Busy and Happy

I’ve always been able to handle a large volume of work. Something that I’ve always really prided myself on was my ability to finish work on a deadline - to work at an absolutely insane pace and still get things done… Well, there is always a point when a line gets crossed and you are so busy that you can’t decide what to get done and in what order. In those cases, I would end up getting nothing done because I was so overwhelmed!

So, that’s how I feel tonight as far as my brain and my writing capabilities. I have so much that I want to write about that I can’t actually concentrate on one specific thing long and completely enough to get it done. Besides, it’s late… I’ve had a long day, a couple glasses of wine and hot bath. That means that I am no longer good for much…

Hopefully, I’ll be able to sort out my thoughts and my photos over the next couple of days and then bang out some really great entries.

Suffice it to say though, we are checking out the Hillsong City Campus in the morning and I am happy happy happy and even more happy in this apartment!

Some Quick Funnies...

I am often confused by the turn of phrase here:

Yesterday the cust. service rep from Telstra asked me if I wanted a "silent number" for our phone - I felt stupid as I had to have him explain it me; but apparently that is the Aussie version of an unlisted number!

Also funny was a conversation with an Internet tech one of our first weeks here.  He told me that he was going to try some stuff on his end, he would "ring me back" and then I could "go for the gold again".  So cute!

The spelling it another thing that continues to amaze me:

color = colour
flavor = flavour
harbor = harbour
liter = litre
realize = realise

Actually, now that I am typing this out it doesn't look that weird to me....  I actually quite like adding the u to the American spelling - it seems to make much more sense phonetically!

Money Money Money!

I've been meaning to write a post about the Australian currency ever since Joe and I received some as a going away present from Wink and Sally (wasn't that a brilliant present idea?).  The idea of learning a new currency just tickled me beyond belief - it was something that I hadn't really thought about up to that point....  The paper currency is really incredibly beautiful and fun looking.  The bills are slightly different sizes and they are made with some type of polymer that makes them resistant to moisture (they can go through the wash much better than US bills) and they even have this really neat clear plastic cutout in the corner.  The only downside that I have found is that once a bill is folded in half it is difficult to make it lay flat again due to it's thick wax paper type makeup.

There were no singles in the going away card and I simply assumed that we would figure out what those "ones" looked like when we changed our currency at the airport.  Well, we didn't get any singles at the airport either so I was starting to really wonder...

Turns out, there are NO bills smaller than a 5.  There are however $2 and $1 coins.  The 1 dollar coin is about the size of a US quarter; but much heavier and thicker.  The 2 dollar coin is only about the size of a US dime but also much more serious and weighty.  They are the only gold coins in the lot so they are pretty easy to identify.  I have to admit, I wasn't digging the idea of having a bunch of heavy coins in my bag replacing some weightless bills; but it has grown on me and now I love it!  I realized how great it was one night during our first week here - I had taken a taxi to Joe's office and had a fare of $9.20.  I rummaged (not rooted) in my change purse and paid my fare with 6 coins.  Can you imagine trying to pay that fare with common US change?  It would take 36 quarters just to make it to $9.00.  That would be a seriously heavy change purse!  It's also great for keeping a spare change jar.... Empty your pockets in there every day and in a month you could have hundreds of dollars!

The rest of the coins are equally as different and super cool.  There is a fifty cent piece that is really large and heavy (larger even than a US silver dollar) and it is also completely randomly (actually, I'm sure that it's not random and that there is some historical significance - but random to an outsider) twelve sided!  The rest of them are very similar except for the fact that they have a 20 cent coin instead of a quarter; and, as you can see, the sizes are completely different.  I cannot tell you how many times I have given someone 5 cents instead of 10 because it is the same size as a dime!

Also, I got my new debit card from my new Australian bank and it is pink.  Yes, Pink... actually, rather bright pink! Because you should always look good - even when you are paying at the grocery store!  My card has a little silver microchip thingy on the front of it and sometimes instead of sliding the magnetic strip through the card reader you actually insert your card into a slot on the bottom or top of the machine to process your payment.

In another brilliant move, there is the option here to type a pin number in to complete your transactions instead of having to sign anything.  Most of the card readers are wireless.... The clerk will hand it to you, you put your card in, you choose the way you want to pay, you type your PIN # in and then you get your receipt and go.  It's so much faster than having to sign everything!

All in all, I have to say that I am pretty impressed with the way that money and transactions work here... I think that the States could learn some lessons from the Aussies in this area; and, to be fair, vice versa.

