Hello weekend

20 July 2018

Did you have a good week? Mine was a happy mix of productivity and down time. Most days, I managed to leave the office while it was still light (also, more than halfway through winter woo!) and there was time for some after work cookie baking too.

This weekend I'm taking Tony on another surprise date (we're going to the Scandinavian film festival!), and we're going on a winter picnic with friends. I can't decide whether to make Nigella's olive oil chocolate cake (feels like everyone is raving about it), or a pear tart...
For your weekend:

10 minutes of pure wanderlust - parenting in Provence.

Spelt choc chip cookies - super satisfying, quick to make and not that bad for you either.

Planning to watch Namatjira Project this weekend.

Short stories aren't usually my thing but I'm averaging a story a night from Curtis Sittenfeld's latest. So funny and scarily true to life.

And a new-to-me Anna Jones recipe that came highly recommended - sticky green bean and chilli paneer. I've never made paneer before but I'd like to try it!

P.S I've been warding off colds with a combo of echinacea and olive leaf extract tablets that I take daily. I had one really bad cold at the start of the season, which motivated me to sort out my vitamin situation. So far, so good.

My birthday wish list

18 July 2018

I'm starting to make plans for my birthday, which is less than a month away. I'll be turning 34, and while it isn't an age I've ever tried out in my head, I'm still excited to celebrate. My whole family will be in Canberra (minus my brother and his wife who live in London), and we're booked in for yum cha. I might also have a small celebration with friends, and make my own cake again.

Because I love to daydream, here's a wish list of things I've been eyeballing lately, starting with a Golden Age Cinema gift pass for my next Sydney visit.

They serve Gelato Messina choc tops at the bar, play cult films like Do The Right Thing, and the entire fit out looks it's straight out of a Wes Anderson film.

Because it's winter and we live in Canberra, some fancy face oil would boost my spirits! It was minus seven on Monday.

A new book, which requires zero waiting because it's not part of a library reserve queue :)

I feel like your thirties is when you start to accumulate beautiful things, like ceramics. I'd use this sweet Girl Nomad mug for my morning coffee. This is my night time tea cup!

And for extra luxurious baking, I'd savour a tiny bottle of vanilla extract from France.

Now to think of any last things I'd like to get done as a 33 year old!

Hello weekend

13 July 2018

My friends Irini and Angie are visiting from Sydney this weekend. I'm excited to have some of my favourite people along for regular weekend things like yoga, brunch and a cosy dinner at home. And one thing I remembered this week - taking breaks at work helps me stay productive and happy. Things to share:

On order... this funny tee.

Jonathan from Queer Eye has his own podcast! Via Laura.

Excellent life advice from former Teen Vogue editor Elaine Welteroth.

Kids try 100 years of party snacks.

If you were captivated by the Thai cave rescue too, I found this recap of how the boys were lost and then found fascinating.

And I just finished reading The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, which I picked up on the recommendation of Anne. It was practical, real and only $1.89 in the Kindle store).


An unhurried cake

12 July 2018

When we first moved to Canberra, one of the biggest adjustments was time - mainly the sudden lack of it. My daily commute was longer (to be expected when your previous one was a two minute drive!), and I was starting a new job with slightly longer hours.

Having lived in Wagga Wagga for almost five years, I pushed myself to adjust to our new city life and tried to cram everything in. That included making something for the weekly office bake off. I didn't miss a week that first year. I made cherry brownies, snowmen cupcakes, cheese tarts and chocolate chip cookies. It was partly a way to make friends in a newer, bigger office. I also loved to bake, and was excited about having more people to feed.

Three years, and a new job later, things have changed again. I bake maybe once a month, if that, part of a bigger effort to do less. Lately there's less rushing around in my lunch break to tick off extra errands, and fewer expectations of things I'll get done after work. It's really nice.

The latest cake I made was a pink grapefruit cake, made on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Tony was at his studio, so I listened to podcasts and got a start on dinner (this brisket!). I'd been wanting to bake all week but I was glad to have waited, because it was unhurried and extra enjoyable because of it.

Real talk though, bundt cards are hard.

P.S More on dropping the ball :) I'm going to tell you more about my new job soon!

