May 23, 2019

Lovin' Life 23/5/2019: Pea and Ham Soup.

There's no escaping the leaves at my place right now.


This autumn might be giving us those epic neon sunsets that make me feel like I'm living on a movie set each time I drive home each night but it has also delivered an abundance of leaves that need to be raked up each weekend.  It's a gruelling job for a behind-the-desk during the week kind of person like myself.  It's the kind of job that needs to be fuelled by filling meals.

Meals like a bowl of Julie Goodwin's Pea and Ham Soup.


I can't understand why the recipe appears to have such a low rating on Julie's website.  I love how simple, tasty and richly textured the soup is.  That being said, I've added my own variation to the recipe over the years that I've been making it.  I double the amount of vegetables that the recipe called for - including the onions.  I also use vegetable stock for half the liquid requirement of the recipe.  If you like a meatier soup, use a ham hock instead of the bones.  The hock also reduces the risk of there being random bone fragments left in the soup at the end.  I added a bag of shredded ham to my soup after the blending step (as well as the meat from the hock...  girl loves ham).


The star feature of this recipe is those frozen peas you add in the final minutes of cooking.  I like the freshness they add to both the colour of the soup and its taste.

Goes without saying that you must serve this soup with buttered, crusty bread and lots of pepper.

Do you like pea and ham soup?

May 21, 2019

This Fine Tuesday.

#sorrynotsorry if Tuesday aka Day-Off-Tuesday isn't your personal favourite weekday because it is definitely mine.  Life's pretty busy at the moment so this weekday off is even more sacred than usual.


It seems that the weather agreed with me today as well. 


Will you look at all that sun!


It was just magic when I went running this morning.



It it really late autumn?  Will I be able to hit the beach this weekend?


Meanwhile, at Aldi (because that's where I often find myself on a Tuesday), the predictable happened.  I went in for a box of nuggets (the ones that taste exactly like McNuggets even when you bake them in the oven)...



but got distracted by the remnants of the infamous Annual Aldi Ski Sale.  There seemed to be a lot more stock this year.  Nothing left in my size but there were things Master SSG needed like socks, thermals and a scarf.



Put June 1 into your phone, though, because cast iron cookware returns to the big A on that day. I have my eye on this saucepan in red.


Many moons ago, I said what I thought was my piece on The Ordinary which was that I did indeed find the range very ordinary on my skin.  I'm back to eat those words because I've found a couple of winners from the range.  While moisturizers from The Ordinary don't seem to blend well into my skin, the serums from the range work really well for me in conjunction with the host of dollars things that Mecca Cosmetica give me in exchange for my credit card details.  Adore Beauty has a better range of The Ordinary than Priceline so I find myself ordering from them. 

Hyaluronic Acid ($12.90 AUD for 30ml) has helped combat the dryness I've been getting with the cooler weather.  I just apply it under my usual moisturizer, eye cream and SPF each morning.  It does take a while to absorb but I can't complain too much for the price.  Granactive 5% Retinoid in Squalane ($19.80 AUD for 30ml) is my other find.  It's more effective for me than the 2% version yet is gentle on the skin, there's no sting like there is with Alpha H's Liquid Gold.  I've been applying this nightly and can see that it's going to be one of those regular repurchases for me.


If you're in the market for fleece running tights, Lulu Lemon's version have arrived as of this week - online and instore.  Features I love in the Toasty Tech Tight II ($139 AUD but worth every one of those post traumatic on-call retail therapy pennies) are the zipped pockest as well as the bonus ones in the waistband.  Colours are black, garnet and cyber which is a kind of lilac purple.


And that's it from me this fine Tuesday.

Be well and be kind.

May 17, 2019

Life This Week 20/5/2019: Share Your Snaps.

