Author, activist and all-round legend, we asked the phenomenal Bri Lee to curate a list of ‘Great Summer Reads’ for Obus Lovers to start the year off with.
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Don't be put off by the size of this book! It's well worth it and I finished it much faster than I expected to. Despite the sometimes heavy content, it 'goes down easy', so to speak. For readers familiar with Yanagihara's previous novel, A Little Life, I can confirm this one isn't as harrowing. Split into three novellas, we see a certain home and section of New York City across three distinct times. Character names and places overlap, as do some themes, but it resists easy interpretation. It does deal with 'illness', so if you're looking for escape from the COVID world this isn't for you. If you, like me, are looking for an invitation to think in different ways about another year of the same problems, give this a go.
After Story by Larissa Behrendt
This recommendation is also a plug because I'll be in-conversation with the supermegafantastic Behrendt on Thursday 27th January and it's free to watch the livestream. I'm a huge fan of her work, Finding Eliza in particular had a profound impact on me, and her latest novel is so fantastic. The Guardian says this book's 'smouldering questions are leavened by characters who are funny, complex and real,' and I couldn't agree more.
Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser
This is a 'flip book' of two separate stories: one side is a scathing satire set in the very-near future; the other is a beautiful but troubling account of a trip to France in the past. You can start with either side. They're entirely different characters and worlds, but the big issues of racism, sexism, and ageism just find different ways to rear their 'monstrous' heads. I was cackling with dark laughter in the satirical half - de Kretser's eagle eye and sharp ear are sharpened to a tasty point here.
The Game by Sean Kelly
Everyone is reading this book! And for good reason. I consider it a companion text to Lech Blaine's recent fantastic Quarterly Essay, Top Blokes, in the gratitude I feel for how it gave me a deeper understanding of Australia and this country's politics, while still being a really entertaining and easy read. Going into another election year, learning properly about who Scott Morrison is, how he became PM, and what he might do next, couldn't be more important. I recently spoke with Kelly for my newsletter, News & Reviews, and found him to be a kind, funny, and insightful person.
ABOUT BRI LEE
Bri Lee is a writer living and working on Gadigal land Sydney Australia. She’s the author of bestselling books Who Gets to be Smart (2021), Eggshell Skull (2018) and Beauty (2019), a qualified lawyer currently doing a PhD at the University of Sydney and an activist championing criminal justice law reform.
Bri runs a weekly news letter, News & Reviews and is working with the Women’s Justice Network to get books to women incarcerated in NSW.
Read more about Bri online https://www.bri-lee.com
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of florals here at Obus, from brightening a room to boosting a mood, flowers have the ability to create joy wherever they bloom.
With Spring just around the corner, we speak to Flower Bowl creator and passionate florist Jodie about how she got started and what keeps her going.
Flower Bowl is now over 15 years old, can you tell us about it’s conception?
I was 20 and in love with all things pretty and pink, so I opened a pretty pink shop! I wanted to be surrounded by all the things that made my heart happy. At the end of the day, flowers make people happy, and that seemed like a pretty lovely thing to be a part of.
I started on my own in East Geelong with three bunches of Camelia, a bunch of Gerberas and a free delivery driver (thanks Mum!). I was petrified and passionate. But I’ve always come back to the idea of just making people happy. 16 years later, a few more Flower Bowl girls and A LOT more flowers, I’m lucky to have been a part of so much happiness.
As a small business owner, how have you had to adapt over the past year & what have you learnt?
When we haven’t been able to connect with our customers in person, we’ve had to find other ways to reach them and let them know that we’re still here for everything life throws their way. Our online and social media presence has been really important. We have put a lot of love into the products we offer and the content we share.
Our relationships with our growers and suppliers has also been SO important. For a while there I was spending over ten hours every week driving to and from Monbulk to pick up flowers. The flower hustle was real. Our growers work hard to give us pretty things to play with (they also put up with me begging for alllllllllll the Hydrangea) so we have worked hard to support them back.
I have learnt to always have wine in the fridge… but in all honesty, I have learnt the importance of staying true to your brand and backing yourself. You also can’t do this on your own - you need to find your people!
Flower Bowl is female owned and operated, how do you think this has contributed to it’s success?
We’re actually not a workroom of crazy chicks on purpose! It just so happens that the most fabulous florists (and people) who have walked into Flower Bowl have been females. So if there’s any flower-loving guys out there who think they could put up with us, you know where to find us! That being said, there’s nothing like a bit of girl power in a room. We’re a team of tough, kind, creative and hard working women, and I think that shines through on our socials.
If you could send flowers to anyone in the world who would it be?
My girl J.Lo, to say thanks for all the ripper nights on the dance floor! #jennyfromtheblock
How does fashion play a role in Flower Bowl?
We’re visual people, so that not only includes flowers and colours but outfits too! There’s nothing like matching your outfit to the season or finding that perfect shade of lippy to match your favourite rose. We love bold patterns, bright pants and pink Converse of course!
We definitely stand out when we get our morning coffee… We won’t lie though, there’s times when we couldn’t care less about our outfit choice. 2am at the flower market, day six of Mother’s Day week and when you’re knee deep in the green bin. But mostly we’re having fun with our ‘fits. We’re lucky to work in a job that allows us to tell the world who we are with our clothing - sparkly jackets, pink overalls and all!
Do you have a favourite Obus piece?
I mean, this is like asking a florist if they have a favourite flower… impossible! I love my ‘Beauty Within’ boiler suit. But this new range is giving it a run for it’s money! The ‘Marché aux Fleurs’ skirt is pretty damn fab.
