Wednesday, April 29, 2015

How I survive the longest flight ever...

Folks, I live far, faraway from Texas.  There may be corners of this Earth that are farther but not many.  When I fly from Australia to Texas, I fly Qantas.  Oh, I've tried Virgin and United...but I prefer Qantas, no doubt, no question, the end.  Currently, Qantas is the only airline that offers direct non-stop flights from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth (SYD to DFW) and return.  Here's what wikipedia (because we all know the valuable source of information that is) says about these flights:
Qantas Flight 7 (QF7/QFA7) and Qantas Flight 8 (QF8/QFA8) are flights operated by Australian airline Qantas between Sydney Airport and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. They are currently the longest regularly scheduled non-stop commercial flights in the world as measured by distance—13,804 kilometres (8,577 mi; 7,454 nmi), which is over one third of the distance around EarthBoth flights are operated with Airbus A380 aircraft.
Photo source
This flight wasn't always available.  I used to fly SYD to LAX (or SFO) to Houston or Dallas.  I was overjoyed when they announced this added flight option to their schedules.

I get on an airplane in Sydney, and I land in Texas.  No connections.  No going through customs at LAX (the worst!) or SFO, then rechecking my bags.  No missing a connecting flight because the original one was delayed.  No added travel time sitting in LAX or SFO waiting for a connecting flight that may or may not be delayed, overbooked, or cancelled.

I get on a plane in Sydney during the day, get off the plane at DFW during the day...the calendar date is the same.  It's really like I traveled through some loophole to get to somewhere else in the world at the same time & date.  Tricking my mind to believe this helps with jetlag.  So does being excited for my first Tex Mex meal and to see my loved ones waiting to hug me.

Going back, I get on a plane in DFW at night; I arrive in Sydney in the morning.  If I sleep, it's like I went to sleep and lost a day.  Because I lose a calendar day going back.  I pretend that day didn't happen and trick my mind that I'm waking up the next day after going to sleep at night.  Just like normal, right?

I'm on a plane in the air for 15 hours and 35 minutes going to Texas, and 16 hours and 50 minutes return.  That's right almost 17 hours in a metal tube flying over the Pacific Ocean.  And, you know what?  I'm totally okay with that.

Have I confused you enough?

 How do I survive this lengthy flight?

I'm not an anxious flyer.  I don't hyperventilate.  My heart doesn't race.  Even though I regularly experience motion sickness in a car, I'm totally fine in an airplane.  This helps with the 15 - 17 hour fly time. 

I sleep.  I sleep in planes, cars, trains, pretty much anything with the hum of a motor, and I can fall asleep.  A lot of people have trouble with this.  Not me.  I'm a sleeper.  I may even drool or snore.  Yep, I'm that person that may show up on someone's social media trying to shame me.  They were a passenger next to me snapping funny photos while I was snoozing.

Comfort is key.  I dress comfortably.  I don't dress like a slob, but I dress to be comfortable.  There are people on this flight who I suspect wear their pajama pants.  I don't go that far.  Well, I kinda do...because I'll wear legging sometimes, and sometimes I sleep in leggings, so.......

Also, changing hemispheres and changing seasons, I keep in mind dressing for both sets of weather.  Most of the time, Sydney and Texas are both pretty darn mild, so that makes it a little easier for me as well.

I prefer wearing a super soft and comfortable maxi dress plus a hoodie.  I may be cold.  I find hoodies comfortable.  Or if I am warm, I can take off the hoodie...but I like having a hoodie.  Maxi dresses, I can wear and they cover my legs, but I can curl my legs up like a pretzel too, if I find this comfortable at sometime during the flight.  I wear comfortable shoes.  My feet swell.  Many people's do.  So, I don't wear tight shoes.  I made that mistake once.  Only once.  If I wear sandals or flip-flops, I take comfy socks.  I put on my comfy socks for the duration of the flight.  When I get up and walk around, I don't mind walking in my socks.  I don't want to take my shoes on and off.

If you're a drinker, Qantas gives free booze on international flights.  Last time I was on Virgin (a few years ago), you only got one free drink with your meal.  They charged for the rest.  Booze sometimes help with sleep and relaxation.  But, I don't drink too much booze because it's a looooong flight.  

