Monday, 19 June 2017

Menu Plan Monday

This is the last week of our girlies being away housesitting.  I go back and forth between missing being part of their every day, and not missing the bickering that is natural between siblings.  The house has been quiet and peaceful, and my days off have been delightful silent and uninterrupted.  Mr Busy is easy to have about and doesn't fuss if he's asked to do something.  Unlike the girls, who make grand declarations about the fairness, or lack thereof, about who does what dishes job.

As I mentioned when I talked about the upsides of having a smaller households the cooking has been delightful.  This week is no different.  I'm planning for cooking once and eating twice while I can.  And then a nice family roast for the night that we're all home to eat dinner together properly (with plans to use the leftovers in another meal).

Here we go:
Sunday: Chicken noodle soup
Monday:  Lasagne and salad
Tuesday: Pasta with tomato & bacon sauce
Wednesday: Leftover chicken noodle soup
Thursday: Leftover lasagne and salad
Friday: Leftover pasta
Saturday: Roast chicken & veggies (maybe even dessert!)

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Claiming my Desk... Before and After

 A very long time ago, it seems, I wanted to get rid of the great hulk of a desk we had inherited from my father-in-law (we are his favourite disposal site, I think), and replace it with something simpler and less invasive.  Ikea provided us with what I considered the perfect alternative.  So it has been sitting in this corner for many years.  All white and slimmed down compared to its predecessor.  Gradually Mr Busy took the desk over with his junk.  The curtain over the window in front of it deteriorated so much that the backing became white dust over everything (hence the sheet).  I have been less than pleased with this corner.  It was never really what I intended.

As well as desktop issues we began to have under-desk problems.  All the reams of paper that came home because Dh couldn't use grey (neither do we, incidentally), and the printer cartridges and the manilla folders and on and on it goes.  Things that have been piled up and then spilling over the floor under the desk.

Well.  No more.  This was my latest corner of decluttering, reorganising, cleaning and reclaiming for its intended purpose.  Mr Busy studies in his room now.  I have finally claimed the desk I chose as my own.  With all my favourite pink things!

One day I'm going to need to have a trip to Spotlight to see if I can find a good enough curtain to replace the sheet over that window.  It looks so tacky, but it does the job.  No one can see in from the street.

My next challenge:  The area to the right of the desk.  It rests along a hip-height wall that will one day be pulled down.  The junk in front of it needs a better home.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

If Google Knows Everything...

Imaged Credit
...Then YouTube can teach you anything.  Or at least inspire you to try something new!

Today's Lesson:  How to clean a very very dirty oven.  Did I say dirty?  Maybe embarrassingly putrid would be a more accurate description.  I had hoped to have replaced it by now, but that's looking like an out-of-the-question scenario right now.

My oven is so bad that I'm only half way through I've only just started getting it clean.  I've done the door.  But I sense hope.  My sink and tap are ridiculously shiny, as is my cooktop, thanks to a quick swipe with the paste I'm leaving to sit on the gunk in the oven.

Thank you YouTube, for teaching me that I don't need to use the caustic (but quick, less scrubbing...but also no breathing) oven cleaner I had been using.  So I hear you asking...."what is this shiny-making non-caustic cleaner?"  Well, three things you probably have right in your kitchen.

2 cups baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda)
1 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup dishwashing liquid

Mix the vinegar into the baking soda VERY slowly.  Pour a little in and little it fizzle; stir a bit before adding a tad more.  Once it's all in the bowl (and isn't fizzing over the side - remember I said add slowly!) add the dishwashing liquid and mix it really well.  You just slop that, rather thickly, over all the internal surfaces of the oven and let it sit overnight.  I used a silicon pastry brush to do this.  In my case it'll be 24 hours before I can get back to it, but I suspect that might be best for all concerned.  I'll let you know how it goes, but so far the oven door is looking beautiful.

Incidentally these same ingredients (in different proportions) have been touted (on YouTube) as a miracle bathroom cleaner.  If my sink is anything to go by, your bathroom will certainly shine!  The video I watched for cleaning the bathroom said you have to use "Dawn" liquid, which is all very well if you have a Costco membership.  If not, you'd be up the creek without a paddle, here in Australia.  I can't see that a particular brand would make a difference, so I'd give it a go with whatever you happen to have.  Morning Fresh maybe?  I think the point is, something really good, not the cheap, weak stuff you get in $2 shops.

Some other YouTube channels I've been enjoying:
The Daily Connoisseur (inspiration to live a good life)
Do It On a Dime (how to organise on a budget)
Pick Up Limes (great nutrition advice and inspiration)
Fly with Stella (a very funny flight attendant who vlogs her life - she's just so happy!)
A Classroom Diva (teaching ideas and inspiration)
Pocketful of Primary (another teacher vlog)

What have you learnt lately?

EDITED TO UPDATE: This method for oven cleaning worked reasonably well.  Yes, it took a fair amount of elbow grease, but I didn't die from inhaling awful, choking chemicals.  And my hands were nice and soft, albeit dry.  Definitely the longer it sat the easier it was to clean (24 hours).  It was very, very sudsy, so know you're gonna have bubbles in your sink all over the place!  I suspect that if you were more diligent about oven cleaning, in general, this would look like it had worked better.  Given where my oven started and where it ended, I'd say it was a definite winner.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Menu Plan Monday

It's Monday.  Of a long weekend.

That means lots of extra time.  Time to menu plan.  Time to grocery shop.  Time to plan for the week ahead so I can get some running records done in my lesson planning time tomorrow.  Time to nap.  Time to get the house picked up a bit and flat surfaces decluttered.  Oh yes, I love a good long weekend at home.

Yesterday we took Mr Busy down near the bay and had lunch at a little cafe in McCrae.  Then we did something I think I haven't done since I was a teen!  We drove up to Arthur's Seat.  Oh my it was so full of people.  But Mr Busy found a geocache there and the view was magnificent against a backdrop of sunny blue skies.  Not warm, but sunny, because you know...winter.

This morning I planned my menu and I have a shopping list ready to go.

