Jul 31, 2017

Life This Week 31/7/2017: Winter.

Winter, it's always a been a bit love/hate/love between us, hasn't it?  I love that your crisp mornings and sunrises are so beautiful but I hate that those same mornings make it so hard to find my get up and go from under my doona and then I'm back to loving you because when I finally get dressed for work, it's all about dark layers and makeup (neither of which would stand a chance on a summer's day).

In the spirit of feeling the love, I'm just going to focus on what I adore about you today.

Little getaways to The Snow.

Puffer jackets and vests. One day I'll step out of my comfort zone and wear one that isn't black.

My trusty heater that keeps the open plan bit of our house so toasty.

What the world looks like when I gaze upwards.  Haunting bare branched trees, moody grey blue skies. That feeling of hibernation and energy conservation before spring bursts on the scene with her blooming and blossoming magic.

Ugg boots.  Enough said.

Faux fur gilets.  Ditto.

Wearing thermals under everything in broad daylight and in public.  I love that my favourite pairs of mum jeans comfortably accommodate my thermal leggings, they're that stretched and baggy.  Winter is all about crimes against fashion in the name of staying warm.

The food of winter is also worth mentioning.  It's birthday and event central for me over winter so there's usually something gloriously calorific sitting in the fridge.

Happiness is indeed a large mug of soup on a cold winter's day.  Home made soup and buttered toast has been my default Monday night dinner for most of the winter.

But it's not been all hibernation and comfort eating this winter.  The city and local hubs around Sydney have hosted an array of winter festivals in recent months.  We only made it to Vivid in the city this year but I'm hoping we can visit more next winter.  It's really lovely being able to explore a familiar place after dark and somehow, doing so in winter adds a sense of adventure to the occasion.

Winter. What do you love or loathe?

Jul 29, 2017

Perfect Ponies and Other Things.

I bet you never really saw me as a horse or pony person, did you?

via pinterest
Gotcha.  I'm not one at all.  What I do admire is a good pony tail.  The ones humans wear their own (or someone/thing else's thanks to hair extensions and hair pieces) in.  But they've always eluded me with my own head of hair.  Mine droop, they lack bounce, they're invariably flat at the crown and they always look a bit hectic in a distinctly un fashion kind of way.

Until now, that is.  

It all started at MINISO when I found this elusive set of mini claw clips in tortoise coloured plastic.

via The Huffington Post
Tortoise is key to the perfect pony because I'm old enough to have both lived through this 90s hair trend featuring rainbow coloured mini butterfly claws and know that it's a hair crime I have no right to commit twice in the one lifetime.

It turns out that there are two relatively simple and inexpensive tools you need to create a great looking pony in under 5 minutes.  Yes, even I can create a pony with oomph and polish with my thick collar length hair using the following:

- a DIY hair bungy made by attaching two hair clips on a hair elastic as above, please excuse my horribly dry and pleathery winter hands.  I've been wearing fabric bandaids on the really bad bits all week at work to try and heal some of the damage but the overall look is pretty ordinary.  Yet another reason I'm keen to see the end of winter.

- one or two of those tortoise mini butterflies.  Plus your usual hair elastic, a brush, a sectioning comb if you're precise and this video:

So easy!  And so effective.  My two sectioned pony lasted an entire day without showing any signs of the fatigue my up dos normally experience.  

Other things that have made my week include:

Finding a Friday afternoon sausage sizzle in full swing at Woolies after work and preschool pick up.  A preschooler that's fed dinner early on a Friday is a happy one that goes to bed without complaint a good half hour earlier than usual.  This doesn't guarantee a Saturday sleep in but one out of two ain't bad.

Parsley in a tube is the best.  I freeze partially used tubes to prolong their life expectancy.

The parsley went into a Panko and Parmesan based crumb I made for some drumstick chicken parmas I made during the week.  A great recipe find from a recent edition of the Woolies magazine.  I'm on a roll with supermarket recipes at the moment.

The Saturday papers brought photos of Dame Joan at 84 looking absolutely fabulous and the weekend's catalogues featured an offer at Dan's I couldn't ignore.

And to finish on a mildly controversial note... I think I'm slowly breaking up with Kiehl's.  I've been such a loyal fan for so long but my favourite cleanser has been out of stock for about 4 months and no one can confirm if it's simply been discontinued.  This state of limbo has been unsettling.  And then there's all those empties I've been faithfully recycling instore.  I've had my recycling card dutifully stamped at one particular store who then never seem to have the 'reward' items for filled cards in store.  The 'rewards' aren't actually special products but standard stock items.  I feel awkward and pushy for asking / following up on these items I'm kind of 'owed'.  

