fancytown

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today i am home on my first ever sick day.

ugh.

one of the very worst things about being sick is having to cook for yourself. but last night I pulled it together and made fancy town pasta: leftover ravioli, plus as many healthy veggies as i could fit into the pan.

i’ve been buying a lot of cherry tomatoes lately and last night decided to try something i’ve wanted to do for ages – chop them in halves and bake them with salt and oil like on fancy food blogs.

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i drizzled them in olive oil and slathered them in salt, pepper and chilli and boy oh boy did they taste nice.

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cheap and cheerful!

x

Dora

kingston foreshore (for sure)

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i’ve been trying to make more of an effort to get out after work and explore my new hood. last week, that let me to the kingston foreshore – an area of the inner south on the bank of lake burley griffin – and i was so glad it did.

i arrived on sunset. the streets were full of groups of friends strolling to dinner, joggers, and dog walkers. there’s a park full of winding paths and little secret bridges at one end:

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and then sunset set in properly.

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then there’s the waterfront itself. all along the side of it is bright bubbling restaurants, so that the water reflected hundreds of golden lights as the sun went down.

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on either side of the lake are these embankment-style walkways, where you can walk right next to the water – somehow, the town planners must have decided that we were all responsible grown-ups because there’s no fence at the edge, it’s just walkway and then water. walking along here while i do phone calls back home is one of my new favourite things.

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I can’t wait to head back there, grab an ice cream and sit and do some people-watching pretty soon.

xoxo

Dora

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akiba

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when my sydney friends came to town we had some plans in place, but you always end up wandering around blankly looking for something to do or, in this case, somewhere to eat. a couple of us had heard good things about akiba so we checked it out and boy was that a good call.

this place is SICK.

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akiba’s aesthetic is sort of a cross between a big ol’ hipster wine bar and a bright and feverish street market. it was so full of details that I ended up leaving our table in between courses so I could just walk around snapping pictures.

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as for the food itself, all I can say is that it was too good to stop and photograph. I got as far as the place setting and the first dish that came out and then I lost my freaking MIND. we shelled out for the $33 kobe beef, which was charcoal and luscious and 10/10 worth it. we got edamame beans, because you always should get edamame beans, and these ones came with crunchy salt and spices and were h e a v e n l y. we got fried chicken and dumplings and ate and laughed and  and caught up after months apart and marvelled at how delicious everything was.

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the bar was a sight to be reckoned with but inevitably all of us wanted to stay sober so they made us custom fruit juices! I got watermelon and passionfruit, and that started a bit of a trend.

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dessert was, of course, jaw droppingly beautiful: this was a mandarin-chocolate bar cake.

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if you’re in Canberra, GET YOURSELF THERE.

love love,

Dora

canberra week 4

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this week started and finished in my activewear. i’ve only sort of just discovered dressing for comfort – maybe because suddenly i’m living in a city where no one really expects anything of me. and maybe because I dress pretty fancy for work, so when i get a chance to wear other things i’m all out of hoity-toityness.

whatever it is. i like it.

i did a lot of walking around this week – finally had a proper look around some parts of my lovely new canberra hood including the beautiful kingston foreshore, which is getting a full post about it pretty soon. walking around parks and lakeside paths is a perfect way to combine exploring, exercise, and finding time to talk on the phone to friends back home.

last weekend was the start of canberra’s Enlighten night noodle markets which are a combined food festival and light display! sydney has two separate things like it – a pretty limited noodle market which is always disappointing, and the Vivid light festival which was pretty lovely. but having the two smashed together was so so good! I went with grad friends and we sat on the grass and ate bao and meat skewers and this dish called “duck fries”, which is like a halal snack pack except the meat on top of the chips is peking duck.

SO. GOOD.

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I didn’t get any good photos of the light show because I was soaking up the magic – it was a crisp night, there was a band playing eerie rock music and I was with friends. but here’s some photos of the park before stars came out and the lights came on:

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the canberra flowers continue to just ruin me.

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also on the weekend I got visits from sydney friends! i took them to delicious food places (again, full posts on each of them to follow) and also made sure to introduce my friend Ngaio who loves ice cream to the joys of frugii. dig in that flavour list; I got candied orange and it tasted nothing like I expected, but perfect.

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in between everything else, this week i started putting together my IKEA furniture!

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eventually I got the bedside table together, with only one fatal error that may or may not have permanently disabled one of the drawers. aw well. the table still works and it’s making my little room that much more tidy! plus it’s one of the few surfaces i can use blu tack on, so I went to town and put a lovely poster on its side. once I have all my furniture together and get my room into a fit state, i’ll make sure to give you guys the tour!

bye for now.

