Oct 29, 2018

Life This Week 29/10/2018: I Want This.

Image result for nigella lawson stage show sydney

Nigella Lawson will be returning to Australia early in 2019 with a stage show about her culinary life and I want tickets.  At this stage, there will be only one show in Sydney and it will be at the Opera House.

There's so much to love about Nigella.  Her voice, her prose, her cooking programs.  I have many happy memories of my pre mum life where my lazing on the sofa has been accompanied by a rerun of a Nigella series.  One of my favourite Nigella recipes is her take on Japanese Prawns for which she uses frozen (!!) prawns and wasabi.  Served on a bed of lettuce, it's the ultimate big bang for buck recipe that Nigella is famous for.

And there's also the way watching Nigella on TV makes me feel.  Happy, relaxed and ready to return to the real world once the end credits roll as Nigella 'returns' to her kitchen ion her dressing gown after filming to assemble sneaky snack from the leftovers of whatever she was making during the episode.

Plus there's the X factor of The Opera House as Nigella's venue.  The Opera House elicits this sense of anticipation and occasion within me every time I walk on its concourse or up its steps. 

Yes, I definitely have to keep my eye on the presales for Nigella's show.

What's on your want list at the moment?

Oct 26, 2018

A Meghan Moment. The Wisdom of Warnie.....

It's very exciting news for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and yes, okay, I'll admit it... me.  Isn't Meghan looking sprightly, radiant?  

Image result for meghan markle sydney duchess
via Vogue

So, so, so not how I was when I was at a similar stage of pregnancy.  My prevailing memories of pregnancy revolve around fast food, the sofa, Foxtel and elasticated waists.  I am in awe of this current crop of mums to be in their shift dresses and heels as they go for hours without eating or reclining.

Image result for meghan markle sydney
Popsugar Australia
The good thing about the windy days we've been having in Sydney is that I could finally have my first Meghan Moment by which I mean that one moment in time where I get to feel a little Young Royal.

I'll never have Meghan's glow or her hair but I do have a  cream Burberry trench that looks a bit Meghan.  I haven't worn it as much as I should and I'm kicking myself for 'saving' it because it's the perfect coat to wear on windy but slightly warm days.  The relaxed drape of it when you leave the front unbuttoned doesn't look as tent-like as I thought it would.

Image result for shane warne leigh sales interview
via Twitter
I've been on a bit of 'fame' themed reading journey recently.  I mentioned Justine Bateman's new book 'Fame - The Hijacking of Reality' earlier this week and today I have more wise reflections on fame from a surprising source for this non-cricket following Australian citizen - Shane Warne, one of our living national treasures.

Shane was recently interviewed by Leigh Sales (one of my favourite journalists from the ABC) and the two-part special has recently been aired nationally.  I haven't had the chance to see the interview in its entirety but have been reading and listening to the media coverage of it with interest.  Shane obviously has a lot to reflect upon with regards to his own career in cricket as well as the recent controversies that have engulfed the current Australian team.  Predictably, my eyes and ears glazed over for those bits.

However, Shane also talked about his personal life and demonstrated a level of insight and self-reflection that made me take notice.  The biggest regrets of his life revolved around how his less rational actions negatively affected the lives of his children and family and also how while he realizes he made mistakes, it is also very hard to change and be a person you are not.  He goes on to talk about honesty and how this helped repair some of the damage he inflicted on his children.

His romantic relationships have been a source of inspiration for the tabloids for years and in this area, Shane also came through with some very wise words.  He was admirably diplomatic and respectful when asked about the details of his past relationships before going on to talk about his current single life with its ups and downs.

I was really surprised by how deeply I responded to this interview and how it made me reflect on my own life which is worlds away from Warne's.  

Did you watch the actual interview?  Did it affect you?

One last thing before I head off into the weekend.  The inevitable has happened at our place.  We've run out of plastic shopping bags to line the kitchen bin with so guess who's bitten the bullet and bought a roll of plastic bags specifically for that bin?  I suppose the compact rolls that these tidy bags come in are tidier than the fluffy mess of grey that previously occupied the storage shelf....

Be well and have a lovely weekend!

Oct 25, 2018

Lovin' Life 25/10/2018: Kmart is the New Ikea.

Today I'm loving the fact that I have created order out of the chaos that was previously the section of my desk devoted to charging cables.

I don't have the 'before' photo but I am pretty sure you can imagine it.

