Nov 30, 2010

Shocking News From Singapore. Mr SSG Requests.

Hello everyone,

Sigh.  We've gone to Singapore and back.  It's back to the real world with a thud.  A grey skied, rainy thud at that.

I had a lovely time away.  It was great to catch up with family and weddings are always such a joyous occasion.  Much food was eaten, many photographs were snapped.  However, not much was bought at all.  My suitcase weighed exactly the same coming home as it did on the way out. 

It's shocking news, I know.  Even Mr SSG felt my forehead periodically to make sure I wasn't febrile.  I don't know what came over me.  Actually, I do.  I've given it alot of thought and here are my reasons:
- the stores were all full of full winter gear.  Thermals, puffer jackets and heavy knits.  In Singapore.
- Zara was feeling the cowgirl ranch look.  Everything was flannel, prairie style and full of Wild West motifs.
- there were only bits of Kate Moss for Top Shop's collection
- H&M hasn't opened yet
- you know how I didn't cope well in Japan a few months ago with the heat and humidity?  It was the same in Singapore.  Like good hair, heat and humidity are the natural enemies of my shopping instincts.
- there were huge queues outside the other stores I wanted to have a look at.

It's been a bit hectic here but I promise to get to the photos over the next few posts.

In the meantime, have you heard about Christian the lion?  Mr SSG certainly has.  He's one of Christian's biggest fans.  It all started when he caught a segment on Kerry Anne the other day and since then, he's been the bearer of links to everything Christian associated.  He was very insistent that I blog about Christian.

The fascination started with this video.

I cry everytime I watch it.  It's that sense of love triumphing over the passage of time, the love of God's creatures for one another. 

Briefly, Christian was a lion cub on sale in Harrods in the 1960s(!!).  He was bought by a pair of Australian expats, Ace and John.  Christian lived in their house for a number of months before outgrowing it.  He became fully immersed in London life and even had a country residence at which he could stretch his legs.  Christian was also adopted by a pair of London actors, who worked on the movie Born Free.  They decided to give Christian a place to live on their country estate as plans were made for his future.

Ace and John had decided that the best place for the growing Christian was in his natural surroundings in Kenya.  The famous conservationist, John Adams had agreed to try and integrate Christian back into the wild and hopefully have him start his own pride.

There is a fascinating documentary about Christian and his human family.  I was watching it on the plane home yesterday.  It is such a heart warming story in every way.  I love watching lions on film.  Their physical beauty, their grace and their human qualities as they interact with one another.  This was juxtaposed upon life in London in the 60s.  The freedom of expression and lifestyle and the beginnings of an appreciation of conservation and a respect for nature.
I hope you're keeping well wherever you may be and that the video clip made you thankful and appreciative of the love you have in your own life.

Talk to you soon,

PS - it's already December tomorrow!?!?!?!  My Christmas preparations at this point are in their infancy.  In fact, I'm not sure that they've been conceived yet....

Nov 25, 2010

Thursdays That Feel Like Fridays. See You Next Week.

It's the last night at home before the SSG long weekend in Singers.  So I'm carrying on like it's Friday night.

Take away for dinner.  The Byron Bay pizza from our local pizza parlour.  There were prawns, there was bacon, there was cheese.  It was G-O-O-D.

I have to admit, I chose the Byron Bay in honour of Kerry O'Brien.  He made the cover of Sydney magazine.  In my haste to get home early and pack, I left the magazine at work.  Kerry is semi retiring to Byron when he finishes hosting the 7.30 Report in December.  Hard hitting current affairs on our national broadcaster is never going to be the same again.

Lunches to take to work next week are sorted.  I'm regressing to the foods of early career girl years .... Lean Cuisines.  I'll let you know if they taste any better than they did the first time round.

Ah Lean Cuisines, they got me through many a cycle of 4 days, 4 nights and 4 off.  Those and 600 ml Diet Cokes (I did nights before Coke Zero was invented).  Then I learned to cook and got a root canal.  It was good bye Lean Cuisine and Diet Coke, respectively.

In between episodes of The Good Wife and Rake, I've managed to pack my suitcase.  Mr SSG and I have been workshopping outfits. Or rather Mr SSG has found shirts and ties that go with my chosen dresses.  Team work.  I love it.

