Nov 22, 2020

Consciously Un-stressing.

It's just under 4 weeks until I'm off on annual leave and I'm consciously un-stressing in anticipation.  Going for the fuss-free option wherever possible.  Leaving things off my 'to-do' list if they are neither necessary or contributing in a positive way to the un-stressing process.  

Just breathing.  Just being.  Just seeing. 

It's all sunshine and jacarandas above me

and orderly processions of ducks up ahead of me.

My feet are ready for the summer days ahead when I'll be in no hurry to be in any particular place at all.

I'm testing out snacks for the adventures we will have in the city and beyond.

I'm getting back into the knack of catching public transport because the first rule of the annual leave staycation is to leave the car parked at home as much as possible.

I've taken a one thing at a time approach to getting ready for the new year at work so that I won't feel overwhelmed and underprepared when I resurface at the coalface some time in 2021.  'Resurface', 'sometime in 2021' ... just typing those words make my shoulders drop a few centimetres.

A new supply of yellow index cards and card holders arrived this week.  Within a day of my putting the order through online at Officeworks.

Summer holiday care has been booked and recorded in my desk diary and phone.  I'm feeling very fortunate that we're covered by two programmes that Master SSG is familiar with and that his friends will be attending both with him.  Summer Holidays are one of those challenges of school parent life that leave you feeling like you deserve gold medal once you've managed to find a solution that makes everyone happy.

I couldn't write about consciously un-stressing without mentioning a Recipe Tin Eats recipe, could I?  Nagi's Gravy Baked Chicken is a multi-category winner.  It's easy, delicious and involves only one baking tray.  I thinned out the gravy with a little water at the end.  I have a feeling that this will be my roast chicken dish for Christmas lunch...

Are you a matter of weeks from annual leave for Christmas and New Years yourself?  Is consciously un-stressing part of your preparation too?

Nov 16, 2020

Less Than Forty Days Out....

It's beginning to look a lot like summer / Christmas / birthdays / New Years.

To be honest, I was a little frightened that the holiday season glimmer that I usually see this time of the year filtered through would be a no show but fortunately this hasn't come to pass.  I'm a creature of habit.  A determined creature of habit.  A tin of Danish butter cookies from Woolies to herald the beginning of my Christmas planning creature of habit.

Once the sticky tape has been removed (no mean feat in itself!!) and the first 'curly' biscuit has been eaten, it's all systems go for what will be a month and a bit of back to back weekends of celebrations and frenzied gift shopping.

While the feelings will the same as always, the celebrations themselves will be a little different this year.  It won't be a huge family lunch on Christmas Day and Master SSG's birthday will not be a frenzy of energy and party food at a play centre.
I've shamelessly become a mum who outsources that which she sucks at doing herself this year.  The cake pops  for the celebration at school will be expertly made for me.  They're characters from the infamous Among Us game, in case you were wondering.  I've been told by a reliable source, (the Birthday Boy)that the image above is of an Imposter with its Mini.

I'm good at goodie bags, at least, so I'll be making those myself.

We've got ... 39(!!) or so days until Christmas so I'm not panicking, I'm pacing myself.  Don't want to peak too early....

I've started a new crochet project (a bento shopping bag) and rediscovered a favourite picture book with Master SSG.

And I've started growing microherbs.  Actually, that's a lie, I just opened the parcel from Micropod, set up the trays as directed and filled the base with water about 5 days ago.

And woke up to this a few days later.

And this yesterday.  My crops of herbs should be ready for the table by the end of the week.  Also, featured in the photo?  My latest restock of the best breakfast tea from T2 - Morning Sunshine.  It literally is the light of my mornings.  Plenty here to cover me through the busy and fun-filled weeks ahead.

How are you feeling less than forty days out from Christmas Day?

Nov 10, 2020

Spring-Summer. The Familiar Anchors Us.

My favourite time of the year here in Sydney has Arrived.  I've got the last dregs of a cold today, my to-do list of life admin has doubled thanks to the happy addition of end of year events and I'm on the 'one more coffee at 4pm' level of daily caffeine ingestion but when I take a look out the window or step outside, all is briefly forgotten.

I've taken to calling November spring-summer because it's mostly a month of my favourite kind of weather (sunny with some starter tan intensity to those rays tempered with a bit of a cooling breeze under the shade) and my favourite kind of blooms.

You can never have too many jacaranda photos in blog posts written by Sydney-siders.

And you can never have too many 'Havs go with everything' photos either.

It was just as well that I worse those Havs the other day because my next stop after waiting in line for an indulgent mid-Sunday morning solo coffee was birthday party pick up.  Where a fellow mum and I happened upon this 'Cliff Hanger' high bouncy slide.  It took us about 5 seconds each to throw caution and fears of breaking a bone to the wind, whip off our footwear and begin the climb up the ladder.  

Disclaimer.  The slides are much steeper when you look down them from the top than what this photo might suggest.  It's also impossible to climb down the step ladder if you're a middle-aged woman. 

So the only way down was down those slides.....

and we lived to tell the tale!  No broken bones.  Just a few scrapes to prove to myself that I really did do what I just thought I did.

There's only one negative to this fabulous weather.  Having a cold.  That kind where you feel achy, clammy and off your food.  Not to mention that feeling of being ripped off at having to stay indoors post your umpteenth covid swab of the year while the weather seems to have moved on from the whole pandemic thing.

