Jan 30, 2011

Psychedelic Pants. Saturday Was All White.

Travel brochures are great messengers of escape and respite from the realities of everyday life.  As I turn the pages, each destination proclaims itself as the place I next need to visit.  I'm usually a creature of comfort whilst on holiday (as numerous posts on this blog will confirm) but the Saturday paper came with an Intrepid Traveller brochure and I suddenly became SSG the rough and ready action vacation traveller.  Peru was the country that won my heart.  The colour and vibrancy of the people, the breathtaking natural landscapes and the possibility of a visit to The Amazon were the deciding factors.

Speaking of rough and ready, did you spot the red off road vehicle in the photo?  It's H's new pride and joy.  He came to visit this weekend with the aim of getting his car, doing the rego changes and just hanging out in the city for the weekend before heading off for a recreational ocean swim on his way back north.  It's a Suzuki from the mid 80s and has a very retro and solid feel to it.  What sealed the deal for H was the current season beach permit, the extra soft road wheels and the ability for the boot to fit both a surfboard and an adult male or two with relative ease.

You might ask what I was doing watching the golf on a Saturday morning?  Two words - psychedelic pants.  I don't actually know the rules of golf but how could I not sit and watch John Daly pacing the course and swinging his clubs dressed as he was?

Unfortunately, duty called.  In the shape of brunch.

Now this is a sight I've never been part of before.  Being at the beginning of the line for Saturday dumplings at New Shanghai and waiting for them to open the flood gates!

It must have been the benevolent presence of George Clooney gazing down upon me.

I know this may seem glaringly obvious from where you are but just for my benefit, I think the following needs to be said.

If you're a 35 year old woman who decides go bather shopping after a large brunch, you've got body confidence and I salute you.

If you do it wearing the North Shore uniform of ballet flats and preppy basics then, for the love of Mike, walk away from any store front bearing signs like this.

Because you really are going to be at least a head shorter and several hand spans wider than the spokesmodel of an iconic swimwear label.

Seeing as Lara did not explicitly consent to be part of my blog, I've made an attempt to protect her identity.  Perhaps, to balance the photo, I should have offered her one of my RPE necklaces?  Sorry W & L, I was too star struck to talk about my outfit....  Next time.

For the record, Lara was lovely.  She obviously has had lots of practice speaking to 30 something women who follow her wardrobe and daily life through the glossips.  She diplomatically didn't talk about bathers and the lady she was with very kindly and expertly took this photo.  I didn't buy bathers after all, that would have messed with my mind even more.  I got a new pair of hand paddles for freestyle practice.  Which, strangely, Lara has never had to model in any Speedo campaign I've seen.

I came away from my unexpected brush with Sydney celebrity with a couple of useful model secrets.

Firstly, white eyeliner on your lower lashline is as important to life as brushing your teeth.   Do not leave the house without it, a perfect tan or a statement dress.  Secondly, wear heels (or black suede ankle boots) at all times.  Even if you're in Chatswood Chase on a hot Saturday afternoon as a shopper not a sales assistant.

Less threatening whiteness was found with the X Games held at Buttermilk in Aspen.  The place where I learned to ski.  The snow boarders were moving too fast for me to photograph.  They are breathtaking to watch.  The speed and agility with which the scale the half pipes.  Whilst wearing what looked like just a couple of flannel shirts and low slung pants.  Perhaps the adrenaline rush is a good Goretex substitute.

It really hasn't taken long for the blog to find itself back on the topic of online shopping or sparkling beverages, has it?  I'm taking this as a sign of progress and recovery.

Mr Porter is launching next month!  Strangely, I received this notice due to my being on the Outnet mailing list as opposed to NAP.  Does this mean Mr P will be run based on the discounted price model?  Do they know husbands too well?  Anwway, Mr SSG's birthday is coming up and I've invited him to become a Foundation Member of Mr Porter.  I can still feel the gratitude and excitement in the air.

Take care everyone and once again, thank you so much for all your emails and comments.  I've had the privilege to get to know quite a few more readers these last few days.  I still owe a few people an email.  Pity it is under such difficult circumstances.

Jan 29, 2011

Luxe Bakery, Newtown.

One of the unexpected 'up' sides to the last few days was that I got to take Mr SSG to an area Sydney I know well from work but we never really get around to visiting now that I no longer work there.

Luxe Bakery is in the heart of Newtown. To me, Newtown is an invigorating mix of students, eccentric and flamboyant locals, professionals, youth in general and a broad cross section of people who need hospitals. In other words, it's a place where all the subcultures of Sydney collide with harmonious results.