Monday:  Potato, cauliflower & leek soup (with Costco dinner rolls - so dying YUM!!)
Tuesday: Leftover soup & rolls
Wednesday: Honey soy chicken, stir fried veggies & rice
Thursday: Chicken tenders (from freezer, thank you Costco) & veggies
Friday:  Fend for yourself (Mr Busy will be at church before I get home from work)
Saturday:  Leftover chicken, veg & rice

What are you eating this week?  Please share!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Pantry Capers... Before and After

It's a long weekend, here in Australia to celebrate the Queen's Birthday.  Say what you will; on this occasion I am more than willing to keep ties to the Commonwealth and take a short break for a long weekend.  I've been hankering to clean out my pantry, which I do about once a year.  Because after a year of the locusts (aka children) fossicking through it and spilling things and all of us shoving things in gaps and wherever, it needs a thorough clean out.

It took me a few goes, with sitting down in between, because, Friday night.  After teaching PE, a lunch time yard duty and an after school yard duty I was so tired.  There ain't no tired like teacher tired, folks.  In fact, I think I even shut my eyes for 15 minutes on one of those breaks.  Anyway, everything came out, the shelves got cleaned and then everything went back.  Almost.

I couldn't finish off last night because I needed some storage items to I could organise the floor of my pantry.  Also, I've thrown out about this much stuff, because I don't love it or use it or want out-of-date food in my pantry.

My pantry started off like this.

See how the floor is hidden under piles of stuff?

Part way through, the kitchen was an organised disaster and I wondered why on earth I keep all this stuff in there?

And then things were slowly returned to rights with everything organised, cleaned and restored.

Thanks to some stacking bins and throwing stuff out the floor is clear again.

I bought baskets for the pasta and some Asian food items as well as the stacking bins.  Everything is looking much more organised and tidy.  I also found a new dish soap dispenser with a pump top.  The old one got a crack in the bottom after many years of use.  Couldn't last forever I guess.  Just as I was finished up, Mr Busy peeked in and was very impressed.  "Oh Mum, I can find things...but do we have any food?  I'm hungry".  🙄

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Appy and Free

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A couple of months ago I decided that I needed to start tracking my food intake, to gain back some control, where control had apparently been slipping.  I felt like I just couldn't be tied to a piece of paper again, like I was back in the 90's when I was using Weight Watchers.  You know, back before computers and the internet?  So went looking for an app.  Because now we have computers and interwebbings and smart phones and all the fancy things.

There's an app for everything these days, isn't there?!

The app I ended up choosing is from Calorie King.  Their "Control My Weight" app is a freebie, and I have to say I am incredibly impressed.  Input to the food diary is so easy!  And because it's on my phone, it's always close by and handy.  The app has an extensive inbuilt list of Aussie foods and brands, so I can almost always find exactly what I'm looking for.  Also, you can save meals as a whole recipe, copy from previous days and search by meals, as well as individual ingredients. There are also features to track your water intake and exercise and easy peasy weight check-ins.  It literally takes me a total of about two minutes over a whole day to put everything in there.  In the morning I can put in my breaky, lunch and snacks, so I can see what's left for dinner and whether I have wiggle room for treats.  Or not.

All of that easy-to-use app-i-ness, and it's really helped me see how far off track I'd gotten.  Man oh man my track was very far away from where it should have been.

If you're an Apple kinda person and you want a food tracking app that works seamlessly, give this one a try.  For free! Yay!  If you're an android user, I'm sorry, I've got nothin' for you.  Apple for the win!

Disclosure:  I have not partnered with Calorie King or been approached by them for my endorsement (they don't even know I exist, I'm sure).  I'm just sharing something I use and love and find helpful in my quest for being healthier.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

What's Inside My Teacher Lunch Bag?

I was googling about the other day, as you do, searching for inspiration for my school lunches.  The only staple that never changes is my Thursday lunch.  A lunch you'll probably never see a photo of, because I never take my phone to the staffroom at lunch time.  But I will tell you, it's my favourite lunch.  Freshly baked baguettes from The Artisan Crust, filled with brie, fig jam and salad greens.  Oh be still my heart! Maybe it's a good thing our tuck shop is only available one day a week.  I might end up looking like a filled baguette!

On every other day, lunch is whatever I can cobble together from the depths of my pantry and fridge. Not always an easy task!  So for anyone else seeking inspiration, here's what's inside my teacher lunch bag (a smattering through last week and this).  Incidentally, my lunch bag is an insulated one I got from Aldi for about ten bucks.  It is exactly the right size, and in summer I slip in a lunch box sized freezer brick to keep everything fresh and fine.

Monday: Leftovers - chicken and corn soup, with a dinner roll from Costco.  For fruit time I have a mandarin, and for recess (morning tea) I have grapes.

Tuesday:  Bread with tomato, spring onion and goat cheese.  On this day I toasted the bread and then topped it with the tomato mixture.  My sister-in-law and I share a tub of real butter that is kept in the staffroom fridge, for such occasions, so of course I had butter on the toast as well.   Everything is better with butter!  Another mandarin and grapes for fruit time and morning tea.

Thursday:  Leftovers again - Chinese simmering chicken, stir fried veggies & basmati rice, with the requisite grapes and mandarin.  The recipe for the chicken is here.  I always use drumsticks and then remove the chicken from the bones and mix it through the veggies.  Then I use the liquid from cooking to thicken for a sauce.  So yum.  

Friday: Scraping the barrel means another toasted sandwich.  I always store my sandwiches for toasting with glad wrap between the bread slices so the butter doesn't stick together, and the fillings sitting on top.  It just works so well when you go to put into the sandwich toaster.  And my favourite grapes and mandarin again!  Am I sick of those grapes and mandies yet?  Nope.  They're only around for a limited time in the year so I take them while I can.  And red grapes are, by far, my preference over green.

And here's my lunch all packed and ready to go.  Obviously this was Monday's lunch.  My golly I love those Costco dinner rolls.  The only way I don't scoff the whole bag myself is to keep them in the freezer.  And determine to only eat them with things like soup.  That little container in the mesh pocket has rock salt in it.  Sometimes the salt in the staffroom seems to disappear.  This way I always have some when I need it.

And no, I did not forget about Wednesday.  On Wednesday I have the blissful joy of having a "day off".  I am playing terribly fast and loose with the term "day off".  Today, for example, I spent the entire day writing English reports.  So fun.  Said no teacher ever.

I am officially done with reports though, so yay me.  Now I need to start on an assignment. 🙄

What do you take for not-at-home-and-can't-buy-lunch days?

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Upside of a Small Family

The government considers us a "big family".  We even get an extra $10 (or something similar) because of it.  Apparently three kids is becoming a rare thing.  Around here, it's a regular sized family, amongst a whole bunch of families with 4-6 kids.  That's Yarra Valley water for you.

