Sep 27, 2018

Lovin' Life 27/9/2018: Snap Happy.

This week's love is an unashamedly high school level mature one.  I am LOVING my new phone.  Yes it was ridiculously expensive and yes there's a few tricky moves I am yet to master owing to the phone not having that physical 'click for home and everything else' button but:
  1. Face recognition is great and not as awkward to use as I had imagined
  2. Most of my key apps synced relatively easily, including my precious calendar
  3. And, most importantly... I HAVE A FUNCTIONING FORWARD FACING CAMERA!!!!!

My time in the broken camera wilderness was a frustrating one.  I had no idea how convenient it was to simply take a photo of something important like an image, document or a computer screen to send to someone else until that basic privilege was removed from me.  I missed being able to just pull my phone out of my pocket and take a photo of something or someone that was special to me in the moment.

It wasn't like I was totally camera-less  for much of this year but it was so much less convenient having to download images from my DSLR (beautiful as those photos were) or to do that frustrating thing where I tried to take photos using the reverse camera on my phone.  The process did cut down my oversharing on social media but it also meant that when I did have something to share it was often a dodgy crop of something from Google Images or else a brain dump of words presented to look like a more entertaining meme thanks to Word Swag.

For better or worse, incessant iPhone photo taker and sharer SSG is back.....   Consider yourself warned.  It's only been a week and this is what I already have photographic evidence of already.  The iPhone XS Max cameras are beauties by the way.  

My last Monday at work before two and a bit weeks off to travel, spend time with family and be a school holiday mum.

Special time with some of my dearest friends to have some champagne and cheese.  Our boys are all of a similar age and they've known each other for as long as they each can remember.  Theirs is a special friendship.  They rarely fight with each other (despite being the human equivalent of a tornado whenever they're together) and they just seem to be perfectly fitted pieces of a friendship puzzle.  Likewise, as parents, we have a beautiful jigsaw of connection. Some of us get recruited to be part of the boys' latest loud and energetic game while others of us get the food or tidy up or just take a few moments to sit down and share a few minutes of adult conversation.

This was my first peach of the season.  Pricy and pretty to look at but it wasn't as sweet as I had hoped.  Never mind, there's still the rest of spring and all of summer to keep taste testing through.  I love the variety that the warmer weather brings to our weekly rotation of fruit.

T2 is one of my favourite stores and it looks like I'm raising its next generation of fans.  Master SSG loves trying the samples and reading the witty signage and packaging along the way.

So I'm heading off on this week long trip to Europe and I'm bringing tea and energy bars.  Because Berlin as a modern and global city would be so unlikely to stock either of these things on its supermarkets or fancy grocery stores.....

My packing for work trips gets more and more last minute as the years go by.  In my defence, many things are already pre-packed from previous trips so all I need to do is find them but still, it's all got to be packed.  An added challenge this time is not having the luxury of the two/three suitcases I usually get for US trips.  All that baggage made me such a frivolous traveller.  Fingers crossed I fit everything into one suitcase.

How do you feel about the camera on your phone?  Deeply attached or indifferent?

Sep 24, 2018

Life This Week 24/9/2018: The Last Thing I Bought...

The last thing I bought was a new Moleskine notebook.  I have a favourite kind and it's the classic ruled hardcover version.  There's a sense of solid comfort and predictability in Moleskine notebooks.   That vanilla beige paper and its feint ruled lines hint at gentler, less hectic times.  I love being able to just put pen to paper to write and draw because I spend practically every other week of the year tapping away at keyboards or screens.

I also have a thing for navy blue at the moment.

I love it when 'want' and 'need' collide.

The new notebook is for Berlin and I'm leaving for Berlin this Friday.  Once again, those mixed working mother feels are kicking in.

Last week was all about the anticipation of the trip.  The delicious prospect of not one but two solo long haul flights in the lap of high altitude luxury.  With nothing but my thoughts for company and with no one to look out for but myself.  Of being off the grid (unless there's in-flight wifi on either of my flights) for a couple of days.  Of the excitement in travelling to a country I've never visited before and experiencing some if its sights, sounds, tastes and history for the very first time.  Of catching up with an old friend.  Of some good old fashioned 'me time'.

