Feb 28, 2016

Lovin' Life: 28/2/2016.

It's Sunday.  And the living is definitely easy.  



With regard to this blog, Sundays mean only one thing right now - Leanne's Lovin' Life Linky.  Which has a pretty self explanatory title and is a joy to write about on Sundays like today.



We were at the park this morning with old friends from mothers' group.  That's the first love of today right there.  Sitting barefoot on the Astro turf enjoying the breeze and coolness in the shade as we chatted away while the boys played.



The bond they have is a joy to see in action.  They have a friendship that just picks up from where it left off the last time they met.  They currently love copying each other's actions, emotions and moves on the play equipment.


When you've had such a great time at lunch that it never crossed your mind to Instagram the details.  These are a range of flowers I found at Woolies as I did the shopping after lunch.


I had lunch with a close girl friend this week.  And we had one of those conversations that define a genuine and treasured friendship.  We talked about everything.  Things that needed to be gotten off chests, things that suddenly became easier to talk about owing to the healing power of time and whether the person at the table next of us really was who we thought it was...  It wasn't just the freedom to talk that made our lunch so special to me - it was also the ability for us to be both able to reflect on how life (ourselves included) had changed over the years that we've known each other.  The perspective we've gained, the maturity and the inner strength that comes from the hardcore 
workouts our personal trainer called life seems to have thrown at us as we've both approached and now hit the big four-oh.



I'm loving sneaky frozen pizzas for dinner on Saturday nights.


Especially when they've been given a little bit of TLC in the shape of basil from my herb garden, Golden Circle pineapple pieces in juice, tomato and a bit of leftover ham.



Summing up then, the focus of this week's love has been the big friendships in my life.  Our chats face to face and electronically have made me smile, think and consider.  All of which were much needed and appreciated.


Feb 27, 2016

Packed Lunches. Holiday Shopping.


The teabags in our work tea room.  Behold the precision packing of those catering quality tea bags....  It was amazing how many people, myself included, smiled in appreciation when they saw this.

I'm at that stage of my life when a slow news week isn't a bad thing.  It's been the kind of week where the daily routine has mostly gone to plan and nothing too unexpected has happened.  It's been the kind of week filled with just doing what has to be done with minimal fuss but maximal return.  I'm also one week closer to getting on that plane for Singapore with Toddler SSG on the cheapest ticket I could get with the guaranteed provision of inflight champagne.  We fly out Sunday week in fact and I have plans to haul the suitcase onto the bed in the spare room sometime later this weekend.




Gave the lawn a bit of a mow and attacked the hedge in a cathartic session with my trimmer this morning.  It is pretty crazy but gardening at around 6am in the summer is actually a lovely time to be doing it.  The sun's just up and there's a breeze to balance out the sweat you work up running around with the mower and then there's that clarifying morning air.  At least it was clarifying until I spritzed the WD40 on the blades of the lawnmower and trimmer.  Fortunately, the freshly cut lawn trimmings freshened the air up a bit afterwards.


My basic marinade borrowed from mum - tablespoon or so of soya sauce, good dash of pepper and some sesame oil.  For sweetness, I add a little honey towards the end of the baking time.  You avoid burned chicken skin from the honey burning as the meat roasts this way.

I'm completely invested in the new rotation of work lunches I was trialling earlier this month.  I'm trying to add a few less processed sources of protein to my salads and the quickest thing I've come up with so far is using cold roasted chicken.  I marinade single meal portions in zip lock bags (cutting out the middle man deep glass dish) and bake in my turbo broiler the night before.  Toddler SSG usually has one drumstick for his dinner and the left overs go into salads.


In fact, the cold soba noodle salad has worked so well, I even brought it with me to the shops today.  For a budget friendly twist to the original smoked salmon component, I added a can of flavoured tuna.  This worked really well as the flavour of the tuna rounded out the dressing and gave it a flavour I'm much happier with.  I'm not missing my usual Saturday white rice sushi as much as I thought I would.  Who ever would have thought!?!


Veggie Twister zoodle maker - $39.99 from King of Knives.


My personal clean eating lite evolution (I have a diet coke on my desk at the moment which is why it's a lite movement) has also seen me potentially embrace the zoodle.  I wasn't that keen on them the first time I tried them.




But then I discovered that you can use them in spag bol (simply put your hot meat sauce over the raw zoodles to warm them up) and in a peanut chicken stir fry.  I'll review my Veggie Twister in full after I use it but I selected it because it is so compact and the blades are concealed which makes it potentially safer in a toddler focussed kitchen.