What’s next for Flower Bowl?
In the last 12 months I’ve opened up two new shops (the warehouse in Ryan Place and the retail space in Pakington Street) so I think I need a hot minute! I adore my Pakington Street space - it’s everything I love in one little shop!
A second, smaller retail space concentrating on beautiful gifts, a selection of our very favourite seasonal blooms and really personal service was something I’ve always wanted to create, so I’m just enjoying it at the moment. I do love a challenge though, so I’m sure it won’t be long until I think of something new, pretty and exciting for Flower Bowl. At the moment we’re expanding our team, adding to our online range and just trying to keep up with the crazy!
Flower Bowl is owned and operated by Jodie and her lovely team of Flower Bowl girls in Geelong, Vic. A contemporary florist - they love all things seasonal, luxe and locally grown. Offering hand selected florals, made and delivered with love by Jodie and her girls daily throughout Geelong, Surfcoast, Bellarine Peninsula and Melbourne.
You can find them on Instagram at @flowerbowl
Wearing Marché Aux Fleurs Wrap Dress, Blouse and Skirt from the Souvenir Spring 2021 Collection, available now.
Wellness expert Caz Butler breaks down how to select the professionals you want on your team and tools to use at home.
Start with a good GP and health team that suits YOUR needs.
How do you do that? Take note of what your health needs really are and choose based off that
Do you have any issues with your period (pain, flooding, intense week or so long PMS etc)? Seek out someone with an interest in women’s/menstrual health.
Is mental health your priority? Then look for this in their bio. Given the year we’ve had, I’ve certainly noticed clinically that more and more people are requiring a mental health plan and the support of talk therapy. If you feel a bit off and are unsure whether you are eligible, talk to you GP.
The best way to choose someone is usually word of mouth. Ask your friends, family or community who they like and trust. If you have a specific condition, there will probably by a Facebook or Instagram community who will help to guide you to someone who is capable and listens.
Remember to trust your gut. Sometimes you may need a second opinion. And if you don’t feel as though the therapeutic relationship is serving you, find one that will.
Are there other health professionals that might help you?
- Everyone has differing needs and preferences. There are so many allied health and complementary modalities out there for us to choose from! Chinese medicine, osteopathy, naturopathy/nutrition, massage, myotherapy… the list goes on.
- Know that you can be choosy. Again, word of mouth can pay in dividends. Look at their social media or website, read their bio. Have an open mind, but trust your gut – I can’t say that enough.
If you require specialist care for a chronic condition, do consider asking around for recommendations from people with the condition or complimentary practitioners who are in the know. Not all specialists are created equal, as with any other professional.
Back to basics
Sometimes the simplest things are the easier to forget about! This is the advice that I never stop handing out clinically, because often we all just need a little reminder.
Are you drinking enough water?
- No, seriously. And are you thirsty? If you’re not thirsty, are your tummy and bowels feeling ok? Look into that if they’re not.
Are you eating fruit and veg regularly?
- What we eat doesn’t need to be perfect, but if you’re going from toast for breakfast to a sandwich for lunch and pasta for dinner, that is a lot of filler and not lot of substance.
Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you looking at screens until bedtime (this is my downfall that I need to peel myself out of occasionally)? This will really feed insomnia.
- If you have ongoing issues with insomnia, whether you can’t fall asleep, stay asleep OR no matter how much sleep you get you’re always exhausted, please investigate.
Move your body with some regularity.
- It doesn’t need to be for long and it doesn’t need to be intense, it just needs to be movement. I don’t even mind if you don’t call it exercise. Go for a walk (or a wander), do some stretching in front of the telly. Weight bearing exercise is beneficial for a host of reasons, but it you’re currently not really doing anything, any movement will do.
Find 5 minutes to yourself each day!
- If you tell me that you don’t have 5 minutes to yourself in the day, I won’t believe you. If you’re overwhelmed and all you’ve got is time to sit on the toilet and have a cry while life goes on outside the door, take it. There is always time; sometimes you just need to be creative.
- If there is a self care thing that floats your boat, make it a part of your routine. I love journaling in the morning, some people love getting out in nature, others love a float tank or a manicure.
Pause and take a breath right now as you read this. Thank you.
Always cold? This is for you
I have included this section, because I cannot TELL you how many patients I see who are cold all the time, but don’t think of these little things. You’re welcome.
Keep your feet warm!
- Thick socks or slippers instead of bare feet when you’re walking around the house and have tiles or floor boards.
Kick smoothies to the curb.
- Beginning your day (or snacking) on a cold smoothie is only going to further cool you down. Swap it out for porridge or another yummy warm breakfast or drink it warm – yes, this is a thing. If you really must, drink it warm and add some cinnamon or ginger to it.
Give tap or cold water the flick and sip on warm water throughout the day. Get yourself a thermos and keep warm and hydrated.
Think about the tread on your shoes in winter.
- If they are thin little sneakers, the cold from the ground will come up into your feet and cool your whole body down, no matter how thick your socks are.
- Pick a shoe with a more solid sole. I love a flatform, or anything that isn’t just a thin strip of leather. Give it a go – I swear you’ll notice a difference.
Do you catch colds regularly?
See the advice above for cold people.
Keep your neck warm!
- Wear a scarf please. In Chinese medicine it is of utmost importance for us to keep our necks warm as this is where a pathogen can enter from.
Consider speaking with a trusted complimentary health professional to seek out answers before self-prescribing a myriad of supplements.
