Hello weekend

31 January 2019

What are you up to this weekend? We're going to try for a bike ride and taco date on Saturday night because Tony's on the early train to Sydney on Sunday. It's been a long time since I've been home alone (I'm usually the one that leaves!) but I'm planning to keep busy.  On my list of fun things to do - a yin yoga class, breakfast at the markets, mint choc chip ice cream, Free Solo and this yoghurt and onion pasta. Not sure if I can fit it all in around work but I'm going to give it a shot :) To share:

From the NY Times, how to build a modern pantry. Mine is somewhere between an expanded and expert pantry!

Loved this perspective on work from communications strategist Natalie Guevara: "The time spent in the office fretting about something fairly minuscule is better spent out in the world, meeting people, and having real-life conversations. There were so many nights I wasted obsessing over every email left in my inbox, or drafting and redrafting a press release. I could have been meeting with journalists, business contacts, mentors, or people doing things I want to learn more about."

Been eating this lemony porridge with peanut butter for breakfast all week.

I am super late to the party but I started listening to Sooo Many White Guys this week and the theme song alone was enough to crack me up. My fave was this episode with Constance Wu, who played Rachel in the Crazy Rich Asians film. Phoebe's interview with NPR host Terry Gross touches on so many interesting aspects of building a career and making a choice about having a family. I also loved the small acts of revolution at the end.

Speaking of Crazy Rich Asians, here's a look at how the costumes were chosen. Fascinating to know that the actors often had a big say.

Finally, it'll be Chinese New Year's Eve on Monday. I'm contemplating making steamed buns for the occasion, either traditional barbecue pork or carrot buns that looks a smidge easier. I also love the tradition of long life noodles (they used to be my favourite dish at wedding banquets), and Hetty McKinnon has a recipe for mushroom and sesame noodles that happen to be vegan.

Have a lovely weekend!

Life lately - summertime

28 January 2019

We've having a lazy long weekend at home and with the summer holidays almost behind us, it feels like the year is about to truly begin. I'm a tiny bit nervous about adjusting to full-time work again but I'm also feeling relaxed and ready. Here's a little look at the last few months, which has been filled with cold food, good books and a few short trips...

We had two much-needed road trips in January, after spending much of the Christmas and New Years break at home. First we headed to Sydney, to celebrate my grandmother's birthday with a family yum cha. Because we hadn't been away for awhile, I splurged on a night at the Paramount House Hotel in Surry Hills. It was beautiful and wonderfully cool - a nice change from the hot nights we'd been struggling with at home.

We spent Saturday checking out some exhibitions, Nick Cave's Until installation at Carriageworks and an exhibition of David Goldblatt's photography at the MCA. Both were excellent, and I feel lucky to have seen them.

At night, we stuck close to the hotel to make the most of our stay. My friend Angie gave me a voucher for the Golden Age cinema, a retro theatre within the hotel complex. We saw The Big Lebowski (my first time!) and it was really fun to watch it in a crowd. In one scene, the girl sitting next to me accidentally shouted 'Ow!' when The Dude gets punched :) Each ticket also came with popcorn with special sriracha and lime salt. I'm normally more of a choc-top gal but am now a popcorn convert.

Before we left the next morning, we joined a yin class at the rooftop recreation club, which is my favourite spot to do yoga in Sydney. It looks like something straight out of a movie set, and always gets me out of my head. Then we were on our way to a family yum cha, where we squeezed 17 onto a table (!) and my dad took charge of the ordering.

I went back to work for a couple of weeks, which was easy because we had a beach trip coming up. This year we stayed in an Airbnb in Narrawalle, which is the next beach along from Mollymook and close enough to our favourite places in Ulladulla and Milton. We lucked out with the weather - it was warm and sunny every day except the morning we were heading home, when it started to rain.

Our holiday routine was especially lovely - a swim in the morning, breakfast at our apartment and then a trip to Maverick's Roastery for coffee and books. We'd often share a lunch out before it was time to swim again, and make something easy for dinner.

