Nov 23, 2017

Lovin' Life 23/11/2017: A Change In the Weather.

The warmer weather hasn't just put some pep in my step, it's brought a breath of fresh air to the fruit at my local supermarket.  

Nectarines and peaches are in abundance.  It's been such a joy to pick these up for a change instead of my usual apples and pears.

Mangoes are a steal at the moment and they're a slightly special way to end those Monday night dinners which have come straight out of the freezer via the microwave.

Even the oranges have come up all juicy and sweet all of a sudden.

Of course I liked my own run!  It was my best pace for 5K since I started using Map My Run.

I've taken my morning runs outdoors and have been using Map My Run over the last couple of weeks.  It's been a great motivator having all the details or each run stored in my account.  My friend in London has been cheering me on and I have her very respectable average paces and distances to aspire to.

I've had to invest in a new pair of wireless earphones because outdoor running seems a bit harder on the ear canals than running on a treadmill.  These were $35 from MINISO.  The extra 'curl' in each ear really does help them stay put more securely.

The outdoor runs have meant less gym time so I've been improvising at home.  I'm not loving that ab wheel in the conventional sense of the term but I am 'loving' it in the 'no pain, no gain' sense.

I've shied away from pull-ups at the gym but in the spirit of finding new challenges, I had the bright idea of doing tabletop pull-ups at home.  Ugh.  They are brutal.  I'm averaging around twelve per attempt with at least a 30-second recovery in between....

What's the change in weather made you do?

Nov 21, 2017

Coles' Unicorn Pudding. Other Food News.

It's been another busy Tuesday around here.

I was up and at 'em after preschool drop off before the cafes at Westfield even had a chance to stretch and get dressed ahead of the day's business.

Armed with my skinny cap with extra cocoa, I made my way to Coles for the unicorn pudding that is that ginger and caramel star that I've been seeing all over the place.

Unfortunately, that pudding is still a unicorn to me.  Which makes me want it even harder.  I've been to all three Coles already in my local area to no avail. I do hope they return to the shelves soon.  It's not even December yet and you can't be running out of a Christmas bestseller this early in the piece.

I did, however, find this Lamington Sponge pudding which I can see msyelf eating for Christmas breakfast with a mimosa or several... All the major food groups covered right there.

The Aldi at Eastgardens will be closing for renovations soon so it was just as well I got in today for some Christmas supplies.  Instagram tells me that this fancy Black Forest Stollen ($9.99 AUD) is not as nice as the regular, no-frills version that Aldi also stocks so don't be like me and get seduced by those glace cherries.  Fortunately, the Luxury Fudge ($5.49 AUD) is highly rated. 

A critical shortage of work chocolate was also addressed at Aldi and my haul has gone straight into my work bag to make sure I don't leave it all behind in the mad rush out the door tomorrow morning.

I've actually spent most of today being proactive about that rush out the door in the morning.  I've been in the kitchen whipping up batches of things that work well reheated for breakfast and lunch during the week.  These are both Cookie and Kate recipes, by the way.  That's the Blueberry Baked Oats above and the Roasted Veggie Enchilada Casserole below.

I've tweaked the enchilada casserole recipe to suit my taste for something spicier.  I also found the recipe as it reads ended up a bit dry for me so I used two bottles of salsa instead of one.

Mission makes a black bean and chipotle salsa which I highly recommend because it does give the casserole a richer and smokier flavour. Kate does suggest a similar option in her recipe but the brands she refers to aren't readily available here in Australia.  I found both my salsas at Coles.  I also added a few teaspoons of Sriracha and some barbecue sauce to the combined salsas.

Another useful hack is Gourmet Garden's lightly dried coriander.  I added a good 2/3 of the packet to the salsa.

To serve, I had some sour cream and extra spinach leaves on the side.

I've made the switch to glass containers over plastic for lunch and as with many things related to food storage, you get what you pay for.  I initally balked at the $11 - 13 AUD that Decor and Pyrex cost so I went round to MINISO and found a square container for $7.

