May 31, 2019

Friday. The 5-4-3-2-1 of Life.

Friday. So glad you're here.  

It's been quite a week.

First ever flu shots have been administered and tolerated remarkably well.

It's been go, go and more go at work.  So much go, in fact, that I've gone through a pad of sticky notes.  Considering I often lose pads before getting to the end of them, this is quite and achievement in more ways than one.

More so, than any other week recently, it's been about being kind to myself.  It's also been about filling my cup with more patience and remembering to then pour that patience out to others.  I've mostly been successful but as with most things in my life, I know and I can and should do better which is why I'm relieved that there's always next week with which to try and do it all again.

Things that have made me smile this week include my new note cards from The Book Depository.  Can't go wrong with Merimekko and the theme of blue and white.

I've also been enjoying my audio guided runs each morning.  Which is a tech speak kind of way to describe the fact that I run each morning while listening to an Aaptiv trainer.  Yes, it's been 18 (!!) weeks since I started using the app for basically all my workout needs and I'm still going strong with its endless variety of runs, walks and equipment based classes.

But I digress, as usual, and more so because it is Friday.

The class I took today was an outdoor run with Rochelle called 'Running Free' and in it she outlined some of her strategies for mindfulness.  Helpful for managing our day to day moods and levels of anxiety but also, as it turns out, useful for helping your mind through a run when you're kind of not really that into it but know you'll feel better once you're done.

'5- 4-3-2-1' is a way of bringing your mind to the present by making it focus on what your senses are experiencing in the now.  It's simple yet absorbing and all you have to do is mentally a specific number of things you can see, touch, hear, smell or taste right now.  I found it so useful this morning that I've gone and written half a post based on how my '5-4-3-2-1' went this morning.

Not the actual leaves I saw this morning but rather the leaves I need to sweep up myself this weekend. 

5 things I can see:
  1. The 'No Standing Zone' signs along the street that no-one really obeys during the day.
  2. Stray piles of autumn leaves that the council gardeners missed when they did their mass 6am street sweep up yesterday.
  3. Black gaps along the street that look like missing teeth where new houses will soon appear.
  4. The way the street lights make the empty streets of the early, early morning look like a stage set.
  5. Cars resting in driveaways ahead of another day battling the weekday traffic and congestion that makes this city ... memorable.

4 things I can touch:

  1. That pulled seam in the fancy webbing of my fancy active wear leggings.  It would later annoy me to the point that I swapped out my contacts for my glasses just so I could repair the seam.  I can't seem to thread needles wearing contacts.  Anyway.  I'm all good and that will teach my to buy leggings with fancy stitching down the legs.
  2. The inside of my ski gloves.  It's winter in Sydney, people.  Of course I'm overdressed for the weather.
  3. My headband as I pat it to make sure it doesn't slide off mid run.
  4. The chilly air - with my face.  Those gloves are working and fleece leggings are working such a treat that my face is the only part of me that can feel the cold.

3 things I can hear:

  1. An occasional ute as the tradies begin to comb the streets for that rare as hen's teeth street parking ahead of their jobs in the area.
  2. My audio guided run aka Aaptiv workout with Rochelle as my personal pep squad and a playlist of tracks that keep me at a pace better than I would have managed on my own.  I like how my Aaptiv workouts take the monotony of my morning circuit away and instead give me endless ways to make the most of what I have.  A metaphor for life, really - making the most of what you have in front of you.
  3. My stomach.  I am definitely a big breakfast kind of person.

2 things I can smell:

  1. Sillence and stillness.  You wouldn't think it possible but in a city like Sydney which is basically 24/7 noise and movement, the silence and stillness of the early morning are things you absorb with all your senses.  I smell reassurance and safety.  That this day will unfold exactly as it should and that all will be well.
  2. The fragrance of the laundry pod I used to wash my running gear.  It's a comforting scent.

1 thing I can taste:

  1. Breakfast.  Or rather, the anticipation of it after this run.  Blackberry and coconut baked oatmeal with yoghurt, brown sugar and fresh berries plus a mug of tea.

And on that note, I'm signing off and striding out into the weekend.

Be well.

May 30, 2019

Lovin' Life 3Lovin’ Life 30/5/2019: Five (and a bit) Things. The Tiger Catcher' by Paullina Simons.