My customary pre holiday pharmacy runs are definitely not as epic or exciting as they used to be.  New face masks, bath oils, hair treatments and make up bought in anticipation of peaceful hours on planes or in hotel rooms....  Dream on, Jump Street ( that's one for you fellow Veronica Mars and eighties Johnny Depp fans) would be the correct response to that relic of a past life as it pertains to Singapore, March 2016.


This is pretty much all the holiday shopping excitement I have for you today.  Pill boxes so I don't forget my vitamins each day and a stash of interdental brushes to keep my gums healthy.  Priorities.



Old habits die hard, though.  Look what Trilogy have just released!!!!!!  A solid make up cleansing balm that contains rosehip, mango and coconut.  Plus it's housed in a sturdy plastic jar.  Can you see how solid it is even in the heat of a Sydney summer's day?  It's definitely going on the trip instead of the glass jar of coconut oil.  Trilogy's balm has the RPP of $34.99 but Pharmacy Warehouse is currently selling it for $29.69.  Definitely more expensive than straight coconut oil but oh, the convenience.  It even comes with an organic cotton face washer.  Hoping I'll be able to review it live from Singapore.




Speaking of my jar of liquid coconut oil, I've currently got some in my hair.  I poured it out, in fact.  And it smells delicious!  Just like toasted coconut.  I wonder what it'll do to my hair if it smells this good!

Do you shop for anything in particular before going on holiday?

What's your favourite zoodle recipe?


Feb 25, 2016

A Sydney Suburban Summer.

Yes, summer in Sydney is pretty much a glorious string of months full of endless days of sun, the beach, the pool, festivals and lovely food.  But what about the in between days?  The ones where you're either at home or doing what it takes to make that summer fun possible?

As we're in the last week of summer (already!?!?), I thought I'd share my alternate memories of summer.  The ones that aren't as picture perfect as a shot of Icebergs down at Bondi Beach or of beverages alfresco at your local wine bar but they're ones that are just as much a part of a Sydney Summer In Suburbia.



I've hitched my wagon to the coconut oil craze that's  the beauty and clean living blogging worlds' miracle product of the moment.  Though these things move so quickly, they've quite possibly moved onto something else.

Anyway.  From a beauty perspective, coconut oil is meant to be brilliant for your hair, skin and removing make up (that last one is as per Beauticate  and their step by step illustrated guide on how to apply the oil to your face before washing it off).   Given its super star powers in all areas beauty, I thought I'd take some with me on the Singapore trip.  Except.  My jar's already turned to liquid in just the Sydney heat.  And that's a glass jar.  Might have to rethink this or try to work out a more travel friendly way of taking the oil with me.  I also have to test out the oil to see if it really does remove makeup.  I'll report back but will promise to spare you the artistic action shots of me washing my face....



Summer in suburbia is also about appreciating the architectural and engineering genius that is your average 40 to 50 year old multi storey car park.  They're all so cool and well ventilated even in the peak of the summer heat.  Sure it's often a bit tight trying to make the sharp turn to get up to the next level and yes, the car space lines are often a bit stingy but all of that is forgiven when you return to a lovely cool car after trekking out in the sun from work.


Another magical feature of the carparks around here are basement car washes.  Tony runs the one I go to and he always has a very flattering bit of banter for each and every one of his customers (and their toddlers).  His team also do a great job for a very nice price (for this side of the city).  He was especially busy today but managed to get us done in good time.  Plus the car got parked for me in a relatively 'easy' section of the parking area.  Love your work, Tony!


Summer also tends to make me a bit more adventurous when it comes to exploring the local area.  I found a lovely cafe in Randwick today that's a little labour of love for a lovely lady.  Entering the cafe was like going to your grandmother's kitchen.  Everything was spotless, functional and comfortable.  They also do a mean coffee.



The immaculate cake counter was full of things I would've snapped up for morning tea if I hadn't eaten such a big breakfast.  Plus there was a massive apple pie in the fridge to the left of this.




And of course, there's nothing like a stinking hot day to make you immediately think of winter pyjama shopping for your toddler.  But if I leave it too late, sizes run out.  Target were doing a $20 off promotion today for purchases of full priced clothing totalling more than $99 so Toddler SSG got his entire autumn / winter jammie wardrobe from their racks.  I like their leggings sets as the bottoms aren't too tight and the tops have a bit of give in them.  And you can't go wrong with a couple of sets of button down flannel, whatever your age.


