Apr 25, 2017

ANZAC Day 2017.

It's been a special Tuesday.

Not just because breakfast involved several defrosted hot cross buns.

Or because I managed to make it onto a bus and then straight onto a train platform without either spilling my coffee or being asked to dispose of it.

Today was an extra special Tuesday because it was Preschooler SSG's first proper ANZAC Day.  His first words this morning were 'It's ANZAC Day!!' and he knew that instead of going to preschool, we'd be taking the train into the city to watch the parade.

There was a sense of both pomp and circumstance on the platform.  We met military band members giving impromptu concerts and we saw others quietly prepare for the day with a good cup of coffee.  Veteran families had wore medals with a quiet dignity or else accompanied their veteran family members with pride and care.

And then there was a heart warmingly large number of families like my own who were taking a few hours out of their public holiday to pay their respects at the march.

With his sprig of rosemary firmly pinned to his chest, Preschooler SSG proved to be a keen participant in the parade as he gave our returned service men and women applause as they passed us on the parade.

I've usually observed the parade along George Street but with all the construction work going on there, today's route went down Elizabeth Street instead.  The backdrop of ornate buildings like the MLC Centre was the perfect touch of formality to the proceedings.

I didn't expect to be moved as much as I was by today's march.  I found myself at first tapping my feet and swaying a little to the beats of the bands but then I paused to look a little closer at the faces of those marching in front of me.  Veterans of all ages and ethnic back grounds, their relatives and the volunteers.  There was such a strong sense of unity and mutual respect in the air this morning.

Out of respect for our veterans and the ANZAC Day commemorations, none of the retailers in the city were open for the duration of the parade.  Walking the quiet arcades gave us more time to each reflect on our nation's history and what the suffering of the past has given us.

Australia has definitely not forgotten.

Apr 24, 2017

Life This Week 24/4/2017: An Upgrade. Mugs. Books. ANZAC Day Plans.

Say what you like about the price premium and slick marketing of Apple products but at the end of the day, they tend to work the moment you take the out of those sleek boxes, charge them up and turn them on.  There's been a technology upgrade here at SSG Manor 2.0.  My previous cheap for a reason laptop suddenly refused to even turn on after a few weeks of freezing whenever I attempted to log on and the best thing to do with it at that point was to recycle what I could of it and bid it a kinda fond farewell.

Preschooler SSG was on hand to road test keyboards and touch pads with me and I now have this shiny new laptop to take away with me on my work trip.

And it wouldn't be Apple without the discovery that the dongles (aka plug in whatsits) have changed yet again leaving me with a rather pricy and largely redundant collection of older style whatsits.  They're actually called USB-Cs nowadays....

There's also been newness in the kitchen.  It's only taken me about 5 years but I've finally made (some of) a recipe from Jamie's 15 Minute meals.  I was a huge fan of the 30 minute meals series.  Each episode was mildly frantic and I loved seeing the completed meal served to Jamie and his friends as the credits rolled.  Of course I never saw how long it took to prep all the ingredients or how many people it required to clean the kitchen afterwards but it was very satisfying television.

I know my limits with complex, multiple steps simultaneously cooking which is why I only made the 'mains' component of the 'Fish Tray Bake' meal on page 170 of the book.  The Cheat's Banoffee Pie was very tempting and it is meant to make 10 serves but it was a Tuesday night so time (and minimal clean up) was of the essence.

I was very impressed.  I often make cream based sauces for my baked fish but this tray bake was very different.  The base ingredients of salmon fillets and asparagus were jazzed up with chopped fresh lemon, tomatoes, basil, garlic pancetta and anchovies.  I didn't have the prawns that the original recipe called for, I'll definitely be adding them the next time I make this.

And then all you do is bake the lot.  It took around 25 minutes for mine to be properly done (I did crowd everything together in a slightly too small tray though).  There's all kinds of flavours going on in this meal, would you expect anything less from a Jamie meal?  It's definitely worth trying if you've got a family of fish lovers to feed.

