Made It To Friday. Carpool Karaoke.

Friday morning are always a bit special at our place.  It's the last working day of the week, the last daycare drop off of the week and together they give the morning a 'we've practically made it to the weekend' kind of vibe.  All of which allows me to press pause on the morning for a few minutes as I finish my tea cup of tea.

Because it can only be a tea cup full of tea on work day mornings.  Tea cups of hot drinks cool down much quicker than mugs.  There's nothing more frustrating than waiting for your drink to cool down so that you can drink it and then brush your teeth and skedaddle.  This morning's laid back cuppa had a bonus Cheerio stuck to it, courtesy of Toddler SSG.

Speaking of the toddler and cereal,

this morning's batch of muesli was expertly stirred by Toddler SSG and featured a new ingredient....

these 'deliciously addictive' pieces of dried young coconut.  I found mine at Costco the other week and I'm glad I had the foresight to buy two packets because I think my mum might want to take some home with her when she next comes to visit us.

So deliciously addictive are these coconut pieces, I'm going to hazard a guess and say that they're probably not as healthy as that coconut water that's everywhere these days.  Sweet, chewy and a pearlescent Arctic white, they taste like coconut lollies and soften to a dried fruit texture when used in muesli.  They're a completely different kettle of fish to the desiccated and flaked varieties I normally see for sale at the supermarket.

Just quickly, some feedback on Annabel Karmel's range of frozen toddler meals.  Toddler SSG is not a fan of the Comforting Beef Cottage Pie.  Mainly because of the finely minced texture.  The mince layer was practically puree compared to what he normally enjoys eating and because of this, he didn't even make an attempt to explore it with his cutlery (or fingers).  Perhaps the chicken bites might be more his thing.

To make up for the lack of excitement in my world at the moment, I'm going to end today's post with a clip from James Corden (the new host of The Late, Late Show).  Wiki tells me that Channel Ten hopes to bring the show to Australia and if they do, it will make up for Offspring being cancelled.

One of James' things on his show is to do car pool karaoke with a guest each week.  His drive with Mariah Carey was epic but my favourite so far is the drive he took with Jennifer Hudson.  I love the karaoke but there's also the banter James has with his guests.  He pokes gentle fun at them and his guests give it back in return.

My carpool karaoke with Toddler SSG isn't half as much fun as James' but maybe if I watch enough of his fine examples, things might improve.  I'm going to make a point of finding The Late Late Show on my hotel TV in New York next month.  I've even asked Facebook for some help.

On Wilfully Misunderstanding Gwyneth.

I don't usually have to think too hard when I'm at the supermarket.  I mostly stick to my shopping list, occasionally pop a few impulse purchases into my trolley and have never had to wait anxiously at the register hoping that my payment goes through on my card.

Though there was some drama the other day at Aldi when I was all geed up about buying a jar of their American style crunchy peanut butter only to reach the register and be told that despite the store being fully lit and looking open, it was actually sort of shut because none of the cash registers were working.  The store manager regretted that none of us could get our shopping for free (I asked) and also that we couldn't pay cash even if we had the exact change (someone more honest asked) because receipts from the registers had to be issued for every sale.  Fortunately, after a lot of gliding up and down the aisles and murmured conversations into mobile phones, some official looking people in dark suits manage to fix the problem and we all got to do our Aldi shop after all.

But have you wondered how your grocery shopping experience would be if all you had to spend each week was $29?  This is the average weekly payment individuals in the US on SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Programme aka 'food stamps') receive.

Well, Gwyneth Paltrow, bless her organic cotton (or perhaps they're bamboo) socks rose to the challenge and tweeted her shop.  And the internet appeared to respond with universal ridicule.  The limes, the absence of much protein, carbs or fat - so typically Gwyneth and hence so typically misinterpreted by the rest of us (her lifestyle website GOOP polarises the masses and I'm polarised to the dedicated non believer and non relater side of the fence).

But while none of us can resist another laugh at Gwyneth's attempt to 'keep it real', would anyone of us have done the challenge any better without sacrificing the food choices we've been spoiled with for most of our lives?  I'm so used to having my three pieces of fruit a day, lavish amounts of fresh vegetables for  both lunch and dinner, meat or fish every day and I splash my milk around with abandon.  I like a certain kind of black tea, a certain kind of green tea and a certain kind of instant coffee beginning with 'M'.  My day is punctuated by food breaks filled with foods that would nix the SNAP budget by Tuesday.  And that's before you count my almost daily coffees and the Saturday almond croissant I can't live without.

