the art of alone time

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being a raging ENFP, I’m not terribly good at being by myself, especially for long stretches of time. the uncomfortable feeling I’m told introverts get after being social for too long is what i get when i’m alone for too long – insufferable cabin fever. this used to manifest itself hugely around exam time, where hours spent being silent studying in the library would drive me cuckoo. frankly put, i want to be around (friendly) others most of the time.

however, as I get older, i’m learning to appreciate time spent alone. this was put to the test when my mum and sister went away for the easter weekend, and i had the house to myself for 4 days. Now, i was working for two of them, (hence why i didn’t join the trip to my favourite place), but two days and three evenings is quite sizeable for this extrovert.
but anna! I hear you ask. just because your mum and sister were away, don’t you know anyone else in christchurch? well yes, i do, but easter is a time of going away/spending quality time with your family that i feel like it would be weird to try and arrange social activities during it – not to mention that my two days off were good friday and easter sunday, on which nearly everything closes. popsicle date at the petrol station, anyone?

so – what have i been up to? relishing my time! while typically i greatly dislike cooking for one, we had lamb shanks in the freezer, which i just love. I used a great annabel langbein recipe to make them and also whipped up baked apples with custard. i hadn’t made the latter before, but we had cooking apples and i was intrigued – and they turned out great! the skin of the apple gets crunchy and flaky, kind of like a baked potato, and the inside turns to pure tangy fluff. and i guess the custard doesn’t hurt either ;)

my mum, feeling guilty at abandoning me, also left me lots of other treats, so come monday i may have trouble fitting into my work clothes!

to accompany this supreme comfort food, i read a dear katie fforde book, who i can always rely on for a sweet heart warming read, watched nz bachelor (i’d saved two episodes expressly for the purpose), and discovered a new web series (to make up for the hole in my life after finishing the lizzie bennet diaries and emma approved).

……i would also like to point out that i did laundry, went for a few runs, cleaned my room and vacuumed the house for when my mum reads this post ;)

my alone time also doubled as learning time. it’s very easy to get by without knowing how to do maintenance things around the house when you live with a. parents or b. boys, and as I have spent my entire life with one or the other, i duly know very little about all this.

BUT! the gods evidently decided this weekend i would learn real life adult skills, when the gas (that powers our stove) ran out on me one day, and a fuse tripped the next. to youtube i turned initially, before admitting defeat and phoning my mum. however, next time these things occur, i will be equipped and ready – i’ll even volunteer to be the one to sort it out! i’m still a little hazy on the whole tire changing thing (despite observing it being done twice), but, as I’m still on my learners, I have no doubt the time will come the very first time I’m driving alone (when i finally get my restricted licence).

i also took the opportunity to give the fridge a going over. with my food bag, we use up the majority of our groceries at the end of each week, unless we have leftovers from the recipes or bought extra stuff. I found beetroot, broccoli and radishes in the fridge and decided a salad was in order. riffing on a couple of ripe recipes, and stuff i’d seen online, i made this creation for my lunches this week.

i really like it – i prepared the beetroot in both raw slim juliennes and soft roasted cubes, plus blanched broccoli and edamame, sliced radishes, toasted sesame seeds and a tangy dressing (pomegranate molasses is amazing). i initially planned to make quinoa to go in it, but then i came to my senses.
However, if you like quinoa (i just don’t), feel free to toss it in – i’ve seen quite a few recipes which include it.

now, i’m off to enjoy what’s left of my alone time before my family gets back – i’ve enjoyed my weekend off so much that it may be a blow to have company!

enjoy what’s left of the easter weekend friends – my love to you all.

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beautiful beetroot salad

five beetroot, peeled
4 radishes, finely sliced
1 head of broccoli, chopped into 1cm bits
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted
350g edamame beans, defrosted
optional extras that would also be nice: mint, kale, spinach, dried cranberries

dressing:
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp olive oil

preheat the oven to 180C. take two of the beetroot and dice them. roast in the oven with a little olive oil for 30 mins or until caramelised and tender.
julienne the three remaining beetroot. i used a mandoline – if you don’t have one, it may be easier just to coarsely grate them – it’s up to you. know that you will end up with red stained hands no matter what, and gracefully accept this. definitely make at least one bad joke about getting caught red handed (if you are alone while making this, there will be no one to groan despairingly at your lame humour).
boil the kettle. put the chopped broccoli in a large heat proof bowl and cover with boiling water. put a plate or lid on top and let cook for 3 mins or so. get a piece of broccoli out and taste to test the done-ness. if tender drain the broccoli, and try to get it as dry as possible.
to make the dressing, just mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

toss together beetroot, broccoli, radishes and edamame. pour over some of the dressing – you don’t want to drown it. you can always add more later on if the salad needs it. scatter over sesame seeds and toss again to combine.

enjoy! i think spinach or kale would be nice, if you feel you need more greenery in your life. i’d be happy either way.
good served for lunch by itself, or dinner accompanied by chicken, fish or tofu.

