Summer is for festivals

I read two wordFlying pigs today that made my heart stop.

Bacon. Festival.

Bacon festival!!!

Yes, I know bacon stopped trending and, yes, I know it is no longer the cover child of foodie fascists fashionistas. But it’s just so darn tasty! Bacon is a flavour that pervades even the ficklest heart and has made all manners of breakfast (and other mealtime) foods infinitely better.

From the 9th of February 2015, Cuckoo Callay at Newtown will be upping the bacon ante with amazing dishes like ‘What a Croque of Bacon’ (bacon, basil and vintage cheddar croquettes served with bourbon bacon, pea puree and two poached eggs) and ‘Ya Bacon Me Crazy’ (buttermilk waffles with house-made bacon, caramel and cinnamon ice cream, Black Forest Smokehouse maple bacon, maple syrup and chocolate coated bourbon bacon). They even have bacon drinks!

Best of all, the bacon is from Black Forest Smokehouse, which means that Australian farmers get a cut of this sweet deal.

Lard, have mercy on my soul!

menu

Note: Ant does not work for CC and does not get anything for this write-up but how can one resist such an amazing place which even features a little doggie menu? #hearts

Cuckoo Callay

Newtown Train Station, 324a King Street, Newtown, New South Wales 2042
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 7006
Monday – Wednesday: 6:00 am – 4:00 pm
Thursday – Friday: 6:00 am – 9:30 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am – 9:30 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Blackbird Café, Sydney

Bob, Owl and I went to Blackbird café at Cockle Bay Wharf for dinner after visiting the Aquarium. We just wanted something quick and simple so we could run along home to do ZA/ZG (which, by the way, is very frustrating). Bob ordered the Portuguese Chicken Burger ($21.90), Owl the Lamb Kofta Burger ($22.90), and I the Roasted Lamb Cutlets ($35.90).

The large burgers were tasty and I am happy to report that the thick chips were freshly cooked and, hence, were deliciously crunchy as supposed to dismally soggy. Bob tried to share her chips with me but lifting the cup from the board only served to scatter the chips on the table since it didn’t have a bottom – sharers be warned! I was rather pleased that my cutlets were very lean and that it was so generously apportioned. It started off well but eventually became a little too salty for my liking so I had to eat some of Bob’s burger after to try to neutralise the saltiness whilst Owl very kindly ate my last cutlet. The only major downside to this dish is that the cutlets were quite tough and did not fall off the bone well despite promises of it being roasted as supposed to pan-fried. Nonetheless, it sufficiently satisfied my lamb craving.

We fought our way to the counter and paid for our meal, for-going dessert as I had a box of pastries from Black Star Pastry sitting at home. Service was prompt yet bordered on the condescending as the restaurant seemed to have lifted its status a few notches since the last time I visited (2007). I suppose we were too casually dressed for a Saturday night out. All in all it was a nice experience if a little overpriced. No pictures since it rather makes me cringe, not being a fully dedicated food blogger. You’ll just have to imagine the yummy food 😉

Blackbird Café
Balcony level of Cockle Bay Wharf between the IMAX Theatre and Sydney Aquarium
02 9283 7385

Ear piercing experience

I (Owl) finally pierced my ears late last year, yes generally a non-event for most. I had debated and procrastinated for the better part of 20 years. After much research I decided I would do this properly and with the needle method (not gun). There were several reasons for this, mostly pertaining to hygiene and wanting the least risk free path to piercedom. I’ll link the sites I found particularly useful at the bottom of this post and if you need a visual reason not to pierce by gun, just look up “ear piercing” on YouTube!

I decided to find a proper piercer to do the job, even though the price difference was about $35 (with piercing gun) versus $80 (with needles). I looked up piercers on Google and have to say there weren’t an abundant number of options. Since I’m based in the Inner West (Sydney) it made sense that Newtown would be a good place to try. There are a few piercers along King St and Enmore St – I initially tried to make a booking at Urban Steel in Broadway, but they never seemed to answer the phone. After trying Polymorph to no avail, I eventually got through to Industrial Strength. So I made a booking for the next day (before I could renege on my decision).

Industrial Strength open fairly late and my appointment was on a Thursday night – this is great if you work and don’t have time during the day. I brought Ant with me, because I wanted to have some reassurance and also someone to share the moment. They had a flyer offering discounts if you printed and presented – and as embarrassed as I was to do so, I figured some percentage off was better than none. All up two piercings and supplied titanium rings cost me $75.

