The Second Half of a Busy Day

Friday was very eventful - I met a fellow Yankee and blogger Friday morning for coffee and a museum tour which extended past those activities into lunch, a walk and a ferry ride.

I want to write a longer and better post about that later as I have a bunch of gorgeous pictures to share...

Friday night Joe and I went out.  We had drinks at a pub across from his office while we just sort of settled into "relax" mode and then we set out to find the burger place that had been closed in this post.  They were open, I had brought a bottle of wine (incidentally really really yum - Catching Thieves Sem/Sav Blanc from the Margaret River Valley) and the burger menu looked fairly "normal" so we settled in.  I got my burger with bacon, cheese and caramelized (more mush than onion and more boiled than caramelized) onion.  It wasn't bad; but it wasn't Swenson's.  I always forget that "bacon" here is not the "bacon" I am used to.  So, once I peeled the two slices of ham off my burger it started to improve.  The only thing missing was ketchup; and not the "ta-mah-toe sauce" that is the standard fare here.  I would kill for some real Heinz 57 ketchup.

I know, I know - that Heinz 57 ketchup is sold in the grocery stores here; but it is totally not the same thing.  The ketchup here is darker, more watery and tastes like ketchup that is just starting to go bad - this strange sharp, spicy tang at the end (and not in a good way).  But, for all my whingeing, we had a lovely dinner for a reasonable price and I was too happy being out with my husband to be annoyed by the mother that was letting her sons play tip (tag) in the doorway of the restaurant, right behind me.

It was a beautiful night - hard to capture in film; but as I was walking to Joe's office, dusk was starting to fall in Hyde Park while the sun was still reflecting on St. Mary's.  It was stunning to look at; but didn't come across in the photo as dramatic as it had looked in real life.  After dinner, we walked from Darlinghurst back over to the St. James station to catch a train back to the Quay.  We cut in front of St. Mary's again and it was lit up so beautifully that I had to snap another shot. 
My phone certainly paid for itself on this outing - you'll see what I mean in my next post (mentioned earlier above) when I share all my lovely photos from the Bridge Observatory Deck.  My only regret for the day was not bringing my camera and having to rely on my phone.

Oh, and I saw a guy at the burger place who was drinking a Bundaberg Ginger Beer which reminded me that I needed to try one too.  So, I drank one today and it was epically delicious - a spicier and more robust tasting "ginger ale".  I am thinking that my new favourite drink will soon become Maker Mark and ginger beer!

In Case You Need A Reason

If anyone was looking for a reason to visit me in Sydney with my nieces in tow - I present this store for consideration:


I so want to be 5 again...

I Got A Little Distracted

So, I never did make it to a cafe with my notebook to make all of my lists yesterday.  I really did have the best of intentions; but it was such a beautiful day that it seemed like such a waste to sit inside writing in a notebook.

I was in the city in the morning for something rather exciting (more on this later once everything is settled) (and no, I am not pregnant) and I grabbed a bus back to the North Shore when I was done.  I made plans with Kim to go get lunch at Burnt Orange, look through their shops and then check out a place called Chowder Bay.  We got there a bit before noon and they weren't seating for lunch yet and did we have a booking? (insert snooty voice here).  Well, we didn't have a booking but they said they could squeeze us in; but that they couldn't seat us before noon.  We wandered through the little boutique marveling at the prices:  Not sure if you can read the tag on that little pair of slippers but it says $59.95! Whew!  Some of the things were actually pretty reasonably priced while others were completely ridiculous.  Kim and I had a fun time torturing ourselves with guessing how much these things would cost at TJ Maxx.  Oh how I miss TJ Maxx....

For lunch I got a burger (first burger I've had since we've been in Australia... weird right?); but it was a fancy organic one with tarragons and other sophisticated fixings.  It was pretty good; but I don't know if it was $22.00 good. After lunch we decided to make the walk to Chowder Bay which wasn't too bad - not very many hills and only about a half mile.  We had to walk on the road though as there was no sidewalk or trail.  About halfway we started spotting these enourmous "nests" up in the trees.  They look like they are made of dirt? or mud?  I've done a fair amount of researching on Google and I couldn't find anything - if anyone knows what they are please let me know... I am dying of curiousity.