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7 QT: autumn and entertainment

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1. hi honey bees, how are you going? life is great and busy with me. I found out some stellar news which has tinged my world view rose pink for the next wee while and am still enjoying christchurch and home living. my job is going great, it is challenging me and very grateful being able to get it as my first ‘proper’ job out in the world.

2. i’m still going great with my reading! i read americanah which was brilliant – i thought the main character had such a strong sense of self and her critiques of race in america (“by a non american black”) were skin crawlingly dead on. i definitely felt a few twinges when the attitudes of ‘liberal whites’ were dissected as it made me realise just how easy privilege is to take for granted. a very thought provoking analysis plus a gripping love story. the scenes of nigeria also just drew me in – a country i had never thought much about visiting. i love how books can make you so wanderlusty.

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3. we are into the 4th week of my food bag and absolutely loving it. i see so many ads for blue apron around (especially the dreaded sponsor post, shudder) and they drive me up the wall, so i feel kind of awkward saying this, but we have found my food bag absolutely perfect for our needs! we have been getting the veggie bag and it is just the perfect amount for 3 ladies. our favourites included bang bang tofu salad with sesame rice, halloumi pappardelle with lemon mint and garlic crumb, and malai kofta with spiced vegetable pilau. so, so good, and i think fairly inexpensive too! the three pictures are of honey soy tofu with wasabi mash, lentil cakes with avocado and caramelised onion, and kale salad with pumpkin, dukkah and haloumi.

4. we are in autumn now but it really feels like we have jumped straight into winter! the weather has been so so cold and i’m realising just how spoiled we were with summer – it is a big shock to the system! i am not ready for winter coats but try telling pesky metservice that.

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5. the bachelor usa – thoughts? i was rooting for jojo buuut i also think lauren b and ben are sweet together so i wasn’t overly sad, especially since jojo is going to be the bachelorette!! exciting stuff!! Plus the bachelor nz is back too! haven’t decided who i like yet but the two drama queens naz and claudia are hilarious in their scheming – my favourite part is when they throw each other under the bus at any opportunity. good old homegrown tv.

6. we went to visit some 3 week old puppies the other day and they were just so cute – enjoy the photos!!

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7. my weekend starts on friday and i’ve got a few fun things planned with friends – i can’t wait! i love not having to carve out time for study/readings on the weekend – i feel like i have so much more free time than when i was a student! well, guilt-free free time maybe…

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I plan on doing having some great sleep ins like this little pup!

talk soon! happy friday xoxox

butterscotch walnut scrolls

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hi! let’s catch up on life shall we?

i just began a new job! i know what you’re thinking, you’ve been unemployed for nearly a month Anna? what are you doing girl! weeeeellll… long story there. I arrived back from wanaka on the 2nd of february, then raced up to wellington to visit my cute friends on the 7th. the day before i left, i placed two rather fateful job applications on trademe jobs. one a rather aspirational choice – a job that i loved the thought of, that would challenge and excite me – and the other a café job, so a pretty safe bet. the latter got in touch with me a couple of hours later, and i went in for an interview that afternoon. after two hours of straight interviews, i was offered a job on the spot, and was told to be in touch the next day to confirm i wanted the job, or the offer would disappear. i decided to take the job – it seemed frankly dumb to turn a guaranteed job down, and i knew that i really needed to get earning.

a couple of days later, while in wellington, i was contacted by the dreamy job for an interview. regrets!! the fact i was in wellington and so not able to come into the office wasn’t the worst of it – i started the other job the very day (friday) i was back in town and knowing hospo, would be required to work over the weekend as well. i just didn’t know when i would be available for an interview, and didn’t want to burn bridges with the job i’d just acquired – after all there was no guarantee i’d be offered this other (awesome) job. i sent back an apologetic reply and was so annoyed that i wasn’t in a good position to take advantage of the chance to interview. i soon fell out of touch with these people, and thought i’d lost my chance.