The actual piercing themselves were not that painful, my piercer told me it was less painful than stubbing your toe – he was right. It tugs and hurts a little, but on the whole once the anesthetic goes on you really don’t feel too much. I must admit I was both scared and a little intimidated going into the shop. It was a bit of a different demographic to one I would probably fit in general. Overall, they were pretty professional, reasonably friendly (though the piercer was a little snappy at Ant for suggesting the holes might be slightly misaligned).

One month on and my ears were fine, they did not have any trouble with infections or much pain. I was quite paranoid originally at keeping them clean and doing salt soaks. I tried to get something to clean them and the pharmacy suggested using special “ear piercing solution” but I wasn’t too keen on that as I had heard they sometimes cause more problems to the piercing, so I went with saline solution (originally meant for contacts/eye wash) this worked okay for me. The solution didn’t aggravate my piercings and though some people mentioned they would not be good since they for your eyes and have other chemicals, Ant and I figured if it was gentle enough to be eye wash it’d probably be okay to clean ears. I also ended up buying non-iodinised rock salt and mixing 1/4 tsp with warm water and using cotton pads to wipe them down twice a day.

After about the two or three week mark I started to get a bit lazy and ended up just using Palmolive Softwash which I lather up and rinse my ears with at night and then dry with tissues (cleaner than towel). I was able to sleep on my ears again about two weeks after they were pierced. The piercer recommended I don’t touch them and don’t remove the original earrings until 12 weeks have passed – I see the logic in this as it means dirty fingers don’t transfer bacteria to open wounds and though keeping the earrings in for three months seems long – in the long run my piercings are meant to last a lifetime and leaving them alone is a small price to pay for the benefit of having healthy ears that will not be infected. Everyone I know who has pierced their ears with guns, have had some infection or trouble – don’t use guns!

Three months on for Christmas 2010 I was finally able to change my earrings after waiting for three months for my ears to heal, I was glad I waited! A little patience paid off in having ears which were well healed and able to handle the earring changes for the holidays. I did have a little bleeding in one ear and on the other it was a little irritated, but this all cleared up within a week and I’ve been able to change and take out my earrings without any problems. I did make the mistake of trying to sleep the first night I changed them without any earrings in at all and the next day it hurt a lot putting some back in, but I was told – you just gotta push through the pain! So I probably won’t sleep without any earrings in again for a long time. It was also amusing how you’re not used to taking the earrings in and out at first, but you quickly learn.

In summary

  • Ear piercing is really not that bad!
  • Go to a proper piercer – it costs more upfront but much less in the long term due to complications
    (Piercing your ears with a needle reduces trauma, infection and you have someone experienced doing it. If you don’t touch your ears and have basic hygiene, it’s really not much trouble at all to do and upkeep.)
  • Keep your earrings in for as close to 3 months as you can to give your body a good amount of time to really heal. It’s a little wait for a lifetime of less drama!
  • Don’t take your earrings out without putting anything else in because they start to close again and build up blockages in the holes and breaking these when reinserting earrings hurts.

Useful reference sites

http://bodypiercingaftercare.net/aftercare-tips.htm

http://www.pierceoff.com.au/PiercingAftercare.aspx

http://www.body-piercing.com.au/body_piercing_guide.htm

http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/body-piercing.html

/~Owl~\

Adopting a cat – Cat Protection Society, Newtown

So you’re thinking of getting a cat?

Ant and I have always wanted a cat and after settling into our new apartment we decided it was time to find a feline friend to share our new home. The following is a summary of our experiences adopting a cat in January 2010, the costs involved and what to expect when you finally open your home to a new friend.

If you don’t want to read everything just skim through the headings to the parts that interest you.

Rundown of the actual day adoption day

We went to visit the Cat Protection Society in Newtown (Sydney); they have a variety of kitten, teenage and older cats, as well as cats with special needs who are looking for new homes. Initially our visit was to have a look and a play with the cats looking for homes just to see if we were really serious and to see if I was allergic to the cats. We weren’t completely convinced a cat was for us at this point in time, but we were really open to the right candidate.

It was our second visit and we were surprised the cat we liked on our initial visit had already found a home so quickly (a week between visits). We played with a few potential cats that we thought might suit us, but none of them  jumped out at us in our interactions, after a thirty minute play we were resigned to coming back again some other time. As we were leaving, a dark tortoiseshell crossed our path just before the door, I hadn’t realised I had seen this cat’s name and tag on the cages, but dismissed it as being male and unsuitable. To our surprise she was a female with an ambigious name and around the age we wanted. At this time though Owl seemed more worried about the flaring allergies rather than looking at any other potential cats, but something told us to give this lanky meerkat-esque-cat a better look.

