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.

Hello weekend

16 May 2019

We have zero plans this weekend, I don't even have a recipe to test. So, aside from casting our votes (at the school with the best fete!), we'll be seeing where the days take us. I'd love to go for an afternoon walk, start reading a new book (I just picked up a copy of Boy Swallows Universe from the library and have heard great things), and maybe go out for dumplings. For your weekend:

Zucchini pasta has been on my mind lately - I love this version from the River Cafe with creme fraiche and lemon but am also intrigued by this one too, which features zucchini and zucchini flowers.

Love this thoughtful response to the question - 'Can I love my baby AND my work?'

If you feel like baking, ABC Life has a white chocolate and raspberry muffin that's surprisingly light. I served these over Easter and they were as popular (if not more so) than my hot cross buns!

And this sounds delicious - an extra lemony bundt cake with buttermilk. You brush sugar and citrus syrup over the cake when it's fresh out of the oven, which reminds me of a orange cake my mum used to bake.

Can you research becoming a parent? (Or did you?)

15 May 2019

Confession: for the longest time (and especially after I turned 30), I've paid special attention to books, podcasts, blog posts... anything really that touched on what it's like being a parent - a mother in especially. I've read birth stories from blogs, was obsessed with a podcast where a couple tries to work it out for themselves, and consumed countless novels and non-fiction books on the topic.

Initially it was out of curiosity but as I edged into my early-to-mid thirties, part of my interest was genuine problem-solving. Could I do the work and discover whether or not I am meant to be a parent (or would like to see if it's a possibility)?

In 2018, I was especially focussed in my research, so much so that a co-worker with a similar approach gently suggested I take a break. I ignored her advice until I read this essay by Sloane Crosley called The Doctor Is a Woman last December. For a story about fertility in your thirties it's surprisingly funny. This line stood out: "... as a literate female, it's difficult to control the flow of stories debating the merits of motherhood..."

There was something about that particular essay that made me stop seeking out more material to consume. It also freed up a chunk of brain space that had been freaking out about making a call either way. While I still think about whether or not Tony and I will have kids (it's something we talk about often), it's no longer an anxiety or a problem that needs to be solved. At least for now.

The only thing on the topic of parenting (or not-parenting) I've tuned into recently is Motherhood Sessions, a podcast that I knew of but wasn't sure was for me until Erin described it as a show that explores the "psychological big-bang" of motherhood.

I've listened to two episodes so far and they remind me of Death, Sex & Money and Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin? combined. A reproductive psychiatrist hosts the show and sometimes I let my brain drift back into research-mode but most of the time they're just fascinating stories. This episode about rethinking your cultural identity and roots after motherhood is especially good.

Sunday morning

11 May 2019

Ever since the Easter long weekend, I've been rethinking Sundays. Now that it's cooler, it makes less sense to jump out of bed and head to yoga or do a market run. Instead I want to sleep in, drink cups of tea, and eat breakfast in my jammies.

The other night, I was having dinner with some workmates and the conversation turned to the weekend and what we typically get up to. I loved hearing about how different our days were, and especially loved learning about weekly family rituals.

As a kid, Sunday morning meant croissants. Sometimes they came from the freezer, out of Sara Lee cardboard boxes, the foil trays slipped into the oven to warm while my dad made orange juice. When we were a little older, they were bought freshly made, with one or two kids joining my dad for an excursion to a nearby bakery. They sold croissants the size of plates - more crab-like in shape than crescent. Going to a bakery meant other pastries and desserts were on offer. My littlest brother would almost always get an apricot or apple danish, and I'd go between individual custard tarts and apple pies dusted in sugar.

Right now, I'm settling into Sundays being the only day of the week without an alarm. It's been pretty easy :) We take turns making coffee and breakfast, but usually start the day lazing around with tea and books in bed. I'm keeping my plans for the day simple too, which means more time for sitting on the couch and zoning out.