Hello weekend

06 July 2018

I hope you've had a good week! I spent a couple of days in Sydney and squeezed in some catch ups with friends around work. Other highlights included crab fried rice, pandan chiffon cake and dessert toast (covered in condensed milk!) at Boon Cafe. We're heading back that way in a matter of days, because my friend Haline is getting married! The plan is to check out Tony's work at the Salon de Refuses and have dinner at this favourite spot (we've only ever been for brunch). Here are five solid things to share:

Accidentally Wes Anderson is such a fun Instagram account.

For anyone who makes things, I loved hearing Roman Mars, host of 99% Invisible, talk about art versus commerce in the Zig Zag podcast. The whole episode is great but his interview (from the 20 minute mark) is especially inspiring.

Forever breaking my heart - Sleepover's advice for strangers.

Tina Roth Eisenberg may be my dream boss.

Pretty and healthyish - blueberry coconut galette.

Have a lovely weekend :) 

Night time rituals

01 July 2018

Do you have any after work rituals? My morning routine has been pretty solid for the last six months - I go to yoga most mornings, have coffee at the studio and then head to work with a clearer-than-usual head. Evenings are far more haphazard, and I've been experimenting with a few different ways of winding down:

If I'm getting the bus, I walk to the city after work to get a dose of fresh air, which is always a refreshing shock after sitting in heating all day. It's a half hour walk and I'll listen to a podcast or some music and get on a bus that's more direct than the one I can catch right outside my office. The commute puts a nice gap between my work day and the night.

If it's been an especially busy day and I'm driving home,  I'll listen to Spotify's daily mixes after work, saving new podcast episodes for the weekend.

I'm easily distracted by my phone at night, so I've been setting a timer for some dedicated reading time, so I don't accidentally check the time on my phone and end up scrolling through Instagram.

And if I'm wrestling with a few things in my head, I'll write them down in a notebook. Sometimes it helps me identify exactly what I'm feeling, other times it just feels like I'm putting thoughts somewhere else, and which stops me from turning them over in my head or trying to remember them.

P.S How crazy is it that we're more than halfway through the year?!

Hello weekend

29 June 2018

I'm excited to have a few lazy days ahead, especially as it's going to be freezing! On the cards, catching up on magazines and making an unhurried cake. My parents are also visiting, to help my sister and her fam finish the last of their unpacking. We're going to my favourite Thai place for dinner, and at some point, I'm going to watch Nanette. To share:

Two wintry desserts: blueberry bread and butter pudding and whatever-you-fancy fruit crumble.

Everything is love.

This is super cute - Teen vs. Food Critic.

Delicious is killing it on the noodle front - I'm going to download their latest issue (Canberra readers, here's how to get it for free!) so I can make prawn mee goreng and three cheese lasagne.

I love Stella's style.

I'm going to work my way through these 20 thoughts on writing (including gems from Roxane Gay, Ira Glass and Ta-Nehisi Coates).

And something that changed my week, Charlie introduced me to Todist, a list-making and productivity app that helped me get so. much. done.

Catch you next week :)

Tiny cabin stay

24 June 2018

Last week we worked for two days and then headed to the Kangaroo Valley for a mid-week cabin stay. We booked a tiny cabin that was off the grid, where we had a couple of horses for neighbours and a fire (plus lots of marshmallows) to keep us warm. It was the nicest way to spend the winter solstice. Here are a few photos to share:

The trip was a tiny step towards car camping. We still had running water, a bathroom (with a composting toilet!), and a roof over our heads. Between the two of us we have zero camping experience, so we figured we'd try this out and see how we went. I loved cooking on a camp stove, and making my first ever fire.

We stopped at Hall for lunch on our way out of town, and stocked up on fancy beers at Hops & Vine. I'm going through a sour beer phase at the moment, they're a happy medium between beer and cider. Food inspiration came from Heidi and Rachel's camping trips - we packed some slow cooked meatballs that'd been stashed in the freezer, and I made my own pancake mix by halving this recipe.

Mornings were chilly and we'd wake up to steamed up windows and fog outside. My favourite activity was making breakfast in the cabin. On our first morning we ate buttermilk pancakes in bed and drank tea until it was too bright to stay in bed. We drove to Berry for hot pies and coffee, firewood and the best mint choc chip gelato.

I packed The Female Persuasion and it was the perfect holiday novel. It was surprising and entertaining, and very accurately captured feminism and gender politics today. We both thought there would be heaps of time for reading and drawing but our afternoons were busy in ways we didn't expect. We built a fire before dark, made pasta and greens on the camp stove and sat around watching the stars come out. On our final night, the winter solstice, we had big bowls of spaghetti and meatballs by the fire followed by s'mores.