Solution?  A large choc chip cookie for morning tea before you take your next dose of Panadol.

I've made the most of my NSW Health imposed self-isolation while I waited for my swab result (it was negative, thank goodness!!).  I ate the first tomato of the season from my backyard vine in a very satisfying toastie.  I think I have a few more tomatoes coming my way thanks to my getting in early with the bug spray this year.

It was only ever for about 24 hours but that moment I emerge into the world from isolation is always a joyous one.   My ordinary, everyday world.  I see its bins out for collection day, numerous street signs advising of the complex hourly rules on who may or may not park beneath, the sturdy benches at the park that double as equipment for outdoor PT sessions, a local gardener's trailer...  

There's much to be said for the familiar and the way the familiar anchors you.

Nov 7, 2020

The Week That Was. 'More Than A Woman, - Caitlin Moran.

In Audible news this week, I'm listening to 'More Than A Woman', written and narrated by Catilin Moran.

Make a cup of tea or get yourself a coffee because there's much to discuss.

Both about the book and the week that was and about being 'More Than A Woman'.

The week has been a mix of sunny days pausing in the after school traffic so that a film crew may do its thing on location and other sunny but a bit more panicked days pausing at school being grateful to have made it before after care closes.

The reason for my Friday afternoon pick up panic?  My phone.  It suffered a crippling attack of the green then black screen with a touch of 'loud siren wailing' when attempts were made to switch it off and restart it.  No one on my team could fix the problem.  Even the youngest members.  

And so began a long afternoon commuting back and forth to the Apple Store down the road from work to get it fixed in between work meetings.  It's all good, I'm happy to say.  My screen got replaced for free and I was spared having to buy a new phone and all the new bits and pieces that would entail.

Don't worry, I'm getting to Caitlin Moran.  This is all by way of preamble.

In my younger, pre mum years, an afternoon off work on a weekday being practically forced to roam Broadway was The Dream.  These days, it's actually quite stressful.  I had my eye more on my watch than I did on the inventively displayed merchandise before me.  

K Mart didn't have the air fryer accessories I was looking for,  Priceline had the sports headbands I needed though.  I researched two perfumes I was pondering as my Christmas gift to self and found a winner (Santal 33 by the way).  

And that was it.  All the non grocery shopping I needed to do.

Without my phone, the remaining time just dragged by.  I couldn't catch up on emails, check WhatsApp, go down rabbit holes on the socials.

It's a fact in 2020, isn't it?  So much of our daily lives are lived through our phones and being without them involuntarily for even a few hours on a work day is challenging.  

I can't write a post in November without sharing a status photo on behalf of my favourite jacaranda tree.

In true covid living style, conference time has stayed local with my connecting via Zoom as I sit in the park on a picnic rug watching Saturday soccer.

Caitlin Moran. we're ready for you now.

Unqilo cashmere?

Please explain, SSG.

'More Than A Woman' is Caitlin Moran's manifesto for the modern day, middle aged woman.  Uniqlo cashmere is a wardrobe staple for many a modern day, middle aged woman; ergo an opening chapter of 'More Than A Woman' features a middle aged woman (Moran) clad in Uniqlo cashmere visiting her younger self with words of wisdom and a (confronting) visual from the future.  

'More Than A Woman' is a superhuman of many roles, ambitions and dreams.  She is a survivor of many, many life defining experiences.  She speaks with a voice that loves, humours, empathisizes, motivates and provokes.

Moran has written the novel as a timeline of the average day a woman may find herself living on any given day of the week.  As the day progresses, so too do the protagonists as they walk the tightrope of ageing.  The cosmetic changes of becoming a middle aged woman and the freedom that comes with self confidence and self love.  The ageing of parents and the gut wrenching reality that death is a certainty for us all.  The maturing of our children and how best we can support them in this new world of 24 hour connectivenss, social media and the evolving roles of the young women and men that will be its future.  These difficult, sometimes painful concepts are discussed with warmth and empathy while also firmly prodding the reader to think, act and change their immediate world.  There were moments that I cried ugly tears under my sunglasses in the car feeling the pain and grief in Moran's vignettes.

On the world of women with fame and influence, Moran observes that society and the media view these individuals not just as woman talented and sccuessful in their chosen field but also as a woman who represents the cause of all women.  It's a dual burden few can successfully carry and sadly, the world is often quick to savage those who do not live up to their impossible expectations.

There are so many 'YES!!!' moments in 'More Than A Woman'.  At times, Moran could be my own mother with her plainly worded truths.  The truths one doesn't want to hear but that nevertheless stay in your mind and give you strength as you face the hard and ugly times.

Moran's advice for the working mother (where work is paid employment outside of the home) is to keep at it even if the dollars don't add up at the moment and you often feel as if you're failing at work, mothering and life simultaneously.  That paid employment is a safety net.  It empowers.  It is a key to independence and sanity should the unthinkable happen.  It will keep you afloat even when the honeymoon is over....

We are all 'More Than A Woman' whether we know it or not.  And we need to keep using that 'more' for the good not only of ourselves but of those around us.  Moran's writing here stirred something in my heart and mind.  An energy and a focus that I guess both were depleted by the distractions of everyday life.

Have you read 'More Than A Woman'?  How has it affected you?


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