Thursday, 28 June 2007


Ah, wonderful red-bricked Boston! It is full of tourists wearing red sox paraphernalia but at the same time is a town possessed of rich US revolution history. We had a short taste of this harbour city in summer and we liked it. We had a number of comments before we left that the Boston accent was very strong and hard to understand. Our experience was that is sounded ‘normal’ and was so much easier than the Southern twang.

It is commonly quoted that travel is about the journey and not just the destination. Those of you who have traveled US Airways will know that it is all about the destination! Late planes and lost bags seem to be their forte. We had a number of ‘adventures’ with this airline including:

  • missing the first flight to Charlotte as arriving 25 minutes before take off is apparently too late to check bags in

  • unable to use web check-in when flying with a lap-sit child

  • spending an hour on the tarmac in Philadelphia waiting for take-off which doubled the flying time to Wilmington

  • spending half an hour on the tarmac in New York staring at the Brooklyn bridge and various
    skyscrapers (a positive note!)

  • losing our bags on the journey home and delivering them 24 hours later

  • overbooking the PHL to ILM flight and asking for volunteers to surrender seats in return for free flights anywhere in the US (not us this time!!! We still have our free flights to use)

  • on two of the four flights Lucy got her own seat due to a few empty seats being available
    and the flight attendants kindly shuffling people around to enable this to

  • all flights took off later than anticipated

Lucy was reasonably behaved on all flights with almost no crying but she did not sleep! Always a very energetic girl she seemed to get more active throughout each journey. It was hard traveling with a 13 month almost-walker by myself! We read the 5 books we had at hand at least 50 times each! With Andrew around on the way back it was much easier even though she did launch herself back and forth between us frequently. Any nanny volunteers for next time?

On another note Americans seem to very possessive of their allocated seats. I observed a number of minor altercations on our flights when one person thought someone else was sitting in their seat. Loud, rude talking was the order of the day until one party realized they had mis-read their boarding pass. On the first flight the flight attendant asked the person behind me to switch seats with me as there wasn’t a baby life jacket under my seat. The woman launched into a tirade and refused saying that in the event of an emergency she would pass the life jacket over to me. The flight attendant and I both looked at her and said don’t worry about moving. What is the problem people? One old guy who thought he had 3F next to me (where a girl was seated) started shouting at the flight attendant “problem, problem, we have a problem” and holding up all the passengers. The flight attendant asked him to step into the galley to let everyone through and then she could sort out the seat issue. Turns out he had “13F”.

Enough plane stories, let’s get onto Boston highlights.

Louisberg Square (pronounced Lewis-berg) is surrounded by houses with famous residents including John Kerry. It is a pretty little square but what with the terrible parking situation and the tourists I can’t imagine it would be my first choice for a home. After checking the square out, about a 1 minute walk from our apartment, we headed over to Acorn Street which is dubbed the ‘most photographed street in Boston’. It is a cobblestoned street where mosses grow lined by red brick houses. It is very pretty but very impractical.

We stayed in an apartment in Beacon Hill right next to Charles Street. Awesome location close to the public gardens as well as many fine restaurants. We ate take out from Figs and Paramount. Both were excellent especially Figs where the pan seared scallops with tomato couscous was out of this world. Paramount bears the slogan “never trust a round pizza”! We had breakfast at the French CafĂ© Vanille and tried their Boston cream pie. It is not a pie and does not have cream but it was divine all the same. Lucy was restricted to croissants whilst we tried out the sweeter things on offer.

At the ‘Make way for ducklings’ sculpture in the Public Gardens Lucy met Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack and Quack face to face. She also saw many live ducks on the pond as well as turtles (are these new? As readers will know that the island was chosen by Mrs Mallard as there were no foxes or turtles) We walked across the famous little bridge which is not a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge and saw the George Washington statue. Heaps of people in the park especially families and dog walkers. Lucy appreciated the dogs more than the ducks! We took a ride on the famous Swan Boats around the lagoon looking at the ducks, the island and the nesting swans on the bank. Lucy had a great time but it was worrying that there were no safety rails and it is a miracle she didn’t throw herself into the water for a closer look. It was very pleasant sitting in the sun wiling away the time.

We took the Freedom trail around to the most famous sites including Boston Common, the State House, the Old Granary burying ground (Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and John Hancock) and then after great Italian lunch in the North End at Artu we went on to Paul Revere house. We also did some shopping at Faneuil Hall which was once a marketplace for fresh food it has now exploded into a consumerist maze of shops. Although hard to pinpoint some purely Boston things to buy we did note the Yankee candle company, anything with lighthouses on it, lobster stuff (such as hats, oven mitts, chocolates etc) and Cheers merchandise. Of course Red Sox gear was EVERYWHERE. They weren’t playing this weekend but I’m sure it would be hard to get a ticket if they were.