Actually, only tell me if they are bird's nests - if they are insect/spider dwellings than I would prefer to remain in the dark about it! Thanks.

Pretty soon the harbour started coming in to view in the breaks between trees.  I don't think I will ever get over the views and scenery here.  It just kept getting better and better the closer we got to Chowder Bay.  So, apparently, Chowder Bay used to be a Submarine Miners Depot in its inception and then was used as general Military barracks and offices up to 2000 when it was opened to the public.  It's very charming - sort of a little city unto itself.  All of the old barracks sit at the top of the bluff and have been restored to their original look. 
A couple of the buildings have been turned into cafes and such; but it is mostly unspoiled.  At the tip of the bluff is a green space with benches etc...  Kim's little one fell asleep in the pram on the walk so we spent our time sitting on the benches looking out at the view and talking.  In order to get to the actual "Bay" part of Chowder Bay you have to go down quite a few sets of stairs and neither of us were really feeling much up to carrying the pram up and down stairs. Along the way though, there is a very nice restaurant called Ripples which is apparently quite good and well-reviewed and some other seating areas. 
At the bottom is the pier and the gorgeous beach.  Kim told me that there is a really nice playground there and that it is a popular place for kids birthday parties.  We caught the next bus back as they only run once an hour there and I'm glad we did.  It had been a long day!  I stopped in the shops in town before I walked home and I found a really really nice hair straightener at Salvo's for $10.00!  Ha!  Victory!  So, I bought some champagne to celebrate...

I'm glad I had a full day... Joe has been working some really long hours and some nights he isn't home for dinner until close to (or past) eight.  It makes for a really long day when he is gone for 12 hours in a stretch.

Forcing It

I haven't felt much like writing recently - I think I am starting to hit the "now that we are settling in, I don't have anything interesting to write about " phase. 

So, in the interest of keeping myself honest and keeping you all from nodding off, I am going to start holding myself to an "every other day" posting schedule.  I am also going to start jotting down all my writing ideas in a list somewhere (I did this when we were in the apartment in the city and it worked great) and then actually keep up with it!

I think sometimes I just need a writing prompt - a photo, a topic or sometimes even a sentence can stick in my head, build up steam and then come pouring out on paper.  Those are my favourite entries - almost effortless!  I found a list tonight while I was cleaning out one of my notebooks and there are still about 5 relevant topics on it.  So, tomorrow my notebook and I will be making a visit to a cafe where I will revamp my list, come up with a few more topics and flesh them out a bit. 

Also, if any of you are interested in any specific parts of ex-pat life in Sydney, please let me know...

The Weekend Cometh...And Our Stuff Does Not

Well, I am sitting at home this morning waiting for the electricians to show up.  Several of the older power points (outlets) have been sparking and popping so we figured it would be a good idea to have someone check it out.

Also the window repair guy came at "half seven" (love it!) this morning.  He took some pictures of the broken latch on the window and left.  He said that they would get the parts today and repair the window Monday or Tuesday.  So, yea... we have had a semi-open broken window for a week now.  It's getting hard to keep my feet warm.

It's a beautiful Friday and we have plans to go on a pub crawl tonight with the people from Joe's work.  That's always a good time so I am looking forward to it immensely. Tomorrow we have a bunch of errands to run and Sunday we are going sailing with some of Joe's coworkers.  Needless to say, one of the errands tomorrow will be for motion sickness pills for me (just in case).  I'm usually fine in Joe's Mom and Dad's fishing boat in Florida - I seem to only be bothered on cruise ships/large slightly moving wharfs etc.... but it never hurts to be prepared.

Our crate still has not arrived and the shipping company has stopped returning my emails.  At least I know it is in port so I don't have to lay in bed at night envisioning our wedding photos and my parent's things sitting at the bottom of the ocean.  Now I just imagine customs going through every box, touching all my things and then wanting to charge me a thousand dollars in small petty fees. 

(OK, decided to take a break here and call them while I was thinking about it)

So, according to Loretta, quarantine still has to go through our crate.  Customs has already looked at the paperwork but they haven't heard back from them yet.  Quarantine can't look at the shipment until customs approves the paperwork.  So, what that basically means is that....  Our shipment has been at their warehouse for 15 days and the only thing that has happened it that the paperwork was given to customs. (yes, this is the same company that told us that the processing time was 10-15 days - apparently processing time means "when we decide to look at it for the first time").

