Weekend links

21 April 2017

Hello from Melbourne! Tony has an exhibition opening tonight and we've been bumping into friends and eating lots of great food. How has your week been? I've been trying to avoid all of the Girls spoilers and powering through a spooky novel. Here are a few things to share:

A tiny pause.

My winter splurge.

Salted dark chocolate and coconut bites.

A beautiful weekend.

Adding this Japanese place to my Sydney restaurant list.

Pay what you want (and help save the planet while you're doing it).

Mint choc chip cookies!

Julie Synder on the making of Serial.

And I was feeling a little ordinary this week - these words from Joy perked me right up. Make sure you check out all of the linked posts for maximum perspective :)

Winter face

19 April 2017

After getting into the habit of cycling to work - and showering there too - I've updated my make-up bag. I've narrowed it down to six things: a CC cream that's SPF 30+, an easy-to-use concealer stick, an eyebrow cream with an inbuilt brush, the lightest powder (for my shiny nose), a peachy cream blush and a magical eyelash curler. It feels good to be working with less.

I've also started stashing this hand cream in my bag to combat the cooler and drier days. Lipstick is still a date night/going-to-a-wedding occurrence, I'm working on that :)

P.S Here are two things I'm keen to try - Joni's go-to eyeshadow and mascara.

Meals for cold nights

17 April 2017

Did you cook anything new over the Easter break? While we were sweating our way through summer, I was scrolling through recipes for warming comfort food from a handful of American blogs. I've been saving them for these very months, which are my favourite for cooking... and eating. Here's what I'm planning to try:

Gnocchi with preserved lemon alfredo sauce
Brussel sprout and speck mac and cheese
No boil pasta bake

Broccoli, cheese and potato soup
Spicy roasted vegetable ramen
Taiwanese spicy beef noodle soup

Hearty mains
Tomato-glazed meatloaves with mashed potatoes 
Beef goulash with soft egg noodles (I've never made goulash before!)
Savoury winter cobbler (which happens to be vegan too).

Chocolate blackberry pudding
Pear, ginger and pistachio crumble
Rose apple tart

P.S - Here are my favourite weekday dinners from 2016. Nigella's quick chilli, apricot balsamic chicken with rocket and creamy tortellini with prosciutto and peas are three of the best.

Long weekend links

14 April 2017

Hello! I hope you're relaxing into the long weekend. It's a beautiful day here - the air is crisp, the sky is blue and the sun is out. We're about to ride our bikes into town for coffee and I have the simplest of plans for the days ahead. On today's agenda - making spaghetti bolognese for dinner. That's it :)

Trying out this clever self-watering pot (mine's yellow!).

Baked chicken with mushrooms, cream and thyme.

Design, Instagram and a cult cafe.

"All you did was throw things away."

40 movies about photographers via Garry. I haven't seen a single one and am intrigued by #9.

Sage advice from journalist Jenna Price.

I'm insanely excited about this collection of recipes from Bon Appetit.

And I whizzed through Making Oprah this week - it was such a fun podcast. Next on my list - How to Be a Girl. I'm also keen to check out Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

Have a great Easter!

Sourdough pikelets

12 April 2017

Every now and then I make a pile of sourdough pikelets. We bring out all of the spreads and top them with butter and strawberry jam, Nutella and banana, lemon juice and sugar, and yoghurt and maple syrup. And we almost always have leftovers for breakfast the next day :)

I use a recipe from Sophie Hansen's cookbook, which I've adapted to include some leftover sourdough starter. If you don't have any starter, the recipe will work just fine without it.

Sourdough pikelets 

Serves 4

You will need:
1 cup self-raising flour
1 cup milk
1 egg
Finely grated zest of one lemon
1 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cup active sourdough starter

Here's how:
Place all of the ingredients into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside for 20 minutes. 

Heat a fry pan on medium-high heat and add a small knob of butter. Cook 2 tablespoons of batter at a time, flipping each pikelet when the surface begins to bubble. 

Keep your growing pile of pikelets in an oven on low heat to keep them warm.

Easter prep

10 April 2017

We've just worked out what we're doing for Easter - we're staying in. Tony's keen to spend a few days in his studio painting and I'm looking forward to chilling out at home. I'm planning to read, watch movies and try out a few new recipes (these brown butter choc chip cookies look so good).

While we'll miss out on a long weekend in the Blue Mountains with Tony's family, we're excited about hosting a few friends for breakfast on Sunday. I'll be serving hot cross buns and Easter eggs and keeping my fingers crossed for nice weather so we can go for a long walk afterwards.