It was so nice to have a couple of nights away after a busy first half of the year. We arrived home to sub-zero Canberra temperatures, extra grateful for hot showers and heating and daydreaming about a beachy cabin stay when the weather warms up again.

Hello weekend

22 June 2018

Hello! We've just come back from a tiny cabin stay in the Kangaroo Valley, which saw us building a fire and toasting marshmallows over the winter solstice. I'll share some more pics next week, it was so much fun :) In the meantime, I hope you've had a good week. We have super simple weekend plans, drinks with friends and a bit of babysitting to help my sister with her move. To share:

Do you make smoothies? This clean up tip is kind of genius.

Nerded out and watched The Fourth Estate on SBS On Demand last weekend. It follows journalists from The New York Times during the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

Speaking of, this episode of The Daily helped me wrap my head around why families are being separated at the US border. Via The Bello Collective.

So crazy it might just work... cheeseburger fried rice.

Though after a few nights of making s'mores, I'll probably make this rainbow veggie salad first.

This year's winter dress (super happy with it!).

Claudine put me onto ZigZag, the new podcast from Manoush Zomorodi and her producer from Note To Self. It reminds me of Start Up and I'm already hooked.

And Queer Eye in Yass!

See you next week X

Baby gifts revisited (again)

17 June 2018

At the start of this month our friends welcomed twins, a girl and a boy, and we went to their naming ceremony on the weekend. It was a lovely way to meet them and it so moving to hear their names for the first time during the ceremony.

Lately, my most favourite things to give to new babies is a wrap from Halycon Nights. It takes the stress out of trying to pick an outfit in the right size for the right season, and there are always fun new prints to choose from. We've sent this one overseas, and have seen it used as a swaddle, a pram blankie and a floor mat too.

Next weekend I'm planning to make a meal to drop round to our friends, I'm thinking it'll be this slow cooked ragu, a dark chocolate olive oil cake, and a nice bottle of red wine.

P.S This post isn't sponsored in any way. I just love these little wraps and enjoy picking a pattern to suit each couple and their new babe :)

Hello weekend

15 June 2018

We're in the early days of winter when I'm still excited about the extra fresh air and the chance to cook and eat comfort food. This weekend I'll be making roast lamb with anchovy sauce for friends and baking the apple pie that I stashed in our freezer for the colder days. Yay! I've had my head down at work this week, so here's a very modest list of things to share:

This song on repeat.

Two great reads from Jenny - Obama's final days in office and these ace thoughts on gender equality (demand the ball!).

How to rant productively (NY Times).

Pandora Sykes has excellent style.

There are so many gems in this collection of careers advice.

And I read Jessie Cole's Staying over the long weekend and highly recommend it. It is about her experience of losing two family members to suicide but it's full of life and thoughtful contemplation.

Lessons from a nine-day fortnight

11 June 2018

At the start of this year, I asked to switch to a nine-day fortnight. Technically, it's part-time but my favourite description of it is most-time. I've had every other Friday off and it's been my work experiment for 2018.

I've been curious about working less for some time. 2017 was especially busy, with extra responsibilities and travel. So when I was asked to work on a short-term project at the end of last year, it seemed like a good time to ask for my ideal hours.

Originally, I planned to use the extra day each fortnight to work on my blog and pitch stories to my favourite food magazines. But the time off also taught me some things about myself that I didn't anticipate. I wanted to share them here:

1. It made me get my finances in order

When I opted to work a day less every fortnight, I was given two options: work an extra hour on the days I was in to make up the time, or take a pay cut. I wanted more time for myself, so I decided to earn a bit less.

In between working full-time and transitioning to most-time, there was the Christmas break, which helped me prepare. I bought a copy of The Barefoot Investor.... and felt a bit embarrassed about it! But it helped me set up a system that kept my spending in check. If you're curious, it's essentially this: you set up automatic transfers that allocate different percentages of your pay to everyday expenses, long-term and short-term savings, as well as spending money.

Over summer, I got rid of my credit card and stuck to the amounts that were allocated for each category. It helped me manage the change in income (a privilege in its own right), while still saving.

Two small adjustments: I now buy gifts that are less extravagant (but no less thoughtful I hope!), and 90% of the books I read are reserved and borrowed from the library.