Scarf - Sportsgirl, bag - Witchery.

Oh, that's my red scarf from Sportsgirl.  It's been a while since I've bought anything from them.  It's my 'I'm like a bird' scarf - or the Nelly Furtado.  That was a pretty random reference.  Only on a Thursday that feels like a Friday.

So, good night, all.  Have a lovely weekend and I'll catch up with you next week.  2 days in Singapore is barely enough.

Nov 24, 2010

Bad Traffic and Routine Disruption. For Those Left Behind At Pike River, New Zealand.

"Lego, imagine it's Lego."

About once a week, the calm presence of a pair of cuff linked wrists descend up on the kitchen at SSG Manor accompanied by a voice encouraging me to think of Lego and the benefits of stacking by shape and size. 

Unfortunately, it is usually at 7 am on a weekday when I've eaten my breakfast / read the front page of the paper / need to get into the shower really quickly / remember to put my phone in my bag / get my lunch out of the fridge.  I've got places to be, things to do.

I can't load a dishwasher efficiently.  So long as a rinsed dish fits somewhere in either of the 2 drawers, I consider my duty done.  Not so for Mr SSG.  He has an uncanny knack for being able to create space where I only saw a pair of plastic lunchboxes uneasily balancing on top of each other.  Surely the water can get in between the two and clean effectively?

The dishwasher filled, the cycle started, Mr SSG's work is done.  He glides serenely out the door to catch his  bus.

And I pull together an outfit for the day.  I have a soft spot for white T shirts from Target.  They come down well below the waist (something to actually tuck into a waistband rather than have the hem ride up your waist as the day progresses) and have survived many, many rounds in the front loader.

White T - Target, navy skirt - Ralph Lauren, necklace - you know it, the FF Leo necklace by Red Phoenix Emporium.
The traffic on the way home tonight was crazy.  It took half an hour to get 50 m down the main road that feeds into the final stretch home for me.  About the only good thing about this was that the stand still allowed the sombrero clad promoters of a new Mexican restaurant to stroll between the cars and hand out menus.

Which means I finally have a Mexican menu for my kikki K takeaway menu folder.  I've got every other nationality covered.

You  know how I was having trouble watching Secret Diary of a Callgirl?  I found a way around it. I'm just going to read the book.  The dialogue may be less confronting this way.

Perhaps my local Subway wasn't the best place to start reading.
Yes, I had dinner at Subway tonight.  I got home so late, I missed yoga and my whole Wednesday routine got seriously out of whack.  On the up side, my bag is packed and the outfits sorted out.  I had a chat to mum and I know where we have to be and when in Singapore this Saturday.  Thank goodness it is such a visitor friendly country.  Everywhere we need to be is easy to get to from our hotels.

It was a tough call - takeaway or prosecco and blue cheese from the fridge.  Eventually, I decided on the healthier option.  Effort was required to get back into the car (after that horror traffic jam) to drive the 5 minutes to our local fast food Bermuda Triangle.  May I just warn those who were hoping that the seafood extender sub with marinara sauce would taste like spaghetti marinara?  Don't go there.

I don't think there are words left for the 29 miners who have died in the Pike River mine in New Zealand.  Everyone, most importantly the families, hoped that this disaster would have the same jubilant ending to that of the Chilean disaster a few months ago.  Tragically, this has proven to be a far more cruel beast.

It must have been so painful for the families to have heard the early announcement of the rescue mission looking more like a retrieval mission.  We heard the news of the second and certainly fatal mine explosion this afternoon in Australia.  Julia Gillard offered condolences on behalf of all Australians and flags will be flown at half mast in New South Wales tomorrow.

For those that have been left behind, the New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key delivered this speech.  It is the most moving peace time political speech I have heard.

Nov 23, 2010

Caffeine As Jewelry. Kaftans As Workwear.

If wearing the molecular structure of caffeine around your neck doesn't keep you away all day, then I don't know what will.

There's only so much coffee and coke zero a girl can drink in a day.  The alternative of wearing your caffeine fix is a very attractive one.  Especially when it is made from sterling silver.  I bought this from etsy, and the seller's name is molecularmuse .  Personally, I find wearing this necklace more convenient than having to spray myself periodically with coffee or coke zero.