Instead of boozin', I prefer movie-watchin' (on planes). Qantas inflight entertainment system is the bomb.  For international flights, there's over 100 different movies to choose from (last flight, I watched If I Stay and Boyhood; Neil watched an Expendables and Pulp Fiction).  You can start them at any time, pause, rewind, you're in control.  There's probably even more television shows to watch.  One time, I watched an entire series of Modern Family.  I'm sure the person sitting next to me thought I was a weirdo with all my spontaneous laughter.

There's a lot of music channels too, and you can program your own playlist.  But, let's be serious.  You know I go prepared with my own flight friendly playlist on my ipod.  I load up a playlist of relaxing songs...ones that I really like to keep me feeling positive.  When I want to sleep, this is when the inflight entertainment option of creating my own playlist comes in handy.  I prepare a playlist that I can sleep through without using my ipod battery.  Although, they having charging stations now...I'm pretty sure. 

I'm not a talker on flights.  Normally, I don't mind talking to strangers and hearing random stories about other people's lives.  On a flight, I'm different.  I want to be in my little world with little to no interruptions.  Headphones while watching a movie or listening to music is good for this.  For some reason, I find if I'm reading a book, the passenger next to me feels that it is acceptable to talk to me.

Books...I still bring reading material, even if I don't use it...because...well...I love books.  I prefer fast-paced suspense thrillers and easy to read YA books instead of more thought-provoking historical fictions while on a long flight.  Plus, I want a smaller book (not a big bulky one) because I still read books.  Those things you hold in your hand and turn physical pages.  Not ereaders. 

Snacks are important.  Sure, Qantas feeds you two meals plus snacks on this flight.  I'm not a fan of the flight food.  I come prepared with my own snacks.  Plus, I have a big water bottle because staying hydrated for this length of flight is important.  But not too big of a bottle, because you don't want to have to get up and down to go to the toilet too often.

Speaking of toilets...when I fly the A380, I prefer to pre-book my seats upstairs.  Most of the upstairs is for business and premium classes, but there's a back portion for peasants like me.  Not many of us peasants are seated upstairs, so not as many people trying to use the same handful of toilets.

I bring with me a small travel kit with a toothbrush & toothpaste, a scented lotion (so I don't stank when I arrive), deoderant (for the same reason), lip balms, and hair ties.  If I have this, then I'm usually set for feeling slightly refreshed before landing.

Can you think of any of tricks or pieces of advice for long haul air travel?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Reading...Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King...I don't read a lot of Stephen King, but this one received a lot of great reviews and is more suspense/thriller and less paranormal. 

Listening...right this very second as I type this, The World in My Eyes by Depeche Mode.  Twenty-plus years old and still a fantastic song.

Thinking...that I need to do my guest post for jenn's blog.  She is celebrating her 10 year blogiversary.  She needs more to guest blog AND you can win prizes too.  So, check that out...

Wishing...that finding a place to live in Sydney that suits our needs wasn't such a pain in my backside. catch up with some girlfriends of mine tonight.  It's been too long seeing these lovely faces.

Wearing...a maroon scarf with white stars that my dad and stepmom got me the last time I was in Texas.

Loving...the fact that I sold a black diamond ring today.  I love selling jewellery.  People are (most often) giving jewellery with a sentiment of happiness, appreciation, and love.  It beats selling a truckload of roofing materials.  (I know this from experience.)

Feeling...anxious.  Lots going on at the moment, and I'm about to leave for a month.  I'm super excited about seeing loved ones in Texas, but it's really difficult to leave my life for a month (especially my guy and my fur babies). have a day set aside where I do nothing but listen to new music.  I have a feeling that 17 hour plane ride will have some time allotted for new music listening. embarrassing as this is to admit, I have about 20 episodes of Dance Moms recorded.  I'm trying to watch them to catch up.  I don't watch much tv anymore.  Why do I choose this ridiculous form of entertainment to watch? 

What are you currently doing?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots vol.22

It was raining so hard earlier in the week, the rain looked like lasers. 

