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?

Aug 15, 2017

Under the Weather.

It was pretty much inevitable, I suppose.

Finding myself on my day off with a low grade temperature and all the symptoms Preschooler SSG had last week.

I've hastily revised the menu for dinner tonight.  It's going to be jelly cups with tinned fruit for me.

With bonus calories and caffeine from the drinks I had left over from when I was trying to encourage fluids with Preschooler SSG last week.  I am a bit feverish but I'm pretty sure that I got my hands on a pack of coke zero minis and not no sugar cokes, right?

I've got around 3 hours until preschool pick up and there's not much I can do really except wait for the panadol to kick in, sip some tea and fill a few virtual shopping carts.  I hear there's another Priceline 40% off sale on from tomorrow but the mental effort required to plan a haul is beyond me right now.  So I've gone back in time to ebay to track down some things I need for work.  I have so many fond memories of some very dodgy purchases from the 'Bay.  'Designer Inspired' coats that looked more like dress ups, polo shirts that barely covered my belly....  

The weekend was lovely though.

We made the most of the sun and took a ferry to the zoo and I picked up my first ever freebie paper.  All this time and I never knew to go and collect a paper from the holders at the main entrance.  Have no idea why Sunday was temporarily renamed Samday.  Can anyone shed some light?

On Saturday I celebrated both my birthday and the restoration of our hot water supply (tricky business with the front gas supply valve... much cheaper to fix than the hot water heater, thankfully).  I kept it classy by using china to hold my snacks.  To compensate for my ... acrylic (shudder) champagne flute.

After a winter hiatus, birthday party season is back in full swing.  Jungle Buddies in Five Dock is pretty much the perfect location for a play centre based birthday party.  There's plenty of undercover parking on site (with lifts to get you safely to the venue) and the play structure is both impressively tall and has a large foot print on each of its three levels.  Sorry no photos of the magnificence of the main play centre structure, my friends and I were too busy keeping an eye on the boys.  They've all suddenly decided that they no longer need us within line of sight as they climb and explore.  It's pretty hard work keeping track of them as they scurry up, down and around.  There's also a serparate secured area for the under threes.  Those were the days...

They run a tight ship at Jungle Buddies.  Each party was allocated their own table in the main area with platters brought out for the parents to enjoy as the children played.  There was then an announcement for each group of children to then move to their individual party area where games were played after they were served lunch.  It was all beautifully done and the food was the nicest I've ever had at a play centre.  The cafe was also very reasonably priced.

Have you finally caught what the rest of your household had earlier this winter?  Feeding that cold, starving that fever or doing it in reverse?

Aug 14, 2017

Life This Week 14/8/2017: My Ideal Meal.

I have a confession to make.  I've been a bit complacent about my diet over the last few weeks.  The cold weather has been an excuse for 'just a bit more' and because it's 'home made and vegan' portion control really isn't an issue.  Don't vegetables have close to zero calories anyway?

My clothes are feeling tight and I'm feeling unfit.  It's all a bit disappointing because I thought keeping up with my exercise would compensate for all that extra food.  It might have done in the past but clearly not anymore.

At the same time, beating myself up and wishing things were different isn't going to change anything either.  Small changes which will eventually become habits over time.  Those and non food related goals to celebrate my milestones.  I'm planning on making the milestones unrelated to a number on the scales.  Sticking to a small goal for a fortnight is what I'm thinking of instead.

Interestingly, it's not been the occasional treat days that have been my undoing but rather the daily almost mindless extras I've been adding without much thought or need.  Being confronted with a few extra kilos has made me think hard about the small things I can change each day in the way I eat.

Which brings me to what my ideal meal is at the moment.  It's every meal from now on.  Because I'm going to be more mindful about how much food it really takes to make me pleasantly full.  I can't do fad diets and I can't skip meals.  I like my little treats, I can't really live without an alternate day cafe coffee.

But I can make small changes to get back on track.  And stay there.

Aug 12, 2017

Life's Just A Bit Like That, Sometimes.

You know what?  Life's just a bit like that, sometimes.

You begin the day wearing a wide grin, a full face of makeup, good hair and an outfit entirely made up of 'dry clean only'.

Your Preschooler is now back to 90% of his usual self and to celebrate you walk his scooter and him down the road for a skinny cap and babycino before work.  You congratulate yourself on remembering your enviro coffee cup and the fact that you have such a lovely babysitter to cover the day for you.

The day unfolds around you under the shine of the best sun you've seen in quite some time.  It's going to be a great day.  Because everything is going to plan and it's Friday and the weather is glorious.

