Monday, December 31, 2012
Week 1 of the Organizing Revolution is here, and the first project was to work on the office. I don't have an office per se, but I have carved out a family command centre just off my kitchen that functions as one. I used to have it in my kitchen, but it was never the perfect location and it took up valuable bench space. To the side of the kitchen, however, is a small wall that is the exact width of Irini's old change table, so I re purposed that and it is now the basis of my command center.
Starting on the wall, I have a calendar to keep track of everything at a glance. I use cozi.com as my regular diary now, but I like having a paper backup, and a wall calender means everyone can see what is going on. What I like best about this calender is that the top section is a regular monthly calender, but the bottom is a weekly tear-off calender with spaces for each of us in the family. I keep the calender in a wooden calender frame, and in the "pocket" at the bottom, I keep my calender stickers, birthday invites, blank post-it notes, and a notepad.
Next to the calender is a magnetic pin-up board, which holds a tear-off roll of note paper, my weekly meal planner, keys, various photos and my Thermomix quick guide. it also has my fifteen minute flylady timer, and the phone number for HealthDirect, the health dept's hotline for medical info.
Household Binder, recipe binders, and two magazine holders that hold recipe books I am currently using, voucher books and other bits and pieces. Next to that, I have 4 file folders in a clear perspex organiser. I have one each for the kids, me and current to-do's. In front of the file folders is a ceramic tray that holds two open boxes for pens, pencils, scissors and rulers, etc, and a lidded long box with spare rolls of sticky tape, elastic bands and paper clips. There is also a stapler, sticky tape dispenser, two aromatherapy sprays and a letter opener. I've also squeezed in a tube of hand cream, hand sanitiser and cuticle oil. Lastly, I have an accordion file for various bits of paperwork like prescriptions, vouchers and coupons, and a box of loose note papers.
In the top drawer, I have all of the other stationery and paperwork that I use, but not on a daily basis. I've used various shallow containers cribbed from other parts of the house to keep the drawer organised. The first compartment holds envelopes, stamps, address labels, loose change and the kids lunch order bags, as well as a tube of foot cream. The brown box at the back has my personalised stationery and address stamps, while the little trays in front hold a mini tube of WD-40 and various glues. Two metal muffin cups hold lipgloss and spare keys, and the space at the back holds my vitamins. The final container on the right holds odds and ends including my asthma sprays, a tub of Tiger Balm, and spare tissues and wipes for my handbag.
The final 3 drawers are also organised so that everything had a place. The 2nd drawer holds all of my vacuum attachments and bags, as well as clean mop pads, and various tools. The 3rd drawer holds all of the kids' workbooks as well as hard copy telephone books, and the final drawer holds miscellaneous cleaning supplies.
This new space is already functioning much better than its predecessor; its neater and everything on the top has a daily purpose, with things used less often stored away but easily accessible. Most importantly, because everything has a defined spot, it is easy to keep tidy,
Friday, December 28, 2012
Hi Everyone! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season with your families! After a serious illness and a death in the (extended but close) family, life has been pretty chaotic and topsy turvy for the last two months, and a lot of things have fallen by the wayside for a while, including this blog, my focus on my my health/wellbeing, and our home. With the new year just around the corner, I thought it was a perfect time to refocus on all of these aspects of my life, and I look forward to sharing my journey with you all!
First of the rank, I am focusing on our home and am going to take part in Clean Mama's New Year's Organizing Revolution. Each week Clean Mama and 6 other organizing mavens will be hosting a linky sharing ideas for each room of the house, as we spend a month getting our houses (and our lives!) organized. Best of all, there are some ah-mazing prizes on offer to really kick our butts into gear! So join me (and them), as we get the new year organized!
Friday, December 7, 2012
I received this fantastic book from my brother and sister-in-law for my recent birthday and it has been a real winner! I also have Jamie's previous book, 30 Minute Meals, but don't really use it, whereas I have used Jamie's 15 Minute Meals three times in the past week alone, with a lot more meals bookmarked ready to go.
Just like his previous book, this one has come under a lot of criticism about how likely it is you can have a meal on the table in 15 minutes. In reality, I don't think you can, if you are talking about the length of time from when you step foot into the kitchen, to when you place dinner on the table. However, on careful reading, this is not what he is promising - he is promising 15 minutes from when you start cooking, with all ingredients and equipment ready to go. Unfortunately, not many mums I know have a sous chef doing prep work for them, so 15 minutes from whoa to go - not going to be happening anytime soon!
But if you factor in an extra 5-10 minutes of prep, then 20-25 minutes for a home cooked, (almost all) from scratch meal, is pretty damn great. And so far, most of the meals have been delicious.
