Lovely little things

23 October 2020

Hello! I've been busying myself with nice things like buying mint-chocolate ice creams for the freezer, making dumplings for a friend and ordering Christmas presents. I still lose track of where in the year we are, but hang out for little weekly anchors, like a new episode of a podcast or a favourite newsletter. I hope you've been well. Here are some nice things to share:

This mini-podcast episode called 'Let your pile of small good things grow' got me out of a funk the other week. Now, I write a list of nice things for the day in my journal before I write out my work to-do list. 

Definitely going to make Claire Saffitz's malted 'forever' brownies

Classic spaghetti puttanesca with a dollop of ricotta. 

Death, Sex & Money has been running a week-long audio festival, and it's been a great way to discover new podcasts. This episode broke my heart - some of the interviews are so raw.

I made Dorie Greenspan's lemon-spice visiting cake and it looked just like the picture. I took it to my in-laws place with some seedlings for their garden and coffee pods too. It feels good to see people again.

Chat soon! 


Chiffon cake and nice weekend things

10 October 2020

The very best thing I did last week was bake a passionfruit chiffon cake for my parents who came over for lunch. It was the first recipe I tried from the Beatrix Bakes cookbook and the same cake I ordered when I visited the bakery back in 2018. It was so tall and fluffy and tasted just like the real thing :) After a rainy week, we're going to head out for a lunch in the sun and zone out. It was a short week but a big one. Some things to share:

Helen Garner's lockdown diaries interview on the 7am podcast is great. I especially love how the interview almost ends. Via Jess.

One of the nicest things I listened to all week was this conversation between Samin Nosrat and Wendy MacNaughton about how they collaborated on Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. It's another podcast by Hrishikesh Hirway :) 

I finally watched Knock Down The House, the Netflix doco about AOC's election that follows three other first-time female candidates.

If you're a fan of Lindt balls, guess what? They come in block for too! My friend Jen sent me one in the mail and it's a revelation. 

Sky Ting yoga's 20 minute strength practice comes with its own playlist and goes fast. I loved taking a look into one of the co-founder's tiny NY apartment complete with a bathtub in the kitchen.

Cup of Jo's Ultimate TV guide looks great! We're going to start Olive Kitterage because I loved the books and Bill Murray co-stars.

And a little bit of wanderlust - camping in Zion National Park, Utah. We're hoping to book a coast holiday soon, it's been so long.

Have a nice weekend!


October joy

04 October 2020

There's the news and everything else 2020 has thrown our way and then there's rainbow birthday cake. I made this for my niece's party and found sorting Skittles into colour groups to be a very calming and mindful activity. Tony encouraged me to make the biggest rainbow possible and it was such a happy cake, art directed by the birthday girl herself with vanilla cake and hidden lollies inside. 

My parents are here for the long weekend and my niece's birthday. We haven't seen each other since June and are enjoying the simple joy that comes with sharing meals and exchanging gifts - just-read books and propagated plants.

Here are some other lovely things gathered throughout the week - hope you're having a lovely weekend:

Bryan Washington on what it means to be a cafe regular during the coronavirus pandemic. A beautiful piece of writing that's less about special occasion restaurants than the casual places we visit most weeks.

Tips for hotel quarantine if you need them. A soda stream sounds genius. 

A highlight of this week was Alana Dimou's food zine arriving in the mail. She chronicled some of the meals she made and ate during the first lockdown. I love the writing (so honest and funny), the gorgeous food photos and the occasional recipe too.

We've been watching The Trip to Greece the TV series, which is on iView. The movie wasn't my fave The Trip film (I didn't know many of the references!) but am finding the television series a lot funnier. 

"Oftentimes when the world feels chaotic, we feel as if it is somehow inappropriate to have joy. Have you joy," writes Cleo Wade. Discovered via the gals at Slice.

Hetty McKinnon has a new cookbook, To Asia, With Love. Reading the intro made me teary - she writes about being a Chinese girl who was born in Australia. Just that description alone made me feel very seen and understood, as did the photo of eggs in a bowl with a fish drawing, which my mum and grandparents have. You can sample some of the recipes here. I'm planning to make the life-changing udon for my parents on Monday for lunch. 

