Life lately

15 June 2019

This last fortnight has been filled with work trips, weekends away and time with friends. Much cake has been consumed and there's also been little pockets of downtime for peppermint tea and reading blogs before work. The busyness and travel helped me shake some early winter blues (phew!) and I'm feeling inspired and energised again. Here's a little recap...

Sydney long weekend:
Towards the end of 2014, when I was still living in Wagga Wagga, I moved in with my friend Angie and her partner Dave for four months, so I could backfill a job at RN in Sydney. I have the best memories of that time and knew I'd definitely want to be back in town for their engagement party. They're the best at celebrating other people, travelling to Wagga Wagga for my first birthday in a new place and returning for Tony's PhD exhibition, and I couldn't wait to return the favour.

We drove to Sydney on the Queen's Birthday long weekend for their engagement lunch, timing our trip so we could stop off for cake along the way in Collector. There was so much eating ahead! The party was a late lunch featuring big share plates of roast lamb, baked salmon and plenty of hot chips. My friend Irini also organised a giant ricotta cake for dessert.

Later that night we went round to Angie and Dave's place for a cosy track pants hang (the best). She served a herby pumpkin soup, warm baguettes, gooey cheeses, and smoked olives. We went home with a tub of the special olives and the soup recipe was sent via Whatsapp the next day. I can't wait to recreate the whole meal at home soon.

Perfect Sydney Sunday: 
We had a lazy Sunday filled with all of the good things - yum cha with Tony's family, a trip to the Art Gallery of NSW (I loved seeing Sally M. Nangala Mulda's work in The National), a browse at my favourite bookstore Kinokuniya, and then a fancyish dinner in Newtown.

I was about to buy a magazine from Kinokuniya out of habit, when I made a last minute decision to switch things up. It's how I ended up taking Ella Risbridger's book Midnight Chicken home. It could be the most delightful cookbook I've encountered in some time. I love Ella's writing style - her instructions are friendly and personal. The book is also very much about the meals she lives for that've helped her through overwhelming times. I cannot recommend it enough as a book to read that also makes you want to cook.

Trips for work:
This past fortnight has also been a busy one for work travel. I flew to Brisbane for a shoot that took us to a beautiful pier. One of the locations was conveniently a cafe, which meant we could stop for our lunch break and enjoy a little seafood.

Then it was back to Sydney for some training. The days were big, so I kept my nights pretty simple. It was all comfort activities - like an after work yin class, a donburi at a tiny Japanese restaurant, tea and TV in bed. For Christmas, my parents gave me a KOI dessert bar voucher (bless!), which happens to be right by the Sydney office. So one night there may have also been fancy cake in bed. And a favourite new tradition - on my last night I had dinner with two of my besties. We shared oysters, squid, ramen bolognese and ice cream sandwiches, and it was heart and tummy filling.

Home again: 
Coming home has been really nice. No mental reminders of where I need to be at a particular time, just my favourite things like yoga, market runs, toast and coffee :) I stocked up on specialty coffee and hot chocolate in Sydney, and am feeling ready for the next few weeks. Next up - a super low key movie date at home, with Messina choc tops and a comedy we missed at the cinema.

Hope you've been well and are keeping warm!


Hello long weekend

06 June 2019

This week I ended up taking a day trip to Brisbane. It was a big day but there was also seafood, sunshine and filming right by the sea. I also got to record some audio after a year-long break (I'm mainly office based these days!). We're off to Sydney this long weekend for an engagement party and to catch up with family too. It's been awhile since we've been on a holiday, and there are plans for yum cha and gallery hopping. I'm so looking forward to hanging out with friends and am also hoping we'll make it to a favourite cafe for breakfast.  I hope your weekend is lovely, whatever you're up to. Here are a few things to share:

Esther Perel on Death, Sex and Money reflecting on her twenties, thirties and the beauty of intergenerational friendships. This podcast episode lifted my week. Fun fact: The guest interviewer is the actress who played Maeby in Arrested Development!

A wintry lunch for friends (with soup and an upside down cake for dessert!).

I watched Ali Wong's Netflix movie Always Be My Maybe last weekend. It blows my mind that there are American-Asian romantic comedies these days!

Loved this essay on finding happiness, written by an almost 90 year old. A favourite quote included in the piece, from philosopher George Santayana, "To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring." Via Erin.

I also enjoyed this interview with blogger Erin Boyle, of Reading My Tea Leaves, on the Hey, Girl podcast. I especially liked her thoughts on opting out when it comes to possessions, expectations and even social media.