Not technically a summer issue but I learned something about cheap / refurbished printer cartridges last night.  Besides the fact that they often don't work first go.




It turns out that YouTube (as always) is full of step by step videos that guide you through the button pushing necessary in tricking your printer into working with the fakes.  There are quite a few different techniques for my particular printer and I'm glad to say they all worked for me.

Are you a bit thrifty with your printer cartridges too?

Any alternate memories of summer that you've got to share as we slowly say goodbye to version 2015/2016?



Feb 23, 2016

Sickbed Eating.

It was definitely more of a Fanmaster as opposed to Stairmaster kind of morning at the gym today.  We're at the start of another heat wave, Sydney.  Our last one of the summer : somehow I think we're going to be going out with a bang in the Celsius stakes.



It was a struggle getting through it all this morning but it was a struggle I was glad to have.

Emergency neck splint for Toddler SSG's Deeno who suffered a few unstable vertebral fractures from being over hugged with toddler passion.


I was struck down by some kind of bug over the weekend.  During which all I really felt like eating was good old white sandwich loaf.



Many thanks to Anna of the Mutton Years for her genius reminder about fish finger sandwiches and bonus life hack for store bought humous (also in the same post).




Fish finger sarnies are a thing of beauty when you're feeling queasy.  Even when it's not hangover related.




My final near death bed white sandwich loaf meal was this.  Toasted, buttered and then topped with poached eggs.


Deeno after I fitted him with his very own Aspen collar.

All those refined, processed carbs must have done their trick because I woke up this morning feeling more human than I have in days.


The fruit display at my new post gym coffee place / juice bar.

There's nothing like recovering from a nausea heavy illness to make you fully appreciate that first cup of recovery coffee.



But I didn't take my good health for granted.  I stepped well away from the Nutella Love Bombs...


Sorry if this post it a bit heavy on the ordinary food photos but you have no idea how good it is to be enjoying my normal favourite foods.  This was my dinner.  In a nod to the heat, the tandoori chicken got drizzled in a kind of raita I made.  Don't forget a bit of sea salt as well as the lemon juice and mint when raita-ing up your Greek yogurt!

Do you have particular sick bed foods that seem to nurse you back to good health faster than chicken noodle soup?

Feb 21, 2016

Lovin' Life: 21/2/2016.

Leanne over at Deep Fried Fruit has just started hosting a weekly blog link up called 'Lovin' Life'.  The premise is simple.  All you need to do to join is to add a post you've written about what you're loving about your life right now and then read three other linked posts and comment on them.

Here are a few things I'm loving about my life:




The abundance of fresh lychees at the supermarket right now.  My bag from Woolies today were fresh, juicy and sweet.

I still remember the first time I ever tasted fresh lychees.  It was on a trip to Cairns with my uni mates for a self directed sailing trip through the Whitsundays.  We bought bags of lychees daily and ate them on our big road trip after the sail.



Time to bake on Sundays is always a special joy for me.  The whole process of sifting, stirring, blending and melting always seem that much more calming when performed on a Sunday.

Today's recipe was for home made muesli bars using a recipe I found at a 'mummy blog' I'm really enjoying at the moment, Be A Fun Mum.  Kelly and her team blog about all kinds of things about both being a mum as well as how things you loved about life before you became a mum have to adjust a little the moment you manage to successfully put your little one in the baby capsule and before embarking on that first car trip as a family on your way home from hospital.

I like how the writing is strong and the themes brought up are covered in a relatable manner with real world experience and advice brought in to expand on topics.  The cooking projects are approachable and tricks to involve children in the day to day running of the household are simple, make sense and promise to save a mother's sanity.


Not too many progress shots today, sorry.  I had to work quickly because I had competition for the bag of dark chocolate chips I was using for the bars.  I modified the fruit and grain component of the recipe to use sultanas, dates and chocolate chips.  The tray of bars is baked and sitting in the fridge at the moment: awaiting afternoon tea.


I'm loving my work life balance at the moment.  It's something I take for granted most of the time but I am very fortunate to have found a job where I've returned to the work force able to work at the level and in the role I trained for before maternity leave.  Which was only three years ago?!?!  Sometimes it feels like I've been in this working mother groove forever.....


