Friday, 29 February 2008

American baby showers!!!!

I went to my first American baby shower last week for Amber. I was curious to see how different it would be to an Australian baby shower! On the whole it was fairly similar - lots of nibblies, lots of women, lots of noise and laughter and lots of presents. We played a couple of games which were okay except for one. This particular game we had to guess the brand of chocolate bar from the contents. We had a list of potential chocolates and we were allowed to look at and smell the sample chocolates. The only catch was that the sample was smeared onto a diaper to look like poo! It looked so GROSS!!! One lady (who has 3 grown children) couldn't even bring herself to smell the diaper and turned a little white in the face. It was quite funny but oh so awful! I told everyone that I would be blogging this back to Aus and most of them instantly shouted to me that this was not a normal game to play at baby showers and shouldn't be held up as a typical American baby shower!

According to it is a popular game. "Guess the Chocolate - (Materials- 5-10 diapers with 5-10 different types of chocolates). This game is one of the funniest and most popular baby shower games. Have the baby shower host or appointed person moderately melt 5-10 different candy bars separately, placing each one in a diaper to be viewed by everyone. Mark each diaper as A, B, C, D, etc. Have everyone guess which candy is in each of the diapers. Make sure to use some candies that have nuts, toffee, caramel, etc. You are sure to get great laughs!"

Australia you be the judge.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Valentines Day sugar

I know this is late but I wanted to record it anyway. Daycare sent home a note a few weeks ago with a class list asking us to provide valentines day cards for all the kids in the class. I thought about doing it and given that Lucy was not attending daycare that day decided not to send any in. When we arrived the next week Lucy had a bag of goodies waiting for her. Expecting to see half a dozen cards I was shocked to find that each child had given out not only cards but lollies as well. The lollies ranged from the not as bad Welchs fruit snacks (made with 'real fruit' but primarily corn syrup and sugar) to a disgusting Sponge Bob Squarepants 'Gummy Krabby Patty' which made no pretences about its contents bolding stating 'artificial flavouring' on the wrapper. Andrew ate most of the lollies but it was a shock to see the snacks that parents are happy for their children (and others!) to consume.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Product of the week - Golden raisins

According to Wikipedia golden raisins are "dried grapes that have been treated with sulfur dioxide and flame-dried. They are a Californian attempt to replicate sultanas industrially, and use the same variety of grape, known in Anglo America as Thompson Seedless." They look golden especially compared to regular raisins (see photo left). It's nice to have a substitute but it would be better if we could just buy regular sultanas!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Weekend visitors

Aunties Julie and Lynda came to visit for a 3 day long weekend though given the amount of stuff that exploded in the spare room (left) you would think they were staying a month! Julie and Lynda toured the Dawson and One Tree Hill sites on a wet Friday. But Lynda still doesn't know where Chad Michael Murray lives and I'm not going to tell!!

We played monopoly, read Lucy books and ate a lot. For Julie's birthday we had breakfast at Sweet & Savoury, visited Wrightsville beach (where the water was officially freezing), did a Screen Gems tour (saw the One Tree Hill police car!!!), did some shopping, and finally dined at the Brasserie. Andrew and Lynda ate 3 mini desserts each, even after having a strawberry cream cake for afternoon tea!

Lucy was very wary of having new people in the house but played with both her Aunties. She particularly liked Julie (who read lots of books) so much so that Lucy was even happy to go for a walk with Julie sans parents.

We farewelled them at the airport Sunday afternoon after church and a lamb roast lunch.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

I like Mike!

Although the US Presidential Elections aren't being held until November there is a lot of hooha about the party nominations. It has been going on for months and months already and there is seemingly no end in sight. People are very vocal about their political affiliations wearing badges on their clothes (see the title of today's entry), putting bumper stickers on their cars and giving you an ear lashing on their personal opinions. We are staying well out of it, especially given that we can't vote. Though according to Rick voters should be required to do a quiz beforehand to determine their capacity to vote. I don't call that democracy!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Something's fishy...

