thinking about…

sleeping on a silk pillowcase like these ones, which apparently stops your hair from waking up frowzy in the morning.

protecting rainforests full of endangered species and environments through the Orangutan Project.

starting better conversations.

enjoying my new taste for unwinding with sweet scented, rainbow coloured (and sometimes sparkling!) bath bombs.

trying these juicy looking burgers.

running more. this week my weights instructor saw me on the treadmills at the gym and came up in her own time to cheer me on. I have some weight I could stand to lose and I’m learning that it’s more fun to overcome my distaste for how uncomfortable it is than steer to clear waters. to celebrate, I started off by doing the colour run today!

working on personal growth in my thoughts on bad moods, negativity and my feelings thanks to my friend Beth.

believing that Sydney bagels could maybe be as good as New York ones.

loving my new skincare, which is finally clearing away my winter congestion and makes me feel like a proper lady.

soaking up the summer sun. Hence my pretty swimming lady!

image from Chase Jarvis

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five minutes.

I take so many photos – experimenting with my new camera, documenting with my iPhone. part of what this here blog was made to do is soak up all those extra photos, rather than letting them collect dust on my laptop. so here are five things I’ve been photographing recently, to share with you.

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  1. this windowsill is slowly turning into a candle stand and nature table.
  2. the much-loved cat at uni. he sits in the sun and lights up everyone’s day.
  3. my camera came with a free photography class. I didn’t find it very helpful, but I’d tooled up with my very best notebooks so I took photos of those instead.
  4. pie!
  5. it took a lot of tries to get this one.

xx Dora

weekending

So just before classes started, I got away to the Blue Mountains with my Mum on this tiny girls’ trip. We piled the bare essentials into our bags, took a book for the train and just went. It was sunny, we went shopping, and we went ahead and picked the most delicious-sounding food everywhere we went. It was only a one night trip but well worth our trouble.

First stop was Katoomba. We found this cafe that serves waffles made in the store, and coffee in these amazing art printed cups. I took a million photos (it was my camera’s first outing!). We poked around in some vintage stores then went to investigate our hotel, complete with crappy hotel teaware and bedspreads.

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Next day, we had waffles for breakfast! Heaven. We spent the morning walking to Leura, discovered new shops (I spent more than I should have at iKou) and had THE BEST PIZZA of our lives at Leura Garage.

I worked out the other day that it has been seven months since I got out of Sydney properly. I’m going to fix that once Summer comes.

xx

Dora

thinking about…

choosing just one of Mallory Lucille Rose‘s amazing wallpapers to use on my laptop.

drinking mulled wine, surely the only good thing about being out after dark in winter.

drawing inspiration from this sweet pencil set. I get the feeling I’d buy them, then never bear to use them.

planning my summer. It’s set to be a busy one, but I’m going to make sure there’s time around the edges for beach days, movie nights and long summer adventures.

demolishing these artisan crackers. Sydney peeps, they’re available in Woolies and they are incredible with cheese. {There may be a whole post devoted to cheeseboards around the corner…}

bringing more flowers into my house. They brighten up my desk a charm!

feeling inspired by this quote from the latest Kinfolk magazine.

reading paragraphs and pages and chapters and books! Class is back, with a vengeance.

trying this skincare. I hear great things, and my skin needs some love, so who knows… I might treat myself!

following this fun list. “Eat breakfast for dinner”? Um, always.

exploring my city. It feels crazy that I travel here every day but go straight past so many of Sydney’s best experiences… think Surry Hills brunches before class, and a hunt for our town’s best truffle fries.

xx

Dora

breakfast of champions

I get woozy in the mornings if I don’t have a solid, savoury breakfast. This is a massive bummer when things like maple-drizzled French toast and pancake stacks are on the menu, plus it makes me unable to try most breakfast recipes (double bummer). On the upside, I’ve had years to work up the perfect savoury breakfast: with enough protein to satisfy me the way a nice honey porridge would, and tasty enough that I can stand to face it every morning.

