Aug 30, 2015


I've just looked at myself in the mirror and I could swear that I look just a little sun kissed.

Or perhaps it's my dayglo orange Air Pegasus 29s reflecting off the sheen on my face from working that medicine ball.

Have you also been looking positively radiant as you've put the washing out (and then taken it down bone dry in the afternoon) this weekend in your backyard somewhere under this glorious Sydney sunshine?

The sun has touched every aspect of my life this weekend and with it has come the promise of my favourite time of the year in this city - springsummer.  Month after month of just enough sun and just enough warmth with only a few days here and there of miserable rain or draining humidity.  You know, the necessary bad bits that bring you back to earth with a thud and make you feel gratitude.

Toddler SSG and I had our first picnic lunch of the season yesterday.  Fruit was used as weight for plastic bags that threatened to fly away down the new road in the new 'hood.

We staked our territory on the table at the little reserve up the road with all the paraphernalia and meal options peculiar to toddler life.

And I tried to blend in with the .... I'm struggling here to find a term that's both fit to print and coming from a place of genuine admiration ... okay got it: yummy mummies.  Everyone's so smilingly friendly and awfully polite here.  And they do it all with such lovely hair and sunglasses.  I'm actually going to cancel my InStyle and Who Weekly subscriptions because people watching at Woolies is proving to be even more interesting and soothing to my eyes.  But perhaps not those currently well behaved credit cards.

Those Sky Hi's got paired with my new Next black jeggings (the ones that got added to the basket subconsciously with the couple of pairs that I got for mum because she liked mine so much), a Cotton On chambray shirt that I found during those languid weeks I stayed at my brother's in Redfern a couple of years back (I still remember wearing the shirt over my bathers poolside at Prince Alfred Park Pool, the sun was glorious at the time too) and a Tiffany key I bought with the financial stimulus cheque Mr Rudd gave me many moons ago.  An outfit with so many happy memories attached is a special outfit indeed.

But before we move to the new 'hood there is the small issue of packing.

And decluttering.  A small mound of cardboard has had its foundations laid in the garage this weekend in preparation for the waste and recycling removalists.

The kitchen hasn't been spared in the count down to moving day.  I've been sweeping the fridge and pantry for things that need to be used up.

A head of cabbage went into the slow cooker for an adaptation of the many sausage and cabbage casserole recipes on the net.  I added a cup of chicken stock, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, some sea salt and three kransky sausages.  You could also add potatoes for added carbs.  I cooked on high for 3 hours, stirring at the 2 hour mark.  As odd as the recipe may look and sound, it cooks down to a wonderfully nourishing and hearty dish that's also low carb... it might even be sort of paleo on account of all the kransky in it?

A third of a cup from this bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce went into a batch of this slow cooker bolognese recipe.

No freezer is complete without serves of bolognese ready for a quick mid week microwave.

The recipe makes a smoky, slightly sweet sauce.  You can add chilli flakes if you like a bit of heat.  It's also a rich and dense sauce that clings to pasta with aplomb.  It's my new favourite bolognese recipe.

Time is marching on.  I've set myself a three packing carton per weekend day target.  I've got one more to do, the laundry to take in and afternoon tea to eat.  I'm thinking some comfort carbs like banana bread with heaps of butter.

Have a good one!

Aug 27, 2015

Colouring In Again. 'The Good Girl' by Mary Kubica.

It all started with the nappy pants.

Before we went away, I was in the spare room giving myself a pat on the back after lugging my two cartons for $50 bargain buy from Big W onto the nappy shelf to the left of the carton of wipe packets.  My jubilation was short lived.  One of my cartons was the wrong size and would have to go back from whence it came.

The exchange was made and not wanting to waste the trip, I took my trolley further into the store.

And discovered my new / second childhood hobby.  Colouring in for grown ups or as the subtitle of my book defines it, 'colouring for mindfulness'.  The 'Secret Paris' book cost $12 as did my top of the range 24 shade set of Crayola coloured pencils.

Much has been said of the adult colouring in craze.  It's not technically 'art therapy' (link to a very informative blog post that defines art therapy nicely) because for art to be therapy there needs to first be the context of a treatment orientated relationship between therapist and patient.  The art created in the setting of this relationship can then be used as part of diagnosis, to guide other treatment modalities and to also monitor the patient's progress.