This time round we discovered the Bogey Hole in Mollymook, a tidal pool that's enclosed by rocks. And we kept up a new tradition, booking a dinner at St Isadore on our final night where we shared grilled octopus, charred cos lettuce and a warm chocolate tart.

The trip was so relaxing. A day in, I'd stopped worrying about all of the little things that come with travel - whether I'd packed everything, if the accommodation was going to be better or worse than the pictures, all the things I had to finish up at work before we went - and just relaxed. Also, this time last year I was holidaying and squeezing in some job interview prep, because I had one scheduled a few days after we returned. It made me appreciate just how much can shift in a year.

Eating and cooking:
A couple of things on repeat and most of it pretty simple, especially when it's too hot to cook. After yoga, I've been craving icy green or coffee smoothies and eating my weight in with avocado toast. On really hot nights, I've been making salads like this lentil, feta and pesto salad or this rainbow one with edamame, mango, red cabbage and peanut dressing. If I'm organised, I'll make a gravlax in preparation of a heatwave (we've had so many this summer, and Feb is still to come!), so we can just slice it and eat it with salad and bread.

About once every week or so we pack up a meal and eat it outside, somewhere shady and pretty. The other night, we were having salad and beers by the lake and witnessed a proposal. It was so exhilarating! First we saw a friend setting up tea lights in a heart shape by the lawn, and then the couple wandering by, the guy semi-casually pointing out something on the grass, before getting down on one knee.

Speaking of beer - I have finally found a drink that I like. My Sydney girlfriends put me onto sour beers, which don't feel too beer-y or too sweet either. My favourite is a raspberry one from Wayward Brewery - they have a passionfruit and yuzu variety out for summer too. I also really like Wildflower's Amber Ale and only wish they sold it in smaller bottles.

Sometimes, it feels like we're exclusively eating ABC Life food, which can seem a little nerdy but I really enjoy it. Aside from testing one or two recipes each week, a couple have become part of our regular rotation. I've made Hetty McKinnon's mango and haloumi tacos at least three times now, because they taste so summery and are super quick to assemble.

I discovered that you can freeze cakes with cream in them, which is how we enjoyed this lamington loaf for weeks on end. And soon I'll be able to share the recipe for a slow roasted tomato linguini from Heidi, which I can't wait to make and eat again. It's easy enough to make as a weeknight dinner (if you roast the tomatoes over the weekend) but also fancy enough to serve on a special occasion. I can see us enjoying this dish for years to come.

My favourite thing to watch is still Girl Meets Farm, Molly Yeh's cooking show. Season 2 is still airing in the US, so one pops up every week on YouTube and I grin at the TV like a lunatic when it's on. I've learnt a lot from watching it - mainly cooking techniques that are hard to explain in text - like how to shape balls of dough properly or how to fold a dumpling.

For laughs, we're watching Conan Without Borders on Netflix. I hadn't watched any Conan O'Brien up until this point but really love this series, especially the Seoul and Italy episodes. And we've seen heaps of movies, in part because our apartment doesn't have air con but also because my uncle gave me a voucher for Christmas. Our favourites have been The Favourite and Roma (on Netflix). Neither of us liked Vice (so preachy) and we were split down the middle with Mary Queen of Scots (Tony really liked it, I found it a little slow but adore Saoirse).

I am still easing my way into podcasts for the year, and many are still on break. I am really enjoying Death, Sex & Money's new series Our Sex (Mis)Education. And my friend Sarah recommended this delightful episode of Dolly Alderton's podcast Love Stories, which features actor Stanley Tucci. Finally, this has been my fave song of the season.

Two super funny books that both happen to be about finding your feet as a twenty-something in New York, and bad break ups. I read Emily Gould's And The Heart Says Whatever on holidays and loved it - it came recommended by Jess. And I'm midway through Abbi Jacobson's I Might Regret This, just as the final season of Broad City is being released. It's also excellent.