Hello weekend

09 May 2019

The temperature has suddenly dropped in Canberra and I've been settling into some cold weather routines - making stock at night, and stopping for a hot cocoa and a chapter of my book on my way to work.

All week, my head has been buried in Ruth Reichl's memoir. It's prompted me to think quite deeply about food and recipes and the role they play in my life and at work, which has been exciting. To that end, I have only a handful of internet-y things to share:

Ruth related - if you're also a fan, her interview on the Salt and Spine podcast is lovely, whether you're reading her memoir or not.

I'm also planning to make her spicy sausage spaghetti sometime soon, it's dead easy and the nicest way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of comfort food, I loved Heidi's take on cottage pie for ABC Life. The pomegranate molasses is a small but genius addition. I had the best time making the pie last Sunday night - even the process is comforting.

A sweet piece on loving the home you're in with all of its quirks.

Finally, have you ever had a Swedish apple pie? A friend served one the other night and said it was her go-to last minute dessert. Instead of making pastry, the apples cook under a quick dough that tastes just like pie crust. It tasted insane, and I can't wait to try it.

P.S Does your family celebrate Mother's Day? My parents are visiting from Sydney this weekend and I've gone with a simple seasonal gift of my favourite oats, some hand cream, and a bag of locally grown apples.


Hello weekend

03 May 2019

Happy May! Isn't it crazy to think we're in the last month of autumn? I'll be taking an early mark from work this afternoon and getting the food shop done, so I have fewer reasons to get out of bed in the mornings and more time to cook, potter and read over the weekend.

All week I've been looking forward to making zuppa inglese, which is like a trifle and a tiramisu combined (I bought my ingredients on Tuesday!). We'll be taking some over to a friend's place on Saturday night and cuddling their baby Summer. I'm also taking Tony out to dinner tonight! To share this week:

Christina Tosi has a mug cake recipe.

"It wasn't a sheet mask or a manicure or a bubble bath". How one woman found self care in a pair of discounted pyjama pants via Erin.

Sweet instructions for a really nice day. Nutella is involved.

Have you watched Street Food on Netflix? It's a new series from the creators of Chef's Table and it's been recommended to me a couple of times this week.

Planning to make Nigella's eggs in purgatory soon, for a quick mid-week meal.

Looking forward to digging into this NY Times special that has a lot of people talking: How to shop, cook and eat in a warming world.

And the ABC Life recipe for this week is a pumpkin soup with a kick. It comes from Hetty McKinnon, who has added Thai red curry spices and crunchy coconut cashews (which my friends ate by the handful when they tried the soup). I also loved editing Hetty's story about how she went from being a carnivorous kid to a vegetarian food writer.

Have a happy weekend.


Two fun things to listen to in the kitchen (or anywhere)

28 April 2019

I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen these past few days. There was a double batch of mac and cheese with gruyere and caramelised onions - one for our freezer and another for friends. I also made a whole lemon lemonade with rosemary, more Anzac bikkies, and tortellini from scratch that had us dining at 10.30pm (!). Keeping me in the company in the kitchen...

The TASTE podcast, which I stumbled across while Googling podcast episodes with Ruth Reichl. It's an interview podcast which features some of my favourite cooks, from Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman to Christina Tosi, Alison Roman and Dorie Greenspan. I've loved hearing about their perspectives on food and cooking. It's not a new podcast - it's been running for about a year - but at the moment, it's my favourite thing to listen to while making a meal. I'm super keen to sample their daily podcast during the week.

And because sometimes it's nice to just zone out and listen to music, I've also had Anderson .Paak's new album Ventura on repeat. It's kind of old school and new at the same time and very sunny. My brother Derrick messaged me months ago to say I'd like his music - and this is my fave album of his so far.

Have a lovely week ahead. I am a tiny bit nervous about heading back to work after so many days off. I'll miss messing around the kitchen, going out for coffee, and crisp Autumn walks. All things that can be done during the working week, just not all on the same day :)