Friday, October 17, 2014

OOTD: outfit of the day

If I had to sum up my 'style' in five words, it would be this:

Cardigan, scarves, ballet flats, black.

In fact, for years my work wardrobe consisted mainly of either a black pencil skirts or black pants, which I would pair with either a black top and coloured cardigan or a coloured top and black cardigan. The 'coloured' items were invariably a mix of beige, black, white with occasional pops of blue or pink. I had high heeled pumps in black and beige and almost exact copy ballet flats in black and beige for traveling to/from work or if I had to drive the company car (or just if it had been a busy day and my feet were sore). I only needed one coat, one bag and a few jewelry pieces to complete my 'capsule wardrobe' as everything matched. Plus a pair of jeans for 'casual Friday'. 

Now that I work from home (that's my home office in the pic above) my wardrobe is a little different. I can wear track suit pants, licensed-character tshirts, hoodies, shorts, whatever I want. I still need to change out of my PJs because I have to do school drop-off but I can change into outfits that, although presentable, are as comfy as my PJs. And on really cold days, I get dressed and then pop my fluffy dressing gown back on over the top- it is warmer and more comfortable than ANY coat or windcheater.

Despite that, I find myself still dressing for 'work'. If an outfit is good enough for work then it is good enough for school drop off, grocery shopping, dropping paperwork off to clients and collecting cheques. It also helps me feel the part and hopefully project that professional air when I'm on the phone (or email or fax) to clients and customers. Lastly, dressing for 'work' helps me focus on work when it's work time and gives me a sense of having a break from work when it's not work time (technically I work seven days a week but some of those days simply mean having my phone with me so I can answer any client calls that pop up whereas some days are extremely busy, work-focused days from start to finish). 

I used to share some of my OOTD back when I worked in the city and I thought it would be fun to do it again. They won't be cutting edge fashion and may be a little repetitive but I think it's interesting to look back and see what I wore and how my outfits change according to what is happening for work that day. 

Outfit Of The Day posts will have their title prefaced with OOTD and will also be tagged/labelled with OOTD. 

Laura xx

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recipe: thermomix strawberry chia jam

Strawberries have a fairly short shelf life once harvested so after our strawberry-picking adventure last week I've been on the hunt for ways to use them up. We've had them in muffins, sorbet, on pancakes, made Eton Mess, snacked on them and still had a ton left over.

I decided to try my hand at making jam. I remember my Dad making jams when I was growing up but I've never tried it myself, it can be a bit intimidating to reach the right temperature, pectin and acidity levels plus it can be messy. But I'd heard really good things about Tenina's strawberry vanilla jam in the thermomix and there's also a jam recipe in the EDC. 

My recipe is something of a hodgepodge between the two, with an extra ingredient thrown in. 

250gm strawberries 
Half of a Granny Smith apple, cored
Zest of half a lemon
A squeeze of lemon juice (1 tblspn?) 
100gm sugar 
1 tablespoon chia seeds

1) Place first five ingredients into thermomix and cook for 30mins, varoma temp, speed 1.
2) Grind up chia seeds in mortar and pestle until the consistency of sand (alternatively, you can add the seeds whole or you could grind the chia seeds in your thermomix before beginning the recipe) and add to thermomix bowl
3) Stir on 'gentle stir' for 5secs to incorporate seeds and then stir on speed 6 for about 20secs
4) Pour into sterilised jar or container and store in the fridge. 

- Recipe yields approx 250ml
- Recipe can be doubled but at your own risk- the TM31 bowl will be quite full (TM5 should be fine) and the contents get very hot. I made my second batch as a double batch but it was a bit splashy. You might prefer to use the gentle stir option for the whole cooking time if making a double batch. 
- you can substitute a tablespoon of arrowroot powder for the tablespoon of chia seeds
- you can substitute an extra ten mins cooking time for the chia seeds
- to sterilise jars or containers you don't need to bake them in the oven- you can use the Milton sterilising tablets (the kind you use for sterilising baby bottles) which means that you can also use plastic containers for storage.

This recipe is very forgiving, feel free to adjust the ingredient quantities. You may even be able to get away with no sugar if you like it tart and use the chia seeds. 


Laura xx 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Strawberry picking

So one of the super fun things we did last week was visit a strawberry farm where we were able to pick our own strawberries. The weather was warm and the smell was absolutely amazing. 

Miss B's main focus was finding the biggest strawberry she could, while Miss A was searching for the shiniest (in between skipping up and down the rows). 