My illustrated version above gives the essentials, but here’s a full recipe:

SPINACH & CHIA MORNING MUFFINS
makes 12-16
preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 354 degrees Farenheit / gas mark 4

INGREDIENTS:

The Dry Ingredients
– 1.5 cups self-raising flour (or plain flour plus 1.5t baking powder)
– 1/2 cup polenta meal (cornmeal) plus extra to line patty pans
– 1/2 cup of different kinds of healthy dry seeds or fibres: nut meal, chia seeds (the best!), rolled quinoa or just more polenta.
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 pinch salt
– 1/4 cup of sugar or a sugar substitute like rapadura or coconut sugar


  
  

The Wet Ingredients:
– 3 eggs, beaten
– 1 cup milk
– 1/2 cup grapeseed oil, coconut oil or melted butter
– 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese. This is the naughty bit; it adds moisture and taste and also improves the texture of your final muffin, cutting down the amount of butter or oil you need to add.
– 3 cups washed baby spinach leaves, torn or chopped (or still whole if you’re lazy).
  

METHOD:

1) mix together your dry ingredients and form a well.

2) set out 12 patty pans. Sprinkle your extra polenta into the base of each paper pan – it will prevent the paper sticking when you go to peel it off your muffin!

3) add the oil , milk and eggs to the well, then stir together loosely. Throw in the spinach and mozzarella and then stir until just combined. The spinach will mean you get a very chunky texture, but don’t worry, it shrivels down to nothing in the oven.

4) spoon your mixture into the patty pans – depending exactly how big your healthy extra dry ingredients were, and how much spinach you’ve added, you may even have some left over for a few extra bonus muffins!

5) bake for 15-25 mins. Again, the exact baking time depends on what goodies you’ve added to your mixture…after 15 minutes I turn my oven down a little and check in at five-minute intervals, until they’re ready.

About three medium-size muffins makes a good breakfast serving. I refrigerate them and then it’s just a matter of microwaving them each morning for about two minutes.

Do you have any good savoury breakfast recipes? I would be stoked to find a few new ones to expand my repertoire.

xx

Dora

thinking about…

using this walletYum.

introducing my family to This American Life. This episode was a hit – entertaining and also profound.

burning the candle my friend Beth sent me in what has to be the best care package ever.

watching Scrubs with my mum, chain-smoke style, all evening.

telling Instagram about this here blog! a thing I just did today. (hey guys!)

making the best of going back to uni with a little research into some new places to spend my breaks.

baking these cookies. you can do an emergency shortcut version by melting the butter and just mixing everything together in the order the recipe says.

reading this book. so far it’s difficult but I hear it’s worth it.

checking the time with the new watch I gifted myself out of the earnings of all my retail shifts these holidays.

taking my camera for a trip to the Blue Mountains this weekend! a last hurrah before classes start again.

x

Dora

a real camera!

my mum and dad are amazing parents, in so many ways: they’re wise, kind, funny and good-humoured. they’re also so generous, and this last week they made a dream of mine come true. as an early birthday present, they bought me a real camera.

I’ve been reading up on how to use it in this book. I’ve only just started learning to work with it, but…LOOK what it can do!!

  

1. keeping flowers in the bathroom is a luxury I can’t get enough of. I took about a hundred photos of these!

2. focusing on the little things.

3. & 4. & 5. low light loveliness – one thing my iPhone camera would never do.

6. & 7. cooking dinner on the first night. of course I had to set it all out.

8. this little collection of alpacas is growing in our kitchen.

9. dropped my book in the bath and now look what happened.

10. & 11. we’ve been watching this iris bloom a little more every morning. it’s sprouted up right outside our kitchen door so we keep warning each other not to snap it when we’re throwing out the tea leaves.

12. sunset.

we are family.

