Monday, February 25, 2013

Party Of Five

I guess you could say we have just been having too much fun...and that explains me waiting until now to blog about our visitors' trip!  We kicked Ronnie's dad, stepmom, and sis off to Queenstown, New Zealand for the week ahead until they return to Sydney this weekend before heading back home (yes, you should feel very bad for them!).  

Now that we've had three sets of visitors, R and I realize that our experiences with each of them have been far from the same.  The exact same city and beautiful locations bring new experiences with fresh eyes.  Extra bonus for R and I!  We love seeing our visitors reactions when they first walk onto our balcony or learn to ride the train for the first time. That constant reminder that it wasn't too long ago that we were right there with them….and how far we have come in this short six months adapting to our new surroundings.  One thing is for sure, though.  The view never gets old.  
We couldn't wait to show these three around town!  R's dad has been before, so we were anxious to see if the city was like he remembered.  Also, we decided that we don't like the term "step" as it gives a negative connotation…I'm just sayin'.  
Have I mentioned that we don't go easy on our visitors?!  After a happy greeting at the airport, a nauseous cab ride, and a clean up and wardrobe change, we were off to conquer the city as a family!  
A walk across the bridge led us to an afternoon open air market and a few drinks.  We wouldn't let Teddy miss out on all the fun either.  Then it was back to the neighborhood via ferry, where the boat was named after that pretty blonde above.  She wasn't excited about it at all!
Take-away indian food in our pjs was a good choice for a relaxed and jet lagged evening in.
A rainbow over the opera house, no big deal.  We took them to see Sarah Blasko with the Sydney International Orchestra, and even though none of us had ever heard her music, we all enjoyed it.  She has a unique tone and style and was actually quite shy and humbled by the experience.  
Perfectly Paddington.  Fresh bread, boutique shops, cool architecture, and THE Lon-Don.  
Like father, like son.  Betting on horse races and playing pinball at the pub on the same game that R's dad grew up with!  This is what a Tuesday afternoon should look like...
Ok, you caught us.  R and I are on a total detox this week after eating too well.  That would include this amazing gelato from Messina.  Obsessed.  
Sunny day in the gardens for Tropfest, the worlds largest short film festival.  We were some of the first ones to show up to this popular event that eventually filled the park with picnic blankets and people by sunset.  
Since we couldn't go without a meal (duh), we left our blanket/spot at the festival only to return a few hours later with a packed house and a random girl with "our spot" wrapped around her.  Serves us right.  
Ferry rides are fun!  
Just ask R's dad who was befriended by a very disturbed drunk man while the rest of us watched and giggled in disbelief.   It was 2 pm on a Monday mind you.  
Love Watsons Bay! Pretty views everywhere you turn.  O, and more food of course.  And flying dogs.  
More take-away food (thai this time) on the balcony!  Just in time for the sunset.
It's no joke that the sun is more intense here.  Even with the many sunscreen stops along our cliff walk, our skin still hates us.  We didn't let that stop us, though.  
Our "functionally functional" family (minus a few!)
Beach time at Bondi!!
After a long day in the sun, we opted for cooking fresh and light at home!  Watch out, the three of us girls make a good team in the kitchen.  On the menu…fish tacos with sautéed peppers, avocado salsa, garden salad, and fruit.  

The house sure was quiet around here today, but I will be able to catch up this week before we enjoy another fun last weekend with them!  After that, I will share part two of our adventures that includes the harbour bridge climb, sailing, and wine country.  Life is good.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Color Me Pretty

This week was full of color…starting off with Sydney's first Color Run 5K event.   
I have always seen pictures of these runs and thought they looked super fun so we were interested to see for ourselves.  While we enjoyed our company and the silliness of the event, it didn't exceed our expectations.
Maybe it was the hot sun beating down or the 1.5 hour wait just to get to the start line or the fact that there was no water along the way.  We still made the best of it and had fun with our friends!
Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a trip to the famous Harrys Cafe De Wheels for some pies.  Like Americans do hot dogs and burgers, Aussies do meat pies. Add some mash, peas, or gravy on top and you really start to become a true local.  Super healthy after our run...
Photography assignment of the week: exploring color to convey a particular mood
Same subject, different white balance settings on the camera make for different tones and feelings.

