Saturday, December 22, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like -


Just about to jump on a plane to the Philippines.  It won't really be Christmas until I see my family, but seeing how a different city gets into the spirit has been so fun!  Mama Goog also spoiled us with carolers in our cafes, hot chocolate and cider in the courtyard and even a day of Christmas crafts (I still had glitter on my desk when I checked out on Friday).  No photos of that but here are a couple of my favourite snaps from around the hoods -
Unbelievable Christmas house on one of the city's steep roads - drove here with a friend especially!
Christmas lights I ran past one night in my neighborhood.  There's a stalker inside of me that loves looking in and seeing people's Christmas trees, especially when they have big bay windows.
Ok, I'm ready to see paper stars on doorways and over-the-top nativity scenes in the tropical heat now.

Happy holiday weekend!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nesting, Part 1.5

Overcast weather makes for nice soft lighting for this shot, haha.

Accomplishments of note:

1. I have Internet

2. IKEA furniture upright and fully assembled by my own fair hands (shelf, table, chairs - basically if it was white and standing still, I bought it)

3. The cardboard box you see in the bottom right hand corner is the last of the boxes - am trotting off to the recycling bin to get rid of it now, then off to finish my Christmas shopping!

Happy weekend  :)

Monday, December 10, 2012


Beautiful day to be at work!  This is the tree-lined path that the shuttle rolls into every morning.
The sun is being overwhelmingly present and kind to us in this part of the world today, I just had to share.  What a glorious welcome to work!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Nesting, Part 1

This weekend was my official move in to my new San Francisco home - so exciting!  Being the anal retentive project manager that I was, I scheduled three successive deliveries over 24 hours, mastered the public transport system to get a bus to MUJI (priorities) and went to the holiday party.  One thing I will say is that customer service here is really unrivaled - all of the deliveries came within the two-hour time slots I was given, and the movers el Goog organised even folded and put all my clothes away for me!  (They were also much taller than me and I now can't reach the shelves they put my own sweaters are on, but details, details).

A couple of sunny in-progress snaps:
Kitchen pieces arriving from Australia.  Bowls: check, baking tray: check, ceramic doughnut: check.
The coordination challenge that is building IKEA furniture.  I will have you note that there is a bed (a bed!) in the other room now - no more 'futon' (read = pile of folded blankets) for me.

And now to continue my degree in using an allen key.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Don't let anyone tell you that In-N-Out is a bad idea.  In fact, it turns out to be the greatest thing you can do on a Monday after work with a friend.  I resisted the double double but couldn't help going animal-style on the fries.  It was both the very best, and very worst way to start the week.
It's just one gigantic mess, effectively.
Mmm.  On a side note, I think I was also just craving red meat.
Ok Tuesday, I am ready for you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Be kind

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."

- Plato, words that have been around for awhile via Pinterest

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New home

Well, the outside of it anyway.

I was not enough of a dork to whip out my camera at the apartment viewing, but I *was* excited enough to take a quick snap of it from down the street.  So pretty!  My little spot is one of the windows facing out at the top.  I've also included an immortalisation of the last exhausted breakfast I had at Starbucks, just an hour before I went to go see this place.  The coffee chain deserves a special shout out for acting as my temporary office between viewings, what with its wifi and coffee that isn't great but at least isn't drip.
Ok, so I admit I enjoyed the bagels.  It's hard to get a bagel wrong.
Corner of Pacific and Fillmore, and only a quick little walk to the Goog shuttle stop!  Perfection.
Oh and the sun!  The sun floods into the little studio I am to call home.  Makes all the difference.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Giving thanks

Well folks, this weekend has been a big one - I enjoyed my first ever Thanksgiving, caught up with new and old friends and somewhere in between even managed to sign a lease!  So, so much to be thankful for, one of the greatest things being that I no longer have to troll Craigslist every half hour.  I will spare you the unnecessary number of photos I have of my new place (for now) in favour of sharing this sunny little harvest I had in a friend's backyard on Thursday.  With the sun out full force and persimmons weighing heavily on their tree, I got to see an impromptu first picking of the season. The fruits were still a little firm, but perfectly sweet:
Heavy bunches of persimmon ready for picking.
Tug and catch!  This was the closest I got to an action shot, but I missed the burst of leaves that came with each successful pull.
I love the star in the middle. 
The fruits of our labour.  Well,  not my labour - but I did sit, snack and supervise.
Sitting barefoot with a coffee on their steps, it was the perfect way to start a day of thanks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tahoe, I love you

Was too knackered to post yesterday, but the weekend just gone was an introduction to the very beautiful Lake Tahoe.  Some very kind (new!) friends invited me along to share this palace of a cabin, it was just like the kind of place I expect the Tanners from Full House to holiday in - huge a-frame ceilings, decorative bear paraphernalia everywhere (think five foot stuffed teddy bears for the bed, painted on the lamps, bear silhouettes carved into coasters) and three floors deep to accommodate everything from the pool table and the outdoor hot tub.  Great conversations had, by the fire and while playing the greatest card game ever.