When I was working in the area, Luxe was my second most favourite cafe on Missenden Road.  McCafe won because it was 50m from the front door of work.  That's how much of a coffee conisseur I am.  Third was Max Brenner because that was further than either Luxe or McCafe.

The pumpkin on our communal window table.

What I loved most about Luxe were:
  • the lovely staff who always smiled and had a chilled out salutation for everyone who walked in, regular or not
  • the fantastic bread and pastries, all made on site
  • the coffee
  • the decor
  • the people watching.
It's been over a year since I was last at Luxe and thankfully, not one of these has changed.

There was superior people watching from outside our window.  Across the road is another Newtown institution, Campo's Coffee.  You're either a lover or not when it comes to Campo's coffee beans.  The tiny shop is always jam packed and there's always a line onto the street on weekend mornings.

Luxe does breakfasts and lunches.  Don't ask me why I snapped the lunch menu when were there for breakfast.  You can either dine in or takeaway.  It's all very relaxed but efficient.
The baristas and staff that always make me smile no matter how bad a day I've been having. 
Yes, the skinny cap was mine.

Luxe is housed in a refurbished old shop house and the decor is a combination of shabby chic and utilitarian.  The counter is filled with all sorts of sweet baked goods (you must try their fig and chocolate tart) as well as sandwich and savoury pastry options.  Prices are very reasonable considering the standard of the baked items.  Breakfast was a total of $21 for two.

Here's a run down of what we had.

A blueberry custard danish.  The custard wasn't too sweet or runny.

A super flaky croissant.

Fig and raisin toast.

It looks like I'm going to be in the Newtown area fairly often in the next little while.  It's reassuring to have found an old friend in the area to visit when coffee and high grade butter laden carbs are needed.

Luxe Bakery on Urbanspoon

Jan 28, 2011

Thank you.

Image courtesy of http://www.wisconsinmade.com/

I'm deeply humbled and touched by all the kind and supportive emails, messages and comments that you've left for me.  There are too many of you to name individually and I've tried to respond to all your emails and texts individually.

I really appreciate your willingness to reach out to a 'complete stranger' with words of encouragement, personal loss, personal triumphs against the odds and support. 

Things are much better than they were this time yesterday.  My blood tests are trending in the right direction and it looks like all I need is time to recover and my full strength to dust myself off and try again.

The weekend is nearly here, at last.  I hope you all have a good one and that we'll all be rested and ready to take on whatever next week has to offer.

Thank you, once again.  Each and every one of you.

Jan 27, 2011

A Cup Of Tea For Bleak Times.

Are you in your comfy chair with a cup of strong tea?  How was your day?  I've got lots to say and unfortunately very little of it is particularly fun, happy or positive.  I'm trying to find the right words and to put things in the right order.  I hope it all makes sense.

On Sunday, I had high hopes of breaking some fabulous news here at SSG.  I was going to observe the traditional first trimester silence because that's what everyone does.  Somewhere around March 12 2011 I was going to climb a mountain and shout from its peak that baby SSG was on their way.

Just a warning, if you've no wish to read about fertility and pregnancy loss, now might be a good time to close the window and have a little look see at Net A Porter.  

The blog wouldn't miss out.  There would be a photo of that first item of baby clothing.  There would also be paragraphs about the need for 2 prams each with different coloured sets of accessories to take into account the season and the family's outfits of the day.  Then I would have discussed the pros and cons of various baby bags.  At this point, sensible readers (who quite possibly are parents themselves and have been there and done that) would have pointed out the folly of my multiple purchases.  I would have been talked out of many, many crazy purchases.  It's amazing how many details of a newborn's life you can plan online these days.  Amazing.

I've been on a roller coaster of emotions since Sunday's positive home pregnancy test.  I'm  also sporting bruises in both arms from blood tests.  On the upside, I can fill a yellow topped specimen jar without spilling a drop and won't even bat an eyelid at being told to fill my bladder to have 'both' kinds of ultrasound.  I've been to ED, I've been to a special clinic.  It's different going to hospitals in a non work capacity.  I've cried on the phone to my male boss as I've told him some very personal information.

Unfortunately, nothing is simple about this loss.  I've lost the feeling of being pregnant but my blood tests aren't reflecting this.  I've had an ultrasound that shows no embryo.  We don't know if I've miscarried or if I'm having an ectopic pregnancy.  So I've gone from being pregnant to probably miscarrying to probably having an ectopic in 3 days.  That has got to be some kind of dubious record.

