Thursday, February 28, 2013

love stuff. it's our 5 year anniversary today! which is exciting because I love any opportunity to celebrate. this is one of my favourite photos of tony and I, we only have a handful together. it was taken in tokyo, in harajuku in 2009 and it was our first trip overseas together. it had been my dream to go to japan and we talked ourselves into buying cheap tickets, even though we could only just afford to go.

one thing I've realised about tony is that if I say something's my dream, he takes it seriously and helps me make it happen. like moving to wagga wagga from sydney to take a job at a place I've only even dreamed of working. we talked about it for awhile and then made the move together. and it was a big move and one we've made work for both of us.

so I don't throw around the 'it's my dream' line too often at all but it's so reassuring to know that my hopes for the future are totally encouraged by tony.

inspired by pink ronnie's amazing memory book that captures the story of her ever evolving relationship with her husband in photos, notes and mementos, I've been making a little memory book as a gift. I've discovered that it's really hard to make a surprise gift for the person you live with! so I've been waking up super early on weekends (like 6.30am!) and creeping downstairs to cut and stick photos into a book. and sneaking off to work in the library. and making excuses for what I'm doing on my laptop so I can photoshop things. I haven't printed photos in years, so it was so satisfying to plan it out, print the photos and put it all together.

we're going to have dinner at a new-ish place in town and if I can muster the energy, I might bake a cake. I've had a super long week and driven over 700km for work in a few days so I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to going out to dinner.

have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

cookbook club, croissants and catching up. sometime after dinner on sunday night, I finally settled into the weekend. often I'll relax due to sheer exhusation and that's probably what happened this weekend. truth is, I've been avoiding something, something important and big.

a few weekends ago I found out that someone in my family is very unwell and deteriorating at a rate we hadn't let ourselves anticipate. it froze me for awhile as I thought of all of the things that could happen in the coming months only to come to the conclusion that I might never be ready for what might eventuate. I'm kind of okay with that now. in the weeks after the news, my family mainly communicated with each other over email. in that time I thought hard about whether I could live, long-term, far from my family. we're close and being away when good and bad things happen just doesn't feel right. and more than that, I have so much fun with I'm with my family.

on sunday night I picked up the phone and spent most of the night speaking to everyone in my immediate family. embarrassingly it was something I'd been putting off, something I had let myself be afraid of. I didn't know how we'd handle talking about what was happening, whether anyone wanted to talk about it or whether anyone would know what to say.

what changed my mind was something I'd heard in a podcast. I had recently listened to an interview with a woman who works to help people with suicide bereavement. she said something that really affected friends and family who had lost someone was that people tended to avoid them, even going to the extent to cross the road to avoid passing by and all because they didn't know what to say. the last thing I wanted to do was avoid or ignore the people I love at a time like this so I gingerly made the first call and spent the rest of the night dialing my siblings, having quiet moments but laughing too.

there are other things that happened over the weekend, mainly food things. on saturday night we headed over to have dinner with some friends in our very first cookbook club event. last year we dreamed up a book club where you didn't have to read a novel and discuss it. instead we'd take turns picking a cookbook and then allocate a course to a different couple.

this month the book was moro east.  we were on starters so tony made a delicious labneh with anchovies, chilli, mint and cucumbers and I made some flatbread to go with it. it was so good! there were more elaborate dishes to come including a very fancy dessert, which was a kind of pomegranate ice with rosewater and honey, served with a dollop of double cream and a lemon cookie. maybe the best thing about the night was it was pretty stress free for everyone, you just make a small portion of the meal and everyone pitches in. it was a truly communal effort.

on sunday morning we had friends over for breakfast, tony has been very excitedly making his own croissants lately and gave chocolate croissants a go. we now have a healthy stockpile of pastries in the freezer, ready for next weekend.

and finally, a rare moment of neatness and quiet.

