Mar 28, 2017

The Tuesday To Do List. Other Things.

What's not to love about a day off during the week?

A day I cherish so deeply that I unashamedly plan every single hour of 'me time' on a to do list / time line hastily scrawled on a yellow Post It Monday night before bed.

Hasn't it been lovely falling in love with the sun all over again these last few days?  Even being stuck in the city bound traffic on Victoria Road managed to be a joyous experience as the sun gently baked my arms through the windscreen.  Have you ever seen yourself bathed in the glow of the Sydney sun through an open sunroof?  Just get out there, do it and wonder why there is neither an Instagram filter or bottle of make up that promises to deliver the same buffed up shimmer to your face.

It's not every day that you find yourself greeted by a film crew on your walk into work.  Well, I wasn't technically greeted  by them (walked into them would be more accurate) and they weren't there to film me but it was exciting to see all the equipment and experts it takes to film a scene and get it looking just so.

I love the cafe near work so much I bought their official Keep Cup this week.  I love the colour scheme they chose too.   The vibe I get is 'inner city bumble bee' - that band of concrete grey works so well with the black and yellow.  Or maybe I'm just overthinking it a  little.

There was so much temptation at Costco the other day and I managed to walk past all of it except

this 6 pack of EOS lip balm that everyone was loving this time last year and

our traditional lunch of too much food and soft drink.  Preschooler SSG and I have a tradition of sharing the smallest tray of sushi you can buy from the ready to go food inside Costco and a hot dog meal from the kiosk outside.  We invariably end up with half a tray of sushi to take home for dinner and around half a hot dog we save for afternoon tea.

But back to the lip balm.  It's beautifully packaged and so easy to use.  No winding up or squeezing, just unscrew the top and you're ready to go.  The only problem is that the regular formula just doesn't do much for my dry lips.  I'll give one of the Visibly Soft versions from the pack a go next  Fingers crossed they're better on me.

One last thing before I leave you to tackle my Tuesday To Do List.  Chicken Parmiagana .... The Jaffle.  It's a thing and it's Very Good.  I used some left over barbecue chicken in mine and added some spinach leaves after jaffling.  It doesn't have the crunch of a deep fried crumb crust (sigh) but gee they're a good dinner option for those crazy Mondays.

Mar 27, 2017

Life This Week 27/3/2017: Taking Stock.

For this week's prompt, I've decided to use Pip from Meet Me At Mike's 'Taking Stock' template 

Making : a start on the edging on the lawn in my backyard.  I'm between gardener visits so I've decided to take matters into my own hands.  I found this Aldi lawn trimmer the other day.  It's battery powered and is surprisingly effective, even in the hands of a novice like myself.

Cooking : beef stir fries with meat that has been 'velveted' in a paste of bicarb to make it taste incredibly tender.  Read more over here at Not Quite Nigella.  It really works!!  I've never been able to stir fry beef without it getting tough until now.

Drinking : mugs of T2's peppermint tea using tea bags I filled myself.

Reading : 'The Teacher's Secret' by Suzanne Leal.  I seem to be in some pretty dark waters as far as my reading list goes.  The novel is set in Brindle, a  small coastal town in NSW where Terry, a popular primary school teacher suddenly loses his job over an incident from many years ago.  I've about three quarters of the way through 'The Teacher's Secret' and I still don't know what Terry did but I'm enjoying Leal's word pictures of a small town with stunning views of the beach that serve as an ironic backdrop to the fall out of all kinds of poor human choices.

Trawling : the world wide web for new quick and easy dinner recipes.  The vast majority have been very well received but the odd disaster has been annoying.  It's the leftovers I have dilemmas over.  To throw them all away would be such a waste yet there's nothing more soul destroying after a long day than to end the evening with a horrible dinner.  No, it's not the absolute worst thing of an evening - no hot water for a shower would definitely top an unpalatable dinner.  By the way, the taco spaghetti that inspired this photo was and is a huge hit at our place.

Wanting : 

to build some more Lego.  Need to remember to get my order in soon for something to put together over the Easter break.

Looking : at my desk top as I type this post.

Deciding : if I need to wash my hair tonight.  The answer is yes.

Wishing : I was back home in Perth gazing out at these sprinklers on the foreshore where mum and dad live.  It does my soul good to reconnect with home on a regular basis.

Enjoying : Preschooler SSG's early bedtime and a little time to myself that I'm not spending trying to fall asleep myself.

Waiting : for my tickets to be confirmed for Texas this May.   Not very patiently, I might add.

Liking : my new mug.

Wondering : what's on the horizon for me.  I do think, though, that element of not knowing for certain keeps life interesting.

Loving : this city in spite of it's recent weather.

Pondering : the extra poignancy of reading a Maisy mouse book about loving London to Preschooler SSG in light of the terror attack at Westminster last week.

