Jun 30, 2017

Winter Days. A 'Bad Moms' Update.

When you reach that point in winter where the afternoon skies are a clear and piercing blue that matches the coldness in the air,

you know that it's officially the start of black puffer season in the 'hood.

There were rumblings on the streets before but by Thursday, it was black puffer vests and jackets for every man, woman, child and dog I met.

In other wardrobe news, look what I unearthed from the archives?  My unworn Marni + H&M spot jacket from my trip to London way back in ... 2012.

London, I know you get colder than a Sydney winter but gee, I do miss you.  I hope we meet again soon.

I'm going to casual Friday it down tomorrow with this pair of mid-grey skinnies.

Cold as it is right now, I've been nothing but productive.  I checked the pressures in all four of my tyres at the servo this week.

And I 'California rolled' my freshly laundered doona cover back over my doona.

I saw the technique first on Facebook in one of those snazzy life hack video clips I've been saving like they're going out of fashion.  Anyway, long story short, I had to google the precise technique to refresh my memory whilst I was bent precariously over my doona.  Here's the video for your reference.

Does winter make you start thinking about dinner around 3pm before eating it at 5?  Guilty as charged.

Before I go, have you heard who we will be celebrating Christmas with this year?

The Bad Moms!!!!!!  The official release for 'A Bad Mom's Christmas' is November 7 2017.  

Wishing you a lovely weekend.

Jun 29, 2017

Lovin' Life 29/6/2017: Name Stamps and Yesterday's Eyeliner.

Things that the time poor me is loving right now.

Waterproof name stamps like this one from Stamptastic .  So much easier than sew in (who does these anymore.... anyone?!?) and iron on labels (which have a nasty habit of peeling off if you're as much of a dryer devotee as I am).  All you need to do is order your stamp and stamp pad of indelible, waterproof ink then wait for them to arrive before simply stamping on any item of clothing you might wish to permanently label.  

The stamp itself features a sturdy acrylic handle which allows you to see the direction the print is facing through the top allowing you to easily align the label on the area you wish to label.  I've had success stamping on both perfectly smooth areas of clothing such as at the neck as well as on elasticated waistbands.  The ink is only available in black and looks as if one pad will last for hundreds of impressions.  I wonder how far into Preschooler SSG's school life ours will last for?

via pinterest
My other love this week is a slightly guilty and naughty one.  

Yesterday's eyeliner.  Liquid, gel or pencil - it matters not though it must be black.

Smudged and blended to a level of subtle perfection I could never knowingly execute first thing in the morning, leftover eyeliner is the only makeup I wear on my off duty days.  I've even got my cleansing routine down pat so that the only I leave behind a mere whisper of eye makeup on my lower lash line.

Do you love a bit of leftover eyeliner yourself?

Jun 26, 2017

Life This Week 26/6/2017: The Week In Pictures.

The week in pictures.

Bold clashes of colour and design on the discount shelves of Zara Home on Pitt Street.

Opening a new box of Maldon Sea Salt Flakes.  There's something so comforting about its packaging.

A new painting by Preschooler SSG for my office.  My office wall collection spans the last year or so of his portfolio and it's been fascinating observing the changes in composition, use of colour and his evolving techniques.  It is 'just' preschooler art work but it all holds a special place in my heart for the progress and development it represents.

A massive bowl of Jamie Oliver's Brown Windsor Soup after an unexpectedly long and drama filled day .... at home for a change rather than at work.

Opening a new, luxe bar of soap.  It smells divine and makes me jump into the shower despite the icy mornings and evenings we've now got in Sydney.

Ironically needing SPF 50 in the middle of winter.  I had to get a few bits of my face lasered (nothing serious, just old age) and I'm meant to slather my face in high SPF every morning before I step out the door.  This 'black label' version from Mecca costs $40 and while it is a bit thick and opaque, it does blend out well enough to be practically invisible under makeup.

Getting a box seat view of where our new work car park will be one morning when I managed to get in earlier than most.  I wonder how long it will take to build?

Be well and wishing you a happy week ahead.

Jun 25, 2017

A Sunday Mostly At Home.

It's been a lazy, restorative kind of Sunday here.  

We took a brisk walk / scooter to the shops first thing in the morning where I was overjoyed to find Proper Strong Yorkshire Tea.  One hundred bags will only set you back around $6 at Woolies.  You can find Proper Strong in the regular tea aisle as opposed to the imports section where Barry's is.  Hopefully this is a sign that this means Proper Strong will be a permanent offering at a permanently fair price.

I broke up with both Lipton's and Twinings a few years back over strength (or lack thereof) issues.  Both brands suddenly required me to double bag their standard varieties to get that brewed to pitch blackness taste I love in my first cuppa of the day.  At first I thought it was just my ageing, fortysomething tastebuds.  Then both brands started introducing double strength varieties.  It's a sign of the times, this watering down of and economising the production of household staples.  

In breaking news for the home baker, may I introduce you to muffin wraps?  They're muffin cases that are made to look like how cafes and bakeries present their muffins.  I found these at Woolworths, $5 for 24.  They fit 12 hole muffin tins.