There's twenty-something year reunion photos 

Image result for my best friend's wedding 25 year reunion

and then there are twenty-something year reunion photos

My Best Friend's Wedding was good fun but The Goonies wasn't just a film, it was eleven year old me's first foray into the genre of best buddy coming of age films.  To this day, The Goonies still reminds me of my best friends at school.  The intense friendships we had, the confidence we gave each other to just be ourselves and our flair for dramatizing even the most mundane happenings of our world.  Happy Twenty Nineteen Jeff, Sean, Corey and Jonathon and thanks for the memories.

Image result for paullina simons novels the tiger catcher

Thing number two that's happened in my life this week is that I finally finished Paullina Simons new novel, 'The Tiger Catcher'.  I have mixed feelings about Tiger which is the first novel in a new saga that Simons has created.   

Without spilling too many details, this is a novel about love that literally crosses the conventional boundaries of time.  Julian is living the dream in Los Angeles as a successful writer and business owner.  Fate leads him to the actress Josephine and Julian is entranced by her beauty and zest for life.  They fall passionately in love in this city of illusion and technicoloured edits of reality.  But those around the couple have their doubts about Josephine and the secrets that are so glaringly obvious to those outside the aura of the two lovers.

Tragedy strikes and Julian spirals out of control as he succumbs to a clonazepam addiction.  He meets a healer who provides him with a gateway to meet Josephine again.  Julian hopes that by returning to her past, he can somehow change destiny and her fate.  The healer promises no more than that leap back in time.

It took me three-quarters of the novel to build up any empathy for any of the characters.  I kept on with it mainly to 'just find out' what happens.  Simons is a captivating writer and I don't remember my being this apathetic yet curious when reading any of her other novels.  I'm happy I persevered because where Julian and Josephine find themselves ( both literally and historical period wise) at the end of 'The Tiger Catcher' (sorry, still can't tell you how the novel got its name) have left me waiting impatiently for the second novel of the trilogy.

Sydney is still being spoiled by near summer weather.  The sun shone, I got to wear my sparkly tights to the gym as I nailed my Saturday Elliptical Session and I got three loads of laundry line dried!!  Plus the lawn got raked and mowed.

A Pretty Super Saturday if I do say so myself.  Cheers!

Sunday was just lovely.  It was filled with train rides, brunch with cousins and a birthday party cum mums' gossip session in the afternoon.

And here we are on Thursday.  The weekend's just around the corner already and I've already got a good feeling about it. 

At the rate this year's flying by, I'll soon be gushing about not only the weekend but also summer and then Christmas this time each week.  Eeekkk.

What's your favourite of the twenty-something year reunion photo shoots that the magazines have been publishing recently?

Is this the point of the year where you can feel the pace pick up just a bit?

May 27, 2019

Life This Week 27/5/2019: Self Care #3.

We're in the thick of the cold and flu season plus it's ages until the next long weekend.  I don't know about you but the combination of the two in addition to life's usual ups and downs is making me feel a bit run down at the moment. 

My response to Life This Week's Self Care #3 prompt, then, is dedicated to the little things that are keeping me keeping on at the moment.

The objective benefit of vitamin supplements is probably negligible in a person who's generally fairly healthy and who eats widely from the good groups but it's nearly winter and I like to think a little bit extra can't do any harm.  Plus, just looking at these turquoise capsules gives me energy.

I've added a few walks to my weekly routine.  They're less demanding than runs in one sense but they also require me to focus more to the cues given on the Aaptiv audio workouts I use to guide my walks.

SSG Manor 2.0 definitely does not win or deserve any accolades in the interior design arena but it is functional and (mostly) tidy.  People with a better eye and more flair than I would have sourced an array of cushions for the sofa to make it more comfortable but I went for the practical option and got a $15 V-pillow from Target instead.  At least its pillowcase matches the sofa cover...  I've taken to resting on the sofa after dinner to read ahead of bedtime and the pillow is the perfect support.

Meal prepped work lunches ensure that I'll always have something filling and nutritious to eat at work.  It also takes the stress out of having to decide what to buy each day and then have to wait in line to order it.  Last week's meal was teriyaki chicken and vegetables plus a brown and red rice combination that Sunrice sells in microwaveable pouches.

Last but not least, that good old trick of finding a moment to just be present.  To be still, clear-headed and unhurried as you focus on your breath and what you can see in front of you.

Are there little things you've incorporated into your week recently that ensure that you're looking after yourself?

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.


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