Thursday, August 30, 2012

Break The Silence

This past weekend, our family and friends participated in the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition 5K in Austin.  Our team, "Kathy's Krusaders", has participated for three years now in honor of my mother and to raise awareness in the community.  Such a great group of people coming together for a good cause! 
Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the "silent killer", as symptoms are few and generalized.  By the time symptoms become persistent, the cancer has usually progressed to late stages.  It is SO important to listen to your body!!  My mom always stressed this to us as she was very aware with her own body and took action as soon as she knew something "wasn't right".  Ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in earlier stages show survival rates of up to ninety percent while cases diagnosed in late stages show a thirty percent survival rate.  So, you can understand the importance of being in tune with yourself!  (Not to scare or make you paranoid like me hehe).   
Thought I would share a sheet with you that Dr. Oz promoted on his show in an effort to educate women on this topic…the worksheet is meant to bring to your doctor so that it may document possible ovarian cancer symptoms you may be experiencing. Just to get you thinking…
On a happier note…puppy pics!! Looks like they need to train longer for the next race.
Speaking of pups, look what we have here…Teddy had his final vet appointment in Dallas and was issued his health certificate to travel!  Big step.  

He leaves DFW in four days…makes a stop at LAX for one final check in with a certified vet..then gets locked up for the fifteen hour flight to AU.  For those of you feeling "bad" for the little guy, don't.  He will be flying in style..much better than our economy accommodations haha.  I just hope he isn't traumatized after all of this.  Once he gets to Sydney, our "relocator representative" will greet him and make sure he is taken care of in the quarantine, which is a thirty day stay.  With all that being said, October 8th cannot come fast enough…when we will finally be reunited!  Can't think of a better way to celebrate our two years of marriage.

What we have been up to this week…
Sorting, sorting, and more sorting.  Didn't realize how extensive my crazy sock collection from nursing was. No room for those anymore!  Trying to make the most of our limited storage space.  I think a run to IKEA this weekend is a must.
Dinner with new friends at Jamie Oliver's Italian! Truffle tagliatelle and wild ragu, yummy. Looking forward to more adventures with these two.
This week in the kitchen: grilled chicken and corn salad with avocado and parmesan AND lasagna soup!  

We are looking forward to being "home" this weekend before we head to Singapore and Thailand next weekend for our anniversary trip! Big shout-out and a happy birthday to my dear friend, LGR!!  We both realized yesterday that this will be the first celebration in six years that I won't be a part of  :( feeling sentimental thinking back to our freshman year of college.  Hope everyone is having a great week! 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Travelog: Melbourne To Be Wild

Please tell me that some of you are like R and I when you travel.  I'm talking about eating your way through new cities..planning your next meal before the last one is finished…walking long distances and standing in long lines just to experience the yumminess of a local hot spot.  

Growing up, my parents wouldn't stand for us eating at "chain" restaurants, especially on vacation.  Instead, they made it their mission to try every dive and "hole in the wall" to expose us to the local culture...whether it meant asking the taxi driver on the way to the hotel or a random bystander on the street.  At the time, my sis and I weren't very appreciate, as we would just roll our eyes and throw fits on "just wanting a McDonalds happy meal".  But, now I get it.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!

So, I give you "Foodie Finds: Melbourne edition"…
 Fancy pants. Duck and Wagyu beef.  
We always laugh when we sit down to a place setting of multiple forks and spoons and both look up at each other when the first dish comes out, like "uhhh how do we eat this?!"…but trying to be discrete so the mature patrons sitting next to us don't catch on to our poser ways.  
 Creperie food truck!
Always a treat to get my nutella crepe fix that I came to love in Paris.  We may or may have not made a second visit just before leaving for the airport.  Who said we needed self control on vacation?! 
 Huxtaburger and glass coke bottles.  Needs no explanation.  
 Wandering through narrow alleyways filled with coffee shops and cafes. Mid afternoon espresso and tea are a standard here.  
Authentic Mexican cuisine with a twist at Mamasitas.  Margs, guac, and roasted corn.  Closest to home we can get.  Stood in an hour queue up a narrow staircase for this one, but worth it.
Brekky! Cant beat baked eggs served in mini-cocottes, funky wallpaper, and the "best hot chocolate hands down" per R.
Funky fresh at Movida.  Spanish tapas inspired.  Fried croquet of wild mushroom, chorizo filled catalan potato bomb, chargrilled barramundi, and churros con chocolate just to name a few. Located in an alleyway covered in graffiti.

