Saturday, June 29, 2013

the last days of june

goodbye june, it's been a productive month and it was especially nice to spend a whole month at home.

everyday giving

something really nice has started happening in my office, a small exchange of gifts has started up, with most presents being given for no reason at all.

last week I found a party bag on my desk, filled with homemade butter cookies and a fat slice of butter cake with bright red icing. my friend had carried it home from melbourne, it was a souvenir from her niece's 5th birthday party.

she's a fellow sweet tooth, so I love to leave cookies or slices of cake on her desk when I bake.

we're a small team, and it was a big change for me to come from a 800+ person office in sydney to an office with around 9 people. but in lots of ways it is really nice. in a small space, it's impossible not to know what's going on in each others lives, big or little.

we know if someone's been too busy to eat lunch, and sandwiches are bought. when I went into work after finding out that my aunt helen had died, I just had to look at one of my friends and she knew right away what had happened.

in the last few months, there's been a whole cake made for one of the girls who has received some sad news about a sick family member, a bunch of homegrown parsley for a colleague recovering from a cold, a bunch of flowers to bring some brightness to a tough week, and cookies, lots of cookies changing hands.

this week I was inspired by this blog to pack a dinner for one of the new girls in the office. she's been with us for a couple of months now and the job is her first full time gig. she moved from another town to take it.

talking to her about her move and settling in, I was reminded of a few things like how my first job coincided with moving home a few times, which made it an exciting but also a confusing time. I was also reminded of all of the little things people did for tony and I when we moved here to make us feel welcome and included.

I packed her a  box of risotto and a tub of my favourite chocolate mousse from the deli in town and was so excited to give it to her.

and now to choose what to bake tomorrow. I'm tempted to make this choc chip bundt cake, a marble cake or a chocolate coconut slice.

one week until I take a little holiday! have a good weekend.

Monday, June 24, 2013

good things from this weekend, in no particular order:
  • my new elephant shaped watering can (it's yellow!) for tending to our small but growing collection of potted herbs
  • a shared square of chocolate coconut slice
  • seeing a sydney dance theatre production on friday night, g was amazing
  • more dancing at the refugee family dayi n town
  • a new striped t-shirt for $2.50
  • sleeping in
  • cheese
  • stocking up the fridge
  • finally sticking a huge pile of cut out and printed out recipes into my book
  • supplies for a small sewing project
  • my favourite super easy pasta dinner on sunday night
  • daydreaming about a future trip to france (I want to stay here - it has a kitchen in a cupboard)
  • new colourful socks
  • good news from sydney after a bit of a hospital scare
  • and custard made from scratch (I've only been craving it for a week!). we ate it with this yummy rhubarb tart
and something from this week, a story I helped produce was on life matters on radio national this morning. you can read about the project, or listen to the story. it's a first-person story read by the writer, based on the theme 'someone who shaped me'. I worked on the soundscape for this project a month or so ago, when I spent a few weeks working in sydney. there will be more to come!

and something for next week - kitchen cabinet returns! I can't wait!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

meeting matilda. today, a midweek day off to make up for working over the weekend. tony's marking uni assignments at the moment and was able to work from home which meant we could share a few meals. it is suddenly freezing in wagga wagga, the morning fogs seem thicker and tends to drag into the day but we're better prepared for the cold, this being our third year in town.

in the afternoon, I visited my friend janine, who I haven't seen since the end of last year. which is shameful considering she's a 2 minute drive from my house. she has a brand new puppy called matilda, and we caught up while matilda jumped around us, peed on a cushion, and fell asleep on janine's lap and then mine. apparently when she drinks from her doggy bowl, her little ears get wet. so sweet!

my first ever book of poetry arrived just in time for my day off, so I had a lovely afternoon snacking on biscuits and reading. I made these lemon meringue biscuits last night and highly recommend them, they're super straightforward to make and light and airy. back to work tomorrow!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

mini weekend. just lots of fun little things this weekend, coffee and a cookie to celebrate the end of the work week yesterday afternoon, then pizza and onion rings at the new-ish place in town and woody allen's latest movie. 

and then this morning, I made some wholewheat lemon and blueberry scones and enough sourdough mix for two loaves. I'm planning to make potato and leek soup this afternoon and then call it a day.

I'm enjoying this blog and hinting at tony to plan a trip with me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

when the internet makes you happy, and then sad. I fell in love with this yay cake the other week, I looked at it multiple times the day I found it and was determined to try it. I bought a huge chunk of peppermint flavoured black fondant and some letter cutters from the special cake decorating store in town. I hoped to make the yay cake for a friend but wondered about whether every slice would have a yay on it and how you would know where to cut.

so I made a practice cake mix cake. here are my yays cut out.

and here's what it looked like on the inside. like a total failure.

it was funny in a way and I'm not completely deterred. I'll have another go, maybe I'll cut the letter thicker this time, make a lighter cake like a sponge and double check that the icing won't melt.

anyway there are plenty of things on the internet that still make me happy. like:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

three photos from sunday. I love long weekends. when I got my first full time job I had to work all public holidays, in exchange for 6 weeks of leave. the extra leave was great but if I could choose, I would take public holidays any day. an extra day here and there makes a huge difference and means I'm never on the train to work while everyone else is sleeping in or on their way to a bbq.