I think I'll count us lucky if our things arrive before summer.....

My Husband Is A Rock Star

I know that lots of women claim to have “the best husband in the world” etc… but; I really believe that mine has them beat. I’ve been stressed and anxious this week and Joe knew it so he took me out for dinner and a movie on Friday night. We tried a Thai place up on Military that Elsa blogged about and it really lived up to its reputation. It reminded me of Mai Thai, which, oddly enough, made me happy and not homesick. It was also such a good price! We had two mains and split some jasmine rice. I also had a glass of wine (and a glass of port if I’m being honest) and our bill was only $50.
Did I mention that they deliver?

We went to the Orpheum Theatre to see “Inception” after and I wasn’t expecting to like the Theatre or the movie nearly as much as I did. The Theatre is really old-fashioned in this fabulous art deco sort of way; but it has a great digital picture/sound etc… Plus they have special showings of old black and white classics and they also do showings of Opera at the Met once a month. I think Joe and I are going to see Carmen next month…

After all that we ended up walking home. I love the walk home (all downhill). It’s just shy of 2 miles and it is on beautiful quiet streets. We talked and held hands the whole way home.

We had already decided that we would spend the weekend in utter relaxation doing whatever we wanted so Saturday started off low-key with a lie in. I made breakfast burritos (whoo hoo! First Mexican food we’ve had since we got here) and then we headed in to town to do a bit of shopping. We looked at some furniture shops, had a coffee and we also headed over to a little shop where I had seen an attaché case/laptop bag/satchel that I thought Joe might like for his birthday. He did like it, so we got it and I was going to wrap it up and put it away till the 31st; but he started using it straight away.

So, the rest of the story needs some background…..

First of all, there is something that I have heard on all the ex-pat blogs and all the ex-pat websites that I am starting to not agree with. There is this whole perception that Americans are sooooo wasteful and throw away perfectly good things while the Aussies recycle everything and only ever buy what they need etc…. It may still be true in theory; but I just have to say – I have never seen such nice trash before in all my life. Every weekend, people pile perfectly nice things on the kerb for the trash men. I am amazed by some of the items that I have seen!

Secondly, Joe and I have no furniture as of yet (our crate still hasn’t arrived) and even when we do get our stuff, we really brought very minimal furniture. In hindsight, I would have upgraded to a full container and brought all of our stuff; but, oh well…. Also, furniture here is crazy expensive and I refuse to overpay for something just to have it. I can’t get rid of my bargain hunter mentality so I might as well embrace it.

So, we were on the way home on Saturday and we started finding treasures. First off – someone had a basket of lemons sitting out with a “Take One” sign on them. It looked like their lemon tree in the yard was an over-achiever so we got to share in the bounty. Then we found a beautiful art poster, followed quickly by an entire stack of boxes full of gorgeous newer looking books… Seriously, I got a Rosamunde Pilcher, John Irving etc… And Joe got some Stephen King and such. There was also a cute little lamp that we figured probably didn’t work; but we’d give it a go just in case. Just a few doors down from our building we hit a jackpot - a beautiful wardrobe – obviously in need of some work; but nothing that a coat of paint and some love couldn’t fix.

So this is where my husband proves that he is a Rock Star. He tells me to stay with the wardrobe, borrows a furniture mover, single-handedly puts the wardrobe on the 2 wheeler, pulls it up the steep hill to our place and then carries it up 4 flights of stairs to our apartment. Rock… Star… To hear him tell it, we both carried it up the stairs; but I really just ended up being in the way more than anything…

So, after the wardrobe was upstairs we were both completely knackered. Much napping ensued until I had to get up and prepare our picnic. We packed a basket and headed down to the reserve to sit and watch the sun go down. It was gorgeous, apart from the mob of teenagers that had taken over one whole section. We finished our picnic and sat watching the dark come down over the bay. The giant bats (Meaghan, you may want to stop reading here) were flying over from the botanical gardens and hanging out (ha ha) in the trees above us. It was funny to see the little ones that I am used to flying around with the big ones. It was like the difference between a sparrow and a hawk!