Dora xx

canberra week 3

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we had three weeks in the hotel, all us grads together. which is to say – this past weekend, we all moved out and dispersed ourselves throughout the city.

it’s a bit sad, not living around people who I know have accepted me all the time. it was also so lovely to be living in a place where it just so happened that I could sit up in bed in the morning, open the curtain right there next to me, and have a view of the sunrise. right there.

i tried my best to soak it all up.

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a postcard from my girl Beth arrived midway through the work week, and it was the little hug of solidarity from the universe that I needed while everything else in life was splashing about. she copied the caption from the original artwork onto the card for me to read:

“Some native legends compare the orca to the wolf, and refer to them as sea wolves. They both have strong family ties…and many of the markings on the face and body of the wolf are almost identical.” I thought the card was very aesthetic but also you are as fierce as either a wolf or a killer whale.’

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for me, moving out of the hotel means moving into a lovely apartment in the South. the day I got my keys, I celebrated with this incredible brunch – a bacon and egg roll that was $17. Seventeen dollars. 

Before you call me crazy, a) I was super hungry b) I was super excited and c) it had two eggs, a sausage, bacon and a hash brown going on in there. So it was nearly worth the price.

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More Canberra beauty! Everywhere I look.

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on the weekend my new friend Michaela gave me a lift to IKEA and we had an adventure there! i accidentally went along dressed in IKEA colours. and gosh some of the rooms inside were gorgeous.

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and now at last I have managed to get my old bed set up in the apartment where I’ll be living! the room is quite small, so when the delivery arrived most of my belongings ended up on top of the bed. it is so, so good now that I have cleared off that space – even if the rest of the room is still a mess – and have doonas of my very own to snuggle under.

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feeling nothing but lucky.

xo

Dora

beach burrito cantina

I had the nicest night here recently, with a big bunch of friends dropping in and out throughout the evening. with the summery vibes and the generous servings of frozen watermelon margarita (I bet the tacos are damn good too!), it was a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

take a squiz:

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I think it’ll be perfect in winter, when we’re all dying to go somewhere that feels warm.

xx

Dora

canberra – week 2

 

WHOO. bit. of. a. week.

I started my job this week – i can’t tell you much about it, but what I can tell you is that the cafe in my office building has pretty, arty cups, which really made my day when discovered it. this is also the first time i’ve had a desk of my own at work, so i’ve been having a lot of fun setting it up, buying myself tea and snacks to keep in the drawers, and so on.

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this was the end of my first day. i was absolutely exhausted.

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the sweetest thing happened on valentines’ day – when I got back to the hotel after work, this bunch of flowers was waiting for me on the table, with no note to say who it was from. turns out my darlin’ friend Beth sent them to me from the other side of the world. that right there is how to friend. what a cutie!

all of us grads sort of settled into each other a little bit once we started work. i think we were all just too tired and stressed to worry about keeping up appearances, and decided to just act like we’d been friends for years.

on thursday night I met up with a uni friend who was in town and she introduced me to an incredible bar called Molly. it’s an underground speakeasy – complete with an unmarked entrance, wheezy saxophone jazz playing and big leather booth seats. i had the best toasted sandwich of my life. and the waiters sure know a thing or two about making cocktails!

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i’ve also been doing a lot more walking around the city. it’s only a 15-minute walk to work from where i’m staying, so i’ve been charting different routes there, and making my way on for to a lot of the after-work things we’ve been doing.

the more walking i do, the more I realise it’s just so, so beautiful here.

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like, really.

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today is saturday and I’ve done practically nothing all day, just lay on the couch and went to the supermarket. one tiny life event did happen though: ever since I was a kid, I always wanted to buy a fluted flan tin when I had my first home out of my parents’ house. well, today was the day. i bought that flan tin.

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feeling nothing but lucky.

 

xx

Dora

canberra – week 1

so here I am back again, and since the last time we spoke I’ve upped and moved states. i’ve sat in a room with 90 strangers and turned them into friends. i’ve started work, even!

i’ve received so many messages that i’ve taken days to get back to, i’ve forgotten to eat meals, i’ve found new places and had adventures and given and received hugs. i’ve messed things up at work and put in effort and learned new things. i’ve run out of underwear from not having time to do laundry. and now here we are two weekends in and i have a load in the washing machine and here i am, back on the blog to show you all the beautiful things that have happened along the way. because it turns out – canberra is really, stunningly, beautiful.

right now my housemate Maddy is baking banana muffins and we’re playing paul simon’s graceland, which we both turn out to have been listening to for years. it’s saturday midday and this is the first day i’ve had nothing to do. let me tell you, it’s absolute bliss.

but let’s go back two weeks! here’s a rundown of my first week here:

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two weekends ago, now, my family all came down to canberra to have a look around before they dropped me off. we did a lot of exploring of the cool inner north area. we checked out this hyper-popular cafe called the cupping room and went around this area called braddon which is full of cute hipster shops and cafes.