Over summer, I edited a column about being single and owning it, which I really enjoyed. Even though I'm married, I'll often fret about large chunks of time spent alone and what I should fill them with (travelling for work has helped with this), and could relate to feeling extremely anxious about being single in my twenties, energy I wish I'd spent elsewhere.

Online, I've been rediscovering Leslie's columns for Cupcakes and Cashmere (her weekly link lists are my fave). She reminded me of this lovely series from The New York Times - Sunday Routine.

Summer things like yoga shorts because my studio has just started an advanced class, and I'm keen to challenge myself once a week. I had my first class today and was quietly very nervous about it but the teacher was kind and the vibe was fast-paced rather than competitive. Plus I didn't end up in emergency child's pose at any point :)

I also bought a few tops from the Bassike sale, because I realised in the middle of a heatwave that I only owned one singlet top.

Grateful for a super relaxing summer, with lots of catch ups with friends, my whole family visiting for Christmas, plenty of ice cream, and lots of time spent with Tony. I've finally started to listen to him when we go to the beach, and no longer get pummelled by waves.

I am also thrilled anytime the weather cools down for a few days - cool nights are the very best and it means I can turn the oven on again. It's a breezy 30 degrees today, so I'm making bagels and more slow roasted tomato pasta sauce.

And I'm feeling good about the work year that's ahead. I had the chance to fill in as editor over the summer break and really enjoyed myself. It gave me so much confidence in myself and my abilities (ordinarily I excel at second-guessing myself), not to mention the knowledge that I could do it! Seems like a good place to start the new year.

Thank you as always for reading. X

Life lately post inspired by Heidi and Pip.

Hello weekend

25 January 2019

We've just come back from a trip to the south coast, which was so refreshing. We stayed a few minutes walk from the beach (and a short drive from several others, including a tidal pool surrounded by rocks!), and spent our days swimming in the ocean, reading, drawing and eating. I am a Pure Pop convert (the chocolate malt milkshake one tastes just like Milo), and will have to hunt them down in Canberra. I'll share more photos soon, in the meantime:

Beautiful 'Change The Date' posters by LukeJohnMatthewArnold, available to download and share for free.

Famous chefs (hello Ottolenghi and Anna Jones) and their recipe testers.

We watched The Wife last weekend on iTunes and really enjoyed it. It's an adaption of a Meg Wolitzer book of the same name and we were chatting about it for days afterwards. So many great films with strong female leads lately, and I am loving it.

Expert wine recommendations from my friend Beck, just in time for the long weekend. I always need help choosing a delicious wine, it can be mind boggling.

How good does this crunch salad with peanut butter dressing look?

A couple gets married by the beach and the whole wedding ends up in in the water with them <3

A next level lamington cake, with jam and cream and raspberries. Here's how mine panned out.

And we've been listening to the Life Kit podcast from NPR, starting with the short series about eating well and followed by the series on saving and investment. It's so interesting to listen to the series as a couple - it also made us feel like we were doing some things right.


Getting ahead with holiday plans

24 January 2019

I'm excited to start the year with a couple of holidays already in my diary. In between Christmas and New Year, we booked flights to Hong Kong for late March, when Art Basel is on. We haven't been overseas since our 2014 honeymoon, so we're both extra excited.

I've also organised to stay at this beautiful eco hut in Gundagai for my birthday - I'm turning 35 after all (!). I reckon it'll be extra cosy in winter, plus we'll be able to visit Jugiong on our way home, which was a favourite pit stop from our Wagga days.