More photography!  This time helping my friend shoot and style a pastry chef's creations.  We were tempted by the homemade marshmallows and rocky road, but we managed to get some great shots before taste "testing" them.  She definitely showed me the perks of getting to work from home..and we managed to have a lot of laughs and fun along the way.  I just love the flexibility and go at your own pace attitude that allows you to be creative and relaxed.  
Valentines Day…over commercialized, cheesy, and cliche comes to mind.  R and I have never been big on the holiday, but we always end up doing something special for each other to show our love.  We both agree that appreciation for your loved ones shouldn't be reserved for February 14th…cheesy I know, but true.  To start the day right, I surprised R with strawberry pancakes and scrambled eggs before sending him off to work.  After work, I came home to a beautiful bouquet of garden roses and some goodies.   
Then we celebrated with the other cliche couples at Garfish with a delicious 3 course dinner.  Prawn and scallop croquettes, grilled barramundi and potato and leek gratin, and passionfruit brûlée. A perfectly romantic evening.  
 Loving our neighborhood flower shop around this time!
Teddy had an eventful week as you can see.  He got a flower stuck on his eye and made a trip to the groomer, which always exhausts him.  Rough life.

Look who has arrived!!!  We greeted R's dad, stepmom, and sis at the airport yesterday morning and have been going ever since.  Updates to come on our adventures soon!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Two Places At Once

This article has been going around lately and I just had to share as well in case you haven't seen it.  It's the little things….like Blue Bell ice cream and sweet tea, Beyonce and country music, wildflowers and HEB groceries, breakfast tacos and Barton Springs.  All those things that I used to think were standard to any town.  Check it out below!

And another read that quite perfectly sums up being an expat….

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the article:
"As you settle into your new life and country, as time passes and becomes less a question of how long you’ve been here and more one of how long you’ve been gone, you realize that life back home has gone on without you... 
 There is a certain amount of comfort and confidence that you gain with yourself when you go to this new place and start all over again, and a knowledge that — come what may in the rest of your life — you were capable of taking that leap and landing softly at least once...
To live in a new place is a beautiful, thrilling thing, and it can show you that you can be whoever you want…it can give you the gift of freedom, of new beginnings, of curiosity and excitement. But to start over, to get on that plane, doesn’t come without a price.  You cannot be in two places at once, and from now on, you will always lay awake on certain nights and think of all the things you’re missing out on back home."
Photography assignment of the week: exploring light

Gal time!  We had a relaxing evening of cooking in and watching trash tv together while her hubby is away on tour.  What was supposed to be a nice getaway sleepover for her turned into a 6:30 am wakeup call from construction workers drilling into the concrete below us.  Not cool.  
Random week happiness…Super Bowl watching party on R's "lunch break", surprise mail from my thoughtful mother-in-law and grandparents, and teddy hugs!
Mid-week dinner date at Barrio Chino.  The closest thing to Mexican food and great atmosphere!  Don't worry, I only have a list of like 37 places we have yet to cross off our food list…and still growing.  I also had a fun "first date" with a new girlfriend this week (who is R's coworkers twin sister) and she took me to the coolest spot..which made me realize there are SO many wonderful hidden places here!  And it was refreshing to hit it off with such a warm and genuine person.
So this thing keeps happening…R and I will find ourselves among a room of people that are ALL thirty years our elder.  And we love it.  Take Friday night for instance…we went to a play called Liberty Equality Fraternity at Ensemble Theatre conveniently within walking distance to our place and were accompanied by our usual crowd.  
Yesterday would have been my mother's 52nd birthday.  Every milestone is a painful reminder of her physical absence, but like we promised my mom, we did our best to celebrate her life.  R had the brilliant idea to treat me to some retail therapy and frozen yogurt after a quaint brunch at The Book Kitchen in Surry Hills.  On the way to the shops, we walked past a banner promoting Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and it stopped me in my tracks.  My mother would have been so pleased to see how far ovarian cancer research and support has come from when she was first diagnosed.
A celebration of my mom wouldn't be complete without her signature Red Velvet.  Due to poor planning and being short of some ingredients, I tried a new recipe for Red Velvet Brownies.  The center was too "cakey" to be a brownie and I couldn't get the rich red color I was hoping for.  I only made enough for a few bites so we wouldn't be too tempted with sweets around!  I mean, Valentines Day is only a few days away.

