May 25, 2016

With Your Words.

We'd never met until that day we sat down together for lunch at the house of a mutual friend.

The conversation was relaxed and it flowed freely from the beginning.  We had our boys to talk about and the shared experience of all the hilarious and occasionally near death situations we've found ourselves in on account of being their mothers.  And how often all we had in our corner of the ring was the last remaining threads of our patience and energy.  We shared hope and excitement for their futures and also the new challenges we would have to navigate - after school sport, the influence of their peer group and the complex dance that is any kind of social interaction with the parents at school.

And then you told me.  About the way you got diagnosed, the treatment, what it did to your littlest baby as he watched your physical change from being his vibrant energetic mum to a stranger without her hair or her energy.  There was a shadow of the pain and fear of that harrowing time in your voice and eyes but be honest, what I saw and felt more prominently was the joy within for all that you have and the shine in your eyes as you gazed steadily into the rest of your life to be lived in remission.

You taught me so much in that brief time we had in conversation.  Through you I've come to understand what it is to find acceptance and peace in a new way of life that has been thrust upon you.  To receive with profound gratitude what a serious life event gave you in its aftermath while also not living in bitter resentment at what it took away.

I admire the person you are now though I don't doubt that you were a fun, kind and good person before before your world changed forever and had to be rebuilt.  Your sense of humour at absorbing  the mindless comments people toss your way and your empathy in then being able to sit down with them as they've shared with you the emotions and context of their remarks.  Your triumphs at unlocking an element of the complicated subculture that is the world of pre teen boys.  Your generosity in sharing a hot tip for where to find excellent Hainanese Chicken Rice.

I don't know if you will ever read my words or know just how profoundly you've touched my life but I just wanted to thank you for our time together.

May the joy of life continue to shine brilliantly upon and through you.

Thank you.

May 23, 2016

Monday's Bits and Pieces.

Goings on at my place right now....

I'm loving Maybelline's new mascara, Lash Sensation.   I've linked to the Chemist Warehouse site where you can now buy a tube for the princely sum of $10.98 as part of their half price cosmetics promotion.  The sale seems to have been on for a very long time....  Not that I'm complaining.  If I stock up now there'll be a few less things I need to get in New Orleans.... in only 15 days' time.  Yeah, I am rubbing that in.

Moving right along.

The mascara.  I love the brush, first and foremost.  It's one of the rubbery non bristly kind.  What makes it unique is that it has a slight curve to it with graduated sized teeth.  Very easy to use to produce an impressive amount of both volume and length with a single pass.  No flaking and I get a  full work day's wear out it (12 hours) before being able to fully remove it with cleansing oil.

It's only.. when did drugstore mascara start costing $22 full price?  Shuddering to think what the beauty counter brands are charging nowadays.

It's getting mighty windy outside right now with maximums in the low twenties which was the collective shove I needed to confront Preschooler SSG's cooler weather wardrobe.  I've accumulated an impressive stash of 'up a size or two' clothing for him on my travels stateside and on the eve of another trip (there I go again with the blatant trip references) it is probably a good time to sort through what he has to prevent me from over buying for him this June.  The jeans and cords have all come out and their adjustable waist bands tightened up because its much easier to do it without the wearer wriggling around in them.  Hope I guestimated well.

It's all about buttons, primary colours and  numbers for the little man at the moment and I think I've got all bases covered.  Everything's now labelled too.  Now all that remains is to see if he'll actually wear what I've picked.  And I thought clothing pickiness only started in Year 6.  I don't even know what that is in NSW - middle school perhaps?

It's not often that I'm proud of my power bill but we managed a personal best with keeping our usage down last month.  September '15 doesn't count because that was only for the first week of moving in.  Just goes to show, though,  how much you can shave off the bill (and not emit greenhouse gas wise) if you're without a fridge, wifi or a telephone line (as I was for that first week or two on moving).  Does this count as glamping?

In other household money management news, I'm all set for an afternoon of used car shopping with Preschooler SSG.  The Australian bills play set was from Officeworks while I found the coins at KidStuff yesterday.  Forty dollars all up is a fair bit of cash to pay for play money, now that I think about it...  Oh well, I'll think of it as a sound investment in helping to teach Preschooler SSG about the value of money and saving.

