Saturday, September 28, 2013

flowers for helen

my trial home alone period went quickly and I surprised myself by enjoying it. I listened to a lot of radio national, prepped the work veggie patch for planting, tidied, cooked, baked, read and went out with friends. as planned, I watched this ballet documentary and loved it.

yesterday I treated myself to some flowers from my favourite florist in town.

today marks my aunt helen's birthday, it's our first without her. during the week I sent a small gift to her family to mark the day. usually my parents mark significant days like this by placing flowers in the river, as a way of remembering people who are no longer with us. instead, I've decided to keep these flowers in the room I use most. it's my favourite room in the house.

around this time last year, my extended family in sydney gathered to celebrate father's day together. helen hosted the event and requested everyone select a song to be played that afternoon, it could be anything, so long as you could bring a copy to play and share what you liked about it.

she chose 'what a wonderful world' by louis armstrong, and my sister would send me a video of her singing it with her family. her song, and all of the others chosen for the day by three generations of family members were played at her memorial service some seven months later.

although I didn't make the lunch, my sister took along my choice and later compiled a CD of all of the songs for us to share, and ultimately treasure.

one of the highlights of my weekend was trip to the local demonstration gardens. I heard they were selling veggies so I wandered down, curious to check out what was beyond the garden's wire fence.

it was a windy morning and only jim, the garden's dedicated caretaker, was around when I arrived. he took me on a tour and showed the chooks that keep his veggies slug free. he picked one up and I patted it, giggling at its softness and compliance.

later, he would walk between the garden beds picking out fresh veggies for me to take home. he pulled them straight from the ground, dusted them off and popped them in my pug bag. I went home with two different types of spinach, some french kale, butter lettuce, mini leeks, a fennel, some coriander, parsley, tarragon and sorrel all for $10!

I would later spend the afternoon washing my veggies and dealing with slugs :s

maybe my biggest achievement this weekend (aside from completing my run despite seeing a dog getting swooped by a magpie ahead of me) was starting and finishing the latest quarterly essay. in the past I've been guilty of buying issues and leaving them untouched on my bookshelf.

tony comes home this morning. and then next weekend we're off to canberra, which will mark the start of his 1 month stint away.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

home alone

^^ an unrelated shot from the road yesterday, driving between tumut and adelong. it was so beautiful and green.

growing up, I always thought I'd have my own cute apartment for a stage in my life. in my dreams it looked like this one. the idea of living by myself probably came from my homebody tendencies, as well as my slight germophobia which makes me kind of incompatible with share house living and the fact that I'd always been single.

in the next few weeks, I'll get a small taste of living on my own while tony is at a conference in sydney and then on a residency of sorts at the national portrait gallery in canberra. it's a great opportunity for him, and one he's been looking forward to for most of this year. that said, I'm kind of nervous about living on my own for a month or so.

I am scared of scary things - like spiders of all varieties and strange noises that happen when you're home alone. but I'm also worried about being lonely. I really like living with tony, going on weekend walks with him, cooking meals together, seeing him every morning and night and having him sit next to me on the couch when my favourite show is on.

and so I've devised a small list of things to do while he's away. which may include:
  • making this yummy looking avocado pasta. I cook for 4-6 people at the best of times, so I don't know how I'm going to go cooking for one. 
  • power through anna funder's 'all that I am'. because it's on loan from a friend and I have a stack of books I've amassed from recent city trips. also, anna funder is awesome.
  • exercise most mornings. which might mean I need to overcome my fear of swooping magpies or be a dag and buy a hat I can fasten cable ties to. I am considering it, or a baseball cap at the very least.
  • sew something from my japanese pattern book. I was so into the mori girl designs of these little books that I bought one in japanese, thinking I could wing it and make something wearable. thankfully they've since been published in english and I've bought an english one and found one at the library. I'm planning to sew some simple cotton tops for friends as christmas presents this year, cos some of my most favourite birthday presents from this year were homemade.
  • and speaking of japanese things, I'm seriously contemplating watching this 4 part series, endearingly and intriguingly called bread and soup and cat weather. there are no english subtitles but I do really like japanese interiors, especially homes and cafes.
  • have the work girls over for dinner. preferably on a night where no one needs to drive a long distance the next day, sit in court or wake up before 5am.
  • try out and master a new recipe - possibly something japanese. a katsu curry would be nice. or I could just make cat shaped pizzas.
  • and listen to lots of radio documentaries, so that I'm doing something other than cooking and eating. or maybe I can listen to radio docos whilst cooking and eating and sewing. at the moment, I'm addicted to this 'for better or worse' short series, that profiles six couples in long term relationships over 6 episodes.
I'm off to work today and looking forward to spending most of the day editing the story I'm so excited about. also - we're booking our celebrant today!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

sunday in pics

this sunday - a slow start, a danish breakfast, another weekend walk, lots and lots of sneezing (go away hayfever!) and leftover chocolate mousse cake in the fridge.

tomorrow we run.

