Friday Date Night

At home date nights are one of my favourite things ever! Especially when some delicious cooking is involved, candles are lit, chilled acoustic music replaces the tv and time seems to slow down. It just feels like true quality time spent together and there's nothing more I love than that! 

Last week was a little crazy for George with his flight to India being up in the air because of visa purposes. It wasn't until late Friday afternoon that his visa eventually came through but that meant his flight had to be pushed back a week. With a free Friday night to spend together, I decided that a little romantic at-home dinner date was in order. I wanted to incorporate some of George's favourite meals/ingredients so I made a bit of a disjointed dinner but it turned out absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself haha.

For the main feature, I made this Chorizo Bolognese but added beef mince and didn't serve it with buffalo mozzarella (as much as I love it). I served it with a little batch of tricolour fettuccine and it was superrrr yum! 

As for the sides, I made super crispy roasted potatoes with garlic & rosemary - just the way we like them. George also loves peas, so I served them up with some mint, feta & lemon juice was was the perfect little dish to freshen up the dinner. We enjoyed all the yummy food with a fantastic bottle of Shiraz Viognier by Logan. Pure perfection :)  

After dinner we watched Burnt (which seemed very apt after all my cooking haha) and then had a your classic snapchat selfie marathon haha! I mean, it's not really a successful date night without some snapchat selfies is it haha! :) :) :) xxx 

Lately-ish

Pretty plums at The beaches Market

I think it's time for one of those good ol' catch up posts. Everything has been quite busy recently, which I'm sure is the same for everyone - I still find it crazy how much faster & seemingly busier life feels as you get older. Whereas when you're younger, I swear that the days would be soo much slower (particularly those school days where 3.30pm felt like it would never come haha!).

I've recently been so inspired to just slow.it.down and simplify. It could have something to do with the fact that the colder months are upon us and there's nothing better then getting in that cosy hibernation mode (well, as cosy as this balmy Sydney Autumn weather will let us get) which forces you to slow down. Or....it could be the fact that I turn 27 in just over 6 weeks.....WHAT!!! Haha now that is serious madness! But moving right along from that (for now) haha. 

Date night at Ananas Bar & Brasserie

So here is a bit of a round-up from some recent-ish adventures/recipes/outings...etc. I'm excited to share a little more from our super fun Oh Flora getaway to Mudgee back in March. You can see heaps more from our trip down to Mollymook & Milton over on What To Cook - it was amazing! Other than that, here's a little more about what's been going on recently:

  • I've become obsessed with the show Nashville like I knew I would! I kept putting off watching it because I knew I'd get sucked in and start streaming every episode. That's exactly what has happened haha! I'm halfway through season 3 and loving it! 
  • George is off to India for work soon, as soon as his visa comes through. I'm pretty sure he was Indian in his past life considering how much he loves the cuisine + cricket + beer haha. He's extremely excited!  
  • I've recently joined back up to the gym which has been reeeeeally good these past couple weeks. My plan at the beginning of the year was to make myself work out at home....but...that never happened! It turns out I need some hard motivation (like spending $56 a fortnight on membership) to actually get me there haha. Plus, it's a great excuse to step away from the computer when working at home.  
  • You might have already had a look, but my portfolio site has had a gradual freshen up. It made me desperately want to go on a holiday when I was doing the travel page
  • Snapchat is back on my most frequently used apps list. I got fed up having to look after two SC accounts so I'm now just using the one (username: sophlear1) and I share behind-the-scenes WTC stuff on there too. Much easier :)
  • I finally caught up on the last season of Downton Abbey. I kept putting it off because I just didn't want it to be over! I cried so much - that show is truly beautiful and I really hope the rumours about a potential movie are true! 
  • We are off to NZ in a couple weeks time. Just for a long weekend, but I'm really excited because it will be my first ever time visiting and I cannot wait to explore a bit. 
  • It's come to that time where I can now longer put off getting my hair tamed. Thinking of going for this & or this colour-wise. Proper blonde is just too high maintenance for me haha! 
1. Country perfection at Trelawney Farm, Mudgee | 2. Afternoon cocktails at Bannisters Pavilion rooftop bar | 3. Losing our minds in the rose garden at Mudgee Made Roses | 4. Rick's Place, Mollymook | 5. Zucchini + Cauliflower + Carrot Fritters on What To Cook | 6. Sunrise over Mollymook Beach
1. The beautiful bath at Trelawney | 2. Food styling & eating at Lazy Suzie
1. Pilgrims Cafe, Milton | 2. Cutest little sheep at Mudgee Made Roses | 3. Incredible lunch by Mudgee Made Catering | 4. The Three Musketeers down in the South Coast | 5. Shots at Los Vida | 6. Another sunrise shot over Mollymook Beach

Happiest of Thursdays to you! :) :) 

Sarah + Matt | Wedding

Back in February I photographed my first ever wedding! Sarah & Matt reached out to me towards the end of last year and I couldn't quite believe it as it was around the exact same week where I started to seriously think about offering wedding photography. It felt like the most magical timing and an opportunity that I was incredibly grateful for. 