2. I learnt how to relax

I have a habit of packing a lot into my weekends. Usually they're a mix of things that have to be done (food shopping and meal prep), and fun stuff like trying out new recipes, seeing family and friends, and doing yoga. Trying to fit it all in means that sometimes I'm exhausted by Sunday afternoon.

Having an extra day meant that I could do all of these things and still have some spare time. Early on, I used this time to pitch stories, and apply for an exciting-looking job that popped up. When I interviewed for that job and got it, my focus for the year shifted.

I put less pressure on myself to be creative or productive on my long weekends. Having that extra time helped me see that being well rested helped me feel happier, clear-headed and possibly more creative overall.

It's also changed my expectations of regular two day weekends, which are now less about getting everything done and more about finding things that can wait or be dropped completely. It might sound silly but I've gone from trying at least three new recipes each weekend to cooking once or twice and spending the rest of the time reading, walking and watching movies.

3. I never thought about quitting my job

There have been moments in the past few years where my life has mainly been about work. And so when I've not been enjoying it, or when there have been some big changes like a restructure, it's had a huge impact on my outlook on life and sense of self.

At its most extreme, I considered doing something else altogether. I read books and listened to podcasts about entrepreneurship and overcoming fear. I'd quiz friends who ran their own businesses or freelanced about how they did it. I had this feeling that there was a better way to work and have a life.

Working less shifted the balance in my life ever so slightly. It coincided with my sister's move to Canberra, which made catching up with her and supporting her family in small ways easy. Another highlight was regular brunch dates with my friend who went on maternity leave, and then spending time with her and her newborn baby.

4. And maybe most surprising of all... it didn't need to be a permanent thing

When I started working a little less, I hoped to do it for a year to really give it a go. But lately, I've had a strong sense that I'm ready to return to full-time work, excited about it even. Having some time off has given me time to think, rest, read and get my energy back.

I would totally do it again if it's something I need. Even having the courage to ask several managers for the option (and getting their approval) has let me know that it's a possibility, and one that comes with no judgement.

As of this month, I'm heading back to full-time work. I'm excited... and a bit nervous too. I'll keep you posted :)

Hello weekend

08 June 2018

I'm excited for another long weekend. My sister and her family are coming over for lasagne (my niece's request!) and I'm planning to serve tiny gelato cones for dessert. I also have my eye on this truffle burger pop-up and will be up extra early on Saturday for an overseas mentoring call (!). I hope you have a relaxing weekend. To share:

Scallop pasta = fancy comfort food.

Loved Jamila Rizvi's profile on Extraordinary Routines.

Packing for New York.

Blue cheese scones with a side of podcast recommendations. Are you listening to Caliphate? It's been recommended to me three times this week.

I finished We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates this week. What a powerful book about race, identity and inequality. It also helped me think about my own cultural identity in new ways. 

Speaking of, I'm excited to watch Where Are You Really From? The trailer alone really speaks to my experience of growing up as a Chinese Australian.

Two kick ass winter soups

03 June 2018

Up until now, I've seen soup as a back up meal that gets made when I'm feeling lazy or need a break from pasta. But I'm excited to share two veggie filled soups that will be on high rotation this winter:

Anna Jones's smoked corn chowder is crazy good. It's creamy and full of veggies, with just enough lemon to keep it tasting light. It's not hard to make but feels like a restaurant-quality dish. I bought a bottle of liquid smoke from my local deli for four dollars and highly recommend it for this recipe. We're having some leftover chowder for dinner tonight and I'll be using some spare leeks to make the grilled cheese from Queer Eye!

The cooler weather has had me reaching for Julia Busuttil Nishimura's book Ostro a lot. One favourite recipe, the pasta and chickpea soup with pumpkin and tomato. It's more of a weekend soup, which putters away for an hour or two. It cooks into a rich and silky tomato soup.

I've been making and freezing small batches of stock for soups like these.

P.S On my winter wish list - this merino snood because scarves are tricky for us clumsy folk.

Hello weekend

01 June 2018

Yesterday we welcomed winter by tucking into lamb shanks, potatoes and cauliflower gratin that my mother-in-law Wendy had lovingly made. It's suddenly very chilly in Canberra, so my beanie is on and my new down jacket is firmly zipped up. This weekend is going to be a slow one. I'm hoping for lots of hot coffee and time with my book. So many things to share:

I'd really like to make some homemade pasta this winter. Fancy Pasta Bitch is my inspiration. (Via Laura).

