Jun 19, 2018

Nice Things About Winter. VIVID Taronga 2018.

We're only around 20 days into winter 2018 but it feels like it's been winter forever.  

Sydney is one of those places that seems to fight the arrival of winter with the same zeal that cosmetic companies fight 'ageing'.  We keep winter at bay with a lifestyle that embraces the great outdoors practically all year round.  Outdoor festivals, sporting events and concerts occur all year round.   Any excuse for a bit of party and a chance to dress up.  People (like myself) wear T shirts and shorts with Birkis and thongs (without socks) well into autumn when we're out and about.  

Enabling all of this has been our weather whose warmth and sun have seen many of us still at the beach late into autumn this year.  But all good things come to an end and we are now 20 days into winter.  With around another 70 to go, I'm sucking it up and embracing the special things about winter in Sydney.

Firstly, the mornings.  The weekend ones.  Weekday ones have to be survived. But the weekend ones are luxurious with all their free hours but challenging in that it's harder to keep warm when you're not rushing about.  It took me three hot drinks and a spot on the floor right in front of my heater to prepare me for the shower on Saturday morning.

I then gave myself a pat on the back for keeping my stretched out pair of J Brand skinny jeans.  Not just because they bring back fond memories of bargain shopping on US websites back in the day when we were close to parity with the greenback but also because they fit over a pair of thermal legging and under a pair of long boots.  These new fangled skinny jeans and jeggings couldn't let a middle aged woman get away with that now could they?

Colour co-ordinated marshmallows and scarves are trending this winter in Sydney.

After making all that effort to get rugged up for the elements, we couldn't just have Saturday breakfast at a cafe, could we?  So it was off to Kings Cross /Potts Point in search of the markets and a coffee / babycino.  Marcelle on MacLeay St serves these beautiful rainbow marshmallows with their babycinos.

It was brave and it was naive but we then decided to visit VIVID at Taronga for the last night of the event.

One failed train ride (Circular Quay station was closed), one mad dash to the ferry terminal, one wait in the ferry line only to miss it by 12 people and one $42 taxi ride later.... we finally found ourselves walking under this canopy of lights at the zoo entrance.

We had tickets for the 7.30pm session and it was pandemonium.  My friends took half an hour to find a spot in the zoo car park.  Traffic on the normally quiet access roads was banked up and motionless.  Even the sneaky short cuts were paralysed.  All that sitting in traffic allowed me to get an up close and personal view of Mosman as we passed through.  Mosman, you are rather fancy, aren't you?  I hope to visit you again soon under less stressful circumstances.

Giant bee lanterns glowed in the trees above as we walked into the zoo.

American Express sponsored Ties for the Wild which saw funds raised for the zoo with each white ribbon visitors tied to this display.

Most of the animal enclosures were barricaded and I have a feeling many of the animals were either asleep or safely transferred to other parts of the zoo for the night however my giraffes were up and having supper.

The animals were beautifully rendered in colourful shimmering lanterns some of which had moving body parts.

The zoo was the perfect setting because of its gently sloping terrain which made for easy walking and a stunning 'stage' upon which to show off the animals to their best advantage.  I could also see the Harbour Bridge lit up in the background though this didn't quite make it into my photos.

The boys had a lovely evening.  Unlike the city event, it was much easier to keep an eye on them as there weren't too many dark open spaces for them to run into.

Chameleons kept watch from rooves.

A Sumatran Tiger kept guard at the food market where we had dinner (hot chips, of course).

I remember previously seeing some of the larger animals on display in Hyde Park.  They looked beautiful there but in the zoo they took on a majestic and somewhat mystical quality.

It was hard to stay flustered and frazzled from our transport fiasco once we got into the zoo and had the animals to gaze up at.

My favourites were the mother and child pairs. This echidna had a row of ants in front of her that she poked at with her tongue.

A baby riding piggy back its mother Tasmanian Devil.

The thoughtful and stern gorillas near the zoo entrance seemed to be reflecting on the state of our planet.  Imploring us, as humans, to change our ways and make the world a better place for all of Gods creations.

I'm looking at my VIVID map as I type but I'm still not sure which animal this is. 

I suspect it's a Weedy Sea Dragon.  We walked 'through' it under a sky of glittering lights at the end of the show.  It was the perfect conclusion to a special night.

Jun 18, 2018

Life This Week 18/6/2018: Show Us Your Snaps #5.

Quite a bit of variety and territory covered for Show Us Your Snaps #5....

The date is in my memory banks.

From June 20, I will be armed with enviro bags (plus or minus just a few of my Lulu Lemon shopping bags) every time I head to Woolies.

It was cast iron cookware day at Aldi recently and I loved seeing everyone's new finds on Instagram.  There's something timeless about red, grey or white enamel and it looks so amazing in the kitchen.  I've got more than my fair share of it so I bought this white and grey doorstop instead.  I've been meaning to get one for the double doors for ages.  So cute and so much easier to move around with a foot than fiddly rubber door stoppers.

I stocked up on mint sauce while I was there.  It's peak lamb season at our place right now and mint sauce is the ying to lamb's yang.

Recipe Tin Eats has this amazing and easy recipe for Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs which has been very popular at SSG Manor 2.0 this week.

The sauce is so simple. Well worth sourcing cooking sake and mirin at your local Asian grocer.

