Hello weekend

28 June 2019

I hope you've had a good week. Mine went by in a flash, with yoga classes, work, lots of yummy things to eat (baked risotto, creamy soups!), tiny pockets for reading and voice memos exchanged with my brother. This weekend, I'll be roasting a chicken, testing a couple of recipes (making another bread and butter pudding, because every now and then I burn something) and hopefully watching a movie too. Some things to share:

Friends, family and workmates have recommended The Recording Studio and I finally watched an episode on Monday night. It's such a lovely concept and comes with all of the emotions that you get from watching Queer Eye.

Also entrancing (in a very different way) watching a pastry chef try and make a Twix from scratch. A Twix was bought and consumed in the days afterwards.

On my to-make list, this shell pasta bake with cauliflower, ricotta and spinach.

Two movies on my to-watch list, If Beale Street Could Talk. I missed this at the movies and it's based on a James Baldwin book and directed by Barry Jenkins (of Moonlight). Also Free Solo.

The High Low podcast has been especially great lately, and I loved this snap of hosts Pandora and Dolly recording their first episode.

Finally, a creamy one-pot pasta from Julia Ostro that is lemony and comforting, and super quick to make.

Have a lovely weekend!


Good habits

24 June 2019

When things get busy, most of my good habits start to slide. This happened recently and I found myself I dropping yoga classes in favour of sleep, forgetting to make plans with friends, and getting lazy with meal prep too. Suddenly, I was in the middle of a flat spell and wondering why. Thankfully a trip to Sydney and time with friends snapped me right out of it, and now I'm keen to make sure these five things are part of most weeks:

A good book and time to read

Reading gets my off my phone and out of my head too. Recently I read Educated by Tara Westover (it barely lasted a day!), Heartburn by Nora Ephron (wanted to love it more and was bothered by a coupled of lines), and then something super funny, Calypso by David Sedaris. Currently on reserve at the library, The Farm by Joanne Ramos, Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. I'd also love to read Sloane Crosley's first book of essays, I Was Told There'd Be Cake.

Good-for-me meals and snacks

When I'm not feeling my greatest, I'm often not eating well either. Sometimes it comes from travelling and eating out non-stop. When that happens, I try to make an extra effort to eat well. The cheat's version is a green smoothie, and then returning to good-for-me staples like oats, leafy greens, roasted veggies, avocado on toast, soups and veggie-filled dinners.

Weekend and after-work plans

I used to crave downtime at home, but lately nothing makes me cheerier than catch ups with friends. My introverted-self is shocked 🙈Lately we've been going to friend's places for mid-week dinners, heading to more art openings, and I've been making an effort to book things ahead of time. Next month we have tickets to see the Adam Goodes doco The Final Quarter, as well a reservation for a cheese, potato salad and sorbet night (!).

Exercise and remembering to go outside

I've just gone back to morning yoga classes and have discovered that it's just the first 15 minutes of the day that are hard - in between the alarm going off and making it out the door. And someone recently joked that the first 15 minutes of any day are hard, no matter what time you get up. And something I can easily forget to do in winter... is to go outside. But lately I've been taking breaks to go for walks, or walking instead of driving whenever I can. The air is super fresh and our new neighbourhood is especially lovely for exploring.


Hello weekend

20 June 2019

Hello! What do you have planned for this weekend? I'm looking forward to lots of little things, like going for a mountain walk with friends, making a bread and butter pudding (with brioche and chocolate ), and visiting a ramen pop-up on Sunday night. I'm also starting the weekend a day early, to make up for some big weeks at work. So excited! Lots of things to share this week:

Times I think people are upset with me. Made me lol.

A gorgeous rental home in Portugal with a flower-filled garden and a tiny fridge. Bonus: reflections on life after an overseas move.

Why Hong Kong is still protesting - an excellent and fascinating explainer from The Daily.

Looks yum and easy - spaghetti with garlic, cheese and lots of kale.

And for after dinner, miniature chocolate pots that take five-minutes to make.

Loved Esther Perel's interview on Conversations. But really, I love anything she says/does.

We watched Juilet, Naked the other night and loved it as a Sunday night flick. It's based on a Nick Hornby book (think High Fidelity, About a Boy) and we watched it with Chinese takeaway and  Messina choc tops. It was so relaxing.

I've been getting back into granola for post-yoga breakfasts at work and can recommend this honey spice version and a comforting old favourite, peanut butter and honey granola.

A creamy sweet potato curry that I turn too when I've had too much pasta. It has lots of good-for-you ingredients, like spinach, chickpeas, ginger and garlic and I love the addition of lime. And at Heidi's recommendation, I've been eating it with noodles instead of rice. Game changer.

Also, Thalia Ho's dark chocolate crinkle cookies are chewy and brownie-like. And the recipe makes 30-plus cookies. Win.

Catch you next week.


Life lately

15 June 2019

This last fortnight has been filled with work trips, weekends away and time with friends. Much cake has been consumed and there's also been little pockets of downtime for peppermint tea and reading blogs before work. The busyness and travel helped me shake some early winter blues (phew!) and I'm feeling inspired and energised again. Here's a little recap...