The teenagers left as soon as it started getting dark; and were gracious enough to leave all of their trash scattered around on the grass. It was disgusting – and there was quite a bit of it as well. This is the second time the rock star emerges. He finds a bunch of plastic bags, uses his mobile as a flashlight, and picks up every bit of the trash that those kids left behind and carted it all the way back up to our rubbish bins. There are some days where I don’t feel like I deserve him…

Sunday we relaxed as well… We were going to take a walk in the early afternoon; but a crazy freak storm blew in and postponed those plans. The storm brought hail and also very strong winds – strong enough to blow open one of the dining room windows and break the latch so we couldn’t refasten it. Great… So, Joe takes a wire coat hanger, a Swiss army knife and a broom (MacGyver anyone?) and manages to wire the window shut. Say it with me people….. Rock… Star…

The afternoon cleared right back up again and we headed out for our walk. We ended up walking over to the Neutral Bay ferry wharf to check it out. We found a couple little restaurants that looked yummy and delivered (good to know since they are right around the corner) and we also ran into our neighbors from across the hall in our building. It was lovely! We stood on the sidewalk and talked for ages – they are such wonderful people!

On the way home we totally found an organizer for the bathroom, another lamp and also two chairs and a small table. It was heaven to be able to eat dinner in chairs that night and to set my laptop on the table and (very comfortably) watch a movie without having to sit in bed.

Have I mentioned yet that both of the lamps in this story work? No electrical problems no burnt out bulbs…Just perfectly functioning lamps.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the stuff that we have picked up will get replaced when we get our crate or slowly, as we start furnishing the apartment. I don’t relish the idea of relying on Saturday afternoon trash runs for furniture; but it’s nice for now to at least have a couple things. Plus, I will be on the lookout for treasures in the same vein of the wardrobe we found…

I’m just hoping that when I find them, I have Joe with me to help!

Box from the States

Joe's parents sent us a box from the States the other day - nothing super super exciting, just some last minute stuff that we couldn't fit into our suitcases.... 

There were a few little going away presents in there, our ballroom dancing shoes, some mail, some random jars I bought for my spice rack (that showed up a day after the crate left - thanks Amazon) and most importantly..... 10 MAGIC ERASERS!!!

I have the greatest Mother in Law in the world.  I was telling her that I wanted some and I asked her to stuff a couple in the box before she sent it; but she stuffed 10 of them in there.

They are even the heavy duty kids with the one scrubby side...  I know it sounds silly to be so excited about this; but the walls of the apartment were really scuffed when we moved in - it looked like the previous tenents moved out in a hurry and not very carefully.  I did find the Aussie version of a magic eraser and it was working pretty well; but the real ones?  Epic....

Behold - the before and after pictures (it was much more dramatic in person):

Did I mention that I have the greatest Mother in Law?  Cause I do....


I am too busy to blog tonight as I am going out to dinner and a movie with the most handsome, caring, loving and wonderful husband any girl could be blessed enough to have.

But....  I did want to share with you why it took me forever to cook dinner last night. 

Look at this distraction... It's a wonder I ever get anything done!

For the Love of Lentils

I am convinced that lentils are a food that I should just automatically like.  Most of my family likes them, they always sounds really good to me and I generally like that sort of thing anyway.  I have such a texture problem with them though - they either seem overcooked and mushy or sort of undercooked and grainy.  But I digress...

So, it was a rainy, cold and dreary day here yesterday; and, even though I wanted to hang out inside to stay warm and dry, I really needed to go out to buy espresso since we were out (and being out of coffee in this house is not ok).  So, I was halfway to the shops when I realized that I hadn't taken anything out to defrost for dinner.  I went to LiquorLand (where they had my favorite champers on sale for $15 for 2 bottles!) and then started roaming the aisles of Coles to see what I could find.  I happened across this really beautiful bag of French Lentils... Ok, but, before that happened, I found these M&M's!  Orange? Mint?  Cool...  I mean, except for the fact that they both look kinda gross; but I wanted to show you anyway. 

