So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.

Hi fellow dagsters.
You're probably thinking, where the hell have you been, Kim?

Well, nowhere really! Life got a bit busy and blogging took a backseat. A very, far backseat.

But the truth is, I've been feeling uninspired to blog for a while, mainly due to the feeling I feel like my blog has run its course. A Dag's Life was my first ever blog and I've learnt so much from starting it and met some beautiful fellow bloggers along the way. I've been having this strong sense, I didn't like the direction of where my blog was heading. I didn't really want to blog about myself and my interests. I've had a nagging feeling about wanting to blog with a bit more purpose and direction. So I've decided to retire A Dag's Life and start a new one.

My new blog is called Project World Change. Ambitious, yeah? It's a blog about making small, everyday changes to create a better world together. Vague? Tell me about it! It's extremely bare at the moment; all there is, is an About page and a Contact page! But the About page outlines why I created it and hopefully will encourage you to migrate to my new blog.

So from now on, you can find me blogging over at Project World Change. But to still get your dagginess fix, I will be found on Twitter at @kimmcdang. Evie will still feature there too occasionally. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll mostly tweet about her....

Anyway, that's it. And a heartfelt thanks to all of you who took the time to read my blog and took even more time out to comment here, on my Facebook page and Twitter. It was really lovely knowing someone out there was reading my words and laughing at my badly hand drawn pictures.

Hope to see you around in the blogosphere,
Kim x



Oh dear! Bond's in a spot of bother...
Bond's back!

After a long hiatus, James Bond, our favourite British spy, is officially back in very fine form indeed. Critics have been raving on about Skyfall, some even saying it's the best Bond film ever. I'm not entirely convinced they are correct – I have a soft spot for 2006's Casino Royale – but Skyfall has definitely put the Bond series back on track after the mediocre Quantum of Solace was steering the series into a Bourne franchise knock-off. Thankfully the long gap between Quantum and Skyfall has meant the producers came to their senses. Phew!

Bond (Daniel Craig) is not doing too well at the beginning of Skyfall. After a mission gone awry, he's physically and psychologically down-and-out, disappearing from active service for an overdue holiday to contemplate his life. Sadly for him, he's suddenly forced out of premature retirement and back into being a double 00 when MI6 comes brutally and very publicly under attack.

Things don't get really engaging until the appearance of Raoul Silva, played by Javier Bardem who really seems to relish playing bad guys sporting unfortunate hairstyles. To me, Silva was the highlight of the film. Out of all the more recent villians in the Bond series, there's no doubt he is the most memorable. He's intelligent, well-trained and on the verge of being completely unhinged. Previous Bond villians are all about taking over/destroying the world, gaining power/money etc etc. But what makes Silva so unsettling is that his mission is extremely personal and this makes him more ruthless and unrelenting to see it through.

Bond's boss M (Judi Dench) gets a meatier role this time round and actor Albert Finney makes a notable appearance as a character who gives us some insight into Bond's past. We get reacquainted with a familiar friend, Q (Ben Whishaw), who is now a Gen-Yer to bring the character into the 21st century. In addition to the return of Q, another shout-out to the Bond classics is the smooth theme song by Adele as the opening credits roll on. Of course, like any other Bond film, there is action galore in Skyfall but my favourite action sequence is a scaled-down, Western-styled showdown at the very end – enjoy! However, I have to say I wished the film-makers injected the occasional extra dose of humour and charm into Skyfall as I had to admit I was missing Bond's smart aleck, trademark remarks as things seemed to be awfully bleak all the time.

Regardless, Bond is definitely back. And with Skyfall setting the series thankfully back on course, bring on Bond 24.

Skyfall gets 3.5 choc tops out of 5.



You Are Worth Fighting For

Hoi ya!

When I was a wee little lass, I wanted to grow up to be a ninja. Whilst other girls dreamed of being ballerinas or princesses, I wanted to learn how to karate chop people in the neck. Not sure if it was my Asian genes that influenced my future aspirations, but all I knew for sure was as I got older, I was totally into the idea of being a kick-ass chick that could eliminate vampires à la Buffy...

Despite my dreams of round-house kicking bad guys in the head, I only dabbled in a bit of karate as a young teen. It was just for fun, nothing serious. Until a few years ago, my friend was attacked on a train station one afternoon. The most tragic part was there were other people around but no one offered any assistance. This incident really hit home to me one powerful message: the only person who you can rely on to defend you is YOU.

For the last few years, I've been doing Krav Maga. If you haven't heard of it, it's a fighting system designed to be used in real-life situations. A perfect form of self defence for teeny, weak girls like me. I'm no Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My default setting is most likely to run away with my arms flailing and screaming like a banshee. But I hope if push comes to shove, I might have an improved chance of fighting off an attacker if I'm ever unfortunate enough to be in such an unsavoury situation.

My request to all you lovely ladies out there is to consider doing a short self-defence course. I'm not saying you need to become paranoid about suddenly being pounced on when you are out and about. No, I'm just asking you to consider being prepared just in case something bad happens. The chances of being a victim are probably pretty slim but it could be a simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Shit happens. And it COULD happen to you. Let's think of self defence like first aid training. You hope you never have to use it, but if the time occurs you have to, you'll be ready.