- Consider looking into blood-work to ensure everything is right as rain.
Caz Butler is a Chinese medicine practitioner in Collingwood and Mornington who adores menstrual health and mental health. Her passion is to bring joy to body literacy. She believes that education and open communication around health and our bodies is a social and political responsibility.
You can find her on Instagram at @caz.butler_tcm.dr
Dani Venn is a lover of cooking, colour and wild dancing. Being a Mum of two she’s a big believer in keeping things simple and fun when feeding her family.
This Mother’s Day she takes us through a scrumptious pudding recipe to add some sauce to your Sunday!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 eggs, separated
Juice of 2 lemons, freshly squeezed
½ cup plain flour
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon icing sugar, to dust (optional)
Dollop cream or ice cream to serve
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees, rub melted or softened butter into a 1.5 – 2 litre casserole dish, ensuring that your casserole dish can fit into a slightly larger baking tray.
- In a mixing bowl, rub lemon zest and rosemary into the sugar with the tips of your fingers to release the natural oils in the lemon and rosemary. Place butter in bowl of electric stand mixer fitted with the flexible beater paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar mixture together until creamy and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.
- Add egg yolks one at a time until fully incorporated before adding the next, add lemon juice and then reduce speed to the lowest setting and fold in the flour then pour in the milk. The mixture might look a little curdle and different to your usual cake batter but not to worry.
- Pour batter into a large mixing bowl, clean stand mixer bowl fully so its sparkling clean with no oily residue and then place egg whites into clean stand mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed until egg whites are thick and fluffy like clouds. Using a large metal spoon, place half the egg white mixture into the batter and fold through gently then place the remainder of the egg whites into the batter and fold until fully incorporated.
- Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish, then place in a larger baking tray. Fill the baking tray about ¾ of the way up with boiling water then carefully place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until sponge is golden and bounces back. A thin layer or gooey sauce should remain at the bottom, so you can always poke a knife in the sides of the pudding to check.
- Remove from oven carefully, dust with icing sugar and serve pudding hot with dollop cream or ice cream.
We ask Dani a few questions...
If you had to pick just one dish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
This is like picking my favourite child, impossible to answer!! I would say dish “category” would be curry. I am borderline obsessed with spices, grinding my own spice powders and mortar and pestling my own curry pastes. There is such complexity and depth of flavour in curries from the world over and so many different ways to serve them with all kinds of veg and proteins. Of course Sri Lankan curries are my favourite and I love that I can share my interpretation of Sri Lankan flavours in my new curry simmer sauce range at Coles, much simpler then making from scratch too.
What vegetable did you dislike as a child, that you know love?
I think its a stereotypical vegetable to dislike, but as a kid my brussel sprouts were not over boiled and let out a certain pong which I never enjoyed, but it turns out as an adult come winter I adore a Brussel Sprout. The trick is to halve them and deep fry them until crispy, blot them with paper towel and then smother in a dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, tangy English Mustard and if you can find it, Vino Cotto. Whisk together and drizzle over with a can of lentils and chopped mint and you are in for one of the best vegetable experiences of your life.
What self-care ritual do you swear by (when you have a second to yourself)?
My bathtub is my happy place, it is fills my cup. I always emerge from it feeling renewed and revived If I am feeling fancy I might light a candle, add some drops of Lavender oil maybe put on a face mask and play some relaxing tunes. Pure bliss.
Flowers or chocolates for Mother’s Day?
I still have so many left over Easter eggs that I have hidden from the kids that I sneakily eat when they go to bed so lets go for flowers!
Where in Australia would you love to travel to on your next vacay?
I love looking closer to home to find unique experiences, if I was to splurge I would love to go up to Broome and the Kimberlys but the next holiday I am actually going on with the kids is the Sunshine Coast in winter, because I really want to take the kids to Australia Zoo.
Recipe courtesy of Dani Venn. You can follow her on Instaram @danivenn
Photo courtesy of Dani, wearing Obus Idyll Blouse and Companion Jean (Coming Soon).
Say hello to Katie Noonan ~ Obus lover, artistic director, producer and one of Australia’s most beloved female vocalists.
In the spirit of creativity and connection, we chat to Katie about how she's celebrating identity and place through song and how she's using her passion for music and community to bring people together in 2021.
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What creative projects have you been working on?
I am launching a brand new ensemble AVÉ Australian Vocal Ensemble. We are a new a cappella vocal quartet focused on new Australia sounds. Our repertoire, like our Australian culture, will be a unique blend of the old and the new. The OLD will be represented in the glorious spiritual music of the late Renaissance and Baroque - the golden age of vocal polyphonic writing, and the NEW will be modern music of the 20th and 21st Century, with a particular focus on new Australian Music.
I recently commissioned 12 new pieces from 12 Aussie composers based on the poetry of iconic poet David Malouf. We are also breathing ancient words into ancient music - singing J S Bach in the languages of the country upon which we live - Gubbi Gubbi, Gadigal and Noongar Country. You can read more about us at: www.australianvocalensemble.com
I also started a brand new festival - Sunshine Sounds - 100% Qld, 50% Sunshine Coast, 50% First Nations and 75% Female - huzzah! Our inaugural festival will be held on Gubbi Gubbi Country on the Labour Day weekend May 1, 2 in our beautiful town of Eumundi. You can check it out here: www.sunshinesoundsfestival.com
I am also working on a new album with new band featuring our 15 year old son Dexter on drums (P.S…Yes! Mind blown)! 🤯 You can check his ammmmmmazing drumming out on Insta @dexterhurrendrums.
