Hello weekend

31 May 2019

This week I embraced all of the winter things, from rugging up and going on bracing walks, to making apple sauce (with cinnamon and brown sugar) to stir into porridge, and squeezing in plenty of couch time. I also blitzed through Educated, after finding a second hand copy for $3. It's such a riveting memoir and quite disturbing in parts.

I'm heading to sunny Brisbane for work next week but before then, we're planning to ride our bikes to a first birthday party (at a brewery!), and tuck into lots of homemade comfort food like curry, pasta soup and chocolate cake. To share:

Lots of TV because it's been cold. I'd heard a lot about Fleabag from friends, blogs and podcasts. I watched the first episode this week (on iView). Tony and I both really liked it and we'll keep watching :)

I've also been dipping into Dead to Me on Netflix after hearing about it on The High Low. It feels a little trashy but it's also addictive and fun.

I found another dream holiday destination. A cabin in the woods just outside of Melbourne with all of the nice things. Obsessed.

This week's work-lunch lifesaver was pesto made with leftover rocket via Lee Tran Lam. We put it on toast, in sambos, and mixed it through salads. Eggs would work too!

There are few things more comforting than a mac and cheese. I have a favourite recipe, but this Nigella version with sweet potato came highly recommended this week.

Finally, two pieces of wisdom that have greatly improved my week, both from Cup of Jo. Last weekend, when I was feeling a bit anxious about some upcoming travel (three trips in two weeks!), I read a comment quoting Gretchen Rubin. "She said, 'Have trouble deciding whether or not to choose a course of action? Like - whether or not to get a dog? Try this: Choose the bigger life.'" So powerful.

And this made me laugh at the end of a long day (which included a 12 hour long headache 😑): "In the words of Lemony Snicket, 'Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don't always like.' But sometimes you do like them." One of my colleagues is always coming up with detailed metaphors for things that happen in life and at work, so this made me laugh and think of her. The whole post, about life and all of its surprises is delightful.


Two interesting takes on #MeToo (from men)

27 May 2019

A couple of weekends ago, I tuned into two stories about the #MeToo movement that had me nodding yes. They were both stories about apologies, one real and one fictional, that get to the heart of what this moment could mean for men and women.

The first was part of a This American Life episode called Get a Spine! In it, there's a long clip of an apology, delivered on a podcast, which is detailed and awkward in parts. It's from a TV writer, who created the show Community, and addresses another TV writer, a younger woman who was his employee at the time. The episode includes an interview with the woman who accepted the apology but also takes a close look at exactly how it came about (with plenty of prompting), and the impact its had on her life.

Then later that night, when we needed a break from watching the election results come in, Tony put on an episode of Easy, a Netflix show that's loosely about sex, relationships and technology. It was an episode with Marc Maron, and Tony said it stood out as being one of the first times he'd seen #MeToo acknowledged and unpacked on screen. There were some serious parallels between the story from This American Life and it was equal parts cringeworthy and funny too. If you're curious, it's an episode from season three called Blank Pages.

Hello weekend

23 May 2019

Hello! We're getting ready for another long weekend here in Canberra and I am ready. It's been a bit of a crazy week 😜 To unwind I'll be making chocolate cookies, watching Beyonce's Homecoming, and making some french toast on Sunday which is forecast to be rainy. Thank you for being here - a couple of things to share:

How good does this bowl of udon with chicken and garlicky peanut sauce look?? Definitely going on my to-make list.

Loved this - what makes you come alive?

I also enjoyed Louis Theroux's Desert Island Discs interview, where he touches on how he got his start in TV and developed his approach to documentary making (via The High Low).

I used to work with Alex and when I heard that he was quitting his job to travel and write, I was surprised and a little envious! On Instagram it can look like plenty of crosswords, cups of tea, and playing in the snow but he shares what it's been like in the low points too.

Confession: I have never made a skillet brownie. But I do have very good memories of eating one (in a tiny skillet-for-one) as a kid at Tony Roma's ribs in the America! Love to make one for my next dinner party.

And a silky pasta and bean soup from Julia (Ostro). I loved this soup so much and am planning to make it again soon! Fun fact: It makes your house smell like rosemary.


Life lately

19 May 2019

We've been hanging art these last few weekends, which has made our apartment feel like home - just in time for winter. So far the cooler days have been exciting - an excuse to enjoy heartier dinners and hot cocoa. They've also been a good reminder to spend time outside when the sun is out. Election day was especially lovely, it was sunny and warm, and we took our time at the sausage sizzle and cake stalls, just taking it all in. It's been a lazy weekend and I wanted to share a couple of notes from the last month or so:

We didn't really hang much art in our last place, mainly because the walls were brick and difficult to screw into. Since then, the rules have changed for tenants in Canberra, and you can put up as many 3M sticky-hooks as you'd like without asking for permission. We're onto our fourth packet but we're also taking our time, hanging two or three pieces each week and just seeing how we go.