It's ironic, isn't it, that while technology streamlines and organizes so much of our world maintaining and storing devices often adds more physical clutter to our lives.  The more devices we have / need, the more cables or charging stations we have to find room for.  Those wireless docks are all well and good but you often need to take things out of cases to make them work which kind of defeats the purpose.

My workspace has gradually taken on the appearance of a table of spaghetti as more and more cables have been added to the mix.  Fortunately, most appliances have the same charger so I've gotten by with simply attaching whatever I needed to charge with the first available charger I could untangle.  

But then I went to Kmart (as so many good stories on this blog are wont to begin).

via kmart.com.au
And saw their range of bamboo tablet and smartphone organizers.  This particular version retails for $25.  It has space for four cables along the back and a large shelf area to place all your devices on.  There's also a pull out drawer beneath.  Ours is currently filled with a variety of Master SSG's 'treasures'.  The handy ledge above the cable area is wide and sturdy enough to house a wireless speaker.  No assembly was required for this particular unit,  Mine currently takes pride of place between a couple of desk organizers I also purchased at Kmart.

Is Kmart the new Ikea, I wonder?

Do you have any finds from Kmart at your place that have helped restore order where there was once chaos?

Oct 23, 2018

Happy Tuesday.

How did it get to be October 23 already?  That's only 8 weeks until Christmas not to mention all the events and parties that need to be squeezed in beforehand.  I'm just going to stick my head in the sand and try to stay in denial for just a little while longer.

The weather has decided to return to the programme after the weekend's storm activity and I'm sitting here typing in a short-sleeved blouse.  To my mind, short sleeved is summer and it's a refreshing sensation feeling the edge of my desk with bare forearms.  It's the simple things.

Speaking of simple things, I've had many to treasure and enjoy this last week.  And since I've been pretty slack in keeping up with my gratitude journal I'm going to reflect on them in today's post.

The planets aligned across time zones over the weekend which is how a dear friend of mine and I managed to have an unscheduled WhatsApp chat about life, love and the universe.  We didn't come up with any good answers for the questions that have been on our minds but we spoke our minds and had a good laugh in the process.

I'll never take my right to vote for granted and I'm glad that our votes can precipitate history-making change and shake the complacency of the major parties.

Everyone at SSG Manor 2.0 is loving Apple's AirPods.  They are the best in-ear headphones I've ever used.  They switch on the moment I place them in my ears and just as effortlessly sync with my iPhone.  They don't fall out when I run whether it be on the treadmill or outdoors and they charge in their sturdy case.  Master SSG borrowed them for a bit the other day and he wasn't keen to give them back.

The school year has sped by and it's freaky to think that I'll be the mother of a Year One child next year!  Master SSG's progress this year continues to amaze me as does his limitless imagination.  He had me being the Prac Teacher for his animals on Sunday.  I was given a demonstration of what to do and a lesson plan before he disappeared and promised to 'be right back'.  The lesson was combined geography and 'colours'.  There are quite a few 'sunset colours' apparently.  And a lot of countries whose flags and capitals I don't know but that's not really a surprise seeing as I never actually did geography at school...  It's coming back to haunt me.

Bless.  Whatever I talk about these days always seems to return to the weather.  It's just that I'm deliriously happy to be back doing that Multiple Bay Run that takes in some very pretty views and houses along the way.  Doing the run in this weather is a happy way of counting down to summer and the season of family and fun it is for me in Sydney.  I enjoy seeing the decorations of the main street's shops transitioning from Halloween (not an observer but each to their own), The Cup (same) and then Christmas and New Years (hip hip hooray!!).  My other favourite thing about the run is the coffee I gingerly walk down the road for afterwards.

The basil in my backyard pot garden is finally growing and it's delicious with tomatoes and sea salt on toast.

I've grated my large wedge of Parmesan and now have oodles of cheese to go with my bolognese sauce and lasagna portions.  Plus a couple of bonus rinds to throw into the next batch of sauce I make.

Justine Bateman recently released a book about fame and I read an article she wrote on a similar theme online recently.  I am intrigued and am going to find the Kindle version.  Master SSG and I have a getaway with friends planned next month.  I am envisioning an hour here and there to read while he sleeps in our Air B'n'B and this will be a great addition to my reading list.

Be well.

Oct 22, 2018

Life This Week 22/10/2018: Quick Meal Ideas.