So I'm trying something new.  Ren's had lots of positive press and social media feedback for being good for sensitive skins.  This  Rosa Centifolir gel cleanser I bought was $25 from Mecca Maxima.  I've always found the staff at both Maxima and Cosmetica very helpful or at least polite and efficient when the stores are busy and they're flat out.

Are you a Ren fan?  Have you actually received skincare for recyling your Kiehl's empties in store?

Jul 28, 2017

Cheers to the Weekend. The Big Issues.

Cheers to the weekend, everybody.

One of my beloved uni besties brought me home these champagne flavoured Pocky from her last trip to Japan.  Words just cannot do them justice.  Remember when Lindt toyed around with the champagne flavoured Lindor balls?  And how they weren't all that....  Well, these Pocky actually taste of champagne in a very pleasant and subtle way.  It did do my head in how a chocolate coated biscuit could taste so bubbly but they do and I hope some visionary decides to import these to Australia very soon.

The champagne moments with my wifi at home have been few and very far between this week.  I was plagued by the ominous red flashing @ most of the week as I've been struggling to get access to the work intranet from home.  We're into the second week of emails of screenshots to the IT help desk.  I'm nearly broken.

I reckon I'm only holding it together thanks to my liberal application of Eve Lom's Light Illusion Concealer ($45 AUD at Mecca, available in 6 shades).

I'm onto my second tube as of today.  I love that it's light weight with medium coverage that doesn't crease, wrinkle or cake under my eyes.  It brightens to such an extent that it's really noticeable (sigh...) when I'm not wearing it and going makeup free (ie any non work day of the week and the entire weekend).  It has a brush tip applicator and you click the bottom to release product through the brush.  I tend to apply it with by fingers after streaking a bit onto the side of my thumb.

While technology often fails me and often in a spectacular fashion, old school stationery seldom does.  It made me so happy on that day I was having serious internet issues to be able to find my favourite yellow index cards available at the local newsagent.  You never have to worry about software updates, passwords, internet speeds or compatability issues with index cards.  All you need is a biro that works and a card box if you're feeling fancy.

And how about those spools of stick on labels that you can just pull off the roll and write on.  No complicated attempts to feed pages of labels into the special slot of your printer, getting them right side up and then ensuring that your text fits within the borders of each label.  I have been guilty on more than one occasion of accidentally printing my stuff at work on pages of labels.  It never ends well.  Label pages just don't fold the same as plain printer pages do.  Labels always unpeel a little and they stick to literally everything as I suppose you'd hope that they do, 

Speaking of sticky situations.  I love the way Scanlon Theodore dresses look in store and on the celebrities whose Instagram accounts I not so secretly follow.  I don't think Roxy wears much Scanlon but I do follow her Instagram and her de facto page over on the Daily Mail's website.  That confession really does need a post of its own plus or minus an intervention from yourselves, dear discerning readers.  I'm trying to unpack the reasons for my fascination.  So complicated and possibly so illogical.  Our lives are diametrically opposed yet there's something about the way she portrays her life that compels me to look inwards and try and draw parallels which in turn keeps me going back for more on Instagram.  Then there's the personal ethos of determination, self worth (high) and work ethic (also high).  Oh and, okay, I'll confess... the clothes and the accessories.  If I ever pursue further postgraduate study, I just might have to do my thesis on the Roxy and I dynamic.

But to get back on point.  Scanlon Theodore.  Such beautiful dresses.  Take this (very stiff) crepe bandage dress. I love the bottle green, I love the length, the fabric really pulls everything into some kind of vortex but how does one even get into the dress?  There's no zippers and when I congratulated myself for getting into said dress, had a look in the communal (of course) mirror, the sales assistant suggested one size smaller.

I have several questions for you today, readers.

Do you print out stuff at work on the wrong paper on the regular?  Do you then photocopy your print outs so they do end up being on the right kind of paper?

Where do you go for a killer dress?  Bonus points if it's one of those chi chi places with dramatically curtained, well appointed change rooms but which also ironically only have that one communal mirror five painful metres from where you have to get changed.  Or just hit me with your favourites from Net A Porter.

And Roxy.  Tell me I'm not alone.  We need to discuss.

Jul 27, 2017

Lovin' LIfe 27/7/2017: Cooking With Coles.

Today's love is a simple one.

The July 2017 edition of Coles' in store magazine.  It's got Curtis Stone on the cover and the promise of sub $10 meals for the family inside.  So many of the recipes look both doable and delicious.  Instagram also agrees with quite a few of my friends already raving about things they've made from the issue.