On our walls are some of Tony's paintings (the one above the sofa was a gift from my birthday last year), plus pieces we've bought or been gifted. The blue and white one is by Canberra artist Emma Beer. When my niece visited over Easter, she was excited to ride the lift and said that she'd been "to a hotel home" like this before. Adding art has definitely taken added colour to our place, and taken the anonymous edge off too!

It's also been cold enough for a few morning fogs, which can be surreal because our apartment in quite high, with a view of the mountains. When it's foggy, I wander out of bed to put the coffee on and it feels like our apartment is in the middle of a cloud.

Cooking and eating: 
I'm into fun soups at the moment, which is new for me! I tend to be more excited about pasta for dinner than soup, but then I made a soup with pasta and beans and changed my mind (recipe coming soon!). I'm planning try two new ones soon, a sunshine-y lemon soup and a black bean tortilla soup from Hetty McKinnon's latest cookbook. I've started doing my market shop on a Friday afternoon, after work. It's something I really look forward to, and the shops are pretty quiet. I take my time buying food for the week, which also means my entire weekend is errand free.

We've also been spending time with heaps of friends and family lately, which has helped me see that comfort food is made even better when enjoyed with comfort people :) We've shared everything from cheesy moussaka to hot chunks of freshly baked banana cake, silky quiches and doughnuts of late.

And nothing tells you that the seasons are changing quite like your favourite apple stand shutting for another year. Most weekends, I've been driving to a nearby orchard to buy freshly picked pink lady and granny smith apples. It's one of my favourite rituals of the week, and one I was excited to share with my parents when they were recently in town. The owners say they'll be back in early Feb, 2020. I may have bought 3.5 kilos of apples on their last weekend.

Maybe it's the season but I'm easing off on a few things and trying to slow down and enjoy myself where I can. I'm still doing a few yoga classes a week but have added some slower, stretchier ones in and am leaving more days between classes.

I am also three-quarters of the way through this planner. Tracking my goals, priorities, schedule and feelings over the last two months has helped me see that my best days are the one where I leave room for changes and surprises. On work days and weekends.

I have also been hugely inspired by my recent Ruth Reichl deep dive! I read three of her memoirs in a row - Garlic and Sapphires, Save Me The Plums, and My Kitchen Year. The last book was a cookbook she wrote, almost like a diary, as she processed losing her job and the team she'd built. She approaches food with such curiosity, gusto and intuition. I am making one of her pastas for dinner tonight.

Fun stuff:
I'm listening to four podcasts religiously at the moment. The Death, Sex & Money maternity leave line up is a knock out. I've linked to a couple of episodes before, but I really liked Somebody Needs Me with GQ editor Will Welch and musician Jason Isbell in conversation. There's something special about two people who know each other talking about some pretty deep stuff while being recorded. Also regularly tuning into two Gimlet podcasts, The Motherhood Sessions (don't be put off by its title!), and Without Fail. Plus, Unstyled is back after a little hiatus.

Finally, cos we've been around a lot more, we've been enjoying all of the warming food Canberra cafes have been offering. I am all about soba noodles, ramen and toasties right now.


Life lately posts inspired by Heidi.

Hello weekend

16 May 2019

We have zero plans this weekend, I don't even have a recipe to test. So, aside from casting our votes (at the school with the best fete!), we'll be seeing where the days take us. I'd love to go for an afternoon walk, start reading a new book (I just picked up a copy of Boy Swallows Universe from the library and have heard great things), and maybe go out for dumplings. For your weekend:

Zucchini pasta has been on my mind lately - I love this version from the River Cafe with creme fraiche and lemon but am also intrigued by this one too, which features zucchini and zucchini flowers.

Love this thoughtful response to the question - 'Can I love my baby AND my work?'

If you feel like baking, ABC Life has a white chocolate and raspberry muffin that's surprisingly light. I served these over Easter and they were as popular (if not more so) than my hot cross buns!

And this sounds delicious - an extra lemony bundt cake with buttermilk. You brush sugar and citrus syrup over the cake when it's fresh out of the oven, which reminds me of a orange cake my mum used to bake.

Can you research becoming a parent? (Or did you?)

15 May 2019

Confession: for the longest time (and especially after I turned 30), I've paid special attention to books, podcasts, blog posts... anything really that touched on what it's like being a parent - a mother in especially. I've read birth stories from blogs, was obsessed with a podcast where a couple tries to work it out for themselves, and consumed countless novels and non-fiction books on the topic.

Initially it was out of curiosity but as I edged into my early-to-mid thirties, part of my interest was genuine problem-solving. Could I do the work and discover whether or not I am meant to be a parent (or would like to see if it's a possibility)?

In 2018, I was especially focussed in my research, so much so that a co-worker with a similar approach gently suggested I take a break. I ignored her advice until I read this essay by Sloane Crosley called The Doctor Is a Woman last December. For a story about fertility in your thirties it's surprisingly funny. This line stood out: "... as a literate female, it's difficult to control the flow of stories debating the merits of motherhood..."