Emotionally, I'm floundering.  I've taken the day off work.  I've immersed myself in routine activities and hoping that the distraction of work this weekend will give me something concrete to do and manage and get me tired enough to sleep at night.  A miscarriage?  Yeah, I could move on from that and keep trying. The possibility of methotrexate and surgical intervention and then trying again possibly with 'help'?  I'm just going to get out there and be melodramatic and pronounce myself Devastated.

I feel like a complete fool for getting so excited about being pregnant.  How perfect the timing was, the symbolism of that timing.  How blessed we were.  Then there are flashes of fear about what's going to happen now and what the bloods mean.  Hope that it will happen is a very alien concept at the moment.  My advice to anyone in my position is to NOT google anything you've been told by your health care practitioners.  Especially if you have a preference for academic publications.  The facts are so much more frightening than the feelings which you know will lift eventually.

This whole experience has changed me and my perceptions of miscarriage.  Having been through one myself, I've discovered just how common they are.  I don't know if this helps me at this point but it is helping me feel less of a failure and keeping those feelings of 'this is a sign I'm just not meant to be a mother' at bay.  For me, whenever bad things happen, I usually find some good in the situation and eventually come to see just how much I actually to have in all aspects of my life.  It's a bit of  struggle with this situation though.  I'm just going to have to listen very hard to what God is trying to tell me about my life and have the faith to accept this.

The new gardenia and pot plant stand from Ikea.

In a bid to turn the day around, I decided to lose myself in the She Shed.  I've always been interested in the symbolism of trees being planted at official ceremonies.  I gave myself over to the orderly aisles of Ikea and found a plant stand and two new plants to add to our potted garden.  There's nothing like an Allen key and a piece of Ikea furniture to take your mind of what's troubling you.

Coincidentally, my new gardenia is a symbol of love, peace, healing and spirituality.  The baby peace lily symbolizes peace, love, serenity and trust.

I've thought long and hard about whether to publish this post.  I've previously said that I've avoided getting 'too personal', 'over sharing' and going on and on about my feelings in this blog.  However, what's happening now is too much of my life to not discuss somewhere.  I think I've written this post 'the right way' for me and I hope you understand where I'm coming from.

I hope this post doesn't rake up feelings you thought you'd 'gotten over' or at least 'controlled' if you've been in a similar predicament.  I also do not want this post to scare or upset anyone who is safely and healthily pregnant.

What I do hope to achieve with this post is to record this painful time for myself so that one day, I'll be able to look back and marvel at how far I've come from this point.  Also, perhaps the comments section may be a good place for anyone who wishes to share their feelings and experiences on an anonymous level and hopefully get some sadness and fear out of their hearts.

Take care and I hope all is well in your world.

Jan 26, 2011

Heeding the Call Of Our Australian Lambassador on Australia Day.

How was your Australia Day?  Besides stinking hot and airless if you were in Sydney today.

I made the pilgrimage to work to the soundtrack of Triple J's pre Hottest 100 party on the radio.  The Hume Highway Harbour Bridge looked resplendent in a sea of eerily quiet road.  I'm not being a martyr or anything but I drove home to the start of the Hottest 100.

Image courtesy of www.abc.net.au
One of the things I love most about Australia Day is its celebration of the diversity of being Australian.  There's the great music and fun of our national youth radio network and it's live music festival Big Day Out.  It's the one day of the year I drive down streets lined with the youngsters all dressed up for BDO in crazy and impractical festival gear.

There are also the Australians honoured on the Australia Day Honours List.  The List is a reminder to me of the very different, generous and inspiring people who have done so much in their chosen fields not only for themselves but for the nation.

Jessica Watson was named the Young Australian of the Year.  I still remember camping out at the Opera House waiting for Jessica to sail into the harbour.

My personal favourite was our local hero in New South Wales - Don Ritchie.
Image courtesy of www.csmonitor.com
Mr Ritchie has helped save at least 160 (by his estimate) people from killing themselves off the sheer rock face near where he lives.  He patrols the area regularly, pulling people in from the rocks and inviting them to his home for breakfast.  There were times when he got there too late or felt a person slip away as he tried to hold on but he still wakes up the next day to do it all again.

I didn't make it to anything exciting for Australia Day this year but I made up for it by eating for the nation instead.

Don't freak out, a 20 pack is not as big as it may seem on the ad.