Quick meal ideas isn't just a phrase to me, it's part of my way of life.  I'm a big fan of batch cooking, minimal prep and letting things like the oven and slow cooker do all the hard work.  I love some of these meals so much that their recipes are committed to memory.  Which is pretty impressive considering how bad my memory is at times....

My favourite breakfast at the moment is baked oats.  I make a few variations I've adapted from recipes discovered via Google.  The constants are rolled oats, psyllium, chia seeds and flax seeds.  Then the rest is whatever takes my fancy - a coconut version, one with choc chips and peanut butter and a healthier version full of fruit and pecans.  I just reheat a portion each morning and eat it with yoghurt, fresh fruit and some honey and cinnamon to taste.

Lunches are usually some kind of salad or some crudites, dip and rice crackers. 

On really crazy days, a couple of hard-boiled eggs and a Bear Naked bar do the trick.

Image result for bear naked bars
via Woolworths.com

I'm not ashamed to say that French Onion soup mix is a key ingredient in many of my favourite dinners.

Lamb and French Onion soup mix are a surprise match made in heaven.  There's the infamous Lamb Obsession dish made in the slow cooker with everything in the photo above plus some onions and a lamb roast.  For a casserole, just use the soup mix, carrots and cauliflower and some lamb chops and bake in the oven.

And let's not forget Apricot Chicken as a third non-soup dinner you can make with a humble sachet of French Onion soup.  I like to add curry powder or Moroccan spice mix too.

Another dinner that's always on high rotation in my kitchen is Japanese Beef Curry.  It works well in the slow cooker with cheaper cuts of beef plus it always makes plenty to freeze for future dinners.

What are some of your favourite quick meal ideas?  

Oct 20, 2018

We Had Some Sun For A While There.

The sun solves everything.  After weeks and weeks and weeks of nothing but rain, we've been richly rewarded for hanging in there and keeping on. 

Just in time for the weekend too.

This was the scene on Friday afternoon as I drove home in the early bit of peak hour.  It's only a photo of the traffic, I know, but that sky and that sunshine!  And all of it ahead of a non-working weekend.

The sun lent an almost festive, end of term vibe to school pick up.  Everyone wanted to hang around and play for a bit despite being picked up.  Second afternoon teas were had in the cool of the shad and various things were built and bounced on.  I don't know where all that energy came from because this was all coming off the back of swimming and cricket.  Yes. swimming has officially begun at school and all 70 kindergarteners changed into their bathers, got onto a bus, swam and then changed back again without any major dramas.  I'm none the wiser as to how it actually happened but it did and Master SSG is looking forward to doing it all again next week.

I'm also excited about finally being able to do some long outdoor runs. 

There's been a bit of fog over Sydney but it's lovely and warm in the early mornings these days.  Just a shame that this new fangled phone of mine still can't take perfect photos in the dawn light.  It was spectactular seeing the lights of the city materialize through the fog.  Might try the flash next time to see if it helps.  Shame I didn't think to do this at the time.

I knew I was going to jinx the weather when I posted my earlier photos.  The storm clouds are gathering again this afternoon and a storm seems imminent.  So it was probably a good thing we went for a swim at the aquatic centre rather than at the beach.  It was only a brief reprieve from the rain that we had yesterday and earlier today but at least I've got some hot chips.

How's the weather made you feel?  Are you a little up and down according to how it's been of late?  It's so frustrating to be this far into spring and still be plagued by rain.

Oct 18, 2018

Lovin' Life 18/10/2018: In Praise of Crayola's Washable Fingerpaints.

Today I'm giving thanks for and loving ....

Crayola's Washable Finger Paints ($17AUD from Target) because true to their name, they really do wash out and off with water.  Whether it be your brass doorknobs, a prized Star Wars watch, the floorboards, your hands or those of your creative and artistic child's - it comes off with soap, water or a few wipes.

How do I know this?

Well, this was the scene at SSG Manor 2.0 at 5pm after the first day back at school.  It's a dilemma I'm sure many parents have had themselves.  It is a school night and the potential for domestic chaos is highly probable but at the same time:

  1. creativity and ingenuity is being demonstrated (that was me that bought the 20 jar multipack of glitter from KMart, each colour thoughtfully packaged in a shaker jar ala the components of a spice rack)
  2. that elusive 'free play' that leading child educators and psychologists say we're not giving our 5 year olds enough of in this age of intensely scheduled days and early preparation for what I'm not sure because we all turned out all right without the extra stuff
Of all these valid points, #3 swayed me so I sucked it up and let the free play progress.  

