A bit of this and that...with added frangipani.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Something Useful for the Parents of Minecraft PC Users

Anyone who doesn't have Minecraft-mad kids trying to play on PC can disregard this post.

The boys were really excited that they were going to inherit my old laptop. We had the operating system wiped and reinstalled (The PC Guys in Smithfield are simply awesome). The computer takes 2 minutes to load compared to the 15+ minutes that it took when I had all my crap on there from my uni days.

Minecraft Logo - How to Make Minecraft PC Go Faster.
Image Source

I paid the US$26.95 for the PC version of Minecraft, but the boys were woefully disappointed at the performance of it compared to other platforms. We wanted it on PC so that they could learn how to create their own mods - I aspire to having tech-heads in the family, who will be in high demand, make lots of dough and keep me in the manner to which I would like to be accustomed, in my golden years.

Anyway, after some Googling, I found that there is a mod called Optifine that you can install to make it go faster. I tried it out, and where it took 15 minutes to load before, it now takes 10 seconds. I'm so stoked about it and can't wait to see the boys' expression when they see how clever I am! This should earn me lots of brownie points and uninterrupted lie-ins in the future...or a simple thank you and off they go to bury their heads in whatever new creation they will conjure up in the world of Minecraft.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Cool Kind of Busy

I hate to glorify busy, but there's no other word to describe what I am right now. One of my clients has decided to do all the huge projects she has ever contemplated, in the months of October and November. 

The upside is that I'm getting to learn heaps. I've had my nose buried in code, I've played with different software, and now I get to learn a new shopping cart system that is going to put another arrow in my quiver for my VA business.

This is cool kind of busy; it's when hours pass and you don't even realise it because you are ensconced in your work. It lights a spark; you look forward to logging on every morning and you don't want to sign off at night.

It helps that Will encouraged me to donate my clunky old laptop to the kids and to get myself something with a bit more zip. It's a tool of the trade, so I don't need to feel guilty about it - though tell that to my brain. Another perk is the big-arse monitor I bought to go with it. I didn't realise I was buying such a large screen, but my eyes are thanking me for it. 

So with new opportunities for learning and my new equipment to work with, I've got a pep in my step. Sometimes it just takes a small shift to light a fire underneath you. I'm off to edit some metatags on a website - be sure to contain your excitement now.

Anything giving you a pep in your step lately?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Always in Search of the Bird Bonanza

This past week was bird week for the photography group I'm part of, and - wouldn't you know it - not a new bird to be found anywhere. I even dragged the kids to Cattana Wetlands after school on Thursday. This is where a myriad of birds can usually be found diving for fish or having a leisurely swim through the lily pads, but the water was practically bare of birds. 

There was a lonely heron too far away to snap, some spoonbills hiding their spoonbills and a green pygmy goose of which I only stopped to take one photo, thinking that the bird bonanza would be around the next corner. It's funny that now that I've taken quite a few photos of my feathered friends, suddenly these lovelies have become old hat to me. I'm forever on the search for something new, and as a result I'm taking fewer photos. I must remember to appreciate nature more and stop worrying about capturing new subject matter in my camera lens.


Green Pygmy Goose

Having said that, I was still ΓΌber excited when today - the day after bird week had ended - I hit the jackpot; I spied a bird that I had never photographed before, and I actually had my camera in my hand - bonus! This little parrot hangs out in the kapok tree in our neighbourhood. I've spotted it before, but I was driving and wasn't able to hop out of the car in the middle of traffic for a photo shoot. Believe me, I thought about it, but my little phone camera wouldn't be up to the job and you know - traffic. Today I was on foot. I had time to take numerous shots before a nearby dog had enough of my loitering near her property and decided to voice her opinion about it.

Double-eyed Fig Parrot - Female

Double-eyed Fig Parrot - Female

This colourful beauty is a Double-eyed Fig Parrot, and this is the female of the species. Isn't she gorgeous?!

I skipped home gleefully (not really, but in my mind I was skipping) and immediately downloaded my photos. I ooh-ed and aah-ed and dragged my family into the room to look at my find. They gave me an unenthusiastic "Cool, Mum" and went back to what they were doing. Never mind, this image will keep me happy for many days/weeks to come.

Friday, October 3, 2014

I've Become One of Those Friends

Did you ever have one of those friends who dumps you the minute she gets in a relationship? You know, the one that is really cool when she's single, but once she's in a relationship, she wraps herself up so much in that person that she forgets her friends?

