A new favourite podcast

29 October 2018

What kinds of podcasts are you enjoying at the moment? Lately I've been really into interview shows, especially the kinds that perk me up, no matter what time of day I'm listening. For the last two weeks, my go-to podcast has been Unstyled by Refinery 29.

It's hosted by Christine Barberich, who is a wonderful, clever and empathetic interviewer. She chats to a super diverse range of women about their working lives, covering everything from career trajectories to daily routines. I first tuned in after hearing about an interview with Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life. Since then I've been cherry picking episodes, including this one with Jenna Lyons of J. Crew fame, an interview with Laura Brown, the Australian editor of US In Style magazine, and a chat with Busy Phillips ahead of the launch of her late night talk show.

I only recognise a handful of guests but have since learnt that that doesn't matter. The conversations are heartfelt and wide ranging, and magically I always feel more positive about my day after listening.

Unstyled isn't a new podcast (it's been going since late 2016) but it's new to me, which means there's a decent back catalogue of episodes to work through. Here's hoping I don't burn through them too quickly :)

P.S Another interview show I've been loving (along with Tony) is Without Fail. While I don't have any hard and fast career goals, I'm fascinated by how people build their careers and all of the little choices (and set backs) that happen along the way.

Hello weekend

26 October 2018

I'm spending a good chunk of my week in Sydney from Tuesday, which means... no meal prep is required this weekend! Instead, we might go see Beautiful Boy or A Star is Born at the movies. We also have my parents and brother visiting from Sydney, and we're going out to eat cake. Here are some things to share:

The salad dressing from this Cup of Jo post is truly great.

Also via Jo, I thoroughly enjoyed Chrissy Teigen's most recent Vogue interview. "I think it’s funny when people are like, 'I love how you just don’t give a fuck.' I’m like, 'Oh my God. I give so many fucks.' I want to be liked."

I stumbled across the Ask Mimi series on The Sporkful earlier this week, just when I needed a good laugh. It features 92-year-old (!!!) Mimi Shearton, who was the first female food critic for The New York Times. She answers audience questions about food and life with brutal honesty. There are two more episodes to come.

Mini confession - I go to bed really early, and the exact time I start getting ready for bed is said to be ideal. (For context, my alarm goes off at 5.40am).

Are you watching Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix? We only have one episode to go! Love this idea that the series is the antidote to viral cooking videos.

And this week's ABC Life recipe is a fave - cheesy mushroom quesadillas that make dinner extra fun. I tested the recipe right after watching the Mexican episode of Salt Fat Acid Heat, which meant I attempted all of the homemade salsas. They add about half an hour to the dish, and make it a bit more finicky, but taste-wise, it was totally worth it.

Thanks always for reading :)

A mini office pantry

21 October 2018

During the week I eat the bulk of my meals at work, usually breakfast and lunch with a million snacks in between. Years ago, when I worked shifts in a digital newsroom, I found this fact super depressing. But these days, I don't mind it.

Because I head straight to the office from yoga four days a week, I shower and eat my breakfast there before getting into the day. I look forward to flicking through blogs in the morning while I eat my breakfast, it's a tiny pocket of me time before things really kick off.

But lately I've found myself cramming all sorts of condiments, spreads and snacks into tiny containers at night ready for the next day. Or taking a jar of peanut butter to work and then lugging it back home on the bus. It made me realise that if I had a few nicer-than-average staples at work, packing lunch would be a bit easier, and my work days more delicious too.

Just in case working makes you hungry too, here's what's currently in my office pantry (which is actually just a plastic tray that sits on a bookshelf):

Fancy peanut butter - for morning toast, and emergency snacks spread on crackers on bananas.

Nice tea - I drink English Breakfast mid morning and then switch to tumeric for the afternoon.

Honey - to drizzle on top of porridge or add to tea if I have a scratchy throat.

A salt & pepper grinder - to replace the ziplock bag of sea salt and pepper that I've had in a drawer!

Chilli flakes - for avocado toast, and to spice up leftovers when I have them.

Muesli - for backup breakfasts or an afternoon snack with yoghurt or milk.

