Jun 29, 2014

Fluffy Fleece, Beater Blades and Crofton Cast Iron.

It's been a weekend of addressing the big issues whilst being dressed in outfits that just say 'trust me, I know what I'm doing'.

Remember my Cookie Monster blue fluffy fleece zip up jacket from Uniqlo?  Well, it really is as warm as the advertising spiel suggests.  I wore mine to the pool this morning and barely felt the severe wind action as I climbed the stairs to the pool entrance.  Which is saying something given that I could hear the wind even before I got out of the car.

The hard work for the day done, it was time to kick back with a coffee and some reading.  Somehow reading things for work  is less painful when you have the Sunday paper open at the same time.

Intrigued by my sudden ability to embellish photos with text and artwork?  I can't take all the credit. Fat Mum Slim launched Little Moments on the App Store last week and I've been getting to know my way around it over the last couple of days.  I love how easy to use the editing tools are and also that prompts for Photo A Day are incorporated into the app.   There are add on options available through the app but I haven't bought them yet.  The images and fonts included with the basic option are enough for my learner skills.

Oscar Wilde just had this way of saying things best.

"Youth is wasted on the young".

When it comes to faux fur on the high street, at least.

I've been on the hunt for a cropped fur vest and / or a fur trimmed cardigan for weeks now and haven't been able to find a thing.  Until I spotted these adorable pieces on the way to Ikea yesterday.  Everything I was looking for, just several hundred sizes too small.  Perhaps it's time for the high street to reverse the mini-me trend in girls fashion and start upsizing their covetable children's wear designs for parents.

In the meantime, I'll just have to be content dressing for my age in tasteful wool knit sweaters and statement necklaces.

What's the point of having a smart phone if you don't use the camera function to make your life easier?  I have photos of where I park my car and Ikea self serve furniture locations on my camera roll.  Anything to free up those precious neurones of mine.

Ikea.  Ikea on the first Saturday morning of the school holidays.  It actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  The most physically demanding part of the shopping trip was testing the entire range of children's table and chair options.  I knew the squat programme I do at the gym would pay off one day.  

The Mammut stool, table and chair were the winners of my squat and sit test.  The chair is for Toddler SSG and I'm going with the stool.  No sharp corners and being light weight plastic, I'm hoping that no one will come to any harm should Toddler SSG get all huffy with the furniture and decide to rearrange it on his own.

Jam slice from Donna Hay's Modern Classics Book 2.

There's been a fair bit of baking going on at SSG Manor this weekend.  It's the perfect weather for it and there's a few morning teas on at work in the coming week.

BeaterBlade for the KitchenAid (left) and the whisky thing that came with my KitchenAid (right).

I've decided to lift my game and use my Beaterblade for the final stages of cake batter production.  I use the KitchenAid whisk to cream and then switch over to the BeaterBlade for the addition of the remaining ingredients.

The batters I've made this week definitely look more aerated and lighter in texture than before BeaterBlade.

The moment of truth will be on Tuesday when my baked goods get 'judged' at morning tea.  I bought my BeaterBlade off eBay a few years ago but KitchenwareDirect (where I linked to) are selling it locally for $44.95.  I've just noticed that KitchenAid have now released their own version, the Flex Edge beater at $69.95.  That's also available at KitchenwareDirect if you'd prefer to keep things in the KA family.

My last bit of kitchen news comes to you by way of Aldi and their cast iron special buys from last week.  After several trips to Aldi and dithering about whether or not to buy the griddle pan ($14.99), here is the red one in my kitchen.  I finally decided to buy one because I like how the pan has some depth compared to the one I'm currently using.  Le Creuset have a square version with a cast iron handle (the Crofton version has a wooden handle) and the best price for that is $199 at the moment.  There's a five year warranty on the Aldi / Crofton version and the reviews around the web are generally very positive.  I'm christening mine tonight and am planning to do a review post during the week.

In the meantime, are you a Crofton fan?

