Saturday, July 30, 2011

found on friday

So much goodness, in such little time. Hand-knitted beanies for me and my girl.
These awesome knitted house-sock things. I would like to meet the lovely lady that is making these and donating them to my local oppy. I would tell her that my little man (who refuses to wear socks even when it's freezing) has been cuddling his pair.

A very cool paisley shirt. Might need a slight re-work for a better fit, but I love the fabric.

Some really lovely quality sailor-style pants in pale blue. Is Von Troska a cool brand? I'm happy because they are made in Australia.

This pretty spring-green blouse. I was hot when I was shopping. Blouse. What a lovely word.

A hand-knit man cardi for the big boy. $2. Seriously.

Delightful dress.

A pretty apron. I feel I need to don the last two items, maybe even my red heels, and bake a sponge or something.

So nice to be seeing a springy end to my winter wardrobe of grey and black. The drab is making me tired and grumpy. I think I will wear some of my lovely new(to me) springy colours today, if it's warm enough!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

weird things we do #one

Neatly folding undies and hiding them underneath pants when undressing.

At the gynaecologist's.

You go. Make me feel less odd.

Friday, July 22, 2011

yesterday had awesome in it

You know one of those days? Those ones where you notice little lovely happenings in the world? That was yesterday morning for me. I picked yesterday as a slow day, dropped the boys at school and kindy, and hung out with my baby girl.

We hit the shops because I needed to buy umbrellas. On Wednesday I had sent the big boy in to school with our last one, and of course it didn't come home.

Me: Where's your umbrella matey?

He: I left it outside to dry. When I went to get it, it was gone. I saw it flying away. It nearly toughed the sky!

So, arriving at the massive undercover parking, which was very busy, I stopped when I drove past a car leaving. Trying to reverse into the spot (yep, I'm challenged in this area), I noticed two cars waiting behind me, and thought too hard, you have it. Then drove around the corner and scored a spot right next to the door!

I ducked into Kmart and grabbed all manner of wet-weather gear (it didn't rain like this in the burbs) and wandered to the very other end of the shops to eat cake and tea for breakfast (pumpkin and ginger- quite good actually). Sitting down a group of four older folk drinking cappuccinos out of shiny red cups cooed at that gorgeous baby I carry around. Then I realised they were saying He's lost a sock love (she's a girl. I like to dress her in blue to confuse people). So I retraced my steps and I found the sock! How lovely is that, especially when it was a hand knitted pair.

I ducked across to Lincraft to grab some sewing supplies to make some gifts, and saw some cool clear umbrellas. You can never have too many I thought, and grabbed one with a red handle (big boy's favourite colour). When I popped it open, it is the kind that comes down over your shoulders- awesomeness! So I walked in the rain, baby girl close in her sling, protected in a lovely acrylic bubble. It was a delight.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

nourish: chilli con carne

I was most inspired by Gemma (my big nutshell)'s not-too-long-ago post praising herself for cooking that suburban staple, Chilli Con Carne. I wanted to reach back to my three-bedroom-brick-veneer roots and cook something from my childhood. Completely lacking in originality, I chose to cook

Chilli Con Carne.

I scoured my stash of Super Food Ideas mags and found this recipe:

Lower GI Chilli Con Carne

1 TBS canola oil

1 medium brown onion, finely chopped (or in my case, roughly hacked)

2 garlic cloves crushed

500g lean beef mince

2 tsp ground cumin

2tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cayenne pepper

2 TBS tomato paste

1 medium carrot, grated

1 medium zucchini, grated

400g can chopped tomatoes

420g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

In a large, deep frying pan, cook onion until softened. I don't have a large, deep frying pan. I used my big saucepan. Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Retrieve toddler from bed, clean up the wee he has done over the side of the cot.

Add mince, brown. Put the toddler on the toilet.

Add cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper. Cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste. Cook for a further 30seconds. Turn everything off while you re-dress toddler and breastfeed baby.

