Hello weekend

31 August 2018

I made one really good call this week. Midway through the week I left work on time, instead of trying to finish a million last minute things. Home alone, I put on a funny soundtrack and made spaghetti and a salad for dinner. It sounds small but I was super chilled out by the time Tony got home. This week I've been listening to Caliphate (truly amazing journalism) and finished reading Less. I'll miss it! For your weekend:

How to make a kitchen altar.

A winning pear tart from Hetty McKinnon's new cookbook.

On managing the tricky balance between work and who we really are.

Adore this series on single women and their spaces. Every now and then I daydream about what my apartment would look like if I could choose all of the things.

Plus some recipes I worked on for ABC Life recently - the pink grapefruit drizzle cake from this post (note the instructions for getting a bundt cake out, inspired by my mishap), and a grilled cheese sandwich with jalapeno cream.

P.S - Here's an update on how I went with my daily vacations this week. On Monday I started a new podcast, on Tuesday I went for a lunch break walk with a friend. Wednesday featured lunch and a hot chocolate from my favourite cafe. I planned to walk through town and buy a gift on Thursday but lucked out with a lift home instead. So I went with some extra nice face stuff at night (mainly birthday exfoliant and fancy face oil). And today's vacation was homemade burgers, beer and my very first  attempt at barbecuing! We lost one patty but it was worth it.

Daily vacations

26 August 2018

The weekend felt both exciting and long. There were pockets for reading, a surprisingly thrilling carousel ride with my sister and four-year-old niece (the Canberra merry-go-round goes fast), time for coffee and pastries out with Tony, plus a trip to the Canberra Writers' Festival to see Bridie Jabour. It was a happy weekend and I didn't get the Sunday blues, at any point in the day.

It could be because on Saturday I stumbled across a lovely idea in Stephanie Rosenbloom's book Alone Time. It comes from two researchers, Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff, and it's called the Daily Vacation.

'Here's how it works: 

Each day for a week, plan and take a daily vacation by doing something you enjoy for twenty minutes or more. The vacation can be something as simple as going for a walk around your neighbourhood, or thumbing through a book or gardening. Aim to be in the moment, and "to see things as if for the last time."'

I'd love to try it this week! I could read my book (just started this, and already loving it), walk into the city after work as the sun goes down, take a bath with the last of my winter candle, listen to a new podcast, bake a salted caramel slice.

More ideas on how to spend your daily vacation, and savour happy moments, right this way.

Hello weekend

24 August 2018

Hope you had a great week, though how zany has the news been? We just spent the last hour catching up and I almost forgot to write to you here, for the first time ever. But onto the weekend. I have some really fun things planned, including a girl date with my sister and her daughter. On the agenda: an afternoon carousel ride and then cake and tea at this super cute cafe. And on Sunday, I'm going to the Canberra Writers Festival, which should be really fun. Things to share:

So keen to try Rachel Khoo's Swedish meatballs.

Do you ever worry about being overdressed? I always stress about what to wear when I go to Sydney for work.

Enjoyed this episode of Radio Cherry Bombe featuring UK cooks Anna Jones and Melissa Hemsley.

Loved this snapshot of a gear shift and feel like it can apply to so many situations where our expectations can change for the better. Also, we are now having pizza for dinner as a result.

A recent lunchtime read, on rebranding motherhood. Mamas, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I probably recommend every other episode of How To Be A Girl but this one is especially moving, and builds empathy so beautifully.

One reason I'm super excited to see Crazy Rich Asians when it comes out in cinemas next week. I've also read and loved all three books. My friend Kristy put me onto them years ago. The first one is hilarious as an audio book, and I read the most recent one on the plane home from Darwin last year. I must've been super engrossed because when we landed the  woman sitting next to me wanted to know what it was all about.

And this week I've been loving Alone Time, by New York Times travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom. Over a year, she travels for a week at a time overseas and by herself. She writes about her time in Paris, Florence and Istanbul with a bonus staycation in New York. It's part travel writing, part exploration of how our perception of life and moments change when we're on our own.

Cosy things for the very end of winter

23 August 2018

The end of winter is often the iciest. It's been freezing and grey these last few weeks, so I'm leaning into the cosy. Most of the time that means being easy on myself and making plans to roast a chicken/make brisket ragu/eat more porridge. Here are a few late winter essentials to get us through the next few weeks.

