Oct 31, 2016

Life This Week 31/10/2016: November Goals. Goodful.

It's Halloween today, Melbourne Cup tomorrow and I don't have a thing planned for either.  It's Party Central around here.

To me, these last few weeks before December starts are weeks I like to spend getting ready for Christmas, Preschooler SSG's birthday and New Years.  November is all about the slow build up to all of the above - planning, shopping and counting down.  It's also about enjoying my relatively unscheduled weekend before the fully booked ones of December arrive.

This last weekend was a case in point.  I spent it doing routine things around the house, ferrying Preschooler SSG here and here and catching up with friends and family.  Despite being busy, it was relaxing having plenty of time to fit it all while still having time to stop to smell the coffee and gaze at the cakes.

There was even time to sharpen my entire, well loved collection of Sephora eye pencils.  Did you know refrigerating them for a few hours makes them easier to sharpen into precise points?  B.F.(Before Fridge),  I had the worst problem with the pencils slipping around in my sharpener and not catching effectively on the blade.  I'm pretty sure freezing them would work even more quickly but am not sure if that would do anything that would permanently alter the composition and texture of the pencils on your eyelids.

SSG Manor 2.0 is also starting to reap the benefits of being a TV free household.  Toys are being played with, real conversations are being held, shouty voices are being used less often and brains are not as tired from having to engage in complex negotiation type mind games for hours on end.  I'm not sure when I'll ever 'find' the television cable again.

When one screen switches off, another one switches on.  Preschooler SSG and I have a surprise favourite youTube channel we both love to watch - Goodful.  From what I can gather, Goodful is the food and lifestyle arm of Buzzfeed and their videos are very addictive to watch.  Chirpy guitar music, easy to read and concise captions and bright videography - we're both hooked on Goodful's cheerful ability to solve almost any household problem.  Together we've learned how to make simple salmon dinners, how to declutter cupboards and thanks to our most loved instructional video - how to make our groceries last longer.

I'd say a good 100 of the total hits this video has received would have been attributable to us.

Have you done away with the television at your place?

Do you have a favourite kind of YouTube video?

Oct 29, 2016

The Last Week of October.

Can you feel it in the air?  Our being this close to the end of the year, I mean.  This is the last weekend of October which means it will be then November with her gentle ways of reminding you that summer and then Christmas aren't far and then.... December.

How's your week of October been?  Good, I hope.  This is how mine went down.

Preschooler SSG scored a free scoop of chocolate fudge brownie Ben & Jerry's at Woolworth's yesterday afternoon.  They were conveniently located at the front of the store, right next to the fruit and vegetable section.  A bit of juxtaposition there but it did ensure that the shopping got done in a timely manner and nothing got missed from my list.  

via twitter

Except my tub of lightly sweetened Chobani in the light green tub.  It's so popular that your chances of scoring a tub are zero if you happen to be trying after around 4pm most afternoons.  It's perfect over baked oats in the morning, it's  not too sweet and while it tastes creamy, it's not as decadent as some of the other dessert yoghurts further down the aisle in the yoghurt fridge.  I'm going to try again tomorrow morning, wish me luck!

This week has also brought me (and by extension, you) a New and Visionary concealer.  This constant discovery of the New, Visionary and Life Changing at Mecca Cosmetica is getting out of control.  There's a store five minutes away from me and it's so hard not to pop down after lunch to have a look around.  It's never very busy, the staff are always terribly helpful (and flattering)... it's dangerous.

Anyway.  The details.  Eve Lom's skin care range is something I've read and heard about but never used for myself.  I didn't realise that she's also developed a range of makeup.  This Light Illusion Concealer ($47) was suggested to me a few weeks back when I bought that Hourglass primer and tinted moisturiser.  


