Dec 6, 2016

Christmas Photos and Christmas Doughnuts.

Another weekend, another holiday season tradition ticked off the list.  And in rather grand style, I might add.  Preschooler SSG had his photo with Santa at The QVB this year and the whole day was just lovely.

The highlight of any visit to the QVB at this time of the year is the opportunity to get up close to the shimmering, sparkling beauty of the Swarovski encrusted tree.  It spans the height of the building and its star shines magnificently at the centre of the highest stained glass dome.  I never really appreciate the red and gold detailing of the walls until Christmas time when the green of the tree sets it all off to perfection.  

Preschooler SSG did such a good job of keeping his photo outfit spotless.  He's sitting on my backpack in the shade as we waited for our bus yesterday.

With the pressure off me this year in terms of not needing to be in the photo, I dressed for comfort.  Those Bettina Liano shorts from Costco were a very good buy indeed.

We packed lots of snacks to share with friends we were meeting for the photos.  There's nothing like the promise of a 'healthy' snake to encourage good behaviour in the line waiting for Santa.

This is for those of you unfamiliar with how Santa photos at the QVB work.  Bookings and prepayment start online a good month beforehand and this really does help keep the line from getting as feral as it does at Westfield and the other shopping centres.

Santa's gazebo is a thing of old world beauty with its wrought iron framework and dome of richly coloured flowers.  There are several fairies on hand who are dressed to theme and spend a few minutes with each child in the line chatting and setting them at ease for the photos.

Bubbles are always a hit and a pleasant distraction from the boredom of having to wait in line.

The actual photo session is fast and friendly.  Children have a little chat with Santa and offer them any letters they may have written, photos are taken, Santa says goodbye with a hug and words of Santa-ly wisdom and then you are done.

There's even a Haigh's Santa for each and every child and parent taking part in a photo shoot.

Due to the popularity of photos at the QVB venue, Santas seem to work shorter shifts than they do elsewhere.  We were lucky enough to see a couple of free range Santas strolling around the shops in between their shifts.  Preschooler SSG got to high five this particular Santa who later went on to participate in the gift exchange of a group having Christmas lunch at a cafe.  It really is such a magical, special time of the year in the city and it's lovely to see the off duty Santas taking their work home with them.

I love that you can see the tree from practically every level of the QVB.

One last shot of the tree....

Coming a close second in the highlights of the day stakes for the boys was the chance to take in Hobby Co's model train window.  The scenery for the model railway has even had a bit of a festive make over with snow kissed trees and glittering lights added here and there.

Some enterprising parent 'borrowed' a few chairs from a nearby cafe for the children to sit on as they watched the trains go around and around and around.....  The boys were bolted to those chairs for a good half hour and we had to prise them off their seats to go home.

Luckily I had a decent bribe in the form of a treat from Doughnut Time.  A voucher for a free doughnut was included in our photo package.

I've never tried Doughnut Time before and it soon became clear that I was missing out.  While the doughnuts don't look as arty as other bakeries, they do look fun and their flavour combinations are right up my alley.  I am so going back for a Milo Cyrus being a big fan of both Miley and Milo.

Our gift boxed doughnut managed to make it safely to the train station without once being opened or having any of its decorations being picked off by either Preschooler SSG or myself.

I give these doughnuts a solid 11/10.  The doughnuts themselves are fresh, fluffy and not sweet.

While the frosting is just sweet enough with a rich consistency.

There really wasn't much of our doughnut left to take on the train when it arrived but the box was too cute to throw away so soon.

Have you experienced the wonder of Doughnut Time?  What's your favourite flavour?

Dec 5, 2016

Life This Week 5/12/2016: My First Paid Job.

Technically, my first paid job was working the Sunday shift as a receptionist for dad.  Work also doubled as driving practice because my brave father would sit next to me and provide emotional support as I cautiously eased the car out of our driveway, down the streets of our quite suburb and onwards into the 'real' traffic of Perth.  I will always remember how calm dad was.  He never fell into the back seat driver role and somehow, over the months, he shepherded me through my learners, backed off a bit when I got my P plates and just sits back as a passenger when he comes to visit me in Sydney.  He's so calm about it all that the tunnels, congestion and toll ways that frightened me when I first started driving here barely register on his consciousness.

I look back and wonder whether it should actually have been dad's paid job to take me driving and that I should have paid him by working for free.
My first real paid job then was after I graduated from uni many decades (!!) ago.   The government places very strict regulations on all medical graduates in Australia and your first years of employment after graduation need to be in an approved hospital so that you can eventually meet the criteria to be registered as a medical practitioner.  This then allows you to enter further training for your chosen subspecialty.  This further training occurs in the community and outside of hospitals if you choose to enter general practice.  You can also pursue non clinical roles which often require further study at university.  And then there's the rest of us who spend most  of our working lives in the hospital system both for training and then employment as a specialist.