Aside from the costs of my favourite foods, there's also the question of lifestyle.  I drive most places and work a relatively sedentary job where there's a fridge on site for me to store the salads I bring in for work.  Few people relying on food assistance would be living like this.  They'd more likely be relying on public transport, living in more remote places where there'd be a price premium on fresh produce and engaging in heavy physical activity each day as part of their work or as a carer to a relative.  There may not be room or facilities in their accommodation to lovingly whip up batches of home made raw muesli.

With this different reality in mind, is it any wonder that highly processed, calorie dense foods that require minimal preparation while also storing well feature so prominently in the lives of people living with social disadvantage?  The restraints of both budget and life circumstances have resulted in groups of the population who manage to get more than their required daily kilojoule intake in fats and sugars but fail to consume adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Since I'm joining the judgement of Gwyneth by writing this post about her, can I add anything constructive to the conversation?  What would I have done differently for the challenge if I were her?

There aren't enough characters in a tweet to explain my choices while also expressing my appreciation of the challenges people with less gilded lives would face when trying to survive on $29 worth of food per week.  That poverty isn't just about money, it's about having to make a compromise in every aspect of your daily life due often to circumstances beyond your control.

Perhaps I would have chosen foods like that jar of Aldi peanut butter (it's both a spread and a snack straight out of the jar) and canned tomatoes and then used them creatively to make meals that stay as close to my personal food ethos as possible.  Or made a comment about buying close to expiry date meats and then freezing them for later or else using them as a base for freezer friendly cheap dinners.  I might even have gone as far as choosing a few frozen or canned fruits and vegetables for my shop, a bottle of lime juice rather than the 7 limes in Gwyneth's photo.

Over to you.  How would a budget of $29 per week for all your food change the way you shop?  What changes would you make?  What wouldn't you be able to compromise on?  What insight would the experience give you on how the 'other half' try to survive?

Memories of the Sun.

Why, hello sun!!!

It's lovely to see you so early in the morning these days, making shadows and adding a bit of warmth to the air.


You've even got us back in short sleeves with promises of 27C days for the rest of this week.

I'm loving that we're getting these memories of summer in the early autumn.  The ANZAC Bridge arched through the trees as I drove through Annandale on Monday.  The almost moonlight filtered through the clouds made the street lamps look like luminous pearls studded like a necklace along the bridge.  It was one of those drives home that felt like a reward for a solidly efficient and all ends tied day at work.

SSG Manor is still feeling the kiss of summer with these room fragrances from Dusk.  The Active Air range has been recently rebranded with the fragrances being given the names of cities.  My favourites are Honolulu and Zurich.  Zurich smells of jasmine and wide open spaces while Honolulu is warm and golden, the smell of the sun at the beach or poolside with a cocktail or two at your side and sunscreen rubbed into your skin.

My latest Ikea purchases to help keep Toddler SSG's belongings under control included a Nyttja frame for the first piece of art he brought home from daycare this year.

It's  up in my bedroom now and makes me think of the sun and the giggly afternoons we've spent together at the park every time I look at it.

On An Indoors Kind of Sunday Afternoon.

Today's morning tea - fruit salad and chocolate cake with tea cups of virtual Moccona.

It's just after lunch at SSG Manor and any wooden toy that has the potential to be trodden on or tripped over has been packed away.  Nap time has just started and I'm sitting here just enjoying sitting down.

The week just gone has been another of those lovely ones peppered with moments to simply enjoy the small things.

Hometime, the autumn sun, Taylor and a dusty dashboard.  What more could you want in a work day afternon?

A drive home from work with the autumn sun on my arms and hazily filtered through my sunglasses with a bit of Taylor on for driving music.  It was one of those almost as good as being on holiday already kind of moments (30 days and counting by the way, 30 days and counting...).

I got to mix the old and new in my winter wardrobe in this outfit.  The dress is from Metalicus and coincidentally is also a Taylah - but with a drop waist and 3/4 sleeves.  This is the ink shade and I got it for the princely sum of $44.25 during their last sale.  The necklace is from my collection of Marni-esque arrangements from Lovisa.

It's not everyday you get to laugh at the gym but Saturday was my day.  Who has time on a Saturday morning to hoik a heavy bench on top of a pair of 20 kg plates and to make sure everything is perfectly centred?  And more importantly, why?????

I always feel like I've achieved great things when I manage to get the shopping done before the weather goes pear shaped.  Today's trip was notable for this little discovery: Annabel Karmel's new line of toddler and infant meals.  The range features some of her most loved recipes - including the chicken bites.  In the world of toddler cuisine, this is as big news as if Donna Hay were to release her own range of ready meals for adults.

