Aug 31, 2020

Life This Week 31/8/2020: Share Your Snaps

Highlights of the week just gone...

Walking under this shady canopy at the park on Saturday morning.

The sun's rising that much earlier these days.  It's lovely having the sky wake up with you.

No work lunch of leftovers, eaten el desko is complete without a mini bottle of ketchup close by.  In lieu of bacon, a bit of Heinz makes everything taste better.

Master SSG's first poster presentation ready for its journey to school in its own mailing tube.  If you're going to spend $5 for the cardboard to make the poster, go all out and make sure it gets to school safely!

There's this particular stairwell at work that always smells of delicious home-cooking. No matter what time of the day, aromas so flavoursome they fill you up just by their wafting up your nostrils there's always something good being reheated between levels 6 - 11 at work.  It's yet another reason it makes sense to take the stairs as often as I can at work.  Beyond the social distancing benefit and the cardio - this little olfactory boost is something I look forward to each day at work.

I hope this last week of winter has been kind to you too.

Be well. 

Aug 27, 2020

Lovin' Life 27/08/2020: Meal Prepped Work Lunches.

Here's to the unsung hero of my working week.

The meal prepped lunch.

I make my lunches for the working week on Sunday.  Whatever I make covers most days of the week with the remaining days featuring leftovers from dinner or a lucky dip from the freezer.

It is a bit of a process on Sunday morning but the time spent peeling, chopping, grating and cooking has its own rhythm and starts the day on a productive note (which then justifies my downing tools for anything housework related by noon).

It's a welcome sight, seeing the fridge full and ready for the week ahead in the midst of the chaos of Monday morning.  That feeling of preparedness usually manages to stay with me throughout the week, mostly unwavering.  

And then there's that feeling when you've made it to lunch.  It's not always ever a time like 12 noon but rather when the day's work presents a time sometime in the afternoon when it's okay to step away and fish your meal out of the staff fridge and find the microwave with the shortest queue of containers waiting for it.  Whilst waiting for the container before yours to do its time you might choose to walk over to the bathroom or make the hot drink and wash the fruit that will accompany your meal.  It's a bit of a process but it feels good to be pottering around with nothing more on your mind than getting fed and watered.

Finally, you're good to go for your lunch 'aldesko' and the rest of the day that unfolds afterwards officially feels doable.

Do you have a routine for lunch when you're at work? If you're working from home - have you modified that routine somewhat?

Aug 24, 2020

Life This Week 24/08/2020: 5,4,3,2,1....

'5,4,3,2,1...' is a mindfulness technique that's used quite often in the audio-guided runs I do with Rochelle Baxter.  The premise is to focus on 5 things you can see then 4 you can touch then 3 that you can hear followed by 2 that you can smell and finally 1 that you can taste.  I've adapted the technique a little for the purposes of this post and made it a 5,4,3,2,1 of the week just gone.

5 things I can see:

  1. Properly through my glasses.  Who knew that makeup brush cleaner could double up so effectively as lense cleaner?
  2. The planets Jupiter and Saturn.  Via the telescope at Mt Stromlo Observatory via their Public Astronomy Night via Facebook on Friday night.
  3. Meerkat garden gnomes at Woolies.  This close to putting one in my trolley....
  4. The roster for school holiday care.  Already?!?!?
  5. An empty laundry basket.  All the feels for this one.

4 things I can touch:

  1. My mug of tea ahead of another hectic day at work.
  2. The legs of my jeans.  That's right, jeans.  Not track pants or running tights but actual nearly pants.  On a work day too.
  3. Freshly ironed school uniforms hung up for the week ahead.  I'm not letting this on top of my laundry theme quite yet, readers. 
  4. My ugg boots as I sit and type while it blows a gale outside.

3 things I can hear:

  1. The tick of my wall clock in the kitchen.  Such a restful sound on a Saturday afternoon when you've got the rest of the weekend ahead of you.  Not so restful on Monday morning around 7am.
  2. The kettle. 
  3. A dull pop as I open the ring pull of my can of lunchtime tuna.  For some strange reason, the ring pull is on the underside of the can.

2 things I can smell:

  1. The spag bol from a packet I just made into a pasta bake for dinner tonight.  Dare I say it, this packet mix scrubs up nicely.  The sauce has a thickness to it that works well in a pasta bake.
  2. A hint of my spendy almond shower oil on my skin.  Spendy bath and body is the way to go when you spend your days in scrubs or activewear.
1 thing I can taste:

Drum roll, please....

  1. My TimTam from a recent Adore order.  Ending on a high note, I'd say.

Over to you.  What's the highlight of the 5,4,3,2,1... of your week been?

Be well.

