Apr 29, 2015

At Odds With the World. Self Gifting.

It just seems as if the last few weeks have been more harrowing than usual for the world as a whole.  There's just been devastation and loss everywhere in the headlines. Whether it is what humans have done to each other or what nature has done to humans, there have been many times that we've all had to ask ourselves if anyone of us really has all the answers about what the right thing to do actually is.  Perhaps, in looking within our imperfect selves for the answers, we're doomed to never find solutions that will satisfy us all.  

So, not having been able to solve any of the worlds problems with the opening paragraph of this post, I have set out to purposely find the silver lining stories of the tragedies and conflicts that are making the headlines right now.


In the midst of the EU's member countries having their shores breached by barely seaworthy boats of migrants from Africa came the story of Antonis Deligiorgis's single handed rescue of 20 migrants from Eritrea, including 24 year old Wegasi Nebiat.  Deligiorgis is a soldier and was out with his wife after doing the school run when he saw the disaster of yet another boat self destruct in the Mediterranean.  He and many others on the island of Rhodes simply did what they had to do - rescuing, sheltering and comforting fellow human beings - which politicians seem reluctant to do themselves.

The streets of Baltimore are currently in lockdown as riots erupted after the funeral of Freddie Gray, an African American man who died of spinal injuries whilst in police custody.  Toya Graham, better known as #Baltimoremom was able to achieve what the words of community leaders, the police or the President could not.  She chased her son down, cuffed him and made him look her in the eye as she told him to stop participating in the senseless destruction of their city.  That the violence wasn't going to change things for the better.  It is also a credit to her tough love that her son did not turn around and attempt to hit out or retaliate when she confronted him.

What stories have you seen or read about that are a little peripheral to the leading stories of the moment but which deeply moved or inspired you?  Whose actions have restored your faith in humanity when you've needed it most?

My own little corner of the world has bumped along in its own bubble of uneventfulness and comforting predictability.  Buffered by good luck and good people from the current pains of the world.  It's one of those precious periods of life where you seem at odds with the suffering and pain that seems to be prevalent all around you.

The sky is still that beautiful crisp autumn blue.

Skirt - J Crew, necklace Red Phoenix Emporium.

And navy blue has returned to my wardrobe in the shape of this boucle skirt from J Crew.

There's been enough sunlight and warmth in the afternoon for a walk to the park for afternoon tea.

On Planet Toddler, creative solutions are being found for mess created by the 'creative', floor centric use of breakfast cereal.

Makeup bag - $19.99, cashmere scarf - $29.99, leather purse - $24.99 all from Aldi and all for me for Mothers Day.  Because I'm worth it.

Some things never change on a Wednesday and one of those things would be self gifting from the Aldi Special Buys range.  The scarf and makeup bag are for the trip.  I like how the makeup bag contains a roll for brushes and snaps rather than zips closed.  But is it big enough to store even my pared down armamentarium of makeup for the at least half rested look I aspire to these days?  Watch this space, it's only two weeks or so until I leave.  The purse is to replace my spare swimming bag wallet which has fallen apart.  It's sturdy with lots of slots for cards, a huge coin section and multiple large sections for notes and larger bits and pieces.  It's a very practical design and I love the red.

What are you buying yourself for Mothers Day?  Or buying yourself just because?

Apr 28, 2015

Breaking Target Collab News!

Start planning your strategy to get to your local Target and make contingency plans for if (or should that be when...) the Target site crashes on July 2, 2015....

Dion Lee is Target's next designer collaborator!!  With his interest in using performance fabrics on the cat walk, it's going to be interesting to see how his vision is interpreted for the high street.  Previous collaborations have had the wider ranging appeal of the instantly recognisable, iconic house of Missoni prints or the feminine with a twist style of Stella McCartney.  Dion Lee has a very particular aesthetic to his clothes with its precise lines and use of colour.  As perfect as it looks on the catwalk, will we embrace it at Target and wear it to death in the weeks after the collection debuts?

Yeah, probably.  If you look at it another way, the collection's price point should hopefully be reasonable enough for us mum's with messy parenting responsibilities to give it a go.

Photo Day. Hair and Make Up. The News.

As I got Toddler SSG ready for daycare today, I couldn't help but feel that my inner Dance Mom had been awoken.