I've surprised myself by just how much I've enjoyed colouring in again.  Selecting colours, paying attention to scenes and objects on paper rather than on a screen and looking rather than reading have proven to be a welcome break from my usual online and text driven forms of down time.

The thing is that the time I've been quietly spending with my pencils and colouring book has brought with it a genuine restfulness in my mind.  The kind of calm that doesn't require the positive reinforcement loops of uploads to social media accounts or the addition of numerous items to virtual shopping baskets.

It's been nice to simply look at the pretty things and scenes that I'm colouring in and enjoy them for what they are.  To not feel the need to buy or own them to 'relax' or 'cheer myself up'.  In a round about way, this colouring in business has been one step towards a long overdue declutter and redefining of what it is that makes me happy, content and less frazzled.  It's not more things that I need in order to 'reward' myself, but rather just more time doing simple, enjoyable things that allow my mind to wonder into a world of colour and whimsy that everyday life doesn't let you travel to as often as you may like.

Before I go, a quick book review.  This is a follow up to the book I mentioned that I was reading in Perth.  'The Good Girl' by Mary Kubica is a domestic noir thriller about Mia, an inner city art teacher who is the daughter of a prominent judge and Eve, a repressed socialite who harbours large amounts of guilt about the way she raised Mia.

Mia is abducted during what appears to be the aftermath of a one night stand gone horribly wrong.  The novel unfolds in chapters that switch between 'before' and 'after' the abduction.  The plot unfolds from the perspectives of Eve, Mia, Colin (Mia's abductor) and Gabe (chief inspector on the case).  Should we believe Mia's unlikeable father when he says that Mia 'is not all that she seems'?

As counterpoints to the suspenseful race against time to rescue Mia, two unlikely relationships develop.  Mia falls in love with Colin and their romance appears to be based on the the dynamics of the Stockholm syndrome.  In his role as investigator and principle representative of the police force to Mia's family, Gabe begins to cross professional boundaries with Eve.  He also steps into the life of Colin's mother and places her in a nursing home when it becomes clear she can no longer live at home alone without her now missing son's support due to the severity of her Parkinsons' Disease.

No one is as they seem or as they are expected to be in 'The Good Girl'.  I found the novel rapidly shifting narrative perspective difficult to fall into rhythm with in the first half of the book but my perseverance was well rewarded with the revelations of the final chapters.  Kubica's characters are complex and multi layered, just as their relationships to each other are.  If you love a good domestic noir page turner, this novel should be on your reading list.

Mary Kubica as just released 'Pretty Baby' as her most recent novel after the best selling success of 'The Good Girl'.  I'm off to download it right after I publish this post.

Aug 25, 2015

Down Time in My Home Town. The One Pot Chef's Chocolate Mud Cake.

The name of this store at Perth airport says it all.

Love ya, Perth.  It was only a four day weekend this time but, as always, I've returned to Sydney recharged, refocussed and reassured about practically everything going on in my world right now.  Down time in your home town with your family tends to do that to you.

The suspense must be killing you so I won't torture you any further.  The flights, I hear you ask, how did Toddler SSG (and I) survive the flights?  Much better, this time round, I'm delighted to say.

With his own seat on the plane and the chance to run to his heart's content in the lounge pre flight, Toddler SSG was a much calmer passenger than what he was 13 months ago.

I also stocked up on some flying favourites other mums had told me about.

Lollipops and Haribo Goldbears for the descent and Kinder Suprises (for the moments when $50 worth of Peppa and Wiggles downloads on your iPad have a snowball's chance of keeping your toddler in his seat) were part of my emergency pre flight shop at Coles before we left Sydney.

The Kids Fly Safe harness is so easy to install, I didn't even need to finish my morning cup of coffee as I read the instructions.

I also invested in a Kids Fly Safe safety harness which I purchases online from Little Gulliver.  The harness costs $109.95 AUD and takes the place of a car or booster seat that you'd otherwise have to lug onto the plane for your toddler's seat.  For convenience, ease of use and convenience in carrying it on board, I felt that $110 was a small price to pay.

All you need to do is slip the red strap over the back of the seat (wedge it under the person behind you's tray table) then loop the black straps over the existing straps on the seat.