But as D-Day fast approaches, the jubilation of last week is being supplanted by just the faintest pangs of wistfulness.  I will miss him.  It's only going to be eight days and I'll be home with him for half the school holidays but I will miss him.

It will hit the hardest when I get into the taxi for the airport and I just know there'll be a tear or two on my part when we do that first Berlin to Sydney Facetime.  It won't be quite as bad but it will still be there when I'm out and about in that new city and see a child who reminds me of him or when I explore someplace I know he would love.

However, he'll be safe, adored and spoiled at home surrounded by some of his most loved and favourite people.  And I'll be getting a block of that stuff I long for and countdown to when I'm deep in the trenches at home and in need of a little escape.  So while we will be apart, we will also be getting a little of what we each need.  But plans already afoot for an overseas adventure that we will be taking together next year.

Sep 20, 2018

Lovin' Life 20/9/2018: 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' by Jenny Han.

Image result for to all the boys i've loved before
via Google images

Hello, I'm Sydney Shop Girl.

I'm 43 years old with a busy life revolving around parenthood, work, trying not to click 'pay now' for too many of my virtual shopping baskets and trying to achieve a run life balance.

I've also rediscovered young adult romance fiction.

'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' is currently a Netflix film that's taking the world by storm and the film was based on Jenny Han's 2014 novel of the same name.  Briefly, Lara Jean Song Covey (pronounced to rhyme with 'lovey' and not the bird) is a Korean American teenager who lives with her widower dad and two sisters.  The three sisters are very close and since the death of their mother, have been extremely protective of their dad who often works unpredictable hours as an obstetrician and gynaecologist.  

Lara Jean has never truly been in love.  By her own admission, she's had a few crushes including one on her older sister Margot's ex-boyfriend Josh.  Josh wasn't only Margot's ex, he is also a dearly loved 'adopted' son'/big brother of the Song Covey family.

To deal with her crushes, Lara Jean writes letters to each boy.  Her theory is by getting out all her feelings on paper, she can then seal the envelope and move on.  The letters get stored in a teal hatbox given to Lara Jean by her mother.  While the letters are addressed to each crush, they were never intended to be sent.  Only someone does send them without Lara Jean's knowledge and most of the letters find their subjects with interesting and very YA fiction type consequences.

And here I am avidly reading about Lara Jean's teenaged world and not even being remotely embarrassed to admit it.  Each awkward encounter and slightly self-obsessed and self-conscious thought takes my mind back to my own world as a teenager.  And the sarcasm.  Oh the sarcasm.  Did we all act that way out of self-defence or to appear more self-confident or a bit of both?  Whatever the reason, I had no idea how cutting teens can be.  How I was.  I expect it will all came back to haunt me when I become the parent of my very own teenager...

It was a world of simpler times even though it didn't feel it at the time.  Family, school, friends - it was a bubble and a safe one at that.  At times it felt boring and a little too safe but I look back now and treasure that time of my life because it is part of who I am now.  

It's not that I'm nostalgic for my teenaged years or that I wish I could go back and live those years again, but 'better' but reading 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' brought me back to those days of crushes and distinctly PG rated PDAs.  And for this woman who gets secondhand embarrassment for everyone involved with the Bachelor, that's something lovely and strangely touching.

Do you ever read young adult fiction?  Does it take you back in time as well?

Sep 18, 2018

Hitting the 'Beach'.

Summer came early to my neck of the woods over the weekend.  This is the best photo I could manage of our local 'beach' / outdoor pool.  It was taken in 'selfie' mode because my rear facing camera is the only one that works on my phone.  I am in serious countdown mode for Friday evening which is when I'll be making the trek to my local Westfield to pick up my new phone sized bar of gold (I'm sure they were priced based on the gold price).

But I digress.  It was a sensational Saturday afternoon and Master SSG and I were in beach mode.  We had a bag of snacks, drinks in an insulated bag and some upcycled plastic containers as our tools for the beach sand that's the perfect consistency for building and digging.