With the rain came cooler weather, Neil gave the girls an old carpet to sleep on (since they've torn up every other bed, blanket, and pillow they've already been given.)

My Aggie Muster photo got shared on Facebook with other musters around the world from Taiwan, Angola, India, Italy, and more. 

I like this line from the book I read this week: "Who among us is not stained by the past?".

Our laptop was almost slammed into the wall....

What happened to that carpet?  The destructive duo strikes again. 

Went and saw The Avengers; Captain America came home with us. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


A little "about me":  I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Texas A&M University.  I grew up an Aggie and was pretty sure I didn't have much of an option going to just any university (not that I'd want to).  My dad was an Aggie graduate, and we learned about the traditions and culture of Texas A&M throughout my life.  Some of my earliest memories with my dad include going to various Texas A&M events.  As a season ticket holder, many Saturdays of my childhood were spent at Kyle Field.  My dad admits that he got "a little emotional" when my niece (his oldest granddaughter) was accepted to Texas A&M, and she starts next year.  She will carry on the family tradition as a third generation Aggie.  Texas A&M is a very special place.  Yes, I'm biased.

One very special tradition for all former Aggies is Muster.  Held April 21st in over 300 locations around the world, Muster is a time for all former students of Texas A&M University to reflect on their time spent during their college years, what the Aggie community means to them, and a time to pay respects to Aggies that have past away during the previous year.  The Aggie Muster website states:
Muster is a time to look to the past, present, and future…not only to grieve but to reflect and to celebrate the lives that connect us to one another. A gesture so simple in nature yet so lasting in spirit, Muster is the lasting impression every Aggie leaves with us; it reminds us of the greatness that lies within these walls, of the loyalty we possess, of the connection that binds us, and of the idea that every Aggie has a place of importance – whether they are present in flesh or spirit.
Photo source
There are a few Aggies in the Sydney area with a committed group leader.  She organizes events such as a viewing party for an Aggie Football game and Thanksgiving, as well as Muster.  As the old saying goes, the Aggies within 100 miles of each other gather to honor this tradition.  I was online checking out Sydney nasty weather reports - rain, high winds, and cool temps - and transportation issues.  I considered not going.  Unfortunately, some couldn't; no ferries were running from Manly.  Others experienced flooding.  I got my rainboots on, my Aggie hoodie, my trusty umbrella and to The Rocks I went.

Some of us were able to brave the ugly weather and met at Pancakes in the Rocks in Sydney.  Old Ags and recent graduates gathered with some who've been in Sydney for 30 years and some who have been here three months.  Mothers, daughters, and granddaughters; husbands and wives; fathers and kids; even an Ag who brought an Indiana Hoosier work colleague... There were about 30 of us in total.
We had some drinks, ate a meal, got to know each other, and share some stories.  Yet again, I witnessed that Aggies are some of the nicest people in the world.
A small Muster ceremony was held.  We sang the War Hymn and the Spirit of Aggieland and shared readings by candlelight.  Another significant tradition during Muster is the calling of Roll Call.  

From, Roll Coll is described: 
As the names are read, a friend or family member answers 'Here', and a candle is lit to symbolize that while those Aggies are not present in body, they will forever remain with us in Aggie Spirit.

Pictures were taken to commemorate our 2015 gathering of Aggie Muster in Sydney.
We really wanted the Opera House, but the rain wouldn't give us a break, so we "settled" for the Harbour Bridge as our backdrop.

If you attended Texas A&M University, think of your fellow Aggies and time in Aggieland today.  If you didn't, the sentiment is still powerful.  Think of a community or a time in your life that you felt truly connected to a group of people - think fondly of them today.

As shared in one of the readings last night:
 A&M may change, but the Spirit never will.

Did you go to a school or university and share any traditions with others?  Tell me about them.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Randomness from me to you

I've seen this floating around.  No one "nominated" me or "awarded" me specifically, but Karen and Katrin both recently answered some questions, and I thought why not jump in the game.

 1. Where is the farthest from home you've ever traveled?
If you consider home Texas (and not where I'm currently living), the farthest I've ever been away from Texas IS where I'm currently living - Houston, Texas is 8,581 miles (13,809 km) away from Sydney, Australia.

