Plans for the week...

27 February 2018

Some weeks are full of small but exciting plans. Here's what's on my list for the week:

Watching Ugly Delicious on Netflix. It stars Momofuku chef David Chang, plus Alan Yang (of Master of None) is behind it. I hear it's clever and political.

Having my first hot cross bun of the season (going here!).

Making a roast chicken on the weekend. I'm trying a recipe from this book.

Listening to the latest episode of Layers.

Putting a few presents in the post :)

Picking up a fresh stack of library reserves - nerdy but always satisfying.

And possibly making a single lady pancake for a solo breakfast at home.

Hope your week is going well!

Holiday snaps

26 February 2018

It's a cold and wet Monday here in Canberra. So I thought I'd share some photos from our mid summer holiday on the south coast. Late last month we drove to Mollymook and spent just short of a week going to the beach, exploring the nearby towns and chilling out. It was such a relaxing and happy trip. Here are a few highlights :)

I was a tiny bit nervous about taking a surfing lesson but I really loved it! The lessons were my Christmas gift to Tony, and we took a class together at Mollymook beach. I've never been super confident in the surf but going out with an instructor on our second day really helped me feel braver in the ocean and have more fun. Contacts also helped :)

Tony had a private class on our last day, so I watched with a cinnamon scroll and coffee before going for a one last swim ahead of the drive home.

We stayed in this new Airbnb, which came with freshly picked cherry tomatoes, homemade marmalade and a welcome plate of chocolates and grapes. It was such a cosy base, especially on the  rainy days where we lay around watching movies, cooking and playing chess. One day I'd love to stay in this retro house with friends.

One of our favourite things about being based in Mollymook was being close to Ulladulla and Milton. We had a handy list of must-visit places from our friends Sarah and Mark. They pointed us in the direction of Maverick's for coffee, and we were there most days.

On our final night, we treated ourselves to dinner at St Isadore in Milton. This pork katsu cutlet was delicious! There was a summer crumble for dessert, which I'd love to replicate at home before stone fruit season is over.

We're hoping to plan a few trips this year and have a tiny cabin stay booked for May. For now, I have a few extra freckles to remind me of this year's summer holiday :)

P.S Does anyone else make a to do list on holidays?? I make a similar one for weekends. 

Hello weekend!

23 February 2018

Just three things to share this week because I've had my head stuck in this book! It's made me stay up late and late for yoga - I am sneaking chapters whenever I can :) I hope you have a fun weekend ahead. We're excited to have a few interstate visitors. We'll be going out for pizza, drinks and ice cream on Saturday night and packing a birthday picnic for Sunday. To share:

I finally watched the Obama episode of David Letterman's new Netflix show. It's a great companion piece to the Making Obama podcast, and I especially loved its focus on civil rights leader John Lewis. For balance, I've reserved this from the library.

Excellent career advice from Greta Gerwig.

And a tiny magical home in the forest (in the shape of tinned ham!).

Catch you next week!

An end of summer pie + a third birthday

18 February 2018

Sometime in January, I became obsessed with making a peach pie. I planned to bake one for a weekend away with friends who were visiting from Iceland. I bookmarked this recipe but time got away and I didn't want to rush it.

This Sunday, with summer coming to a close, I made my pie. It's a white peach pie and we ate it a la mode on a 35 degree day. It might become a summer tradition.

I also wanted to say that somewhere along the way, this blog turned three! So much has changed since I started writing it from my dining table in Wagga Wagga.

I now have five nieces and nephews, live in Canberra, and have gone from driving around regional New South Wales for work to flying to different capital cities. I've tried a gazillion different recipes and shared a handful of favourites here, and become even more of a podcast nerd (I listened to this while pie-making).

Thank you for joining me here. I can't wait to share more interviews, musings, podcast recommendations and recipes this year.


Hello weekend!

16 February 2018

Happy Chinese New Year! I hope this new lunar year brings you many good things and only challenges you can handle. This week I've been playing a couple of movie soundtracks non-stop (this one and this one), and getting lots of things ticked off at work. It feels good. Our weekend plans are simple - a market shop, some yoga, seeing friends for drinks and trying out a few new recipes. Hope you have a lovely weekend! To share:

I'm getting back into Reply All, courtesy of this episode.

Settling into my first big novel of 2018, and it's a good one.

This is such a cool house. The interview is very sweet too.

My friend Sarah alerted me to the fact that Alone: A Love Story will have a second season! Listen to the preview here.