On the weekend we had dinner with Daryl & Margaret. They made a lovely seared tuna dish! Knowing in advance that Andrew wouldn't eat tuna they also made something else for Andrew - wonton soup. Little did they know how much Andrew loved wonton soup and he thought this homemade version was the best he has had in a long time! Andrew says they can cook fish anytime as long as he gets some of those wontons. Lucy enjoyed it too scoffing down four wontons and plenty of soup.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Product of the week - Minute tapioca

One of my new American recipes called for minute tapioca to act as a thickener. I have used regular tapioca before but not this stuff. Essentially it is just precooked tapioca so it can be used quickly rather than the long and sticky process associated with regular tapioca (and it can also be used in the microwave). The ingredients list also says that it included soy lecithin. Seems like a handy product but not one that would be used too regularly.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Vale Mary

Last week, after a difficult fight with cancer, Mary Fox died and her funeral is today. Remember her husband Jason and their two young children today in your prayers.

Cry freely, but Do Not Cry for Me
By Mary Fox

Cry freely, but do not cry for me,
for tonight, or in the mere blink of an eye,
I will be kneeling in the presence of my Lord and Savior....
Standing amongst all the many dear saints
who have gone before me....
And singing with the angels to my Abba Father,
a biblical name for God which means “Daddy.”

Cry freely, but do not cry for me,
I am free of pain and distress
I am no longer feeling the effects of cancer.
I am anxiously awaiting the day when
I will be reunited with my husband,
my three lovely children,
and all the rest of you who proclaim Jesus as your Savior!
Of course, I hope you will live long, happy, and worthwhile lives,
here on Earth until that day when we will meet again.

Cry freely … for yourselves,
I know you will miss me and my love for you.
Cry for my children and those milestones I will miss…
… lost teeth, scary driving lessons, late night chats and celebrations.
Cry for my husband – for the years we have missed…
… and this cruel separation of a deep love, uncommonly found.

Cry freely, but most of all examine your own lives.
Is your name written in the palm of God’s hand?
I so hope so.

Cry freely, but do not cry for me.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Australian morning tea II

I had another Australian morning tea for the moms group today. This time I made vegemite sandwiches, chocolate caramel slice, lamingtons and ANZAC biscuits. To quote Amy 'vegemite tastes like stale anchovies with a pound of salt'. So as you may guess no one liked the vegemite! But the lamingtons turned out awesome and of course the ccs is always good! Lucy was very very good at sharing her toys (she only said 'mine' once at the beginning and then we had a little talk). We talked about 'sharing' at breakfast and she said 'share share' but I wan't sure she understood. But she did and she shared her toys with Vivian, Jack, Dominic, Mariana, Syriana, Sam, Charlotte, Elizabeth, and Ansley.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Netflix Update

Here are the latest movies we've watched. The best one in my opinion, which Andrew decided he didn't want to watch, was 'The Lives of Others'. I just wish we had of seen it before visiting Berlin (not possible of course as it was released in 2007)!

In contrast to last time I reported on Netflix I enjoyed all of the movies listed above.

One of the movies from the previous entry was Wordplay. It is a documentary style film on the New York Times Crossword tournament held annually in Stamford (started long before 'The Office' had a branch there) This inspired me to check out the NYT crossword. I didn't realise there would be such a vast difference in crossword styles between Australia and the US. The US uses a lot of 2 word phrases (without any indication it is a 2 word answer) and also uses a lot of colloquialisms. Having struggled through many of the crosswords I have come to the conclusion it is too big a cultural barrier to jump and I have gone back to doing Australian cross words. (I used to do 'The Australian' crossword on the train between Sutherland and Kogarah stations in the mornings) Maybe after a few more years of living here I will attempt the NYT version again.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Royal Family

I mentioned at the start of this blog that I was looking forward to not being compared to Princess Mary whilst living in the US. Alas our daughter believes me to be PM and Andrew to be Prince Frederik. We have a magnet on our fridge of the royal couple which Katrina sent to us from a previous jaunt to Denmark. Lucy frequently runs up to it, points and says 'mum, dad' no matter how many times I tell her that it is not us!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Product of the week - Fig Newtons

I'd heard of Fig Newtons before but had no idea what they were until I saw them on the supermarket shelf. They are a biscuit in the style of Arnotts Spicy Fruit Rolls (the pillow biscuits) except that the outer layer is not hard, its kind of cake like. They taste pretty good and Lucy loves them but once again they are full of high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil so we aren't buying anymore of them.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Weekend renos

Yes after a year long hiatus and a general ban on doing household renovations whilst living in the US we did our first day of handy work. Andrew installed an exhaust fan in the kitchen (Lucy thought it was great that Daddy cut a hole in the ceiling) and Fiona sanded the gyprock around the door that was put in upstairs 6 months ago. Once Lucy was in bed we both painted the door and wall.