We found our spot, lay down our towels, made sure our sensible hats were securely fastened under out necks and made for the deck that surrounds the pool enclosure.

And then I thought.  Stuff it.  If not now, then when?  It's only going to get harder the longer I leave it to give it a go....  So I took off my shorts and T-shirt and hit the beach in just my bikini.

It was actually quite confronting.  I immediately felt incredibly self-conscious despite the fact that everyone else around me was dressed similarly.  Since we're in confession mode on the blog today, I'll admit that yes, that was me sucking in my tummy as we inched to the deck....

But I needn't have worried and my awkwardness surprised me and disappeared after about two minutes.  No-one was looking at me and no-one was critiquing me.  What was happening was that a crowd of everyday people were doing their thing and enjoying the surprise gift of a bit of summer in the middle of spring in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  People were reading, people were eating, people were chatting, people were getting their Instagram husbands to take that perfect shot of them arched beside the water (definitely not me in case you were wondering), people were lost in their own thoughts, people were being kids again with their own kids.

So I followed the crowd.  I enjoyed the feeling of the sun of my skin, I darted back and forth to the water to fill tubs with water for Master SSG's 'baking', I helped him dig for treasure and we walked to the kiosk for icy poles and soft drink. 

In the scheme of things, spending the afternoon at the beach in a bikini isn't the biggest fear in life to conquer and it's not the most exotic thing to cross off a bucket list but I did it.  I've also gotten it into my head that spending my beach days this summer in the same fashion could be a good thing.  So I've done some research and have a list of stores I'll be visiting over the next few weeks to find that perfect two-piece swimsuit for summer 2018/2019.

Are you a fan of bikinis at the beach?

Sep 17, 2018

Life This Week 17/9/2018: Have You Ever...

Have you ever been to the snow?

For someone who's grown up in the dry heat of Perth, the snow will always be a source of awe and wonder.  I've made two trips to the snow in my life and both holidays felt both more adventurous and invigorating than any other kind of place I've ever visited.

Firstly there's that sky.  It's impossibly, vividly blue.  Streaks and swirls of cloud seem to dance across it yet there's a stillness to the air.  I'm so used to the blue skies of the city presiding over noise and movement.  The snow seems to command that we stop, breathe and live in the beautiful moment.

The second thing that captivates me when I'm in the snow is that alpine air.  I imagine that your take on the air would be very different if you were trying to get about your daily life in below freezing conditions, but as a visitor, I love the air here.  I love it's sharp coldness on my face, it's purity as it hits my lungs and how it whistles ever so gently as I cut though it in a gondola.

Though I was a bit scared when I decided to look down during one of my gondola rides.

Some ski and some snow board while others snow shoe but do you know what my favourite way of travelling through the snow is?  Riding in a sled.  It's hard not to release your inner child as you slide this way and that down a hill while sitting on a piece of plastic and clinging onto its ropes for dear life!

Have you ever been to the snow?

What's your favourite part about being there?

Sep 15, 2018

This and That. Kyshadow, I'm a Fan.

I was Apple fangirling with the best of them yesterday afternoon from around 5.01pm EST....

I was, of course, refreshing the screen on my existing iPhone obsessively to be among the early birds to score a presale for the latest generation of iPhones.  I'm sure there were lots of other shiny new Apple things launching at the same time but for me, it's all about the phone this year.  I've been barely functioning without a working front camera on my current phone for around six months now and I'm amazed that I've gone so long without caving in and either fixing my current phone or trading in for a new one before now.

via Twitter
The only thing is that there has been a price for breaking my relative silence on Instagram...  have you seen what they're wanting for iPhones these days?!?!  

Master SSG had his first athletics carnival on Friday.  He was so excited and had so much fun. The emphasis was on participation and the carnival featured a series of activity stations where everyone had a go while the teachers tried their best to make sure the boys stayed on task.

