Returning to the Routine. Makeup Misses.

I'm still here, it's just that the week seems to have gotten away from me.

The mornings have been a blur of waking up, rugging up and heading to work.

It's been a week of trying to re establish Routine.  A word steeped in anxiety for the parents of toddlers who've just returned from holiday.  Sleeps are getting better, clinginess is abating and I'm gradually finding a bit more time to myself in the day to get back into routines of my own - like the brisk Friday morning walk for coffee.  Why, I've even found myself a half hour to write this blog post!

Getting my energy levels back post that head cold.  I'm feeling more human for being able to get out and get my heart rate up for a bit at the gym.

Opening my Cotton On order at the breakfast table because it contained an emergency supply of track pants for Toddler SSG and he kind of needed them right away.

Loving these leggings from Cotton On.  They're the core compression ones from the Active range, in the Active Core Capri style ($24.95 from memory).  They sit pretty high at the waist and hold those areas in that diligent Russian twists and fit ball contortions have yet to touch.  What's not to like about that?

It's also been a week of shattered compacts.  First my MAC Studio Fix died and now my Laura Mercier blush has suffered a similar fate.

This Maybelline Fit Me pressed powder ($14.95) in Sun Beige sort of comes close to Studio Fix but not quite.  

The colour is a reasonable match but it's a bit drying on me and ends the day looking patchy.

To replace my blush, I thought I'd give Physician's Formula pH Matchmaker ($21.95) a go.  It's a blush whose hot pink tones are meant to settle on your skin and fade to the perfect rosy blush to complement your skintone.

It comes in a snazzy light up compact.

Unfortunately for me, the end result was anything but natural.  It's quite pigmented and the shimmer did nothing for my pores.  I ended up looking a bit hot and bothered on both days that I tried to wear this to work.

The moral of the story for me?  Stick to what works.  As luck would have it, I received a StrawberryNet 'We Miss You' discount in my email today so the blush situation is sorted out but sadly, StrawberryNet no longer carry MAC so I'm going to have to find a counter to get my StudioFix.  Or perhaps I'll just go online this weekend.  Any other MAC raves I should have a look at?
There's still one part of my routine that's been missing - Offspring.  I've heard that terrible things happened this week and that I just have to catch up if I'm to make any sense of the final two episodes of the season.  Number one thing on my weekend to do list, I think.

Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Lemon Juice and Lemonade Cake.

I've been struggling with a cold for the last couple of days and have been missing my get up and go terribly.

Honey and lemon for the time poor just flip the lids and squeeze.
These squeezy bottles of honey and lemon juice have been my constant companions.  I've been sipping at mugs of hot water spiked with honey and lemon all day at work in a bid to keep my voice going.  For the record, that Coles 99% Lemon Juice is the goods.  My throat has held up and my voice has survived the talkfests that have been the last couple of days.  The lemon juice is also lovely drizzled over salad.  I reckon lemon juice is just about due for its time in the sun as the superfood of the moment.

Toddler SSG hosting afternoon tea in Perth last week and I thought that it would be nice to bake a cake for the event.  I don't know which side of the fence you sit on when it comes to cake mix doctoring, but I am a huge fan of the concept when I'm pushed for time and need to come up with a cake that's guaranteed to rise perfectly.  I found this recipe for Sprite / lemonade cake and was able to whip it up in almost no time at all.

Fizzy cake batter.  

Simply place a packet of vanilla cake mix, a bag of vanilla pudding mix, 4 eggs, 1 cup of lemonade and 3/4 cup of vegetable oil into a mixing bowl while keeping one eye on your toddler who will be either clinging to your legs or emptying the kitchen cupboards.  If he's trying to do both simultaneously, abandon the baking project and go out for a coffee instead.

Beat ingredients together on low to combine then on medium for two minutes.

Then bake at 180C for 25 minutes in two greased and lined 9 inch / 20 cm cake tins.  Cool before removing from tins and frosting.

The rules of cake mix doctoring are that it's fine to bake a cake mix based cake but when it comes to the icing and frosting, made from scratch is the way to go.  However, if you're going to use pre made frosting then you can doctor this as well.  There are lots of ideas out there on the net including mixing the frosting with cream cheese, butter or icing sugar.  I ended up beating my tub of Betty Crocker with 1/4 cup of sifted icing sugar and a scraped down vanilla pod (you can use vanilla essence too).  The icing sugar gives the frosting an easier to spread consistency and the flecks of vanilla made my frosting look a little fancy.  However, the rule was right.  Store bought frosting is best reserved for desperate times.

I topped the cake with these zoo themed icing sugar toppers.  The cake itself had a light yet dense texture and was very moist.  The lemonade gave it a zingy taste.  It's the perfect party cake.  The next time I bake this cake, I'm definitely going to make the frosting from scratch.