Listening : to ABC News Radio.  Just like Pip did when she took stock of life in March.  It's my most efficient and trusted source of news and general information about the world and I don't feel quite right in the morning if I haven't drifted off to bed listening the night before.

Considering : if I need to buy that special cleaner for floorboards for when I mop the floor or if I can still get away with Pine O Clean.

Buying : cheddar flavoured Goldfish biscuits in bulk at Costco because both Preschooler SSG and I love them.

Watching : the light rail infrastructure grow on George Street.  It's been a slow and steady process and I'm looking forward to the day when structures that vaguely look like tracks finally get laid down.

Hoping : I don't forget when daylight saving ends in New South Wales.

Marvelling : at how many leaves have fallen already this autumn.

Cringing : at The Real Housewives of Sydney.

Needing : more hours in the day.

Questioning : why women are so hard on each other.  I was recently involved in an online discussion among apparently well educated working mothers about the major childcare reforms that were passed in Senate last week.  Many intelligent and informed comments were made by people both for and against the changes.  It didn't take long, however, for toes to get trampled on and personal attacks to be made.  Jealousy, insecurity, sleep deprivation, hormones, stress?  Who knows what motivated the comments.  If we can't lean in the perhaps we should just learn to pause, change the settings on our Facebook feeds and let it go.

Smelling : dinners being cooked up and down my street.  I love these chilled out evenings at home on the weekend.

Wearing : jewellery made by Preschooler  SSG.

Noticing : that the clock function on my iPhone no longer features a clock face.  Devastated.

Knowing : that life is good.

Thinking : I need to get around to making a bucket list one of these days.

Admiring : grace under pressure.  It's a beautiful thing to have it displayed towards you and always makes me feel a bit bad about how I often react when it's all a bit too much.

Getting : things done.

Bookmarking : new recipes to try on Feedly.

Disliking : selfish people who park across my driveway.

Opening : the side door for a bit of fresh air.

Closing : a few windows in Chrome.  Anything more than 17 means that I can't read enough of each tab to remember what the window is about.

Feeling : relaxed after a long week.

Hearing : the whoosh of cars on my street.  It's nice hearing them without the window shuddering machinery from all the building projects going on around us at the moment.

Celebrating :  the good health of loved ones.

Pretending : that I've done all my clothes shopping I'm going to be doing before I head Stateside this May.  Who am I kidding?

Embracing : life and finding its rainbows wherever and whenever I can.

Mar 23, 2017

Lovin' Life 23/3/2017: In No Particular Order.

In no particular order, things I've loved about this week:

My new mug that's specifically for that first cup of tea in the morning with breakfast.  It's a spendy one from Wedgwood's Jasper Conran range and I just love everything about it.  There's a bit of a restrained Versace look going on with the detailing and the handle but there's still also that Modern British overall feel to it.

Speaking of Mordern British...  the Duchess of Cambridge this week.  In Chanel and in Paris.  Not totally sold about the belt (could've just gone with the CCs and not the buckele, but that's just me) but I love the way the bag and dress aren't matchy matchy or the usual monochrome look Chanel is usually associated with.

There have been blue skied days and I even got the chance to kick back in the backyard and soak it all up.

And there have been days with skies that are more grey than anything else.  Yes, I'm back at the pool and my right shoulder did an admirable job through all that freestyle and then that short burst of breast stroke at the end.

I took the train from Central to Epping and that was a bit of an adventure because I think I was actually on an intercity train.  The seats were a bit luxe and us Sydney commuters were only allowed to sit in the first four carriages at central.  There was an air of longish travels in our carriage with suitcases here and there as well as substantial snacks like meat pies being consumed.  I returned home via Town Hall which I think is where I should've started from in the first place.  Regular Epping to the CBD commuters above you, is Town Hall where you aim for rather than Central?

No trip to Town Hall station is complete without a quick trot through the sort of China Town section of George Street.  Here I am at Daiso at Regent Place spending $50 on emergency supplies of my favourite Korean seaweed laver and Japanese sesame oil.

And finally, home made fish and chips for dinner.  As the days get shorter and it looks cooler (only it's so darn humid in reality) my taste buds have begun to crave a solid carbohydrate for dinner.  We're loving home made potato wedges at the moment but I hope to try making them out of sweet potato next time.  The baked salmon was made using Martha Stewart's Mustard Glazed Salmon recipe.  Don't forget the dill!

Mar 22, 2017

Taco Spaghetti and Other Things.

First things first on this lovely Wednesday.

Have you wandered over to to take advantage of their 2 day 40% off beauty sale yet?  You may or may not regret it because there seems to be good availability of most things which often isn't the case in store.

