Nov 29, 2013

Christmas in the CBD. Festive Preparations Begin.

I had my morning coffee amongst the neatly folded shirts in the CBD yesterday.  It was a much needed caffeine hit after surviving the morning peak hour on the Anzac Bridge, then the cross city tunnel and finally a sharp right turn into Rushcutter's Bay to drop off the car.  I have nothing but good things to say about sat nav that manages to work in the tunnel.  As an added bonus, the service was fully covered by the dealership and they cleaned my car and did the tyre pressures for me. 

Yesterday was also the day that the CBD got it's Christmas on with the lights being switched on last night.  Festive stars glittered on the lamp posts in Martin Place.  Shop windows were festooned with with tinsel and shiny baubles.

Whilst down on ground level, the finishing touches were being completed on the tree.  Santa's bicycle drawn sleigh was also getting its final tyre and grease check.  It must have been the day for vehicle servicing.

Even the engineers got into the spirit with their spray painted pavement codes scrawled in red, green and white rather than their usual fluorescent yellow and orange.  I was reading in the paper the other day that the colours actually have a specific code for utilities such as gas, electricity and water.  The numbers are to do with distances from ground level as well as being co-ordinates to locate specific pipes.  Apparently it's all worked out with radars placed above the pipes at ground level.  You learn something new every day.

Christmas is going to be low key for us this year.  One of the good things about this is that there's more capacity in the gift budget to do a bit more for people who will could do with an extra helping of festive cheer.  I'm aiming to make a donation to a different organization each week as we lead up to Christmas.

I heard about a group of people who were preparing care packages that Australia post were delivering for free to Australian troops in service abroad and thought that it was a great project to be involved with.  I did a bit of research and discovered that while the care packages were welcomed, contributions to the RSL were thought to be a bit more helpful in the long term.  Clicking on to the RSL page lead me to some information about the various things that the RSL does for our Defence Force and Police serving overseas.  The AFOF (Australian Forces Overseas Fund) provides two packages a year to personnel serving overseas.   Donations can be made from the web page through paypal or by credit card.

It took a lot of swearing and screen refreshing to get to this point....  Lots.

As low key as Christmas may be, there are still things that have to be bought.  I managed to whip myself into a tizz about heirloom tree decorations this week.  Actually putting up a tree isn't going to happen this year because it would be unlikely to survive even half an hour in Baby SSG's company.  So my alternate plan was to buy him some special decorations for next year's tree.  

I had my heart set on a Wedgwood Baby's First Christmas carousel but the problem was where to get one from.  Wedgwood's Australian site had sold out and David Jones appeared to be the only local retailer still with stock.  Postage was ridiculous on eBay and Amazon wasn't delivering to Australia.

David Jones has been online for a while now and though I'd heard that there were glitches when things first went live, I was feeling brave and decided to place an order on Wednesday night.  It was quite an adventure.  If you're used to how efficiently overseas and most local online retailers operate online, navigating the DJs system will make you blood pressure rise with each click that results in a new box appearing on the screen telling you that your order can't be processed for various reasons.

David Jones offer two ways of ordering.  Goods can be posted to you or else you can pick up from your selected DJs store.  The problem is that whilst items are listed as 'in stock' when you add them to your order, inventory for pick up and delivery seem to be separate entities and can be a reason why your order doesn't progress online (thank you R, for enlightening me) if there's no stock in the online inventory and you opted for your order to be delivered.

My tree decorations appear to be items that can only be ordered for store pick up.  It was a bit of trial and error choosing the right David Jones to nominate for pick up.  If your ordered items aren't at the DJs of your choice, a message appears telling you that your order cannot be filled based on the store you've chosen (it's not clear from item descriptions which stores stock particular items).  DJs Market Street ended up doing the trick for me.

Wedgwood Baby's First Christmas carousel tree ornament, $49.99.

On the plus side, my order was filled within 24 hours and I was able to pick up my order on Thursday.  The carousel ornament is very cute and also available in pink.

Waterford Crystal Baby's First Christmas ornament - $39.99.

Just in case blue and white china doesn't match next year's tree decorations, I've also got a go with anything Waterford ornament too.

My next Christmas job is Santa photos.  We're doing ours tomorrow.  I'm making an early start and hope that the line isn't crazy.  Not long to go now!

Have a lovely weekend.

Nov 27, 2013

A Step Back In Time.