It's sort of patriotic but Mr SSG and I discovered the new chicken nugget things at Maccas today.  Shane Warne is the spokes person for the range.  When he's not with Liz H I guess.  They are So Good (the chicken).  I rate them far higher than KFC's popcorn chicken.  You have been advised.

Then I decided to get a bit healthier with a bowl of blueberries.  I'm still trying to get through the Nicole Kidman article in this month's AWW.  That tube of Invisible Zinc tinted moisturizer couldn't have come at a better time.  I'm running out of my current tube of Clinique.

We finally got into Australian territory with dinner.  Lamb cutlets!  Sam Kekovich, Australian Lambassador, I heard you call to arms.

I conferred with Donna Hay over 'No Time To Cook' and a glass of sparkling water and we came up with lamb cutlets with a pine nut crust.

Which I enjoyed because I got to use my mortar and pestle for actual cooking as opposed to a backdrop for my kitchen photos.

Sam must be getting serious endorsement dollars.  Frenched lamb cutlets are $43 a kilo at Coles!?!?!

Here are the said cutlets getting the full treatment in crushed pine nuts.  All those essential nut oils must do wonders for the meat.  It smelled great too.

Then I went high fashion by wrapping the cutlet 'arms' in alfoil.  They are French after all.  A little textured metallic never did a lamb cutlet any harm.  I'm also a new fan of broccolini.  Nothing goes to waste with these.

So dinner ended up being a sort  of fry up / barbecue created on the oven grill.  I went for fusion by using my Japanse sesame seed salad dressing as well.

Hope you're having a lovely evening.  Not too long to the weekend now, at least.

Jan 24, 2011

The Weeknight Book Club: The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Image courtesy of www.hotbeautyhealth.com

Reading a novel aimed at the young adult market from the perspective of being a thirty-something woman is an interesting one.  For me, I found myself comparing my teen years with those of the young Carrie Bradshaw and her friends - the crushes, the petty cruelty of the schoolgirl hierarchy, the ongoing conflict between being afraid of what your peers think of you versus your own desire to do well at what is importnant to you.

If you haven't read The Carrie Diaries, it is Carrie's account of her teenage years in a small American town before she went to New York City.  Carrie and her sisters lost their mother in the years prior to where the novel begins and they are raised by their well intentioned father.  He means well but is a bit lost at times as to how to deal with his daughters' adolescence.

The 'young' Carrie has a strong sense of who she is and what she stands for.  In life, in personal goals, in friendships and in fashion.  What she struggles with is boys (who didn't and doesn't?).  Some of the most powerful areas of the book are the times when Carrie struggles with the boy who is 'good and good for her' and the boy who is 'good but bad for her'.

I have always admired the way Candace Bushnell writes.  Though it is easy to passy off the themes of her adult novels as superficial, she is an astute observer of personality and character.  At times I thought Carrie sounded too mature in her outlook and character assessments.  However, it is easy for me to forget that even as teenagers, my friends and I were capable of quite profound observations of life.  It was just the experience of the greys of an issue that we often lacked.

I've been on the Kindle site and have noticed that there is to be a sequel published in April.  If the final paragraph of The Carrie Diaries is anything to go by, it's going to be an interesting journey for Carrie in The City.

Jan 23, 2011

The Jamie Cookbook Remains Elusive. I Am Forced To Improvise and Conclude With A Cryptic Message.

Well, I was still on my mission to find Jamie's 30 Minute Meals today.  I know there are rumours that perhaps 3 course meals cannot be served in half an hour without the assistance of a production crew (thanks for the warning, Brasilian_Babe) but once I put my mind to finding a cookbook, I find that cookbook.

It was not to be.  I returned from Chatswood Chase this afternoon without a copy of the book.  It appears to have sold out everywhere.

Hilary Duff, image courtesy of www.bubzbeauty.com

I can't say that I came home completely empty handed.  This photo is a bit of a hint. Yes, I got a Birkin.


I found myself a new pair of glasses.  I realized that I hadn't made a claim for a pair for a couple of years so decided it was time to actually use my health insurance.  Unfortunately, because of facial structure, I just can't do plastic spectacle frames (bye bye Pucci frames).  They fall down the bridge of my nose.  I also can't do rimless because I'm so short sighted in both my eyes the lenses wouldn't fit that kind of frame nicely (bye, bye T&Co black rimless with the Paloma cross on each arm).  We finally found a pair for me.  It's going to take a couple of weeks to sort them out but I will show them to you when I get them.  They are very work appropriate and say "I am imploring you to take me seriously and respect my authority.  Or else the House of Gucci will not be amused."  Hope it works.

