Jan 31, 2013

Easter's Arrived Early. Red Eggs.

I couldn't let January slip by without at least one comment about how early hot cross buns appear at the supermarket these days....  We've still got a couple of months to go but the eggs and buns are already making their presence felt at Coles.  Not that I'm complaining, I'm planning to stock up the freezer with chocolate hot cross buns over the next little while.

The cross cultural, cross celebration use of Easter egg colouring...

Not that I'm in any position to judge the shops about getting stuck into Easter traditions early.  I've made some red eggs using traditional easter egg colouring to celebrate Baby SSG's One Month Celebration Banquet.  The tradition marks a baby's first month of life with red eggs and parcels of food given to relatives and friends.  Some families also use ginger as part of the event.

Colouring the eggs was really easy.  All that's needed in addition to the dye powder is cold water, vinegar and salt.  I add a match to the pot to prevent the egg shells from cracking.

Hard boil as you usually do and then drain the water from the pot and leave the eggs to cool.

To get a glossy sheen on the egg shells, polish each egg with a soft cloth soaked in oil.

The eggs are given out with parcels of food.  Even numbers of eggs signify a baby boy and odd numbers a baby girl.  The significance of the numbers is that they are a kind of wish that the baby will get married when they're older.

One month is a long time in a baby's life.

Decisions, decisions....
You're old enough to go grocery shopping and you instinctively know where the fun things are.

Gangnam Style arms and an almost successful attempt at escaping from the high chair...

You have your own chair at the dining table and you actually quite enjoy sitting there for a few minutes whilst your parents have breakfast.

Kicking back and watching the world go by....

And you're just a little more comfortable with all that space that now surrounds you.  Compared to what you had a month ago, it must feel as if you're floating in zero gravity at times.

Here's to many, many more exciting months to come.

Jan 30, 2013

Words On A Wednesday.

It's just as well I managed to get a photo of all that blue sky and sun Sydney was blessed with yesterday.

Because the weather today isn't much to write home about but at least it's still possible to make out the trees in the distance and not have the sound on your television or radio drowned out by the rain outside.  Yes, we've gotten to that point in the week when the weather seems to be the most newsworthy happening in my world.  I've told you about all the books I've read, the reality television I'm loving and the minutiae of life as a stay at home mother to a newborn......  It's a new way of life for me and while the bare facts of it sound rather unremarkable, it is (in Masterchef speak) the journey that holds all the emotion and excitement.  

To be honest, I think reflections on the journey don't mean much to anyone except the person whose taking that specific journey.  Like other major life events, we enter motherhood at different points in life and with different experiences to one another.  For some the path is 'easy' and others less so.  There's also one's preconceived notions of how one thinks they will parent.  Feeding (breast, bottle or heaven forbid... both), the pursuit of sleep for your newborn (so much harder to attain than for you) and juggling the opinions of those around you with your own instincts are just some of the issues to consider.  Like birth plans, sometimes it's best to just go with the flow rather than have anything too tightly scripted.

One thing I do feel that most mothers have in common is the fact that a day is both a very long and very short time.  There are minutes (of crying) that seem to drag on for hours and hours of sleep that feel like minutes.  And then you lose all concept of time when those unscripted little things happen each day that make everything that preceded them worthwhile and that also give you courage, patience and joy for all the moments that follow.

There are times in the day when you feel that you've gotten into the groove and feel that mother and child bond as tightly as the waist band of your pre pregnancy jeans and others when you are at a complete loss as to what to do next and what anything means at all.  If I continue with the jeans analogy, perhaps that second point would be like where the current distance between the button and button hole of those jeans are on you now.

I'm not sure where else to take the pair of jeans from this analogy.  When all's said and done, that pair of jeans really is just a pair of jeans.  If they ever fit again, great.  If they don't then just go out and get a new pair.  Which is a round about way of saying that the ups and downs which feel so huge and all encompassing now will level out with the perspective of time and hindsight.

I can see myself looking back at these first few bumbling weeks of motherhood and not remembering the things I worry and fret about now.  Instead, I'll be wistful that this time went by so quickly and understand that not only is change and uncertainty necessary, they're also probably the only constants in parenthood.

