Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Life Goes On

Until this week, I haven't been in contact with anyone back home since my visit in May.  A little mental hiatus (and sister time and Fiji fun) if you will.  I'm becoming more comfortable with the realization that "life goes on".  

As much as I love to catch up with friends and the grandmas for a mid week pick me up, its nice to know that we can also do our own thing and that doesn't mean we don't think about one another often.  With that being said, keeping in touch is oh so important when living afar and usually takes plenty of coordinating on both ends! (i.e. Tuesday night at 9 pm your time/ Wednesday at noon my time work?!) Successful relationships are hard work my friends.  I guess they're pretty rewarding too.  

Old archives of the past month...
Plenty of packing and unpacking lately which leads to lots of laundry duty for me.  R has been traveling a lot more frequently for work these days. 
Rain and fog…lots of it!  The winter blues have hit and the weather doesn't seem to be backing down anytime soon.
Which is why I don't feel guilty for picking up a little piece of Paris at Laduree.  
And since I have been alone a lot, I don't mind being the third wheel at brunch with these two...
…or these two.  Anne and Teddy have a sweet relationship and she always seems to take care of us when R is away.  On this particular night, she made a thai curry.  The best part is that she always brings out the china and fancy tablecloth for me.  It's all about the special touches.  
Last month was all about Vivid, a light festival that lit up the city skyline and projected creative colors and images on the opera house and cruise ships in port.  We were lucky enough to have a front row view from our house.  
Instagram happenings @kscherwin...
Thanks to my girlfriends for getting me back in the game (apparently I missed the memo a long time ago that it's now more of a social media site for sharing instead of keeping to yourself).
Any excuse to drive Teddy around town is a treat even if it's for a trip to the vet.
Anne took me to see an impressive private art collection and then to her favorite bookstore where we chatted over cappuccino. 
We enjoyed a yummy Italian meal with the soon to be parents before the show. This is my friend at 7 months pregnant…be jealous because I am.  We can't wait to welcome their little one into the world soon!  
We couldn't turn down their invite to see Chris Tucker perform amidst a packed house.  The night was full of laughs and his impersonations, especially of Michael Jackson, were spot on! 
The next day, Steph put me to work!  I love helping her on clothing shoots and it's a nice change of pace.  After getting out early, she treated me to a lovely lunch over Darling Harbour and then showed me the Sydney Fish Market for the first time.  I can't believe it took me a year to get here!  Living on the coast is such an added bonus knowing that you can get the freshest of seafood..and much cheaper to do so!  I was happy with the beautiful salmon I picked out for dinner.
 I met R in the city after work at a retro pizzeria called Frankie's (the man would be happy eating pizza every day) and then we finally saw The Great Gatsby, which was filmed entirely in Sydney.  
R also had the great joy of being invited to the World Cup qualifying game against Iraq.  He has really enjoyed getting to know and watch other sports and had no problem cheering on the Socceroos as his own.  The city was abuzz after Australia's win and I'm glad R was able to be a part of it!
The tales of Teddy…caught wearing a sweater, using folded laundry as a pillow, falling asleep sitting up, and getting love from our neighbor.
Saturday date night at the theatre.  The production of War Horse was spectacular and quite emotional!  On stage, the horses were of life sized puppets (that sounds so lame but it wasn't like that at all) that were so believable you almost forgot their life sized movements and sound effects were being manipulated by humans.  
Before the show, we treated ourselves to some sweets…at a dessert train!  How cool is this concept?!  Think your classic sushi train, but filled with sugary confections.  Um, yes please.  While the atmosphere was modern and bright, we were unimpressed by the overpriced desserts themselves.  O well, all for the experience and fun!