We grew our own strawberries about two years ago but it wasn't wildly successful so this visit gave the girls a much better appreciation for the way strawberries grow. It also sparked a few conversations about my childhood where I had strawberries, mulberries, plums and more growing in the yard to snack on whenever my siblings and I pleased. 

We've now had strawberries every which way and the rest will be frozen for use in baking, smoothies and sorbets over the coming months. 

I'm really glad that we went and I know that we will definitely be back again when it reopens next season. 

Laura xx 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Barbecue vegetable pizza topping

I like to make food from scratch, made with love from fresh, wholesome ingredients. But sometimes reality sets in and I need something quick and cheap. This meal was exactly that. I had found these pizzas reduced at my local supermarket so I picked up three of them  and then later topped them with leftovers and condiments found in my pantry. 

I did a few toppings- margherita (added fresh tomato, dried basil, dried oregano and a little more cheese), ham (added some chopped ham, leftover passata and cheese), supreme (added herbs, onion, ham, capsicum, tomato and cheese) but by far the best was the weird one, haha. I added BBQ sauce, roast pumpkin, olives, artichokes, capsicum and cheese.  

It might sound like an odd combination but it was truly amazing!! Everyone who tried it, loved it. Plus I managed to feed three adults and one child for $4.50 with several slices leftover. 

Chances are, you won't be able to find heavily reduced pizzas very often, but there are lots of pizza bases readily available or you can make your own. I definitely recommend experimenting with your leftovers to create new pizza topping flavours. 

Laura xx

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Holiday mid-point

I seem to spend what feels like forever  looking forward to the school holidays and then once they arrive, they fly past. We're already enjoyed one week of fun and sleep-ins (for the girls, not me, I have to work early) and although there's one more week to go, it won't be the same as Miss B has private swimming lessons all week. The lessons are about an hour away so she is staying nearby with her great-grandma. 

My sister, nephew, Miss A, Miss B and I drive down today to visit my grandma and drop off Miss B. It was a lovely day out and Miss B and my grandma are both very excited but my goodness, do I miss her already! 

Miss A and Miss B share a bedroom so tonight I let Miss A stay up a little later to make sure she was thoroughly tired before she went to bed. We played with the slo-mo video setting on my iPhone and it was hilarious! She fell asleep easily which was a relief. 

Tomorrow we're going to do some baking, just Miss A and I, and I need to catch up on some work stuff. This week has actually been a pretty unlucky week, lots of problems and annoyances with work and then I dropped my phone and cracked the screen!! Plus I've fallen behind on invoicing and filing so if I can get caught up on that, at least that's something I can fix. Hopefully I can start the week off right and change my fortunes.

This is a clover patch near my house. I've found 4 fourleaf clovers here in the last few years- maybe I can find myself another one tomorrow? Haha. 

But on that note I had better get to bed or I'll be too tired to achieve half of what I want to achieve tomorrow. 

Laura xx 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Feeling good

I'm feeling good today.

The past three months have passed in a blur of end-of-financial-year stuff (plus quarterly BAS, superannuation payments etc), staffing changes, school holidays and winter illness (it caught everyone in the family). There's been good stuff too! Lots of playground trips, my newest nephew being born, fun work functions, date nights, family gatherings, girls nights. But good or bad, frankly the pace has left me feeling wiped out.

A few months ago we implemented a change at work which means I don't have to work Monday nights anymore. Monday is the night that the girls have their dancing classes (different sessions) and while dancing is something we couldn't even consider while I was working in the city and the girls were in after school care, it was still no picnic trying to get the first part of my work finished before we had to leave for dancing and then finishing the rest (mainly phonecalls) in a noisy rec centre cafe while keeping the other child entertained.

Now Monday evenings are something that I look forward to. No matter how hectic the rest of my week might get, I know that I have two hours to do almost nothing. We practise spelling, read books, I can have a coffee, browse Pinterest, read blogs, and write in my blog. Guilt free!

Tonight as we crossed the rec centre carpark a torrential downpour started. We ran but it was too late, we were already soaked! We still had ten minutes until the first class started so we spent some time in the bathroom, drying off under the hand dryers. 