It's hump day, it's already been a long week. Do I need any more reason to reference the sisters Minogue in today's post?
Guess who's replacing Delta on The Voice Australia? The new judging panel was announced earlier this week and Kylie is to be one of the mentors. Will.I.Am will be joining too (he replaces Seal). Joel Madden and Ricky Martin round out the group for season 2014. I think the producers have created an interesting combination of artists and I'm looking forward to the group singing together.
I wonder how Kylie's going to frock up for the season? Delta was all statement eye makeup and evening wear this year. It seems to be the look for female talent show judges and mentors at the moment.
Orion gold sequin dress by Project D, London.
It's always the way though. When you're having a horrific week at work, the gods of online shopping decide to smile down upon you and give you some reason to get through the day. I found this Project D dress on OzSale today. It was $70 and apparently retailed for around $700. Project D is a label created by Dannii Minogue and Tabitha Somerset Webb. Faux Fuchsia has pronounced that #sequinsarekey and I can finally join the party.
There were a few other online purchases last night. But they are well and truly stories for another day.
As important as it is to be fully engaged with the present and the numerous tasks at hand, there is a lot to be said for taking a little armchair holiday every now and then.
I've been trawling the archives of the blog (and my mind) and have decided to take myself back to December 2010. Poolside at the St Regis, Singapore, to be precise. I can't think of a more luxurious step back in time at the moment.
That was a lovely holiday. Kicking back amongst manicured tropical water features, gazing at my freshly pedicured feet. I'm feeling refreshed just from re uploading the photos from that trip onto this post. Stay tuned for more repurposed holiday blog post photos. It's the most economical, carbon neutral way to travel.



As much as I've been whinging and moaning about going to the gym this week, it's actually been the one thing that's helped me unwind after the hectic days I've been having this week. There's nothing like wielding a kettle bell around to release any pent up frustration.


And that's a wrap. Day off tomorrow. I'm off to get the car serviced and then off to sit at the hairdressers for several hours in complete silence. Bliss.


Take care.




Nov 25, 2013

Glad It's Monday. Spendy Haircare

I'm usually not this enthusiastic about Mondays but gee I'm glad to see you today, first official working day of the week.

My Marni for H+M skirt from London in April 2012.

Work was busy over the weekend.  The coming week is looking the same but at least I won't be dealing with it on my own.  It gets a bit lonely on the weekends when staffing is down to after hours levels.  On the up side, those of us that were in took it in our stride and jollied each other along.

My reworked work phone.  

The old Nokia work phone got its annual sticky tape full body wrap on Saturday.  It's a feat of engineering.  The sticky tape managed to both hold the 5 and 8 keys firmly in place while also allowing them to function when pressed.  I also managed to tape up the back so well that the battery cover is never ever going to fall off again.  I've also inadvertently made the phone water proof with all the tape.  May it continue to live a long and hearty life with the best battery efficiency in a phone that I've seen in a very long time.
I've been forced to eat my words about salon brand shampoo and conditioner.  Some of them are actually very good and deserving of the hype.  I've been using GK (Global Keratin) moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for a couple of months now and my hair is so soft, shiny and manageable.  It retails for $35 (shampoo) and $45 (conditioner) a bottle but a little goes a long way.  I haven't had any problem with residue on my hair.  I've also been swimming a fair bit and my hair isn't as dry and straw like as it was with the Pantene I was using.  I haven't had to use the brand's treatments because the shampoo and conditioner have delivered results quite nicely on their own.

That's about it from me.  I'm looking forward to a quiet afternoon and early bed time.

Take care!

Nov 22, 2013

Dolls at the Pool. New Cereal.

Things are just a little different at the pool, mid morning on a weekday.  The early morning squad trainers and fitness swimmers are done for the day.  The lap pools are cordoned off for swim school lessons and the aquarobics ladies are refuelling with their coffees and home made biscuits.

Over at the kiosk overlooking the paddling pools, the dolls have taken over.  Hiding in the pot plants and drying off on the decking, they looked to be having almost as much fun as their tiny owners.

Hooded towelling cover ups are de rigueur at the pool if you're 75 cm (give or take a wriggle under the tape measure) tall.  Here, Baby SSG is modelling the $18 Target version I bought this month.

Building on the success of our trip to the beach, Baby SSG and I went 'swimming' yesterday.  We spent a few minutes observing our surroundings as we stood in ankle deep water before venturing deeper into the bubbles and finally attempting a bit of floating in the shallow area of the teaching pool.  It was actually much less stressful than I thought it would be and I hope we can make a trip to the pool a regular thing to do together.

Baby SSG had a such a good time that he slept for an hour and half the moment we got home.  I know all I did was walk around in the water wearing my bathers for 20 minutes but it was as relaxing as a trip to the beach.  Only minus the 'how to get there' dramas.