The weekend of non-stop rain was making us stir crazy, so we took to the streets on Sunday!  I always have this fantasy of being one of those fit couples who jogs (and holds hands, smiling and talking all the while) side by side as an activity to do together.  I'm not making this stuff up…I see these acts being committed all the time so I know it's feasible.  The conclusion is that our afternoon run across the bridge was confirmation that after many failed attempts at jogging together, it just ain't our thang.  I don't care how much training it takes, but these little legs of mine will never be able to keep up.  I'll have to move onto bigger dreams for us now...
I have also come to the conclusion that my husband is a bad influence on me…in the form of a delicious hot dog and crispy fries.  Once we ditched the high intensity/romantic workout, the next most logical thing would be to indulge in this greasy goodness.  Neither of us complained.  And that is why I love our never know what you're going to get.

Until next time...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Let's Just Go...

 Hello followers, it's McKenzie here!
Kelsey has set the bar high with her writing and entertainment on this blog, so I apologize in advanced if this does not live up to "Two + Teddy" standards! ;) I am HONORED to be a guest blogger, and appreciate Kelsey for trusting me with this precious website. 
As many of you know, I visited Kelsey and Ronnie in December. I completely fell in love with the city and knew that I just HAD to take my boyfriend, Junior, to experience it with him as well. I knew that he would love the atmosphere, change of pace, and food that Australia so beautifully presents! Well, when we finally figured out our "real world plans", the idea of going to Australia became more and more of a reality. We booked our trip the day after graduation and then two weeks later were off to Australia! We had the "Let's Just Go" attitude and didn't want to look back. Talk about a whirlwind of graduation, moving, Junior starting work, and packing for Australia! I swear we aren't crazy.... well, maybe I take that back. Here is some of our trip....Enjoy!

