Weekend links + travel notes

22 September 2017

In Hobart, this rainbow disappeared as I walked towards it. Like the icy cold wind that woke me up as I headed to breakfast, so many parts of my stay were fresh and exciting. I trekked through the city to eat just-made doughnuts, sampled a scallop pie in my lunch break, and was blasted by wind on the ferry to MONA.

A highlight was meeting Catherine for lunch, I've been following her blog Little Glowing Lights for years, her Instagram too. She suggested we meet at Pigeon Whole Bakers, and it became one of my favourite places of the trip. I returned for a morning bun before my flight home and carried a kilo of bread flour and a pile of chocolate, ginger and sesame cookies home.

I was determined to see James Turrell's installation Armana on my first night. The light show begins at sunset, and this night I was on my own. The winds were ferocious, so I watched it with my hood pulled up, freezing but mesmerised. Earlier that afternoon, I'd found an entire room of Henry Darger drawings and collages at MONA, on loan from America.

Right before I left for Hobart, Tony and I drove to Sydney for the shortest trip. We ate fairy bread gelato in the sun and then I tagged along to an artist party at the Art Gallery of NSW. It was so fun! We ran into old friends, hung out by the barbecue, and wandered through two new shows. I loved the super bright Mikala Dwyer show and a giant painting of watermelon wedges and Lisa Simpson from the show next door.

I am super grateful for all of this recent travel. I am also feeling good about spending this weekend at home. It is going to be warm and sunny on Saturday, so I'm planning to go on an early morning hike with my friend James, and eat lunch by the lake.

Here are a few good things:

A foolproof plan for success - succeed less.

Music recommendations for your breakfast, lunch and tea - a new e-newsletter from my brother Derrick.

Marbled banana bread.

Do you ride a bike? Here's why you should wear your helmet, plus what to say if you encounter someone who's had an accident.

There were two excellent posts from a new favourite blog this week - first, dark chocolate pistachio breakfast buns, and then a beautiful recollection of a drizzly afternoon in New York.

My go-to pizza base and sauce.

I started a new book this week, based on Jodi's recommendation. Many pages have already been dog-eared :)

Definitely making this baked orecchiette with mini meatballs!

If you're in Sydney next week, Tony has an exhibition opening at Galerie pompom on Wednesday night. We'd love to see you!

And a blog post I read over breakfast that made me think:"For me slow living is about taking the time necessary to create something great."

Thank you for reading and see you next week!

Recent reads

17 September 2017

Did you read much over winter? I'm usually a very slow reader but lately I've been blitzing through books. Here are three I especially loved:

The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

My friend Irini gave me this book for my birthday last year, and I wanted to make sure I finished it before my 32nd year was up! It took me three chapters to really get into the book and after that, it travelled with me everywhere.

Its full title is The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, and each chapter explores loneliness through the work of an American artist, while also touching on the writers experience of a break-up shortly after relocating to New York from London. It was a fascinating way to get into art history, and even though the theme is loneliness, I came out of the book with a strong sense of what it means to be part of a community.

Goodbye, Things by Fumio Saski

I've read a handful of books about minimalism, two favourites being The Art of Frugal Hedonism (hilarious and wise) and Simple Matters (especially good for homebodies). This one is practical, logical and challenging too. I am fascinated by Japanese culture and loved the layout of this book. The first section profiles a few Japanese minimalist households in pictures - including a family and a frequent traveller. The author also shares how he came to pare down his belongings, and the final section of the book is filled with quick and easy tips. Bonus points for a beautiful cover :)

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway 

My sister-in-law is a dedicated reader and I asked her for a novel recommendation earlier this year when I was in a reading rut. The Old Man and the Sea was recommended quickly, and she added that it should be read in a short period of time, if possible. It's a skinny book, with no chapters, and I finished it in a day. It's a beautiful story about a surprising relationship that features some very surreal scenes.

Three more books that I've mentioned before but wanted to re-recommend -
Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan for something entertaining and fun,
Things That Helped by Jessica Friedmann for thoughtful and beautiful writing, and because it helped me understand my own brushes with depression in ways I'd never considered.
And I still smile at Insomniac City by Bill Hayes whenever I see it in a bookshop, I'm keen to re-read it before the year it out.

P.S - Tony gave me a Kindle for our third wedding anniversary. The theme was leather, so it came in a leather case :) I've been curious about Kindles for ages but wasn't sure whether I could make the switch from real books, which I love to collect. The verdict: I've had it for a few weeks and love it. It takes up hardly any space, which is great because I try to have a book on me at all times. I adapted to using is almost instantly, and my first purchase was an older book that has to be ordered at the book shop, which I was stoked to get for $10.

