Jun 28, 2016

Unexpected Joy and Beauty. It's Tax Time.

There are those days of winter that are just made for

Necklaces - Red Phoenix Emporium, skirt - Banana Republic, leather jacket - heavily discounted Burberry (the best kind!!) from the sometime during the pre mummy years of my life.

refusing to wear fancy-ish work clothes

and stepping out in your best all weather gear instead.

Today was one of those days.  I sat out the early hours of the morning at home doing exciting things  like the receipts for my tax return.  Don't get too excited, people, the ATO isn't coming to the party as much I would've liked with regards to handbags being tax deductible as a work related expense.  My accountant was every bit as inflexible as the article I linked to so I guess it's back to the drawing board for the next financial year.  But still, at least I know what I need to be shopping for.

By mid morning, the chill had been completely driven from the air by sweet, glorious winter sun.

Preschooler SSG and the rest of his class had an excursion to the local beach and I was lucky enough to be able to join them.

The aim of the morning was to clean up the beach.  The activity had been organised by the class teachers as an extension on what the preschool group have been learning about in class with regards to recycling and respecting the environment.

The beach was actually pristine but together we managed to find bits of plastic to put in our rubbish bag.  It was one of those beautiful mornings of unexpected joy and beauty that I would otherwise never have experienced if the beach excursion hadn't been planned.

It was more errands after the beach and I was sad to discover that my local Hot Dollar discount store is closing down.

More than one ornament at my place came from the shelves of Hot Dollar...

I don't know where I'll get my fix of whimsy and kitsch  now that it will be gone.

A typically eclectic shelf at Hot Dollar.

The colour and randomness of its stock always makes me smile.  Even if I don't go in, it's nice to have something a little unexpected to look at as I attempt to guide the wonky trolley I always get from the supermarket down to the carpark.  You will be missed, Hot Dollar but thanks for the half priced screw top glass jars I scored today.

How's things going with your tax return?

Did you find unexpected joy and beauty somewhere in your travels today?

Jun 26, 2016

Lovin' Life 26/6/2016: All the Fun of the Weekend.

Well hello, Lovin' Life linky readers.

It's been a while since I last wrote for Leanne's link.  I've been away, I've been working weekends, it's all been a bit crazy.  But I'm here today, better late than never.  It's been a lovely weekend.  Busy but full of fun and good things like this Margaret River Chocolate Company sea salt caramel chocolate mum brought over to me from Perth last month.

Basically, I'm lovin' that my weekends are both relaxing yet busy these days.  There's never a dull moment and while some things are routine each weekend, there's a whole lot of variability in between the set in stone things - and that's where the fun begins.  Like how I wanted to make sweet potato toast this morning....

It all began yesterday while I was feeling nutritionally enlightened and superior as I zoodled a couple of zucchinis for last night's spag bol (or should that be zag bol).

Given how easy it's been to make zoodles, how about I try the latest vegetable makeover that's been breaking the internet?  Sweet potato toast?  Not the kind using bread made out of zucchini  but the kind where raw slices of sweet potato are popped  into the toaster as you would a couple of slices of bread?

All of which explains these decidedly unglamorous keeping it real photographs of my attempt at making it for breakfast this morning.  The cause of creating gluten free toast wasn't helped by the fact that I was both hangry and almost frozen on account of the cold snap that's hit Sydney (the one that I've been complaining about since Friday).

It looked so simple.  All I had to do was slice my raw sweet potato into thinnish, even slices and pop them into my toaster.  I was planning to top my sweet potato toast with peanut butter, banana and cinnamon so I had everything laid out in anticipation of the rounds of perfectly toasted sweet potato slices I'd be creating with nothing but my toaster.

Well.  Sweet potato toast hasn't only nearly broken the internet, in nearly broke my toaster.  I wasn't counting on one of my slices wedging itself into the gap between the bread holding wires and the heating elements and it wasn't long before I could see smoke and embers in my toaster.  A  bit of furious prodding (with toaster unplugged) saw three of my slices salvaged from the toaster.  The problematic fourth slice got wedged into a non heating crevice of the toaster and I'm hoping it will dry out and crumble out in coming days as only real bread gets toasted.

Twitter has since told me that baking sweet potato slices in the oven is a more reliable way of making the toast but in the heat of the hangry moment, I reached for my English muffins and embraced their gluten rich, highly refined carbiness.

Fortunately, the sweet potato toast debacle has been the only drama of the weekend.  A sense of calm has been restored in the manor kitchen with this new wall clock from Target.  The good news is that I got it for the bargain price of $10 (down from $20).  The not so good news?  Looking at how bare the homewares corner of my local Target was.  There's been a major restructure in Target Australia's management recently and it looks like stores are already clearing the decks in anticipation of the new more profit driven direction Guy Russo intends to take the chain.