Another podcast recommendation that had me thinking about work, serendipity and having the courage to speak your mind.

And a three-cheese pasta bake from Hetty McKinnon, which she describes as a deconstructed spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Yum.

P.S I'll be travelling for work next week and will catch you when I'm back in Canberra!

Dinner plans

One Friday night, after an exceptionally busy week, I was lying on the floor of our spare room mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when I remembered some advice from a friend. At the time I was hungry, a little delirious and trying to decide whether it quicker to get takeaway or make gozleme as planned at home.

I chose the latter and instead of texting Tony to see when he might be home, I took my friend Marina's relationship advice and called to say 'help!' instead. Her advice is good - it's about not expecting your partner to read your mind.

Tony was back within half an hour and we started making gozleme together and catching up on our days. It was a good reminder to cook together more often, instead of divvying it up during the week.

We made Hetty McKinnon's kale, mint and haloumi gozleme, which looked like giant dumplings! They brown slowly on the stove, which meant that by the time dinner was ready, the washing up was already done too :)

Hello weekend

31 May 2019

This week I embraced all of the winter things, from rugging up and going on bracing walks, to making apple sauce (with cinnamon and brown sugar) to stir into porridge, and squeezing in plenty of couch time. I also blitzed through Educated, after finding a second hand copy for $3. It's such a riveting memoir and quite disturbing in parts.

I'm heading to sunny Brisbane for work next week but before then, we're planning to ride our bikes to a first birthday party (at a brewery!), and tuck into lots of homemade comfort food like curry, pasta soup and chocolate cake. To share:

Lots of TV because it's been cold. I'd heard a lot about Fleabag from friends, blogs and podcasts. I watched the first episode this week (on iView). Tony and I both really liked it and we'll keep watching :)

I've also been dipping into Dead to Me on Netflix after hearing about it on The High Low. It feels a little trashy but it's also addictive and fun.

I found another dream holiday destination. A cabin in the woods just outside of Melbourne with all of the nice things. Obsessed.

This week's work-lunch lifesaver was pesto made with leftover rocket via Lee Tran Lam. We put it on toast, in sambos, and mixed it through salads. Eggs would work too!

There are few things more comforting than a mac and cheese. I have a favourite recipe, but this Nigella version with sweet potato came highly recommended this week.

Finally, two pieces of wisdom that have greatly improved my week, both from Cup of Jo. Last weekend, when I was feeling a bit anxious about some upcoming travel (three trips in two weeks!), I read a comment quoting Gretchen Rubin. "She said, 'Have trouble deciding whether or not to choose a course of action? Like - whether or not to get a dog? Try this: Choose the bigger life.'" So powerful.

And this made me laugh at the end of a long day (which included a 12 hour long headache 😑): "In the words of Lemony Snicket, 'Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like.' But sometimes you do like them." One of my colleagues is always coming up with detailed metaphors for things that happen in life and at work, so this made me laugh and think of her. The whole post, about life and all of its surprises is delightful.


Two interesting takes on #MeToo (from men)

27 May 2019

A couple of weekends ago, I tuned into two stories about the #MeToo movement that had me nodding yes. They were both stories about apologies, one real and one fictional, that get to the heart of what this moment could mean for men and women.

The first was part of a This American Life episode called Get a Spine! In it, there's a long clip of an apology, delivered on a podcast, which is detailed and awkward in parts. It's from a TV writer, who created the show Community, and addresses another TV writer, a younger woman who was his employee at the time. The episode includes an interview with the woman who accepted the apology but also takes a close look at exactly how it came about (with plenty of prompting), and the impact its had on her life.

Then later that night, when we needed a break from watching the election results come in, Tony put on an episode of Easy, a Netflix show that's loosely about sex, relationships and technology. It was an episode with Marc Maron, and Tony said it stood out as being one of the first times he'd seen #MeToo acknowledged and unpacked on screen. There were some serious parallels between the story from This American Life and it was equal parts cringeworthy and funny too. If you're curious, it's an episode from season three called Blank Pages.

Hello weekend

23 May 2019

Hello! We're getting ready for another long weekend here in Canberra and I am ready. It's been a bit of a crazy week 😜 To unwind I'll be making chocolate cookies, watching Beyonce's Homecoming, and making some french toast on Sunday which is forecast to be rainy. Thank you for being here - a couple of things to share:

How good does this bowl of udon with chicken and garlicky peanut sauce look?? Definitely going on my to-make list.

Loved this - what makes you come alive?