Sydney long weekend:
Towards the end of 2014, when I was still living in Wagga Wagga, I moved in with my friend Angie and her partner Dave for four months, so I could backfill a job at RN in Sydney. I have the best memories of that time and knew I'd definitely want to be back in town for their engagement party. They're the best at celebrating other people, travelling to Wagga Wagga for my first birthday in a new place and returning for Tony's PhD exhibition, and I couldn't wait to return the favour.

We drove to Sydney on the Queen's Birthday long weekend for their engagement lunch, timing our trip so we could stop off for cake along the way in Collector. There was so much eating ahead! The party was a late lunch featuring big share plates of roast lamb, baked salmon and plenty of hot chips. My friend Irini also organised a giant ricotta cake for dessert.

Later that night we went round to Angie and Dave's place for a cosy track pants hang (the best). She served a herby pumpkin soup, warm baguettes, gooey cheeses, and smoked olives. We went home with a tub of the special olives and the soup recipe was sent via Whatsapp the next day. I can't wait to recreate the whole meal at home soon.

Perfect Sydney Sunday: 
We had a lazy Sunday filled with all of the good things - yum cha with Tony's family, a trip to the Art Gallery of NSW (I loved seeing Sally M. Nangala Mulda's work in The National), a browse at my favourite bookstore Kinokuniya, and then a fancyish dinner in Newtown.

I was about to buy a magazine from Kinokuniya out of habit, when I made a last minute decision to switch things up. It's how I ended up taking Ella Risbridger's book Midnight Chicken home. It could be the most delightful cookbook I've encountered in some time. I love Ella's writing style - her instructions are friendly and personal. The book is also very much about the meals she lives for that've helped her through overwhelming times. I cannot recommend it enough as a book to read that also makes you want to cook.

Trips for work:
This past fortnight has also been a busy one for work travel. I flew to Brisbane for a shoot that took us to a beautiful pier. One of the locations was conveniently a cafe, which meant we could stop for our lunch break and enjoy a little seafood.

Then it was back to Sydney for some training. The days were big, so I kept my nights pretty simple. It was all comfort activities - like an after work yin class, a donburi at a tiny Japanese restaurant, tea and TV in bed. For Christmas, my parents gave me a KOI dessert bar voucher (bless!), which happens to be right by the Sydney office. So one night there may have also been fancy cake in bed. And a favourite new tradition - on my last night I had dinner with two of my besties. We shared oysters, squid, ramen bolognese and ice cream sandwiches, and it was heart and tummy filling.

Home again: 
Coming home has been really nice. No mental reminders of where I need to be at a particular time, just my favourite things like yoga, market runs, toast and coffee :) I stocked up on specialty coffee and hot chocolate in Sydney, and am feeling ready for the next few weeks. Next up - a super low key movie date at home, with Messina choc tops and a comedy we missed at the cinema.

Hope you've been well and are keeping warm!


Hello long weekend

06 June 2019

This week I ended up taking a day trip to Brisbane. It was a big day but there was also seafood, sunshine and filming right by the sea. I also got to record some audio after a year-long break (I'm mainly office based these days!). We're off to Sydney this long weekend for an engagement party and to catch up with family too. It's been awhile since we've been on a holiday, and there are plans for yum cha and gallery hopping. I'm so looking forward to hanging out with friends and am also hoping we'll make it to a favourite cafe for breakfast.  I hope your weekend is lovely, whatever you're up to. Here are a few things to share:

Esther Perel on Death, Sex and Money reflecting on her twenties, thirties and the beauty of intergenerational friendships. This podcast episode lifted my week. Fun fact: The guest interviewer is the actress who played Maeby in Arrested Development!

A wintry lunch for friends (with soup and an upside down cake for dessert!).

I watched Ali Wong's Netflix movie Always Be My Maybe last weekend. It blows my mind that there are American-Asian romantic comedies these days!

Loved this essay on finding happiness, written by an almost 90 year old. A favourite quote included in the piece, from philosopher George Santayana, "To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring." Via Erin.

I also enjoyed this interview with blogger Erin Boyle, of Reading My Tea Leaves, on the Hey, Girl podcast. I especially liked her thoughts on opting out when it comes to possessions, expectations and even social media.

Another podcast recommendation that had me thinking about work, serendipity and having the courage to speak your mind.

And a three-cheese pasta bake from Hetty McKinnon, which she describes as a deconstructed spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Yum.

P.S I'll be travelling for work next week and will catch you when I'm back in Canberra!

Dinner plans

One Friday night, after an exceptionally busy week, I was lying on the floor of our spare room mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when I remembered some advice from a friend. At the time I was hungry, a little delirious and trying to decide whether it quicker to get takeaway or make gozleme as planned at home.

I chose the latter and instead of texting Tony to see when he might be home, I took my friend Marina's relationship advice and called to say 'help!' instead. Her advice is good - it's about not expecting your partner to read your mind.

Tony was back within half an hour and we started making gozleme together and catching up on our days. It was a good reminder to cook together more often, instead of divvying it up during the week.

We made Hetty McKinnon's kale, mint and haloumi gozleme, which looked like giant dumplings! They brown slowly on the stove, which meant that by the time dinner was ready, the washing up was already done too :)