Our foray into kids moving out and becoming a small family, albeit temporarily, has brought out some interesting little observations.

1.  It's so much quieter.
Obviously!  The funny thing about that is that we barely know Miss Mischief is home most of the time, because she holes up in her room and slinks out for food, basically.  Truly, our kids are all at the age where the spend a bunch of time in their rooms like hibernating bears, so why is it quieter?  Because Miss Sunshine isn't here to come out in the evening and wrestle through the ads on TV with her Dad. He has no one to pick on.  No one to bug.  No one to bother.  It's just blissful for this introvert who spends all day with people!

2.  I don't have to cook as often!
This is a new discovery this week.  If I cook the same volume as normal, a meal will go two nights, easily. Plus leftovers for lunches sometimes too.  Oh. My. Goodness!  What a beautiful relief.  I'll cook tomorrow night, and then Wed-Fri we'll just feast on the 2nd half of the meals I've made from Sunday to Tuesday.  I figured if I make three and then cycled back to the start it wouldn't feel like we're just eating the same thing over and over.  And thanks to some new, inexpensive-but-better-than-disposable containers from Aldi, this week, we're all set to store single-serve quantities of some of it.

3.  My food budget has gone way down.
I'm still paying for the girls' food.  They're both poor Uni students, and the reality is, they live at home because they can't afford to move out.  So I hand them $60 each weekend (they blow in, briefly for that!) and they make that work for the two of them.  Meanwhile, I've only spent about $50 on the three of us.  Well....I did do a big Costco shop the other day, so that makes a difference, doesn't it?  Still, even if I spent the same as I give the girls it would be less than when they were here for dinner every night.

4.  The girls are very different in how they connect.
It has become clear, this past week, that Miss Mischief is the connector.  Miss Sunshine is happy with distance.  That would probably change over time, but at the moment Sunshine gal is revelling in being on her own.  Miss Mischief has popped in to get Microsoft Office on her new computer, and organised for me to drive down to Koorong, and buy them lunch, and wash her hair....ok, maybe she just needs me more!  I'm blaming the post-op recovery process.

So while I'm content that they are safe and sound tucked up in my friends' home, Hubby comments every day that he misses the girls.  It's too quiet for his extroverted self!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

So the girls moved out for a bit

The snowflake above has nothing to do with this post.  Only that it's forecast to be wintry and cold this week down here in Melbourne, and I like this photo!

Meanwhile, one of my dearest friends and her two adult children are winging their way to England right now, to visit with family and enjoy an English summer.  Well..that's a bit of a misnomer, isn't it?  Day time temperatures of 23C isn't really summer, to my mind.  Pleasant, but not the heat we get.  So my girls are off on their second house-sitting experience.  I joke, often, about anticipating their fully fledged flight into adulthood that will come with moving out of home.  One day.  They love the opportunity to have a go at moving out and being all adult-ish.  Of course, Miss Mischief will be back for a bit on Wednesday, so I can help her download Microsoft Office on her new Mac.  They're never totally gone for long!

As much as I love the girls being independent and all on their own, I've realised something just slightly distressing.  My in-house chef and dishwashing helpers have gone with them!  On Sunday I asked Mr Busy what he'd look to eat and cook, and guess what?  It's just you and me in the kitchen for the next few weeks.  His whole body slumped, and I slumped along with him.  It's one thing to housesit on the school holidays, but during the term?  Not so great.  I'm battling thoughts of "but no one is home...why bother cooking?"  How silly.  More of us are here than not, and yet just two being out feels positively vacant around here.

When I got home from work yesterday the house was utterly dark.  Warm....but blacked out.  Mr Busy was holed up in his room, as he typically is, but no one had turned on the lights!  At least he put the heater on!  At 6.00pm, just after I got home, we were rummaging about in the freezer searching for something quick and containing some version of helpful nutrition.

Not only is cooking and the dishes an issue, but also, who will take Mr Busy to church on Friday night?  I'm not even home before he needs to be there.  Girls to the rescue, I think.  Just as well they haven't gone too far away!

One perk:  a regular meal will do us two nights.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Thinking outside the box...

Have you ever had a problem, that called for some creative problem-solving?  I found myself in this exact position this week.

For the last eight, or so, years I've been wrangling two bags back and forth from school every day.  One for my laptop and folders and papers, and one for my lunch, charging cables, handbag, and all the things that didn't fit in my laptop bag.  This weekend I decided there must surely be a more efficient way to cart my stuff back and forth so Miss Mischief and I set off to find the perfect teacher bag.  Because it seems that teachers have some pretty specific needs when it comes to a bag.

I lifted this bag down from a shelf, thinking that it looked like a pretty good size and shape, and it had plenty of pockets around the outside.  Guess what little surprise I discovered?  This perfect bag is actually a nappy bag.  Yes, you read that right!  A nappy bag.  It has a ton of pockets inside as well and, as it turns out, fits absolutely everything except my lunch bag.

I love, love, love this bag with it's floral lining, waterproof exterior and the ton of pockets both inside and out.

It didn't phase me one little bit, buying a nappy bag, because I just needed a bag that suited my work needs.  The older shop assistant seemed to think it odd to consider a nappy bag as a work bag.  The younger shop assistant said "oh yes, I use that exact bag for work too".

When I told my class about my shopping adventure they thought it was hilarious that my bag is a nappy bag.  Except now it's not.  I'll give the change mat to a colleague and then it's just a bag, with a pretty lining.

Got an 'outside the box' problem-solving story?  I'd love to hear it!

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Surgery...Dinner...Shopping... Oh My!

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What a week.  Again!

Miss Mischief had her hand surgery yesterday.  We were there all day, getting home late afternoon.  She handled the whole thing so well, and seems totally fine with very little post-op pain.  Her biggest complaint was that I forbade her from going to life group (the one she leads).  We'll see the surgeon again in a couple of weeks to see what he has to say.  Today she was happy to come shopping with me, but did admit that walking around wasn't so comfortable, since having her hand swinging normally wasn't that great of an idea.  A sling would have been good!

