Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Without A Hitch

As I promised, have a look at the 452,763 pictures from the guys visit to Sydney!  Im getting exhausted just looking back at all of these pics…and it makes me miss them already!  At least we could say we covered just about everything Sydney has to offer.  And it all went off without a hitch!  
Dinner and drinks at Opera Bar after a guided tour of the Opera House. What a way to start the trip! 
Looking from the balcony of the Opera House into our apartment…with our very easy to spot mirror reflecting across the water.  Taking it all in.  R and I have been to a musical in this hall before, but it was nice to see it empty and really appreciate the beauty of the building.   
…and there is the Grand Organ in the Concert Hall!  Luckily there wasn't a production setting up so we were allowed to take photos…but of course, the picture doesn't do the hall justice.
Mosman Bay Bushwalk to Taronga Zoo.  We couldn't help but stop along the way and enjoy the scenery.   Lucky pup, Teddy, got to come along as well!
Sirius Cove in Mosman.  Quaint and fun.  Teddy enjoyed his paws in the sand with the dudes…
While Teddy and I went home to clean up, the boys spent the rest of their afternoon at the beautiful Taronga Zoo.  Ross was always busy admiring chasing the birds.  
There goes Dan trying to sweet talk the kangaroo.  I think this zoo has the best views of Sydney….there is something about seeing an amazing creature like a giraffe with the opera house and harbour peeking through.  Doesn't get any better.
Posing! The guys stop at the aquarium really made them excited for the Great Barrier Reef trip the next day.  
It was just me and the two boys for the next few activities in the city while R dropped our bags off and picked Teddy up from the kennel after our stay in Cairns.
Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park.  One of my favorite spots to sit on a bench to read and people watch.  
State Library of New South Wales.  This stop was for Ross and his love of all things books and history.  
Hyde Park and St. Mary's Cathedral.  
Town Hall and Anzac War Memorial.  And there goes Ross again with the birds...
Royal Botanical Gardens and Mrs Macquaries Point.  Your classic snapshot of the Sydney harbour.  The boys and I couldn't help but sit, stay awhile, and take it all in.
Featherdale Wildlife Park! A great place to send all the guys while I cooked Thanksgiving lunch.  
This more intimate setting allows for close encounters with the koalas, kangaroos, and other animals native to Australia.  
Im not sure how I pulled it off, but our small Thanksgiving lunch was a success!  This was my first time to cook everything for the holiday without any help…and may be the last haha. I started cooking at 8 am and had everything prepared "on time" for our 1 pm goal time.  Crazy to think all that work that goes into it for 15 minutes of chomping. While we all missed our families and holiday traditions, we had each others company to be thankful for this year.
The plate spread.  I had a hard time finding a turkey, so we went with freshly cooked ham from the local butcher shop instead!  R even helped and made the glaze.  I think the men should always be in charge of cooking the meat.  We caught up on football the rest of the afternoon…go frogs!!!  Luckily the victory over UT balanced out the Cowboys loss.  
Yes, there is proof.. I caught all the boys cleaning the 300 dishes used! At least they are useful for something :)  They had to earn their keep.  
I thought I would share some of the recipes from our meal...
Raspberry Baked Brie Bites
Spinach and Rocket Salad with fresh veggies, parmesan, and honey balsamic dressing
Creamed Corn with red bell pepper
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Maple Sweet Potato Cups (I used fresh sweet potatoes instead)
Balsalmic Green Beans with Shallots and Toasted Almonds
Homemade Yeast Rolls
Chocolate Cobbler a la mode
After our Thanksgiving feast, we hopped on the ferry….and caught great views of the opera house and luna park as the sun was setting.  
Then, we caught the train into Darling Harbour where we saw Skyfall at the IMAX!  Great ending to our day I must say.  
Boys will be boys…running through all the fountains and causing a scene at Darling Harbour.   Some things never change...
Manly beach!  Complete with fish and chips lunch…and aggressive seagulls.  This happened to be the only "bad" weather day with high winds and cloudy skies.  Great conditions for the surf watching though!
Our time at the beach went like this…the boys throw a ball around for hours and entertain themselves, I lay around and people watch, Ross jumps in the freezing cold water, R makes fun of him when he gets out, I get buried alive.  Perfect day?!
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Cliffwalk.  The walk turned out to be pretty long, but it was nice to stop at different beaches along the way and explore new areas.  
Of course they had to be adventurous (and make me nervous) by climbing up side paths and such..hence the name "cliff walk" I guess.  
I think you could say they are pros at public transportation now….walking across the bridge, ferry rides galore, train rides into the city, and even a few bus stops.  
The top right photo is a sneak peak of whats to come from our dive trip!  Way to leave with a bang…an impromptu fireworks show on the balcony at home the night before their departure.  We couldn't have planned it any better.  
All in all, this was a vacation we will never forget!  One more surprise for you….in a few days I will be sharing our trip to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef along with a special guest blogger post!  Can you guess who it will be?! Until then, have a great week!   

