All This Rain. Objects At Great Height.

Who needs alarm clocks and the flashing lights of their bedside phone to wake them up when the sound of these late winter downpours will do the trick without adding to your electricity bill?


I was up with the rain this morning and *insert gloating sigh*, being my day off, I bounced out of bed at whatever crazy hour it was before 5am and made myself a huge mug of tea.



Then I padded around to the lounge room in my socks and pyjamas to do a spot of DIY furniture assembling.  Readers, prepare yourselves emotionally, it was not an Ikea flat pack I was attempting but rather one from Aldi (not that that's much of a surprise either given my love of Special Buy Wednesdays and Saturdays).

One of yesterday's themes was children's books.  The sling bookcase cost $39.99 which I was pretty happy with because I'd seen similar advertised for around $60 online.  It took me half an hour to assemble mine (half of that was attributed to toddler factors involving running with screwdrivers and attempts at eating the polystyrene packaging whilst skidding across the floorboards on the cardboard component - toddlers are so resourceful).


And it doesn't look too bad at all.  It even sits evenly on the floor and is robust enough to hold quite a few soft cover books as well as two blankies.  I'm not sure what I was hoping to achieve with putting the bookcase in front of the television because it got pushed away by Toddler SSG when he realised it got in the way of his pushing the buttons on the DVD player.

From what I've heard, quite a few Aldis have already sold out of the bookcases.


But you might have some luck tracking down the books on offer.  The soft cover Kate Toms books are $2.99 each and are just adorable.  They are clever takes on favourite nursery rhymes.  Not too wordy with vivid and vibrant illustrations for each verse.  I'm loving 'Hey Diddle Diddle' myself.

As a heads up, next Wednesday is $90 1000 count sheet set day so get in early.....



Bookcase assembled and filled, it was time for a bit of Play Doh time for Toddler SSG



while I tended to my collection of Jamie Oliver stickers.  Thanks to my local Woolies being sticker happy with any purchase that's remotely close to $20, I got my first $5 mug today.


Which is currently still in its box sitting on one of the few remaining shelves above Toddler SSG's reach that has any storage capacity.


The prime position at the top of my wardrobe went early.  Spendy perfumes, books highly vulnerable to being torn apart, art supplies at risk of being ingested.  The glamour around these parts.



In other Woolworths sticker news, I'm also collecting the Top Gear stickers that come with petrol purchases at the Caltex Woolies servos.  I was already fond of that particular servo on the way to work because the bowsers had little TVs which told me the weather forecast and selected highlights of the news but now that they're giving out Stig stickers?  I refuse to fill up anywhere else.



With all this talk of obsessive supermarket sticker collecting and things being kept at sensible heights off the ground, it won't come as a surprise to you that I rocked up to the hairdressers in my off duty uniform of hiking shoes and ancient 'skinny jeans' (skinny as in how they make me feel rather than look, they've stretched like the figures and modelling featured in our current Federal Budget).  Happily, I walked away after two hours of restful solitude and Kindle reading with rather glamorous hair.

How are you bearing up with all this rain?

A Weekend and A Half.

Toddler SSG hasn't quite got the hang of crayons or play doh but he does have a way with expressing himself through interior design.


It was a weekend and a half in the busyness stakes and I wish today was a long weekend Monday because it would've been nice to have today off to recover.

How can you  not be happy when you're wearing orange?  It is the new black after all.

Saturday got off to a busy start with a half day at work.  I have to admit it sounds worse than it actually was.  Provided you don't have to go in every weekend, working on a Saturday can be more efficient than on weekdays.  Less distracting buzz, shorter queues at the coffee cart, more parking spaces.  All of that wasn't enough to convince you about working Saturdays?  I do see where you're coming from.

Anyway, taking the glass half full option, I did get a head start on spring by wearing my Lauren orange sweater from the outlets in Orlando.  Gee that holiday seems awfully long ago.  I think some holiday visualisation is in order this week.

SSG Manor's new cordless phones.  If I can figure out how to answer calls and dial out, I'll be happy.
Image: www.gadgetlike.com


But back to the weekend.  I just had this list of things that needed to get done.  The cordless phones at home died simultaneously so I had to track down some new batteries.  That didn't work which meant I had to get new ones, assemble them and try not to have a fit whilst figuring out the instructions.  Why can't home cordless phones be as intuitive as smartphones?  We have the technology, Uniden.....  we have the technology.




