Tuesday, October 29, 2013

a few quiet days at home

in between city visits, I've been back at home in wagga wagga.

most of the time I've been busy working but there has been time for a lunch break spent in the memorial gardens in town. to borrow a phrase from amy, in the paris end of town.

at work I'm nearly finished a story I've been working on quietly since mid august. it's a bit of a side project and I've been finding pockets of time to edit it and add to it, and I think it's nearly there.

one of my colleague has been generously lending his ears, he has with quite a bit of my work this year and it's been a great experience to work on it with his guidance. often I'm impatient and I'll be frustrated that particular stories are not yet finished, especially the ones I'm really excited about but working on something over a couple of months and being encouraged to go back and fix different parts with a few creative suggestions has really helped the story develop.

every time I listen back to what's there, I understand it a little better, and the time in between often brings me clarity (and sometimes, confusion).

^^ last week on a rainy and freezing morning, I met up with a friend for a coffee before work and snuck in a few pages of my comic book before she arrived. it was the best way to start the day.

this week, I've been catching up on vodcasts from the radio with pictures event in sydney, I think I've gone a bit comic mad. a friend illustrated this one (I loved it because of the talking dog) and this one surprised me and broke my heart.

maybe one of the trickiest and unexpected things about being home alone is cooking for one. with a trip  away every weekend, each week becomes strangely about buying just enough, eating what's left in the fridge and minimising food waste.

that said, this week I made a very yummy banana granola (I was sceptical about the banana part but it's actually really yummy) and have been obsessed with sophie's apple, cabbage and halmoui salad. I've made it twice in the space of a week. yum.

and now to work!

have a good day.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

a weekend treat

I've been eyeballing the east hotel for months now, and this weekend we treated ourselves to an overnight stay in one of their apartments.  it was awesome.  usually we're pretty budget focused when it comes to accommodation and but this week marked the halfway point in tony's 5 week long drawing project (and his hundredth sitter) so we celebrated a little.

we used all of the fancy bathroom products, ate cookies and drank special tea in our lounge room for the day and finally got a chance to relax and hang out. after our stay in such a lovely hotel, I came home and immediately changed my sheets and straightened out my bedroom :)

I had the nicest weekend in canberra. I scored a lift with some friends on the friday night, and then home again on sunday so it was extra relaxing.

on saturday morning before tony started work, we visited an old friend of mine and her husband at their new home, which they'd recently renovated. they cooked us a huge breakfast which we ate in the surprisingly hot canberra sun.

may and I used to work together at a handbag outlet and later a posh clothing store in bondi while we were still at uni.  when we were shopgirls, we'd daydream about careers, eat lots of chocolate and talk about boys.

it was surreal to see her again, at a time when we were both living in new towns, working in the areas that'd we'd hoped to, with her married and me recently engaged. we compared notes about what it has been like to leave sydney, and some of the challenges of making friends in a new place, especially as adults who don't like sport.

later that day, my family arrived to visit tony at the gallery. they'd driven down from sydney for the weekend and took it in turns to sit for tony, before we lunched together in the gallery's fancy looking cafe.

I took this photos of them inside james turrell's within without work, which they loved. I regret that each photo has a slight pink tinge from my thumb!

during his stay in canberra my little brother managed to eat 5 eggs in one day and after having his portrait drawn by tony, he declared that he was having the very best day.

it had started with a maccas breakfast, an ice cream before midday, a bacon and egg roll for lunch and would end in zachary polishing off a deluxe burger with fries at our favourite burger stop in canberra.

in the few quiet moments of this weekend, I read parts of chris ware's jimmy corrigan: the smartest kid on earth, which manages to sadden and entertain me. I sat for tony whilst reading my comic book and he drew this:

now I'm home again and it's quiet, and I hope that I can finish my book tonight.

have a good week!

