Mar 31, 2011

The Great Yogurt Stealth Downsize Explained.

I got to the end of my $12 stash of bananas today.  Stash is a very generous word for 3 small pieces of fruit, but these are difficult times for the food industry.  I'll get back to this point a little later.

If I'm to maintain my extravagant fruit consumption, the budget is going to need some work.  Not too much though, I seem to have lost the will to shop online.  Unless it's for Kindle books or things from the iTunes store.

This little idea is sort of budget friendly.  Sorbolene pump pack  - cheap as chips.  Bottle of Coco Mademoiselle parfum - was expensive when I first bought it all those years ago.  I never quite get around to using 'dab on' bottles of perfume.  They're so fiddly and I often end up losing a fair amount to the carpet.  I decided to make my own 'fine fragrance' bodly lotion by tipping my parfum into the sorbolene.

Readers, we have an answer to the great Nestle Diet yogurt stealth downsize. 

Breakfast didn't seem to take as long to eat this morning thanks to there being less yogurt to get through.  Thanks, Nestle.

The customer service department sent me a very succinct email with a very detailed open letter attached.  So I wasn't the only eagle eyed shopper to have picked up on the downsize.  This is the executive summary.  Nestle Diet is the only Weight Watchers Points endorsed yogurt in Australia.  There has been a change to the points system and thus, in order to still be a '1 point' item, the yogurts had to be downsized.   Well, that sucks if you're on Weight Watchers.  Less food per point.

I was pretty impressed that 'rising food production and infrastructure costs'  were not mentioned once in the letter.

Well, real life experience about the rising cost of living, handy home hints and an expose.  It's almost an episode of A Current Affair.

I can't end without a feel good moment.  William and Kate are already hitched - in Legoland at least.

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Take care everyone.  Until the next post.

Mar 30, 2011

The Weeknight Book Club: The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

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It was hard work and at times I very nearly gave up, but I have now finished reading my first Jasper Fforde novel.  The hard work relates to trying to follow Fforde's witty and very clever writing style as he pulls of a plot and characters that wouldn't have worked in the hands of a lesser writer.  I am linking to the Wikipedia article on 'The Eyre Affair' at this point because it will probably summarize the novel better than I can.  I also have Miss Kitty Cat to thank for suggesting Jasper Fforde to me.

Thursday Next is the heroine of this novel.  She is a veteran of the Crimean War and is in her mid thirties with a painful relationship behind her.  Her brother died in the war and her father is a time traveller.  And that's where this novel becomes decidedly unusual.  The novel is set in a parallel universe in the year 1985 and Thursday is now a literary detective.

Fforde has filled this novel with clever literary allusions and plays on words.  The England he writes about is a Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for the well read adult.  There are actual book worms who feed on words from texts, there is travel into the fabric of novels and very clever plays on words with characters named Jack Schit, Samuel Orbiter and Braxton Hicks.

It took me about a quarter of the novel to get used to the shifts in time and the devices Fforde used in to shift the plot in time in the parallel universe and also in the novels into which the characters 'visit'.  When I did get comfortable with the style of the novel, I was enthralled.

Jane Eyre is the main literary classic that is visited by Thursday as she fights the dastardly Acheron Hades.  She meets Mr Rochester and they help each other out.  Eventually, Thursday and her gang work to overcome the evil forces that threaten to corrupt the true ending of Jane Eyre.

'The Eyre Affair' is a highly imaginative and difficult to categorize novel.  I really enjoyed revisiting the novels I read in English Literature at school with the benefit of more academic insights into both works and their authors.  This is the first novel of the Thursday Next series and I'm curious to explore the rest of the series.  I'm going to take it slowly because they are puzzles as well as novels.

Has anyone else read much of Jasper Fforde's work?  I'd love to hear your opinions.

Mar 29, 2011

The Colours of MaltEaster. KFC Does Man-Time and I Want In.