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everyone here is so friendly, even if you’re a total stranger. the first time i went to my local supermarket, the manager came up to me to introduce himself, just because he knew he didn’t recognise me and he wanted to welcome me to the area.

another example: i was nosing around in a cute gift shop in braddon when the shop assistant got to talking with me and let me in on the secret that just across the way was a place that had been voted the best ice-creamery in australia. so of course, i had to go.

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this was the lavender flavour and i think it’s the best ice cream i’ve ever had. firm and sweet and delicate.

the sunsets are so different here. i think it’s because we’re a lot farther from the coast – the clouds form differently, perhaps? or maybe it’s because the buildings are so much lower here, so there’s so much more sky to see.

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because the city is so spread out, there are also lots of bits where to drive from one suburb to another, you pass actual fields with cows and kangaroos grazing in them. it took some getting used to, but having so much nature around is keeping me serene while life goes a bit crazy.

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i have lots more posts to come, darlings! hope you’re all going well.

xx

Dora

books of the moment

i’m a serial reader. (pause so that the people who feel the need to make the obligatory pun about being a cereal reader, that is, someone reading the Cheerios box, can get it out of their system.) as in, I can’t be reading only one book at a time. i overlap them, putting one down and picking another up when my mood just isn’t up to serious historical commentary, or when I’ve had a rough day and need something immersive to drag me out of it.

in the past month or so, here are the books I’ve overlapped with each other:

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1. Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown

This book is basically one long list of everything Kelly has learned about how to be a responsible independent human, and since I am about to become a responsible independent human, I finally picked it up from the shelf where I had left it half-read and finished it.

The concept sounds really cheesy and preach-y, because obviously a book can’t actually teach us how to be decent people. But it does include a lot of “been there, done that” tips on things I haven’t done before and am about to, like what to look for when you’re inspecting an apartment for a lease, and how to deal with offensive behaviour at work. It also includes a lot of really helpful templates for tricky correspondence, like thank-you messages after a dinner at a new friend’s house, or a phone call where you have to give a friend bad news.

If you’re interested, Kelly also has a blog about “adulting” over here that you can have a squizz at (for free!).

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2. Elizabeth Gilbert’s non-fiction.

Eat Pray Love has a really stinking bad rep. I think a lot of people associate it with the huge avalanche of bad chick lit that publishers put out in its wake, and the crowds of thoughtless white women who used it as grounds to take a holiday to India, pose in front of the Taj Mahal and “find themselves”. I also think it gets pretty roundly depreciated because it is a story written by a woman about her feelings, and our society has a pretty low opinion of women who talk about their feelings.

But listen up: it’s freaking great. It is wise, kind, funny, accurate and thoughtful and not many days go past when I don’t apply a concept from it to a situation a friend (or myself) is going through. I think it’s also worth noting that while it is the story of a white American woman travelling through other cultures, she presents those cultures in a way that is respectful and sympathetic, not imperialistic, and she has put in the effort to research those cultures and their languages. I also enjoy the sheer contrarian pleasure of reading a book about women and our feelings despite society wanting me not to. Suckers.

Big Magic is a sweetly-written incitement for those of us who want to be creative to get out and do it and stop worrying about whether we’re doing a good job. Again: wise, kind, funny, accurate and thoughtful. I got a lot out of it and even more out of the audio book (which is expensive, so check if your local library has it.) It gets into spiritual places pretty quickly and talks about shame and fear – it’s not the “just write a page every night” kind of creativity guide, it’s compassionate and theoretical and thoughtful.

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3. Happiness and How it Happens by Suryacitta, writing as “The Happy Buddha”

A better name for this book would be “Mindfulness and Why to Do It”, because in the first couple of pages it proposes, basically, that striving for happiness is a great way to avoid getting it, and spends the rest of the book showing why mindfulness and meditation are more effective at improving our wellbeing. I think (please let me know if I’m getting this wrong) that it does a good job of acknowledging the Buddhist sources of mindfulness and meditation, whereas a lot of materials for a Western audience tend to whitewash over the origins of mindfulness. This book is pretty small, but it gets deep quickly and two or three pages is about all I can take in at a time.

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4. The Flow Mindfulness Workbook

Is this a book? Is it a magazine? It’s kinda both. It’s a spin-off of Flow magazine and I stumbled on it in a newsagent. Thank heavens, because it’s a very easy-to-take, slightly interactive, super beautiful guide to mindfulness that is just fun to use. Reading a bit of it is a great break before I go to bed to clear my mind. It’s called a “workbook” but it’s about 70% articles, 30% workbook pages. Flow magazine is Dutch and its English products are a lovely combination of translated and original pieces, so there’s a very sweet Scandinavian tone to the whole thing.

