Feb 28, 2017

Spiders, Aquariums and Towers. A Touristy Weekend At Home.

It might have been the last official weekend of summer but I don't think the people at Weather HQ got the memo.  It didn't just bucket down with rain on Saturday, it had the cheek to also got pretty cold while it was there as well.

Preschooler SSG got to break in his new Cotton On pyjamas.  I love the 'web' effect on the leggings and Spidey is even printed on the top in a kind of electric blue.

And I got to eat jaffles for lunch.  We were out for a birthday part at the park on Saturday morning and we both worked up an appetite running around and climbing (or attempting to climb for some people) the play equipment.  There's something about jaffles for lunch when you've been out in the rain and the cold.  They're the lunch equivalent of ugg boots.  Speaking of which, it looks like I'd better get mine out of storage now that autumn is officially on its way.

The Australian Museum was the place to be on Saturday afternoon.  Family groups, interested older people without children, younger adults and tourists - the museum had something for all of us.

There were fancy lunches at the fourth floor cafe and a new spider themed expedition that combined traditional museum things like live spiders, models and scientific charts with lots of multi media, interactive areas that Preschooler SSG loved the most.

This floor projection of hundreds of spiders that appear to creep away whenever you get too close was the perfect way to begin the exhibition.

We had a little trouble persuading Preschooler SSG to move away from the next station.  His favourite part of the touch screen was getting the toilet to 'flush' as a spider crawled into it.

There were spiders in petri dishes that you could rotate under a giant (and very sturdy) microscope.

And a ball game where each player had pincers they controlled with hand held levers.

Thoughtfully provided stools ensured that even the preschoolers got a chance to play.

There was a central lab with dozens of eerily backlit jars on display.  Museum scientists were on hand at the lab to give brief presentations on all things arachnid.

A craft station offered what I thought was just a standard colouring in experience but it turns out that you scan your coloured in spider

which is then projected onto some webs in a virtual forest.

'Spiders: Alive and Deadly' is currently on at The Australian Museum.  Entrance is free if you are a museum member and is only an extra $6 on your admission ticket if you aren't.

Fortunately, Sunday was positively sunny in comparison.  The clouds did make for some very moody shots of Darling Harbour.

We were being tourists in our own city for the day and our first stop was the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.  Tickets are priced in various bundles which see you being able to visit many attractions in the area on the one ticket.  Some are day pass offers while others allow you to visit the aquarium and one or more other attractions within 30 days of your aquarium visit.  We got the $60 AUD for two places ticket.  Children's tickets for the same arrangement cost $36 AUD.

It was just like being on the 'Finding Dory' set.

Preschooler SSG got up close and personal with the manta rays

and saw the dugongs being fed their favourite cos lettuce.  Cos is much easier to grow and obtain than their natural diet of sea lettuce.  It's also pretty pricy and the dugongs will only eat leaves freshly prepared for them in special lettuce presses that get dunked into the water by aquarium staff.  Who knew dugongs were so high maintenance?

Unfortunately, the glass bottomed boat ride was closed for maintenance but we got the chance to do something even more unique.. the chance to go on a penguin expedition.  The 'ride' is a two minute trip through an enclosure inspired by Macquarie Island and its population of Gentoo penguins.  The temperature is noticeably chilly as you enter the swing doors to wait for your ride - a kind of dinghy that bobs along on water around the penguins' living areas.

We began by watching the penguins swim

and then managed to see them skitter and dance in the snow.  I managed to get the most adorable video that looked very 'Happy Feet'.  It's already one of those soothing things I flick to on my phone when I need a little break from the chaos of the everyday.

Our last stop was the touch pool.

Then, would you believe it?  Clear blue skies!!!!!!!

It went without saying that the second stop on our ticket would be the Sydney Tower Eye.  Preschooler SSG's highlights of the visit was being allowed to press the lift buttons and reading the numbers as the lift went up and later as it went down.

For me?  It was the peacefulness around me as I took in those million dollar views of this fabulous city of ours.  There were quite a few of us visiting the tower but somehow, it wasn't noisy or crowded.  We all had the chance to take in the views from all four points of the compass.

Some of us preferred pointing the telescopes at their mummy's head while clutching their 3D movie glasses (from the introductory movie before the ride up the tower).

Did you know that you can take a yoga class in the tower every Wednesday at 7am?  One day....  In the meantime, I had my view of the QVB, one of my favourite buildings of the city.

I managed to catch the afternoon shadow of the Westfield Tower projected over Hyde Park and the Archibald Fountain in front of St James Church before we hit the down button for the lift and glided back down to the hustle and bustle of the CBD.  Unfortunately, Blogger refuses to let me upload the photo...

Oh Sydney.  It's lucky you're so captivating and entertaining because your storms and rain can be pretty hard work.

Feb 27, 2017

Life This Week 27/2/2017: Taking Stock.

Can you believe we're at the tail end of February already?  Not only that but summer will also be gone for another year as well.  Denyse's current theme for Life This Week is 'Taking Stock' so that's exactly what I thought I'd do with this post: take you briefly through the happenings of my life at the moment.  Mostly unexciting but there you have it.