I have a number of NYX lip glosses coming my way.  It's too easy to buy them in bulk both because of the price and the fact that they come in sets of three.  Oh well, at least I'll never knowingly run out of gloss in the office.  

There's been more shopping of my sample stash with the discovery of this sample tube of Too Faced's Shadow Insurance.  It is a bit more liquid than the Urban Decay version and takes a little longer to dry but it's still early days.

You know how I've been finding alternate, non Italian uses for spaghetti recently?  Well, I've managed to find a new recipe that manages to meld a taste of Italy with a bit of Mexican.  Taco Spaghetti.  It's a thing.  It's easy.  It's delicious and here's the video...

One pot pasta recipes are a bit of a life saver at my place.

Breaking the dry spaghetti in half as per the video does make it easier to cook.

I added some corn, carrot and celery as I browned the mince and used a bit of chicken stock (ran out of beef stock cubes) instead of plain water.

You have to add those fresh Roma tomatoes and coriander at the end.  They add a freshness to the pasta that adds some zing to the dish.  Cheese wise, I went with the multicultural vibe and used a combination of grated mozarella and Australian tasty cheddar.

Do you cook pasta in a non traditional way?

Find anything good at Priceline?

Mar 20, 2017

Life This Week 20/3/2017: Autumn. 'In A Dark, Dark Wood'.

Autumn afternoons are spent

raking leaves

before getting back inside for an afternoon tea that involves a toaster, lots of butter and a large mug of tea.

Autumn style is all about 

the little details

and adding a little of the unexpected by way of a cape or tutu.

Autumn is meant for baking.

That soft sifting of flour over the other dry ingredients,

scenting the kitchen with a heady mix of melted butter and golden syrup

 and the satisfaction of pressing a buttery slice into a lined baking tin.

Autumn at work means wearing

pin striped button down shirts

and Liberty scarves because it's finally cool enough to wear both without getting uncomfortably hot and bothered as I walk around the wards.  Always a bit warmer up there than in my office but it stands to reason given that most on the wards are in gowns or pyjamas.

Autumn always seems to be the time that I find new make up miracle workers.  I wonder what this year's finds will be.

And finally, autumn is all about The Read.  And I have one for you already...

'In a Dark, Dark Wood' is another novel by Ruth Ware.  I reviewed 'The Woman In Cabin 10' a fortnight ago.

What can I say?  It's taut, it's tense and it keeps you guessing (and just a little scared of the darkness beyond your bedroom door) until the final page.

Leonora is a writer who is comfortable in her solitary world where her coffee maker is set every morning to deliver her perfect brew at just the right moment.  She also loves solitary runs through parks and forests.  Because this is Ruth Ware world, she also has dark secrets from her past and doesn't do well with lots of alcohol.

It's been ten years or so since Leonora left most of her school friends behind in her old life.  Nina is the only girlfriend she keeps up with and the pair aren't averse to having a big night out on the town a and a bit of a bitch session now and then.

Then the email from a girl called Flo arrives.  It's an invitation to Clare's hens weekend.  The beautiful and golden Clare who was Leonora's best friend at school.  Interestingly, Leonora was never invited to the wedding and assumes it might have been an error to be included in the email.  But it  wasn't and Flo is very insistent that Leonora attend.  A few sarcastic exchanges between Leonora and Nina ensue and the pair finally agree to make the trek to where the weekend will be held.

Flo greets them and  is blusteringly anxious to please them all as she invites them into her aunt's stunning glass panelled house in the middle of a deserted wood.  There is a pressure behind Flo efforts as she aims to give Clare the perfect send off into married life.  Other guests hint at Flo having had a 'break down' previously and the weekend gets off to a shaky start as a small group of quite different people with little in common except the golden Clare try to make the most of a place without wifi or decent phone reception.

Clare eventually arrives and we begin to understand a little of the awkwardness of Leonora only being invited to the hens and not the actual wedding.  It's all because of James the groom.  James was Leonora's first love.  They broke up just out of school and now he is to be Clare's husband.  The pair thought it best for Leonora to be told in person and for some bizarre reason (okay, it's a plot device but still...), the hens weekend seemed the perfect setting.

It's not the most straightforward hens weekend.  The novel begins with Leonora in a hospital bed, possibly under police guard and injured.  Someone has possibly died but Leonora cannot remember a thing.  It is clear that something very bad happened over the weekend but what and why?  The novel shifts between moments from the weekend to the present day where Leonora finds herself at one stage a prime suspect for murder.

There is so much I love about 'In A Dark, Dark Wood'.  I know the critics are divided but I'm team Ware and will be forever.  I love the context of the novel, the hens weekend deconstructed and made sinister.  But not in an over the top horror film kind of way but in a manner that is more slightly freaky day time soap opera kind of way.  There's always room on my autumn weekends for books like this.


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