Oct 23, 2016

Lovin' Life 23/10/2016: A Highlights Reel.

This week's Lovin' Life highlights reel looks a little something like this:

The days have mostly been warm and sunny but the mornings have been a bit crisp.  It's the kind of weather that has called for a denim jacket to be casually slipped on as I head out the door to work.  I love that casual summer vibe denim jackets give  not to mention how comfortable this old favourite from Zara is as well.  This is as edgy as it gets with my work wardrobe.

I'm moving up in the world of dumb bells for my 'home gym' (aka the rectangle of floor in front of the television that my yoga mat occupies).  Somehow 5 kg at home feels as heavy as 7 kg at the gym...

I'm trying my hardest to take a positive spin on the gloomy weather in Sydney this weekend.  Firstly, at least we're not having the extreme weather Melbourne is enduring right now and secondly, cold weekend mornings are the perfect excuse to go exploring for new cafes.  Our local Westfield is so massive, just walking the couple of blocks to another entrance will see you find a new cafe and completely different streetscape to look out on as you sip.

I'm especially happy about these little finds.  I've previously seen quite a few Simmone Logue baked goods (quiches and pies) on sale at supermarkets but when I saw these pork dumplings and pork belly buns at Woolworths yesterday, I just had to buy both.  From memory, they were around $15 per packet.

Pricy but well worth the price.  The buns were especially loved by my friend and I as we nibbled at them with a glass of Moet to belatedly celebrate Global Champagne Day yesterday.  All you need to do is steam them for 8 minutes and serve.  The hoisin sauce included in each bun is just right and the only addition we made was to serve with some cucumber sticks for extra crunch.  There was a lovely thick slice of pork belly in each soft bun, no scrimping on quality just because it's ready made here.  Well worth considering if you're catering a party this summer.

The dumplings were also well received.  More meaty than your average yum cha offering.  They weren't dry and didn't fall apart in the steamer.  You might need to serve them with a bit of chilli sauce.  The children really enjoyed these.

And that's about it from me, this week.  It's been a busy one with a lot of ground covered.  Here's to next week being just as good!

Oct 21, 2016

Friday Drinks #2: VBxTarget, COAR and Other Things.

I call these posts 'Friday Drinks' because they're a fun way to end the week.  No considered discussions, no cohesive themes and no intelligent analysis of the big issues.  Just a Daily Tele style take on the various things that have happened in my bubble of the world this week.

Reading the Daily Tele (the Sydney Confidential pages to be precise) - a guilty pleasure I can't give up as I waited for a coffee on Thursday.

To be fair though, even the most respected journalists are going a bit tabloid about the big issues of our world right now - Mr Trump for starters and the housing affordability crisis for breakfast, so long as it's not smashed avocado and toast if you're a millennial, mind you.  

Were you a bit disappointed to have not already heard news of next year's Target Australia designer collaboration?  To be honest, I'm not holding my breath given the restructure that's taken place with management and the direction they want to take with regards to stock, sales volumes and target demographics.

Anyway.  This news just broke in the fashion media.  Victoria Beckham and Target.  Shut.  The.  Front.  Door.

I'm a bit of a VB tragic.  Not so much the Posh Spice days but of her current life as a working mum and fashion luminary.


Victoria Beckham will be releasing a range with Target USA on April 9 2017.  Which isn't terribly convenient for me because firstly Target USA have apparently stopped taking international orders and I'm not due stateside until around May.  I am sure this was an oversight on Victoria's part.  I do have generous friends, though, and they have already volunteered to help a sister in her time of need.  Big up for the sisterhood!

Back to my reality and I'll be straight with you, fashion and visionary aren't two words that spring to mind.  Though, I did wear my necklace around my wrist at the play centre the other day.  None of the other mums were.  But then again, none of the other mums were naive enough to mix a statement necklace with the prospect of trying to squeeze into a child sized hidey hole or stair case.

I am getting old, though.  There was a time when the only thing I feared about play centre slides was that I'd get wedged in a turn because of my size.  Now I fear the slides because they all look too steep and fast and I worry for my bones should I land awkwardly.  Does anyone else feel the same?

Not shown - Preschooler SSG and the special Halloween pumpkins and skeleton decorations that also featured on the play gym.

The play gym at the centre  was 11/10.  It was three storeys high (they're usually only two) and featured palm trees, cabins and space ships on the stop storey.  The only problem was that it was virtually impossible to find your child once they climbed beyond the ground floor of activities.  Just as well I've got my ears finely tuned to the pitch of  Preschooler SSG's 'muuuuummmm call'.

Not bad for a play centre lunch is it?  This was my turkey and Camembert baguette.

I could talk to you next about how my friends and I will be belatedly observing Global Champagne Day this weekend or I could tell you about Cotton On's relatively new, premium fitness range for women called COAR (Cotton On Active Range).  Let's go with the latter because the former is going to be one of those 'you have to be there' kind of things.

Cotton On initially launched COAR for men but it got so popular there is now a women's range.  The points of difference to CO's regular active wear range are cut and the quality of the fabrics.  My recent order was noticeably more pricey than my usual ones where I often have to scrabble around to get the value of shopping cart up to the free postage threshold.