Damn straight, you should!

Finally, I'm asking you beautiful gals reading this to give yourselves permission to protect yourselves. Because you are important. It is not ok for someone to attack you. Ever. And if someone tries, they're going to get the biggest shock when you knee them in the groin. You have every right to defend yourself if anyone is ever stupid enough to try to physically hurt you.

So, please go forth and learn how to kick some bad-guy ass.

Taking part in my very first blog hop. Hoppity hop!


Earning Her Keep

A few weeks ago, I stopped into the local pet store to buy chicken necks for Evie (yum yum...) I noticed, whilst handing over my hard-earned cash, a picture of a wide-eyed beagle looking at me. It was the winner of the 'Pet of the Month' competition. Being the judgmental fur-mum that I am, I felt this dog was reasonable. Not super cute. Evie would run circles around this dog in terms of cuteness. I thought, 'What the hell? Why not enter Evie in?? You never know.' I emailed one of my more recent iPhone snaps of her to the pet store and didn't think of the matter again..... until today!

Lo and behold, I received an email from the pet store informing me Evie was selected as the Pet of the Month (October) and she had won a whopping $20 voucher. Boo yeah!!!

The winning photo.

This pic captured Evie after an extremely long walk we did together. Long walks are pretty rare for us McDangsters as we are a lazy bunch. Evie was so damn tired, she couldn't even muster the strength to go into her usual "ball-form" which she does in the cooler months when this pic was taken.

Now, what to do with the voucher? More chicken necks? A fluffy new toy to sink her teeth into? A pair of miniature antlers to prepare for the fast-approaching Christmas?!?

Too bad it wasn't credit towards her evergrowing vet bills. Oh well, at least it's a start.

Has your pet ever won anything? And do you ever dream your pet will be the next Miranda Kerr of the animal world and make squillions??


DAG VS. FOOD: IKEA Restaurant and Cafe, Richmond

Swedish Food by the Furniture Makers.

I'm going to be perfectly honest. I love IKEA. I love their designs. I wish my home looked like the ones in the IKEA catalogues. But I'm not blinded by love. I know despite IKEA's furniture ticking the right boxes in terms of looks and prices, the quality is something to be desired. And the same can be said about the food. Yet, it still doesn't stop me from eating at the IKEA Restaurant and Cafe every time I visit.

First of all, the Swedish must be a grandiose bunch. I noticed on the IKEA website, they refer to their eatery as the IKEA Restaurant and Cafe. Restaurant and Cafe. I couldn't help but literally laughed out loud. It's really more of a canteen. There's definitely no waiters to deliver food to your table and you will be clearing your own table when you're done.

Why eat there, you ask? Because it's cheap. You're not going to pay more than $15 for a meal. Just line up and some dude in a chef's outfit will slap some food onto a plate so quickly, you'll be back to wandering aimlessly through the showroom maze before you can say, 'Allen Key'.

Every time I visit, the only meal I go for is the Swedish meatballs. I love them. They come covered with a cream sauce and a little splash of cranberry jam on the side. I usually get them with mashed potatoes but a certain someone (Hubby Greg) insisted I have chips because his dish didn't come with any. He proceeded to steal half of mine- bastard!

Swedish meatballs

This was a “medium” serve of meatballs. Yikes! I can imagine the large serve comes with a Mt Everest of meatballs.

Greg decided to try one of the newest additions to the menu: a pork cutlet with apple sauce, broccoli and potato medallion plus veggies. There was a disturbing issue with the accompanying veggies. Despite the picture on the menu failing to display any signs of this supposedly evil veggie, when Greg's dish was presented to him, half of it was peas. Peas! Yes, Greg's evil nemesis. Not to fear, he just traded his peas in for my chips- I think we all know who got the raw end of that deal. Anyway, Greg's opinion of his meal? 'Meh.' He's a man of few words. Today's lesson: Stick with the meatballs. 

Peas! Agh!

We don't usually do dessert when we visit IKEA but for the purpose of this edition of Dag Vs. Food, I felt it was my blogger duty to sample some of the desserts.

We tried the almond cake. Not bad, not bad. Don't expect a mind-blowing dessert but it's simple and not-to-sweet.

Almond cake

We also picked this chocolate block-thing. For the life of me, I can't remember what it was called. We'll just call it Choc-block. Choc-block wasn't as chocolatey as I thought it would be. It was actually overpowered with cinnamon. If you love cinnamon, you'll like it. I don't mind a sprinkle of cinnamon but I found this amount a bit much. I think I'll borrow Greg's words to describe it: 'Meh.'

The 'Meh' Choc-block

Did I mention you get free refills if you get a drink? Free refills. There are machines that dispense the drinks. Now that's an invitation for tight-arse people like me to use and abuse!

Refill, anyone?

If you pop by in the morning, Ikea has a super cheap brekkie range. Sorry, I didn't get pics from a previous visit; you'll just have to use your imagination. The basic hot brekkie dish with scrambled eggs, tomato, bacon, hash browns and a sausage was all for $2.95. By god, that's cheap!