What was the most rewarding?
To be honest they are all rewarding for different reasons - AVÉ is challenging me a lot musically and I thrive being out of my comfort zone, Sunshine Sounds festival is super rewarding as it is a chance to support my industry and my community, and my new band is feeling super awesome, all the more so as our amazing son Dexter is absolutely slaying as our drummer!
I am also about to announce my 6th year of my free music school for talented young kids in our area - www.eumundischoolofrock.com - you can see three of our star students of last year and one of our teachers Shannon Carroll from Band of Frequencies pictured.
Do you tend to create on the go, be present in the moment, or a combination of the two?
Ahhhh a combo of two, but I do try and set aside time to be still and allow the muse to visit.
What lights you up and brings you joy - big or small?
My children Dexter (15) and Jonah (14), my hubby Zac and my doggy Sassy the Staffie. She is the best dog in the known universe (of course)! I also really love mentoring young people - which I do largely through my free music school I run called Eumundi School of Rock!
How has Covid-19 changed your everyday life, and how have you adapted to these challenges?
It had been extremely challenging, especially from a financial loss point of view. BUT, it has also been a blessing, a chance to focus on gratitude, spend more time with my family and dream up new dreams. You just have to learn to accept that things will be as they will be and do your best. I am an improvising musician and COVID has been like one reallllllllyyyyyy looooonggggg improvised solo!
If you're anything like us, we can't wait to get travelling again. What destination is at the top of your bucket list when we can travel again?
Italy - I absolutely love Italians and la dolce vita xx
When taking a step back from work, what is your favourite thing to do on a rainy day?
Cuddle my beautiful doggy Sassy the Staffie, drink tea and read a book.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your every day?
Since moving out of the city with our kids under 2, I have lived on rainwater for 14 years and for many years we lived basically off the grid - no bin collection, no water, solar powered etc. Once I had children I really decided to do what I could to make sustainable decisions in my home and life.
Which three empowering females would you love to have dinner (or a Zoom date) with and why?
Well as Obus is a Melb company that and I discovered you through the gorgeous Lady Bowdo wearing your frocks, I would invite all Melb ladies - Clare Bowditch, Kate Ceberano and Monica Curro. Three amazing Melb based woman who I love - they all have fabulous style, are amazing musicians, dream big dreams and are total badass boss babes.
What three words would you use to describe you personal style?
CCC - Colourful, curvy and comfy!
What do you love most about Obus?
I love your amazing prints and the feel of your beautiful materials. I love that the majority of your products are lovingly made in Melb and that you give back to your community. I am all about community and sharing the good juju and you peeps are a wonderful example of that!
And as a special Easter treat... Katie's curated some of her favourite tunes for you
to enjoy this long weekend ~ up now on Spotify! xx
Katie is a rare songwriter; equally at home leading a symphony orchestra as she is performing in a small jazz club, she has the ability to flourish in any genre – whether that’s in gentle folk storytelling or in the grandiosity of an operatic performance, all while raising her two boys, and supporting her local community in anyway she can.
Katie wears Resolution Dress (Sold out). Other Resolution styles currently on Sale).
Say hello to Daisy Braid, Obus lover, sewing blogger and maker behind DIY Daisy where she shares free sewing patterns and tutorials on her blog to encourage and inspire makers of all levels to DIY their dream wardrobe.
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You will need:
20cm of woven fabric
Hand sewing needle
Fabric covered head band
Sewing machine (optional)
Iron + ironing board
1. Cut a rectangle of fabric 20cm high by 80cm wide. You can make your headband even scrunchier by making your rectangle wider.
2. Fold the rectangle in half and sew up (or hand sew) the side to make a tube.
3. Press the seam flat in the center. Close up one end with a straight stitch and trim the excess.
4. Close up the other end half way making sure to leave a hole big enough to fit the head band through. Turn out and press.
5. Insert the head band through the hole.
6. Time to get hand sewing!
7. Fold the end over like this and hand stitch it closed. Make sure to catch on the head band inside so the fabric doesn’t slide off the band. You can also do some small stitches along the underside of the band to secure the fabric how you would like. Snip any loose threads and try it on!
Daisy wears Arcadia Smock.
Meet Lani and Zara ~ mother and daughter, Obus lovers and the creative duo behind Aurora Art.
Inspired by motherhood and influenced by their diverse Australian and Papua New Guinean heritage, we get to know the women behind these stunning artworks.
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Tell us about your journey to launch Aurora Art?
Being Mother & Daughter, we are very close & have always dreamt of working together in our own small business. We have always created artwork for our own home, family and friends.
The timing seemed right last year and we decided to take a leap of faith and commence working full time on Aurora Art. Zara (my daughter) was getting closer to finishing her Fine Arts degree and I (Lani) had recently had my fifth baby and decided not to return to teaching. We were very grateful to be able to work on over 100 paintings last year and also launch our prints. We are excited for what the future holds!
How does cultural values influence your art?
We are from a diverse cultural background and we are definitely influenced by our culture. My Mum is from a small PNG island in the Torres Strait and growing up she spent some time living in Papua New Guinea.
What kind of projects have you worked on recently? What was the most rewarding?
The launch of our fine art prints and being invited to be stocked on the BlockShop were recent highlights for us. We have been very humbled that people have embraced our art.
How has Covid-19 changed the way you work, and how have you adapted to these challenges?