At 1 year and 3 months old she was just the right age for us. Getting a kitten would have meant a lot more time than we could give, as well as lots of training and kitten mishaps that we didn’t have time to resolve due to our daily schedules.

Instead, an older cat meant we had a better idea of its temperament and that it was thoroughly toilet trained. It also meant more space could be made for the rescue of other older cats, which can often be a much slower process than the kittens.

We very spontaneously decided on her there and then and since the decision was so hasty, we also decided not to take her home that day because we hadn’t set anything up to accommodate a cat. So we arranged to board her for a few extra nights with the CPS (this can be done provided there is space in the cattery for $10 a night). After filling in all the paperwork for adoption, we decided to buy a cat starter pack from them to get us off and running, this is discussed in the next segment.

Why you should consider the Cat Protection Society?

Not only were the staff very well informed and friendly, the CPS also have great starter packages to get you started and loads of information about cats – these can be found on their website.  There are two starter packs available, one for kittens the other for cats. They give you everything you need to get going, these include:

  • 1 x Science Diet Tin
  • 1 x Science Diet Sachet
  • Stoneware Bowl
  • Plastic Double Bowl
  • Hooded Litter Tray
  • Small Cat Toy (hard ball with bell)
  • Kitty Blanket
  • Portable Scratch Post
  • Cat Bed (of your choice)
  • Catnip Sack
  • Fresh Magic Crystal Litter 1.8kg
  • Carry Cage and CPS Membership for 1 year

We found the carry cage, hooded litter tray and crystal litter probably the three best things in the package; our cat prefers to drink out of a glass cup and doesn’t use the stoneware bowl all that much. She doesn’t seem to mind eating the same Science Diet Tin food, which is specifically for indoor cats (reduces odours/calories consumed). The free moving scratch post ending up falling on the cat the first time she used it so she gave up, we ended up buying her a tall scratch post with platform and she loves it. Our cat also prefers smaller softer toy balls, so the one with the bell doesn’t get used much.

What to consider when adopting…

Cats are a financial and social responsibility and will take a fair amount of maintenance, they are a lifetime consideration and can live up to 20 years with costs involving time, money and care. They will require ongoing vaccinations and checkups as well as constant food and litter. We read that in the first year of owning a cat the costs can easily be in the $1000 mark with each subsequent year costing around $800 to maintain. That means over the lifetime of a cat you could be paying well in excess of $10,000 for its care and well being. This cost doesn’t include any accidents or emergencies that might arise, which can be significant if the cat is allowed outside. Cats also require lots of love and company so make sure to think about that and your lifestyle too.

Our cat lives in an apartment and she seems to be okay with always being indoors, despite previously living both indoors and outdoors. Sometimes she gets itchy paws and tries to make a break out the front door or balcony, so keep in mind your potential accommodation. Depending on their markings and colour, cats may need to be kept indoors all the time to avoid skin cancer.

If you are seriously thinking about a cat we definitely recommend checking out the Cat Protection Society in Newtown if it isn’t too far from you. The staff are knowledgeable and can advise you on any queries or worries you might have, as well as, match you up with a good candidate for adoption. Otherwise check your local animal welfare group/shelter/pound, as there are plenty of cats needing adoption.

If you do get a cat, make sure you desex it  (this may be a legal requirement in some areas). Desexing your cat will save unwanted kittens being born and abandoned, help break the feline overpopulation cycle and reduce health issues and also makes registering the cat cheaper with the council. It is illegal to sell or offer a cat for free without having it desexed first and there are discounted desexing options available from the CPS if money is an issue.

We hope some of this information may have been of use to you, lastly we’ll leave you with a few things that we have discovered, experienced or myth busted!

Empress Dowager

 

Things of interest to note

A few things we’ve found out from experience with our cat –

  • You can put a harness on a cat and let it out on the balcony if you don’t have a secure area;
  • Good quality food is worthwhile buying as this will save problems down the road in the health and wellbeing;
  • Crystal litter is very easy to use, masks smells really well and only needs to be changed every six weeks or so;
  • Don’t leave any food out (even momentarily), cats are really quick and cheeky;
  • Don’t forget to register the cat with your local council;
  • Tortis aren’t always naughty or mean, they can be really sweet; and
  • Owl special – Cats sometimes get a bad rep that is seemingly unwarranted! Being a dog fan prior to the cat I thought cats were arrogant and aloof, but I was wrong or maybe we just got a “cog” (catdog).

Feel free to leave any comments, thoughts or experiences you’ve had on adopting a cat. If I’ve left anything out, please also feel free to add suggestions!

/~OwL~\