Over to you:

  • how much is beauty counter mascara going for these days?
  • do you stash clothes for the children but sometimes forget you've bought it?
  • would it have been cheaper to have bought an Australian Monopoly set instead of the play money?

Wishing you a lovely week ahead,

May 22, 2016

Lovin' Life 22/5/2016: Citrus and Soup.

There's basically two foods that get me through this time of the year with all the bugs I seem to catch from Preschooler SSG, work and the world at large: navel oranges and home made soup.  

It's their collective vitamins, high liquid content and vibrant colours that combine forces to put me back together after whatever it is I just recovered from.

Home made soups are also a love of mine for reasons beyond their health benefits.  Clearing the vegetable drawer on a Sunday morning and using its contents to make a soup is one of those feel good cooking jobs.  Leaving nothing to waste, making something that's exponentially more than its parts alone and having lots to freeze for meals during the week: it's the yin to the yang of those frozen pizzas of mine that also live in the freezer.

And while I make soup for the coming week (and beyond) a smaller red pot was reheating a portion of the last soup I made for today's lunch.

I had an unfortunate experience with a package of ready made soup in Perth last week.  It was touted as the brand's premium quality, made from scratch and as good as home made range.  The packaging was fancy, as was the price and it was all so convenient to just pour and reheat.  It even looked home made in texture and consistency.  Except that it tasted of nothing.  A nothing so full of nothingness that I couldn't bring myself to eat it.

So I'm back in Sydney and back to my home made soup.  I've just got to do something about that long shelf life white bread I'm eating it with....

What's your favourite soup?

Is there a ready  made soup you actually rather like?

May 21, 2016

NSW Fire Station Open Day. I Have A New Jaffle Maker, Hurrah!

We might be ten days out from the official start of winter but the beauty of our autumn masquerading as summer still lingers this weekend.

I took these photos during our walk through Alison Park in Randwick this morning.  The only thing late autumn about them are those partially naked branches.  Dad just messaged me from Perth to tell me how lucky it was that Preschooler SSG and I timed our visit when we did because it's stormy and cold in the west right  now.  Winter seems to have arrived early and I hope WA readers are safe and dry.

We were in Randwick to take part in the 2016 NSW Fire Station Open Day which is part of the service's campaign to help educate the public about fire safety.  There's been parental excitement on social media all week as many of us have searched online for our closest participating fire stations before planning our Saturday morning around a visit.  As we went about our business at the shops this morning, I wasn't the only slightly harassed adult I could hear darkly muttering "... or we won't be going to the fire station later...".  It was actually more effective than you might think it would be.  The only thing is that we've all got to think of something else to darkly mutter about now.  Is it too early to use Christmas?  Don't think the major retailers would have any objection.  It is  nearly June.

Getting back to Fire Station Open Day.  This is Randwick Fire Station.  It's a two minute walk from the park.

And here is its fire engine.  We were lucky to even have this photo because as we walked in, a fire fighter in uniform climbed on board and gave Preschooler SSG and company a cheery wave before putting on the lights and pulling out of the station to attend to a raised alarm.  The children were entranced at the spectacle of it. And then the realisation that it wasn't just a show put on for them sunk in and there were a few disappointed cries when it dawned that the truck wasn't just going around the block and coming back.

Fortunately, the lovely people of My Food Bag were on hand just outside the station at the market next door handing out gift bags.  Preschooler SSG happily carried ours back across the park for me.  The lime and red onion were actually on this weekend's shopping list.  How uncanny.

Speaking of food, it was chicken curry day in the SSG kitchen.  I'm a big fan of tomatoes in Malaysian curries.  Which explains why that can of Italian chopped tomatoes is in my photo.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to make a formal apology for that one time I decided to make chicken curry in my slow cooker.  Despite using an excellent curry paste, it did not end well.  Using a wok is much faster, tastier and guaranteed to keep you warm should you decide to get cooking early in the morning this winter.  I also used bone in chicken pieces which makes curries tastier for some reason.