Jun 26, 2014

WAGs, Snags and the DFO in Homebush.

One way or another, the FIFA World Cup is going to get you.  In much the same way as that 1 Direction song I shamelessly paraphrased.

Being up at all hours watching games.  Keeping up to date with what the world media thinks of the various teams, their players and managers.  Laughing at the memes inspired by the more infamous moments of the World Cup that find their way onto your social media feeds.  Every four years, for a few frenzied weeks, if you are of this earth, your life will be touched by the world's game.

Always one to jump on a global bandwagon, I've gotten into the spirit of things with my latest Kindle download.  Yes, this is an actual book.  I first found out about 'I Am the Secret WAG' when  I read an excerpt on the Mail Online a few weeks ago and knew from the first paragraph that it was going to be my kind of trashtastic read.  If you love the 'Babylon' books by Imogen Edwards Jones, the Secret WAG's memoir could be just the book for you.  The Secret WAG is a bit superior, she's a bit smug but she's also got a very dry sense of humour.


Thursday evenings are not just late night shopping night anymore, my friends, because season two of 'The Time of Our Lives' starts on the ABC tonight.  The issues faced by the main characters in their crucial relationships are also the ones I'm currently facing in this time of my life.  While season one was a slow burner for me, I've read that season two is shorter and the producers have had to be more selective in whose storylines they've been able to develop in the air time that they have.

Adult viewers aren't the only ones to benefit from some new programming on the ABC.  How brilliant is 11am - 12 pm Quite Time.  Daily.  Which means Saturday and Sunday as well.  With Upsy Daisy as the face of Quiet Time, I'm 110% convinced that Toddler SSG will get on board this new ABC initiative.

One day we're trapped indoors and battening down the hatches and the next?  Why, we're sitting outside for lunch with the sun on our faces and highlighting just how smudged our iPad screens are.  

Fancy pork sausages ready to be fried using my new silicon and stainless steel kitchen tongs from Aldi ($3.99).

Today's batch cooking project was Curried Sausages using this Kidspot recipe.  You might remember me blogging about another recipe a few months back which turned out nicely but this recipe is even better.  It's less complicated and most of its ingredients are things you'd already have in the kitchen.   I used some fancy pork sausages today and instead of plain water, I used 2 cups of beef stock.

I was quite liberal with the vegetables which worked well because those fancy sausages of mine only came in a packet of five when the recipe called for six.  Downsizing is the way of modern food manufacture, I'm afraid.

This is no a misprint.  These curried sausages require both curry powder and a tablespoon of jam (any kind so long as it's not marmalade).  A teaspoon of curry powder as the recipe states would be perfect for a child friendly version, I used a whole tablespoon which was just right for me.

Portions of the sausage curry ready for freezing.  You have no idea how attached I am to my microwave on work days.  Freezer bingo is a little game I play that involves randomly defrosting a portion of something in the fridge for dinner the next day.  It is often a surprise because the labels I stick onto my containers either fall off somewhere in the freezer (not my fault) or else are illegible (my fault).

Sweater and belt - Witchery, top - Cotton On, necklace - Red Phoenix Emporium, jeans - J Brand.  Was also wearing red Sambag flats.

Thursdays are meant to be my stay at home mum day but cabin fever happens to the best of us.  Which is how I found myself in this changeroom at the Jacqui E outlet at DFO Homebush.  Seven years I've lived in Sydney and today was the first time I'd even set foot in it.

The centre has just been refurbished and there is an arcade of spendy factory outlets which the Big Names like to call Company Stores.  The ground floor is mostly furniture, sporting and electrical whilst the second floor is where all the fashion retailers are.  There's also a lovely food court but no supermarkets like Birkenhead Point.  Parking at both is perilous and designed to grey your temples each and every time you attempt it.

To wit, a window of the Salvatore Ferragamo store.

Lulu Lemon invited Homebushians to get down with the dog and then to relax into savasna.