Friday, September 20, 2013

good things ahead

hello weekend! I had a productive but slightly panicked week at work so I'm excited to do not much this weekend.

here are a few exciting things that aren't too far away:
  • digging into the chocolate mousse cake that's setting in the fridge right now. I made it to share with my chocolate friend after dinner tonight. tony's parents brought us a huge ocean trout when they were in town last weekend, so we're going to share our fish with some friends, who are going to cook a rack of lamb. yum yum! 
  • my first trip to bega. I can't wait to see the sea again, and try out a yummy gelato shop that was recommended months ago. I'm going to be spending a weekend with two good friends from work, one lives in bega, the other in mittagong. I'll be staying in my friend's cute vintage guest caravan, and am thinking of bringing a sneaky caravan gift to leave behind.
  • I think I've found my wedding dress. it's sweet but not too wedding like, now I just have to overcome my fear of buying clothes online.
  • my engagement ring is weeks away! I can't wait to wear it, our friend is in the process of making it and will take it to adelaide to have the stone set. it's been an interesting process so far, and surprisingly difficult to decide on something. it'll be my first real piece of proper jewellery.
  • finishing a super cool story. last month I recorded a radio story that I've been dying to work on. I finally had the chance to listen to it back yesterday, and was so excited about it that I contemplated bringing my work computer home so I could keep working on it over the weekend. I'm grateful that the two people involved decided to record their story with me, and I cannot wait to start editing it next week.
  • upcoming city trips. my sister is about to have her first baby, and I'm about to become an aunt. there's about 3 weeks to go, so there's a sydney trip on the cards, I just don't know when. and tony is about to start his 4 week stint in canberra (sniff!), which will means a few weekends away to visit him and stock up on goodies from silo bakery. I have been dreaming about their berry brioche buns for weeks now.
^^ and here are two snaps from this weekend. my yummy cinnamon pancake breakfast and the aforementioned chocolate mousse cake before it went in the fridge to set! it's a beauty.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

all the way up

the signpost at the start of our walk classified the track as 'hard' but tony's father assured us that the assessment was probably exaggerated and written to ward off inexperienced walkers. and so we began, a party of four, walking steadily but carefully over the trail of orange and brown rocks.

I've driven past the rock many times, at all times of day but it's taken close to three years to actually attempt the climb. it was cool today and we had visitors, so in the tradition of our now weekly sunday walks, we thought we'd give it a go.

for me, it was a cheryl strayed inspired adventure. her book 'wild' might be the best thing I've read this year, it was empowering in a way I'd never experienced a memoir and totally addictive. and so I walked with some confidence, and thought of her when we reached our first confusing fork in the road.

a family of five had set off a few minutes before us, with the three girls running off ahead of their parents. as the walk progressed we would overtake and be overtaken by the family, and eventually worked out from snippets of their conversation that they walked the rock annually and that it was a race to the top.

the kids would walk ahead and call ridiculous things back down to their parents, talk about turtles and who was currently winning the race.

at the summit, the mum would congratulate one of the girls who she kept calling chook for making the climb faster than the year before. they would busy themselves taking photographs and trying to locate their property and its proximity to particular canola fields.

as we climbed higher, there were more choices to be made, and greater potential for injury. when there weren't clearly defined stairs, we had to pick our way between rocks, quickly trying to strategise the safest option. I clung to tree trunks in parts and crouched down to climb over tricky rocks. I eyed a walking stick but held it for only a few seconds - it was slimy and unwieldy.

three quarters of the way into our walk, we lost tony's parents. we assumed that they'd catch up so we kept walking.

I loved the camaraderie between the walkers. an older couple who had sensibly brought walking poles pointed us in the direction of a lookout, which they said had a better view than the rock's peak. we stopped to take photos for a trio of friends and waited awhile in the shade for tony's parents.

thinking they'd given up, we continued on.

we passed a woman in the most pristine walking outfit I'd ever seen. she wore a sleeveless white polo shirt that was tucked into her light brown walking shorts. she had a matching hat and had a neat looking water bottle slung across her body. she smiled and said hello and smelt like flowers as she passed.

we kept puffing our way to the top.

^^ tony rarely takes photos on his phone, and this is part of a collection of photos of me looking sweaty :( the only other photo he's taken recently was one of me looking sweatier during a climb in tasmania. during this walk I learnt that jeans are not a good choice of walking pants.

while the lookout had been still and quiet, the sound at the top of the rock was incredible. suddenly there were flies everywhere.

the journey back to the car was hilarious in parts. my legs had turned to jelly and each step was about balancing my weight so I didn't topple over and slide down the track.

at one point the father from the family of five bounded past us wearing a butterfly backpack. two of his kids were lost. at the summit, they'd told their parents they were going to find a shady spot to rest but they had all but disappeared.

then we heard the father bellow.