Something that influenced my work week - Kate Berry's talk on surviving life as a creative person. Especially admirable: her ability to dream up a big idea, turn it into something great, then have the courage to walk away.

From Sophie, a trick for the easily distracted: use the timer on your phone to set Instagram/internet browsing limits.

At her recommendation, I listened to this TED talk about joy and where it hides. If you have time, watch the video for the visual cues. One tiny joyful thing from my week, hearing Lean On Me play as I ate breakfast at work.

Always delightful, How To Be A Girl is gearing up for its very own royal wedding.

Another insightful (and funny) podcast is back - there are new episodes of Sleepover. Thank you to Chiara for letting me know.

I wanted to finish with some of your book recommendations that came from this post. Lucy recommended Meg Wolitzer's The Female Persuasion, Adele found The Museum of Words by Georgia Blain to be honest and gentle (the cover!), and I'm curious about Elisa Albert's After Birth, which was on Chiara's list of great recent reads.

See you next week X

Favourite books: a mid-year recap

29 May 2018

Somehow, I've managed to read 20 books this year. Relying on library books has definitely helped - they come with an inbuilt deadline, which can be as short as two weeks if it's a new release. Reading also helps me wind down, so I always have something on the go. Here's a quick look at what I've read and loved:


Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was funny, totally relatable in parts, and heartbreaking too. I read it over Easter and was devastated when it was over - I loved the main characters so much.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee was my first epic of 2018. I found it all-consuming in the same way that A Little Life was, only far less traumatic.

Our Town by Thorton Wilder is a classic play that I read for the first time this year. I am fascinated by the minutiae of other people's lives and the beauty of everyday life, so this play felt profound. (This podcast is an excellent companion piece and introduced me to the play in the first place).

(I also read Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng but didn't find it as captivating or believable as these three).


And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready by Meaghan O'Connell. The most expensive book I've ever bought on my Kindle but I was desperate to read it after sampling this excerpt. It was totally worth it. I am still researching life with kids and found it raw and honest. I only wish it had been longer.

Am I there yet? by Mari Andrew. I follow Mari on Instagram and love her observations of life, its challenges and the crazy ways we relate to each other. This is a memoir with her classic illustrations and written essays and it's great. It's also one of the few books I've bought this year.

Drop the Ball: Achieving More By Doing Less by Tiffany Dufu. Tony and I are trying to share household chores more equally, especially as our jobs change. We've made a start, and while I didn't always relate to the author, this book helped me consider some of the things that've stopped me from doing less. One example: I'm fussy about what I eat, so have made most of our work lunches. Now we take turns, swapping every other day, and I eat what I'm given (and am grateful!).

Talking To My Country by Stan Grant I've mentioned here before. Having spent some time in the Riverina region of New South Wales, I had a strong sense of the places he wrote about from his childhood. The writing is powerful and the book showed me how much I have to learn about the history and experiences of Australia's first people.


I whizzed through Rupi Kaur's two poetry books, The Sun And Her Flowers and Milk and Honey. Poetry normally intimidates me but Rupi's poems are both simple and powerful. They come with a good dose of feminism and insight into what it's like to be a woman of colour today.

The Uncommon Feast by Eileen Chong. I often feel conflicted about my identity, being Chinese Australian. I worry that I'm not Chinese enough because I don't have any language and know very little about holidays and traditions. Eileen's poems, essays and recipes made me feel like I had more culture than I realised, and not all of it is food related :)

And books I've reserved...

Small Acts of Disappearance: Essays on Hunger by Fiona Wright
Staying by Jessie Cole
You Think It, I'll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (I loved her Death, Sex and Money interview)

P.S Let me know if you're read something great - new or old.

Hello weekend

25 May 2018

It's the start of an extra long weekend for me :) Canberra's newest public holiday is this Monday, to mark the start of Reconciliation Week. We have lots of fun plans. I'll be making an apple pie to take to a friend's place and on Sunday we have tickets to see Zach's Ceremony, which looks incredible. But for now, it's all about leftovers, Netflix and catching up on some much needed sleep. To share:

I've been scrolling through Quarter Cup Crisis, a fun food newsletter about upping your dinner game in your twenties.

The happiest birthday cake.

A nutritionist who craves McChickens - a fascinating first trimester recap.

