Thursday, 25 October 2007

Hitting the road...

We're off to Asheville for a week. We haven't seen much of North Carolina yet so this is our first real taste of the 'better place to be'. We are going to be travelling across both the northern and southern parts of the state and we are excited about experiencing fall! Asheville is located in the Smoky Mountains and we are looking forward to some cooler mountain living!

Blogging will resume again on Monday 5 November.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

NC Fauna II

Our backyard continues to teem with wildlife. After a heavy rainstorm last week we had a visit from a tortoise - he has very unusual colouring as seen above. We also have bright green lizards (about 8cm long) that run along the deck and bask in the sun. They change their colour into a kind of brown when they run along the house bricks so maybe they are a type of chameleon.

On the bird front we have Eastern blue birds, woodpeckers (with bright red heads and black & white wings) and cardinals (a bright red bird that is the state bird for NC) We also have heaps of butterflies, more than I have ever seen in my life, flittering around looking for flowers.

It is a wonderland for Lucy.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Product of the week - Rats

Halloween seems to be a really big deal here. We have been receiving catalogues for months with lots of costumes, garden decorations and pumpkin paraphenalia for sale. Here is one such example from "Invite them to your party, then listen for the eeks and ughs. Life-size rodents have tattered and matted acrylic fur over polyfoam bodies. Mean faces have beady eyes and long whiskers. Set of 3, each 6"L with slithery tail. Use solo or in a pack just like real rats!" Come on, who wants rats in their house! Seriously!

Monday, 22 October 2007

Weekend highlights

With Andrew getting back from Boston on Saturday morning we didn't have a lot planned for the weekend but catching up on sleep was a high priority!

Saturday night saw us at Dean & Debbie's to celebrate the arrival of Pearl, a baby girl adopted from Guatemala. We enjoyed chicken on the grill followed by a marshmallow roast on the firepit.

Sunday saw us at church followed by the monthly church luncheon. A leisurely afternoon where we hung out in the backyard whilst Lucy played in the sandpit.
PS I was incorrect last week in stating that fall had started. It is still summer here with Saturday being 32 degrees again! Go away summer, we want to wear jackets!!! (Or as everyone here says 'we want to wear our fall wardrobe') It is really interesting how people go out and buy specific clothes for the season - fall colours are brown and orange and everyone seems to be wearing them. We will be wearing our Aussie winter clothes so we will continue to stand out in the crowd as being different. Though my Hawthorn jumper will be right at home!

Friday, 19 October 2007

From U-boat to Pulpit

I finished reading this book a few weeks ago and although it's a departure from this blog's regular theme I still wanted to tell you about it. Since visiting Sachsenhausen I have been wanting to get hold of the book written by Martin Niemoller “From U-Boat to Pulpit”. I tracked down one English copy in Fort Wayne Indiana - a green cloth bound 1937 edition. On the flyleaf is a list of the members of the “Conference reading Circle #2 1938”. It is an amazing adventure story of the life of a German submarine captain during World War I. Reading abou tthe war from an alternative perspective is really challenging! Niemoller later went on to become a minister and whilst first siding with the Nazis in the 30’s soon realized that they looked to corrupt the church. He took a strong stand on this and for this he was jailed in Sachsenhausen and Dachau but survived. This patriotic German who served his country with so much fervour in the first world war was incarcerated by his own countrymen in the second from 1937-1945. A very brave man and author of the famous poem “First they came” (check it out as it is still so relevant today) It is worth quoting something he wrote during his u-boat days: “Is there peace anywhere? Will peace come to us – or shall we, like the Flying Dutchman, spend year after year at sea without rest or respite? And we are, as ever, faced by the eternal questions: life, the universe and God? These questions are not prompted by curiosity – they force themselves on us. All we know is that we have not found the answers to them.”

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Church signage

Seven days without church makes one weak

There is no mother earth only father God

If you think education is expensive try ignorance

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Slow boat to China cancelled

I went to the post office the other day to post my parents birthday presents only to discover that USPS has stopped sea mail. Only air mail is available with prices starting at $21! The good news is that parcels will be delivered quickly but at a high cost. In researching this on the internet I discovered the Country Conditions for Mailing to Australia. Check them out as some are quite funny.