How Little Do You Need To Live?

I've been so excited that we are moving to our new place on Friday that I have been in a bit of denial....

We will most likely not get our crate from the States until the end of August.  That means that we will be in an apartment for an entire month with only the contents of our suitcases.  Wow.

We bought a mattress set last weekend and it is being delivered the day we move in... I immediately began the hunt for appliances (we need to provide our own washer, dryer and fridge) and found the washer and dryer second hand. I am working on getting a fridge this week.

What I didn't realize was how much you need for just the basics of everyday living.  I keep thinking of all the things in our crate that I am dying to get. 

So, with all of these things in mind, we took a trip out to Ikea yesterday armed with a small list and the knowledge that everything that we bought would need to be carried home in bags.  Eek....  I am proud to say that we only spent a very little bit and we now have just enough to get us through the month:

2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 glasses, 4 sets of silverware, a set of steak knives, 2 mixing bowls, a frying pan, a sauce pan, 1 cutting board, a trash can, 2 towels, 2 washcloths, a fitted sheet, 2 pillows, and 1 blanket.

It is going to be a very very long month!

I still need to go to Target or Meyer and pick up an electric kettle, ironing board, iron, and microwave.  I'll figure that out this week. 

I am spending all my extra time dreaming about the 2 sheet sets in the crate, and the dishes in the crate, and the furniture in the crate, and the books in the crate, and the chairs in the crate, and so on....  It's going to be like Christmas morning up in here when we get our stuff!

Ohhh!!.. and, in much more fun and exciting news, I got a "Little Whipper" which is a little handheld milk frother and I am now making some fabulously delicious flat whites in my very own kitchenette.  Yea, it's pretty awesome!

What is wrong with me?

Here I am in a beautiful city, having a once in a lifetime experience and all I want to write about is the cleaning crew that services our apartment!  I am fascinated by how incredibly casual things can be here.  So far I have seen an older woman, an older man and two teenagers in various teams at various times.  Last week was by far the best cleaning experience thus far excepting, of course, the horrible smell and the necessity of rewashing our floors.

In all the times that the crew has come, the older woman and the older man always seem to be the most thorough and do the best job.  I was very excited Friday when they showed up to clean and it was both of the older folks.  I was expecting a fabulous cleaning (and I didn't even care if I had to wipe the floors down after they left).

He went into the bedroom and started making the bed with fresh linen.  She went into the bathroom and cleaned the toilet and sink - then her phone rang and she went in the hallway to answer it.  The guy finished making the bed, thanked me and then left.  They didn't dust, clean the kitchen, clean the floors, vacuum or refill any of my detergent packets.  Nothing.  Just fresh sheets and a clean toilet.

The part that kills me is that we are spending a small fortune here every week and I know a substantial amount of the price is there because of this great "service" that we receive.

At least I didn't have to rinse the floors down this week though!

Putting Off Blogging

I've been struggling a bit with not really feeling like writing this week.  Every night I sit down at the computer intending to bang out a post about one of the many things that I have jotted down on my "Blog About This" list; and I end up wasting my time trolling Facebook or something equally mind-numbing.

I feel like I am in limbo - just waiting for our real life to start...

I'm glad there will only be another 8 days till we are out of this apartment.  I am struggling a bit with the whole "stay at home wife" bit right now; but I think it is just because there is so little for me to do in this tiny place. It doesn't take that long to clean it and do the laundry.  I feel pretty giddy when I have to run to the grocery or drycleaners (that's so pathetic that I can't believe I even wrote it).  I feel guilty a lot too - I didn't have much to do today and it was raining so I spent a couple hours reading and I watched some TV.  It felt like a really illicit sick day (sicky) from work when I wasn't really sick.  It makes me feel a bit better to know that Joe actually feels guilty too.  He feels guilty that I get up with him, make brekky and coffee, do the laundry and have dinner ready when he gets home.

So, I guess we are all right.  I feel guilty for having so much free time and he feels guilty for me not having even more free time.  This is why we work as a couple.

I am excited to explore my new area and start meeting all of these wonderful people from YanksDownUnder and from the Blogosphere who have invited me out for coffee.  I also can't wait to start decorating the apartment....  Boy am I missing a TJ Maxx here...  Joe and I were walking down Military Rd. Sunday night and we stopped to look in the windows of a furniture shop.  There was a standing lamp that I loved loved loved - so Joe checked the price and had a bit of a heart attack when he realized that it was $1800.00.  Ha!
I guess I'll be shopping at Ikea!