Also, before I get distracted again - this was one of the articles in the local weekly paper.  The article was an interview with four local students - for us in the States they would be called senior; but they are called something different here (I can't remember what though).  It was slightly embarrassing to read these boys opinions.  They were so articulate and well thought out - these boys obviously followed politics and cared about who they were going to be voting for and why.  I was no where that interested in politics my senior year; and I didn't even feel that prepared the first time I went to vote!  Anyway - really just loved the headline!

So, back to the lentils....  They were french and they had a cool name.  So, I picked up the package and read an interesting recipe that included lots of oil and red onions.  Looked nasty; but the red onion started me thinking....  I had a fresh block if feta at home and even a red onion. My only stumbling block was what type of meat to serve with it.  I know, I know... It didn't really need meat; but if you are going to try to tell me that than you don't know my husband!  So, I bought some fresh Spanish Chorizo from the deli and home I went.

It began in a rather promising manner.  I was sipping pink champagne, there was music on my Itunes and once the lentils were rinsed they looked like a pile of miniature shellfish:

They purported to cook in only 25 minutes which was not true (I also don't have measuring cups so I was eyeballing the amounts and I may have had it all wrong); but it didn't matter anyway as Joe was late getting home from work.  They smelled delicious while they were cooking - nutty; but with a hint of spice.  While they were going I assembled my master plan:

 How can you go wrong with such a great combination of ingredients?  They looked even better once they were all chopped up in my bowl.

So, the red onion, Roma tomato, Lebanese cucumber, scallions red capsicum (pepper) and feta cheese got a bit of olive oil and lemon juice sprinkled on them and then waited patiently as I pan fried (not much choice as I only have 2 pans and one was cooking the lentils) the chorizo.  It was really greasy and I think next time I'd like to roast it in the oven? or something that doesn't involve it spattering grease over my clean stove.  So, once that was done I caramelized some garlic and onion, added the lentils and sauteed till they couldn't look or smell any better.

Voila!  Mixed all to combine and served with a green salad.  Joe really liked it (or at least he said he did and took the leftovers for lunch); but I have to admit that I wasn't impressed....  The flavours were great; but the lentils really ruined it for me. Same texture problems, I'm afraid.

So, I figure it will be another couple of years before I find a recipe or something that will make me think "Maybe I'll like lentils this time?". 

If I do, I'll let you know.

Having the Blahs...

Not really feeling in a "bloggery" sort of way tonight.  I've been sick and so I'm still a bit loopy and tired.

We got our real internet up and running which means I can now Skype to my hearts content and I can also spend more time online with all of you!  We have 100GB at cable speed and then if we go over our usage it gets throttled down to dial up speed for the rest of the month.  I am going to try very very diligently to not download a ton of stuff so that we can stay within our limitations!

We also had a little adventure to the hardware store in Mosman - by little I mean a 2.7km walk!
There were a couple of hardware stores that were closer; but they were all shut down or nonexistent.  So, we just kept walking. We got some silicone sealant and also bought out their supply of weatherstripping and then came home to weather proof the apartment.  We stopped on the way home and got a couple more heaters as well so by the time we were done running the heaters and weatherproofing the windows it was starting to feel downright homey in here!  Now if we would just get our stuff....  We got an email asking for some forms and such which we submitted on Friday and they have said 10-14 business days.  We don't have anything remotely dangerous, forbidden or illegal in our crate so I am hoping the customs process goes fast.

We went to the Mudgee Wine and Food festival on Sunday and met Kimberly (of last week's coffee fame) and the rest of her family there.  We had an absolutely lovely time - the food was great, the wine was really nice and best of all, the company was fabulous!  It was held at Balmoral beach and once we got our food and such we walked down to the beach and sat in the sun.  Kimberly made me laugh and really put things into perspective when she made the comment that it is the middle of winter here!  How lucky are we that this is our winter now?

Unfortunately, I got really sick that night from a combination of things; but I think one of them was the tasty tasty lamb ribs at the festival.  Oh well, live and learn!  We were supposed to go out again today; but I had to cancel...  I just started feeling better around 3 today - just in time to straighten up the apartment and make dinner for Joe. 

Tomorrow morning is on-line grocery shopping and then up to the shops for produce and such.  Going to try to make it a nice easy day!

