May 29, 2012

Knit Wear Weather. After the Break In. For the Perfect Hot Chocolate.

I know the novelty of this cool, wet weather is going to wear off soon but isn't it fun to be finally wearing those winter knits in a non change room situation?
Knit coat - M Missoni @ Git Groupe, skinnies - Next Direct, ls T - Cotton On, wedge heels - Rockport, necklace - Coco Black by Red Phoenix Emporium.

Not so fun has been dealing with the aftermath of my work getting broken into over the weekend.  It was a precision operation involving bits of doors being sawn off and all our offices being trashed for petty cash, no frills lap tops, opened boxes of chocolates and used cosmetics.  That's right, the thieves had to go the extra mile in my office and make off with an obviously used eye lash curler and my Costco make up brush roll.  At least they were kind enough to rifle through my coin purse and leave behind my card for the coffee cart.

The consequences of the theft have been a mixed bag.  I spent yesterday afternoon retrieving as many of my work files as I could (the thumb drive with my work life on it got nicked as well) and I wiped down my whole desk (much easier without that pesky computer in the way). 

Then I had to do an emergency shopping run to buy a new thumb drive at Target.  And you know how my emergency shopping trips roll.....

I found this belly band set (tank, leggings and belly band) in black, reduced from $45 to $25 and in my size.  The even better news was that the final scanned price was ..... $15.10!!  A little win after a day of losses.

To replace that stolen eyelash curler of mine, I found this Sally Hansen contraption a Priceline.  It was reduced to $15 as well.  How could I go wrong when it promised Sexy Curls?

It looks more painful than your average curler but it's actually very easy to use thanks to its large handles with their easy grip plastic coating.  Produces a very strong curl that holds mascara well.

It's an eyelash curler true to its aims of crimp, curl, widen & wink.

Which was convenient becuase I'm currently fixated on Lauren Conrad's black flicked eyeliner from back in the day when she and Heidi Montag were BFFs.  Which was also the time before Heidi became one half of synthetic Speidi and then went on that marathon plastic surgery binge.  It all seems so long ago.

When I'm not practicing my flicky eyeliner tecnique these days, I can be found in search of hot chocolate.  Even typing this is making me hungry for one (so I just popped down to the coffee cart to get one).  I made my first Lindt hot chocolate this week.  The instructions on the tin were very easy to follow.  All you need is mik, a microwave proof mug and Lindt chocolate flakes.

At first I thougt the suggested 6-7 teaspoons of flakes was excessive but in hindsight, I think it's the bare minimum.

I couldn't resist dusting my hot chocolate with some cocoa as well.  To replicate the cafe experience.

The end result is definitely a step up from powdered hot chocolate.  It's not as rich as what the cafes sell.  Perhaps because I didn't spike mine with chocolate syrup or add a pink marshmallow.  But they are ideas for next time.  I was thinking Hershey's chocolate syrup perhaps and good old Pascall's marshmallows....  Something for the Costco shopping list, I think.

Ooohh!!!  I can hear the opening bars of Nigella Kitchen's theme song on the telly, that's my signal to get back to the couch!

Take are and stay warm, everyone!

May 27, 2012

Emptying Shopping Bags. The Upsizing Experiment. Made Over Leftovers.

I've been doing a lot of self gifting over the last few weeks.  The study floor bears testament to this, with an array of paper bags scattered all over the place.  To commemorate this week's council verge side bulk rubbish collection, I decided that this would be the weekend to attend to my shopping bags.  

As I sit here typing away about my purchases, the street outside seems unusually busy for a Sunday afternoon.  Everyone's gotten into the spirit of trash and treasure.  No sooner has someone put their things out for collection then an eagle eyed passer by or van driver swoops in with a magpie's eye for the jewels amongst the rubbish and tidily goes in for the kill.  In this way, half of what started on the street this morning has probably already found a new home.  It's recycling at its best.

Unfortunately, I seem to lack that eye for the potential on our street's verge and have to make do with purpose purchased items instead.