Hmm.... I have to say, even blogging a little bit about relatively unimportant stuff made me feel lots better.  Perhaps there is a lesson here for me?

The Botanical Gardens

I got sick early Sunday morning and had a hard time getting back to sleep after... Joe was a sweetie and let me sleep till about 11; but I was bummed that we missed church.  We had made plans to walk through the botanical gardens Sunday afternoon and, since I was feeling better, we decided to still go.  We stopped at a cafe for a late lunch and I got some plain penne with pesto on it that must not have been good because the rest of the day was filled with me feeling very very sick to my stomach.

We did end up walking through the botanical gardens - even though we saw some incredible things, the very best part was standing right next to the Opera House and being able to actually see the apartment that we will be moving into at the end of this month!  Wow!!

I wanted to take a picture of almost every tree that we saw - and I did...

But I am only posting two of the photos here so that I don't bore you.  They are just so incredibly enormous and the trunks/roots look like they were carved out by water instead of growing organically.  So neat....

There were great expanses of green lawn filled with couples and families having picnics or napping or just generally relaxing.  I was thinking to myself that I would have a hard time just sitting on the grass for a while - not doing anything; but then I turned around and saw the view and I decided that I could sit and look at this all day long....

We walked farther into the park and started hearing some crazy bird noise.  We discovered that there were a ton of Cockatoos flying around in the tree tops - this one came down to check us out.  he must have thought that we were ok because he then flew down to the grass in front of us and strutted his stuff!

I couldn't believe how big the birds were - I was expecting them to be about the size of Lorrikeets; but they were like small hawks!  I thought that their size would have been intimidating to me; but I really didn't mind them...  After I put my camera away, a family came along and stopped to check the bird out.  He flew up onto the mom's arm just as sweet as can be - she put her arm up next the to little drinking fountain and he hopped off onto it.  The son turned the water on and the Cockatoo got a couple nice drinks in before he flew away - it was like being at the zoo; but without cages or nets!

We followed the path up around the point called "Mrs. Macquaries Chair".  There is some history behind this whole thing; but I don't even think that I understand it all that well yet - I'm sure that I will be able to explain it all later - but here's a picture of the marker for now.  We cut back over into the heart of the park and decided to go to the cafe for a coffee. 

On our way into the cafe I heard an interesting noise and looked up - there were trees and trees completely full of bats.  Huge Bats!  Enormous Bats!  It was so cool...   They have furry reddish heads and then the typical glossy black wings and I would say that they were the size of small red fox - actually, I think they might even be referred to as flying foxes but don't quote me on that one.

Joe wanted to take the ferry over to our new apartment and then see what it was like walking into town so we hurried back to the Quay only to find that the ferry was slightly delayed due to a cruise ship exiting the harbour.  People were falling all over themselves to get pictures... I didn't think it was really that big of a deal; but Joe got a picture so that we could show some perspective as to the size of the bridge...

Anywho, we took the ferry and them walked the mile up to Military Rd. which is the main drag through the whole Neutral Bay, Cremorne, Mosman area. It was just one long steep hill... ugh.  My tummy was quite unhappy with the exertion.  It's not a bad walk really; but I think it would be really difficult with groceries and dry cleaning etc...  We saw some bus stops along the way so I think I'll be able to make the trip a bit shorter on those days when I have a lot to carry.  We wandered down Military into Cremorne and found a nice place to sit and have dinner.  I got a beer which seemed to solve all of my stomach issues so then I got some mussels which were epically delicious!  Good end to a very long but beautiful day!

Funny Signs... and a mattress

Joe and I took the train out to Lewisham on Saturday in search of a mattress - we found one that was supremely comfortable (although anything would be better that the lumpy double we are on here) and that we both liked.  We found out that we do not like "memory foam"; but we do like latex.... Who knew?  So, much much poorer we hiked back to the train station and then decided to walk around The Rocks again.  We were quite surprised to find that George St. had become a market (the day before it was filled with taxis and cars) and I liked the touristy part of it even less on a Saturday than during the week.  The alleyways didn't disappoint though, we still found a great pub and shared some type of BBQ platter... Yum!

Throughout the day we kept coming across funny signs so:

The one on the right is hard to see but it says "Nuclear Free Zone"

We also saw a ton of these little guys skittering around on the garden walls - They were cute, much cuter than spiders!

