Aug 31, 2017

Lovin' Life 31/8/2017: Anticipating Spring.

It's the last day of August today.  It's also (finally), the last day of winter.  I, for one, will be so glad to see the back of Winter 2017.  It's been a long one full of illness and long, crazy days at work.  Little things adding up by the end of the three months to make me feel a little weary and in desperate need of spring.

Spring brings with it a lifting of all those dark layers of clothing I've been wrapped up in over the winter.  Lighter fabrics, more lively prints, bare skin and shoes that aren't sensible black.

The longer days make outdoor play more tempting and fun.

And then there's the stars of spring.  The blooms.

They add softness to landmark buildings.

They make outdoor spaces more inviting.

While rows of beautiful bouquetsat the shops bring a smile to my face as I go about doing the same old same old.

Are you looking forward to spring?

Aug 29, 2017

'The Mummy Bloggers' by Holly Wainwright. From the Perspective of a 'Mummy Blogger'.

Mummy bloggers.  It seems such a straight forward term.  To me, it describes bloggers who happen to be mums.  To others, it's a complex pair of words.  There are many who associate the phrase with women who use motherhood to influence, profit and self-promote.  Which then leads to the various sub categories of mummies who blog.  Those who 'keep it real', those who 'keep it polished', those who 'tell it like it is' and those who possibly try to do one or all of the above but also manage to stir high emotion among their readership.

Mummy bloggers have also crossed into the mainstream media from the blogosphere.  Thanks (some may suggest I use inverted commas around the thanks...) to Instagram, mummy bloggers are influencers and media identities.  A force to be reckoned with in this world of fast media and fake news.

Mummy bloggers also can't seem to help but stir an almost primal response in their followers and readers.  Whether it's because of what they consciously try to project or promote or whether it's a result of their words and pictures reacting with our own beliefs, ideals and experiences as women - it's almost impossible not to react not just to the posts but also to whom we assume the author is based on what they've chosen to present to us through their work.

All of which is a preamble to introduce the book I'm currently reading, 'The Mummy Bloggers' by first-time novelist, Holly Wainwright.  Wainwright is the entertainment editor for Mamamia which gives her a unique perspective on the rise of the mummy blogger and bloggers in general.
'The Mummy Bloggers' is a page turning chick lit kind of read centred on the lives of three mothers who blog.  I'm sure you've read the blogs of the kinds of women who've inspired the three central characters. Elle presents a highly curated take on motherhood.  She has a dream kitchen and everything about her looks just as perfect.  Abi is the non-conformist who celebrates all women as Queens.  Leisel is a working mum who blogs about the sometimes grim reality of being the breadwinning mother of three young children.  She works in the glamour industry of magazines which sees her work life contrast almost painfully with the time stretched tedium that greets her each day when she returns home to her stay at home dad husband and her brood of three little ones.  The women become finalists in a blogging award competition which paves the way for a plot of lies, deception and back stabbing.

I'm really enjoying 'The Mummy Bloggers' so far.  As a blog reader and casual follower of some pretty infamous mummy blogger confrontations, Wainwright's novel is both a topical and 'behind the scenes' examination of these dramas as well as how mummy blogs are run.  Because mummy blogging isn't just about taking photos, captioning them and writing.  They're big business headed by women who are using their blogs (and families) to go places.  Nothing is spontaneous, unintentional or thought about ten steps ahead in terms of clicks, affiliate links and potential sponsorship.

On a more personal level, reading 'The Mummy Bloggers' got me thinking about where I fit in on the mummy blogger continuum.  I'm one of those people who blogs but who also happens to be a mum.  I'm not aware that I push any particular parenting agenda beyond doing whatever works (a very loose term in itself) and mostly keeps the peace.

I write about what's been happening in my life.  Sometimes it lends itself to pretty pictures and sometimes it doesn't.

But it mostly does taste good despite appearances.

My life has its ups and downs.  It's been pretty, it's been ugly.  There's been travel and then there's been long periods of the same old same old.  Writing about it brings me joy and a sense of purpose.  I enjoy the creative process of putting my life into words and pictures.

The issues of influencing and manipulation of the truth are ones I've never really thought about as I've written and photographed.  This blog is primarily a creative outlet for me.  There are aspects of my life that I don't write about for reasons of privacy and out of respect for others in my life.  There are things that just don't translate into the kind of posts I tend to write.  So yes, my blog is a manipulation of the wider truth but hopefully what I do write about is not perceived as manipulation itself.

Are you a blogger yourself?  Do you follow blogging dramas?  Have you read 'The Mummy Bloggers'?

Aug 28, 2017

Life This Week 28/8/2017: Mindfulness.

Mindfulness.  The ability to bring your attention to the present.  A state of mind that correlates strongly with a greater sense of well being.  Also a quality I find very challenging to bring to my daily life for even a few minutes at a time.

I've been trying to find out why it's so hard to be mindful for more than those minutes when I have hours of the day when I'm objectively not actually doing anything.
Two words, I'm embarrassed to admit. My iPhone.  I'm forever flicking through the socials on it, turning it on to see what I've missed message or call wise, checking the weather...  I could go on and on.  It's embarrassing and it's wrong but I can't help myself.  I put myself on periodic bans for certain times of the day and for certain activities but I always find my screen time creeping up gradually after a few days of being 'good'.