When I met Will, I'd like to think I wasn't like that. We socialised with my friends and with his, and I spent time on my own with my gal pals too. Will's years of working night shift meant that I often was up for whatever activity was going, and my weekends were reserved for spending with Will.

Even once we had kids, there was mothers' group and there were play groups; I sought out interactions with others, purely for the opportunity to speak with another adult.

Then the boys started school. Suddenly it meant I had to fill my days with whatever work was going, and leisurely afternoons at the swimming pool with other mums were no longer really serving us. 

I started my business, and I was still studying part-time. The boys were taking up a sport or three, and every moment of the day was taken up. It was a similar situation for my friends too. Some went back for more children and are now back at playgroup and the swimming pool. The ones who didn't are filling their days with work and ferrying their kids about; their nights are spent lying exhausted on the couch.

So when is there time to nurture friendships with someone other than your spouse? I've noticed that I've become somewhat isolated. It is not unusual for me to go for weeks without speaking to anyone outside my family - working from home exacerbates this. I've become that person who gets so wrapped up in her life that she forgets her friends. 

Now that my degree is finished and we've limited the boys' sporting activities to one per term, it frees up a small amount of time. I've been trying to dip my toe into socialising again, but not so much that it negatively impacts my home life. I don't want to live in anyone's pocket, but I could certainly do with a conversation with someone other than my husband or children.

So, I've sought out the mums I used to chat with daily on the school grounds - taking the time to have a conversation instead of rushing past with a quick hello. I've invited a new friend to accompany me to the cinemas and to take our kids rollerskating together. I've stopped to have a coffee with the mum of my son's good friend. I've made contact with an old friend with whom I lost touch about 10 years ago. They're little things, but I'm glad that I'm making an effort now.

As we age, spouses pass and children fly the coop; I think that our friendships will become even more important to us.

Somewhat related, as I was searching around for an image to include with this post, I came across this video clip of two 100-year-old women who have been best friends for 94 years. They give their opinion on various topics and they're simply hilarious.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - A New Neighbour

Taking part in Wordless Wednesday at My Little Drummer Boys.  

Oscar watching puppy dig under the fence
Oscar looks on as our new neighbour tries her hardest to pay us a visit.

Cute photo of puppy looking under our fence
The fence has since been repaired, but who wouldn't welcome a visit from this face?

My Little Drummer Boys

Sunday, September 14, 2014

FYLP - Springtime is Swing Time

I'm just back from a long walk, 6.32 km as the sun rose over the rainforest. We're experiencing our glorious spring weather at the moment, and I just want it to be September all year around. 

Soon we'll be shutting up the windows and whacking on the air conditioner. The rains will kick in, and my morning walks will start to get soggy. But for now, I'm going to take it all in and enjoy every single moment - what's not to enjoy?!

Today, I want to share some electro-swing, because its upbeat rhythm matches my mood, and this time, we get to watch some cool dance moves at the same time! This fellow's emulating a YouTuber called takeSomeCrime, but I prefer this version. I think it's a combination of the apartment with that view, his suit and his fun dance style. The dancer goes by the name of JustSomeMotion, and the song is called Delight by Jamie Berry Featuring Octavia Rose. (Isn't that a lovely name?)

Hope you're enjoying your weekend and are doing all the things you love to do.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

We really must take the kids to the Daintree

"We really must take the kids to the Daintree."

It's something that we've said time and time again. We moved to Cairns in 2006, and in all those years, we never made it to the Daintree River, only two hours north of Cairns. Will and I visited the area in 2002 before we started our family, but never had we ventured that far north since then.

I suppose the thought of a four-hour return trip with kids whingeing in our ears just didn't appeal. Now that the boys are older though, there really was no excuse. It had been on my mind more and more lately. I was just looking for the next opportunity to present itself, and I would jump on it.

That opportunity came in the form of a tax return with the bills for this month already paid and a little left over for some fun - a rare occurrence indeed.

The boys were very excited when they heard about our last minute plans to see the crocodiles in their natural habitat. I booked our stay at the Daintree Riverview Lodges & Van Park. A not-unreasonable $110 per couple with $20 extra for each child. We received a discount, because the room with the bunks that we requested was not available so we opted for a mattress on the floor instead of changing the booking to another weekend. 

On the Saturday, we took our time packing and didn't even get on the road until after 10:30 am. There was no need to rush, because we couldn't check in until 2 pm anyway. 