A jar of cookies - every now and then, for morale :)

And two other things... I bought myself a bowl and brought a nice plate from home that I keep with my food stuff because crockery (along with cutlery) in general is almost impossible to find in an office kitchen. Plus, food is more delicious when it's not straight out of a container :)

P.S - We're having lentils with roasted tomatoes and horseradish for lunches this week, Swedish apple cake from Lunch Lady magazine for snacks, along with fruit and yoghurt.

Hello weekend

19 October 2018

We're in for a rainy weekend, which is perfect because I'm going to attempt my very first Christmas cake. I've been meaning to make one for years but always seem to think of it too late. The only other thing we have planned is a mini road trip to meet some friends for brunch, which should be lovely. Only a few things to share after yesterday's epic post:

Bookmarked so many mushroom recipes this week, including this creamy pasta with miso and a classic cream of mushroom soup.

Loved taking a peek inside this calm and bright apartment.

Made this lemony curry again from Anna Jones and loved it - it's ten times easier if you buy the paneer.

There was something about this interview with Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso that struck a chord. I haven't watched or read #GirlBoss but she's really candid when talking about her company's failure, and how it impacted her outlook on life and values.

And I'm part way through listening to this chat with Hanya Yanagihara, author of A Little Life, as recommended by The High Low. Also cued up, this interview with Keira Knightley.

Thank you for reading, catch you next week!


Life lately

18 October 2018

Hello! How are you finding spring? Aside from daylight savings (still adjusting!), these last few weeks have been my favourite of the year so far. We had a quick trip to the mountains, lots of friends and family come to visit, and all of my favourite shows have returned to Netflix. Here are a few notes...

Eating & cooking:
So many new eateries have popped up in Canberra, and we've been making the rounds. My favourite is Taco Taco, a night-time spin off of one of our favourite cafes in town. They serve tacos and burgers but my pick is the bowl with braised meat, pickles, salsa and chips. Next weekend I'm going to try and recreate it at home, with this slow-cooked brisket.

For breakfast and brunch, I've been digging Kyo Coffee Project in Braddon that serves Asian-inspired food and really good coffee. One day we went for filter coffee, and the barista ground it by hand :) I am fascinated by cafes with tiny kitchens that can punch out seriously delicious meals!

And for a recent surprise date, Tony took me to a Canberra establishment, My Rainbow Dreams. It's a vegetarian cafe that we've been meaning to try for months. I ordered the baked beans because I've been wanting to try this recipe for a long time but haven't been able to find the time (it takes 12 hours!).

Despite all of the above, we've been eating the bulk of our meals at home and packing breakfasts and lunches for work. The desserts have been the highlights, an apricot jam tart made late one night to share with a friend, and these insane salted caramel brownies that I tested for work. They are so good that I feel like I could sell them! It was also my first time making caramel - I stuffed it up the first time (took it off the heat too early cos I was nervous) but tried and again and now feel like this will be my brownie recipe for life.

Lots of delicious filter coffee. I bought Tony a Mecca coffee subscription for our wedding anniversary (figured it kind of fit the fruit and flower theme) and it's been super fun! It's been about a year since I bought our coffee machine (we have a Moccamaster) - it seemed like a big purchase at the time but we've both been really enjoying it. We're not home for coffee much so it feels like a luxury to make a pot on weekends.

Like things are under control for the first time in a long time, which is such a relief! I have a bit of a routine at the moment - we go to morning yoga classes about five days a week which is such a nice way to start the day and physically wake up. Tony and I have been buying 6 month subscriptions to our yoga studio which means you can go to unlimited classes. Three classes in a row used to be my max (and I'd be so sore!) so it's been satisfying to build up strength and make it an almost daily practise.

Thanks to these pro tips, I've worked out that Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings are my food prep days, which has given me more headspace and time after work. Speaking of work, I'm still using the To Doist app to keep me focused (along with an online calendar)... and leaving on time. There were a couple of months there where I'd stay an extra 30-40 minutes just to get one extra thing done. It wasn't enough time to finish a task, and I noticed that it kept work on the brain in the evenings, which made switching off hard.