It was a beautifully intimate celebration of two extremely lovely people and was just such a happy occasion! Leading up, I was definitely nervous about capturing the day but it was utterly perfect and a day I'll always remember. The best ever first-wedding-photography experience for me - that is for sure :) And how adorable is their gorgeous daughter, Elsie! So sweet! 

Head on over to my portfolio site to see more photos & you can find out more information on wedding photography services here :)

See the full gallery here.

Endless Summer

Helloooooooo :) & happy Friday + April (!!!! MADNESS!). I'm reeeeeally excited to be posting these images today. I've been dreaming up this little shoot from earlier on in the year and it feels so so good to see the end result. 

I just absolutely love the start of every new year and I think that definitely has something to do with starting the new year in the summer time down here in Australia. That amazing summer vibe just really helps to create an intoxicatingly happy & inspired start to the year. It makes me want to have that mentality every single day! 

Even though we are well into autumn now, there's still a bit of summer lingering around and It made for the perfect time to do this shoot with my beautiful friend, Carla. She is 'summer' personified - adventurous, passionate, outdoorsy, happy & down right gorgeous! The ideal model for what I wanted to achieve with these photos. The fact that she had just been in Bali & got that beautiful golden tan was a total bonus :)

I really love doing these kind of shoots - ones where I have full creative freedom and can run wild with ideas and inspiration...it's so much fun. The photos aren't for anything in particular (apart from professional & creative development) but that's kind of what makes it interesting :) 

As much as I love autumn & winter...I really hope a little bit of that summer vibe sticks around. After all, I definitely agree that summer is a state of mind! 

See the full gallery here

The Ingredients of a Great Day

It's come to that time in the year where I can feel an ever-so-slight change in my state of mind. It feels like it happens every year...I start the new year feeling so optimistic, inspired & positive that I feel like I need to go, go, go without taking a breath. Inevitably this often causes a bit of a crash and burn. But it's the type of crash and burn that takes a while to realise that it's even happening as it all starts so subtly. 

The effort levels ever-so-slightly start to drop, I go to bed later & wake up later, feel a deeper kind of tiredness & definitely start to feel less inspired. Because it happens so gradually, I usually find it really hard to detect...however this time I'm learning from previous mistakes and trying to kick it before it's somehow become the end of the year already!

So here are my current 'when working at home' weekday guidelines I'm going to try and follow to make sure I'm getting the most out of every day. 
 

WAKE UP RESTED

This is a big one and one that I am realising makes such a massive difference more and more as I get older. For me, it all starts with a relatively early bed time, particularly on a Sunday night otherwise I feel I'll be in a vicious circle for the whole week. 10.30pm is the sweet spot for me and makes waking up the next morning so much easier. For the past couple of weeks, I've found myself not getting into bed until 11.30pm-ish and not falling asleep until after midnight. This makes the next morning sooooo sleeeeppy & exhausting which means I usually don't get anything done until the afternoon and that leads to another late night just to play catchup. Vicious circle of doom! 
To fix this, for the next 4 work weeks, I'm challenging myself to 10.30pm bed times and 6.45am wake up time. I feel like this is the lynchpin for an ongoing feeling of having a great day, week, month, season, year. It's the base layer for greatness haha!
 

HAVE A 'SLOW' MORNING

Waking up earlier means the morning doesn't have to be such a rush which is so so nice! I love waking up early to make a coffee or tea for George & myself, wash my face, make a yummy breakfast, cuddle with Winston, and just generally get ready for the day in a slow chilled pace rather then a manic rushed pace. It's such a nice way to start the day and I'm filled with excitement for the day which makes me so much happier! It's even the case on weekends too - as much as I love a good nights sleep, I'm not the biggest fan of sleeping in as when I get up I feel like the best part of the day is already over so quickly. 
I usually try to have the mornings without a screen around but sometimes it's fun & interesting to casually scroll through while having your morning coffee or tea, so I guess it's mainly about not putting pressure on yourself to a 'miracle' morning every single day and instead base it around just having some slow quality morning time to relax and plan the day. 
 