We had a VERY long travel day to get to Sydney. 26 hours to be exact. A curfew delay (whatever that is!), layover in LAX, and a delay because of fog in Sydney made for a very rough day. As soon as we got off of the plane, we met up with Kelsey at the apartment. We got to try the famous Harry's and indulged in a meat pie....the true Aussie way. After that we spent the afternoon in the Royal Botanical Gardens overlooking the harbour and enjoying a nice chat...along with some goofy pictures. After a 26 hour travel day, sometimes you just have to be silly with your best friend! Talk about deliriousness at it's finest...
While Kelsey was working at the Red Cross the next day, Junior and I headed off to Manly Beach for a nice picnic and people watching! I fell in love with Manly when I was there in December, and knew that Junior would love it as well. We made a picnic, enjoyed the scenery, ate some AMAZING ice cream, and met up with Kelsey at 4 Pines brewery! A perfect day.
After our visit to Manly, Junior and I kept talking about how much we wanted to go back for another visit. Junior had been wanting to do something adventurous (Surprise! Surprise!) and we thought that there would be no better place to learn how to surf than in Australia! Junior signed up for a surf class at Manly Surf School, and we were off for the day! I stayed back due to my fear of the ocean (I know, I am NOT proud of it) and enjoyed a nice day reading my book, listening to my iPod, and snapping HUNDREDS of pictures of my man! The second picture on the left makes me laugh every time. Junior caught a wave, but then ran into a traffic he decided to jump on the girl's board next to him for safety. Looks like that turned out well, huh? Junior's surf instructor (and new best friend) kept making fun of his "Texas golf tan" on his feet. Leave it up to Junior to make friends with strangers!
While we were in Sydney, there was a light festival going on called "Vivid". Every night, the city would light up with all different colors, including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Definitely a sight to see! 
Eats while we were in Australia. I think it's safe to say that we didn't go hungry. Lattes, eggs benedict, corn fritters, smoked salmon breakfasts, sausage dogs, dim sum, and meat pies.. Gym, here we come!
A day at Watson's Bay calls for a trip to Doyle's for some fish and chips! It's a cute little place right off of the wharf with a view of the water and the city. Pretty incredible! Kelsey Junior and I ate our lunch at this picnic table enjoying our view of the city! On the other side of the bay, there is a trail along the coast that is breathtaking. It looks out onto the Tasman Sea and is so peaceful. Definitely one of my new favorites of Sydney. On our ferry ride home, we discovered that a sailboat race was going on! Hundreds of sailboats passed by us...a very neat sight to see.
Another one of my new favorites is The Grounds. It is an amazing brekky place (that's breakfast for all you American folk)! They even have their own hens and piglet named Kevin Bacon! We enjoyed a nice brunch with Kelsey and one of her new friends. I loved getting to know her friends a little bit makes my job of worrying much less when I'm halfway across the world :) Thanks Kait, Jenny, Blake, Steph, and Jackie for meeting up with us on our visit and for taking care of my girl! ;)
 A very touristy day for Junior and I consisted of visiting Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Blue Mountains with a day tour. We got to Featherdale in the morning, just in time for feeding! We found a kangaroo with a joey in it's pouch, (see picture for cuteness) and instantly fell in love. Junior kept going up to the mum saying, "let me see that joey!" We could've spent all day hanging out with our kangaroo and koala friends. We ended our Featherdale visit with seeing two koalas cuddling in the tree together...precious!
All in all, my trip with Junior was amazing. We had a great time and really got to enjoy life in a different light than we are used to. I think the travel bug has hit Junior....and this girl ain't complainin'! But, I do have to say what I loved most was just being with family. I love every opportunity that I get to be with my sister and Ronnie, and it makes it so much more special when all four of us are together. I am incredibly blessed to have all of these people in my life and wouldn't change it for the world.
Kelsey, thank you for being such a great tour guide. We couldn't have seen the city without you, and I am so glad that you were willing to show us around all day! I know that it gets tiring, but we wouldn't have wanted to see the city without you. We have so many new memories and funny stories from spending time with you, and we are so thankful for that. Thank you for being an amazing sister! I love you to the moon and back!
Ronnie, my love for you is infinite and I cannot thank you enough for being my brother. Thank you for always taking one for the team and putting up with us Carroll girls. Seriously though, this man deserves an award. I'm glad that awkward 16 year old boy stuck around :) I love you, R.
And last but not dearest Teddy. I mean, the pictures pretty much say it all. You guys do know that I love my nephew, right? (Presley, if you're reading, mommy loves you too). 
 Thank you all for reading this long post about our trip, I hope you didn't find yourself snoozing away! Love all of our friends, family, and supporters...thanks for sharing this journey with us! I'll leave you with some of my favorite pictures.
Left to right: Ronnie and Junior enjoying an Australian beer after dinner. The sun over the harbour, reflecting off of the water. Junior and his Aussie flag. Junior and I with the 3 sisters at the Blue Mountains. Lovebirds after dinner. J and I in Hyde Park....incredible trees. J and I overlooking the harbour minutes after landing. Bridgeclimb!! Like the outfits?? ;) and last but not least, Junior interrupting 2 Aussie celebrities during dinner for a picture.... Reece Mastin and Rhiannon Fish.

Cheers, Sydney! You've been good to me again.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Travelog: Fiji

I would be happy if I never had to say that word again.  This Fijian greeting word means everything from hello, goodbye, welcome, bless you, etc.  Bula literally means life.  And boy do the friendly Fijians mean it.  When all else fails, just shout "Bula!" with confidence and you will be sure to get a few smiles and greetings returned. 