Wonderful Wednesday

We had beautiful weather on Wednesday - sunny, with just enough clouds to provide some visual relief from all that blue. I decided to walk up to Military to do some small grocery shopping.  I had a dinner idea in mind; but I needed some ingredients to make it happen.  I had the whole day stretched out in front of me so I started exploring.  Instead of just walking up and down the street, I started popping down every side road, through every alley and into every arcade that I saw.

I found a bookstore called Dymocks (seems to be the equivalent of a Borders but much smaller and without a cafe) and had that same moment of sticker shock that every American has the first time they walk into an Aussie bookstore.  Wow...  I saw a new Bill Bryson book, which I could've gotten in the States for about $28 and the prices was marked as $55. So, it was a bit of a depressing moment for me.  I LOVE to read and the knowledge that buying a new book would set me back that much was disturbing.

I also found a fully organic meat shop - not that I have any great feelings one way or the other about organic meat; but it was very interesting - Annie, you would be in heaven!  They had everything that you could think of and their own homemade sausages (those I would be interested in trying).  I walked down one side street and found a fabulous cafe and then, around the corner, the local Salvation Army Store (or Salvo Store, as it is called here).  I was in heaven!  They had a whole upstairs loft full of books for about $3 a piece so I decided that I could just live here after all :)  I bought a basket for my counter that I can put fruit in, some salt and pepper shakers, a wine stopper, a fabulous old dusky rose coloured water bottle (well, I used mine for water but I suppose you could really do anything with it), and some books.  The lady behind the counter was as old and sweet as could be. She wanted to know all about our move and how we liked it so far - she and her husband had traveled the States on vacation when they were younger and she quite enjoyed it.  I walked back up to the cafe and sat with a flat white to enjoy the sunshine and write some letters (this one is for you Vicki!).  Two old men in their eighties came and sat at the table beside me and provided me with a great deal of enjoyment.  Their conversation consisted of (and in this order): how old they were, what they ate for breakfast every morning, what was their favourite kind of bread, how regular their bowel movements were, what time they went to bed each night and then the conversation devolved into talk about trying to watch TV with all the LED/DVR and so on.  They both agreed that they just would just keep letting their wives handle the TV stuff since it was just too confusing :)  It was epic!

I headed up to the grocery store to get my ingredients for dinner and it was a very strange set-up.  Coles is inside of a shopping arcade; but the entrance just says Coles.  There was produce to my left and trolleys to my right so I just grabbed a basket and started going through the produce section.  I really nice guy came over to make sure I was OK (I was confused by the coriander - it didn't smell like cilantro; but it sure tasted like it) - I think I concerned him when he saw me eat a leaf of coriander! 
Turns out, I was in a little produce stand that wasn't connected to Coles at all.  I am extremely glad for the mistake as their produce was much nicer than Coles and very very cheap.  The guy and his dad walked me around the whole stand and chatted me up about America and such.  The son was very interested in American sodas and what I thought of the sodas here.  He showed me that he carried Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew and told me that he would try to get some Diet Pepsi for me and put it in the back for me. I am going back next week to see if he got it!  The shop carried a range of specialty ice creams and even though they were really really expensive, I got a couple just to make you (and by you I mean my siblings who are addicted to ice cream) drool with envy.  And yes, in case you can't read the labels completely, it does say "Vanilla Bean and Elderflower" and "Burnt Fig Jam, Honeycomb and Caramel".

I finished up my shopping and headed back home - I didn't feel like waiting for the bus so I walked the whole way home with all of my purchases in tow (in total, I walked just shy of 3 miles).  In retrospect, it wasn't a great idea as I was really shattered by the time I got home; and with a headache as well.  On the way home, I almost walked directly into a spider that was hanging down in the middle of the sidewalk.  Ugh...  I tried to take a picture; but it was in shadow so no go.  It was just a small orb weaver; but still very nasty and spidery looking.  I had to wait until it pulled itself up further and then skirt around it on the sidewalk - I'm sure I looked like an idiot; but I didn't end up with a spider on me so I didn't care!

