Bacon Bacon Bacon!!!

This is a tale of our epic weekend….  Brought to you on a Tuesday; but who’s counting?  That's a joke - I know who's counting...

It all started with this incredible recipe I found for chicken enchiladas….  I decided that I was going to make them.  The recipe calls for a can of green chiles which I just so happen to have in my pantry (thanks to my fabulous M-I-L).  I decided that I should always have green chiles in the pantry for a “just in case” scenario and so I began a hunt to find some more.  This is like hunting for a needle in a haystack here in Sydney…. I heard tell of a couple of places in Newtown that might have them so I laid plans for an excursion for Saturday.   

If you don’t live here, than you might not realise that it’s been raining incessantly for the last 3 weeks.  Not just drizzle; but full-on downpours for days on end.  Our ferry stairs were turned into a beautiful waterfall that quickly turned ugly as soon as you tried to climb it.  Everything has just been cold, wet and grey.  So…  I checked the forecast for the shopping trip and was pleased to see that we were supposed to have relatively clear skies.  It was raining a bit on Saturday morning; but it cleared up by about 11 so off we went.  Our first stop was Fiji Market in Newtown.  There was a small Mexican selection here (smaller than in the photos if you follow the link); but better than anywhere else I have seen so I’m not complaining.  I got a bag of Masa, canned jalepenos, tomatillo salsa, canned black beans and canned adobo chiles.  I wished they had green chiles; but they didn’t.  They also didn’t have corn husks for making tamales with; but I figure I can do those myself this summer during fresh corn season.  I pretty much danced out of that store on a complete high.  

We were walking up King street (popping in and out of all the cool little “junktique” stores that are there) when I saw a restaurant called “New in Town” which is cute since it’s in Newtown (Please follow this link and look at the pictures of the food!!).  It’s a Polish restaurant and I was so excited to read their menu!  We ended up having lunch there because we were hungry because I wanted to and gave Joe puppy dog eyes.  We got the potato pierogis and the grilled Polish sausage and then split each entree so that we could each taste both.  The sausage was great – nothing like our Easter kielbasa from “Little Warsaw” in Cleveland – but perfectly respectable with dollops of mustard and horseradish (which was incredible and could be eaten by the spoonful) on the side.  The pierogis were honestly pretty disappointing…  I can’t say for certain; but it seemed that the filling was encased in wonton skins? Those work in a pinch for raviolis; but the effect when used for pierogis was very very odd.  The filling was quite bland and a little mealy.  Not horrible; but certainly not pillows of deliciousness like my own.  I’d love to go back and try some of the items listed on their dinner menu and see what they were like - if you followed the link and saw the pictures I'm sure you would agree.  I’m also kicking myself for not asking them where I could get kielbasa in Sydney – I’ll try to remember the next time we go there.  Finding this restaurant was another little kick in the pants for me to buy a pasta maker and make some pierogis of my own.  I swear I am buying one today and then it’s going to be pierogi party time at my place!  

On to the Newtown Foodworks still in search of green chiles…  In fact, they did not have them (or if they did, I couldn’t find them).  I did, however, find some mustard that I had been looking for and I found some Jone’s Root Beer!!  I got two bottles (which didn’t last long) and, in hindsight, I should have gotten several more….  Oh well, yet another reason to spend weekends wandering up and down King St.  