We were in a lockdown in Melbourne for a lot of 2020, which meant that we were able to set up our home studio. We have a gallery in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne which is open by appointment, however, we have since been able to work predominantly from home and focus on online as a result of Covid-19.
What 3 words would you use to describe your personal style?
Colourful, eclectic & feminine.
What are you currently reading?
Becoming by Michelle Obama
How do you incorporate sustainability into your everyday?
In our home we love up cycling and making over old furniture. Within Aurora Art we only create our prints when an order is placed so there is no wastage. Our suppliers are local small businesses & we physically collect our framing and prints from them every week, so that unnecessary packaging can be avoided.
Name 3 empowering females you'd love to have dinner with & why?
We would love to have dinner with Oprah, Michelle Obama & Alicia Keys. All three women are strong black women making a difference in our world. 🙌🏽
What brings you joy - big or small?
Family is our biggest joy. Being a big family there is always lots of noise, laughter & joy!
ABOUT LANI AND ZARA
Lani is the founder and owner of Aurora Art. She holds degrees in Business (Marketing) and Education, and is a Director of various companies.
Zara is completing a Bachelor in Fine Arts and as a professionally trained artist, her work has been exhibited at Melbourne Museum and various galleries across Australia.
Oh, hey there. I’m Sofia Levin, a food and travel journalist based in Melbourne (more so than ever given international travel is currently off the cards!). I write for publications such as Good Food, SBS Food, Lonely Planet and Broadsheet, but I spend most of my time encouraging people to #EatCuriously, that is to learn more about other cultures and celebrate diversity through food.
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My website, Seasoned Traveller, is on track to be live early 2021 and will feature lesser-known restaurants, food experiences and culinary travel advice that you won’t find elsewhere. It comes as no surprise that I’ve decided to compile a list of fiction and non-fiction food books for one of my favourite labels, Obus.
Rest assured that these are not just for food lovers; they contain stories that will transport you to other countries and centuries, enlightening information and ways to broaden both your mind and kitchen skills. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Here are some of my recommended reads...
The Last Days of Cafe Leila by Donia Bijan
This is a beautiful tale about Noor, an Iranian woman living in San Francisco who returns home to visit her aging father at his cafe in Tehran. Three-generation-old Cafe Leila has been a rock and home for many during Iran’s turbulent history, and this moving story of food, family and identity is simultaneously heart warming and heart wrenching. Make sure you have the nearest Persian restaurant on speed dial to make a booking – you’ll want to eat jewelled rice and fesenjan (pomegranate chicken stew) after reading.
Dark Emu: Black Seeds: Agriculture or Accident? by Bruce Pasco
This is such an important book for every Australian to read. Aboriginal author and academic Bruce Pascoe released it in 2014, but it’s been the topic of much conversation since. Through research, original journal entries and other means it re-examines first encounters with First Nation Australians and turns everything we were taught in school on its head; evidence suggests that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were not “hunter gatherers”, but instead heavily involved in agriculture and cultivating the land.
Appetite by Philip Kazan
This novel is widely regarded as the taste equivalent of Patrick Suskind’s Perfume (another of my all-time favourite books). It’s a historical novel set in Florence and Rome that follows Nino Latini, who can taste what others can’t, from teenager into adulthood. His experiences are intertwined with a love story and the food descriptions are gluttonous and stunning. Nino’s palate in an age of consumption and hedonism is both a blessing and a curse, but I don’t want to give too much more away!
Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl
Last year American food writer Ruth Reichl released a memoir called Save Me The Plums: My Gourmet Memoir. It’s a brilliant insight into the evolution and excitement of food writing, but I recommend you first read Garlic and Sapphires (actually, read all of her wonderful books). Garlic and Sapphires is one of my favourites because it’s a real-life romp. It details the efforts Reichl went to remain anonymous when reviewing for the New York Times, during which she completely embodied her characters. She’s clever, fun, overtly sensual and most importantly, makes you want to eat.
New Voices on Food edited by Lee Tran Lam
I’m involved in a group of journalists who gathered during lockdown to brainstorm ways to improve the diversity of food writing in Australia. This book, published by Somekind Press and edited by my unstoppable friend, Lee Tran Lam, is one of the results. It’s an anthology of deeply personal food stories from people of underrepresented backgrounds that will lend a dose of perspective and give you an insight into other cultures through food. Expect to see more of this sort of thing in the future – our culinary landscape is richer for it.
In Praise of Veg: A Modern Kitchen Companion by Alice Zaslavsky
If Obus made a pattern from a cookbook, it would be this one, so I’m sneaking it into my reading list. You might know my mate Alice Zaslavsky from her MasterChef days or her cooking segment on ABC News Breakfast, but it doesn’t matter where she’s been or that I might be a little bit biased, because this bible of a cookbook belongs on the shelf between your Ottolenghi and Stephanie Alexander – and you’ll probably use it more. Vegetable-forward but not at the exclusion of meat and seafood, it’s organised by colour and is as vibrant as the author. For example, if you have onions to use up, flick to the brown section and make the ‘Any kind of Onion’ Tarte Tartin. If it’s good enough for Nigella Lawson, it’s good enough for you.
ABOUT SOFIA LEVIN
Sofia Levin is a culinary travel journalist and the founder of Seasoned Traveller. She encourages people to #EatCuriously in order to celebrate difference and learn more about other cultures through food.
Meet Obus lovers, Celeste and her dear friend and co-owner of Natural Supply Co, Sarah. Like us, these two ladies pack all their orders themselves, and are equally committed to minimise as much waste as possible every day.
