Tiny packages

30 June 2016

Last Friday after a full week of rain, I found this recipe for sunshine cookies in my letterbox from my friend Suze. Every now and then I'll receive a postcard from Suze, it's always a recipe, often one I've seen and liked on her Instagram feed.  Sometimes they arrive with hard-to-find ingredients, individually packaged and labelled.

I picked up a copy of Care Packages the other month by Michelle Mackintosh and it's filled with thoughtful suggestions for limiting the size and weight of things you send in the mail, without taking away any of your gift's goodness or thoughtfulness. It's a lovely creative challenge.

Here's a little package I put together for my sister who lives in Sydney. We text each other almost every day and I'd originally planned to send her my copy of Eligible, which is a huge book! When she read it on her Kindle, I decided to build a smaller care package around this  lip balm Bianca recommended, which I've only just started seeing in the shops.

I've also been inspired to write more letters after reading Monkey Grip. It was written in the late seventies and the characters constantly show up at each other's houses and leave each other notes in lieu of texts, emails or even phone calls. I loved reading their correspondence and it seemed to carry more weight are care. There was also this scene in Brooklyn.

Peppermint bath soak

26 June 2016

Saturday was a good day. We went to a yoga class with a view, had octopus tacos for lunch and visited a friend's exhibition. It reminded me of the day Tony and I got engaged. We were in Sydney and floated from one fun thing to the next, without much of a plan (on my part at least!).

One of my favourite weekend rituals when we don't have much on is a nice long bath. And after getting back into exercise this week, and nursing a few sore muscles, I've stumbled across an extra relaxing soak. It involves a generous amount of Epsom salt, a few drops of peppermint oil (more if you're convinced that nothing is coming out of the bottle) and a tiny squeeze of bath wash - for bubbles.

Side notes: DIY warming sugar scrub | Tiny candle from MUJI which looks nice on dinner tables too | A genius housewarming gift (thanks Sean & Emma!) | Funny mirror sticker from Go-To

Weekend links

24 June 2016

I've been very focussed and productive this week so I feel like I've really earned my weekend. We've stocked up on TV snacks (sour cream and chive soy crisps and Starburst for me!) and are planning to watch this movie and maybe get along to a yoga class. I hope you stay warm in this cold snap!

A cheesy TV dinner.

Radiolab's new podcast More Perfect, which delves into stories from the US Supreme Court via Megan.

New release books - I've ticked off one title already and have reserved another from the library :)

My friend Vanessa put me onto these dense and delicious Mexican wedding cookies.

How to throw a house party in Japan (there's a course for it!) via Ebony.

A salted caramel cheesecake that's bound to make you a few new friends.

An important life skill.

Thinking of giving this capsule wardrobe planner a go.

Plus something for next week - you can vote at Old Parliament House.

How to make bread at home

23 June 2016

I did the funniest thing this week, I made a video tutorial to show my friend Vanessa how I make sourdough. I won't be sharing it here (I wore my pyjamas the entire time) but it reminded me of all the little things I've learnt since I started baking bread a few years ago. If you're curious about making your own sourdough, here's how I'd recommend getting started:

A face sunscreen that's just right

19 June 2016

I have lots of excuses for not wearing sunscreen - like being in the office all day or not wanting an extra layer of stuff on my face. But I persevere, especially when I'm riding my bike or spending a day working outside.

In summer I wear Invisible Zinc because it feels extra hardy against the harsh Australian sun but when that ran out, I decided to try this sunscreen from Mecca Cosmetica. It was recommended to me when I last had my brows done.

Turns out it's really good. It's the first face sunscreen that I've had that smells lovely and feels like a normal moisturiser so I'm extra motivated to put it on. A few things - it's expensive abut I've found that a tiny bit goes a long way. It also comes out looking tinted but it's actually not coloured at all.

I'm still on the hunt for a great sunscreen for my body - so if you know one, sing out. This summer I made do with a tube of Aldi sunscreen that was always in my handbag. After a few uses, I worked out that it made me smell like a swamp so it might not get another run next year.

P.S - Other everyday favourites include Go-To Skincare's Daily Essentials, Shu Uemera's eyelash curler (for looking just that little bit more awake) and Nivea's Soft Rose lip balm.

Weekend links

17 June 2016

This week's been a good one - I won a prize from my favourite store, went for two bone-chilling bike rides, made a batch of brownies and finally got a hair cut. This is a cosy edition of weekend links - things to make, eat and help you stay warm. Have a lovely weekend:

A chunky lambswool jumper (on sale too).

Fluffy yoghurt pancakes.

Weekend road trip inspiration.

Pom pom beanies - take your pick :)

I'm slowly making my way through the archives of Extraordinary Routines.

Grown-up brownies with a touch of sea salt.

Ordinary people in their favourite coats.

Pale pink lip balm.

Songs To Sleep To Vol. 4

A story I loved photographing.

And a fun way to follow the election campaign.

Audio books - an introduction

15 June 2016

Do you listen to audio books? I'm normally a podcast listener but every now and then I love having something longer that I can really settle into - especially if I'm travelling lots or home alone.

Finding one you like though, can be a little bit tricky. It took me a little while to adjust to being read to but I've since listened to lots of great audio books, and really respect the special craft that is reading books out loud. Right now I'm listening to Helen Garner's latest book Everywhere I Look, and it's excellent because she reads it herself. Here are two more audio books read by their authors:

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

As for fiction, I often listen to books that I've been meaning to read but never got around to or use it as a way to try out new authors. Here are a few I've loved in the past:

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan (which my friend Kristy recommended. It was a lot of fun)

And one more thing - I use BorrowBox from my local library, which I think most Australian libraries have. It's not the easiest catalogue to navigate but I've found and reserved lots of great titles for free.