It's the last week of daylight saving in New South Wales and I, for one, think it's about time.  The mornings are getting darker and colder making the drive to work an eerie head light lit journey through shadowy streets.  Very symbolic image there, what with our getting a new State Government and the discovery of billions of dollars of debt from the outgoing government that we never knew we had (the debt,  not the government).  Then we lost this country's most successful (and temperamental) Australian cricket team captain.  That contemporary cricket reference was for you, Mr SSG.

The dark also makes me feel cold.  Which explains why I was dressed for work today in this sturdy wool blend ensemble.  The first sweater of autumn / winter 2011.

Red sweater - Kookai, black tank - Cotton On, trousers - Banana Republic, belt - Gucci, necklaces - Audrey and Coco Black from Red Phoenix Emporium.

Then I had to turn the airconditioner on in the car.....

It was all for a good cause though, because my red themed outfit co-ordinated rather nicely with this little critter whom we all met at SSG Manor earlier this month.

That's right, MaltEaster bunnies are officially an It Food item.  They were glowingly reviewed in this month's Australian Gourmet Traveller.  As was the latest Nespresso machine called the Pixie because it's so tiny and comes in some amazingly bright colours.  But that's another story I'm not really meant to go into at any point in the near future.

As gourmet as it gets at SSG Manor.

It's nice, every once in a while, to be ahead of the curve in culinary matters.  It makes up for all the times that I'm not.  As is the case for tonight's dinner.  I'm going for tried, tested and simple. 

We will be getting in that once a week dinner of fish with the steamed fish using a recipe from this month's Coles Magazine.  Which is 'real world' cooking to AGT's 'high art and intensely worded recipes' approach.  The fish will be served with some Mi Goreng because we haven't had noodles for carbs in a while at SSG Manor.

I don't feel so bad about building a weeknight dinner around instant noodles because look what's hitting the KFCs of our shores as of tomorrow.  The KFC double down bunless burger for man-time.  I didn't actually make that sentence up, it's part of KFC's advertising campaign. 

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This photo is from the American campaign, it's going to be called The Double in Australia.  The burger was brought to Australia on the strength of a Facebook fan page, so the rumour goes.  All the advertising is billing this as a 'teenage male' food yet I find myself strangely drawn to it, in theory at least.  It's so wrong yet so right.  Deep fried chicken fillets, cheese, bacon and mayo.

I was so tempted to pull up at one of the many KFCs that mark my drive home from work and shake down the store for a test burger.  I was dressed in the team colours as well.  I could have slipped into the kitchen and made my own.  Unfortunately, duty called.  I got my phone for work today and it is a Nokia and I had to learn how to use it.  I had forgotten how user hostile they are.  I don't know if I'll be able to revert to a non touch screen phone.  It's a big ask.

Mar 28, 2011

Double Coffee Monday. Don't Forget the Giveaway!

Mondays aren't the most exciting day of the week with the rest of the working week to look forward to and all that.  It's also been a double coffee Monday to boot.  Not just 2 cups of coffee before lunchtime but 2 cups with 2 forms of instant coffee in each cup.

Fueled by those levels of caffeine, there's no telling what a girl can get up to at the supermarket on the way home from work.

How else can we explain my buying 3 bananas when they're $12 a kilo?  Sadly, there are somethings in life (such as natural disasters) that are immune to the rising fortunes of the AUD against the greenback.  I have been going for too long without my 10am weekday nana and it was a small price to pay.

I'm just going to have a post work lie down now until it's time for Mr SSG and I to get along to yoga tonight. 

In the mean time, if you're feeling up to it, there's still time to enter the SSG Fashion Forward Giveaway!!  Details here.

I'm so ahead of the game, I've managed to track down my note cards.

The official note card of the SSG Giveaway.

Entries close Saturday April 2, 2011.

Looking forward to receiving your entries!

The Versatile Blogger Award from My Favourite Things.

One of my new blogging friends, My Favourite Things recently gave me The Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you so much, K, I really do enjoy reading about your life half a world away from where I am in Australia.

To accept the award, I need to:
  • Thank the blogger who gave me the award
  • Reveal 7 things you don't already know about me
  • Pass on the award to bloggers I have recently started reading.
Are there 7 things you don't know about me, I wonder?  I've been blogging for over a year and have covered a lot of territory in that time.