The next meal - Chicken Tikka, Lentil, Spinach and Naan Salad - was another winner - so much so that I didn't get a picture because everyone was digging in by the time I got back with my camera. It smelt that great, and was seriously tasty. Prep took less than 5 minutes, and I used tinned lentils since a) I had them and b) I have never seen packs of ready-to-eat lentils before! The recipe took 16 minutes to make, so I'm getting closer to the 15 minutes! I used the 400g chicken recommended, and because it was served salad style, it seemed to be enough.
Our last meal from the book, Seared Asian Beef, Best Noodle Salad and Ginger Dressing, was another amazing dinner, and perfect for a hot summer night. I used more meat this time (not quite double), and there wasn't any left! Again, no pic because we ate it too fast...This salad was fragrant, and crispy, and fresh; everything you could want in a salad, really, and it was a great way to get the kids to try some veggies (like radish and snow pea sprouts, which I subbed for the listed cress) that they would normally run a mile from. Another recipe that will definitely be repeated!
So overall, I highly rate this book so far. I like the emphasis on fresh vegetables, and almost all of the meals we have tried so far have been real winners. If you take the 15 minute claim with a (good) pinch of salt, and factor in another 5-15 minutes for prep and extra cooking, then it is a really great, really practical book. I have found the instructions very clear and easy to follow, even more so than in his previous book, which is why I think I like it so much more!
As for further content, he covers almost all of the protein groups, including chicken, beef, lamb, pork and seafood, as well as a vegetarian section, and a breakfast section. For vegetarians, a lot of the meat dishes could easily be adapted by subbing out the meat for another vegetarian protein source like tempeh or tofu, or eggs/cheese if lacto/ovo. If going carb free/primal, you could easily leave out the carb/processed component, as they are almost always a side addition rather than an integral part of the meal. Paleo might be a bit trickier as there is fair bit of dairy in the form of yoghurt and cheese, but again, these could possibly be left out or swapped for something else. So overall, for busy people looking for real, fresh, and fast meals, regardless of what kind of 'diet' you are following, I highly recommend this book.
Sunday, December 2, 2012
The end of the school year is fast approaching and that means coming up with Christmas gifts for the kids' teachers and teacher's aides. I like to make something handmade for them, but since we usually have close to a dozen teachers, it can't be something elaborate or expensive.
These mini puddings are so simple to make that I even got the kids involved. I have had this recipe since home ec at school and it is a real winner, and super cheap; each present (including the jars and the ornaments) came to less than $2.50 each. If you had recycled jars already, and skipped the ornament, then the puddings only cost 85c per half dozen serve.
Mini Christmas Puddings
2 x 700g Light Fruit Cakes
200g block dark cooking chocolate, melted
4 tbs brandy or rum
200g white chocolate melts, melted
red and green icing or red and green glace cherries
Christmas pattern mini muffin paper cups
- In food processor or blender, process fruit cakes into crumbs.
- Tip into bowl, add melted dark choc and brandy, and stir well to combine.
- Roll heaped teaspoonfuls into balls, and place into mini muffin cups.
- Pour melted white choc into a zip loc bag, seal, and snip a tiny bit off one corner. Use to pipe "custard" on top of puddings, and allow to set.
- Using red and green icing, pipe three red dots for holly berries, three green lines for holly leaves, and top with a silver cachou.
- If using glace cherries, snip little pieces of cherries, and place on top of the puddings while white chocolate is still wet.
- Depending on the weather, you may need to store these in the fridge
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Thanks for bearing with me as I took my short break. Until I get back to normal, I hope you enjoy this guest post from Katie Moore!
Eating Right and Working Out are the Best Defense Against Post-Baby Flab
Although a woman can exercise a few weeks after giving birth, seeing results likely won’t happen until she learns to eat right and exercise in tandem. One of the best ways I ensured eating a healthy diet, which not only helped me to lose weight, but also helped to boost my immune system and energy levels, was to stick to my pregnancy nutrition plan. When I became pregnant my doctor provided me with a list of foods I should be eating; these are the same foods I recommend continuing to eat after your little one arrives.
A diet rich in vitamins and minerals is crucial. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and good fats are what make a good, healthy diet effective. Portion control is also important. Women, remember you don’t have to give up their favorite treats; you just have to consume them in moderation to lead the healthiest lifestyle possible.
A healthy diet is good. A healthy diet in combination with moderate exercise is better. Medical professionals recommend getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, trust them! When your doctor informed you of labor and delivery choices like pain management, circumcision, or even cord blood banking they were giving you the best information possible for your situation so you could make choices. Same goes with post-partum choices; your doctor can provide you with postpartum exercise advice tailored around your own individual experience.
For me, it was a slow re-introduction and I started by walking. It worked my muscles, increased my heart rate and helped to boost my metabolism. The best part of walking is that it is a physical activity that I could enjoy with my baby. Moms can put their baby in the stroller and walk out the front door for a stroll around the neighborhood or with other moms who need to exercise.