Today was daycare photo day, Toddler SSG's first in fact.  And I've been totally Dance Mom about it.  There was the hair cut a couple of weeks ago (to give it time to 'grow out' a bit), the strategic online purchasing of potential outfits from Cotton On and Next and the obsessive checking of the weather forecast to further narrow down the short list of outfits for today.  Last night's good humoured text messages from my daycare mum friends tell me that I wasn't alone in the planning for today.

You're never too young to appreciate how a Statement Shoe can pull an outfit together.  Jeans and sweater - Cotton On Kids, wellies - Crocs.

And finally, today arrived and as chief toddler dresser for the morning, I made the strategic decision to not have anyone get changed into their day clothes until after breakfast.  And it paid off.  A well fed (on a six course breakfast) Toddler SSG was quite happy to wear his starry sweater and was quite obliging when I combed his hair.  Though I can tell you from first hand experience that Final Net Super Hold hair spray doesn't work too well on cowlicks but it is fun for everyone involved to give it a go all the same.  We did, however, have a slight difference of opinion in footwear.  You have to say, though, that those yellow Crocs wellies that Toddler SSG chose do make the outfit.

Mothering duties done for the morning, it was time to address the big issues.

Hair - in need of some TLC, necklace - Lovisa, sweater - Uniqlo, lanyards - you can never have too many around your neck at work.

Like hair in dire need of a good cut.

I went exploring in Chatswood today and found myself a new hairdresser

and a new skinny cap source.

The breaking news in this morning's SMH Good Food supplement was that Terry Durack reviewed the new Chatswood railway station food court.  Terry was meant to be finding a meal for under $10 as part of this week's cheap eats theme.  Unfortunately, he didn't have much luck at that end of the suburb.

To be honest, I'm not sure if you can get a meal for a tenner anywhere in Chatswood.  I tried my luck at Westfield where I discovered the Le Wrap outlet.

My basic beef wrap and a small soft drink cost $12.

And it was actually pretty good for food court fare.  The beef was grilled freshly for my order and they were generous with the salad.  The wrap was light and crisp.  Le Wrap might just knock sushi off the number one position in my list of favourite food court meals.  I might even have to email Terry and update him on the state of play at Westfield Chatswood.

Seeing as Domestic Divinity  declared that Nude Perfection's name didn't lie on her Instagram this morning, I went to Priceline to hunt down the Color Drama shade that everyone's talking about.  I got lucky and found the last one in stock.

I don't know where the day's gone.  It's almost pick up time.  I really should get outside in the sun and fresh air because it looks like the weather's going to be changing again tomorrow.

Just in time to head back to work.  Does your work lanyards jangle as loudly as mine?  Do you have both swipe cards and antique keys to get into work?  Have you personalised your work ID paraphernalia with hand written prompts for numbers you're always forgetting?  Have you had to sticky tape over those prompts so the numbers don't wash off?  Yeah, thought it was probably only me...

Just updating this post with some post publishing thoughts of mine.

One of Myuran Sukumaran's final paintings.

There's been so much sadness in world news of late with the devastation of the earthquake in Nepal and the news of the executions of Andrew and Myuran.

I can't bring myself to read anything further of the plight of the Chan and Sukumaran families as well as of the men themselves.  Every fresh update in the news catches me in the throat.  The human side of their plight and their spiritual transformations over the last ten years are a cruel juxtaposition to the photos of stark island prisons and coffins that have come to represent their final days.  But the other side of their story is the fact that they have been convicted of their crimes overseas and are the mercy of a foreign legal system.

Some sections of the media are providing live updates of what amounts to a morbid countdown to the deaths of two men.  The politics and ethics aside with regards to these executions, can these men and their families be at least given some privacy in these harrowing hours?

How do you feel about the media coverage of the executions in Bali?

Apr 26, 2015

Hail. The Big Chill. Costco Finds.

These are glamorous times in Sydney.  Glamorous.

If it wasn't ugg boots and trackies it was head to toe adventure wear, hastily pulled out of storage (complete with last year's lint) as everyone struggled to adjust to the sudden cold change this morning.

Everyone who bravely made it to the pool this morning rewarded themselves with a coffee afterwards at the pool cafe.  I've never seen it as busy as it was this morning.  There was such a wait for their usually prompt coffees that sat it out behind the pot plant feature at the tables.

Speaking of the weather, how about the hail yesterday?  I pulled into the garage just in time to hear the thuds of the downpour on the tin roof change to the staccato firing of hailstones as they pelted everything that wasn't under some kind of shelter.  The hail only lasted a few minutes where I was.