Besides being the host to amazing food, Melbourne is an eclectic city that has lots to do and see.  It is the second biggest city to Sydney and many compare the two, always debating which one is "better".  I have to say, R and I both agreed that we vote Sydney (maybe a little biased).  Thats not to say that we had a wonderful weekend getaway, though! Some other things we experienced this weekend…
 St. Paul's cathedral and Flinders Street Station.
 Footy! Some of the best moments traveling are spontaneous.  We wandered into the Imperial Hotel (Melbournes' third oldest pub dating back to 1858) late Saturday afternoon to watch the Sydney Swans play.  Then, as we were headed back to the hotel Sunday evening a few hours before our plane was departing, I noticed everyone around wearing "N. Melbourne Kangaroo" gear.  We followed the crowd and ended up at the AFL stadium…of course we bought tix and stayed for most of the game until we had to catch our plane!
 Museum time!  Great exhibit on "The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia".
 You can imagine that we spent most of our time at the human body and mind exhibit. So fun!
R had work meetings when we arrived Thursday morning until late afternoon, so this is how I spent my time...
Queen Victoria Market.  Everything from fresh veggies and meat to NBA jerseys haha 
 South Wharf, mid-day stop.  
St. Kilda beach.  Still chilly and winter here!  Hope things start to warm up soon so we can fully enjoy the AU beaches.  

Missing everyone who did the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Run in Austin this weekend! It is wonderful to know that there are so many special people who are keeping my mothers legacy alive…through bringing awareness to others and remembering those who have lost their lives.  

Don't take a day for granted!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Down Under, Down Under

Our little apartment is starting to feel like a "home"!  All of our stuff arrived on Friday without a hitch!  Only two broken bowls…not bad for the 8,000 mile journey.  Now, our problem is that we have too much "stuff"and not enough storage space!  Funny how that works out.  I am really enjoying organizing and decorating our place this time around.  Stay tuned for before and after pics once I get finished hanging pictures, etc!
1. Cue the music…"the crate has arrived"! What a beauty haha.
2. First piece of furniture unwrapped!
3. Boxes on boxes on boxes
1. Paintings on pictures on mirrors
2. Making a mess in the kitchen…you think we have enough cups?!
3.  Although I couldn't help and participate in "food for thought" this Friday at the office, I was still able to snatch up a serving of butter chicken...a nice break from moving and testing out the patio furniture again!

It is official…we are certified divers!  What a great experience.  I am so proud of R and I for accomplishing this together.  Not only did I face my fears in the ocean, but I really enjoyed myself down under!  We got super lucky with the weather and great visibility under water, which made our training that much more enjoyable…and we met some awesome people from all over the world!  

The first half of Saturday was spent in the pool practicing skills and such to get us acquainted to breathing techniques and "emergency" situations.  I must say, the first time breathing under water with a regulator sure freaked me out!  Then, we went for a fun shore dive in the afternoon to explore….and saw a Port Jackson shark, eel, and octopus!  Yes, a shark.  No, not a big one.  But, it still counts!  Once I was down there among the sea life, all my built up anxiety over the years went away!  It was reassuring to realize that they don't want to have anything to do with that isn't to say that if I see a bigger shark in the GBR that I won't get scared!  One step at a time now.
1. Finishing the online training course the day before the real fun began
2. First ocean shore dive at Oak Park in Cronulla with the crew
3. Many thanks to Abyss for making our first diving experience "unforgettable".  Such friendly, patient, and knowledgeable staff
4. The crew (minus one).  The big dude on my left was our amazing master instructor..who saved my life a couple of times when I decided to "panic" during skills like mask flooding and "out of air" scenarios. Remember, never stop breathing and always remain zen :) Next to him is our new friend from Germany.  
Underwater pool pics!
Second day dive site at Bare Island in La Perouse. Did a total of 3 dives on Sunday. Such a picturesque spot and the same location where Mission: Impossible II was filmed.  Once again, we saw some amazing things….a few blue grouper, four PJ sharks, a goat fish, and a weedy sea dragon (which are only found in Southern Australia)!! So amazing and a perfect way to end the day.  Couldn't have asked for a better experience to introduce me to scuba diving. 

Diving pretty much took up our whole weekend, which we can't complain.  I had no idea how much physical work it would be…carrying heavy equipment, squeezing into tight wet suits, etc.  It sure was a sight seeing me carry 50 lbs on my back uphill!
Luckily, we were able to hang out with friends Friday night.  They introduced us to a hip restaurant called The Dip, which serves amazing hot dogs, nachos, and pulled pork sandwiches among other things.  A little bite of USA :) Then, off to watch The Bourne Legacy (which most of us were disappointed comparatively to the others in the series).  
Tonight, we were able to fully enjoy and relax in our new home.  Dinner was "melt in your mouth" chicken, sautéed veggies, and sweet potato fries with parmesan.  