Our host slept through the savouries.

Hoot pyjamas - Target.

But awoke just in time for the cake.  His favourite part of the cake?  The icing sugar hippo that made his lips as blue as the sleeves of his new Hoot pyjamas.

More Senseless Loss. Home. Snaps of Holiday Places.

As trying as yesterday's flight home from Perth was for all involved (45 minute total body toddler tantrum that lasted through to touchdown and the entire 20 minutes we were on the runway waiting to disembark), talk of my immense relief at 'surviving it' would be clueless and insensitive in light of the tragic news of MH17.

Image from Reuters.  The cross made by the power line carries grim symbolism for what it towers over.

The innocent soles that were lost were children who had barely lived their lives, parents who would never see their children reach adulthood, people for whom July 17 2014 was just another day on the job.  In addition to all of this is the loss of 6 AIDS researchers who were on their way to a world conference on AIDS in Melbourne.  In them, we have lost not only individual, irreplaceable lives but also a large piece of the fabric of the world's current and future knowledge on a virus that kills millions each year.

The weather in Sydney today seems to be in mourning for the lives lost on MH17.

Grey skies and fierce winds have been with us all day.  It's been a day for staying indoors and making inroads on all those jobs that accumulate when you've been away for a bit like waiting in the Saturday morning queue at the barber with a coffee in hand or hand on the birds' food as the case may be.

Skoot ride on suitcase - $49.99 Aldi (special buy from last month).

We're mostly unpacked.  This suitcase scooter I bought for Toddler SSG travels well.  Unfortunately, Toddler SSG hasn't quite taken to sitting on it, preferring instead to tip it on its side and roll its wheels with his hands rather than on the ground.  I'm hoping he'll enjoy scootering on it by the time we're ready to travel again.

I've seen to the mail, including this parcel from Cotton On.

Socks - Cotton On Kids, $10 for 4 pairs at the moment.

Which contained these glittery spotted socks for Toddler SSG.

Nala circular scarf - $10 with any other purchase at Cotton On.

And a circular scarf for me.

Books for sale at Elizabeth's Secondhand Bookstore, Rockeby Road, Subiaco.

Been going through my holiday snaps too.  Aren't these blind date books genius?

I found this new pasta cafe, Tommy Sugo tucked under the IGA up the road (on Broadway) from mum and dad's.

It's very tastefully accessorised with wooden cutlery for the pasta takeaways.

And nifty striped paper straws (as well as the more durable but less attractive plastic version) for juices and smoothies as well as freshly baked amaretto biscuits that perch on top of each takeaway coffee order.

I didn't have room for their almond croissants but all good cafes seem to have these on offer for breakfast.

The beans on offer last Thursday.

I think I've scored an extra long nap from Toddler SSG this afternoon.  Good haircuts tend to that to a boy, I guess.  I'd better make the most of it and fold the laundry if there's any chance of it staying folded en route to the wardrobes.  And perhaps I should look up the last few weeks' of Offspring on Tenplay.


'Confessions of A QANTAS Flight Attendant' by Owen Beddall. Banana Bread Supreme and Other News From Perth.

It's been the second day in a row of staying in with a book and pottering kind of weather in Perth and I've made good use of it.
I've just finished 'Confessions of a QANTAS Flight Attendant'by Owen Beddall and thoroughly enjoyed it for what it was.  Beddall dishes the dirt on the famous and not so famous people he's looked after over his prolific career with what was once Australia's premier carrier but is now facing challenges in the shape of rebranding and cost cutting as it seeks to stay competitive in a market where consumer expectations are high and the demand for value for money even higher.  

From the point of view of a gay man in one of the world's few 'gay friendly' industries, Beddall weaves tales of the passengers he encountered with observations of the cities he's lived and worked in with the added dimension of being the go between for his heterosexual colleagues and their romantic escapades both at work and at play.  

It's not all saucy details and scandal, unfortunately.  Beddall's career with QANTAS suffered several set backs in the form of work related medical conditions which ultimately saw him become a costly inconvenience to the airline he worked for with pride.  It was also interesting to read about the internal changes of the airline as it restructured and what it meant to employees.

With it's Australian point of reference, ' Confessions of a QANTAS Flight Attendant' is an easy and entertaining read that's perfect for a winter's day on the sofa or even on the plane.

I've been having amazing luck with the cosmetic sample sachets I find attached to the pages of The Australian Women's Weekly.  This was how I discovered L'Oreal's Revitalift Magic Blur a few months back.

This month, I found Garnier's equivalent, Perfect Blur (RRP $16.95 but currently on sale at Chemist Warehouse for $14.39).  I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I did like it.  It's more fluid than L 'Oreal's but seems to give a more matte finish on  my skin and wears well under makeup.  It dries really quickly and lasts through a busy day as well as through a run in the sun.  I'm going to be making the switch, I think, when I get through my current tube of Magic Blur.