once i arrived back to christchurch, after a truly blissful time, i got straight into working at the café. it was… weird. fully anticipating to struggle heaps the first day (because, well: it’s the first day, it’s never going to be this hard or intimidating again!), it actually was not too bad, but in the days that followed, i could just not shake my unease about the environment, and the prospect of spending 40 hours a week at this place. my coworkers were weirdly forthcoming about how much they adored working there, and especially working for the boss – this machiavellian figure alternately up in the attic-like office, or prowling the floor, and the amount of rules down to the atom frankly irritated me. i’m all for a structured environment, but this felt clone-like. my doubts were confirmed when a throwaway remark about not enjoying being put on the feral dishes prompted a meeting (in the middle of my shift) up in the aerie, and when i confirmed that the job wasn’t really for me, things got nasty.

however! silver linings, y’all, because the very next day after my ungraceful exit, i made a visit to the workplace of the lovely job, and it turned out that things around the office had been busy and the job was still available! so, i went in for a couple of interviews, and at the end of the second one, was offered the place. i was absolutely over the moon, and texted all my friends, who had listened to my travails with kindness and sympathy. i am a working lady again, and frankly couldn’t feel better. the best part is, no matter how challenging or testing my new job becomes, it is always going to appear wonderful compared to the other one!

i also have a recipe for you! cinnamon scrolls are a favourite of mine – i find they’re the perfect amount of sweet without being sickly. and i have been eyeing up deb’s recipe for sticky pecan buns since she posted it! i have a favourite bread dough recipe which i used instead of her’s, which actually is a recipe for baps from the lovely (and kiwi) destitute gourmet. these were very forgiving, flexible delights and served very well for a sunday morning tea with one of my sweet friends. paired with strong coffee, they are a delight. and they even freeze well fully cooked too! i used our homegrown walnuts but either would be fine. enjoy! xx

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Butterscotch Walnut Scrolls

adapted from smitten kitchen and destitute gourmet
3 1/3 cups plain flour
1 tsp salt
50 g cold butter, in small cubes
1 packet instant yeast
1 ½ tsp sugar
125 ml milk
125 ml warm water
Blitz the flour, salt and butter in the food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Whisk in the yeast and sugar, then slowly stir in the liquids. Knead until a smooth soft dough (about 5-10 mins) and then put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size.
Butterscotch 
100g butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and swirl occasionally for 3-5 mins. Pour into the baking dish and pop in the fridge to cool before assembling the scrolls.
Filling
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
30g butter, melted
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Stir together sugar, salt and spices. Put the dough on a floured bench and roll out to a large rectangle. Brush with melted butter and then sprinkle over sugar mix. Roll up and gently cut into 12 equal slices. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly into the butterscotch dish then arrange the rolls on top. Either let the rolls proof again immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight – then let proof in the morning.
Heat the oven to 180C. Place the scrolls in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Let cool on the bench for 5 – 10 mins before inverting the dish on a platter. Serve with pride!

happiness & heroines

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^^the only thing this opposite-of-a-hoarder collects^^
if you know me in real life, this post will come as no surprise to you – i looooove period dramas. in fact, #1 on my bucket list is to be an extra in a period drama. starring in one is just a little too unrealistic, you know? and if there’s one thing i appreciate, it’s an achievable to do list ;)
If i somehow got access to a time machine, Regency era London would be my first stop. but since time machines still belong to the realm of science fiction (a genre i’m much less partial to, by the way), i escape to this world via the page and the screen.
i’ve been on quite the historical classic bender recently – I read a couple of Heyer’s, Northanger Abbey and North and South, so i thought i’d write a post about my favourite places to get my fix:

 

books:

Georgette Heyer
my favourite author of all time. My grandma introduced me to her books when I was 13 and ever since then I’ve read every book of hers I could get my hands on. i just love their impulsive heroines, dashing heroes, hilarious characters dialogue, exciting plots and of course the perfect romantic endings. why none of her books have been turned into films or mini series is such a mystery to me!
my favourites: arabella, these old shades, devil’s cub, regency buck and the black moth.
Jane Austen
i’m a little slack in that i’ve only read pride and prejudice and northanger abbey (I know, i know) but her film adaptions are so great!! sense and sensibility is currently on my bedside table so i’m excited to let you all know my verdict.
Elizabeth Gaskell
i just read North and South but haven’t made it to the rest of hers yet – but apparently wives and daughters and cranford are both excellent!

 

films/mini series:

Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman – oh my goodness Rickman is INCREDIBLE in his portrayal of Colonel Brandon. This film has such an amazing cast and I could watch it over and over.
Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth – the definitive pride and prejudice adaption. colin firth and jennifer ehle are perfection as these characters.
Northanger Abbey with JJ Feild – the book drags in places so i reckon the film does a better job of advancing the story along, and Feild makes a very charismatic Tilney. love it!
Emma with Romola Garai – the best emma adaption! Garai is a sparkling Emma.