I've also been super protective of my sleep (which I've read is extra important in your thirties!), and we try and get 7-8 hours a night, especially if we're getting up early for yoga. And I've started taking vitamins, mainly echinacea and olive leaf extract for immunity. I think it's been working because I've felt more resilient these last few weeks and I only caught one cold over winter. Last year I was sick at least four times, and once really badly.

Time away, even if it's just an overnight trip. We drove the back way from Canberra to the Blue Mountains the other weekend, through Taralga and Oberon. It was scenic and beautiful - and looked almost English in some parts.

We went to Tony's cousin's wedding, in Wentworth Falls, which was such a beautiful spot. I'm much more sentimental about weddings, since we had one, and I especially loved learning more about the bride and her family. It was an intimate wedding, and a really nice way to catch up with Tony's family.

Before we drove home, we stopped in Blackheath to visit one of my favourite book shops. And for the road there was coffee from Anonymous, and fancy sambos and a homemade wagon wheel from the deli next door.

We also went over to my sister's house at the start of the month for my niece's fifth birthday cake! I love kid's birthday cakes (this one was chocolate cake covered in freckles and Smarties), and my niece seems to enjoy her birthday more and more every year. It's a delight to observe.

All of my favourite shows are back on Netflix! We're making our way through the lastest season of Chef's Table. I feel like the show has always been about finding your voice but this season feels far more political than previous ones. It's no longer about finding your creative voice, or vision as a chef, but understanding your place in the world and wanting to make the world better.

We've also started watching the fourth part of Terrace House: Opening New Doors. It can really perk me up, even when I feel exhausted. I'm keen to try Samin Norsat's Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix (so exciting to see cookbooks turn into shows!), and Sorry For Your Loss.

Three different books at the moment. I just picked up Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends form the library (been on the wait list for at least six months!), this book about finding joy in everyday life, and just before bed an interview from this book of Parisian women. I also finished and loved The Incendiaries and The Terrible last month, which are both by women of colour.

To a handful of podcasts every week - Dispatch to a Friend, Without Fail, The High Low, and mini episodes of How I Work. This episode of Soul Music, about Sam Cooke's song A Change is Gonna Come gave me goosebumps... and somehow sent me down a rabbit hole of watching YouTube vids of Obama's inauguration party.

To make mac and cheese for dinner tonight! It's perfect weather, it's cool and grey, almost like the seasons are going backwards. We've also been slowly replacing things in our house that were handed down to us that've seen better days. We had an iron and ironing board from Tony's grandparents (!) that we just upgraded and are thinking about buying our very first couch. We've had one from my parents, and one set from Tony's. It feels really nice to be able to buy these things for ourselves, and have a stronger sense of what we'd like (a chaise part of the lounge for afternoon reading please!).

We're also starting to think about Christmas and summer plans. I'm not sure whether we'll be in Canberra again or go to see family in Blackheath and Sydney. But I have started thinking about presents, just a little, which is always fun.

Hope you are well!

Monthly recap posts inspired by Melbourne ladies Heidi and Pip.

Hello weekend

12 October 2018

Remember my weekend bucket lists? This time round I'd love to visit my favourite doughnut shop in town, test out a dream couch at Ikea, bake some cinnamon scrolls for two new parents, and maybe make some almond butter cups for home :) What about you? I hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend ahead - I have so much sleep to catch up on from daylight savings! To share:

When you think you're reading an interiors story but it turns into something life affirming.

Missing out on purpose (MOOP!) via Sophie.

This episode of Nancy, The Perfect Son, had me sucking in my breath so many times. Highly recommend.

"My goal is to yell at someone the next time I'm hurt." Yep.

Super helpful - four ways to wrap up your day at work. My fave? Don't forget to say thanks!

Two of the most important stories I've read in a very long time, on being suicidal and helping someone through it from Honor Eastly and Graham Panther.

And for fellow fans of one-pot pastas - an asparagus, lemon and tuna number that is done and dusted in 15 minutes flat.

See you next week!