I love 'Share Your Snaps' time on Life This Week.  Work and life have been hectic and it's been challenging summoning up the concentration and creativity to write anything coherent.  It's times like these that prompts based on photos are a lifeline to bloggers like me caught up between the opposing forces of life's commitments and the desire to have a bit of 'me time' and blog.

Without further ado or giving my pity party any further air, let's go.

Sorry, it gets a bit serious at the end.  These are confronting times for Australia and the world at large.


The autumn leaves have Arrived.  I envision many weekends ahead sweeping them up.  I took this photo on a day when raking and sweeping was far from my mind.  I was just starting my first proper power since a very long time ago.  It was great fun.  

Related image
via Pinterest

I might have looked a bit Kath and Kel but I don't care!!!



Life as a school reader supervising mum has been interesting.  Over the last couple of years I've learned some fascinating facts about various animal species, tips on how to make a worm farm, historical tidbits and some inspired retellings of key periods in history.  However, my most moving and unsettling reader is this one, Phan's Diary by Louise Schofield (which is available on Amazon right now).

The book is around 30 pages long and geared at Grade 1/2 level readers.  Told in brief diary entries, Phan's Diary describes Phan's journey as a 'boat person' seeking asylum in any other country but that of her home in Vietnam which was falling apart under the current government as well as the fall out from the war. 

As an adult, I found 'Phan's Diary' a harrowing read.  Its simple language powerfully painted the reality of what it must have been and is like for all migrants who are so desperate to escape the horrors of their homes that they will put all their trust and assets in the hands of people who may or may not deliver them from evil and atrocity.

There were questions, of course.  Why did Phan have to travel like this instead of the way we travel?  Why did all those countries turn them away and force them to go on in a boat that was short on fuel and in danger of sinking?  Why did Phan only have three sweets to share with her brother and sister when they were all so hungry?  Will that big boat from the Australian Navy bring them to Australia and let them be happy here?

I started off talking about how lucky we were.  Myself personally as the children of migrants who were granted citizenship as well as the ability to work in the fields in which they trained in back home.  How we were both so fortunate to call Australia home.  But it all rang a bit hollow and these were probably issues a six-year-old would have no appreciation of.

So after we looked on our globe (and on Google) to see just how far and dangerous the journey was from Vietnam to Australia, I talked about how Phan's story was and is the story of many children.  That I know people whose families undertook those trips of hope.  That the care of asylum seekers in Australia right now is controversial, divisive and not always fair or just.  How it's just plain complicated. 


It is too easy to take our country for granted when you can drive its streets, roam its footpaths and take its public transport without a second thought about their safety or your right to be using them.


It is hard for me to imagine having to flee the place I call home.  It's also unimaginable to me that that the Government could suddenly decide to control my life or deny me things that as a tax paying citizen I feel entitled to.  Yet this is the story of those seeking asylum and worryingly, this has come to pass in Alabama with the passing of new laws restricting abortion.


What can we do in this lucky country of ours?  To treat asylum seekers humanely.  To ensure that the reproductive rights of all women are preserved and respected.

It's complicated but I think preserving our freedom of speech and our willingness to give voices too small to be heard on their own amplification will both go a long way in finding the solutions.


May 16, 2019

Lovin' Life 16/5/2019: Five Things.

Five things this week that have made me smile:



  • finally going for a swim with my Apple Watch.  I was hoping that it would give me an accurate distance but alas, I entered my swim as an outdoor open swim rather than one that took place in an indoor pool.  The devil is in the detail.  I'll get it right for my next swim!



  • buttermilk scones with strawberry jam and double cream.  The scones were from Coles and I highly rate them.  These were a special treat for afternoon tea on Mother's Day.



  • scootering through autumn leaves.  Listening to their crunch and watching them kick up is one of those simple pleasures of a sunny afternoon in autumn.


  • indulgent times at my place right now.  I'm loving the JATZ version of Arnott's new and category killing line of chocolate bars.  Salty crunch and creamy milk chocolate.  What's not to love?



