Feb 28, 2021

The Greys. The Rainbows.

The skies of Sydney have been a bit grey in recent days.

Grey is for taking shelter ahead of storms.  A gentle but insistent reminder to drive carefully on those roads as you head for home after another busy day.

Grey is for taking the load of your feet for a moment.  A place to sit, regroup and switch gears.

Grey is the sunlight breaking through the rain on Saturday morning.  The thing about grey is that it makes colour pop and your spirits lift accordingly.  

That vibrant flower arrangement on a sidewalk table at the cafe.  Covid restrictions are loosening across the city and it's a joy to see people doing things like sit outside a cafe for breakfast like they did before covid times.

We had rainbow stickers at the screening checkpoint at work this week.

We found this rainbow (seemingly inexplicably) shimmering across Master SSG's backpack one afternoon.

More rainbows were to be found elsewhere as Sydney gears up for Mardi Gras 2021.

Rainbows and love.  

Love for all.

Just another post swim refuel stop.

And love for coffee, KCF and raspberry slushies.

A good week ahead to all.  

May you find that colour or that rainbow in the midst of the grey.

Feb 16, 2021

Happy Tuesday.

My love of Tuesdays is eternal.  

With school well and truly back and the routines of the working week having made that transition from muscle memory to repetitive execution, this weekday day off of mine has a special place in my heart.

I finally made it back to the pool for the first proper laps of the year.

I've stepped out in this year's box-fresh pair of white Birki Madrids.  And a new pair of Active Truth shorts.  I'm a late adapter to the short activewear tights as day wear trend but I'm making up for this with Commitment to the cause and now own pairs of varying leg lengths (all of which are high rise with excellent mum tum support).

I don't think canned tuna will ever be a trend but I love it all the same.  Today, I've added red onion, gherkin, lemon juice and my favourite mayonnaise and will sandwich it between some toast ends and use the remainder in lettuce rolls.

Mum was in need of more face mask ear protectors so these boldly clashed creations are out to her in the mail via Express Post.  It was a specific request of my mum and aunty that there be colour and clash-iness.  I aim to please.

We've got our Woolworths Discovery Gardens set up for the year 2021.  I can even see some early seedling growth already.

Master SSG gives these White Wings mug cakes two thumbs up.  We added mini marshmallows and choc chips to the batter before 'baking'.  A generous scoop or two of Haagen-Dazs was mandatory.

Did you know that rosemary doesn't just go with lamb?

It's fabulous in a Veggie Bolognese Pasta Bake as well.  I went overboard with the rosemary garnish but the added bonus of this is that I now have their sprigs in a cup of water.  I'm hoping to plant them in a bit alongside the cuttings from Master SSG's school garden that I've successfully planted in the back door planter.

Happy Tuesday, one and all!!

Feb 12, 2021

The Weeknight Book Club: 'Untamed' - Glennon Doyle.


Part memoir, part confession, part tale of caution and part wake up call.

For all of us who try to please, to pretend, to un-see, to fit in at all costs....

'Untamed' is mostly my kind of memoir.  The kind best read (or listened to, thank you author narrated Audible editions) at leisure through the prism of your own experience.  It's tone is 2020s tongue in cheek, keeping it real.  It covers a lot of territory from life defining to lifestyle defined.

In this memoir, Doyle takes us into her thoughts as the world she so carefully constructed after decades of substance abuse and eating disorders found her pregnant, sober, a strong Christian and happily married.  Or so she thought.

'Untamed' opens with a vignette about Doyle and her family visiting the zoo and witnessing the behaviour of a cheetah raised in captivity who finds her wild and true self.  Effectively 'untaming' herself.

Doyle's work encompasses so much more than the obvious (to me) reference to Helen Reddy's defining, empowering and joyous lyric, 'I am woman, hear me roar'.  

Not only can we as women roar but we can and will roar with feeling.  Feelings of pain, of sadness, of disappointment and frustration.  Because feeling is not only about happiness and our life's journey not only about the pursuit of the happy and the pretty.  We become our true selves through our survival and refining of painful experiences.

Doyle's evolved relationship with life's pain began when she understood the reasons behind her dual addictions to food and alcohol.  Bulimia was her private, all encompassing behaviour that rendered her body and mind too weak and distracted to acknowledge any potential pain in her life.  Alcohol, on the other hand, enabled her to block out pain as she lived, 'half alive' in the real world.  Conveniently, alcohol also effectively ended any relationship she herself was too afraid to end.

Doyle's success as an author came after she discovered sobriety and discussed her life as a practicing Christian, wife and mother.  The fairytale story of redemption and a glittering, wholesome new life was the bread and butter of her glittering career as an author.  And then that life was no more.  Doyle's marriage ended, she met the love of her life.  The new, same sex relationship threatened everything she had fought so hard for. But it also freed her and gave her life.