'oi! what are you doing down there? you said you were going to find a shady spot!'

the kids protested that they had found a shady spot and he gave them a stern word about how far they'd wandered.

we had a scare of our own when we reached the car. we had assumed that tony's parents had given up halfway and expected to meet up with them again in the carpark. we hadn't passed them on the way down but couldn't see them in the carpark.

we found them 20 minutes later, though not before I'd contemplated calling local hospitals and tony had thought there may have been a fall. they'd taken an alternative track and spent time clambering over rocks to meet the summit.

we drove home and made prawn sandwiches for lunch. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

melbourne favourites

in our first year of living in wagga wagga we discovered an unexpected perk, it's a short-ish drive to melbourne. since then, we've been lucky enough to go at least once a year for a weekend visit. usually we go for a reason, to see a specific exhibition or talk but this time round we went just for fun.

I should tell you that the first time we drove to melbourne from wagga back in 2011 we went a little bit nuts with the food. back then there were fewer good cafes in wagga and we'd forgotten what it was like to be in a city. so we went on a food mission, hunting out specific cafes for every meal. that trip stayed with me for at least a year afterwards, I'd managed to put on 3kgs in a single week that I couldn't shift for ages!

these days we're a bit savvier. we share meals at most places, because usually the servings are huge and it means we can stop and snack at different cafes.

after a few visits, we've definitely have a few favourite places:
  • the australian centre for contemporary art. acca is a 10 minute walk from the main ngv gallery and is a really cool exhibition space. its shows are a refreshing break from the blockbuster exhibitions that are often on at the ngv. during our last trip we ran into a scary amount of people buying monet souvenir plates and umbrellas. acca has an excellent selection of books and catalogues and I think my most favourite thing from our last trip was picking up some really interesting short books/essays from previous exhibitions.
  • the hardware societe. we almost always get lost when we look for this cafe, hardware lane is long and the hardware societe is right at the top of one end, though you can't miss it when you spot the crowds. it's not so fun on a rainy day unless you have planned ahead and brought an umbrella and we usually don't wait more than 15 minutes for a table. I love that they always serve their coffees with a miniature donut. here's what we ate last weekend:

^^ aforementioned coffee with tiny donut and the breakfast we shared. this was my first ever croque-monsieur thought we went the untraditional route and chose a smoked salmon version that was made with brioche and served with a scoop of potato salad (I think! we ate it in such a frenzy) and some aioli. it was so good!

  • galleon in st kilda is also awesome for breakfast though we didn't make it to the beach this time. we usually go to st kilda so I can look at the acland street cakes and have some trampoline gelato and tony can go to the book shop but this time we worked out that there was a massive version of his favourite bookstore in carlton so we went there instead.
  • we'd stumbled across readings on earlier trips but this blog alerted us to the main store. so we spent saturday night browsing through books of all varieties in carlton. I bought one thing but had the best time browsing. tony had resisted buying any books up until this point (which is super impressive) but walked away with a huge bag of books. and then I discovered the readings sale shop across the road.

^^ we stumbled across la belle miette enroute to the hardware societe. it's also on hardware lane and the shop girl insisted on filling up the counter with macaroons before I took this photo. I managed to carry around two macaroons in my bag all day without squashing them! the girl who served us did an impressive job of using the plastic bag as an air cushion for our precious cargo.

^^ this trip we visited sophie gannon gallery in richmond for the first time and really enjoyed it, I snapped this photo at the end of the street. I love the white house in the middle.
  • we've recently discovered the incredibly beautiful heide museum of modern art, which is an awesome combination of architecture, modern art, good food and beautiful gardens only this trip we got our dates wrong and planned to go visit on the only day it was closed. sadly we were leaving town that day too!
  • embarrassingly last weekend I totally stalked out the tables at little cupcakes. we go there every visit and despite the cafe being tiny, we normally find a seat. this time we weren't so lucky but we persevered and got cupcakes. hurrrah!
  • and finally for dinner, chin chin is a semi-tradition if we're early enough and can get a seat. last visit we didn't feel like facing a 2.5 hour wait for a table so ended up at a meatball restaurant down the lane, which was a lot of fun until I decided to eat a whole ice cream sandwich after a massive dinner.
here are some random snaps from last weekend:

lots of blue and below, a steve aoki salad, which was partly ordered because of its name. I had to google steve aoki!

hope you've had a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

5 good things

^^ the start of spring, though I hardly know myself without a thermal and coat layer.

 ^^ sunday arvo hot chips in the park! these are special lord of the fries beauties with kansas bbq sauce.

^^ another melbourne food favourite - a trip to little cupcakes on degraves street. we did get away last weekend! I always get tiny teddy cake and regret not buying a box for the long drive home.

^^ the pretty view from our hotel room, which was a little bit parisian.

^^ and some fresh reading material from the australian centre for contemporary arts.

and we just had the nicest mid-week evening. we went for a walk after work, made chicken and pesto pasta for tea, watched my favourite show on tv (second last episode of kitchen cabinet tonight!) whilst eating mini chocolate and caramel magnums. so good!