These are two of the tops I ordered and they are still available online with good size and colour availability.

The asymmetric performance T, $24.95.

The power mesh T, $34.95.

Initial thoughts:

  • Price wise, COAR is about twice the price of standard issue CO fitness gear.  But the price is still only around half of Lorna etc.
  • I do like the cut of the tank and Ts I own.  They fit better across the bust and and aound the arms, straps and sleeves are a more generous fit.
  • I like the designs - a bit of mesh, asymmetric hems.
  • Colour range makes it easy to mix and match things with shorts and tights I already own.
  • Discrete logos but they aren't embroidered or sewn on, they're the silvery sticky stuff that has been known to come off in the first wash for me.  Not that it's all or mostly all about the logo but it is annoying to have new top with shadowy bits from where trims have come off its fabric.
  • Fabrics are still quite thin though.  I'm not sure how they will stand up to repeated washing and whether things will fade or sag.  I did choose dark colours so it may not be as obvious if it does happen early.
  • Comfortable to work out in, my top didn't ride up my waist or fall off my shoulder this morning at the gym.  Next test situation will tomorrow when the weekend of sprint training begins again.

Don't forget to celebrate Global Champagne Day at some point this weekend.

Have a good weekend.

Oct 20, 2016

Wynyard Walk and Barangaroo South.

If I'd only done a little reading about Barangaroo before taking Preschooler SSG for a little walk around yesterday then it would be highly likely that I'd have more to report back to you today besides a photo essay of Wynyard Walk, the sparkling office towers and beautiful new eateries of Barangaroo South.  It turns out that there are actually three sections of Barangaroo (the reserve, Central Barangaroo and Barangaroo South) which is an ambitious and trail blazing redevelopment of the western edge of Sydney Harbour.   An estimated six billion dollars (and counting) worth of building, landscaping and environmental scientific innovation if that helps give you context for the significance of what is going on in the area.

The section that greets you as you exit the futuristic Wynyard walk area of the train station is Barangaroo South.  

It's the home of several new glittering sky scrapers which house many of the key players of the financial world.  It's a bit like Canary Wharf in London, now that I think about it.

The other exciting feature of the area is the collection of eateries that line the new streets with atmospheric names like Mercantile Walk and Scotch Row.  

Belle's Hot Chicken - almost hidden from view on the ground floor of the building on the left.  There's a beautiful gelato store right behind it.

It's practically the A list of the current favourites in the food blogger world - Belle's Hot Chicken (pictured above), Luxe Cafe, Bourke Street Bakery, Campos Coffee and Shortstop Donuts to name a few.  Fortunately, while many are closed in the late afternoon, they are open on weekends and I can see Preschooler SSG and I making many trips to the area of weekend afternoon teas this summer.

One of the main reasons we didn't actually get to the award winning, stepped reserve is that there was so much to see and explore right where we were.  Granted the local David Jones (I am not joking, saw the signage with my very own eyes) hasn't opened yet but the water was full of many of Preschooler SSG's favourite watercraft.  He was beside himself watching the cranes, diggers and boats in action all around him.

It wasn't so long ago that the neighbouring King Street Wharf was the place to go on the water but sadly, it all looks a little tired and dated compared to the fit outs of the restaurants that dot the ground floor landscape of Barangaroo.


Preschooler SSG was having a closer look at a cart advertising the afternoon meze service at one restaurant.

While I was having a 'So Sydney...' laugh at the idea of a Vermouth Bar and Bistro.


It's all very much a world for the pretty and polished people during the week.  Members of that tribe were beginning to filter in after work for drinks on the verandah.  Those are actually Le Creueset cutlery holders on the tables in case you were wondering.  I love the ombre grey.

There are also a number of relatively modestly priced takeaway options.  Pattison's has a branch here.

Preschooler SSG and Purple initially wanted one of most things but I managed to talk him down to a single cupcake for after dinner.

Here we are being environmentally aware and refilling our drink bottles using the free filtered water dispenser at Canteen which is a food court type arrangement.

My mission for our next afternoon here is to take Preschooler SSG a bit further up the wharf to Barangaroo Reserve.  I'm hoping that there will be some play equipment for him otherwise I'll just go with the flow and squeeze in a sprint session while I chase him around the wide open spaces.

Have you been to Barangaroo yet?  Lucky enough to work there, even?  Have you any hot tips for making the most of the reserve with children in tow?

Oct 19, 2016

Boundaries and Consent.

The irony of the timing of today's post is not lost on me.  After a rash of 'mummy blogger' type posts, I bring you a few of my thoughts and reactions to this opinion piece from the New York Times written by another self labelled 'mummy blogger' on why she's decided to stop writing about her children.  To briefly summarise, Elizabeth Bastos began blogging about motherhood and her children when they were very young.  The blog was her outlet to cope with the fatigue, frustration, anger and postnatal depression.  The turning point for Bastos was when her father rang her after reading a post about his grandchild's early steps through puberty.  Her father was calling as an advocate for his grandson's privacy during such in intensely private and confronting time.