And then, there was snow.
So many pinecones.  Sadly they were all wet, otherwise a bag would've come home with me.
Snow!  Didn't throw it, just held it.  I love snow.
Our mansion of a cabin - note the remnants of snow.  Snow!
The beautiful drive home, incredible how so many landscapes and climates are only hours away from each other.
Snow!  The prospect of winter just got a whole lot better.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Be afraid

My whole life I've been telling myself "don't be afraid."

And it is only now that I'm realising how stupid that is. Don't be afraid.  Like saying "don't move out of the way when someone tries to punch you" or "don't flinch at the heat of a fire" or "don't blink"; don't be human.

I'm afraid and you're afraid and we're all always going to be afraid.  Because that's the point.

What I should be telling myself is "be afraid but do it anyway."  

Live anyway.

I can't find the source, but this has been making the rounds recently, possibly because someone typed it up using a pretty, folksy font on paper texture and it made its way to Pinterest.  Good words.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

From house to home

This space has been a little quiet lately, I'm not going to lie to you - the last couple of weeks has been a lot a lot a lot of work.  I could have days where before lunch I think 'I'm totally nailing this - someone high-five me!' and the next minute I'm convinced they've hired the wrong person.  Sounds dramatic, but I'm fairly sure these are just the normal motions when starting a new job, in a new place.

With all of that going on I wanted to make my temporary corporate housing feel more like home, a place to relax away from work, as soon as possible.  I found there were a few key moves to doing this, which I'm going to write down for future Lorna, in case she ever has to do this again:
This is really weird but I actually took a picture of the last time I went grocery shopping to make dinner in Sydney.  I just really love Harris Farm!  And I made lamb ragu, for those who want to know.
First self-cooked meal - a very tired cous cous with vegetables the day I flew in.
1. Remove all symbols of impermanence

Put away the plastic sign in the living room that tells you what the wifi password is, and move your suitcase out of sight.  Throw out the parts of the welcome basket that you're not planning to eat and shelve the basket.  Take the bathroom towels that have been concertinaed to look like a sea shell and fold them into squares for the linen cupboard.

2. Replace these with things that symbolise 'home'

Take some of your favourite things - photos, that card that someone gave you, your jewellery box - and put them around the house in places where you can see all the time.  In my case I've huddled all of these things on my dressing table, along with an incense burner - this does make it look a little creepily like a shrine but it makes me happy  :)

3. Introduce signs of life

In the same way that robots are trolling Mars for life, make it so that if someone were to break into your house tomorrow they could clearly see that someone is living there.  Buy some flowers to put in a vase or invest in a purely decorative pumpkin (I may have done this).  Let an onion lie around on your kitchen bench.  Light some candles.

4. Adopt your previous 'home habits' where you can

I've ordered my clothes drawers in the same sequence (underwear down the bottom, then scarves) and I keep the same whale keychain from C that I've always had.  Laundry and groceries are still done on Sundays, and I blog after dinner.

5. Be domestic in ways that tourists aren't

These will emerge out of necessity because your underwear is not going to clean itself, but make sure you do things in your new home and neighborhood that a tourist wouldn't.  Buying a jumbo roll of cling wrap can be one of those things.

And that has been my week of late.  Not mentioned are things like trying my first microwave dinner, but I'm saving that for another day.

Goodnight everyone!  Enjoy home.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

LA Weekend

When C told me he was going to be in LA for my first weekend here I was a little annoyed at first - it so soon after we'd just said goodbye and I, in true first-world-problem style, wanted to evenly space out the intervals of when we'd get to see each other.

Anyway, I take that thought back now.

I'm going to put it down to having gained an extra working day when I got here, but the week just gone felt like one of the longest I'd ever had.  By the time Friday rolled around it was only the prospect of tacos for dinner with C that got me through the day - such a happy reunion in his hotel lobby!  Saturday was sadly the only full day we had to ourselves, but from the pictures below you can see it was the Best.  Day.  Ever.  After I conceded that pursuing a cupcake ATM wasn't really a gameplan, we decided to take a long drive around the coast which saw us from snowcones at Venice Beach through to watching the sunset at Santa Monica before sampling one of "LA's best burgers".

