a tiered skirt, black leather jacket and boots. She was really excited to announce that she'll be joining Beyonce on her Australian tour. I guess she's moving up in the music world! She was runner-up in 2006's Australian Idol.

Here's a clip of Running Back.
video

Anyway - after Jessica's 4 songs (Burn; Because; Been Waiting; Running Back) there was a break, so I nipped into Starbucks and warmed up with a chai. I'd heard the name of the next act, but had no clue what he would sing until I heard Jump, Jive 'n' Wail. I promise this next clip is better audio quality, but I can't do anything about the picture - too many lights, rippling water for lights to bounce off of, and no zoom.
video

David Campbell did 8 or 9 songs - Jump, Jive 'n' Wail; Mack the Knife; Just a Gigolo; 1-2-3; Smoke Gets in Your Eyes; You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You; Good Lovin'; one called Yeh-Yeh, and Can't Take My Eyes off of You. His band was awesome - the sax player had a couple great solos, and one song was just David and his pianist. I liked his act so much I might buy an album. He's not quite as schmoozy as, say, Matt Dusk - despite his obvious talent, he just seems like a guy who likes to be himself and put on a great show,. I guess it helps that he's the son of Jimmy Barnes?

The evening culminated in a fireworks display - I snapped a couple photos. For an impromptu night out, tonight was a pretty good one! Who says you can't have fun on your own?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Pit Stop


Last Saturday found Jody & I wandering downtown to do errands. Between dropping off kitchen knives for sharpening and my Mac for servicing (loose mic connection), we found a little place that is a chocoholic's haven: Max Brenner's, Chocolate by the Bald Man. I kid you not. There is a real Max Brenner, and in fact he was interviewed in a food mag I picked up at the grocery store this week. He really is bald, and the magazine hailed him as a modern day Willy Wonka.


Mmmmmmmm, the smell of chocolate. Two enormous steel vats greet you in the entry: one white, one dark. You can see the chocolate being stirred through the clear lid. There was also melted milk chocolate in a smaller vat on the counter, which was being constantly streamed onto plates of treats as we stood in line. I lost count of the number of Belgian waffles drizzled in gooey sweetness, artfully arranged on pure white plates. When our turn came, we decided to split a hot chocolate (milk; I think next time I'll go for dark with orange) but splurge on two treats: a brownie and a cupcake.


The shop is decorated in mochas and hazelnuts, with pop art on the walls and little wooden letters that spell out CHOCOLATE IS GOOD FOR YOU. The square wooden stools are worn from happy consumers, the little tables a good size for two treats and drinks.


I had seen the descriptor, "Hug Mug" in connection with our hot chocolate, on the menu board. It appears that a Hug Mug is almost teardrop-shaped, with no handle. This way you can cup it in your hands and tip the warm, made-from-melted-chocolate beverage into your mouth. It cools fast, but really - how long do you expect it to last?


I wouldn't say the brownie was the best I'd ever had, though it was certainly among the richest - and it being warmed and doused with a trail of chocolate didn't hurt. Jody's cupcake was tasty enough, though not as fluffy as homemade. Still, as a decadent afternoon pit stop, it was appreciated far more than a coffee shop with mass-produced muffins, which tend to plague Sydney. You can get decent (or at least halfway decent) coffee pretty much anywhere, but pastries are another matter.
I think the next time I have a chocolate craving, I will opt for something more tantalising than milk ho-cho... and next time, I'm not sharing.


 


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