It was really lovely seeing the boys from the older years at school being so helpful and supportive of kindergarten and year 1.  They were on hand to keep the little ones on track as they ran their two lap 'long distance run' and were there to hand out ribbons at the star event which was the sprint.  Everyone was timed prior to the race so that the heats would be evenly run and no one would be too far in front or behind the others in their race.

My friend and I ran the mums versus teachers 100m relay.  We were narrowly pipped at the post by the teacher team.  It was our baton passing technique that failed us and I'm hoping we can improve on it for next year's race.

Last but not least on today's agenda is a follow-up post on my recent Kylie Cosmetics purchase.

To recap, this all began when I was one of the lucky few to get a first run edition of Vogue Australia's September issue with Kylie on the cover and a free Lip Kit attached.  The issue sold out and while the magazine got reprinted, the offer didn't seem to continue with the reprint.  I was so pleasantly surprised with the performance of the Maliboo set that I got that I ended up purchasing the August Kylie's Favourites bundle for $100 USD.  Shipping was free and prompt.

Of the ten items in the bundle, I've tried the Kyshadow palette and the Angel lip kit and thought I'd share my thoughts after a fortnight of testing.  Both products are made in the US.  While the matte lipstick has that trademark caramel scent, the eyeshadow and lip liner are unscented.

Current Product Zoom Image
May I begin by saying that I didn't have high expectations for the Kyshadow Burgundy Palette.  It retails for $29 USD against Urban Decay's Naked series which retails for $54 USD.

My cynicism related to:
- the cardboard packaging, why do premium make up brands persist with cardboard to house their product?
- the price difference between Kyshadow and the UD palettes, did the relatively nice price imply that things like texture, blendability and wear time would be compromised?
- I'm just a fussy eyeshadow customer.  I like certain brands and have an immediate and internal bias to any brand that isn't UD, MAC or Too Faced.

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Turns out the jokes on me because even cynical internet beauty identity Jeffree Star loved the palette both for its range of colours and its quality.

Here's what I loved:
- the colour pay off
- the fact that the darker shades didn't get muddy with blending
- the shimmer of the shimmery shades stayed true on me for 8 hours
- that the colours suited me and while I felt a bit Kylie on the inside as I applied my Kyshadows, I fortunately did not end up looking like a middle aged parody of her.  The burgundy palette enabled me to get a bit creative with my work make up without getting inappropriate about it.

What could have been better:
- one or two more paler, highlighter shades because the majority of the palette is quite dark and intense.  I found what I was looking for in the rest of my eyeshadow library.
- the shadows are a firmer consistency and while this meant that there was less kick up on application, I found then hard to work with to line with.

But in summary, great product at a great price.  The Kyshadow palettes now feature quite a wide range of colour themes and singles have recenty been added to the range.  With periodic free international shipping promotions and the periodic bundled item promotions that feature the Kyshadow palettes, I'll be checking in regularly to see which palettes feature in promotions.

Current Product Zoom Image

The Angel Lip Kit ($29 USD) is a mauvy pink matte and works well as an everyday colour for me.
Current Product Zoom Image
While the mattes can be a bit drying (based on appearance rather than the feel which is surprisingly light), they do last all day and when they dry, you can apply clear gloss over them without any colour transfer to the applicator of your clear product.  The matching lipliner has a creamy consistency but was firm enough to get precise and even coverage and that all important lip line definition.

Image result for kylie cosmetics
via Google Images

So here I am.  An unlikely fan of Kylie Cosmetics.  Who would've thought?

Have you tried anything from the Kylie range?

Sep 13, 2018

Lovin' Life 13/9/2018: Carabiners

Image result for carabiner
via Google Images
Today's post is in praise of the humble carabiner (it's German for 'spring hook' and totally on theme for me given that I'm days away from Berlin).  Those rainbow coloured, lightweight gadgets that campers and outdoor adventurers adore but which have also found roles in suburban life.

Image result for carabiner keys
via Google Images
It's ironic that while computers and electronics have made our lives easier in so many ways, it's come at the price of having to carry around a seemingly endless array of cards, keyless entry thingummies and remote controls.  In addition to the conventional keys that you use to secure the doors to protect whatever you're using all of the above for.