Toddler SSG is embracing his threenager status at the moment.  There's passion in everything about his life at the moment - his independence, what he wears each day, what he eats each day, what he does each day.  He's started to offer a running commentary on our day which has seen me monitor what I say and do a little more closely.

We were at swimming this morning and he's a much happier swimmer these days than he was last year.  I'm loving seeing his progress and his increasing maturity in everything he gets up to these days.  It might not feel it at times but I think I'm generally on the right course in my navigation of this parenting adventure.


Feb 19, 2016

The Devil Wore My Keys. New Passports. Nescafe's Red Mug Machine.

This photo pretty much confirms what you may have suspected all along.

The Devil Wore My Keys, boom tish.... so cheesy yet so right.

When it comes to interiors, I'm all about form over function.  Meet my new key holder.  Being bright red, large and um... kitsch - there's no way I'm ever going to forget where I put my keys when I came through the door.  It's been almost a week since Hot4U the cheeky devil took up residence on the key shelf and while he may be on the ugly side of cute, he's made sure I've not lost my keys even once this week.


This is how I came to own my very own cheeky devil planter cum key holder.  I know.  Since when have chilli plants housed in devilish planters been considered a romantic gift for Valentines Day?  Not being a V Day person, I only bought the chilli plant with a view to adding it to my burgeoning potted herb garden.  And getting myself a bonus key dish in the process.


Only I had no idea that chillis double as ornamentals.  And that my pot of capsicum annuum isn't actually meant for human consumption. I've done a bit of research online and according to this article, all capsicum annuum are safe for humans.  Only I'm not sure if I'm game to take the risk with my little plant.


I've planted it and was planning on let it go this year as an ornamental and perhaps trying next year's crop of chillis.  Perhaps this particular plant wasn't safe for humans on account of the way it was cultivated by the producer.  A year in my garden may well rid it of any poisonous additives.  I hope.  Have you ever eaten a chilli from this kind of ornamental plant?  If you're reading, you've obviously survived....


My new passport arrived on Thursday.  The one with the photo featuring my face artfully bathed in that Hourglass Ambient Light set of illuminating powders.  Objectively speaking, it was definitely a better photo than my previous mug shot.  I even look a little airbrushed in this photo.  Which is no mean feat when you consider the lighting conditions at your average passport photo place.

I always get a little thoughtful when I get a new passport.  And the accompanying wistfulness has increased ten fold since I realised just how old I will be when it comes time to renew in 2026.  I can't even bring myself to type the number.  I'm fully embracing my forties but I refuse to think beyond that.

I will miss my old passport and flicking through the pages of different visas, their dates all holding special significance to me for the exciting memories (and purchases) that accompanied every single one of them.  Here's to another decade of excellent travel beginning with Singapore and KL in two weeks, then New Orleans in June and hopefully somewhere else before the end of the year if I can get the planets of work and parenting to align.





There's a new collectible cards promotion going down at your local Woolworths as of now.  The theme is Disney movies and you guessed it, Elsa gets her own page of six cards in the collectors album ($5 from memory).



The cards are plastic and you are meant to insert them into the special Disney Movie Stars projector ($8) to create projected images on a bedroom wall for example.  Before bedtime to soothe and calm you toddler, possibly and only if your toddler hasn't decided to wave the projector around his head and up to the ceiling before getting upset that the picture card had the audacity to fall out.  Personally, I'm most excited about getting the Mickey Mouse cards.


Do you think that's enough of a reason to get one of these Nescafe Red Mug Machines?  They're currently $99 at Woolies (therefore giving me quite a few movie collectors cards) plus a promotional price on Nescafe instant coffee.  The Red Mug Machine is meant to produce barista quality beverages using instant coffee.  Both the coffee and milk components of drinks can be made in the one unit.  It's already launched through Asia and recent blog reviews seem to be all positive with regards to ease of use and taste of the final product.   The second review I linked to seems to suggest that the machine works best using coffee mate (creamer) instead of milk)

But, $99.  That's a bit steep for an instant coffee maker.  And I'm more a Moccona girl.  And I can't make myself convert to creamer.  Even if it's for a cute looking red machine and the promise of a home made skinny cap made with instant.

Have you tried this new Nescafe machine?  Worth the dollars or should I stick to walking down the road of a morning for my fix which would also then come with a bonus side of fresh air, sun and superior people watching?

I think I know the answer to that one already.

Have a lovely weekend!


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