A Lovely Friday. A White Linen House Review.

It's been a lovely Friday in my neck of the woods.  The kind which started with a morning where I wasn't chasing my tail just to head out the front door.  Wake ups occurred with even tempers, nappy changes were still and the worst thing that happened at breakfast time was crushed, dry Weetbix being sprinkled onto the floorboards.  And not even from a great height like the top of the dining table but rather from a more sedate 82 cm above sea level.

Yes, mornings like this just make you want to walk out in the spring sun and grab a coffee from your favorite cafe rather than subsisting on the in house option.

Necklace - Lovisa, T - Emerson at Big W, jacket - Country Road.

It was such an orderly morning that I even managed to wear this Lovisa necklace with its tricky clasp.  It was a sale bargain and I love the deep green against black and white.  Bottom half wise, I was in those fancy dry clean only Joe's Jeans skinnies from Orlando 1.0 (only 30 days until version 2.0!!!!!).

Why all this serenity when I'm not even on vacation yet, you might well ask.  Well.  I've just lost one major housework related task each week for the next few months thanks to Natalie and Bindy and their new online business, White Linen House which launders and then delivers bed and bath linen to your front door.  What's unique about White Linen House is that your linen is yours to keep at the end of your contract and also that your linen is laundered in its own load.

The service is available on a weekly or fortnightly pick up service.  Your linen comes to you in a handy, zip up bag and each item is embroidered with your client number.  I'm trialling the Duo package ($45 per delivery on a 26 week contract) which includes:
  • 2 x flat sheets
  • 2 x pillowcases
  • 4 x bath sheets
  • 2 x hand towels
  • 2 x face washers
  • 1 x bath mat
  • Laundering
  • Delivery
  • Ownership of linen.

The sheets and pillowcases are a 200 thread count and the towels are 100% cotton.  If, for some reason, you forget to put your laundry out on delivery day, White Linen House will cover you with a spare set until the next pick up.

My first delivery arrived yesterday and there was a flurry of activity around SSG Manor as sheets got changed and Toddler SSG got tangled in them in the process.  It's just that much more pleasant a task doing the linen when all you've got to worry about is changing things over rather than having to wash, hang and then dry them.

Fresh towels from White Linen House hanging in my bathroom.  I could just stare at them for hours.

I know its heaven that first night's sleep on fresh sheets but to me, fresh fluffy towels hanging perfectly in the bathroom are the one thing guaranteed to calm me down when life's a bit too hectic and busy.

Bath mat - White Linen House, step - Ikea.

Toddler SSG was not going to be left out in this review.  He'd like you all to know that White Linen House launder a bath mat to soft and fluffy perfection and that they're also the perfect size for  placing under his bathroom step to give it extra purchase on the tiles as he reaches for all the interesting bottles and tubes on top of the vanity.

At present, White Linen House serve the following areas of Sydney: Eastern Suburbs, Inner West, Sydney CBD and the Sutherland Shire.  For your reference, I'm linking here to their list of FAQs.  This linen and laundry service is a wonderful idea and would be a great gift for new parents, loved ones recovering from an illness or for yourself because you're worth it!

Have a lovely weekend and thanks once again to Natalie and Bindy for their support of my blog in providing the package I reviewed today.

Current Affairs. Life At Home.

I don't really have anything intelligent to add to the topics currently trending in Australian current affairs but I do think about them a great deal.  And I'm not talking about the celebrity surprise baby (Ryan and Eva) and bump (Lara and Sam) announcements.  On those topics, I'll just add my joy and best wishes to both couples and leave themselves to themselves.


Within days of the nation being placed on a 'high' terror threat  comes news (via a constantly updated feed on the SMH's website) of anti-terrorism raids across Sydney and Brisbane as well as the departure of Australian forces for the Middle East to assist in Iraq.

It's not just national safety at stake but religious tolerance and harmony as the responses to the raids draw on the perceived vilification of Australia's Muslim community.  Overnight, our city has become a different place.  The kind of place you'd read about in the US or UK where the effects of radicalisation have already been felt as both nations struggle to find a balance between protecting themselves from extremists aligned to the Muslim faith whilst still enabling their Muslim citizens to lead their lives without fear of prejudice.

Getty Images

Scotland will be voting for (or against) its independence from the United Kingdom today.  As the Queen herself commented, the Scottish will have to 'think very carefully about the future'.

