Monday, August 19, 2013

Travelog: Mudgee! Mudgee!

 A lot of our Australian friends didn't seem too impressed with our spontaneous weekend road trip destination…or maybe they were just confused as to why we picked the sleepy wine town of Mudgee over other popular destinations.  We can thank the article that ranked this place as one of the top weekend getaways from Sydney for making our choice.  Only a three hour drive, we hopped in the car with our good friends early Saturday morning wanting to make the most of our 24 hours away.  This was a test of "are we good travelers together?" before our trip of a lifetime early next year.  To keep the record straight, we all passed with flying colors.
By the time we checked into our hotel and arrived at the first vineyard, lets just say we were all a little cranky and impatient due to a lack of glucose and carbs.  Good thing Lowe Winery knew just the cure…an amazing antipasto platter with fresh bread, local meats and cheeses, and produce picked from a few feet away.  
I couldn't get over how fresh everything was!  It was the perfect compliment to wine tasting on their deck overlooking the valley and vineyard.  
We ended our day at Moothi Estate, a family owned operation, for the best views in the valley.  Not only did we make great friends with the winemaker, but the boys really hit it off with their dog while us girls enjoyed a tasting. 
 If you didn't know, its like a rite of passage that any cool winery must have a dog mascot running through the vines and greeting customers.  So much so that I have a book called "Wine Dogs" Australia edition hanging on my shelf to prove it (and I can't wait to collect the others).  Ya, it's definitely a thing.  I asked the owner if his pup was lucky enough to grace the pages…surprisingly he knew the book I was talking about and apparently he has been trying for years, but no luck.
After a good chat with the Canadian owner, he offered us one of his last 2002 reserve bottles to taste.  Since he was so friendly and accommodating, J & B bought the bottle and we toasted to a perfect evening and beautiful sunset with great friends.  
Life doesn't get much better.  It's spontaneous moments like these that keep me going.
Once the sun went down, we headed to the Mudgee Observatory for some star gazing.  To our surprise, it was run by a man who built the telescope domes himself, which were situated behind his house.  The more shocking thing was the dark skies without city lights interfering with visibility of the Milky Way and constellations.  The highlight was seeing Saturn, rings and all, through one of the telescopes.  Along the dirt road home, we spotted plenty of kangaroo.  After dinner at a wine bar and live music at a pub, we called it a night in our matching Texas gear.  
Instagram hits from Mudgee and our road trip.  One of our best weekends away yet!
Instagram at home.  
We've been sitting on our front lawn a lot this week now that spring is starting to show it's colors!
A sweet Texas cowgirl package arrived from one of my best friends who is off to Alabama today to start her PhD in Child Psychology at Auburn!
A celebratory occasion over high tea…my friends last week of pregnancy before her baby girl arrives! As we speak, she is in labor so I am sending hugs and thoughts her way.  Steph couldn't believe that I have never experienced a proper high tea experience.   I was surprised to find that Australians definitely take their afternoon tea seriously like the English (I guess I shouldn't be too shocked knowing their British origins).  One trend I'm ok with bringing back to the U.S.
It wouldn't be the weekend without a meet up at The Grounds.  Kait and I's "go to" and this time we brought the boys along.  Always great coffee, pastries, and pretty things to look at…but never short of a crowd!
A refreshing afternoon in Manly.  Four Pines Brewery, Hemingway's, and Mex & Co.
Taking care of business.
Note to self or anyone who owns a glass stovetop…beware!!  So, R and I frequently joke about my "bad luck" with little things.  Most recently, dropping a glass spice jar on the cooktop was added to my resume.  Not only is that bad enough, but apparently our easy bake oven is over twenty years old and nowhere (I mean nowhere) still carries the replacement glass in stock.  What do y'all think?  Is it fair to make us pay for a brand new oven and cooktop as renters even though it's not quite our fault that the owner hasn't replaced the appliance in twenty years and therefore the glass just can't be replaced?!  Or do you think the owner should fork over investing in a new stove and we contribute towards the purchase with the approximate amount of what the glass replacement would have cost?  I hope you said the latter, because thanks to my persistent and bargaining hubby, we went back and forth with our agent to make the deal.  So, looks like I will be cooking in this century by the end of the week. 
Another big change around here…I finally got my haircut.  Not much, but just enough to give me a little pep in my step.  I had a great experience at the most charming salon, Barney Martin.
Last week, we celebrated the Breaking Bad (last) season premiere at J & B's.  Good stuff!  If the first episode is any indication of how quickly the season moves, then we better buckle up.  They picked up fried chicken from Los Pollos Hermanos (aka KFC ha) and I brought the "blue stuff" (aka
It is no secret that I have an emotional attachment to Sarabeth's, and when my in-laws gifted me the cookbook, I cried.  Not only because I love the food, but more importantly, it was a special place to my mom.  So any chance I can try one of her creations, I put lots of love into her time consuming recipes!  
Before our oven shattered, R and I continued the "No Technology Thursday" tradition by cooking dinner together.  This time, R learned proper knife skills (goggles required for the onions) and the art of making dough.  We used the Pioneer Woman's Pizza Dough recipe (I substituted for whole wheat flour) from this cookbook, and as much as I want to keep this A++ delicious and easy recipe to myself, that wouldn't be fair.  Do yourself a favor…try it.  
We went with pizza toppings of pepperoni, mushroom, onion, red bell pepper, and fresh mozzarella.  Seriously better than delivery (and no, its not DiGiorno either).  Making your own crust will never seem hard again.  
Other kitchen staples lately:
Whole Wheat Spaghetti Bolognese

Tomorrow we will embark on our journey to China!  Prayers for safe travels, patience with crowds, and open minds please!  

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