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  1. My favourite way of eating crumpets is with butter and a sprinkling of white sugar on top.
  2. I cannot dictate letters to save my life so I type all my letters for work.  I'm actually faster at typing than dictating.
  3. I once developed such a serious addiction to cinnamon flavoured chewing gum that I actually stained my teeth red.  Prompting my dentist to ask about my intake of red wine.
  4. The only way I eat Tim Tams is by biting off  two opposite corners before using the biscuit as a straw in a hot cup of tea.
  5. I've left my twenties behind many years ago but I still can't give up trashy gossip magazines.
  6. I'm a reborn monarchist.  William and Kate, the Danish Royal Twins - who can blame me?
  7. After 6 years of yoga, I can finally lay my hands flat on the ground when bending forward.  But apparently I now have to aim to be able to have those hands flat next to my feet as opposed to in front of them.

I'd like to share this award with Blithely Unaware, My Growing Obsessions, You are Witty and Pretty and Lucky Sparkle.

Mar 27, 2011

The Passionfruit Cheesecake Diet and A Sydney City Leek.

I've just finished my passionfruit cheesecake detox this afternoon. It's basically the lemon detox diet, only better tasting and you definitely don't go hungry.  It was so effective that I don't think I'll be eating cheesecake again for at least another .... week?  Honestly, I think it will be at least a year.  My next detox is going to be the scone with jam and double cream metabolism booster.

My spirits weren't the only thing to come through 24 hours of cheesecake with a grin on its face. 

The sky was clear(er) and the local birds were out for a Sunday session on a neighbouring rooftop.

A Farmer's Wife very generously shared her Fancy Apricot Chicken recipe the other day.  I was in the mood to explore a reinterpretation of an Australian household classic, so I got myself a Sydney City Leek (it's a bit skinnier, more anxious and more anaemic than its country cousin) and some extra dried apricots.  I used a mixture of the soft and juicy kind with the more standard 'really dried' dried apricots (the ones that are a dark orange and almost leathery in texture).

Well, that Sydney City Leek punched way above its weight.  It was the yummiest apricot chicken ever.  Thank you, AFW!  The Fancy Apricot Chicken detox may be the healthiest option out of everything I've suggested in this post.

Earth Hour was a bit of cande lit magic in the suburbs last night.  A blanket of quiet descended over the usually buzzing streets.  The darkness punctuated with flickering candles encouraged good old human conversation rather than the sound of the television. Perhaps this was how the neighbourhood looked and sounded 50 years or more ago.

It's the last weekend of March already.  Where has this year gone?  I think I say this every few months, every year.  Hope you've all had a good weekend.  I'm looking forward to next weekend already.

Talk to you soon,

Listography - Places I'd Like To Time Travel To.

Kate's Listography challenge this week is 'Places I'd Like to Time Travel To'

1.  1826, France.

This was the year Joseph Nicephore Niepce printed the first photograph using a pewter plate as a film with petroleum and bitumen applied to its surface.

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Despite the centuries that have passed since this first image was produced, the basic principles of refracting light to produce an image has remained.  Photographs still remain one of the most powerful inventions of human civilization.  It would have been a privilege to be amongst the first people to take a photograph.

2. Perth, 1988.

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To give my 13 year old, whiny teenage self a reality check.  And to remind her that hair scrunchies really shouldn't be worn outside the house.

3.  Sydney, 2016

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My life 5 years from now.  Am I making the right decisions for the future.  Who will be part of my life in 2016......

4.  Shanghai, 1940s.

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This period of China's history fascinates me.  The fusion of cultures, music and fashion against the backdrop of WWII.  As a child, I remember being very curious as to why my grandparents spoke little English yet wore immaculate 3 piece European suits and styled their hair in the 'Western style' of the 1940s.

5. 15th century Arabia.

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To be one of the first to partake of coffee made from roasted coffee beans.  Where would I be without my daily cup of joe?

Mar 26, 2011

Count Downs and Cheesecake.