  • this $5 set of wooden eggs from Kmart.  I'm one of those 'instinct  / don't ask me to explain it just is' kind of people when it comes to maths.  Predictably, this hasn't been the greatest approach to trying to help with maths homework.  Fractions have nearly broken me.  I'm hoping that these eggs will help explain visually what my words cannot



How are things with you? 

Do you have a favourite from the Arnott's chocolate bar range?

Did you successfully teach a family member about fractions?  What worked for you?


May 13, 2019

Life This Week 13/5/2019: Contentment Is...

Contentment is ....


witnessing the sun rise over another fabulous day in this beautiful city I call home.  The colours of the sky, the freshness to the air, the boats gently bobbing on the water that sense of collective anticipation of others who were out and about with me as they began their commute, morning run or preparations to board their boats.

It doesn't matter that after witnessing this I ran straight into the 6am local peak hour traffic before battling with on the blink traffic lights on the way to school drop off.  One driver from that peak hour rush hustled for street parking right by my back gate and promptly arranged my bins neatly for collection after he parked.  The local police were calm and friendly as they helped herd frazzled parents and commuters safely through that intersection where the lights were failing. 

I had that sunrise related contentment on my mind and that helped me reframe the minor inconveniences of the rest of the day.


May 11, 2019

Peak Hygge.

We're in peak hygge mode here at SSG Manor 2.0.  It's blowing a gale outside and despite the sun, there's a chill to the mid-morning air.


Even the stuffed toys are allegedly feeling it.  I've just had a request to swaddle the rays and a meerkat together.  I'm suspending my disbelief because we are, after all, very much in the endlessly fascinating world of a six-year-old's imagination and way of thinking.


Those trusty once pink uggs of mine have made their debut for 2019.  I've welcomed them back into my life like the longtime friend that they practically are.


The yang to the yin of the often brutal mornings are the days that unfold afterwards.  I took this photo of the sun setting over Sydney on Friday evening on the way home from school pick up.  The picture does not do any justice to how arresting it was to see and feel it with all of your senses.



This afternoon provided a similarly serendipitous photo session as well.



I forgot to bring my gym swipe card with me so instead of my usual Saturday date with the elliptical, I went on a power walk through the streets around my local Westfield.



I'm so glad I had this chance to explore beyond the retail and business hub of the suburb.  Fast walking and slow jogging along the tree-lined, terrace studded streets was just what my soul needed ahead of the mental and physical challenge of attempting to do a grocery shop on a Saturday afternoon at Westfield Bondi Junction.




I endured all those people only to discover that Coles was out of Ginger Nut chocolate....



But I did pick up these fancy rice crackers.


Which I enjoyed with the official bubbly of Virgin Australia.

The automated parking fee deduction boom gate refuse to let anyone put for a good 15 minutes ....  it wasn't fun being there live.  

I don't know what it was like where you were but the carpark was falling apart from the inside where I was the day before Mother's Day.  It was almost like a Saturday just before Christmas.  On the up side, people obviously love their mums :-)

Elsewhere this week....



I finally bought team coffees on Friday.  For the first time since around 2017.  There's nothing I can say to justify this except that we don't do team coffee that much.  This was actually the first time since forever that we've had time to do it.  I do, however, make sure we always break for lunch and or finish the round ASAP.


I made one pot spag bol and it was a success.  I based my take on this recipe from the Healthy Mummy website.


My effort wasn't exactly social media worthy but it did, however, taste pretty spectacular despite the relative ease of assembly.  The starch from the cooking pasta really does help the bolognese thicken.


My hot tips are:
- adding a parmesan rind as the sauce simmers
- a dash or several of both Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar
- snapping your spaghetti before adding it to the pot makes it easier to stir everything as the pasta cooks.

I'm definitely adding this dish to the high rotation weeknight dinner list.

How are you adjusting to this change in the weather?  Was the traffic brutal where you were doing your Saturday shop today?





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