I'm a big fan of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's collections of note cards.  There's just enough variety in a box to not get bored of the design and they're useful for any occasion.  I've been all Impressionist with my previous sets of cards and have gone for something a bit more modern this time round with Picasso in his Surrealist phase and a collection of Tiffany stained glass window designs.

The next bag waiting to be opened was from T2.  I'm a huge fan of their herbal tea bags and have just gotten into their dessert loose leaf teas.  How could I not get the Creme Brûlée on sight alone?  Terrific Toffee is that nougat studded tea I wrote about the other week.  I just need to make some time this week to enjoy a quite brew of either.

My shopping expeditions have netted me two new loyalty cards.  Just after having done a massive cull of them recently.  T2 have a new program for 'Mad Hatters crazy for the kettle' - that's me in six words these days.  And I now have a Witchery card.  Which I never saw coming.  Over the last few years, as much as I've liked the look of their clothes, I've never found anything suitable for my lifestyle.  And then there was the time the heel of my Witchery sandals snapped off at our anniversary lunch at Tetsuya's......

Thankfully, that's now all water under the bridge.  At the time, I got a prompt full refund on the shoes and now I've found myself with a whole new wardrobe of their knitwear.  There is currently a 25% off store wide promotion and it was enough of a sweetener for me to return in store as part of my maternity wardrobe experiment.

For some strange reason, fashion designers don't seem to think pregnant women feel the cold.  The etail sites are filled with radiant women dressing their bumps in wrap dresses, billowing tops and skinny jeans but there's barely a jumper or solid cardigan to be found.  And the knits that are available are thin and pricy.

Knit - Witchery (assymetrical neckline and waist), ls T - Cotton On, bangles - House of Harlow 1960.  Bottom half was a pair of black skinnies from Next Direct.

So, I've decided to see if upsizing regular brands' knitwear will see me through the winter.  I managed to find quite a few things at Witchery that fit my criteria: loose at the waist, suitable for wearing over dresses or leggings and with different necklines for variety.

At the moment, everything looks baggy on me but given the style of chunky knit, I don't look too Olsen twin.  Only time will tell if I've guestimated how my dimensions will change over the winter.

Lots of readers also suggested buying longer line tops from the high street rather than making do with the limited choice in maternity lines (or trying to figure out how to wear a Belly Band before my time).  So I took this good advice and stocked up on these too.  This year, Witchery have both regular tops and ones that seem to be more a dress length.  I've tried both and will report back on how I go with them.

I'm still feeling a bit left out that I haven't found any recycled treasure street side today.  So I'm going to channel my creativity into rejuvenating some leftovers from the freezer.  Have you noticed how delicious leftovers taste when reincarnated as a pie of some sort with butter puff pastry?  Well, I'm capitalising on this and making a chicken and vegetable curry pie for dinner tonight.  Somehow, the better part of a Woolworth's rotisserie chicken is going to cross cultures and embrace a portion of vegetable korma.

The two will be helped along in their merger with this tub of cucumber and mint raita served on the side.  I also had a cup of cooked quinoa in the freezer so that went in as well.  I reheated the chicken, curry and quinoa on the stove top, thinning it out a little with chicken stock before arranging the mixture on one sheet of butter puff pastry.  People, butter in your pastry is key for a leftovers pie.  Key. This is not a time to be choosing Canola or going low fat.

I've made my pie free form because it's Sunday night and blind baking a crust would be excessive.

But I did brush over my pie with an egg wash (1 beaten egg thinned out with a tablespoon of water).

Canola or low fat puff pastry wouldn't give you this golden glow!

Or that flaky crunch as you cut the pie to serve or to eat.  Making over leftovers is a cinch with a couple of sheets of puff pastry.

Another early night for me, I'm afraid.  Busy week ahead.  I've hung tomorrow's outfit on the bedroom door and I hope I've guestimated the weather correctly.

May 26, 2012

In Which I Am Photographed With and Photograph Nicole.

If there's been a day this week where 'all's well that ends well' needed to be uttered (and believed) then today was the day.  It was meant to be a day spent leisurely flitting from one commitment to the next but all hell broke loose at the crack of dawn and I had to get myself to work to sort out a kerfuffle.  Which then meant my programme for the day found itself condensed into 3 less hours and that I'd be lucky if I was able to fit in everything that I needed and wanted to do.

