Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Product of the week - Oreo dessert pizza

With product of the week I am now getting to the stage where I can't bring myself to actually taste the item and hence no purchase required. Currently on offer by Dominos is the oreo dessert pizza - 'Oreo meet pizza. Pizza meet Oreo'. Only $3.99 wth any other purchase. For those Australians that haven't heard of oreos they are hard chocolate flavoured biscuits with a sugary white cream sandwiched in the middle. They are not really condusive to melting onto a pizza. I assume that the oreos are crumbled up and spread over the base and from the picture it looks like they have squirted on some sugary liquid over the top. It sounds like a bad combination of already unhealthy foods and I'm not sure that this one would ever make it to Andrew's Pizza menu!

Monday, 24 September 2007

Weekend roundup

Andrew's parents John and Diane arrived safely in Wilmington on Friday afternoon. On Saturday Andrew and I went to church membership classes whilst the doting grandparents played with Lucy. Then we were all off to Wrightsville beach with Lucy decked out in her new aussie swimming costume (size 3!). After a quick detour to Kohl's frozen custard we were on the sand making sand castles and riding the waves. Sunday saw us at church, home for a lamb roast and then playing in the backyard with Ava. More adventures await...

Friday, 21 September 2007

Product of the week - Cel-Ray

In keeping with the New York theme and to finish up the week here is the product of the week entry. Dr Brown's Cel-Ray is a celery soda (with other natural flavours) that has been around since 1869. A New York invented soft drink it has a picture of the Brooklyn Bridge on the front. Ingredients include carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, extract of celery seed with other natural flavours, sodium benzoate and caramel color. Interestingly it is caffeine free and produced by Pepsi Cola. So what does it taste like? It definitely tastes like celery but given that celery usually comes in a solid state it seems very unusual to consume it in a liquid state. Last time we tried this drink we thought it was ok (and even purchased a second can of it) but this time there is just something not quite right about it (apart from the ingredients list)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

New York, New York

The city so nice they named it twice, the city that never sleeps, the big apple. An eclectic city where your every desire can be met with the few small exceptions of cleanliness, politeness and peace. A glittering, colourful, honking, dodging, selling, waving, flashing, jostling, fast moving mecca for tourists. A place where on one street corner you meet an old black guy wearing a skin tight superman suit & a cowboy hat selling fake Louis Vuitton handbags and on the other corner there is a guy dressed up as Osama bin Laden with a US flag draped around his shoulders carrying a large crucifix with Jesus nailed on it. By the way the police stopped him for a chat (Osama not superman, as it would seem that copyright breach is not as much of a problem as impersonating a wanted person). There is such an artificial air to Times Square that it almost feels like an amusement park as much that goes on solely revolves around the hordes of tourists. Here things are built bigger and you can be sure that if you build something big this week someone will build one bigger next week. Celebrity worship is the city’s religion, walking is the main means of transportation and the currency is the greenback (earned at $3 per hour by waitresses in rundown cafes).

So how does a 16 month old Sydney-born toddler fit into this picture? Surprisingly well it would seem. Always a curious girl (just like George) Lulu was thrilled to be in the city riding in her pram as far forward as she could in order to take in as much as possible. Pointing at every dog we saw (there were many), craning her neck at skyscrapers and enjoying parks and museums. She particulary liked signing 'lights' around the city. One day we saw a police car stuck in traffic with its sirens on. Lucy saw the lights on the roof and signed 'lights'. The policeman in the car thought she was waving to him so he waved back. Laughing, we all waved to him not letting him in on our little signer.

But as with all traveling adventures there are delightful discoveries as well as disappointments over unmet expectations. Overall the city didn’t thrill me the way it did that first visit. It seemed dirtier. Of course big cities are dirty but it was REALLY dirty. They must have pressure washed the whole city last time before the Republican convention as I just don’t remember it being this filthy. I also didn’t encounter the same level of crazy celebrity worship where movie stars are literally cheered on the streets. It is the city of lights but in many ways it is a city of darkness.

Onto the highlights:

Supermarket shopping. On arrival in the city we headed straight to Fairways to stock up on groceries. Saw Richard Kind (The Station Agent) and what seemed like half of the residents on the Upper West side as the place was packed out on a Friday night. We also checked out Whole Foods (nicknamed Whole Paycheck) I have been wanting to visit this place for a long time and unfortunately Wilmington is too small to justify a branch but here’s hoping. 9 different sushi chefs, a fresh salad bar including seaweed salad, cheeses, meats, salmon jerky, NZ lamb in every cut imaginable, vahlrona in chunks, an olive bar (a whole bar just for olives!), grilled summer fruits, a full line of soy products and gluten free items. In other words it is a foodies wonderland!