Here's a rundown on how I'm liking it so far:

First impressions:
  • very smart matte gold packaging, sturdy cap and push button at base
  • brush tip is dense and firm
  • texture wise, the concealer is liquid to cream, slightly thicker than the MAC Mineralize concealer I currently use ($38), no fragrance and come to think of it no SPF?
  • blends in easily but a little goes a long way, I found I got the best results dotting the concealer on the side of my hand and then applying using the brush before blending out with a concealer brush.
MAC Mineralize concealer, $38 in Oz

  • it's blatantly obvious that you're not wearing it should you look in your rearview mirror first thing in the morning as you reverse out to get fasting bloods done on your day off ie it works and I'm still recovering from that bare faced moment of reality...
  • I like the soft finish it gives while it minimizes dark under eye circles
  • no creasing around under eye area
  • great colour match for me (there are around 6 shades from the look of the Mecca C site)
  • wears for a good 10 hours on me
  • didn't feel or look cakey despite its texture.
  • is a bit thick and takes some getting used to if you're more familiar with thinner consistency concealers for under the eye
  • the brush tip would be great for other parts of the face but I found it difficult to work with under the eyes, this could just be me and my impatient hands when it comes to concealer - I need it applied and I need it looking okay instantly
  • will see how long a tube lasts to see if $47 is a ridiculous amount to keep spending on concealer but I figure better to buy one thing that works than to spend the same on three items that aren't quite right and lie around going to waste.

Plus, drum roll... buying from Mecca Cosmetica contributes to points for their Beauty Loop programme which translates to gift boxes four times a year.  The contents vary depending on your level of spending.  This is the current Level 1box.  I'm very excited about the Too Faced Shadow Insurance sample.  I've heard good things about this classic.

Finally caught up with the Duchess' Vogue UK feature.  I might want her dark denim dungarees.  It wasn't as 'fashion' as I thought it might be.  The feature, I mean.  But an interesting read all the same.  Wish there were more photographs... or even a little side bar of favoured skin products and 'repliKate' items of clothing.  But that would possibly have been a bit too tabloid, I guess.  Told you I'm a bit of a celebrity fashion and lifestyle tragic...

Cheesy pasta ingredients.... taking it a bit literally.

Over in the SSG Manor kitchen, we have been making cheesy pasta from scratch using this recipe.  I love the Student Recipe wesbite.  So many easy and budget friendly food ideas.

All I did was boil the pasta, drain it and return it to the saucepan.  I added butter, my two kinds of cheese and a bit of water to loosen things up.  The chopsticks are a Chinese person thing, I use them to cook quite a few things..... 

The pasta was a Preschooler hit.  Tastes just like the packet but better - less salt, less colouring, more cheesy flavour.  Plus it's cooked in one pan and you can sneak vegetables into it.

Got to run!  Have a good weekend.

Oct 27, 2016

Lovin' Life 27/10/2016: Same But Different.

It's been an off the beaten track kind of week.  Last minute routine changes, alternate routes to familiar destinations - that kind of thing.  The good thing about all this change has been the chance to explore my world using a different mode of transport and also to observe its dynamics at a different time of day.

I took the train in to work yesterday and scored a free walk up King Street in the process.  King is ever more eclectic than ever before if that is at all possible.  There's even more quirky eateries and quite a few fancy boutiques now dot the retail landscape.  I wonder if this means  gentrification is officially a thing in Newtown?


Cuckoo Callay is a pretty cafe that greets you as you leave Newtown train station.  

Its blackboard is typically Newtown with its dry, caffeine related humour.

While its takeaway coffee cups are typical pieces of Newtown art.


There were so many tempting eateries and stores I could have taken photos of (The Academy Brand is on King Street!!  But sadly, none of the new boys range is) but it was this street library that most deserved a photo.

If you've a little (or grown up) boy in your life, The Academy Brand is one to consider for their wardrobes.  The boys label isn't online yet but is stocked at David Jones.  I like the way they've worked the button down, collared shirt and tailored shorts combo into men's casual wear and given it all a bit of an edge.

Thursdays are usually that day off during the week that's so close to the weekend, I sometimes treat it like a Saturday.  I get in a bit of exercise, potter around the house doing chores and then get stuck into breakfast and a coffee.  Except I had to get a routine fasting blood test today and the blood collection place didn't open until the extremely late (for my stomach) time of 7.30am (!).  The outrage.  It was all the excuse I needed to check out the new Salt Meats Cheese and Harris Farm arrangement that's next to Coles at Westfield Bondi Junction.

The good thing about being there on a Thursday morning around 8 is that everything was immaculately displayed and there wasn't a single customer other than myself.

All the colour and all the abundance!

I specially like how the melon comes with either a thoughtful wedge of lime or a passionfruit half.

There's a whole area next to the bakery that has a definite Whole Foods market kind of vibe.