But I think God was smiling on me today and telling me in His own way that I'd gotten the priorities of my day right.  With the benefit of hindsight, it was a fortuitous decision to get in to work and sort out the issues early and I now have a sense that I can go to bed tonight knowing that I did all that I could when I could.

Just in case anyone missed my excited tweeting and retweeting last night, the big event of my day was meant to be meeting Nicole Richie at DJs in the CBD.  It turns out that Nicole was celebrating the launch of House of Harlow 1960 at David Jones and this was the second of her scheduled appearances for David Jones.  Full points to Nicole for tearing herself away from Joel and the kids on such a beautiful Saturday morning to go to work.

I tore through the Beauty Hall and got to ladies accessories at 11.23am.  Not leaving me much time to make the requisite House of Harlow purchase before joining the queue for Nicole.  The security and public relations staff were all very kind and let me line up without making my purchase first.  I think they've seen me in the area quite a few times making quite a few purchases.

I ended up being the second last person in line before the queue was closed.  I was far enough back in the queue to have a quick look see at the range and also to make some critical purchasing decisions.

Did I need another clutch?

Marley Clutch by House of Harlow 1960 - $249.
Or would I get more use out of a couple of bangles this winter?

Aztec Bangles by House of Harlow 1960 - $99 each.

Probably the bangles.  My clutch carrying nights out are probably way, way, way in my past now.

Across from Nicole's podium was a second with a camera crew.  Between the two podiums were at least 4 photographers with serious cameras and even more serious lenses.
It was a very orderly queue and there were cameras and frighteningly perfect fashion people everywhere.  If you couldn't tell from the hair, make up and heels on a Saturday morning, the yellow 'Visitor' stickers were a fourth clue.  They were all very friendly though, as were the suited security men.

Nicole sat at the podium calmly doing her thing and either she radiated that calmness to the room or the soothing DJs marble floor and brass light fittings  exuded calm to her.  Perhaps it was reciprocal.  Whatever the case, it was a very tranquil place for me to be after a hectic morning.

Good heavens, I've completely forgotten what Nicole wore.  Except for that red velvet hat.  She looked fabulous, very 'natural' as my mother would say.  She's on a 'less is more' in the make up stakes crusade at the moment and she's so happy I've decided to embrace her mantra.  I think I mumbled something at Nicole about whether she liked Sydney to which she replied that she did 'very much'.  Then a fashion person 'arranged' me in front of Nicole and then a DJs photographer (or several) took a photo of Nicole and I for the DJs Facebook page.

It was over in a flurry of shutter releases.  After I made my way through the security and media barricades, I turned back to the main stage and it was Saturday morning trading as usual.  Nicole had left the building as quietly as she had inhabited it.

Poncho - M Missoni via Gilt Groupe,  ls T - Supre,  skinnies - J brand, boots - Bally, bag - Hermes.
For the record, I went with yet another heavily discounted piece of M Missoni for my Nicole Richie moment.

I bought a pair of Aztec bangles, one in an electric blue and the other a deep orange.  At first I thought the colours were enamel but they're actually leather.

I think they're going to brighten up my winter greys, blacks and creams nicely.

It wasn't all bangle shopping with celebrity fashion icons today.

I was on a winter knitwear shopping mission and I needed a huge hit of sugar and chocolate to get me through it.  Max Brenner can always be counted on to come up with the goods.

It was a challenge, but I managed to choose 4 chocolates for my little takeaway box whilst my hot chocolate was being made.  Some fast and furious shopping ensued and I reckon I'm now good for the entire winter.  I'm also too lazy to have unpacked it all tonight so I will have to tell you about my haul another time.

I finished my eventful morning with lunch at Maccas.  We're paying Tokyo prices for our Big Macs, people.  Tokyo prices.  A special order Big Mac (without lettuce) and a large orange juice cost $8.45!!  I think it would've been cheaper to have had my Big Mac with Coke Zero and french fries.  I'll remember for next time.

There was general busyness this afternoon and now, at last, some quiet time.  I perfected sofa time last night and I'm off now to do it all over again.