Meat and other animal products; powdered or concentrated milk; and other dairy products requires permission to import from the Australian quarantine authorities.
Permission of the Australian Director-General of Health is required to import medicines.

Duty may be levied on catalogs, price lists, circulars, and all advertising introduced into Australia through the mail, regardless of the class of mail used.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Product of the week - pink

October is breast cancer awareness month and as a result many many manufacturers have come out with 'pink' products to raise money for research. From clothes to mixing bowls to bibles there are pink products throughout the stores. Although Halloween has caused many stores to turn orange there is still a significant amount of pink around. It is amazing how much effort some of the big names have gone to for this cause and it is a pleasant surprise compared to the ghost and gravestone products nearby.

Monday, 15 October 2007

A happy hearty weekend

It is officially fall. On Monday we had beach weather of 32 and now we are in the daily range of 9-24. It is amazing how quickly the change came but we are now enjoying awesome afternoons in the sunshine of the backyard.

Saturday morning saw us head out for another breakfast adventure – this time to ihop We have been wanting to try out this restaurant chain for a little while but every time we have ventured here the place has been so packed out that we couldn’t even get a car parking space. This time we were in luck with the last spot. A two minute wait for a table and then Crystal was ready for our order. I had a ‘Rooty Tooty Fresh n Fruity’ (10 points for guessing what that means), Andrew had the original buttermilk pancakes and Lucy devoured her French toast before we could blink. It was a super quick move’m in move’m out kind of place but the food was very good and inexpensive. The menu even has senior specials (smaller portions at smaller prices). Whilst open for breakfast, lunch and dinner it seems that breakfast is the most popular time to come.

Saturday afternoon we put up our hostess gift from Katrina – a hammock for the backyard! Andrew enjoyed lying in it for a while until Lucy climbed in and insisted on playing ‘horsie’ on his stomach.

Not feeling like cooking dinner we decided to check out the Outback Steakhouse for their autumn specials. The level of cringe is going to be high but we decided we needed to see it for ourselves. Take for example their radio jingle. In an effort to get people to go out for dinner on a Wednesday night it goes “Let’s go outback tonight! Start your weekend two days earlier” We get there but it’s a 40 minute wait for a table. So we went around the corner to Cracker Barrel.

Cracker Barrel is to American cuisine as Outback Steakhouse is to Australian cuisine. Kind of kitschy especially with the Old Country Store attached, the rocking chairs out the front and the old farming equipment hanging from the ceiling. But it’s new to us so its kind of fun. The menu is pure comfort food – Sunday home style chicken, meatloaf and mashed potato and smoked country sausage ‘n biscuits. We celebrated the autumn applefest with apple cheddar chicken and fried apples. A good hearty meal for the three of us cost just $30. We also picked up a free touring map and had a look around at the Christmas decorations in the store. Lucy had a great time sitting in the old fashioned high chair (with leather straps), playing with the old fashioned solitaire game made with a wooden board and pegs and drinking her milk in front of the huge fire place. So although we were disappointed to miss out on our Aussie experience we felt very contented and full after our American feast. We thought about buying a jar of fried apples to take home but discovered the second ingredient (after apples) was high fructose corn syrup so we left them on the shelf. OVerall our exeperience was two thumbs up.

Sunday saw us at church followed by a lunch at our house. We invited Scott, Michelle and Wade over for a lamb roast and pavlova. We hung out in the backyard whilst Lucy played in the sandpit, Wade lay in the hammock and the rest of us chatted. Then Andrew had an afternoon nap given his 4am bedtime trying to fix the church computer.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Edge of urge

I made it to the funky downtown shop 'Edge of Urge' the other week and got a new tshirt (left). The shop is stocked with lots of cool clothes and accessories. Check it out at

I also discovered 'Planet' thanks to Katrina which is similar to Dutchee Dutchee in Cronulla but with an emphasis on nick nacks rather than clothes. Both open late in the morning (sometimes 11am) but are open quite late at night (10pm).

