A funny end to winter

31 August 2016

I've spent the last few days eating icy poles (doctor's orders!) while I've been home with a mind-numbing bug. It hasn't been all bad - Tony's been sick too and yesterday we were awake enough to watch some TV.

We watched the latest Coen brothers film Hail Caesar! and the first season of Judd Apatow and Lesley Arfin's Love on Netflix. Love was a winner, it was funny and even a little sweet in parts too. We didn't get round to it but we watched the trailer for Sherpa and it looks excellent.

We both went back to work today, I'm still very much on the mend but when I'm better I want to eat spaghetti bolognese and cheeseburgers.

And that's our first Canberra winter just about done. Next time round I'm going to take vitamins, join a gym and accept the free flu shot at work :)

Weekend links

26 August 2016

We made it to the weekend - all of us :) To celebrate, we're having leftovers with nice wine (!) and chilling out on the couch. Tomorrow we'll be more adventurous. There's a little art market on in the city and I'm keen to get out on my bike and visit a new neighbourhood. As always, here are a few good things to kickstart your weekend:

Ottelenghi on Instagram.

How to be happier at work.

A pretty little apartment.

Can't wait to get my hands on this mag.

I'm busting to see this doco.

Homemade crumpets explained (mine always flop!).

And our teaspoon problem solved (we were forever running out).

This book + other good things

24 August 2016

This week I've been busting to get home to read Modern Lovers. I started it on Saturday and reckon I'll be done by the end of the week. The novel kept popping up on blogs and on Instagram, so I reserved it from the library and it arrived just as it was hitting book shops. It's a fun and addictive read with very clever (and succinct) character notes. I'll be telling my girlfriends to read it too :)

Five minute packed lunch

21 August 2016

This is my go-to work lunch when there hasn't been any weekend lunch prep because some Sundays are for lazing about. It can be packed in five minutes flat and is based on three ingredients - two slices of sourdough, half an avocado and a good scoop of Persian fetta (goats cheese works just as well).

Weekend links

19 August 2016

Hi there, did you have a good week? I've been riding to work again and the mornings have been sunny and sparkly. And I discovered the cutest cycle path coffee stop :) Tomorrow we're having friends round for dinner and I'm planning to serve homemade pasta and espresso brownies. I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead. Here are some good things:

Lunch boxes packed by chefs.

The cutest wrapping paper.

Louis Theroux's Scientology doco is almost here.

Singapore, in all of its pastel glory.

'One life affirming thing every day'

Picking up this book from the library tomorrow :)

Baby presents sorted.

A new favourite dinner spot (get the stewed pork belly!)

A honeymoon for the whole family.

Kate Berry nails it again.

And what I'll be listening to this weekend (if you're an Ira Glass tragic like I am, you'll love this too).

Keeping a (micro) journal

17 August 2016

Do you keep a journal? I haven't for years but in the last few months I've been getting back into it with a very simple approach. It started with this journal, which I'd been admiring for months. At the end of every day I write a few notes in the small space allocated for that day.

They're tiny details like comments I've overheard and found funny, delicious things I've eaten and made, along with present ideas too. A few random things make it in, like the cute pair of sneakers my yoga teacher was wearing and notes on how my sourdough can be improved (or thoughts on why it failed!).

I've been really enjoying it as a simple night time ritual that helps me reflect on the day and jot down the things I want to remember. It's also far less daunting than using blank lined notebooks, which I buy all the time but rarely end up using.

Surprise birthday weekend

14 August 2016

I turned 32 yesterday and had the best day - my friends Irini and Angie had organised a surprise visit so I spent the weekend doing all of my favourite things with some of my favourite people. Here's a little look:

Weekend links

12 August 2016

It's my birthday tomorrow and I'm really excited. I'm planning to sleep in, eat a yummy lunch by the lake and go to an artist talk with Tony. That said there's a suspicious amount of ice cream in the freezer which makes me think we might be having visitors... I'll keep you posted. Here are a few things I enjoyed this week:

(Another) dream kitchen.

Love this simple string bag.

Very tempting.

Female breasts banned.

This song every morning on the way to work.

I made a grapefruit yoghurt cake and can recommend this recipe.

Sydneysiders - Clementine's looks awesome as do these Japanese-style burgers!

And we finally watched Pauline Hanson: Please Explain! this week. My life changed when she first entered Parliament so it was difficult to watch in parts but worth it.

A favourite chocolate birthday cake

11 August 2016

For the last few years my friend Sophie has been making my birthday cakes and she knew exactly what I liked - chocolate. When I turned 30 she made a giant black forest cake and last year, a fudge cake topped with homegrown flowers. 

It became a bit of a tradition because while I was living in Wagga Wagga, I made a few of her birthday cakes too - a hummingbird cake for her thirtieth and a fairy bread cake the year earlier. But now that we're separated by a few hundred kilometres contingency plans have to be made.

Which brings me back to the first ever cake Tony made from scratch for one of my first birthdays in Wagga Wagga - Nigella's chocolate guinness cake. It's an excellent chocolate cake - it's dense without being too rich, and chocolatey without being too sweet.