We have a new bedtime favourite at our place.  'The Day the Crayons Quit' by Drew Daywalt is genius.  The book is a collection of 'letters' from the disgruntled crayons belonging to a young boy.  I love it as much as Preschooler SSG does and Oliver Jeffers' illustrations set the tone perfectly for the dramatics of each letter.  I've got 'The Day the Crayons Came Home' on my list of books to place on my next Book Depositary order.

There's a new 'thing' to collect at Woolworths right now.  Marvel Superheroes discs.  Expect the parental swapping to get a bit hectic over the next few months...

We have Mother's Day gifts sorted for my mother and aunty when they arrive.  Preschooler SSG will be giving them each one of these mugs.  They're actually meant to be used to make microwave mug cakes and come with a spoon and a cake recipe but I bet you the ladies will be using them for their cuppas on account of their size and large, easy hold handles.  I found them this week at Woolworths for $7 each.

There's also a soup mug version which I got for myself.

I've had to replace quite a few mugs this week and my other source was Kmart.  The tall mug with sipper lid above was $3 as was the massive mug in the photo below.  They're bone china and dishwasher safe.

Crazy nights in - a mug of peppermint tea, the latest Aldi catalogue and the company of one of Preschooler SSG's many stuffed animal friends.

It's ANZAC Day tomorrow and I'm expecting it to be a day of quiet reflection.  I hope to be up to listen to some of the dawn service on the radio and to pause with respect and thankfulness as I do so.

I'm also planning to take Preschooler SSG into the city to observe part of the ANZAC Day Parade.

What will your plans be for ANZAC Day?

Apr 20, 2017

Lovin' Life 20/4/2017: Bits & Pieces.

It's hard not to love life when it's the second short working week you've had in a row, isn't it?  

Aside from the short weeks, I'm loving:

  • Finally getting on top of all the photos in my iPhone.  I've been meaning to continue scrapbooking my favourites from where I left off ... 3 years ago.  I've had plans to start photo books online which have yet to materialise.  Now, in just under half an hour, I've managed to have 9 hardcover books of photo memories ordered and on my way thanks to Chatbooks, a really clever app that automatically creates books of your most recent 60 favourite photos and sends them to you when they're printed.  I'll report back when I receive my books.  PS - their Facebook ad just speaks to me.  It's everything about my life right now...

  • My new 'yoga clock'.  It's the exact same model as my last 'yoga clock' which I broke the other week after 8 years of faithful service.  Again, this clock is everything.  Yoga wise, I use it make sure I get my 5 minutes of shavasna.  Kitchen wise, I use it to time the vegetables I have simmering, steaming or roasting for dinner.  Life in general wise, I carry it around the house when I forget to carry my watch or am trying to avoid looking at my phone.  My most recent iYoga Props order also included a weighted eye bag for said shavasna and one of those old school pune style straps.  

  • Blanched spinach and eggs on toast.  When the eating is as rich and as constant as it tends to be over long weekends, breakfast for dinner is the way to go.

  • Those DIY tea bags from Daiso that Instagram told me about a few months back.  I haven't used them yet but $2.80 for 100 is rather more pleasant than $8 for 25 at T2.  

  • Finding the library's CD that I thought I returned last week with its case.  Does this happen to anyone else?  The one time you don't open each case at the library before popping things down the return chute is the one time you've left the disc at home.  The outstanding disc (it really is one of The Wiggles' finest too...) is in a sandwich bag and ready to be dropped off tomorrow.

How's your week been?  Love, loathe or neither?

Apr 18, 2017

A Day at The Show.

It's taken me nearly a decade of living in Sydney to do it but it's finally happened.  Preschooler SSG and I took advantage of the perfect Easter long weekend weather and went with some friends to the Sydney Royal Easter Show on Monday.

Our tickets included free return public transport to the show grounds which pleased Preschooler SSG no end because we got to ride three trains including a special show grounds service which was jam packed with fellow show goers.  The mood was jovial, the sense of anticipation was high and all the parents sitting in my carriage looked mighty pleased with themselves to be show bound so early on a public holiday Monday.