It was around this moment that 'Hotel California' *actually* came on the radio.  See what I mean about best day ever?
Venice beach is exactly how you expect it to be from the movies - skateboarders and short shorts, painted rastafarians singing at you, 'doctors' who wear baseball caps.  I loved it!
The sunset from Santa Monica Pier was something straight out of a postcard.
The famous burger at Comme Ca in West Hollywood - once again Yelp came through for us.
On the recommendation of our waitress, we walked a couple of blocks to Roger Room for mint juleps, before the nicest door man ever helped us hail down taxis back to the hotel.  
Goodbyes were hard at the airport today, but hey at least we got an extra hour in with the time change.  We're on a hangout now, planning our next burger  :)

Hope you had a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New 'residency'

At a friend's wedding, the almost full moon on my last Sydney weekend.
US Customs officer: "You crossed out 'Country of Residency'."
Me: "Well, I didn't understand whether you wanted to know where I've come from or where I'm going."

I don't even know what the answer was, he filled it in for me and then said "good luck with the job" before sending me on my way.  One chicken sandwich and hilarious cab ride later, I've done the groceries, worked out where my shuttle stop is and even cooked my first meal here - assuming you are with me and you consider cous cous and vegetables fried up in a pile a 'meal'.  Been going through photos from my last week before I get stuck into it tomorrow - I can't thank my family and friends enough all the wonderful well wishes and multiple send offs (I'm seeing C this weekend in LA, that farewell hasn't hit me yet so lets save that goodbye for later).

I am very blessed.  Good to know I can always come back if I mess it up over here too  :)

Goodnight, new country of residency.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The early ride

Flew back into my last week in Sydney this morning, jetlagged as I am I'm going through some of the photos I took while over there.  I totally forgot about this moment, but one morning when I was on the early shuttle this was the view outside my window.  It was so peaceful to be silently rushing along the pale stretches of water; I felt rewarded for my early start.  

I'm capturing this now in the hope that helps fuel a new rhythm of getting up early to get some quiet time in before breakfast.

Here's to getting the early ride.  And with that, I am early to bed.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Home trip

Some snaps of my 'home trip' in progress.  There was work in there too, but hey you don't want to see pictures of that.
View from my hotel right next to ever touristy Union Square.
Moment of extreme dork - got close to Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere at her  book signing and took this stalker photo.  This is the kind of person I am.
Obligatory tourist shot at The Embarcadero by the wharf.
Waiting for 'San Francisco's best ramen' at Katana-Ya - it lived up to its reputation, and was conveniently located across from our hotel.
Have finally scrubbed off evidence of Blondie's Bar, which started with dancing and ended with hotdogs, as all good night outs should.
And now, to bed.  Good night new home, and good afternoon Sydney!

Hope the already come Monday is treating you well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feeling vs thinking

I don't know who this woman is but I feel like she'd be a great person to have lunch with:

"Whenever I start thinking too much I say to myself 'stop thinking - this is a very dangerous moment; this will end badly."

Nothing wrong with thinking or thoughts, but don't you ever over-worry or over-think things to the point where it's unhelpful?  Sometimes I do it to the point where my head starts to hurt, almost like getting drunk on thinking and then getting a 'thinking hangover'.

She also makes a good case for going for a walk.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

So Sydney

Currently fighting the jetlag off in my first few hours SF - am here for what they call a brief 'home trip' (which sounded strange to me as I still consider Sydney my home, but the purpose of this is to scope out your new 'home' before moving out here).  As I haven't ventured beyond my laptop in the hotel and eating these to stay awake (demolished half a box already, someone please stop me), I thought I'd do a roundup of my 'so Sydney' activities of late.

The weekend past has been full of all of my favourite local things, in fact I consider this post the ultimate weekend for anyone thinking of coming to visit Sydney full stop.
Lunch with a view over at The Bucket List, Bondi.
The always stunning Icebergs kicking off the Bondi to Coogee walk.
Noodle markets in Hyde Park with friends from out of town.
Taking the Manly ferry back to the city after lunch at Hugo's and beers at 4 Pines.
A long awaited dinner for two at the newly opened Movida Sydney - we got lucky and just turned up for a table last Saturday,  only had to wait 20 mins over a vino at 121 BC, which we didn't mind at all!
At least the sunshine has followed me here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

'Baby otter' is my favourite

This TED talk found me via a comment on this post on play.  Ironic that I have been too busy to watch it until recently, but as it turns out all of my time at work looking out the window and googling for baby animals has been adding years to my life.
Game designer Jane McGonical talks about how games boost resilience, extend your life and directly have you getting away from having the top five regrets of the dying.  Watch from the ~12 minute mark if you just want to play her 'game'.

A playful finish to the long weekend.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

If -

I was reminded of this on the ever excellent A Cup of Jo recently - feeling worn out I was drawn to the post's title of 'Encouragement', and then had the joy of marinating in these great words all over again.  I first came across this poem when my high school English teacher printed out a copy for me in the last class my final year.  Funny that these words have found me again, at this turning point in my life.
The sunny calming waters over at my new favourite spot today.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,

And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run—

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And—which is more—you'll be a Man, my son!