I've just made Curtis' Nan's cottage pie recipe with a bit of a 2017 refresh... namely a  fifty split of potato and cauliflower for the mashed topping.

Looks just like the full potato version but with a more complex taste.  I love the taste of cauliflower for some strange reason...

I used twice the amount of mince as was specified in the recipe (a kilo versus 500 grams).  It was a mix of premium and heart smart mince.  Which has pretty much blown the $10 budget right there.  Since when did mince get so expensive?  It ended up costing $15 for the meat alone.

But back to the cottage pie.  I just had to put cheese on top of that super healthy mash, didn't I?  Wasn't called for in the recipe and we're already way over budget anyway...  

Voila!  This is my baked cottage pie.  Oh, I do love that Le Creuest square baker.  It's the perfect size for this recipe.

Curtis' nan's recipe gets two thumbs up from Preschooler SSG and I.  It's a simple yet tasty version of cottage pie that's not bland at all.  I did add a splash or two of Worcesteshire sauce to the mince and used a sachet of pizza sauce instead of plain tomato paste.  And Nan Curtis definitely got it right by adding butter and full fat milk to the mash.

Have you made anything from the $10 meal issue of Coles' magazine?  Hit or miss?  Any keepers you'd like to share?

Do you do sneaky things like hide cauliflower in your mashed potato?   Your secret is safe on the blog.

Jul 25, 2017

Tuesday. And That's A No to 'No Sugar'.

Keeping it real world today.

Beginning with this flat lay of real world mum life.  A stack of freebie magazines from the supermarket, laminated tear outs from said magazines, this morning's at home yoga sequence, stationery and a couple of Paw Patrol pups.  Speaking of whom, what's the low down on those pups?  Why do preschoolers love them so?  I've overheard a few Paw Patrol episodes but I still don't know what their game is.

That raw torn edge is really growing on me.  It's almost art.  I love my laminator.  I'm making Curtis Stone's nan's cottage pie recipe from this page for dinner tonight.  So many disparate sentences in the one paragraph.  It's obviously a day off Tuesday after a very long Monday.

Revisiting the weekend.  How glorious was Sunday?  It felt like a preview of summer sitting out in the sun at Circular Quay.  I've been peering at the mirror ever since to see if I'd managed to get a starter tan from the weekend.

People tell me not to get my hopes us just yet.  That August will bring with it not just my birthday and a visit from mum but also a bout of miserable weather to remind me that winter always has the last word.  But for now, I'm just enjoying the sun on face value.

After a 'picnic' lunch while waiting for the ferry, we finally made it to the zoo.

Where we saw and did many things.  Unfortunately not really animal related.  

I folded and tried No Sugar while we were there.  No.  Just no.  It tastes like the evil spawn of full fat Pepsi and Coke.  I think I might just have to drink more water and less sugar free chemical cocktails.

What's your stance on No Sugar Coke.  Have you heard the rumour that Woolworths will defiantly continue to sell Coke Zero?

Jul 24, 2017

Life This Week 24/7/2017: Can't Live Without....

Clocks.  I know.  How exciting.  How fun.  How life affirming.  How profound (actually, they can be just not in the way I can't live without them).  

How ... practical and highly scheduled.

One of those peculiar joys in my life is getting a new desk clock.  Which happens more often than you'd think because while I love clocks and spendy things, I tend to buy cheap clocks.  This is the latest addition to the family.  It was around $9 at MINISO and there's so much to love.  It's pink.  It's digital.  It's got huge numbers in 24 hour time.  It tells the date and the day.  It's even got a thermometer.  Plus it's got a special party trick.  If you lightly tap the top, a sensor makes the whole clock face backlight itself.

I just love that feeling of looking up in whatever work space I may be in (whether it be my desk at home or the neater, less cluttered one at work) and being able to see the time.  Sure, I've got a watch and an iPhone but it's not just the same as looking at an actual clock.  Knowing and seeing the time tells me whether I need to speed things up or not, whether things are going to that all important SSG internal timeline and schedule, how long 'til X/Y/Z.... 

My clocks are also very soothing.  If I'm having a lie in or having some sofa time, looking across for the time seems like such a languid thing to do.  Yeah, I know.  You might have to think that one over in the shower later to try and get it to make sense.

I also like to look out for bigger and more stately clocks when I'm out and about.  I get a bit edgy when I've been walking around for a bit and haven't laid eyes on some kind of time keeping device.

How do you feel about clocks?  Have you ever really thought that hard about it?  Understand completely if you haven't.


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