Looking forward to another great week ahead!  Was able to catch up with my grandmas, sis (who starts her last "first day" of college today!!!), and a few friends, including my sweet Teddy. Haha he is SO needy, but my dear friend is doing a great job of spoiling him.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dive In

So, in following with this quote, I am really pushing myself "out of my comfort zone"….by scuba diving!  Getting certified has always been a dream of mine, as the world under water is so beautiful and mysterious.  Somewhere in my teen years as I was snorkeling in Mexico, I got "spooked" when I turned around under water to a giant fish staring back at me.  After that, something changed in me.  I haven't been able to get myself to go out in the ocean deeper than standing, not even in the clearest waters on our honeymoon.  My biggest fear is sharks.  Not having the control or knowing of what lies below.  But, I don't want these things to hold me back forever.  I am ready to change!!  I no longer want to miss out on opportunities that I may never get to experience again due to fear..especially in a location such as this.  
R and I are signed up to get PADI certified this weekend.  It includes a 10 hour online component (which we have been doing a few hours every night this week) and all day Saturday and Sunday in-water training.  I guess my courage will be tested pretty quickly as it turns out.  First obstacle will just be swimming out farther off the shore.  I wonder if there has ever been a scuba diver scared of the ocean?!  Ironic.  Once I can actually see what is going on down there, I think that will ease my nerves and help me conquer this fear.  Supposedly, we won't see any sharks this weekend in training (Don't worry, Gappy and Mema).  I will save that fear for when we go to the Great Barrier Reef. One step at a time now.  O ya, did I tell you that we booked our trip to Cairns with Dan and Ross?!  They are planning to get certified in the U.S. so we can all dive the GBR together in November!  What an experience that will be.  

In other exciting news, the movers will finally be delivering our entire shipment of belongings tomorrow!!!  Time to make this place our home.  Being without our furniture, most of our clothes, and kitchen supplies has been an interesting mix of emotions…at times very frustrating and inconvenient and other times humbling and appreciative for the "simple" things.  It is amazing what you can do "without".  With that being said, though, we are looking forward to the familiar.  

Creations in the kitchen this week thanks to pinterest mainly...
1. Foil baked fish with black beans and corn.  Used a hake white fish from the local seafood market.
2. Pork loin marinated in a mint-rosemary seasoning and seared with a side of caramelized potatoes.
3. Chicken, corn, and parsley burgers served on sourdough bread with a side salad and fruit.
4. Peanut butter and Nutella cookies.  Sweet treat!  I think I deserve it?!  Ok, they were really for the hubby..but I helped him finish them off.  

Speaking of him, R has found a new obsession…swimming!  Maybe he was inspired by the olympics and saw how conditioned the athletes bodies were?!  Whatever it was, I'm not complaining.  There is the North Sydney Olympic Pool a few minutes from our house, which I think is one of the most picturesque spots in all of Sydney.  It is literally right on the water, with the backdrop of the harbour bridge and opera house in the distance.  And so convenient!  Only a mile run across the bridge from Ronnie's office and a short walk from our place - Proud of him for having the energy to run and swim after work…and then come home to work on "projects" with me!

Today was peaceful.  Yoga in the morning, lunch with R (PB&J's of course), and reading at the park. Can you see the school boys in uniform at the bottom right? I just love that they are in ties, slacks, and dress shoes playing soccer, etc.  Such a sight!  And their cute accents…just makes me happy. :)  Finishing our deep cleaning, diving certification lessons, and Big Brother (a tv show that they are obsessed with over here...different than the U.S. version, but still super entertaining) tonight over a big bowl of pasta!  Tomorrow marks more new beginnings. 
Another surreal sunset from our balcony.  Looking forward to summer and our patio furniture…and our friends and family to enjoy it with.  Missing you all deeply!!!

I mean, how could you not love this face?!  All of Teddy's tests came back negative (which is good), so he is one step closer!  I think he already has the Aussie lifestyle down.

Cheers to a great weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Rundown

To fill you in on our past week…

Run, paint, yoga, cook.  That about sums it up.