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Two Plus Teddy Plus Two

The time has come…and going by very quickly I might add!  The plus two duo arrived on Saturday with much anticipation.  What a feeling to have our first visitors in this new city we call home.  As much as this blog allows us to share our everyday life with everyone back in America, it is another thing to have our loved ones experience it with us.  Like the saying goes "the photograph doesn't do it justice"..well, it really is true.  I think the boys are starting to understand why we love this place so much.  Even the little things that we have become accustomed to in the past four months like riding the ferry into work or watching boats pass from our living room window.  Our house guests are reminding us of the feelings we first had when seeing the harbour and the iconic opera house.  We have conquered so much of the city already and even enjoyed a trip within a trip (as we called it) to Cairns and diving in the Great Barrier Reef.  Yes, we all survived without a shark bite much to my worry.  I have so many pictures to share, but for now, just a few to give you a sneak peak of what we have been up to!  
Welcome to Sydney!  Welcome basket, airport greeting, and first ferry ride in the harbour.  Such a joy for me to see these boys together again.  I feel right at home.  
You may notice, someone stole R's look.  Not because he chose to, but because he had no other choice!  We had a slight hiccup when both of their bags turned up lost for 30 hours, but luckily to be returned before heading out to Cairns.  Good thing they are so easy going and didn't make a fuss (and that they fit into R's clothes perfectly!).  Ross wanted me to make this disclosure as to why he was dressed like a "yuppy" and not in his normal handball tshirt, athletic shorts, and flip flop attire. R thinks it was a good thing to get him to dress his age..the debate is ongoing.
Solo snapshots…the opera house from out and in, mosman cove, and the harbour bridge.
More or less the same thing…different dude.
 Our happy crew!  This was after a tour of the opera house and dinner at opera bar.  No jet lag for these guys!  
Me and the boys.  Let me tell you ladies...while it can be difficult to be outnumbered by all the testosterone, sports, and guy talk, I am learning to use these things to my advantage. I discovered this trip that being the only woman means never carrying a bag, camera, phone, etc…and I can get away with whatever I darn well please.  Thank ya very much.  I don't even feel the least bit guilty. (I did just make them fresh blueberry muffins for goodness sakes!)
Brotherly bonding!  We were all saying how nice this trip has been to spend so much quality time together that we haven't had in a long time (maybe never!).  Trying to cherish every minute.  

Reflecting.  Literally.  Love this!
All smiles!
 Taking over the zoo.  I will be sharing tons of pictures and our weeks worth of activities and adventures soon!  Tomorrow we plan on sleeping in and having a relaxing day at the beach after a busy few days.  Then, we will celebrate Thanksgiving from afar on Friday complete with classic home cooked dishes and football of course!  Don't think I could talk them out of that one. Sad to be missing the TCU vs UT game in Austin, but it will be fun to watch on TV with the guys.  
Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends! We have so much to be thankful for, although it is not currently fall nor are we celebrating the harvest…but in the tradition of it all.  Instead of pumpkins and turkeys, its beaches and palm trees here.  
And since I'm behind from last week...
Photography class was all about shutter speed and artistic effects…so much to play around with!  By lengthening the shutter speed, you get this effect of movement and a more accurate interpretation to how our eye actually sees the image. 
While R was away last week, I enjoyed lots of greens and casual meals in.  Lucky for me, there was a lot of action going on in the harbour.  One night I was treated to a free fireworks show and the next morning a "private" Coldplay concert.  It was pretty surreal waking up to music playing in the distance then going outside to find a helicopter, security boats, a gorgeous yacht, and stage set up where the song "Yellow" was echoing across the opera house.  
Brunch for one at a cozy cafe.  Sweet Baby E and his gorgeous mom came to play on Thursday!  Teddy was so curious and happy to have them over.  We had such a wonderful day together and I am thankful that B got us out for some shopping and girl fun!  The perks of having a car haha.  We even made a spontaneous stop to get his first pics with the mall santa (which he was so sweet and cooperative..success!).  
Cheers!!  We had a fun time celebrating Jenny's birthday in a private room at a yummy indian restaurant.  I couldn't resist and had to make this cute banner to spice up the room for the wonderful birthday girl!  