It is possible to kill a jaffle maker with kindness.  This is my Aldi version and as you can see, it hasn't aged well with my at least weekly use this last year.  My problem is that I'm unable to exercise restraint when it comes to assembling my toasted sandwiches.  It would never do to have just one slice of turkey in a sandwich and neither would it be right to have only thin slivers of deseeded tomato dotting the slice of cheese.  Those teaspoons of cranberry sauce I then add have also taken their toll.  Before you know it, things begin to melt off and into the press and pairs of sandwiches expanded beyond their pre-marked segments.  No wonder it looks to battle worn and a bit crispy around the edges.

Say hello to my brand new Deep Fill Sandwich Maker.  Also from Aldi and a steal at $22.99.  I'm banking on the promised deep fill for my next round of turkey, cheese and cranberry sauce jaffles.  The included recipe book features a tinned salmon recipe as well as one combining left over rotisserie chicken and curry powder.  All of which practically live in my kitchen.  Stay tuned for taste test updates.

That's about it from me.  That chicken curry is calling my name for dinner.

Did you visit a local fire station today?  Anything exciting happen while you were there?

May 19, 2016

Discoveries This Week.

I have some early data on my Perth versus Sydney pace difference trial.

It's true, I really do run faster in Sydney.  About one minute per kilometre to be precise.

Slightly different route on this last run.  I took a right turn and attacked the hill and winding roads of the suburb over from mine.  It's a neighbourhood that loves a good wrought iron fence as well as a high, manicured hedge.  There's all manner of things you can peak at through the fences under the watchful eyes of security cameras.  This is the Malaysian Embassy and I think the German and Kiribati (an island state of the central Pacific Ocean) Embassies aren't too far away either.  I had to look all of that up, by the way. Isn't it grand that blogging helps a girl improve her general knowledge?

I always get a bit apprehensive when I go running through unfamiliar suburbs.  It's so easy to get lost and disoriented when you're so absorbed in all the new and interesting around you.  Even with the GPS maps on smart phones these days.  Please tell me I'm not the only person in 2016 who still manages to get lost whilst using Google maps on her iPhone.  Or not.

You know how there's always that one block of shops that just says 'welcome, you're nearly home' as you pass them?  I was so very relieved to run past mine at the end of yesterday's run.

That sense of adventure was still with me today when I decided to try a different place for the morning's coffee with Preschooler SSG.  This was the view in the first fridge at Christopher's Cake Shop in Randwick today.

And this was the next section up.  Wall to wall show stopping layer cakes.  Red Velvet, Salted Caramel, Malteaser, Continental....

Plus ricotta cakes.

 Plus biscuits.

And streudels.

Such a shame I'd eaten such a wholesome and filling slab of baked oats for breakfast this morning.  Though I am motivated to go without breakfast one Thursday and to have brunch here instead.

This is a piece of budget friendly news for the toy buyers among you.  These Magmagic magnetic building shapes are all the rage with the little ones (and their parents) right now.  The only thing is that the Magmagic brand are quite expensive at around $50 for a basic 30 piece set.  Which is fair enough if you're buying for more than one child but a bit of a steep investment if you're getting them for just the one child who may or may not remain interested in them after getting them out of their box.

Enter Kmart's $29 version.  It even includes two sets of wheels that the basic Magmagic set does not. They're selling out pretty quickly in store at the moment but I did see that Kmart's online store does have good stock levels at the moment.  There's actually quite a few other things I'm interested in from Kmart's toy range.  There's a large Etch A Sketch type board for $20 for one.

Elsewhere at Kmart today, there were these beautiful  double layered fleece blankets,

and some Instagram worthy bits and pieces for your study or home office.

I'm working my way through the Oliver family soup recipes here in the SSG Kitchen.

Dinner tonight was Jools Oliver's Wholesome Vegetable and Bean Soup.  It's so easy to make and the MVP of the ingredients list is a couple of rashers of streaky bacon.  I've not eaten streaky bacon before but it seems saltier than the regular bacon at the supermarket.

All you need to do is chop up the bacon and vegetables, fry up the bacon with rosemary then add the vegetables before simmering it all with the stock and beans.  The greens are added at the end.  I love the colours of this soup and the heartiness of the beans.  I'm going to be rotating Jools' recipe with Jamie's beef and barley soup all winter by the looks of things.

Until next time.


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