I hope Designers for Target stays.  Ditto their always reliable range of licenced childrens wear and their nicely priced ladies knits.

As an aside, here's what else you can buy for a tenner these days.  A measly ten postage stamps for the domestic mailing of standard letters.  It's going to take me a very long time to simmer off the anger at the price hike.  By which time I reckon the rate will be up to around $1.50 per letter and then they're likely to be only delivered once a week...  We need to keep snail mail going, Australia Post.  Letters are like books.  Part of modern civilisation that we cannot forget or allow to become obsolete.  Just my two cents (not the greatest metaphor seeing as one cent coins have been phased out in Australia).

It's the unspoken rule of shopping at Target that you always reach the checkout with at least 400% more stuff than what you initially thought you needed.  Preschooler SSG scored a Thomas throw rug to make book time on the sofa more cozy.

As well as these, the official trackpants of 'Finding Dory' Pixar's latest blockbuster that is the sequel to Finding Nemo.  Dory is everywhere right now.  Our swimming school is doing a Dory promotion, Boost juice is featuring Dory and friends on their current range of sippy cups and here at SSG Manor 2.0, we've been making Dory and Nemo themed jelly cups.

We went to see 'Finding Dory' today with Preschooler SSG going in theme with those track pants and colour co-ordinated trainers.

It was our first trip to the cinema and it went rather well.  So well that Preschooler SSG managed to get a decent nap in the final third of the film.  Fortunately, I stayed awake for the full half and hour of ads and trailers (I actually enjoyed the wrap up of all the amazing new animation films coming out over the next few months, not to mention the clever car ads) as well as the film itself.

I loved it!  The animation was a pleasure to watch.  It was so lifelike yet filled with gentle humour.  It goes without saying that the cast were pitch perfect and in case you were curious as to who the actors are, I found this article listing the main characters' voices.

Have you seen 'Finding Dory'?  Any other animation films out at the moment I should know about?

Jun 24, 2016

Brexit. Thermals. Everything But July 2.

Brexit it is, then.

It's a result that has shocked the world.  The British citizens and residents in my network of friends are questioning the motives behind the 'leave' vote that the majority of their countrymen have cast, Prime Minister Cameron has resigned, the markets are in free fall and oh yes, it's just over a week until our own Federal election.

July 2 is beginning to feel like a bit of an afterthought to what's going on both around the world and in the non political spheres of Australian life.


It's State of Origin season and I don't think that last game on June 22 went well for NSW.  I understand that there's to be a third game sometime soon but it could be a bit painful for the team that's lost two already.  Which I think is NSW's dubious honour.

Said like a true Perthie.
via Facebook

Hope I read the situation correctly, Origin followers amongst you.


It's less than a week until season 6 of Offspring premieres.  And I still haven't gotten TV reception sorted out at the newish house.

But back to Britain.

I wonder what it will be like when (and not if) I visit next.

London is my favourite European city.

I love its pace, its people who've come from all over the world, its history and the diversity of its present.

What will the post Euro zone future hold for the people of Britain, I wonder?

Will the inevitable transitions in every aspect of life there bring them together or drive them apart?  Do they have a cohesive plan for what they're going to do now that they've left?  Is there a destination everyone can agree on?  Or was it change for change's sake?

Meanwhile, in Sydney, where some of us aren't as politically engaged as we should be this close to the election or as on top of the receipts as we should be this close to the end of financial year 2015/2016, it managed to suddenly get very cold in the city.  It never fails to catch me by surprise every year and I never fail to go all dying swan over the chill and the fact that it's already snowing in some parts of the state.

Today's dramatic moment involved me wearing a pashmina around my neck all day in the office.

The scarf (and snack) thing took me back to my student days at the freezing uni library.  I was actually all set up for a webinar I had signed up for.  It's one of the laws of the universe, doing continuous professional development stuff.  Learning and studying actually becomes fun when you don't have to do it every day for a degree or exams.  It employs a different set of skills to the ones you use at the coal face and sometimes it's nice to take a break from work and study for it instead.

Living the Kathmandu life... something I never thought I'd see myself do.

And then the weather decided to add icy winds to the cold.  Which is how I found myself on the Kathmandu site this evening.  In search of proper thermals to replace the ageing set I was wearing under my flannel pyjamas.  As luck would have it, I managed to score some sale bargains.


These ultraCore thermal tops and leggings are usually $70 per item but are currently on sale  - $60 for two!!


They're made of a polyester blend that's meant to feel like cotton, according to the product information online.  The reviews are great and while I'm only planning to wear them in Sydney (but who knows, perhaps I'll need them for day trips in London sometime soon) under pyjamas, it's good to know they'll work under jeans and track pants too.  Hopefully they'll arrive soon, this cold snap looks like it's set to stay for a bit.