The problem is that MINISO's version features plastic lids that don't actually seal when closed so you're committed to making sure the container stays perfectly upright at all times.. or else.

The MINISO container looks like it'll have to stay home in the fridge but my Decor and Pyrex ones are all good to go for this week's work lunches.

Do you bring lunch into work?  Are you a glass container fan?  Which do you use?

Nov 20, 2017

Life This Week 20/11/2017: Taking Stock.

Making : a concerted effort to drink less Coke Zero for the rest of the year.  When I hit LA in January, I can see myself drinking it as freely as I should be drinking water...

Cooking : batches of soup for weeknight dinners.  The weather might be getting warmer and all but when I get home from work after a long day, a bowl of soup and a couple of slices of thickly buttered toast is often what I need to ease into the night' routine.

Drinking : T2 Peppermint.  As usual.  So glad I've got those two backup bags of teabags stashed away in the top left kitchen cupboard.

Reading: both school handbooks for Kindergarten next year.  I might have highlighted a few points and annotated the margins in red pen...

Trawling: my cookbook collection for good slice recipes for next year's lunchboxes.

Wanting: it to be December already so I can get started on our advent calendars.

Looking: at the backyard and reckoning I need to get the gardener over soon to stage an intervention.

Deciding: on my menu for Christmas lunch.  The supermarket magazines are full of great ideas.  I think I've chosen how the champagne will be served and possibly the dessert of the day.

Wishing: for nothing, really.

Enjoying: these longer days with their golden evenings.

Waiting: for my air tickets for LA.  Not that I'm desperate for a break or anything.

Liking: a mug of tea at my side when I'm tucked up in bed with a good read.

Wondering: if I should watch 'Big Little Lies'.  I loved the novel so much that I'm not sure if anything on film could do its words justice.

Loving: that it's warm enough to be able to wear dresses and skirts at work without tights or stockings. It's the little things.

Pondering: how much Lego I'm going to be able to build this Christmas.  Better get my order in soon.

Listening: to work related podcasts.  So much interesting research and so many fascinating people who do this research.

Considering: if I should take my hairdresser up on his idea of doing balyage on my jet (bottle) black hair....

Buying: bits and pieces for the goodie bags for Preschooler SSG's fifth birthday party next month.  I found these sets at Kmart and they range in price from .. forty cents (yep) to five dollars per set.

Watching: my splits and pace on the Map My Run app.  I'm back running in the backyard these days and I'm a bit disappointed in myself.  After all those months on the treadmill at the gym, my outdoor paces haven't changed at all.

Hoping: that the cake I have planned for Preschooler SSG's party will turn out.  

Marvelling: or actually wincing that my toes still hurt one week since that day I decided to wear heels all day to work....

Cringing: that I didn't know that 4 year olds need their own OPAL card.  I had just assumed children only needed to pay on public transport when they started school.  The oversight has now been rectified and Preschooler SSG is going to be so excited that he gets to tap his own card from now on.

Needing: more hours in the day.  Especially my days off which are more days on as I run around trying to get everything done.  

Questioning: how many Lulu Lemon tops a girl really needs....  Just an idle thought.  

Smelling: my fragrance of the moment, if not forever.... Dominic Ropion's 'Portrait Of A Lady'.

Wearing: distressed denim shorts with Breton tops and Birkis.  One of the surprising benefits of being of that 'invisible age' is the freedom of that invisibility.

Noticing: the time.  Gee, bedtime creeps up fast when you're having fun.

Knowing: that if you want things to be different, you have to be different as well.

Thinking: about how to spend tomorrow.  It's my day off and I'm flying solo for most of it.  Precious time but it also has to be productive.  The struggle is real.

Admiring: the train network that Preschooler SSG has built on our living room floor.

Getting: intimately acquainted with muscles of my abdominal wall I never knew I had.  Even when I was in labour that one time five (!!) years ago...  This is my new ab wheel and you're meant to roll the wheel away from you as you kneel on a mat.  All in the pursuit of a stronger core, I'm told.  