A few of my friends have already discovered the range and the feedback has been surprisingly positive with only one child not being too keen on one of the salmon meals.  All the other meals seem to have been greeted with gusto and polished off.  You don't need me to tell you how rare that all is.

Toddler SSG is going to be trying the beef cottage pie (with bonus serve of veggies) because I've been struggling with getting him to eat much red meat.  I also bought a bag of chicken bites to see how they compare to the version I make based on Annabel's recipe.  Fingers crossed!

Coles seems to have started following their competitors with special / bargain buy promotions.  This week saw them launch a range of colourful bits and bobs for the home and kitchen with most things being around the $2 mark.  These mini storage tubs were selling fast at my local - they're a bit bendy and will hopefully be durable enough to do some time in the toy room to store smaller things like Toddler SSG's growing collection of wooden foods.  I bought a whole range of wooden food groups from Aldi late last year and have been drip feeding a new set into the toy room every other week so I think we're going to fill these tubs pretty quickly.

Last but not least, Sunday dinner.  It's planned and I've pulled out all the stops.  Cheese and tomato toasties with a can of Big Red soup...   Best eaten in your warmest PJs and socks - the more loved, the better.

Hope you're having a restful weekend!

Toddlers and Their Parents. Friday News.

God bless the parents of toddlers in the age of Instagram and Facebook.  Could you look yourself in the mirror right now and tell yourself that you actually would be able to live without their endless heartwarming photos and sometimes not so  hilarious transcripts of the most recent conversation they had with their wise beyond their years cutie?

You know that their photos sometimes don't tell the full story but you still press that heart button all the same.  Yes one toddler hand is gently patting that rabbit at the petting farm but the other hand was holding a caramel Chupa Chup that was proving to be far more interesting than the rabbit, the chicken or the bunny.  The Chupa Chup was a gift from the barber for being such a good boy in the barber's chair.  Which justifies it being eaten for morning tea.  #toddlerlyf is all about parents #justifying ... #justsaying

And those photos of toddler centric craft projects?  Goes without saying that at least one adult in the household did the lion's share of the painting because it proved to be very therapeutic.  In between making sure that the paint brushes not being used weren't being licked in the mean time.

There's also the odes to working motherhood.  That one (or more) mother in your feed who gives you the courage to face your commute home because she has the photographic evidence to prove that she made it to daycare pick up early enough to be in the thick of outdoor free playtime

Amongst their numerous superhuman and some might say God like traits, parents of toddlers in the social media age aren't afraid to show their passion for a cause.  Like how they love licensed children's wear so much that finding the last pairs of Paul Frank PJs in their toddler's size was deemed an Instagram worthy moment.

And never let it be said that social media networked toddler parent friends are anything but honest about their endeavours in the home improvement department.  This is my new Aldi bath toy shower caddy barely clinging to the bathroom wall.  I'm going to have to replace the wall hooks this weekend...

In the off chance that you ever do need a bit of time apart from your parent friends or more likely a break from the challenges of your own toddler parenting journey, may I suggest this book?
Toddlers Are .... is the funniest thing I have ever read about toddler parenting.  Think Tina Fey writing about parenting.  Think all the darkly (and eventually) humorous thoughts you've ever had in  your years as a parent to a toddler.  And then read all the comebacks you wish you had to all the well intentioned advice or humble brags you've ever received.  Try not to feel that Bunmi Laditan somehow stalked you last week or hacked your laptop or smartphone.  And just laugh because sometimes that's the best and only thing you can do.  I downloaded my copy for Kindle from Amazon.

As much as I've loved reading and laughing at the book, I'm still uncomfortable about the title.  I know it's a joke but still... Hence my reluctance in even typing it out in full.

In other news, I had the pleasure of not only having sushi for dinner last night but I also got to read the latest issue of Who Weekly on the very day it dropped into my letterbox.  The highlight of the issue for me was Britney's interview.  She looks so happy and to be in such a great space professionally and emotionally right now.  I love that she is so supportive of her sons and that she's so involved in their schoolwork that she's teaching herself  next year's maths syllabus to help her son through it  when the time comes. What I love even more is that Britneyand Iggy Azalea are to release their new single in May!!!!!!!!!  I'm hoping it drops in time for me to get it on iTunes for my plane play list.

I'm finishing up today with a progress report on my Ottie Multi Vita Essential BB Cream.  It is a little pale for my skintone and it does need a lot of blending on account of the relatively high SPF but gee my skin does look good under those stringent test conditions of the rear view mirror in the early morning sun.  No pores, a slight glow and the suggestion of two consecutive nights' uninterrupted sleep.  I'm not sure that I will buy it again given the colour issue but I am inspired to try out more Korean BB creams.

And on that note, here's to the weekend!!!


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