It's still early days but I'd love to book in a few smaller things for September and December, like trips to the coast or even to Tasmania (how dreamy is this cottage? I'm also obsessed with Pumphouse Point and their communal meals), so there's always a trip to look forward to. And my friend Ebony stayed in a super cute beach house over the Christmas break, and we're planning to follow suit :)

Hello weekend

18 January 2019

This latest heatwave has had been reaching into the archives for my favourite summer recipes, like this refreshing green smoothie, a slightly caffeinated blueberry and green tea smoothie, and easy banana fro-yo (with double the amount of yoghurt for extra creaminess).I hope you have a lovely weekend ahead! It's starting to cool down here, and soon we'll be packing for our annual beach holiday - I don't head back to work til after the Australia Day long weekend :)

For your weekend:

Cute and funny - Samin Nosrat tries to invent a viral chicken recipe. (NY Times)

"This is a season of your life."

The case for trading sorry for thank you. I'd like to try it.

Loved this take on hitting reset for yourself, and yourself alone at the start of the year.

And a satisfying summer salad (with cheese) that requires zero heat. Pictured above.


Begin again

15 January 2019

I made a mental list of all the things I love doing in the final days of 2018. There was nothing too fancy, just things like picnics, yoga classes, weekends away, watching movies at the cinema, going to the farmers market, and meals out with good friends. I figured by making a list, I'd have something to fall back on during the year whenever things start to feel a little crazy.

There are a couple of things I'm being mindful of in this early part of 2019. One is rushing around a whole lot less, because I can get addicted to getting things done. And now that I'm back at work, I've been making an effort to eat my lunch and really enjoy it, without the distraction of my phone. It was weird at first (lots of staring out the break room window!) but I'm slowly getting used to it and am feeling physically better for it. I'd love to know if you're trying anything new at the start of this year, if you'd like to share :)

My yoga teacher has a lovely take on thinking about the future. Rather than setting big goals, like getting a new job, she instead thinks about how she might like to feel in a few months or a year's time, and who she might like to be then. I'm keen to give it a try.

Hello weekend

11 January 2019

Do you have much planned for the second weekend of 2019? After last Saturday's quick trip to Sydney, I'm looking forward to doing regular weekend things nice and slow. I'll be heading back to the markets, slow roasting some tomatoes for a pasta sauce, and maybe baking a giant lamington :)

The start of my year has been quieter than usual, quite deliberately. I've just started to listen to podcasts again but am trying not to have something on constantly. Same goes with lunch breaks, I'm experimenting with eating and nothing more - no reading blog posts (my fave!) or scrolling through Instagram. It's been really nice and contemplative.

To share:

I loved Alison Roman's How to Eat in 2019 for her real-life take on having people round for dinner.

10 ingredients to always have on hand.

We powered through this podcast series about Bikram yoga (and the man behind it) on our way to Sydney and back. It reminded me of Missing Richard Simmons in part (which I loved) and went to some unexpected places. Highly recommend.

One of my favourite ABC Life recipes to date, mango and haloumi tacos = summer in a taco. I'll be making this again and again until the mangoes are no more. Side note: I usually prefer flour tortillas (they're so soft and chewy) but this brand of corn tortillas are changing my mind.

And we saw The Favourite at the movies and loved it - it's almost as kooky as the trailer. So tonight we're going to watch The Lobster from the same director on Netflix :)

Catch you next week!

Favourite books 2018

08 January 2019

Did you read anything great in 2018? I read a mix of new (and hyped) novels, memoirs, graphic novels and essays, and managed to finish more than 40 titles (I didn't have a goal but totally counted!). My favourite place to read is in a cafe, because I'm less distracted by my phone and... all the things I could be making in my kitchen.

Cafe reading usually happens about once a month, often when I'm travelling for work and getting breakfast out on my own, or if it's a really great book, I'll ride to work extra early and stop for a coffee midway and squeeze in a chapter or two. It's one of my favourite things to do on holidays, with Tony usually excited to sit and draw. But most days, I read right before bed :)

I shared my faves from the first half of the year but wanted to make an updated list of my overall highlights. With books, my biggest win for 2018 was relying heavily on the library for most of my books, including new release cookbooks. I reserve lots of titles, as early as I can, which means something new is waiting for me most fortnights.


