Standing in the warmest light

26 April 2020

Years and years ago, my friend Matt wrote me an email that included the line 'standing in the warmest light'. I can't remember the context but that line and its sentiment stood out to me. I remembered it again this week as found myself warming my feet in the sun. It seems like a lovely way to try and make it through this period at home.

Today we welcomed my brother Derrick and his wife home from New York. They're in hotel quarantine in Sydney and getting a video call from them once they'd checked in was nothing short of thrilling. It's such a relief to have my whole family back in Australia, especially at this time.

It's a long weekend here in Canberra, so I've been making Anzac biscuits, chicken stock and an eggplant melanzane, which was our special Saturday meal. I followed my friend Angie's advice and oven roasted the eggplant to skip the frying and breading stage and used smoked mozzarella too.

It's been an excellent weekend for recipe testing too. In the coming weeks I'm planning to make this mushroom stroganoff again (it's so creamy) and a childhood favourite - beef rendang!

The weirdest things make me teary these days, including songs on this playlist, this video of a dad watching his baby being born over Zoom, and my workmates in Sydney offering to drop a hotel care package to my brother. People are so nice.

I remembered the documentary podcast Soul Music this week and listened to the Toto's Africa episode which is excellent. It's a wonderfully distracting podcast because it doesn't refer to the world at present, making it truly escapist. And I made my first ever Dutch Baby, inspired by Jessica. I used the NY Times recipe, which was crazy easy and so much faster than making individual pancakes.

And that is me for another week!

Stay well,



Peak iso

19 April 2020

How are you going at home? I vacuumed a lampshade this weekend and felt a real sense of achievement, which tells me I've hit peak isolation.

Podcasts make me feel connected to the outside world, mainly The High Low, Sugar Calling and Highly Enthused - I loved their at-home facial tips. Listening to them reminds me of our years in Wagga Wagga, when I'd listen to RN on the radio at night to find out what was happening beyond our town.

Saturday's become our day for nice dinners and video calls with friends. This week I roasted a chicken (and smoked out the entire apartment, prompting an oven clean on Sunday 😑), made some potato wedges and opened a bottle of orange wine. I've also been eating a lot of chocolate. My friend Irini sent us a box of Easter eggs that's as big as a board game and has the most delicious hazelnut praline filled chocolate bunnies inside.

I'm trying to be less fearful as the numbers in Australia continue to improve, while still being sensible. It helps me enjoy this time at home a little more. I'm also trying to let go of a scarcity mindset when it comes to cooking and shopping. It's small thoughts, like when I catch myself wondering/worrying if I should use two eggs in some muffins or save them, just in case.

I have two tiny hopes for the week ahead - to eat more veggies and move a little more. That's it!

If you're after any food inspo for the week, this tomatoey soup with chickpeas, pasta and spinach is delicious and great for days when you're feeling under the weather. I've also been baking out of this beautiful zine - the PDF version has just gone online. I made peanut butter granola and ginger and chocolate muffins and feel somewhat ready for the week ahead.


Easter 2020

13 April 2020

How has your Easter been? Ours was pasta-filled and relaxing, with a couple of long walks when the rain and icy winds made way for the sun. We ate homemade hot cross buns, listened to podcasts and took turns making pasta dinners.

A highlight was a Monopoly game played with my brothers in Sydney and New York. We stumbled across the Monopoly app a couple of weekends ago, when we were considering driving to Big W to buy a board, before deciding it wasn't essential.

The app is fun because you can add remote players and don't have to do any maths! Plus, the sound effects are very cute. We were on a video call too, for chatting and sledging and I ended up winning the whole thing! My aim going into it was not to come last.

I bought a bunch of dairy products before lockdown and had been saving the creme fraiche for weeks, so I could make Julia Turshen's lasagne over Easter. I've seen so many times on Heidi's Instagram and decided it was worth four tins of tomatoes (life these days) and made it with some minced beef we'd stashed in the freezer. The ingredients alone felt extravagant. 

Lasagne is Tony's most favourite food and I've tried so many different recipes, including Smitten Kitchen's "Mount Everest" lasagne. Out of all of them, this was the easiest by far (no chopping onions, celery, carrot etc, no bechamel sauce) and we agreed, the most delicious too.

So far, we haven't ordered any takeaway because we're both enjoying cooking and love it as a way to pass the time. But for Easter we have ordered nice wine from a cafe we used to visit every Saturday.

Other lovely things - Tony's busy making tortellini from his Pasta Grannies cookbook 😋 And I'm typing away at the new desk we bought for the spare room. It's a sit/stand desk from IKEA that magically came back into stock last week. Going to the store and actually finding it on the shelf felt like a small triumph (it was my third attempt). 

We've been trying our best to get by with what we have but I was starting to feel a little restless at the dining table, which wasn't the right height for a whole work day. We built the desk that night and it's already improved my WFH situation. I really appreciate being able to go to a different room for work or to blog, given we now spend so much of our time in the lounge/dining room.