I made a few batches of hot cross buns on the weekend to share with friends. I use a recipe from this book and might tweak it over the long weekend to include choc chips and chai-infused dried fruit. And I'm hoping the Easter bunny brings me this :) Let's hope this week flies by for us all.

Weekend links

07 April 2017

Do you have much on this weekend? My friend Maayan is hosting an Eastover dinner on Saturday (Easter and Passover combined!) and I'm bringing hot cross buns. We're also catching up with Tony's brother who is town for the Canberra marathon and I'm going to try and get a meal or two in the freezer. Here are a few things for the days ahead:

Double chocolate cookies for Easter.

A girls weekend with a twist.

How cute are these DIY face planters?

9 podcast episodes worth discussing (I'm going to start with Making Oprah).

Coconut and jam pudding.

"If you want to talk to me when I'm dead, go to the bench." So glad I listened to this.

This photographer's personal Instagram account is lovely.

And here's a suggestion for an easy Sunday night dinner -  one-pot French onion pasta followed by chewy Nutella cookies and tea :)

Catch you next week.

Creature comforts

06 April 2017

It was properly cold over the weekend and while I'm a little nervous about winter, I'm also really excited about the cosy months ahead. Here are a few things I'd love to gather, starting with this subtly scented candle. My sister-in-law gave me one for Christmas and it's very hygge.

A box of spicy tea to brew in my flask for weekend walks and work days on the road.

The power issue of Salad Days, to keep me strong and motivated during the coldest months.

A bright woollen blanket for nights spent reading on the couch and watching Netflix with Tony.

And a new baking book that promises to re-invent the classics because nothing heats up a small space like having the oven on :) I'll be making apple crumble whenever I can.

Catching up

02 April 2017

We spent the weekend catching up on jobs around the house, which helped clear my head and make room for more creative thoughts. I finished listening to S-Town while running errands (my verdict: it's brilliant, even if I was cynical in parts) and now the pantry is re-stocked and the garden is coming back to life. We even made it to the art school ball.

After a busy March, it was really nice to slow down and take stock. I could feel myself getting a little anxious these past few weeks, going from one thing to the next. But now I'm feeling ready for the month ahead. Tonight I'm making porcini tomato pasta and might watch Julie & Julia if Tony has to head back to the studio.

P.S Here's what we're having for dinner this week: curried lentils and rice, smoky beet burgers and pea and parmesan soup :)

Weekend links

31 March 2017

Here are a few weekend treats :) I am loving this cooler weather - it makes me want to be outside and go for long walks. Tony is going to work this weekend (he has an exhibition coming up in Melbourne!) so we're going to see Ghost in the Shell tonight and go out for banoffee pie afterwards. Here's to a fun and restful weekend:

The alphabet of Australian legends (V is for Victor Chang).

Pantone eggs!

It's definitely mac and cheese weather - this version uses smoky gouda.

Spring cleaning in autumn (the mug trick works a treat!).

Slightly obsessed with this ice cream decorating kit.

This film, captured over a long period of time, looks awesome.

Invented by women.

And... I am hooked on the S-Town podcast. I'm on the second last episode and avoiding all the articles/spoilers.

Three everyday reads

29 March 2017

I would love to read everyday but most weeks, time gets away from me. For ages, reading meant always having a novel on the go but lately I've been enjoying books that are easy to dip in and out of. Here are three that fit the bill:

How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

I read a page of How to Love each morning as I'm climbing out of bed. It takes me two minutes. Each entry touches on a practical aspect of love from a Buddhist perspective - from how to communicate in an argument to ways to be more comfortable in your own skin. While I don't agree with all of the entries, I find myself mulling over the great ones over the course of the day.

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups

This was a Christmas present from my sister Carla. It's an anthology that's meant to put you to sleep. It's filled with short stories and poems from greats like Roald Dahl and Haruki Murakami as well as more contemporary writers like B.J Novak. It's a thoughtful compilation that makes it possible to read something satisfying even if 10 minutes is all you can manage.

In the Company of Women

Do you read Design*Sponge? My friend Sophie introduced me to it when I was living in Wagga Wagga (her kitchen was featured!). This book comes from the blog's founder, Grace Bonney, and every time I flick through it, I end up scribbling quotes in my journal. It profiles over a hundred creative women who share their approaches to life, work and creativity. The photography is beautiful, the interviews are illuminating and most profiles are just a couple of pages long.

What are you reading at the moment? I started Pond the other day and it's unlike anything I've ever read.