Today's muffins were made from an AWW recipe and the star ingredients were custard and pie apple.

The muffin wraps sit quite high above the rim of the muffin holes.  They did an admirable job of holding the batter, custard and chopped pie apple.  For the record, I was baking in my ugg boots.  The sun out was today but there was a chill to the air that had me slip into my trusty uggs first thing this morning and I've stayed in them ever since.

These are my baked muffins.  I really do like how they look in the muffin wraps.  Might work out to be a major cost lowering measure if I manage to find a YouTube video on how I could DIY these muffin wrappers.

The muffins themselves are quite firm and, surprisingly, not very sweet at all.  I could have done with a bit more brown  sugar in the topping if I could've turned back time.

A slightly under the weather Preschooler SSG  has been tackling a new Lego set today.  He's actually managed to put together one half of this police water rescue set all on his own.

He's also managed to make a couple of packets of jelly for the coming week.

I think he's well on the road to recovery.  Just in time for the start of the working week tomorrow.

Be well.

Jun 22, 2017

Lovin' Life 22/6/2017: A Day Off In The City. MINISO. 'He Said / She Said' by Erin Kelly.

I don't get out much.  But when I do, I do like to write about it.  Be warned, this is one of my essay length posts.  It covers a lot of territory as well.

I had a day in the city earlier this week.

A Day in The City.

On My Own.

On A Weekday.

The capitals and one sentence paragraphs I've already flung around in this post with such abandon feel entirely appropriate and suitable for the occasion.  Even if they may not be grammatically correct.

It felt so grown up and sophisticated walking with purpose between pods of dark-suited city people with their security badges clipped to their waistbands. I'm a lanyard around the neck person myself (a bone of contention between occupational health and I but the men wear ties to work and other women chunky necklaces, actually I wear the necklaces too..... never mind).  I guess they do things a little differently in the city.

My first stop was MINISO which is in the basement level of one the central malls, I think it's Galeries.

So much to discuss.

A little more upmarket and with a noticeable difference in quality than Daiso (who I will always have a soft spot for), Miniso was doing a brisk lunchtime trade when I stopped by.  Selling a little bit of everything, I succumbed to their clever marketing strategy and walked out with quite an eclectic range of things.  All essential to everyday life, of course.  Prices seem to range from around $5 to around $25.  K Mart and Target, meet your beautifully designed and made competition.

These rainbow hair brushes were $5.  They have dazzled my thick and unruly hair with both their vibrantly coloured bristles and superior bristle strength.

If I needed a new fry pan, this is the one I would have bought.

Mini So lego for $4.

Handbags and soft toys, all around the $5 mark.

My haul. If there was any uncertainty regarding my Chinese roots, let this photo reassure you.  Footlet socks, hand sanitizer and cheapish ($25) blue tooth devices (because who wants to pay hundreds for stuff that will be obsolete by the time the warranty runs out).

I've tested out both the headphones and speakers, by the way.  They're easy to link to iPhones, sound quality is excellent as well.  Be warned that while charger cables are included with each, you will still need to find USB enabled power sockets if you like to charge things at the wall . The headphones are a bit of a small fit though or maybe I just have too much hair.  All in all, very happy with both.

Life enhancing shopping done, it was time for lunch.

By the way, this is how hot green tea is done in city food courts.  Warmed and pre-bottled.  It wasn't too bad actually.  I just had to get my mind to shift from the preconceived idea that all bottled drinks must be served icy cold or with a cup of ice.

Dessert was done the traditional South East Asian shopping mall food court way with a bag of pre-chopped fruit.  Singapore, I need to return to you soon.  I miss those little bags of pineapple, paw paw and watermelon.  The chocolate isn't a traditional food court thing.  It's just me.

Sephora was my next stop.  But isn't the music so loud?  Screens were flashing everywhere which only added to my hot and botheredness.   It was all so distracting that even though I found a whole display of roller ball perfumes, I couldn't focus well enough to pick a favourite. I might just have to go online one of these days and hope I didn't confuse the names of what I tested in store.

As much as the day was fun and exciting, it was also a relief to be able to take my old lady self away from the main shopping and eating hubs and slightly off the grid to the quiet 'back streets' of the city.  By which I mean the ones which are mainly lined by quietly industrious offices and discrete serviced apartments.  The sensible foundation undergarments of the CBD so to speak.

Soft ribbons of sun slipped through between the shadows of trees and buildings that were less sharp edged and glittery than the office towers and shops a few streets across.  There were flashes of warmth here and there by way of little hole in the wall cafes to break up the seriousness of the office blocks.  I relished the luxury of the empty space around me as I walked between my fellow pedestrians.

There were no headache inducing flashing flat screens of the high street retailers.  The only music to speak of was the chatter of people against the sounds of espresso machines and the occasional bus or taxi.  It's how the work day city does peace and quiet and I rather like it.

My little wander put me in the right frame of mind for the train ride home and the little walk afterwards back to my suburban life.  The one that I sometimes feel is a bit predictable and greige but that I know I secretly love all the same.

Not that I can't wait until I get to do it all again....


Day off Tuesday was also consumed by a new page turner I highly recommend.

