I don’t really remember being four. I’m sure it was a fun time though, before school started for me, but was well and truly occupying my three older brothers. I guess I hung out with my lovely mum and grandparents a lot. I think I must have gone to preschool part-time (maybe 3 days per week) and I do remember that place a little bit. I swear that War Memorial Preschool had front gates with black jail-style bars, but will need to fact check that (if the building hasn’t yet been bulldozed to make way for an apartment block).
Anyway, enough reminiscing. I’m currently enjoying a little holiday over in WA, where my middle brother lives with his lovely wife and daughter. Milly is four. And I’d better keep spell-checking as that gets autocorrected to Milky. Which would be slightly too wacky as a name, even for WA.
It’s fun to catch up with Milly, and I’m learning a lot. For starters, I didn’t know there were different varieties of Vegemite; or that tiaras make surprisingly practical headbands; or that the free Playschool app is actually really clever. In return, I’ve shown Milly the genius of the funny filters on Snapchat; introduced the celebratory fist bump; and generally complemented an already impressive repertoire of wackiness. We’ve watched some movies and read some books and done some shopping. Good times.
So, I know this isn’t a food blog, but it is a blog about everyday things that add sparks to our lives – and in winter, I say that includes tasty soup. And when I was sent a new flavour of Pitango organic soup to try, I told myself that it could only really count as an everyday spark if it was delicious. It was, so here we are.
I really like soup in winter – preferably when it’s cooked by other people. My mum is an excellent soup-maker, even if she can’t be completely trusted about the ingredients. She recently gave me some allegedly meat-free minestrone and, when I detected something chewy halfway through and said “um, is this bacon?” she looked genuinely puzzled for a moment and then said, “oh, yes, sorry – I didn’t put that much in there, so I forgot”. Now, if the surprise ingredient had been chunks of lamb or beef, things would not have ended well, I tell you.
I also like quinoa (‘keen-wa’) – sometimes known as the rich man’s cous cous (not really, I just made that up). Quinoa gets a bad reputation because a lot of fancy pants hipster types have adopted it as the grain du jour. Which is kinda funny, since our South American friends have been using quinoa as a key grain in their diet for – like – ever. The Incas even considered it sacred, apparently. Long before our local organic store started selling it at extortionate prices.
Anyways, I digress. Back to the Pitango soup that I tried – it’s organic, gluten-free and made in New Zealand (a description that actually reminds me of my blogging buddy Jo at This Sydney Life), but please don’t let any of those things put you off. The new flavour that I tried was vegetable & quinoa and it was very tasty – with enough of a hint of Mexican flavours to make me add a dollop of guacamole to my next serving. I could be a Masterchef yet, my friends!
I was just looking on the Pitango website (it’s here if you would like to check out their range) and noticed the claim that the United Nations has declared 2013 ‘International Year Of The Quinoa’. Maybe you keep track of these things better than I do, but I totally missed that – and it’s already mid-July. Must talk to my brother about that cookbook: “Listening to Quinoa” could be an unexpected global hit! In the meantime, this Pitango soup is definitely a winner. The proof is below.
It’s winter here in the southern hemisphere and, although the Sydney sunshine can sometimes lull you into a false sense of security, the colder nights definitely call for blankets and candles and Snuggies and slippers. Or just central heating, I guess, if you’re a bit more sensible. Anyways, slippers can often be a bit boring or make you look old before your time. So, I have searched high and low for some slippers that will keep your feet warm and your street cred intact. You’re welcome.
These “Men with Mustache” wool/felt slippers are hand made in Lithuania by the clever Egle at Felting By Eglut. And they don’t just look cool, they are built to last: “the soles of these felted slippers are coated with ecologic natural latex (liquid rubber)”. Which apparently means the Men with Mustaches won’t go slipping and sliding all over your floors. You can check out these Men and other great designs at Egle’s etsy shop here.
Or perhaps you prefer your slippers with a pun. In which case, it’s difficult to go past these Freudian Slippers (get it?!) at Find Me A Gift. And there’s a creepy surprise as you “slip your feet in and wiggle your toes to move the bright red tongue.” Uh huh. You can find them here.
