Oct 22, 2018

Life This Week 22/10/2018: Quick Meal Ideas.

Quick meal ideas isn't just a phrase to me, it's part of my way of life.  I'm a big fan of batch cooking, minimal prep and letting things like the oven and slow cooker do all the hard work.  I love some of these meals so much that their recipes are committed to memory.  Which is pretty impressive considering how bad my memory is at times....

My favourite breakfast at the moment is baked oats.  I make a few variations I've adapted from recipes discovered via Google.  The constants are rolled oats, psyllium, chia seeds and flax seeds.  Then the rest is whatever takes my fancy - a coconut version, one with choc chips and peanut butter and a healthier version full of fruit and pecans.  I just reheat a portion each morning and eat it with yoghurt, fresh fruit and some honey and cinnamon to taste.

Lunches are usually some kind of salad or some crudites, dip and rice crackers. 

On really crazy days, a couple of hard-boiled eggs and a Bear Naked bar do the trick.

Image result for bear naked bars
via Woolworths.com

I'm not ashamed to say that French Onion soup mix is a key ingredient in many of my favourite dinners.

Lamb and French Onion soup mix are a surprise match made in heaven.  There's the infamous Lamb Obsession dish made in the slow cooker with everything in the photo above plus some onions and a lamb roast.  For a casserole, just use the soup mix, carrots and cauliflower and some lamb chops and bake in the oven.

And let's not forget Apricot Chicken as a third non-soup dinner you can make with a humble sachet of French Onion soup.  I like to add curry powder or Moroccan spice mix too.

Another dinner that's always on high rotation in my kitchen is Japanese Beef Curry.  It works well in the slow cooker with cheaper cuts of beef plus it always makes plenty to freeze for future dinners.

What are some of your favourite quick meal ideas?  

Oct 20, 2018

We Had Some Sun For A While There.

The sun solves everything.  After weeks and weeks and weeks of nothing but rain, we've been richly rewarded for hanging in there and keeping on. 

Just in time for the weekend too.

This was the scene on Friday afternoon as I drove home in the early bit of peak hour.  It's only a photo of the traffic, I know, but that sky and that sunshine!  And all of it ahead of a non-working weekend.

The sun lent an almost festive, end of term vibe to school pick up.  Everyone wanted to hang around and play for a bit despite being picked up.  Second afternoon teas were had in the cool of the shad and various things were built and bounced on.  I don't know where all that energy came from because this was all coming off the back of swimming and cricket.  Yes. swimming has officially begun at school and all 70 kindergarteners changed into their bathers, got onto a bus, swam and then changed back again without any major dramas.  I'm none the wiser as to how it actually happened but it did and Master SSG is looking forward to doing it all again next week.

I'm also excited about finally being able to do some long outdoor runs. 

There's been a bit of fog over Sydney but it's lovely and warm in the early mornings these days.  Just a shame that this new fangled phone of mine still can't take perfect photos in the dawn light.  It was spectactular seeing the lights of the city materialize through the fog.  Might try the flash next time to see if it helps.  Shame I didn't think to do this at the time.

I knew I was going to jinx the weather when I posted my earlier photos.  The storm clouds are gathering again this afternoon and a storm seems imminent.  So it was probably a good thing we went for a swim at the aquatic centre rather than at the beach.  It was only a brief reprieve from the rain that we had yesterday and earlier today but at least I've got some hot chips.

How's the weather made you feel?  Are you a little up and down according to how it's been of late?  It's so frustrating to be this far into spring and still be plagued by rain.

Oct 18, 2018

Lovin' Life 18/10/2018: In Praise of Crayola's Washable Fingerpaints.

Today I'm giving thanks for and loving ....

Crayola's Washable Finger Paints ($17AUD from Target) because true to their name, they really do wash out and off with water.  Whether it be your brass doorknobs, a prized Star Wars watch, the floorboards, your hands or those of your creative and artistic child's - it comes off with soap, water or a few wipes.

How do I know this?

Well, this was the scene at SSG Manor 2.0 at 5pm after the first day back at school.  It's a dilemma I'm sure many parents have had themselves.  It is a school night and the potential for domestic chaos is highly probable but at the same time:

  1. creativity and ingenuity is being demonstrated (that was me that bought the 20 jar multipack of glitter from KMart, each colour thoughtfully packaged in a shaker jar ala the components of a spice rack)
  2. that elusive 'free play' that leading child educators and psychologists say we're not giving our 5 year olds enough of in this age of intensely scheduled days and early preparation for what I'm not sure because we all turned out all right without the extra stuff
Of all these valid points, #3 swayed me so I sucked it up and let the free play progress.  