My favourite part of our trip was our visit to the Museum of Fine Art’s Edward Hopper exhibit. Having seen ‘Nighthawks’ in Chicago some years ago I was super keen to see this exhibit. As it said on the short doco in the exhibit “everyone likes Hopper” and I’m sure all of you have seen some of his paintings though you might not have known it was Hopper. He is an iconic painter with an interesting perspective on the world using light to great advantage in his paintings. An even better part of this story is that we got in for free (usually a very steep $23 each!) We got to the museum early at 9:30am as it opened at 10 and already a small crowd had built up. Whilst waiting away from the majority of the crowd we saw a modern sculpture (‘a lump of metal’) near the front entrance and Andrew asked me what it was called. I went over and passed by an elderly gentleman who asked me if I had tickets to the exhibit. I thought he might have been a scalper given the long line of people waiting to buy tickets and thought he would offer me to sell me some tickets now. I said I didn’t have tickets and to my surprise he said he was a life member of the museum and had 6 free tickets to the exhibit but couldn’t use two of them – would I like them? Of course! We then had a long chat about Australia and airlines before heading into the exhibit with our sleeping bambino! It was a magic 45 minutes. Before our frantic scrabble to the airport we also made a quick detour to the main entrance of the museum to see the famous John Singer Sargent rotunda murals painted on the ceilings and the ‘appeal to the great the spirit’ sculpture on the front lawn – both worthy of the detour.

And so yes we would visit Boston again. However if traveling alone with Lucy again I would definitely make it a week rather than just a weekend visit as she missed a lot of sleep in a short period of time and was rather cranky on arrival.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Walkin' the neighbourhood

Lucy and I went out for a walk early this morning before it got too hot and humid. It has been hovering between 25-35 degrees for the past week and it has been very humid (sometimes it gets to 103% humidity here - how does that work if it isn't raining?) We took a loop around the suburb walking into a neigbouring subdivision. We had a huge thunderstorm last night which meant everything was wet and there was even water hanging in the air (if that makes sense). The sun was streaming through the pine trees and what with the heavy air the sun beams looked awesome. I wished I had my camera and then quickly realised it would be too difficult for me to photograph to show you. Along the way we picked up a stray dog, a chocolate lab. I was a bit worried what we were going to do when we get home as we have no fences and I think he would have just made himself at home in the backyard but fortunately a rabbit popped up and the dog was off. I think the poor thing was hungry (the dog not the rabbit). Also during our walk we said hello to a couple going in the opposite direction. As it turns out they are our neighbours two doors away and we met up back at the house.

Speaking of rain, the tradesman who was here yesterday (Chip) asked me if I knew that Wilmington was in a drought because it hasn't rained for two weeks! I told him that Sydney was in drought because it hadn't rained for two years! Anyway I heard that it is raining down under and I even saw some amazing photos of Newcastle. Hopefully the drought will clear over the next two years so that when we get back we can have a sprinkler for Lu. There are water restrictions in some parts of Wilmington but thankfully we are not part of that system yet!

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Product of the week - ice cream molds

Here is another wonderful Williams Sonoma product - ice cream molds in the shape of animals. There is a pig, a cow and a star and we made these for Lucy's first birthday. Firstly we made a batch of brownies and a batch of blondies. Then we cut out lots of shapes. One shape goes into the bottom of the mold, ice cream is pushed into the mold and then a shape of top. The 'stamp' is then used to push the whole thing together and leave an imprint of a face or star on top. The trick to making these is to use very cold ice cream. In fact if the ice cream has been old of the freezer for longer than 5 minutes the whole thing won't work properly as the ice cream will melt and squeeze up the sides of the sandwich. Yum!

Monday, 18 June 2007

Fathers Day - American style

It was Fathers Day here yesterday! Andrew had the choice of celebrating now or waiting until September for Australian Fathers Day. He chose to celebrate now but I'm sure we'll get to September and he will want to celebrate again. This was his second Fathers Day and interestingly neither were spent in Australia (last year was in Cambridge UK) He got a few different presents including 'Andrew's pizza' license plates, 2 creme brulee sets and a 'my dad is great' mug. After church we headed home for a picnic in the backyard with an antipasto plate while Lucy paddled in her pool. Then we headed indoors for a lamb roast crusted with rosemary and garlic followed by a summer berry pudding. We also watched the long anticipated season finale for The Office.