Bookmarking: recipes I just might need in the near future.  

Opening: a new bar of soap.  The bathroom is rose scented at the moment.  Love your work, L'Occitane.

Closing: accounts for subscriptions I barely use.  I'm looking at you, Netflix...  

Feeling: excited that it's December next month!!  My weekends are already all booked.  I love the holiday season.

Hearing: the radio from my bedroom as I sit typing in the family room.  I like that slightly distorted edge the distance and walls in between give to my favourite golden oldies, easy listening radio station.

Celebrating: that I'm one year closer to the expiry of six (!!) demerit points.  Don't ask....  there will be an entire post on the blog when they finally do expire.

Pretending: that I really do all those neck exercises my physio prescribed for me everyday.  And yes, I would also then have to pretend that I don't know that I'm only cheating myself.

Embracing: the truth that life and its situations will unfold at just the right time for each and every one of us.

Nov 18, 2017

Saturday Reflections. T2 and Lulu... Again.

And what a week it's been.

Fully recharged after a weekend in the sun, I was my best possible self on Monday morning as I faced the first preschool drop off and work commute for the week dressed (relatively) immaculately in a freshly ironed shirt dress.

By Friday afternoon?  I was rocking a migraine I possibly gave myself from a week of super high and tight ponytails.  Hence the 2pm crazy hair and the use of a favourite Red Phoenix necklace as a butterfly clip holder.

Thank goodness for days off, though, because they (plural definitely intended) were what got me through the week.

Thursday saw me set out for the day dressed thus as I carried a bucket of cars down the road because they were hungry (according to Preschooler SSG) and needed breakfast.  We bumped into some new friends at 'our' cafe and the cars soon forgot their hunger as Preschooler SSG and his new friend put them through their paces.  I was also blessed with some lovely adult conversation and the luxury of enough time sitting at our table to finish my coffee at a leisurely pace.

To new friends, to new adventures and the joy of getting to know even more neighbours!

After such a lovely start to the day, we settled into a quiet afternoon at home as we welcomed a new addition to the already falls hazard ridden floorboards of SSG Manor 2.0 - Mobilo.  Preschooler SSG has really loved playing with it at preschool and the highlight of his kindergarten orientation was discovering that they too had a good set of Mobilo.  It's not that easy to find at retailers, though.  I bought our set from Purple Turtle Toys, a Melbourne based store that has super efficient postage as well as some great discounts on Mobilo and Lego right now.

Though the weather today hasn't exactly been what I was hoping for (see Friday's post), there's been more than enough in the day to chase that headache away.  All my laundry today had to be tumble dried so I had the pleasure of wearing a favourite pair of freshly dried jeans that fit just so on account of the tone up they got on the general load cycle.

The teabag cupboard (ain't nobody got the time for loose leaf tea around these parts at the moment) has been fully restocked with all manner of T2 teabags.

Morning Sunshine ($15 for a box of 25 tea bags)  is a blend of Assam, Darjeeling and Rwandan estate black teas.  T2 tells us that the result offers 'malty notes with a touch of muscatel and mild fruitiness'.  Which makes Morning Sunshine sound like a wine.  To my unrefined palate, though, it just tastes like a darn good cuppa.  I found it pretty strong compared to some of T2s other black teas, on par with the UK supermarket brands I love but yes, with that more refined and complex combination of flavours.  Morning Sunshine is a favourite of mine already.

Did the mug look familiar in that previous photo?  It's one of my set of Jamie Oliver for Woolworths china tea mugs.  The ones you needed stickers to purchase and that you all helped me with by giving me all your extras.  I was saving the set for some elusive special day but when I saw them sitting in a kitchen cupboard the other day, I threw caution to the wind and decided that the special time they were to be saved for was now.

Wet weather weekends around here means that all the roads of the suburb invariably lead to Westfield.  We, at SSG Manor 2.0 are joiners and here we are at our  my local Lulu Lemon store.  I had the dubious honour of being the only female in the store who was sitting on the instore easy chairs because the preschooler I was shopping with needed 'some quiet and rest time' and the Lulu chairs were just perfect, thank you very much.

