Hello weekend

20 September 2019

I hope you've had a good week! The cold that's been sneaking up on me this past few days has finally hit, so I'm resting up and planning to make a favourite chicken noodle soup for dinner. It's a Nigel Slater recipe from his Kitchen Diaries cookbook with plenty of noodles, herbs and lemon. I am also craving... rocky road and chocolate-coated pretzels, which are my new favourite thing to buy from bulk foods stores :) For your weekend:

The latest season of Terrace House is here! The show is back in Tokyo. I'm four episodes in and am already hooked. It's moving much quicker than the previous series and some of the new housemates are great.

I'm loving this pretty Instagram account for food inspo and home styling ideas. Imogene's Sydney apartment is lovely too.

A new-to-me food site with super cute pantry tours!

Good statements for women to practice via Kellie.

And there's nothing like your fave diary coming online for 2020 to confirm that the year really is flying by. Thinking of choosing cornflower blue!

Have the best weekend X

Hello weekend

12 September 2019

Hello from the Gold Coast! I'm in town for the Women in Media conference and feel very lucky to be here. I've been on the move this week and got to visit my brother Zachary in Sydney and tour the Google office where he works. It was fun to catch up over dinner and a few games of ping pong, plus the office itself was mind-boggling. I also made sure to stop at Rivareno gelato on my way back to the hotel and it was well worth the detour. I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead, here are a few things to make it extra nice:

I've just discovered the Highly Enthused podcast and am an instant fan. By the end of the first episode, I'd booked a restaurant for my next Sydney stay and found an engagement gift after months of searching/stressing. It's a fun Australian podcast that recommends great things to eat, listen, read, watch and buy. It started last year and I'm currently averaging an episode each day :) Two highlights - the episode dedicated to toast toppings and the Sydney guide for a perfect weekend in the city.

A romantic (and inexpensive) anniversary gift.

'What being a godmother taught me about love'. A beautiful essay that came recommended by Grace.

Dreamy scrambled eggs for dinner over rice.

I've just reserved this book from the library - love that it's described as a Bridget Jones's Diary from a woman of colour. And because it's been awhile since I've read a graphic novel, I'm also excited to try Bloom as recommended by my friend Kristy.

This baked fish taco recipe from Heidi Sze for ABC Life is fast, festive and healthy. If you're a vegetarian, I've also made it with sweet potato, using the same spice mixture but skipping the marinating time. Depending on the size of your sweet potato pieces, the baking time is around 15-20 minutes.

Finally, if you have the oven on this weekend I've been making maple roasted walnuts, inspired by a porridge I had in Canberra. Just mix raw walnuts in a few tablespoons of maple syrup until they're coated nicely, add some sea salt and roast for 10-15 minutes at about 180 until they're browned. Eat them by the handful or over porridge or bircher. So simple, so good.


A holiday at home

08 September 2019

Tony and I recently took a week off... and spent it hanging out at home. Canberra is lovely in spring and a week with no real plans was more relaxing and fun than we expected. We slept in, read books in bed, went for long walks to nowhere in particular (one had a brewery pit stop!), and saw plenty of movies too. There were so many favourite things:

We made a point of doing things we normally don't get around to when we're working - like visiting cafes that are only open on weekdays. Tony took me to Fekerte's Ethiopian for lunch - it's a tiny pop-up canteen in New Acton that serves curries, veggie sides (I had buttery potatoes, carrots and beans) and the most amazing sour bread. We also spent a morning visiting friends' cafes and had porridge and toast at The Goods before moving onto Marvie & Wolfe for more coffee and a blondie. We'll definitely be back for their sandwiches.

One of my favourite things to do on holidays is cook. I made strawberry shortcakes (a recipe test for work), and when they were finished, they reminded me of the cake in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Side note: I made so many mistakes making them but it didn't matter in the end. I also tested a spring lasagne and Tony volunteered to make the lasagne sheets from scratch.

On the second day of the holidays, I'd cleaned the oven, made a batch of one-pan tomato farro, eaten a strawberry shortcake and roasted some spices and veggies all before 9am. I also started doing my tax return and tackled something I've been meaning to do for ages... setting up a password manager for my laptop and phone (a workmate recommended Last Pass so I went with that).

We talked about driving to a national park to go for a hike but then I realised... I just wanted to eat outside! So while it was sunny, we went for a sushi picnic instead. Afterwards, Tony had a few hours of work so I rode my bike home and made a big batch of sweet potato and spinach dahl for work lunches and the freezer. It's my friend Klarisa's recipe and it's spicy, loaded with veggies, and super delicious.

While we were chilling at home, I finished Mark Scott's On Us and read two Pound Project essays that were a thoughtful birthday present from my friend Sarah. They were High Low themed - Hopeless Romantic by Dolly Alderton and the Authentic Lie by Pandora Sykes. Both were excellent in their very own ways.