Return the meat mix thus far to heat. Add the carrot and zucchini, stir to coat. Add tomatoes and beans, simmer for thirty minutes. Or, if you have a stovetop like mine, watch in a panic lest the evil burner cremates the bottom of your saucepan even though it's on the lowest possible setting. If it does get a little burnt, proudly declare that it's "caught for a bit of flavour" and chuck a bit of water in. The simmering time should allow you to a) bring in the washing, b) have a cuppa and put your feet up, or c) find the hidden poo in your loungeroom.

Serve with rice, corn and pita bread. And if you are real posh, a sprinkling of fresh coriander.

The verdict? I have come up with a patented rating system for recipes. It's called The Stuff and Nonsense Patented Rating System for Recipes.

Tightarseness: This recipe gets 3 out of 3. I don't know what it actually cost, but I reckon it would come close to ten bucks.

Leftoverability: Good the next day, and can be frozen. 3 out of 3.

Tastyliciousness: Was nice, but not as good as my mum's, circa 1987. 2 out of 3.

Into the mouths of babes: Some veggies went in, unnoticed- ace! But the beans caused a major whinge-fest from the six-year-old. 2 out of 3.

Singlehandedness: Can I make this recipe with one hand whilst breastfeeding? Well, no. But was pretty easy to leave and come back to later. Also only made one rack of washing up to do. 2 out of 3.

So in total, a 12 out of 15 points. Not too shabby, I think.
I linked this up at Kate's. So can you!


Monday, July 18, 2011

a focus: nourish

I eat too many biscuits. There. I said it. My name is Sarah, and I am addicted to eating biscuits. Usually whilst hiding my head in the pantry. Or early in the morning, before the rest of the people get up. I try to hide my shame.
But biscuits are wonderfully convenient. You can grab them and eat them quickly. You don't need to prepare, defrost, chop, de-seed, mix or reheat. They are just there. Ready. Taunting.
But. Well, yes. My butt. I've figured out that my weight issues are in no way linked to growing a baby. Half the weight I gained disappeared straight away. The other half, I believe, is desperately clinging on to the biscuits I am consuming. And I feel kind of blah. Just like I am up several times a night and not eating right. Oh, that's because it's true! It's just that, well, most of the day I only have one hand, at best. Between preparing breakfast (for kids), making school lunch (for a kid), cooking dinner (for everyone) and feeding a human from my body I seem to have very little time to eat properly. But this just isn't good enough anymore. As of today, I am going to prioritise my own nourishment as equally important as everyone else's. Maybe even more important. Take that, family.
This is how I will do it:
1. Plan the dinner menu for the week, choosing meals I can prepare during the middle-of-the-day nap time, preferably with one hand. While breastfeeding.
2. Snack mindfully- have fruit cut up and ready in the fridge to eat with one hand. Also nuts might be a good idea. But not biscuits.
3. Eat breakfast. Instead of biscuits.
4. Only eat sweet treats that I have baked myself. This will work because I am lazy.
I do need help, though. Any suggestions for ready-to-go, one-handed snacks? And dinners that I can make at lunchtime? Love to hear your ideas, even better, link me up to your recipes!
Note: I may or may not have consumed three biscuits during the writing of this post.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

weekly gratitude

A moment of pure beauty. Making me realise how very, very much I have to be grateful for. The other end of this rainbow looked to be touching our place, our own pot of gold.


Friday, July 15, 2011

found on friday

Some lovely little finds this week, as I did quick pop-ins to my local small op shops.

A lovely vintage sheet and awesome dress pattern. I thought I'd have a go at sewing retro-style this week.

A funky leisure suit for the bebe. Don't we all wish we could wear pin whale velour on a daily basis?


Thursday, July 14, 2011

a girl needs a bestie

We arrived home from a freezing excursion yesterday to find a little package sitting at the front door. I quickly ran to see what it was, in case it was an online purchase I a) had forgotten I made, and b) needed to quickly hide. Nothing quite so sinister. A lovely thought from my best mate. A hug and a cuppa sent in the mail. A note and a book she has finished reading, which she needed me to read immediately.