We stopped in Port Douglas for a 'light lunch' at The Tin Shed. Someone was pleased when we said he no longer had to order from the children's menu. The restaurant staff all but applauded him as he left the restaurant, because they thought there was no way he was going to eat all that. He may or may not have had a small amount of help from his younger brother, but he did eat most of it himself.

A rib feast
Graduating from the children's menu with gusto!

Back on the road a little while later, I realised that I forgot the printout of the booking details for the accommodation. All I could remember was that it was the Daintree Riverview and it was on Stewart. As we approached Daintree Village, I saw a sign that said Stewart Creek Road, so we turned left before we entered the village.

One lesson that Will should have learned in our 22 years together is to never let me navigate. I have a terrible sense of direction, and I'll send him on a wild goose chase every time. This time was no different. After more than half an hour of driving on a dirt road, avoiding pot holes and cattle, thinking that they should have mentioned the rough access on the website, we stopped at a private holiday lodge to ask for directions. Turns out it was 9 km back the way we came. The van park was located two doors further on from where I told Will to take that left turn.

We finally arrived at the Daintree Riverview and our hosts Peter and Sally introduced themselves (beware Peter's firm-bordering-on-bone-crushing handshake) and showed us our room. It was small and clean, but the real reason that I chose this accommodation was the magnificent view that was to be had from the verandah.

View of the Daintree River at sunset
View from the verandah at the Daintree Riverview Lodges & Van Park

We explored the surroundings and booked our boat trip for 11 am the next day. We whiled away the time playing pool and our favourite dice game at the hotel across the road; it was more like a restaurant than a pub, and time passed quickly.

I rushed back to the riverside to get some photos of the sunset, which proved difficult with two energetic boys throwing stones in the river right were I was trying to capture the serenity. I did manage to get this one though.

Sunset View of the Daintree
Sunset View of the Daintree River

Later, we enjoyed a tasty roast dinner at the hotel before returning to the lodge's common area and settling in for games of Charades and Celebrity Heads. Will and I retired earlier than we might normally have, but didn't mind as it had been a full day and we were exhausted.

The next morning, I got up just before sunrise and sat quietly on the verandah listening to the morning sounds. The boys were stirring and I didn't want them waking the other guests (the drawback of that lovely verandah was that it was wood, and the layout of the rooms meant that all noise was amplified - kids' noise even more so), so I took them out for a walk. 

I had hoped that I would be able to spot some different wildlife than what we were used to, similar to what I exerienced when we visited Chillagoe in December, but alas it was the same old Kookaburras, Rainbow Lorikeets and Torres Strait pigeons. I did manage to take a couple of good shots anyway.

Morning Mist in the Daintree
Morning Mist


After I prepared a simple Father's Day breakfast of fried egg and bacon sandwiches, it was time to check out of our room and board the Crocodile Express. This is a reasonably priced tour at $60 for our family of four - much better than the $190 one of the other tour operators was asking.

The Crocodile Express III
About to board the Crocodile Express III

Once we were underway, our tour guide told us that we would be lucky to see a croc that day, as the weather was warming up, and it meant that the crocs would soon have no need to sun themselves on the banks of the river. The water would be warm enough for them to stay submerged full-time.

Luck was with us and we managed to spot three crocodiles - a male and two females. Barratt was a 3.5 m croc, which is not as big as they come, and he was named after the creek that they think he came from. 

Barratt - a 3.5 m crocodile

Rusty was so named because of the rusty tinge to her scales. Rusty also had an injury on her hind leg that was healing nicely. 
Rusty - a female crocodile

Archie, another female but named after Archie's creek, didn't smile for the camera like the others, but we could make her out hiding in the low-hanging boughs of the trees.

Archie - a female crocodile hidden by the trees

Our tour operator very skillfully spotted a common tree snake. My photo is grainy, but considering how much it was obscured, I was fortunate to get a shot at all.

Common Tree Snake
Common Tree Snake

After our boat tour was over, we made our way slowly back to Cairns.

It was after noon so we picked up some fish and chips at the servo in Mossman and devoured our greasy but delicious lunch at Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. The boys had a swim, and we finished it all off with double scoops at Wicked Ice Cream on Macrossan Street.

The car ride back was a quiet one, as I think everyone was exhausted by the day's happenings. When we got home, the dogs were ecstatic to see us, and we were content and happy after a full and spontaneous weekend. 

We can finally stop saying "We really must take the kids to the Daintree." - at least for a little while.
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