Thursday, 11 October 2007

NC Fauna

Jim, our neighbour and one of the few native North Carolinians around here, told me last week that the only inspect/spider/snake to worry about in our local area was a 'walking cane'. He described it as a black stick like insect about 10cm long. The problem with them is that they are predatory and if you disturb them they shoot out a mist of foul liquid into your eyes. Sounds a little freaky but I wasn't too worried as in the 6 months or so we have been here I haven't seen one. 30 minutes after Jim told me about them I encouter a nest of 4 of them (plus babies) on the side of the house where I am pruning bushes! They are mostly hiding under the plastic in the photo but as you can see they look a little scary. I am leaving them in peace and have left the pruning for another day!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

More Amlish

I thought as we spent more time here we would blend more into American culture and not notice any more differences. Wrong! Here are some more words that require translation:

every other week = fortnight

fall = autumn

snaps = press studs

mums = chysanthemums

take out = take away

I can't stop saying nappy, jumper and dummy. These words are so ingrained in my mind that I can't convert on the fly and offer no translation to my listeners. One day I may say pacifier and sweater but I think I have changed too many nappies to say diapers!

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Product of the week - Imitation honey

Another Walmart special. I saw the jar on the shelf whilst looking for real honey and wandered what was going on. Who would buy imitation honey when the real stuff is sitting just next to it? Diabetics it would seem. So there is a legitimate use for this product, check out this website for more information Maltose syrup (a corn product) is the main ingredient and it seems that this products tastes similar to honey but has a lower sugar content and hence good for diabetics. Who knew? Go imitation honey!

By the way we have been in the US for 6 months now!

Monday, 8 October 2007

Columbus Day Weekend

We had a fairly social weekend catching up with friends.

Saturday morning saw us out and about shopping primarily for new pillows at Bed Bath and Byond. But we also stopped in for a browse at Radio Shack and Jo-Ann's (craft store). Late afternoon we headed out to Pastor Gary's for cheeseburgers and a game of bocce on the golf course. We caught up with lots of people from church whilst the kids, including Lucy, ran around. Side note - it is really strange to hear little kids speaking with a southern drawl!

Sunday morning saw us a church followed by lunch at Bill and Mary-Lou's house. They loved playing with their substitute grand daughter and Lucy even obliged with lots of cuddles. We headed over to their pool (complete with fountains and wading section) so that Lucy and Andrew could have a swim. The water was fairly cool and dare I say it but this could have been the last swim for the season! After a year of summer,and I never thought I would say this, I am actually looking forward to a break in the weather.

But after cooler weather over the last week Monday morning sees us at 32 degrees again!

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Battleships, Christmas shops, farm fresh eggs and swimming

Life has been so busy we feel like we have been living in a whirlwind. Here is a rundown of some of the things that have been happening:

  • Daytrip to Southport. This time we drove through Leland, dined at The Pharmacy, visited the Christmas shop and caught the ferry across to Fort Fisher

  • Breakfasted downtown at the Barista cafe with a detour through the Riverfront Farmers Markets before heading over to the USS North Carolina Battleship. A great weekend to visit the ship as the living history crew were in uniform and giving demonstrations. An amazingly large ship complete with a dentist office, pharmacy, and chapel.

  • Lucy attended music and signing classes, Fiona went to bible study and had lunch with Jennifer at Macaroni Grill

  • Worshipped at church followed by a lunch at Sweet and Savoury

  • Visited Wrightsville beach a couple of times and ate lots of Kohl's frozen custards. Lucy likes chocolate (and pretty much every other flavour)!

  • Andrew and Fiona went out for dinner twice - once on a 'taste the town' tour where we got to visit 8 different restaurants and the other time to Oceanic for a Silex get-together. We also headed out to our Wednesday night bible study group

  • Birthday lunch for Manuela at the Atlanta Bread Company!

We farewelled Andrew's parents yesterday and life (without visitors) should slow down. Regular blogging will resume again next week.