Winter prep

31 May 2017

I've been watching movies and TV shows set in winter to ready myself for the season :) Last Sunday it was Manchester by the Sea (so intense!) plus most of Master of None season two was filmed during a snowy New York winter. Now I'm excited about beanies, patterned coats and feel brave about leaving the house.

Make-believe winter aside, I'm a bit more prepared for my second winter in Canberra. Most of it comes down to having the right clothes. While we were in Melbourne, I bought a top and a dress from the Obus merino range. I'm happy to report they're warm, flattering and rarely need a wash.

On rides to work, I'm wearing thick ear warmers (bought on sale in summer!) and two pairs of gloves. I also have a puffer vest that my friend Angie gave me for my birthday last year. It keeps me cosy around the house and while I'm working on my veggie patch or doing the market shop.

And after a two weeks at home, we now have pumpkin soup, spaghetti bolognese and ready-to-bake choc chip cookie balls in the freezer. Let's do this.

P.S Here's one more (heart-breaking) winter flick.

A shopping experiment

30 May 2017

I read The Art of Frugal Hedonism last year and it inspired me to try a simple shopping experiment. I spend a lot of time online, so I made a point of unsubscribing to every business e-newsletter that popped into my inbox. I also unfollowed companies on Facebook and Instagram, which included everything from local cafes to clothing labels and florists.

I loved getting ideas from these accounts and being reminded of what they made, just in case I had to buy a present for a friend or needed something new. But not finding out about a new menu or an upcoming sale has really helped me spend my money more carefully. I also visit shops a whole lot less.

I am still buying things but it's more on a needs basis. In preparation for winter, I tried Caroline's capsule wardrobe planner. I didn't make it through all of the steps but I did sketch out (!) most of my cold-weather clothes, which is how I discovered that I have a million tops but hardly any pants. It also helped me work out which items of clothing I love wearing, and that's made the times I do go shopping a whole lot easier.

Weekend links

26 May 2017

Just a few things to share this week because it's been a busy one. On Saturday I'll be hosting an event for work and then it'll be pizza and gelato time :) This week I've been paying close attention to some of the smaller parts of my day, taking time to have a nice breakfast and read in the morning and popping out to see an exhibition or go for a walk in my lunch break. It's made all of the difference. Here are a few good things:

This song on repeat.

A beautiful star cake.

Pumpkin and sage baked gnocchi.

Sarah Ferguson makes compelling TV.

We tried this vegetarian restaurant the other night and loved it.

And two more choc chip cookie recipes to add to my ever expanding list - peanut butter choc chip and salted chocolate chunk cookies.

Sweet things for $20 or less

25 May 2017

I picked up a few souvenirs while I was in Sydney last week, including this funny make-up pouch that I'm planning to use as a clutch. I considered buying its furry mate too. They remind me of Anya Hindmarch bags, which I love but admire from afar.

I went to the MCA zine fair on Sunday and I cleaned out my wallet in 15 minutes flat. I made a beeline for Lee Tran Lam's table because she always puts together a dense and well-written zine based on a theme. This year it's work, and it's a steal for $10. I've been reading bits before bed and in my lunch break - the interviews are funny and energising too.

I also picked up an Indonesian recipe zine (my Dad grew up in Surabaya) and thought about buying these Seinfeld badges for a friend. I bought an emoji zine instead :)

Two good things landed in my letterbox while I was away. I can't wait to get stuck into Molly Wizenberg's first book, A Homemade Life. I only started reading her blog a few years ago, and I feel like her memoir is going to fill in a lot of blanks. It's also a recipe book in disguise.

There was also this little pin (with eyes!), which  is going to take up residence on my trusty stripey t-shirts and add a bit of cheer to my work blazers too.

A change of pace

23 May 2017

Last week marked a huge break in routine. I spent it in Sydney, seeing a family member through an operation, which thankfully went really well. I'm glad I made the trip, even though it was nerve-wracking and unpredictable in parts. Here are a few snaps of some of the brighter moments:

Tony couldn't join me until the weekend, so I caught the bus down on Sunday and stayed with my parents. We went out for pho and checked out two new cafes in our neighbourhood. There were also afternoons spent sitting in the sun, drinking tea and catching up.

In between hospital visits, I kept myself busy making pies. They came in handy later in the week, when my sister came for lunch with her two kids. My brother Zac picked up my grandmother and the eight of us shared a meat pie and an apple pie for dessert.