With my Floridian outlet shopping a not too distant memory, there really wasn't anything I could justify buying today.  Except for one of these hair donuts from Forever New.  I lost the one I bought earlier this year at the Woolworths in Lismore (how's that for irrelevant detail).  Available in three colours but only size ('perfect'), they cost $2.95 down from the full price of $7.95.  Might be bun day tomorrow, I'm thinking.  If only I could get up and out of the gym early enough.....

Hope you've had a lovely day and a chance to have seen the changing colours of the season.

Take care

Jun 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless because this picture says it all for Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.

And wordless because that is what free speech will become if journalists continue to be arrested and imprisoned.

Which leaves the pictures to tell the stories that have to be told.

Jun 24, 2014

The Big Chill. A Remedy For My Insomnia.

I don't think there's a corner of the country that's escaped the cold chill that's suddenly come upon us.  My Instragram feed today has been full of photos of friends rugged up in thick jackets, jumpers and scarves.  They've stepped out for the day in long boots and lunched on bowls of soup with a slice of buttered toast or two.

The big chill has been kind to the snow fields with bumper dumps of powder over the ski runs overnight.  Just in time for the school holidays.

We weren't blessed with snow in the suburbs but it was pretty wild out west today.  Fallen branches littered the streets and there were power outages in the Blue Mountains.  My little adventure for the day involved putting my North Face puffer jacket to the test as I trekked across the park in search of some coffee.  It was a toasty warm walk and amazingly, I managed to button my coat quite comfortably over my chunky cable knit jumper without looking like a black puffer fish on stilts.  It's the little things.  

Boots - Bally, pleather jeans - AG.

The extreme weather conditions called for extreme measures to keep my legs warm.  Hence this pleather and leather combination.  I'm really happy with my Adriano Goldschmied coated jeans, actually.  Well worth the money.  They're a great cut and they haven't stretched out of shape despite my wearing them all the time.  The finish on the jeans has also held up well to my accident prone lifestyle.  Not to mention how incredibly comfortable they are to boot.  

Love a cup of tea before dinner in this cooler weather but suffering dreadfully from insomnia secondary to your extra cuppa?  Then have a cup of a 'proper brew' of decaffeinated Yorkshire Tea.  A box of 50 will set you back around $5 at the supermarket (twice the price of the full caffeine variety, go figure) but your sleeps will be so much easier to come by, it works out to be a wise investment.  In my opinion, Yorkshire Tea is the best tasting decaffeinated tea at the supermarket these days.

Sweater - Uniqlo, necklace - Lovisa.

I'm going to finish off with some feedback on my Uniqlo heattech polo neck sweater.  Very comfortable, warm and dressy enough for work.  What's more, there wasn't a single crease in the top at the end of the day.  Which is going to make next week's ironing a dream.

And that's about it for today.  Stay warm wherever you may be and here's to nights in with hearty dinners and ugg boots when the weather is as crazy as it is outside.

Jun 22, 2014

Another Perfect Weekend Ends. Kids First Aid. Uniqlo, Daiso and Lovisa.

I can't think of a more pleasant way to end the weekend.

Out on the water, watching the sun set with dinner possibly at the end of your fishing line.

Not having any experience fishing or sailing myself, I was quite content to sit barefoot on the deck aka the SSG She Shed with the warm paving under my feet and a good view of the changing sky in front of me.

It actually turned out to be quite a busy weekend for me.  I finally got around to doing something I've been putting off for a very long time.  On Saturday, I attended a short course in children's first aid.  You always think it'll never happen but it only takes one near miss to realise how important it is to arm yourself with enough knowledge to make sure you don't freeze in a blind panic if an emergency should happen on your watch.

The course I attended was run by Kids First Aid.  The session was planned with parents in mind.  It only runs for 3 hours and Kids First Aid run the class in venues across Sydney mainly on weekends, making it just that much easier to get yourself to a session.  The brainchild of a paramedic, each class is run by a paramedic and covers the 10 most common emergency situations a parent could face.  