Well the necklace worked.  I stayed awake all day.  Pretty good effort on 4 hours sleep.

My caffeine levels replete, it was time to whip out this dress.

Dress - Country Road.
I'm classifying it as a kaftan.  On account of the neckline.  And the vivid red paisley print.  Oh I am suffering in this weather that occasionally promises summer but then gives me nights where I need to drag out my flannel pyjamas (and bed socks) again.  Wearing something kaftan-ish to work in November is almost as good as wearing a kaftan to the beach.  Not really.  It's the caffeine talking.

Anyway, I went to work looking like this.

Bag - Witchery.
 But sadly, without these shoes.

Heels - Mimco.
I bought them because they looked a bit edgy and have what I hoped was a sensible platform sole and a sturdy heel.  Those magic features in a pair of heels that speak to your (okay might just be my) left brain and say 'yes, SSG, what a perfect example of flattering and work appropriate heels, proceed out the door to your car'.

Except your canny left brain takes a look from above at the back of those heels.

Serotonin, the molecule of happiness.

That's my serotonin molecule semi permanent tattoo on the floor.  It came with my necklace.  It's going to take a lot more than one molecule of serotonin to get me through a day of work in heels.  Not even the caffeine around my neck is going to cut it.

I put the heels back into their pink dustbags.  Well played, left brain.  My feet thank you.

After all the molecular excitement of the day, whole foods were the go for dinner.

I'm going to have an early night with a murder mystery or two and BBC News Radio, I think.  I'm hooked on Ruth Rendell and Agatha Christie all over again.  My Kindle makes it all so easy.

I have been trying to watch Secret Diary of a Callgirl.  Billie Piper is perfectly cast and she nails the role (oh the puns).  The dialogue is very funny but gee is it graphic.  I'm only on episode one and there's a whole lot of fast forwarding and gazing at the dust on my vertical blinds going on....  I am finding it all too confronting.  SATC is like The Simpsons in comparison.

It's nearly Wednesday!  Two more days of school work before the trip.  Packing is going to plan.  Everything I'm taking is spread out on the spare bed.  Where I can see it.

Have a lovely evening, talk to you soon.

Nov 21, 2010

Gothic Chic At Yoga. Muffins. The Day Before With the Rykiels.

I wonder if Angelina Jolie does this before going to yoga.  Pondering the way black has seeped into every aspect of fashion and beauty in 2010.  In those seconds that she may have to herself before Brad, one of the children, her PA or the press invades her personal space.  Gothic as a fashion inspiration may be so 1990s but black is timeless.

Black patent Birkenstocks, OPI's Lincoln Park After Dark and Witchery bag,

Don't worry, Angelina, you go off and do your thing.  I'm doing just fine on my own.  Sitting on the floor getting my act together before driving to class.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning here in Sydney and I went to yoga with Mr SSG.  In my black yoga clothes, birkis, pedicure and slouchy bag.  It was all going so well.  Class was challenging on my hips and I spent the final moments of shavasna looking forward to a coffee and pastry up the road at Bertoni's.  It was not to be.  I left my wallet at home.  We had an improvised brunch of last night's pizza and a coffee from Muffin Break.  With salad greens in aid of being healthful after a  yoga class.
It felt like a day for baking.

Those newspaper pages are hiding a pair of woefully bruised bananas.  The newspaper wrapping was meant to slow down ripening but it didn't work.

Muffins to be precise.  I like the emphasis on minimal mixing of the wet ingredients and the short baking time.

  • 2 cups SR flour
  • 200g carton of natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 80g of melted margarine (or blended butter if taste is key)
  • 2 lightly beaten eggs
  • 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 green apple, peeled and grated
  • 2 mashed bananas
  • 1/2 cup honey (I had a crisis, ran out of honey and had to substitute some of the honey with brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats in the batter and extra to top the muffins

We should all believe Donna Hay when she suggested the use of an old school ice cream scooper to decant batter from the mixing bowl to the greased muffin tray.

It is so tidy and quick.  None of the batter goes to waste and the muffins will all be of an even size.