The Quick Pace LS top ($99 AUD)  was my find today.  It's perfect for running as its lightweight while the back is typically Lulu with the crossed, slightly cropped open style.  I'm convinced that all of this will help me shave seconds off my splits when I go running tomorrow with Map My Run....

It goes without saying that after spending some time in store at Lulu Lemon, you pretty much have to do some family yoga practice when you get home.  It got creative and way off point very quickly.  Humble apologies, Mr Iyengar.

All my props were used and when we ran out, the pom poms were pressed into service...

We then eased into the evening routine with a lot less angst than we usually do so I suppose the practice was successful on some levels.  Dinner was a homemade Hokkien noodle stir fry.  I know this sounds wacky but adding a few fresh, chopped baby tomatoes to your serve at the table adds a lovely tartness and zing to the somewhat strong and hearty flavours.  This is possibly an extension of my passion for tomato sauce with fried rice but try it and let me know how you go.

How's your weekend been?

Are you a T2 or Lulu fan?  Are you borderline obsessed as I am?  If so, we should talk.

Nov 17, 2017

Heading Into the Weekend....

Sydney, I don't think I can ever tell you too many times just how much I love you when you're sunny on a Sunday.  As we head into another weekend of the most beautiful time of the year to be living here, I just thought I'd refresh your memory ahead of tomorrow. 

No pressure or anything.

Last Sunday afternoon, Preschooler SSG and I were lucky enough to be out and about being tourists in our own city at Circular Quay. The highlights of the day were all completely unplanned which is how the best Sundays often unfold, I've come to realize.  

We just sat on some benches at Circular Quay, peering out at the world from under the brims of our sensible sunhats.  The world looks a little different when it's half in the shade and cut in half by your hat.  All sorts of feet were on the move in front of us.  A pair of glittery silver heels attached to a long pair of legs in black tights, hiking sandals moving along surefootedly on some tourists determined to make the best of the weather, dress shoes and heels worn by guests of a wedding as they moved from one venue of the special day to the next (with an unscheduled but well-deserved pit stop at a bar en route, I suspect).

With the sun on my arms and legs and that comforting stillness of the warmth in the air against my face, taking an afternoon nap right then and there was so tempting....

But the colour of the forecourt of the MCA beckoned.

Colour Fields is an aptly named pop up bar set up for the summer months ahead.  It's inspired by the art of Pipiloti Rist whose work is currently exhibiting at the MCA.

An example of Rists' work via Google images.
The colour scheme of Colour Fields is a pretty close match, isn't it?

We had great fun looking through the coloured acrylic awnings and seeing how they seemed to change the colour of the furniture.

For that quick change of scene and pace that Sydney is all about, we went up hill a bit to the Rocks in search of buildings of a bygone era.

These back streets seem to be the only ones in the city whose buildings have stubbornly refused to change themselves with the times.

I could imagine, as I closed my eyes in the sun, Sydneysiders from bygone eras stepping out from these doors and into the same weather I was enjoying right now in 2017.

Perhaps stopping off for a drink somewhere before heading for the QVB.

One of my favourite stores in the QVB is LUSH.  The witty signage, the colour, the scent wafting from its entryway.

Even Preschooler SSG paused for a minute to explore. 

There's something about running water and nearly five-year-olds...

To top off a lovely afternoon, I managed to get a copy of this month's Coles magazine on the way to the train.  As always, there are so many festive recipes that I want to try over Christmas.  I'll have to pace myself though because I'm sure there'll be even more to tempt me in the December issue.

Speaking of Coles, I have a feeling that this Gingerbread & Butterscotch pudding will be on my menu for Christmas Day this year.  I'm thinking of serving it with vanilla ice cream and not much else...  They're $10 each and I'm already planning to get mine this weekend.

Be well and may the weekend ahead be a good one.


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