A highlight was going to an author talk with Joanne Ramos, the NY writer behind The Farm. I asked a question and loved hearing her talk about the nuances of being a woman of colour who is also privileged - she was thoughtful and inclusive.

We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary at the end of the week and loved having the day off together. We went to a morning session of The Farewell and then out for pizza and cake. In the afternoon we exchanged gifts (we went with the traditional wood theme - I gave Tony a bottle of whiskey and he bought me a beautiful chopping board) and then spent some time making food for friends who recently welcomed a second baby into their family. I made a banana bread from Kate Berry's new book and Tony made his go-to pesto.

Ages ago, when we road tripped around South Australia, we bought a special bottle of wine for our fifth wedding anniversary. So, instead of going out for dinner, we stayed in and made spaghetti (Tony) and meatballs (me). It was the perfect weather for it - the temperature suddenly dropped and it was drizzly. If you love meatballs too, I can highly recommend Emiko Davies recipe. It's not too fussy (minimal ingredients, only 40 minutes of simmer time) and the best I've ever made. It makes heaps too - enough for meatball subs and dinner for at least another two nights.

Holidaying at home was lovely and we'll do it again - maybe every autumn and spring just to recharge. It was nice to enjoy some of the best bits of a holiday (eating out, reading books, sleeping in), without some of the more stressful parts that come with travel like keeping an eye on a budget or feeling the pressure to make the most of your time in a new city. There are things we didn't get around to - like a day trip to Braidwood or a hotdog from a favourite brewery - but we'll add them to our weekend to-do list.


Hello weekend

05 September 2019

Did you have a good first week of spring? I love all of the little things that come with this change of season - being able to leave the windows open at home, admiring the cherry blossom trees in bloom, and the start of picnic season. I am also glad that summer in the northern hemisphere is over because it means all of my favourite blogs and podcasts are back from holiday break :) I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend ahead. Here are some cheery things to share:

One of the nicest discoveries of my week was this Month of Sundays newsletter via Sophie. You can read it as a blog but I love the idea of receiving a month's worth of Sunday doings and musings. I've signed up... and read through much of the archive too!

The same newsletter referenced this strawberry cake from Smitten Kitchen, and it's not the first time I've seen it recommended online. I'm keen to try it soon.

Something funny - small therapies/mood enhancers. The helicopter one is my fave 😂

We watched the Aretha Franklin film Amazing Grace last weekend and it was soulful and moving. Afterwards, I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, and loved this Vox video about of her musical genius, along with this live performance that made Obama cry.

Karamo from Queer Eye used to be a social worker, which probably explains why this latest season has been so moving. The Kenny episode  is my current fave.

Call Your Girlfriend's Aminatou Sow was excellent on the Unstyled podcast. This was a revelation for me too: "I'm allowed to not feel great about everything... that's been a huge revelation for me."

Also from Unstyled, I enjoyed this interview with The Real Housewives of NYC star Dorinda Medley. I've never watched the show but found her to be refreshing, funny and wise. Maybe I'm just up for advice atm, but she had a great quote about living in the present and embracing the season that you're in.

And finally, I'm curious about zucchini choc chip muffins (even if they're meant for kids).


Life lately

30 August 2019

By the end of today I'll be on holidays, just in time for the first week of spring :) Tony's off too and I'm excited about sleeping in, going out for breakfast, and working my way through an ever-growing list of recipes to try. We'll also be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary at the end of the week - time flies! Here are a few notes rom the last month or so, which has been packed with birthday celebrations, trips to Sydney and some new challenges too.

Cooking, eating & pot luck:
This last month of winter has been dominated by roast chicken and soups. I made an anchovy butter roast chook with chunky croutons and a herby chicken with ginger,lemon and thyme. I now understand that roast chicken and buttery baguettes go together very well. Also on high rotation - porridge with golden syrup.

We hosted our very first pot luck dinner recently. I am so used to planning entire meals when friends come round, so it was a bit of an experiment to have everyone contribute a dish. Tony made his specialty - pesto spaghetti from scratch. Our friend Rinaldo brought his best dish, a buttery and oniony Chinese-Indonesian chicken stir fry that was both sweet and salty. It was excellent over rice. I tried a friend's recipe for a Swedish apple pie and will share the recipe here soon - it's super fast and comforting. Even though our dishes were very different, as a meal they magically worked. It also shaped the vibe of the night, with everyone contributing in their own way and no one single person feeling like the host.

Birthday fun (and the greatest cake):
It's normal for me to freak out a little before my birthday, fussing over how I could or should be celebrating it - almost like it's a personal New Year's Eve. But for some reason, this year that just didn't happen. My birthday crept up on me in the best possible way. We spent the weekend beforehand on a special cabin trip and I had a day off, and saw my sister who gave me a present on behalf of all of my siblings. They'd organised it across three cities, which made it extra special :)

I was in Sydney the week after my birthday and used it as an excuse to go to Sean's Panorama for another celebratory dinner with friends. We ate mussels, oysters and pasta by the sea and ordered all of the desserts, including the creamiest cardamom and passionfruit curd ice cream that came with pistachio shortbread.