Exercise DVDs were another great idea I used. They don’t require leaving the house and I could work out while my little one napped or rocked quietly in the swing. Additionally, I suggest doing things around the house that will work muscles, such as dancing and getting active with older kids. Gardening is another great form of exercise moms can do while their little ones are sleeping.
Being busy is simply a fact of life for new moms, and it’s important to not let busy get in the way of taking care of you. Being healthy both emotionally and physically will allow you to make the most of everyday, and combining a healthy diet and moderate exercise is the best way to achieve that!
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
I just wanted to let everyone know that due to a personal family situation, I am taking a short break from blogging. Take care, and I'll be back soon.
Posted by Chic Mummy at 10:30 PM
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I received this sample sized Rose Hydrating Face Mask by Aromatherapy Associates in August's Lust Have It box, and I have been converted! As you know, I try (and often fail!) to give myself a facial once a week, but lately with everything going on, this has been one thing that has often fallen by the wayside. After spending the almost all of the last week at the hospital with Nick's seriously ill grandfather, the emotional toll combined with a week of eating whatever could be grabbed from hospital vending machines had left my face looking and feeling pretty ravaged. So, with a half hour block carved out, I started with my regular Philosophy exfoliating peel, then decided I needed something ultra hydrating to follow, and this mask seemed to fit the bill.
The description stated:
A deeply hydrating mask to restore vital moisture to dry skin. Aloe vera and Sodium Hyalauronate, renowned for their hydrating properties, are combined with damask rose water, distilled from Bulgarian roses, in a cooling, transparent mask to bring radiance and vitality to dry complexions.
The mask itself was not what I was used to in a hydrating mask. I am used to relatively thick and creamy masks that feel comforting on the skin, while this was a colourless and transparent gel; but, oh, it felt like heaven on this skin. Smoothing it on, it was indeed cooling as they described, and soothed my frazzled skin in just the way it needed. The fragrance is beautiful, but very light so would be perfect for those sensitive to perfumes. It smells exactly like rosewater, rather than roses. It said to leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse off, but honestly, after less than 5 minutes, it had completely sunk into my skin, and left it feeling a bit tight, so I rinsed off at that point. I have to say, at this moment, I wasn't entirely convinced; the tight feeling left me feeling somewhat underwhelmed, I must say. After following with my usual skincare, though, OMG! My skin was glowing and plumped up, and looked as if the last week had never happened. And the next day, my skin looked even better again!
I also love that this mask is made with natural ingredients. Its star ingredients are Damask rose water and aloe vera, but it also includes sodium hyalauronate (a natural hydrator), while not including any parabens, glycols, colourants or perfumes. It is also vegan, and GM ingredient free.
I would definitely buy this if I could, but I haven't yet found an Australian stockist, or someone who ships here. If you have seen it somewhere, please let me know!
Friday, October 12, 2012
Now that spring has arrived, heralding new and fresh beginnings, I was desperately looking for a new fragrance. I am pretty much a "signature fragrance" type of person, wearing the same fragrance day and night for quite a while (sometimes months, sometimes years), rather than having a "fragrance wardrobe" of various perfumes that I select from based on my feelings on each day. For the last four/five years, I have almost exclusively worn Prada's Infusion d'Iris, straying occasionally to it's flanker fragrance, Infusion de Rose over the last 12 months and a YSL Paris springtime variation every now and then. But, while I was getting bored with the Infusion d'Iris, I just hadn't found anything else out there that was perfect enough to replace it with that it is now down to its last dregs. I considered going back to some of my previous signature perfumes, such as Stella by Stella McCartney, Cristalle by Chanel, and Eau d'Hadrian by Annick Goutal, but none of them felt quite right.
So, I have been on a hunt for the past 6 months, with no success. Everything seems to be so "fruity"! Honestly, every perfume launch I come across seems to have the fruity label attached. A "fruity floral", a "fresh fruity fragrance", a "vibrant explosion of tropical fruit", the list goes on. This trend seemed to start around the time I was working in cosmetics in the 90s, and unfortunately, hasn't abated. I completely blame Clinique Happy (released in 1998) for creating the frenzy, and J'adore (1999) for solidifying it. According to the Fragrantica database, there are now more than 2000 perfumes categorized as fruity florals! Not that there is anything inherently wrong with a fruity fragrance, but when there are so many of them, they completely dominate the market. I just find them, in general, too teeny-bopper, the type of perfume you would buy for your 14 year old niece. Which probably explains why almost every "celeb" fragrance has a fruity floral juice (I'm looking at you, Britney, J Lo, Fergie, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, et al!) - it's a great starting point for those entering the fragrance market for the first time.