I'm reading The Dry by Jane Harper.

'The Dry' won the Victorian Premier's Award for an unpublished manuscript in 2015.  Then Reece Witherspoon (who has an astute eye and feel for contemporary female writers at the moment namely her work with 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed and 'Big Little Lies' by Liane Moriarty) optioned the novel as a film.

As an aside, I've started following Reese's Instagram account because she often posts about novels she's reading.  With her track record, I don't think I could ever go too far wrong with trying her suggestions.  Okay, that's it about Reese (whom I do not know personally so really shouldn't be this familiar when discussing her but Instagram being one big happy social network and all...), let's get back on topic.

'The Dry' is a murder mystery novel that I can only read from the safety of my bedroom.  With both bedside lamps turned on.  And after I've double checked on Preschooler SSG and that I've locked all the doors and windows.  It's not the best novel to be reading when you're the only person awake at night but that sense of aloneness in the still of night only adds to darkness brewing in Kiewarra, a tiny farming town that both shimmers under the relentless sun of an outback Australian summer but is also slowly dying as one farm after another runs into serious financial trouble precipitated by droughts.

Aaron Falk is a Kiewarra boy who 'made good' in Melbourne as a federal policeman.  His area of expertise is in the area of suspicious financial activity.  He's back home for a few days to attend the funeral of his childhood best friend Luke Hadley.  Luke was discovered in his own ute with his face blown off, his shot gun by his side.  There were no signs of struggle and his body was only found after a parcel delivery man stopped by the farm and discovered Luke's wife and son dead in pools of blood.  Strangely, baby Charlotte was found alive in her room, the only part of the usually welcoming and happy house not to see the violent brutality of the apparent murder suicide.

There are so many questions about so many people in this small country town.  Aaron gets drawn into an 'unofficial' investigation and decides to stay in Kiewarra just a bit longer.  Along the way, he reflects on his relationship with Luke.  Luke was always charismatic, persuasive and larger than life.  When the boys were 16, Luke persuaded Aaron to create an alibi for the both of them.  Luke obliged and then he discovered that their good friend and fellow teenager Ellie was found drowned in a creek.  Her apparent suicide note featured Aaron's name on it and the date of her death...

Jane Harper is an astute observer of those little interactions between people.  You as the reader could almost be at the country school or the pub where her characters are struggling to deal with the deaths on top of the growing menace that farms going under mean to a small rural town.  Harper writes of a different kind of rural Australia to what I usually come across in my reading and the fairy tale type notions I carry in my mind.  While there is an abundance of natural beauty and the goodness of the people of the country, there are also the very real fears and repercussions of the issues that touch urban Australia such as suicide, financial stress and the turmoil of adolescence.

Have you read 'The Dry'?  Drop me a comment at the end if you have.  If you are from rural Australia yourself, how did you feel about Harper's portrayal of life there?

I am wearing

my trusty hiking shoes.  Yes, it's urban explorer time of the year again in Sydney.  The rain's pretty much always torrential and our footpaths and roads are slicks of oil and water.  Autumn for me always begins with these shoes being dusted off and then as we head into winter, I debut my large collection of polar fleece vests and jackets as well.  Glamorous, as always.

My favourite piece of domestic technology is

my tumble dryer.  See previous paragraph.  Aside from its superior performance in drying my towels, I also love the 'industrial tumble' sound it makes.  So soothing when the rain's beating down on the roof and the morning's outdoor exercise has therefore had to be cancelled.

I am a bit nervous about

receiving this quarter's electricity bill.  After a couple of bills where our household has actually been able to reduce consumption to the average for our area, things aren't going to be as average this forthcoming quarter, I suspect.  I have rediscovered my Parlux and I tend to use it daily these days.

I am using

all my green coloured pencils on a new page of my adult (always feel the need to be defensive about this hobby, hence the 'adult' but that also makes it sound a bit X rated) colouring book.

I am persevering with

yoga home practice.  Slow and steady with small gains.  I'm getting much better at relaxing and clearing my mind during the five minute shavasna.

I'm trying to quit

lazing around in bed as I read things on my iPhone.  I usually do this with horrible posture and it quickly undoes any gains I've made with physiotherapy and stretching exercises for my neck.  I am very tempted to get one of these bean bag sofas from Muji as a compromise.  Or I could just ban myself from reading my phones at certain times of the day.  I need willpower to confront years of forming this habit.  The ban is probably the best place to start.

I'm enjoying

my online course for work.  So much so that I've already signed up for the next unit with one of my work besties.

 Are you taking stock of life right now?  What have you achieved and what still needs working on?

Feb 24, 2017

Friday Drinks #9: What A Week. The Body Shop At Home. Bargains.

It's been quite a week indeed.  There were daily dramas at work, just as many surreal 'you had to be there' kind of moments and even more crazy 'patient facing' (as opposed to workmate gossip type) conversations on everything from Angelina Jolie's spider eating (The Daily Mail tells me this is fact) to seances instead of drugs.  On the one hand, I'm glad the week is over but on the other, my mind is still going at a million miles per minute thinking about all that's happened and is yet to be done that it's going to be hard to unwind quickly into the weekend.  It's shaping up to be a wet weekend here in Sydney so maybe that will force me to kick back and enjoy the great indoors at a leisurely pace.