The day is in fact great.  Work gets sorted with a surreal level of efficiency and a high rate of positive outcomes.  You return home to a well child who want to go out for a late lunch.  He wants Maccas.  You don't question this because you have an afebrile child in front of you with both an appetite and a spark in his eye.  You don your favourite outfit of ripped knee jeans and a white T.  You slip on your favourite white birkis, the ones that are synonymous with summer to you personally. You are mutton dressed as lamb and you are definitely not dressing your age.  You do not care.  Ages like 'turning 42 the next day' are only a number.

The outing is a great success. Actual food and fluids are consumed.  A side trip to Aldi after a walk in the sun is completed.  You've got this.  You've survived a pretty hellish week.  You are in the moment, and finding the joy.

Then you get home and find that the hot water tap doesn't work.  None of them.  Not just the tricky one in the kitchen that needs to be flicked at a certain angle to operate.  Even the normally reliable faucet in the laundry is delivering nothing but streams of cold water.  At 4.30pm on a Friday.

It's not ideal and it's even more so after the week you've had.  There's a flurry of activity to head back out the door again for the welcoming lights of Woolworths to find a cheap kettle for the bathroom and some kind of prepackaged dinner to minimize the need to wash anything up in hot water.  

You eventually convince yourself of the silver lining of the latest situation.  You do at least have electricity, running (cold) water, food and a roof over your heads.  A plumber will be coming tomorrow to have a look.  He sounds a decent bloke having tried to help you troubleshoot during that late Friday afternoon phone call.  

Being reliant on a kettle for all your hot water needs takes in a kind of monastic quality (relative to the privileged life you usually lead).  You are acutely conscious of the need to be economical with its use.  Face washers, basins and scoops are employed as you wash.  You use the time it takes for the kettle to boil to breathe (and write blog posts).  The face washer method of washing your face yields surprisingly good results.  Your 'yesterday's eyeliner is today's smoky eye' game is strong.

The new bathing arrangements are a hit with your preschooler and the rest of the evening takes on a quiet and technology free direction.  Almost as if bathing with buckets set the entire household back a few decades appliance wise.

You have cake and ice cream after dinner.  There is champagne in the fridge but you're nearly 42 and hence old enough to know that slightly hung over with a newly healthy child on a Saturday morning would not be a good look.  The bottle continues to look pretty in your fridge with its suggestion of a slightly more sophisticated life than the one that's currently taking place beyond its doors.

It's just been a bit like that today.  But it was what it was and you did what you had to do.  You won some and you lost some.  And gee were those losses keenly felt.

And you go to bed with every hope and conviction that tomorrow and its tomorrows will be better days.

Aug 11, 2017

A Low Key Birthday Weekend.

Happy Birthday Weekend to me!

My Sephora birthday gift arrived in the post this week.
It's going to be a quiet one because my favourite little preschooler is still under the weather.

He's been home since Tuesday without showing any signs of cabin fever.  Very unusual for him but the colour is returning to his face and there's definitely more giggles and grins than there were earlier on in the week.

First on my list of low key birthday celebrations will be a quiet appreciation of all the things that got fixed while Preschooler SSG and I have been stuck at home this week - the plumbing, the landline and that stray tree trunk branch.  This will all happen while I hold that first mug of tea early on Saturday morning as I pad around the house in my running gear and ugg boots.  I like to keep it glamorous in my down time.

And then I'll be heading for a super hot shower with my new shower cream from L'Occitane.  This is the first full sizedstandan alone L'Occitane body wash I've ever purchased (I usually only get them as hotel freebies or parts of gift sets) and I'm irrationally excited to see how this goes.  The Arlesienne scent is a combination of roses, violet and saffron which sounds really strange but is actually very pretty.  It reminds me of that light, modern take on rose fragrance that Lancome's Tresor first released way back when.

Breakfast is going to be a large wedge of this green tea cake with white chocolate buttercream frosting.  Thank you, Preschooler SSG for doing such a great job with the sprinkles.

I love the scent of matcha powder.  It's also often so beautifully and precisely packaged as practically everything from Japan is.

Then there's its lively, vivid, vital greenness.

And that scent again as it adds a touch of the exotic to something as seemingly mundane as cake batter.

It's just as well I have this vanilla pod in my caster sugar cannister.  I completely forgot to add vanilla extract to the batter.

The star ingredient of this cake's frosting is a bar of white chocolate.

I really enjoyed the combination of flavours in The Spruce's version of green tea cake.  The cake isn't sweet and has a nice sem fine texture to it.  Frosting wise, the white chocolate buttercream was the perfect foil for this cake's flavours.  I was suprised at how simple this cake was to bake and assemble.  The Spruce website has a number of other recipes featuring matcha and I'm now curious to give them a go.

Have you ever baked with matcha?

Do life twists and turns sometimes see you plan a very, very low key birthday weekend?  Fear not, I've got plans that will make up for this over the coming weeks.