I got a bit creative at my desk at work when I didn't have it in me to walk to my favourite cafe for the day's skinny cap.  A teaspoon of Moccona plus a sachet of Nescafe Cappucino mix turns out to be a pretty good substitute for the real thing.  I ended up with a coffee that wasn't too sweet with a decent kick of caffeine and that all important creamy froth.  A shake of cocoa powder over the top made it look the goods.

I've been making the most of the clear sunny days that we've been treated to this winter.

We took the light rail to Dulwich Hill from Central one weekend.

The journey was half the fun as we creaked and swayed our way through the Inner West.   Familiar suburbs look different from a train carriage and you really can't complain about feeling the sun's warmth through the window on your ride.

Similarly, clear evenings have been the perfect excuse to explore more of VIVID after an early dinner.

These are my favourites from Chatswood's VIVID.

Are you ready for plastic bag free checkouts at the supermarket?

What's the most adventurous way you've experienced instant coffee?

Jun 14, 2018

Lovin' Life 14/6/2018: WordSwag.

Have you ever wanted to share words instead of photos on Instagram?  Well call me late to the party but I've just discovered an app that lets you make this happen in the artiest possible way.

Image result for wordswag
via Google images

This week I'm lovin' the WordSwag app for iPhone.  It's an $8 app that basically makes the first thought that comes to mind look like a very witty quote or an inspirational quote depending on your preference.  It's incredibly easy to use and the result wouldn't look out of place in a digital media person's portfolio.

This was my first WordSwag.

I know.  Did you feel your life change for the better by the time you read to the end?  Well mine did thanks to all the wonderful people who responded to my question on Instagram.  I had a whole list of brand suggestions and stores by the following day ready for our shopping expedition.

And wouldn't you know it?  These white Clarks were on sale at Shoes and Sox. The very same shoes and store that were suggested by Instagram.

The pressure is now on though to think of the next thing I'd like to write on Instagram.  It's such a visual and image focussed platform and I'm such a run of the mill Instagram account holder that word based posts are actually much harder to compose than photo based ones.

Do you post text to Instagram?  Do you quote, ask or download the contents of your brain?

Jun 12, 2018

The Long Weekend. Remembering Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

It's been the kind of long weekend for keeping warm and keeping dry.

Good thing I took this message to heart as I got myself ready for Sunday morning swimming.

We had good friends come over for lunch and a play.  We can collectively vouch for the deliciousness of these Tegal chicken nuggets all the way from New Zealand.  Certain others of us can vouch for the restorative powers of a couple of flutes of Moet spaced over a few hours on a Sunday afternoon....

You can't entertain at home without a selection of snacks..  The Cheetos tiger always makes me smile and the distinctively dark packaging of Red Rock Deli chips has the subliminal power over my fingers and taste buds.

We had home made sausage rolls for lunch and chocolate cake for dessert.

Master SSG was in charge of the cake decorating.

And here is our sugar-o-saurus chocolate cake based on Fat Mum Slim's famed Epic Chocolate Fudge Cake.

The sky up above my little world of five year olds scooting to school and work swipe cards being miraculously found wedged between a car seat and the hand brake welcomed two new stars this week.  Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain left this world with its sadness and pain within a week of each other.  Their deaths have opened up dialogues about suicide and depression but also tributes from people all around the world about what the work of both Spade and Bourdain meant in their own lives.

To me, Kate Spade's whimsical vision of New York made that fabulous city a part of my everyday life whether I was visiting the US wrapped in a scarf of her design or schlepping around my work bag at home in Sydney with a little bag featuring her city lights print peeping out as I went about my daily thing,

Anthony Bourdain's writing and documentaries about food and the restaurant industry has made me appreciate both food and the people who create it for me.

Image result for anthony bourdain quote

Through Anthony's eyes, food was a vehicle for adventure, for personal growth, as a means of connecting to our world and also as a medium that brings people together.  Later on in his life, he became a vocal advocate of the #metoo movement, supporting his partner Asia Argento.

Image result for anthony bourdain obama

I thought of Anthony's legacy this weekend as I began it with Master SSG at the Kings Cross Markets.

I had the chance to chat with the baker who made my almond croissant.

Master SSG got to see his breakfast being made from start to finish.

We were out for dinner that night at a favourite dumpling restaurant in a popular shopping centre.  

New Shanghai at 5.30pm on a Saturday night is a place I think Anthony would've enjoyed.  Possibly with a wry smile but a smile nonetheless.  Old and young (because it is only the extremes of age accompanied by their support staff that choose to eat dinner at time on a Saturday....) waited somewhat patiently for their number to be called before entering the restaurant.  Master SSG periodically peered over the podium to make sure that our number wasn't passed over.

The poor lady in charge of matching dining groups to available tables darted back and forth mentally balancing and matching free tables with waiting customers.  She then had to yell out ticket numbers in both English and Mandarin (and sometimes Cantonese if neither of these got a response).  All's well that ends well and we got our table for two after a standard 30 minute wait.

Wine is key for dinner at nana o'clock.  Ironically, the most disinhibited and sociable diners at this time of the day are the children. It was kind of like speed dating but not really and it was kind of like keeping your drunk friend at uni out of trouble but not really.  It was definitely loud and it was definitely delicious.

Do you have memories of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain?  What impact has their work had on your life?


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