There's a bank of special loaf slicers at the Bread & Butter Project outlet.

They look a bit complicated to this pre sliced loaf off the shelf at Woolies kind of girl...

How's your week been?  Same old same old or same old but different?

Oct 26, 2016

Don't Give Up Your Day Job....

It's a well known fact that this blog loves a bit of celebrity gloss, goss and sparkle.  I've referenced outfits, reviewed memoirs, shared a bit of Carpool Karaoke (stop the press... Lady Gaga is carpooling this week!!) and even gotten a bit misty eyed about celeb relationships from back in the good old days...

What I try to avoid doing, though, is to write about celebrities (or anyone else for that matter) as if I know them well enough to judge their apparent actions (photos and news articles are often not the whole truth) or presume to know what they're thinking.  Which is going to make writing today's post a bit of a challenge because the opinion piece I'd like to discuss begins by referencing a recently separated celebrity couple but then goes on to intelligently discuss how the situation and its consequences may apply to other women, celebrity or otherwise.

Here goes.

Angela Mollard recently wrote this opinion piece entitled 'This Is Why Women Should Never Give Up Their Jobs'.  The context was how the wife of the relationship had taken to social media to express her feelings about how she had sacrificed so much and worked tirelessly behind the scenes so that her estranged husband  could both work hard and enjoy the ratings success of his television program.  The wife concluded that she would have to congratulate herself because her efforts have gone largely unrecognized by the network and her husband's agent.

Mollard went on to develop her argument about why women should do everything in their power to keep a toe hold on their profession even through those early and challenging early years of raising the children.  She acknowledges the challenges that face women trying to do this but she also goes on to outline some of the many positives of having a paid job outside of the family.  Work can be a source of self esteem, an identity beyond being someone's mother or wife, it is a source of financial security and it can also be a life line when things get tough.

And now I'll get onto this soap box of mine.  I'm very much with Angela Mollard on the issue of the importance of being a working mother.  Not just for financial reasons but also for the less tangible effects it has on emotional well being, self esteem and quality of life.

It wasn't a complete surprise that gender equality in the workplace would only become 'my issue' when I became pregnant, went on maternity leave and then returned to work.  Up until then, I'd been coasting along on a path cleared, created and fought for me by generations of feminists and suffragettes.  I'd completed school, voted, gotten a drivers licence, gone to uni, got given a job, gotten bank accounts and loans.  The list goes on and on.  I, and the world around me, never questioned my autonomy or independence.

Taking time out from the work force complicates things a little.  Not so much the autonomy side of things but there was this niggling fear about money and how what I'd saved could only stretch so far whilst I was on leave. I was also a bit nervous about whether my time off would leave me deskilled and a bit rusty on my return.

I went back to work when Preschooler SSG was around 9 months old.  I wasn't as rusty as I thought I would be, it felt like I'd returned from a long holiday (!!) and after a few weeks, it was as if I'd never actually disappeared for almost a year.  I actually enjoyed learning to balance the worlds of work and parenting and found myself more present at each when I had no choice but to juggle them both.

But is it right or fair to presume this should be the path all women take after they become mothers?  It's easy for me to agree with Mollard's piece because she articulates what I feel about my career.  I don't have a good answer for this but I have read the concerning statistics.  The rise of  homelessness in older women who don't fit the stereotype of women feeling domestic violence or dealing with addiction but find themselves suddenly homeless after a string of unfortunate financial insults.  The fact that one in three Australian women reach retirement age with no superannuation.  And then there's the anecdotal stories of friends and acquaintances whose lives are suddenly turned upside down in middle age with seemingly no way for them to dig themselves out of a bad financial situation because they are unable to re enter the work force after decades of absence.

Did you read Angela Mollard's article?  Could you relate to her arguments?

Oct 24, 2016

Life This Week: Two Months 'Til Christmas Eve.

Hello, happy Monday and welcome to everyone who's following along with Denyse's Life This Week blogging series.  Today's theme is all about Christmas and how it's only two months 'til Christmas Eve.

I never used to get too caught up with Christmas preparations until December.  Invitations for parties would often come through in November, I'd put them into my diary and then my phone (the latter when they started to become such indispensable parts of our lives that for many they're like a third hand and second brain).  Early December would then see me workshop outfits for said events, pop a few Christmas treats in my trolley with each grocery shop and try to work up some motivation to write Christmas cards (with embarrassingly little success).  