I've been cooking from Heidi's blog, Apples Under My Bed, for the last little while. The recipes are unfussy and reliable. This week we tried the tuna, lemon and chilli spaghetti and loved it. I was a little under the weather when I made it but it came together quickly and perked me right up.

And I've just discovered this fun online fashion series - Style Out There. Each episode explores a fashion subculture in a different country. The second season is being released now, here's my favourite episode from season one - Korea's matchy-matchy couple outfits.

My favourite things to do in Canberra

13 February 2018

A few times a year, I'll get a text from a friend asking for Canberra recommendations ahead of a weekend visit. When Lou, a reader from the UK, sent me a message about her upcoming visit, it made me think of sharing some of my favourite places with you too.

So, here's my mini guide to Canberra. I've narrowed it down to the places Tony and I visit lots. They're the places we take friends and family when they're here to see us. It includes a heart-pounding hike, a hidden art installation, plus where to sample a cheeseburger-inspired spring roll:

Breakfast, brunch and coffee

Go for coffee at Barrio, a tiny cafe in Braddon that always has good vibes and hearty food. On a cold winter day, their ham hock toastie and a hot cocoa makes everything okay. They've just started opening at night on weekends for drinks and snacks, and it's worth keeping an eye on for their casual dinner events too.

We often take friends and family (or just ourselves) to Local Press on the Kingston Foreshore. It's right by the lake and has plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. Head here if you have a busy day ahead, the meals are delicious and filling.

Then there's a series of diner-style cafes run by the ONA coffee house. Their newest one is Highroad in Dickson. The fit out is beautiful and Tony's always looking for an excuse to go. We'll often share a souped-up shake and some halloumi bites.  ONA On The Lawns in Manuka is especially good if you're brunching with kids. There's a little grassy area out the front that's great for dog-spotting and running around. My favourite book store, Paperchain, is nearby. There's also The Cupping Room near the New Acton precinct.

Or if stocking up on local supplies is more of your thing, visit the Ainslie IGA and pick up Bombolini doughnuts, The Muesli Bar's honey toasted granola, and some Three Mills bread. Recommending a supermarket might seem strange, but this one has a cult following (and an insane cheese wall too).

Dinner and drinks

If we're going out for dinner, Lazy Su is always our top choice. I love the music, the playful atmosphere, and we always order the Wagu cheesesteak spring rolls :) You only need two people to get the banquet, which serves up their greatest hits - they also have a vegan banquet.

We tend to skip dessert so we can head to the nearby Frugii for the best gelato and ice cream in town. My Dad always visits multiple times when he's in Canberra and they'll always have a seasonal flavour like Hot Cross Bun and Anzac Biscuit.

If my parents are in town and we want to take them somewhere special, we go to XO in Narrabundah. It's contemporary Asian food, and as an Chinese Australian, eating there is always an emotional experience. The food always reminds me of dishes I grew up eating. If you go - listen out for the medley of TV theme songs they play in the bathrooms, and order the soft serve for dessert.

There's also Pulp Kitchen in Ainslie, which has a cosy neighbourhood vibe while still being a bit fancy. We went for our most recent wedding anniversary and love its sister restaurant, eightysix. Sometimes we go after the movies just for the banoffee pie.

There are plenty of quick and filling options too - Locale in Deakin is our favourite pizza joint. We order the Locale, which has hot salami, blue cheese and mascarpone. Grease Monkey in Braddon serves up Mary's style burgers. Bistro Nguyen in the city is our favourite place for Vietnamese (order the pork belly stew!), and we also love Thai Chiang Rai and Sammy's Kitchen in Kingston.

For drinks, Bar Rochford is refined and cosy - they have a fire in winter and the food is really good. If you're into craft beer, Capital Brewing is a relaxed place to spend a sunny afternoon. They also have a Brodburger van - Canberrans love Brodburger for unfussy burgers and hotdogs. And while we haven't been, the Pop Inn wine bar always looks pretty no matter where it's set up.

Places to visit

The city is surrounded by mountains, and climbing them can be a really nice way to start or end a day. The Mount Ainslie walk is probably the most popular, and it gives you a beautiful view of the city. The track starts off gently but you should save your energy for the stairs near the summit. The return trip takes about an hour or a little longer if you keep stopping to take photos :)

Out of all of the museums and galleries, the National Gallery of Australia is my pick. There's usually a blockbuster exhibition and a range of free shows. If the weather is nice, it's lovely to walk through the sculpture garden. I especially love the fog work. Just outside the entrance is one of James Turrell's sky spaces. You can visit it at any time but it's best viewed at sunrise and sunset, when a special light show plays. The optimum viewing times are posted here every day.