Parts of this interview with American TV cook Ina Garten made me laugh, "I go through the recipe with them and I find out they didn't have any chocolate so they used sardines instead."

And after listening to Home Cooking with Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Herway, I'm getting into his new Netflix show Song Exploder, based on his own podcast (which I've actually never listened to! Excited to check it out too). 


Hello weekend

26 September 2020

I saw two double rainbows from our apartment this week, just days apart. In lots of ways it's been a good week, there was a book in the mail from a friend, early morning walks, a new ep of a fave podcast, and an exhibition opening with friends. But it was a challenging one too as my job continues to change ever so slightly. 

I'm especially grateful to have a weekend with no real plans. It's cold again here, so I'm baking bread, roasting a chicken and maybe making cookies too. All of the good and cosy things :) 

Here are some nice things to share:

Loved this tiny park wedding and the song they played after the ceremony. 

How to bake cinnamon scrolls at home! These are a cross between classic cinnamon scrolls and cardamom morning buns. And if you've never made buns before, I filmed the video inside the recipe. 

We just finished watching I May Destroy You (Binge) and it was insanely good. This article answered all the questions I had about the series and its writer/star/co-director Michaela Coel. 

I've just started listening to a new podcast, The Diversity Hires with Christina Lee and Neha Potalia

I also thought this episode of The Cut podcast with Emily Ratajkowski was great (it's based on the essay she wrote for New York Magazine). 

My friend Sarah gave me a copy of Pandora Syke's first book for my birthday. It's a book of essays covering everything from work and the pressure to self-optimise for peak performance to fast fashion. It felt spooky at times as she connected the dots of things that I've lived through - including silly things like discoveringThe Sartorialist blog in uni to the popularity of Zara.  

I surprised myself by thoroughly enjoying the Pavarotti documentary (Stan).

Very clever insights on work, social media and the pandemic from former Buzzfeed writer Anne Helen Peterson in Nisha Chittal's very excellent newsletter. 

And what Tina learnt from recovering from cancer in her twenties

Have a lovely weekend


P.S If you're still working from home, I highly recommend leaving your place whenever the mood strikes you (hopefully that's possible where you live). I went out to get big cookies one day, and a pot at Bunnings another. It was just the mental break I needed from being in the same space most of the time. 

Sunny days

17 September 2020

It's been a very lovely week with visitors from Sydney, blue skies and a brand new cookbook. Spring is definitely bringing a lot of colour and happiness. 

We had my brother and sister-in-law over for dinner last weekend. It's still a thrill to set the table for more than two. We served roast chicken, a carrot salad, burrata with herbs and lemon, and salted caramel pannacotta (which only kind of worked) - all from Skye McAlpine's new book.

I've been trying to get back into making sourdough after a few dud loaves (I blame winter). While he was over, my brother helped troubleshoot my starter. I've since learnt to feed and observe it, instead of following a strict feeding schedule that doesn't match Canberra's cool weather.

Today I mixed up my first batch of bread in weeks and hope it works! Making bread during the week is one of my fave WFH perks (along with anytime snacks!). 

I ordered a copy of Carter's Cookbook after seeing it on Sophie McComas's Instagram and it arrived from NZ early in the week. Lately I've been craving a cafe-style big cookie (let me know if you have a fave in Canberra, maybe it's more of a Sydney thing?) and this book has plenty of good options. I can't wait to get stuck in. I'm going to make the green soup with feta and pesto this weekend.

On Sunday we visited a favourite cafe for the first time in months. It's small, so hard to get a seat at the best of times, so we felt super lucky to nab a seat inside with physical distancing in place too. They do doughnuts on Sundays, which was the best excuse to get out of bed.

A couple of other quick things to share - I have more than 20K photos on my phone (!!) and found this article from the NY Times so helpful! I'm going to make a photo book for 2019 and am also making time to review and delete pics from my phone from the past week so I stay on top of things. 