It was kind of fun to do something like this again and even more fun that it was just a small job unlike this time last year - Andrew finishing the deck and Fiona painting the rafters in the study! We had two dramas 1.Finding painting clothes as we threw away all work clothes before leaving Sydney and had to dig deep to sacrifice some older tshirts. 2. No equipment esp. googles which was soon discovered during sanding, so sunglasses had to suffice!

Unusually we did not go out to eat this weekend. Margaret, Daryl and Ava came over for a lamb roast on Saturday night and we went to church on Sunday. End of weekend.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

It's not easy being green

As I've mentioned before recycling is not easy here. Previously we were driving to a open air 'depot' with massive recycling bins to dump our stuff. These days we are subscribing to a private company for recycling services that pick up on Wednesdays (regular rubbish is picked up by a separate private compnay on Mondays) It costs us about $10 a month for the recycling service. The only issue is that they don't pick up all recycling (ie for plastics they can only take plastics with 'necks' so we have to take all of our fruit containers, of which there are many, to the depot) Although Australia seems to be doing a lot with recycling, getting rid of plastic bags and the like I'm afraid unless this American behemoth gets on board with the same mindset our planet is going to be stuffed.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Product of the week - Thin Mints

Last week we offered around Australian mint slices at bible study. Everyone was very impressed and asked where to buy them. We can get them through our Aussie website but everyone was disappointed they weren't available at World Market. In any case we were informed that the Thin Mints sold by the Girl Scouts were a good substitute. So when we were at the hardware store on Saturday and saw a Girl Scout cookie stand out the front we snapped some up. Whilst they are very good unfortunately they aren't the same as mint slices (no separate minty layer).

Monday, 4 February 2008

Weekend sunshine

With such gorgeous weather in the high 60's we headed to our favourite breakfast spot Sweet & Savoury so that we could quickly access the beach. We drove to the northern most part of Wrightsville beach and had to wait for a car parking space! Lots of surfers, kayakers and walkers about. Andrew pessimistically thought we would only be on the beach for a few minutes but it turned out to be wonderfully pleasant. Lucy made and smashed sandcastles, collected shells in her bucket (not very discerningly) and begged for 'pig' (piggy back rides - her new favourite thing).

We were able to do some gardening mostly pruning dead branches as well as planting 5 new trees (which we picked up for free at TreeFest). We planted 3 wax myrtles on the left and 2 crape (sic) myrtles on the right. Fiona raked half the lawn of pine needles which thankfully Darryl wanted for his garden next door.

Still on the hunt for good Chinese food we consulted our Entertainment Guide and headed off to Double Happiness. Andrew had the best wonton soup outside of Hurstivlle whilst Lucy enjoyed her pot stickers and pork buns. Dessert is worth a mention - banana spring rolls. So awesome. Lucy had fried ice cream - green tea ice cream in a strange batter but she still liked it!

Sunday saw us at church and we were invited out to lunch with Terry & Petra. We headed over to Cracker Barrel (their choice) which worked out well. During the wait for the table we sat in the sunshine in rocking chairs (with a sleeping Lucy in my arms). Turns out Cracker Barrel serves breakfast all day so we indulged in pancakes, eggs and sausages.

We were also invited to a superbowl party at the Westras but given the late timing (6-10:30pm) we decided to have a quiet one at home. We watched a couple of minutes of football, 20 minutes of ads and then switched over to watching a Canadian sitcom called 'Corner Gas' (it's supposed to be like Northern Exposure). We are checking it out, still not sure if it's something worth watching.

Steve & Rory are coming over for dinner tonight (lamb roast).

Life is full (of food)!

Friday, 1 February 2008

Susie 2

One of the things we miss about Australia is our fresh eggs! After trudging off to the Wilmington farmers markets every few weeks only to discover that the eggs were sold out we were very happy to find a new (and convenient) source of eggs. Some friends at church have 18 chickens who have recently started laying. They are selling the eggs at $2 per dozen and deliver then to church every Sunday morning. We have reserved our weekly carton!