Aug 20, 2020

Lovin' Life 20/8/2020: Apricot Chicken.

Cardi B x Megan Thee Stallion "WAP" Stream | HYPEBEAST

As a long time Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B fan, it was my duty as a run of the mill, sometime TikTok-er (watching not uploading.... definitely not uploading) middle-aged mum to do a bit of Googling around WAP, the song the duo recently released.

Oh dear.  Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  Cardi, I'm blushing.  Megan, I'm trying to process those lyrics.

World-renowned Designers Are Bringing Back '80s Fashion | Departures

May I just go back to the 80s, please?

Vintage 80s Pyrex Brown Vine on White Oval Casserole Dish | Etsy

Where the fashion was questionable but the Pyrex, while ugly, was always guaranteed to hold a piping hot serve of comforting nourishment.

High on the list of dishes to rotate through our family's Pyrex back in the day was Apricot Chicken and I'm especially loving it this week because I've discovered some tweaks to the weeknight standby that have almost made me forget that what WAP stands for.  Besides Wireless Access Point.

Here's what went into my latest, most swoonworthy batch of Apricot Chicken:
  • a small package each of skinless chicken thighs and lovely legs (800g total approximately) dusted in flour seasoned with salt and pepper with a sprinkling of dried parsley
  • 2 packets of French Onion soup mix
  • 1 can of Apricot Nectar
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of soya sauce
  • about half (!!) a jar of apricot jam
  • a few handfuls of dried apricots
- place lightly floured chicken in a greased casserole
- combine the soup mix, nectar, mustard, soya sauce and jam in a saucepan, heat to combine
- bake covered for an hour at 180C
- remove cover and bake a further hour with the dried apricots, watching that the apricots don't burn.  Stir or cover with foil if the apricots start to look a little too sunburned.

Over the years I've added curry powder to this dish, then Morrocan spice mix but never quite got either to work.  For me, this incarnation of Apricot Chicken will be my forever version of the dish.

Do you have a favourite version of Apricot Chicken?

Have you gone down the rabbit hole relating to WAP?

Aug 17, 2020

Life This Week 17/8/2020: Anticipation.

Life this week has been about the anticipation of what lies ahead.

I'm another year older.

I know I'm stronger and wiser.  I've hoped as much with previous birthdays but at 45, you just know.

There's a certainty and confidence in life when you're decidedly in the mid-forties.  I think it comes from having been able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off countless times.  

It is what it is and you are what you are.  Which for me currently involves a whole of activewear worn to work, coffee and the toting of a favourite handbag which holds many fond memories of the earlier years of my forties.

But at the same time, I feel that I'm at the beginning of something.

The daylight hours are with us for longer and it's now possible to have that occasional day of bare forearms in the car while you drive around in the afternoon.

That starter tan from the car gets a bit of a boost from being able to run through mid-mornings that look like this.

And what's not to like about the seasons ahead when you've got your Uniqlo order from their current collaboration with Marimekko?  Bold prints, simple and wearable cuts.  I'm smiling already at the thought of wearing my skirt and dresses this spring-summer.

Has your most recent birthday been a personal milestone?

Aug 13, 2020

Lovin' Life 13/8/2020: Five Things,

Five things that made me smile this week....
Festively packaged strawberries at the fancy food hall in the next suburb.  Of course, a tray of strawberries came home with me. This is how the middle-aged treat themselves after a long day at work.  With fresh fruit, not the fermented kind one might find at Dan's.
In addition to the trusty Zip water heater in the kitchen at work, we have this fancy water dispenser in the computer room.  While the graphics are very pretty, I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the machine to actually give me EXTRA HOT water it promises with its dynamic red water drop icon.

Master SSG smuggled my phone into school last week so that he could take a picture of this stick village he built in the playground.  There's a whole story behind the buildings featured and we've only covered chapter one so far.

This is Friday afternoon in one photo.  Undoing that ponytail, placing the hair tie responsible into a drawer and then closing said drawer with feeling.  Here's to the weekend!!!!
Easy like Saturday morning.  Soccer practice was cancelled but we still got to spend some time in the sun with our favourite ducks at the pond.  The sky turned decidedly grey after our outing so that sunshine was appreciated even more than usual.

Aug 10, 2020

Life This Week 10/8/2020: Why Did I?

Why did I take this photo?

It was one of those days that I knew would be mainly sponsored by the words 'challenging' and 'hectic' with co-sponsorship from the attitude 'just keep on keeping on'.  There was my usual work to be done with the added bonuses of live data updating (don't ask, I'm sitting here with the benefit of hindsight convinced that my numbers never added up all day) and phone support for the team I work with.  In short, a day of unpredictability on a day when I needed uninterrupted time to focus, assess, synthesize and communicate.  