From limiting packaging from suppliers, reusing what they can and aiming for a zero-waste approach to business, they embrace the slow living lifestyle, and look for quality over quantity in all aspects of their lives.
Passionate about providing natural, yet delightful, beauty, skincare and lifestyle products, we asked Celeste to share some of her best tips on how to make small changes to take care of ourselves and our environment.
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Kermit the Frog may sing ‘it’s not easy being green,’ but, with a little preparation, I beg to differ! Over the past couple of years, I’ve been making conscious decisions to try and reduce my family’s impact on the environment; avoiding single-use plastic in particular, which has crept into so many facets of our day-to-day lives without us even really noticing. But not anymore!
I know it can be overwhelming to get started on a more eco-friendly lifestyle; I have had a lot of people contact me about this, as I’ve shared my progress and tips on Natural Supply Co’s Insta stories. But I really believe the ‘progress, not perfection’ mantra. I am not perfect. I don’t pretend to be perfect; plastic still comes into our home. But I really believe that if we all make a few small changes, we can make a difference to the environment.
So to that end: here are some tips to help you make some positive changes in 2021!
Get a bread bag
Taking a reusable cotton bread bag to the bakery, and getting your loaf sliced directly into that, means saving a single-use plastic bag for every loaf you buy. That’s about two a week for my family; which means we are saying ‘no thanks’ to about 104 plastic bags a year. It all adds up!
Switch to a biodegradable dish cloth
Next time you need to throw away your manky dish cloth, don’t replace it with a plastic one from the supermarket; buy a biodegradable version instead. You can use it just like your normal kitchen sponge, but when you’re finished with it, you can pop it into your compost instead of sending it to landfill. We love the fun prints from Retrokitchen; I’ve been using my two on rotation for 12 months, and they’re still going.
Invest in a reusable coffee cup and water bottle
The trick is remembering to keep these with you when you’re on-the-go! I swear by the stainless steel Frank Green cups and bottles, which are coated in ceramic on the inside so your drinks taste just like they would in a cup at home. They’ll also keep your drinks hot (or cold) for hours on end. Plus, a lot of cafes will take 20c to 50c off your coffee price when you BYO cup, so if, like me, you drink a lot of coffee, it won’t take long to pay for itself.
Ditch the plastic toothbrush
By switching your toothbrush to a bamboo or corn option, you can save a lot of toothbrushes from ending up in landfill, where they will take hundreds of years to decompose. You can pop your bamboo toothbrushes in the compost when you’re done with them; just snap off the bristles first. I love this pretty pink one!
Take reusable produce bags to the supermarket
We all know to take our shopping bags to the shops now, but have you got a stash of reusable produce bags, too? These are really lightweight so they won’t affect the cost of your shop, but you can use them over and over again instead of bringing your fruit and veggies home in plastic. We stock a few varieties, some that are made out of recycled plastic bottles; talk about going full circle! You can just chuck them in the washing machine when they’re dirty, and use them forever more.
Ditch the single-use makeup remover wipes
We get it; taking off makeup at the end of the day is one job too many for some of us. The good news is, Biologi have made it easy with their reusable microfibre makeup removing cloths. Just wet them with warm water, use them to remove your makeup, then rinse them out – and repeat tomorrow! They come in a pack of three, in a mesh bag so you can chuck them in the washing machine and not lose them! We swear by these beauties for simplifying life, and looking after the environment at the same time. Plus, they can be used thousands of times, which will save you big bucks in no time at all.
Switch to cold water
Did you know that by switching from hot to cold water in your washing machine, you can greatly cut down on electricity bills and reduce your environmental impact? According to the 2019 American Cleaning Institute Sustainability Report, about 90% of the energy used by a washing machine goes toward heating the water. But new product innovations mean a laundry cycle can now be done using cold water with no loss of performance, greatly reducing energy use. The difference to the planet is huge: if each household used cold water for four out of every five wash loads, they would reduce their annual CO2 emissions by 392kgs – that’s the equivalent of planting more than one-third of an acre of forest. If everyone made the same switch, the overall reduction would be vast. Can you imagine?
I hope this has given you a few ideas on easy ways to make more eco-friendly choices. We’re always happy to chat about the right eco-friendly switches for your situation, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you’d like some help!
ABOUT CELESTE ROBERTSON
Celeste Robertson is one-half of local small business Natural Supply Co, which she co-owns with Sarah Scott.
Natural Supply Co is the destination for all things natural, organic and zero waste, stocking all eco-friendly products mentioned in this article. Geelong customers can shop at 5 Rutland St, Newtown or online at naturalsupplyco.com.
As we head into the warmer months, creative and blogger, Connie, shares her favourite veggies to plant this summer and how you can get started in the garden!
How did you get started in permaculture?
I’ve always been interested in permaculture and the idea of learning from nature and applying nature’s wisdom in creating a more sustainable way of living. Last year, I decided to undergo formal training and completed my PDC and got my Permaculture Design Certificate which is an internationally recognised certificate that allows you to work as a permaculturist or teach permaculture!
Can you recommend some good resources for anyone wanting to start their own permaculture journey?
A wonderful movie that recently came out which shares plenty of permaculture principles in an accessible format is The Big Little Farm.
Retrosuburbia is also a recent book that was published by David Holmgren, one of the co-originators of permaculture.
For formal training, look for a PDC near you! The Permaculture design system originated in Australia actually so we probably have a great number of opportunities to pursue this here locally!