Jan 27, 2013

Winter Lite.

I woke up with the rain this morning and it has stayed all day.  

I like rainy summer days better than wet winter days.  In winter, it's bad enough battling with the cold let alone the rain on top of it.  The rain in summer is usually a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of the preceding days.  It clears the air and seems to slow down the pace of life just a tad.  There's no rush to get out and to things that depend on either beating the sun and the heat or working with them.

Given that it's the weekend and a long weekend at that, the rain has been an excuse to potter around the house doing wintery kinds of things safe in the knowledge that the sun and clear skies will be back very soon.  A kind of winter lite.

Copious amounts of tea and pastry have been consumed.

Token attempts at getting organised have been made.  I've done an inventory of the number of cans of Klorane Dry Shampoo that I have as back up and am relieved to know that the number is four.  I don't think I'm up to putting my winter knits away.  Winter's only a season and a bit away after all...

Wondersuit - Bonds, manicure - yours truly.

The weather has also been conducive to napping.  Some members of the household have put in gold medal performances in the sleep stakes these last few days.  Hours on end during the day and night, people.  Hours.  I hardly know what to do with myself now that I've partially corrected my sleep deficit.

I think I might just take myself back to the sofa, stretch out and have a bit of a read with some telly on in the background.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and stay safe, Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Jan 26, 2013

Australia Day and British Guilty Pleasures.

Happy Australia Day!

Ita Buttrose is such a deserving recipient of the honour of being Australian of the Year for 2013.  In addition to her trail blazing early career as founding editor of Cleo and then editor of The Australian Women's Weekly, Ita is now a very powerful and eloquent advocate for the rights and health issues of elderly Australians.  I admire her for leading such a productive life away from the glamour of publishing and championing a cause that many may feel isn't as glamorous or headline grabbing as perhaps cancer or children's health.  I'm not detracting from either of these causes but it's wonderful to have such a passionate and influential voice speaking on behalf of a segment of our population who are often forgotten and for whom less than optimal outcomes have been accepted as part of the 'natural course of getting old'.

I haven't been as patriotic with my food choices today as I could have been.  The Vegemite stayed in the pantry this morning whilst I had a couple of mini pain au chocolat for breakfast.  At least I had a kangaroo and the Australian flag on my google homepage.

Saturday morning coffees have a whole new look these days.  In my sleep deprived state, I think I did pretty well making sure that the right people had the appropriate drinking vessel brought to their lips.

It's been too humid to throw a shrimp on the barbie so I had a very retro prawn cocktail for lunch the other day.

It wouldn't be Australia Day without a nod to our origins as a British colony.  Rather than take you back to social studies, I'm going to go off an a tangent but still keep it British.

I haven't been down at the beach working on my tan or even faking it at home.  Instead, I have been living vicariously through Amy Childs as she goes about her life in front of the cameras on 'It's All About Amy'.  Amy's a natural for reality television.  For all the apparent superficiality of her life, you can't hate her.  She loves her family and helps them as much as they do her, she's proud of who she is and where she came from and she just seems to have so much fun with her fans and her work.  We will always agree to disagree about clothes and make up but I am in awe of her fake tan and French manicured acrylics...

My other British guilty pleasure that I need to 'fess up about today is the Daily Mail.  I have the iPad app and I read it religiously every morning over breakfast.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this paper cops a fair bit of flak in the UK but that's not enough to make me stop reading it.  From celebrity gossip to convenient bullet pointed summaries of the more news orientated stories, it's the perfect bit of tabloid escapism for first thing in the morning.  The thing is, there are actually some pretty interesting stories and nuggets of factual journalism in the mix.

Well, that's all from me today, folks.  Have a lovely long weekend in this beautiful and lucky country of ours.

Jan 25, 2013

A 'Whip My Hair' Friday.

Children say and sing the darnedest things, don't they?

Take young Willow Smith for example who has a whole life outside of being Will and Jada's daughter.  Shown in this photo channeling Rihanna, Grace Jones and Jackie Collins (Jackie gets mentioned on account of the leopard print and superior quiff volume that Willow is sporting), Willow's day job is singing, specifically the song Whip My Hair.  I'm helpfully embedding the video clip in this post because heaven knows, don't we all need a little pre teen pop in our day?