The Rocks

I didn't have much planned for Friday and I was catching up on Facebook when the housekeeping team arrived to clean the room.  I was really excited because the lady in charge was the one that vacuumed and the carpet actually looked quite clean when she was done.  They really were doing a bang-up job and the apartment was starting to smell all clean and wonderful.... Then, they swiped both the bathroom and kitchen floors with a mop and left.   I'm not sure what chemical they use to clean floors around here; but it basically smells like a giant squirt bottle of urine...  It was so bad that I had to get out of the apartment immediately!  I threw open both windows, grabbed my purse and left.

I decided to go past Circular Quay and see what "The Rocks" area was all about.  I headed down past the Museum of Contemporary Art and promptly got distracted by the Opera House....  It's funny, before I moved here I used to think that the sky was photo shopped in all the pictures I saw.  It always looked so incredibly blue and luminous and fake in a way.  It's not....  The sky really looks like a painting all the time (well, at least when the sun is out).  I think that's the key - when the sun comes out it lights this country up in a way that I have never seen before!

I realized that I had somehow stumbled onto a path that wandered right around the edge of the harbour so I followed it to a little park with palm trees and a great view of the bridge.

I followed the path and it led right under the bridge.  I have to admit, I was slightly underwhelmed by the bridge when I first saw it.  It's really not all that huge and I wasn't expecting it to look so small up against the city.  Well, it's definitely not small when you actually walk underneath it!  It is massive; and the iron work on it so incredibly beautiful!

The path ended after the bridge so I turned around and happened upon some stairs that led up to a little green space. It wasn't very pretty due to some construction that was happening on the bridge; but it was very interesting.  It was the sight of the officer's quarters and a lookout that were built at the very beginning of it all.  There were some of the original foundations left and there were several large plaques explaining the history and showing the original floor plans of the buildings. It's funny, it seems like such an important piece of history and there weren't really any signs or much really that was done to promote the place.  I was the only person there and I stayed for about 15 minutes - reading the signs and trying to imagine what the view must have been that long ago. The city was crawling with tourists and there was not a single other one there.  I took a photo of the view....

Seeing that little area really got me into a reflective state of mind.  I exited down to a different street that was just chock full of history.  Such an interesting dichotomy - the bridge to my left, modern and full of metal; and buildings to my right, so old and full of history and stone.

Up to this point I had been going at a pretty good clip as I was in need of some things.  I believe that sometimes the best way to explore is to leave your room hungry, thirsty and needing to use the toilet (which sounds rude to say; but is what they say here so...).  I think it puts you out of your comfort zone and will make you take turns that you may not have if you weren't so thirsty!

I walked for a bit and found George St. which seems to be the main drag through The Rocks (also the main drag further south through downtown - where Joe and I go to grocery shop etc..) and did something super touristy. I bought a handful of postcards - mostly just for nieces and nephews; but if you want a postcard from Sydney just let me know.

The Rocks is gorgeous; but I quickly found that you have to get off the main streets and start exploring all the little corridors and alleys.  My search for food, drink and facilities was getting a bit urgent so I started scoping for a good place to stop.  I have a difficult time choosing restaurants here - the staff have to seem welcoming and the people eating there need to seem middle of the road... neither weird and trashy or too uppity.  So, I passed up place after place not liking how touristy, dirty, highbrow or crowded they seemed.  I did stop in one place - it was an old old pub full of dark wood and old men sitting around drinking Guinness.  There was a sign in the door advertising a rooftop terrace bar with great views so I followed the arrows up these steps only to encounter 2 surly waitstaff who slammed a metal gate in my face.  They pointed at a door on the landing with a very very tiny "Under Construction" sign as the only way of warning visitors to turn back.  Nice....

Back on the street I ducked through a stone archway which led to a fabulous alley, a sandwich, some Portuguese beer (recommended by the flirty yet indecipherable Portuguese bartender) and the urge to pull out my notebook and start writing.  The alley was called the "Nurses Walk" and it led out into other little paths between buildings.  After eating, drinking and generally sorting myself out I headed back for the apartment. 

It's funny being here....  I forget so many times and in so many ways that I am actually living in this beautiful city.  I was walking out of The Rocks, coming out of alleys and shadows only to look up and see the very beginning of the bridge.  In a moment, I had left the old-timey, convict-history place in my head and I was suddenly thinking about progress and the building of this metal monster - of machines, cars  and a city coming alive to new inventions.  I slowly meandered back towards the Quay with my mind full of heavy historical thoughts and suddenly the Opera House and the glistening harbour slid into view from behind a building.  Incredible.  Breathtaking... Making me forget everything except just how beautiful this really is...

