Little indulgences (when I'm home alone)

Stu's preparing for yet another business trip to China...his nineth trip this year. I must say I've gone from dreading being home alone to actually looking forward to having some quality me time. I've figured out that when Stu is away, it is the perfect time to do a few things that I otherwise may not indulge in. Here are a few of my not-so-guilty pleasures when I'm home alone (and bub is fast asleep)...
Watch trashy TV. The Bachelor, Snog Marry Avoid, Pawn Stars. ANTM, just to name a few. You name it, I secretly love it and watch with abandon when Stu is not around.

Order home delivery. I can't be bothered to cook for myself so it's either three minute noodles or a little treat of takeout. There's something really nice about hopping onto Eat Now, picking out my favourite dishes I want (Thai, usually, but sometimes, it's Chinese, Indian or pizza) and pre-order it online. I usually am clever enough to time the order so it coincides with Alexander's bedtime, so once I've tucked him into bed, I simply open my front door and Tada! There's a warm meal ready for me.

Pamper night.  As soon as Alex hits the sack, I run myself  nice warm bath, fill it with aroma oils and gleefully get in! While I'm in there, I apply my facial mask and just close my eyes and relax. I follow that with hair treatment mask, and sometimes also a manicure and pedicure and always, lots of obsessive hair brushing.

Makeover time. I play with makeup and experiment with different looks when Alex goes to sleep (as you do!). And while I'm at it, I play an old childhood favourite game of dress up, and try different outfit combinations to see what works and pull funny faces in the mirror.

Online window shopping. I get quite a lot of enjoyment from browsing online stores and adding things to wishlists for myself and for others. I feel a bit guilty doing it when Stu is around (even if I'm not actually buying anything!), so I save it for when he is away. Besides it's great for when I'm actually researching a gift for him.

What do you do when you're home alone?

PS: You can catch me over that Vanisha's today!

Honey loaf

It's been raining buckets here in Sydney for days now, which calls for lots of time spent indoors and under blankets. I did find the opportunity to do a bit of baking which made me happy as I always find it so therapeutic - the heat from the oven, the smell of honey and butter melting on the stove and the final reward of biting into that delicately sweet loaf with a hot cup of tea. I can think of few things nicer, really.
Honey loaf

Ingredients

75g butter
1/2 cup honey
1 cup self raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160°C. Grease a 10cm x 20cm loaf tin.

2. Melt butter and honey in saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool in fridge for 5 minutes.

3. Place flour, almond meal and sugar into a large bowl and set aside.

4.  Add milk, egg and cooled butter mixture to dry ingredients and stir to combine.

5. Pour into greased loaf tin and bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Eleven months

After ten months of all round gummy smiles, Alexander is finally sprouting teeth - two bottom front ones, to be exact. This little boy is such a tough cookie; he did not fuss once and I only found out after the teeth had cut through. Hooray! The boy has teeth! Can you see?
Mealtimes have become a truly messy affair now as he insists on feeding himself, and as you can imagine, most of the food ends up on the floor (much to Frankie's delight). While he is very uncoordinated with a spoon, he is great with finger foods and even manage to have a slice of toast all by himself in the mornings - which means I get to enjoy breakfasts with him.

He loves looking at other babies, and is especially curious about the ones who are younger than him. There are a couple of really wee babies at our local playgroup that he loves to touch. He doesn't have much finesse in his hands so he mostly ends up grabbing or poking them! Eeeks. 

We have been hanging out at the playground lately so he can watch the older kids. We go down on the slide together and he loves sitting in the baby bucket swing while I push. Stu and I bought him one so he can swing in our own backyard. He loves it so much, especially when Stu or I are swinging next to him.
Apart from that, not much else to report, except he is still a giggly, constantly squealing ball of energy who has completely captured my heart. And oh, isn't it crazy how he'll be one in a month?!

Fab Five: hand creams

Thanks to frequent hand washing and also this tricky thing called aging, my hands are always very much in need of a hydrating boost. My trick is to have hand creams scattered all over the house; by the sink in the kitchen and bathroom, on the table next to the couch, on my bedside table, and in my bag wherever I go, so I can restore moisture to my hands whenever is needed. What I look out for in a hand cream is 'spreadability', quick absorption, and of course how moisturised and soft my hands feel after use. Here are my current faves:
Neutrogena Norwegian Formula hand cream - The tiniest smidgen of this heavy duty cream restores the driest of hands and I love this for harsh winter months. Deeply penetrating and leaves no greasy residue. Great for elbows too.

The Jojoba Company lemon and coconut hand cream -A lightweight but deeply hydrating cream that is fast absorbing. Bonus: it has a wonderfully delicious smell that makes me wants to lick my hands.

The Aromatherapy Co sweet orange and jasmine hand cream - The first thing I noticed and loved about this was its divine fragrance that transports me to some sort of a secret garden. Really lovely product that is easy to apply (ie. very "spreadable) and not at all oily.

Crabtree and Evelyn Gardener's Hand therapy- An old favourite of mine. For years now, I have one in the drawer at work that I would use daily to ward off dryness from air-conditioning. Light and pleasant fragrance and travel size is handbag friendly.

Palmer's Eventone Age Spot hand cream - No fuss and very affordable hand cream that is thick and almost waxy upon application but quickly melts away into skin, leaving hands soft and smooth. I don't have age spots but am hoping regular use of this product will keep them far far away!

What hand cream do you use?

How I take self portraits with my baby using my iphone

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed an increased number of self portraits with my wriggly worm of a baby in my gallery. For years, I have been extremely envious of bloggers and friends who either have a willing friend/partner/spouse who takes incredible photos of them, or who have worked out some clever way to take self portraits. I am stoked to have finally devised a simple way to do so with my iphone that would like to share with you today!
Apart from an iphone, you'll also need:

Tripod (I use the Joby Gorillapod)
Fastcamera app

Method:

1. Set up tripod and phone in a spot with lots of natural light.

2. Using the Fastcamera app, set timer at an interval that suits; I usually go for 5 seconds.

3. Hit "Start" and move in front of camera. Once the timer interval is up, the app will take dozens of photos in seconds and capture those precious moments that otherwise might escape your camera.

4. When you're done (usually after a minute or two for me), hit "Stop" and then "Review", and then pick the best of the lot to save to camera roll.

5. Edit image. I use Snapseed to crop, adjust brightness/contrast/saturation as needed. Or add filters, whatever you tickles your fancy.

Tips:

-  Keep photography rules in mind, such as rule of thirds, trying different perspective, removing clutter and so on. I found this guide which was sent to me and created by PhotoBox to be particularly handy.

- I find the best photos are the ones that are not posed.  I like to tickle bub and have a giggle with him. Sometimes we dance, sing, twirl, jump or just have a quiet moment together so the photos will turn out natural.
-  The above works extremely well for furbabies and other reluctant models (ie. husbands) too.

Happy clicking!