Sometimes, it's the little things that get you through the daily grind.  I'm not usually a person with their finger on the pulse or happening iPhone apps, but during the week, I discovered Big Day.  It's basic a personalized count down for your iPhone.  Each page holds either your own photo or one from the stock range that comes with the app.  You then customize the event that you wish to count down to.  The large counter in this text box tells you how many days you have to wait until the hallowed day arrives.  It's just a little bit of fun to look at when you desperately need something to look forward to.

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There are a couple of things people in New South Wales are sort of counting down to today.  The first is Earth Hour.  At 8.30pm tonight, the lights are going down across the state or an hour in what is now a worldwide act designed to get us all thinking about what we can each do to help our planet by changing our lifestyles starting with even the smallest gesture.

We finally got rid of our dodgy energy guzzling down lights today.  In their place are these easy to care for lights which only need one energy saving bulb per fitting.  You have no idea how hard it was fiddling around with the bulbs for the older lights we had.

I've organized our candles for the big lights off tonight as well.

It's also sausage sizzle season Election Day in New South Wales today.  Reports in the paper today suggest that we all stopped listening to election campaigns several weeks ago and the intense campaigns of recent days have done little to reverse what will be a massive swing against Labor.  Which gives the Liberal Coalition a megaslide (as opposed to landslide) victory with many NSW residents being tipped to not vote Labor for the first time in their lives.  Some betting agencies actually paid out on the Liberal Coalition win a week ago.

But back to the sausage sizzle.  When Mr SSG went off to vote this morning, he stopped off at the primary school's sausage sizzle for brunch.  Apparently it was the mums of the school running the show and there wasn't a dad to be seen anywhere near the grills.

On the way  home, he stopped off at Cavalicious, a new cafe that's close to us and will probably be our new local.  They have a great range of baked goods including this passionfruit cheesecake.

Which we intend to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner this weekend.

Well, it looks like this is one countdown that's going to be over with very quickly tonight if the ABC seat counter is anything to go by.  With less than 1% of the vote counted, the Coalition are already pretty close to the 47 seats they need to win.  The word 'close' has been notably absent whilst 'record swing' has been mentioned numerous times.

Oh look, Kerry's come out of retirement to preside over the count.

I think he's going to have an early night.  The result is pretty much in and it's only an hour after polling closed.

Mar 25, 2011

Friend Friday: Fashion Blogging and Feminism

This post is a response to Katy_Rose1's regular Friend Friday challenge on her blog, Modly Chic.

1. Do you think there is an incompatibility between feminism and a love for fashion?

To me, fashion and feminism are two entirely different concepts that can and do co-exist in a woman's life in the 21st century world.  Feminism strives for the equality of women to men in spheres such as employment, education, health and human rights.  Fashion is about style and appearance, items we wear to make ourselves look and often feel better. 

Fashion can be a symbol of a woman's success in the goals of feminism.  Women who are well educated and informed can afford to buy fashion and also have the information at their disposal to make decisions about what fashion means to them. 

Equality also means having the right to choose and this appplies to fashion.  Feminism implies that women have the right to either choose to 'follow' fashion or not.  Women judging each other's 'sense' of fashion doesn't do much for feminism, in my opinion whilst a woman who chooses to embrace fashion does.

2. There is more to each of us than a love for fashion, how do you incorporate every aspect of yourself into your blog?

That's been an inspiring challenge for me as I love to shop and that goes hand in hand with an interest in fashion.  My blog has evolved to include posts about other interests in my life - cooking, current affairs, reading, my opinions on popular media and whatever issues I feel strongly about.
3. With the fashion industry still being a male-dominated profession, how do you think it would differ if women played a larger role?

What a great question, Katy_Rose.  I think if women played a larger role then high fashion as well as the high street would be more accessible to women of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Women in senior positions would realize that there is a huge market of women with their own money and their own taste who are not necessarily stick thin and perfect figured.  Also, the structure of companies would change.  It would be possible for more job sharing, maternity leave options and recognition that older people can bring much to the world of fashion.