After the precision division of batter among the 12 holes of my miracle non stick Anolon muffin pan comes the sprinkling of rolled oats.

I love Anolon.  No need for muffin cases.  Just a smear of butter and you're good to go.

Bake for 25 minutes or so at 180C.

And out pops a tray of muffins.  I like to look at them through squinty eyes and pretend I'm at a hip cafe rather than at the dining table of the very suburban environs of SSG Manor.

Sunday afternoons are ideal for catching up on the week's Foxtel highlights.

I adore The Day Before.  It is a series of documentaries that go behind the scenes at some major fashion houses as they prepare for fashion shows for buyers, celebrities and their investors.

I was catching up on the Sonia Rykiel episode today.

This is Sonia's daughter Nathalie telling it like it is.

I hear you Nathalie.

Sonia herself with her words of inspiration.

It is a fascinating series.  For me, the best parts are hearing and seeing the designers at work.  They are so passionate and dedicated to their work.  I found myself ignoring the models and just staring at the clothes.  For me it wasn't a case of thinking that these were clothes I'd never wear of be able to afford but rather an escape into the world of the designers and a sense of complete immersion in their vision.  True escapist television.

Speaking of escapism.  How's this for afternoon tea on a Sunday?

Jeff Kennett's drink and drive safe diet....

I'll explain about the Kool Mints later but the cheese and crackers are from my Ikea visit the other week.

As a completely unbiased taster with no formal education in cheese tasting, Ikea's organic blue cheese gets 2 thumbs up.  It's not too creamy, has that great blue cheese taste, doesn't smell much and is pretty good value (less than $5 for the block).

The strange thing is that it actually works with Ikea's ginger snaps.  There were a few mouthfuls there when I thought I was eating lemon cheesecake, but I think that's just me.

The Kool Mints.  I think everyone in Australia has already gone to town on what Jeff Kennett said about Kool Mints helping bring your blood alcohol down if you wished to drink and drive.  The following clip waffles on a bit but it is there for reference.

It's been a rather busy day, now that I look back on it.  I finished a very exciting guest blog post and did some more packing for Singapore.  My suitcase has come down from storage and is on the floor in the spare bedroom.  This is as good as saying we're ready to fly.

I'm settling in for the night.  It's the season finale of Offspring (or 'The Bonking Doctors' as Mr SSG likes to call it) tonight.

Have a lovely evening and I'll be back soon.

Nov 20, 2010

Shopping for the Holiday. I'm Too Old for the Extreme Sport of It Bag Pursuit.

One of the things I love most about where I live are the jacaranda trees.  There's a street I have to jog uphill and the sight of the two jacarandas arching over opposite sides of the road to meet overhead in a burst of lilac-y purple against the dawn sky is just what I need to get me to the top.  It's a special light at that time of the day.  It makes the jacaranda flowers look so striking against the dark of the tree branches and the sky.  I hope that one day I'll be able to take a proper photo of it.

It's just under a week until we fly off to Singapore for the weekend.

It's never too early to start packing and planning.  I've located the perfume sample card of the Hermes fragrance I'm hoping to find at the duty free.  I'm keeping it in the safest place I  know - on the fridge in the kitchen.  Come to think of it, the travel itinerary is there too.  Just to be extra safe, I'm going to put everything under the same fridge magnet.

Kiehl's face cream for mum and Lush bubble bars for me in the bath at the hotel.

I'm really excited because we'll be meeting up with my mum and dad in Singapore.  I was meant to bring mum back ups of her favourite face cream.  I went to Mecca Comsetica looking for ReVive's moisturizing renewal cream.  Bad news, ReVive fans - the whole brand has been withdrawn from Australia.  I have seen the range on Strawberrynet today though, if you're in need.  Apparently, a good substitute which Mecca Cosmetica does stock, is Chantecaille's Flower Harmonizing Cream.

I ended up at Kiehl's at DJ's where there was a 15% off sale going on.  It took a bit of guess work and extrapolation but I think I've found mum a substitute.  It's the Abyssine Cream + (don't know what the + indicates).  It's available with or without SPF.  There's a complex list of active ingredients including red alga and a survival molecule called abyssine.  Sci Fi, meet Skin Care.