The reason I have Willow's song in my head right now is because it's been one of those days when a song manages to completely encapsulate what you were doing and how you felt doing it.

I was sitting on the sofa with Baby SSG in my arms trying my best to be the baby cry whisperer.  This involved willing myself to feel calm and hence radiate calm with my touch and voice whilst trying not to take the vibrato, multi toned caterwaul personally.  I'll spare you a photo or video clip but it's the one where his mouth opens into an 'O' that takes up about half his face causing his tightly shut eyes to crinkle, his head to jerk back defiantly and the visible parts of his face to go a deep red.  As dramatic as it all looks, it also happens to be the one cry which Dr Google can't interpret for me.

The minutes (that felt like hours) passed and my calm facade was disintegrating rapidly.  I'd run through the standard checklist of nappy/milk/hugs and chat/play (with baby or iPhone) a dozen times and nothing seemed to help.  I was left with no choice but to join in.  So we sat, baby and I, throwing our heads around and whippin' our hair in the manner of young Willow.  It didn't really work, possibly because neither of us had dreads but gee it felt good at the time.

In other news since last we spoke, I've upped the ante with my fitness regime.  Today was the first time in 25 weeks that I went for a run.  Not that I've been medically cleared to resume it but at 6am this morning, it just felt like the right thing to do.  I survived and feel all the better for it. To be honest, it was more of a walk with heavy breathing and heavier foot falls on the pavement but being out in the fresh morning air doing something that's been routine for years made me feel alive and connected to the world beyond motherhood.

I'm not saying this with any resentment but looking after a newborn can be all encompassing to the point that it's so easy to lose touch with the outside world.  Scarily, the outside world seems to include anyone who isn't yourself or the baby.  With the benefit of a luxurious 3 hour afternoon nap and a day that finally had some element of routine and predictability, I think I'm finally ready to join the outside world on a more regular basis.

Jan 23, 2013

#FLOTUS and #POTUS. Fringes and J Crew.

Until yesterday, I had no idea what or who #FLOTUS was and why they were trending on twitter.  My first thought was that perhaps it was a breed of lotus named after the sixth letter of the alphabet.  The part of my mind closer to the gutter wondered if it was a new way the youngsters had of dropping the 'F' bomb.  After a bit of lateral thinking, all was revealed.  It was of course a hashtag for Michelle Obama, the First Lady of the United States.  #FLOTUS is the pigeon pair of #POTUS (President of the United States).
Michelle looked stunning in this Jason Wu gown in a shade of red that the press are calling Victory Red.  I also love that new fringe and shorter hair.  First it was the Duchess of Cambridge and now the First Lady, fringes are clearly going to be huge in 2013.  I might give one a go when I'm next at the hairdresser.

Beyonce sang The Star Spangled Banner to close the inauguration ceremony and her performance was so perfect and seemingly effortless that I'm sure I wasn't the only non American citizen who had a tear in my eyes as I listened.

This photograph of Michelle and Beyonce reminds me of why I need to shop J Crew online ASAP.  According to the interwebs, Michelle's outfit is by Thom Browne and most of her accessories - the gloves and belt are by J Crew.

I've just had a chance to read a transcript of Obama's inauguration speech and have come away from it with even more respect and admiration for the man.  It was a speech that was progressive, defiant and full of hope.  I got the sense that as #POTUS and in his last term as such, the speech was Obama's chance to decisively state what he stood for and that he really didn't care where his opponents or detractors stood on such issues as gay rights and the priority areas in rebuilding the US economy.

And after a foray into political commentary, it's now time for me to sign off and hit the J Crew website, I think!

Happy hump day!

Jan 21, 2013

Woolwich Pier Hotel, Hunters Hill.

Boy was this Chicken Caesar Salad a sight for sore eyes over the weekend.

Chicken Caesar Salad - $20.
Will you look at all the previously forbidden foods I managed to squeeze onto the one plate?  A soft boiled egg, room temperature grilled chicken, raw lettuce leaves, pancetta and an eggy salad dressing... It was right up there with the first time I ate sushi a few weeks back, let me tell you.  I had a smile on my face between each delicious fork full.