Have a good one and talk to you soon!

May 25, 2012

Friday Snapshots.

The neighbourhoods of Sydney always fascinate me.  The change in predominant culture is often abrupt, even if two suburbs are right next to each other.

I was in Burwood this morning (long story after a scary night but all is well and I'm relieved but tired) which is about half an hour from where I live.

Nestled under the clock towers inside the red brick shop fronts are a host of Asian business, predominantly Chinese and Vietnamese.  The grocery store owners greet and thank you in Mandarin.  There are at least 8 kinds of dried Chinese mushrooms and 4 of dried Chinese sausages.  I'm making clay pot chicken in a rice cooker this weekend and I'm crossing my fingers I've chosen the right brands.  Perhaps I should have asked the store owner just in case.

Mr SSG found nirvana at the Vietnamese bakery next door where he devoured a chicken roll before I had a chance to take a photo of it.  That was after we shared a cheese and bacon topped Vietnamese bread roll.  It has been years since I've last tasted the airiness of the bread inside that light but thick crust.

The promotional posters that grace disused buildings all advertise Asian pop events.  Just minutes away at the train overpass, the posters were all advertising Indie pop.

We had back to the car and walk past orange tiled rooves and white window panes, the essence of post war suburbia.

The drive home takes us through the 'Italian' suburbs with their gentrified streets and sidewalks heavily dusted with autumn leaves.

May 24, 2012

Smooth FM. Stealth Vegetables.

Well, hello!

It's Thursday already.  I feel like we've become strangers.  Apologies for my absence for the greater part of this week.  Various pregnancy ailments seem to have gotten the better of me (already) and writing for the blog has been beyond my brain cells this week.  But enough about my failing brain cells..

These are exciting times in the SSG Mobile.  I've added a new radio station to the car stereo system.  That I managed to do this without resorting the owner's manual is a testament to my affinity with technology.

smoothfm is a new FM radio station in Sydney that plays a great deal of easy listening music.  There are quite a few ads if truth be told but I think they're there to pay for the Voices lined up for the weekend.  Michael Buble will be hosting a Saturday morning show, Jason Donovon will be Sundays and Richard Wilkins is on the list as well.  I'm 36, I'm entitled to be as excited as I am by the prospect of listening to the three of them.

The only hitch is that I've not managed to tune the radio in the house to smoothfm.  Leaving me with only one option.  To turn on the car radio as loud as I can and open all the car doors.  The neighbours are going to love me.  Everyone will be out in their gardens too, preparing for the verge rubbish collection next week. I'm doing the street a service playing ABBA that loud.

The next most newsworthy event in my life this week was that I ate a raw vegetable for the first time in months.  It was a tomato sandwiched between full fat English Cheddar and sea salt but it was still a vegetable.  Cheese and tomato sandwiches on toasted Turkish (as opposed to toasted cheese and tomato sandwiched) are currently my favourite lunch.

Up until this week, the only vegetables I've been able to eat have been carefully hidden in pasta based dishes.
Stealth vegetable pasta and chicken bake.
To get in my complex carbohydrates, I've recruited crepes to my kitchen.  They count as complex, don't they?  They are both difficult to make perfectly and to find ready made in the supermarket.

I got mine from Costco in case you were interested.

Next time I use these crepes, I'm going to have them sweet with a topping of sugar and lemon.
And I used them to make a chicken and mushroom bake.

Because somehow crepes topped with cream under melted cheese represented an exciting departure from pasta topped with melted cheese for my stodge centred palate.

The freezer is currently filled with home made 'ready meals' of pasta and crepe bakes.

But I think I might be brave next week and see if I'm up to a couple of sneaky salads.

Those of you who are already mothers will be laughing out loud about this one.  Lotions and potions for stretch marks.  It's a very lucrative sub-section of the beauty industry from what I've seen online.  I'm starting local with Bio Oil and will probably have worked through the globe and several price points by the end of the 40 weeks.  Please tell me I'm not the only person who's slathered on stretch mark oil in the blind hope it will turn those afternoon tea Tim Tams and hot chips into toned muscle.....


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