I have only read a couple of pages, but Kerri Sackville's When My Husband Does the Dishes has me pmsl. Quite literally, my pelvic floor is still recovering from labour. So is she. She told me to just ignore any breast milk dribbles throughout the book. See, this friend intuitively knows when I need a bit of a boost. That only a friend can give.

We met years ago, when we were at the beginning of our teaching careers. We taught classes side-by-side and it wasn't long before we were (sickeningly) known as snugglepot and cuddlepie. We would hang out in the staffroom having a cuppa and chat in the afternoons at our cars. All pre-children of course. Nowadays our cuppa-chats are limited to TitSkype. Not an adults-only chat, but quickly talking while breastfeeding our babies. It's comforting to see her lounge room in the background. She hid out in the hospital one night after I had the big boy listening to the birth story over and over well after visiting hours. We have promised each other we will be spinster wives in our old age, when our children have grown up and left and our husbands are retired and playing golf.
weird things that friends do #42: accidental outfit syncing.

So thank you, my dear friend. Maybe we can catch up on skype later today. I'll be the one in pyjamas with unwashed hair and an infant latched to my bosom.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

true love is

When he ushers me out of the kitchen and says

You're making milk. I'll make butter chicken.

weekly gratitude

Four images, expressing my gratitude for the week.

Grateful for getting out and doing stuff together. Watching whales is much easier on dad's shoulders.

Grateful for ABC Kids.

Grateful for somehow cranking out super-awesome baked dinners out of an oven with a mind of it's own. A mind that thinks "I would like to burn down this house".

Grateful for finally finding a fantastic beautician to tame my eyebrows. image credit
Joining the gratefulness at Maxabella

Saturday, July 9, 2011

found on friday and a wardrobe malfunction

Today's found is brought to you by the raining down of all my clothing when I opened the door to my wardrobe some day last week. On top of my head fell scarves, hats, jumpers and pyjamas. I sighed and walked away.

A few days later, having walked past and ignored the pile as best I could, I realised that the problem was two-fold. I a) have too many clothes, and b) don't have appropriate storage. So off we trotted for a family pilgrimage to Ikea. Seven one-dollar-hot dogs and four ice creams later, I now have a lovely storage drawer unit thingy inside my wardrobe, the name of which I can neither remember nor pronounce.

To solve problem A took a little more effort. To determine which clothes were to stay or go, I had to come up with a creative solution to a lack of full-length mirror (that's right, when I leave the house I have no idea what I look like). So I took photos of myself using the webcam. My photos folder now has a large series of pics of myself, standing in much the same awkward pose, wearing ill-fitting or ugly clothes. Sometimes both at once. I chucked this much stuff
ready for donation. Sort of putting out some op-shopping karma for later. I was proud because I threw five pairs of shoes out. Until I counted how many I have left. Who needs this much stuff? I mean, really? So many clothes, but still nothing to wear. Then it becomes clear. I have a liking for bold prints. Yet I look better in plain. My tops don't match my skirts. My pants match the tops better, but none of them fit. I have too many ugly jumpers. In my head, I look like Nina from Offspring. In reality, I...don't. Well, at least I have come across the amazing Nikki at Styling You. Maybe she can save my fashion bacon. Or perhaps I shall win the amazing competition at Maxabella loves for a super-dooper party outfit and I will just wear that every single day. I'm sure a Leona Edmiston evening dress, fab earrings from Elk and self-designed shoes from Shoes of Prey are appropriate for the school run, right?

The cool thing was, when I finally got to the very innards of my wardrobe, I found some cool stuff. A box of 'spare gifts', including three baby girl outfits. Wait I thought I have one of those! Awesome. New outfits for the small one. And a box of children's books we hadn't got around to unpacking. In it were some of my books from childhood, so the big boy and I have started reading Enid Blyton. He chose to begin with The Adventures of the Wishing Chair. Good times. Oh, and this really old book, no clue where it came from though.I wonder who Edna was?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

things are different now...