The picture above is exactly how our dinner looked tonight.  My hubby adores Malaysian Char Kway Teow - a spicy rice noodle dish.  Truthfully, he has trained us all well, and we all adore it.  When I was shopping for Mr Busy's birthday present I found a teensy tiny hole-in-the-wall sized Asian supermarket at one of the shopping centres "near" us (they're all 1/2 hour away).  I picked up some fresh rice noodles and fish cakes, so they became Char Kway Teow tonight.  Oh my.  It was soooo good!  Better than the Chinese restaurant in Our Town.  We're pretty picky and Dh is quite the connoisseur, so it's a little sad that this recipe was better than theirs!  In any case, there are some leftovers, so lunch on Monday!!!  The recipe I used this time was from the SBS website, and it is an absolute keeper.  I used way less fish sauce, because we don't love it *that* much.  Also, I couldn't find dark soy sauce in my local Woolworths, so I used kecap manis and omitted the sugar.  Oh, and I used samal olek instead of the whole thing with the dried chilis, because same-same, but easier.  Obviously there is exactly zero times that I don't mess with the original recipe!!  In any case, if you love Malaysian food, try this recipe!

I'm going to take some photos and post about the results of my shopping trip today.  I finally got a new teacher bag!!!  I love, love, love this bag.  It is exactly and totally perfect.  I have been carting about a laptop bag, and then a second bag with my handbag and lunch and charging cables etc etc, plus all the papers and folders that sometimes just don't fit in my laptop bag.  No more!  One bag and it's done.  The solution was a surprise, in the end, and a lesson to promote thinking outside the box.  I will post all about it early next week.  I just want it to be Monday so I can use it already!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

And the haemorrhage continues...

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Last week began with a new heater and a new TV.  This week will end with a surgery.  The superstitious amongst us say bad things come in three's.  I dunno...the year thus far seems to be a running tally of things (more than 3!) on which to spend lots of money I didn't want to spend!

I can't remember whether I've said anything about Miss Mischief's hand/wrist.  Suffice to say that a tussle over chocolate with her big sister was totally not worth it!  Two years later, after much pain and  exhausting all other possible treatment options Miss Mischief is headed for surgery on Friday.  We both have mixed feelings about this.  Relieved that the end is in sight, and surgery will reset the healing process and resolve the problem.  Grateful that our health insurance enables her to have the surgery waiting list required!  Hopeful that everything goes exactly as the surgeon explained.  And then a bit sad.  Disappointed that prayer hasn't healed her.  Concerned, because every surgery comes with risks.  Sad that this amazing, knowledgeable, experienced, skilled surgeon will be cutting into my precious girl.

And yet.

There have been delightful moments.  Like when we went to book in, Miss Mischief thought it was like making any other appointment - we tell them, not them tell us, when to be there.  She was gently schooled in the ways of booking surgery.  I still giggle at her beautiful innocent naiveté.  I gain a day out of the classroom, in which I can concentrate on my next assignment, because there will be nothing else for me to do while I wait.  I have had to "forbid" Miss Mischief from her usual Friday night responsibilities...she doesn't know that you don't bounce from a GA like you do when you're 4yo.  She might sleep for 24 hours.  She might feel nauseous.  She certainly won't be able to drive for up to two days.

We're having some fragile, tender moments this week, the two of us.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

A Very Expensive Day

Yesterday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for the poor ol' bank account.  The photo above is the temperature in my house, as I type.  It's gone up 2C since I got up to put the little fan heater on.

Because yesterday was the exciting day we installed a new ducted heating unit.  The previous one spent the whole of winter just stopping.  Every couple of weeks it would just decide it needed a break and just stop working.  Dh is the only one who knows how to deal with the pouty attitude displayed by this appliance, that refused to fulfil its purpose in life.  So we had a new one installed yesterday.  By 6pm, when I got home, it decided it didn't want to work either.  Maybe it thinks it is too good for this 20yo old house?  The guy who installed it is onto the problem, so maybe by the end of the day we'll have heat.  It is a whole 6C outside right now, so something bigger than a mini-sized fan heater would be wonderful.

On top of that, the TV decided to cark it yesterday too.  It's like all the appliances have banded together to stage a mass protest.  I expect the fridge and the water heater to join in the plan any day now.  But the TV?  It has been doing this weird thing where it just loses the plot and has a very loud, very fuzzy hissy fit, right after it gets turn on.  It's a bit like a toddler doing the "dead fly" impression in a temper tantrum.  After a few minutes, though, it usually settles down (unlike toddlers).  Following yesterday's hissy fit, and taking its sweet time to decide to be turned off, it just wouldn't turn back on.

Today's jobs?  Buy a new TV....because apparently there will be zero days on which there is no television in this house.  This has happened before, the day Mr Busy scared a TV into refusing to turn on (he was 4yo and was playing with the on/off button; he (we) lost).  Out we went and got a TV that day.  Being here for Mr Heater man to come back and sort that beast out.

So here's the maths for this year:
new car for Miss Sunshine + new heater + new TV = no new kitchen any time this year 😭

The year began with such high hopes.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

My Kingdom for Some Tights...That Stay Up!

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Once upon a time I used to buy these wonderful opaque tights.  They were perfect.  The right weight. The right size.  The right staying-up ability.  Because once upon a time they made opaque tights with control tops.  You just put them on and they stayed exactly where you left them:  on your hips.

Last winter I needed to buy new tights, because the old ones finally carked it.  And so began my quest for a basic winter essential, that didn't up around my knees by the time I got to work.  Are you hearing frustrated?  I bet you're feeling the same!  The tights I used to buy were from Woolworths (see, I'm training myself not to say Safeway....I'm getting better-ish).  When I went back last winter I discovered they had changed their "recipe".  No more control top.

In fact, there are no control-top tights to be had anywhere.  So began my quest for keeping my tights UP.  A very smart colleague (who is young, so obviously this is something the younger crowd have sorted), shared that she goes "superman style" because tights just don't stay up.  Ugh.  The only thing strong enough for the downward pressure of gravity on tights is shape wear type garments.  Regular undies don't seem to be quite up to the job.  That's a day of pretty high pressure!!!!  But she was right.

Since it's nearing winter and the days are headed back into the teens for top temperatures, I'm finding myself googling "control top opaque tights" again.  Let me tell you, the results thus far are not so great.

So here's my question to you, dear reader:  have you found opaque tights that actually stay up, that are currently available somewhere in a store.  Or online.  Or via pigeon post (see how desperate I am?)?  Please share!  What do you buy?  Where do you buy them?

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Sweet Eye-Relief at Long Last

Ahhhh the serenity....