Weekend links

15 September 2017

I'm heading to Hobart next week for work and I'm so excited. I'm taking a day off while I'm there and am planning to eat a scallop pie, check out the new James Turrell installation at MONA, and try an American-style burger. But first things first, I'm going to make eggplant parmigiana for dinner and chill out :) Have a lovely weekend:

A cute Instagram feed for foodies.

A tiny house in the hills of California.

Things to try at Aldi (chocolate, brioche buns, fancy frozen pizza!) via Jodi.

10 fun lunches to take to work.

This is high on my baking wish-list - rhubarb-strawberry milk bun pudding.

Two new podcasts I'm listening to - Ladies, We Need To Talk and Pretty for an Aboriginal.

And this is a long read but it made me think: "Women enter workplaces filled with ambition and optimism and then, by 30 or so, become wise to the ways in which they are stuck."


14 September 2017

Whenever things get a bit crazy, I have a sudden urge to bake a cake. It's almost always a sign to take a breather. Yesterday, I decided to take the afternoon off to do just that.

I walked into the city after lunch to stock up on supplies, caught the bus home, and started work on a dark chocolate olive oil cake. It didn't look like much when it came out of the oven (I also kept wondering... would it be too olive-oily?) but later that night with a scoop of yoghurt and some berries, it was perfect.

A few hours away from the office helped me realised that as things have gotten busier, I've given up on some of the no-brainer things that keep me sane - like riding my bike. This morning, encouraged by the re-opening of a bike path cafe near my work, I hopped on my bike. I left time for a coffee and a chapter of my book (I'm reading this at the moment), and patted the cafe's pet pug Pudding, who wandered hopefully between customers, in search of a treat.

Two quick things - here's the amazing cake I discovered last year, when I hit a similar busy patch. I also have my eye on Simple Fare, the cookbook that the chocolate cake comes from.

P.S This week I've come to see just how hard the same-sex marriage debate and vote has been on some of my friends. If you can lend an ear, share some cake, take your friend out for something totally distracting - please, please do. X

Spring clothes

11 September 2017

I went shopping a week ago, busting to get out of my end-of-winter clothing rut. I had a short wish list (a first), and found almost every item on it. At the top of my list was a striped shirt with a twist. I went with this pyjama style shirt but this ruffled is cute too, and not too puffy ;)

Inspired by my sister-in-law, I'm giving wide-legged pants a go. I picked up this pair on sale, they're surprisingly flattering and comfy too. I'm going to wear them to work with a white t-shirt (this one's my current fave). You could also try spotty culottes.

I treated myself to a Mimi Holvast jumpsuit at the end of autumn - it's been waiting patiently in my wardrobe ever since! I'm going to wear it with a plain t-shirt until it properly warms up. I also own this big-tee, which is cosy and versatile. This denim jumpsuit is cute too.

And to wear with all of the above - a pair of blue suede block heels :) Lately, Nine West has been my go-to shop for shoes. Their styles are simple and cute, and I can walk in their shoes all day long. Plus, I've been super lucky with sales. I can't wait to put my boots away for another year. And when it gets even warmer, these mules would be lovely too!

Weekend links

09 September 2017

So much happened this week. I ate a cheese souffle, met Richard Fidler (!), caught a too-early flight to Sydney. I went to OzPod yesterday, a conference about one of my favourite things - podcasts! The highlight was this session with Jenn White, who was behind Making Oprah. I asked a question at the end (my heart was pounding!). If you're a true crime fan, this session was also great.

Tony was in Sydney at the same time, to see some art fairs. I tagged along to Spring 1883, a small fair spread across three floors of hotel rooms! It's still on today if you're curious - it's such a fun experience. We're off to Wollongong today to see the ocean, some friends and more art.

Here are a few things to share:

I've been getting into overnight oats this week - there are some super cute breakfast puddings in the latest issue of Lunch Lady magazine. There's also this recipe, with blueberry and chia jam, which is perfect for the abundant berries that seem to be around.

We watched this Netflix doco during the week about returned US soldiers with PTSD who learn how to surf. The surf instructor is such a great dude.

I've been listening to the Show and Tell podcast, which I found via Edwina's feed (in between ace beauty recommendations). It's been keeping my energy up - the Megan Gale episode was a highlight, there's a Zoe Foster Blake episode too.

And if you're in a cake-baking mood (it's still so cold in Canberra!), here are three different options - a vanilla bundt cake with a fancy praline topping, a dark chocolate olive oil cake, and a spiced rhubarb upside-down cake.

Have a lovely weekend!