What I like about carabiners is that it makes it easy to clip things together securely while also being able to separate them just as quickly if needed.  Your car keys for example if you need to have your car serviced or cleaned. I also like the fact that I can clip a carabiner to the strap of a tote bag which prevents my bunch of keys from being lost in the depths of said bag.

Carabiners are also quite uniquely shaped which makes them easy to grab onto if you do happen to have to rummage for them in a bag or drawer. 

Image result for carabiner on ID lanyard
via Google Images
I've got a carabiner attached to my work lanyard at the moment and while that's not exactly groundbreaking, what I do need to find next it an ID card holder similar to the one in this picture.  I love those card slots on the reverse side.

Have you seen anything similar in your travels on the world wide web?

Do you use carabiners for non camping and adventure sport related purposes?

Sep 11, 2018

Running Pains.

Yeah, well.  Anyway.  Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and all that.

Image result for bandage tape

It's been a crazy week or so for me.  It turns out that I was being wildly optimistic in thinking that I'd be able to continue my current running program indefinitely and without injury with a 43 (ouch) year old pair of legs.  There was other craziness this week which is now largely resolved and not really blog worthy.  This level of drama always happens in clusters.  To make you appreciate the life you lead in between the clusters, I suspect.

What I thought was just a bit of old lady non-specific lower back pain is actually a combination of sacro-iliac joint dysfunction and pyriformis muscle strain.  Long story short, I've had needles stuck into me and had my hip taped.  I've also had to do some exercises at home to help the healing process along.  I suspect I've managed to strain another muscle in the process.  

But the hardest part has been not being able to run.  It was torture not going out the back door each morning to rack up a few k's.  I missed the sounds and sensation of being out there in the fresh air as my neighbourhood got into gear for the day ahead.  I missed how alive and ready for the day those runs made me feel as I got back into the house and got stuck into the business end of the morning.

The days away from running weren't just all about me feeling sorry for myself.  It's given me time to rethink my fitness routine and relationship to running.  How I need to give myself time to rest between long, hilly runs. How to not be tempted to skip the slow or short runs in a program (or to add runs to the plan) because of my ego wanting to replace them with more longer distanced runs to make my weekly stats look better.

I've realized that if I want running to be part of my life in the long term, then my running routine needs to change to reflect my life.  I need to lose the rigid 'mind over matter' mindset and embrace rest days and moderation instead.  I also need to accept my body and its current limitations while also being proud of what it's done and can do right now.  I've been pretty good at not focussing on the mirror and measurements but I think I also need to lose the focus on pace and weekly distances run.  

I've never really thought that hard about ageing and what it means to me specifically but I guess I'm running (no pun intended) out of excuses to ignore its inevitable influence on my life.

As part of the negotiations in my recovery program, I was allowed to reintroduce some low range runs into my life over the weekend.  I'm heading back to the physio today and I hope I'm allowed to run a bit for over the coming week.  At the very least, I'm hoping I'll be cleared to do the parent and teacher race at Master SSG's first ever athletics carnival this Friday.

Sep 10, 2018

Life This Week 10/9/2018: Travel Tips (For the Predictable Traveller).

I wish I could tell you about packing light and capsule wardrobes but if I did, it would be very hypocritical indeed.

I can't even tell you about how to cut your travel costs by booking tickets and accommodation through certain providers and at certain times of the year because I only make two kinds of trips these days:
- for work which means that airfares and accommodation rates are not really negotiable
- to visit mum and dad back in Perth during school holidays so peak rate airfares but free accommodation (thanks ever so much, mum and dad).

I'm also not what you'd call an adventurous traveller.  I tread paths that are often so well trodden I can feel the indents of other peoples' footfalls as I go.  I usually fly, I stay at boring hotels and I love a super touristy day tour to help me get my bearings.

The breakfast I eat religiously every morning that I'm every in the US for work.  Excited?  So am I.

If you can relate to my style of travel then I hope there'll be something below that you'll find useful or else nod in agreement about. I'm just a few weeks out from my trip to Berlin so writing this post is going to be helpful in getting me motivated to do as I write.