The aftermath wasn't as bad as I had anticipated but gee it doesn't take long for brass door knobs to start looking disco.  It was cathartic wiping down all those surfaces with my handy Costco all-purpose wipes and the glittery blue footprints on my freshly laundered bath mat are festive and entirely appropriate for the months ahead (shudder... my diary is already filling up fast with end of year commitments).

All the same, though, thank goodness for Crayola and their 100% washable paints. 

Have you had fun with paint and glitter at your place recently?  Did you take it outdoors or did the weather make you keep it indoors?  Did it all wash out?

Oct 17, 2018

Life This Week 15/10/2018: What I Have Learned Lately.

I've just come off a couple of weeks' leave and in between the travel, the break from routine and the family time, I've found myself relearning a few truths about life.

Always look up.  Aim for the sky and its stars.  Never look down on anyone but also never let anyone else drag you down with them.

Actively find those special moments in the day.  The ones that are just yours.  Take them in with all your senses.  Imprint them on your brain.

Never let the opportunity to be a tourist in your own city pass you by.  I went to Madame Tussaud's with Master SSG last week and we had a blast.  I got my fix of Kate and Wills as well as Amanda Keller.

Shame my selfies with T Swift and Audrey H didn't quite turn out.

Never be afraid to imagine and believe.

It's best to be just who you are rather than trying to hide your true self or to be something you are not. You’ll only end up a pale imitation of your true self and a tired one at that.  Wear those Havs to breakfast at your 5 star hotel if you want need to.

Something that is as important as being kind to yourself is giving yourself credit where its due.  Not necessarily by building yourself a gold embellished Victory Tower and creating a magnificent park around it but perhaps just a pat on the back plus or minus a glass of celebratory something.

It wasn't just luck and it wasn't just the people around you.  It was you who made it happen.  Acknowledge this and accept the rewards unapologetically.

What have you learned or relearned about life lately?

The Berlin Diaries #10: The East Side Gallery.

It's always a bit sad coming to the end of the holiday snaps.

But at least the sun is finally shining here in Sydney.  Just the excuse I needed to start shopping for the summer ahead.  I found this $5 lobster beach towel at Kmart.  I'm sending it to school with Master SSG this Friday for swimming.  I wonder how it will all go, I hope everyone manages to get changed and then changed back again after swimming.  Feeling already for Master SSG's class teacher and her assistant.  14 boys to muster for one swimming class on a Friday afternoon....

And (I can't deny my excitement) the majors have begun stocking Christmas decorations.

My final instalment of Berlin photos is from a quick walk I took along the East Side Gallery.  As with everything else in Berlin, meticulously precise signs on the street direct you to the gallery from the train.  Warchauer Str station was the most convenient place for me to alight to access the gallery.

The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery of artworks painted directly onto a 1316m long segment of the Berlin Wall.  It is a heritage listed landmark and it is free to view the gallery.

Artists from all over the world have contributed to the collection with the paintings first created in 1990 with a project initiated in 2009 to rehabilitate works that been damaged by graffiti or time.  As its name suggests, all the paintings are on the east side of the wall.

There's a sense of freedom, hope and new beginnings about the art.

The colour and imagery are uplifting and an ironic contrast to all that the wall stood for when it was intact.

Aside from the immediate context of the paintings in the unified Berlin and Germany, the images of spoke of themes and ideas that are relevant to the world at large.

Some segments of the wall begged to be touched and experienced literally.

I couldn't resist doing a side profile selfie to mimic this painting.  Shame I forgot my selfie stick.

The East Side Gallery sits in the midst of an area undergoing intensive redevelopment.

The Mercedes Benz Arena overlooks a section of the gallery and new apartment blocks are going up literally alongside it.  There were plans to demolish a section of the wall to make way for the new buildings but that decision appears to have been overturned.  For now.

The abiding memory I have of Berlin is the surprise of things that always greeted me as I did something as simple as catching a train someplace and going for a little walk.  Your field of view is dynamic and diverse.  On one side of the street you might see a bridge, on the other the Berlin Wall and in the background to both will be the signs and symptoms of a modern city that is on a continual journey of healing, progressing and never forgetting.

I usually buy myself a little nick nack as a souvenir from the cities I visit but I struggled with Berlin because nothing I saw really captured how I feel about this amazing city that I grew to love more than I thought I would.  The souvenirs I have of Berlin are all in my head, heart and in the photo folder on my computer.

Until next time, Berlin.  And thank you.


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