An (almost) offline weekend

04 September 2017

On a whim, I decided to give Instagram and Facebook a rest over the weekend. I still used my phone to check the weather, read blogs and look up recipes but instead of scrolling through other people's weekends - and sharing photos of my own - I found other things to do.

I read my book, picked out some new recipes for the week ahead, did the food shop, and spent time with Tony and his family. I put a small present in the post, rode my bike into the city, and filled a few gaps in my wardrobe too.

The pace of my weekend felt different, and I had more purpose and focus, which surprised me. It's definitely made me curious about taking a longer social media break, or taking short breaks on a regular basis :)

P.S I made these Portobello mushroom burgers and they were so good! We ate them with sweet potato fries with fancy mayo dipping sauce. 

Weekend links

01 September 2017

How did you go this week? I had my head down for most of it but tried to start each day with something fun and new, like a trip to Canberra's newest doughnut shop :) This weekend, I'm going to take a little break from social media, curl up with the latest issue of Lunch Lady magazine, and try out some new recipes. Catch you next week!

The cutest print.

A new vegetarian cookbook that's right up my alley.

Humans of New York is now a video series!

Busting to try this Sydney eatery.

A breakfast I've been copying (side note: this is the best peanut butter, you can find it at Coles!).

A deep-dish pizza that got better with age.

Plus, one for the diary. The biannual Feminist Writers Festival has stops in Melbourne and Canberra this year. The program looks great!

Spring things

31 August 2017

How are you feeling now that we've (finally) hit spring? I've just gotten over a lingering cold and it's been sunny enough to ride my bike again. Yay! September is looking good - Tony and my third wedding anniversary is next week, I'm heading to a conference about podcasts, and there's a Blue Mountains holiday on the horizon.

Other good things - my friend Beth shared the story of a water ballet on Facebook. The ballet was staged by friends in a wading pool to honour a dying artist's final vision. The dance was choreographed, the swimming costumes handmade, and the resulting performance so, so joyful. Here's a great quote from the article: "Be involved. Be engaged - appreciate your beautiful, awesome body that isn't failing you."

I recently discovered Thalia Ho's baking blog, Butter and Brioche, and I've been trying out some recipes. I started with her spelt choc chip cookies, next on my list is this chocolate sheet cake with thick frosting and a sprinkle of fleur de sal. Thalia's Instagram is beautiful too!

Was August busy for you too? I feel like time is going to keep flying, so I was especially thankful to see Madeleine Dore's series on being creative and burning out on her Extraordinary Routines blog. It includes interviews with many Australian women I admire, like Nirrimi Firebrace and Kate Berry.

I am reading Jessica Friedmann's debut book of essays Things That Helped that chronicles her experience with postpartum depression. I saw Jessica speak at the Canberra Writers Festival and was moved by her honesty and articulate account of early motherhood. I am only part way through this book but wholeheartedly recommend it.

A post shared by Grace Bonney (@designsponge) on

And I loved this tour of a houseboat in the Netherlands, which is home to an impressive cookbook collection and a cat named Smurf. The house is compact, colourful and afloat!

Photos: Top image by Erika Schultz for The Seattle Times, chocolate cake photo by Thalia Ho.

Weekend links

25 August 2017

This week was full and busy, so I'm looking forward to a chilled weekend. On the cards - yoga, some cafe writing time, plus a few sessions of the Canberra Writers Festival. I hope you have an excellent weekend ahead. Here are this week's finds:

A moving essay by Garance Dore about trying for a baby at 40.

Love this t-shirt (and wishing for warmer weather!).

This movie looks fun!

I made these dark chocolate chunk cookies during the week. I'm adding them to this list.

A tomato and basil pasta with brie.

An Instagram account that celebrates the culture and wisdom of women of colour.

I've finally learnt how to poach eggs. This video really helped (watch from 4.22).

Plus, my blog got a mention on the My Open Kitchen podcast. I'm chuffed!

Catch you next week.


A podcast series about consent

23 August 2017

Have you listened to The Heart podcast? I listened for the first time this month, and tuned into a mini-series called No. It's about consent and it's told through the sexual experiences of host Kaitlin Prest. It's compelling listening, and at times very confronting. It made me think about how we talk about consent - what we learn at school, from parents, friends, movies and magazines.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined an Ask Me Anything panel for a talk at a local high school. By going along, I was agreeing to answer any question the teenagers put to us as individuals or as a group. I was really nervous about getting a question about sex but none came up. Instead, I was asked a lot of questions about being a journalist.