As I sit here with my cup of organic, fair trade green tea, I am prompted to reflect on how life has changed for me in the past months. How I have changed. How we as a family have changed. I have been worried that my beautiful friends and family may think we have gone a little mad. Some of our changes have been very consciously made, others have just kind of flowed naturally following our decision to move to the beach. We are more focused on living in the world. Moving to this beautiful area, it was certainly a well-thought benefit that we would spend more time in the outdoors. Finding ourselves living in a tiny house with a not-very-useful backyard has forced us into nature. It still shocks and exhilarates me, to see how the sea changes every day. We drove around like overexcited teenagers following whales a few days ago. Amazing.
We are more free-range in our parenting. Maybe this is because we are up to number three, but I can see marked differences between the way we parent each of our kids. The big boy has it the toughest I think. He was on strict routines, even as a tiny bub. The baby girl is 'worn' a lot of the time. When she was unsettled last night, we just fed her and cuddled her, and allowed her to be unsettled rather than fixing it. I did prenatal yoga, and had a very different birth with the baby girl. Now my wish is to ease up on the big boy a bit, be more free-range with him (it's hard with the eldest, though, isn't it?). I am reading Buddhism for Mothers. Yes, I am.

We (well, really, I) am more conscious of the impact of our consumerism, on the world and on our lives. I have become more and more anxious at the thought of being overcrowded, drowning in stuff. I am certainly no green expert, but I am more aware of questions like "Where is this from?" "How was this made?" when I make purchases. I am certainly realising the benefits of buying better quality, looking after what you have and re-using or re purposing old items. And living by the family motto "Stuff that. I can make it for cheaper."
So, it sounds like I am turning into a massive hippy. I've promised my bestie that I won't be growing my armpit hair. But if we meet for coffee, I will probably have a chai latte. And be wearing my baby. And I might be wearing something I picked up in an op shop. I will definitely be having the chocolate cake though.

famous last words: episode one

"Let's just duck into Ikea."

Monday, July 4, 2011

challenge: a year of meaningful giving

It's Toy Sale time in our parts. We are inundated with thick, glossy catalogues and loud, jingly ads, reminding us The Sale starts at midnight! Grab your bargains! Lay-buy for Christmas!

I have gifting fatigue.

I have, in the past, enjoyed watching my (then) three-year-old eldest peruse the catalogues. He called them 'comics' for the longest time, and I thought that he was developing early reading skills by looking closely at the little details, turning the pages and so on. This year, when the Toy Sale catalogues arrived, I hid them. I have, in the past, dropped the children at Grandma's so that the hubby and I could fill a trolley (and then some) at the Toy Sales, stocking up on Christmas and birthday gifts for the coming year for the beautiful children in our lives. It just made economic sense, right? Well, it would, if I wasn't staring in exasperation at the giant pile of toys that our own children have, and can't possibly play with all at once. I know I'm not the only one in my circle of friends with a too-many-toy issue. Yet we keep giving each other's kids more toys?

I have, in the past (like, last week!), given money to a loved one, saying 'Use this to have a massage or something'. Because I didn't have time to organise a gift properly. Didn't have time? To think about my loved one a reflect on something that would make them happy, and go to the effort of presenting it nicely? Lovely.

My fatigue is around the process of giving, and how meaningless it has become for me. I was so excited last year to have our family come and spend a meal with us in our new home at Christmastime, I couldn't have cared less about gifts. My mum got so frustrated with me, "You HAVE to tell us something you want!" This is not how I remember the joy and excitement around receiving a gift when I was a kid. For me, the gift is in the process that the giver has undertaken, to think about you, and want to shower love on you.

When I think about it like that, I have been failing in giving. I have lost the process.