Monday, October 21, 2013

and then there were three

I spent the weekend at my sister's house, hanging out and cuddling her brand new baby. colette was born about 2 weeks ago, and since her birth, I've been lucky enough to receive a new photo of her every day. but nothing beat getting to hold her. my mum and sister snapped photos of our first meeting, and in every single shot I'm just staring at her with a dopey grin on my face. kind of like this...

everyone who had seen her kept telling me she was tiny - and she was. she was also very sweet, she cried once during my 24 hour visit and spent the rest of the time making a funny assortments of baby sounds.

my stay was short and my sister made sure I held colette whenever she wasn't sleeping or eating. I think I got the hang of holding her properly and by the end of the visit, I could hold her 3 different ways and put her onto the change table. which was quite an achievement for me. she was too cute to be afraid of. here's colette mid-feed with her doting dad:

when colette was sleeping, I hung out with my sister and brother-in-law. we chatted and ate and when my sister went off to nap, I set about cooking a few meals for their freezer. by the time my sister re-emerged, I'd made a giant baked bolognese, a batch of brownies and was planning a creamy chicken and sundried tomato pasta for dinner.

by the time I left, I'd added some almond and chia seed bircher museli to her fridge and baked some anzac cookies, which the new mum and dad ate straight from the oven.

it was an overnight stay that was exciting, relaxing and over too quickly. I will always remember it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

this week in canberra

on monday afternoon after work, I sped down the highway and listened to music and podcasts as the sky changed colours. I had a few days off, and I was going to visit tony in canberra.

this trip was particularly special. in my bag was an elaborate felt box, which housed my engagement ring. it had been ready just in time for the trip. I told tony that I'd wait for him to put it on, and had not so secretly hinted at a proposal re-enactment.

tony politely declined but we did go out for a really yummy japanese meal to celebrate. since then, I've been trying to do lots of things with my right hand, so I don't damage the ring or get moisturiser in it. it's surprisingly difficult and I've realised just how rough I am with my hands.

in lots of ways this little trip to canberra felt a lot like the week we got engaged. it was totally relaxing and fun and we were super excited to be in each others company again and ate all of our meals together to celebrate.

tony's just over a week into his 5 week drawing stint at the national portrait gallery. in that time he's managed to draw over 50 portraits, and have people sit for him for anywhere between 5 minutes and 2 hours.

on my tuesday I sat for a one hour portrait, and unlike his drawings of me at home in my daggy pjs, I dressed specifically for the occasion. a few other people were lurking while I was sitting for him, so I left a little earlier than I'd liked, I really like my portrait but wish I'd stayed longer for a bit more hair :)

I managed to sneak in a 15 minute sitting on wednesday afternoon just before closing time.

we sought out brodburger one night and we both agreed that the burgers were the nicest we've ever had. the buns weren't buttery or brioche like many trendy burgers and everything was spot on, from the giant pickles to the juicy medium-rare meat patty. the fries were also super hot and salty, which is surprisingly hard to come by.

next time I'm going to order a few baby burgers so I get to try a few different flavours.

and here's a few shots of hotel life. my mother would be so proud of my economical supermarket breakfasts. and I always eat the free hotel biscuits, these shortbread ones were especially nice.

on my very last day in canberra, I walked to the national library of australia and put in a request to see an item from their collection. it was a zine that I'd made in 2008, for my very first for the annual zine fair at the museum of contemporary art in sydney.

I'd only recently discovered that it was in the national library and so I decided to visit it. I mainly wanted to see it, to check whether it was really there and also to take a photo because I am stoked that one found its way into the collection.

the zine is kept in a special reading room and arrived in an archival plastic bag. I was given a blue sheet of paper and instructed not to photocopy it (so ironic) and to handle it with care.

it is unreal to think that I'd touched every page of this wonky little publication when I made it. it was a painful and last minute process. when I took the zine out of its special bag, I turned it over to see a sticker of its collection on the back of the book, and a barcode and National Library of Australia stamp on the inside cover.

my ten year old self high-fived me in that moment. and I ended up staying, to leaf through the zine and see what was in it. it sounds kind of silly and vain to read something you've written yourself but I have to say, reading this zine was like going back in time.

the zine was very much a best-of book of a blog and project I'd been working on at the time. I was in my final years of uni when I started it, and reading over what I'd written, I found myself cringing a little. but at the same time, I was in awe of how excited and lacking in self consciousness I'd been at the time to write like that. it reminded me that I do really like to write and that I should do it more often, without worrying about who might read it.

there were also a few milestones contained in this cardboard cover. I'd documented the day after my sister had gotten married, the day I met tony over lunch to pick up a lego man for the project - I hardly knew him then and later found out that the lego man was a ploy to hang out. there are new, fleeting and lasting friendships documented too.

after taking a few sneaky photographs I left the library in a daze, I felt proud of myself but also in awe of just how much has happened in the last 5 years. I decided to treat myself to a tea at the very fancy hyatt across the road. I had an orange peoke tea, a miniature passionfruit swiss roll and read my book while I waited for tony to finish work.

the hotel was a world of its own. classical music played loudly in the bathroom that smelt strongly of flowers. the porter wore a ridiculous outfit, complete with puffy hat and puffy knee length shorts made out of the same intricately patterned fabric. people ordered white wine at 3pm, others had important looking meetings, some were pilots.