How lucky am I?

Although, the apartment still smelled awful when I got back and I had to rewash the floors - so I guess that evened everything out some..... : )

Upside Down

There were so many jokey things said before we left about "going down under", about "being upside down" etc...   It's actually funny in the sense that it is true in so many little ways.

There are the obvious: driving on the left instead of right side of the road, driving on the right instead of the left side of the car and being in the opposite hemisphere.

There are also little things....  In order to turn a light on, you push the switch down instead of up.  This actually makes sense once you get used to it... when turning on a light in the dark you can just throw your hand up and let gravity do all the work.

Door are a bit odd - not all of them; but most of the building entry doors have been a "push to get in" and "pull to get out" set-up. Not too weird really; but obviously different as we are constantly pushing and pulling doors the wrong way.  This one doesn't make as much sense to me to be honest.  If the building is on fire and everyone rushes to the door, how will you be able to pull it open?

In other news - we had lamb for dinner again tonight.  I bought olives and feta at the grocery yesterday and have been dreaming about Greek salad all day.  I even made homemade garlic croutons. I bucked tradition a little by adding avocado; but really, a salad isn't a salad without avocado.

Also, the feta here is much creamier - it's actually a great spreading consistency.  Hmm... I think I could actually pipe some of it INSIDE some olives.  Doesn't that sound like a great snack to have with some beer? Mmmmm....

Burger Celebration.... or not...

We didn't find out that we got the apartment until late Monday morning - apparently several other couples put in applications on Monday morning; but we had the best offer so the agent put ours through first.  I wanted to do something fun and nice as a celebration.  I also wanted champagne to be involved; but I didn't want to buy a $40 or $50 bottle out at some expensive restaurant.  Aha!  I decided that I would scope out this whole BYO thing going on here.  A BYO restaurant is one that allows you to Bring Your Own bottle of wine with you.  Most places have a very reasonable corkage charge and some don't have one at all!  So, I spent a ridiculous amount of time online trying to find the perfect place.

I finally found a burger place that had a ton of great reviews - it was being touted as one of the best places in Sydney to get a burger.  It was also right around the corner from Joe's office, cheap and had a really low corkage fee.  So, I checked their website, checked their hours, double checked their address and went forward with the plan.  I ran down the street to the bottle shop and picked up a $13.00 bottle of sparkling wine (which ended up being fabulous) and then took a taxi to Joe's office.  We walked down the street  trudged up this crazy enormous hill (my calves are killing me) to get to the right street and then walked through the center of Darlinghurst's restaurant/cafe district to get to this burger joint.  My directions were flawless - we got to the door only to realize that they are now closed on Mondays during the winter.  What?  It wasn't even on the website!!!  Oh well, it was a perfect Aussie night in the sense that something like that had to happen in order for us to have a truly Australian evening. 

We walked around the corner and found a tiny Italian place called Fellini's (also a BYO) that really was more fitting to the sparkling wine anyway.  We had a beautiful dinner...  I had salmon linguine with capers - Heaven in my mouth.  I also had one too many glasses of the wine (sparkling wine really hits me way harder than regular).

There was a large size Coles on the way back to Williams St so we (and by we I mean I) decided we should do some grocery shopping.  I still can't get over the idea of going into what essentially looks like a mall, going into the sub basement and doing your grocery shopping there!  Laden down with two heavy grocery bags, we opted to take a taxi back to the apartment rather than walk the mile and a half.  My wine fuzzy head was very appreciative of not having to slog back on foot carrying a heavy bag!

So, even though we didn't get our burgers, we had a wonderful meal.  We still have burgers to look forward to and we found a cute area full of restaurants right around the corner from Joe's office.... All in all a good night!

Sunday at Bondi

Sunday morning we got brave and caught a bus out to Bondi Junction for worship at Hillsong.  We missed the first bus because we didn't realize we needed to pre-pay for our tickets - oops!  So, I ran over, bought the tickets and we caught the next bus...  The service was in a movie theatre (it's like an extension service) so I was nervous it would be weird; but it was totally awesome.  They have another campus in the city so I think we'll try all of the campuses out before we settle on which one will be home.

Bondi Junction was pretty cool - there was so much shopping there!  Too bad I can't buy anything till we get settled! 