By Wednesday things were starting to settle down, which meant I had some time to see friends. I did yoga with my friend Irini in a studio that used to be an old warehouse. It was right by the harbour so after class we walked down the street to a cafe with a view of the bridge.

That night we had dinner with Angie, who always asks if there's anywhere new I want to try when I'm in Sydney :) We went to Continental Deli in Newtown and sat upstairs in the bistro. We ended up ordering all of the desserts, including an old-school crepe suzette. Seeing old friends (the three of us met when we were 12!) made a daunting week manageable and fun.

The weekend felt more like a holiday. Tony drove down from Canberra and we stayed in a cute Airbnb near the city. We read books on the deck and walked to Newtown for eggplant burgers and excellent sides. We also checked out an exhibition called The National at Carriageworks. It's spread across three different galleries but Carriageworks was easily my favourite, especially for the video works.

One excellent discovery from this trip - there's now a Cornersmith cafe in Annandale. We went two days in a row because it's such a relaxing space and the food was surprising and delicious.

Now that I'm back at home and back at work I realise how unusual the week was. I am often rushing between things but last week was all about family. It felt good to just focus on one thing and it's given me a good jolt of energy (not to mention gratefulness) right before winter hits.

Weekend links

19 May 2017

What've you been up to this week? I've been watching The Chefs' Line with my Dad and catching up with friends for dinner and cake. Tony's arriving in Sydney soon, to check out The National and drive us back to Canberra on Sunday. It has been a busy and full week, I'll tell you more about it soon. In the meantime:

A hilarious birthday cake.

Are you a fox or a hedgehog? Hedgehogs sounds pretty good :)

How to navigate a career change.

Nirrimi always nails it.

Saving this for when we finish the second season of Master of None.

What does simple living really mean?

A Tinder-like app for parents.

Love this floral dress.

A second Smitten Kitchen cookbook is on its way! Here's a preview.

On interviewing a racist - mind-blowing in so many ways.

And a weekend baking suggestion - chocolate and salted macadamia cookies.

New books

16 May 2017

I packed a bunch of new books for my trip to Sydney and I'm getting through them. On the weekend my friend Sarah gave me a copy of The Little Book of Slow, which is a pocket-sized book about simple living and slow cooking.

So far I've made two pies from the recipe section - a hearty meat pie and an apple and cinnamon pie - both for my parent's freezer. It's been such a sweet reference book to have in my holiday backpack. Bonus points for colour coordinating with my notebook and novel :)

I'm also flicking through Note to Self, which I stumbled across in a Melbourne bookstore. It reminds me of the blogs and zines I read in my uni days - some of the chapters are diary-like and there are beautiful photos of everyday life and the occasional poem too.

It's an easy one to dip in and out of and it's partly about living more mindfully. I can whiz through dozens of pages in the time that I might spend scrolling through Instagram.

P.S I also bought the latest Haruki Murakami book but I thought two hardbacks might be a little much for a week away. It's waiting for me at home.

Funny cards

14 May 2017

Tony gave his mum this card for Mother's Day and it made me laugh. It's part of a series of cards and small gifts from British artist David Shrigley. Each one comes with a puffy sticker - I've given this one to my brother who works in the music industry and I have this one pinned to my noticeboard at work.

I've just arrived in Sydney for the week with half a suitcase of presents. My one-year-old nephew is getting a submarine bath toy and a dinner set for his birthday, I bought my Dad this hefty book for his next foodie adventure, and for Mother's Day I chose this starter set of beeswax wraps.

Weekend links

12 May 2017

I fell off my bike on Monday, which put a slightly different spin on the week. Luckily I only have a few bruises to show for it :) What are your plans for the weekend? I'm heading to Sydney on Sunday, to spend some time with my family. But before then I'll be entering this bake off, going to see a photography show with Tony, and eating tacos with friends. Hope you have a good weekend:

12 books to check out.

Insecurity questions (the Instagram one!).

giant crumpet.

'My food struggle in pictures'

The end of an era.

This was a fascinating read - does it ring true to you? I'd love to know.

Singapore's ice cream uncle via Mei Ying.

The worst food in White House history.

Nigel Slater's apple crumble.

And we watched this excellent documentary about three Chicago artists and their creative processes. I especially loved the profiles of Nick Cave and Chris Ware. The Vancouver episode is great too.

See you next week!

Do you have any role models?