FAO Schwarz.
Have you seen the movie ‘Big’ where Tom Hanks plays chopsticks by jumping on an enormous piano in a toystore? This is the place. Lucy and Auntie Kat even had the chance to play on the piano! 3 floors of wall to wall toys so no imagination is required. We had a super fun time poking around the doll nursery, lego, games, soft animals and toddler books. The highlight was dining at FAO Schweetz the in-house cafĂ© stocked with lots of kid friendly menu items. Lucy had turkey and cheese ‘handwiches’ (sandwiches shaped as hands) whilst the rest of us had pleasant soups and sandwiches. But the really awesome part is dessert. Katrina had a massive banana split whilst Andrew and I (with a little help from Lu on the vanilla ice cream) had ‘The Volcano’. A solid chocolate volcano crater filled with ice cream, covered in whipped cream, surrounded by crushed oreos, waffle cones, m&ms and gummy bears. Then the waitress pours hot fudge sauce and hot butterscotch sauce over the volcano and erupts it open with a mini rake and knife. It was then served with extra sauces as well as warm marshmallow fluff. Enough said.

NBC Store. A Dunder Mifflin superstore. You do watch ‘The Office’ don’t you? As much as I loved the English version there were only a few episodes made. The American version is not only funnier but is about to start its fourth season on 27 September. What will happen when Ryan takes Jan’s job? I can’t wait for the new season to start. We got a Dwight bobble head to add to our collection. We have indoctrinated Katrina into the series as well so she took some DVD's back to the UK with her.

Housed in a new architecturally beautiful building. Looking through a 3x3 square window on the 5th floor you can see a 3x3 portion of a walkway on the sixth floor, a 3x3 window on the 3rd floor (directly below the walkway) and look onto the concourse. These windows provide insights into slices of life occurring on other floors. We saw lots of Picasso, Chagall’s ‘I and the Village’ and a small Dali as‘The Persistence of Memory’ was on loan. But the highlight was Monet’s ‘Reflections of clouds on a lily pond’ and ‘Agapanthus’. Scouted out some cool purchases in the Design shop across the road where all things beautiful + practical live. Unfortunately high price tags accompany these items but it is amazing what the human mind can imagine and then create.

US Open. Andrew and I completed our tennis grand slam a couple of years ago but until now we’ve never had the opportunity to attend a final. Thanks to our lovely babysitter we were able to make it to the Federer/Djokovic final. We were very excited to get tickets and the night did not disappoint. In the early evening we enjoyed a ‘Fairways’ picnic dinner (prices in the tennis center were astronomical as expected - $7.50 for 2 bottles of water). The stadium announcer kept telling us to go into the stadium to hear Liza Minelli sing but judging from the big screen nearby we could hear it was not worth rushing in for. Before the match there was a flyover of 4 fighter planes (with an appropriate warning beforehand so that nobody freaked out… it was September 9 after all) and the ceremonial unfolding of the flag. And then the match began. Our seats were 6 rows from the very top of the largest tennis stadium in the world. During the street fair the previous day we were debating whether to buy binoculars but as it turned out we could see extremely well. The seating was well designed so that we could see and hear everything as well as watch replays on the big screens. Federer didn’t play very well but he still managed to win the first two sets through tiebreaks before pulling away. He is an awesome player but I’m not sure he is worth the $2.4million prize cheque (+ he won a brand new Lexus). Whatever the prize it was so good to see him win his fourth straight US open! We caught the crowded subway back home and it was funny how quickly I had forgotten what it was like to ride those packed Sydney trains during peak hour.

Chocolate. We sought out some amazing chocolate places despite the fact that we discovered that Lulu does not like it! Of course it was compulsory to visit the Hershey's store that stocks all things Reeses. Jackets, mugs, pillows, headphones, bowls, shirts etc all in trademark orange. And surprisingly Andrew didn't buy anything! We then headed over to the new ginormous M&M's store. Three massive floors of M&M merchandise. There was every colour imaginable. And anything that could bear a logo did bear a logo. It was marketing saturation at its upmost. On a more pleasant note we had a chocolate breakfast at Max Brenners. Waffles, marshmallow crepes and hot chocolates were the order of the day. Though Lucy (Shire hobbit) who was on her 3rd breakfast for the day restrained herself to toast. (She already had cereal at home followed by blackberries and raspberries at the Farmers Market in Union Square)

American Museum of Natural History. This is a great museum though some parts have not been updated since the 50's! There were heaps of people here but interestingly the majority were black nannies pushing their blonde headed charges around in strollers. Must be the thing to do on a rainy day! We purchased tickets to the planetarium to see a star show called 'Cosmic Collisions'. Lucy was pretty worried when the whole theatre went black but had a great time pointing at the 'balls' on the ceiling as planets went past. The Hall of Biodiveristy was an awesome array of animals ranging from butterflies to crabs to tigers and obviously these days there is no way such specimens could be collected. Lucy loved the dinosaur collection and ran around this room pointing and talking away. We could have stayed here all day but alas we had to make do with just a few hours.