It has been about 3 weeks, and so far no irritating eye-puffing flare-up's.  It has been such a long, frustrating experience, as my eyes did their own thing.  At times, it seemed, without any provocation. I have a couple of instances this week of very low-grade itchiness in my left eye, but some hot water on a cotton square over that eye, thankfully did the trick.  No antihistamine drops required.  Sweet relief!

I stripped absolutely everything back until there is nothing left to do, and that has left my eyes totally normal again.

  • No make-up
  • No moisturiser on my face
  • Coconut oil, sparingly applied, until irritation cleared up
  • New pillow
  • Change pillow case every 5-7 days (this seems to make a difference)
It's been an interesting experience, in reflection.  I use a shampoo and conditioner without sulphates or parabens or nasty things like that because they make my scalp itchy.  Like, "I think I might have lice" kind of itchy, that drives you completely bonkers.  I can't use liquid hand soap, because it gives me contact dermatitis, which often ends up requiring an anti fungal cortisone cream to clear it up.  I am so sensitive to synthetic chemicals, yet I was slathering them on my face.  Then I was surprised when, one day, that wasn't working anymore. next step?  Now that everything has settled and feels normal again, I have begun to investigate make-up that has very little in the way of all those synthetic chemicals that upset my skin so much.  I'm investigating and researching and watching/reading reviews and finding good Aussie companies that care about what's in the products we use.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Happy Heart of the Tropical Kind

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This made my heart so happy, this morning.

I am too scared to eat guavas here, in Australia, because I know I'll be disappointed.  Topical fruit just always is.  But I found this in Aldi yesterday when I was puddling around the spots where the 'limited time' products are found.

Welcome back, childhood.

Friday, 14 April 2017

At the Cross

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This never gets old.  It happened over 2000 years ago, but it can still bring me to a sobbing mess of tears.  The cross is harsh, confronting, painful, full of grief, brokenness.  I am so grateful for the cross.  But today is always full of emotion.  I, among many, am responsible for this and it grieves my heart so sharply.

And yet.

This had to happen.  It was always God's Plan A to bring us to a place where we are without sin in His eyes.  This wasn't Plan B because mankind made a mess of what was created perfect.  In the darkness of Friday I am grateful that Sunday is coming.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Stop What You're Doing and Make This For Dinner

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Last night I had my kids rolling their eyes at me.  Probably because I said "Oh, this is soooo good," about 300 times too many.  You know how young adults get.

But this recipe was absolutely that good.

I tripped over it, only because I was reading Jen Hatmaker's Facebook page (no, I am still a staunched  hold-out, but I can read the public stuff, right?), and she's on a Whole30 journey.  Me?  I'm just looking for food that tastes good and provides us some positive nutrition.  Quick, simple, non-processed, delicious.  Lofty ideals in a fast-paced, Masterchef kind of world with all its extremes of take out to fuss and bother.

This recipe fits my profile for good, yummy food.  I give you Rosemary Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken with Bacon and Apples.  OK, so the name is longer than the drive from Melbourne to Sydney, but if you can overlook that you've got a winner.

Of course there is always the requisite little tweaks a person makes for one reason or another.  The recipe calls for chicken breast.  I had drumsticks, so that's what I used.  The recipe calls for apples.  You will want more apples than that.  Just trust me.  Double the apples.  I used 3, because 2 looked like a piddly little amount in the pan.  I wish I'd done more.  And you can use apples that are starting to feel like you wouldn't want to eat them.  Winner!  Also, I grew up in the 70s when people boiled their cabbages to death.  I don't love Brussels sprouts.  When I say I don't love, I mean I have not touched one since I left home.  Plus Aldi doesn't sell them right now.  Bummer, right?  Instead, I served this with our favourite cabbage dish, alongside which is just shredded cabbage sautéed with spring onion and bacon.  Talk about perfect!

Now obviously, this meal fits a set of nutritional criteria that doesn't include starch.  So if you don't need to worry about that you could add potato cubes to your pan as well.  Miss Mischief seemed to think that would make it perfect.  I was pretty happy without.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Fear-Less Parenting

"You can't tell me what to do!"  These were the terribly misinformed words uttered by my first child, barely three years old at the time.  By the time she embarked on the "Terrible Three's" I already had a second child and a third on the way.  It was far too late to back out or rethink how many of these little people we were going to have in our house.  There was certainly no way a three year old was going to dictate how I was or was not going to raise her!  I think I responded with something along the lines of "Well, you're going to be fairly miserable, because I can and I will tell you what to do....."

Thus began my journey of fear-less parenting.

I hear it more and more though....the questions about whether or not parents are getting it right.  Am I feeding them the right food?  Are they in the right school?  Have they had enough experiences?  Are they in the right sport?  Should we change to another sport?  Should we add music lessons?  Maybe they should have art lessons?  Are they getting enough sleep?  Will they get a good job?

Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Are you feeling dizzy?  Feeling Inadequate?  Frightened?

To be perfectly honest, these are not questions I spent my time asking.  From the moment Miss Sunshine challenged my authority as her parent I was far more interested in what kind of children I was raising, not whether they had everything the world could offer them.  Besides which, for most of our children's lives, we weren't in a financial position to give them all their little hearts desired.  And we have led a quieter, much more sane life because of it....I don't think that's a bad trade-off!

How did I parent fearlessly?  It was instinctive at the time, and as I've gotten older I've realised not all parents have been parented well, and instincts may be harder to find.

Be the parent
Once challenged by that deluded three year old, I understood I needed to lead my children.  I cannot tell you how often I see parents whose children walk all over them.  We need to be the authority in our children's lives.  Not authoritarian, ruling with an iron fist.  Authoritative.  Unafraid to set reasonable limits and things that are not-negotiable in our homes, and then keep those limits.  Children need to know  where their boundaries lie and that they won't move.  Believe me, they will try to push them!  If you have spent any time with any child you know this to be true.  Be prepared with consequences that match the age and act, and be consistent in applying them.  I have learnt that when these lessons are learned early, the rest of being a parent is much easier.  I only have to count back from 5 and my son still moves very fast!  Our kids all know it is unwise and useless to test our boundaries.