Due to time constraints, there wasn't an opportunity to practice what we were taught but we were each given a hand poster summarizing the key points from the session to take home.  I found the insights of our instructor very helpful.  As a parent herself, she shared a few of her own personal experiences along with the course material which made the session very 'real world'.  The 3 hour course costs $85 but there are concessions if you book as part of a larger group.

The only thing with doing anything vaguely educational on a Saturday morning is that your brain hurts badly afterward.  Solution?  An afternoon out in the sun engaging in non academic activities.  How did I survive all those years of rigorous study?

Admittedly, not all of my afternoon of freedom was spent out in the sun.  I couldn't resist the siren call of Uniqlo and their Heattech skivvies.  Their light weight and decent length make them perfect for wearing under dresses during winter and at $19.90, they're not too badly priced.

The frenzy at Uniqlo hasn't died down despite their being open in Sydney for a few months now.  There was a 15 minute wait for the cashiers and barely room to breathe in front of the actual merchandise.  But, I am a seasoned, well trained shopper and terrain like this is something I take in my stride.  It was lovely sitting outside Town Hall afterwards - breathing in huge lung fulls of bus and traffic air.

I figured that since I was in the line anyway, I might as well pick up the other two things I had my eye on.  


I bought a Heattech fleece turtleneck in blue ($19.90).  Comfortable and easy to care for, the blue goes with all my winter skirts and trousers.  I'll report back on just how warm it is.


My final purchase was a bit controversial.  The fluffy fleece full zip jackets were on sale, $29.90 down from $39.90 and selling like hot cakes - but only with customers of a certain age.  Another of those said customers and I were having a conversation about how the brighter colours were so much more flattering on than the neutrals shades.  She was leaning to a magenta and I was undecided between the blue or green.  We both agreed that the jackets were a great value at the sale price and that we'd get a lot of wear out of them to boot.

And then it happened.  I overheard a young girl next to me in the throng telling her mum that she'd never wear anything out that looked like a bathrobe.  As I took my Cookie Monster blue 'bathrobe' from the pile next to her, I was this close to saying 'but never is a very long time, young whippersnapper' from between pursed, frosted lipstick coated lips.

I'm now definitely one of those women who puts uplifting colour and flattering cut before fashion when she's out clothes shopping.

Heck, I even said no to this orange Zara shift because it was more of a top than a dress!  As pretty as the back fastening buttons are, there's no way I could've worn it in any other way than as a flowing top over skinny jeans.  Which would then have kind of defeated the purpose.

Thankfully, shopping at Daiso is much less problematic.  They think of everything at Daiso.  You can even buy all the fixings to make your home made sushi and sashimi look store bought.  I found these fish shaped soya sauce bottles and 'blades of grass' on my travels today.

I left the sushi accessories where they were because I just don't have the hands or patience for fiddly food preparation.  What I actually needed were these brightly coloured, freezer and microwave safe disposable food containers for my 'weeknight, home cooked with the miracle of the microwave' dinners.  I'm in the middle of a batch cooking frenzy and the theme is chorizo makes everything tastes better.

Chorizo - $3.50 for a pack of two from Aldi.

My first project was to revisit the Kidspot one pan lasagna using chorizo in the tomato sauce and a massive bunch of basil as a garnish.

I can't believe the difference fresh basil made to an already delicious meal.  Not sure how well the basil will survive freezing and reheating but I reckon it'll definitely be an improvement on the dried variety.

Part two of the chorizo project was a chorizo, bean and vegetable soup.  With bonus bunch of continental parsley.

I was kind of bummed about having to put that Zara frock back on its rack but I found this little burst of sunshine on the sale rack at Lovisa.  At 50% off too.  I'm planning to wear it tomorrow.  Never hurts to take a bit of the weekend sun in with you to work on a Monday.


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