Things would pick up the weekend before Christmas, though. Along with everyone else within the local council area, I'd be car park raging along with the best of them as I began my annual assault on Westfield for presents and decorations.

Christmas this year is going to and already has shaped up to be much more organized than usual for me.  While I haven't gotten the decorations out yet, I have begun scouting missions to places like Kmart and Target who have really upped their game in recent years.

With Preschooler SSG being that much older and also understanding a lot more about celebration I'm hoping to have a few Christmas decorations dotted around the house in the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  An actual Christmas tree, perhaps!  I have idle daydreams of Sunday afternoons happily spent crafting festive decorations together...  Perhaps they may stay idle for a little while longer but a girl can dream.

This weekend saw me walk out of Kmart with these two T shirts for Preschooler SSG's Festival of Christmas wardrobe. The festival has the following booked, confirmed and paid for so far:

  • Santa photos at the QVB - a first for us, wish me luck
  • the Wiggles Christmas arena style concert - we had so much fun last year, I'm really looking forward to going again
  • a visit to the Sydney Santa Spectacular which will involve fresh from a machine snow, cookie decorating and a whole host of rides
There just aren't enough weekends in December, are there?  Somewhere in amongst all of this will be work functions, preschool celebrations, Preschooler SSG's birthday and hopefully a carols session in our local area.  I'm not brave enough to go to the Domain yet.

On the to do list, alongside gifts and menu planning:

I need to order this year's Wedgwood Christmas bauble for our collection that dates back to Preschooler SSG's birth year of 2012.


And Advent calendars need to be decided on.  Our calendars were such a success last year my challenge this year will be to choose something a bit different but just as good for this year.  I have my eye on one of The Body Shop's calendars for myself.  They aren't in stock in Australia just yet but I like that there are two versions and both sound like they've got a decent proportion of TBS minis compared to 'filler' items in them.

Or should I go all out this year and get Jo Malone's?

How are you feeling about Christmas two months out?

Oct 23, 2016

Lovin' Life 23/10/2016: A Highlights Reel.

This week's Lovin' Life highlights reel looks a little something like this:

The days have mostly been warm and sunny but the mornings have been a bit crisp.  It's the kind of weather that has called for a denim jacket to be casually slipped on as I head out the door to work.  I love that casual summer vibe denim jackets give  not to mention how comfortable this old favourite from Zara is as well.  This is as edgy as it gets with my work wardrobe.

I'm moving up in the world of dumb bells for my 'home gym' (aka the rectangle of floor in front of the television that my yoga mat occupies).  Somehow 5 kg at home feels as heavy as 7 kg at the gym...

I'm trying my hardest to take a positive spin on the gloomy weather in Sydney this weekend.  Firstly, at least we're not having the extreme weather Melbourne is enduring right now and secondly, cold weekend mornings are the perfect excuse to go exploring for new cafes.  Our local Westfield is so massive, just walking the couple of blocks to another entrance will see you find a new cafe and completely different streetscape to look out on as you sip.

I'm especially happy about these little finds.  I've previously seen quite a few Simmone Logue baked goods (quiches and pies) on sale at supermarkets but when I saw these pork dumplings and pork belly buns at Woolworths yesterday, I just had to buy both.  From memory, they were around $15 per packet.

Pricy but well worth the price.  The buns were especially loved by my friend and I as we nibbled at them with a glass of Moet to belatedly celebrate Global Champagne Day yesterday.  All you need to do is steam them for 8 minutes and serve.  The hoisin sauce included in each bun is just right and the only addition we made was to serve with some cucumber sticks for extra crunch.  There was a lovely thick slice of pork belly in each soft bun, no scrimping on quality just because it's ready made here.  Well worth considering if you're catering a party this summer.

The dumplings were also well received.  More meaty than your average yum cha offering.  They weren't dry and didn't fall apart in the steamer.  You might need to serve them with a bit of chilli sauce.  The children really enjoyed these.

And that's about it from me, this week.  It's been a busy one with a lot of ground covered.  Here's to next week being just as good!

Oct 21, 2016

Friday Drinks #2: VBxTarget, COAR and Other Things.