Speaking of being settled, we got the apartment on Kurraba in Neutral Bay and we get to move in on the 30th of July!  I have so much work to do before we get settled - When we move in we won't have anything except for clothes and such so I need to buy a mattress set, washer, dryer and fridge and arrange for them all to be delivered that day.... Whew!  Actually, I already bought the washer and dryer off Gumtree - just working on getting them to the apartment at the right time.

Anyway, Bondi was beautiful even though the weather left a lot to be desired....   Even though the beach was really lovely, I didn't really like it as much as I liked Manly. The vibe was really touristy and there was a lot of concrete.  There were a ton of surfers out and we stood on the boardwalk watching them for about a half hour.  It was super - relaxing....  There were also a ton of cute little doggies on walks - it made me miss Oreo in a major way... 

The clouds were rolling in and out and the blue patches were few and far between.   I really wanted to walk the path from Bondi to Cogee Beach; but the weather looked sketchy and it's a pretty long walk. Joe and I made a deal to come back and do the walk as soon as the weather gets nicer.  We headed back up to the main street for lunch and settled on a Greek place that had a nice outdoor seating area that was covered.  I had a lamb wrap which just made me realize even more that I LOVE lamb and it makes me incredibly happy how abundant it seems to be here. 

I decided to splurge with a beer - my new favourite is something called Coopers Pale Ale.  It's not quite as bitter as a traditional pale ale, although there is an unfiltered type that some of the pubs carry that has a much bigger kick!  I had heard some horrible rumours of the beer in Australia not being very good; and I have been so completely and wonderfully surprised with how great they have been. 

After dinner we walked down to the convenient store to buy our return bus passes and on the way we wandered across a cute little ice cream place called Movinpik (or something like that)....  They had fab flavours - pistachio, rhubarb, tirimisu, maple walnut, creme brulee and apple brandy!  Hello Yum! 

Joe got the pistachio and I got the tirimisu - we each got a single scoop and we had a moment of complete surprise when we realized that we got an actual single scoop and not an American version single scoop (i.e. seven scoops disguised as one!).  The ice cream was so completely wonderful - mine tasted like a piece of tirimisu (and not that kind that tastes fake from Olive Garden; but the homemade kind like my brother Andrew makes that's so wonderful) that got melted down, frozen and scooped into a cone.

It rained on and off all day so there was lots of ducking under awnings and usages of my super secret tiny brellie (umbrella - cute, huh?). We caught a bus back to Circular Quay and I soon realized why bus travel is awful.  They keep picking people up even after the seats are full.  Then, even after the seats are full and people are standing in the aisles, they pick up even more people and you get crammed in like sardines.  Ick!  Plus, our bus driver drove like he was trying to make it into NASCAR....  You couldn't just casually hold on with one hand - you had to grip tight with both hands and then still risk being thrown into the people in front of or behind you.

Needless to say, after that trip, Joe and I were both pretty much done for the day...


A Possible Apartment


Friday was a super mellow day...  I hung out around the apartment and ran out for flowers and a card during a break in the rain.  There is a wonderful American named Liz who was working at Joe's new company; but Friday was her last day.  We met the week before when we were out having drinks and she was so incredibly nice and helpful.  All week she has been sending Joe home with all of her Aussie travel books and such for me.  So, to honor her going away we decided to do flowers and a card...

I went to Joe's office and actually got to hang out there for a bit and meet most of his fellow employees.  I like every single one of them!  They are so welcoming, warm and friendly!  So, we went off to the pub and stood around outside (winter right? Ha!) having beers and talking.  Two of the guys were nice enough to spend about 20 minutes trying to explain the sport of Cricket to me.  Sadly enough, I think I actually understand it pretty well now!

This morning we were up early and the city was just so pretty and sleepy that I decided to take a picture out the window for your viewing enjoyment!

We picked up our rental cars and off we went - I took the viewings in Manly & Queenscliff since Joe had that area last week and I'm really glad I did!  I don't like Manly!!  Well, the beach is incredible and the city is cool but I would never want to live there - it's too surfer/party for me.  Also, it was stupid crowded in the middle of winter - I can't imagine what it would be like in Summer.  I really do love how accessible things are here though.  I went to my second viewing (great view from a dump) and then had about an hour till the next one that was only around the corner.  I walked a couple hundred meters back down to a little cafe to use the toilets (I know that sounds horrifying; but that's what they are called here so I am trying to train myself!) and get a coffee and muffin.  I've never had a Pear and Pistachio Muffin before; but I am a huge fan of the flavour profile now that I've had it.  So, I walked back up to the next building which was the last one on a dead end street. Oh, but the street dead-ended into a cliff looking over the Pacific.  Yeah - not a bad way to spend an hour!