First up, this tiny candle that my friend Irini gave to me. It has a subtle wintry scent of oakmoss, amber and sage that also masks the smell of anything I've burnt in the oven recently :)

On a cold Saturday night, we put on a DVD and heated up some cinnamon scrolls. I found Listen Up Phillip at the library and it reminded me of a few favourite movies from Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig, Wes Anderson and Woody Allen.  I completely missed this when it came out in 2014. The soundtrack is lovely too. 

For when it's way to cold to leave the house to go shopping, I recommend Julia Busuttil's winter tomato sauce. I usually have the ingredients on hand, and while it simmers, Tony's been making spaghetti from scratch (!!!). We often take turns making dinner, and it's been super nice to make it together instead. 

Finally, I'd love to try these Nutella thumbprint cookies because turning on the oven heats up our little apartment. Plus, I can 100% vouch for these chai choc chip cookies from Thalia Ho. I tested the recipe for ABC Life and they make the house smell faintly of gingerbread as they baked. And they're really delicious.

Hello weekend

16 August 2018

What are your plans for the weekend? On Saturday we're having lunch with our friends and their twin babies by the lake. I'm hoping for some winter sun and a cuddle with each twin :) Other than that, I'll be chilling at home, with some new books and other lovely things that were given to me for my birthday. It should be really nice! To share:

How good (and quick) does this salmon sandwich look?

This mini-episode of Forever 35 is helpful and funny.

Surviving maternity leave - a list of essentials that could be easily adapted for busy weeks and challenging times.

Malted chocolate cake. Seriously contemplating a post-birthday cake.

Five novels to read. I've reserved three titles from the library.

What new parents actually want. Nappies came up way more than I expected.

How to make Tartine's jam slice.

And I loved this (and promptly sent it to one of my besties): When your sense of self includes your best friend.

See you next week! X

Coconut scrambled eggs with avocado and chilli sauce

15 August 2018

This is my favourite at-home breakfast. It's inspired by a beautiful French bakery on our street that serves poached eggs on toast with a generous amount of chilli jam. There's something about hot eggs, toast and coffee that makes me very happy.

For ease (or because I'm lazy), I make scrambled eggs. They're less fussy than poached and more festive than a boiled egg. Using coconut oil, instead of butter or olive oil, also gives the eggs a lovely subtle flavour.

To keep everything hot, I put on a pot of coffee, pop my bread in the toaster and get my avocado and condiments ready before I start on the eggs. It's extra luxurious if you can find a really nice loaf of bread, like the kinds served in cafes.

Coconut scrambled eggs with avocado and chilli sauce

Serves 2 (or one if you're extremely hungry)

You'll need:

1/2 to 1 tsp of coconut oil
4 eggs
A dash of milk or water
Salt and pepper
1 avocado
2 extra large slices of bread (or four regular slices)
Chilli sauce (our favourite, chilli jam would be lovely too)

Here's how:

I like to get everything ready before I start cracking the eggs, so get your bread in the toaster, and have a chopping board ready with the avocado and chilli sauce.

Then, crack the eggs into a medium sized bowl, add a dash of milk or water and whisk lightly.

Heat the coconut oil in a fry pan over medium-high heat. Now's a good time to put your toast on. When the oil is melted, pour in your eggs, and give them a moment to set slightly before you start stirring them gently with a small whisk.

Continue to stir until they're scrambled but not completely cooked. Turn off the heat and season with salt and pepper.

Call in some help to spread the avocado over your toast if you have it. When the toast is ready, gently scrape the eggs onto the toast, and top with chilli sauce. We normally have one slice with avocado and eggs, the other with butter and jam.

Enjoy with hot coffee or tea, and some fruit to finish.

P.S - Tony's favourite eggs on toast - a folded omelette with cheese.

Hello weekend

10 August 2018

I am counting down the days til my birthday :) In preparation, we're going to... IKEA to stock up on bowls for a pasta party (somehow we're down to two in the house). I want to try the Swedish cinnamon buns while we're there, my friend who has excellent taste in coffee and cafes rates them. And my sister's making me a chocolate ripple cake for my family celebration, which should be really fun. Good things to share:

One of my heroes, Miranda July, on making art.