Pretty new things

12 June 2016

I went shopping for winter clothes on Saturday and came home with a spotty scarf (on brief), a pepper grinder I've been admiring for ages and some bright wrapping paper. While I'm not so great at wearing colour, having a few colourful things around the house always makes things that little bit cheerier.

Clothes-wise I tried on lots of different things but didn't find anything that was hands-down great, and so I've decided to change my approach. Instead I'm going to save so the next time I see something I really love, I can buy it.

Also, I have a little goal in mind. I've never been camping (I came close last year only the weather got in the way) and would like to save for a little tent, so I can try out super short camping trips with Tony. I might practice here first to see if like it :)

I hope you're having a lovely long weekend. It's back to work for me on Monday but I've had a super relaxing weekend and am ready for it.

Long weekend links

10 June 2016

I might be a hand pie convert because despite the funny name, they're much quicker to make than a proper apple pie and just as yum. These ones are apple :) I hope you have a lovely long weekend ahead. Tony's working in Wagga and I'm babysitting my sourdough starter, which is as silly as it sounds. I'm going to read lots (I'm midway through this book, it's really fun), make cookies and find a few new winter things to wear to work. See you next week!

Sometimes only giant (choc chip) cookies will do.

A fun radio interview with Joy the Baker (from 25 minutes).

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator.

Goose down mittens.

Fran Kelly has a song for you  via Laura.

A short guide to email sign offs (so guilty of 'Best').

A super sweet mini-wallet.

The cautionary tale of Mama Chill.

Another excellent podcast recommendation from my friend Sean - The Rhino Hunter.

And this: 'By the way, he's really good at swimming.'

Winter in Japan

09 June 2016

Today my friend Ebony shares what she loves about winter in Japan, and there are so many great things. Ebony is behind Hello Sandwich, a super colourful and inspiring design and craft blog that's had so many excellent off shoots. There's a cult Tokyo guidethe sweetest craft book and lots of exhibitions too. Every now and then I have to send her a message to say - Sandwich, you're living the dream! I am stoked to have her on the blog today to share what a Japanese winter is like:

Yummy weekday dinners

07 June 2016

Do you know what homemade dinners mean? More chances of taking leftovers for lunch the next day and therefore more time to sleep in. Yay! I've shared a few of these recipes before but here's what we've been making again and again:

Super quick (as in faster than take away)
Apricot and balsamic chicken
Eggs in purgatory puttanesca style

Minimal effort (and really satisfying)
Roast tomato and garlic pasta
Creamy tortellini with prosciutto and peas
Seared broccoli soup (which is extra good if your friend brings you special garlic dip all the way from Sydney to slather on your bread)

Tony and I both cook but we've recently worked out that some days suit us better than others. Tony prefers not to cook on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, ahead of his teaching days. I never feel like cooking on a Friday, which is a big deadline day for me and having Monday off makes it feel like it's still the weekend. We loosely divvy things up that way with a back up meal in the freezer or a big batch of something that we've cooked on Sunday, which brings me to..

Extra yummy Sunday food
Vegetarian lasagne (Tony makes the best one from this book - sadly it is not online)
Spaghetti bolognese
Pumpkin soup (My Ruth Reichl obsession continues, I use a very easy recipe from this book)
Homemade pizza and an extra big batch of pizza sauce to freeze for later or have over ravioli
And bread for the week (half of which I'm sure gets eaten hot with lots of Nutella)

P.S A fun podcast about what to cook when you really don't feel like it plus Nigella's quick chilli which was recommended to me this week as I admired someone else's lunch at work. I haven't made it yet but let me know if you do!

Weekend links

03 June 2016

I'm looking forward to a rainy weekend, it sounds extra cosy to me. I have my woollen socks at the ready, plans to make comfort food like pumpkin soup and banana bread, and a coffee date with my friend Sally who is visiting with her family. Just a few things to share this week, I hope you have a yummy and restful weekend:

Sunday best.

Do you meal plan?

Lena Dunham turns thirty.

Kitchen Cabinet is back.

A pretty winter dress.

An annual cold-weather treat.

An excellent interview with Helen Garner from last year's Sydney Writers' Festival, via my friend Sean.

And I've been going through The Sporkful archives and thought this episode with Margaret Cho was especially great.

Lunch break escapes + other good things

02 June 2016

This morning I made a simple plan. I would leave my desk at one and walk up to the local shops to buy the latest issue of Lunch Lady. And I stuck to it. I listened to music, saw the sky and breathed in the fresh winter air. I found my magazine, bought myself a yummy (pay day) lunch and called my friend Marina on my way back to the office.

For the last little while, I've been paying close attention to the small things that help make any day nicer. Here's the list so far:

Clean hair

Leftovers for lunch (or dinner)

A lunch break spent outside

A made up bed (so I can flop on it after work)

Chocolate macadamia moon balls

A nighttime bath

Listening to podcasts (while I get ready for work, on lunch breaks, while cooking and taking the aforementioned bath)

Coffee out

Baking for no reason

Favourite songs

Checking in with my sister

Present planning

Are there tiny things you look forward to, or do to make sure every week is a good one?