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.

Blueberry and green tea smoothie with honey and mint

06 March 2017

This smoothie is NSFW. It'll give you a deep blue tongue and get stuck in your teeth. But if you have time for breakfast before you leave the house, it's a super refreshing way to start the day. My favourite breakfast is this smoothie and a thick slice of vegemite toast with a soft boiled egg on top.

This breakfast is inspired by two much-loved cafes. The Australian twist on egg and soldiers is served at Bloom, near Tony's parent's place and the smoothie comes from ONA on the Lawns, where we love taking visitors for brunch.

Blueberry and green tea smoothie with honey and mint

Serves 1

You will need:
1 cup of blueberries, frozen
Half a banana, frozen and sliced
1 tsp of honey or more to taste
1 cup of green tea, chilled
A few mint leaves

Here's how:

Make your green tea in advance so it has time to chill in the fridge. Green tea is best brewed at around 80 degrees celsius for just a few minutes. If you don't have a fancy kettle, let your boiled water sit for awhile before you add your tea bag. I normally make two cups of tea, so I can double the recipe or sip on cold green tea later in the day.

Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If all of your fruit is frozen (which makes for a deliciously cold smoothie), you might need a wooden spoon to gently separate the fruit if it freezes together.

Serve immediately.

Tony and I try and have breakfast together most mornings, which sometimes means one of us eating cereal on the bed if the other has a late start but still wants to chat :) Other days... I am sipping a smoothie while trying to throw a packed lunch together and organise an outfit to change into after I ride to work.

Weekend links

03 March 2017

As predicted, things got busy. Tony had an exhibition opening and we had a friend stay, so we're going to try and balance out the late nights with a mini yoga retreat this weekend. I also want to roast a chicken and watch the new season of Chef's Table! Here are a few things to share:

A short guide to edible flowers.

I love a good one pot meal.

Also tempting for a rainy weekend - 30 minute laksa.

Girlhood and girl power in Miyazaki films.

Instagram girl crush.

One way to keep kids safe.

My favourite Canberra event kicks off tonight!

Do you ever reminisce about the casual jobs you did at uni? I used to sell macaroons and cakes at Adriano Zumbos :)

March fun

01 March 2017

Happy March! Here are four fun things to kickstart your month, starting with the podcast everyone's talking about - Missing Richard Simmons. It's about a fitness guru from the '80s who takes a sudden break from his very public life. I started listening on the weekend and it's equal parts intriguing and fun.

Good news - the new season of Love is less than two weeks away. Tony and I watched the first season in a day, when we were both at home with the flu. This year will be different. Also the second season of Master of None is coming soon!

A post shared by Bill Hayes (@billhayesnyc) on

I am still thinking about Insomniac City, a month or so after I finished reading it. The Good Weekend published an extract over the weekend, if you're interested in checking it out.

And I've been enjoying all of the extra Moonlight coverage that's come with the Oscars. The Daily had an interview with director Barry Jenkins (listen from 9 minutes), The New York Times profiled Mahershala Ali back in October and he was interviewed with his wife Amatus on Death, Sex & Money last year. This interview with Alex Hibbert, who played the lead character as a young boy, is also super sweet.