That apartment wasn't great either so...

It was about that time that Joe called to tell me that he was looking at the apartment that had me going a couple days ago when I ran out the door for the viewing and the Agent's keys didn't work.  So, she had the right keys this time and he was in - he said that this one was, in fact, the one and I needed to come out to the real estate office to fill out applications.

I ran back to the rental place, returned the car, hopped a taxi back to our apartment, grabbed our paperwork, ran down to Circular Quay, snapped this picture (First time I've seen the Opera House in the sun - it's so white in the sun; but it is beige/gold up close), hopped on the ferry, met Joe, went to the agent's office, filled out applications and had lunch!  Whew!!  The cafe we went to was cute and very interesting in that it was open 24 hours.  It's the first place I've seen since I've gotten here that is open 24 hours.

We headed back to the city, returned the car and then fell into a taxi to come home.  Joe took a nap, I took in some tv and we both took some ibuprofen!  These apartment hunting days really take it out of you...

The apartment we applied for is great. It has everything that we wanted except for a balcony.  It is across the street from a couple parks and only a few steps down to a gorgeous look-out on the end of the point.  Also, it is just a few meters from the steps down to the ferry so Joe would have a very fast commute.  I, on the other hand, will be a little over a mile from the main drag.  I don't mind walking that; but I am trying to figure out how I will be walking it in bad weather or with a few bags of groceries.  Maybe a bike?  Or a super cute scooter?  He he....

Here is a picture of the view from the living room of the apartment..... Drool! 

We are off to Hillsong in the morning (We are going to one of the city campuses this time) and then we are going to go look around out at Bondi beach for the day!

Yesterday - or - Why I had a Bad Day...

I've gotten over most hurdles here so far.  I found all the little shops I need to live my life on a daily basis....
I have a grocery, dry cleaners, coffee place, cafe with wifi and a street that seems to have anything else you could think of.  I've mastered buying train and ferry tickets and actually making it onto and off of the right trains and ferries.  We have mobiles now and even an Australian bank account.  Joe is working and I got all of the paperwork just in time for him to be getting his first paycheck and for us to get reimbursed for our moving expenses.  The only thing that seems to be missing right now is finding an apartment.

We ended up getting approved for the place that we applied for in Manly; but they said absolutely not to our little doggy so we had to turn them down. It's a great feeling knowing that we can get approved with the packet that I turned in. I'm not sure why I thought they would be so anal about paperwork when they aren't anal about anything else here.  I sat next to a girl on the ferry yesterday while she talked to her friend about how pissed (wasted) they all were the night before "and oh, by the way, I just applied for an apartment and I put you down as my last landlady - I told them I lived in your building for 18 months and I paid 500 a week for rent... Thanks".  So, I guess I am being over prepared and over zealous in providing all of our last utility bills and copies of every vital document I can think of.  Oh well, if it increases our chances than great.

So, I was really excited yesterday to realise that one of our other favourite places was having a showing in just a little bit.  I ran down to Circular Quay and made it onto the Neutral Bay ferry just in time.  Of course, I ended up being early and so I had to stand in the cold rain for a half hour waiting for the agent.  She arrived and surprise surprise - her keys didn't work.  Sigh..... This is the second time we have had an inspection cancelled because the agents don't have the right keys.  There was only one other person there besides me and she immediately helped him, offered him a lift etc....  Then she turned away from me and started making calls and I actually had to go over to her and get her to take my information down so that she could call me Friday once she got the right keys.  I could feel her irritation with me and it was very obvious in the way she interacted with the Australian male that was there for the showing compared to how she acted towards me.

Of course, by the time I got back down to the ferry it was just pulling away so I had to sit and wait for a half hour.  It was pleasant for about 5 minutes until it started the increasing rain again forcing me into the little shelter.  I had the extreme pleasure (and I say this with as much Aussie sarcasm as I can muster)  of sharing the shelter with a pair of aging backpackers and their very smelly, unleashed poodle.  Well, the poodle took an immediate liking to me and started playing the age old game "I'll jump up and put my dirty paws on you and then when you try to push me away I'll try to bite you".  I feel like I was doing ok controlling my irritation until these French girls joined us inside the shelter and proceeded to chain smoke vigorously, as though they had not had a cigarette since at least ten minutes before.