We have these names for each stage of training we do and also our degrees for postgraduate qualifications.  I don't think they really mean much to people outside of medicine to be honest and at the same time it would be hard to say what the equivalent of medical qualifications would be in the academic world beyond medicine.  But it is what it is and sorry for the essay, I hope it adds context.  The long and the short of it is that I began my career as an intern at a large hospital in Perth.  If you're a Perthie, you'll recognise it from the photo above.

I really enjoyed my intern year.  Yes it was daunting, exhausting and hectic but it was always interesting and even funny at times.  I worked with a wide range of people from all walks of life and because we had shared goals in terms of patient care, all getting through the day sane and alive as well as trying our best to comply with whatever targets the hospital management had for us - our differences brought us together.  Our different personalities brought humour to the hard times.  Our different backgrounds gave us empathy for our patients who may have otherwise not trusted 'the system' if someone 'who was one of them' hadn't taken the time to explain things to them or to hear their side of the story.  And then there were our numerous ward parties where all kinds of food would appear for lunch or just because for morning tea on a Friday morning.

Because we all tend to be in each others' pockets during the working day (none of this individual desk business for us), we also tend to get to know each other pretty well even if we're only working for short periods of time together.  I still bump into people I've worked with from years back and we still remember each other.

But do you now what the best thing was about the joys of my first year of work is?  It's that all of the above hasn't changed a bit in all the years that have passed.  I've moved states, passed exams, finished training, landed 'proper' jobs,  worked said 'proper' jobs whilst pregnant and then as a mother yet each day is still full of those same people, situations and lately - good coffee, we never really had good coffee back in Perth in the good old days.

Yet it never gets boring.  It keeps me going instead.

Dec 2, 2016

Friday Drinks #4: Possums and Lego.

Haven't we hit the trifecta with this fine specimen of a Friday?  It's the first Friday of summer, the first Friday of December (so there's advent calendar window opening to look forward to tonight) and the weather has finally gotten with the program.

What better way to start another Friday Drinks post then with a photo that's true to theme?  This is my new stainless steel drink bottle.  It's either confusingly (or ironically) decorated with a realistic looking pattern that reminds of of the knots you often see in floorboards.  The bottle has a 600ml capacity and I got it for a steel at just under $9 (half the RRP of $16.95) at Woolworths.  From memory, this model also comes in a white iceberg pattern while the double walled bottles have more geometric designs in solid colours.  They are so light weight and look great.  What more motivation do I need to stay hydrated this simmer?

I finally met a pair of the neighourhood's elusive possums this morning.  Ever since we moved in I've been entertained (and sometimes just a little frightened) by their loud movements in our roof and through the trees in the backyard.  Less amusing has been my daily sweeping of their droppings.  But moving right along:  today was the first time I'd ever seen them.
This might be stating the obvious but real life possums are nothing like Possum Magic's Grandma Poss and Hush Hush.  I'm actually rather frightened of them.  Their nimbleness across my back fence belies the their solid, staring presence when they choose to stop midway across the fence to turn and stare at you.

I got myself into such a flap under the steady gaze of that possum that I broke my skipping rope mid skip.

Lego is slowly but surely taking over our house.  Our latest project is this racing car.  The pieces are still a little too small for Preschooler SSG to consistently put together but he loves spotting the piece required at each step and sorting them for me as we read the instructions together.  As an aside, the Schleich Dinosaur Advent calendar is going down a treat with Preschooler SSG.  He's been trying to find ways to include his dinosaur with his Lego and trains.  It's very cute to watch.

via flickr
I have this Lego dream and it is to one day build something from the Architecture series of Lego sets.  I'm impressed to see so many Australian buildings make the cut.  Some less obvious places like The Australian Academy of Science have made the cut.
I'd love to build the Buckingham Palace set from the range.
Did you know there are even lists of the most difficult to make Lego sets?  This 3000 piece model of the Sydney Opera House gets a mention.

But there will always be trains in our lives, I think.  There is the mother lode of Brio at Laugh and Learn in Randwick, they even have a full set on a special table for customers to play with.  It's a wonderful store to visit with a wide range of thoughtfully selected toys, books and educational supplies.  The building also houses an art school upstairs as well as Ukubebe music classes downstairs which Preschooler SSG loves.

Do real life possums scare you?

Are you an adult Lego addict?  What's the most challenging Lego you've ever built?

Dec 1, 2016

Lovin' Life 1/12/2016: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

And just like that, we've flipped our calendars over to the very last month of the year.

What a great looking month - the only commitment I've got scheduled for before Christmas is a leave day.

Hello December and everything that your 31 glorious days promise.  The official start of summer, the count down to Christmas, those lazy days from Boxing Day to New Years Eve plus all sorts of other good things like birthday parties, the summer season at The Opera House and even more summer fruit.  I don't know how I'm going to fit it all in personally but where there's a will, there's a way.

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Speaking of wills and ways, I've finally figured out how to do outfit selfies without using the bathroom or lift mirrors.  Timer delay on my iPhone, the top of a book case and a nice white wall to stand against.  I think a monster has been unleashed.  Apologies in advance.