The aftermath wasn't as bad as I had anticipated but gee it doesn't take long for brass door knobs to start looking disco.  It was cathartic wiping down all those surfaces with my handy Costco all-purpose wipes and the glittery blue footprints on my freshly laundered bath mat are festive and entirely appropriate for the months ahead (shudder... my diary is already filling up fast with end of year commitments).

All the same, though, thank goodness for Crayola and their 100% washable paints. 

Have you had fun with paint and glitter at your place recently?  Did you take it outdoors or did the weather make you keep it indoors?  Did it all wash out?

Oct 17, 2018

Life This Week 15/10/2018: What I Have Learned Lately.

I've just come off a couple of weeks' leave and in between the travel, the break from routine and the family time, I've found myself relearning a few truths about life.

Always look up.  Aim for the sky and its stars.  Never look down on anyone but also never let anyone else drag you down with them.

Actively find those special moments in the day.  The ones that are just yours.  Take them in with all your senses.  Imprint them on your brain.

Never let the opportunity to be a tourist in your own city pass you by.  I went to Madame Tussaud's with Master SSG last week and we had a blast.  I got my fix of Kate and Wills as well as Amanda Keller.

Shame my selfies with T Swift and Audrey H didn't quite turn out.

Never be afraid to imagine and believe.

It's best to be just who you are rather than trying to hide your true self or to be something you are not. You’ll only end up a pale imitation of your true self and a tired one at that.  Wear those Havs to breakfast at your 5 star hotel if you want need to.

Something that is as important as being kind to yourself is giving yourself credit where its due.  Not necessarily by building yourself a gold embellished Victory Tower and creating a magnificent park around it but perhaps just a pat on the back plus or minus a glass of celebratory something.

It wasn't just luck and it wasn't just the people around you.  It was you who made it happen.  Acknowledge this and accept the rewards unapologetically.

What have you learned or relearned about life lately?

The Berlin Diaries #10: The East Side Gallery.

It's always a bit sad coming to the end of the holiday snaps.

But at least the sun is finally shining here in Sydney.  Just the excuse I needed to start shopping for the summer ahead.  I found this $5 lobster beach towel at Kmart.  I'm sending it to school with Master SSG this Friday for swimming.  I wonder how it will all go, I hope everyone manages to get changed and then changed back again after swimming.  Feeling already for Master SSG's class teacher and her assistant.  14 boys to muster for one swimming class on a Friday afternoon....

And (I can't deny my excitement) the majors have begun stocking Christmas decorations.

My final instalment of Berlin photos is from a quick walk I took along the East Side Gallery.  As with everything else in Berlin, meticulously precise signs on the street direct you to the gallery from the train.  Warchauer Str station was the most convenient place for me to alight to access the gallery.

The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery of artworks painted directly onto a 1316m long segment of the Berlin Wall.  It is a heritage listed landmark and it is free to view the gallery.

Artists from all over the world have contributed to the collection with the paintings first created in 1990 with a project initiated in 2009 to rehabilitate works that been damaged by graffiti or time.  As its name suggests, all the paintings are on the east side of the wall.

There's a sense of freedom, hope and new beginnings about the art.

The colour and imagery are uplifting and an ironic contrast to all that the wall stood for when it was intact.

Aside from the immediate context of the paintings in the unified Berlin and Germany, the images of spoke of themes and ideas that are relevant to the world at large.

Some segments of the wall begged to be touched and experienced literally.

I couldn't resist doing a side profile selfie to mimic this painting.  Shame I forgot my selfie stick.

The East Side Gallery sits in the midst of an area undergoing intensive redevelopment.

The Mercedes Benz Arena overlooks a section of the gallery and new apartment blocks are going up literally alongside it.  There were plans to demolish a section of the wall to make way for the new buildings but that decision appears to have been overturned.  For now.

The abiding memory I have of Berlin is the surprise of things that always greeted me as I did something as simple as catching a train someplace and going for a little walk.  Your field of view is dynamic and diverse.  On one side of the street you might see a bridge, on the other the Berlin Wall and in the background to both will be the signs and symptoms of a modern city that is on a continual journey of healing, progressing and never forgetting.

I usually buy myself a little nick nack as a souvenir from the cities I visit but I struggled with Berlin because nothing I saw really captured how I feel about this amazing city that I grew to love more than I thought I would.  The souvenirs I have of Berlin are all in my head, heart and in the photo folder on my computer.

Until next time, Berlin.  And thank you.


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