So. Today, I am going to undertake a challenge. I am going to address the next twelve months with meaning in mind. When it comes to giving a gift to someone I love, I am going to recapture the true essence of giving. When approaching the task of choosing a gift, I will consider the following criteria:

1. Handmade. A gift that I make myself is easily the most thoughtful. It is layered with effort and love.

2. Recycled/ Upcycled/ Second-hand. This may be a little trickier. Whilst I am very happy to wear and used second-hand goods, others may not be so comfortable. But I am determined to have a go anyway, and perhaps give second-hand selectively.

3. Toxic-free. I am really new to this consideration, so there will be a lot of research in this area. Basically, I will make the effort to choose products containing the least possible toxins.

4. Ethically-produced. Again, this is a new area for me. I am looking forward to giving gifts that support sustainability and human rights.

5. Beautifully presented. I am ashamed that recently, the best I have done by way of presenting gifts has been to shove it in a bag and hand it over with an apologetic shrug. I can do better than that.

Wow, looking at the criteria in writing makes me realise that this is going to be quite a challenge indeed. Please understand that I hail from suburbia, where time disappears under bright fluorescent lights as you roam aisles in strategically-stocked department stores, buying noisy objects someone else tells you that you need. My habits are going to be hard to crack, but I am determined that I can give gifts that are meaningful.

Will you join me in this challenge?

PS These photos are from my golden era in gift-receiving, and were taken by my dad.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

found on friday

I thought, yesterday, that I would give this op-shopping thing a go. All the cool kids are doing it. And I need pants. You know that period in your life where the lovely soft roundness of being a mummy stops your pants from fitting? I've moved into a rental apartment in that town. Temporarily, mind you. Must stop my pack-a-day biscuit habit I guess. And I haven't been seriously op-shopping since my uni days, when I would wander around Sydney in a floral flowing dress, black lace-up boots and a cherry beret (still have the beret).
So after dumping the big kids lovingly taking my boys to their places of education and care for the day, I packed miss tiny into the baby carrier and headed into the shop.
Immediately struck by the smell, I was reminded of my beautiful Nana. She volunteered at St Vincent de Paul for many years, and many of our gifts as kids were from the Vinnies shop. This kind of lost it's sheen by the time I hit the surly teenage years. My sister and I would giggle at the out-dated, musty smelling clothes and handbags she would find for us. I hope I have grown a bit more in terms of gratitude. I certainly miss receiving a card in the post for my birthday each year.
So, I meandered. You know, wandered around, looking at things in a idle kind of way, with little consideration of the time. It was lovely. And I found these things:A pale blue pencil skirt, which is so ridiculously flattering on. Awesome with my new boots.
A knitted grey vest. Because I regularly lie to myself that I can pull off man-style dressing just as well as Katherine Hepburn.
Stripey jumper that reminds me of neapolitan ice cream.

And this scarf. Which I think is so freaking groovy I have been staring at it since I bought it. One problem. It's grooviness far outshines my capacity to live up to it. I have no idea how to wear such funkiness. Please. Please help me on this. Or it may become a cushion.

Please note the total absence of pants. Which I still need. Looks like I'll be back next week!

Friday, July 1, 2011

weekly gratitude

aaah...Fridays. This one marks the beginning of two weeks of school holidays, and in glorious fashion, too. Marvellous not to have to do the school run in the pouring rain for a couple of weeks! Yep, I'm grateful for that. And also for umbrellas. And rainy days. And stretchy pants. Just some of the things I was thinking of today.

What a lovely week to look back on. Sorting through photos from the past seven days gives me many reasons to smile, and helps me prepare for the coming week with the possibilities of joy in clear focus. A delightful Friday night ritual.
Wrinkly forehead...nuzzly mouse noises...tiny spider fingers: newborn love!

Sharing a meal with my family.
Sharing my Poppi with my daughter.
Sharing a mandarin with the little man. Twice the deliciousness!

Hope you shared moments with special people this week.


PS Joining in with Maxabella and the gang this week


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