It was really such an incredible day!  I was so full of happiness as I realized that this is what my life is going to be like - waking up, thinking of something I need for dinner or whatever, walking up into "my town" and doing my shopping  - all while in the most  incredibly beautiful place I have ever seen.  I had another crazy moment on the way home (my neighbors must watch me and shake their heads), I was walking down Wycombe with all my groceries when I happened to look up to see the city skyline and the harbour appearing through a gap in the trees.  I just started laughing and I actually said (out loud to myself) "You've got to be kidding me!"  It's gorgeous -every little tiny bit of it is so so lovely!

Well, on to dinner, which was really my main point of writing this (seeming to drag on forever)  post.  I bought some Barrimundi that was on sale and I was quite inspired to make the first time I cooked it an absolute success. So, I was inspired by two dishes...  One was the meal that Joe and I had at Mitchell's Fish Market in Newport on the Levy with my brother Matt and my sister in law Natalee.  The fish was broiled and served over sticky rice with spinach and teriayki.  Nothing fancy; but great flavours and very satisfying with the rice.  The other dish was something we got in a restaurant on George St - funnily enough, it was labeled on their menu as "meant to share" which Joe and I took to mean "big" enough to share.... it was not.  It was six small cubes of Barrimundi that had been poached and were sitting in a lovely liquid with scallions and chiles.  It was a good concept; but poorly executed as it was incredibly bland.

So, I decided to combine the best of the two dishes for my own masterpiece. I made sticky jasmine rice as my base.  I reduced some teriayki sauce with a spoonful of sugar and then cooked a couple handfuls of coarsely chopped English Spinach in the mixture.  I divided the cooked spinach and any sauce between the two plates.  Then I sauteed garlic, fresh ginger and red chiles in olive oil - added white wine and then poached the fish in this mixture.  Added the cooked fish cubes to the top of my rice - spooned the wine, ginger, garlic and chile yum over the top and finished it with scallions and coriander.  Heaven in a bowl!

I think next time I would have also done a squeeze of lime over the top; but I didn't have it so.... Also, the next time I prep food this nicely, I am going to take the pictures with my camera and not my cell phone - these look rather murky.

So there you have it - a full happy day, followed by a splendid dinner!  There was also tea and lamingtons to be had after that so it made for quite a lovely evening (wink wink)!

Catching Up!

I have been so busy since we have moved that I am starting to lose track of how often I am posting here...  I am going to try to do a quick catch-up:


While Joe waited at home for the dryer delivery I took the ferry and train (in that order) up to the Target in Chatswood to stock up on small appliances.  The expense was a little overwhelming; but I wasn't about to try to exist in a place with absolutely nothing!  I've heard lots of people here say that the Target here is different from the Target in the States; but I never actually shopped at the Target in the States enough to be able to tell you if it's true or not!

I still have to get a vacuum and some other big stuff; but that can wait a bit.  Honestly, out of all the things I got, the heater was the best investment!  It is really really cold in our apartment!  We have the heater set up in our bedroom with the door shut.  I would say that it's about 55 degrees in the apartment; but a toasty 68 in our bedroom!  I actually don't mind the cold - the trick is to always wear shoes (or slippers in the morning).  I made the mistake of standing in the kitchen for a while in just my socks and it took a while to warm up from that one!  Oh - and I also found another funny sign (see below) for a pick-up and drop-off area called a "Kiss and Ride"!


We took the first ferry to the Quay where one of Joe's coworkers picked us up and took us to the Hillsong City Campus for church.  We definitely liked that one the best so I think we found our new church home!  When we got back to the Quay we mistakenly decided that it would be fun to take the ferry up the Parramatta River as a sightseeing tour....  apparently, we weren't the only ones with that idea.  The ferry was stuffed to the gills with tired cranky families.  It was a long hour!  When we got to Parramatta we weren't allowed to remain on the ferry for the return trip - we had to all exit and then re board from the back of the queue.  It was very long and it didn't look like we would make it on so we decided to just walk into Parramatta and catch a train back to the city.  Well, we purchased our tickets and were waiting on the platform when the announcement was made that there was a broken track up ahead and there would be a lengthy delay.  They announced that we should take the bus to a station further up the line and get on a train there.  We ran down, grabbed the bus and then spent a miserable half hour crammed in with angry transit passengers.  We finally made it to the right station only to find that the train we were supposed to be on wasn't there!  Luckily there was a similar one at a different platform so we took that to Central and switched there.  We were really under the gun because there is a short ferry service on Sundays and we were racing to catch the last one back.  We literally ran across the Quay and made it to our wharf as they were opening the gates for the last ferry!  To add insult to injury, it had started storming when we got off the ferry and as we walked up the stairs small branches kept blowing down hitting us in the head.  It was a very unfortunate day - full of mishaps and such.