It's getting late, I'd best be off, then.

How do you feel about Brexit?

Are you in your thermals yet?

Jun 23, 2016

A Gowings Girls Night Out.

You could dress the intersection of Park and George in a hessian sack and it would still be the belle of the ball.

I was in town last night for a much needed girls night out and manage to catch these photos of a clear dusk sky as it silhouetted the QVB and Town Hall.

I had some time to spare before dinner so I stopped off at Myer to get a bit of gift card power shopping done.

Myer's twitter account got back to me pretty promptly to confirm that only Myer specific gift cards can be redeemed online whilst the generic cards are accepted in store.

Mission accomplished!  I got my shower gels (aka hand and body washes, as per the rebranding), some lovely samples and the name of my next Malone fragrance.  Incense and Cedrat, you are going to be the Middle Eastern inspired scent of my fragrance wardrobe.

There were lots of pretty things in Myer's Malone concession.

And I discovered a unique way of sampling bath products.


My lovely sales assistant pumped a little shower gel into a bespoke Malone paper cup, added some water and frothed it all up with one of those hand held milk frothing whisks.  I wonder why this hasn't taken off more widely across fragrance counters?

The girls and I were scheduled to meet at the QT Hotel.  What better place for a chat about clothes and shopping than on a hot pink chaise lounge nestled on feathery cushions behind a couple of mannequins dressed in double denim?

I've not stayed at the QT but my walk through it made me start thinking of ways that I might possibly swing an overnight stay in a hotel that's only 15 minutes away from home.  It's all so quirky and humorous.  From the lifts that talk to you to the bathroom mirrors held in position by a pair of hands to the art installations that line the corridors between rooms.

The three of us had such a lovely evening.  Out on our own on a school night with the children in the safe and loving cafe of responsible adults other than ourselves.  We got a bit dressed up and we drank some lovely bubbles for which we have our sommelier for the night to thank.


It was far too dark inside Gowings Bar and Grill to take a photo of the bottle.  Readers, if you love champagne but find the popular ones a little sharp flavour wise, give Louis Bouillot's Blanc de Blancs a try.  It's got a wonderfully mellow flavour and interestingly comes from the Burgundy wine making region, south of Paris in contrast to the traditional champagne making regions that are north.

There was downloading, debriefing and uploading to Instagram.  Yes, even the bread and butter made it to my feed...

Chef was not pandering to any of that ordering off the menu business so while I tried hard to be good by asking for a baked potato or greens with my rib eye ($48),

Chef would only give me the house sweet potato fries.  They were thick cut and they were sweet potato so I see where he's coming from in declaring that they're healthier than french fries...

I'll confess here that I've always been a bit hesitant about hotel restaurants in terms of both ambience and the wow factor with regards to the food.  I'm glad to say that Gowings was  a very pleasant surprise.  The decor is as quirky as the hotel yet it was also a very comfortable place in which to eat.  There was enough chatter and laughter from the adjoining bar and the noise never threatened to drown out the lively conversation of our table.  We also didn't have to shout to make ourselves heard nor whisper because tables were set too close.  The staff were all very friendly, helpful and attentive.

With regard to my meal, the steak was perfect but the surprise performers were the desserts.  Of course we ordered a couple of desserts among the three of us and of course we shared.  Staff were very flexible about this and set the desserts at the centre of our table with individual plates and cutlery for each of us without our having to request this.

The beignets ($16 for 4), dare I say it, were better than those I had at Cafe du Monde.  Gowings serve theirs with a Valrhona dark chocolate sauce.

Oh New Orleans, you've followed me back home!
Spooky, isn't it.  How I managed to eat interpretations of the same foods in two different countries... Well, interesting at the very least.

Gowings' Classic Profiteroles ($16 for three) were filled with vanilla ice cream and  creme patissiere.

The profiteroles were as light as clouds which made them the perfect foil the richness of their accompaniments.

Gowings, I'll be back.  I love your food and your beverages and I love your service.  I also love how easy it is to do a little pre dinner stealth shopping on en route to my booking.

The equal and opposite reaction to my Gowings Girls Night Out looks a little something like this...

Cookie and Kate's soba noodle salad for lunch

Psyllium with my Weetbix or baked oats for breakfast, I even scored a whole Woolies dollar with my  latest bag.

Persisting with my crack of dawn trips to the gym.  It's the only time of the day I'm guaranteed to have to myself and once I do get there and start moving, I do feel more human.  My Aeropostale leggings have been a powerful motivator.  So much more fun to wear than plain old black leggings.

I'm determined to try all the desserts at Gowings.  Have you been?  What's been your favourite so far?

Wishing you a mid week girls (or boys) night out in your immediate future.

They are so good for the soul.


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