Beyonce in her own words.

Related: How to spend your privilege via Jocelyn.

Listening to lots of Emily King this week.

South-Sudanese Australians on police, politics and the media.

Salad win: trade croutons for grilled cheese squares.

And I thought I'd share some of my favourite stories from my new gig at ABC Life, because it launched this week:

My week without plastic.

A beginner's guide to meditation.

Finally, The Baker and the Beast podcast, which follows a family after the mum is diagnosed with motor neurone disease. I had very little knowledge about MND, and watching this video of Cath gave the audio series an extra dimension. It sounds heavy, but I got so much out of listening to the story of this family.

See you next week (I'll be 34!).


Life lately

08 August 2018

Today I wanted to write a slightly longer post to catch you up on a few things I haven't shared here yet. Mainly, I started a new job in April and have told you almost nothing about it! And it's a bit of a dream gig. So, inspired by Heidi and Pip, here's a little update about my new job and while we're at it, everything in between:

Right now, a cup of filter coffee that Tony made and some mineral water.  Lately, I've been trying to get as much sleep as possible, so I've been having coffee first thing, a milky tea mid-morning (my parents brought these fancy tea bags back from London for me - I'm obsessed!), and switching to peppermint after lunch.

I'm also thinking of drinking even less alcohol than I already do. My allergic reactions have been so unpredictable and uncomfortable, and I'm starting to understand that my body probably wasn't made to drink it at all. Still, I am okay with half a glass of plum or red wine sipped with food, over several hours!

Eating & Cooking: 
Most weekends (and some weeknights), I'm testing recipes for my new job. I'm excited to share some of them with you, there are more to come. The new lifestyle website I've been working on, ABC Life, launched on Monday. At the moment, I'm in a deputy editor role, and part of it includes commissioning recipes. It's pretty dreamy.

For winter, there's baked fish with spiced potato wedges (the wedges are the best!), and a brown rice congee with kale that's super warming and nourishing (and great to eat after a big weekend of cake). I've been eating a lot of ABC Life leftovers on my lunch break and also getting back into bircher muesli for breakfasts, and making lots of quick pasta dinners on weeknights.

To a lot more music lately, especially during the week. The Carters and this Kanye album have been on high rotation, and I listen to a playlist my yoga teacher made when I need to focus at work or zone out at the end of the day. It sounds counterintuitive but it works!

I'm listening to a handful of podcasts regularly, mainly The High Low (which has just gone on break), ZigZag and Ladies, We Need To Talk. I've also been sampling Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness (almost cried in the Tan episode!), and Forever 35. And I'm keen to try Caliphate when I have a little extra brain space.

I finished An American Marriage on the weekend. All I can say is oof, what a rollercoaster of a read. I loved it, for touching on relationships, time, and race. It's one of the best books I've read this year.

The bulk of my books have been coming from the library but I did cave at Kinokuniya when I was in Sydney last. I picked up Convenience Store Woman from the 'If you like Murakami' stand, partly for its sunny yellow cover and also because I'm a sucker. It's a quick read that's super quirky and a little dark - so it totally fits the Murakami bill!

The latest season of Terrace House, which came out on Netflix a few days ago. It's my happy place, and I've cried out of happiness and sadness during the first few episodes. So. much. is. happening.

I've also been watching some moving Australian documentaries. I bought Tender on DVD, having first seen it four or so years ago. It's about a community group in Port Kembla that wants to set up a not-for-profit funeral service, who find themselves caring for one of their own after he receives a cancer diagnosis. It's a story of community, family, opportunities and regrets and I highly recommend it (you can watch it on iTunes too). Namatjira Project was on iView recently and I'm so glad I caught it. BIGhART do some amazing work.

A trip to the coast for our fourth wedding anniversary. I've been busting to book another holiday in ever since we came back from our cabin stay in the Kangaroo Valley. But we've been waiting to see what hours Tony is teaching this semester, and whether we could make it a long weekend. He's just started back and scored all morning classes on the Friday, yippee!