But it looked like it was snowing on the streets of Newtown.

How did you fair in the hail?  I hope nothing got damaged.

To add some oomph to the buttermilk marinade for the chicken strips, I seasoned with a bit of onion and garlic powders.

With the work trip a sacrily low number of days away, I've made a start on batches of meals as back up for when my mum and aunty come over to stay with Toddler SSG (they're both so excited about coming over that they don't actually look at their trip over as baby sitting).  I'm pretty sure he'll eat whatever they make or treat him to but it never hurts to have a supply of chicken strips in the freezer for a quick meal.  My mum's actually a fan of them too, much to Toddler SSG's fascination.

I made the crumbs a bit fancy this time.  To the panko and parmesan I added thyme, oregano, parsley and paprika in addition to the onion and garlic powders I used in the marinade.  The kitchen ended up smelling like pizza even before any of the strips were baked.

And there's my flat packed chicken strips ready to pop into the freezer.  

As surprising as it may sound, the paprika really did bring out the pizza-ish flavours of the crumb mix.  This batch of strips was a huge hit with Toddler SSG for dinner tonight.  I think we've both accepted that he's already too old for the finer textures and relatively blander flavours of the Annabel Karmel range at Coles.  For your reference, the chicken and beef bites are very smoothly textured and don't have the bite of either mince or chicken breast.  If your toddler is used to the textures and appearance of softer 'adult' foods, they may not be too interested in the AK range either.

No weekend of crazy weather in Sydney would be complete with a spot of shopping, would it?  And I'm not just talking about my emotional need to find shelter in a shopping centre when the heavens have opened.  The shops in general were chaos today.  In addition to the semi usual parking in the no parking areas of the car park (which are usually there for reasons of safety and easier driving for other patrons), people were semi parking two cars across on any available surface that was close to a car that looked like it was going to be pulling out of its bay within the next half hour.  There was justifiable road rage because of this all over the place this afternoon at Costco.

After taking an entire afternoon nap (Toddler SSG's not mine, that would've been kind of dangerous...) to find a park, I couldn't just leave with what I needed to buy, could I?  And I couldn't just leave for a trip without buying things to specifically wear on it either, could I?  I don't even think that last sentence made sense but it's Sunday night and it's fast approaching weekend wind down time and I don't even have the attention span to watch My Kitchen Rules.

Anyway.  The shopping.  The theme of which was essentials for the streets of New York in May where though it's spring, the current temperatures look depressingly very much like what they are in Sydney right now.

My collection of Supre leggings have officially given notice of their retirement so I found these for $20 per pack of two.  They're a matte black and completely opaque.  Every member of the leggings as pants brigade should be given a pack of these before they go out their front door in the morning.  Back leggings are my friend on holidays especially.  Their natural partner is the black skivvy.  But I've already got enough of those so no need to buy any more before I fly out.

And I can't even think about boarding a departing flight without some kind of accessory mascot.  They have to be reasonably priced and sturdy enough to withstand a couple of weeks on planes and in airports.  This $20 Ike Behar wrap just said New York to me.  It's actually fleece but from a distance, the black and white side looks like a knit.  I love how it's reversible, not scratchy, machine washable and very warm.

I've been at my wrap with my new Daiso stitch ripper.  With the label neatly removed, it's now officially reversible.

Here's to a lovely week for all of us.  And if you're counting down to a trip or something else exciting too, may the days fly by!

Stay warm and take care,

Apr 25, 2015

5000 Poppies. Reflecting.

I'm usually able to observe ANZAC Day with some kind of involvement with the formalities of this day of commemoration and respect.  Whether it has been watching the ANZAC Day parade on George Street, watching a telecast of the dawn service or pausing for a moment at a memorial - I've always managed to be part of the day.

Ironically, on this, the centenary of ANZAC Day, circumstances conspired to make my usual participation impossible.  The idiosyncrasies of an ever changing toddler sleep pattern saw me awake through the night attempting to get some sleep on makeshift beds around the house and when sleep finally visited everyone in the household simultaneously, it was dawn.  Which meant that our waking up and breakfast routine then rolled on through the ANZAC Parade.

So I've been paying my respects informally via the news and images of my social media feeds.  The ANZAC Centenary photos I've used for this post are of the 5000 Poppies project that saw Federation Square blanketed in over 250 000 hand knitted poppies from all over Australia and the world.  The poppies have been mounted on special wire frames and the collection will later tour the country.