Finally, here are some things you might like too.... 

Good Vibes Yoga has released a bunch of new classes, including a Yin practice and a lovely mellow flow. This is my favourite online yoga so far - it's Australian, made for these very strange times, and many of the classes are under 60 minutes. The instructors are excellent. 

Musician Bill Withers was Anna Sales' very first guest on Death Sex and Money. They have re-aired the episode to commemorate his death. It's a very beautiful listen.

Tonight I'm making mini chocolate fondants (aka molten chocolate puddings) because our Easter egg delivery didn't arrive in time, and we're out of chocolate! I'm going to add some salted caramel sauce we have in the pantry :) 

The Strokes have a new album and it's super great.

The Margaret Atwood episode of Sugar Calling is cheery. I listened to the Rebecca Solnit episode of On Being immediately afterwards and needed to hear her definition of hope in uncertain times (it's not straight-up optimism). 

And I've been loving Jenny's series Project Pantry Purpose. There's a new post almost every day, with notes on what she's cooking, noticing and doing during the stay home period.


Fun stuff for Easter

10 April 2020

Hello! We made it to the Easter long weekend, one of my favourite holidays of the year. We usually spend it at home, cooking, going for walks and often welcoming visitors from Sydney. So this year, things will just be a little different. I sent a bunch of Easter chocolate to my family and friends to help keep things festive and it's been nice seeing them arrive at people's homes! I'm not sure about you but I'm finding the mail extremely exciting these days :) Here are some nice things for your long weekend:

A relaxing playlist, nice for the early evenings and quiet work.

I'm waiting for Tigertail to drop on Netflix, it should be out today or tomorrow. It's a movie by Alan Yang, one of the co-creators of Master of None. I've started rewatching Master of None - it's the perfect funny and familiar show to put on at the end of the day.

This is beautiful - photos and stories of women before they were mothers.

Sugar Calling is a new podcast from Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, and agony aunt from the Dear Sugar advice column. It's made for right now, and she calls a writer every episode to help make sense of the pandemic. Tony and I listened to the first episode with George Saunders one night after work, and while I'm not familiar with his writing I loved his thoughtful and funny take on this time, which didn't shy away from its grim realities. The second episode features Margaret Atwood!

The ABC's Fran Kelly is another comforting voice at a time like this and I listened to this 14 minute interview/pep talk while assembling an IKEA desk. My screen time has been way up, so it was reassuring to hear that she hit 13 hours in a single day.

I made my YouTube debut demonstrating how to make ABC Life's hot cross bun recipe from Thalia Ho.

Alison Roman's passover dinner video is super fun. I really want to make Matzo ball soup and homemade Ice Magic.

We just finished Unorthodox on Netflix, a four-part series about a Jewish woman who leaves an arranged marriage and flees to Berlin. I couldn't wait to finish work and watch more this week.

One last and lovely thing,  an interview with Ross Gay from the On Being podcast, titled 'Tending Joy and Practicing Delight'. Via Highly Enthused.

Have a lovely Easter at home.


Working out weekends

04 April 2020

What have you been doing on weekends? Last Sunday, I probably cooked a little too much (sourdough, roast veggies for weekday lunches, an apple pie just cos) and felt properly exhausted by 1pm. At first, I was disappointed by how much I'd taken on and then I realised... there were going to be plenty more Sundays at home to have another go. A nice lesson for days - at work or at home - that don't quite go as planned in this unusual period.

The highlight of last Saturday was driving to a flower farm just outside the ACT to pick up some freshly picked dahlias. We were excited to be in the car again and driving somewhere new. The area reminded us so much of Wagga Wagga and its surrounding towns.

I brought an old chickpea can so I could leave some flowers on a friend's doorstep along with some banana bread I made while waiting to video call my brother overseas. It felt really nice to plan something for someone else. There's a lot of worry that comes with the pandemic (words I never thought I'd write), and finding small ways to think about or help others takes some of that panic away. It's good for perspective too.

Food is never far from my mind, which is why I'm donating to local food pantries. In Canberra, there is St John's Care and the Canberra Relief Network. Across the country, Foodbank has chapters in all states and territories.

Last weekend we also started and finished watching Cheer on Netflix, which was extremely captivating, distracting and uplifting. This Friday night it was Crazy Rich Asians, which I really enjoyed on the rewatch. It's still pretty surreal watching a film with an all-Asian cast.

Other good things - the Bon Appetit test kitchen are still making videos, only from home 😭 It's really fun to see the different cooks in their home kitchens. I found the coffee episode especially calming (we also learnt that we haven't been 'blooming' our coffee - we use a pour over).

There are so many good cartoons doing the rounds at the moment, but this one about life at home when all of your plans have been cancelled is my favourite.

Hope you're taking care.