Thursday, June 30, 2011

Comfort food

With the brisk, cloudy days we are having, I thought I'd finish up the week with a couple of my favourite comfort food moments this week - one self-made and the other dining out.  Each so delicious, I'd be happy to do them all over again on the weekend:

1. Dining out: Beef ragu with pappardelle at a tavola

I want it again now
I cannot rave enough about this place - they serve up the best homemade pastas (which you can see them drying in the kitchen window) in a cosy, contemporary setting and the service always makes you feel at home.  Full review on my sister blog here.

2. Dining in: Chicken rice curry (made with spices from Fiji)

Let's face it, C actually did most of the cooking
Curry powder turns everything brown
Served up with raw pear homemade raita
Note the trackpants in the background of my last picture, as I was eating this in front of the TV.  Awesome comfort food moment!

Impossible is the point

Reaching redwoods in Santa Cruz
During university (and evidently still now) I was obsessed with the theorist Tony Fry*, specifically for his papers on sustainability.  One day I heard he was in town speaking at my old university - hence I left work early to go back to uni and soak in every minute of the hour he was lecturing for, sitting at the side of the theater like a creepy ex-student who wants to never wanted to graduate.

I don't remember much of the talk, but my attendance was made worthwhile for one quote alone when I approached him after he was done speaking.  I gushed to him about how he has formed so much of what I believe about design, and what it means for us to build a sustainable future - but as we've educated ourselves on this issue we've become a society burdened with the idea that we've reached peak oil, our grandkids may never taste fish and our world is going to waste.

Me, rambling:
"How do you get to bed at night without being weighted and overwhelmed about all the change to be done?  I mean, you know it's not going to happen right?"

Tony Fry Genius Man: 
"You have to remember that the greatest things man has ever achieved have been done in the pursuit of what was impossible."

He went on to talk about not doubting the power of the individual, and that I should know it's not my responsibility to change the world, just myself.  Movements are made of people.

But more to the point, we are to pursue the impossible in order to achieve great, game-changing things.  Reminds me of that reaching for the starts quote too.

*If you really must know what prompted me to remember this, it was my love for purchasing natural fibres - you'd think it's a good thing for the environment, when in fact our wool consumption supports a strong portion of our growing air pollution (sheep emissions from mass farming).  Ah thank goodness for Tony or I'd never sleep.

The perfect grey

I've been trying to hunt down the perfect grey cowl to throw over all my current winter ensembles (for some reason all of my winter clothes are always in dark tones, hence I need something to lift it so I don't get mistaken for Zorro's wife).

Needless to say I am thrilled with my latest online purchase of this 'Nuage cowl' in the perfect light grey via etsy:

Come on postman...

It fulfills all of my criteria (chunky knit, oversized, natural fibers) and best of all it's handmade.  Oh and the seller TickledPinkKnits has her studio based in New York (come on, don't tell me I'm the only one who gives extra kudos to sellers in cool cities you admire).  Was so tempted to go with the bright mustard one but who am I kidding, I'm a sucker for anything in a neutral shade.

p.s. If you're already an Etsy fan but haven't tried the Etsy Taste Test, you must!  It brings you search results according to your selected tastes; be prepared to lose hours...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The skyline that you know

Our apartment in Sydney's Kings Cross doesn't look over anything particularly impressive, but there is something so comforting about coming home and seeing a skyline that feels like home:

The view of the eastern suburbs from our shoebox
If I crane my neck out to the left I can see my goal-setting friend's balcony  Also note the bright lights of Westfield in the distance.  Yup,  not super fancy but am definitely home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Goal setting with a friend: 3 Things / Week

There is a theory that if you want to achieve the goals that you set for yourself, you shouldn't tell others about what you want to do.

The psychology behind this is that once you tell a friend / colleague about what you're going to do, they'll congratulate you for setting such a good goal for yourself, and this will release enough feel-good chemicals in your body to make feel like you've come close enough to achieving it (thereby demotivating you), when actually you've done nothing at all.

I'm in two minds about this approach, because I also feel there can be a lot of merit in having a friend keep you accountable to a goal and checking in on its progress week on week, and vice versa.  Hence I tried an experiment recently with a friend where for 3 weeks we shared 3 goals that we wanted to achieve in that week, then gave an update week on week.

One of my three things was to go to a bar method class one week
These were a mix of both concrete and abstract goals e.g. one of my weekly goals was "Become more conscious of stopping myself when I compare my performance with other people's - inspired by this quote" and another one was just "Go for a 5k run without stopping".  At the end of the three weeks both she and I got there on some of our goals, and others we only went halfway with, but it was good thinking exercise nonetheless that I thoroughly recommend!

If anything I really enjoyed being able to bounce of my ideas and plans with a buddy and also get some insight into someone else's goals and how they go about achieving them.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Island break

Flew in from Fiji last night - it was so amazing!  They say this in all the brochures but it really isn't an exaggeration that Fijians have to be some of the friendliest people in the world.  Restaurants where you can put your feet in the sand, delicious seafood and some of the most incredible fish I've seen up close snorkeling - our four days had all the things you could want from a brief island getaway.

Get excited...
Following a truck of cows to our hotel
Cocktails and chess by the pool
Get your snorkel on!
Basket making (I really want to be able to do this at home)

Couldn't get enough of the papaya - they even cut it fresh for you!
What's better than a sausage sizzle?  A sausage sizzle on a private island.  (Yes, I do realise that I am accruing an impressive collection of food pictures across countries)
Rain on our last day - the cab back to the airport

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

- Thomas Edison

Definition of happiness

I know this is going to make me look far too easy to please, but when you're still fighting jetlag and all the clothes you actually want to wear are in dirty bundles in your suitcase, the definition of happiness is someone coming home with your favourite Japanese take-out for you to hoover at your own dining table, before passing out in bed:

I get so excited when it arrives
Demolishing it
Fiji tomorrow!  Can't wait.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Feeling lucky?