This week in the kitchen:
 Thanks to Steph, we cooked Baked Barramundi with Pumpkin and Capsicum with Sweet Potatoes and Herbs.  We made a good team!
The Pioneer Woman's version of CPK's BBQ Chicken Pizza. I used whole grain flour for the crust and it still turned out well. R was obsessed and I love that it made tons of leftovers.  

This week will either go by super slow or really fast as we wait in anticipation for our family to get here on Saturday!!  

Monday, February 4, 2013

Urban Cowboy

This weekend started off right with good vibes at the Keith Urban concert!  
I almost forgot we weren't in Texas as I felt right at home with my favorite country boy singing to me….just me.  He really worked the crowd and ran his way through the masses to different points in the arena.  I thought that was a nice way to give everyone a good view and it really pumped up the audience.
I just really enjoyed getting to see him in his "hometown"...and you could tell he was extra happy to be there!  Keith puts on a great show and even had some surprise appearances from Joel and Benji Madden, Guy Sebastian, and Jimmy Barnes!  
And yes, I represented proudly as the only cowboy boot wearing female around.  I just had to.  When else was I going to get away with wearing these things in Australia?!  They were my mothers from her twenties (I raided them from her closet about five years ago) and have been attached ever since.  
My boys.
This is my husband.  Would you like an explanation?  To sum up his elated face….he is thankful for YouTube for showing him a sketchy way to "fix" your xbox controller.  In case you're wondering, it is working and that darn green light is on as we speak, but I am waiting for a meltdown when it eventually malfunctions.  Lucky me.  
Happy Birthday Pete!  Celebration commenced at his house with an old school r&b bling theme..hence the jerseys, hats, and chains.  The lovely hostess kept us well fed and entertained as they always show us a good time!
Pose!  R was in his element…brought back good memories of his high school wardrobe days.  I guess a lot does change in seven years!! The morning after bling.
Random happenings.
1. Caught off guard.  Enjoyed the evening with asian tapas and the film, Zero Dark Thirty.  
2. Afternoon tea for one.
3. Slightly obsessed with Sydney schools.  Here, four of the private boys high schools are participating in "carnival" which is a swim relay race.  Caught them on my way to the gym and just had to reminisce and watch.  
4.  We always have front row seats for storms rolling through.  Last night was no exception.  
I just love my husband.  Not only is he the sweetest and most patient, but he's also got skillzzz.  All things numbers, spreadsheets, budgets, money, formulas…he's got you covered!  Knowing this, I offered his services to help my neighbor with a few things.  While we they spent the morning taking care of business (I sat in the corner drinking oj,cuddling with Teddy, and putting my two cents in occasionally), our afternoon was spent treating ourselves to a nice lunch and tour around the north shore.
We headed to Headlank Park for amazing views and this cute french cafe for lunch.  Look at that french onion soup!  Exploring the area by car and with a local is a great experience.  Our neighbor wore us out, though, so a mandatory Sunday afternoon nap was a must.  
This week in the kitchen:
Chicken Parm Meatballs with Kale Chips

Thought For Food:
Sous Vide Steak with Rockpool's Macaroni Cheese

Aren't we just SO healthy this week?! HA.  I guess the meatballs are actually pretty good for you minus the cheese and bread..oops.  And the recipe makes a lot so they are freezing perfectly for a lazy day! 

My first week of photography classes were awesome.  Looking forward to going back tomorrow!!  I am more intimidated than I thought I would be, though.  There are some pretty advanced photographers (with their fancy gear) in one of my classes that took me by surprise.  I know I just need to get over it and focus on my own work.  So, my goal this week is to work on self doubt and regain confidence in my own abilities!  I'll let you know how I go with that one...