There were some fun things on the to do list.  I spent all my Priceline vouchers on my desert island beauty itemts - tubs of Lucas' Pawpaw ointment and the brown shades of Models Prefer's pencil eyeliners.  I also got a new Blur Cream, this time from Loreal's Nude Magique range.  The cream comes in two shades and is a thinner consistency than the sister product in the Revitalift range.  Which probably explains that while the colour match is better on me (the medium dark shade), it doesn't have as much of a miraculous effect on my skin as Magic Blur.  I got my tube for $10 off with a Priceline coupon, bringing the price down to around $16.  Which still isn't cheap so I think I'll persist with it rather than ditching it straight away.


Sunday saw me shed all pretension I had that I was a casual but chic weekend dresser (I might have been in contention pre Toddler SSG but it's all about pockets and wash'n'wear come Friday night around here right now).  The newly recovered Toddler SSG needed a little outing to break the monotony of his isolation at home during his flu and a outing we did go.  It was jeans and hiking shoes to the local soft area playground where Toddler SSG did his thing through the tunnels and up the middle of the space ship climbing tower.


Before he asked to be hoisted up over a bin so he could throw away some litter he found as he played.


Then it was off to do the groceries.  I've made the unilateral decision to shop at Woolies for the next three months.  Woolworths is running a collect and save sticker promotion featuring a range of Jamie Oliver china.  I have my heart set on a set of six mugs which means I need 30 stickers plus $30 to get them.  600 dollars worth of shopping at Woolworths before the end of November.  Can I do it?  Are you collecting?  Aiming for the whole set or a more manageable (!) goal like mine.


We were through Sunday's list of chores around 4pm.  Just in time to be driving under this glorious sky.  Spring really is nearly here, it really is.



And here we are, Monday afternoon already.  I've got my old favourites on - a Veronika Maine tunic dress and an original RPE FF necklace over a Kookai wool skivvy.


As well as this strawberry and kiwi salad to go with my lunch and mug of green tea.

Life is good.  It's busy and full of the unexpected but it is also good.  Very good.

Hope you're having a lovely start to the week.  May it stay a good one for us all.


The Week Night Book Club: 'Eating for England' by Nigel Slater. A Rough Draft For 'Eating for Australia'.

If you haven't already read Nigel Slater's 'Eating for England', you're in for a treat.  It's one of those perfect winter reads.

www.nigelslater.com

The inspiration for 'Eating' came as Slater when he was asked by the American press about what defines the British attitude to food.  He recalls struggling to find an eloquent answer but the reward for that struggle to us, his readers, is 'Eating' - a collection of short essays, lists and memoirs about food in Britain.  The past, the present and the future.  He liberally references the celebrity chefs and cooks of our time and lauds them for their positive influence on the modern culinary identity of his beloved country.  Those whom he finds less inspiring are left anonymous but his word caricatures of them leave their identities blindingly obvious.

Some of my favourite essays explore Slater's fond memories of childhood snacks and cakes that have such a powerful emotive allure as much for the personal context they hold in his life as for their taste on the tongue.  Toblerone, the various biscuits in variety packs.... don't we all have fond (and not so fond) memories of the foods of our own childhoods?  'Eating' also gives us a glimpse into the various tribes of modern home cooks in Britain and their cousins are also at large in Australia, I suspect.

I found 'Toast', Slater's other biographical work a little confronting and difficult to read at times due to Slater's observations of life with his stepmother after the death of his mother but 'Eating' was deliciously warm and comforting from the first chapter to the last.

Do you think that one day (soon, I hope) one of our own prominent food writers will write 'Eating for Australia'?  The stories they could tell.  Until the real food writers of Australia release 'Eating for Australia', here are some of my favourite food memories to start the ball rolling.


How NICE biscuits seem to taste of coconut and how you can hardly taste the sugar densely baked into the top?  And how NICE biscuits grow on you with age.


The evolution of our desserts from honest apple crumbles and pavlovas to decadent, glossy quadruple chocolate extravaganzas of cake, mousse and ganache?  And you don't just go out to eat these delicacies either.  Everyone (except myself) seems more than able to whip them up at home thanks to Masterchef and Adriano Zumbo's cook book and cake mix.