Ironically, I did have to use my phone to take this photo but this was a moment of mindfulness that I managed over the weekend which I'm very proud of.  We were at the zoo with some friends and the boys were playing together on this old 4x4.  The weather was glorious and the game was very vocal, creative and fun.

My friend and I couldn't quite follow the details of what the boys were discussing but I remember that we were all fully engaged in what was before us. The boys in their play and the adults just enjoying a moment of sun, happiness, and contentment.  Just looking at the photo brings back those happy, uplifting and positive feelings.

So I guess while my phone is a barrier to my leading a more mindful life, it also helps me record those precious moments.  I think this whole mindfulness thing is why I Instagram as much as I do.

It's often my least exciting photos that were taken at my most mindful moments.

How good are you at being mindful on a daily basis?

If you are on Instagram, what makes you share certain photos?  The way they look or the way you felt as you took the photo?

Aug 26, 2017

So Then My Mojo Returned.

I'd always thought of my life as being pretty simple when it comes down to it.  Set routines, set responsibilities and even set things I could count on to love or loathe.  Then I Slightly Fell Apart With The Flu.  Some weeks later I Recovered From The Flu.  And over the last few days, I've been in the process of Getting My Mojo Back.  It's been a surprisingly complex and multi-faceted process as I've rediscovered favourites places, tastes, sounds and feelings.  Who knew that the flu could make you feel born again on its departure.

Coffee's tasting like it should again and popping down to my favourite cafe is fun for all my senses again.

Good old Tay Tay has had some kind of social media blitz this week and it's resulted (predictably) in the release of a new single and album.  Yes, I'm a 42 year old woman but yes I got caught up in the whirlwind and downloaded 'Look What You Made Me Do' because Tay Tay is that kind of creative force.  There are so many (not so) hidden meanings, subtexts and references in her lyrics....  The new direction of Her Swiftness music is also a good one for getting motivated by at the gym.

In other news relating to the gym.  Well, it's location, at least.  Look who's finally setting up a shingle at The Junction?  About time, Sephora and can't wait to drop by this September.  A mere week or so away....

I had a defining moment with technology this week and it's just too good not to share.  I bought myself a new printer.  One of those hard core, heavy duty lazer ones.  I've been faffing around for too long with ink jets.  They seem cheap to start with but you end up paying with cartridges and dodgy print quality in the long run.  In anticipation of a future of high volume printing with Preschooler SSG starting school next year, I bit the bullet and got a 'proper' printer.

And guess what?  Not only did I set it up relatively easily, I got wifi printing to work with all my Apple devices first go!  Is all of that even meant to happen to mere mortals like myself?

And here is the first proper thing I printed.  A very and conversion table of most things cooking from  Laminated straight off the printer tray, of course.

I bought my printer at Officeworks.  A place that never fails to soothe and take my money.

In the time that it took for the very helpful printer guy to come and help me choose one, I managed to find myself a stash of new note cards.  Orla Keily and Jonathan Adlers, no less.

And if all of the above wasn't enough excitement in my first days of feeling human in quite a while... I went out Friday night.  With two of my very best mum friends for a bit of a girls night.  It was low key, it was spent sipping quality beverages that sparkled and despite being out late on a school night, we all went home super relaxed and full of the joy of life.  So much so that one of us walked home from the train station and straight into Woolies for a rather dry Chicken Waldorf sandwich that she then proceeded to eat straight from its carton as she walked home (in heels) to her little corner of suburbia.  I like to think it was living on the edge but I was actually too lazy to get Maccas on the way to the train and then too tired to cross the road from Woolies to Oporto when that post drinkies hunger could no longer be ignored.

Keeping it classy and living the dream,

SSG xxx

Aug 24, 2017

Lovin' Life 24/8/2017: Family Fun.

We've had some very special people come to stay this week and Preschooler SSG has been beside himself.

He's taken my mum and aunty to all his favourite places and he's baked for them as well.

Aldi's organic butter gets two thumbs up from all of at SSG Manor 2.0.  Melted butter, an extra egg and milk instead of water in with a cake mix really does help the result taste home made.

We went out for dinner to China Diner which has recently opened an out post down the road.

I'll have to return again soon to review the cocktails but in the mean time, here's a report on the food.

Basically, I loved it all.  The duck pancakes are a little different to the traditional Chinese method of serving them with just the layer of crispy duck skin.  China Diner serves slices of duck meat in theirs with some delicately pickled cucumber.

For our mains, we shared some poached chicken with ginger and shallots, some steamed greens and a serve of fried rice.  It was all served Bondi style (and hence true to China Diner's origins) - light, lean and full of flavour.

Thanks to my mum and aunty, I found myself with a few child free hours over the weekend.  I could have used them to rest up and totally knock my cold on its head or to catch up on the housework but no, temptation beckoned and I attempted to go perfume shopping with my cold.  I had to abandon my mission after about the fifth perfume tester because nothing smelled right through my dodgy sinuses.  So all I had to show for my effort in the Myer beauty hall was a back up tube of my favourite MAC concealer.