Regular readers will now be familiar with my pre holiday routine.  It involves not only the packing and planning that normal people do but also shopping for the holiday.  This close to Christmas, I could be sneaky and reference our American friends and call it shopping for the holidays.  Either way you look at it, it's still shopping for me for the holiday(s).  That covers everything in an honest manner.

It was the day of 35% or so off.  Everywhere I went in women's fashion, discounts in the 35% range were being offered.

Witchery was no exception.  35% off for purchases over $500.  The mathematics of Current Season Stock Discounting is different to that of the real world.  Somehow '35% off' sounds almost like 'buy one, get another at half price'.

I like Witchery bags because they're light, hold a fair bit and have convenient pockets.  They are reasonable value when on sale for on trend bags in practical colours.

This is the Elise Whip Stitch bag.

Witchery Elise Whip Stitch bag in Black.

I know these bags look very much like the Balenciaga City bags but gee, I'm too old for the extreme sport of It Bag Pursuit.  Bag features on the shoulder of a celebrity, bag sells out and has waiting lists everywhere, bag invariably extremely heavy when filled with day to day essentials causing shoulder strain and then, most alarmingly ... bag hibernates in dust bag for many, many months at a time.

For the Balenciaga fans, the Witchery bag is an edit of various versions of the Covered Giant City bag and the City bag (I think this helps with copyright and intellectual property concerns).  Some of the front studs are covered in leather, others are bare and the general size of the metal work is smaller than the current versions that Balenciaga are making.  There are no tassles on the Witchery bag.  The shoulder strap is detachable and does have a pad on the strap for comfort.

Don't get me wrong, I love handbags, I'm just striving for moderation these days.  Fair price for a fairly on trend bag that I can have a bit of fun with and not be too precious about.

Moderation is a relative thing.

It goes without saying that under the influence of the rubbery figures of Current Season Stock Discounting, it makes perfect sense to buy the same bag in both black (of course) and an off white shade called 'plaster'.

Witchery Elise Whip Stitch bag in Plaster.
I'm not sure how long a white bag will stay white in my hands but I guess the experiment starts now.  

Just to give the bags the best possible start in my rather active and fast paced life, I gave them the once over with leather protectant.

Both bags stood up well to a light wiping down with the spray.

I'm planning to take the white bag to Singapore.  I can see it getting a good day of shopping at The Ion.  I hope there's a Zara there.  I am in search of summer clothes at the moment.  A kaftan and a navy and white striped tank top styled dress mainly.

That's my next holiday planning job - writing a shopping list.

Have a lovely evening, people.

Nov 19, 2010

Urbanspoon Rocks.

Urbanspoon Rocks.

image courtesy of - the blog

I just felt like typing that.  Not that it doesn't but there it is in print, on my blog.

Let me explain. I'm in the process of claiming my blog for my urbanspoon account.  To bring my restaurant review posts to a wider and unsuspecting  audience.  Because I'm among friends, can I admit how much I appreciate followers and people finding my posts in their google searches and from links?

This post is part of the confirmation process.  That's all.  Now carry on and enjoy your Friday.

From My Seat on the Train.

Those of you who rely on public transport to get to and from work on a daily basis, this blog salutes you.

The ageing SSG-mobile was out of action for 2 whole working days this week.  Like a resilient Hollywood starlet (I will not do a Gwyneth Paltrow and name names), it has aged well on the surface but its insides were another story.  My car has had major internal surgery and though it hurt to see the bill, the good news is, we've got at least another 2 years on the road together.  We've had some good times together:  moved states, gotten married, passed exams, seen a Royal Engagement and glanced at numerous celebrity baby snaps.

Back to the public transport issue.  I don't know how you all survive - and come back for more, day after day.  Necessity might be the answer.  I just found it draining.  More stressful than sitting in traffic in a car, to be honest.  Figuring out train lines and platforms as well as the buses I needed to get to the station.  Sometimes, even finding the entrance to some of the train stations was a challenge.

But there were very pleasant moments.

In the emptier carriages of the train, I could sit back and catch up on some reading with the soothing sensation of being bumped along over the train tracks as the CityRail equivalent of a relaxation CD.