FEEL A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT

I find that this is another super important ingredient of having a great work day. The sense of achievement changes in it's size, as in some days just replying to one important email might make you feel like the day was a huge success, whereas others might have a couple big & intimidating tasks that need to get ticked off in order to make you feel like the day has been a good one. 
I'm not the best at prioritising my to-do list at all - I put things off if it doesn't excite me which is a really bad habit, so along with my bed-time schedule challenge, I've also introduced a new trick to my daily to-do lists. Instead of just writing down a whole bunch of things that I would like to get done that day in random order, I take 5 minutes to really think about what would make me the happiest if I get it done. I keep it to just 2-3 tasks, otherwise I overwhelm myself, so if I get anything else done on top of those it's a bonus and I feel like I can shut the computer down at a reasonable time. 
It is hard with photo editing though as the amount of photos to get through can range from 200-5000+ so instead of writing e.g. "Edit Mollymook photos" and not being able to tick it off until it's all done, I now write "Edit a portion of Mollymook photos" and from trial & error, I can usually get through 350-400 photos before feeling like my head is going to explode haha so a portion has now become 400 photos. This little change in how I approach getting through photo editing has helped sooo much and definitely helps to make me feel a sense of achievement throughout the week. 
 

SCHEDULE 'INSPIRATION' TIME

I absolutely love a good Pinterest or Instagram scroll and it's something that I don't want to turn my back on it and see them as purely negative time-wasters because that's definitely not the case. It's how we use them that makes all the difference. So, rather then endless scrolling which usually becomes very mind-numbing and will kill any kind of productivity, I've started scheduling in little mini sessions of going through them. 
I've always found Pinterest such a great source for inspiration and love to get little doses of inspo throughout the day. I've found that loosely scheduling in Pinterest time makes me way less likely to get distracted & I seem to get way more inspired.
Instagram is a bit of a different story though as posting is very time consuming and I've not yet figured out what the best way to streamline that process. However, I love using Instagram as a source of inspiration, especially since the 'explore' section has improved exponentially since Instagram was first on the scene as it now shows you (well it has for a while now) images and accounts that directly relate to what you're interested in. The only thing is, it's now way easier to fall in the black hole of Instagram and have way too much time pass before you realise. I've found that I prefer checking Insta out at the end of the day where it doesn't matter as much if I get really distracted. 
 

LISTEN TO MUSIC OR PODCASTS WHILE WORKING

This is my favourite thing ever and makes a big photo editing sesh so much more fun! I have a few Spotify playlists that I love listening to, but I've found myself using the Radio section of Spotify a lot more recently. I just right click on one of my current favourite songs and hit 'start radio' and it creates a playlist of all related songs. It saves the time of having to create your own playlists and also means I've been discovering so many new artists and songs that I love. I'm a massive country music fan so am currently obsessed with Holly Williams, Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown Band, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett (particularly 'Die A Happy Man'....have you seen the video clip? It's sooooooooooooooooooo cute!!!) and anything that mentions drinking whiskey haha + many many more. LOVE THEM!!! I also really love Ziggy Alberts who's more beachy, singer-songwriter-y which is also right up my alley!  
As for Podcasts, my favourite will always be the Bon Appétit Foodcast! I loveeeee editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport & deputy editor-in-chief Andrew Knowlton and would have severe star-struckness if I ever saw them in real life haha. But seriously, the Bon Appétit podcast is so great and is definitely one of the contributing factors of making me want to go live over in America at some point! 
 

SWITCH OFF

This one is definitely the hardest by far but is so annoyingly essential haha. It makes the biggest difference to an overall feeling of content-ness for sure! But it's so hard to do, especially when you really like what you're working on and when social media make up quite a big area of your business. 
Switching off has become somewhat easier for me recently after upgrading my laptop to an iMac. I still use my laptop now and then but I don't do any 'work' on it, and keep work in the office with the big computer. It took me a little while to get into this routine and I break it way to easily sometimes but it has made switching off easier that's for sure! 
Ideally I would love to switch off by 6pm with a super compelling book, but truthfully it's usually a whole lot of "Netflix & chill" (finally started watching 'Chef's Table' documentary series and we're obsessed)! The best thing about this though is that it allows George & I to have some relaxing quality time together which is obviously the best thing about life and will always make any bad day much much much better!