This paragraph stood out to me because of its insightful honesty:

I was always the narrator, the main character, even if I was also the storm-tossed heroine, the hot mess in mom jeans who couldn’t get the overalls on her 2-year-old. Or figure out fourth-grade fractions homework. I was working out my issues. My kids were always satellites to the big round-faced moon of me.

I haven't read Bastos' blog and today's post is not meant to be a judgement of her or her writing.  I'm not sure if she might not have already taken it down given the concerns she raised in her New York Times but I am reflecting on what I've written, what I intend to write in the future and also what I have read on other blogs.

Personal blogs are, by definition, about the person who writes them.  Told from their point of view, with all people and situations discussed edited to create the image the blogger wishes to project to their readership.  Bloggers make a choice about whether or not they wish to write anonymously or not, their subjects aka the 'satellite children' do not.

I have no delusions about my blog being anything more than a kind of vanity project where I write about fragments of my life for posterity and also for entertainment value.  Being a mother is a huge part of my life and identity.  At times it feels like its my entire life and identity.  Through the more challenging moments, I've often sought reassurance, hope and laughter from other parents who've shared their experiences through their blogs.  The writing that's helped me most, while quite specific and frank, often managed to do so without the author naming and shaming their children.  No photos or videos, no real names.

This anonymity made me feel okay with reading about someone who didn't consent to have their life story shared in that manner.  But am I correct in feeling this way?  People who feature in the news, on television segments and in other media as well as in academic publications do need to give their consent for their involvement to be featured in the final product.  Unless, of course, you're a celebrity in which case pieces of pure speculation can be published about you once they've been proof read by a magazine's legal team.  And then there are authors of fiction who base their work loosely on their own lives or those of people they know.

What's the deal with blogging?  Where do we draw the line?  Where should the line be drawn?

I wish to continue writing this blog for as long as I can but I also have a responsibility to the people I write about in it.  I have tried my best to respect their privacy for those who do not or cannot consent to having an online and social media presence.  For those that are active online, I have tried to maintain consistency on this blog my writing about them using their screen names or handles.  But I haven't often asked for consent explicitly because I've assumed it was implicit by virtue of their being in my blogging and social media circles.  

Outside of the consent issue, I've strived to write about others as I hope others would write about me.  So, to reference the article again, writing about someone else's early puberty is something I would not do.

What are your thoughts on the issue of consent as it applies to blogging?  Is it okay to write about anyone so long as you keep it nice and keep it anonymous?

Oct 18, 2016

A Day at Taronga Zoo.

There are those days where the only way to walk to preschool is to do so in the company of your new monkey called Purple.

Your mum might have wanted you to call him Prince but to you, he's Purple and you love him so much you wear him like an infinity scarf to bed every night.  Your mum sneaks in after you've fallen asleep to loosen Purple's velcro hands (though technically, I read somewhere that their hands are actually modified feet).

We bought Purple at Taronga Zoo over the weekend.  Those of you who follow my Instagram will already have the low down on how spectacular the weather was on the Sunday we went.  I was so inspired that I even posted a whole heap of Insta story videos too.  That hasn't happened in a while.

We took the ferry from Circular Quay and to be honest, I think this is the only way we'll be going in the future.  It was only a 12 minute ride and there are buses to meet you on the zoo side that take you right up to the main entrance.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, it's the centenary of the zoo moving from Moore Park to leafy, tranquil, water side Mosman.

The last time I visited the zoo was seven years ago and my memories are hazy at best.  The zoo that greeted me on the weekend was world class.  The grounds were beautifully maintained, everything was easy to locate and the amenities were well thought out (lots of bathrooms and lockers at the entrance plus a store for both gifts and last minute emergencies like sunscreen).

There was even a sleek cafe at the entrance.

It looked more like an upmarket  restaurant than the concept I had in my mind of a zoo entrance.

Single admissions are $46 for adults and $26 for children over the age of four with a discount for online purchases.  It made better sense for us to purchase a season pass because three hours was as long as Preschooler SSG could handle and we barely scratched the surface of all the enclosures let alone the shows.

There are a number of attractions like meeting the koalas that require extra tickets to be purchased as well as for things like the wild ropes adventure. Roar and Snore is a zoo sleepover experience that I have to take Preschooler SSG to one day.  The minimum age for children to participate is five.  Not long to go...  The Sky Safari cable car ride is free though and ended up being Preschooler SSG's most favourite activity of the day. It offers a fabulous view of Sydney Harbour as well as an aerial view of the zoo.  Highly recommended.

Food and beverage wise, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of food on offer at the food hall.  It is all pre made but there was a wide range of options running the spectrum of the usual fried favourites to Asian foods and baguettes.  Much nicer than anything I tried at the theme parks of Orlando.

I don't have many photos of the animals for you, I'm afraid.  

There is a koala resting in the shade in this photo, top left.

One of the elephants having a drink of water.

Preschooler SSG looking for turtles.

The giraffe enclosure.

A shady resting spot in the corner.

On the ferry back to Circular Quay.

We've actually already planned to return next month with our mothers group besties.

We stopped for tea and chocolate gelato on the way home.  Three cheers for the longer days that daylight saving has already given us and the many more to come this summer.


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