My train rides were also a ticket to seeing all walks of life in Sydney.  The changes in buildings, landscape and people from one station to the next.  So many stories untold and thoughts not yet given voice.  Here and there, a gesture or a comment reminded me of someone I knew or something I'd done.

I was reunited with my car yesterday afternoon and I was back in the driver's seat this morning on my way to work.  It was quiet and peaceful.  I had my preferred radio station(s) on (I'm a compulsive surfer - both the AM and FM bands) and I didn't have to listen out for train stops being called in the background.  I was in my own little bubble in stop start traffic. 

It's what I'm used to but I'm glad I had those commutes on train.  It is too easy to go about your day in a big city without really interacting with the environment around you.  I was glad I the chance to engage on the train.

Nov 17, 2010

Love From Red Phoenix Emporium. I'm Just Like My Mum Over A Royal Engagement.

You know how I was all maudlin over the Outnet sale?  I knew those dollars saved would come in handy. I had hoped that the rainy day situation would involve a dream list handbag purchase but unfortunately, the funds were required for more mundane matters.  My car.  What started as one light blinking out of turn has snowballed into a pretty frightening list of repairs - I must have an angel at my steering wheel because I've been driving serious kilometeres without noticing any of the faults.   It'll be out of action for 2 days.

But there were so many things to smile about today.

Starting from this morning.  Mr SSG has made a miracle recovery from the lurgy that was going around his office.  It started with someone's toddler, maimed his mother for weeks and then mutated into a lethal adults only kind of head cold with a bonus sore throat.  It's kind of bittersweet saying goodbye (and good riddance) to Mr SSG's Godfather voice.

My wonderful colleagues worked out a roster to give me lifts.  Quite a few people live near me and though it's less than an hour's drive to work, public transport is sole destroying.

My order from Red Phoenix Emporium arrived.  Days that begin with pink parcels are always good days indeed.

As seen on the front page of the SMH - travel with the strong dollar.  At least, that's what I got out of that coverline.
There was a wonderful surprise inside my parcel.

A very sweet note from Lotus and Willow and a gift.

Marquisite Lariat Necklace, part of Lotus' collection at Red Phoenix Emporium
Thank you so much, Lotus and Willow.  It was very kind of you.  I am spreading the word about RPE.  There is great interest at work in regards to my collection of necklaces.

I am finding homes for the newest additions.

The white Coco necklace from Red Phoenix Emporium, new colour for the season.

The Audrey necklace from Red Phoenix Emporium.  

Adding a little Hepburn chic to the view from the lounge room.

I'm just like my mum over Royal Engagements.  I remember poring over the women's magazines with mum back in 1981 for news about Diana and then in 1986 for Sarah.  We were allowed to have dinner in front of the television so that we could watch the wedding ceremonies.

Will marry next year ... Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Photo from - credited to AP.
I love this photo.  Those big smiles that practically burst from your face when you've just gotten engaged.  They both look radiant and just like any other young couple over the moon at their future lives together.  I think the Royal Family has moved on in a good way with regard to trying to find their role in the pubic eye in a world where fame and celebrity once threatened royalty with tragic consequences.  In this photo I see a pair of mature people who've gotten to know each other pretty well in many different situations and who have grown up together in as normal a way as they could in their circumstances.  I hope they have a wonderful engagement and married life together.

I might just start buying New Idea and Women's Day ......

I have to admit to feeling a little weird when I first heard that the engagement ring was Diana's own but this is the decision and concern purely of the family and really not mine to judge.  I saw a clip of William and Kate's first official interview and hearing them both talk about the late Princess and the symbolism of her engagement ring being part of this wedding was pretty moving stuff.

The Faux Fucshia Leo necklace, every bit as vibrant as its namesake.  Even my hair had bounce and body today.  Owe you one, FF.
Outfit deets: cardi by Cotton On, white T by Target.

Feet of the day: those 100% synthetic $20 flats from Cotton On, so comfy.  Black cuffed 3/4 pants by GAP (Tokyo).

A bit of colour was in order for today's work outfit.  For the kindness of wonderful people around me, for the Royal Engagement (that sapphire ring really is growing on me) and just because.


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