Michelle Obama has been sharing some sweet photos on Instagram this week, including this college snap and a photo from her wedding day.

A typical day in Venice sounds delicious.

This week I finished Stan Grant's Talking To My Country and highly recommend it. It's a challenging but important read.

Did you watch the royal wedding? I loved that people of colour featured so prominently in the ceremony and on TV. This article best summed it up for me (NY Times). Also... my friend Sarah made this fun discovery: you can listen to songs from the wedding (and the wedding itself!) on Spotify.

I sampled the Soul Music podcast this week and am obsessed. Each episode features personal stories that are connected to a well known song. I've managed to listen to five episodes in as many days, True Colours and Can't Take My Eyes Off You were my faves.

A more disturbing listen - The Daily takes a look at a conspiracy theorist who believes the Sandy Hook school shooting never happened.

P.S Since the start of this year, I've been making monthly donations to AIME, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience. I'm also looking for ways to mark Reconciliation Week and plan on checking out this exhibition.

Food for the week

24 May 2018

This might sound strange but I've just worked out our weekly food shop - 10 years after leaving home! These are the basics we'll get through each week, with a bit of wiggle room when it comes to making quick dinners and work lunches. It's nice to have a list that doesn't change much, and a fridge that's almost empty at the end of the week.

Here's what's always on the list:

Apples and bananas for snacks.

Berries if they're in season, to make packed breakfasts a bit more exciting.

Avocados and tomatoes for work lunch sambos.

Baby spinach for smoothies, emergency tuna pasta and chickpea salad (a super easy weekday lunch).

A bunch of parsley for salads and soups.

Lemons for avocado toast, pastas and salad dressings.

Yoghurt for lazy breakfasts, porridge and curries.

Milk and bread.

Things like carrots, celery, onions, eggs and cheese get bought a couple times a month if that. If we're both home for the whole week, I'll also shop for ingredients for two dinners.

And just in case you're wondering, I look after 95% of the food shopping as a trade off for Tony doing all of the laundry! I love grocery shopping -  this was my favourite book as a kid.

Am I missing something delicious or great? Let me know!

Hello weekend

18 May 2018

It's been so nice having my sister in Canberra, especially this week because we were able to celebrate the launch of The Motherhood together. Carla wrote a chapter of the book (you can read her contribution here), and after the Canberra event, we went out for a fancy meal to mark the occasion. I'm going into the weekend a little under the weather so my plans are very simple. I'm hoping for croissants and coffee, and hopefully a movie too. For your weekend:

"Can you make a decision on your own?"

The soundtrack of my week. 

Double denim.

Chickpea sandwiches seem to be everywhere... and now I want to make one! (But which one?).

Can't wait to see Tully. It's written by Diablo Cody, who also wrote the script for Juno.

Finally, my royal wedding treat (baguette not included).

P.S Thank you to Sarah for this pic!

A mind trick

16 May 2018

My friend Irini introduced me to a sweet little saying that's been keeping small worries at bay. It's super short: the universe decides.

For a champion worrier like myself, it's a good reminder not to stress too much about the things I have little control of - or can't change.

And while we started using it when we were planning a trip we both wanted take but couldn't quite commit to, I've found that it applies to so many other parts of my life, big and small.

P.S I've been experimenting with the Headspace app this week. I'm four days in and enjoying the guided meditations - and the super cute animated vids that explain how it all works!

Hello weekend

11 May 2018

It's suddenly freezing in Canberra, so I'm layering up and making ragu. I planned a tiny cabin stay for this weekend - only I accidentally booked one that was too far away! We've postponed the trip and now have a surprise weekend at home. I reckon we'll see this exhibition and go out for poke bowls... or just stay close to the heater, order pizza and read. To share:

What pregnancy feels like via Erin.

I listened to Dolly Alderton's podcast Love Stories this week because I love The High Low. The latest episode with writer Marian Keyes is lovely (her Irish lilt!).

Love this bamboo cutlery set for picnics and lunches on the run.

Success at work ;)

So curious about raw tomato sauce for pastas.

Two books I'd like to read: Curtis Sittenfeld's latest and Sloane Crosley's book of NYC essays.

Making friends as an adult can be tricky but sweet, which is why I loved this episode of Nancy.

A new favourite banana bread, with chocolate and crystallised ginger.