Still windy and cold in the morning... I walked up to Neutral Bay Junction to meet Kimberly (another ex-pat that I met on Yanks Down Under)  for coffee.  We went to a coffee shop that Joe and I had found the week before with comfy couches and chairs.  It was so incredibly wonderful to be out with someone and to be doing something social!  I was afraid I was going to talk her ears completely off!  We sat for a couple hours just chatting about what led us both here and all of the differences (both good and bad) in the places we've lived.  Then we went to Woollies as we both had some shopping to do. 
I think we are going out again next week and I am thrilled.  After we said goodbye, I went down to the post office for stamps and to get some airmail sheets/envelopes.  I've always loved those since my sister Theresa did a semester abroad in France and would send letters home on those blue lined airmail sheets.  These are not blue, lined or pretty as they have some strange and hideous ducks on them; but it's the thought that counts.  I stopped for lunch at Cafe Zo-Zo and had a fabulous sandwich (for only $6 I might add) made up of turkey, Camembert, cranberry relish and sprouts.  Add to that a mineral water, some sun on my back and the tail end of Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country" and you have a very happy girl...
Monday night was the craziest wind storm ever!  Really insane...  and cold - the wind was blowing right in the apartment so Joe and I decided we need to do some weatherproofing this weekend.  I am so ready for Spring!


It was still very very windy Tuesday morning and cold!  I decided that I wanted to avoid frostbite so I stayed in the bedroom most of the day.  My groceries were delivered in the morning (the stores here allow you to shop online and then they will deliver for a small fee - by small I mean $9.00!) so I came out for a bit to arrange cupboards and such; but retreated quickly to the warmth.  It was actually really good to take a day to catch up on some stuff.  I called and set up our utilities, spent an hour on hold with Telstra/Big Pond to get our phone and Inet set-ups scheduled and generally caught up on paperwork and such.  Made lamb and couscous for dinner - super yum!

So Much To Say

Well, the move was long and tiresome; but it went as smoothly as something like that can.  I had yet to see the apartment except for a video and photos so I was nervous (and Joe was even more nervous) that I wouldn't like it.

I love it!  Love it! Love love love it!

Joe loves it too as you can see! 

The views are incredible from every room but the second bedroom.  I am sitting up in bed typing this right now and if I glance to my right out the window I can see the Harbour Bridge.  I'm sorry; but I need to repeat that.  I can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge from my bed!

 We got our new mattress set delivered that afternoon and after it was set up; but before I put sheets on it, we were treated to a friendly visit by the neighborhood Rainbow Lorikeets.  One of them (see picture) actually tried to come into the bedroom!  I shooed him away; but he just flew over to the bathroom window and hung out there for a while. 

I certainly didn't mind - they are beautiful and their birdsong is so very pretty.  He let me get really really close to him to take pictures so I am assuming that the previous tenants were on friendly terms with them.  I also heard a Kookaburra for the first time very early this morning...  I was lying in bed awake around 5:30 in the morning and it was so loud and obnoxious it actually made me jump a little!

We got the rest of the appliances over the next day or so - I scoured Gumtree (like Craigslist but better) and found a fridge, washer and dryer that I really liked for a good price.  The fridge is 520 Litres which means that it is "American Size"!  I'm very very happy with it and I can't wait to cover it with (recent) photos of my nieces and nephews (hint hint!!) 

The washer and dryer are also great in that they are a little bigger than the ones in our serviced unit in the CBD.  I did my first load of laundry tonight and it was a success!

I am getting coffee tomorrow morning with someone that I met on Yanks Down Under which is a website for Americans living in Australia.  I am a little nervous about making a good impression; but I think it will be just fine.  I am going to multitask by dropping off the dry cleaning on the way and then dropping off some papers at the real estate agents after.

I am doing a big grocery haul tonight and having it delivered tomorrow afternoon; but I think I will also pop into the grocery tomorrow morning and pick out my own produce!