I opted for cold rain over smelly dogs and clouds of cigarette smoke.  I was so dispirited by the time I got home...  I had had such high hopes that I was about to go see the apartment of our dreams.  I decided that I was done for the day - no cooking dinner, no more ironing.  So, I watched tv till Joe got home and then we went out for a ridiculously over-priced meal.  Ahhh.  I'd like to say that dinner lifted my cloud; but it really didn't.  It felt hard to be out and to be laughing with the waiter.  I felt like I was forcing my cheer.

Writing last night helped immensely and I can feel the cloud moving away more and more as I get this out of my system now.  We have a full schedule for tomorrow.  I haven't seen the schedule yet; but Joe had me book two cars for tomorrow morning at eight so I can only assume that we are splitting up again for the day and that we are seeing enough places that walking isn't an option.

I was really hoping that last weekend would be my one and only experience with driving in Australia; but I am apparently going to have a go again tomorrow.

Well, I'm off to run errands.  I am meeting Joe and his coworkers out again tonight.  One of the girls that I met last weekend is leaving the company and going back to the States.  She was really nice and has been sending all of her books on Oz home for me with Joe so I am going to get her a card and flowers as a going away gift.  So, off to the market with me and then I need to make myself look presentable for tonight...

I just wish this bloody rain would stop....

Why am I writing?

I think that it is much easier to write about happiness than it is to write about sadness.  Happy is laughing, joking, light and keeping things at arms length...  Sadness is crying, pain, heavy and letting people way too close.

I decided to keep this blog as a way to keep in touch with family and friend in a way that didn't intrude into their lives - like giant update e-mails with no obligation to read unless they wanted to.  Of course, I knew that some people would read it every day and love the way it kept them in touch.  When I write in here it makes me feel really close to the people that read it.  When I post about food especially, I think about my sisters.  I can see Theresa curled up in her chair with a coffee wearing Hello Kitty jammie pants laughing along with me as I describe meat pies with faces on them.  I see Julie on the couch in her blue bathrobe looking at my photos and dreaming of the delicious coffee here.  I keep those images in my head when I write and I like thinking that I make people laugh.  I hate thinking that any of my posts might make someone sad.

I am also writing for every other person out there who is getting ready to move here.  When we first decided to move I found some ex-pat blogs and started devouring them...  I was so hungry for information on what my life was going to be like here.  I loved the blogs more than anything because, beyond covering the usual main topics, they really delved into what a day to day existence is like when you leave your home behind for a new country.

The most important reason I am writing this is for myself.  This is my tie to home - my way of connecting with what I've left behind and my way of embracing everything I am gaining here. This is making me really live this experience instead of having it be something that is just simply happening to me.

I'm starting to feel a little dishonest here - there are so many people who read this that I start feeling like I am censoring myself to a large degree.  I am afraid of making my family and friends sad, of offending the Australians who read this and scaring off the people who are considering a similar move...  When I have a rough day or I am feeling a little (or a lot) sad, I shy away from posting for the reasons I've just named.

I guess I need to give myself permission to write posts that aren't all fluff and fun... I need to allow myself to post about everything - good and bad.

Lamb For Dinner

I made such a yummy dinner tonight...

Lamb steak with honey, mint & citrus:

A fantastic salad with 3 layers: The bottom layer is zucchini marinated in seasoning & red wine vinegar.  The middle layer is red peppers & onions in citrus juice, sugar & cilantro.  The top layer is cucumber ribbons!  The produce is lovely here and I am making full use of it!

The big surprise of the night for me was this lovely mini bok choy called "Pak Choy".  I cooked it face down in a saute pan with salt and pepper and then deglazed it with a bit of orange squeezed over the top.  It was so tender and flavourful enough to stand up to the lamb.  It felt nice to cook again and to actually make something really good!  I am winning the war over my badly equipped kitchenette!

The First Grocery Shopping Trip

Pardon me, I don't seem to be able to stop writing about food!!

The first day Joe and I landed we took a ferry over to Manly.  I left my camera bag on the ferry and we had a ton of time to kill before we could get it back so we wandered into an Aldi.  This was my very first, bleary-eyed, jet-lagged experience with Aussie groceries and I snapped some photos of the things that made me laugh the most: 

Brekky Blast - because it's just a fabulous name! 

Honey Soy Chicken Chips - Honey Soy?  Chicken? Really? 

Confidence Toilet Paper - Because it pays to be confident...

The crazy bacon here - it's like Canadian...

Beautifully, Butterfully, Butter.....  What great alliteration!

100's and 1000's - Sprinkles as we would call them!

And the best for last - Tasty Cheese!!