Also, there would be better maternity clothing!
4. How is your self-image and the way you carry yourself informed by your beliefs?

I'm taking this to mean beliefs about beauty.

Firstly, my beliefs about beauty.  I truly believe that what is on the inside radiates to outwards.  So even if you are blessed with perfect features, figure and skin - the beauty of all of this is somehow diminished if what you are as a person is ugly.  I also believe that beauty is making the best of what you were born with and being comfortable in who you are.

It's not easy to truly believe and act on the above.  I think getting older, wiser and more mature definitely makes a woman kinder on herself and others.  I am more at ease with how I like and what size I am than I was 20 years ago.  I've worked at the things I can change and learned to love the rest.  I keep an open mind about surgery and cosmetic procedures and respect other women's privacy and choice should they decide that this is what they want for themselves.
5. Do you think clothing/makeup/hair helps communicate the truth about yourself or are those things superfluous add-ons?

I don't think appearance communicates the truth about who I am in terms of my character and beliefs.  I also don't think clothing, make up and hair styling are superfluous add ons.  I do think appearance communicates what you want others to think of you.  To be really honest, we dress not only for ourselves but for those who are important to us.  Just who those other people are varies for each individual.

If you'd like to join this discussion, why not go over to Modly Chic in the link at the start of my post?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Mar 24, 2011

Dirty Dairy Tricks - An Expose By the SSG Faculty of Thrift.

Have you popped round to the dairy cabinet for some yogurt in the last week or so?  Because if you have, you may have noticed that the yogurts appear to have been on a rapid detox and dropped a few dress sizes. 

May I draw your attention the SSG Faculty of Thrift's educational image above.  To the right we have the new size of the individual serves.  That's right, they look like the size of the dairy snacks and are probably the same basic carton.  I have included the yogurt I bought just last week to the left.

It gets sneakier.  It took me 5 minutes of searching to find the weight of the new cups.  Usually the 200g value is clearly written on the front side of the label.  Not anymore, you have to look hard at the nutritional information box. 

I'm pretty sure the price didn't reflect the downsize.  It's not just the Nestle diet brand, it's every single supermarket yogurt as well.  Why yogurt?  I thought the crusade of down sizing portions was for junk foods?  Perhaps it was inevitable.  We've had cardboard wrapped chocolate, air filled packets of chips and shrinking loaves of bread.

I am peeved for many reasons.  The brazen cheek!  No consultation, explanation or public education campaign (much like carbon pricing in fact) took place.  Nestle et al fully expected we, the savvy consumers to not notice (to be fair though, it's not like yogurt is an item we can get online from overseas).  They didn't even bother to disguise the shrinkage with packaging more similar to the old form.  I also suspect that the dairy farmers will benefit very little from this profit margin raising attempt.

The main reason I'm so upset about the decrease in size is that my Weetbix is going to get a whole lot soggier with the extra milk I'll have to use in lieu of my usual yogurt.  There, I got it all out.

So, I'm starting a grass roots revolt.  I've emailed Nestle and am planning my next step.  I think it will be the Minister of Fair Trade.  I may even send the department a link to this post.

Well, I'm so fired up about this, I really can't think of anything else to write about tonight.

I'll be back tomorrow.

Take care and look at your yoghurt cartons very, very closely the next time you're at the supermarket.

Mar 23, 2011

Kiwiberries and Some Tender Loving Scrubbing For A Barefoot Beauty.

With all the orange of my recent posts, it has been a real stretch to acknowledge any other colours of the rainbow.
As usual, nature had her way of bringing me back to reality with some great greens.

The green of the granny smith I had after getting my flu shot yesterday.  I even got a lollipop for my bravery.  My Uri Geller inspired bent teaspoon is still going strong and getting lots of wear.

And kiwi fruit green.  Mr SSG found me these kiwiberries from the fruiterer near where he works. I love them.  They are less bitter than normal kiwis and can be eaten whole like cherry tomatoes.  They are $6 a punnet though.  I like the nutritional interaction between that can of coke zero with the fruit.
So now that I've addressed my internal health, shall we move on to some beauty buys?