Interesting times.

Changing tack for the rest of this post.  It's Thursday.  It's nearly the weekend.  We've only got to get through Friday.  It'll happen.

We did our usual nap time drive to our local Big W today.  I was on a mission to get Toddler SSG's summer clothes sorted out with minimal fuss and at as nice a price as I could find.  Of course we swung past the women's wear where I did my annual stock up of Emerson's white scoop neck T's.

Boys' striped short sleeved Ts - $4.50, Emerson Junior at Big W.

Big W have really lifted their game in children's wear this year.  They've launched Emerson Junior and not only are they as nicely priced as the women's wear range, they've also stayed true to the mission of providing easy to wear, fashion forward clothing.  I only had a chance to look at the boys' range but I did spy a display of girls' wear too.  I'm not sure how long the current range has been in store but the smaller sizes were in very short supply.

Boys' 5 pocket shorts - $9, Emerson Junior at Big W.
I haven't seen too many toddler shorts at my usual haunts this season so I jumped at the chance to get the last couple of 2s for Toddler SSG - this green and a dark denim.  I was pretty impressed to find that both pairs had adjustable waists - for $9!!!  

Boardies - $6, Emerson Junior at Big W.
At $6 per pair, it doesn't matter if these board shorts only last a season.  They get bonus points from me for featuring that design feature we all love in toddler shorts - pull on elasticated waists and draw strings that are sewn in securely and won't get lost at the worst possible moment (in the middle of a nappy change on a shopping centre change table when you're struggling to find the wipes at the bottom of your baby bag).

Skittles.  What's not to love about them?  Their name has to be said with a smile and their shape just says fun.

You don't even need to play with them in the conventional way to get hours (minutes in adult time) of fun from them.  Banging them on the driveway, hurling them onto the lawn...

Seeing them scattered around the garden this afternoon made me smile and forget drama surrounding this morning's incident of The London Bus on the Kitchen Bench.  On top of the bench and as close to the wall as possible is where things go when they're at risk of being used as step ladders to gain better access to the sink and stove.

On the fridge door and high up the door as you can get is where we place our tickets.  January 15, 2015 really and rather scarily isn't that far away....

In Aldi Special Buy news, I bring word of a Moroccan Argan oil infused hair straightener.  My bold and my italics.  There's a part of me that's thinking 'what the...', there's a part of me that remembers throwing out my heated hair styling implements of torture because they frustrated me and made my hair feel like raw mi goreng noodle cakes and then there's the part of that says '$24.99 - so cheap'.  I'm so conflicted.

Speaking of Mi Goreng noodle cakes.... I saw these on the shelves at the supermarket today.  Maggi Mi Goreng.  I'm only willing to give them a go if they come with the complex selection of sachets that IndoMie provide with their noodles.

The suspense is killling me.  If you've tried them, do they come with all the bells and whistles sachet wise?  Or is it one measly foil packet of powdered synthetic flavour enhancers?

New Specs. Pumpkin Mac'n'Cheese.

There's nothing I like better than combining a public health message with a spendy, designer purchase in a blog post.  So, without further ado....

Readers, if you are a heavy wearer of contact lenses, don't be lazy about getting your eyes checked on an annual basis.  I let things slide last year and only managed to front up for last year's check up a couple of weeks ago.  The good news?  My prescription in both contacts and spectacles hasn't changed.  The bad news?  I have to cut down on my lens wearing time because my weaker eye is getting a bit oxygen deprived on account of it being smothered by a thick lens for hours on end, practically every day of the year.  Fortunately, all I need to do is to give myself a couple of days a week 'air time' by wearing specs all day.

So hello new Dior specs with their special 'Asian nose' bridge as the sales assistant tactfully informed me.  As crazy as that may sound to those of you with 'non-Asian noses', what this actually means is that these plastic frames actually sit where they're meant to all day.  I also like the dramatic cats eye style of the frames.  It's even harder to do that flicked eyeliner look without my contacts in and now I don't need to bother because my glasses do all the hard work for me.

So the take home messages are: get our eyes checked once a year if you wear contact lenses and don't forget Dior if you're looking for new glasses.