But, that is not what I was after. I wanted something elegant and sophisticated, and I wanted it to be understated, not too bold. I didn't want my perfume to enter the room before I did, a la perfumes of the eighties, such as Georgio and Opium, which ruled out pretty much the whole category of orientals. I am over the citrus category, and I've never been a big fan of the aromatics family. A few recent launches held seemed to hold promise. I've liked aquatic florals in the past (L'eau d'Issey & L'eau par Kenzo were two of my original signature perfumes), so Eternity Aqua seemed a possibility but it was "nice" - nothing offensive, but nothing special either. It was light and fresh, but was still missing that elegance and sophistication I was after. It was still a young woman's perfume.
Trying something along the same line, I sampled Bottega Veneta. The bottle is the epitome of understated elegance, and the perfume is described as the "the scented signature of the house - invisible, private luxury". Plus, the face of the perfume is the daughter of Ines de la Fressange, one of my all time favourite girl crushes! But, again, as much as I wanted it to work (this bottle would look so good on my dresser!), the leather accord in it just wasn't me.
In a moment of serendipity, I was reading an article about another of my girl crushes, Aerin Lauder, and the launch of her eponymous lifestyle range in the September issue of Town & Country; it jogged my memory of the three Estee Lauder Private Collection variations that she created during her time as Creative Director of Estee Lauder, all of them inspired by Estee herself, and which for some reason I had never tried before. I didn't bother trying Amber & Ylang Ylang, since I don't like either of those notes at all, but I had high hopes for the Jasmin White Moss (a chypre, like Cristalle), and I thought I would try Tuberose Gardenia while I was at the counter. Jasmin White Moss was beautiful, elegant and sophisticated, a modern version of a classic chypre, and I seriously considered buying it, until I tried Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. What a relevation! It was everything I was after; it was also elegant and sophisticated, but the Gardenia and Tuberose lent it a creamy freshness rather than the earthiness of the Jasmin White Moss. The white florals, so easily overdone in many other perfumes, were balanced perfectly between sensual and understated. It was perfect! And as a bonus, the bottle was beautiful as well. The pic at the top of the post is the parfum, and is divine, but way too pricey for me (those are real gemstones on the cap). The pic above is the eau de parfum, and simple glass flacon with the hammered cap (inspired by one of Estee's necklaces) is going to look just right on my dresser! And that is how today, (in a totally long winded, hopefully not too boring way!), Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia became my new signature fragrance.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Frocktober aims to not only raise money, but also to raise public awareness of ovarian cancer, as well as promoting women's health and wellbeing. I will try and wear a dress everyday during October, and I am asking each and everyone of you to at least consider supporting me in this amazing cause. Head over to http://www.everydayhero.com.au/sarah_vitsas if you want to donate! Every donation, no matter how great or small, is valued!
Tuesday: The weather is really starting to heat up now! We spent the morning at home, and then late afternoon, I went to run errands and do the grocery shopping.
Silver leaf earrings: Verite
Silver tree of life necklace: Pilgrim
See you all next week!!
Also linking to:
Monday, October 8, 2012
I was inspired to make this carrot salad after reading Karen Le Billon's excellent book, French Kids Eat Everything, (review coming soon!), and it was a huge hit. Well, it was with one of my kids, at least. Irini honestly ate nearly half of the dish by herself. Stephen took one look at it and refused flat out to even try it - maybe I should retitle the post "Purple & Orange Carrot Salad That MOST Kids Love!!"
This salad is so easy to prepare, it literally takes minutes. I used purple carrots since we were given some in our showbags at the Royal Show, but you could substitute raw beetroot, or just use all orange carrots. I also sprinkled some toasted hazelnuts on the adult servings, and this made it even more delicious.
Purple & Orange Carrot Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 heaped teaspoon honey wholegrain mustard
1 teaspoon honey
good pinch of sea salt
2 large purple carrots
6 large carrots
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except carrots.
- Finely grate (shred) carrots into bowl with dressing and toss gently to combine.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Orange jersey scarf: JannysGirl @ Etsy
Friday: If you are curvy and/or busty, then you would know that wearing a shirt under a sweater can look really bulky, and make you look larger than you really are. I love the look of a crisp collar peaking our from a sweater, which is why I am in love with SkinnyShirts. I wrote a review about a year ago and I am still impressed with mine!
Skinny bootcut jeans: Gap
Silver leaf earrings: Verite
Sunday: Today was beautiful and sunny and we spent it at the annual Royal Show (like a State Fair) and had an absolute blast. The kids loved all the animals, the fireworks were great, and there was just so much to see and do. Today I still wanted to look nice, but it needed to be practical as well. There was lots of walking, it was hot, and this outfit held up well. The bag was a great choice, too. This is an old nappy (diaper) bag which I haven't used for a long time, but it is super practical with lots of pockets and a long cross body strap, which none of my other bags have. Now that I've rediscovered it, I think you'll be seeing it a lot more.
White leather nappy bag: Storksak
Silver leaf earrings: Verite
See you all next week!!
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