As a prolific shopper of beauty and skincare products, I cannot believe that I have left it this long to discover Mecca Cosmetica's eponymous (my word of the day in lieu of orange) in house skin care brand.  I was previously in a The Body Shop Groundhog Day that lasted for at least a decade.  My favourites were the peppermint foot scrub and their various body scrubs.  Then my sense of smell went wonky and suddenly everything from The Body Shop started smelling too strong and synthetic.  Also, those scrubs that are creamy and dissolve in contact with water just really aren't my thing.

So I hit the road on a body scrub finding mission.  I have to say Mecca C isn't a bad (but exxy) place to start.  On a whim, I opened a jar of Barefoot Beauty foot scrub and fell in love with its scent.  It's a rich scent that is neither floral or fruity.  I think it's woody / bamboo.  But don't take my word for it.  If you remember from yesterday, I can't even describe the smell of Sydney after it's been dunked in 10cm of rain.

What I like about the Mecca C scrubs is that they are gritty and not too slimy.  There is enough coarseness in the scrub to get a good exfoliation without any irritation.  They are also very moisturizing.

I was so excited with the foot scrub that I got through my existing body scrub extra fast so that I could try Mecca C's Tender Loving Scrubbing.  What sane woman could possibly turn down the promise of at home body-brasion?  It might have been just me but the scrub seemed to have a warming effect as I applied it.  Again, just coarse enough grains in the scrub which was held together by a moisturizing, deliciously perfumed base.

I think my skin is going to be just fine this winter.  Dry body scrubbing and these two scrubs from Mecca Cosmetica will be my holy trinity.  If only I could tackle my winter weather obssession with refined carbs and chocolate coffees from Max Brenner.  My problem is viewing the obssessions as necessities against the cold.
A dawn review of facebook is a crucial factor in deciding whether or not to attend your high school reunion.

I had a very rewarding evening of television watching last night.  I caught up with the first episode of Winners & Losers.  I'm a big fan.  It's funny, relevant to me and well put together with a great soundtrack.  The 4 women at the centre of the series are strongly defined and I also liked how the minor characters were memorable as well.  What started as a dreaded school reunion ended as a renewal of powerful friendships from highschool and a life changing event for all 4 women.  I will be watching next week and continuing to identify with the 4 'losers' whose lives are so much richer and are so much better as people since leaving school and the catty, superifical 'winners' at all girls schools who seldom achieve much success once they leave year 12 behind.  I'm not being bitter.  I really enjoyed my high school years and am glad that the highlight of my life wasn't the year 12 ball.

Image or Sami Lukis courtesy of

I also watched Sami Lukis' documentary about her journey to motherhood as an independent and successful woman in her 40s who is also single.  There's a dilemma in that Sami knows this is now her time to have a baby but she also needs to decide whether she lets fate lead her to man to father her child 'naturally' or does she become proactive in these final years of her reproductive life.  The option of assisted conception then opens the can of worms as to who will father her child?  An anonymous donor or one of her close friends? 

It was interesting to hear the response of one of Sami's friends when she asked him to be a donor.  Surprisingly, he would have not hesitated if Sami was in a relationship with a man yet because she was so single, he felt that it wouldn't be right for him to get involved.  His reasoning was that without a father figure for the baby, he would then feel 'more responsible' and 'involved'.  I suppose he saw his gesture as a single act of help for a good friend.  I think this goes to show that there are so many ways of looking at fertility and assisted conception and that we all have our own beliefs as to what is 'best' as opposed to 'right or wrong'.  Being judgemental of the decisions others make is neither apropriate or advised.

I have great admiration for anyone, celebrity or not who is willing to share their stories about the rocky seas that sometimes occur in that time between deciding to start a family and finally having that family.  For me, the most inspiring aspect isn't the final decision the person makes or what they suffered to get their baby but rather their bravery and honesty in simply telling their story and inviting strangers to share it with them. The problem may be common but the choices made and their outcomes will all be unique.  It is the sharing of the journeys that give so many other people the strength and faith to carry on.


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