All in all, cheap but acceptable canteen food. But the fact it's in IKEA means it's all good! Only the Swedes can get away with this....

IKEA Richmond
Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre
630 Victoria Street
(cnr Victoria Street & Burnley Street)
Richmond, VIC 3121

IKEA Restaurant & Cafe on Urbanspoon

By the way , if you're wondering what we bought, we did not go home with any furniture. Instead, we purchased the coolest set of wall decals inspired by Space Invaders. Greg got his designer-mojo on and created this :)

Wall decals Space Invaders-style!


V is for Versatile

Little over a month ago, Camille from A Little Bit of Everything nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Feeling very honoured to receive this award from a fellow newbie blogger. Please check out Camille's blog- it's one of those blogs that radiates sweetness :)

For recipients of the Versatile Blogger award- congrats! Here are some rules you are encouraged to follow:
  • Thank the person who gave you this award.
  • Link back to their blog.
  • Select 15 special blogs you've recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

I love these awards. It's a great chance to plug a brand new bunch of bloggy reads for everyone. This time I've picked a mixture of well-established blogs running for yonks to shiny new ones just starting out. I usually do a blurb for nominated blogs but there's fifteen of them this time. Fifteen! So, no blurbs. Instead, it'll just be a pleasant surprise when you click on the nominated blogs.

Betty the Bichon
Silly Nate: The Art of Nathan Boyd
Wave At The Bus
Hyperbole and a Half
Thrifted Shift
Pretty Fluffy
Gavin Rothery Blog
Things We Forget
Pork Chop's Nest
Nerdling in a Cage
The Pistachio Tree
Popcorn Junkie
Herbert and Friends
Food Chee

Finally, 7 (more) random facts about myself. I emphasize they are random.
  1. I don't watch some horror and action films because I'm squeamish. Super squeamish.
  2. I'm always hungry. I'm even hungry after I've eaten a meal.
  3. If I didn't have a fast metabolism, I would be the size of a humpback whale.
  4. I once did a NIDA acting course where I discovered laughing through dramatic scenes is not appropriate.
  5. I also learnt during my acting course, I am incapable of memorising more than 3 lines.
  6. I'm learning to play the ukulele. Why? Because it's effing cool.
  7. I have never been on a hot air balloon.
Happy reading, dagsters!!


Home, Daggy Home

I love the idea of being a home owner. Not so much being in hundreds and thousands in debt- that part sucks. But what I love is the idea of having a place that is truly your own and you can shape and mould it in whatever way you chose. Owning a home is a distant goal for Hubby Greg and I at the moment. We're not quite at the stage of taking the plunge into home ownership.

Instead, we rent a little humble unit. It has some quirks e.g. the unit is on a tilt so there are certain places you can't place a bookshelf without it falling on you but at the end of the day, it's a solid roof over our heads. For a long time, I treated our rental like a transitional space i.e. I didn't really put much effort in making it into a 'home'. But I decided this year to dedicate some time and energy to making our rental feel like ours. After scouring the new Ikea catalogue – receiving the catalogue in my mail box is one of the highlights of my year, no kidding – and spending Friday nights watching The Living Room, I was inspired to take action in whatever way I could.

We have a lot of plain walls in our home. I often justified this by using the excuse we couldn't nail into the walls. But no more excuses! On a recent trip to Singapore, we discovered a store selling adorable prints. We loved them so much, we brought two home with us.

Hoot hoot!

Ok, don't laugh at our taste in artwork! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Of course if it's a dag's eye, the beauty is more questionable. Though you have to admit owls are totally "in". And thank you, Daiso (my favourite Japanese discount store) for giving us $2.80 frames to stick our prints in. I may want to beautify my home but I wanted to do it on the cheap!

Our backyard is something to be desired. It's really a long patch of grass with the occasional gift from Evie. The freshness and sunny days of Spring recently hit and suddenly I had the urge to develop a green thumb. A quick trip to Bunnings and I came home with a variety of herbs and plants. I arranged my new leafy green additions into their pots on our outdoor table we never use.

My mini-garden :)

I really hope I can keep them alive. My bay leaf plant isn't looking too flash. No leaves means it's a possible goner :(

Years ago, my Dad was kind enough to donate a kitchen table and chairs set when Greg and I first moved in together. Over the years, the seat cushions have turned manky with stains and it reached a point I was embarrassed to have guests sit on them. (Yes, I could have cleaned them but that would have been way too easy...)

Manky Chair

Upon our return from a visit to Spotlight, we reupholstered the seat cushions with some funky new fabric.

Good as new!

Yes, our seat cushions are now covered with babushka dolls and flowers. Greg picked the fabric as he oddly has a natural knack for picking eye-catching colours and patterns. (However, his other choices were penguin pirates and fluorescent owls and I had to draw the line somewhere...)

There you go! Here's some ideas you may be able to use to transform your dwelling into a home, whether you rent or own. These are for those of you trying to achieve the hipster, eclectic look. (Translation: Throwing together random items where nothing matches and making it look like you did it on purpose....).

What simple tricks have you used to improve the look of your home?
And where do you get your inspiration and ideas for home beautification??

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