I was on the road by 6am this morning, bound for home and work. I was sad to leave tony again, and managed to miss my turn off.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

mini weekend

today was super productive, I did all of my laundry, baked a yoghurt and lime cake, tried out a new sourdough recipe, went for a run, ordered a few christmas presents and managed to enjoy scones and tea not once but twice in one day :)

not bad for a mini weekend! I spent yesterday working in adelong, which is a beautiful gold mining town about an hours drive from where I live. the air was still chilly there and the sweet floral plates you see in these pics were picked up at a makeshift shop in town. I was actually given the one with the scalloped edge for free, along with its mate, which was a lovely souvenir. 

something very exciting happened this week - my sister had a baby girl, which means I'm an aunty. my niece's name is colette helen and I cannot wait to meet her. thankfully, my family has been sending me lots of photos of the little lady, who went home from hospital today.

and here are a few little finds from this weekend:
have a good week!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

cupcakes in the freezer

I learnt a few important lessons about food during tony's last stint away from home.  and if I could pass on any advice, it would be to freeze slices of cake. and then a few dinners, because there's something pretty special about coming home after a long day on the road, and defrosting a cupcake and something for tea.

a few weeks ago I made a schoolboy error and tried to cook most nights while I was home alone and pack my lunch for work. and so I spent a lot of time cooking and cleaning up after myself, which wasn't fun. I had no idea I was capable of creating so much mess.

thankfully, I also made the mistake of cooking for 6-8 people for most meals so this time round, I'm enjoying the odd freezer meals on days that I really need it.

here are three new food discoveries:

  • jamie oliver's oven baked spaghetti. I made it tonight as part of an attempt to find the yummiest bolognese recipe. it's my most favourite comfort food dinner. I'd definitely make this one again.
  • smitten kitchen's spinach quiche. I made the real spinach version with some mini leeks. I am very sad that there's only one slice left. I think it'll stay in the freezer for an emergency!
  • maggie beer's new peanut butter and chocolate ripple ice cream. three great things combined.

hope you're having a good week!

Monday, October 7, 2013

a lovely long weekend

I'm back in wagga after spending the long weekend in canberra with tony, who will be staying there for the next 5 weeks.  I had the best time and am looking forward to visiting him over the next month, it's always fun to visit a city.

we spent the weekend making the most of city things, so eating at different cafes, doing a bit of shopping, having lots of coffee, stopping at book shops and galleries.

I have been dying to see the doco style film 'stories we tell' ever since I read about it in may. luckily it was playing at the cinema close to where we were staying. every year there are two or three movies that tempt me to travel to a city just to see them on a big screen, so I felt super lucky that the screening coincided with my preplanned visit.

I liked the film but I think I loved its title and concept a little more than its execution. still, it was beautifully shot and complex. there were lots of behind the scenes elements included in the movie which satisfied my curiosity about how stories are made and told.

we stayed at university house, which in a former life housed visiting academics. the apartment was neat and it felt like we'd travelled back in time.  the apartment building was surrounded by manicured gardens, which included a small fishpond and best of all, there was a buffet breakfast every morning.

we took an early evening walk around the campus on saturday. tony used to live on campus so he showed me his old college and pointed out paths he used to take into town.

and soon it was time for me to go home. I had a one-way greyhound ticket and hopped on a bus this afternoon. I was sad to leave tony behind and am glad we had such a yummy and relaxing weekend together.

on the bus I snoozed, snacked, listened to radio documentaries and music. in my hand luggage I had a small loaf of japanese style milk bread which made it home with minimal damage, though my jar of special cooking chocolate was not quite so lucky.

the trip went quickly and I loved watching the scenery from up high. I saw lots of things I don't get to glimpse when I'm travelling in a car.

there will be lots more canberra adventures to come :)