If you're looking for something entertaining that's also heartfelt, I really enjoyed Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It was one of the funniest books I read last year that was scarily relatable in parts. I also loved Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

When it comes to epics that take you into other cultures, families and relationships, I'd recommend An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I've also just finished If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim, which reminds me of Pachinko in some ways and Grave of the Fireflies too.

The Female Persuasion was my first Meg Wolitzer book, and will definitely read more. I could totally relate to the main character's understanding of feminism changing and evolving - especially as she enters different life stages.


My all-time favourite non-fiction book was Alone Time: Four seasons, four cities and the pleasures of solitude by Stephanie Rosenbloom, a travel writer for The New York Times. Each chapter focuses on a topic, like the art of savouring food or how we often feel the need to capture solo experiences with our phones. The writing moves effortlessly between Stephanie's experiences as a traveller and academic studies and theories. I liked it so much I bought a copy after retuning a borrowed one to the library.

I read a lot of Obama related books this year! To Obama, With Love, Joy, Hate and Despair by Jeanne Marie Laskas tracked the two terms of the Obama presidency through the thousands of letters sent to his office, and interviews with the staff who organised and read them (as well an interview with Obama himself).

We Were Eight Years in Power was a denser and more difficult read but it broadened my understanding of African American history as well as contemporary US politics. There's an essay in it about Michelle Obama that touched on what it's like to grow up in a neighbourhood surrounded by your own kind, which helped me understand what I only encountered racism later in my life. I also read his earlier book Between The World and Me, that's written as a letter to his son. It's excellent and if you're picking between the two, I'd recommend reading it first.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders helped solidify my approach to spending money, and buying things more consciously if at all. It was also a revealing book, and wasn't just about minimalism as an ideal.

And in the lead up to Christmas, I listened to Leigh Sales read her latest book Any Ordinary Day. I am very easily spooked by tragic accidents and terrorist attacks, and could relate to how being in a newsroom can make you hyperaware of all these things and more. Each interview in the book seemed intimate, happening at her house of the individuals, so it was extra special to listen to this as an audio book.


I love love loved Dolly Alderton's Everything I Know About Love because it's very much a book about finding out who you are (often the hard way), the beauty that comes with close friendships and the comfort that can come with being alone.

I listened to Becoming by Michelle Obama, because she reads the audio book. I may have written this here before but I found her book so affirming, and looked forward to listening to it after work and on weekends. I am trying to hunt down a copy of the book so I can look at the pictures :)

I also enjoyed two NYC-themed books, Sloane Crosley's Look Alive Out There, which is actually a book of very funny and surprising essays. Also Mari Andrew's Am I There Yet? was the perfect book to read in a transitional year, and before starting a new job.

Let me know if there's anything great that I missed!

Summertime feast with gravlax and sorbet

04 January 2019

After roasting a chicken on Christmas Eve, baking a ham on Christmas morning and then a pavlova roll on Boxing Day, I came to my senses and decided to leave the oven alone. For New Year's Eve, the entire meal was made without heat, which was just as well because we'd had a run of days over 35 degrees and no air conditioning at home.

I bought myself a copy of Alison Roman's Dining In for Christmas and made her gravlax using some whiskey leftover from the Christmas ham and dill leftover from a salad. My mother-in-law Wendy makes the most delicious gravlax as a Curran Christmas tradition, and I was nervous making my own, because I hardly ever cook fish and have never cured anything in my life.

We had a back up NYE plan to go out for tacos but ended up eating the delicious salmon with sparkling rose, fresh bread and butter, and a simple salad with an addictive dressing I discovered on Christmas Eve.

For dessert, there were retro sorbet cups served in grapefruit halves, which were super refreshing, and some fancy chocolate my brother brought all the way from London. I bought the best sorbet I could find (blackcurrant and fig), and am still working on my sorbet swirling techniques.

It was such a special but easy summer dinner where everything's made in advance, and just ready to be served. I'd make again for friends, or just a Saturday night :)

Hope you've had a wonderful start to the year - still can't believe it's 2019.