Sydney notes

27 March 2017

How was your weekend? I worked a half day on Friday so we could drive to Sydney and see my cousin in a play. We're still talking about it days later! There was also time to check out a fun burger joint and join a family reunion. Here are some pics:

By the time we reached Sydney, we had just enough time to deliver one of Tony's paintings and order a spicy pizza before the play. My cousin Max joined us to see Chimerica, which imagines the life of the man from this iconic image, taken a day after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Our cousin Monica was in the play and it was a profoundly moving production that I am still processing. This week I'm going to check out this documentary.

We were up early the next morning so we could take a yoga class with Tony's mum on her birthday. We also caught up with Tony's friends James and Kate for breakfast at the Camperdown Commons. Sydney is changing so quickly!

I've been wanting to try Ume burgers for ages (after seeing Lee Tran Lam's visits) and we made it to Bar Ume in Surry Hills for lunch on Saturday. It had a cosy atmosphere, great tunes and hot chips with umami salt! Next time I want to try the spin-off at Barangaroo so I can try the fish burger and sample the soft serve :)

And on Sunday we joined a massive family reunion in Centennial Park. The picnic used to be an annual affair (Kylie Kwong showed up one year!) but there hasn't been a gathering for close to a decade.

I brought a pile of sweets from Black Star Pastry but the real hero was my aunt Elaine who shared glazed drumsticks and my favourite chicken noodles. It was crazy to see so many relatives - there were more than 80 of us all up. We stayed for lunch, a few games of badminton and the family photo before driving back to Canberra. We made it home in record time and we think that's the last of our crazy weekends for a little while :)

Weekend links

24 March 2017

I had a cold this week and am feeling better just in time for the weekend :) While I was home sick, I liked a lot of things on Facebook, listened to the final episode of Missing Richard Simmons and ordered a bunch of  new books! We're heading to Sydney this weekend to see a play and wish my brother and his wife the best of luck before they move to London. Here's this week in links:

How to survive the modern office.

Sourdough FAQ.

A new online journal about "Asian-Australians doing good things".

An incredible episode of Death, Sex & Money - "I was your father until I wasn't".

How to host a simple dinner party.

Hi Stranger (weird but worth it!).

Ask a grown up (you can watch the addictive videos here. Beth Ditto is the best).

P.S The cover image of Julie Koh's Portable Curiosities is currently in Canberra as neon lights!

Wardrobe update

22 March 2017

A funny thing happens when I move to a new place - I get confused about my personal style. When I arrived in Wagga Wagga, I traded dresses with giant cat faces on them for t-shirts and jeans, just so I wouldn't stand out. Then when we moved to Canberra, I was on a mission to find a pencil skirt to suit my new (and much dressier) office.

It usually takes a good year to work out the climate and come back to clothes that I genuinely love to wear. That moment in Canberra was the purchase of this chihuahua shirt from Zara. I wear it to work with these secretly stretchy blank pants and pink flats. And on the weekends, I wear it with jeans and white sneakers. I make so many friends when I'm wearing it :)

My new aim is to have a wardrobe full of clothes I'd be happy to wear anywhere, instead of a separate work wardrobe that isn't quite me.

Here's my latest purchase, a linen top that I've been eyeballing for ages from Canberra brand Hunter. Inspired by my friend Angie, I went along to a sample sale and picked it up for less than half price. It was the last one and I wore it out to dinner that night.

P.S - I'm still buying a new dress every second season. I love this one for autumn/winter but may be a little short for it :)

Little things

19 March 2017

What's on your mind these days? I've been thinking about how few cards there are for same-sex couples. Here's a great round up of wedding cards, this one's from Hello Lucky. Also on my mind:

I'm really good at reaching for fruit throughout the day but I am terrible at eating my greens. I've started adding three different types of veggies to my work lunches. Lately I've been throwing chopped avocado, tomato and rocket into leftover tomato pasta. It becomes salad pasta!

I'm listening to Pregnant Pause with Zak and Shira, a podcast about a couple deciding whether or not to have kids. Pretty soon after Tony and I were married, people started asking us if we were going to have kids (and when). The jury's still out but being in our thirties, it's something talk about often.

And I've been thinking about the importance of the handshake. Seeing Angela Merkel be ignored by Donald Trump reminded me of all the times I've seen men only offer their hand to other male colleagues. These days I will always initiate a handshake if I'm overlooked.