The phenomenon of Hot Cross buns being available in supermarkets earlier and earlier each year. Not so long ago, January 2 seemed early for me.  Now it's pretty standard to seem them stocked around December 24.... 


How Mi Goreng is the default dinner option for so many of us when calling for home delivery seems a bit too much effort.


My favourite lunch was and always will be sushi, green tea and some fruit.  Interestingly, I much prefer the sushi I find in Australia than the real deal I found in Japan.  It seems to be one of those foods that has adapted itself to local palates.


Chocolate. So many chocolate coated happy food memories.  The mass produced stuff we now get from all over the world.


                            

The artisan products from the chic chocolate boutiques dotted around the country.



The chocolate bars we love from overseas for reasons including their unique flavours and the fact that they're only readily available on holidays which makes them stash worthy when you get home and unpack your luggage.



And last, but not least, our obsession with limited edition Tim Tam flavours.  I'm a sucker for new release Tim Tams but somehow always end up feeling a little underwhelmed after eating them.


Like Nigel Slater, buttered white toast is my ultimate comfort food.


Especially when served with a bowl of homemade chicken soup.  Ever since I realised just how easy it is to make most of my favourite soups, I've said no to tinned and packet soups.  Except for French Onion soup mix from which you know I can make approximately 5219 different dishes from.

Have you read 'Eating for England'?

What are your 'Eating for Australia' memories?  Let's crowdsource this.


The Rain. In Praise of the Early Morning.

On the bright side, how clean are our cars looking now?


We've hit that week of endless late winter rain in Sydney and while it's been soothing listening to it from the warmth of my bed at night, the soggy days have been a challenge to negotiate.  Boggy front lawns mean cabin fever for toddlers who would otherwise dash straight out the front door the moment it gets opened and someone says 'shoes'.  At work, the usually immaculate and uncluttered granite tiles and lino are have their surfaces marked at intervals with yellow caution beacons.  We clip along between them in black coats and scarves, holding our umbrellas.  If you imagine hard enough, we could be indoor skiing rather than rushing to offices to login to computers.

What I do love about all this rain is how perfect the world looks at that precise moment when the first fine break of the day begins.  The light just so, the sheen on everything from the rain... it's like you're driving through a movie set for the scene 'dawn breaks on a busy motorway through industrial Sydney' rather than 'so glad I've made such good time to work this morning'.  I wish I had taken a photo of the scene from my dashboard this morning but you'll just have to imagine it.  

Was your commute in this morning picture perfect or soggy?

All rain slicked footpaths lead to one thing - the morning coffee run!

How was your weekend?

I was out and about enjoying that part of them I call my own - the early mornings.


When the sun is just shining through the clouds that were to later bring us all this rain.


And you get a hint of golden sunrise through the trees across the road.  Just visible through those ominous rain clouds.


SSG Manor becomes a hive of industry in the early hours.  The usual boisterous busyness of toddler activity makes way for slightly less frenetic but equally important tasks.  Light bulbs get changed, bathroom cabinets get restocked and microwaves get cleaned.  Did you know that heating alternating dishes of vinegar or bicarb dissolved in water almost gets rid of the burnt smell in microwaves?


In the event of a toddler sleep in, it's off to the gym after the housework gets done.  I'm slowly but surely making my way up the weight plates on the Smith machine and each small increase brings with it a sense of achievement.  I've made my peace with those pregnancy kilos that love me too much to leave me and I'm hoping that they've hung around to change into muscle rather than fat.



At least that's what I tell myself as I linger quietly over the paper and an apres gym almond croissant and skinny cap.

Sunday morning saw Toddler SSG venture out for his first proper yum cha.  Technically, he's been quite a few times but always seemed to miss out on any actual eating of yum cha due to a variety of reasons.  He wasn't quite solid ready the first few times and had to make do with delicately gnawing at rusks before banging them on tea cups.  And then there was the time he managed to sleep right through an entire yum cha - right through  the din of chatter, trolleys and jangling carts of cutlery. 


But on Sunday, the planets aligned and Toddler SSG yum cha-ed with the best of them at Rhodes Phoenix (which was overflowing within an hour of their 10am opening time).  Suprisingly, the yum cha pigs in blankets wrapped in their warm, sweet spiral of bread weren't really his thing.  It was all about the Beggar's Noodles for him.  