I had a quiet home day yesterday with lots of snacking and a little bit of baking. it was sophie's birthday and after much deliberation and one failed practice cake, I made her a lemon and coconut sponge cake. below is a pretty posy from her garden that we received last week. so pretty!

have a good week!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

a saturday drive. yesterday we drove to the bago state forest, to visit the sugar pine walk which is somewhere between batlow and tumbarumba and about 2 hours from wagga. the original plan was to spend some of the long weekend in country victoria, only we were a bit too disorganised (and a little bit cheap!) to make the trip.

it didn't matter because this drive was awesome. I'd heard lots of really good things about the sugar pine walk but when we arrived I was surprised by how quiet and eerie it was. we were the only ones there and the trees were scary in a sublime way.

the trees were so tall and structured that they seemed to dull most of the sounds around us, and the pine needles on the ground dampened sounds even more. we heard the occasional bird, a tiny bit of wind and our own muffled footsteps.

there's a neatly planned corridor that runs down the middle of the forest, and you'd walk around tree stumps that had been cleared to make the walk. the corridor is short and leads to a few other paths. it seemed simple enough but we lost the corridor a few times when we went for a short wander. tony had insisted on bringing our provisions on the walk, which included a box of nuts, some cinnamon slice, two apples and a giant bottle of water. turns out we didn't need them because the walk wasn't that long.

tony was very patient while I took photo after photo. he also took a few of me because my photo collection looks like the adventures of tony.

we ate cake for lunch at the cutest cafe in tumbarumba, found a few second hand books and drove home as the sun went down. it was a very lovely saturday.

Friday, June 7, 2013

we used to live near this really funny restaurant in sydney, it was a japanese place where you could order a half size of any meal on the menu. tony and I took my brother there for his 14th birthday and he went a bit nuts with the half-half concept and ordered all kinds of mini meals in true teenage boy style.

the restaurant would serve this italian/japanese fusion spaghetti and the other night I had a go at making it. I used straw mushrooms, which was so much fun because when you cut them in half they smile at you!

so here's an adapted recipe for japanese style chicken and mushroom creamy spaghetti, tweaked from this site.

2 shallots, finely sliced, white bit only
1 can of straw mushrooms, each cut in half
a handful (or half pack) of shimeji mushroom, base removed
a handful of fresh shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
200g chicken thigh, cubed and seasoned with salt and pepper
250g or half a packet of spaghetti
1 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced or grated
2 tbsp plain flour
half a cup of fresh cream
1 cube of vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
a pinch of white pepper
1 sheet of toasted seaweed, finely sliced
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese, to serve

to make your pasta
  1. melt the butter in a fry pan over medium heat, and add the chopped shallots and finely grated garlic. sautee for 2-5 minutes.
  2. add the sliced chicken and fry until slightly browned.
  3. start boiling your water for the spaghetti.
  4. add the three types of mushrooms to the chicken mix and break the stock cube into the mix, you could turn the heat down a little at this point. after 3-5 minutes add the plain flour, soy sauce, mirin and white pepper and stir.
  5. cook your spaghetti until al dente.
  6. turn down the fry pan (or take it off the heat) and stir in the fresh cream.
  7. once your spaghetti is done, add it and some of the pasta water to the fry pan and toss.
  8. serve seasoned with crushed seaweed and parmesan cheese.

salty, creamy and delicious!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

hello from winter! I walked to work today through a freezing cold fog and by the time I arrived at the office my ears and fingers were burning. it was surprisingly fun and the weather did a good job of waking me up.

I had a sunday/monday weekend and yesterday I made my very first sourdough and it was a total triumph! it smelt very different to any other bread I've made before and it was really easy to make.

tony came home for a tangy tomato soup lunch and I spent the afternoon doing the shopping, baking a pear loaf, wrapping birthday presents and watching iview.

and then it was time for a surprise present delivery. I packed up some cake and this present and showed up on my friend's doorstop. her birthday isn't until friday but she usually takes the day off and I wanted to catch her before she disappeared on a mini holiday. she sent me home with quinces after a nice chat by the fire. I remain totally obsessed with cheryl strayed and bought her a copy of wild. 

it's not long til the long weekend but before then, I'm looking forward to editing some videos at work. it's been too long.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

three treats and scones for lunch. this week I learnt the gender of my sister's baby, which filled me with joy. I wanted to tell everyone about it, even though I wasn't allowed to, and even though none of my work friends have met my sister.

this week, we also tried out the new mexican place in town and I started reading a new book which came highly recommended by a friend. I've since become a little bit obsessed with the writer cheryl strayed. I read this chapter on helping someone deal with grief this afternoon and it was pretty amazing.

we enjoyed our sunday walk so much last weekend that we went for a long wander again today. here's one of my favourite houses on my street, I love the awning and windowsill flower box. I was too shy to creep closer for a better shot.

we did stop along the way, our main mission was to eat scones for lunch.

just now, tony's in the next room listening to chilly gonzales making tomato soup and garlic bread for dinner and I have the day off tomorrow. yippee!