 

adaptions:

the Lizzie Bennet Diaries – haha you knew this was coming. so good!
Emma Approved – also fantastic – the leads have incredible chemistry and I’ve always had a soft spot for Knightley, who is portrayed impeccably.
From Prada to Nada – great fun, a lot less trashy than it may appear!
Clueless – again very true to the novel and with gorgeous leads.
and last but not least..
Austenland – i actually enjoyed this so much! if only austenland actually existed … you know i would totally visit.

january

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let’s talk about what i was enjoying in january! aka the month that doubles as the southern hemisphere’s blissful golden month and the northern’s devil freezing month.

I was….

cooking:

revisited my cherry clafoutis from last summer – a really helpful side effect of blogging is that recipes you’d made once (and improvised on a bit) are there ready for you when you want to make them again!
though i must emphasise not to overbake – i accidentally did and it wasn’t quite as silky this time around.

made a quick cherry compote with cherries that were getting soft –
pitted cherries + a sprinkle of sugar + a dash of vanilla + a knob of butter + a splash of brandy, simmered for 15 mins = saucy and delicious. how’s that for exact quantities ;)

avocado toast with thick slices of fancy seeded bread + LOTS of very ripe avocado + crumbled feta + salt and pepper

(are we sensing a theme here? fruit and vegetables that are verging on over-ripeness? summer, y’all)

drinking:

rosé – oh my goodness i have LOVED rosé this summer – it definitely unseated G&Ts as my drink of choice in january. a nice cold glass of it on a warm summer’s evening has been just brilliant.

watching:

the lizzie bennet diaries – oh gosh these are wonderful and i just devoured them! it’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and simply delightful. i watched 99 four minute episodes in 48 hours – a pretty good effort you might say! i am now eager to watch their adaptions of Emma and Little Women, and will report back.

doctor foster – tv one did a special timetable for this gripping miniseries – they aired the complete season over 5 consecutive nights which really made for fantastic viewing. reluctant to say much about the plot as being ignorant of the details is the best way to begin. just trust me that it is a thrilling drama that will leave you guessing at the end of each episode!

white collar – i got this box set out and watched the 14 episodes over 5 days – so good! i saw janssen reccommend it as her favourite tv show of all time (!) so when i saw it available i was excited to watch it. smart and funny, and i love the main two character’s rapport. 5 stars.

reading:

the luminaries – this is one of those things, like watching the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit films or following the All Blacks/Black Caps that i’ve felt compelled to do to be a patriotic NZer – Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker prize for this complex novel. i was simply in awe of her clever mind and layered writing. definitely not a quick easy read but a rewarding one for sure! super gripping towards the end. i loved the self reflexive, omniscient narration.

wild by cheryl strayed – i’ve had this one on my list for a while after reading a few of her dear sugar letters on the internet. i hadn’t seen the film, and am unsure if i would want to following reading the book – just because the enjoyment for me lay in her narration of her experiences hiking the PCT, rather than the hiking of the trail itself. one thing i took from the book was that with knowing of strayed first and foremost as an empathetic, insightful advice columnist/writer, my impressions of her were of a really angelic, perfect person. in the book, she has imperfect experiences and at points acts in not very likeable ways, so it was very telling for me that her advice for troubled people stems from her own experiences – these are why she is able to write so movingly on such matters. a special reminder of the role that negative experiences have in forming our character and making us wiser people.
interestingly, in the luminaries, there is a great quote about one of the characters – “He had always been irreproachable in his conduct, and as a consequence, his capacity for empathy was small.”

the silver linings playbook by matthew quick – another book turned film starring bradley cooper and jennifer lawrence. i read his other book the good luck of right now last summer, and prefer it just a bit, but he again writes with gentle humour about characters with differing mental health states. a lovely read.

fates and furies – ummm, this had absolutely sensational prose – i would frequently go back and reread the page i’d just finished to appreciate groff’s brilliant imagery. and such a fascinating story! very deserving of its acclaim, do read it.

catlins calling

i’m in wanaka at the moment, which is definitely rates very highly in the nz pretty places list, but i wanted to backtrack to a day trip i took in the midst of exams with my very dear clara and jess.
we all had a significant break between exams which we wanted to exploit to do some adventuring, and the catlins topped our little bucket list.
a quick geographical representation of where all these towns i talk about situate themselves in nz:

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^^going anticlockwise, we have Christchurch, Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, the Catlins, Invercargill and Wanaka^^

the catlins, of course, are that picture the very lowest on the map, and are a drive down the east coast from dunedin.

our top picks to see were:

the purakaunui falls

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nugget point + lighthouse

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the mclean falls

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and we were more than content to allow for any other serendipitous occurrences on our way, which included a sheep traffic jam (only in NZ), a visit to a kitsch café with an alarming amount of frog figurines, a donkey sighting, teapot land (oh gosh) and two more waterfalls.