And the jelly, of course.


With a full tummy, it was off to Ikea to test out the play kitchen before a post yum cha nap in the car on the way home.


Wet Sunday afternoons just say Allen Key DIY, don't they?  Stretching out barefoot on the floor with a cup of tea on one side of you and an open carton of Ikea on the other.

www.scienceinseventh.blogspot.com
I managed to put together a Mala paper dispenser without losing any fingers or toes.  The dispenser costs $14.99 and the rolls of paper $7.99.  I'm thinking of lining panels of the walls with some paper as well as the walls in preparation for the toddler crayon adventures that are going to be starting this week.  I'm not sure how washable the paint on our walls is and if the crayons really do dry erase of them.



Backyards. Baking. Beauty.

It's such a changeable time of year, weather wise, isn't it?


One day you're out watching the fog lift to reveal nearly naked trees with fading flowers clinging to bare branches.  And the next you're out in the backyard  with the sun on your face and watching as it begins to set in a piercing blue sky.


Toddler SSG made the most of yesterday's sunny stay at home mum day by running around at speed at our local park and intercepting the kicks of a neighbourhood soccer game in the process.  Then we walked home in companionable and slightly exhausted silence to take in the laundry (and scatter the contents of the peg basked)  as we watched the sun begin to fade over the backyards on our street.

Spring is almost here and I can't wait!


The other thing that sunny afternoons are conducive too is baking.  I made a batch of banana and pear muffins based on this recipe from Kidspot.  I added an overripe pear in with the banana and a generous teaspoon each of vanilla essence and cinnamon.


I mixed by hand rather than with the electric mixer the recipe called for and still ended up with mini muffins that rose to almost perfect domes (if you can turn a blind eye to the messy splatter of batter that baked into my muffin tray).  The recipe made 36 mini muffins for me and a dozen or so have already been eaten.  The good thing about toddler recipes is that they aren't as sweet as the standard recipes can sometimes be.  The brown sugar and wholemeal flour of this recipe also gave the muffins a lovely golden tint.




I dropped into Westfield Chatswood as well and gee the walkways between the various Westfield buildings are looking pretty fancy these days.  New cafes and restaurants have been built pretty much up to the kerb and there's strings of lanterns between them that I've heard look fabulous at night.



But I wasn't just in town to investigate the food and beverage scene, I had urgent business to attend to.  An eye check up and new glasses (all will be revealed when my new frames connect with my high powered prescription) to choose which then lead to a side trip to MAC and The Body Shop.


I bought a new Studio Fix compact (AUD $49) to replace the one that tragically shattered in Perth and a concealer from the Mineralize range.  The Maybelline Fit Me concealer I've been using has a great texture and wears well but it didn't provide the coverage I need for the tired looking skin under my eyes.  With regard to pressed powder, I was oscillating between the Fit Me powder and a Laura Mercier mineral makeup powder. Both of which were just okay in terms of finish and wear.  Fit Me was a bit drying and slipped off my skin by noon whilst Laura Mercier's offering looked a bit caky on me.

www.makeupandbeautyblog.com
The Mineralize concealer retails for AUD $38 and is available in 16 shades.  I am going to learn from the error of my ways on my most recent trips to the US and will be stocking up on both this concealer and pressed powder when I'm next over there.

www.krissy00417.wordpress.com
It has a brush rather than sponge tip applicator and has a light texture that blends better with a brush than fingertips.  It doesn't crease and gives medium coverage according to the MAC site which translates to it being a miracle worker that made me look as if I'd only been woken up once at 2am last night rather than the three times it was in actuality.  Which is good enough for me.



My last bit of beauty shopping news comes to you from The Body Shop where, wait for it, there's been a price drop across the range of TBS products which the brand website is touting as 'lower prices for good'.  The new prices came into effect on August 1 and when I visited the Chatswood store, quite a few people had already gotten 'high' on the lower prices for the Hemp products (boom tish).  My favourite hand cream is now $17.95 for a large 100ml  tube down from $21.95.  Needless to say, I stocked up.

Are you still a TBS fan?  Gotten over the fact that Dewberry scented products are discontinued and the old school apricot and strawberry lip balms in the pots are no longer?  What are your faves?

Have a lovely weekend.

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