And for this weekend... a little dinner to celebrate my birthday. It'll be a pasta party, and we might make the pasta ourselves. I'm going to make my own birthday cake again - I think this is the one (although I always associate birthday cakes with plenty of icing!).

The To-doist app on my phone and desktop, especially for staying on top of work. It's taken me a few weeks to get the most out of it - I used to set too many tasks for each day and then get bummed if I couldn't tick them all off. Now it helps me set my priorities for the day and stick to them, leaving enough wiggle room for the unexpected.

I've also been using the Momentum dashboard, mainly to set an intention or positive reminder for the day. Some days it's a reminder to take breaks, which sounds silly but has been really helpful. Other days I write out how I'd like to feel during the day. The dashboard pops up every time I open a new tab, so it's a nice reminder that keeps me in check.

Some new make up to replenish my stash, and my favourite - presents. We've had a first birthday and a 30th recently, and I've already found my Father's Day gift for next month. I also have my eye on this oversized denim jacket but am waiting to try it on, and I'm actively avoiding the new MUJI store in Canberra, at least for now :)

Breakfasts at home, because they only happen a couple days each week. During the week I go straight to work after yoga and have breakfast at the office. So a slow breakfast at home feels extra luxurious. I'm going to share the recipe for my favourite breakfast soon! And mornings above zero -  because it means I can ride my bike to work.

This year has feel like an adventure in parts but right now, I'm feeling good. I've been doing heaps of yoga, and it's helped keep me grounded and on top of my thoughts. It's shown me that I can be physically stronger than I realise too.

That said, I've had my fair share of tired and emotional days too. The other day I came home from work overtired, because I'd forgotten to take a break. Tony was making fresh pasta (inspired the Leo episode of Queer Eye) but it was taking awhile - AND I ALMOST CRIED. Luckily, Tony has a lot of experience with my hanger (he's developed a 1-10 scale to help me communicate how urgent/dangerous things get). And the homemade spaghetti was worth the wait.

I'm also feeling... a little bit grateful. I've been wanting to work in the lifestyle space for ages, and am so excited to be able to do it from Canberra and be part of a team that built something from the ground up. Plus the website is now out there for everyone to see.

This week I've learnt about actively celebrating other people's successes. A handful of colleagues have walked round to my part of the building to say congrats on the launch of the site and see how we're going. It's meant a lot, and I'm making a mental note to return the favour whenever I get the chance.

Thank you for reading! I hope you're doing well this August.

P.S Top photo snapped by my friend Sarah, as we packed up a winter picnic.

Hello weekend

03 August 2018

Hello! I hope you had a nice week. Mine's been a bit more frantic than usual because the project that I've been working on for the last little while launches next week, and I can't wait to share! In the meantime, I'm excited for a few days off to help me catch my breath. Tiny things to share:

A polka dot house! Via Swiss Miss.

Truffle cheese that doesn't cost a bomb.

My brain on a busy day.

This Swedish cookbook looks lovely (and I'm first on the list to borrow it from the library!).

Coolest wedding outfit ever.

On Monday night, Tony made a white chocolate and banana cheesecake and it saved the week.

And two short podcast episodes that I loved this week - How To Be A Girl never fails to warm my heart, and the Hot Dates episodes of Death, Sex & Money are really fun.

P.S After I post this, I'm starting another offline weekend. Catch you on the other side!

Zoning out with...

01 August 2018

What do you do when you're in the mood for a major distraction?

I've been escaping with my favourite adventure blog, The Importance of Elsewhere. It's written by Kasey Koopman, who is currently hiking and posting updates from the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), which crosses US five states and runs between Mexico and Canada (!!).

I love her musings from solo hiking - there are lots of life lessons among her descriptions of trekking through snow, climbing through fallen tree trunks... and keeping an eye out for bears. Plus, the photos are out of this world. If you're curious, I recommend going back to day 1 of her current hike.

While I've never been on a long walk (or slept in a tent!), reading Kasey's daily updates somehow makes me feel a tiny bit more adventurous and capable. It also takes me out of my day-to-day, and gives me a little perspective, especially when work gets busy.

And if you're curious about how she hikes and maintains a blog... I asked her about it a couple of years ago when she started posting her blog from the Pacific Crest Trail, made famous by the book Wild.

P.S - An easy stress buster and night rituals for big days.