Good news people…I completed the longest run of my life today!  14K (8.7 mi) behind me.  For some, this distance is just a wednesday afternoon jog.  For me, this marked a breakthrough of something I thought "wasn't cut out for me".  I even completed the race under my goal time!  City2Surf is the largest timed running race in the world, with more than 80,000 participants.  So, you can imagine what a sight it was!  I was in "awe" all day.  There was a such a sense of community, with bystanders singing, dancing, and cheering us all along the way.  And the views…wow.  I am certainly not used to running alongside hilltop views of the ocean and the big city in the distance!  Sign me up for next year. 
1. Signing my name on the "C2S" board the day before
2. Our friends were gracious enough to prepare a "pre-race" dinner the night before, complete with carb loading homemade whole wheat pasta and pesto sauce. Perfecto! 
3. Ready!
4. Finished!  Ronnie surprised me with a celebratory picnic afterwards and a stroll through the neighborhood market.  
Finish line at Bondi Beach.  Masses of people down below, while waiting on the buses back into the city.

On to this painting thing.  Remember how complicated my story about getting the paint home was?! I thought that would be the end of it. Well, turns out that after liking the freshly coated walls in the living room and hallway so much, we decided to go on with the bedroom and kitchen.  This time I went to the local hardware store (much closer) to stock up on more paint. I couldn't believe it, but the owners wife offered me a ride home after realizing that I had walked there!  Still amazed at how friendly and accommodating everyone is..and the fact that I feel completely safe and normal accepting a ride from a "stranger".  Bedroom is complete and now just have one more coat in the kitchen to finish the project!  
R has been helping me with the hard to reach ceiling (as you can see, I can barely touch even on my toes).  
I made it through my third yoga class…and I am LOVING it!  Who knew?!  I have always been so timid and terrified at the thought of going to a yoga class.  Maybe it's because I thought everyone was going to judge me?  Or that I knew I would be bad at it?  Or probably because my muscles are so darn tight that I would embarrass myself?  Anyways, all of those pre notions were wrong! I am still a beginner maybe a little bad at it, but at least no one cares!  Blake (a coworkers husband and new friend) and I joined a studio that is only a few train stops away from home..geared up with fancy yoga mats (which we got  for free at lululemon, mind you!) and hit the ground running!  We are going to try and practice 3 to 4 times a week!  Hold me to it.  I am starting to understand the importance in breathing, stretching, and strengthening your core.  I will try to share my experiences with you along the way.

Speaking of trying things that I'm not good at…cooking!  Not for long, though.  I am determined to come back to the States and be comfortable in the kitchen.  Only with a little help from my friend, Blake, of course.  He is currently in Le Cordon Bleu school here and has offered to help me find my way!  Turns out, he has been doing a "thought for food" program every Friday at Ronnie's office where he selects a dish that staff can chose to pay and join in on…and now I have been "hired" as the sous chef.  This is a great way for me to be immersed in complicated dishes..starting with the basics of cutting and chopping to more advanced techniques and skills. On the menu this Friday was a seared tuna nicoise salad. Refreshing! We couldn't convince Ronnie of this one…maybe next time!

The rest of our weekend was another great one.  On Friday night, we were treated to a company team welcome dinner at a mexican restaurant for margs and fajitas!  Not the same as Texas, but it will do for now.  Then, I went out with the girls for a late night movie complete with cupcakes, champagne and oversized reclining lounge chairs!  Worth the splurge for sure.
 Saturday was complete with blueberry pancakes, shopping, and deep cleaning our place.  The pictures on the right show our daily commute via our local train stop and daily walk towards the water. 

Admiring from afar this week...
1. My sister finished her anatomy and physiology class this summer (and passed with flying colors!)..and now on to work week and recruitment for her sorority.  So proud of her.  I can't believe she is going to be a senior in college.  Wow.  I still see her as a freshman in high school…but then again, she sure has become a strong young woman through the years.  Lucky to have a little sis that I can look up to...who inspires me to be a better person.  

2. The first baby in the family between my cousins was born Tuesday. Welcome to the world, Molly Kate!  Definitely another event that was hard to miss out on, but so excited to all be together again as a growing family!

3. My sisters boyfriend, Junior, celebrated his 21st birthday this week…and we were able to FaceTime before the night was over!  We always give him such a hard time for being "the baby"…not anymore.

4. Most of my closest friends from college have recently made advancements in their careers…raises, promotions, new jobs that make them happier, and grad school beginnings and endings!  It is really neat to see everyones lives develop from a distance.  Even though we graduated college a little over two years ago, I am amazed to think how much has happened in the time in between.  Never in my wildest dream would I have imagined living in Australia, much less another state other than Texas! And I think it is very safe to say that my friends never thought we would actually follow through with the move!  Haha thanks for having faith in us, guys!  

Missing Teddy!  It helps to have sweet pictures like this sent to us every so often to know he is being taken care of, though.  Don't think he is too phased by all of this by the looks of things hehe.

Hopefully the next time you hear from me, we will be with our belongings!  I've never obsessed so much over our "stuff"!  67 days and counting…