The topics Doyle explores in 'Untamed' are seemingly disparate but sewn together by the thread of beautiful, relatable and powerful writing. 

I had no choice but to raise my hand in solidarity during the discussion about how texting is better than phoning one's friends but it's a minefield afterward regarding how to interpret your friend's delay or lack of a text back.  

I cried ugly tears as we shared, as readers and listeners, those final moments spent with a beloved grandmother as an equally beloved mother looked on.  That death was part of the cycle of life between generations.  That it would be repeated until the end of time.  That, in the end, it's not the right word with which we say goodbye but with the touching.  Of things and of shared memories.

It has been interesting reading the reviews of 'Untamed' because they also picked up on the 'rich white woman' energy that I, as a 'first generation Chinese migrant living a kind of rich white woman life' also felt.  'Untamed' is both a call to arms for the said demographic but also a bit of a Pinterest board for the said white womens' must pin that for later catalogue of thoughts. 

There are many, many strong and thought provoking chapters that will inspire those that think to then act in the world around them but there are also sections that encourage our complacency with nebulous ambitions to 'be brave' and 'dream'.  There are chapters that almost Instagram-worthy in their studied, keeping it real with a side of casual name dropping tone.  The first person that Doyle reveals her new love to is none other than her dear friend Liz (they became friends after confessing a mutual love of each other's work).  Elizabeth Gilbert, to you and I.  At a beach house in Florida. 

I've enjoyed listening to 'Untamed' and the way it bounces energetically (presumably in its activewear) between being thought provoking and a bit clumsy.  It's given me an insight into life experiences foreign to my own but it has then brought me back to the familiar world of Instagram womanhood.  I've been forced to take a long hard look at myself and reflect on my own relationship with devices, the media's gold standard for womanhood and the way I parent.

Perhaps the true strength of this book is the ability to make its readers recognize for themselves the unevenness of this book in its capacity of delivering inspiration and the desire to be better on the one hand and the relative fluffiness on the other.  For many of us, real life is like that.  A rapid cycle between the rigors of deep thought and reflection and then some lazier times scrolling through eye candy and click bait.

Have you read 'Untamed'?  

Loving some of it and leaving some if it like me? 

Feb 8, 2021

The Parents of Saturday Sport. Memories of the Weekend.

I'm officially one of you, Parents of Saturday Sport.  As of the weekend just gone.

It's a brave new world in the parenting experience, isn't it?  So many fixture lists, so many places to drive to, such early Saturday morning starts without the benefit of a proper coffee, so many uniform items that one is required to maintain in an immaculate, snowy white state.

But we do what we have to do.  Which is why I waited a full 10 minutes after a role call before discretely making tracks up the hill for the row of fancy shops and eateries closest to the tennis courts.  By my calculations, I could have a coffee at a different place each week for the rest of the term so be prepared for more atmospheric Saturday morning coffee still lifes.  Lots more.

I think there will also be many accompanying refuelling action shots to go with too.  Saturday sport is hungry work.  After this sausage sizzle and a full bottle of cold-pressed juice was a full lunch, pre-afternoon tea, afternoon tea and dinner.

The rainy weather we had over the weekend was the perfect setting to accompany the weekend's main cooking project - the Recipe Tin Eats definitive take on Beef Bourguignon.  Yes, that was an entire bottle of Pinot Noir that went into the marinade on Friday night.

Saturday's labour of love was to sieve the marinade from the beef and other ingredients before painstakingly browning each one separately.

It was a two-step 'baking' process in my trusty Le Creuset Dutch oven.

Two and half hours later, this was the vision that greeted me when I opened the oven and then the lid.

via OfficeWorks

As an aside, a teaspoon of White King bleach in the water you soak your Dutch oven in overnight miraculously removes ALL the staining that cooking your Beef Bourguignon may have caused.

Sunday was our day at the newly refurbished Australian Museum.  This view from the floor-length front windows never gets old.

The refurbishment retained the best of the old and added light-filled and airy common spaces between the main exhibit halls.  

We were there to meet The Tyrannosaur Family.  And meet them we did.  In traditional skeleton and model form, via touch screen and on film as they took over Circular Quay (on film).

We will be back often this year, I think.

Hungry work seems to be the theme of this post.  We had an early dinner after the museum at the iconic Stanley Street Italian restaurant, Bill and Toni's afterward.  The two-storey shop front brought back memories of the shop houses in Boston's Little Italy.  The cafe downstairs serves all-day coffee, cake and gelato while dinner begins at 5pm upstairs in the restaurant.  The boys demolished their bolognese and savoured every drop of the house fruit cordial while the marinara, lasagna and veal schnitzel with cheese received top marks from the parents.

The memories.  I'm sitting here typing on a grey Monday afternoon.  These weekends of ours fly by so quickly and never overstay their welcome.

Until the next one!

Feb 1, 2021

A Sentence (or Two) A Day: January 2021.