Each poppy has its own story, their creators making a contribution in memory of brave and selfless relatives.  I hope that the poppies will be permanently displayed somewhere in Australia for us all to be able to see them and remember the brave fights of the past that give us the present we all enjoy.

In honour of the centenary,  the weather has blessed us with some spectacular weather today here in Sydney.  Toddler SSG and I met up with some of our good friends from mothers group and day care for an hour of sunshine and coffee (priorities, priorities - that should've been coffee and sunshine).

Tables at cafes reserved for later bookings - the only place guaranteed to keep toddlers together when waiting for takeaway coffees.

There was so much joy and exuberance about being out in the wide open space of the park with the sun shining brilliantly above that it took us quite a while to corral the boys at the cafe simultaneously and then to place our orders.  But as mothers of toddler boys we had the collective stern voices and lightening fast reflexes to make it happen.

And then we sat in the shade with our coffees and babycinos as the boys traded the snacks we'd all brought from home 'just in case' after they all decided that the mini designer banana cakes from the cafe weren't quite their thing (after their icing had been licked off and all that was left was the boring cake bit).

Sometimes it's hard to believe our boys are now two.  We've each become very familiar with the tantrums and strong mindedness of our boys at home but seeing them together hugging, playing and running around put those challenging moments in perspective.  It's now post play date nap time for all three boys.  As for their mothers?  We're enjoying a bit of quiet time as we exchange text messages and photos.  And we're ready for when those little tornados wake up and it all begins again...

How have you spent ANZAC Day?

Apr 23, 2015

Thoughts and Pumpkin Soup.

With the end of the stormy weather (for now), comes a collective sigh of relief across our state and a new found joy in the simple things that we took for granted all summer.

Like seeing the sun shine across our damp but not flooded driveways.

As well as being able to look up at a clear blue sky and seeing a familiar skyline that has miraculously survived the storm intact.

Soup season is well and truly with us now.  I've kicked off my batch soup making with pumpkin soup.  Paying $11 for two packets of pre cut butternut was a small price to pay for the time and fingers that would have been sacrificed if I'd done the dicing myself.

I used kidspot's slow cooker pumpkin soup recipe which is pretty budget friendly (more so if you're an expert pumpkin dicer).  The only modification I made was to use ready made stock over the cubes suggested in the recipe.

I could look at the fruits of someone else's knife for ever and ever...

This recipe required the vegetables to be fried gently before being placed in the slow cooker.  I did this in two batches, around 7 minutes each.

Which gave me a bit of time to catch up on this month's AWW complete with a pattern for George's vest.  I'm going to ask Toddler SSG's Graunty very nicely if she wouldn't mind using the pattern on page 195 for her next batch of vest knitting.

The Belle Gibson interview that's hit the front page of many Australian media outlets is in this month's issue too and I'll be reading it with interest.  I understand Belle was not paid for her interview confessing to her 'life-long struggle with the truth' (best euphemism as interview title ever).  There are quite a few pictures in the feature showing Belle looking aggrieved and close to tears but I'm not sure how this will help those who believed in her story about her whole foods cure (for a cancer she never had) and possibly tried to cure themselves in a similar fashion.

From what I've skimmed of the interview, Belle herself doesn't quite seem to know how her 'diagnosis' came to be made or why the lies kept getting more and more elaborate.  She comes across as being very troubled.  It's a sad statement of our society's obsession with clean living beautiful people that we so readily believe all that they say without bothering to research and substantiate their claims.

But back to the soup.

It simmered away in the slow cooker for 6 hours, got pulverised with my stick blender and then thickened with some cooking cream.  A whole 300ml tub to be precise.

And here is the best pumpkin soup I've ever made in my slow cooker.  The pre frying really made a difference to the intensity of the the vegetable flavours.  I prefer the taste to using roasted vegetables. It possibly didn't need the cream for flavour but being nearly winter and all, soups need to be hearty, don't they?

Eating lunch whilst trying to unravel the Belle Gibson scandal...

The pumpkin soup was my contribution to lunch today.  Which as you can see was all about heartiness.  Eggs with soya sauce and ketchup (it's a Chinese thing.... don't knock it until you've tried it....) and a chicken and vegetable stir fry that's popular as a street food in Malaysia plus toast.  It was a pretty intense session at the gym this morning, what can I say?


Related Posts with Thumbnails