It's all very easy to adjust, each part of the harness is well labelled and the instructions are sewn into the harness label.   Most airlines have endorsed the harness, you can check on the website for your carrier and I had no problems with the staff on both QANTAS flights we took this time round.  The only proviso is that you, as the person responsible for your child, are in charge of fitting the harness.  Attendants are unable to do so on your behalf.

Toddler SSG strapped in and wired for sound.

The Wiggles on QANTAS' in flight entertainment.  What more does a toddler need?
I also brought some books, blankie and this paint with water Thomas activity book which I found at Big W for $5.  Some favourite Matchbox cars and the toys from the Kinder Suprises rounded out Toddler SSG's legitimate in flight entertainment.  Running into business class during meal service doesn't quite count...

The weather was a bit bleak for our arrival but that didn't stop Toddler SSG from exploring mum and dad's new driveway.

I looked on from the recliner in the lounge room with a mug of tea and yet another domestic noir thriller that I'm planning to discuss in a future post.

There was the customary grocery run at the independent supermarket up the road that's been there since forever.

That's in the same shopping centre as the sandwich bar that's also been there since forever.

That still serves made from scratch baked goods and sandwiches without a drop of pesto or sun dried anything in sight.  Just the way you need things to be when you've come back home from across the country.

Saturday began with this spectacular sunrise on my foreshore run.

I found this pair of black swans on my second lap of the water.

A just opening cafe with the smell of coffee and baking pastry wafting out of the windows.  Just what you need on a morning run.

Which I did because I was waiting for the local cafe to open for the morning.

The suburb has a different energy early on Saturday mornings.  In place of the gliding sedans and rumbling surburban tractors 4 wheel drives, the streets glow softly with the red LED lights of cyclists' helmets and they whir with the precision chains and braking systems of expensive road racing bikes.  There's mutual respect between us the running or dog walking pedestrians and them the cyclists.  

The turning of the silver plate 'OPEN' sign brought me back from my dawndreaming as I faced the challenging task of trying to decide what I wanted for breakfast.

AFL on the front page.  Dorothy, you really are back home in Perth.

I was too early for the almond croissants, unfortunately, but I can't complain about my flaky plain croissant or my coffee which came with its own palmier.

Under the watchful eyes of the cafe's resident owls, I made my way home.

It wouldn't be a weekend in Perth without my baking along to a One Pot Chef recipe and this one is another keeper.

My bad - this video didn't quite make it into the post when it first went live so I've come back and added it in.  The post should make more sense now....

The recipe is incredibly easy but I like to write a list of the ingredients as I watch the video.

The springform tin lining was a bit rustic but it served its purpose well.

True to his name, the One Pot Chef's mud cake recipe only required that one pot to melt the chocolate and butter together and a mixing bowl and wooden spoon for everything else.

The top of my cake cracked a bit, I think the oven was too hot and the tin a little too small.  It didn't sink though.

I was cutting it fine for lunch at my Aunty's so I ended up having to freeze my cake to cool it down for the ganache frosting (also included in the video).

I carried on with the rustic them by decorating my cake with chunks of Cherry Ripe.

It was either the recipe or my freezing the cake after baking or both but I ended up with a seriously dense and moist chocolate mud cake.  The texture was also incredibly fine.  Despite the 2 cups of sugar in the cake, all you could taste was smooth, rich chocolate.  Both firsts for me in the world of mud cake baking.  The Cherry Ripe ended up being the perfect foil for the rich chocolate ganache which wasn't particularly sweet as I'd used 85% dark chocolate to make it.

The cake was such a success that I managed to get a friend of my Aunty's on to YouTube right after dessert so that she could watch the video.  She's planning on making the mud cake for her Melbourne Cup lunch.

After lunch and all that cake, there was not much else to do but kick back in the garden with a cup of tea.

Whilst Toddler SSG busied himself with his current favourite thing - laundry baskets on wheels and their accompanying buckets of pegs.

And before you know it, here I am, back in Sydney with a mountain of housework to get through as I continue my ongoing search for the nicest tasting supermarket sourced Teriyaki marinade.  It's going to be a busy few weeks for me as I get things organised for the move.  So I might be off the grid for a bit and only updating the blog infrequently.

Take care, stay well and I'll be back.


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