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5. Red Bird by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver writes poetry about the sheer glory of nature and grace and wonderment. you will love her if you love this, from the poem Summer Story, the way I do:mary-oliver

love always,

Dora

tiny valentines DIYs

{first of all, STOP. If you are a member of the friend squad of mine that is sending each other valentines this year, or if you are another pen-pal of mine, STOP READING THIS POST or else there will be spoilers. go read a book or a magazine instead, or do a cute pilates workout, or have a read of my excellent new internet-friend Shalom‘s wonderful blog, or read a little life essay by Erin.}

okay, now we’ve got them out of the way.

a few weeks ago, a little friendship group i’m in decided that we should all send each other proper mailed valentines this february 14th. there are five of us, two single and three with boyfriends, and all live in sydney except I’ll be in canberra by the time v-day rolls around.

I got VERY EXCITED!!!

this time last year, i was freshly single and just learning about self-care and the importance of embracing platonic intimacy, and valentines day became a little bit of a project. I did a little series of instagram posts about people and things in the world that I love, and that evening I went over to my beautiful friend chloe’s house for a gals’ sleepover. she made these incredible modern conversation heart cookies:

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and her dog proceeded to eat half the plate while we weren’t looking, but she’s a super cute dog, so she got away with it.

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anyway, so, this year i get to also send actual valentines to my lovely gal pals! the rules are “love only, cards only”. which i interpreted to mean “you are only allowed to indulge your love for all things snail mail and crafty to the point of not spending any money, Dora.”

challenge accepted.

so here’s what i’m putting in my valentines, in case you need a little inspiration for your own snail mail, or just enjoy sneaking looks at other people’s love letters. i didn’t have to buy any  craft supplies, and most of the materials are things you’ll have lying around at home (or can macgyver an equivalent for.)

{LAST CALL for pen pals of mine to jump ship! spoiler time!!}

1. tiny affirmation bunting

you will need:

  • paper (coloured if you’ve got it, or plain is fine – printer paper or thicker is best)
  • a pen or marker
  • string or ribbon
  • a stapler

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here’s how you do it:

  • plan out a little message you want to send your friend. you could go for the classic “I love you”, or a short quote like “rise up”. each letter and space in the message will be a flag on your bunting, so you don’t want it to be too long. i picked “you are loved”.
  • work out how many flags you’ll need. i did one flag per letter, one flag per space between words, and an extra flag at either end. with you are loved, that makes 15 flags.
  • cut out your flags. they’ll need to have an extra half-centimeter or so on the end to fold over and staple, but don’t panic if they aren’t all identical shape or size. that’ll just add to the handmade quality!

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  • I used paper that was coloured on one side and did it so that the letter flags were white-side up, and the spacer flags were coloured-side up. work out how you’d like to do it – maybe if you’re using white printer paper you could draw a heart on each spacer flag? – and write on your letters.

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  • line up your flags and cut a piece of string/ribbon that’s a fair bit longer than the flags on each side, so there’s slack to tie the bunting up. then fold the string in the middle to find the centre, take the middle flag of your message, fold the top over and staple it on. work out to either side of the message, leaving a little gap between each flag and its neighbours.

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  • admire your handiwork! then put it in an envelope to keep it safe (and flat) in transit.

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2. love polaroids

this is one of the ones you might have to macgyver if you don’t happen to already have a polaroid camera (otherwise that spend-no-money rule will suddenly turn into spending  a hundred bucks.) if you happen to have a polaroid camera and some film though, you can take little selfies showing your love, or photos of flowers or hearts if you’re less of a selfie person. i usually add a polaroid to pen pal letters, just because they’re flat and fit inside a letter and add a bit of extra cuteness!

i’ve done polaroids of me holding a sign saying “I love [person]” in the past; this time I put on some heart-shaped sunglasses i had in my costume collection and pulled some silly faces:

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if you don’t have a polaroid camera, you could easily take cute selfies on your phone or a digital camera, print them on a home document printer (even just black and white) and draw words, colour bits in, or add a polaroid-style frame. or if you don’t have a printer, you could draw pictures! like a stick-figure comic strip telling the story of how you and your friend met.

I’m planning to write a little letter to each of my valentines, put everything together in these valentine-pink envelopes I found in my snail mail stash, and send them in the next couple of days!

i might cut out some little paper hearts to sprinkle in the envelopes as confetti. can you think of anything else I should add?

xx

Dora