Central Park. Central Park is a precious jewel in this big city and we walked here everyday. Lucy especially enjoyed the Hesksher playground complete with 4 different fountain areas for kids to get wet in. There were sandpits, swings, and slides. We also did a little bit of unsuccessful geocaching. We walked and walked, watched dogs and squirrels and just generally enjoyed being away from the noise of traffic. The leaves were just starting to fall to the ground so it was nice to see the end of summer starting to take shape in nature.


Magnolia Bakery. Surprised at this listing? I was. Expecting great things of this bakery but there was only a small choice of cupcakes on offer that weren’t nearly as good as the recipe book allows. Don’t get me wrong, the cupcakes were good. But they weren’t awesome. And the recipes are awesome. So what’s the story? Don’t they follow their own recipes?

United Nations. Tourists can go inside the building if on a supervised tour. Tours do not allow children under 6 so we didn’t do the tour and so we weren’t allowed in (we knew this in advance so we weren’t disappointed). Children aren’t allowed due to safety concerns (for the children). What could happen in an office building? (apart from Dwight spraying mace in your face)

Ground Zero. It is a construction site full stop. Nothing to see, nothing to do. We visited on September 10 so there were some things happening to get a memorial pool set up for the next day even though the main service was not held here but further downtown. Lots of police around but really this is not a tourist attraction anymore. The TV channels showed documentaries all day about the architecture of the buildings and the recovery efforts to date. These were far more interesting than the actual site.

And thankfully this trip there were no US Air horror stories. The only amusing incident was getting off the plane in Wilmington during a tropical downpour and running across the tarmac. We were soaked to the skin but thankfully not far from home.

And thus ends our NY adventure. If you’re interested in seeing more photos then shoot through an email and I’ll send you a link. There is much more to write but I have used more than my alloted time to type this so far so I'll leave the rest to your imagination.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Sneak Peak 2: New York lights

Ok I haven't finished my NY report, so sue me (this is the US after all!) Here is a video offering of Lucy signing 'lights' as we walk up Times Square. Check back tomorrow.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Thursday, 6 September 2007

On the road again...

We're heading off to NYC tomorrow so there won't be any posting for a week or so. Correspondence will resume on Monday 17 September (Tuesday for Sydneysiders). Look out for a big NY edition then!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Product of the week - Twinkies

In the movies and on TV there are often references to twinkies. The impression I always got was that people loved them and couldn't stop eating them (leading to weight problems). So I thought a box of 10 might start us off. Each twinkie is individually wrapped for freshness. I opened one and ate it and my first impression was that it tasted like nothing. Its hard to describe but it just felt like fluffy cake in my mouth with no flavour. The aftertaste was sugar but I was surprised at how bland these cakes were. Later on when I wasn't looking Lucy raided the pantry, pulled out the box and got a twinkie out. She chewed it and actually got through the plastic and started eating the twinkie itself. It was quickly removed and thrown away as was the rest of the twinkie which I couldn't bring myself to finish.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Labor Day weekend

We hope you had an excellent labor day weekend as we sure did! We got out and about showing Katrina the sights of Wilmington. There is so much to report and some of these items could have their own blog entries but I don't have time to type at the moment so here are the highlights:

          • Fort Fisher Memorial Site. A free musuem about the civil war that we've been meaning to visit for a while. Wilmington was the last Confederate port open to blockade runners. Upon surrender of this site the war was almost over. Although the South lost the war Southern people still bear immense pride in their homeland. The museum gives a good overview of the battle at Fort Fisher and we were able to see some of the original battlements even though most of the coastline has since eroded.

          • Southport ferry ride, Southport antique shops and The Pharmacy for lunch. The Pharmacy turned out to be a surprise hit with excellent food and service. The site became a pharmacy in 1877 and has only recently converted into a cafe. The original pressed metal ceilings are still on display.

          • Oceanic for Katrina's birthday lunch. Dinner seems to be the forte of this restuarant and lunch was a little disappointing esp. given the terrible parking situation. Still, we had a good view of the beach and we ate prawns so it wasn't all bad (though the smoothies that were made with syrup were terrible!)

          • A sunny day at Wrightsville beach + Kohl's Frozen custards = excellent time. We tried out the vanilla, chocolate and banana pudding flavours and highly recommend a visit here on the way to or from the beach. WE were a little curious what these custards would be like but it seems that they are just genuine icecream (ie made with eggs) and they certainly taste good. Can't wait for the 15th when the flavour of the day is 'Elephant stomp' which is Reeses peanut butter cups in a chocolate custard.

          • A belated housewarming/birthday chocolate cake from Margaret next door was very much enjoyed. Two thumbs up!

          • 10 episodes of The Office (American version of course)