I also enjoyed Louis Theroux's Desert Island Discs interview, where he touches on how he got his start in TV and developed his approach to documentary making (via The High Low).

I used to work with Alex and when I heard that he was quitting his job to travel and write, I was surprised and a little envious! On Instagram it can look like plenty of crosswords, cups of tea, and playing in the snow but he shares what it's been like in the low points too.

Confession: I have never made a skillet brownie. But I do have very good memories of eating one (in a tiny skillet-for-one) as a kid at Tony Roma's ribs in the America! Love to make one for my next dinner party.

And a silky pasta and bean soup from Julia (Ostro). I loved this soup so much and am planning to make it again soon! Fun fact: It makes your house smell like rosemary.


Life lately

19 May 2019

We've been hanging art these last few weekends, which has made our apartment feel like home - just in time for winter. So far the cooler days have been exciting - an excuse to enjoy heartier dinners and hot cocoa. They've also been a good reminder to spend time outside when the sun is out. Election day was especially lovely, it was sunny and warm, and we took our time at the sausage sizzle and cake stalls, just taking it all in. It's been a lazy weekend and I wanted to share a couple of notes from the last month or so:

We didn't really hang much art in our last place, mainly because the walls were brick and difficult to screw into. Since then, the rules have changed for tenants in Canberra, and you can put up as many 3M sticky-hooks as you'd like without asking for permission. We're onto our fourth packet but we're also taking our time, hanging two or three pieces each week and just seeing how we go.

On our walls are some of Tony's paintings (the one above the sofa was a gift from my birthday last year), plus pieces we've bought or been gifted. The blue and white one is by Canberra artist Emma Beer. When my niece visited over Easter, she was excited to ride the lift and said that she'd been "to a hotel home" like this before. Adding art has definitely taken added colour to our place, and taken the anonymous edge off too!

It's also been cold enough for a few morning fogs, which can be surreal because our apartment in quite high, with a view of the mountains. When it's foggy, I wander out of bed to put the coffee on and it feels like our apartment is in the middle of a cloud.

Cooking and eating: 
I'm into fun soups at the moment, which is new for me! I tend to be more excited about pasta for dinner than soup, but then I made a soup with pasta and beans and changed my mind (recipe coming soon!). I'm planning try two new ones soon, a sunshine-y lemon soup and a black bean tortilla soup from Hetty McKinnon's latest cookbook. I've started doing my market shop on a Friday afternoon, after work. It's something I really look forward to, and the shops are pretty quiet. I take my time buying food for the week, which also means my entire weekend is errand free.

We've also been spending time with heaps of friends and family lately, which has helped me see that comfort food is made even better when enjoyed with comfort people :) We've shared everything from cheesy moussaka to hot chunks of freshly baked banana cake, silky quiches and doughnuts of late.

And nothing tells you that the seasons are changing quite like your favourite apple stand shutting for another year. Most weekends, I've been driving to a nearby orchard to buy freshly picked pink lady and granny smith apples. It's one of my favourite rituals of the week, and one I was excited to share with my parents when they were recently in town. The owners say they'll be back in early Feb, 2020. I may have bought 3.5 kilos of apples on their last weekend.

Maybe it's the season but I'm easing off on a few things and trying to slow down and enjoy myself where I can. I'm still doing a few yoga classes a week but have added some slower, stretchier ones in and am leaving more days between classes.

I am also three-quarters of the way through this planner. Tracking my goals, priorities, schedule and feelings over the last two months has helped me see that my best days are the one where I leave room for changes and surprises. On work days and weekends.

I have also been hugely inspired by my recent Ruth Reichl deep dive! I read three of her memoirs in a row - Garlic and Sapphires, Save Me The Plums, and My Kitchen Year. The last book was a cookbook she wrote, almost like a diary, as she processed losing her job and the team she'd built. She approaches food with such curiosity, gusto and intuition. I am making one of her pastas for dinner tonight.

Fun stuff:
I'm listening to four podcasts religiously at the moment. The Death, Sex & Money maternity leave line up is a knock out. I've linked to a couple of episodes before, but I really liked Somebody Needs Me with GQ editor Will Welch and musician Jason Isbell in conversation. There's something special about two people who know each other talking about some pretty deep stuff while being recorded. Also regularly tuning into two Gimlet podcasts, The Motherhood Sessions (don't be put off by its title!), and Without Fail. Plus, Unstyled is back after a little hiatus.

Finally, cos we've been around a lot more, we've been enjoying all of the warming food Canberra cafes have been offering. I am all about soba noodles, ramen and toasties right now.


Life lately posts inspired by Heidi.