'He Said / She Said' is Erin Kelly's latest and you can read The Guardian's review here.   It's a slow-burning, suspense read.  The kind of thing that Erin Kelly does so well.  It took me a few chapters to get my bearings and pick up the momentum but once I did, I couldn't stop reading.

Laura and Kit are a young couple who travel the world watching and photographing eclipses.  It began as Kit's obsession but Laura caught the interest along the way.  The book is divided into sections based on the phases of an eclipse and told through the eyes of Kit and Laura.  The plot shifts in time from the beginning of their relationship, to the time their paths crossed with the enigmatic,  changeable Beth and the present time / aftermath of the couple being witnesses in the trial precipitated by the conviction of Beth's rapist.

For whatever reason, Laura can't seem to let go of Beth even after the verdict has been reached.  Beth stops by Laura's work one day.  The encounter moves on to drinks and before long, Beth is having adult sleepovers at Laura and Kit's house.  Laura justifies much of Beth's behaviour as a way of coping and moving on after the rape and the trial.

On his part, Kit seems to have an animosity towards Beth that is out of proportion to a reasonable annoyance at her invading his house and relationship with Laura.  He does thaw slightly though when Beth begins showering the couple with thoughtful and extravagant gifts.

Is Beth really as disturbed as Kit and Laura's narratives imply or is it Kit and Laura who have the secrets to hide?  Initially, the 'he' and the 'she' doing the 'saying' of the title may well have been Beth and her attacker but as the years pass, so much of Kit and Laura's relationship seems based on their assumptions with the facts behind them open to interpretation.

To say any more would give things away and spoil the book for you.  Astronomy is a pretty niche topic but in Erin Kelly's hands, it's the perfect backdrop for her plot and its characters.  The nomadic life that is required to be a dedicated eclipse chaser adds depth to the unpredictability and unstability of Kit, Laura and Beth's lives.  The references to how our social media footprints are 'forever' and can be used to track us down when we mean to hide and be anonymous gives the novel currency and its readers food for thought.

You just have to read 'He Said / She Said' this winter.  Preferably under your doona in either the dark of night or in the eery light of the dawn.

Jun 20, 2017

Shoes and Sweaters.

I'm a woman on a mission.  There've been a couple of niggling issues in my wardrobe that I've put off fixing for one reason or another.  

The first is the elephant sitting in my shoe cupboard.  A number of pairs of sensible work shoes that have stretched a half size too loose or the right sized killer heels that are just too painful to wear for a full day at pacing the lino and concrete at work.

I've managed to get my loose shoes to drop a half size with these Scholl Gel Activ inserts.  They're around $14 per pair and come in a variety of cuts depending on the kind of shoe you're using them for - flats, mid and super high heels.  They only come in one size for up to an Australian 8.  My feet are a half to full size up from this but desperate and determined times left me with no choice but to get them and hope for the best.  As for stockists, look no further than my good friends Priceline and Chemist Warehouse.

In my comfy shoes, the inserts provided the perfect amount of 'fill' to prevent my feet swimming around as much as they were.  They have a peel off backing and you then just stick the inserts into the heel of your shoe and press down.  It is suggested that they be changed every 6 months.  The only problem is that my heels were still slipping out the back as I walked.

Which is where @immashoeaddict on Instagram stepped in to save the day.  She put me onto suede heel grips. They retail for around $5 for a pack of four versus around $8 for the Scholl Party Feet version.  Yes, for the purposes of research for you, dear blog readers, I bought both.  I've only seen the suede version at Priceline while the Party Feet are more widely available.

This is how the Gel Active insoles and Party Feet Heel Shields look in that frustrating pair of work heels I have.  They're Rockport which I thought would be synonymous with all day comfort but sadly, while they do have more arch support than the average heel, I just can't stand for more than around 10 minutes in them or walk in them for more than around three.  A deal breaker in my job.

But I refuse to give in.  Now that I've plastered them in gel inserts, I'm going to take them for a spin into the city for you.  If my feet survive that then I'll be wearing them into work.

This is how the suede heel inserts look.  They need around 8 hours 'setting' time before they can be worn.  To be honest, I think this means that they'll stick and wear better than the gel version which slipped a bit when I tested them out.  I've been proved correct about the gels.  They do migrate around the heel as the day progresses.

My second wardrobe issue pertains to winter knits for work.  I've been all about the skivvy since the beginning of time (1998 to be precise, the year I first joined the 'real' workforce).

In the spirit of embracing change, I've branched out into V neck sweaters ($49.90 AUD, heaps of colours).  Uniqlo do a brilliant range of machine washable merino wool fine knits.  I just pop them into a laundry bag whenever I wash them.  They hold their shape pretty well and air dry fairly quickly even in the winter.  They don't even need to be ironed (black hides so many sins...).  I started with the skivvies last year and this year, I've branched out into the V necks.

Still on the V neck theme, I splashed out on some Uniqlo cashmere.  These sweaters have an RRP of $129.95 but they had a recent promotion which saw the price come down to $99.95.  I've heard mixed reports on the quality (early pilling) but at the price and for pure cashmere.... a girl can't expect everything.  I will update on wear and longevity over the next few weeks.


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