And from the fantastic range at Monster Slippers in the UK (“for the animal in you”), these Brightfeet Slippers are pure genius. Gone are the sore toes from walking into walls when you’re roaming around the house in the middle of the night – these clever slippers feature lights in their soles, activated when your foot is in the slipper and the room is dark. These cool slippers and many more are available here.
If you or a lady friend are into hand made goodness, crochet, or just swept up in the current owl craze, you might prefer like these custom made Owl Mary Janes from Erin in Florida. They’re for sale at her Sweet Cheeks Gift Store on etsy. They’re bright and colourful and those beady eyes will no doubt see well in the dark (though they probably won’t be quite as helpful as the light-up slippers mentioned above). You can check out Erin’s fabulous wares here.
And now I’ve convinced myself that I need to upgrade my stripey slipper boots – though I never realised there were so many options…
Today was a lovely day in Sydney – sunny and pretty warm for the middle of winter. The clouds were hanging around but not really getting in the way of the sun. This is probably my favourite kind of weather – and it’s even better if you are lucky enough to spend time out and about soaking up the sunshine, as I was today. So, for something different for this blog, here’s my morning in words and pictures.
First, I met my lovely friend Stef at Manly beach for coffee. We went to a cosy cafe next door to the legendary Adriano Zumbo Patisserie. It’s closed on Mondays, by the way – so it’s the safest day to be in the neighbourhood if you can’t resist the famous ‘Zumbarons’ (a range of very interesting macaron flavours) or other amazing cakes. If you’re not familiar with this Sydney icon, you can check out the website here. (I especially like Mr Zumbo because he has a Willy Wonka tattoo on his arm. Uh huh.)
We went for a walk around the ocean path, which was full of mums pushing their babies in sporty looking prams – what a great way to exercise, chatting to your mates while you power walk around the beach on a sunny day, pushing around 15kg (of pram and baby).
We weren’t power walking though – just normal walking – and it was such a nice day that I couldn’t resist some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on the way back. They had no customers, so really it was more about lending my support to the struggling retail sector. And charity never tasted so delicious.
Shortly after I arrived home, I went out for a walk/run (I’d be lying if I said I ran the whole way) in my new hot pink shoes that make me go faster. As I was running around the bush path to Mosman Bay, I noticed something on the path ahead. For a minute, I worried that I was hallucinating (maybe due to my pre-run ice cream). Then this brush turkey jumped out of the way and scurried into the bushes.
I’m sure I wasn’t running that fast – maybe it was the shoes that put him off. Whatever, he politely jumped up from the path, through the bushes and back down on to the path behind me. And then went on his way to do whatever it is that a brush turkey does with his day.
I am lucky to work with Jo, a lovely lass who shares my interest in all things wacky. Last week, we were talking about the amazing Samurai Sword umbrella that I wrote about here recently. And Jo started reminiscing about a special sort of umbrella that she had seen somewhere. I listened politely, thinking that it surely couldn’t be as good as the Samurai Sword. Then Jo sent me a website link. And I was momentarily speechless. IT’S A HANDS FREE UMBRELLA.
Nubrella Inc. is a New York company that has patented this space-age looking ‘weather protection device’, which they claim takes over where the traditional umbrella stops! And there are more exclamations where that came from: Nubrella blocks windchill! A far safer and more reliable product! Can be used completely hands free! All supported by fantastic photos of the Nubrella in action – in the snow, in gale-force winds, in torrential rain: look ma, I can talk on my mobile phone AND wave to a passerby AND stay dry all at once!
Although we all know that nothing this great comes easily – there are tutorials on how to open your Nubrella and how to close your Nubrella. And the man in the photos does appear to be concentrating quite hard as he sorts out his weather protection device.
But once your Nubrella has popped open, you just drop it over your head and adjust the shoulder straps and supports. It’s transparent, so you can just walk straight away and see where you are walking all of the time. And according to a slightly bizarre comparison on the website: The result is an eye catching new aerodynamic design that many are saying is simply a better “mousetrap”.
A better mousetrap it may be, but I think it’s so much more. Wouldn’t the world be a better place – a funnier place, at the very least – if your neighbourhood was full of Nubrella People? At around $50 per device, it’s a bargain: umbrella, hat, stylish personal-space-preserving-bubble and mousetrap in one. If you’re tempted, the dream starts here at Nubrella HQ.