"I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it."

- Thomas Jefferson

This is my go-to quote whenever someone asks me about luck and its role in how our careers and lives pan out.  Good thoughts as we enter hump day.

Monday, June 20, 2011

What we repeatedly do

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.  We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.  We are what we repeatedly do. 

Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."

 - Aristotle

Last snaps

Final California days...

Surprise farewell bbq with our team, featuring makeshift vege kebabs (amazing)
Last shuttle back
Bay Bridge on the walk home
Farewell drinks!
Steamy sewerage holes on the walk home
Packing bleeeeeh (I was overweight)
Airport food.  Yep, Big Macs taste exactly the same all over the world - except the Ketchup is labeled as 'Fancy' (?)
I never buy magazines except at the airport
Had the most amazing six weeks but feels so so good to be home - more posts later!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Secret post office

Was going through my phone pics as I attempt to pack 6 weeks into a bag, and remembered I wanted to post about this:

I was so excited I took a photo
I always feel a such a great sense of victory when I find something that helps me streamline my life admin.  The post box at Google aside, I discovered there's a post office in the basement of Macy's at Union Square.  Note how easy it makes sending postcards:

1. It's open on the weekends until 5:00pm
2. Being at Macy's it's super easy to navigate to without consulting a map
3. If you're a tourist you're likely going to troll around Union Square at some point

Life admin win!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Raindrops on roses -

What's better than surrounding yourself with all of your favourite things?  When life surprises you by throwing you one of your most favourite things ever in a way that you didn't even think was possible - my work did that very thing for me this week.

This weekend past I took a trip to Mountain View to meet up with friends and troll their farmers' markets before our trip to Santa Cruz (we also needed to buy our snacks for the beach from somewhere, obviously):

Get excited...
There's flowers wrapped in newspaper
Homemade sorbets in little brown cups...
And boxes and boxes of strawberries (with free samples on the way, of course).
With all of the above, you can see how farmers' markets are easily one of my favourite things, especially when I'm in a new city (it makes me feel like I'm a local).  Needless to say I was beyond over the moon when Google threw us our very own farmers' market this week!  With local farmers!  And we were given hessian bags and just told to wander around picking out what we like! (I went nuts).

I discovered 'Frickles' (fried dill pickles)...
I hoovered them up with their organic yoghurt sauce and a mini waffle...
And picked up a pile of delicious snacks as well as a gerbera for my desk!
I felt like one of my all-time favourite weekend pastimes was picked up and transported to my workplace for me to enjoy mid-week.  Actually, that's exactly what happened.  Too too good!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Rolling into work this morning I thought of one of my favourite quotes:

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm"

It's up there on my desk wall along with that other quote.  I picked up these words when I saw them framed up on someone else's desk the first time I was visiting headquarters here; she was someone who I really admired and I thought 'well if she thinks this sentiment is good enough to be framed, I'm going to look at it every day too'.

Out the shuttle window
Good thoughts as we enter hump day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chasing the sun into Santa Cruz

I remember when I was studying in the German winter and there would be whole weeks that went by without ever seeing the sun.  On the rare days that it would show its face, I would sit with my friends in the park, following the patch of sun as it moved across the grass.

Not much has changed as I chase the sun across the neighbourhoods here - in this case with the very same German buddy.

View of the boardwalk
Cruising the bric-a-brac beach markets, I'm pretty sure these stalls are the same all around the world - they're basically always a spread of what looks like someone's living room emptied out onto a card table (I love it).
BYO snacks on the beach
German company in the California sun
Obsessed with the flowers that grow by the sea here - they're everywhere!

Monday, June 13, 2011

To health

Felt I should probably balance out all those hot dogs and pretzels of previous posts (both in real life, and on here), hence I enjoyed this gorgeous run after work today.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit to squinting and pretending I was on the set of Dawson's Creek at different points.

I may have also just turned up 'I don't want to wait' while typing this.  Just try listening to that song and not thinking of Pacey and Joey!  Wholesome choices all round.

This track opens up behind work...
From the right angle you don't see the power lines.
Green dinner-to-go on the shuttle home

Monday Memo: What are you doing to do when you get home?

Going home?
One great thing about working in a different office for a few weeks is that people constantly ask you what you hope to do, what you've done and what you've learned from it all.  As a champion of self-reflection I'm theoretically asking myself these things all the time, but one casual question that someone came up with really struck a chord with me, maybe because it was so practical -

"So, what are you going to do when you get home?
I mean, you can't just go back and continue doing all the same things that you're already comfortable with."

It's a less hopelessly breathless way of saying 'Do One Thing A Day That Scares You' (I'm sure you've seen this on a fridge magnet at some point, if not on the Lululemon Athletica bags); it made me consider in more real terms what has actually changed (if anything) and what hasn't.

What are you going to do when you get home?  You don't need to be halfway across the world to ask that question.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gets me every time

No matter how many times I visit San Francisco there is a list of things that I always do without fail, even if I've done them so many times before.  Being my second last week here I thought I'd do a roundup:

Act like a tourist and take a picture of the Golden Gate bridge whenever I get a glimpse of it
Eat a sandwich with too many multiple meats in it
Try on everything at Zara, without waiting
Take pictures of the fennel that grows wild in the streets
Walk around the sculpture garden at MOMA... the sun was going down at this point :(