I should have known that the week was going to be special when we might have eaten ice cream for dinner on Monday...

Aside from all the crazy, highlights of the week just gone have included the following, in no particular order.

Being able to master a passable blow dry with only a metal barrel brush, sectioning clips and my Parlux.  I think most of the credit, though, goes to my hairdresser for cutting  my hair in such a blow dry friendly style.  It's taken me four weeks to realise the magnitude of his genius because it's been too hot until now to  do anything with my hair except wash it and tie it up immediately or use it as a kind of cooling wet curtain depending.

Was it coincidence that my favourite heat spray, Toni & Guy's Heat Protection Mist was down to around $12.50 a bottle from it's usual $17?  Now that yoga, acupuncture and physiotherapy have completely rehabilitated my dodgy right shoulder, I'm sure I'll be blow drying like a pro very soon.  So I might as well stock up on the spray now and completely get ahead of myself.  Between the blow drying and my new skills with bobby pins and hair donuts, I think I'm finally learning to add a bit of polish to my usual nondescript buns and pony tails.

It was actually quite an expensive day at Woolworths because Lurpak was half price...  I was in store before the crush of after work shoppers so was lucky to get my kilo of the good stuff without too much hassle.

My friend Jennifer has just started her own The Body Shop at Home  business.  I've been finding it harder and harder to get in store these days so when Jennifer announced her business on Instagram (jen1986), I rushed to place a much overdue order.  Jen's Facebook page, TBSAH with Jennifer is constantly updated with specials and the low down on new products as well as answers to questions page followers may have.

TBS 250ml shower gels, $10.95 each.

Half my order was shower gels.  I am obsessed with British Rose at the moment.  It's got this slightly mysterious, smoky scent.  Not your Yardley take on the scent of roses but something very modern and of the moment.  Each product in the range contains rose petals and many of the products are Beautyheaven Glosscar runners up with the scrub being a winner in last year's awards.

I also love that enigmatic and dramatic deep pink rose that is the range's signature image.

TBS British Rose Exfoliating Gel Shower Scrub $24.95 for 250ml.

Jennifer was so friendly and accomodating with my order, taking the time to make suggestions when a product I had initially ordered was out of stock.  Plus 10% of the value of all sales through Jennifer go to the Heart Kids Foundation which funds many key aspects of research into childhood heart disease and its treatment.  So if you need to get yourself some Body Shop stuff soon, order up with Jennifer and know that you'll also be helping such a worthy cause.

Remember my favourite shampoo and conditioner from Chemist Warehouse?  The My.Organics Argan range?

Well, they also now do a Goji Miracle Mask.  It's under $15 at the moment so I bought it with the intention of using it after my spendy Redken one runs out.  Given that I'm now onto my sixth round of my other My.Organics products, I have high hopes indeed.

How's your week been?  What's the strangest thing you've had a work related conversation about with a client or patient?

Here's to a restful and restorative weekend for us all!!

Feb 23, 2017

Lovin' Life 23/2/2017: Comfort Carbs.

Are you starting to see a pattern from my weekend food photo diary?

It goes against all the sound nutritional advice we're given by health authorities but gee eating a baked good (with a bit of butter on top) can make the world seem a better place and the impossible suddenly achievable.  

Call it emotional (over)eating if you like but sometimes a girl has to feed her spirits and her energy levels with what they want - buttery refined carbs.  It was just one of those long and crazy weekends for me and the various pastries I had for breakfast each morning gave the day that followed a bit of a lift.  By the afternoon, my pastry induced energy boosts predictably flagged so it was off down the street with Preschooler SSG for afternoon tea at Woolworths.  You know how supermarket muffins have that super soft texture, those sticky domed tops and taste 100% artificially flavoured?  All of that tastes even better than it sounds when you eat them with butter on four hours of sleep.

The funny thing is that I don't actually eat like this all the time.  Mostly out of convenience and a little because of the health benefits, my weekly diet follows a predictable routine of home made meals, fruit as snacks and no bread or baked goods.  I do eat chocolate daily though just so I don't accidentally turn into a supermodel through my diet.  Who needs that kind of responsibility in their lives when they're a fortysomething suburban mum?

Yet it was so easy to slip into a new way of eating for the weekend.  I thought my taste buds would rebel against the change but the tired and slightly stressed heart wants what the tired and slightly stressed heart wants.

Monday morning rolled around and after a solid night's sleep I woke up craving my usual breakfast and the rest of the day's food intake rolled on as it did the week before.  It was almost as if those muffins and I had never met when I did the shopping for dinner that evening.  We were strangers to each other.  Isn't it nice to reach a point in life where cravings can be indulged in moderation before hopping right back onto the sensible eating train afterwards?

Does being tired and a bit on edge make you crave foods you normally don't eat?  Do your cravings run their course once you've had a good night's sleep and the pressure's off?


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