Weekend links

17 March 2017

We're prepping for another busy weekend - both sets of parents will be in town to see Tony's exhibition and attend an artist talk that I'm moderating :) We'll also be celebrating two birthdays and going to XO for dinner. Have a fun weekend:

A tiny book of tiny pleasures.

Going to get into this reading list.

A Japanese beauty trick.

Can't wait to make these noodles next week.

A first radio story that's touching and mind boggling too.

Save the date!

"I got the job because I'm Asian".

In a grumpy mood?

Powerful words about suicide and growing up.

And the secret plan for the days after the Queen's death via Siobhan.

Thursday's cake

16 March 2017

This week called for a chocolate loaf, hazelnut Lindt balls and a few nights in front of the TV. I blame it on the rainy days and the fact that I miss my sister!

While she was in town, I gave her a copy of Lunch Lady. The latest issue is especially great, it has a burger section and a thought provoking interview with oncologist and refugee advocate Ranjana Srivastava.

I especially liked her advice on being happy: "Work hard at finding a job that feels like a vocation. Cultivate a still, reflective mind. Regard live as a gift and death as inevitable. While it's impossible to do good every single day, live everyday mindfully so that you may learn from your mistakes."

This morning I set my alarm an hour earlier so I could look at the hot air balloons. Canberra has an annual festival :) It was cloudy and grey but there were so many people out, ready to take it all in. Hope you're having a good week!

Long weekend fun

14 March 2017

How good are long weekends? This one was especially memorable, we had my family round for dinner and celebrated the wedding of two special men. Here are a few pics from my phone:

On Saturday we went to the best wedding - it was heartfelt and fun. Our friends James and Andy had their mothers walk them down the aisle (to applause!) and the grooms signed a petition for same sex marriage at the end of the ceremony. The guests did too. Love is love - here's one way to show your support.

We went to a cute wine bar for the reception and they served fries late in the night, just as everyone was starting to dance. I am still limping from dancing in silly shoes. It was worth it :)

My sister, brother-in-law and their two kids arrived in Canberra on Sunday night, on their way back from the Snowy Mountains. I made the quickest lasagna (with store-bought lasagna sheets) and picked up some special dessert supplies. My niece was impressed.

The next day we iced cookies, paid a visit to Tony's exhibition and went out for Korean food.

And somewhere in between we made one last trip to the night noodle markets for loaded fries and creme brulee ice cream. I picked up a few treats from the Mr Kitly pop up shop and made it to my favourite farmer's markets too. It was back to work today, I felt well rested and inspired by all of the good things in life.

Weekend links

10 March 2017

It's the start of a long weekend here in Canberra (we have Canberra Day!) and we'll be going to the night noodle markets (again) and a wedding on Saturday. My sister and her family passed through town last night and are coming back on Sunday. I'm going to serve pizza and strawberry ice cream cones for dinner - my niece's favourites. Here are a few favourite things:

An autumnal pasta.

The coolest airport food.

Chrissy Teigen's surprising essay about post-natal depression.

My kind of suit :)

Love and loss in the comments section.

Equal rights... it's not a pie.

Life as a step mum.

A pretty rug.

The woman behind the look of Lemonade and Moonlight.

And I happened to listen to two moving podcasts about being a refugee this week - 12 Years On and The Messenger, where you hear from a man who has been living on Manus Island for close to three years.

Autumn to do list

09 March 2017

The tree outside my bedroom window is suddenly looking very autumnal. Soon I'll be pulling out my comfiest flannel shirt and getting back into soups and baking. I have other plans too, I want to:

Add some new plants to our balcony garden

Our little garden struggled over summer, so I only had a few plants going. Now my pots are washed and ready to go. I'm going to plant spring onions and baby spinach again and try my hand with garlic.

Make hot cross buns

I found the best hot cross bun recipe last Easter (it's from this cookbook) and can't wait to make a few batches soon :) Mini Easter eggs also make any cake more festive.

Start a book.... and finish it

Remember all of those books I read in summer? I've since started a bunch of different titles and finished none. I'm going to scale it back to two - the latest Murakami and this Italian love story :)

Go for more long walks

We've been waiting for the weather to cool down so we can enjoy a few local walks and hikes. Top of my list is Tidbinbilla nature reserve. I'm already planning my picnic.

Sort out a winter exercise plans

I decided to wing it without a gym membership last winter... and ended up catching every cold that was going around. I'm hoping to find a couple of regular classes to attend and keep up my cycling so the change in temperature doesn't feel so extreme.

Make my annual apple pie

In 2016 I made a blushing apple pie, this year I'm going back to this classic recipe that delivers a crunchy sugary crust.