2. Where is the next destination you'd like to visit?
I'm going back to Texas next month.  Next place after that I'd like to visit for fun? I'd like my guy and I to have a mini-holiday together somewhere in Australia that I've never been.  Maybe Port Douglas.
Photo source
3. What is your favorite movie?
So many to choose, but if I have to pick just one, I say Love Actually

Or Almost Famous
Or Grease 2
Or The Outsiders
 Or Urban Cowboy I couldn't choose.

4. What is a movie you absolutely hate?
Most things with Ben Stiller.  I just do not find him funny.  At all.  (exception, Reality Bites)

5. Other than basic essentials like food and toilet paper, if you could only spend your money in one store for the rest of your life, which store would it be?
Target, because it has everything.

6. What's your favorite small shop/boutique?
Well, I have to give a shameless plug to my shop...really my guy's shop.  Family owned and operated fine jewellery and watch repairs is our specialty - POLA Jewellers
My guy made these - yep, he's talented

7. Are you looking forward to the 2016 election?
Not at all...because I hate the media reporting during election years.  I get disappointed in most all candidates and often think: "Are these really the two best people there are for this job?" 

8. If you were elected President, what would you do on your first day?
That's got to be the toughest question, I've ever been asked in one of these blogger (myspace type) questionnaires.  I have never imagined myself a politician.  I suppose the very first thing I'd do is take a deep breath and pray.

9. What is something that scares you, but that you really want to try?

Sky diving - it doesn't exactly "scare" me, but I imagine my heart would thump a little harder when it happens.

10. What's something you've done that you think everyone should try at least once?
Adopting an animal from an animal shelter

1. What 2015 book are you most excited about?
John Sandford's Gathering Prey - I've read every book in this Prey series, and I'm always excited when there is a new one.

 2. Which blog did you discover recently that you can't believe you didn't know about?
Isabel at The Sunny Side of This - a beautiful Mexican woman who lives in the gorgeous Slovenia; she shares lovely photos and uplifting stories as she walks her life side by side with her handsome husband in a country she is still learning so much about

 3. What's the best book outside of your regular genres/topics/authors you've read in the past year?
The Girls with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey 

 4. Judging books by their covers: yay or nay?

 5. What's your favourite book-to-movie adaptation?
I'll say Gone Girl because I wasn't as wild about the book as most, and I thought the movie was excellent.  Better than the book.

 6. Which fictional world do you wish you could move into?
I'm at a loss.  I read so much...why can't I come up with an answer for this one?  Suggestions??

 7. Hardcover or paperback?
Both, but never e-readers

 8. How many books do you read in a week, on average, and are you happy with your number?
I'm inconsistent.  Sometimes I read one to two books a week...sometimes it takes me two weeks to get through one book.  

 9. Which books are on the top of your TBR list?
I'm in a few books challenges, one of which tackles by "To Be Read" up to tackle is Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum because it's checked out of the library, and I've been meaning to read it for ages.

 10. Because this is Backlist Books, which books published at least a year ago are highest on your TBR?
There are two other library books already checked out and sitting on my floor - Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King and The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence.

If you are reading this, chances are I want to know how you'd answer these questions.  Go on, answer them.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday's Seven Snapshots.21

Cuddles from my sweet Ivy girl

Getting a juice fix

One of my favorite places in Sydney - The Oxford Tavern...getting another juice fix...

...with some of my favorite people...

...having a favorite guilty treat - Chili Cheese fries with diced jalapeƱos! (This is a difficult treat to find in Sydney)...