Mr SSG and I were at the Woolwich Pier Hotel for lunch on Sunday.  We were taking advantage of the baby's decision to have a very long nap after his baptism.  This was the first time we'd been to lunch at the hotel, our usual routine has been to go for dinner on steak night Tuesdays.  Way back in those childless carefree days of our youth when we thought nothing of sitting around in the hotel's outdoor patio area as we ate our meals at leisure....

The hotel is a casually comfortable place to stop in for a well priced bite to eat.  It's a local institution loved by everyone from families with little ones, couples out for a date, older ladies who partake of coffee and scones and anyone else in the area in need of a good feed.  The menu has something for everyone and there are specials for most days of the week as well.

Food is ordered and paid for at the till and you are given a buzzer which will alert you when your order is ready.  You then go to the open area at the front of the kitchen and load up a tray with your table's meals.  There's a cutlery and sauce counter from which you can outfit your table in preparation for some seriously good eating.

Grass Fed Beef Burgers - $20.
The burger and fries was a popular choice with our table.  The fries were crisp and addictive and the brioche style burger buns were generously filled with a juicy beef patty and cheese.  A satisfied silence descended on the table as the burgers were devoured.

Beer Battered Dory Fillets with mushy peas and chips - $24.
Mr SSG ordered the fish and chips.  The batter was crisp and light and the fish fresh.

Sundays are always busy and the bar was soon buzzing as meals were finished and the dedicated settled in for a bit of a Sunday sesh with the charms of flat screen televisions playing the day's sporting events for company.  The indoor area where we ate is smoke free whilst the outdoor area looked like it was all good for smokers.

Despite the noise level, Baby SSG slept soundly!  It was also the first time he'd not cried during a pram ride.  He had no need for an outfit change or that bottle I'd packed just in case.  I think we've found a spot for Sunday lunch that the whole family seems to like.

Woolwich Pier Hotel on Urbanspoon

Jan 20, 2013

Zips and Buttons. Baby SSG Was All White Today.

I put my game face on yesterday and hit the shops in search of some non maternity denim.  As much as I love an elasticised waist, the time has come to venture back into the real world of zips and buttons.

Fortunately, it wasn't quite as traumatic as I feared it would be.  I came home with enough bottoms to tide me over until my regular denims can button at the waist.  I wonder how long that's going to be......

Over at Big W, some of the Emerson range was reduced to clear.  I managed to find these last season 3/4 skinnies for $7 a pair.

I caught the tail end of the sale at Sussan which meant a further 25% off already reduced prices.  One of the perks of getting to the sales weeks after everyone else, I suppose.  Anyway, at $32 a pair, I was finally able to say yes to watermelon pink and printed skinny jeans.

It's a big day for Baby SSG.  He got baptised.

He went for a simple one piece baptism outfit.  You can't go wrong with a white short sleeved body suit.  In triplicate, just in case of accidents prior to the big moment.  We were up to suit number 2 by the time it was time to leave for the church.  At under $9 for the three at Big W, it was money well spent.

I dressed up his baptism candle with a blue ribbon.

And wore my trusty Rosie Pope silk floral shift dress to keep some consistency in the colour scheme.

I'm a bit biased but Baby SSG put in a star performance at church today.  He slept quietly through the homily and didn't even flinch during his anointing or when Father dipped the back of his hair in water.  I think his serenity came from all that practice with our daily baths at home as well as the soothing tone of Father's voice.

The rest of today is going to be pretty cruisy.  I've just had a walk and my brother is coming over for dinner tonight.  I'm thinking Thai home delivery.

Today was the official inauguration for President Obama in Washington however the major events were rescheduled for tomorrow due to January 20th falling on a weekend this year.  I haven't found any photos from today's low key event but I'm thinking that there will be thousands online after Monday's proceedings.  Beyonce will be singing the national anthem at an event and I can't wait to see who and what Michelle Obama will be wearing.  Oh and yes, the President's speech will be as eloquent as usual.

Take care and here's to Sundays spent with family.


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