Do you bring your nearly empties in with you when make up shopping?  I do it in the vain hope it makes things easier for the make up artist serving me because all they need to do is squint at the base of the tube to try and make out what shade I am rather than having to re swatch me on a busy Saturday afternoon.  Fortunately, he could read which NC shade I was and double fortunately, MAC still make this particular concealer (Mineralize, FYI).  Can you imagine the panic if it had been discontinued and I might have had to try something new?

I did go home with a few other things...  I've had my eye on this Japanese made Benriner Turning Slicer for ages and found it for an excellent price at Victoria Basement.  It looks easier to use than my current mini plastic one and less clunky than the Aldi electric version I tried a few months back.

And yes, that is a Doughnut Time box nestled away in the shopping bag too.....

Kind-Er A Big Deal is a special edition doughnut currently on sale at D Time and I just had to buy one for Preschooler SSG because Kinder eggs are his favourite thing right now,

Aug 22, 2017

On the Mend.

What a difference a day (and antibiotics) makes.  I've risen from the barely alive in truly miraculous fashion.  

I've even been down the road to get myself a coffee and pick up my shirts from the dry cleaners.  I had no idea getting your shirts professionally laundered and pressed was so inexpensive.  This could possibly be setting a lazy mum precedent for next year when Preschooler SSG starts kinder and a neatly pressed uniform will be required 5 days a week, most weeks of the year....

My appetite has returned.  It helps that my aunt and uncle brought their favourite brand of prawn crackers with them from Malaysia and fried them up for me too.  These crackers are worlds away from those fragile looking pink things you get from the supermarket or as a freebie at your local Chinese restaurant.  Many are made in little mum and dad businesses where the exact cracker recipe is a closely guarded secret.  Entire batches sell out on a daily basis and some producers are official suppliers of prawn crackers to the royal families in the area.

I could go on about these prawn crackers forever.  They're thick yet crisp with a nice toothiness to them.  You can taste the prawn in them as well as the umami.  I imagine they'd go down nicely with a beer or two if you're that way inclined.  For me, I'd just have them with a Coke Zero.

But for all my recovery, I'm still only around 80% at the gym right now.  It's good to be getting back into the swing of things fitness-wise but it's going to be a slow progress.  Getting so sick and so quickly has definitely been a reality check for me.

I'm irrationally exciting to be heading back into work tomorrow.  It hasn't been the same logging into work from home.  I'm missing the drama, lack of dull moments and the big personalities.

Not to mention the dressing up.

The Julia (front) and Jessica (background) dresses from Boden's current range.  Got them for 20% off.

I received my two Boden dresses in the post this week and I reckon this jersey shirt dress is going to get debuted at the coalface tomorrow.  The Julia dress in melon ($180 AUD)  has this lovely retro, kind of Gucci vibe and has just enough colour to perk up my pasty, post flu complexion.

Be well and enjoy that good health of yours!

Aug 21, 2017

Life This Week 21/8/2017: Really Sick.
I'm never calling it the manflu again.  I've just survived a particularly bad attack of it and I'm just glad to be sitting upright and out of bed this morning and feeling around 25% human again.

The thing about good health is that you tend to take it for granted until it's unceremoniously taken away from you like how it was with the flu and I this weekend.  I would have given anything to have my usual list of complaints to deal with rather than what I actually got dealt.  The endless fevers, aches, nausea and tiredness didn't leave me any room to find the joy in life.

It was so much effort to do anything at all and concentrating on anything more than taking panadol and antibiotics was beyond me.  I also wondered, more than once, when it would all just go away so that I could get my life back again,

I'm cautiously hopeful that the worst of it is behind me now.  I'm taking the day off work because the cough is still pretty bad.  Fingers crossed, though, that I'll be back to normal by Wednesday and back control of my normal, everyday, illness free life as well.

How has this winter been for you?  Were the flu gods kind?

Aug 17, 2017

Lovin' Life 17/8/2017: The Missing Ingredient.

This weekend coming up has been scheduled to within an inch of its life.  I've got family coming to stay, things to do, places to go and cakes to bake.  Surprisingly, it's the planning for the cake that's proven to be the biggest challenge.

via Google images

I've got my heart set on baking this lemon velvet cake and while finding the lemons and buttermilk has been a breeze, the same could not be said for lemon essence.  Can you believe that lemon essence doesn't even have a spot in the supermarket baking aisle anymore?  You can get bubblegum, cola, chocolate and coffee flavourings but not good old lemon.  It could be a sign of the times, that home baking is getting so fancy and celebrity chef inspired.

Just as I was shelving my lemon cake dreams, I had a thought.  Perhaps I could try the tray of essences and food colourings that I've had stashed away from all my past baking adventures.

Sure enough, there it was.  An almost full bottle of lemon essence.  No expiry date anywhere but it still looks lemon yellow and it definitely smells the goods so I reckon it'll be okay.

Have you had a lucky find in your pantry recently?

Does your local supermarket still stock lemon essence?


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