Sunday we went into town (aka Military Rd) to pick up a prescription and have dinner.  We had time to kill so we wandered over to our little discount store to pick up some odds and ends – yaknow… superglue, bobby pins and striped socks (don’t judge my shopping list!)  We wandered by Neutral Bay Fresh which is a lovely little produce shop and I decided to pick up some fruit and veg for the week while we were there.  I’ve never actually walked carefully through that little shop – every time I have ever gone in it has been a rush job for something in particular.  Well, this time I was in no rush and I gave my full attention to the whole place.  Not only did I find some incredible raviolis (roasted lamb, mushroom and rosemary), I also found Hellmanns Mayonaise and I found (excuse me while I scream a little) AMERICAN BACON!!!!  Real, honest to goodness bacon!  Joe and I quickly scrapped our dinner plans and rushed home to make BLT’s for dinner.  I cannot even tell you how darn good that bacon smelled while I was cooking it – and that BLT was just about the best thing I had tasted in a long time.  I am not ashamed to tell you that I saved every bit of bacon grease that was in that pan.  It’s sitting pretty in a tiny container in my fridge waiting to be used in my risotto tonight and some scrambled eggs this weekend!  

Granted, none of these incredible finds were cheap – the bacon alone was $12.00 for eight slices!  The mayo was $7.00 for a very very small jar.  But, for something that is as much of a treat as these little touches of America are, I would gladly pay double those prices.  It’s nice to know that I can get these things every once in a while – knowing that I have access to them is sometimes just as good as actually having them.  
I have to say, drinking my root beer while I cooked that bacon was almost a religious moment for me…

Excuse Me?

This lovely gem was taken directly from "Publication 54" - Otherwise known as Tax Guide for U. S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.

"If you work one year, but are not paid for that work until the next year, the amount you can exclude in the year you are paid is the amount you could have excluded in the year you did the work if you had been paid in that year."

I welcome your comments on this insanity....  Seriously...

Would Anyone Else Like Some Money From Me? Anyone?

I got a lovely letter from the IRS last night - Happy Fourth of July to Me!!

Just Kidding!  The letter says that we owe them $2,300.00 from our 2009 return that was done incorrectly. In a way, I had been expecting the letter; but I hadn't been expecting it quite so soon and I certainly wasn't expecting it to be so much.  Last year when I filed our taxes, I wasn't thinking about the liquidation of my parent's assets after my Mom died...  So, when I got some additional tax forms about a month after I filed, I realised that they were really supposed to be included in the original filing.  We were deep in the middle of our move to Australia though so I was distracted enough to just throw them in a folder and deal with it later.  

At Christmas, I was talking to friends about it and I started getting really freaked out that I was going to get in huge trouble if I didn't fix it right then and there.  So, I slowly started the process of getting the right year of Turbo Tax re-installed on my computer, finding my original tax return and going through the amendment process.  When I got to the end of the amendment, It said that we owed a thousand dollars.  I was so mad that I had to pay a penalty for having dead parents that I actually declared our charitable donations for the year.  I've never declared them in the past because it feels slightly wrong getting a tax break for doing what you should be doing in the first place.  I know, that's stupid and idealistic.   Anywho, entering all that stuff brought our total owed down to $675.00.  That was a number that I could live with and I had a brilliant idea: I would save the amended return, file my 2010 taxes and then use part of my 2010 return to pay what I owed in 2009.  Personally, I thought that was bloody brilliant.

I still haven't filed my 2010 taxes though because I was waiting for the Aussie tax year to end (June 30th) so I could file them together.  Don't worry, I filed the extension paperwork for the IRS so I don't think I will get in trouble there.  I was going to start the US taxes last week and when I went though all my paperwork, I realised that we had never gotten Joe's W-2 from his employer in the States.  We've requested a re-print; but we still haven't gotten it.

But - back to the outrageous amount that the IRS feels they deserve from me - beyond the thousand dollars that I already knew about, they are also saying that I claimed excess SS tax or some such rubbish...  I did the taxes through Turbo Tax and I even had H&R Block check them when I was done so how could that have happened?  Who knows...

Anyway, I got all ready to call them last night - I ate some a lot of chocolate, I had some a lot of Jack Daniels, waited till after 9pm (7am in the States) and logged on to Skype.  I was ready - well, maybe not ready, but at least resigned.  The line rang and rang and then told me they were closed!  What?  I double checked the times and the time zones only to realise that it was the Fourth of July.

So, I have to call tonight and figure this all out....