In preparation for that panel, I spent some time thinking what I would to say if a question was put to me. I thought about this video, which uses the analogy of a cup of tea, and this open letter that was written by the victim of a university sexual assault.

Then I landed on this series. It might not be for everyone but if you're keen to sample it, and don't want to listen to anything too graphic, I'd recommend starting with the final episode. It focuses on questions listeners have sent in, which tackle some of the issues that are raised in the series like alcohol, communication and power.

Fun stuff

20 August 2017

What are you reading at the moment? While I was travelling for work, I raced through Kevin Kwan's latest book Rich People Problems. It was so much fun. If you're interested, it's worth reading the first two books, Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, before you get stuck into this one. And if you've read all three, a movie is coming soon!

Speaking of movies, Tony and I watched The Trip to Spain a few weeks ago and loved it! It's laugh-out-loud funny, so much so that our row of seats was shaking from laughter throughout the film. I've seen all three films and this one might be my favourite of the series.

I picked up these tassel earrings while I was in Darwin and feel extra cheery when I wear them. I get lots of compliments too! The remind me of these Muppets and dress up my usual jeans and stripey top combo  :)

Finally, I've been catching up on Death, Sex & Money episodes and really enjoyed this interview with comedian Jeff Garlin, who plays Larry David's agent in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Right at the end of the interview, he gives host Anne Sale some thoughtful advice on her post-baby body.

This quote also made me laugh: "Every morning when I get up, I look in the mirror and I smile to myself because I look ridiculous first thing in the morning ... that smile makes me laugh and then I set the tone for the day."

Weekend links

18 August 2017

I've been fighting off a cold this week, and using it as an excuse to drink plenty of brightly coloured juices. Also, some hand-knitted goodies arrived in the post and they've been keeping me warm in this latest cold snap. Are you doing anything fun this weekend? I'm going to slow cook something while I'm on the mend, and flick through my new (birthday) cookbooks. Here are a few things for your weekend, some very serious, some a bit more fun:

What happened in Charlottesville? I found this week's episodes of The Daily especially illuminating. Heartbreaking too.

Ten small ways to be happy.

Italian-inspired fried rice.

A break-up survival guide (which would work for glum moments too).

Have you seen Jay Z's new film clip? It's directed by Master of None co-creator Alan Yang. The ending really got me.

A widow at 32.

P.S I checked out one of my sister's favourite Netflix show this week, Terrace House, and I'm hooked! It's so fun.

Real Girl Kitchens - Carla Gee

17 August 2017

I love finding out what people are having for dinner, so I thought I'd give the Real Girl Wardrobes series a twist, and spend some time asking women I admire about their favourite things to make and eat.

First up is my sister Carla. She's a writer, podcaster, illustrator and an amazing mum. She shares her thoughts on cooking for kids, what podcasts she listens to in the kitchen, and the recipe for an impressive no-bake birthday cake.

The lovely list

15 August 2017

I turned 33 on Sunday and had such a relaxing day. There was brunch somewhere new, lots of sunshine, and cold coconuts too :) I find it hard to make solid plans for my birthday, so this year I made a list of fun things to do either on my birthday weekend or anytime in August. Here's what I managed to tick off the list...

First up: Take advantage of birthday perks. On Saturday, I went to see The Big Sick at favourite cinema for free with complimentary snacks too!

Also on my list: Make an elaborate birthday cake to share. Inspired by Molly Yeh (and my own indecisiveness), I made a cake with three different flavours - chocolate, sprinkles, and coconut and rose. I baked and froze the cakes during the week, and iced it on Saturday night, while listening to podcasts. Because it didn't have to resemble a bus shelter, I was done in time for a pizza dinner with Tony. We're obsessed with this pizzeria at the moment. They make a pizza with gorgonzola and mascarpone.

On my birthday, Tony and I walked to the NGV Sculpture Garden to see the fog sculpture, which is only on for a few hours a day. The best thing about having no real plans was that we just went from one thing to the next, depending on how we felt. There was some time at home for tea and present opening, and when we got hungry, a trip to the city for a big plate of noodles and coconuts.

From there it was time for a bit of window shopping and then my first-ever affogato. We went to Monster Kitchen and ate ice cream by the fire while we plotted our next move.

I really wanted to make my own birthday dinner this year, so we cancelled our dinner plans and headed home. I made a Mexican dinner, while listening to a playlist my brother Derrick made specially for my birthday. The photo he chose to go with it cracks me up! I'm the one clutching the Magna Doodle.

I received lots of lovely things this year. Tony gave me an overnight bag for upcoming adventures, and a copy Ivan Ramen. My sister included a favourite red lipstick in my birthday card, and my friend Sarah  gave me a copy of the The Desserts of New York. I've already found my cake for next year in it!