11 May 2017

I was texting my sister the other day and she asked whether I had any role models. I look up to lots of different people, from Sofia Coppola to Anna Sale. But these three women immediately came to mind:

A post shared by Kerry Diamond (@kerrybombe) on

Kerry Diamond is the co-founder and editorial director of Cherry Bombe, a beautiful and substantial magazine about women in food. I'm inspired by her feminism, her political activism, and her commitment to diversity and community.

Kerry also hosts Radio Cherry Bombe, a weekly podcast. I can recommend this episode about a bakery with a social conscience, this interview about ice cream and the financial side of starting a business and this hilarious episode featuring Martha Stewart.

A post shared by joythebaker (@joythebaker) on

I share a lot of recipes and articles from Joy the Baker and that's because Joy Wilson's blog reminds me to eat well, take risks and spend time with good people. Her recipes are reliably delicious and she writes about everything from being single to social injustice.

I've made lots of Joy's recipes but my three favourites are cookies and cream choc chip cookies, roasted tomato and garlic pasta and Thai beef and veggie bowls.

A friend put me on to Molly Wizenberg's blog Orangette a few years ago, when we were swapping favourite recipes and food blogs. Her writing, like her Instagram account, is honest and real. She's written about how her sexuality shifted, along with what she's cooking and reading.

Recently, I enjoyed her interview on The Food Podcast and I've just ordered her first book, A Homemade Life, which includes recipes too :)

P.S The photo of Sofia Coppola inside her New York office is from Le Monde.

Good advice

08 May 2017

I'm about to start my third Banana Yoshimoto book in as many months (I'm up to this one). Her stories are addictive and sad, and remind me of the work of another favourite author, Haruki Murakami.

Earlier this year I stumbled across this quote, about how she lives and works: "I will make my life simpler, aiming to have more freedom and fewer responsibilities."

It popped into my head after a restless Sunday, where my mind wouldn't stop racing. So this week, I'm planning to give myself a break and properly chill out after work. I'm hoping to read lots :)

P.S What are you having for dinner this week? I'm planning to make onion fried rice with Kewpie mayo, kale, tomato and lemon spaghetti and Japanese chicken and egg rice bowls. I also managed to track down the American toffee bar needed to make these choc chip cookies on the weekend.

Weekend links

05 May 2017

What are you up to this weekend? I am keeping my plans to a minimum after a big and busy week. On Saturday I'll be making this slow cooked bolognese and finally getting around to watching Beyonce's Lemonade. Have a great weekend:

Aziz Ansari on making the second season of Master of None (it starts next week!).

The sweetest online store (and Melbourne space).

Ricotta, lemon and spinach quiche.

Five cookbooks you'll keep forever (I own the first one and love it).

Obsessed with this chocolate bar.

The sweetest Tassie beach shack via Catherine.

Jasmine milk ice cream.

Loving these mini socks.

I'm on the hunt for this issue of The Gentlewoman, with Sofia Coppola on the cover.

And on my to-listen list, this episode of Conversations with Jenevieve Chang. I heard a bit in the car but had to hop out too soon.

It's porridge season

03 May 2017

I almost bought a porridge cookbook the other day, inspired by this nutty bowl I had in Melbourne. It was sweet, crunchy and full of autumn fruit and I'm going to try and recreate it at home.

For the last few winters I've used this recipe, which I double to make enough for three (I stash one serving in the fridge for rushed weekday mornings). Lately I've been eating it with a big spoonful of yoghurt and jam, a combo I've pinched from this LA cafe.

If you're keen for something even richer, the cafe next to our old home in Sydney used to soak their oats in cream overnight! I've never been game to try it.

P.S Why you should add salt to your oats and invest in a spurtle.

Weekend scenes

01 May 2017

I spent a few hours of Sunday at work, which made me savour the time I had at home. The days were sunny and bright and I pottered around the house catching up on podcasts and making sourdough and yoghurt. Tony jokingly calls this my happy little melon time.

I also started work on a small gardening project. A little while ago, I noticed a raised garden bed in our apartment complex. It was bare but also quite big. Over Easter, I showed my friend Sabine and she came up with a plan.

She suggested using bricks to section off a third, so I didn't have to take on the whole bed. She even gave me the bricks, lent me some tools and showed me how to turn the soil and make a brick fence. I added some new soil, came face to face with some worms and eventually planted kale, pak choy and rocket. I'm excited to see how it grows.

By Sunday night I was spent. I'd made a lot of messes and cleaned them all up, and then Tony came home and made Philly Cheese Steak pasta for dinner :)

P.S Is anyone else listening to Pregnant Pause? The last episode was so unexpected and nuanced.