Other things we love, Here yoga studio in Downer, Palace Electric cinema in New Acton (get a hand-dipped choc top and head to Monster Kitchen & Bar  afterwards for a snack), riding around Lake Burley Griffin, and Tony's busting to try Go Boat.

Fun things for kids

Questacon is really popular with toddlers and young children - our friends buy an annual family pass. For smaller folk, we've spent some time at the Yarralumla Play Station in Weston Park. There's a mini train and an adventure playground.

The most impressive playground is at the National Arboretum. They've built giant acorns that sit on top of ladders of varying heights, which kids can climb into. Across town, Manuka pool has a sweet wading pool, and then there are free play spaces for kids at the big institutions like old Parliament house and the national gallery.


While you're in town, Her Canberra and Visit Canberra are great for getting a sense of what's happening that week. I also love Megan Sparke's Instagram account, especially when I'm looking for somewhere new to eat.

The city has plenty of festivals too. Enlighten is my favourite because there's a night noodle market and it reminds of when we first moved to Canberra :)  We also have a food truck festival and a hot air balloon festival.


Weekend links

09 February 2018

What's on for you this weekend? After a zany week, I only have fun things planned. We'll see Ladybird (finally!), and I really want to catch the Songlines exhibition before it closes. I've also started making small plans for Valentine's Day because I love any kind of celebration. We'll probably do something cheesy, like make a pizza in the shape of a heart and share a tub of my favourite chocolate mousse. To share:

This book is brightening my mornings and nights.

Tiramisu in a jar.

Worth copying - a super sweet birthday surprise

It was a good week to listen to the Kris Jenner interview on Never Before With Janet Mock. I love Janet as a host, she always manages to get something fresh :)

I'm also tuning into the Seeing White series from the Scene on Radio podcast. It's a 14-part look at whiteness in American society. It sounds heavy but it's conversational and real, so don't be afraid.

The first episode of Making Obama was great!

And I loved this interview with Beci Orpin about her family. I've long admired her work and her family's creative life.

Aunt life: A little bag of fun

08 February 2018

Did you read The Baby-sitters Club as a teen? I collected the junior version and then got stuck into my sister's collection when I was in high school. I loved that each babysitter had her own 'kid kit', which was filled with fun items and activities to keep her charges busy.

Over the holidays, I made a similar kit to entertain small visitors but mainly with my niece and nephew in mind. I figure they'll be coming over a lot more now that we live in the same city, and I plan to take it with me when I go over to babysit.

I bought one small item for each of the kids - Frozen-themed snap cards for my niece (who says she likes to 'win, win, win!'), and a Thomas the Tank Engine board book for my nephew that's about kindness and being yourself. I've also added a few things from around the house, like some animal babushka dolls (they're especially popular), Shaun Tan's beautiful book Tales from Outer Suburbia, some stickers... and some bubble wrap!

It's a big improvement from what we used to offer kids to play with (a tennis ball!) and I hope it'll be a novelty for the kids in our life. Plus, it fits neatly on a bookshelf where little hands can reach it :)

Weekend links

02 February 2018

Hello from February! Did you see the blue moon this week? It's meant to be especially good for making plans. We've just come back from a week in Mollymook. It was so relaxing and fun, and great for the soul. We had fish and chips, went for long walks, and I stood up on a surfboard! I'll share a few more photos soon, in the meantime:

I'm very interested in double coconut muffins with mango.

This song on repeat (how did I miss it?!).

I sent my sister these thought-provoking words on about parenting and creative work.

Breakfast burritos for two.

All week, I've been listening to the Opportunity Costs series from the Death, Sex and Money podcast. I've loved tuning into very personal conversations about money and class and how they impact our experience of life.

Anna Sale's companion essay about learning to share money again after a divorce was excellent too. I was the anxious money person when Tony and I moved in together.

A dinner suggestion via Sophie - chicken meatballs with zucchini spaghetti.

I read Lucy Knisley's graphic novel An Age of License during the week and then found her on Instagram. I love her illustrations of everyday life. This week she captured a whole day as part of the annual Hourly Comic project. It starts at 5am.

And we might keep the holiday vibe going over the weekend - a friend recommended this movie and we have vouchers from Christmas :)

Have a lovely weekend x