Tiny brag: Tony's in the Salon De Refuses at the S.H. Ervin Gallery in Sydney, which is the second-cut of the Archibald prize. It opens this weekend!

"No person can be summed up by the best or worst thing they've ever done."

And I'm going to watch this week's Four Corners, 'I Am That Girl'. Read the article here. Thank you to the brave women who told this story.

A date night trick from Terrace House

06 May 2018

Tony and I are obsessed with Terrace House. It's a Japanese reality show where six strangers, always three guys and three girls, share a house. Unlike Big Brother, the cast can leave the house to go to work or uni, and exit the show whenever they want.

We're in the middle of the third Netflix season (new episodes come out on May 22 - we've been checking!), and are waiting to see how a few new relationships pan out. Dating is a huge focus of the show, and the dating culture is pretty formal. Usually one of the cast members asks someone they're interested in when they're free. Once they settle on a day, the asker starts making plans.

I love the surprise element of the dates. So the other day I asked Tony when he was free and planned a mystery date for him. He asked a lot of questions - what he should wear, when he should be ready - and it was heaps of fun. We ended up going to his favourite cafe to try out the dinner menu. I drove the long way to there to keep him guessing :) A few weeks later he returned the favour, and planned dinner around my favourite dessert in the city (banoffee pie!).

My most recent surprise date for Tony was an artist talk at the National Gallery of Australia that was part of the Terminus exhibition by Jess Johnson and Simon Ward. We're both big fans of their virtual reality and video work, having stumbled across it on trips to Melbourne and Sydney. It was cheap and super cheerful afternoon - the gallery talk was free and we rode our bikes, stopping on the way home for lakeside beers and snacks.

Our Terrace House inspired dates have been fun. Having been together for 10 years (!), we're used to deciding on date activities together... which sometimes means discussing some of the finer points - like do we have enough money in the bank that week? On surprise dates, the person who asked pays :) It also reminds me of those early months of dating where you don't always know where you're going and are up for pretty much anything.

Hello weekend

04 May 2018

Hi! What are your plans for the month of May? I have one small goal - to go for a walk every day, even if it's for 10 minutes, because it helps to clear my head. I think I can do it. I hope you have some nice weekend plans! We're going to see Jess Johnson give an artist talk (her video work is trippy), and I'm planning to get souped up porridge at the markets. Making my week:

Nicole Byer's podcast Why Won't You Date Me? is super funny, real and an instant mood shifter.

I made a lemon olive oil cake this week that was dense and delicious. Here's the recipe, only you'll want to switch the oranges out for lemons.

Two nutritionists take us on a tour of Woolies and share their healthy picks. I especially loved their cereal aisle selection. (Check out Kate's Instagram story highlights if you can't see it).

If you're looking for something new to read, Caroline and Kate have us covered. Meanwhile Joy's all over the latest cookbook releases.

Hoping to make these peanut butter and chocolate brownies on Sunday.

And the best thing I saw this week was my two-year-old nephew blowing out the candles on his birthday cake. It's crazy seeing someone do something for the very first time.

Simple dinners + a weekday vegetable soup

01 May 2018

What are you having for dinner these days? We love pasta (this quick tuna pasta gets made every other week) but we've also been on the hunt for other quick meals. Here are two we've enjoyed recently:

Sweet potato tacos, which looks complicated by mainly involves roasting sweet potato with spices and making some quick pickles.

Mother-in-law salmon, made with pantry ingredients but fancy enough to serve to guests.

About once a month, I'll make a simple vegetable stock on a lazy Sunday. I use the pot we use to boil pasta (instead of our 20 litre stock pot!), and simmer it for as long as I can. It becomes a cheat's minestrone on Monday or Tuesday night, which usually lasts until Friday, when Tony will make something fancier for dinner.

The secret ingredient is... parmesan rinds, so hang onto them :)

A minestrone style soup for autumn 

For the stock, you'll need:

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
An onion, quartered with skin still on
A carrot or two, roughly chopped
Two stalks of celery, roughly chopped
Any other uncooked veggies that you have lying around, such as potatoes, zucchini, cabbage, tomatoes, also roughly chopped
A small handful of parsley, with stalks
1-2 bay leaves
A few peppercorns

Here's how: 

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and then add your firm vegetables (such as onion, carrot, celery and potatoes). Cook for a couple of minutes until beginning to brown and then add any soft veggies you're using (like zucchini, tomatoes and cabbage).