There was excitement at the gym yesterday.  Management have embraced chocolate.  Chocolate coated protein bars, that is.  The problem with things high protein is that I can't get those protein shakes out of my mind.  I've never actually had a protein powder shake, mind you, but the whole concept is just so strange to me.  What's wrong with just having protein rich whole foods?  And then having some chocolate after.  It's always good to know where you stand on things like this, I guess. 

Coles continues to be my source for potted plants.  It's getting harder and harder to stick to my list when I shop there these days.  Meet my new moth orchid for one of the side tables in the bedroom.  I love the way the branches droop just so and the flowers cascade accordingly.  I'm going for a light and airy feel to the room and am hoping that a real plant will survive under the lighting conditions.  If not, I may have to find myself a fauxrchid.

In exciting breakfast news, I've rediscovered kiwi fruit and found a new breakfast cereal...  

Woolworths' Vanilla Almond Clusters ($4.99 per box).    It's monumental for me, I've been eating Weetbix with yoghurt for the last decade and a half.  Except for that crazy poached eggs and ketchup phase during my pregnancy.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Woolworths cereal is that it actually looks somewhat like the photo on the box and that you can indeed taste vanilla and see almonds when you pour out a random portion from the box.  There's no need to dig around for the interesting ingredients - it's actually a reasonable quality product.  I've not quite given up on Weetbix.  I just fill the cereal bowl with a 50:50 split of Weetbix and cereal.

I've got a busy weekend ahead with work so I'm going to make the most of this afternoon and perhaps go out for dinner.

By the way, has anyone got any thoughts about Santa photos around Sydney?  I'm planning on giving Rhodes a go (because it fulfills the desirable criteria of good parking, Oliver Brown dark chocolate mochas as well as Ikea and Target on site) but would love to hear about how you've found other shopping centres.  Is the Santa corner at Rhodes decked out nicely?

Nov 20, 2013

Makeup Heirs and Spares. Yoga at Home.

Let's get straight down to business, shall we?

Priceline's currently having their 2 day beauty and cosmetics sale.  40% off everything beauty (except accessories) online and in store.  The sale started yesterday and continues today.

I am such a huge fan of the Maybelline pencil eyeliners that I bought an heir and a spare of the brownish black shade.  It would be both illegal and exceedingly vain to put one of these in the car, wouldn't it?  It's just got such a great, blendable consistency, it's fool proof even when you're in peak hour traffic and being guided by an oddly angled rear view mirror.  It's one of those great ironies of life that the light in the car (filtered through a tinted sun roof) and the pitch of the seats are more suited to make up application than the arrangement I have at home.  

At $5.10 each, it would have been irresponsible not to try the ebony black shade.  It's just the thing I need for the party season.  My usual liquid / gel eyeliner look just isn't going to happen this year.  And false eyelashes?  Dream on.

If anyone from the traffic police happens to be reading this, don't worry, it's all idle chit chat.  I know the rules.  As it is, I get panicky every time a police car pulls up next to or behind me at the lights.  I sit up straighter, look straight ahead and give myself a pat on the back for having my mobile stashed away in my handbag in the boot.  Then, when the lights go green, I proceed to drive at 10 kilometres below the limit.

Matchy, matchy....  Dress - DVF, bag - Louis Vuitton, drink - needs to introduction.

But enough about me and my issues with traffic authority.  My heir and a spare approach extended to the Models Prefer ultra lipgloss pencils.  They have impressive staying power and were around $6 in the sale (RRP $9.99).  Kiss & Make Up is an every day pink that doesn't wash me out or look frosty.  It's my pick of the bunch and I'm onto my third pencil.  Nothing to hide is a warm daytime red that I had to wear yesterday to pull together my outifit, bag and choice of lunchtime beverage.  

It's gradually starting to hurt less with my home yoga practice.  My heels are inching closer to the mat in downward dog.  My body is feeling much less tightly wound up since I've started practicing again.  10 minutes most mornings.  I've been using these home practice sheets from the Iyengar Institute of New York.  There are two sets of sequences - level I and level II.  I'm starting with the level I programme and the four sequences have enough variety in them to keep me going.

I've put a few more of those book rings to good use as they hold the practice sheets together.

This was me watching the rain, doing some yoga and posting to Instagram the other day.....

Having sorted out Christmas drinks, it's time to get some ideas for food together.  The Christmas entertaining issues of the magazines are my favourites of the year.  I've skimmed through Donna Hay and The AWW is next.

Take care and have a lovely day.

Nov 18, 2013

Lucky Bamboo. Christmas Drinks.

Greetings, from my desk to yours.  

Being a Monday, I'm sending bonus good fortune, fortitude and resilience courtesy of this lucky bamboo that found its way to my desk.  Technically, lucky bamboos aren't actually bamboo and apparently the complicated shapes that some of the plants are trained to grown into are achieved by rotating the stems to get light from different directions.