Have high expectations
Part of being a parent is knowing how you want your kids to behave and then expect it of them, rather than excuse them.  Whether it be using manners, eating all their dinner, requiring obedience...whatever it is that hits your radar as important.  All of the things above were on my radar for high expectations, and so these things were constantly being addressed in my parenting.  I wouldn't hand over something without receiving a thank you.  I didn't begin fulfilling a request without a please.  Our kids were required to have at least one bite of everything on their plate.  I knew what they did and did not like, and I would still give them a bite or two of things they didn't like, so they would learn to eat dinner without being offensive to a potential host.  The other side of that coin is that our kids eat a very varied diet and enjoy lots of different cuisines.  If they kicked up a stink they were offered their meal or their bed.  No alternative meals.  Only one ever chose bed.  That only happened twice, and then realised tomato sauce covers all sins and makes food edible.

As teenagers I had many conversations with my children about my expectations for them not to become sullen, moody, hateful people who do the wrong thing.  I challenged and expected them to be above the stereotype of their age.  I don't believe that just because "everyone" says kids are like a, b or c means they have to be like that.

Be comfortable saying no
Our kids need us to say no, as much as they need us to say yes.  Sure, small people will throw a tantrum.  Indeed bigger ones will also try.  Don't let their tactics scare you off from being the parent.  It's not our job to keep them happy, in the sense that we should feel obliged to give in to everything they desire.  It is our job to stick by our word.  If our word is 'no' then let it be no.  When I have had my children beg and plead because they didn't like my no, I was more inclined to stick with that no than ever.  It's the stubborn streak that runs through the females of my mother's family.  This kind of goes with "be the parent".  It is not our job to be popular with our kids, or be their best friend.  It is important that we be able to make good decisions for our kids and stick with them, despite their best efforts to persuade us otherwise.  Whenever my children accused me of being the meanest mother I countered by insisting I was being the best mother.  Actually I probably just agreed!  "Yes, I am the meanest mother...that means I'm doing a good job".  The poor babies had nowhere to go with that one!  Be confident with your no and let your kids learn that disappointment is a part of life.  Most of our "no's" are not spirit crushing, and they shouldn't be.  But it is a normal part of life.

Are you paralysed by parenting fear, or do you parent confidently and fearlessly?  What's your best tip for raising amazing kids?

Friday, 7 April 2017

Stingray Surprise

A few days ago DH, Mr Busy and I were watching pelicans and seagulls feed on some fish heads and guts that were dumped into the water, off the little jetty at Rhyll on Phillip Island.

Suddenly my husband wondered what that thing was, moving just beneath the water behind the pelican.  Imagine our surprise to discover an enormous stingray languidly moving through the water, in search of fish.  We watched it stop over a spot where there was a dead fish.  It hovered and flapped again, and then moved off.  And then another stingray joined in.  They moved about so gracefully and we took some video.

They were just so enormous and so smooth.  They were remarkably close to the shoreline.  I'm not a fan of swimming in Victorian beaches, they're too cold for my topical upbringing.  I'm even less inclined now that I know these enormous animals lurk so close by!  The picture above doesn't give any reference point for it's size, but it was at least a metre across.

It was a truly remarkable sight to watch these two rays stay close and wave their "wings" so beautifully.  Just amazing.

My boss came back from summer holidays with video of an octopus his family found in some rock pools.  You can be sure I'll be sharing my video of stingrays with him!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

And the Eye Issues Continue

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I'm sad to say, breaking up my friendship with micellar water did not cure my eyelid issues.  They did finally stop itching, but the puffing up has been coming and going with totally unpredictable abandon.  It hasn't been distressing so much, as completely frustrating.  Even the most non-reactive moisturiser I possess, which I have never reacted to before, is causing my eyes to flare up.  I can use it anywhere else, just not my eyes.  So I'm on a mission to deal with this issue and get rid of it, yet wary of what I put on my eyelids, because they. will. swell.

Last week I was watching a vlog by Jennifer over at The Daily Connoisseur (one of my most favourite new-to-me bloggers), where she talked about her current skincare favourites.  One little gem she shared was regarding frankincense.  It seems, upon further investigation, that this essential oil is quite the miracle worker for repairing skin and reducing scarring.  Since my local pharmacy carries it, I dropped in there yesterday and picked up a little (expensive!) bottle.  I've mixed a handful of drops into some extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil.  I had to use a warm teaspoon to mix it, since the oil is now quite solid, due to the cooler days we've had.  But now it sits in a teensy little pot, looking quite cute.

Last night I had it on my eyes for about an hour and then had to get it off.  My eyes were tearing up terribly, but the coconut oil feels so smooth and silky!!  Interestingly, my eyes are a little puffy this morning, not as much as I would have expected.  The skin on my eyelids has settled right down.  It's not red and irritated, like it has been. So half a win.

I'm going to try using the coconut oil/frankincense mixture for short amounts of time and see if I can't build up some resilience for my eyelids.  Maybe if I take it off after 15 or so minutes it'll help my lids to resist puffing up, and the skin will continue to heal?

The saga continues....

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Magic Potion of Cold and Flu Season

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It's odd, how a cold seems to crop up right at the very most inopportune moment.  I arrived at school, last Thursday, feeling totally fine.  By 9am I was totally not fine.  I had parent-teacher meetings so I knew I would be at school until about 10pm - what a day to get a cold.  With no warning!

Olive leaf extract (OLE) is my version of a magic potion.  I don't know what is in this stuff, or what makes it so effective, but I would not be without it in my cupboard.  The minute I start to feel my throat getting that little pre-cold niggle I start taking it.  If someone else in my house is unwell I take a half dose a day to make sure I'm all boosted and fighting those germs.  I don't get sick very often, so I'm a very bad patient.  I refuse to get sick just because people around me aren't well!

On Thursday, when I realised I had a cold, I sent Miss Sunshine a text asking her to bring my magic potion school.  I knew I needed to get onto it really quickly or I would nose-dive before the end of the evening.  She made the quick trip out to school and refilled my water bottle so I could take a dose right then without having to leave my class...which I can't do!  They all laughed at me!  The kids thought I looked like I was eating a lemon.  I have to say, it doesn't taste that wonderful.  On a scale where chloroquine is a '10' in "that tastes really awful", this is about a 2.  But it makes me screw my face up until I've washed it down with water.  Miss Sunshine was laughing at me, and my class.  She declared us all "flipping hilarious".  Thanks!

By 4pm, when parent-teacher meetings started, I was feeling much better and I wasn't blowing my nose as much.  Over the last four days I had sounded all stuffy, but haven't really felt like that.  I've also been a bit more tired than usual, but a good snooze has got me going again.  The cold really didn't progress beyond a runny nose that stopped almost as quickly as it started, on the same day.  Other times, when I've used OLE at the first sign, the cold that was beginning has just stopped in its tracks.