Add any herbs, I usually use parsley, bay leaves and thyme, along with some peppercorns then fill the pot with cold water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 45 minutes.

Strain the mixture and then store it. My pot fills a big container for minestrone during the week, and fills a small container which is frozen for future meals (like this one-pot french onion pasta).

For the minestrone, you'll need:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2-3 small potatoes, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
A large pinch of chilli flakes, optional
1 zucchini, diced
1-2 tomatoes, diced, also optional
About 4-6 cups of vegetable stock
A 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2-4 tablespoons of pesto
2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley
A parmesan rind (or three)
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated parmesan, to serve

Here's how:

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots, celery, potato and any other firm vegetables you're using and cook for another two or three minutes. Add the garlic and continue to fry for a minute, seasoning the mixture with salt, pepper and pinch of chilli flakes. Then add zucchini and tomatoes if using, and stir gently for a minute.

Add a tin of tomato, pesto, chopped parsley and stir. Then pour the vegetable stock over the mix and add the parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a gentle boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

To serve, remove the parmesan rind and season to taste. Serve with grated parmesan and crusty buttered bread. Or a grilled cheese toastie that's buttered on both sides :)

Hello weekend

27 April 2018

What are you getting up to in the last weekend of April? At the moment I'm sitting in my apartment writing to you, listening to music and waiting for my banana bread to finish baking (it smells so good!). Having every other Friday off is the best, and the warm sunny weather helps too! As for weekend plans, Tony's in an exhibition that opens tonight (which usually means post-opening noodles yay!) and we're catching up with some friends from Wagga for coffee tomorrow :) For your weekend:

Weekend pizza inspo.

An extract from a book I loved, Meaghan O'Connell's And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready.

So fun - grown ass woman month.

Curious about cut chocolate cookies.

Where do your thoughts dwell - in the past, present or future? My brain almost always lives in the future.

Current obsession - milk chocolate strawberries (they're freeze dried and so good).

Possibly TMI... I totally rate this coconut foot cream.

Ladies, We Need To Talk is back! I loved this podcast so much last year, and the first episode of the second season doesn't disappoint.

I also remembered the Radio Diaries podcast this week. Most of the episodes have me listening wide-eyed.

And a super fun podcast that also makes me think, The High Low courtesy of Jess.

Catch you next week!


Almost cold

22 April 2018

In Canberra, they say you shouldn't turn your heater on until Anzac Day. That's when things are meant to get properly cold... and that's this coming week.

We've been getting ready for winter in lots of little ways. Insulated coffee cups have been ordered, and browsing the wool and heat tech sections of Uniqlo has begun (yesterday I found something called a coatigan!).

We also bought a slow cooker after mulling it over for ages, and borrowing one from my sister to try it out. This cookbook was the clincher, it's filled with meals I really want to eat, and the recipes are designed around an 8-hour work day. Before it, I could only think of meaty things to make like brisket (the best!) and osso bucco, and struggled to find good recipes online. I'm excited to try it out later this week.

We ended up getting this 3.5 litre Crockpot, mainly for its size (it's not crazy big) but also because it's the original slow cooker :) My sister-in-law also recommended one from Target, which is super affordable, and I previously borrowed my sister's Sunbeam.

P.S Here are a handful of recipes that look good - Deb's Korean braised short ribs and this nine-recipe round up.

Hello weekend

19 April 2018

Hello! It's been scone weather this week - chilly but not cold, good for hot drinks and warm snacks. I've been choosing presents and mailing birthday cards this week, and thinking about going for a hike and making Anzac biscuits (this recipe looks easy and good). I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you're getting up to! To share:

Grown up chocolate crackles.

15 Modern Love essays by millennials.

Nigella Lawson on cooking as a feminist act.

Very tempted to buy this insulated coffee cup.

The cutest slice of toast!

Would you ever try a shopping ban?

This is so nice :)

Loving this brow pencil.

And here's what I'm planning for dinner next week: baked gnocchi (!!), and mushroom burgers with coriander pesto because we've grown heaps of it. Also on my radar - a 30 minute pasta with all the charm of chicken parm.

P.S My sister's in a book that's coming out soon! Carla wrote a chapter of The Motherhood, which is edited by Jamila Rizvi, and about her experience of life as a new mum. If you're in Canberra, we're going to the launch (and would love to see you there).