...and having a favorite drink (peach mojito) and my favorite guy. So many favorites, this post should be on a Friday :)

Sydney Street Art in Petersham

Saturday, April 18, 2015

List #26 - Semi-Charmed Kind of Life Summer Book Challenge

Yeah, yeah, yeah...surprise, surprise...another book challenge.  Sorry not sorry if you get bored with my book posts, but they're going to happen.  The first book challenge that I ever participated in was hosted by Megan, and I imagine I'll be forever a participant.  If you're new here and/or unfamiliar with Megan's challenges, here's a link with the details:

And here's my list or go check it out on goodreads:
5 points: Freebie! Read any book that fits the general rules. -
Gathering Prey by John Sandford
READ May 17, 2015

10 points: Read a book you have never heard of before. (Just go to a shelf and pick a book based on the cover, the title, whatever you want!)
Paper Chains by Nicola Moriarty - I went to my favorite second hand bookstore, wandered around looking at titles of books, covers, and reading the synopsis on the back.  I did not want to cross reference to good reads because I thought that would be cheating ;)  I selected this book, only to discover it IS on my good reads "to read" list (along with 462 other books, so I didn't remember it).
READ May 5, 2015

10 points: Read a book that has been on your TBR list for at least two years. (If you've had a Goodreads account for 2+ years, this will be easy to figure out. If you don’t, do your best to pick a book you’re pretty sure you’ve been wanting to read for years.)
READ June 9, 2015

10 points: Read a book that won a Goodreads “Best Book” award in 2014.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart  
READ June 21, 2015

15 points: Read a book by an author who is completely new to you. 
READ May 30, 2015
15 points: 
Read a book by an author you have read before. (No re-reads for this one.)
READ May 12, 2015

15 points: Read a book with "light" or "dark" in the title. (Or "lightness" or "darkness.")
Darkside by Belinda Bauer  
READ June 19, 2015

20 points: Read a book with the name of a city, state or country in the title.

20 points: Read a book with an animal on the cover.
Summertime by Vaness Lafaye (also released as Under a Dark Summer Sky)
READ July 17, 2015

25 points: Read a book that is part of a series with at least four books.
Killer by Jonathan Kellerman 
READ May 25, 2015

25 points: Read a book that is longer than 500 pages long. — Submitted by winter finisher Kristen from See You in a Porridge. - 
Middlesex by Jefferey Eugenides (my copy was 566 pages)
READ August 6, 2015

30 points: Read a book with an alliterative title. (All words in the title must begin with the same letter; no exceptions for articles or prepositions. Examples: Gone Girl or Nicholas Nickleby. Yes, this is tough, which is why it's worth the most points!) - 
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
READ June 15, 2015

I read the categories and went to my bookshelf (and floor).  I had eight books that fit the challenge sitting there waiting to be read.  All eight were purchases from second hand bookstores that I'd picked up over the last couple of years.  Finally, I'll get around to reading them! 

Have you read any of these books?  Do you participate in book challenges?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Favorites Five vol.9

Happy Friday one and all - let's get this party started!

Favorite list of books: Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2014 - I'm not going to lie; this list makes me want to read all of these books.

Favorite anti-bullying post of the week: (although heartbreaking too) -
"Teach your kids that even THEY aren’t perfect, so judging other kids is NOT COOL."
READ this
Favorite love thyself article I read this week: No, I Won't Be Losing Weight for My Wedding -
"Our wedding is a celebration of the partnership we will work hard to nurture. It is not a time to dread, starve myself, or force difficult change."

Favorite transformation story that I read this week (it was actually originally posted in the NY Times July 2013, but I just read it for the first time): The Rock 'n' Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero 

And, for a laugh..........

Favorite Friday flashback of the week - because when two great performers like David Bowie and Mick Jagger collaborate, of course they are going to give us a timeless song that is still just as fun to dance to as it was decades ago (yes, I know it is a cover).  Plus, this video, oh this video, it is so choices and the dancing antics of these two is guaranteed to make you giggle.  

Want to see more Friday Favorites?  Check 'em out at Amanda's link-up:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Meet the Felines Link Up

I never owned a cat.  Cats scared me and typically hated  me. guy loves both cats and dogs, so I was willing to give an effort to see what this whole cat thing was all about.  My guy, his two kids, and I went to our nearest Animal Welfare League in November 2013 to adopt two kittens. We left with three! And they have enriched our family ever since.  I'm a total cat convert.  Yep.  Crazy Cat Lady, all the way.

They are so much like children; they all have unique personalities, and we love each of them so much.

Name:  Ricky Sparkle  

(That's right.  Sparkle.  I was already named Ricky at AWL.  My human mama says Ricky Martin is handsome and knows how to move.  My human brother, who just turned six at the time, had the honor of giving me a middle name.  That's what the kid named me, and I like it.) 