Monday, February 18, 2013

pizza night. on friday night, dinner wasn't served until just before 9pm. I'd underestimated how long it would take to make dough and tomato sauce but boy was it worth it.

I tried two new recipes that I'll definitely use again. the dough was surprisingly quick and easy to make and not too messy! which is great because I can be really clumsy with flour. the dough was also lovely to play with, all soft and suitably elastic.

the thing that held me up the most was the tomato sauce for the base. I used a recipe from the what katie ate cookbook and next time I'll make it in advance, it's much lighter and tastier (not to mention less salty) than tomato paste and this recipe made enough for 4-6 pizzas.

what I didn't capture on camera was one of the pizzas getting stuck on our pizza stone. that wasn't pretty.

Friday, February 15, 2013

a day trip to apple town. early on thursday morning I headed up the snowy mountains highway headed for batlow. there are 29 local government areas in the region I work in, which means I spend a fair bit of my time in the car driving to different towns. the drive towards adelong is one of my favourites, it's not too far away and it's pretty and winding, which is good for variety.

somewhere between adelong and batlow I found myself stuck behind a very old and very slow moving truck filled with cattle. I didn't mind, it was fun to drive slowly and admire the beautiful scenery. batlow is on higher ground and so when I got out of my car, the first thing I noticed was the cooler air, which smelt of wood. and then I noticed the apples, everywhere.

I'm slightly envious of the town's mascot! wagga wagga's main logo is a big black dot at the moment, which is not nearly as playful or as versatile as an apple. 

apparently the apple boom in batlow happened in the 50's. walking around town I saw the old packing building and a now disused mountain maid factory. I remember drinking mountain maid apple juice as a kid! it's such a pretty town and there are lots of orchards still in operation.

one of my favourite things was stopping by at some of the roadside stalls to pick up some fresh fruit and vegetables to take home. the little shop below was self-service. there was an honesty box, a calculator, plenty of change, a scale for weighing your fruit and veg and plastic bags and boxes. very organised!

I went home with a bag full of apples, two punnets of raspberries (they were half the price of the supermarket ones and all different sizes!), some snowpeas, beans and a jar of blackberry jam from a friend's farm.

p.s - sorry about all the odd-shaped photos! I was juggling lots of gear on the day so snapped everything on my phone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

platypus joy! I held a baby platypus today. I watched her sleep and when she woke up, her minder gently passed her to me.

she was ever so soft and still very sleepy. she made the smallest of whinges and then kind of curled over my hand. she wiggled a little and smelt like the river.

this is one of the small but overwhelming joys of working in a radio station. look at her!

I've had a good week, I spent yesterday in batlow, which is essentially apple town and I have lots of funny photos to share. our fridge is also now stocked with fresh fruit and veggies from road side stalls.

I'm making pizza tonight and tony is going to try making croissants this weekend. and then we welcome a friend to stay on sunday night.

have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

 this morning I shrugged off the sleepiness and sadness that's been slowing me down this week and went running. and then I felt like I owned the day.

today I'm excited about:
  • this gorgeous video that I worked on with sophie and blake for abc open. it profiles talented  spoken word poet zohab khan who lives in wagga wagga. I especially love the performance at the end, shot at the top of willans hill.
  • a new valentine's day episode from this american life. last year's episode made me cry from laughter, maybe because I grew up listening to phil collins, second hand in my dad's car.
  • the prospect of eye-bombing, this diy gallery cracks me up. and conveniently I recently discovered that you can buy giant stick on eyes.
  • valentine's day tomorrow. I like love and I love any opportunity to give a gift. I'm going to try this choc chip cookie recipe that yields just two cookies! (via a cup of jo)
  • eating outside. inspired by pink ronnie's family beach picnics, we packed up our dinner tonight and went to eat by the lagoon. we had fancy homemade sandwiches, fresh fruit and juice and lingered over dinner. here's the view from our picnic tonight.
I'm on the road early tomorrow morning and I'm really looking forward to getting out of town for half a day, visiting a new place and listening to some music and stories along the way. and I have a sneaking suspicion, I'll arrive home to a small gift.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

another new year. last night we celebrated chinese new year in our own small way. it's been our third away from my family and next year I hope to go home for the feast, it's been too long. I would also like to receive a red packet from my younger brother who is married now and according to tradition needs to give me some lucky money.