The Fijian people are some of the nicest I have ever encountered and their culture fascinates me.  They are very spiritual and religious people (99% of native Fijians are Christian) who put an emphasis on family, music, dance, and food.  There was not a day that went by that we didn't hear a local singing and playing the guitar, either around the pool at the resort, in the villages, or on a tour boat.  I was taken back by their genuine tone when asking simple questions like "How was your day?" that are all too often empty conversation fillers.
Our resort, just a short drive from Nadi off the main island of Viti Levu. We love the predictability of our Starwood properties.  
Hotel details of the pool and view from our room.  
Lots of sand and sun time! 
O, and of course, how could my husband not go without watching the NBA Finals?!  Luckily it made for a nice lunch break in the shade where they were playing it in the golf clubhouse.  
And don't forget about pool time.  
I don't know about you, but we are generally "pool people" when it comes to this type of vacation. 
Gotta stay hydrated.  If you were wondering, all they serve is the Fiji brand of water.  So authentic! Ha.
To keep my active man entertained, we battled it out on the putt putt course one afternoon.  
He won by one stroke (barely).  Maybe next time we'll act like adults and play a real round of golf..maybe.  
Our nightly routine of watching the sunset.  Afterwards, as part of our ritual, we would head to the hotel bar where an amazing acoustic duo played cover songs of all genres. I was seriously obsessed and R kept joking that he wanted to sign them.  It was the perfect ending to our days.
When in Fiji*…fire dancers and a traditional ceremonial dinner with fire walkers! Super cheesy but we had to.
This day was a dream come true of mine to check off the bucket list…relax on an uninhabited island.  After a two hour boat ride and snorkeling onto the shore, it was all ours to explore the 1.5 acres of paradise!
So surreal with the pristine sand and crystal clear water surrounding the private island.  We were literally off the map.
Instagram favorites of the day.
There is no person I would rather experience the world with.  
The day ended with us feeding some baby black tip reef sharks at our feet. Talk about conquering your fears!
Pampering day at the Heavenly Spa complete with open-air therapy rooms and outdoor showers.  Look who I spotted in the distance waiting for their massage. Sneaky me!
Dinner at the hotel, Steakhouse by Peter Kuruvita.  We didn't venture out much this time to try the local fare as there were plenty of options on the property to keep us happy. In typical "resorty" fashion I guess.
Our last full day was one of our most memorable.  We took a jet boat safari up the Sigatoka River to a nearby village where we experienced the authentic Fijian culture firsthand.  The river is the main source of life for the surrounding villages and it was interesting to see everything from horses and cattle wading and farming to local people washing, bathing, and toileting along the banks.  
People of the river.  
And I love that no matter what they are doing, they still stop to give us a wave (see little girl at bottom right popping a squat).  
The village was named Koroua, which means "Grandfather", after the chief (usually the oldest member) relocated his family to this land in the 1960's after a terrible flood washed away their previous land.  This village is special because it is composed of eight families who are all related.  Once the women are old enough, they marry and leave their home villages.  The spokesman for their village told us that they only work (farm) early in the morning and late in the afternoon.  Their days are for socializing and helping their neighbors out.  The women were provided a sarong (to cover above the knees) and the men were asked to take off their hats as a sign of respect to the chief.  
The visit started with a traditional kava ceremony, with men entering the room first.  We sat on our knees quietly as they conducted a 20 minute ceremony to welcome and offer us their national drink.  Looks and tastes like mud, no joke.  After that, we were considered part of the family and that's where the eating, dancing, singing, and clapping ensued.  Lots of dancing to R's dismay.
Faces of the village.
The children were so interested in my camera and loved looking at their picture on my digital screen.  
Lunch consisted of fresh fruit, fried dough, curry wrapped in roti, chicken, lemon drink, and more.  
I was worried we would be making a spectacle out of them, but it was great to see that the people were more than happy to have us into their homes.  To make sure the villages are not overcrowded with tourists, each day the tour visits a different village.  I was also glad to see that the tour company was putting some of our ticket money back into improving the villages, and not degrading them.  At the end of the day, we will all go back learning from this village of warm people who live by the simplest, yet purest principles.  
Our last dinner in paradise at the neighboring resort restaurant, Flying Fish.  
Before we knew it, Sydney was calling our name once again.  And Teddy was pretty happy to see us too.  He was spoiled with my sis and J while we were gone and it worked out quite well that they had a few days alone to explore the city.  Too bad their flight left the same day we got back.  We had the nicest greeting once we landed, though...a kitchen stocked with groceries, a clean house, and a sweet letter from the house guests!!  They know the way to my heart.  

I can't wait for my sister to share their trip with you!  She will be guest posting soon.  In other wonderful news, we were awoken in the middle of the night to a giddy girl who not only signed her own apartment lease, but got a job offer!!  She will be working at the Rise School of Austin as a child development teacher.  Lots to be thankful for!