I'm not saying it was something that made my day, but it made me laugh! And that's something that I always want to have time for!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Storing old planner pages

Like I've mentioned, I've had a pretty busy start to the year so I'm behind on the things that I wanted to blog about. Like how I store my old Filofax pages. Now, I realise people use their planner in different ways so it might seem like a bizarre task to some people but there are an increasing number of us planner addicts who also scrapbook, do ProjectLife or make photobooks and who find it useful to be able to refer back to their old planner pages. I know that I do and so I not only plan things out in my planner, I also jot down notes about what we did (ie if we spontaneously end up at a waterpark on Jan 24th then I will write that in, even though we're already there and I don't need to schedule it or plan for it). I also sometimes include funny quotes or moments and even flicking back through the pages is often enough to bring back strong memories.

Plus I like taking in all the prettiness. Shoot me.

So my solution has been to use these little rings. I already have a tonne of them around the house as we use them for scrapbooking, holding flashcards together and archiving work documents. They are known by various names but usually 'hinged rings'. You can buy them in scrapbooking stores, at Jacksons Drawing Supplies and at Officeworks

Once the pages are held together (you can use two rings, top and bottom if you prefer) I like to store them somewhere out of the way. I had been storing them in one of these Ikea Kasset boxes which works perfectly fine but I also use the boxes for WIP for my sewing business and I realised that I would be better off storing my FF pages in this little suitcase which I use as a market stall prop and to pretty up my craftroom. That way I have more storage for WIP and less chance of the pages getting lost amongst the WIP. Plus it creates a practical purpose for this suitcase. Win-win! 

As you can see, there's lots of room (and bad lighting). Once I put all of my old pages in here, I popped it up on  a high shelf as I don't need to refer to it very often. At this stage I don't need to label my pages as I just have one per year and it's pretty easy to see which year is which by flicking open one page. However if you have lots of sets, you could create a coverpage or circle the year on the calendar on the front or wrap a label sticker around the ring and back onto itself. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Toilet training tip

Okay, so in addition to my last post another thing that has been going on around here is night-time toilet training. We've been using some cheap plastic sheet protectors from Big W to protect the mattress and my best tip for night time toilet training (besides 'wait til they're ready' and 'get ready to lose sleep- and possibly your cool') is to double-make the bed. If that didn't make sense- here are some pics.

Here is the bed with the plastic protector underneath. 

But look- underneath the protector is another sheet!

And under that sheet- another protector!

This is really the best way to make the bed. If a night-time accident occurs I can rip the top sheet+protector layer off and the bed is instantly made underneath. And the fewer beds I have to make at 3am, the better, I always say! 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mt little absence

I've neglected the blog lately but with good cause. On Sunday January 12th a devastating bushfire tore through my home town. Although I don't live there anymore a lot of people I know still do. My whole family was very connected to that community through decades of volunteering and involvement. 

When I realised there was no one group to collect all the offers coming through on Facebook I created a group myself and then stayed up until about 2am directing donations (of goods) and keeping in contact with the nearest evacuation point as well as doing some research on related organisations. 

The next morning I got the trucks off, the girls dressed, bundled up all of my stuff and headed down to the evacuation centre. I'll be honest, I really wasn't sure what pics to include here. It's a bit of an odd situation. On one hand, I don't want to seem like I'm encouraging voyeurism but on the other hand, these pics make my heart swell with love for the generous and compassionate people of Perth. In the end I have chosen a few pics (not that I took that many anyway) to show what the evacuation centre is like and have made sure the only people in the pics are volunteers not evacuees and they are back-of-head shots or blurry- not clearly identifiable.  It's also a long post so I'm going to put in one of those "read more" cuts....

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Popsicle Memory Game from EatDrinkChic

It's funny how sometimes the cheapest things are the ones that keep us the most entertained. You only need to look at Pinterest to see how grown women go ga-ga over a good free printable and with good reason when it keeps the kids amused like this one from Eat Drink Chic


This is the third summer we've played with the memory game and it has held up so well. Not only do we use it for Memory, we use it for playing shops, for playing chefs and for playing babies (apparently babies must be taken on endless train trips and fed endless icy treats). 

I made it hurriedly out of craftsticks we already had at home and some stickytape. I made it a little differently than Amy suggests- I taped the craftsticks to the inside of one side of the popstick and then folded it over and sealed the side opening with a small piece of stickytape. They fit inside a regular sized sandwich bag for storage although they seem to be out of the bag more than they are in it! 