we started the night by the river, which was very busy with families having fish & chip picnic dinners and a group of teenage boys who sat neatly in a row on the beach, an esky shared between them. we were there to remember my late grandparents, or ama and agoong as I knew them. they lived in indonesia and their ashes were scattered out to sea last year, together. and so as a family tradition, we leave some flowers in the water for them when we can, usually on the anniversaries of their passing and on occasions like chinese new year. I brought these frilly flowers from home and found a quiet spot to leave them. it's only the second time I've done it, the first time was surprisingly confronting and I put it off all day until it was getting dark. it was winter then, and once I'd made it down to the river I found it hard to leave. I wanted to watch the flowers float away until I couldn't see them anymore and I wanted to make sure no flowers got stuck along the way.

I haven't cooked for chinese new year since my first year in wagga wagga, when I thought it would be a great idea to cook a feast for 30 new friends. that year I spent a whole sunday making dumplings by hand and though the party was fun, it was so daunting that I've never contemplating doing it again. last night our favourite chinese restaurant was packed, not because of chinese new year but because of a few birthdays and the region-wide sports carnival that was happening down the street. we took the last free table, tucked away in the corner. I've never had fried ice cream before and we took a gamble and shared one last night, in the name of new year's festivities. it was sweet and creamy and crunchy but I don't think I'll be doing that again anytime soon! we went home and watched the ai wei wei documentary, which we were excited to discover at our local library.

and then it was sunday.

we've cooked a lot this weekend and stayed close to home. tony smoked some salmon and eggplant and I had a go at making bread again. some sad news we received from home on saturday came to dominate the weekend, in its own quiet way. it made me feel like I had a quiet week at work last week for a reason. we're sticking together, having small chats when we can and hoping for the best.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

lovely little things. it's been a quiet yet productive week and I've been appreciating some everyday luxuries, like snacking on mango at work, the rainbow pencil I use to write shopping lists, pretty notebooks, homemade bread and spreads and my morning coffee that my boyfriend doesn't let me leave home without, even if I need to leave home before 6am.

I made these cupcakes for an annual amateur table tennis competition we're heading to tonight, at my friend's house. it's a competition for his work friends, who are awesome, and this year tony and I scored an invite. I've already told everyone that I am going to win, I am actually really uncoordinated but have a competitive streak for the silliest of things.

it's chinese new year this weekend and we'll do something small on saturday night to celebrate. other than that I'm planning to make a couple loaves of bread and watch lots of louis theroux, who I've become a little obsessed with.

one other good thing from this week, I've been swapping music with a friend. we'd agreed to make each other 2 cd samplers with the rule that if we liked what we heard, we would go and buy a cd from that band. and through her, I've discovered chairlift.

have a good weekend!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

sunday snacks. only a few words today, I've spent most of the weekend in bed, fighting off a persistent migraine and am still pretty sleepy.  I'm feeling a little better this afternoon thanks to a small collection of sweet snacks.

when tony came home from making beer with a friend around the corner, I made him a snack plate too. his is the boy/savory version.

I'm reading 'the atlas of experience' at the moment, a book I discovered a couple weeks ago when my uncle came to stay and showed me the copy he had borrowed from a friend. it's a thoughtful and philosophical read and I especially enjoyed the chapter on home.

I'm secretly excited about valentine's day in a few weeks. tony and I have hatched a plan to make a  surprise dessert for each other on the day. I had really wanted to organise a packed lunch exchange but I'm working out of town on valentine's day so swapped desserts it is!

wishing you a good week ahead!