Dinner plans

07 October 2018

What's on the menu at your place this week? We've just come back from a weekend away, so we're keeping it simple. I'm making taco bowls for dinner tonight, we'll see a friend for pizza and gelato on Tuesday (yay!), grab some bolognese from the freezer midweek which will see us through to Friday when it's Tony's turn to cook.

For lunches, I'm four weeks into roasting veggies for a work lunches on a Sunday. We used to take turns making sandwiches on weeknights but I find veggie bowls heaps easier to pack and less fussy too. Plus, Sunday afternoon is a nice time to potter around and listen to podcasts while making some food.

This week we'll have honeyed carrots, miso eggplant, and spiced zucchini with quinoa with some spinach leaves and maybe a boiled egg :) There will also be bircher muesli for the mornings we're going straight to work from yoga.

I've also been a super dag and made a weekly shopping list template in my phone that I copy and paste into my notes every week. It's got the basics, so I just need to add any special ingredients we need for the week ahead.

Last but not least - pasta. Here are two pastas I'd love to eat soon - this super satisfying creamy tortellini and a mac and cheese that my friend May rates from Molly Yeh. I also thought I'd share the recipe for a massive bolognese I made recently. My brother sent me Giorgio Locatelli's cookbook Made in Italy for my birthday, specifically so I could try the bolognese recipe. I made it last weekend and it's really good and makes bolognese for days (or 16!).

Have a good week, whatever your plans!

Hello weekend

05 October 2018

We're going away this weekend and are heading to the Blue Mountains for Tony's cousin's wedding. I'm excited to get away and am secretly hoping to do our weekly shop at this cute farm store. I hope you've had a great short week, some good and slightly confronting things to share:

Did you see the profile of Leigh Sales in Good Weekend? I found it super surprising and hear her interview on Conversations is excellent too.

I learnt so much from editing this story - the benefits of quitting social media.

This week I've been deeply disturbed by the Brett Kavanaugh story in the US and hungry for more information. The video of Jeff Flake being confronted by two sexual assault survivors in a lift is so powerful and upsetting. I was grateful to hear the testimony of Dr Blasey Ford on The Daily, and the follow-up episode The Anguish of Jeff Flake features an interview with one of the women who confronted the senator. Highly recommend, even if both are tough listens.

I also really liked this from Laura - How to talk to the women in your life right now.

I sampled Alex Blumberg's new podcast Without Fail (thank you to Chiara who suggested it in the comments) and think I'll keep listening. It's an interview show that features successful people - in business, sport, and the arts - talking about their big wins and their failures too. Love that the season will include artists as well as company founders.

On a totally different note, pad thai fans (aka me) this noodle salad is heavily inspired by it but far less heavy and greasy. It's vego with vegan options too and I'll definitely be making it again. It's satisfying and light.

And the perfect diary for 2019 - if only I could settle on a colour! Wes Anderson mauve or sunny yellow?

Keep well and catch you next week.


Easy spring picnics

03 October 2018

On Sunday afternoon, we grabbed some brie, kombucha and hummus from the grocer near our apartment and headed outside for a late snacky lunch. We went to our favourite spot, a shady area by the lake that played host to Christmas last year, and it was one of those moments that was just really nice. It reminded me that picnics can be just as fun without a homemade pasta salad or a specially made batch of brownies.

The very next day, we woke up early and drove to a national park because we'd been invited to do a yoga class by a waterfall and who says no to that? The class ended up being on top of the waterfall, rather than below it as I was expecting, which was nothing short of terrifying. But we survived and were rewarded with breakfast :)

The hosts served yoghurt, fruit salad, nuts, muesli, muffins and tea and I was grateful to be tucking into my first mango of the season. We chatted and ate on top of a rock that overlooked some mountains, with cool breezes and the sound of the waterfall trickling below us. It was pinch-me great.

And because I have a weakness for chocolate coated fruit and nuts, I was stoked to try the chocolate that was part of the breakfast spread.  Choc chai almonds are my new obsession, from the serve-yourself-nut section of Coles. I am so looking forward to more spur of the moment picnics this season.