And breathe.

It was such a relief writing 'January 2021' for the first time this year.  

Hot Cross Buns just after New Year's, a bargain box of usually spendy chocolate added to the groceries, January was all about the extended staycation for me.  Well, mostly, at least.

And then real life recommenced.  It was a rude shock but I am grateful for those beach days I squeezed in at the end of the month.  They made it all bearable.

  1. Starting the year as I mean it to continue.  A virtual 10K through Boston, the morning spent trying to master Mario Kart Deluxe, an afternoon with friends at Jubilee Park. 

  2. Grey skies and rain clouds as far as the eye can see.  Again.  It was a wise decision for this household to stubbornly refuse to take down the indoor Christmas fairy lights.  Their glittering bursts of colour have given this weather the staycation magic it desperately needs.
  3. The sun shining over the backyard this afternoon. 

    A sight I thought I wouldn't see again for the rest of the month if the weather forecast has been anything to go by.
  4. That's quite a storm brewing outside.  Feeling safe and dry this afternoon as we sip mugs of tea and hot chocolate at home. 

    Fresh popcorn also makes everything okay.
  5. Bubbles!! 

    I can't work out if these are my first or second most favourite kind.  Homemade bubble solution made with glucose, dishwashing liquid and tap water makes for bubbles with such a high surface tension they hold their shape in the air for ages - shimmering away and reflecting as they do so.  Very other world-like.
  6. The calming, coral like crystals of our 'found it at Kmart' science project. I could watch them grow for hours.  

  7. The perfect weather for lasagna.

  8. Last Friday of annual leave and my return to work mojo has made a timely appearance.  Actually looking forward to Monday.
  9. When worlds collide.  My iFit trainer, the inspiring and empowering Hannah Eden referenced Jay Shetty and his book, 'Think Like A Monk' this morning.  Needless to say, I ran strong with their collective wisdom on my mind.
  10. Typical. 

    Summer's most perfect weather makes an appearance on the last weekend of my annual leave.  The zoo was great fun, as always.
  11. First day back at work and I was firing on all cylinders. 

    I even made friends with Teams.  It's updating to my Apple Watch.  Adios, WhatsApp.
  12. I didn't think it was even possible but I stood in line in the post office today behind a person who waits in line in an even more 'actively impatient' way than I do.  I took notes and took a long hard look at myself....
  13. On Wednesdays, we alpaca.

  14. Finally getting into both my novels.  One's a murder mystery and the other is a fluffy Kevin Kwan. 

    So glad I didn't give up on either of them.
  15. My local Target is going to become a KMart as part of the Wesfarmers restructure of its Target stores. 

    Mixed emotions.  It was a sad moment when I had to break the news to mum.  
  16. It's the little things that are the most satisfying.  Today, I restored a favourite pair of white pillowcases with a solution of bleach and Vanish in the magenta tub.
  17. Still dreaming of Cappadocia, Turkey. 
    via Google images

    Its fairy chimneys, subterranean networks of cave homes and the mystic elements of its cultural history.  How did I visit from Sydney during a weekend during the pandemic?  Via iFit on my trusty treadmill, of course!
  18. Hectic day at work but happy to have (almost) skipped out of work under the slow-burning glow of the late afternoon sun.
  19. Felling on top of the world! 

    I fixed my printer problem all on my own using this $20 cable as opposed to making an emergency call to Geeks2U!!
  20. Well, that escalated quickly.   My brain hurts.  
  21. Kitty Flangan's memoir, 'Burning Brdiges and Other Hobbies' is my current Audible listen. 

    Today, Kitty revealed her love of crochet.  And how it's an official sign of being old.  I'm so old, I'm fine with that.  If it's good enough for Kitty, it's good enough for me.
  22. The kind of Friday that was going so well.  Until the after-work champagne you were rewarding yourself with decorked itself into a bowl of chopped veggies. 

    I have no idea how it happened but the house is still standing!  And the champagne still tastes sublime.
  23. Beach.  Life.

  24. Beach.  Life.  On.  Repeat.

  25. Uber Eats. 

    Saving dinner time on a crazy Monday evening since forever.
  26. Third beach day in a week. 

    Living the dream this Australia Day.
  27. Less.  Is.  More.  Less pushing.  Less doing.  Less adornment.  The theme of tonight's brief yoga practice.  Great truth, as always, to be found in the asanas.
  28. Jumping into the first day of school for 2021!!

  29. It's Friday and not before time.  Signing out of a pretty productive week.
  30. Our last Saturday to ourselves before Saturday morning sport takes over our lives....
  31. Did you know that 'tilt' is the collective noun for windmills? 

    And that the roof / cap of windmills can be rotated to catch the wind.  Ending the month with a bit of trivia.  Thank you, iFit walking tours.
And it's on to another month.  Already!!

Looking forward to meeting you, February.


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