A new Moleskine is one of the first things to go into my suitcase when packing for a work trip.
Image result for trilogy rosehip oil
A bottle of rosehip oil always goes into my carry on luggage.  It rehydrates like nothing else and I use it  as an all over moisturiser.
Image via Google Images
Before Aiport:
  • Tripadvisor -  I find it an invaluable resource for everything from hotel reviews to ideas for places to visit when you're on a fixed time schedule.  The interactive maps also help me work out hotel proximity to things like public transport and supermarkets.
  • Make an itinerary - I like seeing just how many 'free' days I have whilst away against my 'work' days.  This helps me try to fit in as many touristy things as I can on the 'free' days leaving the 'work' days just to do what I have to do and possibly squeeze in a bit of an evening explore for dinner when my work day is done.
  • Boring things - I make sure I have travel insurance, pre book my seat, check my passport, load my travel visa debit card and also get some hard currency.
  • Organise data and calls for my phone for the trip.  Because, as they say, if it's not on Instagram then it didn't really happen and you didn't really go....

Enviro shoppers I find at local supermarkets are one of my souvenir buys whenever  I travel.  Go figure.

In my suitcase:

Image result for australian colgate toothpaste
A taste of home ... Australian Colgate toothpaste.
Image via Google Images
  • Creature comforts - despite the fact that my travel invariably takes me to places with a lifestyle and living standard similar to Sydney, Type A Worrier me always fears that I'll somehow not be able to find my 'essentials' whilst staying in a hotel slap bang in the shopping district of wherever I've travelled to.  So I pack: teabags, Australian toothpaste, Australian Listerine, stainless steel cutlery and snacks.  
  • Things to replicate life at home whilst away - chargers, envirobags, travel sized skin care and the bare bones of my makeup collection.  Samples save space and are fun to try while away too.
  • Zip lock bags, a paring knife and scissors.
  • Skipping rope, speed conversion card from km/h to MPH as well as conversions from kilos to pounds for the gym.
  • Too many day clothes and not enough gym gear.  Every.  Single.  Time.

That one time I had to go to H&M in San Antonio to get spare gym tops.  They ended up being great buys - they were both on sale and tumble dry like a dream.

I only ever buy magazines these days for promising GWPs and when I'm at the airport.

At the Airport:

  • I'm usually bordering on euphoric to have just made it to the airport on time safe in the knowledge that all is well at home and at work.
  • Duty Free, baby.  See above.  Shopping under the influence of relief at international departures is a very dangerous thing indeed.
  • The lounge.  I try and get there as late as possible because I like to walk around as much as I can before the hours of sitting and waiting that lay ahead.  
  • Mimosas.  I always make myself one (or two... maximum, I promise).  It's the Vitamin C form the orange juice that makes them medicinal.

My travels around the airport often involve taking special photos to send as messages to Master SSG.

On the Plane:

  • Into my PJs and flight stockings as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign goes off.
  • I try to remember that one in the air is equivalent to three on the ground.  Actually, I always remember, I'm just not always compliant.
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
  • Water, water, water.
  • Small meals and fresh fruit where possible.
  • Walk and stretch.
  • This is probably the only part of my post that sounds remotely useful.  It will also sound very familiar because it's also the tried and tested stuff journalists always discuss when writing about how to survive long haul flights.  

Upon arrival:

Local pharmacies and supermarkets.  Numbers 1 and 2 on my list of places to visit in any new city I land in.

  • Buy whatever I've forgotten to pack at the airport before leaving for the hotel.
  • Work things out: how to get to the hotel gym, how to work the in room kettle / filter coffee machine.
  • Unpack a bit in my room before heading out for a bit of a walk in the local area.  And for coffee because plane coffee is mostly very ordinary.
  • Live / survive that first day on local time as much as possible.
  • Go to the supermarket for fruit for my room.
  • Diligently live each day of the trip as per my detailed itinerary ... NOT.
Must remember to get my T2 cube of tea bags for this trip.

What is your travel routine?  What are your best travel tips?


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