I can't take cold and flu medication and I haven't needed to use the cold and flu vitamins I had been using before I found this stuff.  It is truly a magic potion.

And just so you know, I have not been asked to promote this product, or been provided with a sample.  I literally walked into my local pharmacy and picked it up on the advice of a good friend.  My pharmacy happens to have the brand picture above.  It should be labelled "Magic Cold Fighter".

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Favourite Things - New Realisation

I am a 'hills' kind of girl.  Cool, fresh mountain air.  Chilly winters, enveloped in still, fog in the mornings.  Roaring fires.  That's my kind of deal.  I adore where I live, and my little town is about the best place I can imagine living.

And then there's the beach.

I grew up less than a handful of kilometres from the beach, in a little tropical paradise.  We swam almost every day, not because it was idyllic, but because we needed to cool off.  It was sticky and hot and we had no air conditioning back those days.  Listening to the ocean roar at night was my favourite sound, after tropical rain thundering on our uninsulated tin roof.

Last week I mentioned that we'd been away with old friends, and we always camp near the beach in a  foreshore caravan park.  It is way more upmarket than the foreshore caravan parks I remember when I was small!  After about 10-12 years of avoiding the beach there, I finally ventured out.  Miss Mischief and I walked to the front of the caravan park, because I just wanted to see the water.  When we discovered the tide was out I was easily convinced to walk back to our caravan along the shoreline.

What I remembered was that I love walking on wet sand when the tide is a long way out.  It's easy to walk on, and it is just so relaxing.  We slipped off our thongs and enjoyed wet sand and water between our toes.  And I said "I wish I'd done this yesterday", about 10 times.

I wouldn't swap where I live for all the tea in China, but I was reminded of how much I love to walk on the beach.  We'll be near the beach again in a few weeks, and this is what I'm looking forward to.  Long walks along the beach on wet sand when the tide is out.

What's your favourite place to be?  Beach, hills, or somewhere in between, like the suburbs?

Friday, 17 March 2017

Even Better Than 'Just' Salad

Even better than just a salad....or a salad with wholemeal toast, dug from the depths of the staffroom freezer:

Salad and a baguette from The Artisan Crust.  With butter.

You can't even begin to imagine how good lunch was yesterday!!!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

First Mason Jar Salad...In Tupperware

I'm not a huge salad lover.  Salads are OK, but by the end of summer I'm after some good old fashioned cooked veggies.  For me to find a salad I love enough to eat more than two days in a row is quite a thing.

Enter Shauna Niequist's Greenwell Salad.

This is my go-to salad for lunch.  We don't have pears and grapes available at the same time, so I use an apple, and I've never seen dried cherries.  Dried cranberries work well instead.

I took all the bits for this salad away with us over the weekend, so this was my lunch.  Miss Mischief likes this one as well, so she also had salad one day.  And then I had some goats cheese left yesterday morning and nothing else to take to school for lunch.  Hmmmmmm.

The apples need to be covered in the dressing so they don't go brown, but everything else needs to stay out of it.  That's when I remembered reading about mason jar salads...where the dressing is on the bottom and only gets mixed with the top things when you tip it into a bowl at lunch time.  So I began layering up in a Tupperware container that was the right size and shape.

Apple & dressing
salad leaves
goats cheese
(yeah, I didn't have a few of the ingredients)

It ended up being perfect at lunch time, even with the missing onion and craisins.  I tipped it into a bowl and found some wholemeal bread in the staffroom freezer, so I made some toast to go with it.  This salad just seems to go perfectly with buttered bread/toast.

I'm not sure I love any salad enough to have it four days in a row.  I'm not at school today so I'll find something else.  But tomorrow, this will be back.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Then We Stopped for a Bit

I realised, just this morning, that the Labour Day long weekend has occurred at exactly the right moment in the middle of the school term.  I know it was the right moment, because I slept for 10 hours the first night, and seven hours for each of the next two.  Hours and hours of uninterrupted sleep.  That's when I know I'm really tired.

As well as sleeping, however, this weekend infused us with a needed dose of our tribe.  Each year we camp with people we've known our entire lives.  A family of five siblings, some of their spouses and many of their children.  Plus us, and another family, all of whom grew up in the same church as children.  Back then we played together, holidayed together, churched together and spent our days in one another's homes.  My aunt married the cousin of the 5 siblings, so we are connected in more than just deep friendship.

It takes time to develop community; a tribe of people that are part of your everyday life.  I didn't realise how valuable that was until we needed to uproot ourselves and move to a new church.  All of a sudden our tribe wasn't our tribe anymore.  But these whole-of-life friendships have been the ones that have sustained and fuelled us along the way.  They are precious and necessary.  We know each other's faults and gifts.  We know when to "smile and nod" or roll our eyes quietly, and when to challenge and how to laugh.  That's not a quick thing to develop.

So this weekend we've camped.  Us in our 30yo very saggy caravan.  The kids now use little tents because they don't fit in the bunks at the back of the van anymore.  But it does the job.  It only takes us an hour to pack, and we're on our way.

The next time we camp it will be with a new tribe.  One we're building and growing and sewing ourselves into.  That's also necessary.  But there's nothing like the comfort of something deeply known.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

I don't know what I was thinking

I've raised two children to young adulthood, and a third who is mere year away from officially, legally joining them.  We've parented and trained and disciplined and talked and guided and shepherd these children through the past 21 years.  Mostly they're really great people to hang out with, and certainly for everyone beyond our picket fence that is still totally and absolutely true.

But yesterday I blew a gasket.

I am tired of fighting with these people to have them do their dishes job after dinner.  Totally and complete done with it.  So yesterday, after asking one child to empty the dishwasher before they went out in the morning I ended up just doing it myself.

Me:  Could you please do the dishwasher before you go?
Child:  But Mum, I have to go, because I need to get in some hours at work and I have an appointment and I'm about to leave....
Me:  What, you can't take 5 minutes before you go?
Child:  No, because otherwise I'll miss out on time at work
Me:  Fine.  I'll do it myself.
Note:  Child works for their Dad and when they go and how much time they spend there is very fluid.  It's not a normal "start at this time" kind of job.

So I emptied the dishwasher.  And refilled it.  And cleaned the disgusting microwave that is above my head height, so I can't actually see in there or clean without standing on a chair.  I did the dishes, and dried them and put them away.  And the dish rack (no one seems to remember it has a place in a cupboard!).  I wiped down the bench and put all the bits and pieces away.  Then I decided I will just do the stupid dishes myself, for the rest of my life, and give up on arguing with all the people in my house.