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we sure packed a lot into one day!

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happy new year!

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how are you? happy new year to you and yours, oh goodness it’s 2016. how futuristic does that sound?? given that i still read best before dates and think 2010, thats quite recent isn’t it … oh, that’s 5 6 years ago!

 

not terribly much to report since i chatted here last. i had a gorgeous family christmas complete with divine food and cute presents, and i’ve been working lots since then, back at my café job. it’s been lovely slotting back into a place that although much of the staff are different, the same vibe, procedures and environment are the same – much easier, i suspect, than this time last year when i was struggling along trying to learn everything and digest it as well as i could!

 

when i haven’t been working there’s been boating adventures, lots and lots of swimming in the lake, and the other day we zipped off to queenstown, which is just an hour’s drive. we visited the nz cafe of the year, bespoke kitchen, and had an extraordinary lunch of smoked salmon, poached eggs, rosti and salad, along with a shared chia pudding delight and some terribly healthy and delicious raw truffles which we devoured later on.

 

before i launch into this year’s intentions, i wanted to quickly check up on my 2015 ones, in the spirit of being accountable and reliable and all that 😉 (and yes, i did have to check the original post haha!) they were:
  1. consistent with running
  2. stop interrupting
  3. figure out postgrad
  4. give back to community
  5. blog
ok..
running – yes, i was good! i didn’t manage the half marathon because of a pesky injury but i have high hopes i’ll do one this year.
interrupting – ugh, i suppose i’m more aware of it now, so hopefully that will lead to a reduction? still a tough one, i have so many thoughts that i want to share!
postgrad – well, i’ve completely submitted my application for the course that i very very much wish to pursue, so it’s a waiting game now!
community – ooh, i did this! i helped to organise and MC a perfectly fantastic series of panels on an issue very close to my heart.
blog – yes, as my recent 50 post anniversary shows 😉

 

as for 2016:

 

i feel less fervent about my resolutions this year, i suppose because i know this year is going to be quite a different beast than any i’ve experienced before. last year i felt the year ahead was a predictable meander of uni, friends, parties, study, exams, and repeat. this year, i’m living at home for the first 2/3, working, and then fingers crossed i’ll be zipping off for some postgrad study in september somewhere quite, quite different from dear old dunedin! i think therefore, because i don’t really know what my life will look like this year, that it’s harder to pin down any particular self improvements or missions.
i do have a few flexible intentions, and these can of course be expressed by a collection of my much adored pinterest quotes:

 

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  1. stay ‘tremendously interested’ in my passions
– i adore chinese, french and economics (barring macro, naturally). while i hold out hope that my job will include any of these on some incremental level, chances are a typical workday for me won’t involve application of economics thought, a chat in chinese or an article in french, so i need to find ways to keep these alive in my everyday life. i would quite like to get a subscription to the Economist (and look super smart reading it 😉 , and absolutely keep up my languages via podcasts, articles and hopefully an obliging friend who’ll bear my dodgy grammar. just 30 minutes or so a day will surely have meaningful and positive effects so i just have to think big picture (when all i want to do is refresh instagram or blob in front of reality tv)

 

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  1. be brave
this year, as i’ve said, is going to be markedly different. there is going to be lots of change which isn’t something i generally care for. i am also most likely going to be in the position frequently where i don’t feel entirely comfortable, whether it’s because i don’t yet know the ropes, or it’s not an ideal situation. i really really want to be brave in these situations, not to stress myself out or worry or get teary (it doesn’t take much!) being able to remain calm and positive is so important in life, and it all comes down to me and my reaction. and if i can figure out at least some of that this year, and how i can help myself be this way, so much the better.

 

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  1. be a good friend
this applies to both friends in the same place and separated geographically, the latter unfortunately comprises most of my dear uni friends! staying in touch with these gems is very important, as well as nurturing friendships in christchurch so that i have more mates than my mum and my sister 😉 i’m hoping to establish standing weekly/fortnightly dates with some of those local friends, so that our busy lives don’t get the better of us now that friendship isn’t so convenient and effortless as it is when you’re an undergraduate student!

 

i think that just about covers it – i could add in things about exercise, or healthy eating, or projects, but i think i’ll leave it there. so, one last time, happy 2016! all the kissing heart emojis to you sweet things xx