Be well.

Aug 10, 2017

Lovin' Life 10/8/2017: In the Backyard.

Two thirds of the way through winter has got to be the sweet spot of the season.  There's been plenty of time to cocoon, comfort eat and layer your clothing excessively.  Around now, the days begin to get that little bit longer, the sun (when it does shine) has a tantalizing bit of warmth to its rays and it's a little easier to get proactive about that summer body.  Story for another day, finding the motivation to coax that summer body out of hibernation...

Another surprising thing I looked forward to this winter was that first proper attack on the back yard since the last leaves of autumn got swept and raked all those weeks ago.  We had some pretty magnificent weather here over the weekend.  A bit of that warm sun and extra daylight in the afternoon I was talking about earlier.

Guess what I did with that weather?  Turned up ABC Jazz really loud in the backyard and tidied up.  I raked, swept, mowed and then kicked back with a cuppa as I listened to the music and wondered whether turning the radio up loud in the backyard on a Saturday afternoon broke some kind of local council noise limit law.  But I didn't wonder for that long.  It was the ABC after all.  And the weather so glorious that you'd have to be a bit desperate to ring the council after hours to complain about something.  You can never have an ABC station up too loud in this (or any) neighbourhood.

Do you surprise yourself about just how much you enjoy doing a bit of gardening this time of the year?

Aug 8, 2017

One of Those Days.

Basically, today has been brought to you by the words 'Crazy' and 'Crazier' both of which are subsidiaries of the 'One Of Those Days' corporation.

I know.  It's hard to know what's for me and what's for the patient in this trolley...

I've just returned home after receiving The Call from daycare.  The one about a high fever and a miserable looking preschooler.  An emergency grocery run has been done as we prepare to bunker down for a couple of days of the Frosty Fruit diet.  You can trust Preschooler SSG to have great taste when it comes to selecting sick bed ice cream and biscuits.  So many key food groups covered in the one shopping trolley.  

Out of frame are a bag of indulgent grapes all the way from California and this other little gift to our nation from the Golden State...

a bottle of Cali Press #6.  Because nothing else drops a fever (combined with either panadol or nurofen) quite like it.

My last bottle of Coke Zero is tempting me from the fridge and I think I deserve it today after all the texting, calling and general life organizing I've done today.  The executive summary is that life will go on tomorrow thanks to the many wonderful people I'm friends, colleagues and neighours with.  

The unabridged version goes a little like this.

I love the impossibly tall trees that line the streets where I live.  I love listening to the shimmery rustle of the wind through their leaves as I potter around the house.  I love watching their shape and colour change with the season.  When I need a bit of calm and stillness, I look up at them and find a soothing focus for my mind.  

I'm just not very good at dealing with their large branches when they fall across my backyard.  So I'm very grateful to our council for being so friendly and prompt as they helped me this morning.  I'm also very glad no one was hurt.  An arborist is currently in my backyard sorting out the situation.  The back street is actually a hive of activity right now with him, the builders next door and an assortment of other people who are out and about getting things done.  

I too was trying to get things done after the gym this morning. It's usually pretty quiet at the shops around half eight in the morning so I thought I'd be able to make some calls as I sipped my post gym coffee.  As luck would have it, the entire Westfield was in fire drill mode.  Nothing like the sound of sirens in the background to emphasize the urgency of your calls to mum, the local council, plumber or the ANZ, I suppose.

Lucky it's been a good mail day with my parcel from Priceline ready to pick up because the delivery guy missed me at home (and thought I'd appreciate a little walk and weight training at the post office).  I'm looking forward to trying new products as well as having a stockpile of all the things we seem to run out of at the most inconvenient times.

So much whining and franticness in the one post.  It's not always like this.  Sunday was just lovely, actually.

We went out for Japanese after swimming and Sunday school.

Then we scootered to the park and tried to take on some challenging playground equipment.

Before heading home with a melting Zooper Dooper that it was my job to hold for Preschooler SSG and then help him drink once all the ice had melted because he was adamant not one drop of its artificial raspberry deliciousness should go to waste.  You just had to be there.  In a public thoroughfare.  It was one of my proudest parenting moments.

There was still so much sun on the sky after we got home from lunch.  That couldn't go to waste either so we went for another scoot with my nephew and his parents.  Why am I always the one who gets to carry the buses?  Why do we even need toy buses when we're meant to be scooting up the road?

Then we had cherries for afternoon tea.

And with that, I reckon you are now officially up to speed with everything around here.  Lots of unexpected drama and things not quite going to plan but things have worked themselves out in a crazy kind of way.  To celebrate I've brought Casual Friday forward to tomorrow.  I shall be heading into work dressed in my trusty J Brands from back in the day.

How's your day been?  One of those days?


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