What are the essentials to be planting this Summer?
beans: super fun to grow - there are climbing varieties which will need vertical support as well as bush varieties which well, grow in a bush!
beetroot: grow these from seeds (though I’ve also grown from seedlings and they were fine). Enjoy the greens whilst they’re growing then harvest the root once big enough!
capsicum: pick up a seedling or two for all your summer pizzas and more. You can grow these in large pots too.
corn: sweet corn is super easy to grow and grows really fast! Plant your corn crop together in a group to aid in pollination - do NOT plant all your corn seedlings separate and in different spots or you may not get corn.
chilli: try jalapeño for your pizzas! Or the many other varieties out there which I haven’t tried because I can’t do much above a jalapeño! You can grow these in large pots too.
cucumber: grows as a vine, have ready something to support it!
eggplant: pick up a seedling or two to save time germinating them. You can grow these in large pots too.
potato: plant in a separate, dedicated patch or potato bag (will share a tutorial soon!). Harvest when the plant dies down in autumn.
pumpkin: super easy to grow but warning, pumpkin plants grow large and can take up metres and metres worth of space so only grow this if you have lots of space.
silverbeet / rainbow chard: one of the easiest greens to grow.
spring onion: plant the ends/roots from a grocery store bunch and watch them grow new shoots. So easy.
strawberries: any and all varieties! You can never have enough strawberry plants. Buy these as seedlings not seeds as strawberries are commonly propagated and planted as runners (which are baby seedlings that grow from the mother plant). Exception: alpine strawberries don’t produce runners!
summer herbs: try sweet basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint, lemon balm - so many options!
tomatoes: try cherry tomatoes, they’re prolific and grow like a vine.
watermelon: try sugar baby watermelon - they’re a mini watermelon variety that are good for single servings.
Sounds delicious! Speaking of food, which three empowering females you would love to share a meal with and why?
Michelle Obama - I read her book Becoming and was so inspired by her story and all the amazing work she does for the community. She’s an inspiration to so many.
Jacinda Ardern - she is such an empathetic prime minister and her leadership and being able to balance being prime minister as well as her family commitments has been super inspiring.
Millie from Gardening Australia - I love her segments on TV and are always inspired by her creative upcycles & garden projects. She inspires me to get things done in our garden.
What brings you joy-big or small?
- Growing food and sharing it with loved ones!
- The smell of fresh air!
- Spending time with my partner Tom & papillon Toro :)
Connie Cao is a Melbourne based travel, lifestyle, home & sustainable living blogger, influencer, photographer & creative. Born and raised in Melbourne Australia, with a Chinese heritage, Connie has always been fascinated with art, nature and the beauty of both these things.
For more information about gardening, permaculture and how to grow some of the above summer veggies, visit her blog over at Connie & Luna.
Connie wears Obus Small Wonders Maxi Dress. Images courtesy of Connie Cao.
Meet Nonny B (aka Nynno), an artist and photographer who we're grateful to be able to collaborate with here at Obus.
With a penchant for exploring global culture through the arts, she gains inspiration and insight from the world’s vibrant subcultures. We caught up with Nonny to see how she's maintained her sense of creativity during lockdown and share her latest single, 'Defeat'.
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Earlier this year you shot our OLANA x OBUS collaboration - which seems like a lifetime ago now - tell us what it’s like to work with other creatives?
As a freelance photographer, time in between people-based shoots can be a bit isolating. So working with other creatives is a great opportunity to connect with like-minded people and get inspired.
The OLANA x OBUS collaboration was a great one to be part of because there were so many parts to it; Olana had his process for creating his masterpieces, Team Obus had their method of taking that work and making it wearable, then I took that work and helped to create some imagery.
Where do you get your inspiration for singing, songwriting and photography?
From everything and everywhere. I like to observe the world around me, whether that’s through documentary, music, my culture, personal life or the accounts of those closest to me.
With music, I like to let ideas swirl around in my head, sometimes I’ll reflect on my own experiences or give other people’s stories alternate endings. In the future, I’m hoping I can learn to challenge myself more by writing lyrics that are so outrageously far from myself and my personality, like a personal ghostwriting exercise.
Photography tends to be a bit more collaborative, so I often bear in mind the aim of the shoot and the skills of the people I’m working on the project with. I also try to see if there’s an opportunity with every shoot, to create something that challenges me technically and well as creatively.
Thanks for sharing your new single ‘DEFEAT' with us via IGTV [Watch here], tell us what it's about?
It’s mostly about walking away from the irreconcilable differences in a relationship. It speaks on the desire to allow for vulnerability but also reflects on the importances of knowing and respecting your personal boundaries.
How have you been keeping your momentum going during the Melbourne lockdown?
I’ve enjoyed certain aspects of isolation - having time to reflect, take in art and media, go on walks and create.
I’ve tried to embrace relaxation but I also have a slight fear of developing mental atrophy from extensive periods of inactivity [haha]. Ultimately I’ve maintained momentum by trying to keep balance in mind - making sure I’m productive with my time but also resting when I need to. You have to be kind but also honest with yourself.
What are you looking forward to the most this Summer?
Beers in the park. And hugging friends and family.
ABOUT NONNY B AKA NYNNO
Nynno Bel-Air Melbourne-based photographer, specialising in fashion, portraiture and social content.
She is also a creative singer and songwriter who is quickly becoming known for her broody brand of R&B. With verses that are paradoxical, her music delivery decidedly relatable themes in a casually esoteric yet playful way reminiscent of the soulful divas she's inspired by.