Our Advent Calendars have been ready for weeks now and they've now been arranged on the the mantle piece.  

As well as on other even surfaces around the place because the mantle piece is already a bit over crowded in the festive cheer department.

I'm especially excited about opening mine each day.  I'm a born again fan of The Body Shop and am looking forward to rediscovering old favourites and finding some new ones over the next 24 days.  I'm a bit nervous about the reception Preschooler SSG's Dinosaur calendar will receive, though.  While he's talked about dinosaurs a bit, he's never actually asked for a model dinosaur before.  I guess I'll only know after he's opened the first window.

And here it is.  Our first proper Christmas tree.  I'm really happy with the way it looks.  It's just the right size for the study and looks as beautiful as it is budget friendly.

For a first time tree, its branches already hold many memories and moments by way of some special decorations.

This candy cane came from Preschooler SSG's Christmas craft stall.  The children in his class made decorations to sell with the money raised going towards gifts for the Smith Family's Christmas Appeal.  Many of us parents have already donated gifts but the children wanted to buy some gifts themselves.  They took a bus to our local Westfield, went to Target (where else?!?!) and each chose gifts to add to ours.  It was such a beautiful way for them to learn about giving while also having fun as a class through the craft, the excursion and then depositing the gifts under the tree at reception.

This horse was the first decoration Preschooler SSG hung on the tree.  Even with the chair, he was still a bit short to put our star on the top of the tree but I reckon he'll be fine next year.

This star and bell were gifts from our lovely next door neighbour.  We always have interesting chats about the world and her local knowledge about life in our neck of the woods is encyclopedic.

This bobbing Christmas tree is a very new (like Tuesday new) decoration I got from Woolworths. My memory of it will always be that I bought it at the same time as our first family Christmas tree.

Do your tree decorations have special memories attached to them?

Nov 29, 2016


I love this time of the year for so many reasons.  And each year that list of reasons grows by at least another couple of demonstrations of Christmas cheer.  It's not even December yet but it's already feeling like the most wonderful time of the year.

I've just put up our Christmas tree.  

Ain't life grand when you can stop and read the instructions before attempting to assemble your Christmas tree?  Do you remember those plasticky monstrosities of the 80s that were basically life sized versions of the play sets you played with as a child?  These days, even your most basic tree features a bit of contrasting greenery in the branches with subtle brown branch detailing as well.

Things are extremely precise in the Christmas tree world these days.

I'm just waiting for Preschooler SSG to come home so that we can decorate the tree together.

There's a bit of a story behind our tree.  It all started off in Target where I bumped into a friend who had also decided that this was The Year for putting up a Christmas Tree.  With both our preschoolers understanding what Christmas is this year and also having demonstrated a sense of respect for boundaries and gentleness towards the Christmas trees already already dotted around Westfield: we were both ready to take the plunge.

There was only one problem.  The 'proper' looking 183cm green trees were all already sold out.  If we were willing to shell out $99 for a 208 cm tall tree we'd be fine but apparently Target Bondi Junction is already all out of mid sized trees.  We were actually both pretty fine with it because the thought of going to another shop to look for a tree that may or may not be there was overwhelming us both.  There was a bit of deliberation between us before we both decided to get our baubles and think on the $99 trees.  Because I was the one at the shops free range (Preschooler SSG was at preschool while my friend had her preschooler with her), I volunteered to check out Woolworths to see if there was a tree there that might suit us both a bit better.

Good call, SSG.  I found this premium 180cm tall tree that was labelled as costing $60 but magic happened at the checkout and it scanned for only $30.  I breathlessly texted my friend a photo of the aisle were the trees were, what the box looked like and the final price.  Then I followed up with instructions on the quickest possible way to get to Woolies from Target.  So now we've both got the same tree and decorations plus it all came in at well under budget leaving us both with a bit of self gifting money, I think.

It takes a village and teamwork to raise children (and save your sanity) especially at Christmas.

This year's tree(s) and decorations are an ensemble effort from Target, KMart and Woolworths.

Trees?  I just couldn't let my beloved dragon plant go untouched by the spirit of Christmas.

Its branches are festooned with my 'Scandi style' ornaments from last year as well as a few additions from Woolworths' current range. Though, I apologise, the correct term appears to be 'Nordic'.

In non festive news from my much needed day off....

Banh Mi is finally on its way back to The Junction.

Aldi's peanut butter is my favourite and the best.

I spent $80 at Officeworks replacing glue sticks, trying some new adhesive options for Preschooler SSG's craft and splashing out on some premium grade scissors because scissors whose handles break at the drop of a hat Frustrate me.

I think I love Drano almost as much as I love WD40.  I just unblocked the drain in my bathroom sink.  No call out fee for a plumber!  No half day lost waiting for said plumber to arrive!  My self gifting fund this Christmas is looking surprisingly healthy all of a sudden.


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