Monday, September 24, 2012

The non-critical

A hotdog from who knows where, likely somewhere open 24 hours.
Preparing for my move, there are so many mandatory things on my to do list at the moment.  As alluring as chasing up my VISA application is, I thought I might compile a list of completely superficial, non-critical things I can look forward to once I'm there instead (excluding the prospect of new friends and the general thrill of a new city):

1. Taking recipes from my US favourite food blogs will be a whole lot easier as I'll have easy access to all the ingredients and stores they describe.

2. In-n-OutSephora and Banana Republic (in that order).

3. If I mess something up I get to say 'I'm new here' and I won't be lying.

4. Baristas at the office.

5. If I read about something in most blogs I like I could realistically at some point go to where they've been.

6. Stores that I like often have a petite sections - here's to never taking up a pair of pants again and 'cropped' actually meaning cropped.

7. A long weekend in New York is not out of the question.  Actually, seeing New York for the first time period!

8. More yoga loving, raw food, pseudo healthy options (organic Mexican anyone?) for the days when I decide that I'm on a vauge health kick, like today.

9. The number of online stores that will ship to me free multiplies tenfold.

10. Being able to nest a home all on my own in prep for C coming (maybe I will get a Taskrabbit to help me).  

Ok.  Back to paperwork mountain.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Failsafe vegan gingerbread

Discovered this recipe via my brother, a once vegan with gingerbread cravings.  I have been known to fail at making a cup of instant coffee, so for me to say that I am yet to ruin a batch of these really proves them as failsafe.  As they store well they can be made in advance as a gift or in my case, for that baby shower you're going to on the weekend (yes, I know).
Over-index on the amount of flour you use to roll the dough out, and cover your hands with it too.
When they say 'chill for an hour in the fridge' they really mean that, it can't be replaced with 8 minutes in the freezer (so I found).
Look at all those little guys!  If they're super floppy and hard to transfer from your bench to the tray it's probably because you took that aforementioned shortcut when chilling the dough.  Come on admit it, don't blame the internet recipe.
Well hello there!  This one was a little cracked because I rolled the dough out thicker than it should've been - but again, I just left them to cool and the cracks just sort of melded together.  More importantly, it was no less delicious!

Other fun facts - molasses can be replaced with treacle, you can undercook them slightly for chewier gingerbread, or overcook them slightly if you want crunchy, and finally any time you lose the recipe, you can just google 'vegan gingerbread' and it's the first result.

Happy gingerbaking!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


"The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. 

Nothing else really counts at all." 

Ted Hughes in a letter to his son.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bird and Bear

Tea and sunshine.

Finally made it to Bird and Bear after so many recommendations from friends, and it is just as delightful as described.

Wandered over yesterday for a tea in the afternoon sun, which was the perfect recovery activity post the half marathon.  The cafe sits squarely on the jetty open to all the elements, if you squint while looking out to the water you could convince yourself you're on holiday.

Will surely be returning just as soon as C is back to share one of their hampers on offer by the water.

Sunday links

Love Aesop, stocked up on a body scrub to shed my winter skin.
Sunday, Sunday.

Remember Roseanne?  "These are girls things, Darlene, as long as a girl is using them" - a great quote that I'm sure was lost on me at the time.

An interesting Q&A - what has your time as a police officer taught you about life and society?

Charles Darwin puts together an interesting list of pros and cons.  It does finish with marriage as the way to go, Q.E.D.

And one of my favourite teenagers on the internet - Tavi Gevinson on 'still figuring it out'.  She finishes with Steve Nicks, which got me listening to Landslide again.  Great Sunday evening tune.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Merely an indication

Came across this 'article on saying no' - basically a comprehensive run down of how you can stick to more 'hell yeahs'.  Nothing ground breaking but I loved how she articulated this:

"...the first part of learning to say NO is learning to accept that offers and opportunities are merely an indication that you’re on the right path - not that you’ve arrived at a final destination you can never find again."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Be brave

Flowers from a friend.

"Be brave enough to break your own heart."

From one of the classic Dear Sugar columns I was re-reading recently.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend trip to wine country

Just got back from a quick trip to the Hunter Valley as part of an early birthday present for C.  As the weekend was for him, I tried lambs brains French-style for the first time here, and I also discovered golf isn't as boring as it looks; I became obsessive with finding other people's lost balls - it sort of became like a weird easter egg hunt for me.

And of course, we bought wine.
We came...
We tried some wine...
We probably bought too much of it.
The glorious drive home.
With a happy belly, it's time for bed.