I call these posts 'Friday Drinks' because they're a fun way to end the week.  No considered discussions, no cohesive themes and no intelligent analysis of the big issues.  Just a Daily Tele style take on the various things that have happened in my bubble of the world this week.

Reading the Daily Tele (the Sydney Confidential pages to be precise) - a guilty pleasure I can't give up as I waited for a coffee on Thursday.

To be fair though, even the most respected journalists are going a bit tabloid about the big issues of our world right now - Mr Trump for starters and the housing affordability crisis for breakfast, so long as it's not smashed avocado and toast if you're a millennial, mind you.  

Were you a bit disappointed to have not already heard news of next year's Target Australia designer collaboration?  To be honest, I'm not holding my breath given the restructure that's taken place with management and the direction they want to take with regards to stock, sales volumes and target demographics.

Anyway.  This news just broke in the fashion media.  Victoria Beckham and Target.  Shut.  The.  Front.  Door.

I'm a bit of a VB tragic.  Not so much the Posh Spice days but of her current life as a working mum and fashion luminary.


Victoria Beckham will be releasing a range with Target USA on April 9 2017.  Which isn't terribly convenient for me because firstly Target USA have apparently stopped taking international orders and I'm not due stateside until around May.  I am sure this was an oversight on Victoria's part.  I do have generous friends, though, and they have already volunteered to help a sister in her time of need.  Big up for the sisterhood!

Back to my reality and I'll be straight with you, fashion and visionary aren't two words that spring to mind.  Though, I did wear my necklace around my wrist at the play centre the other day.  None of the other mums were.  But then again, none of the other mums were naive enough to mix a statement necklace with the prospect of trying to squeeze into a child sized hidey hole or stair case.

I am getting old, though.  There was a time when the only thing I feared about play centre slides was that I'd get wedged in a turn because of my size.  Now I fear the slides because they all look too steep and fast and I worry for my bones should I land awkwardly.  Does anyone else feel the same?

Not shown - Preschooler SSG and the special Halloween pumpkins and skeleton decorations that also featured on the play gym.

The play gym at the centre  was 11/10.  It was three storeys high (they're usually only two) and featured palm trees, cabins and space ships on the stop storey.  The only problem was that it was virtually impossible to find your child once they climbed beyond the ground floor of activities.  Just as well I've got my ears finely tuned to the pitch of  Preschooler SSG's 'muuuuummmm call'.

Not bad for a play centre lunch is it?  This was my turkey and Camembert baguette.

I could talk to you next about how my friends and I will be belatedly observing Global Champagne Day this weekend or I could tell you about Cotton On's relatively new, premium fitness range for women called COAR (Cotton On Active Range).  Let's go with the latter because the former is going to be one of those 'you have to be there' kind of things.

Cotton On initially launched COAR for men but it got so popular there is now a women's range.  The points of difference to CO's regular active wear range are cut and the quality of the fabrics.  My recent order was noticeably more pricey than my usual ones where I often have to scrabble around to get the value of shopping cart up to the free postage threshold.

These are two of the tops I ordered and they are still available online with good size and colour availability.

The asymmetric performance T, $24.95.

The power mesh T, $34.95.

Initial thoughts:

  • Price wise, COAR is about twice the price of standard issue CO fitness gear.  But the price is still only around half of Lorna etc.
  • I do like the cut of the tank and Ts I own.  They fit better across the bust and and aound the arms, straps and sleeves are a more generous fit.
  • I like the designs - a bit of mesh, asymmetric hems.
  • Colour range makes it easy to mix and match things with shorts and tights I already own.
  • Discrete logos but they aren't embroidered or sewn on, they're the silvery sticky stuff that has been known to come off in the first wash for me.  Not that it's all or mostly all about the logo but it is annoying to have new top with shadowy bits from where trims have come off its fabric.
  • Fabrics are still quite thin though.  I'm not sure how they will stand up to repeated washing and whether things will fade or sag.  I did choose dark colours so it may not be as obvious if it does happen early.
  • Comfortable to work out in, my top didn't ride up my waist or fall off my shoulder this morning at the gym.  Next test situation will tomorrow when the weekend of sprint training begins again.

Don't forget to celebrate Global Champagne Day at some point this weekend.

Have a good weekend.


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