See what I mean about the perfect weather?

Our first stop was the wristband station where volunteers wrote our mobile numbers onto orange bands that our children then wore as a precaution.  I strapped Preschooler SSG's band onto his wrist and gave it little thought until I walked past the 'lost children' office a while later and saw just how many children managed to get lost by early afternoon.  Great idea, show organisers and it was good to see such a high uptake of the service by families visiting the show.

My friends and I deliberately steered the boys towards the animal and produce pavilions early.  Part of it was a selfish desire to avoid as many tantrums over sugary food and land fill type toys as possible but the main reason was that we wanted them to see at least a little of the farming past, present and future of our country.

We know that we're raising city kids but we would also like them to learn about the land and the people who use it to feed and clothe us.

Preschooler SSG was fascinated by all the animals around us and charmed by the universally friendly and helpful people who helped us and answered our questions as we made our way around the enclosures.

The competition chickens were housed according to breed and I have to admit to being ignorant of just how beautiful their feathers are and also to the great diversity in appearance among the different breeds.

We got to see newly hatched chicks

and some of us got to touch them.

Surprisingly, the goat judging went down well with the preschoolers.  I wonder if they saw something of their own rebellious streaks and strong wills in the goats as they prepared for competition?

The numbers, the ribbons and the routine of each competition had the boys' attention for just enough time for their parents to rest their legs and have a sip of water in the shade.

While Preschooler SSG was perfectly content with watching the animals from behind their stalls and barricades, going up to feed them was another matter.

He's still quite afraid of 'big animals' partly because of the 'big bad dog' who stole his babycino at the park the other week.  I'm not making this up.  The dogs in our neighbourhood not only recognise coffee cups, they know how to pick them up, remove their lids and drink out of them.  I'm not sure how I can mend relations between Preschooler SSG and larger animals but in the mean time, he's still very happy to wave and chat with 'small dogs'.

The Woolworths Pavilion was full of all sorts of interesting displays and interactive areas.

Sydney Water provided stations where water bottles could be refilled as well as dispensers full of their finest spiked with the flavours of fresh fruit.

There were spiralized apples to sample.  So much more appealing than when one's mother roughly chops one up for you and tries to encourage you to eat it.

Preschooler SSG got to collect some wheat and mill it in another area of the pavilion.

He then 'returned' his flour to the 'grainery' and received some dough which he then used to make 'pasta' and 'bread'.

There was also a pretend market and kitchen to explore.

 We had just enough time before lunch to visit the dairy to see cows being milked.

Here's the milk travelling off to be pasteurised.

Despite the noise and lights of the food and amusement areas, it was actually rather peaceful where we were for the morning.  Calm people going about their business caring for animals that were sometimes not so calm, the routines of the judging areas, the raking of droppings and the moving of livestock from one area to another.

I don't know if it's just me but I felt as if the agricultural component of the show probably only took up a quarter of the space of the show ground.  My eyes managed to rest on food stalls, show bags and rides wherever I looked.

Speaking of the latter, we stopped for lunch on our way out of the show grounds.

On show day, it's perfectly acceptable to have a burger and chips for lunch.


I know it should've been a dagwood dog and one (or two) of those chips on a stick but we had hungry preschoolers in tow and we needed to eat somewhere in direct line of sight to their beloved ice cream truck.

And then we were on our way home.  But not before being entranced by the rides.

The spectacle of their colour and constant motion against the suddenly cloudy sky

as well as the awe inspiring heights and speeds that they reached far, far above us.

The boys didn't want show bags but they did want to play this ball netting game.

This is Mia the Hello Kitty Mermaid that Preschooler SSG won.  Don't ask me why he called her Mia but that's her name.  Mia's been fed fairy floss, Easter eggs and some of the noodles and vegetables Preschooler SSG was supposed to have eaten before that other stuff.  She's now safely tucked up in bed waiting for Preschooler SSG to return home this afternoon.

Did you visit The Easter Show this year?  Were the chips on a stick all that?


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