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sometimes I feel like my job is such an important bit of my life, and all my different friends are such important people, that I forget for a minute how great the people living under the same roof as me are. times like that call for a family date, somewhere that we know we’ll all appreciate, sometime we know everybody needs a day off.

yesterday worked out to be one of those days –  a sliver of spare time in between work and work and friends and more work. so we pulled on our biggest coats and shoes that we didn’t mind getting sandy, plugged This American Life into the car stereo and drove up to Manly beach.

first stop was a cafe – after the drive i knew i needed a coffee, any coffee, and we tripped across a little cafe that i know we’ll be heading back to, on purpose. Ora serves organic food and drinks as well as a blend called “friendly coffee” made from ground almonds, coconut oil, butter and of course coffee, that apparently contains all the nutrients of a whole meal.

IMG_9894IMG_9883 IMG_9886 IMG_9889 IMG_9887 IMG_9891 IMG_9893after a walk we were planning to head for home but made an impromptu stop for cocktails and tapas at Belgrave Cartel, a family favourite. my favourite thing about this wine bar is its old curiosity shop atmosphere, with walls covered in artwork, thousands of candles and mismatched china servings.

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we came home, watched David Attenborough and went to bed early. it was the perfect day and made waking up this monday morning many times more achievable.

x

Dora

I’ve been reading…

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1. “women must try to do things as men have tried. when they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” and other great quotes on brave womanhood (that one was from Amelia Earhart)

2. an article on selling that I started reading because I work in retail, but finished reading because I’m a consumer.

3. I finished The Goldfinch. I don’t know how to write what it was about, or put it down how strongly it called out to me. all I know is that a time will come when I will need to read it again.

4. the perfect guacamole recipe. best served with Finn Crisps, if you can find them (and if you can find them, share the secret with me!!!!)

self-dates

Everybody knows where to go on a date with a cute person that they LIKE like. Movies, fancy restaurants, the zoo, that cute little café down the road that does brunch until three in the afternoon.

Recently, there’s been a trend for other sweet kinds of dates – parents taking their kids on a ‘date’ as a conscious way of seeking quality time, friends having phone ‘dates’, married couples being encouraged to keep dating each other after they’ve settled down. The idea is that these are ways to mindfully pin down a patch of time to have an experience, make a memory together.

I want to talk about another kind of date though – self-dates.

Particularly for introverts like me, time alone is a precious resource. It’s a time to relax and to recharge. Not to say that we don’t love spending time with others; but I find that I crave about one day a fortnight alone with my thoughts, the way we crave a good sleep after a day of fun adventures.

Recently, I’ve been so swamped that it’s difficult to carve out a patch of time like this. Between study, jobs and so many groups of friends saying we must have dinner, we must go see that movie, taking time out just for me seems selfish and lazy, even though I know it will give me the energy and the contrast to make those times with friends more enjoyable. Just the other day though, I put aside the afternoon and took myself out for some quality time.

Here’s what I learned:

  • One secret I found was to plan ahead. I told all my family where I was going (the art gallery), and why (because I missed it – I hadn’t set foot in a gallery for a year), so that that time was pencilled off for me in everyone’s schedule.
  • I followed whims I had about where to go next – taking a seat in the gallery café when I was hungry, and spending an unforeseen amount of time poking around in the little store at the end.
  • Part of what made that possible was having enough time. The entire afternoon was all mine, so I never felt hurried by knowing other people needed me.
  • put away my phone, the last link I had to anyone who could distract me. That meant no photos, no texting, just keeping it down in my pocket in case of an emergency. I didn’t really regret not being able to keep photos as memories because it meant I could focus properly on the artworks; also between that and checking my bag at the door, I had nothing to carry around with me apart from my bagcheck stub and credit card.
  • Lastly, I learned (remembered) that there are a million things to do if you live in a city like Sydney. My dream is to live in New York, but passing the museum, the Royal Mint and the huge Domain gardens on my walk to the art gallery reminded me there are so many parts of ‘home’ that I still have to explore.

Do you self-date? What kind of things do you like to do? Do you share your adventures with your friends afterward or keep them a secret, just for you?

Illustration from the website of the wondrous Lieke van der Vorst