In more mundane news, I bring you a recipe that helps use up any pasta, grated cheese and pumpkin you may have around the kitchen.  I whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Macaroni Cheese using a toddler friendly recipe from this blog post by Christen on her Simple Bites blog and while it's still growing on Toddler SSG, I actually quite like it.

I understand that canned pumpkin is quite widely available in the US but I substituted a half cup of mashed pumpkin I made myself.

I then got out my digital scales and switched the units from grams to ounces to weigh my 8.1 ounces of pasta, roughly 240g.  I guess the end result is much prettier if you use elbow pasta but twists were all I had.  They were organic though so that has to count for something.

Whisking the 2T of melted butter together with the 2T of plain flour.

Making the white sauce wasn't as hard has I feared it would be.  I'm pretty happy with how my Aldi Crofton saucepan fared.  Nothing caught on the enamel and it was very easy to clean.  That being said, my saucepan is already showing some signs of wear from being scrubbed a bit from other cooking adventures.

I microwaved the milk to warm it and gradually added the 1 1/2 cups while whisking.

I allowed the sauce to simmer gently for a few minutes and lo and behold, it really did coat the back of my spoon!  I'm Cordon Bleu already.

I didn't add nutmeg with the pumpkin to my sauce.  The cheese I used was a low fat grated cheddar.

And voila, the pumpkin cheese sauce is just the same orange as the gold standard canned stuff that comes in the Kraft Macaroni Cheese kit.  Fortunately, it tastes worlds apart.  The pumpkin adds sweetness and cuts the heaviness of the traditional version.

You'll have to work with me and this photo.  I write to you as a mother who has never made a bento box lunch for her toddler nor have I lovingly hand painted a mural on his bedroom wall whose floor features a rug that wasn't woven by my hand.  We could go on but the bottom line is this, 'artistically styled' are not the first two words you'd think of when describing my approach to mothering.

Back to the photo.  It's not pretty but it's tasty.  I added a grind or two of pepper and some grated reggiano to my serve and got through it pretty quickly while Toddler SSG was a bit more circumspect.  If it doesn't grow on him, I've got a few bowls of pumpkin mac'n'cheese for my emergency dinners.  Another parenting win.

What my little boy lacked in mac'n'cheese enthusiasm, he more than made up for when it came time to 'help' with the washing up.  On the one hand, I'm delighted that he had so much fun splashing around that he needed a change of pyjamas and socks but on the other, I'm just a bit sad.  I was planning to buy him one of those fancy wooden toy kitchens for Christmas but he looks happy with the adult version where the taps run and he's already managed to outsmart the safety feature on the fancy dishwasher.  The up side?  The play room bereft of the toy kitchen will be true to my 'no frills' parenting style.

Much love to you all,

The Festival of the Winds, 2014. Birki Season At Last.

Seriously.  How glorious was Sunday, fellow Sydneysiders?

It was sunny but not too hot, the Goldilocks of spring days.  Which was all the direction I needed from the skies to strap Toddler SSG into the our baby black SUV to join the convoy of similarly car seated baby SUVs snaking up New South Head Road to Bondi Beach.  

It was one of the most successful drives I've ever completed to Bondi.  I didn't get lost once and I even found a car park.  Albeit in the multi storey at the Adina Hotel but it was only 50 cents more per hour to park undercover than beach side.  The only drawback being that it took so long to get out of the car park, I ended up having to pay for another half hour at the exit.  It was a small price to pay for a cool, shaded spot with enough space to safely do the pram assembling and toddler shuffle that accompanies any kind of road trip of mine these days.

Gelato Cafe on Campbell Parade - believers in the free babycino.

I'd like to send a special shout out to Gelato Cafe on Campbell Parade who graciously shouted Toddler SSG a babycino with the coffee I ordered from them.  The waitress told me they don't charge for babycinos on principle and it's such a lovely gesture for anyone brave enough to take a toddler to the beach on a busy Sunday morning.

What I wore - Birkis!!!!  First wear of the season.  Jeans from Next Direct.
Buoyed by a good coffee, it was time to hit the beach.  In my Birkis of course.  They are my go to footwear for the beach.  So excited that it's finally warm enough to be wearing them out and about.

Toddler SSG and I were at Bondi to meet friends for a quick stroll around the 2014 Festival of the Winds - a kite flying contest and celebration of kites that the Waverley council has hosted for over 35 years.  Spring is the perfect time for the festival.  The beachfront winds are strong enough to let the kites soar and dip but not too strong that they could get damaged.