Get in touch via her website or follow her on Spotify.
Nynno wears Obus Aster Wrap Dress. Image + Video courtesy of Nynno Bel-Air.
How long has it been since we were collectively sent home from the office? Who can remember when the individual days of the week merged into one featureless, never-ending Tuesday so soon after WFH became the status quo. But if it was say, February-ish, it’s been half a year since our kitchen tables became family desk-islands, the passenger seat of the car a conference room for calls that could not be set to a soundtrack of children fighting and on desperate days, the bathroom a break-out space for scrolling Instagram in silence for the few minutes before you were sought out by someone needing a snack, pencil sharpener, band-aid, charger etc.. Etc., etc., etc., literally all the etcs..
As noted at the time, one of the few upsides to a global pandemic was getting to give up proper workwear, anything dry-clean-only and agony around the waist by 11.30a.m, which is to say the majority of workwear if you’re a woman.
There were hashtags, memes, there were newspaper stories about the splendour of nine-to-five sweatpants. And of course, to begin with it was pure joy. But then, at some point, so much fleece began to feel less like a personal choice and more like the inmate uniform of a low-security work prison. We began to long for anything with a waist, a dart, a cuff. And although some of us have, in recent weeks, been allowed to re-enter society/our offices, for others WFH is looking a lot like a sentence without a known release date.
As a writer, I have served 15 years already and like anyone who was already doing it, I have learned the ins and outs of not leaving the house. I know when and what to eat – a proper lunch at lunchtime, not a day-long degustation of crumpets, seaweed crackers, cooking chocolate and the leftover contents of a children’s party bag. I know the vital importance of a morning shower, vs. a bit of a wash. I know that when the suggestion is first put, a day-time social event seems like a treat and that, on the day, you will not have time and feel terrible for cancelling and even worse if you don’t.
As choices, they may seem unrelated but actually they are all made in service of the same goal: keeping your mood up, the hardest and most important part of WFH. Since fashion is the best mood-keeper-up there is, here is what I have learned about dressing for a kitchen desk.
YOU CANNOT GET TWO DAYS OUT OF A TOP
I mean, you can. When you do not go out, use public transport or move amongst people all day, your tee will probably still be good at the end of the day. But what you wear today the way is the only way you know it’s not yesterday, and once you have crossed the two-day threshold, it feels like, why not try for a third? And then it’s Thursday so why not see out the week in this tee? Actually, it’s become so soft, why not sleep in it Thursday night? Because it will be the beginning of an inexorable sartorial slide and, when you try to take it off at the weekend, the fabric will have fused to your underarms and require removal by a medical professional.
WASH YOUR HAIR MORE OFTEN
If you’re actively trying to get depressed, then definitely, cut back on real washes and just dry-shampoo until your hair is a single clump of matter. But if you’re looking to stay out of an emotional trough, wash your hair more often. It’s the quickest, cheapest form of self-care and even if it adds a little bit of time to your morning routine, you make it back on not having to go anywhere ever.
Whereas once, there was such a thing as a coloured load and a white load, you might have noticed that lately, you’re doing more, a single grey wash. For some reason, wearing colour or a print when you are home alone feels unnecessary and effortful, but pulling on something bright is no more work than pulling on something in a sludgy-grey-brown and if it’s just for you, there’s no better reason to wear it.
AND A BRA BETWEEN NINE AND FIVE
Of all the constricting items given up in these times, bras were supposedly the first to go. Like wine and Netflix, bralessness is tempting but ultimately, an unwise choice for day. Not because a woman should wear a bra or because being naked under your shirt feels weird on a Zoom call and, depending on the lighting, may be discernible to everyone else on it. Only because, Liz-Lemoning your bra out one sleeve before pouring yourself a silo of pinot is your chief reward for a day’s graft. Also if your office is also your sofa, underwire or the absence of it is the best demarcation between day and night. Spanx at home, of course not. Heels, why would you? Pants, up to you. But bra? Absolutely.
As discussed, treat to begin with but ultimately all-day-sweatpants are deleterious to wellbeing. Athleisure is a tempting alternative but like actual workwear, it hurts by lunchtime – tight at the waist and weirdly hot behind the knees. The trick is to wear something comfortable but not 100 per cent comfortable during the day and when it’s time to punch out, change into the truly, deliciously comfortable sweatpants that by now, you have totally earned.
ABOUT AUTHOR MEG MASON
Meg Mason began her career at the Financial Times and The Times of London. Her work has since appeared in The Sunday Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sunday Telegraph. She has written humour for The New Yorker and Sunday STYLE, monthly columns for GQ and InsideOut and is now a regular contributor to Vogue, ELLE and marie claire. Her first book Say It Again in a Nice Voice (HarperCollins) was published in 2012. Her second, You Be Mother (HarperCollins) was published in 2017. She lives in Sydney with her husband and two daughters.
SORROW AND BLISS
Spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark and tender, full of pathos, fury and wit, Sorrow and Bliss, the latest book by Meg Mason is a dazzling, distinctive novel from a boldly talented writer. For fans of Sally Rooney, Taffy Brodesser-Akner and Fleabag.
ENTER TO WIN:
To celebrate those rare friends which light up our world despite seeing
us through our darkest moments ~ we’ve joined publisher Harper Collins Australia to give two book lovers a chance to WIN:
1 x SORROW AND BLISS Book by Meg Mason
1 x $250 OBUS Online Gift Card
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