And the ABC Life recipe for this week is a very nourishing one-pot quinoa with sweet potato and beans from Heidi Sze. It's exactly what I feel like eating after winter's comfort food! 

I hope you have a lovely weekend. I've taken Friday off and have a burger date with Tony. I'm also going to get a start on my niece's birthday cake! Tell you more about that soon.


Early spring + a wedding anniversary

10 September 2020

How nice is spring? 😭 I'm suddenly spending a lot more time out of the house - going for walks, seeing family and friends. It's felt especially important as I'm coming up to six months of working from home, with no return date in sight. 

I saw my office buddies last Friday for fish burgers and fries in the sun. I can't remember the last time the three of us were together (maybe late Feb?) and it was just so nice to see each other and shoot the breeze. It made me realise how much I miss being able to work things out together, without having to set up a meeting first.

Tony and I had our sixth wedding anniversary on Sunday and decided to book a nice lunch to celebrate. We hadn't been to a restaurant in months, so it felt extra special. We drank orange wine and ate the most delicious burrata with pistachios and blood oranges. And there was a creme caramel for dessert! 

We've been watching Succession lately, and while I'm hooked, some episodes just feel like a lot of talking in offices.

A few other sunny things. Like everyone on Instagram, I rushed out and ordered an iced latte in the first week of spring. It was barely over 20 degrees in Canberra but worth it. I found a cute new place to buy homegrown seedlings and changed over some of my pots for spring. My boss was right, it's really nice to have a hobby on the go! 

And it's strawberry season already 🍓I've been making the roasted strawberries from this recipe (the lemon yoghurt cake is great too!) and serving them alongside a plain dutch baby. And I made this lovely strawberry, rhubarb and almond crumble last weekend. My new daggy ritual is to vaccum the house after I finish work on Friday and make a nice dessert while listening to a podcast or nostalgic playlist. It makes the apartment feel fresh again and puts a bit of distance between work and the weekend. 

P.S You can bake fried rice in the oven and it's really good. Hetty McKinnon's version has all the flavours of instant noodles but feels a lot healthier!


Hello weekend

29 August 2020

 I had a nice week! It's been sunny pretty much every day (which always helps) and I've been getting out of the house whenever I can, even if it's just a walk up the street for a loaf of bread in the middle of the work day. 

This weekend I'll be baking a cake (lemon with roasted strawberries) and setting up a bullet journal. I've been curious about it ever since I read this piece in the New Yorker because I am the person with four different note books on the go at any one time. A friend is also going to layout and print a wedding album for us, only six years after our wedding. I'm excited to pick out some favourite photos. Her advice was to choose ones our older selves would enjoy.

Birthday presents are still arriving in the mail, including this knitted prawn my sister-in-law Hannah made. When we visited her and my brother in Sydney very fleetingly in May, I noticed some hanging in the window of their apartment. Up close, it's surprisingly detailed, from the multicoloured wool to the dangling legs.

This week at work felt really busy and a bit sad tbh, with nine people leaving the team. Little after work things like making some cookie dough for the freezer while listening to the Michelle Obama podcast have helped. There were also lots of walks, with Tony and a nice solo walk with the latest ep of Highly Enthused. I bought myself this little bag for walks and grocery runs, because I don't really need a proper handbag at the moment and it's been so light and great.

We've been watching lots of Catastrophe (Stan) this week and it's nice to start a new show that has plenty of seasons :) I'm still making dutch baby pancakes. My latest was a plain version of this ABC Life recipe, served with roasted strawberries and it was excellent! I also wanted to share this week's Life recipe, a warm pasta and roast veggie salad from Heidi. We had it one Sunday afternoon and it was lovely.

Finally, I've been listening to the Rabbit Hole podcast from the NY Times. It's about the internet, algorithms and how they keep us online. The sound design reminds me of RadioLab. It's a pretty intense show, so I listen to it mainly on weekends. It makes me think about some of the darker aspects of being online (even though I love it and work on it), especially having read this piece about a YouTube influencer recently too.

P.S There's a new Sofia Coppola movie coming out in October 🎉