It wouldn't be a trip home to mum and dad's without mum and I exchanging small but essential gifts. Mum gave me a Uniqlo T shirt (the black one's mine, the purple is mum's but I don't think you can get it online in Australia anymore).  She's a huge fan of Heattech herself and swears by her white scoop neck long sleeve T-shirt during winter.  My sister in law is Japanese and I think a massive Uniqlo shopping haul in Tokyo will be in our collective futures.

And I gave her something Japanese in return in the shape of some stainless steel kitchenware from Daiso.  An obsession with stainless steel kitchenware is practically genetic if you're Malaysian or Singaporean Chinese.  Practically genetic.

Rainy days in also mean comfort baking and I made this Banana Bread Supreme from Best Recipes yesterday.  It makes a very moist loaf that is best kept in the fridge.  It's practically fat free because it doesn't contain butter or oil which means it's perfectly justified to slather on some butter on your slice for morning tea.  I made double the recipe stated on the website to fit my large loaf tin.  The golden syrup / sugar combination was just right.  I used brown sugar for the batter as this is all I had.  I didn't have cinnamon sugar so topped my loaf with raw sugar instead.  I used wholemeal SR flour.

The bread tastes even better when kept in the fridge overnight.  It even got a cheeky grin from Toddler SSG this morning.  He's still on a strict baked goods for breakfast diet which he supplements with a squeezy pack yoghurt.  It has to be a squeezy pack of yoghurt, mind you, and not a punnet or bowl.  The first half is to be fed to him and then he's to be given the remainder to squeeze direct from the pack into his mouth.  Don't question the process and turn a blind eye.

Good To Be Home. The Second Winter.

It's good to be home.

That familiar masthead on the paper accompanying your pot of tea.

Finding the local dairy brand at Woolies.

Lunchtime runs by the river in a tank top on account of the warm winter sun (on any day except today).

And coffee runs up the road with Toddler SSG on his Smart Trike.

Steve's still has the best coffee this end of the 'burb, by the way.  Which works out brilliantly because they're the closest cafe to home.  On Saturdays, the ladies who brunch deliberate whether to share a plate of the house crisps or the cheeseboard with their post walk flat whites, their immaculately blow dried bobs bowed down in thought as they try to recall who of the party has lactose intolerance and whether this would affect the selection of the cheeses.  Lunchtime regulars who come in for their Saturday pint banter with the barman about whether they should be good about their fish and chips order or throw caution to the wind and get the battered fillet of ling.

It's that Second Winter of a toddler's life that's the reality slap for working mothers.  The seemingly endless cycle of bugs and teething with the added complexity of toddler tantrums.  The meticulously choreographed schedule you had for getting to work and then the one for what happens the moment you walk through the door in the evening grind to a halt in the Second Winter.

Breakfast assumes a Days Of Our Lives level of melodrama as tears are shed over not being able to lift up blankie (because most of it has been sat on in the clamber to get onto an adult dining chair) and then when it appears that the sultanas on offer today are too ugly to be eaten.  Nappy change time is devastating for the fact that .... I don't really know, it just is.  It hasn't been a day in a toddler's life until they end up prostrate on the floor at least once before lunch.  Only to suddenly change tack and have those tears turn to chuckles.

Rich fruit cake suddenly becomes an excellent choice for breakfast (sorry, Mr Kellogg) because it contains fruit in the form of sultanas, carbs from the flour and dairy from the butter.  The brandy's alcohol was (I hope) boiled off during baking and what remains will be beneficial for its antiseptic properties.

We love stainless steel plates at SSG Manor.  Most major food groups tend to stick to the plate even if you turn it upside down as you try to eat as you walk.

Food becomes a real obsession.  Lunches become a platter of the six foods yourself and other caregives have had the most luck with getting your toddler to have at least one mouthful of.  Ham, Cheesy Pop plastic cheese, toddler muesli bars, craisins and a final suprise of whatever it is that your little one has been eyeing off from across the table and has expressed an interest in by climbing on top of the dining table and diving right in.  

Yesterday, it was some of that spendy sushi from Woolies.  It was stabbed and rolled around for a bit before being handed over to me for the bin (my mouth).

The second winter has seen my stoop to some new lows in 'encouraging oral fluids'.  Seriously, encouraging world peace is a much less challenging proposition.  Squeezy yoghurt is a fluid in my book.  Eating salty rice crackers and rice cakes have the added benefit of creating a thirst for water and strawberry jelly, that's basically water as well.

Fortunately, though, there's always a break in the weather of the second winter.  The cackling, belly shaking chuckles return as do the interpretive dance moves that involve a lot of stomping with the occasional flourish of arms.  And the fart noise game.  You have no idea how many times I've 'farted' today.


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