There was something about that particular essay that made me stop seeking out more material to consume. It also freed up a chunk of brain space that had been freaking out about making a call either way. While I still think about whether or not Tony and I will have kids (it's something we talk about often), it's no longer an anxiety or a problem that needs to be solved. At least for now.

The only thing on the topic of parenting (or not-parenting) I've tuned into recently is Motherhood Sessions, a podcast that I knew of but wasn't sure was for me until Erin described it as a show that explores the "psychological big-bang" of motherhood.

I've listened to two episodes so far and they remind me of Death, Sex & Money and Esther Perel's Where Should We Begin? combined. A reproductive psychiatrist hosts the show and sometimes I let my brain drift back into research-mode but most of the time they're just fascinating stories. This episode about rethinking your cultural identity and roots after motherhood is especially good.

Sunday morning

11 May 2019

Ever since the Easter long weekend, I've been rethinking Sundays. Now that it's cooler, it makes less sense to jump out of bed and head to yoga or do a market run. Instead I want to sleep in, drink cups of tea, and eat breakfast in my jammies.

The other night, I was having dinner with some workmates and the conversation turned to the weekend and what we typically get up to. I loved hearing about how different our days were, and especially loved learning about weekly family rituals.

As a kid, Sunday morning meant croissants. Sometimes they came from the freezer, out of Sara Lee cardboard boxes, the foil trays slipped into the oven to warm while my dad made orange juice. When we were a little older, they were bought freshly made, with one or two kids joining my dad for an excursion to a nearby bakery. They sold croissants the size of plates - more crab-like in shape than crescent. Going to a bakery meant other pastries and desserts were on offer. My littlest brother would almost always get an apricot or apple danish, and I'd go between individual custard tarts and apple pies dusted in sugar.

Right now, I'm settling into Sundays being the only day of the week without an alarm. It's been pretty easy :) We take turns making coffee and breakfast, but usually start the day lazing around with tea and books in bed. I'm keeping my plans for the day simple too, which means more time for sitting on the couch and zoning out.

Hello weekend

09 May 2019

The temperature has suddenly dropped in Canberra and I've been settling into some cold weather routines - making stock at night, and stopping for a hot cocoa and a chapter of my book on my way to work.

All week, my head has been buried in Ruth Reichl's memoir. It's prompted me to think quite deeply about food and recipes and the role they play in my life and at work, which has been exciting. To that end, I have only a handful of internet-y things to share:

Ruth related - if you're also a fan, her interview on the Salt and Spine podcast is lovely, whether you're reading her memoir or not.

I'm also planning to make her spicy sausage spaghetti sometime soon, it's dead easy and the nicest way to spend an afternoon.

Speaking of comfort food, I loved Heidi's take on cottage pie for ABC Life. The pomegranate molasses is a small but genius addition. I had the best time making the pie last Sunday night - even the process is comforting.

A sweet piece on loving the home you're in with all of its quirks.

Finally, have you ever had a Swedish apple pie? A friend served one the other night and said it was her go-to last minute dessert. Instead of making pastry, the apples cook under a quick dough that tastes just like pie crust. It tasted insane, and I can't wait to try it.

P.S Does your family celebrate Mother's Day? My parents are visiting from Sydney this weekend and I've gone with a simple seasonal gift of my favourite oats, some hand cream, and a bag of locally grown apples.


Hello weekend

03 May 2019

Happy May! Isn't it crazy to think we're in the last month of autumn? I'll be taking an early mark from work this afternoon and getting the food shop done, so I have fewer reasons to get out of bed in the mornings and more time to cook, potter and read over the weekend.

All week I've been looking forward to making zuppa inglese, which is like a trifle and a tiramisu combined (I bought my ingredients on Tuesday!). We'll be taking some over to a friend's place on Saturday night and cuddling their baby Summer. I'm also taking Tony out to dinner tonight! To share this week:

Christina Tosi has a mug cake recipe.

"It wasn't a sheet mask or a manicure or a bubble bath". How one woman found self care in a pair of discounted pyjama pants via Erin.

Sweet instructions for a really nice day. Nutella is involved.

Have you watched Street Food on Netflix? It's a new series from the creators of Chef's Table and it's been recommended to me a couple of times this week.

Planning to make Nigella's eggs in purgatory soon, for a quick mid-week meal.

Looking forward to digging into this NY Times special that has a lot of people talking: How to shop, cook and eat in a warming world.

And the ABC Life recipe for this week is a pumpkin soup with a kick. It comes from Hetty McKinnon, who has added Thai red curry spices and crunchy coconut cashews (which my friends ate by the handful when they tried the soup). I also loved editing Hetty's story about how she went from being a carnivorous kid to a vegetarian food writer.

Have a happy weekend.