In other news we are still unpacking. Boxes are still arriving daily (thanks to David our UPS delivery guy) and our garage is a big mess of cardboard. But we are now fairly organised and should be able to invite people over for meals soon. Last weekend we headed over to Erica & Rick's parents house (Bill & Joyce) for lunch and a swim. It was such a hot day that is was awesome to go swimming (which we did twice!) Lucy has had an ear infection and was quite sick for most of last week and missed daycare. We have another exciting week coming up with Andrew heading off to Boston tomorrow for work and Lucy and I joining him on Friday for the weekend. We are reading 'Make way for ducklings' in anticipation!

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Backyard jungle

Our backyard is teeming with wildlife. We have squirrels, cardinals, rabbits, frogs, worms, and Austrian ants as well as many birds that we can't identify. This frog was very close to Lucy's sandpit and I didn't notice him until Lucy tried to touch him and he leapt up in the air in fright. (Lucy then crawled over to him to get another touch) There are apparently lots of deer around here as well. The lawn is a bit of a disaster as it is full of weeds but Freedom Lawns is coming over in the next few days to give it its first treatment (one of many I am assuming). Then we can mow it a few days later. The neighbours seem to compete with one another about who has the best looking lawn. Whilst we are not going to get into that it will be nice to have it looking decentish as we are the ones in the street growing clover!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Brasserie du Soleil

After 2 months we finally were able to go out for a romantic dinner, thanks to Katy babysitting Lucy. We ventured out to the Brasserie du Soleil at Lumina Station. Andrew enjoyed the plat du jour which was beef short ribs braised in red wine with mushrooms and polenta. Saying that he had ribs doesn't do the meal justice as the ribs had been stewed for 8 hours, the meat removed then formed into a roast, and then baked again for another hour. It was extremely soft and succulent. I had the bouillabaise (shrimps, scallops, mussels, calamari and flounder in a lobster saffron broth) The desserts were 'minis' ie served in shot glasses. This is great because we could choose 5 different sweet items to share -kind of like a tasting plate but you get to choose what you want on it. The tira misu and berry panna cotta were excellent. We will definitely be coming back soon. And they are open for lunch too... mmmm crepes.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Product of the week - lowcountry seafood boil

Here is the secret gumbo ingredient - lowcountry seafood boil. It is a secret spice blend made up of salt, mustard, celery seed, paprika, cayenne pepper and other spices. It is great for crab cakes, seafood soups, dips, stews and seafood in the steamer. The lowcountry is famous for its seafood so it is no wonder that it is blended to complement crustaceans. It has a great taste!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Silver and gold

Andrew has been kindly getting a lift to work with Steve and Andrew while we were living at Mayfaire. Now that we have moved to our new home we need a second car! We had decided to try and buy a second hand car for about $5,000. After some searching and discussion we discovered that to buy a 4 year old car in decent condition was going to cost around $10,000. After much toing and froing Andrew leased a Subaru impreza. I think this was his secret plan all along but he tells me this is not the hotted up sporty model - just the regular base model. It seems like we are a subaru family. By the way they pronouce it differently over here and I can't even try to describe it except that it is much faster and different emphasis of syllables: Australian - soo baa roo, American sooba roo. It's like Nissan is pronouced Nee sun.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Hair design

I finally got to a chance to get my haircut! It was partly busyness on my part and partly a long waiting list. After a roundabout introduction I got an appointment at Steven Ward hair. I originally found the salon on the internet but it seemed a bit too "Double Bay" for me. Apart from the pricing, it didn't have a snobbish air to it despite Steven having been a celebrity hairdresser in NY for a long time (one of his favourites is Toni Collette). It was very relaxed and Heather (colourist) and Steven were very personable and great at their jobs. So I have great new summer haircut but its still long enough to tie back (and not freak out Andrew).

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Forty Love

There's grand slam fever here at our place as we can watch the French Open in prime time! I did get to watch some of it last year because Lucy was feeding at 3am but this year I get to sit back on couch with a cool glass of iced water and enjoy watching Federer vs Nadal in the final. In fact channel 137 is the tennis channel. It only broadcasts matches, interviews and highlight programs. All I can say is bring on Wimbledon...

Friday, 8 June 2007

Home is where the boxes are

We have moved into our new home. It is our fourth move in 9 weeks and we are up to our necks in boxes. Yesterday UPS delivered 8 new boxes and Fedex 2 boxes from internet shopping and they keep on arriving on a daily basis. Some of you might be thinking that it is fun shopping for a whole house worth of goods but believe me given the time constraints it has been exhausting. When the cardboard settles I'll give you the run down on some of the fun stuff we have purchased esp. for Lucy. In the meantime I'll get back to the unpacking suffice to say I have been banned from using the new (very sharp) knives to open boxes after I sliced half my finger off [Exaggeration but I did require first aid] I hope we don't have to move for a very long time. Removal boxes anyone?