Sticking with the belated theme, I made a birthday cake the following weekend. It was a recipe test for a go-to celebration cake I commissioned for work to coincide with the project's first birthday. I am so excited to share the recipe.  It's a one-bowl vanilla cake (with a hint of cardamom) with the greatest and fluffiest choc-hazelnut icing. It happened to pop into my inbox on my birthday too!

Novels & non-fiction: 
It's been an excellent month for novels. I sped through The Farm by Joanne Ramos and Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner - they only lasted a week each. Every night I was busting to head home and read a little more. Of the two, I enjoyed Fleishman is in Trouble the most. It was slightly stressful in parts but also comedic and enlightening too - and reminded me of another book I loved, Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

I've started a new non-fiction book this morning, Bee Wilson's The way we eat now: strategies for eating in a world of change. I'm thinking of adding a memoir, for the times I feel like something a bit more escapist. A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts is on the top of my list. It's about a British woman's transition from law into food.

Other stuff:
I challenged myself to apply for a more senior role last month and interviewed for it recently. Going for a job definitely changed the pace of my weeks and gave me something extra to work on after hours. Plenty of good people were willing to share their advice, not just for getting the job but how to challenge myself at work regardless of the outcome. It's been a lot to take in - the application process, feeling extra self-conscious after the interview, the goodwill and support. It threw up some big questions about work and life too. I've learnt a lot from the process and now that it's behind me, I'm excited to get out of my head think about things other than work.


Life lately posts are inspired by Heidi's Happenings.

Hello weekend

24 August 2019

I'm coming to you a little later this week because I've just come back from a trip to Sydney. My days and nights were very full, so I treasured little pockets of quiet where I could find them. A solo breakfast at a favourite cafe, a morning walk through my old neighbourhood listening to a playlist my brother made me (he has a music podcast too!), an early yin class. I've had the nicest start to the weekend - the Canberra writers festival is on and I'm just about to take an apple pie to a friends place for dinner. As always, here are some good things to share:

Grace Bonney on how to know when it's time to move on (and how it feels).

I am counting down the days til Kate Berry's cookbook comes out (this coming Tuesday!) and found this lovely interview from a few years ago about the five things that inspire her.

I'm going through an eggplant phase and this black pepper eggplant is high on my to-make list.

A beautiful essay about the joy of solitude and what happens when it turns into loneliness, told through food. I love this recipe column so much.

And the latest quick and tasty dinner from Julia Busuttil Nishimura for ABC Life - a Japanese chicken and egg bowl with rice and edamame. We're already big fans.

Catch you next week!


Eco hut adventure

17 August 2019

We stayed in an eco hut in Gundagai last weekend - an early birthday treat. It was our second off-the-grid trip (we stayed in a tiny cabin last year) and I loved how the absence of electricity set the pace for our visit. We stayed busy keeping the fire going, read books while it was still light, and found creative ways to cook with a handful of supplies. It was also a lovely excuse to pack my camera and take a few snaps. Here are a few faves:

The hut was on top of a hill and we arrived just before it started raining for the night. The trip coincided with the polar low (it snowed in Canberra the morning we left!), so we stayed close to the fire and tried not to venture outside unless we really had to. That meant boiling water on top of the wood heater, which probably took two hours. We were super excited by the time we could make and drink tea.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Fleishman is in Trouble from the library and it's easily one of the best books I've read all year. There is so much action (and lots of sex 😳). It's such a clever (and scary) reflection on how we live today.

We talked about making Lotus burgers on the BBQ for dinner but decided to wing it instead. I'm glad we did because it was not the greatest weather for cooking outside. Instead, we stopped by our favourite cafe in Jugiong for lunch and picked up some supplies. There was delicious pasta from Griffith NSW, plus smoked trout dip, crackers and cake.

I raided the breakfast supplies as soon as we arrived, and made a pasta sauce using the bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes and baby spinach we found in the esky. Tony managed to cook the pasta on top of the wood heater and grilled some greens there too (broccoli, brussel sprouts and sugar snap peas!). He'd made some chipotle salt and a lime vinaigrette before we left home and our dinner was a triumph.

Later that night we ate chocolate and marmalade cake, tucked into some red wine and played chess (I lost, as usual). Then it was time for bed. I am super glad we had a roof over our heads because it was a windy and wet night. We were both a little relieved when it was light again and the rain eased off. Tony got the fire going again and we were grateful for hot showers with fancy soap, and steaming hot drinks in bed.

Before it was time to go, I ventured outside to make eggs and heat up baked beans that'd been left in our esky, along with the leftover greens. I love cooking on a camp stove and the surrounding paddocks seemed extra green after a night of heavy rain. And then it was time to drive back down the mountain, in search of coffee and the road back home.