Yesterday's episode came on the heels of another Child throwing a hissy fit because they didn't want to cook dinner.  That child got to stamp off to their bedroom and I had to figure out cooking dinner.  After I got home, so wasn't able to start dinner til after 6pm.  I have been known to tell these people they are free to move out....

I wonder when I get to throw a hissy fit and just choose not to do things...and then have them magically be done for me?

For now.  At least I have a clean kitchen.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Micellar Water, I don't think we can be friends

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Dear Micellar Water

I wanted us to have a long and happy relationship.  I really did.  Everyone told me you were gentle and soft and good for sensitive skin.  They told me that you were the perfect thing for removing eye makeup.  You even come in a hypoallergenic formula.  I thought we were set for years to come.

But, no.

You were so disappointing.  Rather than being gentle and soft, you were harsh and irritating.  You made my eyelids swell and become heavy, like they were sitting on my bottom lashes.  I have had days and days of antihistamine eyedrops and topical cortisone cream (thank you Miss Sunshine!) to get my eyes back to normal.  No, I just don't think this is going to be a long-term, sustainable relationship.  And I am terribly disappointed about that.  Disappointed that you didn't live up to the hype.  Disappointed that no one warned me this was a possibility.

Since I can't be friends with you I'm on the lookout for a new friend.  I'm thinking organic, cold-pressed coconut oil might be a better friend for me.  No chemicals, no detergent-like liquid masquerading as something more pure that it really is.  Yes.  I think coconut oil might be just the friend I've been looking for.

Yours not-so-faithfully
No Longer Putting Up with Puffy, Itchy Eyes


I'm calling this summer my "Makeup School Summer".  It's amazing what you can learn on YouTube.    One of my very favourite teachers has been Kate at The Small Things Blog.  She is so sweet, and very knowledgable, so I felt like I was in good hands all the way through summer.  I had to supplement her tutorials with a few for more mature skin, and hooded eyelids, but I'm well on the way now.  And then came the micellar water debacle.  For the last 6 weeks or so I have been battling these itchy, puffy flareups and wondering if it was the mascara, or what else it could be.  The micellar water is the only other new thing I hadn't used before, so by process of elimination I am fairly confident this has been the culprit.

I'm hoping the coconut oil approach to removing makeup will do the trick (again, thanks to Miss Sunshine).  I'll be posting a follow up to report on how that goes.

Do you have sensitive skin?  What have you found to be a giant flop?  Or a great thumbs up?

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Lenten Restraint and Quiet Stillness

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Having taught my class about Lent and Ash Wednesday and Shrove Tuesday and the way we remember the season leading up to Easter I thought perhaps I should enter into the solemnity that is Lent.

I briefly considered doing a fast again.  Briefly...let's say, a nanosecond.  Doing a serious fast seems to work best for me when I am surrounded by others sharing that journey.  So for this period of Lent I decided to reduce my intake of sugary food to one dessert/cake a week.  No other sugar, and no bread or crackers or likewise for snacks.  Especially when I get home from work and dinner isn't quite on the table, and I could eat the very people in front of me, I'm so hungry.  These are the two things I think I need to push aside for awhile.  And while I'm pushing those aside I'm aiming for pulling in more stillness with God.  Perhaps my Bible on top of my computer will be a good start...

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

So I Made Pikelets

Happy Shrove Tuesday everyone!

My class at school has been learning about things to do with places and maps and people and community and celebrations.  I love that Australia's multiculturalness means that all these international celebrations happen right in our cities, towns and communities.  Right where we are.  And that we get to travel the world via our kitchens!  A couple of weeks ago we made wonton soup, because it was Chinese New Year.

The kids thought that was the best thing ever.  Indeed, I got to church last week and a good friend said that's all she'd heard about all morning, from some of my kids and their parents - you know - the three or four families that would entail!

Last week I decided to prepare my students for Shrove Tuesday.  In their handwriting practise they wrote about it, so they know it's not just a day to eat pancakes.  There is a reason behind it.  Many mainstream protestant churches these days don't teach on or practise fasting or observe Lent, so many of my kids had no idea that Ash Wednesday was the beginning of Lent.  Or that Shrove Tuesday is about being shriven - a word that means the acts of confessing sin and being forgiven.   Nor did they know that Lent is traditionally a time of restraint and preparation to remember Jesus' death, and celebrate his resurrection, so the day before people clean out (or used to!) all the richer foods in their stores, hence pancakes.

Since we've already cooked as a class, and because it's really warm here in Melbourne, this week (about 33C/91F today), I decided I wasn't going to cook with the kids again this soon.  But mostly because it's really warm, and our Food Technology room is one of the few left with no air conditioning!

So last night I made pikelets for my class to share at morning tea time.  I'll take butter and jam, and they can have pikelets, or not.  So many of our celebrations have some kind of special food attached to them, and preparing for Lent is no different.  I love that we get to experience that in real life!  Hopefully they'll remember why we eat pancakes at this time each year.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

A Gel Polish Update

I was at work unreasonably early yesterday morning.  Mr Busy's class (well, 6 out of the 8...yes, you read that right, he is in a class of 8!) attended a Melbourne Prayer Breakfast event.  At least one of us was well rewarded for being at school before 6am.  Look at that breakfast!  Meanwhile, I was hungry by 9am, because no one should be eating breakfast at 5am.  No one!

While I was sitting at my desk in the small, dark hours of the morn, with eyes still bleary, I snapped a pic of this week's gel nail polish, from Aldi.  This is the taupe, which I didn't mind at all.  It's less sheer than the pink from Rimmel, but it was nice and neutral, and didn't say "Hi, look at my nails".  The photo above was taken on Day 7, and it was still looking magnificent.  I could have pushed it a few more days, but I did noticed some edges were starting to lift.  Not chip - no chipping!  But a few edges looked less secure.  When I went to remove the polish last night I tried to chip it off.  No dice.  The little corner that lifted was the only bit that came away.

My review for two-step gel nail polish?  It is ideal for the non-nail polish wearers of the world, like me.  It lasts at least a week and it is so smooth.  I had none of the feelings about this nail polish, that I normally have with regular polish.  The Aldi version was equally as good as the Rimmel London brand I used first, and the Aldi one only cost $10.  If you can still get it!