$10 lucky bamboo from Coles.  For maximum good luck, the bamboos are meant to be received as a gift.  For the record then, I'm calling this a self gifted lucky bamboo.

Care wise, fluoride and chlorine are the lucky bamboo's enemy.  So if you water with tap water, you should let the water sit overnight to allow the electrolytes to evaporate off the water.  I'm eyeing the water in the Expressi machine right now, actually.  It'll be perfect for the job.  Will keep you posted on my bamboo's progress.

Any excuse for a bit of comfort eating....

May I humour you about how much fun it is to be having this second winter in Sydney right now?  Clomping around in ugg boots and track pants to the pool, toting soaking wet umbrellas around with you at the shops, watching to the driving rain on your windscreen and ... eating bacon and egg rolls in the company of Ron Burgundy. You've got to find your laughs where you can when it's so bleak outside.  Ron was posing in the current issue of WHO magazine, in the sexiest people in comedy feature.  Ketut was also in the line up and his interview was hilarious in a warm and gentle kind of way.

Besides the comfort eating benefits of the wet weather, it has been nice to take things a bit more slowly.  Everyone's been driving at a sedate pace to compensate for the flash flooding that's engulfed the roads.  The pace at the supermarket has been more a gentle stroll than the usual mad dash.  I wasn't the only person who even had time to put their coffee down whilst persuing the contents of the frozen food area.

There was even time to sit around after getting my groceries.  Mainly because I was waiting for the rain to pause but still, it was nice to take a few moments out of the never ending cavalcade of 'adventures' that are your weekend when you're mother to a 10 month old.

Speaking of adventures, I've started my Christmas shopping.  How disturbing is it that I don't even know the street value of champagne anymore?  I was so convinced that I'd practically paid half price for SSG Manor's bubbles of choice but apparently the $50 per bottle mark is the actual going rate these days for both Moet and Veuve at Dan Murphy's.  So it wasn't the incredible bargain I thought I had.  Which might have explained why the champagne section at Costco was the quietest corner of the warehouse on Sunday.  On the up side though, at least I don't have to battle the Christmas / New Year rush later on.

How are your Christmas preparations going?  Will you be having champagne with breakfast, lunch and dinner?

Nov 15, 2013

In the Sun and Around the House.

Well, how good are things UV wise in Sydney at the moment? 

Very comfortable silver flats from Paul Green obtained from a spendy nonna shoe store whose name escapes me.

It's been consecutive days now that I've felt the sun on my arms and legs.  

Dress - Target, necklaces - Red Phoenix Emporium.

Colour looks so much better on sunny days and I've finally been able to wear the whites, blues and fuchsias in my wardrobe.

But we did have some fun with the wet weather.  My aunty and uncle from Malaysia are staying with us at the moment and they're totally spoiling us.  My uncle has a durian farm back home and loves the outdoors and its challenges.  Needless to say, he has found lots to amuse himself with in the wilds of our garden.  He is also about the only house guest we have had who has taken a shine to the contents of the garage.  We are currently accommodating my brother's vintage jeep and my uncle is seriously considering shipping it back home to the farm.  Whenever the durian crops are good, my uncle collects the excess fruit and drives them to local charities so that they can give them to their clients.  The jeep is just what he needs for this important task.

In the meantime, he's put the jeep to good use as a temporary washing line.  Not seen in the photo are the mop and broom he suspended from the garage beams which have given us some extra clothes drying space.  

Loving the fact that we have Subway at work.  I've made my desk lunch even healthier with the addition of some Tim Tams an apple.

Work's been a bit hectic so I'm even more thankful than last Friday that it's Friday again.  I suspect this is a pattern that's going to escalate as the weeks fly by, it's a meeting heavy time of the year.  It's also less than 6 weeks until Christmas.  The fact that ties the two together is that I'm on again for work Christmas gifts.  Wholesale online shopping, here I come!  

SSG Manor is getting a bit of a nip and tuck and my very capable Chief Engineer is onto it.  I like how he can stand over a box from Ikea and give the impression that whatever is within the box will be a snap to assemble (with his supervision).  Turned out he was right.  I bought some new table lamps for the lounge and bedroom and they're all looking fine and dandy with their energy saver light bulbs.  Pics later.

And then there was the responsibility of choosing fabric for the new vertical blinds.  With an expert flick through the sample fabrics, he narrowed down my options to a few swatches and then toddled off in search more adult world things to play with. In a room full of brightly coloured, drool proof toys and books.  I've only just reset the television to stop playing teletext after he somehow managed to press the six buttons required to activate it in the correct sequence.

Yes, it's definitely time for the weekend again.

Take care and have a good one!


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