The Bondi Pavilion was the central hub of the day's festivities.

One section of the park was devoted to bouncy castles and kids activities.

And another seemed to be the place to go for a picnic and a good vantage point for the formal kite flying competition down on the beach.

Kites were available for purchase to fly straight away.  Tricky leg work ensured that I didn't trip over the strings of the kite flyers in our midst.

See what I mean about it being a perfect day for kites on the beach?

With the kites fluttering above us, we went down to the beach and got a different perspective of the competition kites, looking at them from underneath against that back drop of brilliant, clear blue sky.

Kicking back on Bondi Beach always reminds me of Ken Done's work.  


The colours and light that radiate from his paintings are so real, I can feel the sand between my toes from just looking at his work.

I managed to trick Toddler SSG into wearing his hat for about a minute at a time as he raked that golden Bondi sand and felt it trickle through his fingers like cake crumbs.

Speaking of cake and food in general, guess who's opening in Bondi this week?  We walked past Bill Granger's latest restaurant on the way back to our car.  Bills was set to open today but they were doing some kind of highly technical behind closed doors photo shoot there yesterday.  Gelato Messina is just next door and I think I've got two more reasons to make sure we get back to the beach as often as we can this summer.

Risotto History. An Early Night.

History was made in the SSG Manor Test Kitchen this afternoon.  I made an edible risotto and I did it without burning a single pot or breaking into a sweat.  The purists may want to stop reading at this point as I reveal my secret.  I made mine in the oven using this recipe from The Stay At Home Mum blog.

Of course I cut even more corners  by using pre sliced mushrooms, pre chopped butternut pumpkin and a carton of low salt chicken stock.

The hardest part of the recipe was sauteeing the half a brown onion (chopped), 200 g of finely sliced mushrooms and bacon (3 slices worth or 4 short cuts if you're me) in 2 tablespoons of butter.

I was so laid back that I didn't even grease my casserole dish and just layered the onion and bacon mix, 2 or so cups of arborio rice and 2 or so cups of chopped pumpkin.

I chose my casserole dish wisely because 4 1/2 cups of stock really does add volume to the ingredients.

I ended up needing to make my risotto at 190C (fan forced) for one and a half hours, the recipe suggested 40 minutes.  At the one hour mark, mine looked done but stirring revealed a fair bit of stock still in the dish and rice grains that were a bit tough to chew so I put it back into the oven with a half cup of grated cheddar briskly stirred through.

It was a good move. The extra cooking time allowed the rice to cook fully and not look as gluggy as it had earlier.  I added some more cheddar, a bit of parmesan and seasoned with pepper.  The pumpkin softened and oozed (if a variety of squash can indeed ooze) through the risotto which is just what you need from a vegetable when you're feeding it to a toddler.  At least if you're feeding mine.

The risotto was very well received by Toddler SSG.  He ate a large bowl of it for afternoon tea.  I loved it so much myself that I gave myself two portions to freeze for work lunches.  Can't way I've ever done this with any other toddler recipe I've cooked.

After that epic afternoon tea / early dinner, we explored a new park where we were lucky enough to grab the last parking spot.  It was a glorious afternoon to be out amongst the trees and play equipment.  Parents kicked back in the sun with the phones and sunglasses, the little ones played and everyone looked thoroughly relieved that spring really was happening in spite of all the rain.

Even when he's asleep, Toddler SSG still has a presence at dinner thanks to his Ikea table ware which is often the only stuff within reach when I get my dinner organized.

It was such a good spring afternoon that the toddler's now in bed after his bath.  Which is why I'm here after having a home made pizza for dinner.  If I'd had any foresight, I really would have had something bubbly chilling in the fridge to go with it.  Next time.

I have more Daiso to share.  I find their lunch boxes the perfect size for the bag I use for toting Toddler SSG's stuff around the traps.  The boxes are also pretty sturdy and have clip closures that never explode in transit.

This rectangular lunch box is going to house the toddler muesli bars that he's obsessed with right now.  They tend to crumble without a bit of shock absorption and this Pop Heart design is just the thing.

I'm thinking of being brave and taking Toddler SSG to Bondi for the kite festival tomorrow.  Better get a good night's sleep beforehand.

Much love,


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