It would also be really fun to have the children make and decorate a set out of scrapbook paper and that's exactly what I plan to do once these ones finally bite the dust. It could be a while yet though...... 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How to make vacuuming less of a chore

My father-in-law owns a tile shop/tiling company and so of course when we built our house we ended up with a lot of tile. Like, a LOT. Like, floor to ceiling tile in the laundry, toilets and bathrooms; tiled front patio, tiled back patio and all of the floors inside the house except three of the four bedrooms (I put my foot down on that one).

So the long and the short of it is that I have a large space to vacuum and mop and therefore have developed a pretty good routine.

1. Vacuum regularly
I vacuum and mop every day. EVERY day. Some people think I'm crazy but if I were to tackle it just once a week or once a month, it would be such a huge job that it would make me miserable. Plus all the 'bits' that find their way into the carpet and rugs that we have would break down, get trampled and get nestled into the fibres of the carpets. By vacuuming regularly, all that is required each time is a quick pass with the vacuum. I like to vacuum at the start of the day but some people prefer to do it in the evening- whatever works, I say!

2. Buy an extension cord for your vacuum cleaner
 Seriously. It's $5 for a 5m cord or $10 for a 10m cord which allows you to plug your vacuum in once and then work your way around pretty much the entire house without stopping. This one tip has saved me sooooo much time, I don't know why I didn't start doing it earlier. I leave the cord attached to the vacuum cleaner and just wind it up.

3. Pick up everything before you vacuum 

It really doesn't need to be a massive tidy up. Many people get distracted by sorting and decluttering and organising as they go but vacuuming should be a quick couple-of-minutes chore. If you find yourself getting sidetracked just remember- cleaning should take priority over organising. It's far more important to remove the dead skin and food crumbs from your house than it is to make your magazine collection look pretty. 

If you get the urge to organise something, leave it alone but write it down on your Master Task List or your Quick Chore List in your planner or household binder. It will wait for you, I promise!

In the meantime, pick up everything that could be in your way and chuck it in a laundry basket (or pretty basket or shopping bag etc ) so that the floors and couches are free to vacuum. Once I've vacuumed and mopped I like to get the kids to unpack the contents as it's usually their stuff but if I'm alone or the kids are napping it's no drama to pick up the basket and carry it around with me from room to room to put things where they belong. 

If your house is particularly cluttered (post-Christmas bombsite, anyone?) then buy a few baskets (they're only $2.80 each!) and have one for each room. The important thing is to EMPTY them after you've cleaned! But a fresh and clean house usually inspires people to keep it that way and not re-clutter it. 

The end result is that in less than 20mins your house is 'picked up', the floors are vacuumed and mopped and you have a list of less urgent projects to work on. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

My week 52/52

I fell behind on this project for a little bit, but here are my final few of weeks of 2013. There are no pretty pages, no washi, no stickers, no coloured pens- just one Frixion pen that I kept forgetting was eraseable =o\

It was an incredibly busy time and these pages don't even include things like my work 6 evenings a week which usually takes 2 or 3 hours per day (sometimes longer). Or the millions of emails, calls and faxes I sent/received, the filing I did, my shopping lists, problems that were solved, crises that were averted etc. Although I have included a little screenshot of my phone at the bottom that I think sums up my working day pretty well- at any given minute there might be THREE different people wanting my attention (not including little people).

 This week was a bit of a disaster! We were supposed to go out for lunch for our wedding anniversary but due to some things that came up, Matt had to work and we missed Ashley's daycare Christmas party. I also managed to miss Bella's class christmas party because of work and it just generally felt like there weren't enough hours in the day and everything was falling apart.

Oh and I was on tv on the Friday evening. =o) For a Chrisco segment on A Current Affair. I never get pimples, one of the few perks of hypothyroidism (the trade-off is super dry skin) but of course, I had one that day. And it bled for some unknown reason, right before a guy with a camera come up to me and instructs me to wave and say 'Merry Christmas'. Luckily (and unsurprisingly) that bit never made it in!! But we got a box full of goodies for our efforts.

 Boxing day was good- no plans!!! (We had plans but moved them). We slept in, watched dvds, played outside with the waterslide and paddling pool. It was fantastic! Received two faxes but no work calls!

 I stopped at December 31st because 2014 is in a different set of planner pages. I'll share more in another post.

Sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy or I must just be hopeless for not being able to get through my "to do" list but then images like the one above remind me that sometimes my days are incredibly busy and demanding and it's okay to not have it all together all the time. Those kind of thoughts don't get the dishes or laundry done, unfortunately, but they help me feel better about my efforts.

Next week I'll post about my 2014 set-up and my start to the year.

Laura xx