I made it for the first time for the office bake off for the boozy theme and it's pretty quick to make. It's a melt and mix cake, which is great for winter because butter doesn't really soften easily. One slightly unusual aspect of this cake is its cream cheese frosting but it really works. I've only just realised is meant to make the cake look like a glass of guinness!

So this year, there's a chance I'll be having this cake or something I've been wanting for years - a mini croquembouche :) I'll keep you posted.

P.S Here are two other favourite chocolate cakes - Smitten Kitchen's 'I-want-chocolate-cake' cake is unfussy and classic while Ruth Reichl's giant chocolate cake can feed a crowd with leftovers.

Weekend in Wagga Wagga

09 August 2016

We spent last weekend in Wagga Wagga to celebrate the final day of Tony's year-long drawing residency at the art gallery. We stayed on our old street, had dinner at our favourite Thai place and caught up with friends we've really missed. Here's a quick recap:

Tony's been driving back to Wagga Wagga every month to keep working on a drawing project he started last year. It was called Meeting Room 1 and you could book a portrait sitting online, not knowing who in the community would sign up for the same time. Just for fun I signed up for the very first and last sittings. I met someone new on the first day, and shared a sitting with my friend Vanessa on the last.

The gallery was holding a closing party for Tony so we stayed the night in a fancy new hotel on the street that we used to live on. We rarely stay in hotels so I tried all of the toiletries and ate snacks in the bed. At night the tree outside our room was lit up with fairy lights. I resisted the temptation to drive past our old place but waved to our former next door neighbour who drove past me on my way to coffee :)

The party at the gallery felt like the farewell we didn't get around to organising when we left. It was relaxed and intimate, which meant we could catch up with people we hadn't seen in months. Afterwards we had dinner at a Thai restaurant that I'd been homesick for, and I ordered all of my favourite dishes.

On Sunday we caught up with Sally and Fleur, who used to fall asleep in my arms when she was a baby. These days she can fist bump and ask for bikkies. She called out 'See ya!' when it was time to for us to head home.

On the way home we stopped at Jugiong for toasties and talked about what had changed (and what hadn't!) in the time we'd moved away. I'm not sure when we'll be back but it was a mood-boosting trip that I'm glad we could make.

Weekend links

05 August 2016

We're heading to Wagga Wagga for the weekend, I haven't been back since December so I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and visiting my favourite shop. Tony will be finishing up his drawing residency (and having a party) and we'll be staying in a cute new hotel. I'm really looking forward to it. Have the best weekend:

How to ice a cake.

What presidential candidates eat on the campaign trail.

Have you seen The Social Outfit? Cool ethically made clothing from Sydney. I love this top.

Weekend goals - homemade pappardelle with pine nuts, fetta and mint.

Super cute tea towels.

Tempted to get back into sewing, starting with this simple dress.

This podcast episode sounds insane.

Studio envy!

It's good weather for this delicious chicken curry, which I make at least once a year.

A cooking school with a difference.

And a cool present for your favourite little person.

P.S We've been making lots of guacamole lately and pretending it's Spring. We use a recipe from a friend's book - the chipotle is a game changer.

Birthday wish list

04 August 2016

It's almost my birthday! I have a small pile presents stashed away in my wardrobe from my family and I've just booked dinner here (yay oysters!). Here are a few things I've been eyeballing lately, starting with this French market basket for food shopping and spring picnics. Also:

A Monsieur Truffe chocolate bar to accompany cups of tea and late night reading.

Perfume in a polka dot bottle
 to wear out to dinner and other fancy occasions.

What's a birthday without a new cookbook :) I have so many on my list, including Cornersmith: Recipes from the Cafe and Picklery, The Love and Lemons Cookbook and Food 52's Genius Recipes.

And something I've wanted for ages, a cast iron skillet so I can make the giant cookie on the cover of Donna Hay magazine and dutch babies.

Salted caramel fudge (what not to do)

01 August 2016

Now that I'm part of a bigger office (there were just seven people in my last one), there are plenty more milestones to mark. When it comes to farewells, there's always a cake, a giant card and speeches too.

The other month, one of our colleagues brought in a box of salted caramel fudge to share on her second last day. It was moorish and delicious and I made sure I asked for the recipe before she finished up.

I tried it out a few weeks ago, hoping to add something homemade to a few presents I had planned. The recipe is straightforward and a little sticky but not as fussy as making a cake.

Only thing is... my fudge didn't quite set and definitely couldn't travel. I was a little foggy headed when I made it and after some poking around, I've worked out what went wrong. If the fudge mixture doesn't get hot enough, it won't set properly. So if you have a cooking thermometer, I've read that the fudge mixture needs to get up to 115-120 degrees before the white chocolate is mixed in. Or just make sure the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan (I just went with the timing in the recipe).

But it wasn't a total disaster - we now have a sizeable stash of fudge in our fridge which came in handy the other night when Tony's parents stopped by for a cup of tea. I'll give it ago again soon, when there's a new care package to make.

P.S - I have a new approach for buying presents for babies. These days I make sure there's something for the mum as well as the baby (plus food, always food). For my friend Marina it was a box of her favourite tea.