Actually, Hilary's Birkin is relevant to my day.  Mr SSG and I have been planning our holiday again.  It's still in May and it's still going to be in the US.  Except, we've decided Honolulu may be the go.  Our last hurrah.  Hawaii is apparently the place for Hermes shopping, due to its high turnover of tourists.  The stores are restocked several times a day, so the rumour goes.  Also, we will be in the outlet area.  I remember The Stylish Shoe Girl reporting favourably on this.  TSSG - should I stay at the pink hotel too?  Did you love The Royal Hawaiian (it's official name)?  Do any other readers wish to advise?

I am being resourceful in the absence of Jamie's book.  By resorting to old standby dishes that take half an hour to prepare.  Unfortunately, only a single course.  Unless you count washing grapes as the dessert course.

Firstly, the Malaysian curry with chicken and potatoes.

Time saving shortcut #1 - store bought curry paste.  Ayam is the Masterfoods of Chinese cooking.  I trust it with my life.

Shortcut #2 - microwaving the potatoes before adding to the curry.  A good chicken curry has to have potatoes!

The garnish of choice?  Fried shallots.

We really did just have washed grapes for dessert.

Well, I hope you've all had a restful weekend or an enjoyable one or both, even.  Here's to a good week all round that will only give us what we can handle and allow us to accept that whatever happens, happens.

Take care and sleep well.

Jan 22, 2011

Sydney, May I Tell You How Beautiful You Are In the Late Summer?

Didn't today just make you feel live and proud to be living in Sydney, Sydney readers?  Despite Sydney having just been named as the most un-liveable Australian city.

Even from behind the swinging doors of our public transport, the water was a glorious turquoise blue, the trees a deep green and the clouds that cotton wool fluffy, happy white.

Thankfully, the sky writer didn't stop at this.

Either a car fanatic out there was asking for Honda's hand in marriage or there was an event sponsored by Honda going on somewhere in Sydney today.

It was a day of errands for me, but pleasant ones.  The glorious weather made it easier to get through them all.

My first stop was the city.

The faded and bleached pictures you get from Hipstamatic are so perfect for summer photos, don't you think?

Where my fellow Sydney siders were already out and about embracing late summer.

By accepting the challenge of simultaneously playing chess against the one grand master.

Congregating in the cool of the high ceilinged QVB.

Getting the feeling that Easter seems to have arrived a little earlier than usual.  It was the chocolate eggs and hot cross buns at Coles that first did it to me and now look, the George St banners are all about the bunny.
The Easter Bunny - Sydney Techno Rave Style.
What was I in the city for again?

Ah yes, Jamie Oliver's latest cook book.

Image courtesy of www.foodiegossip,blogspot.com
Jamie's 30 Minute Meals is currently screening on the Lifestyle channel here in Australia and I'm hooked.  I've always enjoyed watching Jamie cook but this is the first book of his recipes that I've wanted to buy.  The lay out of the book aims to help you keep to the 30 minute time frame to get a full meal on the table.  Jamie focuses a great deal on maximal impact with minimal time and  he has put together menus with a wide range of flavours.

Tragically, the book was sold out at Books Kinokuniya.

I did find Julia Child's definitive French cookbook though.  I left it on its shelf.  Far too complicated for me and I was having palpitations at the amount of butter required in many of the recipes.

Operation 'Bring the She Shed To Work Because the Reverse Is Very Unlikely To Happen' went off without a hitch today.

Anticipating a less than hospitable environment at work, I got these Water Storage Crystals to add to my potting mix.

In an ideal world, the crystals are left to soak in some water before being mulched into potting mix.  Today was the ideal world and those crystals ended up looking awfully like a granita.

Just as well the jug was outside in the She Shed not the fridge or else the morning may have ended on a less than happy note.

My ever reliable Ikea plants made themselves at home in the car.

Unfortunately, neither of these pot plants possessed any road map reading skills.

But refrained from being back seat drivers.  We all got to my new office in one piece.  The office is now complete.

I was going to show you this photo on Australia Day (but I'll be working), but how cool is this replica Harbour Bridge?

It is one of the many interesting sights on my drive to work.  My work car park is off Governor Macquarie Drive in the middle of several stables and a horse racing track.  I reckon it's position A (outside of the real Harbour Bridge) this Australia Day.  It's not going to be so bad being at work on Wednesday after all.  Be warned, Sydney, I heard that we're heading up to 42C on January 26.


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