I hope everyone enjoys the extended weekend and time with their loved ones!  We sure are so far.  Missing everyone from home this holiday.  Never take these precious times for granted!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sail Away

Don't you just love this chic sailboat?!  Lets pretend that our sailboat ride around the harbour this weekend looked just like this, ok?  Amidst the chilly winds and cloudy skies, we had a blast with friends!  Now when we watch all the sailboats and partygoers go by from our balcony, we can say we've experienced it too!  
Couples shots!
Hanging out on the bow...yes I had to look that term up and no I never realized how many sailing terms there are! Way too complicated for me.  But it sure is a great time.  
Our "spot" for the day.
You have to look at the bright side of things…after getting caught in a torrential (and unexpected) downpour complete with hail while walking home from the train stop (which is a ten minute walk and no way of getting out of), a few good things came out of it.  The blooms were quite heavy and in my line of vision so I couldn't help but stop and take some pics on the walk home and the pup had an excuse to get a good scrubbing. I guess those are my selfish reasons for why it was good anyways.  But I wasn't very happy at the time, with both arms full of groceries and such!  And I am always so baffled when these people pop up with their big umbrellas like they had been anticipating the rain all day among the sunshine!  I just have to laugh at myself because no matter how "prepared" I am, I am never "prepared" for rain.  
Too bad this was the only shot I captured of this great story.  As you can see, I walked outside to this…and about 30 more police cars, vans, motorcycles, standing guards, and suited men with earpieces running around the Prime Ministers house.  The street was a buzz, with bystanders and a news van staked out..you could just feel the excitement.  Mind you, I had no idea what was going on at this point!  I carried on my business walking Teddy around, and then promptly returned home to question my "know it all" neighbor.  She has become my resource for everything (from proper ways to recycle to ringtail possums to best bakeries to buy bread from to where I should let our dog do his "business") and usually not because I asked!! Haha that's another story.  Anyways, she looked at me funny and said "Charlie!..Charlie is staying there! He and Camilla always stay at the Kirribilli House when they visit. " As to my puzzling face.."Who is 'Charlie'?!"  Oops.  For those of you who don't know, 'Charlie' is an endearing name for THE Prince Charles.  Another oops happened when I literally squeezed her frail arm so tight and squealed in excitement over the news.  Ya, she definitely thinks I'm a weirdo now.  Unfortunately, I never caught a glimpse of them..but R did!  That brat.  Ironically, he was just being a sweet husband by running to pick up some Sunday brunch for us when he saw their enormous entourage speed past!  Luckily he was quick enough to record the madness so I could feel a part of it.  Prince Charles, William, and Kate all in a matter of two months…what are the odds?!
Date night complete with Thai food, chocolate soufflĂ©, and funny awkward night at the comedy club.  As you can see in my face, I didn't know what to think of a. sitting in the second row and potentially being picked on b. the first contestant "blanking" and forgetting ALL of his jokes (yes that really happened) and c. the electronic voting pads to rank the comics (that part was actually pretty cool).  I walked away with a newfound respect for standup comedians and those trying to make a career out of it.  Maybe it didn't help that we just got done seeing a "celebrity" comedian at the opera house…but it is also very surreal to think that he too started on a small stage just like everyone else!  
A surprise spontaneous outing our Sunday turned out to be.  We were headed to the next neighborhood over by ferry (so Teddy could come along) to run some errands, and long story short, our first ferry was late which meant our connecting ferry to our destination didn't leave for another hour or so.  Instead of waiting around, we found the next departing destination and hopped on!  We ended up in a suburb called Double Bay (aka Double PAY) that I had heard so many good things about, but never made it around to exploring.  We couldn't have asked for a better day…just us two with Teddy.  
R and I both decided we would live in this suburb to raise a family in our "dream land".  We just couldn't get over how charming it was!  Forget the logistics.  So many cafes, unique shops, and parks around.  Poor Teddy was exhausted by the end of our day…we walked a ton!  The best part of it all is that we ended up bumping into a hardware store (fifteen minutes before closing) which had everything we originally needed when we set out for the day!  Funny how it all works out.  

I'm holding down the fort alone this week while R travels for business.  No cooking for me!  Good thing I just bought an intriguing new book I can sink into thanks to my favorite friend KFite (shot out!).  The book is called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and is about her family's attempt to eat only locally grown food for a year.  Other than that, I will be anxiously awaiting and preparing for our visitors arrival on Saturday!!!  Which if you forgot, that would be R's brother and his (really my) best friend..we are lucky to have them both!!  I cannot begin to tell you how excited we are...and to know that some of our dearest loved ones are finally going to experience our lives here is a thrill!
Speaking of loved ones, there are some important people in my life that I am celebrating today.  Happy happy birthday to three lovely ladies... my best and matching 6th grade backpack buddy 'Airy', my sisttaa from college, and sorority advisor turned family member!  I love y'all!