Keen to stick to my plan to make a fancy cake and share it, I bundled up three hefty chunks of cake at the end of the night to give to friends the next day. And here's what's left on the list... drinks somewhere with a fireplace, climb a new mountain (and pack lots of snacks), and make dinner for friends. 

P.S My birthday last year and ... turning 30.

Weekend links

11 August 2017

It's almost my birthday! My parents sent me this homemade card and I've been busy baking my dream cake after work. Did you have a good week? Mine dragged a little but I've been loving the brighter mornings and slightly warmer days. Spring isn't too far away! A few things to share:

Have you seen the trailer for The Crown, Season 2? Exciting!

'There is no such thing as being non-political'

A warming pasta.


Zoe Foster Blake's clothing collab is cute! I love her thoughts on fashion too.

A sweet and bright mantlepiece.

Sunday night dinner will be carrot soup and chicken enchiladas :)

And if you're a podcast-geek like me, Audiocraft have released a bunch of sessions from their conference on their podcast.

P.S - There's just under two weeks to register for the plebiscite on same-sex marriage. Here's how to check your enrolment.

A little video

06 August 2017

I'm excited to share a video I made of my travels in the last fortnight. I arrived home on Thursday night, having visited Sydney three times (!), as well as Adelaide and Darwin, with a few nights in Canberra in between.

Most of the time I was travelling for work, training other newsrooms who are about to start work on the project I've been piloting for a year. But there was plenty of fun things in between. I saw friends for dinners and coffee, and had just enough time to explore each city.

When we were in Sydney, we met our new niece Maeve, saw the Archibald Prize ... and had to get our car towed when it broke down on the highway at night! It was an eventful few weeks.

Here are a few highlights:


One of my favourite discoveries was Blackwattle Bay Park, which was a few blocks away from our Airbnb in Annandale. It's a beautiful city walk that's right by the water, with plenty of spots to picnic and rest. There's also an impressive kid's playground that I texted my friend about!

We swung by Black Star Pastry in Newtown to pick up pastries for a breakfast with friends. We ordered a few coffees too, and it was hands down the most satisfying coffee I've ever had.

A few quick city recommendations - the Jenny Watson exhibition at the MCA is fantastic, it's fun and feminist. It's also a free show. We grabbed lunch at the Burger Project nearby, they reminded me of Shake Shack burgers from New York. A very good thing.

On the days that I was visiting for work, I woke up early to check out The Grounds of the City, which was old-worldly. It's worth booking - I wandered in on a weekday and almost missed out on breakfast. I'd love to return to try the cakes. And I finally made it to Aqua S, which had an English Breakfast Tea soft serve special running. If you visit the Town Hall shop, you'll find it in an arcade that I'd love to visit at night. It's full of Asian eateries and shops, where I bought these fun phone stickers.

We spent a bit of time in Manly too, because Tony is part of a group exhibition at the gallery (the show's still on if you're keen!). One night, we had dinner at Papi Chulo and shared a delicious barbecue chicken platter. For coffee, we went to the Barefoot Coffee Traders, which happened to specialise in waffles :)


My time in Adelaide was shorter, I had a cosy Sunday lunch at Hey Jupiter!, a French-inspired cafe. There was also time to visit the JamFactory, a design space that my friend Sabine recommended. I was secretly hoping I'd be in Adelaide later in the week, so I could try Africola. Instead, I had breakfast at Crack Kitchen and dinner at a cute Hong Kong inspired diner. There are more Adelaide recommendations from our recent visit, and from a local too :)


My friend Georgia lives in Darwin, and every night after work she'd pick me up to see the sunset. We went to the Nightcliff Jetty on my first night, and I loved seeing how many people were there. Some were picnicking (there were some cute food trucks nearby), others were just taking it in with their dogs. I hear there's a lovely pool nearby too.

On my last night in town, we watched the sun go down from Fannie Bay. Next time I'd love to visit the Fannie Bay Cool Spot, which is an iconic ice cream shop! I had the most free time in Darwin, so I visited the museum and gallery, looked tentatively at the beach (it was so hot but no one was on it!), and swam at the hotel pool instead :)

This was my favourite dinner. We went to PM (worth booking ahead), and shared fries, calamari and the most delicious saganaki, which was covered in honey. On my lunch break, I loved poking around the Star Village. I bought tassel earrings from Lulu and Daw (they had stacks of them!) and joined the line for a salad and juice at Simply Foods.

I had such a good time but am very happy to be spending a Sunday at home. I managed to finish four books while I was travelling, which I'll share soon.