  • Tuxedo cat
  • Male
  • Silky, shiny coat
  • Green eyes
  • Slim
  • Agile
  • Curious
  • Mischievous
  • Climbing through window blinds (and bending them)
  • Sitting at the window and staring outside
  • Chasing the other cats
  • Taunting my doggie sisters through the sliding glass door
  • Looking for food on the kitchen counter
  • Attempting to eat the dog food (while my humans are dishing it up)
  • Killing cockroaches or millipedes or spiders or whatever other little critter tries to creep in our house
  • Climbing the screen doors or windows
  • Sticking my paw (or head) under a flowing water faucet
  • Balancing on the top rail of our stairs
  • Laying on our iron board, or clean clothes, or drying rack
  • Hiding in drawers
  • Climbing the Christmas tree
  • Yanking down Christmas tree ornaments 
  • Snuggles on mama's chest
  • Purring
  • Meowing

Name: Ivy Lou 

Kinda like Blue Ivy but backwards, and different, so not really like that at all.  I'm not really a diva either, so my sweet name suits my sweet demeanor.  I'm not sure why the font just changed, but I'm not the smartest of the bunch (apparently, neither is my mama because she can't correct it.)  Oh well.  I'm an easy-going girl.

  • Torti (or torty, or tortie) cat
  • Female
  • Medium length coat
  • Greenish-gold eyes
  • Bootylicious
  • Flirtatious
  • Affectionate
  • Bags
  • Boxes
  • Catching sunrays through windows
  • Taunting my doggie sisters through the sliding glass door
  • Looking for attention from the men of the house
  • Running from my brothers
  • The heat from the satellite tv box
  • Piles of clothes
  • Daddy's jeans (my favorite place to lay)
  • Bouncing while I run
  • Rolling over when I say hello (c'mon humans, that means I want a belly scratch!)
  • Chewing the tip of my tail...I know, it's weird, but it's a habit

Name: Astro Naut  

We were waiting in the AWL office for my human daddy to complete the adoption paperwork, and my human mama was bouncing around Texas-themed names.  Some suggested: Sam (after Sam Houston), Willie (after Willie Nelson), Stevie (because it could give props to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Stephen F. Austin).  The rest of the humans weren't feeling any of these.  So, mama started offering up sports teams and names.  Astro (after the Houston Astros) is the name that they all turned and said "yes" or "I like that".  Secretly, I was thinking it's the name of the dog on the Jetsons, but whatevs.  I'm orange-ish, and I'm told that's the right color for a Houston Astro.  My middle name?  Well, the human brother steps up and decides my middle name is "Naut" because "Get it? It's like astronaut!" (Yes, this conversation happened.  Plus, it works.  NASA is in Houston, and NASA has astronauts). 
  • Ginger cat
  • Male
  • Greenish-gold eyes
  • Loyal
  • Lazy
  • Affectionate 
  • Intelligent
  • Awarded "best Cat ever" by my human brother
  • BFF to my human mama
  • My mama
  • Cat food
  • Cat treats
  • Breakfast
  • Naps
  • Dinner
  • Snuggles with my mama
  • Headbutts with my mama
  • Belly rubs from my mama
  • Hanging out with my mama while she takes a bath
  • Laser pointer time with dad
  • "Helping" my mama read (this may consist of laying on top of the book)
  • Sleeping in the cat tree
  • Sleeping next to my mama
  • Sleeping on my mama

All of us get along really well.  We play with each other, cuddle each other, and pretty much all five of us (kitties with my daddy and mama) sleep in a queen size bed every night.  We are great with our 7 year old human brother who absolutely adores us.  He thinks we're "the cat's meow".  When asked why he liked us so much his response was:
"They're really, really cute, and they're part of our family." 
Well, you can't get much better than that.

Cat conversion complete.

Join our mama's link-up, so we can meet other felines in bloggerland.

An InLinkz Link-up

And, if cats aren't you're thing (I don't know why they wouldn't be), there is a Meet the Canines link-up too.  So, you can check that out here:  Meet the Canines