I knew ahead of time that it wouldn't be a normal day and the challenges of the day were all anticipated but neither fact made the day any easier,  It's been a long campaign, living and working with this virus and I've found one way to cope is to have that one day at work each week which is mostly predictable and takes me away from the coalface and out into the real world for a bit.  I lost all of this and while it was only for one day, the loss was keenly felt.

But then, life happened and because it's 2020, a photo was taken.

It was morning prayer time when I arrived for the first of my visits.  So I stood to the side of the corridor, bowed my head and prayed.  The Lord's Prayer, a Catholic prayer and finally a prayer in Arabic reverberated around me.

I felt so many things in those minutes of stillness.  






It was the peacefulness that diffused through the air as the prayers were spoken.  That familiar beginning of the Lord's Prayer.  The cadence of the Catholic Prayer gently urging me onward.  There's something deeply nurturing about the cadence of a language you don't understand when it is spoken in prayer.

Do you have a backstory to something you did this week?

Aug 6, 2020

Lovin' Life 6/8/2020: Sunny Days and Sunny Colours.

If you believe it hard enough, it will happen, right?

Life's not exactly great right now for so many of us but somehow, the sun and the warmth it has brought have made me feel that things will get back to normal.  I don't know when and I don't know how but when I look out at our city bathed in this radiant sunshine, I can't help but feel hopeful.

Our new favourite thing to do right now is to spend a little time with the ducks and swans at the pond near where soccer practice takes place each Saturday.

An old favourite thing to do is to spend a sunny afternoon with dear friends unwinding and celebrating.

Can you believe they are EIGHT this year?

I was very excited this week to be able to get the laundry to dry on the line in the sun for the first time in a long while.  Nothing beats that scent and feel of sun-dried fabric.

Unrelated to the sun but interesting (to me) nonetheless - face masks and that takeaway coffee you absolutely have to have in order to survive doing the groceries.  I don't think I fully thought it through this week....  What ended up happening was that the mask came off every second aisle at the shops to allow me to take a few sips of my much-needed coffee.

My travels to the supermarket took me to the post office where I picked up the buttons I needed to finish my first batch of face mask extenders.  For me, they seem to work best with the 'surgical mask' style where none of the mask is designed to fit under your chin.  Also, the simple, stretchy extender I made with the purple buttons seems to fit my face better.  I'm sending both to my mum and aunty for feedback.

Is it sunny where you are?  Has it helped you deal with it all?

Aug 3, 2020

Life This Week 3/8/2020: Food Lately.

The last week or so in food, through the lens of my iPhone.  

Spoiler: the theme accidentally ended up being 'on the junkier side of things'.  Your judgement is richly deserved.

I finally got my hands on a packet of Reese's peanut butter chips.  I was underwhelmed.  Alone, they taste like white chocolate that smells like peanut butter.  In my baking, more underwhelm.  I intend to only bake with actual peanut butter from now on.  Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

How the mighty have fallen.  Many moons ago, I was the mum of a toddler who was fed Cheerios as a finger food.  The Cheerios did double duty as both a foodstuff and a tool for promoting the development of fine motor skills.  Fast forward to #schoolmumlife and I'm celebrating the pleasant surprise of discovering that Frootloops score two whole stars on the five star scale of nutrition we have in Australia for groceries.  I had always thought they were around the half a star mark....  

That smell when you open a bag of freshly microwaved triple butter popcorn.  Who cares how many stars out of five this rates when it smells so good?  FYI, this particular brand opted out of the star rating system.  Possibly for good reason.

Token healthy living photo time.  I'm also giving it a token, cliched hashtag.  #takemeback to that long weekend in Jindabyne where I snacked on a platter of cut fruit after doing some yoga as the sun rose over the lake.

And we're back to the junkier side of things.  How good is a snack-sized Milky Way when you're ankle-deep in snow at Smiggin Holes trying to build the snowman to end all snowmen?

Jumbo blueberries are thing at our place.  Serendipitously, prices seem to be getting nicer as we get closer to the end of winter.  I could entertain you with all the travel-related memories I have relating to Driscoll's blueberries but I won't.  I'll keep all of that to myself and move on.

Another favourite at SSG Manor 2.0 is frosted chocolate cake.  Not just any kind of store-bought interpretation of the theme but the official 7-11 chocolate cake.  You can find these individual serves at the registers of your local outlet.  Mine is a skip and a hop down the road from work which explains why it features heavily in my rotation of after school snacks.

Of course, I can weave crochet into a food-themed post!  My latest delivery from Bendigo Woollen Mills included this little thank you gift of brilliantly coloured M&Ms.


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